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By Request: Wizards Throwback Doppelgängers

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Here are some past Wizards players who could be statistical clones of other NBA players, some in the past, and others in the present.

NBA London Game 2019
Before the foot and ankle injuries, Gheorge Muresan had some game.
Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for NBA

Don’t blame me. Y’all asked for this.

When I wrapped the doppelgänger series with Anzejs Pasecniks, readers in the comments tossed out requests for some throwback Wizards. With the current team in training camp and not much to see except for some borderline useless practice videos, why not fire up the DeLorean and take a look at yesteryear?

For those just stumbling in, the Statistical Doppelgänger Machine compares a player’s performance across 14 different categories (including age) with every other player season since 1977-78 to see who has the most similar production at a similar age.

The idea behind it is to compare players based on what they do on the court rather than superficial characteristics like skin color, nationality, height, etc.

With eight names on the list, I’m not doing a top 10 for each. I’m taking each player’s best season with the Wizards/Bullets and I’ll give their closest comp all-time and their closest from the last five seasons.

Popeye Jones

BKN-WIZARDS-PISTONS-2 Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images
  • Best Season in DC — 2001-02, Age 31 — PPA 109
  • Top All-Time Comp — Corie Blount, 2000-01, GSW/PHO, Age 32 — PPA 97
  • Last Five Seasons Comp — Marcin Gortat, 2017-18, WAS, Age 33 — PPA 129

I swear the Doppelgänger Machine picked Gortat all on its own. This was the Polish Hammer’s final season in DC and he was in significant decline by then.

Gheorge Muresan

Hornets V Bullets
  • Best Season in DC — 1995-96, Age 24 — PPA 171 (!)
  • Top All-Time Comp — Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 2000-01, CLE, Age 22 — PPA 176
  • Last Five Seasons Comp — Jonas Valanciunas, 2016-17, TOR, Age 24 — PPA 168

Yes, he made Robin Lopez look nimble. Yes, foot and ankle injuries wrecked his career. But when Muresan was healthy, he could play. Kinda interesting that for the most massive Euro to ever play in the NBA, the Doppelgänger Machine picked two massive Euros, even across eras.

Rod Strickland

Rod Strickland #1
  • Best Season in DC — 1996-97, Age 30 — PPA 150
  • Top All-Time Comp — Sam Cassell, 1999-00, MIL, Age 30 — PPA 150
  • Last Five Seasons Comp — Jeff Teague, 2016-17, IND, Age 28 — PPA 151

Strickland actually had a 156 PPA two seasons later with the Wizards, but he appeared in just 44 games. In this age 30 season, he appeared in all 82 and was quite good.

Ben Wallace

Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Andy Hayt/NBAE via Getty Images
  • Best Season in DC — 1998-99, Age 24 — PPA 148
  • Top All-Time Comp — DeAndre Jordan, 2011-12, LAC, Age 23 — PPA 158
  • Last Five Seasons Comp — Tristan Thompson, 2015-16, CLE, Age 24 — PPA 139

After this promising season for the undrafted free agent, Washington GM Wes Unseld traded Wallace (and Tim Legler, Jeff McInnis and Terry Davis) for “true center” Isaac Austin. Here are Wallace’s PPA scores after getting traded: 167, 165, 208, 197, 187, 181, 202, 185, 121, 130, 142, 165, 131, 93. Austin rated a below replacement level 34 in DC, and finished out his career with two more replacement level seasons with Vancouver and Memphis.

Wallace won a championship with the Detroit Pistons. After getting traded for Austin, he received more Defensive Player of the Year awards (four) than Austin had NBA seasons.

Just to drive home the point: Austin’s top comp for 1998-99, after which the Wizards acquired him, was a SF named Mike Bantom. His top comp from the past five seasons: Markieff Morris in 2018-19. That season, Washington traded him to New Orleans with cash AND a second round pick for Wesley Johnson. The Pelicans immediately released him.

The Wallace-plus for Austin trade is probably the worst in sports history.

Ledell Eackles

  • Best Season in DC — 1995-96, Age 29 — PPA 83
  • Top All-Time Comp — Gerald Henderson, 2016-17, PHI, Age 29 — PPA 62
  • Last Five Seasons Comp — Gerald Henderson, 2016-17, PHI, Age 29 — PPA 62

I remember Eackles as better than he rates in the numbers, but that’s probably because he was fun to watch. He had a short neck and a thick body and he wasn’t always in the best physical condition. He had a knack for scoring, though. His best season with the team was actually a second stint in DC.

Charles Jones

  • Best Season in DC — 1984-85, Age 27 — PPA 114
  • Top All-Time Comp — Adonal Foyle, 2002-03, GSW, Age 27 — PPA 99
  • Last Five Seasons Comp — Roy Hibbert, 2015-16, LAL, Age 29 — PPA 69

Jones was one of my favorite players in franchise history even though he was undersized, under-athletic and under-skilled to do battle with centers of his era. Naturally, he played nine seasons in Washington. This “best” season was his first, and it was only 28 games. Still, it’s the only stretch of his career where he poked his head above league average.

Chris Whitney

  • Best Season in DC — 2001-02, Age 30 — PPA 131
  • Top All-Time Comp — Mark Price, 1996-97, GSW, Age 32 — PPA 127
  • Last Five Seasons Comp — D.J. Augustin, 2017-18, LAL, Age 30 — PPA 116

Whitney started 81 of 82 games in the 2001-02 NBA season, which was the only above average year of his career. That season from Price was his bounce-back year after his debaculous season with the Bullets.

For those who don’t recall, Price was a very good point guard in Cleveland — four-time All-NBA. The Bullets traded a first round pick to get him. He tore his plantar fascia and appeared in just seven games and 127 minutes for Washington and then left to sign with Golden State in free agency.

Larry Hughes

Miami Heat v Washington Wizards Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images
  • Best Season in DC — 2004-05, Age 26 — PPA 161
  • Top All-Time Comp — Brandon Roy, 2009-10, POR, Age 25 — PPA 159
  • Last Five Seasons Comp — Jimmy Butler, 2015-16, CHI, Age 26 — PPA 171

The 2004-05 season was the best of Hughes’ career when the Wizards made the second round of the NBA Playoffs. He left for a big contract and a chance to play with LeBron James in Cleveland. Roy was a helluva good player, whose career was derailed by injuries. The comp with Butler is interesting, in part because it was kind of a down year for Butler — he’d posted a 185 the previous year and all five seasons since have rated higher.

Mitch Richmond

  • Best Season in DC — 1999-00, Age 34 — PPA 106
  • Top All-Time Comp — Jalen Rose, 2004-05, TOR, Age 32 — PPA 101
  • Last Five Seasons Comp — Goran Dragic, 2017-18, MIA, Age 31 — PPA 111

Richmond was overrated a bit during his playing days, but had completed his three best seasons (PPAs: 141, 153 and 147 at ages 30, 31, and 32). With lots of history to warn decision-makers to avoid trading for a guy in his 30s, Unseld did it anyway, sending Chris Webber to Sacramento for Richmond and the even older Otis Thorpe.

Webber led the Kings to the only period of sustained winning in franchise history. Richmond was average and worse before getting bought out.

I need a drink.