The Washington Wizards are 3-1 since trading Antawn Jamison to Cleveland. They beat Minnesota, Denver and Chicago at home and lost to Toronto by five on the road.
How are the Wizards pulling this off without four (Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood) of their best players?
First, Andray Blatche is playing like an All-Star. In the last four games, he has averaged a healthy 25-10, and is shooting 59% from the field. Is he likely to keep this up? No, but 18-8 is certainly possible.
Al Thornton is averaging 16-4 (and shooting 53%) in three games since coming over to the Wizards as part of the Jamison trade. Those numbers seem reasonable if he starts getting starter’s minutes with Josh Howard sidelined.
Two guys that came over last summer — Randy Foye and Mike Miller — have each come up with big games during this four-game span. Miller drained all five of this threes in a 17-point effort against the Timberwolves and Foye is averaging 15 points and 7.5 assists in the last two games. In the one game where neither player cracked double figures (vs. DEN), the now-injured Howard posted 20 points on 8-11 shooting from the field. Miller has been one of the most efficient shooting guards this season, while Foye has been either feast (14p, 5a, 44% shooting as a starter) or famine (6p, 1a, 39% shooting as a reserve), depending on whether or not he’s in the starting lineup.
Truthfully, the Wizards are probably just sneaking up on a few teams. The Nuggets were coming off a big road win against Cleveland the night before and were outscored 34-15 in the fourth quarter by the well-rested Wizards. The Raptors were also coming off a road game the night before. (Granted, it was against the Nets, but still.) Chicago? Well, they don’t have an excuse.
The Wizards upcoming schedule should be telling. Now that they’ve bit a few teams in the butt, it shouldn’t be difficult for Memphis, New York, New Jersey and Milwaukee (twice) to get up for this new-look Washington team.
Are they going to make the playoffs? Hell no. But they might spoil a few other postseason runs.
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