13 Washington Wizards The franchise forward is still getting bigger, but is he any better?

October 27, 2003

Kwame Brown is all grown up. No, that doesn't mean he's become a
star, justifying the Wizards' decision to pick him No. 1 in 2001.
And no, it doesn't mean he's become a mature 21-year-old. (After
all, in August he was charged with drunken driving in Brunswick,
Ga.; a court date has not been set.) What it does mean is that
the team pulled out a tape measure at the start of training camp
and discovered that Brown had grown a half inch or so. He's now
officially a 7-footer.

As for Brown's growth on the court? "I have to be solid and ready
to wash the taste of the first two seasons out of my mouth," says
the 248-pound forward. "I have to be a natural basketball
player."

That sounds as if Brown is acknowledging that he has been a
disappointment, a notion that's reinforced by his tepid stats
(two-year averages of 6.2 points and 4.6 rebounds) and the
repeated criticism from the departed Michael Jordan and other
veterans that Brown did not extend maximum effort. Brown also
didn't have--or couldn't find--a true position. Is he an
athletic, run-the-court player? Or a back-to-the-basket force who
can outjump or overpower opponents? It seems clear that he must
become an amalgam of the two, a kind of frontcourt swingman in
new coach Eddie Jordan's forward-oriented offense.

Washington's brass is hopeful. "Kwame has shown some real promise
that's not based on numbers," says new G.M. Ernie Grunfeld. "It's
based on the effort that we get from him on a daily basis. People
have to realize that he's still only 21."

Of his decision to drink and drive, a chastened Brown says, "I'm
fortunate to be standing right here." How tall he stands during
the season will go a long way toward determining whether the
Wizards join the playoff hunt. --J.M.

COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES Kwame Brown

ENEMY LINES
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Wizards

"They ran a lot of set plays to get the ball in Michael Jordan's
hands over the last two years. That's going to change with new
coach Eddie Jordan, whose Princeton offense will teach the young
players to read the defense, move without the ball and make
backdoor cuts. Their big weaknesses last year were passing and
perimeter shooting, and this offense will help in both areas....
When Jerry Stackhouse comes back from knee surgery, will he fit
into the offense or will he try to reestablish himself as a
scorer now that Michael's gone? My guess is that he'll play for
the good of the team as he did in Detroit.... The bigger question
is whether Gilbert Arenas can run this offense and not look to
score first. He needs to understand that he'll get his one-on-one
opportunities as the shot clock is running down.... Christian
Laettner's skills are suited to this offense, but through his
negative body language he continues to express frustration and
impatience with his young teammates.... The Wizards have the
potential to play good, hard defense, though they have a lot to
learn in that area.... Eddie Jordan is like Phil Jackson in his
preference for big guards, and he has them in Arenas and Larry
Hughes, who last year shot a career-high 46.7%.... They'll get
decent rebounding from Brendan Haywood, Etan Thomas and Jahidi
White. On the offensive boards Haywood has the good habit of
keeping the ball high and going right back up with it.... They
should build around Arenas and Kwame Brown. Though he endured a
lot of criticism from MJ and former coach Doug Collins, Brown
could become a Jermaine O'Neal-like talent. He needs to go into
the post more often and not rush himself when he gets there.
Ultimately, he has to prove his toughness and his love for the
game."

FAST FACT
Washington's 15 years without a playoff win ties the NBA record
of the 1990-91 Clippers (ne Buffalo Braves, when their drought
started).

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP with 2002-03 statistics

Record: 37-45 (9th in East)
Points scored: 91.5 (24th in NBA)
Points allowed: 92.5 (10th)
Coach: Eddie Jordan
(first season with Wizards)

BRENDAN HAYWOOD

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
C 204 6.2 5.0 0.4

BPG SPG FG% FT%
1.47 0.40 51.0 63.3

JERRY STACKHOUSE

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
SF 39 21.5 3.7 4.5

SPG FG% 3FG% FT%
0.93 40.9 29.0 87.8

GILBERT ARENAS[1]

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
PG 36 18.3 4.7 6.3

SPG FG% 3FG% FT%
1.51 43.1 34.8 79.1

LARRY HUGHES

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
SG 81 12.8 4.6 3.1

SPG FG% 3FG% FT%
1.28 46.7 36.7 73.1

KWAME BROWN

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
PF 120 7.4 5.3 0.7

BPG SPG FG% FT%
1.00 0.63 44.6 66.8

BENCH PVR* 2002-03 KEY STATS

F-C CHRISTIAN
LAETTNER 220 8.3 ppg 6.6 rpg 3.1 apg 1.08 spg 49.4 FG%
F JARED
JEFFRIES 223 4.0 ppg 2.9 rpg 0.8 apg 0.40 spg 47.6 FG%
G[1]STEVE
BLAKE (R) 231 11.6 ppg 7.1 apg 1.61 spg 41.5 FG% 41.6 3FG%
C JAHIDI
WHITE 241 4.2 ppg 4.6 rpg 0.75 bpg 47.2 FG% 68.0 FT%
F-G JARVIS
[1] HAYES (R) 277 18.3 ppg 4.4 rpg 1.15 spg 50.3 FG% 42.5 3FG%

NEW ACQUISITION[1]
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college season)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 94)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)