He doesn't have slicked-back hair and you won't often see him in an Armani suit, but Wizards coach Eddie Jordan has one thing in common with Gordon Gekko. "Greed is good," says Jordan, borrowing the corporate raider's famous line from the movie Wall Street. "We're not satisfied with just making the playoffs. We want more."
More for Washington would mean an improvement on last season's 45 wins and going deep into the postseason after the franchise's first playoff series victory in 23 years. But those tasks became tougher after guard Larry Hughes took his 22.0 points per game and league-leading 2.89 steals and signed with the Cavaliers as a free agent in the off-season.
Enter Antonio Daniels, who along with forward Caron Butler and guard Chucky Atkins was acquired by general manager Ernie Grunfeld not only to replace Hughes's production but also to fortify the bench. "We were very humbled by Miami," says Jordan, referring to the Wizards' second-round ouster. "Improving our depth was a priority, and we accomplished that."
A bullish combination guard, Daniels, 30, brings a wealth of experience along with the championship ring he picked up as a member of the 1999 Spurs. His leadership will be as important as his scoring--more so if you consider that Washington could break camp with nine players under 25. "Chucky and I, we're going to be vocal leaders," says Daniels, who will assume Hughes's starring spot alongside All-Star Gilbert Arenas. "We were brought here to help this team advance, and one way or another we're going to do that."
Exactly what Gordon, er, Jordan, wants to hear.
An opposing team's scout sizes up the Wizards
"Thanks to the Eddy Curry trade I see them staying ahead of Chicago. But they won't take the next step of becoming a home court playoff team until they upgrade their front line and improve their defense.... They lost free-agent shooting guard Larry Hughes but compensated for his scoring by picking up Caron Butler, Antonio Daniels and Chucky Atkins.... Butler is a natural small forward who lacks three-point range, but he's a good defender and rebounder who finished strong for the Lakers over the last month of the season. With Daniels and Atkins capable of running the point, they can think seriously about shifting Gilbert Arenas to shooting guard, where he could contend for the league scoring title.... When Arenas gets into the lane, you can bang and push him all you want, and he's still able to finish. The question for down the road is whether they can become a contender with Arenas as their leader. My gut feeling is that ultimately he'll be too selfish, especially if he's looking to score as their point guard.... While they're solid on the perimeter, they remain weak up front. Despite his size and wingspan Brendan Haywood isn't a strong low-post scorer or shot blocker, and Jared Jeffries isn't comfortable with his back to the basket--he's a power forward with small-forward skills."
Last season Gilbert Arenas became the franchise's first guard to average 25 points since Archie Clark in 1971-72 (25.1 for the Baltimore Bullets).
Projected Starting Lineup with 2004-05 statistics
Record: 45-37 (5th in East)
Points scored: 100.5 (6th in NBA)
Points allowed: 100.8 (23rd)
Coach: Eddie Jordan
(third season with the Wizards)
BENCH 2004-05 STATS