Washington Wizards

Hayes was the tenth overall pick in 2003.
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No. 49
Steve Blake (restricted)
Damone Brown (unrestricted)
Kwame Brown (restricted)
Juan Dixon (unrestricted)
Larry Hughes (unrestricted)
Anthony Peeler (unrestricted)
Laron Profit (unrestricted)
Michael Ruffin (unrestricted)
2004: 5. Devin Harris, Wisc.
32. Peter John Ramos, Puerto Rico
2003: 10. Jarvis Hayes, Georgia
38. Steve Blake, Maryland
2002: 11. Jared Jeffries, Indiana
17. Juan Dixon, Maryland
39. Rod Grizzard, Alabama
40. Juan Carlos Navarro, Spain
2001: 1. Kwame Brown, Glynn Academy H.S. (Ga.)
2000: 35. Mike Smith, Louisiana-Monroe
By Bill Evans

When the 2004-05 season began: Despite a 25-win campaign in 2003-04, the Ernie Grunfeld-Eddie Jordan ticket had bipartisan support in the nation’s capital. With the acquisition of Antawn Jamison and a young nucleus led by Gilbert Arenas, this looked like a team on the rise.

What happened? In 2001-02, Jamison, Arenas and Larry Hughes were teammates on a Golden State team that won 21 games. Perhaps the Warriors should have been a little more patient.

Three years later, reunited in Washington, the same trio led the Wizards to a 45-37 record and their helped the Wizards win a playoff series for the first time since 1982. Their combined scoring average of 67.1 points per game led all threesomes.

Arenas emerged as one of the NBA’s go-to players, vaulting his scoring average to 25.5 ppg, seventh in the NBA, while also contributing 4.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.74 steals. Hughes, a member of the NBA’s all-defensive team, had his best offensive season (22.0 ppg). Jamison averaged 19.6 ppg and was the team’s leading rebounder (7.6 rpg).

Things could have gone even better for the Wizards, had they not been hit with a spate of injuries. Kwame Brown (40 games), Steve Blake (29), Etan Thomas (32) were among the hardest hit, but only Arenas and Jared Jeffries played in more than 70 games for the Wizards.

Injury wasn’t Brown’s only setback; during the first-round series against Chicago, he was suspended by the team for the rest of the playoffs. Brown wouldn’t have tilted the scales in Washington’s favor in the second round vs. Miami, but another big body might have prevent Shaquille O’Neal and the Heat from completing a four-game sweep.

What now? The suspension could have spelled an inglorious end of Brown’s career as a Wizard. The first overall selection in the 2001 draft has averaged only 7.7 points and 5.5 rebounds in 253 games over four seasons.

Of greater concern to fans in Washington is the impending free agency of Hughes, who should command big bucks, but has expressed a desire to stay in Washington. Blake is also a free agent.

Grunfeld has done a great job hording young talent, but will not have the benefit of a first-round pick. The Wizards will have to wait until the 49th selection to select. They could seek depth at point guard, a three-point gunner or some bulk down low, where they will be thin, literally, after Thomas and Brendan Haywood.