Washington Wizards 2007 vs. 2015: Comparing The Benches


We’ve all heard of the conversations comparing the old Gilbert Arenas led Washington Wizards teams to the most recent John Wall led squads.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be writing about the 2006-2007 Wizards team (41-41 record) and how they match up against the 2014-2015 Wizards team (46-36 record).

Part one: Comparing Beal and Stevenson

Part two: Comparing Nene and Jamison

Part three: Comparing Butler and Porter

Part four: Comparing Haywood and Gortat

Part five: Comparing Arenas and Wall

The Washington Wizards of the Gilbert Arenas era and the Washington Wizards of the John Wall era don’t have a whole lot in common.

Gilbert’s Wizards were a freewheeling bunch of goofs who piled on the points and performed horrific injustices to the very notion of defense.

John Wall’s Wizards are a defensively sound, midrange jumper-spamming team that is occasionally so offensively inept it makes you want to quit watching basketball and go live in a monastery so high up in the Himalayan mountains that you will never again encounter anyone who could conceive of a sport where a ball is put into a hoop.

But one thing has stayed common throughout the entire history of Wizdom.

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Washington always fields some godawful benches.

While the Wizards of today have brought talented and occasionally productive players off the bench, the result has always been the same – take the starters out, and the lead will soon follow.

But can the 2015 Wizards bench be any worse than those of the Gilbert Arenas era?

To address this fully, we’ll need to go position-by-position.

We’ll start with backup point guard, a spot that is always quietly one of the most important on a team, especially when they have to follow a star like John Wall or Gilbert Arenas.

John Wall has been backed up by a number of different point guards over his five-year career, and Ramon Sessions might be the best of the lot – which is saying absolutely nothing while he shares company with the likes of Eric Maynor and A.J. Price.

You can shine him up as much as you want, but the fact remains that Sessions is an extremely limited ballplayer.

Meanwhile, he’s opposed by one of the most unjustly forgotten and underappreciated players in Wizards history, and easily the best player who will be named in this piece, the absolute stud that was Antonio Daniels.

What Daniels did in the 2007-08 season after Arenas’ knee injury says it all: he did an absolutely wonderful job running the Wizards’ offense, never turning the ball over, attacking the rim with an unremitting ferocity, and turning the Wizards into a major dark horse playoff contender before Caron Butler‘s broken hand torpedoed those hopes.

Daniels’ ability to twist around defenders in midair was so insane that he must have had a spinal column made of Silly Putty.

Antonio Daniels never made mistakes, and even today he has never gotten his due. He wasn’t one to put up flashy numbers, he just knew his role and played it to perfection. A decisive win for the Gilbert era Wizards here.

Next up, the wings.

Now, here’s the thing about the 2007 Wizards: there were no backup wings to speak of. Well, except Jarvis Hayes, and I don’t often speak of him.

Perhaps my least favorite player to don the old blue and bronze, Hayes was a top-10 pick who merely turned out to be an infuriating long-two brick machine. Randy Wittman probably would have loved him.

Also soaking up a few minutes a game were the utterly anonymous Donell Taylor and Money Ma$e himself, Roger Mason Jr., who came out of nowhere as a 3-point flamethrower in the 2007-08 season but couldn’t get on the floor with a healthy Gilbert Arenas in the rotation.

The 2014-15 Washington Wizards didn’t have much more than that, but even an unholy combination of two-month wonder Rasual Butler, benched Otto Porter, washed Martell Webster and D-League refugee Garrett Temple is a damn sight better than Jarvis Hayes.

With the additions of Alan Anderson, Gary Neal and Kelly Oubre, it’s more than enough to guarantee the Current Day Wizards a big victory in response.

Finally, we come to the big men.

The Wizards flashed some free agent cash last year to retool their frontcourt but failed to find a real consistent solution, thanks in large part to DeJuan Blair‘s horrifying performance all season long.

Still, Kris Humphries was a steady performer when healthy and Kevin Seraphin, while wildly inconsistent as usual, had some really nice games.

Drew Gooden was Drew Gooden.

It wasn’t all terrible.

On the other side, the 2007 Wizards’ backup frontcourt was straight up Barnum and Bailey.

Michael Ruffin, Darius Songaila and Calvin Booth competed to see who could be the most unathletic basketball player in the league, and the loser was all of us.

Michael Ruffin will forever be a walking Wizards punchline, a man with zero discernible basketball skill, a man with more fouls than points in his NBA career, a man whose head was shaped like one of the bad peanuts you get at a baseball game that you just drop on the ground instead of eating, a man who will only be remembered by the general public for committing the single worst play in basketball history.

He played in the league for NINE YEARS.

And somehow, someway, Calvin Booth was even worse than Ruffin. Meanwhile, Darius Songaila returned from a debilitating back injury that robbed him of his mobility, and while he his midrange skills will often useful, he moved like he had been brought out of a century-long cryogenic sleep minutes before the ballgame.

The only redeeming feature of the Wizards’ frontcourt was Etan Thomas, an undersized center with little skill or subtlety to his game, a gentle, poetic soul who once lost a practice fight to Brendan “Brenda” Haywood, but a fine defense and rebounding-focused backup big man who could have been quite useful to today’s Wizards had he come along later.

Michael Ruffin + Calvin Booth = an easy W for the Current Day Wizards. In fact, Ruffin’s sheer presence alone ensures that the Gilbert-era Wizards should justly be ranked behind any bench unit in the history of humanity.

2015 wins this comparison. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go slam my head against the wall until I either concuss myself or I forget my memory of attending the Morris Peterson Game. Ta-ta.

Next: Wittman's Future In D.C., Trade Speculation and More

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