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Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards: 1/14/08 - Open Game Thread

I caught up with JakeTheSnake from Bullets Forever to get a better understanding of how this Wizards team is doing. My questions and his answers are below. Enjoy:

Green Bandwagon: Over the last two seasons Caron Butler has developed into a great basketball player. What has it been like to watch that progression on a day-to-day basis? And do you think he is getting the attention he deserves?

JakeTheSnake of Bullets Forever: It has really been something to behold. Obviously, just about everyone was ecstatic when the Wizards acquired him for Kwame Brown. I think most people saw him as someone who could be the third guy to keep the Big 3 going after Larry Hughes left but it didn't take long to realize that Caron could do more than just serve as a third option.  Last year he showed he was capable of being the #2 guy with Arenas and now he's really showing that he can be the guy in Gilbert's absence, both on the court and in the locker room.

Green Bandwagon: What do you expect from Andray Blatche, Roger Mason Jr. and Nick Young as the season progresses?

JakeTheSnake of Bullets Forever: For Andray and Nick, I'm expecting a lot of what I've seen throughout the year so far.  There's going to be games where they show the great potential that they have and there's going to be games where they come out and show how wide the gap is between their potential and realizing it.  As the season progresses, they'll grow with the ups and downs and be better for it.  It can be frustrating at times, but when you see the games where they show what they're capable of, it makes it worth it.

Roger is a little different case.  He may not have the upside of Andray or Nick but he has the consistency that they lack. Last year, Roger was basically a guy who could come in and hit threes if you left him open and that's about it. A lot of Wizard fans were shocked when we learned that he turned down a three year contract with the Spurs to sign a one year deal here because he thought he could get more money this off-season. Most didn't think that he'd be able to do better than that deal but he's gotten better over the summer. He's worked on being more than just a spot-up shooter and better yet, he's really improved his defense, which gives the Wizards another perimeter stopper off the bench that the Wizards have lacked for quite a while.

Green Bandwagon: A while back I caught Gilbert Arenas on NBA TV. He talked about his disdain for the training room. In fact he admitted to only wanting to enter it if his teammates were not around. Arenas went on to essentially explain how he was uncooperative with the training staff and preferred his own regimen because he knows his body. Is that consistent with anything you have read or heard about while following the team? And bigger picture, how do Wizards fans feel about Arenas right now?

JakeTheSnake of Bullets Forever: Not to steal a phrase from your local baseball team, but I think the whole training room thing is just a case of Gilbert being Gilbert. He's never been the guy to do something the normal way so generally people give him the freedom to do his thing. To people who don't follow the Wizards on a regular basis it might look like Gilbert is being a selfish prima donna who just wants to do things his own way when in actuality Gilbert is just a really odd fellow.

Right now, I'd say that most Wizards fans still see Gilbert as the main guy in Washington. The Wizards have shown that they can stay competitive without him, but he's still the franchise.  As long as Gilbert can get healthy in time for the playoffs and adjust to how the team has changed in his absence (and vice-versa) he'll raise the Wizards' ceiling considerably. Maybe not to Boston or Detroit levels, but Gilbert will make this team better when he returns.

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