The Shaq-Pippen Instagram fiasco has prompted an All-Time Starting 5 series at Today’s Fastbreak. Today, I take a look at the Washington Wizards, who surprisingly were harder to cut down to five than the Chicago Bulls.
Don’t sleep on the Wizards franchise. The team has only one championship (1978) but a ton of talent has come through the franchise. To shrink the pool, I’m going to choose my five from players that played for the franchise since it’s move to Washington D.C. (excluding Hall of Famers Walt Bellamy and Earl Monroe). I’m also choosing players by their best season in Washington, otherwise I’d pick Michael Jordan for the top-five due to his accomplishments with the Bulls. Let’s take a look at the All-Time Starting 5 of the Washington Wizards/Bullets.
Point Guard: John Wall (2014-15 Season)
The N0. 1 overall pick of the 2010 draft has lived up expectations. Wall is as versatile as point guards come. He’s a ridiculous passer (career-high 10 assists per game last season), disruptive defender (1.7 steals and 0.6 blocks per game last season), and an ever-improving scorer (17.6 points per game on a career-best 44.5 field goal percentage last season). He’s an easy choice for this list, though I have a feeling his best season is still ahead of him.
Shooting Guard: Gilbert Arenas (2005-2006 Season)
Arenas is the punchline of jokes these days, but don’t forget that he used to be an absolute assassin. Agent Zero averaged 29.3 points, 6.1 assists, and 2.0 steals per game while nailing 199 3-pointers in a sensational 2005-2006 season, earning him All-NBA third team honors. No one in NBA history has put up that line again. No one.
He also averaged 34 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.3 steals to go along with a 26.4 PER in six games that postseason. What he was able to do for a stretch of three years from the ages of 23-25 was amazing. He of course couldn’t keep it up, but I’ll never forget his 60-8-8 performance against the Lakers or his myriad of buzzer beaters. If I picked one player for this list, it might be Gilbert Arenas.
Small Forward: Caron Butler (2007-2008 Season)
Butler may seem like a reach on this list, but consider I’m trying to build the best starting five possible. Butler’s 3-and-D abilities at the small forward spot would be a perfect fit on this team. He averaged 20.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 2.2 steals per game during his career-year in 2007-2008. There was nothing Butler couldn’t do that season.
Bernard King was a tempting choice with his 28.4 points per game in 1990-91, but his lower PER (19.1 to 20.7), lack of range (eight 3-pointers to 66), and age (34 to 27) make Butler a better fit for this team.
Butler was limited to just 58 games that season, which is the story of much of his career in Washington D.C. I’d still take those 58 games over any season for a small forward in Wizards’ history.
Power Forward: Elvin Hayes (1976-1977 Season)
Here’s where things got really tough. Sadly Wes Unseld, Chris Webber and Manute Bol couldn’t make the cut in a stacked frontcourt. Hayes was an easy choice with his Hall of Fame resume and stellar All-NBA first team campaign in 1976-77. Hayes is the first and only member of the 1978 championship squad to appear on this list.
He averaged 23.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game that season, equating to a career-best 19.8 PER. Hayes gets the nod over Unseld, who was a terrific rebounder, passer, and arguably the most accomplished player in franchise history, but he wasn’t much of a scorer or shot-blocker at 6-foot-7. It was a tough choice, but Hayes is the best fit for this team.
Center: Moses Malone (1986-1987 Season)
Malone only spent two seasons with the Bullets, but he was so good in 1986-87 that I had to make a spot for him in this lineup. That season he averaged 24.1 points and 11.3 rebounds per game (4.7 on the offensive glass) while putting up the second best PER in Wizards/Bullets history (23.8). His ability of drawing and knocking down free throws (9.5 FTA per game that season at a 82.4 percent clip) would be an asset to this All-Time team.
His 6-foot-10, wide build would lend well to facing bigger, more athletic opponents. The three-time MVP might have been past his prime with the Bullets, but he was still a terrific player and bucket-getter.
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Wes Unseld, Chris Webber, Manute Bol, Bob Dandridge, Bernard King, Rod Strickland, Larry Hughes, Juwan Howard, Antawn Jamison, Jeff Malone