If you were running the Washington Wizards as a video game franchise —which is the closest pontificating writers will ever get to running a major league franchise — how would you split the minutes?
There are 240 minutes in an NBA game, and those numbers have to be split among 12 players, plus three extras on the roster. Putting aside injuries, gun charges and any other drama that may follow a team throughout the season, here is how the Washington Wizards could maximize both player development and their win total…if the team was a video game franchise.
PG John Wall, 38 minutes a game: The No. 1 pick, everyone’s preseason selection for rookie of the year and one of the youngest and most talented players in the league. He’s got young legs, boundless energy and just needs to be on the court as much as possible to continue his development. He also may or may not be the Wizards best player.
SG Gilbert Arenas, 35 minutes a game: Gilbert needs to return to his role of taking the ball up the floor and handing it off. With Kirk Hinrich on the team now, there is simply no reason for him to be the playmaker. He needs to be the Wizards leading scorer this year; if Wall is the leading scorer, they will lose 55 games and Wall will shift closer to the Marbury route rather than toward Derrick Rose/Tyreke Evans. No one wants to see that.
C Javale McGee, 34 minutes a game: This is putting development ahead of wins, but it is a necessary balance. McGee is unpolished, but if Coach K saw him as a potential international competitor, the 22-year-old needs as much run as possible. He needs to keep people out of the paint, convert layups and dunks, run the floor and set bruising picks. And avoid hanging out with Andray Blatche as much as humanly possible.
SF Josh Howard, 30 minutes a game: Expect Hinrich and Arenas to help fill this position as well, depending on match-ups. Howard is probably the third-best player on the team, but is fragile and now 30 years old. He is certainly not washed up and is a polished player that can do a lot of things. But on a young team that can expect to have a losing record, Josh Howard needs to set an unselfish example and give you 12/5/3.
PF Andray Blatche, 26 minutes a game: Ow, ow, ow. That was hard to type. Blatche will round out the starting line-up, but he needs to play defense, stop taking contested jumpers and prove he is a worker. His career is on the precipice. Yes, he is talented. But so is Michael Beasley. Right now, nobody wants either guy on a playoff team. If John Wall could be as good as Wade one day, let’s start a timer for how long it takes before Blatche starts annoying Wall, just as Beasley grated on Wade.
G-F Kirk Hinrich, 22 minutes a game: Perfect sixth man. Hinrich will spell Wall for a handful of minutes a game, then fill in on the wings as needed. He can shoot, handle the ball and pass with precision, rebound well for a guard and defend three positions. Oh yeah, and he has a proven record of tutoring young phenom Derrick Rose. Hugely underrated addition to the team. And a great fantasy player: He does everything.
F-C Yi Jianlian, 19 minutes a game: First big of the bench, Yi needs to focus on rebounding and defense, which thankfully he has been working on this summer. He can stretch the floor, but he’s 7-feet tall, so he needs to capitalize on his height. He also needs to push Blatche and McGee. Those dudes need to show effort, and Yi could be the engine that drives them.
G-F Nick Young, 15 minutes a game: Instant offense. Let him come in for a few, play his Eddie House role and take a shot a minute, and let him do his thing if he’s hot. If he’s cold, he’s not adding anything. Unfortunately, I think we’ve seen his full potential at this point: scorer.
F Al Thornton, 12 minutes a game: This player has always thought he is better than he is. Tim Thomas reincarnated, Thornton has been disappointing in the League. The Wizards are not lacking for offense, and Thornton’s favorite move is the contested jumper. He and Young are pretty interchangable: Ride whoever is hot.
F-C Trevor Booker, five minutes a game: This man could play a Leon Powe/Craig Smith role. Undersized big man who just works, works, works his way into the line-up. If he is as dogged as he was in college — and he absolutely killed Maryland every time they played — he could force his way into the rotation and make somebody else unhappy. If things are going that way, probably makes more sense to trade someone before promoting Booker in the ‘tation.
C Hilton Armstrong, one minute a game: One great strategy I have found for NBA 2K’s franchise mode is giving bench players one minute a game. That way they are guaranteed to get in games and will be much more satisfied than the alternative. Armstrong, the big bust from Connecticut, was pretty good at beer pong, an acquaintance once told me. That’s great, because he’s not good at basketball.
G Adam Morrison, one minute a game: I just feel bad for the guy. It’s a pity roster spot, no doubt.
F Kevin Seraphin: High draft pick from France, not much I know beyond that. Rookies should get run, so definitely a good pick to hit the NBDL.
G Lester Hudson: He was a Celtic (my team, officially outing myself as Boston fan) and can certainly ball a little bit. Good insurance guy that can contribute if someone goes down. His potential is probably maxed, not a good NBDL slot.
I would keep the other spot open and cut everyone else. Money is no object! Damn the guaranteed contracts! Having an extra slot makes executing creative trades or signing bought out players easier. And this means should you want to do one of those trades, you aren’t stuck buying someone out.
Yeah, this is unrealistic. But it’s a video game, people.