If you were going to make a movie about Antawn Jamison's 2003-04 season, you might call it 'Tawn of the Dead. Not that the year didn't have its highlights: In his lone season with Dallas and his first as a reserve, he won the NBA's Sixth Man award. Still, Jamison's role made him something of a basketball zombie. "Last year I just went out there with a businesslike attitude and got it done," he says. "But I wasn't out there at the start and I wasn't out there in the late-game situations, and I think those are the two most important parts of a game. When that happens, your frame of mind changes and you can get complacent."
Jamison promises to come back to life on the court this season--a welcome development for the moribund Wizards, who have missed the playoffs for seven straight seasons. They traded Jerry Stackhouse, Christian Laettner and the No. 5 pick in 2004 for Jamison, whose cutting and quick decision-making fit well into the Princeton offense. "He's not going to catch and post up and let the clock tick down and tick down," coach Eddie Jordan says. "He's as efficient a scorer as [former Jordan teammate] Bernard King."
While this will be Jamison's third team in three years, he sees plenty of familiar faces in Washington's lineup. He played with Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes at Golden State. He shares an agent with Kwame Brown and Etan Thomas. His sister, Latosha, went to school with Jarvis Hayes. He and Brendan Haywood, a former North Carolina teammate, were eating together in a Chapel Hill sports bar in June when Jamison saw on ESPN that he had been traded. "[Brendan] was like, 'Hey, you're my teammate again,'" Jamison says.
He's also Haywood's best hope for avoiding another horror show of a season. --B.S.
ENEMY LINES an opposing team's scout sizes up the Wizards
"This is an intriguing team with a deep pool of young talent. All they need is a few of their players to become more consistent the way Larry Hughes did last year, when he learned to let the game come to him.... Kwame Brown has all the tools but little feel for the game. Last year, during an opponent's free throw, he was looking over his shoulder and arguing with somebody on his own bench while the shot rebounded off the rim--and the guy he was supposed to box out got the ball and went around him for a layup. ... They have a better chance of seeing improvement from Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas, though I was shocked that Thomas got a six-year, $37 million contract when he hasn't proven he can rebound and block shots consistently. Haywood has the potential to be terrific, but he's another young guy who simply disappears.... I don't think Gilbert Arenas cares much for the Princeton offense. The way it works in New Jersey (except at the end of close games, obviously) is that Jason Kidd gives up the ball early because he knows he'll get it back. But Arenas holds on to the ball because he doesn't believe his teammates will get it back to him to make a play. Arenas is more of a scorer than a point guard, but don't write him off as selfish. He's competitive as hell, and I bet he thinks it's best for the team that he's pounding the ball and shooting.... Roles should be more clearly defined now that Jerry Stackhouseand Christian Laettner are out and Antawn Jamison is in. I know they want to run, but that won't happen unless they play better D--and that's where Jamison can help. The key to good defense is to have competitive guys, and he fits that bill."
The 2003-04 Wizards led the league in turnovers committed (17.5 per game) and steals given up (9.6), while ranking last in assists (18.7).
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP with 2003-04 statistics
Record: 25-57 (13th in East)
Points scored: 91.8 (18th in NBA)
Points allowed: 97.4 (22nd)
Coach: Eddie Jordan
(second season with the Wizards)
ANTAWN JAMISON [New Acquisition]
G STEVE BLAKE
F JARED JEFFRIES
NEW ACQUISITION *PVR Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 86)