Bullets Fever

A blog and community website for the Washington Wizards and their fans.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Remember Gheorghe?



One of the hallmarks of the mid-1990s Washington Bullets teams that I fell in love with was none other than Gheorghe Muresan, the tallest player to ever play in the NBA. Muresan was always the pet project of coach Jim Lynam. Despite having three of the best young forwards in basketball in Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, and Rasheed Wallace, Lynam kept playing Muresan at center in the hope that he could become a dominant force. In 1996, Muresan came as close as he would come. He nearly averaged a double-double (14.5 points, 9.6 rebounds), sprinkled in 2.3 blocked shots a game, and shot 58 percent from the field. His player-efficiency rating that season was a 21.00. By comparison, had that been this year, Muresan would have been ahead of guys like Mehmet Okur, Jermaine O'Neal, Boris Diaw, and Brad Miller. He won the league's Most Improved Player award and seemed ticketed for a long NBA career. Unfortunately for the Bullets, Muresan's knees gave out, and after a brief stint in New Jersey, he faded into the sunset.

I was thinking of Muresan recently because I wonder what would happen if Muresan was the center on this year's team. Say you replaced Brendan Haywood with a 1996 version of Muresan. How much better would the team be? How much better would the defense be? Would it be good enough to prevent LeBron and his teammates from going to the rim at will? It's definetly an interesting thing to think about.

Personally, if the Wizards had the 1996 version of Muresan, they would be a Finals contender. Muresan was good enough to be our Zydrunas Ilgauskas; our reliable low-post scorer and rebounder. Gheorge is also a better rebounder and shot blocker than Big Z, which would significantly improve our defense. Considering the gambling nature of our perimeter players, a presence like Muresan would help incredibly. I'd say the Wizards would certainly be good enough to defeat Miami with a healthy Gheorghe, and certainly could beat Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and New Jersey.

Alas, it will never happen. But it's still interesting to think about.



How different do you think the Wizards would be if Gheorghe Muresan was the starting center instead of Brendan Haywood?

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