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News » Struggling Stevenson gives himself a seat

Struggling Stevenson gives himself a seat

Struggling Stevenson gives himself a seat
Mired in a slump that has him posting career-low numbers, Washington Wizards shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson benched himself.

Stevenson, who this season is averaging just 7.6 points on a career-worst 31.7 percent shooting and a 28.3 percent clip from 3-point range, went to interim coach Ed Tapscott before practice Monday and asked to be removed from the Wizards' starting lineup.

Stevenson, who averaged 11.1 points on 43.6 percent shooting the past three years, hasn't been the reliable contributor who helped the Wizards reach the playoffs last year despite the absence of franchise player Gilbert Arenas.

Stevenson has tried everything - from altering his pregame routines to switching up superstitions to putting in extra work on his shot - to no avail. Tapscott had remained committed to the ninth-year guard despite his struggles, believing he would shoot his way out of the slump.

But in a 97-86 loss to Dallas on Sunday, Stevenson had zero points in 15 minutes - his second scoreless game of the season - and then approached Tapscott the following morning.

"In what I consider a real team gesture, DeShawn Stevenson came to me and said, 'Tap, you know I'm struggling a little bit. Why don't you let me come off the bench and see if I can get my swag back going against some second-line guys?' " Tapscott said. "And I thought that an enormously gracious thing to say. The ultimate team guy and it's why I have so much respect for the guy - because he'll do anything he can to get a win."

Stevenson owns the second-longest active streak of consecutive stars - his 275 games ranks second only to Detroit's Tayshaun Prince's 353. But he deemed it pointless to keep the streak alive since he believed he was hindering his team. Stevenson left Verizon Center without speaking to reporters Monday, but Tapscott said the reason he hadn't previously considered benching the guard had nothing to do with the streak.

"When you have a veteran that may have some struggles, if he represents the best part of your culture, the best values you want exhibited in your team - sacrifice, team play, hard work, intensity, competitiveness - you want to give that person a chance to work out their struggles," Tapscott said.

With Stevenson out, Tapscott and the Wizards (4-21) spent Monday studying two ways to fill his spot in the starting lineup. The first was moving All-Star small forward Caron Butler to shooting guard and putting second-year forward Dominic McGuire in the starting frontcourt with center Andray Blatche and power forward Antawn Jamison.

The other was replacing Stevenson with second-year shooting guard Nick Young. Tapscott said he will decide by the shootaround in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday morning, hours before the Wizards take on the Bobcats.

"If we go with Caron at [shooting guard] and Dom at [small forward], we're bigger. So one, it's a defensive player going into the lineup and a rebounder, which obviously are two things we are trying to address," Tapscott said. "At the same time, in the NBA you have to score and keep pace. So if you go with the other lineup, clearly that's more offensive firepower."

The offensive firepower Tapscott spoke of is the 9.5 points a game Young is averaging off the bench. McGuire, a defensive-minded scrapper who focuses on grabbing rebounds, snatching steals and handing out assists, averages just 2.0 points a game to go with 2.9 rebounds in 11.8 minutes. On Sunday, he saw his most extensive action (28 minutes) of the season, posting seven points, five rebounds and three steals.

Butler has played shooting guard for short stretches this season after doing so previously in his career.

"I do [like playing shooting guard] because you get the opportunity to post up smaller guards," the 6-foot-7 Butler said. "We've been successful running it, so now we'll hopefully make it a permanent thing."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 23, 2008


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