Youth the Focus of Final 29 Contests

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 17, 2009

With the Wizards so far out of the playoff race, one thing to follow over the final 29 games is the development of young players like Javaris Crittenton, Nick Young, Dominic McGuire, Oleksiy Pecherov and JaVale McGee.

McGuire has been starting while Young, McGee and Crittenton have seen heavy action due to the slew of injuries to key veterans.

"I used to always say 'develop the young guys' but we spent the first half developing the young guys, they had quality time and quality minutes," forward Caron Butler said. "Now, it's time to ball. No more excuses. Bring what you got, play as hard as you can and lay it out there."

But, are they ready?

"If not now, you might not ever be," Butler continued. "They got a lot time they would have never had until years down the line, because of the injuries. It's time to turn that corner as a player and take that challenge. This league is about mano-a-mano. You're going to have someone in your face and you gotta bring it."

ยท INJURY UPDATE: Forward-center Andray Blatche, who has missed the past nine games with a strained left knee, participated in last evening's practice and is making progress but will not play tonight against Minnesota.

Interim coach Ed Tapscott said he would like to see Blatche have a couple of practices under his belt before returning to game action.

Gilbert Arenas (left knee), Brendan Haywood (right wrist), DeShawn Stevenson (lower back) and Etan Thomas (left knee) remain out indefinitely.

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