On the Wizards' Hopes and Dreams
Today's Wizards media session raised oh so many compelling questions. Who will start at center, Etan Thomas or Brendan Haywood? Will a healthy Jarvis Hayes and a muscle-shirt wearing DeShawn Stevenson be able to replace Jared Jeffries? Is Caron Butler an all-star-in-waiting? Is Gilbert Arenas among the elite of the elite? Most importantly, will the Wiz go to the Eastern Conference finals, fulfilling Eddie Jordan's goals?
For answers, we turn to the most objective measure of quantitative basketball excellence: video games. (Thanks to The Basketball Jones, whose Lakers music video just destroys the Cowboys Christmas video in humor value.) (Raise your hand, by the way, if you were burned by Shaun Alexander and the Madden Curse. I knew I should have taken LT.)
(Also, why will NBA Europe Live feature Euro players conducting Euro training camps? Training camps? I mean, we're talking about practice? Not games, practice. What's next, NBA Offseason Conditioning Drills Live?)
Point being, NBA Live's new player ratings are out, and the top 200 were kindly provided by AOL. The answers to all your Wizards questions:
1) Etan Thomas will start at the 5. Etan Thomas is a 70-pointer, tied for 173rd in the league. Brendan Haywood is not listed.
2) The loss of Jared Jeffries was acceptable, since a healthy Jarvis Hayes is a 70-pointer, and Jeffries did not break the top 200.
3) Caron Butler (tied for 60th in the league) will have to hustle to be an all-star. (Also, the exchange of Larry Hughes (83 points) for Butler (79 points) still appears to be a mistake.)
4) Gilbert Arenas is indeed among the elite of the elite (91 points, tied for seventh in the NBA with Steve Nash.) (Ernie Grunfeld: He doesn't have anything to prove to anybody.... But it's good that he feels that maybe he does, because that's what motivates him and that's what drives him.")
5) Speaking of motivation....the Wiz are heavy underdogs to reach the EC finals. Compared to the rest of the East, their top six ranks eighth in points, behind Miami, Cleveland, Detroit, New Jersey, Indiana, Chicago and New York. Yup, New York. Talk about a video game conspiracy. Jeez.
(Ernie Grunfeld on the Wiz, pre-video game calculations: "We showed last year that we can compete with anybody. You know, we beat all the best teams last year, and we feel that we're better this year than we were. And more important, our players feel that.")
Incidentally, the top 10 NBA players, on the video game's 85-category scale:
1. Lebron James (97)
2. Kobe Bryant Bryant (96)
3. Dwyane Wade (94)
4t. Tracy McGrady (93)
4t. Kevin Garnett (93)
4t. Allen Iverson (93)
7t. Steve Nash (91)
7t. Gilbert Arenas (91)
9t. Elton Brand (90)
9t. Dirk Nowitzki (90)
September 26, 2006; 2:49 PM ET
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