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Wizards vs. Hollinger

The Whizosphere is in an uproar over ESPN stat nerd John Hollinger's dismissive dismissing of the Wizards. He thinks they'll win 33 games and miss the playoffs, finishing 13th in the East. 13th! If they finish 13th in the East, I'll eat his slide rule. Here's his direct quote:

"Numbers, numbers, percentage, divided by, Does anyone else get the impression this franchise is spinning its wheels? At the end of the day, the Wizards' two best players had career years, and they still went 41-41, square root of nanoelectron plus pie = I hate creativity and genius and the pursuit of optimism."

So anyhow, 13th in the East. Gilbert said that anything less than the Eastern Conference finals will be considered a failure. Jamison agreed. This, friends, is a disconnect. Here's what the Whizosphere has to say:

Bullets Forever (tone: outraged indignation): The Wizards had the point differential of a .500ish team last year, yes, but I don't see how one can foresee a dropoff all the way down to 33 wins. Even if you take the Pythagorean record (39-43), Hollinger suggests the Wizards will lose six more games than last year, even though no key contributors were lost. Is the East really that much better? I'm dubious.

D.C. Pro Sports Report (tone: optimistic disagreement): "Unless they are devastated by injuries - worse than they were last season - the Bullets will win more than 33 games. A lot more. Book it."

We Rite Good (tone: studied puzzlement): "While there are worse concerns for the Wiz these days than a columnist's predictions...still, yikes....Most of the We Rite Goode riters are closet Hollinger-heads; for our purposes, his words carry scary weight." (Followed by a mind-numbing but persuasive series of Antawn Jamison stats).

Anyhow, that's all fine, but in debunking Professor Party Pooper, I chose to instead look at his 2006-'07 picking prowess.

The easy thing here is to laugh at his pick of the Celtics to win the Atlantic (they finished last). Sadly, he also picked the Spurs to beat the Cavs in the Finals; congrats John. He went two for six on division champs, selecting three runners-up, which isn't bad. But let's go deeper; let's look at his won-loss record predictions in the New York Sun, East and West.

Sure, this doesn't account for injuries and whatnot, but his total picks were off by a total of 186 wins (6.2 per team). But what does that mean? Is there a baseline for awesome picking? Well, sure. Here are the preseason over-under win totals posted by Las Vegas Sports Consultants last fall. LVSC was operating two weeks earlier than Hollinger, and was forced to use 1/2 totals, making it impossible to ever hit the number exactly. But what was their total differential? 176 wins (5.9 per team). Hollinger was within two wins for seven NBA teams; LVSC was within 1.5 wins for 10 NBA teams. Hollinger had the 41-win Wiz winning just 37 games; Vegas said 41.5. So if you had to put your faith in a 2007-08 prediction, would you trust the Wiz-hating Hollinger or the unbeatably smart Vegas?

So what am I telling you? Wait until Vegas comes out with its Wiz over-under of 40.5 wins, and relax.

By Dan Steinberg  |  October 4, 2007; 3:06 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Next: WSJ Discusses Gil's Blog


D. Steinz, I didn't know you spoke fluent Hollinger. Thanks for the translation and assuaging Wizards' fans' ruffled feathers.

Posted by: DD | October 4, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I think the team from Teen Wolf could finish better than 13th in the East. I expect the Wiz to do much better than that.

Posted by: Kev | October 4, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Finally somebody holds an analyst at ESPN accountable. Thank you, next up take on Lee Corso...

Posted by: Young Hollywood | October 4, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone really care about the Wizards? Or the NBA, for that matter? Pro basketball has long ago peaked and is headed into the abyss of the second tier sports.

Posted by: Joe | October 5, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

YEs everyone cares, you obviously care because you took the time to write that post.

Posted by: To Joe | October 8, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

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