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Going to Chi-town

My plan was to blog something once I got to Chicago, you know, maybe give you a feeling for how crazy the place is over the Bears right now by counting all of the Dick Butkus and Walter Payton jerseys on the street but my plane is delayed and I'm still sitting in National airport.

As for tonight's game, I'm curious to see how Gilbert Arenas performs. 1. He has great memories of playing in Chicago dating back to the night he hit "the shot" to win that playoff game two years ago and 2. Kirk Hinrich was kept on Team USA over him this summer and we all know how Gilbert can be about slights. I have a feeling that he's going to bring it hard, preseason game or not.

While the Wizards are breaking in a new starter, DeShawn Stevenson, and trying to iron out a playing rotation minus Darius Songaila, the Bulls are also in the process of figuring some things out. According one of my fellow hoop scribes, Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald, Hinirch, Ben Wallace and Ben Gordon are locked in as starters and P.J. Brown is the logical starter at PF. That leaves one starting spot open and the two guys going for it are Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni. Deng will start tonight because he's played the best in camp so far according to coach Scott Skiles.

The Bulls appear to be a nasty defensive team on paper but my question is this: who is going to score? Hinrich is a decent shooter but he's more of a distributor than a scorer. Nocioni is solid. Deng can score but he gets his in transition and off of drives. Ben Gordon is an outside shooter. Brown and Wallace are good rebounders and tough defensively but aren't you essentially playing 3 against 5 at the offensive end when they are in the game together? The Bulls had better be good defensively because there could be a lot of low scoring, cold shooting nights when you are that reliant on your guards and wings to carry the scoring load.

A few of the Bulls address the scoring issue in Paul Ladewski's article in today's Daily Southtown.,1SD4-11.article

I have a funny feeling that the Wizards and Bulls will be duking it out for playoff positioning come April so it will be interesting to see how quickly the two teams start the regular season. I would give the Wizards an edge right now simply becuse they return their core players from a year ago while the Bulls are breaking in seven new players. As the Wiz learned last season, it takes time to blend a bunch of new players into the mix and in some cases (Chucky Atkins) a new player or two simply won't fit.

I'll check back later once I get to Chicago, down a polish sausage or two and get set up at the arena.

By Ivan Carter  |  October 11, 2006; 1:02 PM ET
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IC, a couple points:

1) The post-Jordan Bulls make me want to make basketball illegal. They are quickly developing into my most hated team as I hate each part individually and together, these parts combine for a potpourri of gross basketball. My most hated player in the league, Andres Nocioni, should be banned from the league for A) flopping B) dirty play. There should be a rule that the tv goes off when he is in the game so the youth of America don't see his actions.

2) There will be some ver interesting free agents next summer. Do you see the Wizards making any splashes? OR do you see us content to be like the Celtics of a few years ago and hover around the 6-8 area and miss our window?

3) I'm still confused why all this hype is surrounding my Wizards. We were no better this past year than the year before (worse in some ways) and had we gotten past the Cavs, we'd have been thrashed in round 2 like 2005. We haven't beaten Miami in 3 years, the Nets, Bulls, and Pacers all got better or healthier, and we still cannot guard anyone. I love Jamison as he is a great dude and has a nice game but he needs to score 35 a night to make up for how many points we give up because he is on the floor. He can't guard bigs or swingmen so either he gets beat or we get beat compensating. My hope is that we can trade him for a legit power forward after we struggle out of the gate (which I think we will).

I love this coverage, but I am sensing that you guys are getting swept up in this hype a little bit. Not a criticism, just a caution. We are talking about a 42 win team here. 'Keeping the core together' is something you get excited about for 50+ win teams; not poor defensive jump shooting teams with no discernable inside presence.

Bernard King from the Baseline, OUT.

Posted by: Bernard King | October 11, 2006 2:06 PM | Report abuse

What a great post by Bernard King. This is what I have been trying to say to everyone. No chance we compete for the East this year. We have a ceiling that stops at Rd. 2 at best with the current lineup.

That's why I have been asking if there are any trades in the early works that the Zards have their eye on. Surely, Abe Pollin, who is older than hunger, doesn't think this team is going to get him a championship. He may not see the end of 2007...GMEG surely doesn't think we can touch the Top 4 teams in the playoffs. People scoff at the idea of us swinging something for an All-Pro big, but we did it with C-Webb.

Mark it...we are the superstar, and a bunch of soft transition/jump shooting players. Unless we get Marion...BOOYAKASHOT!

Posted by: The Governor | October 11, 2006 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Gilbert is going to bust hinrich for 50, at least once if not twice this season. Hinrich has some heart so this can be the birth of a great rivalry. but he can't bust gilbert for 50, even with Gilbert's matador skills.

Posted by: Arenas goes for 50! | October 11, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

BK, it's funny that you mention "hype" and "wizards" because I haven't sensed a whole lot of hype from around the nation. Wilbon has an optimisic viewpoint and I think I'm seeing a potential 45-50 win team each day but we all know what can come of such speculation. Drastically improving this team through a trade may be difficult. Other than Arenas, who isn't going anywhere, and Butler, who wouldn't be moved unless a deal were too good to pass up, this team doesn't have a whole bunch of tradeable assets. Antawn's contract swells to $16 mill next season and nobody's touching that. Etan is on the hook through 2009-2010 for 5, 6 and then 7 mill and even if a team out there wanted to take that on, who will you get in return? I'm sure that Ernie will have his eyes open as the trade deadline approaches this winter but I think he likes the makeup of this team and doesn't want to do something stupid. Thanks for reading and keep the thoughts rolling.

Posted by: Ivan | October 11, 2006 5:57 PM | Report abuse

OK, OK . . . I know the best time of the year for fans of Les Bullez is 1) the draft (cause they're always high enough to warrant a promising pick) and 2) Preseason (cause everyone is 0-0 and can dream big if A, B, C and D go exactly right). What if John "Hot Plate" Williams takes the next step?
So call me a sucker, but I'm optimistic again this year. Of course, I was hopeful that things might go right for the Orioles this season.
But (a big ole but, oh yeah) I like the fringe player additions (DeShawn and Darius), which give the Wiz much-needed D and a nasty streak. I think Blatche is ready to contribute something (and anything will be sweet). And JHayes has something to prove, and his long-range accurate shooting will stretch opposing D's for all the slashers we have. The depth is nice. AND our front office is talented, respected and secure. That's a great combination.
On the hype issue, hey, Gilbert is solo on the cover of Slam and is one of five players on the cover of another major hoops rag. For a team as lame and disrespected as the Wiz have been in recent years, that's a monumental step forward. I think the "culture of losing" that the team wore around its neck like an albatross for so many years is finally lifting.
Bring it!

Posted by: billb | October 11, 2006 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Despite the 3 game drop in wins last year, the Wizards actually had a better team last year. They were lucky in 2005 to win 45 games. If one takes a look at their points scored/against that season, they were expected to be 40-42. Then, they lost Larry Hughes, one of their Big 3. Last season, they actually were unlucky, as they had an expected record of 46-36. All this while spending half a year figuring out how to replace Caron Butler.

Lack of depth ended up hurting the Wizards severely last year, but with Stevenson and Songalia in the fold and Hayes coming back, the Wizards are much deeper right now than before. Hence, the optimism.

With the Eastern Conference as diluted as ever beyond Miami, the Wizards have a legitimate chance to win 50 games in the regular season. Depending on their draw in the playoffs, advancing past the first round should be a given in this situation, and advancing further is possible if they can play a team like Detroit or Cleveland in Round 2.

Obviously, a lot could go wrong this season, but right now, there is legitimate reason for optimism. The Wizards have improved each year, and for the first time, they have all three members of their core returning. Considering the type of putridity this town has seen from this team in the past, this may potentially be the best team we've had since Wes Unseld retired. That alone is reason for optimism.

-Bullets Fever

Posted by: Bullets Fever | October 12, 2006 1:10 AM | Report abuse

By "replacing Caron Butler," I meant "replacing Larry Hughes."

If you want to look up the expected wins to make sure I'm not making that up, go to Basketball Reference and look at the last two Wizards teams.

-Bullets Fever

Posted by: Bullets Fever | October 12, 2006 1:13 AM | Report abuse

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