Bullets Fever

A blog and community website for the Washington Wizards and their fans.

Friday, September 29, 2006

18th???

Marc Stein has been one of my favorite ESPN.com writers, even after becoming active in the sports blogosphere. However, I have to take issue to his first power rankings column that came out recently. Considering that I'm not the first blogger to do this (seriously, Kings at #21?), it certainly makes you wonder what Stein was thinking.

In the column, Stein puts the Wizards at 18th. 18th! That would be 8th in the east, behind teams like the Lakers, Jazz, Bucks, Pacers, and, get this, the Warriors!

Stein's blurb on the Wizards was as follows.
No one expects tiny Wiz to challenge Miami for the division title. But we do demand a big rebound from Arenas after his FT playoff nightmare and Team USA snip.
Hard hitting analysis, thy name is Marc Stein! In reality, Stein is one of the many sportswriters out there who simplify the Wizards as Gilbert Arenas and the 11 dwarfes. In reality, the Wizards have three potential 20 point scorers; the best scoring guard in the league save for Kobe, Wade, and LeBron, a consistent double-double threat at power forward, one of the best young two-way players in the game, and a series of players who fill their roles effectively. This is what some of the teams ahead of the Wizards have.

10. New Orleans-A superstar point guard, a decent power forward that played out of his mind last year, a free-agent wing scorer who's production has been going down for three years straight, a big man who has never fulfilled his potential, and an inconsistent set of surrounding players.

12. LA Lakers-One superstar shooting guard, a solid small forward, Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, Vladimir Radmanovic, and a bunch of nobodys.

13. Golden State-A consistent 30 win team with a new coach. Still have a maturing shooting guard, an overrated point guard, and a bunch of surrounding pieces that have never fit correctly. Don Nelson isn't going to be able to change this mess overnight. To have Golden State ahead of the Wizards is simply ludicrious and makes you wonder whether Stein has been high all summer.

Here are the ones that really get me. One can legitimately argue New Orleans and the Lakers as being better than the Wizards. The Golden State ranking is so ludicrious that I'd rather not even bother touching it (thankfully, SacTown Royalty has). But how can Stein argue Indiana and Milwaukee over the Wizards. Let's see how he does it.
16. Indiana-Clutch as it was to snare Harrington, starting fast would be one of our man Carlisle's best tricks yet, given that Pacers have to work in, oh, about 10 new faces.
Not only do the Pacers have to work in so many new faces, but they are still starting Jamaal Tinsley and Stephen Jackson at the guards. Losing Fred Jones and replacing him with Marquis Daniels is a downgrade in my eyes. More importantly, however, one can look at the Wizards of 05-06 as a case study when analyzing Indiana. The Wizards took a long time to find the right combination after being forced to make key lineup changes due to offseason moves. I think it's unrealistic to expect Indiana to easily break in Al Harrington and Danny Granger at forwards while also figuring out how to use Marquis Daniels and Darrell Armstrong in the backcourt. Widescale transition, even with talented players, is always a challenge. Indiana will struggle to return to the playoffs this season.
17. Milwaukee-Praise for the Charlie V. trade was nearly unanimous. But Stotts' seat is warming, as he'll be expected to do more with a more mobile frontcourt.
I was a big fan of the Villanueva trade in the offseason. To get a young and promising big like Villanueva for a part-time point guard like Ford was a real coup. However, neither Villanueva or Andrew Bogut is ready yet to be the big-time complimentary scorer to take the pressure off Michael Redd. They're still only each in their second year and have a ways to go before they can be as effective as Antwan Jamison is for the Wizards. More importantly, the Bucks don't have a point guard. Maurice Williams is a nice spark off the bench, but he has never been an NBA starting point guard. The Bucks better hope Charlie Bell or Steve Blake can be a starting-quality point guard, because otherwise, who will get Redd and the bigs the ball. I expect Milwaukee to have a similar year to last year.

Putting Milwaukee and Indiana ahead of Washington is insane. Both teams were worse than the Wizards last year and are undergoing serious foundational changes. The Wizards should be even better this year, considering their early-season struggles had to do with fitting in a number of new faces. I'd put the Wizards all the way up at #11 in the power rankings, and possibly even higher. Putting them 18th, behind teams like Indiana, Golden State, and Milwaukee, is just crazy to me.

Agree? Disagree? Where would you put the Wizards on your power rankings?

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