Washington Wizards

Predicted Record
46-36 (Tom), 46-36 (GR)

Last Year’s Record

Gil’s Commentary
For years, frontcourt-mates Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas have fought over who’s going to start. I always supported Thomas because he looks like a Predator, but he’s (likely) out for the season after having surgery to repair a leaking heart valve. Ironically, I’ve frequently complained that Haywood has no heart. That said, neither of these men should be starting for a professional basketball team.

The Wiz don’t seem to have changed much from last year’s formula: score like crazy and hope the other team gets tired. They’ve got no rebounding and no defenders (besides DeShawn “I Want a Date with Lindsay Lohan” Stevenson), but they do have the most entertaining blogger in the NBA.

Fortunately, their scoring is pretty awesome, and should keep them competitive in the regular season. They’ll go nowhere in the playoffs and end up overpaying to keep Gil Arenas and losing even more depth from their frontcourt.

Mitch Prothero’s Commentary
Everyone knows about the Wizards and the big three of Gilbert ‘Agent Zero’ Arenas, Caron ‘Tough Juice’ Butler and Antawn ‘Antwan’ Jamison. The highest scoring trio in the league seems ready to return healthy and somewhat happy for what is a key year. Can Gilbert lead a team, play some D and get along with Eddie Jordan? How far can this core of players go in the playoffs? And most importantly, should the Wizards offer up a max extension to Arenas after the season? All interesting questions that we can address next year. But what’s remarkable about this squad isn’t the three big names but the subtle improvement it has seen among its young players and bench in the off-season.

Success this year — defined by making to and playing well in the second or third round — comes down to one young man: A man whose name is synonymous the phrases “Hey, are you a cop?” and “Fuck, I’ve been shot.” In his third year, Andray Blatche will be the deciding factor for this squad. Blatche has serious size (close to 7 feet), can put the ball on the floor and in the basket and (it seems) play some D. He’ll never be confused with Anthony Mason, either in toughness or his ability to spot a undercover vice cop, but the kid offers the ability to play four positions, adding the height and athleticism sometimes missing from the Wiz front-line.

There’s also a lot of potential on the bench as 2006 first rounder Oleksiy Pecherov brings 7 feet of Slavic love, outside shooting and rebounding. 2007 first-round pick Nick Young looks like an instant scorer off the bench and a possible second round gem in Dominic McGuire, who, backing up Butler as small forward, has thrown out some monster block numbers in the preseason and at times seems to have outplayed Young. If they develop as planned, stay healthy and have a few breaks go their way, this squad could be tough in the playoffs.

Rejoinder From Tom
Mitch screwed me by talking up McGuire, so I’ll point out that Eddie Jordan coached the Eastern All-Stars last year, after a kick-ass December, and that he’s one of those head coaches that employs his college coach as an assistant, which I always found creepy.

Gratuitous Comics Connection
The Washington DC area hosts both the Small Press Expo and the International Comics Art Forum.

Gratuitous Pharma Connection
Sen. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), after helping shepherd the Medicare Plan D prescription drug program through Congress, retired and took a high-paying job as the president of PHrMA, the drug industry’s trade group.

The Bottom Line
Gilbert “Agent Zero” Arenas has announced that he’s going to opt out of his contract at season’s end. This means he’ll lead the league in scoring at about 40 ppg. –GR

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