ESPN Experts Pick Eddie Jordan's New Team To Best His Old One | Truth About It.net

ESPN Experts Pick Eddie Jordan’s New Team To Best His Old One

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Updated: September 1, 2009
flickr/Keith Allison

flickr/Keith Allison

If the Washington Wizards prefer to lie amongst the weeds and surprise everyone, a panel of 53 ESPN experts is trying to make that happen (despite the Wizards being voted by the same ESPN panel to have the biggest turnaround this upcoming season).

Tied with both Philadelphia and Toronto to achieve 39 wins, and finish seventh through ninth in the East (the averages actually break out to PHI – 39.4, WAS – 39.1, TOR – 39.0), the ESPN panel believes that the Wizards will be fighting just to make the playoffs.

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix and The Wages of Wins Journal both seem to think the Wiz will be significantly better than sub-40 wins, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. Maybe some of the ESPN experts think the Wizards’ defense won’t be up to par, or that their frontcourt is too thin and they desperately need an upgrade. Of course, when Mike Prada of Bullets Forever wrote the two previously linked pieces, he had improving the team to compete for a championship in mind, not so they can solidify a playoff position. Still, both defense and frontcourt are valid areas of concern.

No one will argue that the Wizards are definitively behind Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando when trying to predict the East. And with the improvements Atlanta has made this summer, it’s even hard to put the Wiz past the Hawks. But thinking that the Heat, Bulls, and 76ers will all be better than Washington is absolutely absurd. Let’s take a glance at what those team have done this summer:

Miami Heat:
Dwyane Wade is good, but he’s not that good … at least to where Miami can overcome having to “depend” on the brittle Jermaine O’Neal (let’s be real, he’s guaranteed to miss at least 30 games), and the irrelevant Jamaal Magloire in the paint. And relying on Chris Quinn and Mario Chalmers to be much more than adequate point guards is pushing it. Perhaps the experts made their picks before Michael Beasley became ‘Supercool Beas’, so I’ll give them a bit of a pass. Simply put, the Heat do not have enough depth and firepower to be on the same level as the Wizards … go ahead and slap yourself in the face if you think Quentin Richardson is going to count for much.
Chicago Bulls:
They lost the only guy who’s a legitimate threat to score at any time (Ben Gordon), and replaced him with Jannero Pargo. Yea, riiiiight. Derrick Rose is awesome, but is he ready to be anything and everything for an above .500 team with a ‘Goof Troop’ of Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, and Brad Miller holding down the frontcourt? Doubt it. Luol Deng could finally live up to expectations (just like Andray Blatche), but it’s asking a lot for him to knock the rust off and be a primary scoring option. John Salmons supplies a nice complimentary piece, but would likely be stuck behind seven or eight guys on the Wizards. Methinks the experts are getting a bit boosted off Chicago’s great playoff series against a Garnett-less Celtics.
Philadelphia 76ers:
Hey, that Eddie Jordan guy is in town! I like him. But Eddie’s talk of “anyone will do at PG” ain’t gonna cut it now that Andre Miller is in Portland. Sweet Lou Williams is talented. But when you’re talking about him, Royal Ivey, and perhaps Jrue Holiday, holding down the backcourt, you aren’t going to get far. And you weren’t thinking about a ‘Point Igoudala’ experiment , were you? Jordan will try to turn a team that relied on frantic defense into a team that relies on frantic offense, likely increasing the team’s pace from 21st in the league last year. Sounds like a ‘cute’ idea. The Sixers will be good (likely better than the Heat and Bulls in my opinion), but are much too inexperienced to compete with the Wizards … much less trying to teach that inexperience the intricacies of Jordan’s pro-style Princeton offense.

The Wizards, on the other hand, have only lost Darius Songaila, Etan Thomas, and Oleksiy Pecherov and will enter training camp, assuming complete health, with one of their deepest teams in ages, if not one of the deepest in the NBA for the upcoming season.

So pick a Gilbert Arenas-led team to finish in the lower echelon of the East’s playoff contenders. It’s okay. Agent Zero, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, and Brendan Haywood won’t have a problem proving everyone wrong. Actually, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

ESPN Expert Panel Final Eastern Conference Tally (regular season wins):

  1. CLE – 61
  2. BOS – 57
  3. ORL – 56
  4. ATL – 45
  5. MIA – 44
  6. CHI – 43
  7. PHI – 39
  8. WAS – 39
  9. TOR – 39
  10. DET – 38
  11. CHA – 35
  12. IND – 33
  13. NY – 32
  14. MIL – 30
  15. NJ – 29

Breakdown of the three-way tie for 7th place, with Philly and Washington in and Toronto out:

PHI – 39.4
WAS – 39.1
TOR – 39.0