All the fake controversy about the latest NBA 2K ratings got me wondering about some things. I’m not about to provide “correct” ratings for the players because I don’t play this game, I don’t know what the ratings actually mean, and I probably don’t share the goals of the game-makers.
Specifically, my analysis generally is trying to determine what causes teams to win or lose. The makers of NBA 2K are trying to make an entertaining game with reasonable enough accuracy.
The big thing it got me wondering is which players in Wizards/Bullets history actually belong on the All-Franchise team.
The problem? My database goes back only to 1977-78, a season I picked for no reason whatsoever having nothing at all to do with it being a significant year in franchise history. Umm...yeah...that’s the ticket.
For this team, I’m NOT looking at total career contributions. I’m picking best seasons. The only cutoff is that the player had to accumulate at least 1,500 total minutes in that season. I’ll use PPA (my all-around production metric, in which 100 is average and higher is better) for a first cut, but my final team won’t necessarily follow the production score.
FYI: If a player shows up twice in the top 5, I’m leaving out the second one.
Let’s start in the middle with the top center seasons in Bullets/Wizards history since 1977-78.
- Moses Malone, 1986-87, age 31 — By the time he got to Washington, Moses had gotten a little soft in the mid-section, and he was more than a little diminished from his prime in Philadelphia. Still, he was a big-time scorer and rebounder who posted a 189 PPA, which is outstanding.
- Marcin Gortat, 2015-16, age 31 — The Polish Hammer finished well inside, rebounded well and held his own in the middle. His pick-and-roll synergy with John Wall and Bradley Beal was a revelation. His PPA that season: 171.
- Gheorge Muresan, 1995-96, age 24 — The most massive human I’ve ever met (he was in my way once as I tried to get back to the locker room, and at 6-2, I had to reach UP to touch his elbow and nudge him out of the way). This was the season the 7-6 Muresean stayed healthy and couldn’t be stopped if he got the ball in the post. Rebounds fell into his hands, which were basically at rim level when he stood there flat-footed. He blocked enough shots to make up for some of his immobility. He posted a 171 PPA, got hurt and was finished.
- Wes Unseld, 1978-79, age 32 — Coming off a championship season, Unseld turned in another terrific campaign — 171 PPA, extreme offensive efficiency (123 offensive rating) with some assists, some rebounds, and some crunching picks.
- Jeff Ruland, 1983-84, age 25 — One of the few times in his career Ruland stayed healthy. He played in 75 games and a preposterous (by today’s standards) 3,082 regular season minutes — 41.1 minutes per game. His game was brawn and brute force — less subtle than a sledgehammer. PPA: 157.
- Chris Webber, 1996-97, age 23 — Webber was a do-everything All-Star, who got dumped in possibly trade in sports history and led the Sacramento Kings to the Western Conference Finals and had them in perennial title contention. In this season, he was terrific — scoring, playmaking, rebounding, blocking shots, producing steals. He was 23. PPA: 176.
- Otto Porter, 2017-18, age 24 — Look, I know Porter has his detractors. He surely was not the most assertive guy around. This season, though — 121 offensive rating on 18.0% usage. He shot 53.7% from two-point range, 44.1% from three, and 82.8% from the line. Plus he rebounded, defended and almost never committed turnovers. That’s a good player. PPA: 175.
- Caron Butler, 2007-08, age 27 — Gilbert Arenas was hurt, and Butler seized the opportunity by working on every aspect of his game and cutting sugary sodas from his diet. He had the best season of his career. PPA: 158.
- Greg Ballard, 1981-82, age 27 — Career season for Ballard, who produced more than 20 points per 40 minutes on just 20.6% usage. He also rebounded decently for a SF type. If I recall correctly, his defense would fit right into the Wizards of the last few years. PPA: 157
- Antawn Jamison, 2007-08, age 28 — Arenas was out, and Jamison joined Butler in the up-stepping. Sort of. Jamison’s usage was identical to the previous season, but his efficiency fell because he didn’t shoot as well — perhaps missing the gravity Arenas provided. Still, he grabbed more rebounds and marginally improved his performance in some other areas. PPA: 154.
- Gilbert Arenas, 2006-07, age 25 — Arenas was a sensation, and this was his best season. For three seasons, he was one of the game’s elite offensive weapons — terrific shooting with seemingly unlimited range combined with quickness, strength, timing and no conscience. His season and the productive portion of his career ended when Gerald Wallace fell into his leg and injured his knee. PPA: 167.
- John Wall, 2016-17, age 26 — This was Wall at the height of his powers. Healthy. Quick. Fast. Explosive. Powerful. Sublime court vision. Then the injuries started. PPA: 165
- Larry Hughes, 2004-05, age 26 — Easily the best season of Hughes’ career. He was dynamic on offense and defense, even making the All-Defense team. PPA: 161.
- Bradley Beal, 2019-20, age 26 — With Wall out of action with heel surgery and then a torn Achilles, Beal was often a one-man show on offense. This was, by my reckoning, the best of his career — even better than last season — because he did just as much scoring, but more playmaking. The difference between the two seasons is pretty minor, however. PPA: 160.
- Rod Strickland, 1998-99, age 32 — He had his personal troubles, and he would manage just 44 games in this season, but Strickland had game. Great penetrator and playmaker who could have been an all-time great if he learned to shoot beyond 18 feet. PPA: 156
First Team All Franchise
G — Gilbert Arenas
G — John Wall
F — Chris Webber
F — Caron Butler
C — Wes Unseld
Second Team All Franchise
G — Larry Hughes
G — Bradley Beal
F — Otto Porter
F — Antawn Jamison
C — Moses Malone
As I mentioned previously, my picks are not strictly based on the numbers. Like, my metric had Porter’s season ahead of Butler’s, but if I was picking a team for one game to save my life, I’d rather have a guy who told his teammates in training camp to “drink some tough juice.”
Similarly, Moses’ best season came in ahead of Unseld’s, but that could be an artifact of when the database started. I suspect that Unseld’s best seasons were when he was younger. For example, he won Rookie of the Year and league MVP in the same season.
Who’s on your All-Franchise team?