Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hotter Than Arizona

A few days ago, I was reading Henry Abbot's TrueHoop blog about Gilbert Arenas trash-talking Richard Jefferson. Gil said that RJ is mad that he's only the third-best player from Arizona. Big shit poppin' I see. (So, Mr. Zero, who's exactly number 2?)

Yesterday, David Berri at The Wages of Wins Journal decided to do a little statistical analysis on the matter. A very interesting read.

Arizona has had a lot of great players, most have gone on to solid careers in the League. I decided to throw my own 50 cents into the discussion.

So here is my list, though not as statistical as David's, of the top 5 players in the League from the University of Lute Olsen. (note: My list is a cumulative of college and pro careers.)

1. Damon Stoudamire -- In my opinion, Gilbert Arenas isn't even the best player from Arizona. It's Mighty Mouse. Gil may be more "Now" (shout out to ESPN), but Damon was a first team All-American, finished as the Wildcats' all-time leader in 3-pointers made, finished fourth all-time in assists, led UA to the Final Four as a junior, and was a Wooden Award finalist. He was taken 7th overall by the Toronto Raptors and won Rookie of the Year in '95-'96 averaging 19 points and 9.6 assists. Stoudamire averaged 17.6 points and 8.5 assists his first five years in Canada and Portland before injuries and lost minutes on a deep Blazers squad decended his status as a top pg.

2. Gilbert Arenas -- Gil gets the nod over Sean Elliott and Mike Bibby because:
A) Agent Zero is on the verge of catching Elliott and in points scored in half as many years, and
B) Gil is an All-Star who has been the Man on his team for multiple years.
Arenas had a modest college career, breaking out his junior year when UA reached the national championship game against Duke in 2001. He was a second round pick in '01, though he got a lot of burn towards the end of his rookie year, averaging 10.6 points in 47 games. He played in all 82 games the next year and put 18.6 points in a contract year. He signed with Washington that summer and has steadily improved his ppg average every year except '07, when he got hurt at the end of the season(19.6 in '04; 25.5 in '05; 29.4 in '06; 28.4 in '07).

3. Mike Bibby -- Bibby had the most team success of anybody on this list, winning the NCAA title as a freshman in '96-'97, scoring 20 points in that game against the mighty Kentucky Wildcats. He was taken 2nd in the solid '98 Draft (before Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison and Jason Williams) by the Vancouver Grizzlies. He's had a solid career stats-wise, averaging a career-high 8.4 assists in '01 and a career-high 21.1 points in '06. But his biggest exploits came in the 2002 and 2004 playoffs, averaging 20.3 and 20 points, respectively, for the Sacramento Kings. In 2002, he hit a bunch of clutch shots in helping lead the Kings to within a game of the NBA Finals (where they most likely would have won.)

4. Sean Elliot -- Elliott is perhaps the best individual player ever at Arizona, winning the Wooden Award as a senior in 1989. He was drafted 3rd overall by the San Antonio Spurs, traded to the Detroit Pistons in 1992, then traded back to the Spurs in '94. He was mostly a solid veteran role player during his career, culminating in helping the Spurs win the '99 championship, which may or may not have actually happened. Came back to play in 2000 after having a kidney transplant (given to him by his brother).

5. Jason Terry -- My Mavs hatred notwithstanding, Terry has to make this list. He was UA's all-time leader in steals. He was drafted 10th overall in a good draft ('99) by the Hawks and became the first Hawk since Stacey Augmon to make an all-Rookie Team. JT averaged a career-high 21.7 points in 2001-01 for Atlanta. He's averaged 18 points a game since his rookie year. He's never been an All-Star (and probably never will be) but he's been a catalyst on a very good Mavericks team that were two games from a title in '06.

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