We are one week away from NBA2K12 season beginning. The extremely popular and highly rated video game might be the only taste of NBA basketball we get for some time (although there are encouraging reports coming out of New York on Tuesday). Gamers will not be able to update the stats for these rosters or even play as their favorite rookies -- like Kyrie Irving -- in this version of the game because of the lockout.
Basketball is basketball, as they say. And being able to at least simulate what the NBA season will be like is worth it to some fans.
Video of the game has begun to leak out onto the Internet -- including a complete list of the ratings for each team. The Magic, it is safe to assume, are no longer one of the teams favored to win the title in these games. The trades in December and the struggles toward the end of the year seemed to guarantee that.
Dwight Howard is among the elite players in the game, fourth overall behind LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant. He is undoubtedly one of the best players the game will feature -- and likely the best post player in the game.
What about the other Magic players? The roster is full of players rated in the 70s. Solid players no doubt, but not superstar quality. NBA2K confirms what we thought about the roster. It is Dwight Howard surrounded by a bunch of third- or fourth-option players. At least until the first stats update.
Gilbert Arenas, yes Gilbert Arenas, is the second-highest rated player on the team with a 77 overall rating. The virtual version does not appear to have shaky knees and questionable work ethic post trade. No word yet on what his turnover or missed mid-range jump shot rate is.
Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu are 74s and Jason Richardson is a 73. Brandon Bass rounds up the starting lineup at 70.
The state of the Magic roster is seen pretty clearly in these rankings. There are some good players and potentially good players on the roster. Just, aside from Howard, no other real stars. Orlando is looking for its "80" player for sure.
Just about every blog has spent its time ranking the top players in the league. Zach Lowe of The Point Forward made a list. The Basketball Jones has one too ranking the most important players to their site. ESPN.com is nearing the completion of its ambitious project of ranking every single NBA player. And there are plenty others.
The consistent thing in each of these rankings is that Dwight Howard is near the top (No. 2 according to Lowe and No. 5 according to TBJ) and the other key players are in the middle.
Lowe rated Jason Richardson was No. 64 and had Jameer Nelson at No. 86. Gilbert Arenas got to No. 15 on TBJ's list, but I do not think that was for his positive play on the court. And Hedo Turkoglu was No. 35, but mostly because he looks like show co-host Tas Melas. It is a little creepy how similar they look.
It is never good when two players make any list more as a joke than anything else. Turkoglu and Arenas were definitely jokes when looking at their stats and their contracts last year -- Bill Simmons and Jonathan Abrams pretty much said pick one (wrong choice of words?) in discussing the proposed amnesty clause on Grantland.
The #NBARank project on ESPN.com is to No. 90 right now. We have yet to see Dwight Howard (obviously). J.J. Redick is the highest rated player that has been revealed so far on the list at No. 143. Hedo Turkoglu chimed in at No. 153 and Gilbert Arenas clocked in at No. 172 (behind Ryan Anderson, for that matter).
You can already see that in ESPN's esteemed minds, the Magic don't have very much top-end talent.
And this all goes back tot he main problem: the Magic need more from the players they have or generally need to improve the talent level on the roster.
Amway Center Wins International Award
The International Economic Development Center and International Downtown Association passed out some pretty hardware for the Magic's new home. The Amway Center won the Excellence in in Economic Development Award from the IEDC and received a Merit Award from the IDC.
These are accolades that show that, at least in name, the Amway Center is accomplishing its goal to spearhead the redevelopment of Church Street and Downtown Orlando. There has been a boom in business along the major Orlando thoroughfare and that goes double for game nights. Several new restaurants and stores opened up near the arena hoping to take advantage of the arena's economic benefits.
Now, of course, the Magic are planning to study whether they can grow even more and build an entertainment complex with restaurants and shops among other projects across the street from the Amway Center where the city-owned parking garage is currently located. This plan is not at all final and represents a major investment from the Magic.
It sure seems like more growth is coming... although growth might need to be in quotation marks depending on who you ask.
Earl Clark Leaving China
Former Magic forward Earl Clark left his team in China, Rijay Wang of Hoop China reports (h/t HoopsHype). The reason, the report states is simple: Clark could not get used to eating the food in China. Apparently he left the team without much word and he is not certain what penalty he will face from his team. But the report makes it sound like his team is moving on without him.
UPDATE: Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel got in touch with Clark's agent and discovered the parting was amicable. Clark wanted to return to the U.S. to be with his girlfriend who is seven months pregnant. She is having some complications and Clark wanted to be there with her should something more happen.
Clark was playing alongside former NBA players J.R. Smith and Rafer Alston on the team. The season has not started in China.
This presumably would free up Clark to return to the Magic if they want to sign him (he would be an unrestricted free agent). It would also allow us to start the Twitter hashtag #FeedEarlClark.
All-Star Prep Moving Along
Despite the lockout and the seemingly bleak prospect of the year not starting on time, Orlando city official, Magic officials and the NBA are moving forward with their monthly meetings in preparation for the All-Star Game in late February, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports. NBA spokesman Tim Frank told Robbins that the league has put no timetable on when it might cancel the All-Star Game. Although, Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel speculates an official cancellation might come in December -- if history has taught us anything.
Until then, they are moving forward as if it will all go off on time.
Photo via DayLife.com.