It brings me no joy to say this, as I am as fond of our agreed-upon numeral system as anyone, but analytics is dead as a tool for measuring sporting achievement, and Bradley Beal killed it. Either that, or all the normal ways to explain the Washington Wizards have been exhausted, and Beal, who would know as well as anyone, has decided to take the Wizards to science camp.
After Wednesday’s ritual groining at the hands of the Toronto Raptors in which the Wizards missed more than 70 percent of their three-pointers for the fourth consecutive game, Beal was asked to explain the team’s atrocious aim in easy-to-understand terms and gave us this:
“Gravity. Gravity just isn’t on our side … Something’s in the air. Maybe if I play on the damn Moon, shots are gonna go in.”Bradley Beal, who hates it here.
First, I believe him. I mean who’s got the evidence to dismiss his claims? NASA? The Discovery Channel? The first draft of Space Jam 2? You have to watch the Wizards to see it, and I can understand why those of you with weak constitutions might want to skip that part of the deep dive, but Beal’s there the whole time, and he should know.
Two, if gravity is kicking your ass, offensive box plus-minus isn’t going to save you. Even the most advanced analytics operate on basic rules of the physical universe, and if you take out something as important as gravity, the numbers tend to lose their meaning even as comparative tools. This may be merely a local phenomenon, though. LeBron James is pretty attuned to the world around him, and he hasn’t even said anything about the ozone layer, let alone Newton’s Second Law Of Motion. Then again, the Lakers are winning. So is Utah, though that might just be the altitude.
Three, this is a delightful omnibus explanation in that the gravity theory covers not only Washington’s shooting issues, but the rumors about Beal’s alleged discontent. He has said he doesn’t want to be traded, but talking about the advantages of playing on the Moon suggests that Beal is at least aware of the 6:1 ratio between the relative surface gravities between Earth and the Moon, and may even be agitating toward a deal once general manager Tommy Sheppard can figure out who to call to initiate discussions.
Also, there’s no National Anthem on the Moon, so there’s that. Maybe the Dallas Mavericks move there in a moment of Cubanic pique, thus giving Sheppard that someone to call.
Or maybe, and this would be most exciting of all, Beal has just found the scientific link to the rhetorical question, “How much does Washington suck?” Granted, this an open-ended question given the early revelations of Trump Impeachment II, but it is a sharp new space helmet on an old and weary head. It still accepts the premise that the Wizards do indeed suck (theirs is the second-worst record in the NBA since 1990), but it suggests that astrophysics rather than analytics might be the issue, and that asking Zach Lowe to explain it to us might be less useful than asking Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz.
If nothing else, it would jazz up The Jump and make Shaquille O’Neal bash his head against the desktop at Inside The NBA. In other words, let Bradley Beal be right on this one. The idea that the Wizards would be an extraordinary team if only they hadn’t chosen this planet is too delightful to be false.