Thursday, March 2, 2017
The Process of Selecting Tournament Teams
In just fourteen days, the National College Basketball tournament will start. Before any teams book their flights and start giving out student section tickets, they have to participate in their particular conference tournament.
There will be thirty-two winners from each conference that will receive an automatic bid into the pool of sixty-eight teams. For example, in last year’s tournament, Holy Cross University went into the Patriot League championship with a 13-19 record with, what looked like, no hope to go to the tourney. They ended up beating Lehigh in the championship game to earn an automatic bid in the tournament, their first since 2007.
There are currently ten members on the men’s selection committee board that selects teams into the tourney, and all of them are athletic directors at various universities around the country. The selection committee only selects thirty-six teams who receive at-large bids to go to the tourney. The committee can select any number of teams from the ACC, American Athletic, A-10, Big-12, Big East, Big Ten, Mountain West, Pac-12, or the SEC. Many of these team will not know if they made the tournament until March 12th which is selection Sunday where the committee selects the final thirty-six teams.
The magic number of wins for a team to make the tournament is twenty or more, but RPI and BPI often determines your fate on selection Sunday. The Rating Percentage Index (RPI) is a tool the committee uses to rank teams based on their strength of schedule, wins and losses. Along with the RPI, the Basketball Power Index (BPI) is a team rating system that accounts for the pace of play, final score, site, key players, and strength of opponent. It is said to be the best way to predict the team’s performance going forward. During selection Sunday the committee places all teams into four regions: West, East, South, and Midwest. Until 1998, the regions were different the South region was once the Mideast then in 1985 changed to the Southeast. Each region has at least sixteen teams and higher seeded teams are closer to home. Although the higher seeded teams technically play home games, they still have a short drive away from campus, because no team gets the advantage of playing on their home floor. For example, in 2002, the University of Pittsburgh played their first and second round games in Pittsburgh at Mellon Arena, which is not their home floor.
Throughout the seeding process, there are various rules, such as the top three teams from each conference must be in different regions, the committee tries to seed teams from the same conference in different regions so if they happen to match up they can play each other in the regional final. The committee also puts non-basketball factors into consideration during the seeding process. In 2003, BYU, a latter-day saint school that has a strict policy about not playing games on Sundays, was accidently put into a region where they would be forced to play a game on Sunday if they advanced to the regional finals. The NCAA said it would change their region if they won their first two games and went to the regional semifinals. The NCAA final four and championship game will be on April 3rd in Phoenix Arizona. The tournament is full of upsets and Cinderella stories, which team will be victorious when the dust settles, only time will tell when the madness starts?
Monday, February 20, 2017
What the DeMarcus Cousins trade means for the Pelicans future?
Sunday capped off an interesting All-Star weekend in New Orleans as the Western conference defeated the Eastern conference 192-182. As the game came to a close, rumors were circulating that the All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins would be traded to the Pelicans. Fortunately for the city of New Orleans the deal got done. The trade consisted of DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, 1st and 2nd round pick in the 2017 draft. With the addition of Cousins to the Pelicans along with another All-Star forward in Anthony Davis, one could argue this is the most dominant big man tandem the NBA has ever seen since Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon or Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Cousins and Davis both average over 27 PPG along with 10 RPG and are considered the two best big men in the league. The Pelicans currently sit in the 11th spot in the West with 23-34 record going into the second half of the season. With this blockbuster trade, the Pelicans are expected to make playoff run and advance to at least the second round. With the trade deadline to end February 23, the Pelicans are one piece away from being major contenders in the West. If the Pelicans can make a trade to acquire more consistent SG to help stretch the floor, the sky is the limit for them in the future. Currently, the Denver Nuggets are looking to trade Wilson Chandler who averages 15.6 PPG along with 6.7 RPG. If they can add him to their lineup they would be a legit threat to the top teams in the West. The projected starting lineup to be with the addition of Cousins could be Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore in the backcourt, free agent signee Solomon Hill at the SF position with Davis and Cousins in the front court. The Pelicans front court is Elite and will be a living nightmare for opposing defenses, but to contend with the Warriors, Spurs, and Rockets they must bring in more backcourt depth and shooting to relieve some of the pressure off their dynamic twin tower tandem. Projected starting SG E’Twuan Moore would serve as a, role player on most NBA teams, but due to their lack of backcourt depth he will have elevate his game if the Pelicans don’t make a trade in the next three days. He currently averages 9.8 PPG, 2.2 RPG, and 2.2 APG. Just a day ago the Pelicans were a mediocre team in the West that wasn’t going to the playoffs this season to now potentially being 6th,7th, or 8th seed if the two superstars can play together successfully.
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Why Kentucky won’t win the National Championship
The Kentucky Wildcats are currently 11-2 with an 6 overall ranking after beating SEC opponent Ole Miss in their opening conference game. Kentucky’s out of conference schedule was pretty tough they played 4 top 25 teams in Michigan State, UCLA, North Carolina and Louisville and finished 2-2 against those teams. Kentucky is one of the most talented teams we have ever seen and arguably the most talented team in the country with potentially 4 NBA draftees from this year freshman recruiting class alone.
Although the Cats are talented their inability to shoot the ball from three could hinder them as the season progresses. As a team Kentucky shoots a disturbing 33.2 percent from three. Coming into the season point guard De’Aaron Fox was expected to shoot the ball much better like he did in high school, currently he is shooting 15.4 percent from behind the arc. In the Wildcats losses their opponents have ran zones against them to prevent them from driving to the basket also forcing them to make perimeter shots. By running a 2-3 zone it keeps the Wildcats from getting to the lane and finding open cutters for easier baskets. Kentucky does most of its damage offensively in the paint and in transition, when they are forced to make perimeter shots and run half-court offense they seem to struggle by having long lapses without scoring points.
None of their guards or wings for Kentucky shoot the ball well on a consistent basis except shooting guard Malik Monk. Monk this season has played well season averaging 21 PPG on 49 percent from the field along with 39 percent from three. Although he shoots the three ball well he shoots most of his shots off the dribble, the Wildcats lack a 3-point marksman. If opposing defenses don’t allow the Cats to score a lot of points in transition and make sure they are limited to one shot on offense Kentucky could struggle to score points at times. Along with the bad three-point shooting Kentucky struggles from the free-throw line shooting 68 percent which needs to improve before tournament time.
The Wildcats are a great team they have all the qualities to make it to the Final Four, they are a top 10 rebounding team with over 47 a game, elite on and off the ball on defense, and have players at every position that can make plays. There only major flaw is perimeter shooting, if they can fix that during conference play we could potentially see the Cats in Phoenix this April.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Why the Warrior Needed A Loss
NBA season tipped-off of Wednesday with three NBA games starting with the returning NBA champs Cavaliers against the new and improved New York Knicks. Followed by the Trail Blazers vs the Utah Jazz and soon after the highly anticipated final game of the Golden State Warriors against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Warriors struggled all night guarding and rebounding with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Leonard finish with 35 points along with Aldridge’s 26 points and 14 rebounds. Golden State’s defense seemed to be nonexistent giving up a lot of second chance points, wide open threes and layup after layup. Along with lackluster defense, 2016 All-Star Klay Thompson struggled offensively he shot 1 for 6 from the three-point line. Golden States offense looked to be discombobulated and very out of sync. The Warriors turned the ball of several times during potential fast break situations. Every time the Spurs took a small lead, Golden State tried to force up bad three-point shots to cut the league down quickly. They did not run their offense to the best of their ability, played a lot of one on one isolation ball with bad floor spacing while running their offensive sets. With floor spacing so bad their offense had no flow or consistency meaning tougher shots would have to be taken with the shot clock being an issue.
Like many teams with new faces on their roster, they usually have bumps in the road before they have success. The Warriors have in all aspects a “super team” with Two MVP’s, 6 total All-Stars with 4 in the starting lineup. Even super teams struggle and go through adversity in 2010 the Miami Heat with an addition of LeBron James and Chris Bosh had their issues, they lost their first game of the season, along with 4 and 5 game losing streak at one point during the season. In 2008 the Boston Celtics went through their struggles on the road with issues on both sides of the court before they won their NBA championship.
This loss will humble the Warriors causing them to tune up the mistakes and flaws with their defensive communications and their offensive style of play. Golden State is very talented, but familiarity with each other skill sets, understanding of one another’s role, and communication on both sides of the ball must be established first before this team can be the power house we all expect them to be. Losses like this builds team chemistry and better character, many fans expected the Warriors to run through the West without any challenges, but every great team goes through some adversity. The Warriors will go home and watch film on this game and develop better focus understanding this season will be no walk in the park teams will play them hard night in and night out. A month from now this loss will be a distant memory in the past, the Warriors are way to talented to struggle for long periods of time. By mid-season Golden State will have proved why they are this season favorite to be NBA champions.
Monday, October 24, 2016
No More Blues in Salt Lake City
The 2016-2017 NBA season starts tomorrow; this has been one of the most anticipated seasons in the last several years due to all the offseason additions many teams made this summer. Golden State won the offseason with the addition of former MVP Kevin Durant, followed by the Pacers who brought in Jeff Teague and Al Jefferson. The Celtics also brought in an All-Star in Al Horford this offseason. There is one team that is on the rise and demands respect around the league and it is the Utah Jazz. The Jazz barely missed the playoffs last year with a 40-42 record.
Although the Jazz didn’t make big splashes this offseason they still brought in key veterans that will improve their team significantly, such as former All-Star guard Joe Johnson, established veteran in Boris Diaw, and Point guard George Hill. Joe Johnson will bring another threat to the Jazz’s bench his ability to put the ball in the basket from all three levels is great asset to have on your team. Diaw is a former NBA champion, meaning he will bring much needed leadership to a young and upcoming team. Also he is a great passer, his elite passing skills will cause nightmares for opposing defenses. Finally, Hill is to be the projected starter he brings more depth and more consistency from the PG position. These three players will help the Jazz return to the playoffs for the first time since 2011-2012 season.
In addition to these significant acquisitions, many players on the team have improved their game such 2015 first round pick Trey Lyles. This offseason during the NBA Summer League Lyles improved his three-point shot along with his ability to shoot off the dribble. Lyles put up an impressive 20.3 PPG and 10.3 RPG during his time in the summer league. Expect to see a big increase in minutes from his 17.3 from last year. Lyles will be the Jazz’s secret weapon off the bench this season, he will have to show up big for the Jazz to live up to their potential this season. The Jazz are expected be much improved this season, I believe they could increase their win total by at least 8 to 10 wins placing them in the sixth or seventh spot in the West. In addition to their offseason signings the Jazz brought back majority of their team including their star players in Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors. Hayward could be the most underrated player in the league, last season he put up very good numbers with 19.7 PPG, 5 RPG, and 3.7 APG. Along with Favors’ 16.4 PPG, 8 RPG, and 1.5 BPG. Favors missed several games due to injury he will need to stay healthy for the Jazz to be successful. If the Jazz can stay healthy the sky is the limit for this team, they will catch many fans and other teams by surprise this season. Not that many people are big on the Jazz, meaning they are one of the more underrated teams in the league. After this season I expect the Jazz won’t be considered to be a sleeper in the Western Conference or throughout the league anymore.
Friday, July 29, 2016
Are super teams bad for the league?
Now that 7 time All-Star Kevin Durant has joined the Golden State Warriors, they are considered to be the next dynasty of the NBA. With the addition of Durant, the Warriors have 5 All-Star selected players, 3 MVP trophies between 2 players, and 4 players that have an NBA All- Selection team. If all that isn’t a big enough advantage, the Warriors have 3 of the top scorers in the league on the same team. All these great players on the same team isn’t a new thing for the NBA, actually this is what the modern day NBA is becoming, but what defines a super team? A super team is when a group of great players join up together to win multiple championships. Is this strategy good for the NBA? Let’s go back 30 years to the original super teams of the NBA: Larry Bird Era Celtics and Showtime Lakers. These teams brought in a lot entertainment and money to their respective cities. These super teams were great for the NBA at the time, because the fans have never seen anything like this before. The insane, never heard of idea of 2 to 4 All-Stars playing on the same team had the fans raving for tickets and TV time. Between these two, they won a combined 8 championships and were considered must see TV. These teams featured Hall of Fame players such as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kevin McHale, and James Worthy. These teams where the best 2 teams in the league at the time and consistently completed their goal of winning championships.
Unlike the Showtime Lakers and 80’s Celtics, some teams were not fortunate enough to win a NBA title. The 93’ Suns, 04’ Lakers, and the 2011 Heat, all formed super teams and ultimately failed to reach their goal of winning a title. It seemed like these teams tried to out talent the league and dominant the league by force. One thing these teams forgot was that there is only one ball to go around, and sometimes all the pieces don’t fit. It takes a lot more than talent to win a title. For example, the 2011 Heat formed a super team with 3 future Hall of Fame players but still came up just short against the Mavericks. Was the Heat the more talented team? Yes. In retrospect, the Mavericks had better chemistry and played a more team-oriented style of play, which led them to defeat the Heat to become NBA champions in 2011.
What about the 2004 Lakers? This team had already three-peated and with Kobe and Shaq and were looking for a 4th consecutive title by adding Hall of Famers Karl Malone and Gary Payton. This was a team for the ages- 4 Future Hall of Famers all on one team. It would have been unbelievable, if the Lakers couldn’t put together another Championship Caliber team. Well in 04’, the Lakers got ran off the floor by the Detroit Pistons in 4-1 series beat down. Soon after the loss, the LA dream team broke up, and it would be years before the Lakers recovered.
Lastly, one of the NBA biggest disappointments were the 93’ Suns. The Phoenix Suns already had a well-established team in 92’ with 3 All-Stars already on their roster, but that wasn’t enough. They had to go out and get a perennial MVP candidate in Charles Barkley, which seemed almost illegal. With the addition of Barkley, the majority of NBA fans believed that the Suns could make it to the finals and finally take down Michael Jordan’s Bulls from three-peating. In 93’, the Suns seemed destined for greatness capturing the league’s best record with 62-20 and also having the MVP of the league on their team. Success in the playoffs seemed to be a guarantee. Well not even MVP Sir Charles and the best regular season team in the NBA could stop Jordan and the Bulls from winning their 3rd straight title in 4-2 defeat. After the loss the Suns have never been to another NBA finals game.
Fortunately, the Era of the super teams weren’t all bad. In 2008, Future Hall of Famers, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, joined Paul Pierce’s Boston Celtics in attempt to win a title. The Celtics a season before were abysmal, only winning 24 games having one of the worst records in the NBA. Well in 2008 while adding KG and Allen, they increased they’re win totals by 42 and ended up winning a title. This team introduced and made in acceptable for modern day players to join up and compete for titles. In 2011, LeBron James decided to leave Cleveland and join D-Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami to chase “not five, not six, not seven” NBA championships. During the first go around, the Heat lost to the Mavericks in 6 games, but in 2012 and 2013, the Heat won back-to-back, earning their NBA champions beating the Spurs and Thunder.
I think Super teams can be good and bad for the NBA. Super teams benefit the league in the sense of major media stories, ticket sells always being high, and constant entertainment year round. Although Super teams bring many positives to the league, I believe they bring more negative values to the league such as an imbalance of talent throughout the league. For example, the Golden State Warriors have 4 of the top 15 best players in the league on the same team with the addition of KD. Adding KD just automatically eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunders chance of being a title contender. The NBA is the only sport where every off-season, you can name only 4 to 5 teams that have a chance to compete for a title. With all the great players in the league joining up on the same team, it leaves no room for an underdog to rise up and compete for a championship. Of the 18 franchises that have won an NBA title, 8 have droughts of 33 seasons or more, which is to say that the past 33 championships have been shared among 10 franchises. In contrast, the other three major North American sports have each had at least 15 franchises become champions over the same time period. The NBA has 7 franchises that have never been qualified for an NBA final, which is the most in any North American sport league.
Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Warriors is now the weakest move by an NBA super star in history. Whatever happened to staying with the team who drafted you, develop your team, and compete to the best of your ability? We now are a part of a league where “if you can’t beat them join them” attitude is acceptable, and our league is suffering dearly from it. Going forward, hopefully this will not be what our NBA turns into, we must go back to the old days of competition. KD potentially has a chance to help build the next NBA dynasty, but at what cost? Is his legacy tarnished? Maybe, maybe not. Only time will tell if this was a good move for him as basketball player. One thing is for sure, the Warriors must win a title this coming season. If not, they will be the most disappointing super team in NBA history.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Who’s better PG 13 or The Claw?
Many NBA fans and former players have referred to Kawhi Leonard as one of the top 5 players in the league, especially after he finished 2nd in MVP voting this season. On the other hand, one could argue that he is not even in the top 3 in his own position. How can the runner-up of the NBA MVP award not be the best player in his own position? LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Paul George all put up better numbers this season in comparison to Kawhi Leonard. Based on his stats this season, he is the 4th best statistical SF in the league, but yet, he still was 2nd in the MVP ranks. NBA hall of famer, Charles Barkley, said, “Kawhi Leonard is the best basketball player in the world.” This was a very bold statement about a player who has only been in the league 5 seasons and just averaged 20 Ppg for the first time in his career this season.
Many people believed that Kawhi Leonard deserved the Runner-up award for MVP this season, meaning he was the 2nd best player in the league. Nevertheless, many other players in his own positon had better numbers than him, including Paul George. Paul George averaged more points, rebounds, and assists than Leonard. Paul George averaged 23 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, in comparison to Kawhi Leonard’s 21 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists. Both players had sensational seasons, which were the best of their careers so far, but Paul George has put up better numbers every year they have been in the league together. Kawhi Leonard plays on a better team, which could explain why he is so praised and is more recognized throughout league. Regardless, the better team doesn’t always correlate to the better individual player.
Kawhi Leonard is a great offensive player, but he is even better on the defensive side of the ball, explaining why he has won back to back defensive MVP awards. The only 2 main statistical categories Kawhi Leonard had better than Paul George were free throw percentage and field goal percentage by 9 percent, but that number could be biased due to the fact Paul George shot over 400 more shots than Leonard. Overall, the Spurs, with a 67-win season, are superior to the Pacers, with only a 45- win season; therefore, George personally had more responsibility to score on the offensive end than Leonard.
The Spurs are more fundamentally sound and team oriented, so Leonard shoots the ball less often. In comparison, Paul George is the main guy on his team, causing his percentages to be a little lower. This debate could go on for several hours, and each side of the discussion could support their opinions with plenty of statistical evidence to prove on who is actually better. How can we determine whose better based on the eye test? Paul George is a 3 time All-Star, 3 time All- NBA third team, and first team all defense, but Kawhi is an NBA champion, finals MVP, and 1 time All- Star. When comparing the past 5 seasons of both players career number are very similar. In order for one player to be considered “better” than the other, the impact that they have to have during every second of every game that they are on the floor must be considered. Despite both players being excellent additions to the NBA and their teams, Paul George is a cut above Kawhi Leonard. Paul George is much more versatile, can play all 5 positions on the court, can score from all 3 levels better than Leonard, and sets up his teammates in better situations to score. Although Leonard is the better defensive player, George still impacts the game on the defensive side of the ball at a very high rate.
Both of these players are great and well deserving of every accolade and accomplishment they have received and will receive in their careers; therefore, time only will tell to see who is better long term and can separate themselves as the best player in the league.