By: Law Murray
With only two weeks left in the 2014 Drew League regular season, teams are scrambling to get their adjustments settled.
Commissioner Dino Smiley announced during Week 9 action that any player who played for a team that weekend could not change teams during Week 10. That meant that they had until Friday to switch squads. The exception to that were players who haven’t played at all this season. The result of those moves will be a major shakeup.
The biggest moves made were by Hank’s Houdini’s All-Stars, currently sitting at 6-3. Their Week 9 loss to Cheaters highlighted their biggest weaknesses: size and depth. Well, they added three players from other teams that should go a long way in addressing those issues: PF Kwame Alexander from La Familia, SF Dorell Wright from Kings of LA, and PG Kenny “Action” Jackson from Problems.
Alexander has established himself as perhaps the most feared above the rim presence in the Drew League this season, though he is more than just a dunker. He has shot the ball reasonably well and has rebounded well. But he wasn’t in the starting lineup for La Familia in Week 9 with The Game adding DeMar DeRozan and his pro teammates to go along with Metta World Peace. He would give Houdini’s All-Stars a finisher who can be on the receiving end of Antonio Biglow’s passes both in halfcourt and in transition.
Wright made his 2014 Drew League debut in Week 9 for Kings of LA, a team he played with in the 2013 Championship game. But with Kings of LA at 2-7, Wright now goes to a team that has a chance to win a championship.
Jackson, who played against Alexander’s team in Week 9, becomes another Problems player jumping off what may be a sinking ship; Aaron Perez left Problems for LA Loop in Week 8, and Problems is on a three-game losing streak. Jackson wouldn’t start on a full Houdini’s team, but he would be a valued ballhandler off the bench.
Jackson won’t have to wait long at all to see his old team, as Hank’s Houdini’s All-Stars will take on Problems in Week 10’s Saturday schedule. While Houdini’s All-Stars has a playoff spot locked up, Problems needs one more win. They will at least have a replacement for Jackson, as Bobby Brown has left Kings of LA along with Wright to join Problems.
Another key addition is SG Sek Henry leaving 2-7 #Juglife to join NWA, the team with the league’s best record at 8-1. Henry will be counted on to help replace Terrell Hendricks, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon. NWA will take on C.O.A. (7-2) in one of the Games of the Week; C.O.A. has added depth in the form of former UCLA G Billy Knight and 6’10” C Augustine Okosun.
The other Game of the Week features 2013 Champion Citi Team Blazers vs. The Clozers. While no news is good news for the Blazers, The Clozers have added even more help. In addition to Week 8-9 Player of the Week Brandon Jennings (113 points in two games), Marcus Williams’ team has reportedly added Jennings’ pro teammate C Andre Drummond, former LAUNFD mainstay F Brandon Bowman, pro F Jordan Hamilton, and Hamilton’s 6’10” big brother Gary Hamilton.
Rounding out the reported additions are 6’6” F Eugene Phelps of Long Beach State to Hank’s Cheaters 2, and G Rob Harris leaving Problems for La Familia. Of course, you never know who’s going to show up (or not show up), so keep that in mind.
Now, Commissioner Smiley has said that this season at the Drew League has been one of the best. One reason for that is because there are multiple playoff spots up for grabs with two weeks left in the season. Perhaps the most intriguing revolves around SoleClinics. After a 3-1 start, they haven’t won a game since. However, SoleClinics has a record of 4-5, not 3-6. The reason, according to The Commish, is because The Clozers used an ineligible player (F Marc Wilson) for one half in their 107-84 win over SoleClinics in Week 8. The Clozers were allowed to retain victory, but Wilson had already left Robin Hood Project for La Familia before jumping to The Clozers. The margin of victory saved The Clozers, but SoleClinics has a key win that makes their Week 11 game against Salvatori’s No Shnacks (also 4-5) a potential “win or go home” matchup for the 8th seed in the Mike Brown division.
Here are the Week 10 games that matter for playoff contention:
Hank’s Bulldogs vs. Salvatori’s No Shnacks: The Bulldogs need to win out and get help from Salvatori’s No Shnacks in Week 11 to make the playoffs. Salvatori’s No Shnacks cannot clinch a playoff berth or be eliminated in Week 10.
Cheaters vs. APNG: It’s complicated, but somehow, APNG is NOT out of the playoff picture yet. They would need to win out and get lots of help. Because they defeated La Familia in Week 6, they would win a tiebreaker if La Familia lost out AND Tradition and LA Loop both lost in Week 11.
Jaguars vs. Hard Times: Hard Times needs to win out and hope Problems loses out to make the playoffs.
C.A.B.C. vs. Salvatori’s Nova Stars: C.A.B.C. clinches a playoff spot with a win.
Problems vs. Hank’s Houdini’s All-Stars: Problems clinch a playoff spot with a win.
Tradition vs. LA Loop: LA Loop needs to win out and hope Sky Ryse loses out to make the playoffs.
La Familia vs. Sky Ryse: The winner of this game clinches a playoff berth.
SoleClinics vs. Hank’s Panthers: SoleClinics cannot clinch or be eliminated in Week 10. Hank’s Panthers need to win out to make the playoffs and hope the winner of Hank’s Bulldogs/Salvatori’s No Shnacks loses in Week 11.
The Clozers vs. Citi Team Blazers: The Clozers clinch a playoff spot with a win.
Law Murray is in his fourth year in Los Angeles via Philadelphia. He has been at grad school at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism since 2012, and graduated from California University of PA in 2009 with a degree in communication studies. Law has also served two years in City Year and covered the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Russia. He specializes in breaking down teams and players on a variety of media platforms.