The Drew League heads into the final weekend of the 2015 season, and the dotcom contributors get together here to discuss the action. Warning: The following contents are flammable. Proceed with caution!
Which team are you surprised did not make it to championship weekend?
Lauren Jones – I have only been able to catch some of the action this summer so it came as a surprise that Basketball for Life (BB4L), a reconstructed and renamed Cheaters team in essence, was eliminated in the first weekend of playoffs. The last three years have proven that there are no cakewalks when playing in the best summer league in the world, but I would have surmised that the combination of one of the most skilled players at the Drew in Casper Ware Jr. paired with the big, physical presence of Eugene Phelps and Keith Closs inside sounds like a nearly unstoppable equation.
Law Murray – BB4L. Because it was written! Even though I was wary of their inconsistent halfcourt offense that relied way too much on threes, I thought they would have something for the top seed Citi Team Blazers. And they did! BB4L came back from a 14-point second-half deficit to replay the game, and Casper Ware was looking heroic for a moment as he hit a fadeaway three (go figure) to force overtime. But Kyle Gibson is looking every bit the postseason MVP, and he took BB4L’s heart and stepped on it. It’s a shame, because BB4L was a legit contender this season.
Otha Nevels – Hard Times without a doubt. Albeit, their effort was valiant, losing to the champs by 2. I thought they would be able to get over that hump because of their depth. In fact, I had them penciled in for the ‘ship if they did. But the same way fans thought Meek Mill would have a dope comeback for Drake, I was wrong. Even though they trailed the majority of the game and didn’t take their first lead until the end of the 3rd at 51-50, they still were in it. However, they only managed to score 8 points for the quarter and squandered too many chances late to a really good team. Their effort and a big game by Rus Byrd is worth noting, but that wasn’t enough. Moving forward, retention of this year’s core players and the play of Nick Porter will determine just how far they go next season. Porter’s starting days may be over, but if he can transition to that Vinnie Johnson/Jamal Crawford role off the bench, they’ll be in the hunt again next year.
Aaron Williams – I wouldn’t say “surprised” so much as “disappointed”. I really wanted to see I Can All-Stars show us something; Vince Camper is a good dude, and I’ve really been pulling for him as MVP-apparent. It sucks that he won’t get the chance to do more this year, but Keion and NWA had a lot to prove as well, so I’m glad for them. Also, Rock Johnson is utterly hilarious and to see him so quiet on Saturday was like entering the twilight zone.
What is the key to the Russell Brown game (#1 Hank’s Houdini’s All-Stars vs. #2 M.H.P.)?
Lauren Jones – Hank’s Houdini’s All-Stars need to play their game, team basketball, if they are going to make it past M.H.P. The tandem of Houdini’s All-Stars guards, Garrett Nevels and Corey Allen, have to get in an offensive rhythm early. Even more so because of the X factor Nick Young brought on the M.H.P. squad in DeMar DeRozan. This matchup is as much about containing DeRozan as it is anything. As long as the All-Stars play that hardnose, gritty defense, in order to minimize DeRozan’s offensive production, they should be fine.
Law Murray – Houdini’s All-Stars G Corey Allen needs to come back and be ready to be the postseason MVP that he was last year, because Houdini’s All-Stars cannot shut M.H.P. down for a whole game. M.H.P. has beaten Houdini’s All-Stars in the regular season two years in a row, and they’re going to have Nick Young AND DeMar DeRozan this time around. Houdini’s All-Stars are a great defensive squad, but they need Allen and Garrett Nevels to lead an 85+ point effort.
Otha Nevels – Swaggy Key, I mean Swaggy P, is the key to M.H.P pulling off the “upset”. It’s hard to think that the team with the Association guy on it is the underdog but when it’s the defending champs HHAS it’s understandable. Lets get to what we “know” about both teams.
- Coach Cav, is a great coach who has his players ready to compete every game.
- Their guards (G-Money, Swag Champ, Frank Nitty and Corey Allen-sometimes) combined are the BEST in the Drew .
- Their full court press is low-key unfair on what it does to teams.
- Kwame Alexander is trying to dunk his opponents through the rim, every possession.
- They have Nick Young and well they have Nick Young. When he’s on, like he was round 1 against Legacy with 32 points on 10/20 shooting and round 2 with 29 points and 10 boards he can’t be stopped.
- Victor Rudd was an early season MVP candidate and is capable of dropping 40 points any game.
- Mike Williams is the most underrated guard in the Drew, a la Mike Conley in the Association.
Now to the game itself it’ll come down to guard play. M.H.P will have the best player on the court but H.H.A.S. has the better team. Mike Williams will have to show everybody what they’ve been sleeping on. He had 17 points last game but I think he needs at least 22-27 for them to win. The Ray Hairston/Garrett Nevels matchup is very intriguing and will sure to deliver a few highlight plays. However, in the end I’m going with the champs to pull this off. Their press is similar to what Nolan Richardson’s Razorbacks were doing in the early 90’s and those teams yielded 2 trips to the championship and 1 ring. Coach Cav and his “40 minutes of Hell” is close enough to get past this team and another birth to the ‘ship. Unless, of course, Swaggy P goes off for like 50 or something.
Aaron Williams – That D. Houdini’s All-Stars pressure defense has forced turnovers all season, maxing out at 47 against The Clozers earlier this year. I think they turn it up in the playoffs. They’ll also be hunting for payback for that loss against M.H.P. before, which was payback itself for H.A.S. putting that whooping on them LAST year’s playoffs. For M.H.P., DeMar will be huge, and he and Swaggy will need to show better ball control than they have at times, or H.A.S. will bounce them for the 2nd year in a row.
What is the key to the Keith Anderson game (#1 Citi Team Blazers vs. #2 LAUNFD)?
Law Murray – The perimeter defense of Citi Team Blazers. When they were playing with guys who were trying to show they belonged in the Drew, the Blazers were the best defensive team in their division. The Blazers haven’t been that defensive squad consistently in over a month. They couldn’t get a stop against LAUNFD when they really needed it in Week 10, which is why the Blazers are no longer undefeated. LAUNFD relies on perimeter scoring, much like BB4L. LAUNFD is a much better offensive team than BB4L, and they’re much deeper. The Blazers need the veteran guards to step up defensively.
Otha Nevels – The key to this matchup between two very good teams will be the battle down low which includes the availability of Malcolm Thomas. Thomas, who made history this season by being the first player ever to garner 3 top performer of the week honors in a row, was unavailable last week and has had stints throughout the season where he’s missed games.
LAUNFD is too big, with Brandon Bowman and Jerome Jordan down low, for the Blazers without Malcolm Thomas. The guards on both teams, with Kyle Gibson, Marcus Williams, and Isaac Hamilton of the Blazers versus Brandon Heath, Bobby Brown, and Pooh Jeter of LAUNFD are so evenly matched that I thought it would be a push. Blazers nearly lost to an under matched Pandas team in Round 1 and even though they won, showed knocks in their armor. They’ll have to take advantage of Dorell Wright not playing as well. Now if and it’s a big IF, but IF James Harden plays as expected just rule out everything I said and give LAUNFD the win going away.
Aaron Williams – Bruh. This game… Smh. This game is going to be a slugfest. Blazers and LAU are both offensive juggernauts. The difference will be which version of James Harden decides to show up: the cool, laid-back Beard, or beast mode, score-at-all-costs , MVP-runner-up Beard. He’ll have no problem setting up his teammates but they will need him to score 20 on top of that if they hope to counteract Malcolm and the gang.
Who wins the 2015 Drew League Championship?
Lauren Jones – Back to back like they’re Jordan 96’/97’, it’s the All-Stars 14’/15’. Get used to seeing these young faces because just like the NBA, this league is getting a makeover. I picked them to win it all last year and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Now, the All-Stars have a championship under their belt and people are still counting them out. Sit back and watch Coach Cav and company get it done for the second year in a row. Summer’s theirs. *Just for dramatic effect I thought I’d throw another Drake lyric*
Law Murray – Back to back … they want it back to back …
Otha Nevels – LAUNFD is my pick to win it all. The addition of Cuttino “Old Money” Mobley to an already cohesive unit (some players have been playing over 20 years together) gives LAUNFD the edge for me. Besides, they feel like they have something to prove after having a three year hiatus from the big game. H.H.A.S. is a great team, but their lack of size I think will finally catch up to them. LAUNFD 93-H.H.A.S. 87.
Aaron Williams – I flat refuse to bet against the incumbent. Coach Caveness even put in a request for DJ Young Free to play a very specific theme song, illustrating his intention to go to the chip “Back to Back”. He certainly has his team “charged up” and ready; Blazers or LAUNFD better come prepared.