The 2017 Drew League playoffs are here.
Starting Friday night, the Drew League is down to only 15 games. Who will make it to next weekend out of the Marty Walzer division?
The focus is on one team at a time here, but every team’s priority is the division quarterfinal matchup. Here they are:
MARTY WALZER DIVISION
Friday, August 4: #1 Citi Team Blazers vs. #8 NWA (6:30pm)
- Citi Team Blazers defeated NWA 85-75 in Week 8
Saturday, August 5: #4 New Edition vs. #5 Home Town Favorites (12:15pm)
- New Edition defeated Home Town Favorites 81-74 in Week 6
Saturday, August 5: #2 Hank’s Panthers vs. #7 M.H.P. (1:30pm)
- M.H.P. defeated Hank’s Panthers 82-74 in Week 10
Saturday, August 5: #3 LAUNFD vs. #6 Bull Dogs (4:15pm)
- LAUNFD defeated Bull Dogs 67-64 in Week 9
#1 – Citi Team Blazers (10-2):
Offensively, Citi Team Blazers is stacked, especially in transition. Latraius “Bama” Mosley is a serious threat in the open court and has put many Drew League defenders on a poster. Kyle “40 Kyle” Gibson can shoot the lights out against any team if left open. Even with this many offensive weapons, Citi Team Blazers can be defeated. Although they boast a 10-2 record with their only losses coming from the Bull Dogs and LAUNFD, the margin of victory for Citi Team Blazers since Week 7 has been no more than ten. The Blazers have cut it close in numerous games, making Friday night the perfect opportunity for NWA to take down a one-seed.
#8 – NWA (6-6):
One-seed vs eight-seed games are fairly predictable. In most cases the one-seed routs the eight-seed allowing time for the bench to get exposure as they prep for the next round of playoffs. In the Marty Waltzer Division this expectation, that might not hold true.
After Redemption’s fall from grace, NWA was able to solidify its position in the eighth and final spot after finishing their season 6-6. Led offensively by big man Mark Dawson, it’s imperative that NWA shares the ball if they hope to take down Citi Team Blazers. Although scoring decides a winner and loser in basketball, rebounding and second chance points will be a major component looking ahead to this match-up. Dawson will have his hands full this weekend on both ends of the floor making sure Malcolm Thomas is shut down in and around the paint. Jordin Mayes and Taylor Statham have to be locked in defensively to ensure Kyle Gibson isn’t left “buck naked” on the three-point arc causing mayhem for NWA.
#4 – New Edition (7-5):
Wednesday night at the Drew League vs. Crawsover game, Baron Davis and Dorell Wright were all smiles as teammates as they worked to dismantle Seattle’s offense. But it will be a different story this weekend as they match up against one another in the first round of the playoffs.
The success of New Edition relies heavily on Davis. Scoring, energy, tenacity, and even defense – Davis is the focal point for all of these categories for New Edition. In order to secure a win, New Edition has to be able to alleviate a lot of pressure off of Baron. It’s crucial that Keith Shamburger is a major contributor as a scorer for New Edition this weekend. Dion Wright has to be dominant in the paint when matched up with former Oregon big man Jordan Bell. Securing rebounds is a must in this game if New Edition looks to win.
#5 – Home Town Favorites (7-5):
In their first matchup, New Edition walked away victorious with an 81-74 win in Week 6 against Home Town Favorites, but the playoffs begin a new season. Floor general De’Anthony Melton has solidified his star power. Home Town Favorites has added Jordan Bell, a paint presence that can score, snag boards, and block shots, along with Dorell’s younger brother Delon Wright, a lanky 6’5 scorer. Smart ball movement is essential for Home Town Favorites if they hope to walk away with a win.
#2 – Hank’s Panthers (8-4):
Ironically this match-up is a clash of two completely opposite teams. Pops and his Panthers pride themselves on defense while the Most Hated Players play little to no defense at all.
The Panthers held their opponents to an average of only 59.8 points in their eight wins this season. While being known for their defense, the Panthers have made additions within the last month to give Daryl Arnold a boost offensively. Recently the Panthers have added G League Finals MVP Pascal Siakam. Siakam, who stands at 6’9”, is a force in the paint and is known for his motor and ability to score and rebound under the basket. Defensive pressure and the productivity of Arnold alongside Siakam are the deciding factor for a Panthers victory. (Ed. note: Siakam is doubtful for the quarterfinals due to a scheduling conflict.)
#7 – M.H.P. (7-5):
M.H.P. almost has a starting lineup of pro players, but as stated earlier, pro players have a bad habit of not showing up in the early playoff rounds. A victory for M.H.P. relies heavily on not only the physical but mental presence of Nick Young, DeMar DeRozan, Julius Randle, and JaVale McGee. Many opponents have discovered that M.H.P. can be easily thrown off their game if defenders can get in their heads or if they are not receiving the calls they feel they deserve. Since the addition of Young’s pro player friends, many major contributors to M.H.P. like Elijah Stewart and Mike Williams have been benched and seen significant reduction in their minutes. If DeRozan, McGee, or Randle are not present this weekend, Stewart and Williams will be expected to step up despite not seeing much action in the past weeks. Even with all of the star power, presence is vital for an M.H.P. victory.
#3 – LAUNFD (7-5):
LAUNFD and the Bull Dogs matched up in a star-studded affair in Week 9, bringing out James Harden for his first Drew League game of the season. Despite the addition of The Beard, LAUNFD won by only three points.
The second matchup of the Bulldogs and LAUNFD will have a lot of eyes on it. Historically, pro players have been really bad at committing and actually showing up to playoff games in earlier rounds, so it’s still up in the air whether Chris Paul and Harden will be in uniform come Saturday afternoon. If neither one shows up, LAUNFD is still stacked offensively. Their roster includes high school phenom Marvin Bagley (the number one recruit in the 2018 class), as well as sharp shooter Bobby Brown. Without Harden or Paul, LAU is still a nightmare matchup, featuring a backcourt that can easily pop off.
#6 – Bull Dogs (7-5):
The Bull Dogs aren’t going down without a fight. Hailing proudly from the Eastside, the Bull Dogs wear their heart on their jersey every single game. Behind the tenacity of their scoring leader Tyrone “50” Riley, the Bull Dogs can outhustle almost any team. This weekend, 50’s shooting has to be precise for the Bull Dogs to move on to the next round. The Bull Dogs have to maximize on Speedy Blackmon pushing the ball in the open court, but most importantly, James Boyd has to go off. In the paint, Boyd has been able to quiet larger players like Julius Randle, and a performance of that sort is imperative for a win. The Bull Dogs have to play their game if they expect to keep up with LAUNFD.