Monday, December 17, 2012

Build Your Own Batmobile: How Average NBA Players Would Make Incredible Intramural Teams

Brian: Gentlemen, good morning. We are happy to bring our readers (all 4 of them) a treat today - we will be live drafting teams that we would consider to be "the best intramural team" made possible with non-All Star NBA players. The intent is to pick guys that have never made an all-Star game or first-team anything, but would have any intramural team in the country begging on their knees to be allowed to bring the ball past midcourt.

We will pick 7 players each, snake draft style, with at least 3 guards and 2 post players on each team. To determine the first pick, Paul picked a conference, Jack picked a team, and I picked a random player and we each had 5 seconds to guess their career points total. We came up with Western-Blazers-Luke Babbitt and Paul won the rights to the first pick with an amazing guess of 310 (actual total was 297). My mediocre at best guess of 3500 was good for second pick, and Jack "Portland Soccer Mom" Peterson will be bringing up the rear with a mind-numbingly poor guess of 6,789. Without further ado, Jack and Paul!

Paul: Alright lets get it started! After an embarrassingly easy victory guessing the career point total of Luke Babbitt (really Jack you guessed almost 7,000 points?), for the first pick on any streetbal-style team, you want a player with a silky J, wicked crossover move, good size, and a little bit of a mean streak. My selection has checked all those boxes over the course of his 13-year career, but despite scoring over 50 in a game for 3 different teams and leading the NBA in all-time 4 point plays, has never been an all-star selection, with his career highlights including a 6th man of the year award. Generally shoddy defense non-withstanding (but really who plays D in intramurals), with the first overall pick, I select Jamal "J-Crossover" Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Brian: Solid choice Paul. But really, not going for a big man with the first pick? Everyone knows intramural games are won around the rim. My team needs a guy thats going to cover court like a gazelle, hit 18 footers with relative ease, and throw down between 5 and 15 sportscenter-quality dunks a game. This guy has improved every season since he entered the league and I can only blame the hilarious apathy of his hometown fans for his lack of an all star selection. Allow me to introduce the first (of probably many) of my controversial picks, who is currently losing to Joakhim Noah in voting for this year's AS game.

WIth the second pick of the 2012 IM All Star draft, Brian Sachtjen selects Josh "J-Smoove" Smith of the Atlanta Hawks.

Paul: Solid pick Brian, everybody knows IM games are usually won by the team that takes the most contested 22-footers...oh wait, that's not how it works at all. Good luck coaching Smith to drive to the basket.

Brian: Quick interjection to clarify a couple things: we are also not allowed to pick players that are relatively assured of an all star spot within the next few years (i.e. Kyrie Irving). Any pick can be vetoed if the other two determine that the player breaks any of our stipulations.

On another note, I'm sure glad I didn't pick a career 34.9% 3 point shooter on his 6th NBA team with the first overall pick! That pick has some serious Kwame Brown-level bust potential.

Jack: This is intriguing.  I've got two picks - one of them I am certainly going to use on a big, but now I'm tempted to use them both on bigs.  Josh Smith is also on not one but two second team lists, which makes him a sneaky and great find.

For my own part, I'll mix a little bit of the two previous picks.  Dunks and 3s. That's what is going to be important. I'm making my first selection based on how I feel this player would compete in NBA Jams on beachball mode.  He can play 3 feet above the rim (there's no goaltending right?), and that's about it.  Still, he's all kinds of athletic.  What it says about the Clippers that they have two of the top 3 picks in this draft and we can't pick all-stars? Well, maybe they are for real.

My second choice is the dominant wingman Paul referenced.  Having is best year this year, averaging 18 points and 5 boards and not giving two craps about defense, he may be the only valuable player on his team.  But he can score, he can dunk, and he can at least kind of shoot.  Plus, both players have extra capital letters in their name!

With the third pick of the 2012 IM All Star draft, Jack Peterson selects DeAndre Jordan of the L.A. Clippers....and with the fourth pick of the 2012 IM All Star draft, he selects DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors.

Brian: Woah, bold strategy cotton! DeAndre looks more lost than my grandfather at an apple store half the time, but he essentially removes any chance of the other team scoring inside 12 feet. I do like the DeRozan pick though.

This pick scares me a bit because I know Paul is going to take whoever I don't with one of his next two, so I'll go with my gut here. This player is enjoying a breakout year and is in the discussion of top 10 point guards in the game right now. He is currently averaging a 16-6-6 with almost 2 steals a game to boot, and is keeping what should be a horrible Houston team (Harden notwithstanding) hovering around .500. I think his ceiling is a tad below "perennial all star" but definitely somewhere in the neighborhood of "perennial all star snub that is the second best player on a championship team." I'm also going to chalk up his "battery of a female referee" arrest to the fact that he really cares about the game. Ahem. Let's move on.

With the fifth pick of the 2012 IM All Star draft, Brian Sachtjen selects Kyle Lowry of the Houston Rockets.

Jack: That's interesting, I was unaware that Houston had a guy on their D-league team who is also named Kyle Lowry! I'll look up some highlights; in the meantime Brian you should check out the guy named Kyle Lowry on the Raptors...he's also pretty good.

Brian: Well that's embarassing. All the egg nog from last night must have went to my head. Whose idea was it to start the draft before 5 on a Saturday?

Regardless, Lowry is going to be picking other guards' pockets like a cat burglar. I stand by the pick.

Paul: I actually love both of Jack's picks except for the strategy he introduces of hacking the shit out of DeAndre as soon as his team crosses half-court. Realistically there's no way to keep these teams from scoring except by putting a career 40% FT shooter at the line...I'll take my chances.

As much as I hate to admit that Brian was right about taking size, you do need a dominant big man (and preferably one who doesn't suck at free throws) in order to really throw out a dominant roster. That's why with the sixth overall pick, I select former Serbian League MVP Nikola Pekovic of the T-wolves. Guy is enormous, he finishes at the rim, and unlike DeAndre doesn't look like this guy from the line:

Next, (not sure why my font just popped into italics), these teams need a true defensive pest who is going to prevent the other team from bringing the ball past half-court, let alone scoring. The first-team All-Defense restriction makes this selection a little challenging, but with the next pick I will take Andre Miller of the Denver Nuggets!


Just kidding. His defense is horrible. I'll take Matt Barnes instead - glue guy.

Brian: Took my sleeper there Paul. Pekovic is my boy, and he oddly reminds me of the scary mobster from the movie "Limitless". Anyone? Anyone? Ok forget it.

Looking at my Mel Kiper-esque big board, I have a lot of big men...which means I should take another guard so these vultures don't take them first. This guy was a huge question mark for a championship contender coming into the season and has done everyone expected and then some. On a scale from 1 to Shawn Marion, the ugliness of his shooting motion is about a 7, but he gets the ball in the hoop. He is actually shooting a higher percentage from 3 than inside the arc (46.8% vs 46.4%) this season - how often does that happen?

With the next pick in the 2012 IM All Star draft, I will take Kevin Martin of the Houston Rock....Oklahome City Thunder!

P.S. Does it make me racist if I think Kevin Martin looks like Thabo Sefolosha? Wait, don't answer that.

Jack: Side note - Jason Kidd is also averaging a higher percentage from outside the arc than inside this year.

Once again, I have to decide what to do with two picks.  I think I've decided that grabbing a point guard isn't worth it. At least yet.  And I'm feeling a bit of the opposite of what Brian feels - I think there are probably only two or three big guys left that I'd even consider.

The question then is what to value in a big man. I think the only acceptable answer is terror. How scared can you make the other teams guards? Is there anything scarier than way too much hair, a cross-eyed look, ugly facial hair, and a side-spinning-two-handed shot?  I'll go ahead and pull in Joakim Noah and assume no one will ever score on my team. 

I guess I'll probably need to score as well.  This is my favorite pick so far, since the JET will basically function on this team like I function in any pick-up game: run to the three point line and spot up.  But why wouldn't you want this guy?? Awesome energy, career 45/38 fg percentages, and a sweet nickname?  Yeah, I'll go ahead and take Jason Terry with my fourth pick.

Side side note - both of these could be contentious: JET has a sixth man of the year award and was on the all rookie second team, and Ugly-Face was on the all defensive second team last year and will likely make the all-star game this year.  But if Brian is going to sound racist and Paul is going to use italics then I don't care.

Paul: I'll veto Noah. Not that I think its an amazing pick, but the spirit of the contest is to consider who will probably make these teams this year as well. Or else I'd just pick Anthony Davis.

Jack: There goes my Damion Lillard pick.  Didn't Brian say Josh Smith should be voted onto the All-Star team as well? This veto seems suspicious...

At any rate, though I'm going with another big, I'll just have to assume DeAndre can hold down the paint, since we all know Ryan Anderson won't help him there on defense.  But he led the league last year in 3s and is shooting an even higher percentage this year. And as someone who only shoots 3s, I respect that.  I'll snatch him up and worry about guards later.

Brian: Noah would occupy the fifth spot once Pierce and Garnett retire, leaving Smith in the cold. And that's with Bynum out the whole year thus far working on his hairdo. Nice try Peterson.

After picking the sieve that is Kevin Martin last round, I need to pick a player that plays at least a semblance of D. I'm thinking a big man that shoots a fairly high percentage and rebounds ferociously. A double-double every night kind of guy. Someone who's not flashy but gets his stats every night in a workmanlike fashion. That means I will be taking Al Jefferson and Al Jefferson's Bed of the Utah Jazz.

Paul: An interesting run on shooters the last few rounds. I suppose it is a good idea to have some shooting on these teams, although it would be pretty difficult to stop teams from scoring just by packing the paint since all three of our teams have absolute monsters patrolling the middle of the lane. So I too will take a shooter this round.

Looking at my roster, the 2, 3 and 5 spots are pretty much locked down, leaving me with needs at PG and PF. It is tempting to pick a shooting PG to open up the floor for J-Crossover, but I think passing ability and speed are more important at that position. Since I need at least one Nugget on my team, and we can't shoot at all, I'll have to go with, you guessed it, Ty Lawson. Fastest player on the floor in any game he plays, his small stature won't really matter in most IM leagues, and he is a competant passer and a one-man fast break waiting to happen.

Finally at PF, you guys have yet to pick the best shooter in the entire league! Come on fellas! He's 6'9"! Career 44% from deep! Steve Novak. Game, blouses.

Brian: Excellent token white guy pick with Novak. Probably wouldn't run back on defense a single time, he could just stay in the corner and finish the game with 33 points.

While I have both a PG and SG, I need a combo guard that will make the other team say, "How the F*CK did he do that??" every time he touches the ball. A me-first kind of guy that can catch fire with the heat of a nuclear holocaust and would obnoxiously dog the other point guard every time he brought the ball up the floor. He would be in the other team's heads at an Inception level, probably for the rest of their lives. Thus far most of my team is fairly unselfish, so I don't feel bad about adding my favorite chucker in the league. Welcome to the team, Monta Ellis.

Jack: You want a combo guard? You want a me-first kind of guy? You want someone who can score 15 points in two minutes after going 0-14 in a game? You want tattoos? Brian, I see your Monta Ellis, and I'll raise you three inches, 35 pounds, 13% from beyond the arc, and this...and with my next pick I'll take J.R. Smith.

Now I'm in an interesting position - I have literally no ball handlers.  Do I care? I'm not sure. I really desperately hoped Novak would fall to me.  Alas, I guess Anderson will have to be my token white guy, doubling as my token pudgy guy.  Could DeMar just bring the ball up? I guess.  And though there's one player that I'm incredibly tempted to snag (and probably should), I'm gonna go with an up-and-coming PG (that, by the way, is shooting very well from the floor and decent from three this year, helping a team limp towards the playoff without it's best player) who also happens to be the perfect player to dish the ball to my shooters and toss up an oop or two.  Jrue Holiday, you're on my squad. And also I love your name.

Paul: Most interesting Jrue Holiday fact I just learned: he is engaged to US Women's Soccer midfielder Lauren Cheney! How do two people like that meet? Why is Holiday engaged despite being my age? Would Jack's team ever record an assist? So many questions unanswered!

Brian: Love the Jrue pick and your defense of it. THAT BEING SAID, time for my sleeper pick. My team is mediocre rebounding at best, and this guy will eradicate any hope of the other team getting a rebound. Did you know that Anderson Varejao is averaging 15 rebounds a game this year? 15! Combine that with excellent defense and a competent offensive game (as well as being one of the best hustle/intangible guys in the game) and Anderson makes my team a bona fide dynasty.

Paul: my best guess is they met on Jdate.

Paul: Lots of solid selections in the last couple rounds, notably Varejao who would absolutely be the guy in IMs taking charges with his team up 35 in the last 2 minutes, then getting super fired up and trying to fight the opposing center. Unfortunately, I'm gunna have to throw out a veto. 15 boards a game + exceedingly comical hair + pity for the city of Cleveland = coaches pick for the ASG this year. Sorry Brian.

Jack: I hope Alex Morgan is on Jdate too.

I'm seconding the veto...his numbers are just better than Noah's anyway.  And he looks like the kid from High School Musical, which is absolutely unacceptable. Yeah, I went there.

Brian: Up 35? It would probably be closer to 135 with 2 min left. I'm pretty disappointed that my incredible sleeper got vetoed, so I'm going to eschew conventional wisdom and go with the F-you pick to Paul. I have two glaring needs at this point: forward that can shoot the 3, and token white guy. Hmm...wasn't there a really good player in the Italian league like 4 years ago that could fill this role?

Come on down Danilo Gallanari!

Jack: I'm upset there isn't a "like" button on this thread.

Paul: Gallinari was indeed under consideration for my next round selection, but I already have his strengths covered with my current team: outside shooting (Mr. Discount Double Check), penetration (Crawford), surprisingly stingy defense (Barnes) and incredible euro-flopping skills (Pekovic).

To fill out my roster, I still have a few holes; notably, a freakishly athletic player who the other team simply will not be able to stop from vicious dunks at all times, and a true distributor who can actually unleash the outside shooting potential of my three wing spots. The first one is another no-brainer. If you were playing on an intramural team, which NBA player walking onto the court would cause you to think "well, this isn't even fair" the quickest? How about a 7'2" center with a 35" vertical leap? Show me JaVale McGee.

The second slot is a little bit harder to fill. There are not a lot of true distributors in the NBA anymore, and the most notable ones have all made multiple all-star teams (Nash, Paul, etc.). This is when Andre Miller would be a nice selection, but again, he is ineligible because of a random first-team all-rookie selection about 28 years ago. After careful consideration of Pablo Prigioni (euro-craftiness and old-man skills at their finest), Earl Watson (surprisingly having a nice season for Utah) and Goran Dragic (actually not a good passer), I am instead going with the deep, deep sleeper selection of Dogus Balbay currently out of Anadolu Efes in the Turkish league. This guy played for Texas, and while he couldn't shoot at all, he was one of the craftiest passers I have ever seen in college. My roster is complete.

Jack: Way to keep with the overly-tatted-out theme.  Also, while I'm a proud Texas supporter, Dogus shot under 50% on free throws in college. As a point guard. But your dip into the international arena has me considering Stephon Marbury and Allen Iverson.

Paul: A quick scan of the NBA roster list has given me immediate regret of the Dogus pick. Definitely panicked a bit there with several better options available. Also I had no idea about the free throw situation, but wow.

Brian: Since my attempt at drafting a rebounder was shot down in flames in the last round, it looks like I still have a need to fill. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you an up and coming true center, my fantasy basketball team's unsung hero, The Turkish Hammer himself, Omer Asik. The other teams wouldn't sniff a rebound with Omer wiping the glass cleaner than an operating room.

Bonus points for Omer oddly resembling the slightly awkward older brother from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

Jack: So it has come to this. The last pick, the last word (probably not, Paul always has something to say), the last...well this is the end. If you're keeping track (if you're not, I don't blame you), I'm ridin' pretty with Jrue, JR, the JET, and DeMar as my guards while DeAndre and Anderson will be patrolling the paint. Not really, Anderson will actually just be spotted up on the wing.

Side note - a surprising number of picks have extra capital letters in their name. Just like a surprising number of people are surprised after they eat taco bell and can't leave the house afterwards.

Look, I'd give you a list of reasons why I'm picking this person if I thought it would help, and I know all the reasons I shouldn't pick him (which starts with "he looks like Chris Brown" - they even met once and took a picture together, look it up), but the fact is he can jump out of the gym and is, in my opinion, the person in this game most likely to make you do this.

Just look:

Shannon Brown, welcome on board.

Paul: Well, there you have it. The final teams:

Paul: Jamal Crawford, Nikola Pekovic, Matt Barnes, Ty Lawson, Steve Novak, JaVale McGee, Dogus Balbay

Brian: Josh Smith, Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, Al Jefferson, Monta Ellis, Danilo Gallinari, Omer Asik

Jack: DeAndre Jordan, DeMar DeRozan, Jason Terry, Ryan Anderson, J.R. Smith, Jrue Holiday, Shannon Brown

What is surprising to me is how many guys would have been pretty great for these teams that weren't picked. Just from my draft board, nobody picked Scalabrine, Jimmer, Brandon Rush, Prigioni, Nate Robinson, Big Baby Davis, Reggie Evans, Ed Davis, Andray Blatche, Leandro Barbosa, Joey Dorsey, Dorrell Wright, JJ Barea, Rodney Stuckey, Brendan Haywood, Nene, Doug McDermott, JJ Redick, Lou Williams, or even Kenny George! And I still picked Dogus Balbay. Whoops. Anyway, I think one of the best lessons from this is that even average NBA players are still pretty freaking good and would make any intramural team look silly in about 2 seconds. There were a lot of different ways to construct a team like this (huge guys, shooters, penetrators, incredible defense), but I think we did a pretty solid job. While my team would certainly be the most fun to watch, who do you guys think has the best squad?

P.S. if we had another round, I was totally going Scalabrine.

Jack: Dogus Balbay. I hate the term "lol", but I think it's the only appropriate way to describe what I'm still doing after reading that pick.

The really important question now is: who won? Or rather, did Brian or I win since Paul picked both Balbay and Pekovic?  It's up there on the list of toughest questions in life - right below "Is bringing a bottle of two-buck Chuck to a party worse than bringing nothing at all?"

No comments:

Post a Comment