Florida breeze? (cont.)
Posted: Monday March 19, 2007 2:01PM; Updated: Monday March 19, 2007 2:03PM
PF: Hakim Warrick vs. Joakim Noah: I understand that Noah brings his 400cc motor to every game, that he is the heart and soul of the Florida team. But I also believe that the Grizz would understand that you don't have to guard him outside of 10 feet from the basket because he's such a horrendous shooter. Warrick and Noah are built similarly, but Warrick plays with much more fluidity and basketball skill, and he's generally the more dangerous all-around player of the two. EDGE: NBA
C: Pau Gasol vs. Al Horford: Horford is going to have a long NBA career, but Gasol is one of the best post players in the world. This one's not even close. EDGE: NBA
Bench: Florida comes with Walter Hodge, Chris Richard and Dan Werner. Memphis goes with Stromile Swift, Chucky Atkins and recently they've been using a lot of Tarence Kinsey. Who is Tarence Kinsey? He's the guy who averaged almost 16 points per game last season for the University of South Carolina, playing in Florida's SEC. The players on the Grizzlies' bench are all guys who were starters in college. EDGE: NBA
Coaching: Billy Donovan is obviously a very good coach and an exceptional recruiter. Memphis boss Tony Barone is basically a human bookmark, asked to hold a place in time until the season ends and it's time to sell the Grizzlies and head to the NBA Draft Lottery. Barone loses this one mostly because he's presided over Memphis' mesmerizing slide from being the best defensive team in the NBA in 2005-06 to being one of the worst this season. EDGE: NCAA
Intangibles: There are a couple of areas here that need to be decided and could potentially impact our game. First of all, which rules do we use? Do we use the shorter college 3-point line or the deeper NBA line? Do the shot clocks run for 35 or 24 seconds? Perhaps most importantly, do we use stricter college refs or NBA refs who tend to let more things go? Is illegal defense being called? Either way, I think the NBA guys have an advantage because of their size and strength. And no matter which three point line you use, the NBA guys have an edge. EDGE: NBA
Through analyzing the above match-ups, the NBA would seem to have an edge. But there's one other facet where I think NBA teams, even crappy ones, would destroy college teams: Basketball understanding.
As I watched countless NCAA tournament games the last four days, I was surprised again and again by how many of the college teams didn't seem to understand the purpose of all those plays they were running out there. The unifying goal of almost all sports is that teams are trying to create (and take advantage of) mismatches. NBA offenses are almost entirely about this, hence the endless pick-and-rolls. The college teams this weekend, however, almost never exploit these advantages; I can't tell you how many times I screamed at the TV this weekend wondering why guys wouldn't pass the ball to players who would potentially have an easier time scoring than themselves. The NBA may be a largely rote and robotic league, but its teams are very good at trying to play to their strengths night after night.
For that reason alone, I think the Grizzlies could easily handle a college team, even the best college team. Perhaps a college all-star team would stand a better chance, although then they'd lack the cohesiveness and history of playing together that any NBA team would have.
As far as I'm concerned, it's a pretty easy prediction to make. That said, it's too bad we can't make this game happen anyway.
What, you're telling me you wouldn't want to watch?
Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com.