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March Madness 2020: College Basketball is changing quickly

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The college basketball season, for the most part, has been without fanfare and has been drowned out by a general lackluster interest by the general sports rooting public. College basketball diehards, I used to be one, really won’t like that sentiment but the facts are there is less general interest surrounding the regular season right now than probably ever before. In the world of daily online gaming, the conference tournaments and NCAA tournament though will be as popular as ever.  Advertisers agree as Turner and CBS have sold out their ad units in record time, according to Ad Age.

There is a multitude of reasons, but the scandals involving pay for play athletes with handlers and shoe salesmen really did hurt the brand. No one knows quite which way to handle the imbalance of billion-dollar revenue sports basketball and football, with the traditional idea of amateurism. So much as been said and debated and there are no easy answers.

New York Magazine dubbed this an end of an era for college basketball. 

The market for sports is obviously oversaturated. The media platforms to watch sports are oversaturated.

For instance, random mid-week college basketball matchups on ESPN on Feb. 25th drew about.75 to 1 million viewers.  By comparison, a repeat of “Chopped” on the Foodnetwork netted .73 million viewers that same night.

Jerry Brewer of the Washington Post writes: 

“It has been a wild season and a tame one because there is no focal point, no standard, no transparent greatness to probe and put what you’re viewing in context. The competitive balance has been negated by limited star power. While die-hards don’t feel like they are missing anything, the unfortunate reality is that generalists define whether a season can reach viral interest. And there happens to be a scarcity of household names, elite NBA prospects and undeniable excellence to captivate an even larger audience.”

Even as the NBA has explored the idea of mid-season tournaments, the conferences and NCAA likely will be thinking of solutions to bring a little life back into the regular season.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has gone on record to say his league will no longer implement Article X  which requires a player must wait one entire NBA season after his prospective high school graduation before he can become draft-eligible and at least 19 years of age, effectively the one and done rule. Silver pinpoints the 2022 draft as the first year to abolish the rule so as to fairly weigh draft picks that have already been traded for the 2020 and 2021 drafts.

Two years might not be enough time to right the ship of the college basketball regular season.  The simplest solution would be great players and great teams matching up against one another.  The Dukes, Kansas’ and UNC’s of the world are not full of talent and excellence right now. Coach K and Roy Williams, college basketball royalty have gotten criticism for anything and everything this season. Kansas is talented but appears to have been involved to some extent in several odd instances of player eligibility and shoe company messes.

Blame it on AAU, year long youth basketball, what have you. Something feels totally uneventful about this college basketball regular season.

 

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HOOPS

A quick look at the 2020 NBA MVP race

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It looks like it’s down to three in the 2019-20 NBA MVP race. LeBron James had a big weekend beating crosstown rivals Kawhi Leonard as well as Milwaukee on Friday night. He’s 11th in scoring in the NBA amongst a group of guys who jack up on average 20 or more shots and the 37-year old leads the NBA in assists. The Lakers lead the clearly more difficult Western Conference as well.

Until a recent injury, Gianns Antetokounmpo  was thought to be the MVP this season, leading his Bucks to the best overall record in the NBA. Truth be told it’s probably his. Antetokounmpo should be back in action later this week.

Damion Lillard has put up monster numbers and had big games, he’s in the conversation but it will take a small miracle as his Trailblazers currently sit 11th in the western conference standings.

Luka Doncic is a very viable candidate. He’s just been solid in just about every statistical category, 4th in assists, 7th in points, fourth in the efficiency category.

Historically the NBA MVP tends to be an unequal combination of scoring, team wins, and popularity.

If those are in fact the deciding factor Giannis Antetokounmpo is your NBA MVP this season. Sentiment might give it to James.

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The amazing rise of Luka Doncic

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At 20 years, 266 days, we might have found our next big star. As if the NBA doesn’t have enough stars.

Luka Doncic’s superior offensive skills have taken the headlines away from a ball-happy James Harde, the return of ‘Melo, Kawhi’s load-management, and LeBron actually playing basketball in November.

So a guy can score? Devin Booker can score and he’s not a star in Phoenix. But Luka Donic seems to have the winning mentality. His points and his domination fit in the flow of the NBA. He’s efficient. He’s on a team coached by Rick Carlise. The same coach who annoyed point guards in years past with his micromanaging.

At 6″7 Luka Doncic is a point guard and he’s good.

Wednesday night against Golden State Doncic put up a state line of 36 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in 26 minutes. It was his seventh triple-double of the season. He broke all kinds of records.

They call him Larry Bird. They want to keep comparing him to Larry Bird. Because of the height, the comparison to a guard would miss the mark.

He’s the offering of 40 to 50 years of hard work and development in international basketball. He’s the most complete player offensively to come from Europe, they say.

He was tutored by the great Dirk Nowitzki in 2018-19 his rookie season. Two players Marvin Bagely and Deandre Ayton were drafted ahead of Doncic in a league weary of misses on the European front. He’s paired with Krispus Porzingis as the future in the Big D.

He has annihilated NBA defenses-if those exist.

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HOOPS

The One Thing Magic Johnson Forgot to Talk About

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Magic Johnson stepped down as the President of the Los Angeles Lakers. He called an abrupt news conference in the bowels of the Staples Center Tuesday night.

The NBA is a reality TV show that never stops providing new scripts. He cited his trepidation of firing Luke Walton who his owner and best bud Jeanie Buss loved very much.

Of course Magic Johnson was instrumental in luring LeBron James into LaLa Land away from Cleveland, although it doesn’t seem like it was a hard sell as LeBron appears to have strategically made his mind up to do so for some time. But how many decisions Magic made day-to-day is hard to tell.

According to some media reports Magic wasn’t around the office a whole lot and was traveling and caring for his other business commitments.

Apparently being the face of the franchise is much, much easier away from a front office role.

Magic’s brief Lakers President tenure will probably be more memorable than his run as a late-night talk show host in the 90s. His biggest get will be LeBron James.

But as the curtains fell on the 2018-19 dumpster fire that was the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night Magic made no mention of LeBron James and the total roster disunity and disruption that his signing brought. He made very little mention of the failed attempt to land Anthony Davis by force from the New Orleans Pelicans.

The biggest question that still needed to be answered by Magic is: What in the world are you going to do with this roster to complement LeBron James in his swan song years?

Magic did say, “We’re half way there, with another star coming in (this summer)”.

Magic talked a lot about how the job had changed him and he wanted to get back to his old life. He talked about being handcuffed as the President of the Lakers, not being able to tweet as freely as he once could.

He never addressed the elephant in the room.

What in the world were you thinking when you put this roster together?

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