Paris Kyles (left) and Omar's Tires take on Jameel Staten and the Mpls Scrubs in the Game of the Week.
Birdie’s Revenge handled business as usual against a bottom-of-the-standings Green Wave squad. They stand in sole possession of first place since they hold the tiebreaker over the Scrubs after they defeated them two weeks ago. Lee Moore and Roc Rogers are the leaders of this team, but they're also unselfish. Dom Dawson has had his nights with a couple double doubles this season. Aaron Delaney exploded for 23 points against the Savages and followed it up with 18 against the Crowd Pleasers. Rio Moore has silently been the team’s key role player and had 16 against the Savages and 24 against the Crowd Pleasers. Heck, they have six players averaging double figures in total with Denzel Shaw 10.5 ppg rounding out the group. This team is back to playing the best ball in the league and their record shows it.
Self Made has single handedly destroyed my record all season long. Time and time again I pick against them and they make me pay for it. Last week, they showed that they are for real as they played D.O.A. down to the wire before winning the game by two as Dierre Martin made a game clinching bucket. Martin has quietly been an early pick for M.V.P.! He has dazzled with his ability to get in the paint and finish like Tony Parker in 2004. The league has been on notice as well. Guys have chimed in and told me how skilled this Dierre guy is almost every week. By the way, his little brother Dominique Martin has been the perfect complimentary player as he has lit up the three-point line. He's second in the league in three-point percentage by guys who have attempted at least 15 triples at just over 54%. He just hit 6 of 11 from long range against D.O.A. This team will go as the Martin brothers go..
Once again my hand is getting pulled to pick against Self Made. They're playing the No. 1 team in the league. Although, they're only one game back and can actually take over first place with a win and a Scrubs loss. Shoot, I'll go on a big limb and here it is.
Self Made by 1
TRIPLE DOUBLE ALERT! Crowd Pleasers point guard Caleb Willis recorded his first career TD triple double with 15 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds as his team held on to a two-point win in overtime over Hybrid Nation last week. That's definitely a feat very few have been able to accomplish in league history. The more concerning news is how my new squad failed to take care of the ball. It was like we were trying to give the game away as we turned the ball over time and time again down the stretch. We are a good and well-balanced team with a lot of size but we fail to capitalize on our strength too often. Mahlon Thomas recorded 24 points and 19 rebounds in his own right. We must feed him more and make the game easier. Still, we found a way to win over a team that is better than people expected in Hybrid Nation.
The Rock Pile leads the league in three-point shooting percentage with a dazzling 47%. These guys are as efficient as it gets when it comes to draining long-range bombs and making the extra pass to get an open look. They also have Joel Armstrong. The bruiser was efficient from the field last week against the Falcons going 13-for-14 from the floor for 28 points. The shooting is there, the confidence is building and they are in a great position being tied for third place in the league.
The Crowd Pleasers are playing better, but they still have a lot to prove.
Rock Pile by 6
The Scrubs held on for a three-point win against a struggling Savages team last week. That's OK, though. There will be nights in which every team struggles, but the good teams will find a way to win those games. Jameel Staten exploded for 30 points and 10 rebounds. He's like the league’s Lebron James. He's bigger than everybody, but he has guard skills. That's hard to stop for the league’s bigs. He exploits those matchups. DeAndre Townsend is still the fastest guard in the league and can put up 30 in his sleep. Cory Luckett is one of the best defenders this league has ever seen and his offense has been coming on as of late. Kevin Henderson is a sharpshooter with size and skill to finish in the paint with the league’s best. The core is set. However, I expect more of captain Marcus Smith. He has the moves to get open but hasn't been able to finish. In fact, the four role players including Smith, Thomas fuller, Troy Bey, and Dennis Lemme shot a combined 3 of 12 from the field last game. These guys will have to step up for the playoff push.
With scoring outputs of 19, 20, 25, 45, and 26 to start the season for Paris Kyles it’s clear he’s found his groove with ease in this young season. So, with a big game against the previous top ranked team with their own M.V.P. caliber player in Kevin Thompson we marveled at what he did on this particular night. He scored 39 points and hit clutch basket after clutch basket as Omar Tire’s held on two win the game 90-87. Thanks in large to Kyles’ scoring outputs Omar’s Tires is the highest scoring team in the league with a grand total of 508 points in six games. That 0-2 start never phased these guys as they've put together a four-game winning streak and reached a five-way tie for third place.
This is easily the Game of the Week. Two high powered offenses and some highly touted players. In the end I don't know if Kyles will have the help to stop the Scrubs.
Scrubs by 5
Hybrid Nation takes and makes the most threes in the league with 75 made and 240 attempted. They've taken 43 more threes than the second most team in the Scrubs at 197. The problem is they're second to last in three-point percentage at 31%. To their credit, they lack size and the run-and-gun formula works best for them. That's why they're second in the league in scoring with 500 points scored - 70% of which come from three guys: D’starr Turner, Jerry Sweezy and Deonte Compton. They've combined for 351 points scored on the season. They'll need someone else to step up and be a threat for them if they want to go from OK to good.
All4One ran into a red hot Omar’s Tires team and couldn't pull it out in the closing minutes. They're still keeping pace as they're in a five-way tie for third spot. Statistically they've been a middle-of-the-pack team in nearly every statistical category. Closer to the bottom than the top, though. Could All4One be dealing with an identity issue? I wouldn't jump to that conclusion, but the numbers are curious to say the least.
You can't count Hybrid Nation out of any contest with the way they put up points, but I don't see anybody who can check Kevin Thompson on this unit.
All4One by 9
The Savages played hard against the Scrubs last week, but came up short 90-87 in a tough loss. There are no moral victories in TD, but maybe this the effort they needed to get back on track. It's hard to wrap my head around how a team this talented can't gel together. Johnny Ball hasn't been affective all season long. He had just two points against the Scrubs last week and is averaging just 8.3 ppg on the season. That's a career low. Until this team finds an identity and some kind of rhythm they'll continue to struggle.
D.O.A. followed up an impressive four-on-eight win against a really good Rock Pile team with a two-point loss to Self Made. Maybe teams have figured out that D.O.A. is dead last by a large margin in three-point shooting at 27%.. To put it in perspective, no other team is under 31%. On the flip side they're leading the league in two point shots, making over 67% of those. Keep these guys out the paint and you may just have a chance, is what the numbers read. Still, the Akeem Cubie and Roosevelt Scott tandem is one of the best in the league and they'll find a way to be effective.
This isn't the game the Savages wanted to get back on track, but probably what they need. This game can define their season. It's going to be tough, though.
D.O.A. by 5
The Falcons are the only winless team in the league. They haven't been able to put it all together and come out on top. Core piece Dan Andersen seems to have given up and abandoned ship. Guard Derek Scully is out for the season with an injury. Big man Jacob Peterson is presumably tired of losing as his first two years of Triple Double play has been with losing teams. On the bright side they acquired guard Jordaire Jett who brings an incredible resume with him. He scored 25 points in his debut, but the team still fell to The Rock Pile by 19 points. Captain Carlos Ortiz has to pull his franchise together. They're a mess right now.
The Green Wave is a loss away from being the Falcons themselves. Some may argue that the Falcons actually have a better team on paper. The difference is the Green Wave play extremely hard. Guard Origin Spencer has been leading the way and lighting it up from the perimeter all season long, going 22-for-37 from distance for a league-leading 59%. He also is 10th in the league in scoring with 20 ppg for guys that have played all six games this year. As for the rest of the team. They're dead last in scoring with 419 points and dead last in field goal percentage at 51%.
These two teams need a win like nobody else's business. There are too many "if’s" in this matchup to determine the winner. If Peterson and Andersen show up to pair with Jett they'll be scary. If Tyrell Sledge shows up for the Wave they'll be scary as well. I think at least two of three for the Falcons will happen and that'll be enough.
Falcons by 3