BBL BasketballPosted by Pablo Cheeks Sun, September 16, 2018 09:12:20
In many cases the hardcore basketball fan does not exclude any level of the sport. From the lofty heights of the NBA to Austrailian NBL, Euro Ball to the Greek League or the BBL down to the lower NBL leagues, all of it is entertainment to the serious fan. The casual fan however, is perhaps a little more choosey with what they consume. NBA matchups are broadcast on BT Sport channels, which very often feature the early game in the States, starting from around either 5:30pm or 8:30pm UK time. If it is a later game, 1am or after, then the game is conveniently replayed at a more reasonable time, at least once the following day, on one of the BT Sport channels. Way more coverage than we can get for our own leagues, BBL and NBL combined.
For the sake of this comparison, we will look specifically at the NBA Vs the BBL. That said, when talking to some more casual fans, it is often clear that they are fairly au fait with the NBA. They know of Steph Curry and LeBron James. They are aware that Lonzo Ball is a highly anticipated rookie, and that the San Antonio Spurs are always a high ranked team and have been for an extended period. They don't know equivalent facts in the BBL. They've not heard of Jaysean Paige and the Eagles unbeaten streak. They aren't familiar with the Riders trying to defend their Championship. And the reasons are often quite common. Not publicised enough. Not on television enough. Very little media coverage available. These factors, we can obviously confirm and highlight a clear difference in comparing the NBA to the BBL. There is literally a game every single night, televised on one of many sports channels available in America, with 30 teams playing 82 regular season games not including the playoffs, there are more matchups to choose from. There are less games in the BBL, but every weekend there are plenty of games on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons, not to mention the odd Saturday evening game as well. Granted not as many games as our American cousins, but more than enough entertainment for fans to sink their teeth into.
With the publicity of the British game an obvious difference, it is the other reasons making fans turn to the NBA before considering the BBL that is of interest. Reasons that often arrise are statistically based. The game is not as fast as the NBA. Their isn't as many points scored, making it less exciting. Shooting is worse in the BBL and missed shots makes for a less exciting game. All these "issues" we shall tackle now and consider if these things are true, or if it is more the lack of media coverage that keeps the BBL in the dark somewhat.
The speed of the game is something I struggle to see, both as a fan and logistically. The British game is much shorter than an NBA game, which does not really effect game play, only to say that you literally have less time to beat your opponent overall, which means crunch time and those moments in the clutch seem to come around quicker than in an NBA game. The real time restraint that effects the shape of the game is the shot clock. It literally dictates how quick an offense can be. The discrepancy here is that it is the same in both the NBA and the BBL, eradicating the issue of the speed of play. The slightly smaller BBL court, it could be argued, also makes transition play faster, as it takes less time to get from defence to offense. Either way, the argument that the game isn't as fast is pretty much debunked straight away.
"There isn't as many points scored" or "they don't score much in the BBL" is something demanding a deeper look into the state of both professional leagues. Taking a small sample from the top teams in the NBA compared with the top teams on the BBL would perhaps not be enough, as the popularity of British basketball on the whole is in question, so those stats combined with a selection of the bottom teams of both leagues should give us a broader view when tackling this complaint. Looking then at the top and bottom teams in the NBA and BBL, the points per game look like this:
NBA Top 3:
- Boston Celtics 102.9
- Golden State Warriors 117.9
- Houston Rockets 112.6
BBL Top 2:
- Newcastle Eagles 105.6
- Leicester Riders 84.1
NBA Bottom 3:
- Dallas Mavericks 99.1
- Atlanta Hawks 102.8
- Chicago Bulls 95.5
BBL Bottom 2:
- Leeds Force 78.3
- Manchester Giants 75.7
There are three from the NBA and only two from the BBL, just because there are more teams in the NBA. At face value, the argument that BBL teams score less is supported with these stats. Even the bottom 3 NBA teams out score the top BBL teams. However, these stats need further dissection for one simple oversight. NBA games are 8 minutes longer overall, with quarters of 12 minutes instead of 10 minute quarters in the BBL. So, it would be more accurate if we can work out average points per minute, so here are the figures with points per game:
- Celtics 2.14 ppm
- Warriors 2.45 ppm
- Rockets 2.34 ppm
- Mavs 2.06 ppm
- Bulls 1.98 ppm
- Eagles 2.64 ppm
- Riders 2.10 ppm
- Force 1.95 ppm
- Giants 1.89 ppm
With this new information does not support the complaint that BBL teams score less. They do score less, but due to the reduced playing time, the ratio of points per minute is actually on par with those teams in the NBA. The Eagles in particular, outscore the Warriors, who have the highest points per minute in the NBA, by .19 ppm. It's fair to say from these figures that the scoring ratio is very similar if not the same. As a result, it cannot be a lack of scoring that turns fans to the NBA over the BBL, as they will see as many points scored over the same amount of time.
Looking further into the individual stats and the complaint that players on the BBL aren't as talented and miss more than players in the NBA, it seems that this argument is not particularly true either. The top ten NBA percentages range from 100% at the top, down to 70.7%. In the BBL it is 100% down to 59% which although lower by 11.7%, isn't that much of a drop off when you consider just how many players play in the NBA. As a percentage, ten players in the BBL is nearly 10% of the entire league. 10 players in the NBA is only 2% of the entire league. It would be more accurate to take just 2% of BBL field goal percentages. As a result, again it suggests that missed shots is an invalid complaint against the BBL, as the top 2% shoot as well as the NBA.
There are a host of other stats available to fans and interested parties. All of which seem relative when compared accross the two very separate leagues, although perhaps not that different. What they all seem to point to is that it is not the on court play that leads the more casual fan to consume NBA games over BBL games, but the off court activities and investments that make it easier to watch NBA fixtures. Attending regular live BBL games, as well as watching livebasketball.tv is as entertaining, if not more so than watching the NBA. The difference does seem to call in the lap of how our game is marketed and how there is very little hype surrounding our British teams and the host of talent within.
FlashbacksPosted by Pablo Cheeks Sun, July 29, 2018 08:49:03
The Cunningham Effect
It's pitch black. The buzz of the crowd is growing, along with the overwhelming anticipation of what is about to happen. The slow methodical rumble from both the stamping feet of the packed arena and A Space Oddessy 2001 soundtrack booming from the PA, is deafening. As the music builds, so to does the noise from the crowd. Two beams of light appear from high in the arena. They shine down from their source, opening out to a single spot light that covers the center cirlce in the middle of the court perfectly. The music builds to a climax and the home town players introductions are about to follow from the very fired up and charismatic announcer. It seems a little pointless in a way, as the sold out crowd is drowning out his every word. But you can hear his excitement even though his voice is just a murmur, lost in the now thumping intro beat. The spot lights move, and split off into separate areas, one on the free throw line and one hovering near the home teams bench. A player is announced. Impossible to hear who, but the spotlight picks up the player instantly. There is no mistaking who it is. His 6ft 10 frame seems incorrect as the intense build up and amped up atmosphere makes him appear 7ft 2. His arms are spread wide, as if mimicking a airplane about to attempt a fly by. No sooner had the spot light found him, and the baing crowd identified him with an appreciative roar, then he was off to the races. Sprinting, with the spotlight barely able to keep up, he holds both arms outstretched to the right of his body and the expectant front two rows lean in as he completes a full lap of the courtside fans, high fiving anyone and everyone he can reach. The rest of the team are announced, each with a roar of approval as high as the last. As if perfectly choreographed, he arrives back to the second spotlight as the last name is announced and high fives the entire squad. They go into a huddle as the arena lights come up, at which point the crowd knows it's game time and they are in for a treat.
The player that generated such an atmosphere and response was of course, former Harlem Globetrotter, Alan Cunningham. If it is suggested that Alton Byrd is the Magic Johnson of British basketball, then Alan Cunningham is certainly Bill Russell. Countless BBL league and playoff titles, as well as cup and trophy wins. He was an integral part of the famous Kingston Kings and their domination of the BBL in the late 80's and early 90's and if that wasn't enough, he then took his talents to Worthing and helped the Bears dominate for a further three years, winning the playoffs with each outing. The third consecutive playoff win came in particularly Bill Russell fashion. At the end of Russell's playing career, his Boston Celtics qualified for the the NBA Playoffs in the lowly fourth seed, and despite not having home court advantage in the final, beat the Lakers in a seven game series, even though fans and critics had written off the Celtics early. Alan Cunningham and the Bears finished the regular season in 7th and like Russell's Celtics, the Bears were considered over the hill and past it, having only just qualified for a post season spot. However, they eased into the finals and held off the Giants for their third consecutive Championship.
Cunningham's professional career in the BBL was impressive. His influence on the court has been unparalleled, perhaps until recent seasons and Fab Flournoys current role on the Eagles. What is perhaps more impressive is Cunningham's continued career into the NBL as player coach of Solent. In the late 90's he led the team to a third division championship and a second division title. He retired on top in 2000, after scoring 38 points in a friendly game for a Portsmouth Pirates select team against a squad from the University of Gettysburg, USA. His retirement did not last long. Coming back to Solent in 2001-02 for one final season and finished his career on the court, with the ball in his hand as the buzzer went, in a playoff final having scored 29 and in a double overtime loss.
There's no question that wherever Cunningham took his talents, silverware would surely follow. In many cases the results were instant and fans and supporters that were lucky enough to have seen him play at any point in his career, will have fond memories and without a doubt, will have been entertained.
FlashbacksPosted by Pablo Cheeks Sun, July 29, 2018 08:44:17
Fact checking and cross checking stats of classic BBL players is by no means an easy task. As such, it would seem that a number of players from the past seem to be somewhat forgotten and remain only in folklore and legend among people that once saw them grace the hardwood of a BBL court. However, without this particular player the shape of British basketball could be very different. The stats and information you can uncover about Byrd are available on Wikipedia and various websites that pay homage to the classic teams he played for and led to victory. Teams such as Crystal Palace, Livingston, (Murrey International), Manchester and Kingston are all teams that still hold very high regard for Byrd and those fortunate enough to have seen him play have fond memories of successful seasons. Byrd was exceptional on the court and his performances legendary, but it was perhaps his performances off the court that had a greater impact on the British game. If there was a televised game, live from the Royal Albert Hall or Wembley Areana and Byrds team were not playing, he would be in the studio, commentating and offering his expert opinions and charasmatic positive attitude to the sport we all know and love. He began to create a persona off the court of a very approachable, yet driven individual, hell bent on publicising basketball, generating new fans and raising awareness of the game in general, both British and across the pond in the NBA. He approached the BBC with a strategy of bringing American sports footage and debate to the UK audience and was given a radio show on BBC 5 Live covering all American sports being played in their native home and the UK counterpart. He then became the UK's face of the NBA, where he hosted the weekly show, NBA Jam Session, which featured a “Marquee Matchup” game of the week as well as the NBA’s “Courtside Countdown” a top ten plays from that week. It also included BBL news and footage, making the game more accessable to the UK market. I myself was a regular viewer, watching once a week with eager intent and anticipation of the weekly match ups or highlight reels from the NBA and the BBL. Alton Byrd became a household name to anyone in the late 80’s or early 90’s that was of fan of basketball.
My father once saw Alton at Ponds Forge Sports Complex, Sheffield, at a none basketball event, surrounded by autograph hunters and readily accepting the attention and admiration. A rare sight for a professional BBL player, even by todays standards. Such was Altons charisma and distinctive appearance on and off the basketball court.
On the court his record speaks for itself. He was part of one of the most successful teams in NBL history, Crystal Palace, as well as one of the best teams in BBL history, Kingston. He spearheaded the offences of every team he played for, with exceptional court vision and the ability to find an open man with his amazing passing. He was named the player of the season consecutively in 1991 and 1992, and led the league in assists whilst leading Kingston to 13 trophies in a 5 year span.
Alton Byrd is clearly one of the greatest players in BBL history. His massive career assists statistic of 1,188 assists in 152 games is more than just a benchmark in the BBL. His contribution and influence on the British game can only be compared with someone like Magic Johnson and his effect on the NBA. Although not similar in stature, both players are similar in charisma and potentially the saviours of their respective basketball leagues. Although arguably it was Byrd that initiated the popularity in British basketball, rather than Magic Johnson reviving the NBA’s popularity. Without Alton Byrd it could be speculated that the BBL’s continued popularity and consistent fan base would not be what it is today, without his off court efforts and on court excellence.
With modern day point guards proving their worth in the NBA and BBL, there still rarely comes such an impact from such a small player. When there does, there is something of a media storm surrounding them. Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics is having such an impact in the NBA currently, listed at 5ft 9, which ironically was Alton Byrds listed height in College. The closest comparison to Byrd currently in the BBL would perhaps be someone like Rahmon Fletcher. Fletcher has only been in the league since 2014, but his impact has been immediate. The Newcastle Eagles completed a Quadruple, league, playoffs, cup and trophy wins in Fletcher's first season, as well as winning silverware every season since his arrival. Plus he has already been named the Molten Player of the Season back to back, in the last two years, a feat the Byrd himself achieved in the early 90’s. Fletcher is listed at 5ft 10, and has incredible ball handling, distribution and court vision. He was second in the league last season in scoring, but like Byrd, Fletcher led the league in Assists.
Alton Byrd currently works as the Vice President of Business Operations for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA, and their G-League team, the Long Island Nets. It could have been the perfect end to the story had Alton remained in the UK and coached for longer, and maybe even ran his own team in the BBL. The continued dedication to his sport would have only raised the profile of basketball more, but to what extent, we can only speculate. A true great of the British game.
Top 5'sPosted by Pablo Cheeks Sun, July 29, 2018 08:35:29
The music most associated with basketball in general is arguably hip hop and rap. The general reference in lyrics, the stereotypical clothing and the regular appearance of rap and hip hop stars at NBA games is perhaps a testament to this, let alone the appearance of countless basketball jerseys in a rap and hip hop setting. There are a number of crossovers as well in the cultural uniform, which perhaps was more evident in the 90's with players and rappers alike wearing baggy jeans and tops and often sporting a baseball cap or bandana of sorts. It could be argued that hip hop and basketball have evolved together in terms of sophistication and fashion with artists like Kanye West and Jay Z rapping about their wealth, expensive accessories, clothes and fashion icons such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. In conjunction with this, it's no coincidence that players can be seen turning up at arenas sporting the formentioned latest fashions.
However, in thinking about this, I started to think about the classic tunes used by basketball teams at courtside during games and prior to tip off, to get the fans excited. The anomaly in a strange way to all the tracks I could think of, was rap and hip hop. In recent years rap and hip hop has been more widely used, my home town Plymouth Raiders used to use a remix of Kanye West's 21st Century track for the team intros. Teams across the UK I'm sure will use an upbeat dance or hip hop track to bring their beloved teams to the court, but it's not necessarily these tunes we're looking at. So, here are a selection of five tracks synonymous with pre games, during games and timeouts:
We Will Rock You - Queen
Perhaps one of the most recognised basketball tracks of all time, even today the song is still inviting the crowd to stamp their feet and clap along to the chanting master piece, whilst informing the oppositions fans and team that We Will indeed, Rock You.
Get Ready - 2 Unlimited
Used widely in basketball arenas across the world, this dance classic was an iconic 90's basketball tune. Often used for a teams introduction to the court for the pre announcement layup lines, the hook line "Y'all Ready For This" was echoing around for well over a decade and can often be heard around arenas today.
Jump - Van Halen
Not as commonly heard perhaps in the current basketball universe, this rock classic is definitely a hoops hit. Often in the playlist for many teams in the late 80's, 90's and even into the 2000's it was a fan favourite and can still be heard over the PA now, although not as frequently as it was once used.
Y.M.C.A. - The Village People
A timeout classic. Often in the case of a winning situation with maybe four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, this tune was and in some cases is, a sure fire way to get the fans out of their seat to follow the very iconic and specific dance routine that accompanies the famous and world renowned chorus.
The Final Countdown - Europe
Another rock song associated with basketball and perhaps most American sports. This song was again widely heard in the 80's and 90's with evidence of its existence still echoing in recent years. It's very catchy lyrics in the chorus quite literally telling fans it was time to leave the bar area and take there seats, as it was the final countdown to introductions and tip off.
And so completes the top five, somewhat retro but certainly classic courtside top 5 tracks. Of course there are many others that could definitely be nominated for consideration. Two more Queen songs infact are still in use today at arenas all over the UK and indeed the world. "Another One Bites There Dust" very often follows an oposition player being fouled out, as they make their long walk back to the bench. And then there's the classic, "We Are The Champions," which is in many ways the crowning moment of any teams cup, trophy or championship win. Also "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" by Steam is used for an oposition player fouling out, with the crowd waving goodbye to the ejected player. Important to mention this point that there are also a massive number of sound effects and drum beats used during play, using clips of music or TV shows to add an exclamation mark to an on court even. My personal favourite was the Brighton Bears use of Homer Simpsons "D'oh", which included thirty one different "D'oh's" over a fifteen second period, which was gifted to any oposition player that was unfortunate enough to miss a free throw.
Music is and always has been an important part of sport in general, but the clever use of the PA system in basketball enhances the fans experience and leaves a lasting memory.
BBL BasketballPosted by Pablo Cheeks Fri, July 27, 2018 20:36:33
There have been plenty of new signings announced, so here is an updated list of new players with there potential for the coming season:
Returning to the Riders after two seasons away from the club, Jamell was a big part of the clubs success, winning six trophies before moving around the BBL and ultimately heading to Europe. His numbers in the BBL have always been good and after similar stats in Europe, it looks like he may even improve since his last stint in the British league. Coming in at 28 with plenty of experience, expect Jamell to prove his worth and achieve YELLOW standard numbers.
A highly commendable move for the rookie, to start his professional career where it all began. Jordan was a big part of the Lions development system and played for the team back in the Milton Keynes days. His college career has been exceptional. Playing in NCAA Division 2 at Augustana, Jordan has an impressive list of achievements and accolades, winning the NCAA Div 2 title and leading the conference in assists. He averaged 16 PPG, 8 APG and 4 RPG, leaving his College with the most assists in school history, most minutes played, most games started and ninth all time in scoring. Expect Jordan to spend little time finding his feet, but a questionable amount of time on the court. His time maybe limited if he is considered a backup guard for Justin Robinson, although should they find a way to co-exist, his numbers could be impressive. We project at least high end RED/ low end YELLOW standard scores, with potential for higher.
The Rocks have decided to bring the 6,2 guard to the BBL for the first time. Greg was once part of the NCAA Southern Conference Champions, Mocs Chattanooga, who also qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Statistically Greg is solid, being the only person in his college to score 1200 points, 300 assists and 150 steals. His numbers for his division 3 French team were also good, averaging over 13 PPG, including a hot streak over one month averaging 27 PPG. Head Coach Daryl Wood has stated that Greg will be starting guard, pushing his potential upwards and making his projected scores a mid to high end YELLOW standard.
Another signing for the Raiders, who are desperately chasing a playoff spot. As a result it could be safe to suggest that any Raiders signing should be of a potentially high calibre. Jarvis has the potential to be just that. Jumping straight from NCAA Division 1 Charleston Southern, Jarvis had plenty of minutes and although on paper his stats were not brilliant, he is said to have a high basketball IQ. Jarvis will potentially be a starter, due to his versatility, so expect him to play a decent amount of minutes. Numbers wise, projecting his fantasy scores would make him a bit of a gamble. Although we never know until the ball is tipped, it's likely he could be a RED standard scorer, although could possess all the tools to achieve YELLOW standard numbers.
The Giants keep racking up the exceptional calibre of signings. Willie, although still only 25, has plenty of experience and an impressive CV from way back to his high school career, where his jersey hangs from the rafters after being the highest scorer in Thomasville High Schools history. In his freshman year at NCAA Division 1 college Charlotte 49ers, he was named in ESPN's top 25 freshman team, made the A-10 all rookie team and was ESPN's mid-season rookie of the year. His rebounding is perhaps his biggest asset and apparent ability to grab an offensive board. Look for Willie to become a double double machine and as a result, become a high end YELLOW standard scorer at the very least. It is more likely, however, that he may be a GREEN level player and be well worth the risk to have in your squad.
Big names being dropped by this Sharks signing. Once recruited by Boston Celtics head coach, Brad Stevens, Rene seems to have great pedigree. Also linked with and highly regarded by LeBron James former high school coach Keith Dambrot, his senior season in NCAA Division 1 saw him score over 13 PPG, but more importantly shoot at a very efficient and impressive 54% from the field. Expect Rene to impress in his first season in the BBL and be a high end YELLOW standard player, creeping into GREEN standard numbers as the season progresses.
This season Fred will be a Flyer, with a 1 year deal that could see him strive to impress in the hope of furthering his professional career. At 25 the 6”5 guard is coming off the back of a good season in the Norwegian top flight, scoring 18.4 PPG. He seems to be a defensively sound guard recording over a block and steal per game, whilst being named the Norwegian Defensive Player of the Year. His NCAA Division 1 career with Mississippi was also impressive. As a result, look for Fred to be a solid YELLOW standard performer, and a minimal risk for return when adding him to your squad.
Yet another rebound machine for the Giants as they add this versatile and impressive small forward. He has NCAA Division 1 experience, including 11 double doubles and a trip to the Southern Conference Semi Finals. His first outing as a professional was in Luxembourg last season where he averaged an impressive 20 PPG and 9 RPG. His addition to the Giants makes them one of the teams to watch this season. Expect Torry to have plenty of double doubles and at least score a high end YELLOW standard.
The Phoenix, looking to add more silverware from last season's successful cup run have added this successful college player to better their chances. Jordan was a big part of Georgia States 2 conference winning titles with his very efficient 55% shooting from the field. It's his rookie season and he may need one or two games under his belt, but expect Jordan to be a solid YELLOW standard scorer, with the occasional breakout GREEN level performance.
BBL BasketballPosted by Pablo Cheeks Fri, July 20, 2018 13:34:09
New Signings Breakdown
The new season is still a little way off. The fixtures list has been released and teams are working hard to recruit and re-sign players and coaches to strengthen their squads before the first tip off. From a fantasy perspective, new signings are a little tricky to predict. Stats from new players previous seasons in various leagues across Europe and America are something of a guideline, although in some cases it is very hard to translate the facts and figures into potential for performances in the BBL. As a result all new signings will be given a YELLOW category for potential medium PIR. This will make some players a real steal and some maybe not. In any case, having a new signing in your squad will be a gamble and although difficult to predict, we will endeavour to do so now!
Back for his second stint at the Raiders, the former fan favourite had impressive stats back in 2014-16, which does perhaps prove he has enough experience in the BBL. His 13 plus points per game and league leading assist rate of 6.5 could mean he has the potential to be a high scoring YELLOW or even a GREEN. He's also coming off the back of a very impressive season in the QBL in Australia, taking his team to the State Championship Title, and winning finals MVP as well. Definitely a potential steal and consistent points earner.
The Riders confirmed the return of the former fan favourite with great excitement. A solid and steadily productive player, who still only 26, is likely to continue his steady improvement season after season. As a potential replacement for Tyler Bernadini at guard, he is likely to play multiple minutes and has the potential to produce medium to high level YELLOW scoring. Conor is consistent and his time in the competitive Denmark league should see his stats improve this season. On a loaded Riders team, he is well worth the risk in the back court.
The Sharks bring London born Matthew back to the UK to fill a forward slot potentially along side Dirk Williams. Coming in from the Spanish Silver division, with impressive stats, Matthew could easily achieve high end YELLOW stats. Sheffield should once again be pushing for a playoff spot and with Chris Alexander dishing the ball out, expect Matthew to be the recipient of a number of points in and around the paint. He had an average last season on over 11 points per game and over 7 rebounds per game, which would make him a decent addition to any teams front court.
The Giants first big move of the season brings Vlatko to the UK hailing from highly respected Split Croatia. His NCAA career is pretty well documented, after being heavily recruited by NCAA Division 1 Colleges. He ended up in the Italian professional league, where his stats were very impressive. 19 PPG and 13 RPG are numbers not to be ignored! There is nothing to suggest his stats will drop off coming to the BBL, so look for him to be a high scoring YELLOW category player. Could be worth the risk.
The Raiders are bringing the 23 year old versatile forward to the UK straight from college in America. Having average stats at Eastern New Mexico NCAA Division 2, a lesser known college would suggest his first season in the BBL maybe a challenging one. Having said that, the one lasting message coming from his former coaches is that his work ethic and very high basketball IQ could raise his potential fantasy scores for this coming season. He is predicted to be a low end YELLOW high end RED scoring back court/ front court player and would be quite a gamble.
Simply a steal. The Eagles have bought back the two time MVP, potentially to give him the chance at a third MVP run. Rahmon has had several excellent seasons in the BBL and is well aware of how to get things done. He is likely to be a GREEN level scorer and we expect him to have a very high usage rate by fantasy players.
The Flyers are taking a punt on the 22 year old versatile guard/ forward. Justin is incredibly athletic and seems to have all the skills required to succeed in the BBL. He was a big part of Texas Tech, making numerous appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including an Elite 8 finish last season. His stats for Texas Tech were solid, which when translated into the BBL could mean he is a high end YELLOW, low end GREEN level scorer for your fantasy team. It's less of a gamble taking a player like Justin, as his pedigree and apparent ability should see him score plenty of fantasy points this coming season.
Last season Niem was a teammate of Justin Gray at Texas Tech and was also a big part of their success in the NCAA last season. Statistically Niem was very impressive and will definitely give the Riders a solid guard option. Niem is certain to score consistently at a YELLOW level, but has potential to hit GREEN numbers as well and could be a well worthy risk if added to your fantasy squad.
MIKE McCALL JNR
One of a number of signings by the Giants this summer and potentially the pick of the bunch. Mike's CV is very impressive starting with an impressive college career for Saint Louis, making three trips to the NCAA Tournament, followed by a season in the G-League for Iowa Energy. The Chicago born guard then headed to Ecuador with an impressive 32 PPG, before heading home to Chicago Steam in the ABA, averaging 19 PPG and 7 APG. His three point average is also pretty good at 40%, but his consistently good steals stats are also impressive. It is clear that Mike has the potential to be a GREEN category scorer and is well worth adding to your FBBL squad.
Food for thought with the BBL season creeping ever so slightly nearer with each passing day. A full list of eligible players will be available soon to help you start to shape your FBBL squad, not to mention, there will still be more signings before the first tip off of 2018-19 season.
Top 5'sPosted by Pablo Cheeks Thu, July 12, 2018 20:45:57
Last season the top five scorers in Fantasy BBL, based on the player index rating, (PIR).
JAYSEAN PAIGE (NEW): 20.2
CJ GETTYS (CHE): 19.9
TONY HICKS (SUR): 19.1
BRANDON PEEL (LON): 19.0
DAVID KADIRI (MAN): 18.1
The summer has seen a number of players confirmed to be returning, as well as new signings already and players returning to the BBL will be graded based on last seasons numbers. At this early stage, we thought we'd take a look at the top 5 PIR for players coming back to the BBL:
JUSTIN ROBINSON (LON): 18.1
KIERON ACHARA (GLA): 15.8
ALI FRASER (GLA): 14.6
PIERRE HAMPTON (LEI): 13.8
JR HOLDER (LEI): 13.3
Serious food for thought, especially considering two of the top three are GLASGOW ROCKS players. Leicester Riders also have two players in the top five, with London Lions holding the top player spot. Also, interestingly it would appear that the only confirmed player in the Lions squad, including a head coach, is JUSTIN ROBINSON. As all 11 BBL teams build toward the coming season, we'll keep you posted on PIR averages and projected PIR for new signings to the league.
BBL BasketballPosted by Pablo Cheeks Wed, July 11, 2018 13:14:54
Last season is already in the past as the summer signing period is in full swing.
Despite the bad news from Leeds Force, being unable to sustain a BBL team, the news has been positive for a number of teams. Also the release of the NBL full list of registered teams for the 2018-19 season seems to imply that the Worthing Thunder and their impressive BBL standard guard Zaire Taylor, are staying put and not throwing their hat into the BBL ring.
As things stand at the moment there are a few arguments for which team is currently winning in the off season and already some players to keep an eye on for your fantasy team. Leicester Riders announcing that they are entering Champions League basketball is a massive plus. Not to mention bringing back Pierre Hampton and TrayVon Wright, two players that were key contributors to the Riders success last season and big fantasy scorers. Also the resigning of Andy Thompson, who impressed when he played but was otherwise plagued with injury issues. Short term, the Riders may widen the gap from the rest of the field, potentially being able to recruit a high standard of player who could be looking for exposure in the highly scouted European competition. However, a more long term view and provided the Riders have some relative success in Champions League, it may encourage more BBL teams to explore the European competition and entice even more quality players to the league, therefore raising the standard of the BBL. So far these post season moves definitely point to the Riders winning the off season so far.
The Plymouth Raiders are also a contender for their moves in post season so far. The announcement to kick off the summer period was that coach Gavin Love was resigning and heading back to his previous position as coach of his former club in Europe. The question being raised by some perhaps did he jump before he was pushed, although it did seem to be a choice that would benefit him professionally as well as personally. Regardless, it was not a good return to the BBL for Love, who's Raiders team at the beginning of the season was fairly loaded, with the likes of Neil Watson, Kinu Rochford and Brandon Penn. They impressed by dishing out the first defeat of the season to high flying Newcastle Eagles squad, that was unbeaten aftet eight or nine weeks of the season. With the exception of beating the other two busts of the season, Manchester Giants and the Leeds Force, the Raiders would not win another game. The Worcester Wolves parted ways with long time coach Paul James, and the Raiders pounced on the opportunity to sign the well respected and highly talented coach. The Raiders have since added Josh Wilcher, a former member of the squad, who after much success in Australia, has been given two years to give the Raiders some much needed stability in the point guard position. A fantasy punt on Wilcher could pay off if his previous time in the BBL is anything to go by. He will be joining last seasons suprise find Denzel Ubiaro, a low fantasy scorer last season, that has potential to improve. To top off the already impressive steps to try and achieve the playoffs this season, the Raiders released a statement outlining the clubs intension of having it's own purpose built facility by 2023.
Sheffield have also made notable progress in the off season, resigning their own Captain Marvel, Mike Tuck. Tuck, a veteran Shark, has a two year contract that should see him finish his playing career in a Sharks uniform. Along with him, fellow big man Rob Marsden has accepted a new deal, which is actually a pretty big deal. Marsden has been one of the top scorers and rebounders in the BBL in recent memory and to have a player of that calibre coning off the bench can only be a positive. Look for Marsden to consistently pick up fantasy points, with the ability to go for big numbers. The final move for the Sharks so far this summer has potentially been their best, bringing back last seasons point guard Chris Alexander. Alexander is listed as a potential medium point scoring yellow fantasy player, but defiantly can put up high, green standard numbers.
Finally the Cheshire Phoenix added Ashton Khan to their roster from the Wolves. Khan only played ten league gamed for the Wolves last season, but finished with a respectable 12.1 PIR, making him one to consider as a potential bench player. The Wolves have now lost Khan and their coach Paul James, so they have their work cut out for the remainder of the summer.
The winners so far seem to be the Riders and Raiders, with the Riders edging it by the sheer class of their re-signings. Not to mention their venture into the Basketball Champions League.
Sub note: since writing this piece, the Riders have cemented their case for so far winning the off season by re-signing J.R. Holder, one of the contenders for MVP. Bristol Flyers have also kicked off their summer with the re-signing of the highly talented Daniel Edozie. Still plenty of time left, but already the BBL teams are working hard to better their chances of success next season.