Thursday, February 28, 2013

Moving Forward: Greg Oden or Andrew Bynum?

Last summer, the Philadelphia 76ers traded franchise player Andre Iguodala to acquire Andrew Bynum as part of a four-team blockbuster deal. In last year's strike-shortened season, Bynum posted career-highs of 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. Although Dwight Howard heading to the Los Angeles Lakers drew most of the headlines, many believed the Sixers might threaten the Miami Heat in the East.

Eight months later, Andrew Bynum has yet to suit up for a game amidst rumors that he has a degenerative knee condition. The 76ers are a miserable 22-33 and 5 ½ games out of a playoff spot.

The 7-footer, who appears more concerned with his hairdo than post-game, is likely seeking a long-term deal worth tens of millions this offseason. Does he deserve the hefty contract? Doubtful. But, considering how teams covet franchise centers, there are likely a few owners willing to pony up a Brinks truck for Bynum.

When push comes to shove, Bynum will likely cash-in, despite his lost season and questionable fashion sense.

Greg Oden, another center that was once considered a franchise player, is also looking to make a comeback.

In 2007, when Oden was chosen first overall ahead of Kevin Durant in the draft, the league expected immediate results. Instead, injuries derailed his career. He has had a total of five knee surgeries in the last three years and he hasn't even appeared in a game since the 2009-10 season. However, the Ohio State alum is looking to return to the court next season. Although his medical history spans the length of a Russian novel, the Celtics, Heat and Cavaliers are reportedly interested in Oden's services.

Considering their potential salaries relative to their production, tonight's SnapCall was fired off to see how the audience felt about the Oden vs. Bynum argument. Remember, Majority Rules is a question type in SnapCall that asks the audience to guess the majority opinion to get the points.

So, who would you rather have playing for your team over the next few seasons? Greg Oden, with his minimal non-guaranteed contract, or Andrew Bynum, with his potentially massive long-term deal and injury history?

Download SnapCall Sports from the App Store and get in the game to have your say.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

John Wall Leads Resurgent Wizards

Exactly how much has John Wall meant to Washington since he returned from injury last month?

To determine who knows their hoops stars, we tested our SnapCall audience during the Wizards' game against the Pistons.  As the correct response indicates, the Wizards have been on fire, at least by the standards of a dysfunctional team.

During the offseason, when word first leaked that Wall would miss significant time with a knee injury, a collective gasp could be heard around Washington, D.C. The former first overall pick was the team's heart and soul, the shoulders upon which the Wizards leaned in late-game situations.

With Wall, Washington held aspirations of making the playoffs for the first time since the Wild West era of Gilbert Arenas. Without Wall, let's just say their goals became a bit more modest.

Unfortunately for the nation's capital, even by their recalibrated standards, the Wizards' season started out as a disaster.

A.J. Price, who had never held a starter role in the NBA, was forced to run the show. Players seemed lost on the court. New front-court acquisitions Nene and Emeka Okafor were burning an unnecessary hole in Washington's pockets with their combined $26.5 million contracts. Things couldn't have been much worse, and after two and a half months, the Wizards found themselves with the worst NBA record at 5-28.

Things looked bleak, but the sun began to peak through the dark clouds that hung over the Verizon Center. Their star was ready to return, and any Wizards fan – delusional or cynical – knew that it could all turn around soon.

Enter John Wall.

Remarkably and immediately, the Wizards began to win on a consistent basis. Not just against the bottom of the NBA barrel. Over the 22-game stretch since Wall's return, Washington has wins over playoff-bound teams such as: Atlanta, Denver (twice), Chicago, New York, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Houston and the Clippers.

Wall is averaging 14.0 PPG and 7.5 APG since his return. However, numbers don't tell the entire story. In just his third season, John Wall has emerged as a leader. But perhaps more importantly, his presence enables the other players in the Wizards' lineup to play their respective roles originally envisioned by GM Ernie Grunfeld.

A.J. Price comes off the bench instead of running the point. Bradley Beal can focus on scoring instead of distributing, Garrett Temple is no longer burdened with 47 minutes against the likes of Brooklyn's Deron Williams and Joe Johnson.

So cheer up, Wizards fans. John Wall is here to save the day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

3 Reasons Florida Wins the NCAA Title

So you don't think Florida is a National Title contender? Think again. Here are 3 reasons why we project an NCAA Championship for the Gators.

1. Three-point Shooting

Florida is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation. The Gators lead the SEC with 236 made threes and 615 attempted threes. They also lead the conference in 3-point shooting percentage at 38.4%, despite a high number of attempts.

Senior guard Kenny Boynton is a flat-out lethal shooter. Also, stretch-forward Erik Murphy and freshman Michael Frazier II rank first and second, respectively, in 3-point shooting percentage among players in the SEC. So if there is one certainty about this season's Florida squad, it's that their slew of gunners can make a 10-point deficit disappear in a flash. That will be a valuable commodity come tournament time.

2. Defense 

Florida’s offense may fill the stands, but Billy Donovan’s defense deserves much of the credit. Florida ranks third in the nation, allowing just 53.1 points per game. Opponents are shooting a mere 37.3% against Florida. Hear the clank? We do.

Here’s a sabermetric hoops stat for you: Florida ranks second in the nation in defensive efficiency, giving up only 0.84 points per possession. In fact, Florida is the only Power 6 team to rank in the top 5 in both offensive and defensive efficiency

The insight from those stats? During rare shooting slumps, the Gators’ defense is stingy enough to keep them in the game.

3. Experience

If there’s value in experience, the Gators have it. Florida fell to Louisville in last year’s Elite 8, but they appear poised to take the next step in this tournament. 

Despite losing stars Bradley Beal and Erving Walker, the Gators returned a solid core of upperclassmen. Boynton, Murphy and Patric Young all have last year’s tournament run fresh in their memory. With one-and-done becoming more common, having a roster of veterans can make the difference, particularly in pressure situations on the big stage.

Finally, don’t forget that Billy Donovan has been there before as a player and coach. Donovan, Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Calhoun are the only three coaches to win multiple national titles since 2000.

Halfhearted Disclaimer: while past performance is not a guarantee of future success, it can’t hurt. Go with SnapCall.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Marquette Unleashes Wild Bat to Terrify Friars

Marquette's home-court advantage this season may stem from something other than stellar guard play and accurate shooting.

During Marquette's recent home win against Providence, a rogue bat wreaked havoc when it flew into the BMO Harris Bradley Center and into the faces of the visiting Friars.

Providence's Sidiki Johnson was so shocked that he hit the deck in what would otherwise have been a perfect flop. But, no foul was called. Instead, the DJ cranked up Ozzy Osbourne in an effort to taunt the visitors.

Unfortunately, not every team has Manu Ginobli on their roster to handle this type of situation. Providence surely did not. Eventually, the arena staff was forced to shut off the lights to lure the bat off the court.

After the commotion settled down, Providence lost focus and Marquette finished off the Friars for the 81-71 victory

The Golden Eagles are 14-0 at home entering tonight's contest against Syracuse. If they can keep up this kind of mental fortitude, they'll be tough to beat in March.

Looking for more sports entertainment? Download SnapCall Sports today and play along!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Deshaun Thomas: Tale of a Ball Hog

Deshaun Thomas in isolation
In a conference filled with Player of the Year candidates, Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas leads the Big Ten at 20 points per game.

Thomas is OSU’s sole playmaker, and the only Buckeye averaging over 10 points per game this season.

The stretch-forward has emerged as one of the nation’s most effective scorers because of his ability to beat defenders both inside and out. Play him tight and he’ll drive-by for an easy bucket. Give him space and he’ll step back for a three. In fact, Thomas also leads the Buckeyes with 59 made 3-pointers.

However, Thomas' arsenal of offensive moves is a double-edged sword for the Buckeyes. Too often the team defers to isolating Deshaun, taking his teammates out of the flow.

In this SnapCall, we decided analyze how often Ohio State relies on Deshaun to score on his own.

As the game unfolded, the answer was evident: Thomas rarely sees a shot he doesn't like.

The 6-foot-7 forward attempted 16 shots, including one in which he was fouled from 3-point range. Of those 16 shots, a whopping 15 came from isolation. He made just 2 of those 15.

Hero ball personified.

Despite Thomas' lack of team play, the Buckeyes grabbed the signature-win. Ironically, Aaron Craft ignored his star forward down the stretch, with great success. In fact, Thomas' final FG attempt came with four minutes still to go in a close game. No surprise, it was an isolation post-up.

There's no doubt, Thomas is an incredibly talented scorer, but the $64,000 question remains: can a one trick pony bring Ohio State a National Championship?

Download SnapCall from the iTunes App Store and play along to find out!