Mostly Basketball Today …

The kerfuffle du jour centers on the fact that Caitlin Clark will not be part of the US Women’s Olympic Basketball Team this summer.  Some have called it a snub and others have used that fact as “further evidence” that other female basketball players and unnamed various basketball officials are “out to get” Ms. Clark.  I do not consider this a snub; here is my take:

  • There are people whose responsibility is to populate the US Women’s National Basketball Team.  Those people made a decision; unless anyone outside that group can furnish documentary evidence that those folks purposefully denied Caitlin Clark a spot on the team, calling this a snub is irresponsible.
  • The people who made that decision made a mistake in not having her on the team.  I do not say that because I think she is the best women’s basketball player in the country; I say that because she is unquestionably the face of women’s basketball in the country.  It would have been smart to have such a figure on the team.  Remember:
      • Never ascribe to malice that which can equally be explained by stupidity.
  • In the end, I think this is a small benefit to Caitlin Clark; it will give her an enforced break from basketball.  Clark played for Iowa in the NCAA Tournament until mid-April; she started training camp for the Indiana Fever about 10 days later and has played in 12 WNBA games between May 14th and today.  The WNBA schedule has a one-month hiatus during the Olympics; Caitlin Clark can probably use the time off.

Since I mentioned Caitlin Clark as the “face of women’s basketball in the country”, that provides a segue into the next topic.  I saw one of the speculative articles projecting NBA Draft picks and it said that Alex Sarr was the presumed overall #1 pick.  That name rang no bells, so Google was my friend and explained to me that Alex Sarr was playing basketball in Perth, Australia last season.  I felt relieved to some extent that someone who could possibly be the first pick in the NBA Draft was unknown to me because he played about as far away from my quarters in the DC area as is possible on the planet.

I said here about a month ago that the NBA needed a new player to emerge as the “face of the NBA”.  LeBron James is 40 years old; Steph Curry is 36 years old; they can still play well enough to attract attention to the league, but their days are numbered.  I argued then that the NBA should consider paying a few young players to go to college and to stay there for 3 years to develop those players as brands who could enter the league with some background of recognition.

The article about Alex Sarr made me continue searching for other opinions on the upcoming NBA Draft.  That led me to a compendium by Kevin O’Connor at  He listed there – – and explained his reasoning – – his projected draft order for the selections.  So, I did a rundown on the categories of players; O’Connor listed the top 58 selections.  Here is my shallow analysis.

Players who arrive in the NBA from the G-League and/or playing in a foreign league do not present themselves as a recognizable figure to the US or the Chinese audience – – the two major markets for the NBA.  Players who only played one year of US college basketball might in a few instances be immediately recognizable, but the majority still need time to connect with the sporting public.  So, here is the data from Kevin O’Connor’s list of 58 potential selections by NBA teams:

  • Foreign Players last year = 13
  • G-League Players last year = 3
  • Freshmen from college = 13
  • Upper classmen from college = 29.

Only fifty percent of that projected draft played enough college basketball to have had a chance to make themselves an immediate marketing commodity for the NBA.  Surely, some of the players in other categories will become very good players and develop a following in their fanbases, but there are only a few players on that list who the average fan might be able to identify in a police lineup with Moe, Larry and Curly.  [Aside:  Kevin O’Connor thinks Alex Sarr will be the overall #2 pick this year and not the overall #1 pick if that sort of thing matters to you.]

Now that paying college players is totally above board, the NBA should consider identifying some freshmen who declare for the draft as “high recognition players in the future” and work out a contract with them that pays them to stay in college and play for US college teams until the end of their junior or senior year (TBD in negotiations with individual players) before coming to the league.  This has little to do with players “developing their game” before going pro; this has to do with players developing a connection with the audience before going pro.

Staying with the NBA, here is an item from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“TV timeout: Perfectly delivered sarcasm the other night from TNT NBA courtside analyst Stan Van Gundy as three officials reviewed a moment that never needed a second look. ‘I’ve heard,’ Van Gundy said, ‘from a lot of fans — they love watching the referees stand at the monitor and watch replays.’”

Van Gundy is totally right here – – and I particularly like it when NFL officials take 4 or 5 minutes to “get it right” and then half the audience disagrees with the call.

Finally, since today has been mostly about basketball, let me close with this comment from Dan Daly:

“To get called for traveling in the NBA you’d practically have to run the Boston Marathon.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



2 thoughts on “Mostly Basketball Today …”

    1. TenaciousP:

      I was a basketball official when that was the rule and that was the call. Then everyone left the gym and drove home hoping to avoid an encounter with a triceratops…

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