Archive for October, 2013

By James Blackburn

Quamain Rose (G, 6’0”, R-SO)

Game Scouted: NC State vs UNC Pembroke

NC State wins 96-85
Box Score

Quamain Rose

Stats
30 min, 7-16 FG, 0-6 3 pt, 1-3 FT, 4 reb, 3 assist, 6 TO, 1 blk, 7 st, 15 TP

Strengths
Lightning quick guard who can create his own shot. Solid ball handler with either hand. Excellent crossover dribble going either direction and also has a nice behind-the-back dribble move. Highlight maker with the ball. Full arsenal of offensive moves…floaters, pull-ups, euro-steps, lay-ups with the off hand, scoop shots, etc. Crafty with the ball. Quick first step. Good overall athleticism. Not a great 3-point shooter but is a good midrange pull-up shooter off the dribble.

Does a terrific job of denying the ball on defense- quick hands defensively. Has a nose for the ball. High motor defender and player in general. Game changer on defense end- gets in opposing players shirts and even had a blocked shot tonight. Had 5 steals in the first half alone. Disrupts the opposing teams offense. One of the best on-ball defenders I have seen this year. One of the fastest guards I have seen coast to coast. Quick laterally on defense.

Attacks the offensive boards and is a good rebounder in general for his size and position. Although he is not a natural PG, he did advance the ball up-court a good bit and had several nice drop-off passes after attacking the rim.

Weaknesses
Size is an issue as he is undersized for the off-guard position. Not a pure PG although he did advance the ball most of the time. Poor decision maker in the open court- gets too out of control or in a hurry. Looks to create his own offense overall before creating for others.
Over dribbles the ball at times and doesn’t go anywhere with it. Poor shot selection at times- settles for contested fade way when could just uses quickness to go by guy and create an open shot for teammate.

Perimeter shooting is inconsistent and is better off the dribble then with feet set. Solid from mid-range. Has to put a lot of arc on shot to get it off- leads to inconsistency. Needs to improve finishing ability at the rim.

Overview
Rose was the Peach Belt Freshman of the Year last season after starting every game for the Braves and averaging over 12 ppg. He should be one of the top players again this year in a solid D2 conference.

Reminds me of Jamal Crawford who plays better defense. He is a wizard with the ball like Crawford, he moves like Crawford, and he takes similar shots. Tremendous overall scorer who will be one of the top defenders in his conference.
Shows his frustration too much on the floor but is a good teammate overall. Is a yes sir and no sir young man who is mature for his age. Time will tell if he can play somewhere at the next level. If he can improve his 3 ball and overall PG skills, a team at the next level could use his energy and defensive intensity.

Dre Baldwin: No Excuses

If you haven’t heard of Dre Baldwin, prepare to be impressed. Dre, known to his Twitter followers as @DreAllDay, is a self made professional basketball player and trainer, who went from barely making his high school team as a senior to playing on several pro teams in multiple countries just a few years later. Dre has written about of all his experiences and philosophies on his site, DreAllDay.com, and you should definitely check it out.

This week we caught up with Dre to get his thoughts on his own career but also to pick his brain on playing pro ball outside of the NBA.

Dre Baldwin

You have written extensively about your playing career overseas, and you’ve also written about how you didn’t make your high school basketball team until your senior year, and only got a little playing time. Can you pinpoint a moment or point in time when you felt that you could play professionally?

Definitely. In my senior year of high school (after basketball season), I went to a tryout for a team in the Sonny Hill League, the biggest and best amateur league in Philadelphia. This is the same league Kobe played in when he & his family returned from living in Europe, same league Wilt Chamberlain dominated, Dajuan Wagner, any big-name player form Philly or the surrounding area, played in Sony Hill in high school, guaranteed. All of the best players in Philadelphia were there at this particular tryout which was more like a practice for all of them, these were the guys who never got cut from basketball teams. There were so many of us that they actually had to split it up into two teams. The club was sponsored by Philly legend and former NBA player Aaron McKie. This team was so talented, you could’ve grabbed the newspaper, ticked off the names on the all-city hoops teams and used it for roll call at practice, seriously. I wrote about this experience in my book Buy A Game (which is free in PDF version) One of my teammates on this team was Eddie Griffin, who (at the time) set the Philly scholastic scoring record, went on to Seton Hall and the NBA as the 7th pick — he died in a car crash a few years ago while with the Timberwolves. Eddie was so dominant that coach Joh Hardnett (another Philly legend in coaching who died a couple years ago) brought in Kevin Freeman — then a power forward at UCONN — to guard Eddie all practice.

Anyway, playing against those guys, I was making plays — dunking, getting a steal here or there, making a jumper — to the point that even though none of them knew me, I was respected to some degree. I didn’t even play much and we didn’t practice often once the games began, but the experience of just being there, amongst players so good, so confident, was huge for me. David Thorpe of ESPN talks about this: the best way for a player to improve is to be playing with/against guys better than him, every single day. Almost all of those guys went D1 the following fall. That experience was my turning point. Their energy, their confidence, rubbed off on me.

Knowing what you know now, what is a piece of advice or information that you wish someone had given you when you before you started trying to be a professional player?

Nothing really. I knew what I was up against — D3 school, no great video, unimpressive stats — I knew I’d have to hustle my way in the door, sell myself to the fullest, and then deliver. But I’m better at hustling and selling than I am at hoops! Haha… so I knew I’d end up where I wanted to be, one way or another. Players these days need to understand these realities and know that no one gives a damn about what you want or need or are dreaming about. Pro sports is an adult business, so be an adult and take 100% responsibility for your outcomes. No hand-holding here.

What is the biggest misconception you see from players who want to be professional basketball players?

That playing overseas is like their local LA Fitness pickup run, weekend pickup game, or that because they scored 30 in some rec league (against a team who had an overseas player, even), that they can go play overseas. If that were the case a lot of ball players would be playing for money, if that’s all there was to it. First off it’s a business — you have to get in the door before you get on the floor (which is the real hard part). And once you’re in, understand that every country and league is unique — some leagues, like Mexico, want Americans to go wild, scoring 30-40 points and shooting every time marks you as “good” even if you team gets killed. I know because I did it: I once led a tournament in scoring — shooting every time, EVERY TIME — playing center for my undermanned club, and was an absolute star out there, even though my club didn’t come close to winning a game. In Montenegro, on the other hand, the team is the star. One on one play is frowned upon — it will get you benched immediately. your job is to help the team win, regardless of your stats (or if you even play much). I was clearly the best player we had in Montenegro yet never started a game.

Given that the U.S. minor league basketball system is often considered inferior for players who want to earn money outside of the NBA, what are your thoughts on the NCAA and the current thought that the lack of a true farm system for basketball is due to the collegiate teams serving this role, and what are your thoughts on whether players in the NCAA should be compensated beyond scholarships?

We could go back and forth on that topic forever, but the fact is this: The best way to get to the NBA, for an American basketball player, is through the NCAA. And until someone comes along with a better option, the NCAA will be the route most will take. Personally I think a 2-year minimum should be the requirement, which indirectly mandates players be real students: you can’t BS through 3 semesters of college courses and still be eligible, but you can BS through one semester (like a one-and-done player could do now, since the last spring semester wouldn’t matter when you’re leaving early). On top of a 2-year requirement, allow high school-to-the-NBA again. Baseball players, gymnasts, and golfers skip college routinely and no one cares. The fact that these are young Black men making the NBA millions is a factor, whether one wants to admit it or not. If an individual wants to enter the working world at 17 or 18, so be it, who’s to say (s)he can’t? You mess up, you mess up. Live your life and the choices you made.

Do I think NCAA players should be paid? Not until some system that makes sense comes along. Understand that basketball and football are, for the most part, the only two sports that turn a profit, they pay for the other sports to even exist. The volleyball and golf team should not be paid a cent. And some players contribute more than others. So that must be factored in, LeBron should get more than Joel Anthony. All players are not equal. The most capitalistic solution: pay players based on performance and have negotiations. Leave straight from HS if you wish, or stay for 2 years.

Further, look at what they do in Europe: when a player expresses interest in a sport, he’s put into a basketball program at age 14 or 15 and thats where he stays for 5-6 years until college or the NBA comes calling, or the pro club he’s been with in Europe. You specialize early in Europe, unlike our one-size-fits-all educational system which is at the root of all of this, actually. An entire other discussion, haha…

One thing that’s obvious from the writing on your site and in your book that you are a prolific reader and an excellent communicator. Do you feel this has been an advantage in your professional pursuits?

Thank you and very much yes. I honestly don’t use anything I was taught in college in my current life — basketball, online, marketing, anything. And I have a business management/marketing degree from Penn State University. The American educational system is designed to create employees, nothing more. The world we are in now is nothing like the 60s and 70s, when this educational system was created. There’s no school for creating a website and marketing yourself, or using social media to get your message out, or handling competitors in business, or sales of any sort. Schools can’t or don’t teach any of this. But all of those things exist — heavily — in our current world. Again, another topic…
To answer your question, I read a lot. Websites, blogs, magazines, books. That’s been my real education, along with real-life experiences and human interactions. School cannot teach you how to communicate a message clearly, or how to explain a complicated concept in a way anyone can understand, or how to sell to a person who didn’t even know they needed what you’re offering. Those are life skills. School teaches employee skills. Books and life are the real educators.

Is there any person or persons outside of the world of sports who you admire, or see as influential?

I look to business people, not athletes. Since I have grown up with hip hop — my dad blasted Public Enemy and Poor Righteous Teachers as far back as I can remember — I look to the moguls and the business they do, Not the moves themselves, per se, since I’m not a musician — but the principles. Sean Combs (Diddy), Shawn Carter (Jay-Z), Curtis Jackson (50 Cent), Russell Simmons come to mind. Steve Jobs, Tim Ferriss, Robert Greene, Tucker Max are others, either from their lives or their writings or both. As far as athletes, not really. Becoming a superstar athlete is like winning the lottery and not everyone can win it, no matter what efforts you put in. Can you game-plan to do what Michael Jordan has done with Jordan Brand? or LeBron or DWade or Kobe or Beckham? No. They didn’t plan it, or strategize, until they realized they’d won the lottery. So I don’t look up to any athletes.

You’ve written about how players can balance school and sports, something we’ve written about on Basketball Elite quite a bit. Do you feel this is an area that is lacking in how we approach high school athletics?

No, I think people using that “finding time” excuse are just lazy. Fact: there are 24 hours in a day. You don’t “find” time for things, no one in history has ever had a 25-hour day. You make time. If it is important, you will get it done. If not, you will find excuses. Simple as that. How much TV are you watching, video games are you playing, how long are you hanging with friends doing nothing?

Basketball Pre-Season Roundup

Brandon Knight NBA

With both the college and NBA basketball seasons closing in, it’s time to revive our regular roundup feature, where we whip around the world of basketball and see what’s happening that’s interesting right now.

First off, Lebron James did a cool Q&A on Twitter, which makes us wonder – would MJ or Magic have done something like that? Pretty sure Magic would have, but not so sure about His Airness.

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Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks picked up the fourth-year options on Brandon Knight and John Henson, and if you need an explanation on how the rookie pay scale works, you might want to review our discussion from last week.

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Gerald Wallace prepares for the upcoming season by ignoring the media.

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Derrick Rose is not only ready physically for the season, he’s been slowly increasing his conversation as well, most recently saying that the only true rival for the Chigago Bulls right now are the Miami Heat.

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The Utah Jazz are pretty happy with Derrick Favors and have signed him to a four year contract extension.

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Doc Rivers is trying to control the home arena for the Clippers by covering the Lakers championship banners when the Clippers play a home game:

“Well, I didn’t look at it as the banner thing. I just look at it as putting our guys up…. Listen, I think this is our arena when we play,” Rivers said. “So I just thought it would be good that we show our guys. No disrespect to them. But when we play, it’s the Clippers’ arena as far as I know.”

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Finally, Hall of Fame center Bill Russell was arrested for carrying a loaded handgun into an airport inside of his luggage. No explanation was given but Russell has apologized for the incident.

Follow Basketball Elite on Twitter.

Kevin Durant free throw

By Marcus Shockley

Today’s article is the latest in a series on how to be an elite student, not just an elite athlete.

Every basketball player who has worked on their game knows that repetition is one of the best methods to improve a skill over time. Last season (2012-13), Kevin Durant was the best free throw shooter in the NBA, averaging 90.5% for the year.

Any time you may have watched Durant at the free throw line, you know his shots are incredibly consistent, and you know he didn’t just pick up a basketball as a kid and start shooting over 90% from the charity stripe. His mechanics are polished, and the ball comes off his hand the same way each time, without fail.

This has been true of all of the great free throw shooters. Free throw shooting is one key skill that any player, regardless of height, age, athletic ability can excel at with enough practice (which begs the question as to why some players are so bad at it, but that’s a digression and we’ll stay on topic here).

“Practice”, when it comes to free throw shooting, boils down to only two aspects: technique and repetition. First you learn the best way to shoot a free throw, then you repeat that shot hundreds, thousands of times until your brain and body learn to shoot a free throw as easy as taking a breath.

This method of repetition is used in all sports – in martial arts, fighters practice moves over and over in order to ingrain the movements into their psyche, so that during combat competition they perform the moves instinctively.

When we practice something with repetition, we accept the fact that we are not experts, and that we will not become experts simply by doing something a few times. We accept that we are working on a process that will take an extended amount of time; if we are practicing free throws, we know that one day of shooting 50 or 100 free throws will not make us an elite free throw shooter. But we also know that shooting 100 free throws 3 or 4 days a week, for a couple of years, will almost certainly make us very good free throw shooters.

This is not limited to the world of sports.

No matter what the endeavor, repetition can be used to improve over time. A few days ago I mentioned on Twitter that a way to improve one’s vocabulary is to use a word three times in normal conversation. In reality, this is a method of repetition that has proven very effective because using a word three times turns out to be the equivalent of shooting 1,000 free throws to our verbal lexicon.

Pro football players commit to memory hundreds of plays and schemes from their playbook, and some players have to do this with completely new playbooks each year as they move from team to team. They do this with repetition, and the reason for team walkthroughs in any sport is using repetition to embed the plays into the players’ consciousness.

One caveat to this, people can easily confuse “repetition” with “memorization”. Memorization is simply remembering data without comprehension in most cases. What we are talking about here is practice, repeating a process over and over until we can do it with our eyes closed.

Sort of like Micheal Jordan:

A lot of people have seen Jordan’s famous free throw, but what a lot of people don’t know is that Jordan actually practiced that shot for years, long after he was a superstar, before the chance to show he could do it on TV. Former Philadelphia 76ers President Pat Croce once wrote that he was surprised to find Micheal Jordan in his arena, three hours before game time, practicing free throws in sweats by himself…with his eyes closed.

This can be done with math, with reading, with pretty much any knowledge or skill. If you can learn to be a better free throw shooter, you can learn to do a lot of other things better as well.

You can follow Marcus Shockley on Twitter.

Harrison Barnes Warriors

By Marcus Shockley

So I’ve been writing over the past week about ways to make yourself into an elite student, not just an elite athlete, first breaking down how to math word problems and then using Lebron to explain Newton’s laws of motion.

Today I’m offering one of the most powerful tools I know to improve your schoolwork in every single subject: reading comprehension. Wait! I can already see your eyelids drooping – but trust me on this, it’s going to be quick and easy and when you are done I promise you will not only have a better way of approaching all of your subjects but you’ll also know a lot more about the NBA Rookie Pay Scale.

Let’s tip this off.

In order to explain this, let’s start by imagining that you, yes you, get a phone call today from the NBA commissioner.

It turns out there was a glitch during the draft and you were supposed to be the NBA’s 7th pick in the 2013 draft, instead of Ben McLemore (sorry, Ben). The commissioner also tries to pull a fast one on you by telling you that you won’t get more than the rookie pay scale. You are pretty sure that the commissioner and the teams don’t have your best interest at heart, and you know you don’t have an agent advising you, so you rush to look up the rookie pay scale and you look to see what the last two 7th round picks signed for their first year. You see the following table, which lists the rookie pay scale per position picked. Remember, you were picked at the 7th spot:

Pick Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 QO
1 $4,436,900 $4,636,600 $4,836,300 26.10% 30.00%
2 $3,969,800 $4,148,500 $4,327,100 26.20% 30.50%
3 $3,565,000 $3,725,400 $3,885,800 26.40% 31.20%
4 $3,214,200 $3,358,800 $3,503,500 26.50% 31.90%
5 $2,910,600 $3,041,600 $3,172,600 26.70% 32.60%
6 $2,643,600 $2,762,600 $2,881,500 26.80% 33.40%
7 $2,413,300 $2,521,900 $2,630,500 27.00% 34.10%
8 $2,210,900 $2,310,400 $2,409,800 27.20% 34.80%
9 $2,032,300 $2,123,800 $2,215,200 27.40% 35.50%
10 $1,930,600 $2,017,500 $2,104,300 27.50% 36.20%

Then you do a little more research (a.k.a. ‘Googling’) and you find that 2012′s 7th round pick, Harrison Barnes, signed his rookie contract for $2,923,920 for the first year, while Ben McLemore signed his contract for $2,895,960.

Okay, hold up. Both Barnes and McLemore signed for more than the rookie pay listed in the table, which was $2,413,300. In fact, both are getting considerably more in their first year – about half a million dollars. So what gives?

It turns out that the rookie pay scale is not an exact amount, but a range. Contracts can be up to 120% of the amount listed and not less than 80% of that amount. So while the team who is about to offer you a deal would love for you to take the rookie pay scale, you already know that the last two draft picks got quite a bit more, and you are ready to play hardball.

Now, back to reality.

Without looking back at the scenario we talked about, can you answer any of the following questions?

1. Are rookies in the NBA paid exactly at scale?

2. Does the rookie NBA pay scale – the amount the player gets paid – change based on their draft position?

3. At which draft position were Ben McLemore and Harrison Barnes both taken?

4. Who called you on the phone to tell you there’d been an NBA draft mistake?

I’m pretty sure you could recite the answers to all of those questions without even batting an eye, and you might be thinking, ‘well, duh, of course – I just read that information a few seconds before you asked me!’.

But see, here’s the point: you didn’t instantly recall the details of the draft scenario simply because you just read it.

Actually, you recalled it because it was interesting and it most likely involved several things you want to know more about – the NBA, money, how much money someone can make playing basketball, and so on. As sports fans, we also know there is a culture of knowledge around sports, and we don’t want our buddies beating us up because they know more than we do. So you were reading with focus and interest, even if it didn’t feel like it.

I’m pretty sure that tomorrow, you could explain how the rookie pay scale works if someone asked you about it. I’d go so far that you’d remember how the rookie pay scale works if someone asks you two years from now.

Here’s the real kicker: that, in a nutshell, is reading comprehension, and even though we aren’t always trying to learn the NBA salary scale, anything we are trying to read an retain can be done in the same way. All you have to do is read whatever it is you’re trying to learn with the mindset that you want to be able to turn around and explain it to someone else.

I’m not saying it’s always a breeze, but the concept will always work. Read as though you’ll have to really explain it, and you’ll find that you will pay more attention to the subject matter, and your brain will really try to get a fundamental understanding of what you are reading as opposed to just trying to memorize it (which never works).

You can follow Marcus Shockley on Twitter.

Lebron James and Newton’s Laws of Motion

By Marcus Shockley

This is the second article on how to be an elite student, not just an elite athlete.

In today’s installment, Lebron James asks how shooting a basketball proves Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion. In case you’re not familiar with Newton’s laws, they are:

I. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

II. The relationship between an object’s mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectors (as indicated by their symbols being displayed in slant bold font); in this law the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector.

III. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

I’m not going to go into a deep dive on the laws of motion today- just watch the video and you’ll get it. But I wanted to mention that this is not just theoretical knowledge. There are one example where Newton’s laws are used every day: Video games. Surely you’ve noticed how Grand Theft Auto cars handle and bounce off of other cars in a realistic fashion – or you’ve noticed while playing Madden football how the players will knock each other around just as in real life. All of that is possible because game developers implement Newton’s laws in their games (along with a whole lot of math).

This is less education strategy than specific knowledge, but just know that if you shoot from the 3 point line, you are exerting more ‘force’ on the ball than if you shoot a layup, and that’s and example of Newton’s laws in action.

Follow Marcus Shockley on Twitter.

Carmelo Anthony scoring title

By Marcus Shockley

A couple of days ago I was a little fed up with the grassroots basketball world.

Now, part of this is due to the myopic nature of Twitter; Naturally my Twitter feed is full of basketball coaches, mentors, players, scouts and reporters. But the issue for me is that all day, every day, I see hundreds of ‘motivational’ tweets. Things like ‘what are YOU doing today to improve your game?’ and ‘Players who are afraid of work will never be great’. This is all fine, I guess, but wow, do we really need hundreds of adults preaching the virtues of playing basketball all day every day?

The core problem to me is how little of this conversation ever discusses how to actually succeed in life and in the classroom. See, many adults are themselves victims of ‘lottery’ thinking – believing that getting to the pro sports level is the magic ticket to wealth and happiness. In reality, very few of the richest people in the U.S. played pro sports. A high school student’s chance of being wealthy is actually much higher than their chances of playing in the NBA, but so much time is spent trying to reach pro ball and almost none on the higher success rate option. While so many adults will toss out throwaway thoughts like ‘keep your grades straight’, they don’t really elaborate on HOW a student is supposed to get better grades or even WHY. Platitudes like ‘work harder’ sound great but aren’t actually a strategy.

What do I mean by that? I mean, if someone is coaching a player on setting a pick, they often will physically show the player how to do it – walking through it, showing the player how to square up, how not to get called for a moving screen, and so on – so that the player is getting actual knowledge and strategy on how to accomplish it. After that, it’s up to the player to execute. WHY? To free up a teammate. To win. All of this is clear.

So, I am not a guy who believes in talk without action, so today I am offering the first of what I hope will be several examples of how to get better grades by offering specific explanation of how to attack specific problems in math, reading comprehension, science and overall learning. I’m not a teacher and don’t claim to be; so don’t email me asking for help solving problem 27b on your math homework which involves Bayesian probability. My goal is to offer HOW to attack the problem, not do your work for you. You wouldn’t ask me to play your minutes and grab rebounds to fill your stat sheet would you?

But first, the WHY: The reason to get better grades is not simply because you want to qualify for college. You want to get better grades because you will be better, and more successful, at life. Don’t listen to adults who tell you that you will never use algebra; you will use it almost every day, from grocery shopping to financial planning. But enough about that for now. Let’s get into a quick and easy example of classroom strategy.

Today’s example is those tricky mathematical word problems. Once they were the bane of my existence. But years ago I learned how to break them down and now word problems are usually the easiest to solve of any math problem. But don’t worry – I will explain how in just a second.

Let’s start with a fairly simple word problem involving Carmelo Anthony, currently the NBA’s most prolific scorer; note that the scoring numbers could be different based on when you read this, but that’s not important.

Our word problem:

Carmelo Anthony has currently played in the NBA for 11 seasons, starting all 713 games he’s played in and averaged 25.0 points per game for his entire career. Last season he averaged 28.7 points per game and won the scoring title over Kevin Durant. The all-time leading scorer for the NBA is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 38,387 points. If Carmelo Anthony continues to average 25.0 points per game, how many more years would he have to play to pass Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time scorer?

Now, how to break it down.

EVERY word problem has two critical elements: input and output. Input is the data coming in and output is the expected answer. Once you determine your inputs and outputs then you dump the rest of the word problem – meaning all those words sometimes added to confuse the issue – and figure out how to arrange the data we have to figure out the problem. Remember this!

What’s our expected answer in the problem above? “How many more years would he have to play to pass Abdul-Jabber”.

The problem is asking for a number of years, right? So that’s our expected output. You know when an algebra problem says ‘solve for x’? Well, we know that our output (number of years) is going to be our ‘x’ at some point.

What is the input provided?
Let’s see… there are a lot of variables in there, so let’s just list all of them:

11 seasons
713 total games
25.0 ppg career
28.7 ppg last season
Kevin Durant
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
38,387 points

So we know some (or all) of these values are needed to figure out the answer. This is our ‘input’.

At this point, this is no longer a word problem, because we are now dealing with data. We haven’t narrowed down which numbers we need but we know what we will be working with. Think of these numbers as your starting roster, and send all the words home with a pink slip because they didn’t make the team.

Since you can’t add Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Kevin Durant to any number to come up with another number, it’s pretty clear we won’t need those values.

But we also know Kareem had 38,837 points and in order for Carmelo to overtake him, he’d have to score more than that. So we need to know how many points Carmelo has already scored, then we could figure out how many he still needs. But looking over our input, we don’t have his total career points. However, we do have his scoring average and the number of games he’s played. That’s easy math – 25.0 ppg multiplied by 713 games = 17,825. (yes, I know that the NBA lists his total as higher than that, but we are working with what is provided).

So subtract 17,825 from 38,387 and we get 20,562. So now we know that’s the number Carmelo has to reach. If only we knew how many points he is already averaging per season! It’s not in our list of inputs…but wait! We do have his number of seasons played. So we take our new number 20,562 and divide it by 11 seasons which gives us 1869.27, but we’ll round it to 1,869 since the NBA does not allow players to score .27 points and because this is just an example.

Okay, so we now know that Carmelo has averaged 1,869 points per season, AND we know that he needs 20,562 points to pass Jabbar. So now we need algebra to finish this sucker off. We already said our output is our ‘x’ and here’s where it comes in to play. You’re probably way ahead of me at this point, but the number of years needed can be calculated by taking the total points needed and dividing by the average points per season.

number of years = total points needed / average points per season.

If we designate number of years as ‘x’, total points needed as ‘y’ and average points per season as ‘z’, this problem would look like this, right?

x = y / z

but hey, enough showboating – let’s get this Carmelo Anthony problem solved.

number of years = 20,562/1,869

number of years = 11.001605

So now we know that Carmelo will have to play at least 11 more seasons to pass Jabbar at his current scoring rate (without a drop off in production, but that’s a whole other topic).

So that’s it. The formula for solving the equation contained a word problems will be different, but the strategy to identify the equation is always the same. Identify the output, identify the inputs and work from those numbers. No matter how complicated the word problem gets, this will still be true.

Oh, one last thing. You may have noticed that some of the inputs we identified didn’t get used (like Carmelo’s scoring average from last season). Like a player who is on the roster but never got in the game, this data was dressed but didn’t play. No biggie. But by setting aside all of the numbers, we were able to pick and choose which ones we needed at ‘game time’.

Okay, enough with the basketball example. Go out there and box out some word problems.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Conan
“Better develop a skyhook, ‘Melo. This dazzling math doesn’t add up to beat me!”

Phenom 150 Fall 2013 Session 1 Winston-Salem

By Marcus Shockley

Notes from the Fall Phenom 150, Session 1, held in Winston-Salem, NC on October 6, 2013. With approximately 180 players in attendance, it’s extremely hard to see every good player, but here are some players who stood out to me and my notes on them from this event. I did note that a few teams were playing extremely hard, getting after it in a way that I normally would see in high profile elite AAU.

Emmett Tilley (G, 6’2″, 2016) Northern Durham HS (NC) I started tracking Tilley last year, and I liked his basic skill set. However, he’s become a serious collegiate prospect since then, adding weight and quickness. He often just looked a step ahead of the other players on the floor. His look ahead passing is elite, he has a very quick first step, can finish with contact or hit the mid range jumper. He has a good build and will continue to add strength over the next 3 years. Division I colleges should actively getting involved with him now. We had added Tilley to our scouting database and subscribing colleges can read our full scouting reports on his progress here. Tilley plays AAU with the Garner Road Bulldogs.

C.J. Bryce (SF, 6’5, 2015) One of, if not the most explosive athlete in the gym today. Putback timing is his calling card, and timing is something that translates to every level of basketball. Easily gets above the rim, great touch on the ball, can finesse the ball over players on the move without even hinting at a charge. Great bounce and agility. Colleges should be actively recruiting him.

Clay Mounce (SG/SF, 6’4, 2016) Mt. Airy HS (NC) Solid athlete with good bounce and quick hands. I really liked what I saw from Mounce and I think he has solid potential as a collegiate prospect. Has good size and length – will need to continue to add strength but is active off of the ball and really makes an impact. I will need to see more during the high school season but I already see him as a player that colleges should be definitely watching and scouting.

Derek McKnight (PG, 6’2″, 2015) Gaston Day (NC) One of the quickest crossovers I’ve seen all summer. What I like about McKnight’s game is how confidently he understands what he wants to do when he gets the ball. He never looks like he has to ponder over what move to make – his attacks look almost choreographed. One thing I rarely see from young players is the understanding that in basketball, there is a chess match at work – if your defender sags, you shoot over him. If he plays you close, you put the ball on the floor and try to push past him. McKnight always looks like he sees what the defense does and instantly reacts with the counter punch.

James Tillman (SF, 6’4, 2014) Kings Mountain HS (NC) Tillman is a high motor, explosive player who showed he’s been working on his outside shot as well. Tillman has already proven during his high school career that he is a banger who can finish with contact, but over the past year he’s shown a serious first step and and ability to finish above the rim. Makes excellent passes into the post as well. Add in the aforementioned shooting and motor and you can see why more and more colleges are making the trip to the his school on the NC/SC border to check him out.

Christian Adams (G, 6’4, ’15) Calvary Baptist (NC) One of the more underrated workers in the region, Adams goes full speed and has great patience, great size for his position. Strong, can handle the ball at the point, play off the ball at the 2-guard and even can can slide down to the 3 if needed. His strengths are his work ethic, decision making, ballhandling, passing, shooting touch and quick hands.

Zach Boggs (SG, 6’1″, 2016) Boggs has bulked up quite a bit and plays hard, non-stop. One of the complaints about showcase events that I always hear is how ‘nobody will pass the ball’, but then I see guys like Boggs, who are playing off of the ball, and yet find ways to be involved on almost every play. His play shows that conditioning, motor and awareness matter. Plays tough but under control. Can finish with contact.

Cory Hanes (SF, 6’5″, 2015) Hanes is incredibly strong, has great hands and loves to dunk on the move, especially if he can get both hands on the ball. He’s a banger but really suited to play the 3/4 at the college level. Plays through and absorbs contact like a football player, but plays under control. Runs the floor at full speed. Colleges who like hard nosed players (and who doesn’t) should be actively recruiting.

Bryan Rouse (G, 6′, 2014) Rouse finishes with contact extremely well, blasts up and down the floor and always seems to have his hands on the ball. Rouse finishes his plays in the paint with a move similar to one that I’ve seen Tyus Jones do so well- taking the contact, bouncing off of the defender, keeping his shoulders square and finishing the shot as the foul is called. Rouse is a solid athlete with good court vision. Recently committed to Wingate.

Brandon Roddy (PG, 6′, 2014) Monroe HS (NC) Roddy continues to improve, and I’ve been tracking him for about two years. What first caught my eye was his awareness – he’s got that great poise and patience, and he’s always sizing up what the defense is doing. He’s got point guard skills and at his height that’s where colleges will be looking to put him; however, it should be mentioned that he has combo guard ability in that he can play off of the ball, create his own shot on the move and understands defending different positions.

Spencer Scott (SG, 6’2, 2014) Charlotte Christian – Scott is the kind of player that coaches need on their team. You know the players you see who understand team ball, who will set a pick when it matters, who can knock down the jumper but also know when to pass it up, the kind of player who will be rock solid even if their name isn’t on the ranking lists. Scott is one of those guys. The biggest issues for guys like Scott is that in our world of mix tapes and prep-to-pros hype, college coaches need guys like him but ‘rock solid’, ‘reliable’, and ‘consistent’ don’t make headlines. Some smart college is going to get a smart solid player.

Lachlan Caple (G, 6’3″, 2016) First time seeing Caple, and I saw some flashes of passing wizardry and ballhandling that were impressive. Looks to attack with the pass into the defense with excellent vision.

Zach Hartle (SF, 6’4, 2015) Hartle has added bulk to make himself more of a presence in the paint. With a lot of 6’7″ and 6’8″ players on the courts, Hartle seemed to grab every loose rebound at times. I already know that he’s an adept passer and can shoot from deep, but the added strength make him more versatile in the paint.

Carson Mounce (C, 6’10″, 2015) Mounce looks like he’s gotten stronger and is still working on his post arsenal at this point. I would really like to see him develop more of a drop step and power, with a focus on footwork. He has good hands and a quick release, and with his size he should be able to develop his release into a reliable hook shot.

Sacha Killeya-Jones (C, 6’8″, 2016) Slender big man who has good length and is a developing shot blocker – does not go for fakes and makes it hard for smaller players to score in the paint. Needs to add strength but would love to see him work on developing his offensive post moves as well.

Jeff McIlwain (C, 6’9, 2015) Asheville Christian Academy – McIlwain is a half court post player with a solid frame and good hands. He works to establish position in the paint, seals well and asks for the ball. He does tend to put the ball on the floor too often – partly because he is a better ballhandler than most of the big men he’s going against, but I’d like to see him work on getting the ball to the rim with better footwork. Does not shy away from contact. Definitely a college big man, where he ends up will depend on his work ethic and how much strength he can add – his solid frame looks like he could continue to add quite a bit of muscle.

Harrison Burton (SG, 6’3″, 2015) The Rock Hill, SC player impressed me with his deliberate play on both ends. Really digs in on defense and plays with purpose on offense. Has good size for the guard spot. One of the few wings I saw who knew to run to the deep corners on the halfcourt.

Hawk Swearingen (G, 6’1″, 2015) Sedalia (MO) – I would call him a scorer but that really wouldn’t accurately explain his game. Swearingen is an assassin, yes, who shoots the ball like it’s a weapon, and he can do it in a variety of ways – from deep or going to the bucket in traffic. But he’s not the type of player who is bent on getting the ball and chucking it up – he works within the offense, throwing zip passes to open teammates, moving without the ball and passing up bad shots. So you might watch him for a few minutes and just see a guy content to defer to others, then the defense will sag and bang – he’ll scorch you. Don’t sleep – this kid’s a baller.

Spencer Wilson (PG, 6’1″, 2015) Bishop McGuiness (NC) Wilson is deadly going to his left and has a smooth ability to shake the defender, freeing up an open shot – which he can nail consistently. Crafty and poised, Wilson has great awareness of what the defense is doing and has a plethora of moves to get that deadly shot open. His passing is solid and he’s going to be the player driving the offense for Bishop McGuinness this season. Good length.

Hunter Seacat (C, 6’9″, 2015) Already has the build to play in college and looks like he will continue to get stronger. Runs the floor and plays back to the basket, good hands. Good offensive footwork and will continue to add to his low post arsenal. Bodies up on defense and plays through contact. Has a few college offers and will no doubt add several more this high school season.

James West IV (PG, 5’11″, 2017) Over the past couple of years, West has shown an ability to play with older players because of his quick release and solid shooting, both from mid range and from deep. Now he shows extremely quick hands and more movement without the ball. I’ve said this before, but some players have a knack for getting the ball and getting some shots up, even when they are not running the point, and West is one of those players. West is the player who will snatch the ball from a big man when he puts the ball on the floor, but his quick release is his calling card.

Ruben Arroyo (F, 6’8″, 2015) Deep Run HS (VA) Solid athlete with some upside. Needs to add weight but has great quick bounce off of the floor, finesse touch and has the hang time to finish after contact. Gets his shots off after the catch in the post without bringing the ball down.

Timmy Walker, Jr. (PG, 6’1, 2016) Christ School (NC) – Excellent first step and great court vision. Quick, beats his man off the dribble to get inside the paint.

Will Tibbs (SF, 6’5″, 2014) Winston-Salem Prep (NC) Tibbs is a wing player with great length and can shoot the deep ball. But he’s active, not just a spot up shooter – he runs the floor extremely well on the break and has great hands. He continues to work and has been overlooked after having a really solid season last year for Prep. Tibbs is a player who should have more college interest than he does but if enough colleges give him looks this year, there is little doubt someone can use a high motor wing with collegiate range and length.

Gerald Peacock (G, 6’1″, 2015) Very quick transition player who wants to run. Aggressive, likes to push the ball right to the rim and looks for breaking players. A great fit for coaches who want to get up and down the floor, has the fast break mindset and will burn defenders who trot back on defense.

Spencer Osborne (G, 6’3″, 2014) Solid guard with good size and build, pushes the ball hard and keeps the defender on his heels. Strong and deliberate with the ball, high motor. Hard nosed and makes an impact with the dribble or the pass. Colleges looking to snatch up a solid 2014 player should be actively looking at him.

Austin Collins (G, 6’2″, 2014) Winston-Salem Prep (NC) – Collins has a good hesitation dribble and should have a breakout year at Prep – he was always a vital part of their title runs but will likely take over more of the point guard duties this season. Excellent passer, fast, gets into the teeth of the defense consistently. Another 2014 guard that colleges should be actively watching and in contact with.

Matt Kalaf (SF, 6’7″, 2016) Nuese Christian Academy (NC) – Great length and plays on the wing, quick hands and good passing from the wing. Sharp shooter who is a match up problem for smaller wings, has a lot of upside and definitely a collegiate prospect.

Cameron Gottfried (SG, 6’3″, 2014) Broughton HS (NC) Gottfried is a smart, high motor player with a good deep shot, high release and excellent athleticism. Likes to get out on the break and can finish above the rim.

Players added to the watch list for the upcoming season:

Tucker Thompson (C, 6’10″, 2014) Huntersville, NC

Bryant Vucich (C, 6’8″, 2015) Morrisville, NC – actually the second time I’ve seen Vucich and his high release and hook caught my eye both times.

Marshall Macheledt (C, 6’8″, 2014) Greensboro, NC

Kenny Bunton (PF, 6’5″, 2016) Chattanooga, TN

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