My NCAA tournament bracket had more than a dollop of fail about it, so hopefully this one will be better that. I have incredibly few upsets scheduled, as you can see. And sorry to Portland fans for being the only sweep victims pencilled in; it’s purely because of the Brandon Roy thing. With him, you might even take them. But without him, it’s problems.
Colorado graduate Roby has spent the first two years of his career in Israel. He spent his first year with Bnei Hasharon, averaging 9.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, and this year he moved to Maccabi Haifa. Roby is averaging a similar 8.7 points and 2.5 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per game there, but is shooting only 27% from three-point range and is turning it over 1.7 times per game (compared to only 1.3 assists).
Here’s a little video about Richard Roby made by Bnei Hasharon, notable for its brief Cookie Belcher cameo. (He’s the other American in the clip.) Belcher is now into his fifth season with the team, and is averaging 12.1 points and 3.0 assists.
Rodgers has toured the world in recent years, scoring big wherever he’s gone. He averaged 21.3 ppg in his final college season for Northern Illinois in 2002. He averaged 19.4 ppg for Brandt Hagen in Germany in 2003. He averaged 20.8 ppg for Orleans in France in 2004. He averaged 19.9 ppg for Eiffel Towers Nijmegen in Holland in 2005, and 21.8 ppg for Eiffel Towers Den Bosch in 2006. (Not the same team. It’s a long story.) He averaged 22.6 ppg in 2007, again with Den Bosch. He averaged 13.1 ppg for Quakenbrueck in Germany in 2008, and then 2009 was his crowning glory, averaging 35.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 3.3 apg for Jilin in China. His point totals from his last three games: 38, 66, 63. In the 66-point outing, he went 15-26 from three-point range. (Chinese basketball – it’s faaaaaantastic!)
All that scoring did not go ignored by the NBA, and Rodgers got his first-ever NBA contract when he signed with the Grizzlies for training camp this year. He did not make the team, though, and returned to play for Jilin again this season. To find out how that went for him, read this. After Jilin’s playoff-less season finished, Rodgers went to Puerto Rico, where he currently averages 12.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game for Leones de Ponce.
Baylor forward Kevin Rogers started the year in Greece when he signed for Panionios. However, he played in only three games for the team before being released, averaging 6.0 points and 6.3 rebounds, shooting 9-21 from the field and 0-0 from the foul line. (Panionios replaced him with Travon Bryant.) Rogers then kicked around until late February, when he signed in the D-League and was acquired by the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He averaged 7.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.2 fouls in his first nine games with the team, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in his eighth game.
Rodney Rogers was paralysed from the neck in an ATV accident 16 months ago. His only public appearance since that time was in September, when he was honoured at a Wake Forest football game. There are pictures of that day on the internet, but find them yourselves. I don’t like to look at them.
Malik Rose is also now working in television. He is not officially retired and has not ruled out playing again, but after his contract expired this summer, Rose was unable to get another NBA contract. Knowing that this was probably it, he went into other ventures, opening a gourmet Italian restaurant in San Antonio and doing pre-game analysis on Knicks games for the MSG network. Rose was also the colour commentator for the Austin Toros, the first year that Toros games have been televised.
You know where Ricky Rubio is. He’s with Barcelona.
But here’s the thing; because of what happened this summer, Ricky Rubio is now much maligned. Because he didn’t sign straight away, the pick is now viewed – in the eyes of some, at least – as a bad one. And that’s silly. Not only was the pick acquired for nothing more than one-year rentals of Randy Foye and Mike Miller, it was also used on the right person, because Rubio is damn good. It doesn’t matter if a player doesn’t sign straight away, particularly on a team who have no short term purpose other than to lose, just as long as you sign. Rubio will. And when he does, he will be a fine player.
In the ACB this season, Rubio is averaging 6.4 points, 4.4 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals in only 19.0 minutes per game. He is shooting 45% from two-point range, 42% from three-point range and 77% from the line. If those numbers don’t overwhelm you, consider that ACB assists are far harder than NBA assists are. Indeed, 4.4 apg ties for fourth in the league alongside Stephane Dumas and Kristaps Valters; the three players ahead of him (Omar Cook, 6.1 apg), Marcelinho Huertas (5.2 apg) and Maximiliano Stanic (5.0 apg) average 24.7, 24.5 and 30.2 minutes per game respectively. Per 40 minutes, Roobs averages 9.3 assists, second only to Cook’s 9.7 and far ahead of the rest of the league. The Roobster’s steals per game rank second in the league only to Tariq Kirksay’s 2.3 spg; his steals per 40 minutes averaged of 4.6 ranks waaaaaaaay ahead of Pablo Prigioni’s second placed 3.2 ap40. Rubio also has a PER of 23.3, tied for 6th in the league alongside teammate Juan Carlos Navarro and Greek shooter Kostas Vasiliadis of Xacobeo Blusens. And even though he’s been around for five years now, he’s still only 19. 19-year-olds in the ACB just shouldn’t do this.
Rubio’s numbers in the EuroLeague drop down a bit, as indeed they’d have to. This is particularly true for his shooting percentages, which drop to 36%/35%/90%. But Rubio still averages 20.5 minutes, 6.7 points, 4.2 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game, posting a PER of 17.1 and ranking ninth in the competition in assists. And he’s still only 19 there, too. If you hated on the Timberwolves for the pick, consider for a minute whether it’s because you think Rubio isn’t good enough for a #5 pick, or because you think it’s in some way game-changing that he didn’t sign in the NBA immediately. If it’s the latter, re-examine why you think that, and do so again once the Timberwolves draft Evan Turner in 12 weeks time.
And if you hated on the Rubio pick without hating on the Jonny Flynn pick, you’ve REALLY missed the point.
Ruffin signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder for training camp, which meant that for a brief time, him, Kevin Ollie and Ryan Bowen were on the same team. Ruffin didn’t make the cut, though, and then returned to Spain for the first time in seven years when he signed a six-week contract with Manresa. In eight games, Ruffin averaged 21.6 minutes, 2.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 0.1 assists, 2.4 fouls, 1.6 blocks and 1.9 steals per game. He shot 33% from the field and 28% from the foul line, which means he shots 61% overall (or something). After that contract expired, it was not renewed, and Ruffin has remained unsigned. He was linked last month to struggling Xacobeo Blusens, but they signed Paul Davis instead.
Incidentally, had he played enough minutes to qualify, Muffin would be second to only Rubio in steals per 40 minutes in ACB play.
West Virginia guard Ruoff’s first professional season has been spent in Belgium. Playing for Liege, Ruoff has averaged 7.7 points and 1.9 assists per game in the Belgian league, alongside 10.2 points and 3.3 assists per game in the EuroCup. As per usual, Ruoff shoots a lot more twos than threes, yet hits them at only 33% in the Belgium league, which is why his numbers are down in that league. He shot a healthier 42% from there in the EuroChallenge.
Rush signed with the Clippers for training camp, and was one of the few camp invitees league wide to win a roster spot. He appeared in the Clippers first seven games of the season, going scoreless in six of them and scoring nine points in the other, but then blew out his knee and was ruled out for the season. He survived on the roster until mid-January, at which point the Clippers waived him to accommodate JamesOn Curry, whom they then waived a few days later to accommodate Bobby Brown. Bobby Brown made it until the end of the season.
This time last year, rumours abounded that Bryon Russell wanted to make a comeback. And he did, kind of. Russell was a member of the Los Angeles Lightning IBL team in the summer, a stacked team of former NBA talents that I have talked about a few times before. He averaged 11.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists, and was an IBL All-Star; however, the 11.8 points per game was only the tenth-best scoring average on the team. This should give you an idea about the standard of the IBL, its scoring-friendly nature, and also the depth of the Lightning’s roster. Lamond Murray, Fred Vinson, Toby Bailey, Adam Parada, Derrick Murray and Juaquin Hawkins all scored higher than Russell, as did three other guys I’ve never heard of.
If Russell wanted this gig to kick-start his way back into the higher echelons of the professional game, it didn’t, because he signed no further contracts after it. But he did make the news again. After being singled out for humiliation in Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame entry speech – can you be singled out if you’re merely one of many? – Russell took advantage of the people who asked him for his reaction to the comments by publicly challenging Jordan to a game of one-on-one, for old times sake. The owner of the D-League’s Utah Flash, Brandt Andersen, then took advantage of that new publicity by offering to host the event, while simultaneously offering to put up $100,000 for the winner’s charity of choice. Of course, the 46-year-old Jordan didn’t want to take part, and made no intimation that he was going to play Russell, particularly not at the event that the Flash then planned for it anyway. But that massive detail went unforgivably overlooked, and then this inevitable failure happened. Not a good showing for all parties involved.
It is not clear whether Russell, or indeed any of the other compelling protagonists, have signed up to play another year of IBL ball with the Lightning. But when I know, you’ll know.
After spending at least part of the last three seasons with the D-League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants – including averaging 16.1 points and 10.8 assists per game there last season – Russell left the D-League this year to go and get some pay checks. He started this year with Lukoil Akademik, the only Bulgarian team you’ve ever heard of, partly because they normally play in the EuroChallenge and partly because they can land some good imports. Russell left the team in January after ten games, in which he averaged 13.7 points and 5.5 assists, and moved to Puerto Rico the next month to sign with the Piratas de Quebradillas. However, he lasted only six games with the team, averaging 8.1 points and 5.4 assists, before being released for Australian guard Shawn Redhage. Russell nevertheless manages to rank second in both leagues in assists per game, despite the short durations of both of his stays.
Another Quebradillas player was former NBA forward Lee Nailon, who scored a lot of points on a barrage of two-point jump shots. Quebradillas released him late last month so that they could bring in former NBA guard Damon Jones, but Jones himself was released this week after averaging 10.8 points and 3.3 assists on 36% shooting. As promised a couple of times already, a lengthy CBA-style Puerto Rican breakdown is coming up shortly.
I am continuously intrigued by the esoterica and minutiae of all the aspects of building a basketball team. I want to understand how to build the best basketball teams possible. No, I don’t know why, either.