With football season in full swing, it is easy to forget that the NBA and NCAA basketball seasons are off and running. Less than 20 games into the new professional season, the Houston Rockets have hovered around 500 and the Carmelo Anthony experiment has already seemed to have failed as of late last week.
Optimism was at an all-time high at the Toyota Center when James Harden accepted his 2017 Most Valuable Player trophy to kickoff the new campaign. The Rockets found themselves on the losing end of a seven-game series against the Golden State Warriors early last summer and many believed they would have represented the Western Conference in the NBA Finals if Chris Paul was not absent for games six and seven.
In the offseason, Houston took a chance by signing 10-time all-star Carmelo Anthony to a one-year, veteran's minimum deal. Early on, however, Anthony does not seem like a good fit for the Rockets and the organization has been searching for a new landing spot for the 34-year old.
This is hardly a surprise. Anthony has not seemed to fit into any situation of late despite his storied career that began with his selection in the 2003 NBA Draft, where he was among rookies such as LeBron James, Chris Bosch and Dwyane Wade. Former Rocket superstar and Hall-of-Famer Tracy McGrady even suggested that now would be a good time for Anthony to hang up his shoes for good and call it a career.
Regardless of Anthony’s fate, Houston has other issues they need to figure out if they hope to be a force in the Western Conference once more. They are still sorting out a number of lingering injuries early in the season.
In college basketball, most are still figuring out their identities as pundits try to gage whether or not the preseason top-ten teams are worthy of the distinction. The one thing just about everyone can fully agree on is the dominance of the Duke Blue Devils and freshman phenom Zion Williamson.
Williamson took the basketball world by storm when he was 16-years old and still an underclassman at Spartanburg Day School in South Carolina. Naturally, what ensued was a battle for his services by the top programs in the country for his required college season before he moves on to the NBA.
But Williamson was not the only future one-and-done who chose Duke. He is playing with a number of top prospects that have seemed to form a super team at the college level.
I have expressed the not-so-original opinion in the past that super teams are a sort of cancer to the competitive nature of basketball. We have seen this plague the NBA for quite some time from LeBron James in Miami to the current Golden State Warriors and their monopoly on championships.
With no solutions to the one-and-done rule, the problem grows more and more apparent at the college level as well. Anyone who watches Williamson play for five minutes will tell you that the 6’7 forward has absolutely no business competing at the college level. Just like players such as James and Kobe Bryant, who went pro before it became mandatory to spend a year at school, would have had no business on a college court. If you are qualified to do something professionally and many would pay for your services, regardless of your age, you should be able to do it without interference.
What if someone like Williamson (God forbid) were to get injured in a college game? Every time he steps onto a college court he is potentially jeopardizing his basketball future before receiving any compensation for his hard work and remarkable talent.
As a fan of college hoops, and healthy competition in general, I get no joy out of seeing Duke dominate their opponents in such a laughable way. Blue Devils Coach Mike Krzyewski has unfortunately hopped on the bandwagon occupied by folks such as Kentucky Coach John Calipari for quite some time.
But we will have to bear through the lopsided results of otherwise competitive games throughout the majority of the season. But however cliche, we have seen year in and year out that it takes a team, not a set of individuals, to run the brutal gauntlet of March Madness and come away with a title.
Duke may be the flashiest team in the country, but my money will be with an experienced team that has played together for multiple years come tournament time over a group of players who simply see it as a stepping stone to the next level.
In college football, three notable unbeaten squads entered week 12 with their sites ultimately on the College Football Playoff.
The University of Alabama has unsurprisingly dominated every opponent they have faced. In my opinion, this is the best Crimson Tide team in recent memory, and that is saying something.
As always, they have one of the top defensive units in the country. But it is sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa that no one can seem to stop talking about.
Tua took the nation by storm when he entered last year’s National Championship and led the Tide to a historic comeback victory over Georgia as a freshman. Ever since, the young man can do no wrong and will most likely walk away with a Heisman Trophy and his second title when all is said and done.
The last two unbeaten squads entering play on Saturday were the Clemson Tigers and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Both have had a couple of close calls but will qualify for the CFP if they can win out. The Tigers will have to win a conference championship to do so. Notre Dame, however, stands as an independent program and will not play a conference championship.
The University of Central Florida (11) is also undefeated, but will not qualify for the CFP due to a lack of quality opponents.
Entering week 12, the Michigan Wolverines occupied the number four overall position with just one loss to the Irish in South Bend on opening night. However, they still have to travel to Columbus to play the Ohio State Buckeyes on the last day of the season. A number of other schools, such as Georgia and Oklahoma, are qualified to take their place should Michigan falter down the stretch.