By Kristian Cuaresma
This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us – Or is it?
Despite playing on two separate nights and in four different games, the ‘Battle for New York’ has yet to be decided. NetsGC again split its two-game set with Knicks Gaming and with both New York-based teams not scheduled to meet again in the regular season, the tiebreaker may have to wait until a potential playoff matchup.
NetsGC and Knicks Gaming seem to bring out the best in each other’s offense, with both teams averaging a combined 160 points last Friday night (they averaged 167.5 points in their first meeting on June 4). While both squads have been unable to reel off consecutive wins against each other, NetsGC currently has the advantage in the standings as the current Eastern Conference fifth seed. With six regular games remaining on the schedule for both teams, NetsGC will next focus on protecting its spot in the postseason while Knicks Gaming will plot to overcome the two-game gap between itself and seeds two through five.
What’s Old is New Again
After seeing Brooklyn close out THE TURN with Legit in the lineup, General Manager and Head Coach OG King Curt and his team went back to its original starting five. This lineup includes Faiz at sharp, Dante at lock, and SlayIsland at power forward. Although this has been the team’s most used combination, this grouping also deals with its fair share of defensive issues. The trade-off comes in the lineup’s high-powered offense. NetsGC hit the 90-point mark in three of its four games in Week Seven, resulting in a 3-1 record against Knicks Gaming and Heat Check Gaming.
At its full potential, NetsGC’s offense can produce landslide victories like in its matchup against Heat Check Gaming. However, this does come with a caveat centered around the team’s reliance on a brilliant offense to overcome an inconsistent defense. When the ball refuses to go through the hoop (evident in the 67-78 game one loss to Knicks Gaming) or when the opponent is also scoring at a high clip (such as in the 90-85 victory over Knicks Gaming), it often results in up-and-down type of week the team is looking to avoid.
Choc May Finish as the Regular Season MVP
This season has been a campaign of many firsts for NetsGC, and a large part of that can be attributed to the play of the team’s dynamic point guard Choc. Statistically, the sophomore is leading all players in assists (13.8) and is currently fourth in the league in scoring (29.2). Despite averaging nearly 21 field goal attempts – including over 11 from beyond the arc – Choc still manages to knock down 53 percent of his shots. In Week Seven against Knicks Gaming and Heat Check Gaming, Choc averaged 37.8 points, 12.5 assists, 1.5 steals on 56 percent shooting. He also set a Season Four personal best in points with 45.
If Brooklyn can close out the season with sweeps against Raptors Uprising, Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai, and Bucks Gaming, that would give the team a 20-8 record and an eight-game winning streak. In this scenario, that would practically solidify Choc as a favorite to be crowned as the league’s most valuable player.
Your Top Five Power Forwards List Needs to Include SlayIsland
In Brooklyn’s first 14 games of the regular season, SlayIsland hit double digit scoring in three of those contests. Since getting swept by Wizards District Gaming, SlayIsland has scored at least 12 points in eight consecutive games and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that NetsGC is 7-1 in that stretch. In Week Seven, the versatile big man missed just seven of his 29 shot attempts and hit a jaw-dropping 81 percent of his three-pointers.
Despite these standout offensive numbers, they aren’t even the most impressive aspects to SlayIsland’s game. From a defensive perspective, you’ll find it difficult to name another player in the league who has guarded the corner, the pick and roll, and on-ball. He epitomizes what it means to be a Swiss Army knife and SlayIsland put that on full display last week, averaging a fantasy basketball-like stat line of 14.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1 steal and 1 block.
NetsGC’s Ceiling Will Be Determined by its Rookies
General Manager and Head Coach OG King Curt knows what he’s getting out of his point guard, power forward and center. By contrast, the team’s biggest question marks are the other two positions, which happen to be occupied by a pair of rookies.
After being selected No. 33 overall in the draft, Faiz was expected to be Choc’s backcourt partner and provide a reliable source of scoring outside of the team’s standard pick and roll set. In Faiz’s defense, he has been moved back-and-forth between sharp and lock, but an argument can be made that the youngster isn’t shooting like he did earlier in the season. In Week Seven against New York and Miami, Faiz began to reintegrate himself into the offense and even showed off some of his playmaking abilities, averaging 3.8 assists and setting career high in dimes with six.
Meanwhile, Dante – selected No. 58 overall – continues to have an up-and-down season. However, the team has stuck with him for the most part, inserting him into the starting lineup in all but three regular season games. The rookie has flashed moments of brilliance on the offensive end, especially during a prior five-game stretch during which he averaged 14.6 points. On the defensive side, Dante had his most impressive performance of the year against Heat Check Gaming, helping the team hold Sav to a regular season low 10 points while setting a new career high in steals with five.