Friday, June 16, 2006

World Cup meets the NBA Draft

The World Cup is in full swing. Now is the only time in the next four years when many/most Americans will give the sport anything more than a passing glance and a dismissive comment. That’s not an indictment on the American public or the sport of soccer. That’s just the way it is. Of course, much of this is due to the overall lack of success that our national team has experienced on the international stage. Americans love sports, but they love winning more. Unfortunately for us, the level of athlete that generally ends up as an elite soccer player in the states is far from indicative of the type of elite athlete that American usually produces in most (if not all) of our preferred sports. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle. As a nation we don’t have an inborn passion for soccer, so our best youth generally don’t gravitate towards the sport. Because of this, we don’t stack up athletically on the pitch with other nations. This lack of success breeds more complacency amongst the American public towards soccer. And so on, and so on.

You often hear people lamenting this while wondering just how dominant a soccer nation America could be if the sport were of major consequence to the youth of this nation. Instead, the best athletes go into basketball, football or (in alarmingly less frequency) baseball. With that in mind (and because I’m obsessed with the NBA Draft), I’ve decided to construct a soccer team (actually a starting lineup) of players from this year’s NBA Draft. For the sake of simplicity I’ll go with the traditional 4-4-2 lineup.

Left Back: Randy Foye- He’s fast enough to mark strikers on the sidelines while also possessing the necessary creativity to start attacks from his position in defense. Think of a much, much bigger Roberto Carlos.

Center Left Back: Hassan Adams- He’s big, fast, & strong. His speed will allow him to help the wings mark fleet strikers on the sidelines while his strength would make it nearly impossible to muscle him near the box. Adams’ height and leaping ability would make him dominant in the air especially on corners.

Center Right Back: PJ Tucker- Tucker would be a fantastic enforcer in the middle of the field. His lack of overall speed could be a detriment in marking some of the elite strikers but that’s why he’s manning the middle. His physical presence and toughness would make even the bravest attacker think twice about making forays into the box.

Right Back: Shannon Brown- He would draw the #1 scorer most of the time. He’s an unbelievable athlete with great strength and outstanding straight line speed. Additionally, his leaping ability would be an major asset in the air, especially with the comparably less than athletic (vertically) Tucker playing next to him.

Left Mid: Kyle Lowry- Speed is his biggest asset. He would be able to push forward as an attacking mid without compromising his defensive position, due to his unique combination of speed and strength. He’s the ultimate hustle player so his insertion in the midfield is a natural.

Left Center Mid: Marcus Williams- The Maestro. The way he sees the floor makes him a natural for this position. From his spot on the left he could identify holes within the defense and set his strikers up for runs towards the box with pinpoint passing and strong ball control. His lack of conditioning would be a concern, but his feel for passing lanes and angles is too great to be without.

You're good and all Pavel but you don't have shit on Marcus Williams

Right Center Mid: Mike Gansey- Though he’s a two guard by trade, Gansey is another player who has a innate feel for passing angles. He’s a better athlete than he’s given credit for which allows him to push forward and initiate attacks through both his passing and one-on-one skills. He recently put up 185 lbs. over 20 times so his strength should also prove to be a major asset when it comes to battles over possession in the midfield.

Right Mid: Dee Brown- More speed on the wing. He’s been known as the fastest player in college basketball for what seems like a decade now so his inclusion here should be no surprise. His natural scorer’s mentality would make him an attacking midfielder along the lines of DeMarcus Beasley (except, you know with some heart). A midfielder who is capable of impacting games with his own offense as much as any striker. Furthermore, his intensity and energy would be crucial to the pace at which this team would want to play.

Maybe DeMarcus should try a headband?

Striker: Quincy Douby- An extremely fast, lithe player with an almost intrinsic need to score. Douby’s frame just screams striker to me. Add to that some serious speed and the nerves of a cat burglar and you’ve got this teams’ #1 scoring option. It doesn’t hurt that Quincy is used to having to create scoring chances on his own.

Thierry Henry: Game & frame like that of Quincy Douby.

Striker: Rodney Carney- This was a tough choice between Carney and James White but Carney wins due to his proven willingness to subjugate his overall game for the greater good of the team. To borrow a phrase from Hubie Brown, Carney would be murder in the air. His unbelievable vertical leap and 6’7” frame could turn every corner kick or cross into an alley-oop waiting to happen.

Keeper: Rajon Rondo: Some may wonder why I wouldn’t go with somebody larger than Rondo. It’s simply a matter of preference. I prefer my keepers to be quick and agile rather than towering intimidators. Rondo has long arms, unbelievable quickness and terrific leaping ability to go with the biggest pair of hands this side of Oronde Gadsden. Rondo’s also a noted defender who specializes in deflections and takeaways. What more can you ask for from a top level keeper?

Speaking of those monstrous hands of his, Chad Ford told me recently that Rondo reached into his pregnant girlfriend and delivered their baby himself. His hands are that big. I’m sold.

That was fun wasn't it? Now for a little dose of reality, a letter from Mark Cuban's cheetah.


joe said...

Fantastic post. I figured Rudy Gay would make the team since he has the size, speed and I bet he would be awesome at flopping. Even though I have enjoyed the World Cup games I still can't stand the flop, roll around screaming and full steam running 30 seconds later.

Also, I don't know whether to be happy or horrified that I expected the big hand reference to Rondo and understood when you compared them to a #2 WR from 10 years. I think I may need to get out more.. and by get out I don't mean pound 10 beers, stumble to a bar and leer at the marginally attractive girl who's "attainable". On that note I'm going to home to play beer pong at 4 in the afternoon.. the vicious cycle continues.

Mark said...

I toyed with the idea of putting Rudy in the strating ineup. ultimately his "lack of motor" cost him. I'd like to have players who go full bore for their entire time on the field and, as we all know, that is not one of Gay's biggest strenghts. He'd be one of my more instrumental subs though. Somebody to bring off the bench in the second half for some offensive spark where his fresh legs and athleticism could be a major benefit.

You should be horrified that you saw my Rondo/big hands reference coming. You've officially spent way too much time talking about meaningless sports facts with me. You should be proud of your extensive Oronde Gadsden knowledge though. If what you described isn't an acceptable form of "getting out" than I don't know what is these days.

Mark said...

I spell good.

TJ said...

I wonder what the Cheetah has to say about that collapse...

Mark said...

He's probably busy dunking on DJ Mbenga. You know, since everybody else has...

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