Here are the results for the first round of the ‘non All Star’ League Pass All Stars tournament. For more on the selection process view the original post here. To vote, contact us on Twitter @IGoHardNow & @BrandonBombay or email at BrandonBombay@IGoHardNow.com
2002 Los Angeles Clippers
1 – Kyrie Irving vs. 8- Byron Mullens: Mullens snuck into the tourney with a semi-breakout season, and his affinity for playing ‘prison ball’ in the offseason. A smooth shooting big man with legitimate street cred is still no match for the phenomenon which is Kyrie Irving (#swIrving). He’s been playing at such an incredible clip during his rookie campaign that Cleveland’s management shifted to rebuild overdrive and dumped Ramon Sessions to ensure more Cavaliers losses while building for their bright future. Slick handle, smooth jumper, and the ability to carve up any defense with the game on the line. Irving has the potential to be a better version of Chris Paul, and is the epitome of must watch League Pass goodness. Kyrie Irving advances in a laugher.
2 – Tyreke Evans vs. 7 – Kemba Walker: Both these players are extremely entertaining to watch when they’re rolling, and frustrating when they’re struggling. Tyreke was born a forward with point guard skills, and Kyle Watson sensibilities. Kemba was born a point guard with a two-guard’s brain. After his M.O.P. performance for UConn in last year’s NCAA Tourney, we had such high hopes for Kemba to become a League Pass staple, but at this point he’s just a ‘tweener on a horrible squad. Tyreke Evans wins this one-on-one dribble off.
3- Ty Lawson vs. 6 – Isaiah Thomas: Early in the season this would have been a no contest decision for Lawson, as he looked unstoppable during the Nuggets fantastic start. Lawson’s productivity, along with Denver’s win totals, has plummeted. Isaiah Thomas, the man who usurped would-be League Pass darling, Jimmer’s, minutes and notoriety, has produced far beyond his size as of late. Couple that with being the final pick in the Draft and you have the makings of wonderful League Pass darling. Isaiah Thomas wins going away in the second half.
4 – Kevin Martin vs. 5 – Greg Monroe: A consistent cog for League Pass viewers, Kevin Martin can look like Reggie Miller when he has it going (right down to the retina hurting release). Greg Monroe is one of the only bright spots for this year’s oft-pathetic Detroit Pistons. The rookie has been an absolute beast down low averaging 16/10 and much needed toughness. Houston has enjoyed unexpected success for a team that seemed decimated by losing out on Pau Gasol during ‘Void-Gate’. Monroe edges out Martin, for bringing a glimmer of hope to the city of Detroit.
2010 Oklahoma Thunder
1- Monta Ellis vs. 8 – Ersan Ilyasova: These two were not teammates when the bracket was released, which wouldn’t have affected the outcome. Ilyasova is having a breakout year after Bogut went down for the Bucks. Ersan’s numbers are nothing that can contest with a long-time League Pass darling, Monta Ellis. He’s a ballstopper with a ‘tweener body, and athleticism that would make Jesus blush. Monta has been dominating the 10:30pm EST League Pass timeslot for a few years now. Too bad we won’t get to enjoy a full season of a Monta/Jennings backcourt because this Bucks team is making a push in the standings, both for wins/losses, and for League Pass viewership. Monta leapfrogs Ersan into the next round.
2 – Steph Curry vs. 7 – Tracy McGrady: T-Mac made the tournament as a nostalgia selection, and basically on the merit of one quarter of play where he lead the Hawks over The Heat. Steph Curry could have been a 1-seed in the tourney, but his ankles have kept him off the court too often. Still, Curry runs away with this one – that’s if he physically can run.
3 – Brandon Jennings vs. 6 – Marcin Gortat: Oh, how different this entire League Pass season would have been had Monta joined Jennings earlier. Before Ellis’s arrival, Jennings was having an inefficient, but entertaining season for the much maligned Bucks. The Gortat selection could easily have been Grant Hill as a representative for the surging Suns (or Michael Redd had he played like this all season), but the ‘Polish Hammer’ got the nod. Jennings speeds past Marcin to join Monta in League Pass supremacy.
4 – JaVale McGee vs. 5 – MarShon Brooks: MarShon Brooks is long, athletic, and can create his own shot – he’s just a joy to watch operate. JaVale McGee is long, athletic and…well, I wouldn’t describe him as a joy to watch. McGee is ranked so high because you never know when he’s going to do something like this, this, this, or this. He amazes in so many different ways, that his ‘watchability’ is immeasurable. McGee sprints past Brooks in this round, but it will be interesting to see how the trade to Denver affects his League Pass viewership.
2005 Phoenix Suns
1 – Ricky Rubio vs. 8 – Klay Thompson: In late January I heralded Klay Thompson as ‘the next Reggie Miller, but with a beautiful jumper’. He’s hit a mini rookie wall, but I stand behind my hyperbolic statement, if only to incite sensationalism. Ricky Rubio embodies sensationalism. His ‘watchability’ ranks in the highest ever, up there with ’06 Steve Nash. Whereas Nash seemed to will himself to greatness, coming on late in his career, Rubio seems destined to wear the League Pass crown for years to come. There’s a fluidity and naturalness to his game that reminds me of playground great Booger Smith. ACL be damned, Ricky passes Klay easily in the first round.
2 – Lou Williams vs. 7 – Kenneth Faried: Lou Williams gets buckets. Kenneth Faried gets everything else. This one comes down to pure ‘watchability’, and while Williams can be a joy to watch with smooth handle and pull up jumpers, Faried is pure frenetic energy. Faried races past Williams, and keeps going, for a major upset in this round.
3- OJ Mayo vs. 6 – Ivan Johnson: OJ Mayo is the best pure shooter/scorer on a long-time League Pass favorite, the Memphis Grizzlies. Ivan Johnson is the most impure human in the league, and we love him for it. Ivan ‘Freeway’ Johnson doesn’t watch basketball, has a diamond grill, and was banned from a Korean league for anger issues. His real life exploits have earned him an on-going series on Grantland, which of course he’ll never read, or even hear about. OJ Mayo originally won, but Ivan Johnson Deebo’d it from him – Ivan Johnson pushes through.
4 – Paul George vs. 5 – DeMar DeRozan: In a battle of underachieving Dunk Contest performers the edge goes to Paul George because of his Harold Minor-esque reverse pump dunk, and because the Toronto Raptors franchise, and even their fans, are insufferable. Paul George advances on four dunk attempts to DeMar’s five.
2007 Golden State Warriors
1 – John Wall vs. 8 – Gerald Green: Gerald Green is the embodiment of what a League Pass All Star is. He originally made the tourney on the strength of one dunk, and if we could include highlights from the D-League All Star Game he might have even upset Wall [yes, even if we included Wall’s Rising Stars Game highlights because in the D-League ASG guys don’t clear out for you to dunk.] Wall and the Wizards had descended into must watch Leauge Pass for the wrong reasons. Hopefully Wall can reach his full potential with the departure of McGee, and amnestied-bound Andray Blatche collecting DNP-CDs. Wall survives a late game scare and moves on.
2 - Jamal Crawford vs. 7 – Tristan Thompson: Jamal Crawford was a precursor to other combatants in the League Pass tourney, OJ Mayo and Lou Williams, and still holds the thrown for swingmen flamethrowers who come off the pine. Tristan Thompson is going to be a fine pro (or even All Star), and has been a nice addition to the unexpected League Pass darling, Cavaliers. Even Portland’s mid-season rebuild can’t thwart Crawford’s unconscionable shooting. Jamal Crawford defeats Thompson by getting buckets – or whatever the term is that describes an immeasurable amount of buckets.
3 – Kyle Lowry vs. 6 – Jrue Holiday: Thanks in part to Kyle Lowry, the Houston Rockets have enjoyed a modicum of success this year. The Sixers representative oscillated between Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, and although Turner’s come on fierce as of late the pick went to the more consistent Holiday . Lowry wins this matchup based on his stellar early season work that even garnered All Star Game talk. Lowry’s all around complete game nudges him past Holiday.
4 – Paul Millsap vs. 5 – Luis Scola: Both players are forwards that get it done down low without much flair or fanfare. Luis Scola has some Olajuwan inspired post moves and scores by carving up defenders down low. Millsap doesn’t own as many up-and-under fakes as Scola, but he gets it done at a higher output in both points and PER. Scola takes the flop, and Millsap moves onto the next round after a no-call.