As the NBA Playoffs tip off, I thought I'd look at the similarities between 12 of the 16 teams that are in the NBA's second season and compare them to 2010-11 Big 12 teams.
The ‘whys' are after the number, but to give you a taste (and with all due respect to the Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers, Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks), what I have is:
- K-State as the Bulls
- A&M as the Spurs
- Horns as the Heat
- KU as the Lakers
- Baylor as the Celtics
- Ok State as the Thunder
- Mizzou as the Nuggets
- OU as the Knicks
- Huskers as the Hornets
- Tech as the 76ers
- ISU as the Pacers
- CU as the Grizzlies
Kansas St. Wildcats as the 1-seed Chicago Bulls
This was an easy one. The Bulls are led by arguably the best player in the game in point guard Derrick Rose. However Rose goes, so do the Bulls.
K-State was led by arguably the best player in the conference in point guard Jacob Pullen. However Pullen went, so did the Cats.
Texas A&M Aggies as the 1-seed San Antonio Spurs
Let me ask you three questions.
Are the Spurs good?
Are the Aggies good?
Why are they both good?
Gotcha on the third one, right? It's like the two Texas teams are mirror images of each other. Both win games, and nobody can explain why. Neither team is flashy and passing judgment base don one game for either won't do the team justice. Yet when you look at the standings at the end of the season, both are at the top of the list. The Spurs as the 1-seed in the West, and the Aggies as the third seed in the Big 12 tournament.
Texas Longhorns as the 2-seed Miami Heat
Lots of similarities here. First off you have an influx of new guys on both teams, stars, playmakers. In Austin it's not uncommon for top flight recruits to don burnt orange, and this past offseason we saw top flight free agents take their talents to South Beach.
You also have teams that, because of the new faces, didn't quite mesh and didn't quite meet expectations (assuming the Heat don't win the title).
Kansas Jayhawks as the 2-seed Los Angeles Lakers
Another no-brainer. The Lakers are the greatest dynasty in the NBA. The Jayhawks are the greatest dynasty in the Big 12. You simply expect both teams to win and compete for titles each year. Every time either plays a road game, the places are packed. They each have fans from coast to coast and attract national attention wherever they go.
Baylor Bears as the 3-seed Boston Celtics
Admittedly it is a stretch to compare a team that didn't make a post-season to a perennial juggernaut and this season's 3rd seed in the East, but I see some Kevin Garnett in Perry Jones III. Both are long and athletic, and while KG's game extends further from the basket than PJ3's, both have similar body types. You also have a Ray Allen, LaceDarius Dunn comparison. While Allen is the NBA's all time leader in three pointers, Lace is the conference's all time leading scorer. As for Paul Pierce, well, out of respect I decided not to compare the former Big 12er to anyone from a different school. (Oh, and they both wear green).
Oklahoma St. Cowboys as the 4-seed Oklahoma City Thunder
OK, this can be done... and sticking to the earlier principle, it can be done without mentioning Kevin Durant (DOH!). Follow me though. I see a lot of Marshall Moses in Kendrick Perkins. Both are big body bruisers who thrive more under the basket grabbing other's misses than actually putting the ball in the basket themselves. Then you have the Keiton Page, Nate Robinson similarities. I bet not only do both get carded trying to buy lottery tickets, but I bet when they arrive for games, security guards at arenas laugh them off and tell them go home to their mommies. And they're both.... Wait for it... in Oklahoma!
Missouri Tigers as the 5-seed Denver Nuggets
Mizzou and the Nuggets actually have lots in common. Both love to run (Denver is 1st in the NBA in scoring, Mizzou was 9th nationally) yet neither have a true go-to guy at the end of the game. Both teams rely on team contributions and certainly have guys they'd defer to, but not your typical "Last Second" guy.
Oklahoma Sooners as the 6-seed New York Knicks
This might not be well received, but what you have are the two most dysfunctional teams in their respective leagues. New York's troubles are well documented, and culminated this season with overpaying for a guy - Carmelo Anthony - that they probably could have gotten off the free agency market and kept their team in tact.
OU, under former head coach Jeff Capel, went to hell in a hand basket over the past few season. Last year they were projected to win the conference, only to end up 4-12 in conference, with a slight improvement to 5-11 this year.
Nebraska Cornhuskers as the 7-seed New Orleans Hornets
The similarity between the Huskers and Hornets is mostly in their style of play... slow. Nebraska was 228th in the nation in scoring, while NOLA finished 27th out of 30 teams. Their chemistry and make up differ, but their snoozability rating is through the roof.
Texas Tech Red Raiders as the 7-seed Philadelphia 76ers
In Bill Simmons latest magnum opus in his analysis of the 76ers he writes:
"We're immersed in a memorable battle between Scott Skiles and Doug Collins for the career lead in, "Most Times A New Coach Has Gotten a Team To Overachieve, Been Anointed as Their Savior, Then Eventually Burned Them Out Because He's Too Intense."
If this were college, how cold this not describe Billy Gillespie? Now, I know that Billy Clyde didn't coach last season, and technically shouldn't be part of this conversation, but shouldn't/isn't Red Raider nation amped about their new coach? Won't he look considerably better than his predecessor? Let's look over this again next year, but I feel like tech will overachieve and the fanbase will anoint him their savior.
Iowa St. Cyclones as the 8-seed Indiana Pacers
OK, let's start that both are led by legends. In Indianapolis you have Larry Legend and in Ames you have Fred Hoiberg. Let's also state the obvious, that the Pacers are the worst NBA team to make the playoffs, at 37-45 on the season, while the Clones were the worst team in the Big 12, registering a 3-13 mark. Also, if you blindfolded me and spun me around and drove me to an undisclosed location, I wouldn't be able to tell you if I was in Iowa or Indiana.
Colorado Buffaloes as the 8-seed Memphis Grizzlies
Of all the teams, these two were the biggest surprises. While some thought CU was going to be good this year, nobody really thought they'd be a rimed out shot away from making the NIT finals. Similarly, nobody, I mean nobody gave the Grizzlies a shot in the dark to make the NBA playoffs. Yet both teams overcame expectations and invigorated their fan bases.
So there you have it. If you didn't have a rooting interest in the NBA playoffs before, now you do.