Trouble with the rankings
It had been a press release no one really cared about during the off-season. On the 7th of June the DBB (German Basketball Federation) announced that for the 2009/2010 campaign all german leagues will have to follow the FIBA scoring system. Just like before a winning team is now rewarded with 2 points. But with the new system also the losing team earns 1 point for attending the game. Last season and all those years before the loser got no point, but had to deal with 0:2 points.
If you follow the BBL you might remember the odd story about Gießen not making it to the game in Ludwigsburg. The 46ers’ teambus was stuck in traffic and the team could not make it in time. Ludwigsburg got the win and Gießen was punished by the league with the loss of all direct comparisons. If a situation like this would come up now, the team not attending the game would have to deal with 0 points.
Theoretically yes, this sounds quite feasible. In the Belgian league and of course in Euroleague this system had been used before. And if all games of a game day are played on one day or weekend this new system may be unfamiliar, but generally it makes sense.
In ProA or ProB the new system did not harm anybody as all games were played on one weekend. But BBL had to postpone several games for specific reasons (e.g. Alba Berlin had to play Euroleague qualifying games against Le Mans and Maroussi Athens) and as a result there are teams that have played 5 games and others just 2 or 3.
With the new system this results in a lot of confusion in the rankings.
Just take a look at a team like Gießen, which has lost all 5 games so far. With the new system they get 5 points for 5 losses. Alba Berlin has only played 2 games so far, but could win both. According to the FIBA scoring system Berlin gets 4 points for 2 wins.
But strange enough a winning less team like Gießen with 5 points is a head of undefeated Berlin with 4 points. The 46ers are even ranked on 8th place, a to play-off spot – without winning a single game so far. So this new system of creating the rankings does not really help to get an impression about what team is doing a good job so far. On the official BBL site the teams are sorted by points and not by wins/losses. When all teams have played all of their games all those confusions will vanish. But during the season one should highly recommend taking a look at Eurobasket’s rankings. They sort the teams by wins/losses. It proves that -besides all point systems – this is the easiest way to show the strength of the teams.
There are some players that remind you of others. Last season Bonn’s Brandon Bowman reminded many fans and experts of former Skyliners player Chris Williams. Both forwards share the same cross-over one-on-one moves and even the way they walk around the court could make them brothers. When I saw Gießen’s new player David Teague for the first time all of a sudden the name of another Ex-BBL player came to my mind: Tommy Adams.
Just like Adams Teague looked almost unstoppable early this season. After 5 games with Gießen he averages 24 points per game and had a season-high 35 points against powerhouse Alba Berlin. 46ers head coach Vladimir Bogojevic, who generally sets value on discipline, seems to trust the 26-year old American. Teague took an average of 17 shots in his first 5 games and made 51% of his shots. As long as he makes those shots he can be a great player for a team like Gießen. But it will be interesting to see if it will bother Gießen’s team chemistry that one player gets so much freedom on the offensive end, while others like talented german Johannes Lischka had to deal with just 7 shots in his first two games. Now that Lischka is injured and out for several weeks Gießen even has to rely more on Teague’s offensive game. Let’s see if the teams get to know Teague’s game and find some solutions how to stop him. But for sure he should be a nice bet for this year’s topscorer of the league award.
Another player who really had an impressive start into the new season is Hagen’s Chase Griffin. I always wondered why no other BBL club showed interest in the 26-year old American, who had been one of the best players in ProA (2nd division). The 188cm / 6’2” guard showed that he is a remarkable player who can be as productive on BBL level as he was in the second division. Griffin made 27 points in his BBL debut and was the main reason for Hagen’s 83-77 road win in Gießen. In a very tight game against ratiopharm Ulm Griffin drew a foul with just 2 seconds to play. Hagen was down by two points and Griffin showed that he has nerves of steel as he made all three free throws at the charity stripe to seal Hagen’s second win this season.
It had been a great summer for Robin Benzing as he became the topscorer of the U20-european championship and later played an important role on Germany’s senior national team. Just remember that it was Benzing’s three pointer that secured Germany’s sensational win against Russia. Many fans and experts had their doubts if Benzing, who still has to gain more weight, could be as competitive in an Americanized and athletic BBL. So all eyes were on the 20-year old when the season started. In his first two BBL games he became Ulm’s leading scorer and with 12 points per game and 40% from the three point line he has proved that he is ready for major minutes in the first division.
When MBC’s head coach Björn Harmsen decided to build a brand new roster instead of relying on those players that made the promotion to BBL, many had their doubts if this could work out. With the exception of Guido Grünheid and Nikita Khartchenkov all other new siginings were more or less unknown by fans and experts. After winning the first three games and taking a huge roadwin in Bonn Harmsen’s team surprised everyone.
Especially the decision to sign European players on the 1 position seemed strange and brave in a league that is full of Americans on the Point Guard position. But after 4 games it really seemed to have worked out to sign a guy like Giorgi Gamqrelidze. His name may be hard for central Europeans to pronounce, but this young Georgian playmaker really is one of the hottest sensations early this season. In Georgia Gamqrelidze had won everything and simply dominated the league. It was really hard to judge how much someone who dominated the league in Georgia would be worth in Germany’s elite league. But 11.8 points and 5.3 assists per game speak for itself. The 23-year old Georgian knows who to organize an offense and even showed that he can be a nice scorer.
Someone who really benefited from Gamqrelidze’s playmaking abilities is the Russian-german Nikita Khartchenkov. The 22-year old was close to be labelled a perennial talent. But he simply never got a real chance in BBL. In Braunschweig he spent far too much time on the bench and did not get the attention of head coach Emir Mutapcic. One could see in ProB games with farm team Spot Up Medien Baskets Braunschweig that Khartchenkov is a nice offensive player. After a very successful season with Chemnitz in ProA Nikita joined league newcomer MBC to try his luck in BBL one more time. After 4 games he leads the whole league in three point percentage, making 10 of his 13 attempts. After a long journey with stops in Frankfurt, Langen, Moskau, Braunschweig and Chemnitz Khartchenkov seems to establish himself in Weißenfels with MBC.
Another german who made himself a name during the European championships in Poland this year is Heiko Schaffartzik. The 25-year old had a tremendous performance against Greece and ever since that everyone in Europe knows who he is. In Germany somehow Schaffartzik still has a mediocre reputation. He changed teams like other players do jerseys and somehow all teams he played for were not exactly successful. After a breakthrough season with Gießen Heiko decided to join another new team and signed with Braunschweig. It is still early in the season, but the german national player had a nice start and leads all domestic players in points per game (16.7) and assists per game (4.0). Hopefully this continues and Heiko has finally found a team where he can stay for more than just one season.
Eisbaeren Bremerhaven finished last season at the bottom of the standings. Only a wildcard saved them from deregulation. With Doug Spradley taking over as a headcoach Bremerhaven has formed a group of nice names that still needs to prove that they can be a serious play-off contender. One guy who really stood out so far has already spent several years in Germany playing for Paderborn and Gießen. Louis Campbell has spent the last few seasons in Japan, but came back to Germany to play for his former coach Spradley. When I first heard about the plan to let Campbell play on the point guard position I was a bit surprised. In my play-book Campbell was always more of a Shooting Guard. But in the first few games the 30-year old veteran is showing that he is a very smart and intelligent playmaker.
Campbell can score (shooting above 40% 3s and about 52% from the field) and pass the ball to his teammates. Right now he is leading the league in assists with 7.8 per game! In the late BBL history there were not many players to record triple-doubles. Former german national player Denis Wucherer had triple-doubles in back-to-back games back in 2003, Tübingen’s Igor Perovic recorded a TD in 2006 and one year later Zack Whiting managed to achieve that. One should not be surprised if the versatile Campbell could become the forth name in this list. Lou came pretty close to that producing 13p/9a/8r against Trier and 17p/9a/8r against Gießen. Time to make some history in Bremerhaven!