Come mid-July, once the reality sets in that Summer League has ended, and most marquee free agents have found their new home, a heightened level of anxiety washes over faithful NBA fans. Fear not, The Basketball Tournament is here. There are other options if you’re a hoops fan searching for a fix (most notably the WNBA, which is halfway through their 2018 season), but since I’ve enjoyed watching this ultra-competitive tournament the past four years, I thought all of you might dig it too.
If you have not heard of TBT, it’s a $2 million dollar, winner-take-all tournament, that’s filled with ex-NBA players, international pros, and former NCAA players. 72 teams battle it out for their chance at the cash prize, and for another shot at displaying their skills for NBA clubs on a national scale, with games being televised on ESPN and ESPN 2.
Some NBA teams are still looking to make smaller moves to flesh out their roster and have 2-way contracts to work with. Last season, seven players who participated in TBT found their way onto NBA rosters, most notably Detroit fan-favorite Dwight Buycks, who suited up in 29 games for last year’s Pistons.
The competitive nature of this tournament cannot be understated, as these players are fighting to take home $200K+ (the $2M pot is split between players and coach) when they typically make less than $100K for their international or G-League clubs in an entire season. The chance at a major payout, and another shot at showing off one’s skills is all the motivation these guys need.
I’ve been a longtime fan of TBT, and will have the pleasure of covering this year’s Super 16 and quarterfinal games, mainly for my podcast. However, thanks to the kindness of our editors, I will write a couple articles for DBB as well.
There are a few participants in this year’s tournament with ties to the Detroit Pistons organization. They include:
- Willie Reed - 2018
- Justin Harper - 2016
- Quincy Miller - 2015
- Malcolm Lee - 2015 (Grand Rapids Drive)
- Terrico White - 2010
And there is still a chance that Dwight Buycks makes his return to TBT, since he was waived by the Pistons a few weeks ago, even though reports have been quiet on that front. That’s another exciting element to this contest - you never know who’s going to be walking through that door.
Other Marquee participants
One of the most memorable players suiting up for the Scarlet & Gray, the official Ohio State University alumni team, is Greg Oden, the former No. 1 overall pick, who will be making his return to basketball after publicly announcing his retirement back in 2016. They’ll also have former Celtics and Raptors big man, Jared Sullinger, who found his way outside of the NBA after having foot surgery two years ago.
Current Indiana Pacers point guard, Darren Collison, will be make his return to coaching, as he leads last year’s finalist, Team Challenge ALS, for the second straight season.
Matt Barnes, 2017 NBA Champion with the Warriors and former member of 10 NBA clubs, has teamed up with the UCLA Alumni team, Sons of Westwood, in their inaugural season. Barnes sees himself as a role-model for teammates who are still grinding to make their way to the NBA or overseas.
Last but not least, Jimmer Fredette, the former BYU college superstar, who was drafted No. 10 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft (ahead of Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson and Jon Leuer), is hoping to lead Team Fredette to the prize pool.
Some other NBA notables include NBA champion Eddy Curry, Josh Howard, Ronnie Brewer, Patrick O’Bryant, and Tim Thomas.
The Elam Ending
TBT has decided to veer away from the traditional ending to basketball games, so that teams finished these games by playing them, not trading trips to the free-throw line. So they’ve employed the Elam Ending, a theory that was created by Nick Elam - a Ball State professor and Mensa member.
The clip below explains exactly how it works.
Some think the NBA should consider utilizing this ending.
The Remaining Schedule
Games continue Friday night and through the weekend, but you can follow the entire schedule here. The Super 16 and Quarterfinals begin July 26 through Sunday, July 29. The Basketball Tournament wraps on August 3.
If you’re a hoops junkie, like me, this tournament should help fill the void until the Pistons’ training camp and pre-season kick off.