NYC National Tournament Team Preview: LTC Tree will suffer from Atlanta splitting into two teams
As the New York National Tournament inches closer, it’s time to dive deep into each team and evaluate their roster. This week, I’m going to take a look at both team representing Atlanta, starting with LTC Tree.
Darrick Wilkins (Captain)
This roster is…uninspiring. There are some good players here, but going into a tournament at this competition level with five players is like going into a tag-team match against D-Generation X solo: you don’t stand a chance. We’ll see if there are some late additions that can be made, but if this is the finished product, the results could get ugly.
It brings up the question as to why Wilkins decided to split from LA KIXX and start his own team? Often times, we’ve seen two teams from the same region combine to form a super team for a better chance at a title. It’s not often you see a team that got knocked out in the quarterfinals split into two teams. I have no inside information on the subject, so I’m not sure why the decision was made. I seriously doubt it was because either captain felt like they had a better chance at winning if they were apart.
Player to Watch
Like I said, this team has good players. Look no further than Papazian, who put up 18 a game on 50% shooting from the field and 47% from deep in last year’s tournament. He’s a dynamic scorer that can get buckets anywhere on the floor and against any defender.
He had the benefit of playing next to Frankie Ghouchani, Erik Herring and Greg Little in the tournament last year, who all averaged 12 points or more. That took some attention away from Papazian, giving him open shots from the outside. This year, he’s back with Ghouchani, but the other two players remain with LA KIXX. I’d imagine his scoring average could be the same or go up with an increased offensive burden, but that will certainly decrease his insane percentages from last year’s tournament, as he’ll be taking many more contested shots.
It could be tough going for Papazian this time around, and in turn, tough for LTC Tree. He’s going to have to score upwards of 25 a game if they’re going to be competitive. It’s something he’s capable of, but where will the rest of the scoring come from?
Here’s the answer to that question. Ghouchani will have to be the secondary scorer to Papazian, and he’ll have to significantly increase his 12 points per game from last tournament. That scoring output is pretty good at the national level, but that was as a fourth-scorer. Even with more scoring options around him, he still shot 35% from the field and 32% from deep to get to those 12 points per game.
The only coverage Ghouchani will have in this tournament is Papazian. Those two will have to have an unbelievable two-man game to produce offense for this team. Wilkins, McCarthy and Zeinali are all role players who won’t create much offense, so the burden is going to fall on Papazian and Ghouchani to carry this team. They’re both talented, but it’s unrealistic to expect them to dominate this tournament and get this team deep into Sunday.
Lack of Depth
If you’ve gotten this far into the article, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. No team has ever had success going iron five in a tournament. There’s too much talent to contend with and too many games to play in a short time. This team is in serious trouble if they don’t add any players before next weekend.
Play-In Game exit
If you go look at the rosters for all 10 teams in this tournament, is there one that you’re confident LTC Tree could beat? Me neither. They will likely have their run ended pretty early on Sunday morning.