Before you tell me this is stupid, give me a break. This is the offseason. You know there’s not a lot going on in the world of Atlantic 10 Basketball, so we’ve gotta get creative every now and then. I’m by no means a big NBA fan, but watching 7-8 games this year makes me think I can compare its teams to those of the Atlantic 10. I know enough about the A-10, but if I make a few slips on the professional level, pardon me.
Let’s see how this goes. If every Atlantic 10 team was an NBA Playoff team, which one would it be?
Davidson Wildcats – Oklahoma City Thunder
I was tempted to pick Golden State because of Steph Curry, but I couldn’t make that much of a stretch. Davidson, like Oklahoma City, was expected to be pretty good this year. The Wildcats had their Russell Westbrook in Jack Gibbs, and they were one of the better teams in their conference (though their record didn’t show it). Despite all of this, the Wildcats fell short in the regular season and weren’t able to secure a bid to the NIT. It was a disappointing year for Davidson and Oklahoma City, but both programs will be back next season.
Dayton Flyers – Boston Celtics
I see a lot of Isaiah Thomas in Scoochie Smith. A quick, high-scoring point guard that led his team to the #1 seed in the East compares well to Smith, a player with a similar skill set who led the Flyers to the Atlantic 10 regular season championship. Will Boston fall victim to the post-season like Dayton did? The Flyers lost their last 3 games of the season, and the Celtics got an opening round scare by the Bulls. We’ll see how they compare.
Duquesne Dukes – Portland Trailblazers
What I don’t love about the NBA is that a team with a 41-41 record can make the playoffs. Portland was by no means a good NBA team this season, and as probably the worst team in the NBA playoffs, I’m forced to compare it to the Duquesne Dukes. Like Duquesne, Portland got crushed when facing a big dog like Golden State.
Fordham Rams – Memphis Grizzlies
The Fordham Rams and Memphis Grizzlies were both quietly good defensive teams this year. Fordham was able to pull out a few big wins and make a name for itself. The Rams had a great chance at beating George Mason in the A-10 Tournament; Memphis got 2 games on San Antonio in the first round but ultimately fell short.
George Mason Patriots – Houston Rockets
Like George Mason, Houston made a big jump from last year in terms of its regular season record, going from 41-41 in 2015-16 to 55-27 in 2016-17. James Harden is the kind of superstar player that doesn’t get enough recognition for his work. Sound familiar George Mason fans? Marquise Moore was a beast.
George Washington Colonials – Utah Jazz
As that team that some people forget can be really good, Utah had a really solid season. The Jazz have never lost 60 or more games in an NBA regular season, and similarly, George Washington is always good enough to have 20 or so wins by the end of the season. Never sleep on either of these teams.
La Salle Explorers – Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks went from 12th in the East in 2015-16 to 6th in 2016-17. It isn’t the greatest jump in the world, but it’s certainly an improvement, and given this program hasn’t finished better than 6th since 2001, this team will certainly take it. La Salle made a similar jump, moving from 14th in the Atlantic 10 to 8th this season. Though the Explorers, like the Bucks, had a first round exit in the A-10 Tournament, they’ll take the improvement.
Massachusetts Minutemen – Chicago Bulls
Like the Bulls, Massachusetts’ record was probably not indicative of how good this team was. Sure, Chicago, like Massachusetts, had its struggles this season, but the Bulls got off to a 2-0 lead in Boston at the start of the NBA Playoffs. Meanwhile, Massachusetts got off to a great start in non-conference play and subsequently started to tank. Both teams had lots of talent but weren’t able to put it together in the long run.
Rhode Island Rams – Cleveland Cavaliers
On paper, Cleveland might not look like the team to beat, but when it takes the court and gets hot, it’s almost impossible to take down. LeBron James likes to heat up come playoff time, and like Rhode Island making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the 2000s, Cleveland finally won an NBA Title last season. I can’t make a player comparison to LeBron James, but he’s got the skill set of Hassan Martin and E.C. Matthews and then some.
Richmond Spiders – Washington Wizards
T.J. Cline is the John Wall of the Richmond Spiders, though they play completely different positions. This is a Washington Wizards team that a lot of people are expecting to do really well in the NBA Playoffs. The Wizards played really well in the regular season and are definitely underrated. Richmond had a similar season, shocking a lot of people. Washington went from 10th last year to 4th this year, which is an enormous improvement.
Saint Joseph’s Hawks – Indiana Pacers
Indiana had a tough season, and so did Saint Joseph’s. The Hawks struggled this year due to injury, taking a major step back from the year before. Indiana finished 1st in the East in 2014, and now they finished 7th and got swept by the Cavaliers. The Hawks will be back and better next year, but I’m not sure about the Pacers.
Saint Louis Billikens – Toronto Raptors
Maybe I’m more or less looking into the future with this one, but Toronto has one of the youngest rosters in the NBA. Saint Louis is going to be a young team these next couple years, relying on new and incoming talent to build a successful program. I see both of these programs succeeding in the future and riding on their new guys to get the job done. Both have veterans, but both also love to utilize their rookies.
St. Bonaventure Bonnies – Los Angeles Clippers
With a loyal fanbase and some dangerous guards, St. Bonaventure and Los Angeles have similar teams. Dare I make the comparison of Jaylen Adams to Chris Paul? Adams sure is playing like an NBA superstar. The Clippers always seem to be in the picture, and this year is no exception. Recently, the Bonnies have been building a successful program that looks like it’s going to be in the A-10 picture consistently, especially next year.
VCU Rams – Golden State Warriors
VCU, like Golden State, is difficult to stop. They have rowdy fans, they can win on the road, and they’ve got superstar players that lift them to new heights. The question becomes: can either team finish the job? The Golden State Warriors (as we all know) blew a 3-1 lead in last year’s NBA Finals. The Rams are 1-4 in A-10 Championship games and haven’t found a lot of success in the NCAA Tournament recently. Both are great teams, it’s just a matter of finishing the job.