The Basketball Tournament (TBT) ended last night in dramatic fashion with the Marquette Golden Eagles Alumni team winning one million dollars. To say the tournament was a success would be a massive understatement. 24 teams entered the bubble in Columbus, Ohio and during the ten days of tournament action, there was only one positive COVID test. They showed a bubble really can work and gave hope for professional leagues nationwide.
While the tournament itself was a success, there were several players that jumped off the screen, possibly playing their way into the conversation of making an NBA roster. Especially in these uncertain times, there will be a few calls to some TBT players in hopes they will join NBA camps for the restart. Of all the players in the tournament, five stood out the most. Full disclosure, these five all played several games for a bigger sample size.
The Five Best Players at The Basketball Tournament
5. Maurice Creek
Maurice Creek was somewhat of an unknown before the tournament began. He quickly made a name for himself while making several big plays, none bigger than the game-winner against a perennial powerhouse, Overseas Elite. Creek averaged 15.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game for Cinderella, Sideline Cancer.
While Marcus Keene made big plays and was a highlight, Creek was as steady as they get. Sideline Cancer did not move the ball a ton, but any time it found Creek’s hand good things happened.
Creek is a great shooter and that showed often. He shot 38 percent from three on nearly eight attempts per game. What is more impressive are his rebounding numbers. Creek logged the third-most rebounds on his team, but to get six per game with big man Eric Thompson on the court and dominating the glass speaks to Creek’s effort.
4. Mike Daum
Mike Daum is one of the most unheralded college players of all time. Daum was outstanding during his time at South Dakota State and has excelled on every basketball court. He is a big body but can score from anywhere on the court. Daum averaged 18.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. He led an upstart House of ‘Paign team to the quarterfinal and put himself on NBA radars.
Daum showcased his range more than anything during The Basketball Tournament. He was lethal in pick and pop situations. He shot 62 percent from three on nearly five attempts per game which means he would be one of the best stretch forwards in the game. While he is a great shooter, Daum is also great from the post. He can score it with ease but knows when to make the right plays.
Mike Daum is a legitimate NBA big. Think of players like Mike Muscala. Daum can be a role-playing big that comes in and makes shots when his number is called. The one issue with Daum is his defense. He lost a lot of weight from his college years and has a slim frame. It will be difficult for him to compete with NBA bigs around the rim.
3. Jamil Wilson
Jamil Wilson has been a stalwart of TBT and made big shot after big shot. While the game-winner went to Travis Diener, Wilson hit a massive three just a few seconds earlier. Wilson averaged 17.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in route to his first championship.
Wilson is a matchup nightmare. He can play the four or the five but is a lights-out shooter which helps him draw opposing bigs out of the lane. The most popular play from the Golden Eagles is a pick and pop or a slip with Wilson as the screener. Wilson shot 45 percent from three on seven threes per game.
Jamil Wilson spent some time in the NBA and played some good games with the Los Angeles Clippers. Wilson is a modern-day NBA big and deserves another shot in the league. He does need to improve his defense a bit, but that just comes with increased effort. Wilson can help any NBA team.
2. Darius Johnson-Odom
Darius Johnson-Odom was the best player on the winning team. Johnson-Odom averaged 16.8 points and 1.5 assists. He was continually counted on to attack the rim and get points when his team was struggling or needed points. He also was able to shoot 57 percent from the field earning himself tournament MVP honors.
This Marquette team was loaded and the ball moved constantly. Johnson-Odom’s low assist numbers may be concerning for a guard, but he was not counted on to make plays for others, and Marquette always makes the extra pass. The fact that he racked up nearly 17 points per game on a stacked team is very impressive.
Darius Johnson-Odom can be an NBA player. First and foremost, his strong frame means he can bully guards. His wide shoulders help him finish through contact in the lane and that is a crucial skill for smaller guards. As a veteran who has played in big moments, he could bring plenty of much-needed skills to an NBA team.
1. Joe Johnson
Joe Johnson was outstanding from start to finish. It was clear that he was the best player in the gym every time he stepped on the court. Johnson averaged 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game. These averages included a 35 point outburst in the quarterfinals which lead the tournament for most points in a single game. Johnson crushed his competition shooting 54 percent from three and 56 percent from the field.
Iso Joe lived up to his nickname taking defenders into the mid-post and abusing them. He is lethal in one on one situations and in a tournament like this, that skill is exacerbated.
Most notably, Johnson was positive on the defensive end. He did a great job competing and was always in a position to help. Johnson was never known as a good defender in the NBA, but his performance in The Basketball Tournament will help his case.
Johnson could easily fill a Carmelo Anthony role. While he does not need to be a starter, Johnson can put up points in a hurry. He can play out of the mid-post and make plays for himself and others. If anything was clear through the duration of this tournament, it was that Joe Johnson belongs on an NBA roster.
The Basketball Tournament Concludes
While these five players were outstanding and could earn a spot on an NBA team, the most important thing is everyone stayed healthy and the product put on the court was outstanding. Congratulations to The Basketball Tournament and everyone involved in one of the most exciting basketball events. Everyone should look forward to the next one!
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