Back again with the breakdown of the NBA King of the Hill 1-on-1 Tournament, this time in the round of 32. For those of you who may have missed the round of 64, click here to see what you may have missed. Once again, special thanks to the makers of this tournament, @ActionNetworkHQ. Now a look at where each region stands.
Once again a quick reminder of the rules of this 1-on-1 tournament:
- The bracket will play similar to March Madness, meaning each round is single game elimination.
- Each game will be played to 11 by one’s and two’s.
- The better seed starts with the ball
- Make it take it.
And now, we get back to the action.
The Kawhi Region
#1: Kawhi Leonard vs. #9: Ja Morant
Kawhi not only has the size advantage, but also has the leg up on Morant in points per game and defensively. Morant certainly has the potential to become a player that can make it into the sweet 16 or even elite 8 of a 1-on-1 tournament similar to this. However, facing off against last year’s NBA Finals MVP will spell doom for the young guard out of Murray State.
Winner: Kawhi Leonard
#5: Luka Doncic vs. #4: Damian Lillard
Neither Doncic or Dame are known as lockdown defenders, but if a defensive advantage had to be given, it would be given to Luka. Luka has the size advantage on both sides of the ball which benefits him in 1-on-1 play. Lillard may be quicker and shoot better from behind the arc, but I have to lean with last year’s rookie of the year. He is slightly more efficient, has the size advantage, and should have no trouble getting good looks against the smaller Lillard.
Winner: Luka Doncic
#11: Trae Young vs. #3: Jayson Tatum
Trae Young’s run will be short lived but fun to watch, as he faces off against the much bigger Tatum. Tatum has taken a huge step this year, averaging almost 24 points a game. Young does score more than Tatum, but the Duke alum will be the beneficiary of getting the ball first, and unlike his Celtic counterpart, Jaylen Brown, I feel he will be able to use his size and skill to punish Trae and get into the sweet 16.
Winner: Jayson Tatum
#10: Klay Thompson vs. #2: Kevin Durant
I spoke to Thompson’s ability to explode for many points at a time in his matchup against Donovan Mitchell in the round of 64. Thompson also one of the best 3-and-D style players in the NBA. But that does not matter when you face off against one of the game’s greatest scorers in history. Durant is listed at 6’10” and Thompson at 6’8″, so Durant has the size advantage. Pair that size advantage with extraordinary shooting ability and you get a machine that will not be stopped in the round of 32. Thompson might give Durant some trouble defensively, but it is Durant’s match-up to lose.
Winner: Kevin Durant
The LeBron Region
#1: LeBron James vs. #8: Zach LaVine
Zach LaVine is one of the many young and elite talents in today’s NBA. Averaging 25.5 points per game on 45% from the field, he is one of the most prolific scorers in the Eastern Conference. With all that being said, I do not expect him to be able to stop LeBron once. 11-0 in favor of James in this lopsided match-up.
Winner: LeBron James
#5: Russell Westbrook vs. #4: Bradley Beal
Currently, Beal is a top five scorer in the NBA. With that being said, his defense is below average. When facing off against Westbrook, I think Beal will struggle to keep up defensively with Westbrook. Russ will defend Beal better than Beal will defend Russ, and in a game of 1-on-1, I am going to lean the player who plays better defense.
Winner: Russell Westbrook
#11: Kristaps Porzingis vs. #3: Pascal Siakam
Porzingis does have almost six inches on Siakam, but what Siakam lacks in size, he makes up for in hustle. Every loose ball or rebound up for grabs, Siakam probably will beat Porzi to it. Siakam has more speed and quickness than Porzingis, making it tough for KP to defend the Raptors’ forward. On top of all that, Siakam is more efficient from the field and from three.
Winner: Pascal Siakam
#7: Jrue Holiday vs. #2: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving dreams of a 1-on-1 setting. Jrue Holiday might be one of the best defensive guards in the NBA today, but Irving’s shot creating ability propels him into the sweet 16. Offensively, Irving has a huge advantage over Holiday. I had mentioned I do lean defense in 1-on-1 matchups, but the talent gap between Beal and Westbrook compared to Holiday and Irving is much closer. So in this case, Uncle Drew should have no problem in the round of 32.
Winner: Kyrie Irving
The Giannis Region
#1: Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. #9: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
I talked about SGA and my affinity for him a lot when I examined the 8 vs. 9 matchup in the round of 64. But as much as I like Alexander’s game, he will not be able to slow down the 6’11”, 240 lb. ‘Greek Freak’. Last year’s MVP has almost every advantage outside of three-point shooting. So the round of 32 should be a breeze of Giannis.
Winner: Giannis Antetokounmpo
#5: Zion Williamson vs. #13: Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony’s iso-style ball has never seen a player with the make-up of Zion Williamson. Zion is much stronger than Anthony at this time. He is also quicker than Melo at this time. As fun as it would be to see Melo make a long run deep in the tournament, there is no possibility where he manages to beat Zion in a 1-on-1 matchup.
Winner: Zion Williamson
#6: Brandon Ingram vs. #3: Ben Simmons
Simmons does not shoot threes. He has made that pretty clear in his first few seasons in the NBA. He faces off against the improved Brandon Ingram in the second round. This matchup will be close. Simmons has about three inches and almost 40 pounds on Ingram. But Ingram’s got a lengthy wingspan and an above average jumper. Ingram is probably the better offensive player, but Simmons will give Ingram fits when defending him. Offensively, I just feel Simmons is too much to handle for the much smaller Ingram. Simmons wins this matchup in a close game.
Winner: Ben Simmons
#10: Khris Middleton vs. #2: Anthony Davis
Middleton is efficient from the field, hitting the 50/40/90 clip this year. But throw offensive efficiency out the window when facing off against one of the best talents in the NBA. AD is scoring almost 27 points a game on 51% shooting from the field. Davis has a huge size advantage against Middleton, and should have no problem having his way against the Bucks wing.
Winner: Anthony Davis
The Harden Region
#1: James Harden vs. #9: Spencer Dinwiddie
Harden already plays isolation ball for the Rockets. He welcomes any amount of defenders with the ball, so facing off against only one should give him no trouble. With a hefty bag of moves that he can dip into, Dinwiddie would be lucky to get the ball in this matchup.
Winner: James Harden
#5: Stephen Curry vs. #4: Jimmy Butler
Stephen Curry can warm up instantly, but Jimmy Butler’s defensive ability and size will make it hard for Curry to score. Offensively, Butler is not afraid of the big shots. He is not the most efficient scorer in the world, but Butler should not have a problem getting to the basket against the smaller Curry. Speaking of Curry’s ability to warm up quickly, he would have to get the ball to be able to. Defensively, Curry is below average and Butler will abuse that. Butler’s defensive ability and size advantage propels him to the sweet 16.
Winner: Jimmy Butler
#6: Devin Booker vs. #3: Paul George
This matchup is similar to the 4 vs. 5 matchup listed above. Booker, similar to Curry, has an ability to heat up quickly. But George’s defensive ability and size advantage, much like Butler over Curry, will propel him to the third round. I do not expect it to be as close as the Curry-Butler matchup could be, as PG is better offensively than Butler. I think George wins this matchup in a blowout, as he is better offensively and defensively than Booker.
Winner: Paul George
#10: Bam Adebayo vs. #2: Joel Embiid
Adebayo has only gotten better each year of his young career. But progression does not matter when you face off against Embiid. Embiid has the height advantage over Bam, and in their matchups this season, Embiid has been better. In the 76ers @ Heat game in early February, Embiid had 29 points and 12 rebounds, where as Adebayo had 18 and 11. Now 5-on-5 play is different than 1-on-1, but for post players, we as fans can see some 1-on-1 matchups in the game. Even though Bam has improved, Embiid has been better all year, and has proved to be a better scorer than Adebayo. Embiid has the advantage in this big man matchup.
Winner: Joel Embiid
The Sweet 16 is Set!
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