The revival of SlamBall in the summer of 2023 was a rollicking, record-setting, rim-rocking good time. The sixth SlamBall season had it all, from an undefeated team to a pair of players breaking a legend’s scoring record to the first triple-double ever to odds posted by the country’s premier sportsbook. It all started on June 5, when 24 players opened training camp by giving the springbeds a first bounce, and concluded on August 17, when the undefeated Mob hoisted the Gordon/Tollin Trophy as confetti rained down on the newly-crowned champions.
MOB MENTALITY: The Mob were hotter than Las Vegas pavement this summer, reeling off 18 wins in 18 tries, becoming the first team in SlamBall history to go through a season unscathed. The Mob won the SlamBall championship on August 17 in front of a sold-out crowd at Las Vegas’ Cox Pavilion in their usual dominating fashion. They downed the Lava, 49-36, in the semifinals and then dismantled the Slashers, 72-42, in the title tilt. Darius Clark led the Mob’s offensive onslaught, earning SlamBall Playoffs Most Valuable Player honors with 45 total points in the two wins. The Mob’s championship resulted in a three-peat, following championships in China in 2012 (Series 4) and 2016 (Series 5). The Mob are the only SlamBall team to win multiple titles.
SLAMBALL CHAMPIONS, All-Time
2023 – Series 6 Mob
2016 – Series 5 Mob
2012 – Series 4 Mob
2008 – Series 3 Slashers
2003 – Series 2 Riders
2002 – Series 1 Rumble
The Mob won all 16 of their regular season outings and both playoff contests by at least 13 points, including 10 by 30-plus. During the regular season, the Mob led the league in PPG (61.6), PPG allowed (33.3), PPG differential (plus-28.3), field goal percentage (58.5), dunks per game (16.5), offensive Face Off percentage (81.8), assists per game (9.5) and stops per game (10.4). The Mob were the only team to score 70 or more points multiple times, doing so on five occasions, including a league-high 88-point explosion in the regular season finale against the Gryphons.
With all that as the backdrop, it was no surprise that the Mob dominated the postseason awards. Gage Smith was named SlamBall Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, and first team All-SlamBall stopper. Cam Hollins was selected 5th Man of the Year, Darius Clark earned first team All-SlamBall accolades and Cameron Horton was the second team All-SlamBall handler. And, of course, Brendan Kirsch was tabbed Coach of the Year.
BLOCKSMITH: On August 5 against the Buzzsaw, Gage Smith was credited with the first triple-double in SlamBall history, generating 10 points, 11 stops and 16 loose ball recoveries. That performance prompted longtime Mob coach Brendan Kirsch to say, “I think when the season is done, Gage will be considered one of the greatest SlamBall players of all time.” That bit of prophecy was realized when Smith was named league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. The Mob’s captain led the league in loose ball recoveries per game (9.8) and total steals (28) while finishing second in stops per contest (9.1). He led the league in most games with double-digit stops (eight) and double-digit LBRs (eight). He was credited with the most stops in a game (14) and LBRs in a game (16, tied) during the season. He was also dangerous on the offensive end of the court, leading all stoppers with 116 points. He finished third in the league in rim-attack percentage (67.7, 40-59) and was 7-for-7 on offensive Face Offs.
POINT COUNTERPOINT: Coming in the season, the record for the most points in a single game was held by the legendary Stanley “Shakes” Fletcher, who scored 42 for the Steal in 2003. That benchmark would change twice during the 2023 season. First, the Wrath’s Ty McGee exploded for 43 points in a game against the Rumble on July 22, the season’s second day. Then, in the August 13 Main Event win over the Gryphons that completed the Mob’s perfect 16-0 regular season, Darius Clark soared for 44 points, setting a new standard. In that game, the Mob tallied 88 points, the most by a team in SlamBall history.
LEAGUE LEADERS: Let’s take a look at the individual league leaders for 2023:
Points per game: SlamBall Offensive Player of the Year Ty McGee won the scoring title in a landslide, averaging 26.9 points per game. No other player in the league reached 20 PPG this season. McGee also topped the league with 7.6 slams per game.
- Stops per game: The Lava’s Faysal “Fessy” Shafaat was a late arrival to training camp but still ended up generating 9.4 stops per contest to lead the league.
- Loose ball recoveries per game: Gage Smith produced 9.8 LBRs per game, easily outdistancing the next closest player – Buzzsaw’s Tyquan Scott (8.3). The league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year also made the most steals (28).
- Assists per game: Mob facilitator Cameron Horton dished out a league-most 4.0 assists per outing while no other player averaged more than 3.0.
- Dunks: The Mob’s Darius Clark threw down a league-most 77 dunks during the season en route to first team All-SlamBall honors.
- Hits: Despite being the smallest player in the league at 5-foot-6, the Slashers’ Tony Crosby II recorded twice as many hits (48) as any other player in the league. He also ranked fifth in scoring (17.7 PPG), third in dunks (67) and fourth in assists per game (2.9).
- Rim-attack percentage: Jihad Shockley of the Lava was the most efficient player around the rim, making a league-best 69.5% (48-69) of his rim attacks. Shockley also led the league in overall field goal percentage (67.1, 49-73).
- Four-pointers made: Teams struggled to make good use of the new four-point line this season, connecting on just 14.5% of their long-distance shots. The Rumble’s Richard Washington drained five 4s to lead the league. He also attempted the most shots from beyond the arc (37).
- Offensive Face-Off percentage: The Gryphons’ Justin Holmes converted his first 14 offensive Face-Off tries and finished the season with a 93.8% (15-16), the highest in the league among players with at least eight attempts,
VANTAGE POINT: SlamBall, with 20-minute games and running clocks (except for Face Offs and timeouts), produces points at a greater rate than more established team sports. During the 2023 regular season, SlamBall churned out 5.1 points per minute of game time. During the 2022-23 season, NBA games averaged 4.7 points per minute. In their most recent seasons, NFL games generated 0.7 points per minute and NHL contests came in at 0.1 goals per minute. Rules changes have sped up MLB games this season, but, entering August 22, their contests were seeing just 0.05 runs per minute.
POINTS PER MINUTE, SlamBall vs Major North American Sports Leagues
SlamBall, 2023 5.1
NBA, 2022-23 4.7
NFL, 2022 0.7
NHL, 2022-23 0.1
MLB, 2023 (entering 8/22) 0.05
BY THE BOOK: Highly-respected Circa Sports began posting odds for SlamBall games on August 3, the beginning of the third week of the regular season. In all, they made lines for 20 SlamBall games, including the playoffs. Favorites had the edge in those contests, going 15-5 straight up and 12-8 against the spread. Not surprisingly, the Mob were 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS.
BY THE NUMBERS: Over 53 games, including playoffs, SlamBall provided an overabundance of action. Here’s a sampling:
5,400 Points Scored
3,022 Rim Attacks
1,788 Field Goals Made
1,335 Slam Dunks
332 4-Pointers Attempted (48 made)
288 Face Offs (Offense-187, Defense-101)