SlamBall returns Sunday at 3:00 p.m. PT/6:00 p.m. ET on ESPN+. The Mob have rolled to a 6-0 start but the Buzzsaw are lurking at 6-2. Will the Mob create more distance between themselves in the rest of the league on Sunday?
AROUND THE LEAGUE
BUZZING AROUND: The Buzzsaw have enjoyed a fruitful weekend, winning three of their four games to improve to 6-2 on the season. Those six wins match the total of the Mob, who have yet to lose a game this campaign. The Mob will put their perfect record on the line today against the injury-riddled Wrath in the first meeting between the two squads. Should the Mob win both contests today, they would finish Week 2 with a two-game lead on the Buzzsaw. Jamaal Barnes Jr., the Buzzsaw’s leading scorer, hopes his club is one that puts the first blemish on the Mob’s record. “(The Main Event win over the Slashers) sets up for the rest of the year,” Barnes said Saturday night. “We’re 6-2 now and in second place. We are really looking forward to the next time we play the Mob so we can give them their first loss. But we’re just taking them as they come. That’s our model.”
HEARTBREAK KIDS: The Lava melted down again on Saturday night, blowing a 15-point halftime lead against the Buzzsaw. This season, the winless Lava have lost by 4, 4, 2 and 3 points. The team’s minus-13 point differential is the fourth-best in the league and better than the 4-3 Slashers (minus-22).
BY THE NUMBERS: As we conclude the second week of the SlamBall season on Sunday, let’s look at what we’ve witnessed so far …
1,998 – Points Scored
1,129 – Rim Attacks
628 – Field Goals Made
462 – Slam Dunks
365 – Stops
205 – Hits
136 – 4-Pointers Attempted (16 made)
127 – Face Offs (Offense-73, Defense-54)
GAME 1: MOB (6-0) vs WRATH (3-2)
MOB MENTALITY: The Mob have separated themselves from the pack so far this season, winning their first six games, all by at least 13 points. The Mob lead SlamBall is scoring offense (58.3 PPG), scoring defense (34.7 PPG) and PPG differential (+22.7). They are also the only team in the league committing fewer than 10 turnovers per game (9.2) while also leading the league in assists per game (8.3). Cameron Horton leads the league with 20 assists and two of his teammates have 12 apiece (Brandon Simpson and Justin Holloway).
FOUR SCORE: The Mob are hard to defend because they offer so many different scoring options. Four different players have been the leading scorer in a game this season: Darius Clark (three times), Simpson (once), Cam Hollins (once) and Horton (once). Brendan Kirsch’s crew has had a separate leading scorer in each of their last four contests. Clark (18.4, third in league), Simpson (9.2), Hollins (9.2) and Horton (8.8) are all averaging at least 8 PPG. And then there’s the team’s stopper, who is also a scoring threat …
BLOCKSMITH: Gage Smith could be on his way to earning back-to-back Defensive Player of the Week honors. He leads the league in stops per game (9.5), LBRs per game (9.0) and steals (13). He has registered at least 10 stops AND eight LBRs in four of his last five outings. He has also scored 32 points and thrown down 10 dunks, which rank second among stoppers behind only the Slashers’ Amir Smith (55 points, 17 dunks).
DAC ATTACK: Darius “DAC” Clark ranks third in SlamBall in both PPG (18.4) and dunks (30). Clark is a perfect 4-for-4 on offensive Face Offs; only the Gryphons’ Justin Holmes (7-for-7) is better. Clark injured his sternum in Thursday’s game against the Ozone and is listed as questionable for today’s action.
NICK OF TIME: The Wrath will have to make do again today without three starters. Christian Gray (knee) will miss his third consecutive session, while Steven Julian (ankle) and Ty McGee (concussion protocol) will be sidelined for their second straight. McGee leads the league with a 22.8 points-per-game average while Julian is responsible for 6.0 PPG. Former Purdue track standout Nick Parks has stepped up lately, scoring 31 points over the past two games after having just five in the Wrath’s first five tilts.
GAME 2: OZONE (1-3) vs RUMBLE (0-3)
SO, YOU’RE SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE: The 1-3 Ozone and 0-3 Rumble both have a great opportunity to turn their seasons around Sunday. These two squads have the worst scoring differentials in the league – Rumble (-18.3 PPG) and Ozone (-15.5 PPG). The Rumble appear to be headed in the right direction, though, losing by 35 in the first game, by 10 in the next and by eight on Thursday night. The Ozone are an enigma. They beat the Lava by four points on July 22, but have lost their other three contests by 26, 27 and 13 points.
ON THE DEFENSIVE: Defense breakdowns have been commonplace for both teams. The Rumble have permitted a league-most 67.3 PPG while the Ozone have allowed 57.3 PPG, the second-most. Both teams are generating the fewest stops per game in the league – Ozone rank last (6.8) and Rumble are sixth (7.3). The Ozone have also struggled on the other end of the floor, mustering only 41.8 PPG, the second-lowest rate in SlamBall (Gryphons, 39.0). The Rumble rank third in the league with a 49.0 PPG average.
RARE AIR: Handler Keith McGee has led the Ozone in scoring in three of their four games, and tops the team with an average of 12.3 PPG. He could get some scoring assistance from first-round pick Bryan Bell-Anderson, who is rounding into shape after missing most of training camp with an injury. Anderson, who has tallied just 11 points, makes his first start of the season today.
TIPPING POINT: One bright spot for the Rumble this season has been the play of gunner Kaylon Tippins-Hill, who ranks second in the league with 20.3 PPG, second only to Ty McGee’s (22.8). In a loss to the Slashers on Friday, Tippins-Hill exploded for 28 points, tying Tony Crosby II for the second-most in a game this season (Ty McGee, 41). Tippins-Hill has 16 dunks this season; the rest of the Rumble has 14 combined.
OFF SHOOT: The Rumble have been more reliant on perimeter jumpers than any team in the league. They have averaged 11.3 four-point attempts per game, more than double the next-closet team (Lava, 5.3). Coach Ken Carter’s squad has also chucked the most three-pointers per game (6.6). It should be noted that they have attempted fewer 4s and 3s in each successive game, going from 16 to 10 to eight four-pointers and eight to seven to five on three-point tries. The Rumble have made just 8.8% (3-34) of their shots from beyond the arc, the second-lowest percentage in the league, ahead of only the Buzzsaw (4.3%, 1-23). The Rumble are hitting 20.0% (4-20) of their 3s to rank fourth in the league.
GAME 3: MAIN EVENT (Winner of Game 1 vs Winner of Game 2)