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March 1, 2011
The Shootaround
Race to Watch #2

by Bradford Doolittle

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HEADLINER

2. Home Advantage in the West.
Unlike the three-way sprint for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the top spot in the West seems like a foregone conclusion. The Spurs currently hold a six-game lead over the Mavericks with 23 games to play. Given that the Spurs have lost just 10 games overall, it's safe to say that San Antonio should cruise to the NBA's best overall record and is well-positioned to withstand the two- to three-week absence of Tony Parker.

With that spot all-but-wrapped up, the focus turns to a good race for the two-seed between the Lakers and Mavericks in what amounts to a competition for home advantage in an eventual second-round series. Heading into Tuesday's games, the Mavs have a two-game edge on the Lakers, three in the loss column. The Mavericks beat the Lakers on Jan. 19 in their only head-to-head meeting to date. There are two more: March 12 in Dallas and March 31 in L.A. and with just three overall match-ups, one team or another will win the season series outright.

The Mavericks have an easier finishing slate in terms of quality of opponents, but the Lakers have more home games. Dallas, which has won 16 of its last 17 games, will seek to avoid last season's pattern of peaking too soon. This time last year, the Mavericks were looking like a title contender, but cooled some heading into the postseason. We already know the Lakers are capable of turning it on in the playoffs, so whether or not they catch the Mavericks, the stakes in this race are lower than the race for the top seed in the East.

Sunday's home loss to the Lakers was hard to swallow for Oklahoma City, which now trails L.A. by four games for the third seed. OKC has lost three straight and will be without starting center Kendrick Perkins for three weeks or so because of an MCL strain. The Thunder and Lakers play once more, but Los Angeles has already clinched the season series. At this point, Oklahoma City is probably more concerned with staving off teams behind them, of which Denver and New Orleans are currently the closest. The Thunder's finishing slate is unremarkable, either positive or negative, and Perkins should return in time to be fully integrated into the rotation by the end of the regular season. Things could change, but it looks like the Thunder are hunkering down in the fourth slot, from which it would be a favorite to win a first-round series before taking on the powerful Spurs in the conference semifinals.

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LIVE AT BASKETBALL PROSPECTUS

The Clipboard: How Mike D'Antoni Can Make the Melo-Amar'e Combo Work (by Sebastian Pruiti): With a few tweaks, the Knicks may be able to capitalize on their new high-scoring combo that, at first glance, doesn't seem like a great fit. (premium)

Tuesday Truths: March-at-Last Edition (by John Gasaway): Notre Dame and Virginia Tech are scoring points, Gonzaga and UCLA are preventing points, and teams on the bubble are trying to earn some points. It's March, at last. (free)

Start/Sit Projections: Week of Feb. 28 (by Kevin Pelton): March comes in like a lamb for Ersan Ilyasova and Ty Lawson, but Mike Miller and Nicolas Batum will be hoping to finish the month better than they will likely start it. (premium)

Transaction Analysis: Deadline-Day Blowout (by Kevin Pelton): Breaking down all eight of the deals completed before Thursday's NBA deadline, including the Boston Celtics unexpectedly breaking up their starting lineup and the Oklahoma City Thunder making a leap toward contention. (free)

Timeline: Their Last Trade (by Dan Feldman): Most of the NBA was busy trading this week. But what about the other teams?

Live Chat: 2011 NBA Trade Deadline (by Basketball Prospectus): Join Basketball Prospectus' NBA analysts to discuss all the deals and rumors leading up to the 3 p.m. Eastern trade deadline. (free)

Transaction Analysis: Deron Williams Stunner (by Kevin Pelton): It was a busy deadline eve, headlined by Deron Williams unexpectedly going from Utah to New Jersey. Transaction Analysis breaks down who made out well and who made questionable moves. (premium)

Making a Run: Chances for Denver and Utah (by Kevin Pelton): The Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz were the sellers in this week's biggest trades. Can the remaining players still reach the Western Conference Playoffs? (premium)

Poll Position: Florida's Back (by John Gasaway): Since winning their second consecutive national championship in 2007, the Gators have gone 0-1 in NCAA tournament play. But in his feature for ESPN Insider John says this is Billy Donovan's best team since the days of Horford, Noah, and Brewer. (premium)

Around the Rim: Mountain West Showdown (by John Perrotto): When BYU and San Diego State meet Saturday on national TV, the eyes of the country will be on the battle between top-10 teams. (premium)

By the Numbers: Rating Trade Value (by Kevin Pelton): Bill Simmons' annual trade value column ranks the league's best assets. What happens when we try to do the same thing using only the numbers? (premium)

Transaction Analysis: Anthony to the Big Apple (by Kevin Pelton): After seemingly endless months of rumors, Carmelo Anthony has finally landed with the New York Knicks. Was the price too high? How did the Nuggets do in return? Transaction Analysis explores in detail. (free)

Big Apple Crystal Ball: SCHOENE on the Knicks (by Kevin Pelton): Having revamped their lineup by adding both Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups and trading two starters on Monday, the SCHOENE Projection System takes a stab at what the Knicks will look like the rest of this season. (premium)

Follow Unfiltered, the Basketball Prospectus blog.

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HOOPS CHATS

Basketball Prospectus authors take your questions from time to time in always-popular chat format. All chats begin at 1 p.m. EST on the day listed (unless noted), but you can go in and submit a question beforehand if you like, or read the transcript after the fact.

Feb. 24: John Gasaway (TRANSCRIPT)

Feb. 3: Kevin Pelton (TRANSCRIPT)

Jan. 28: Bradford Doolittle (TRANSCRIPT)

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HOT FIVES

POWER RATING (POW)      GR (02/28/11)       WP82 -- ALL         WP82 -- ROOKIES
San Antonio Spurs, 63.3 jefferson,al, 29.2  james,lebron, 27.1  griffin,blake, 13.9
Boston Celtics, 58.7    rose,derrick, 27.6  rose,derrick, 21.7  wall,john, 4.9
Miami Heat, 56.8        allen,ray, 27.3     paul,chris, 20.2    neal,gary, 4.5
Chicago Bulls, 56.8     griffin,blake, 26.7 gasol,pau, 20.0     fields,landry, 4.4
Dallas Mavericks, 55.9  horford,al, 26.1    howard,dwight, 19.6 turner,evan, 3.6
Note: GR leaders are from weekend only.

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LEADERBOARD

AVERAGE GR, FEBRUARY
PLAYER, GR                        PLAYER, GR
 1. james,lebron, 30.4            16. williams,deron, 22.8
 2. rose,derrick, 29.7            17. jefferson,al, 22.6
 3. anthony,carmelo, 29.4         18. miller,andre, 22.2
 4. aldridge,lamarcus, 28.2       19. nash,steve, 21.9
 5. durant,kevin, 28.1            20. west,david, 21.8
 6. martin,kevin, 26.7            21. felton,raymond, 21.8
 7. wade,dwyane, 25.9             22. young,nick, 21.4
 8. jackson,stephen, 25.7         23. horford,al, 21.3
 9. howard,dwight, 25.4           24. billups,chauncey, 21.2
10. randolph,zach, 25.2           25. paul,chris, 21.2
11. ellis,monta, 25.0             26. deng,luol, 21.0
12. bryant,kobe, 24.2             27. gasol,pau, 21.0
13. westbrook,russell, 23.1       28. davis,baron, 20.8
14. bargnani,andrea, 23.0         29. stoudemire,amare, 20.6
15. griffin,blake, 22.9           30. hickson,j.j., 20.5

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MONDAY'S RESULTS

NOTE: Glossary is at bottom of page.

SUNS 104, NETS 103, OT (box): After the Suns' Channing Frye hit a go-head three-pointer in the final seconds of regulation, the Nets' Kris Humphries appeared to tip in a game-winner off a Deron Williams miss, but an officials' review revealed that the shot came a tick too late.

PHX (31-27).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR  NJN (17-43).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
nash,steve...........75%  21%  1.14  - 4 19.9  williams,deron.......72%  26%  1.19  + 3 21.9
gortat,marcin........56%  20%  1.22  +15 16.2  morrow,anthony.......87%  20%  1.15  +16 21.5
dudley,jared.........49%  15%  1.75  + 7 15.3  lopez,brook..........87%  27%  1.05  + 3 20.9
pietrus,mickael......41%  22%  1.38  + 4 12.7  humphries,kris.......77%  21%  1.00  - 3 16.0
brooks,aaron.........26%  28%  1.34  + 6 11.2  vujacic,sasha........49%  11%  1.48  - 6  7.0
lopez,robin..........43%  19%  1.30  -12 11.0  james,damion.........48%   8%  1.65  -10  7.0
frye,channing........55%  16%  0.79  +10  7.3  outlaw,travis........38%  19%  1.05    0  6.1
carter,vince.........56%  15%  0.70  - 7  6.1  uzoh,ben.............28%  11%  1.11  - 3  3.0
hill,grant...........55%  14%  0.54  - 5  4.7  petro,johan..........12%  13%  0.00  - 5  0.0
brooks,aaron.........(DNP)                     gaines,sundiata......(DNP)  
childress,josh.......(DNP)                     graham,stephen.......(DNP)  
dowdell,zabian.......(DNP)                     wright,brandan.......(DNP)  
PACE: 99.7          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%  PACE: 99.7          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Suns.............  104.3 .505  .149 .140 .057  Nets.............  103.3 .511  .196 .160 .071

---

BULLS 105, WIZARDS 77 (box): The Bulls shook off a tendency to play to the level of their competition in a game that was never close and featured a couple of Derrick Rose highlight reel plays just to give the fans something for their money.

CHI (41-17).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR  WAS (15-44).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
rose,derrick.........67%  34%  1.21  +26 27.6  blatche,andray.......59%  26%  1.05  -10 16.7
noah,joakim..........69%  21%  1.34  +22 20.0  young,nick...........76%  20%  0.98  -17 15.3
deng,luol............73%  25%  1.22  +24 18.5  wall,john............81%  20%  0.93  -20 14.1
korver,kyle..........50%  22%  1.16  +17 12.3  howard,josh..........39%  26%  1.00  -12  9.1
watson,c.j...........33%  27%  1.26  + 2 11.1  evans,maurice........41%  15%  1.07  -18  7.0
boozer,carlos........57%  26%  0.84  +20 10.6  seraphin,kevin.......38%  19%  0.75  -12  5.4
gibson,taj...........43%   1%  8.64  + 8  6.4  booker,trevor........41%  16%  0.81  - 9  5.3
bogans,keith.........35%   3%  3.61  +12  3.6  mcgee,javale.........56%   8%  1.32  -13  5.2
brewer,ronnie........40%   7%  1.22  + 1  3.3  crawford,jordan......33%  29%  0.43  -17  3.7
asik,omer............31%   7%  1.46  + 6  2.9  lewis,rashard........20%  18%  0.94  - 7  3.1
scalabrine,brian..... 2%  46%  1.65  + 2  1.5  jianlian,yi.......... 5%  57%  0.55  - 3  1.5
thomas,kurt..........(DNP)                     shakur,mustafa.......(DNP)  
PACE: 89.2          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%  PACE: 89.2          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Bulls............  117.7 .531  .366 .157 .109  Wizards..........   86.3 .379  .241 .179 .069

---

NUGGETS 100, HAWKS 90 (box): The Nuggets improved to 3-1 since trading Carmelo Anthony, a span during which the Nuggets have put up a 94.1 Defensive Rating, its lowest in any three-game stretch this season.

ATL (36-24).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR  DEN (34-27).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
horford,al...........85%  19%  1.39  - 4 26.1  smith,j.r............53%  26%  1.40  +13 21.7
johnson,joe..........85%  30%  0.77  - 9 21.8  felton,raymond.......63%  22%  1.27  +18 18.4
williams,marvin......76%  20%  0.73  - 6 11.5  chandler,wilson......69%  22%  0.98  + 1 14.8
crawford,jamal.......63%  21%  0.80  -18 10.4  martin,kenyon........68%  22%  0.91  + 4 12.3
smith,josh...........28%  27%  1.35  + 6  9.5  hilario,nene.........73%  21%  0.70  + 6  9.8
teague,jeff..........72%  13%  0.80  + 6  8.3  afflalo,arron........74%  15%  0.77  + 3  9.1
pachulia,zaza........45%  11%  0.86  -10  4.3  lawson,ty............50%  11%  1.27  - 2  8.0
powell,josh..........11%  35%  0.31  - 5  1.2  andersen,chris.......35%   7%  2.29  + 7  6.2
wilkins,damien.......34%   4%  0.00  -10  0.0  harrington,al........16%  32%  0.63    0  3.0
armstrong,hilton.....(DNP)                     forbes,gary..........(DNP)  
collins,jason........(DNP)                     koufos,kosta.........(DNP)  
hinrich,kirk.........(DNP)                     mozgov,timofey.......(DNP)  
PACE: 96.7          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%  PACE: 96.7          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Hawks............   93.0 .412  .213 .145 .114  Nuggets..........  103.4 .506  .175 .165 .109

---

CELTICS 107, JAZZ 102 (box): Ray Allen scored 10 of his 25 points on five shots in the fourth quarter as the Celtics withstood the 28 points and 19 rebounds put up by Utah's Al Jefferson.

BOS (43-15).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR  UTA (32-29).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
allen,ray............76%  22%  1.38  +11 27.3  jefferson,al.........87%  28%  1.05  -10 29.2
rondo,rajon..........87%  21%  1.20  + 6 22.5  harris,devin.........70%  21%  1.22  - 7 19.3
garnett,kevin........73%  19%  1.31  +14 20.7  kirilenko,andrei.....67%  23%  1.07  - 3 18.3
pierce,paul..........79%  17%  1.47  + 2 18.8  millsap,paul.........80%  21%  0.74  - 6 13.7
krstic,nenad.........62%  14%  0.98  - 1  7.8  favors,derrick.......33%  16%  1.55  + 6 10.3
davis,glen...........57%  22%  0.43  - 1  4.9  hayward,gordon.......44%  11%  0.94  +15  5.2
green,jeff...........40%  14%  0.61  + 1  4.1  watson,earl..........30%  21%  0.64  + 2  4.1
bradley,avery........13%  49%  0.55  - 1  3.4  bell,raja............56%   7%  0.73  -20  2.9
wafer,von............ 5%  19%  0.72  - 4  0.7  miles,c.j............33%  19%  0.24  - 2  1.8
johnson,chris........(DNP)                     elson,francisco......(DNP)  
west,delonte.........(DNP)                     fesenko,kyrylo.......(DNP)  
o'neal,shaquille.....(DNP)                     price,ronnie.........(DNP)  
PACE: 97.1          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%  PACE: 97.1          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Celtics..........  110.2 .518  .158 .144 .113  Jazz.............  105.1 .455  .200 .165 .168

---

KINGS 105, CLIPPERS 99 (box): In front of a big crowd rallying to save the Kings in Sacramento, Marcus Thornton came off the bench and exploded for 29 mostly-spectacular points.

LAC (21-40).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR  SAC (15-43).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
griffin,blake........74%  31%  1.16  + 5 26.7  thornton,marcus......57%  35%  1.29    0 25.0
foye,randy...........81%  25%  1.05  + 8 22.1  udrih,beno...........85%  21%  1.19  + 4 22.2
williams,maurice.....75%  25%  0.96  - 3 17.1  casspi,omri..........72%  17%  1.20  + 4 19.8
kaman,chris..........52%  26%  0.73  - 9 11.3  thompson,jason.......48%  13%  1.42  - 4  8.9
bledsoe,eric.........34%  21%  1.13  - 7  8.1  dalembert,samuel.....65%  14%  0.93  +20  8.8
jordan,deandre.......44%  12%  1.02  - 3  6.2  taylor,jermaine......43%  17%  1.20  + 6  8.5
aminu,alfarouq.......46%   9%  1.22  -23  5.7  cousins,demarcus.....58%  28%  0.46  - 5  8.0
smith,craig..........30%  12%  0.73  - 5  2.9  greene,donte.........29%  14%  0.82    0  3.8
moon,jamario......... 8%   9%  3.71  + 7  2.5  jackson,darnell......30%   4%  1.98  + 1  2.8
gomes,ryan...........56%   3%  0.72    0  1.3  jeter,pooh...........15%  24%  0.71  + 4  2.4
cook,brian...........(DNP)                     garcia,francisco.....(DNP)  
diogu,ike............(DNP)                     head,luther..........(DNP)  
PACE: 95.2          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%  PACE: 95.2          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Clippers.........  104.0 .494  .191 .147 .125  Kings............  110.3 .506  .268 .168 .162

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NEWS & MOVES

Confiremed deadline deals and other minutiae from press releases around the league

BUCKS: The Milwaukee Bucks have signed center Earl Barron (7-0, 245) to a 10-day contract, General Manager John Hammond announced today. Barron, 29, appeared in 12 games (six starts) earlier this season with the Phoenix Suns. He averaged 3.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in 15.3 minutes.

KNICKS: New York Knickerbockers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh announced today that swingman Corey Brewer has been waived. Brewer, 6-9, 188-pounds, was originally acquired from Minnesota on Feb. 22 as part of a 13-player, three-team trade. He has career averages of 9.1 points and 3.3 rebounds in 232 games (147 starts) in four NBA seasons with Minnesota. He did not appear in a game for New York.

KNICKS: New York Knickerbockers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh announced today that forward Derrick Brown has been claimed off waivers. Brown, 6-8, 227-pounds, holds career averages of 3.4 points on .500 shooting, 1.7 rebounds and 10.4 minutes in 98 games (one start) over two seasons with Charlotte.

MAGIC: The Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, Feb. 21, through Sunday, Feb. 27. It marks the fifth time this season, which is an NBA-high (LeBron James-4), and the 16th time of his career that Howard has earned the league's top weekly honor. Howard led the Magic to a 2-1 week, averaging a league-high 30.3 points on .673 shooting (33-of-49). His 14.0 rebounds and 3.3 blocks were tops in the Eastern Conference.

MAVERICKS: The NBA announced today that Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle was named Western Conference Coach of the Month for games played in February. This is the second time Carlisle was given the honor as the head coach of the Mavericks, also winning it in April 2010. Overall, he has won the distinction four times as a head coach. Carlisle led the Mavericks to an NBA-best 11-1 record in February losing only to the Denver Nuggets by a score of 121-120. It was arguably the team's toughest month as they played nine of their 12 games on the road.

PISTONS: The following statement was released this afternoon by President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars. "First of all, John Kuester has my full support as we try to make a push towards the postseason over these last 21 games. We've had a long and proud history of being a first class organization that handles its business the right way. We expect everyone that represents the Detroit Pistons to do so in a first class manner and that will continue as we move forward."

ROCKETS: Houston Rockets guard Kevin Martin was named today by the NBA as Western Conference Player of the Week for games played Tuesday, Feb. 22 through Sunday, Feb. 27. It marks the first time a Rockets player has been honored since Tracy McGrady earned West Player of the Week recognition for games played Mar. 3-9, 2008. Overall, it is the second time in Martin's career to earn Conference Player of the Week accolades (2/26/07-3/4/07). Martin (6-7, 185, Western Carolina) averaged 27.3 points (.517, 31-60 FG; .476, 10-21 3FG; .925, 37-40 FT), 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.00 steals in leading the Rockets to a 4-0 week.

THUNDER: The Oklahoma City Thunder have signed center Kendrick Perkins to a multi-year contract extension, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Per team policy, the terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Perkins (6-10, 280) owns career averages of 6.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.0 assist and 22.3 minutes in 454 NBA games. He has appeared in 12 games (7 starts) this season with the Celtics before being traded to the Thunder on February 24th, averaging 7.3 points and 8.1 rebounds in 26.1 minutes.

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ON TAP

Tonight in the NBA

WTC  VIS @ HOM,  GAMETIME     NBAPET LINE    OFFICIALS
+13  dal @ phi,  7:00 PM EST [ phi by  0 ]   B.Salvatore, M.Ayotte, J.Williams
+10  nyk @ orl,  7:00 PM EST [ orl by  9 ]   J.Phillips, C.Blair, D.Jones
+ 9  hou @ por, 10:00 PM EST [ por by  3 ]   B.Kennedy, B.Adams, B.Barnaky
+ 8  sas @ mem,  8:00 PM EST [ sas by  5 ]   D.Bavetta, R.Mott, J.Tiven
+ 2  gsw @ ind,  7:00 PM EST [ ind by  6 ]   G.Willard, V.Palmer, G.Zielinski
- 1  lal @ min,  8:00 PM EST [ lal by  9 ]   T.Brothers, T.Brown, N.Buchert
- 3  det @ mil,  8:00 PM EST [ mil by  7 ]   B.Spooner, M.Boland, E.Lewis
- 6  nwo @ tor,  7:00 PM EST [ nwo by  5 ]   M.Davis, J.Goble, S.Wall
Notes: WTC is a junk stat rating the "watchability" of a game, taking into
account the quality of the opponents and the likelihood of a close game.

Through Monday, 891 of 1,230 games (72.4 percent) have been played in the 2010-11 NBA regular season.

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GLOSSARY
+/- (Plus-Minus) Raw data is from official box scores from NBA.com.
GR (Game Rating) Reflects a player's Points Created total, or the portion of his team's offense for which he gets credit based on his box score line. This number is then adjusted for estimated defensive performance based on box score counterpart productivity. GR is pace-adjusted so you can compare players from game to game.
PCP (Points Created Per Possession Used) An estimate of each player's points created per possession used, a measure of offensive efficiency. The stat accounts for a player's entire box score line, not just the scoring categories.
PLY% (Play percentage) An estimate of the percentage of a team's possessions on which the player was on the court.
USG An estimate of how many of those plays a player used by shooting, going to the line or committing a turnover, with a portion the team's offensive rebound total subtracted.
TEAM STATS
PACE: Estimated possessions in the game.
ORTG: A team's points per 100 possessions.
eFG%: Team's shooting percentage with an extra half-point added for each made three-point field goal.
oRB%: Percentage of a team's misses that they retrieved off the offensive glass.
TO%: Percentage of a team's possessions resulting in a turnover.
FTA%: Percentage of a team's possessions resulting in a trip to the foul line.

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TWITTER DIRECTORY
Bradford Doolittle
Dan Feldman
Asher Fusco
John Gasaway
Kevin Pelton
John Perrotto
Ken Pomeroy
Sebastian Pruiti
Kyle Whelliston
group list

The 2010-11 Pro Basketball Prospectus is available in paperback form on Amazon.com. For sample chapters and more information, see our book page.

The 2010-11 College Basketball Prospectus is available in paperback form on Amazon.com. For sample chapters and more information, see our book page.

Bradford Doolittle is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Bradford by clicking here or click here to see Bradford's other articles.

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