Season In Review: Ghost Ballers
By John Krolik December 16, 2022
The Ghost Ballers had a strong start and looked like they’d be in the mix for the Championship in 2022, but were never quite able to get things back on track after some mid-season stumbles. Team Captain Ricky Davis isn’t as much of an everyday contributor as he used to be, but his leadership is invaluable to the Ghost Ballers’ young core of Co_Captains Mike Taylor and Chris Johnson.
Taylor, the first ever player from the G-League to be selected in the NBA Draft, provides endless energy from the guard position. He has a solid jumpshot, but is generally looking to get downhill and attack the basket at full speed. He almost always ends up attacking to the right, but he sets his drives up so well and goes with so much speed and force that defenders have a hard time keeping him out of the paint even if they know he’s going to end up going right. He doesn’t let his energy wane on the defensive end, and he’s constantly talking with both teammates and opponents.
In the frontcourt, the 6’11 Chris Johnson is one of the most talented all-around players in the league. He has the athleticism to play well above the rim. He has true center size. He moves like a wing. He has touch inside, he can post up, he can roll, and he has excellent handles and a sweet jumper with plenty of range on it. He can essentially do whatever he wants whenever he wants, although it may be better for the Ghost Ballers when he mixes it up inside instead of drifting to the perimeter.
Johnson started the season in a two-big lineup with Darnell “D-Block” Jackson. Jackson has a nice jumper when he can set his feet, but he’s a big body, and doesn’t have the kind of hybrid skills Johnson does. As the end of the season drew nearer, Coach George Gervin went to more lineups with Johnson as the lone big man, and he seemed to have more success without another teammate occupying the paint.
The Ghost Ballers started the season on a high note. In Week 1, they beat the mighty 3 Headed Monsters in a 53-50 thriller. Mike Taylor led the way with 18 points, and Johnson added 13 of his own. It was a finesse-first performance from the Ghost Ballers, who only attempted one free throw en route to victory.
The good times kept rolling in Week 2 as the Ghost Ballers cruised to a 50-43 win against the Ball Hogs. Taylor and Johnson combined for 36 of the team’s 50 points in that one.
In Week 3, the team suffered a setback when they lost a tough 50-47 game to 2022 League Champions Trilogy. Taylor had 19 points, but finished just 1-6 from three-point range. Johnson made two threes and one shot from four-point range, but didn’t have a two-point field goal all game long. The team’s bad habits caught up with them; they shot just three free throws on the night, grabbed just two offensive boards, and assisted on just three of their field goals, and that wasn’t enough to get it done against the Champs, who got 21 apiece from Earl Clark and Isaiah Briscoe.
It was another tough loss in Week 4, as Frank Nitty and the Killer 3s were able to squeak out a 51-49 win behind 23 points from Donte Greene. There were plenty of opportunities for the Ghost Ballers to steal this one, but they weren’t able to overcome their 3-19 performance from beyond the arc. With Ricky Davis starting for Darnell Jackson, Johnson was much more aggressive around the rim, and he had 10 buckets from two-point range. Unfortunately, his long-range touch abandoned him, and he missed all seven of his three-point attempts. (The big man did knock down a four-pointer for the second straight week.
The team suffered a 50-36 loss to an inspired 3’s Company squad in Week 5. In Week 6, the team kept their season alive with a 50-42 win over Triplets, with Taylor putting up 20 points and Johnson going for 14 points and 10 rebounds. The team shot the lights out in this one, going 9-119 from three-point range.
Unfortunately, the team’s season came to an end in Week 7, when they lost their second game of the year against Trilogy by a final score of 50-35. It was another abysmal shooting night, as the team finished just 3-20 from three-point range and 3-9 from the free-throw line. It was a low note to end the season on for the Ghost Ballers, who ended things with a 3-4 record.
The team’s priorities for next year should be obvious. The team has plenty of athleticism and can shoot the ball well, but they need more to fall back on when the jumpers aren’t falling. The team needs to get additional ball movement, find ways to get to the line more often, and grab more extra possessions. Otherwise, they’re simply trying to out-talent their opponents every game, and that’s not a great formula. If they can address those issues, Davis’ leadership, Taylor’s energy, and Johnson’s mix of size and skill can take them as far as they need to go.