Moncton Magic one win away from tying league-best mark
By José Colorado
It is a discussion that is often misguided, convoluted and unanswerable in many ways – but also seemingly inevitable.
Regardless of sport, time or era, it has become as synonymous as the games, players and history itself.
It is the conversation of the G.O.A.T – the greatest of all-time.
In a field with competition as tightly woven into its fabric as that of sports, perhaps it is predictably only a matter of time before the great teams of today must enter the fray against the pantheons of years' past.
Friday night the Moncton Magic will have a chance at just that.
The club enters the week at 10-0 (win-loss) and with immortality within its crosshairs.
The opponent is the Cape Breton Highlanders – a middle of the road team the Magic have easily dispatched of on two occasions already this season by a 10.5 margin of victory.
If they are able do away with them once more, Moncton will tie the 2012-2013 London Lightning for the greatest start in NBLC history.
So leading into the date how does the Magic stand side-by-side to the fastest-starting team in league history?
BY THE NUMBERS
When it comes to overall domination the 2012 – 2013 Lightning clearly imposed its will on its opponents to a much greater degree than today's Magic.
In London's opening 10 games the club outscored its foes by 239 points (23.9 points per victory average) in comparison to Moncton who have only outdid its rivals by 115 points (11.5 points per victory average) thus far.
Granted one must also consider the Lightning had a slightly friendlier schedule to begin with, with only three road games in its opening 10 to the Magic's four.
However after that little caveat the differences really begin strike in the Lightning's favor.
In its historical run London averaged 115.8 points per game, held its opponents to 92.2 points per outing and forced opposing teams into a strikingly-high 23.6 turnovers per contest.
The Magic's numbers – who are the unequivocal best defensive unit in the league - for those same categories: 102.5 points scored per game, 91 points conceded per outing and 15.2 turnovers for opposing teams.
Even Moncton's highly lauded balanced line-up is outpaced by the Lightning's of five years' past as London had eight different players averaging double-digits (nearly 10, DeAndre Thomas - 8.6 points per game, Marvin Phillips – nine points per game) in its heyday.
Meanwhile – with the recent subtraction of Jahii Carson – Moncton currently has seven with Corey Allmond leading the way at 19.2 points per game.
Interestingly enough it appears as though London's lack of a perennial go-to-scorer may have also been a key ingredient to its success as not a single player averaged above 14 points per game in its run while the team averaged an impressive 25.7 assists per game.
Moncton is currently at 18.6 helpers per contest.
The Magic are off to a historical start – that goes without saying.
But would they be able to take down the best-starting team in league history?
If one's going by the numbers – probably not.
London is either tied or ahead of this year's Magic in nearly every major statistical category when comparing the two, even coming away nearly identical with Moncton when it comes to key indicators of defense – the Magic's unequivocal strongpoint.
An argument could be made in Moncton's favor however that as the league has grown over the years with expansion, players and overall recognition so has the competition.
Indeed when London won in 2013, the NBLC was only an eight-team league and in the second year of its infancy. In that manner London's sterling numbers could be inflated in some ways as a lack of familiarity towards players' and coaches' tendencies may have still been prevalent.
On the other hand, the counter argument could be made that with fewer teams and players only the best talent is allowed into the league, making the overall competition more difficult - much in the same light as those who adamantly appoint the great Bill Russell's Boston Celtics teams of the late 50s - 60s as the greatest club in team sports history, winning 11 NBA championships in 13 seasons.
But after all these numbers have been crunched, examined and picked apart ad nauseam the bottom line is this: only two of the top five best-starting teams in league history have gone on to win the title in the same year (pending the Magic's result).
The fact remains that despite the hot start the Magic still have plenty of work cut out for them and history isn't necessarily on its side in the end.
So this may be an interesting way to spice up the long season for head coach Joe Salerno and his boys but ultimately if they are unable to come away with the championship, one would have to think that they – along with their contemporaries - would only view the hot start as a footnote in the grand scheme of things.