Player Spotlight: Adam Ballinger

For the past few years, Adam Ballinger has been the 36ers. Club captain, best player, generally the lock for club MVP....not enough can be said. Things can quickly change though.

Ballinger came into 2011-2012 recovering from a serious ankle injury and only played his first game on Oct 21 against Sydney. He scored 8pts and pulled in 7reb in just over 16min in a decent debut off the bench. The only criticism would have been around his 4-11 shooting but that was put down to rust. When that was followed by returns of 3-13, 1-6 and 0-5 though, a few alarm bells were ringing. Ballinger was struggling with coming off the bench and there were concerns after the impressive debut of Diamon Simpson and good early season form of DJ that he was going to struggle to rejoin the starting lineup. That would a big adjustment for the heart and soul of the club for the past few seasons. I had concerns about how these 3 would share the "4" and "5" spots and how they blended together ie

-DJ and Simpson. Probably the best combo on both ends of the floor
-DJ and Balls. Good offensive combo but not as strong on D as a unit, especially with Weigh at the "3"
-Simpson and Balls. Could have complimented each other well on offense but would have only worked together well defensively against certain lineups.

The other elephant in the room was that our likely two best players were best playing the same position. We never found out though as Ballinger was lost for the season when he suffered another ankle injury on December 8.

So how will the 36ers handle the Simpson/Ballinger issue in 2012-2013? This is where it gets complicated....

Ballinger should be good to go for Round 1 this time, as will Simpson. The question is will either of them be back for the 36ers. Simpson has just signed a contract with Houston and will get 7 games plus Summer League to prove his worth. The signing alone makes it highly unlikely Simpson will return as this ensures his stock has risen and probably adds $50,000-$100,000 to his value. Ballinger's stock has dropped and his age (33 in June) and injury issues make him a higher risk proposition. I'm also not thrilled about a starting lineup of Weigh/Balls/DJ, mainly for defensive reasons. If the 36ers go for a big import again this resigns Ballinger back to the bench and I'm not sure he wants to be a role player at this point but he may not have much say. I love Ballinger's game and effort but if he resigns with the 36ers, it will have to be as a 6th man. Assuming the 36ers keep Ballinger,  they'd probably need to go down this path............

PG- Import (Cedric Jackson/Jamar Wilson type with leadership and defense at the top of his skills list)
SG- Creek
SF- Weigh
PF- Import (Low post player, big body, shot blocker, strong defender)
C- Johnson

Bench- Ballinger
Bench- Ng
Bench- Crosswell
Bench- Herbert
Bench- Backup big, bruiser, 5-10min game guy

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