By Mike Begley
Another fantastic regular season and it’s time to give praise where it’s due! My only gripe the last several season’s is we’ve had the end of season awards bequeathed upon us from above by some nameless faction who prefer to remain anonymous. Some suppose them to be blind or at the very least clueless as to the reality of the WBA. Or maybe they are all knowing, and we are the lost ones. Or maybe there is no reality. Maybe there is no free will. Maybe I’m just another algorithm. For what it’s worth I’ll spill forth these likely biased viewpoints because that’s what makes me human after all carajo! So here follows Begley’s version of the end of season awards.
GM of the Year: Corey Daubanton (Counts)
The Barcelona Counts will likely clinch the World Conference as this article is published. This is a remarkable achievement considering the Counts had yet to make the playoffs since the inception of the modern WBA era. Granted, in prior seasons the Counts had won a respectable 30-40 games and been close to the playoffs. They had also showcased similar high flying, athletic teams. However, this season the Counts decided to play some defense.
What changed? Well theories abound. Let’s put on Zano shoes for a minute and start with the economic basis. During their losing days, the Counts had been in the highlands of Andorra possessing a charming yet tiny market and a thrifty yet low economy. The shift to Barcelona resulted in a huge market and excellent economy with abundant wealth lavishly exhibited in 2,500 club seats and 75 luxury suites, resulting in the second highest budget in the league, second only to you guessed it.
Coincidental? Perhaps. Another theory is that Daubanton had learned from past mistakes and managed his team more wisely, drafting, signing and trading for players that fit the vision he had for this team. As players develop so do GM’s. I’m a proponent that it’s more this latter theory. There are no overtly overpaid players on the Counts merely because Barcelona wields more money. Rather each player seems to be making a fair amount with several core players developed by Daubanton over several seasons.
Thus, the Counts are a prime example of a blueprint to follow for struggling franchises. The Counts never tanked. They won 30+ games every season. Instead, the Counts drafted with vision, held onto, and developed a good young core of players who now intend to lead them to the finals as the number one seed.
Job well done, Mr. Daubanton.
Coach of the Year: Michael Rummel (Fighting Cocks)
As an advocate of solid fundamentals, I’d venture to say Coach Rummel is the best coach in the league. The Fighting Cocks are number one in the league in both rebounding and limiting fouls. Second in assists and third in field goal percentage. The team also has a penchant to dominate the paint. Though the team does not have a bona fide MVP type player they have several all-star caliber players who together are managing to breathe down the necks of the best team of all time all time. On top of that this team has no fear and they certainly are no Chanticleers!
Fine job Mr. Rummel.
Most Valuable Player: Jarius Miles (Rage)
Let me be the first to publicly state Jarius Miles is a more valuable player than Mario Bailey. In fact, Bailey is only as good as he is because of Miles. Bailey can only score as he does because he has the best passing forward in the game setting him up. Bailey can only focus on offense as he does because he has the best defender in the game opening easy and abundant scoring opportunities. Bailey simply does not make his teammates better and certainly can’t win a championship without Miles. Miles, on the other hand, could win a championship without Bailey.
Simply put, the best team of all time scores more when Miles is on the floor and opposing team’s score the least when Miles is on the floor. In fact, the only thing that Bailey does better than Miles is take more shots.
Job well done spearheading the best team of all time, Jarius Miles.
Rookie of the Year: Al Mueller (Xtreme)
This should go as a warning to all teams that intend to tank their way to some future playoffs. You may end up sacrificing an entire season for a lottery pick who simply can’t contribute. The most efficient shooter, and rookie contributor this last season was quite possibly the last pick in the entire draft, round 2 Pick #30.
Mueller shot 46% from the field, 89% from the free throw line, and 41% from three-point range, averaging 11 points in 22 minutes. For comparison, the first pick in the draft, Amaury de Schutter, shot 41% from the field, 83% from the free throw line, and 28% from downtown, averaging 13 points in 37 minutes. Go figure.
Job well done, Al.
Defender of the Year: Jarius Miles (Rage)
With his defense sparking easy scoring opportunities, the Rage outscores opponents by a league-best 27 points when Jarius Miles is on the floor. Oh yeah and Miles leads all small forwards in steals, blocks, and defensive rebounding.
Just giving credit where it is due. Good Job Miles.
6th Man of the Year: Harrison Legault (Counts)
Legault came off the bench for 71 games this season, averaging 17 points in 24 minutes. Oh yeah and he’s 6th overall in overall free throw attempts per game. That’s one big headache for opposing coaches. Exactly the spark 6th man should provide.
Keep rolling to the hoop Legault. Nicely done.
Most Improved Player: Clement Trentesols (Outlaws)
Talk about efficiency. Individually Trentesols is playing six minutes less than last season yet is scoring two more points and averaging one more block per game. Last season, as a team the Outlaws outscored opponents by three points while Trentesols was on the floor. This season, the Outlaws outscore opponents by fifteen points!
Bon travail Clement.
Now for a twist to the other side. Disclaimer: If you are easily offended or wish to not confront negative remarks made about WBA players or their management thereof please do not read on.
Fire GM of the Year: Guillermo Thomas
Usually in sports, when there is even the perception of mismanagement, fans would ensure a general manager ceases to be employed. Here in the WBA, fans are much more trusting. Yet let us not abuse that trust and instead do all we can to avert managing badly.
This was most prevalent this season in the destruction of the once esteemed Toronto Dinos. It would seem three conference championships, three straight trips to the finals, and epic game seven battles with the best teams this league has ever seen would only fuel a GM to go all out for that missing piece to maximize their chance for that elusive WBA championship.
However, the decision was made to give up. The entire league faces the best team in WBA history. Nothing else to do but blow it up. That’s understandable. Now the second decision is how to blow it up and this is perhaps what’s most perplexing in this example.
The Dinos trade away all valuable assets with the seeming aim to tank. The Dinos miss the playoffs with the 9th best record in the World Conference and are projected to have the 14th pick in the upcoming draft. The team also amasses a plethora of projected mid-first round 2020 draft selections. And that’s all.
Simple as that. The team starts over and the Dinos are on the way to prove everyone wrong.
Or they are not. Probably not.
Fire Coach of the Year: Brandon Veasey (Xtreme)
Ok the Xtreme also get some votes for trading away their 1st round selection which is now a lottery and potential top 3 selection if a lucky bounce goes the Rage way. But that deal was made assuming the Xtreme were to be healthy. And they were not. Now, several Xtreme players had a demonstrated injury history. So, more depth should have been present. Nonetheless, the Xtreme had talent this season, and to finish 11th in the Conference, out of the playoffs, without a first round selection is a downright coaching disaster.
Mr. Veasey does not seem to get the concept of urgency or defense across to his players and thus deserves to be fired.
Least Valuable Player: Lacy Toomer (Gargoyles)
Toomer may be the worst rebounding power forward this league has ever seen. Have you ever seen a power forward get out of the way when a rebound comes his way? Yeah that’s Toomer.
Now don’t get me wrong Toomer is a gifted athlete. At 6’9’’ few players can match his quickness. However, the WBA is not track and field. Usually a player is supposed to contribute to trying to win a game. In this case Toomer actively contributes to trying to lose a game causing his team to lose an extra four games than if there had been no one at all. Simply put the Gargoyles were probably better off playing 4 on 5 than allowing Toomer to play 32 minutes a game.
Bust of the Year: Kip Toney (Devils)
This #2 overall selection could have very well have been selected #2 overall in the 2nd round by the way he played this season. Aside from being a good free throw shooter Toney did nothing to contribute to his team. In fact, Toney hurt the Devils chances to win each time he saw the floor. The stats show the Devils would have won 4 more games this season had Toney not played at all.
This should serve as caution for franchises trading away sure assets for future potential which may not come to fruition for several seasons if at all. Toney may be the most overpaid player in the league earning 5 million a year to hurt his team’s chances to win.
Worst Defender of the Year: Wayne Taylor (Dinos)
The prolific Wayne Taylor will go down as one of the league’s greatest scorers, a sure-fire hall of famer capturing a Championship in 2014. However, after this peak, it has been all downhill, as he has not been on a winning team since. This season his scoring has dipped and what’s worse he has become a gross defensive liability. In fact, opposing team’s score an average of 116 points when Taylor is on the floor. By comparison, no team in the WBA gives up more than 112 points per game. Essentially, it’s as if opposing team’s turn into the Rage while Taylor is on the floor. Why the Dinos absorbed his 20 million plus contract is beyond reason.
Least Improved Player: Dave Williams (Dragons)
We all love Dave Williams and apparently so does every GM’s checkbook as they just keep handing him big fat contract after big fat contract even though Williams has not been a relevant player since 2014. While last season Williams was only mediocre, this season he has turned into an outright liability on both offense and defense. He simply can’t shoot anymore, can’t get to the line, can’t pass, can’t rebound, can’t play defense, and to top it off can’t even get an inch off the ground. Suffice to say Williams did not improve.