By Ron Chambers
The Brooklyn Rage began the season dominant and then faltered with a four game losing streak. But, they seem to have returned to form. Will it last? I think so but in the WBA one injury can change everything. The Rage are filled with stars but we sometimes don’t remember where they came from. Out of the Rage’s starters only one was a lottery pick. A similar Trend holds true for their bench. So, I thought I would take some time to go over the player history of this talented team.
Omar Jefferson– Today Omar Jefferson is arguably the best scoring Point Guard in the league. But, he didn’t always garnered the respect he now has. He was drafted 27th in the 2006 draft and spent his first two seasons in Tokyo/Oregon. He was a part of the trade that sent Lou Gonzales back to Oregon and he then spent a year in Albacete before moving to Brooklyn. Even once he arrived in Brooklyn he wasn’t yet a starter and only averaged 12 minutes in his first season behind Justin Krueger. But, in 2010 Krueger left the Rage and that turned into Brooklyn’s rebuilding year. This gave Jefferson his first chance to shine. He averaged 16 points and 7.2 assists but he shot less than 37% from the field and less than 30% from behind the arch. But, his potential was clear and Brooklyn dedicated to developing him. Each year improved until finally last season he averaged 22.6 points and 8.2 assists. At only 26 he is just coming to his prime and should be a key figure for the Rage for years.
Mario Bailey– There is already MVP talk about Mario Bailey. This year he is averaging 30.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2.6 steals. He is also shooting 53% and is one of the best players in the league at getting to the line. But, it hasn’t always been this way. In 2007, he went undrafted. Yep…undrafted! The Rage had no picks that year and couldn’t believe as they watch him slip past everyone. They then were very eager to sign him as a free agent. He didn’t come out the gate a super star and it wasn’t until his 6th year that he broke 20 points in scoring. But, he is now pushing 30 points and just coming into his prime. So far this season he has been one of the most mentioned names when it comes to the MVP race. He is both efficient and prolific on the offensive end and a real stopped on the defensive end. Not, bad for an undrafted player.
Shane Strom- Strom had been among the best players in the league for a long time. He has averaged over 20 points a game every year in the league except his rookie outing. This year his scoring is down. But, there is a question about how much he has actually dropped off or if the growth of Bailey and Jefferson just limits his attempts. Either way he has averaged 23.0 points over the last six games so he is still a potent scorer when needed. All that sounds like the predictable career of a lottery pick doing exactly what he was supposed to do. But, Strom wasn’t a lottery pick #46 in the 2003 draft. Management would love to brag about that but the reality is that they took Mike Stanely in the first round because they needed a Point Guard and almost missed out on the magic. As of now he is #9 all-time in scoring in the WBA and there is no reason he shouldn’t rise a little more.
Jarius Miles- He was only 18 when Texas drafted him with the 27th pick in the draft. But, Texas wasn’t patient enough so they traded him to Montana who also wasn’t patient enough and traded him to Brooklyn. He joined the Rage during their worst season in history. Their one season, 2010, where they didn’t have a winning record. They finished only 39-41. But, he has been a part of the turn around. He is still only 23 so the Rage are looking for a lot of improvement out of him. Some in management think he has the potential to be one of the best Power Forwards in the league…. maybe the leagues history. Only time will tell but those are high expectations for the twice traded 27th pick.
Al Herbert- Herbert is the only lottery pick in the Brooklyn starting five. He was drafted #4 by Omaha in 2010 and traded to Andorra and then to Brooklyn. He isn’t a huge offensive threat and really isn’t an offensive banger. He is a finesse player who likes to shoot the 3pters. But, he is a good rebounder, a good passer, and a good defender who will get blocks and steals plus play solid fundamentals. Ironically, despite being the highest drafted player on the team he probably has the least potential of any Brooklyn starter.
Brice Bell– Bell is a newcomer to Brooklyn. He spent his first two season in London as a competent reserve and this year migrated to Brooklyn to do essentially the same thing. Like Strom he was drafted #46. His minutes have actually decreased every year he has been in the league but that is because he continues to have better and better players around hin and ahead of him in the rotation. He is a very good defender and smart with the ball. He will never be a star but should become a very good reserve.
Kelvin Boice- Boice was drafted #13 by Virgin Islands, the venerable franchise now located in Alaska. He then went to Texas, Frankfurt, Colorado, and now Brooklyn. The Rage so far are very happy with him and are planning to stay with him for years. He is not a big scoring threat off the bench but he is a voracious rebounder and solid all around player who compliments the rest of the team well.
Joe Clark- Clark was taken in the 4th round of the inaugural draft. Considering that he has never been a started he by some standards was a bust. But, he is now in his 13th years and has been a stand out reserve for most of those years. Rage management has long been a fan of his rebounding but was never able to sign him until this year. He is one the best pure rebounding reserves in the league. To start the season he was expected to have an even bigger role on the team but the Trade for Boice who is very similar but with younger legs has reduced his playing time. But, with the ever-present risk of injury the Rage are still thrilled to have him on their team.
Mark Vaden- The Rage were thrilled to be able to draft Vaden #29 in this years draft. They had predicted him ot go in the mid to late teens and what they feared might be a throw away pick turned into a valuable piece of their team. He is a solid rebounder and a fierce defender which fits the mold that Reynoso like for his bench players. Expect him to stay with the Rage for several seasons.