By Ron Chambers
The Pioneers are not what they once were. They have not found a real direction since Marc Hameleers left the franchise a few years back. Current GM Joseph Pellegrino works hard but his vision for the franchise is a little robotic compared to Hameleers.
PG- Mark Carr: This will be Carr’s third year with Colorado. He has turned into a serviceable Point Guard but he isn’t much more than that. He doesn’t turn the ball over much and chips in some scoring and passing.
SG- Jaxon McCall: At 6’10” McCall may be the tallest SG in the league. He is really more of a Small Forward but he is quicker than Kelvin Boice and Boice is a better rebounder. He also happens to be one of the top 3-point threats in the league. His height also make him tough to guard at this position. He is a little slow and not a great defender as a Shooting Guard but there is little doubt that he will continue to put pressure on opposing defenses.
SF- Kelvin Boice: Boice is a rebounding workhorse and a solid defender. He will make the opposing SF work and limit their rebounding effectiveness. He is not a strong offensive threat but is fairly efficient when he needs to score as long as he doesn’t step outside the 3-point line.
PF- Greg Lacy: Despite not getting much PR Lacy continues to be one of the best Power Forward’s in the WBA. He is a tremendous rebounder and defender but does not look to score so he doesn’t get the press coverage from either GSPN or FBB News. But, this team is built around controlling the ball and letting McCall score and he is great for that.
C- Arnold Eaton: Once upon a time Eaton was a defensive legend. In 2006-2007 he averaged 4.2 blocks a game. But, as he has aged his blocks have continued to fall and he has been under two blocks a game the last four season. He has also lost strength with time and become a less effective rebounder. All that said he is still a good player who protects the rim, plays solid defense, and grabs rebounds.
Bench- Polikarp Dragunas, Errol Bierman, & Pete Nelson: Dragunas is a young talented defender. It will take a few years for him to mature but he fits the Colorado mindset of defensive minded big men. They did a good job by keeping him on the roster. Peter Nelson may actually end up being the starting PG on this team. If not he is a solid back-up. He is a serious deep threat and he takes care of the ball. Bierman is very young and very raw. Eventually, he should be a very good interior scorer but lacks a strong defensive presence so will likely always be a spark off the bench, which fits Colorado’s current make-up well.
Salt Lake City Fanatics
Brad Bangerter may be the most maligned GM in the WBA. It isn’t uncommon for GM’s to was on about his incompetence when they get together for drinks. That said he has to everyone’s surprise managed to put together arguably the most talented team in the league. To everyone’s surprise they improved 24 games last season and finished first in the MidWest. It doesn’t look like that is going to change.
PG- Austyn Williams: Williams is unquestionably one of the best point guards in the league. He is a great passer who doesn’t turn the ball over much and a tremendous defender. He is also great for stretching the defense with his 3-point shooting.
SG- Eugene LaMaitre: A solid scorer even though he struggles from distance. He is also a good defender and a good rebounder for a Shooting Guard. Ironically, SLC is his 8th team (well actually, 7th it is his second stop in SLC). He has alway been well-respected but is just a hair under the big name Shooting Guards.
SF- Cordell Parks: Parks may be the best player on the Fanatics. He is one of the best rebounding Small Forwards in the league and partners with LaMaitre as SLC’s main scoring punch. But, he is also an under rated defender and all around player.
PF- Wally Birkhead: SLC has been grooming Birkhead for years. Inexplicably, he played off the bench last year but expect him to make the starting line-up this year. He is one of the best defensive big men in the league but the knock against him is his strength. He has never put the time in with the weights to develop the strength he really should have as a big. But, he has the skills to block shots, make steals, defend the post, and rebound. If he builds up his strength over the next few years watch out!
C- Sean Ashman: Birkhead is the superior defensive player but Ashman is the better offensive player plus he is also a more physical player. Expect him to score well, rebound, and clog up space in the middle.
Bench- Brad Bangerter, Darell Lapierre, Boom-Boom Casey, & Eric Falk: Brad Bangeter has been surviving off his name. Despite starting the last three seasons he doesn’t have the talent to start on this team. But, he is a solid role player so expect to see him coming off the bench often. Lapierre is a rookie with some skills who will likely play both Shooting Guard and Small Forward. But, he probably will neer be more than a very serviceable bench player. Boom-Boom Casey was once a league powerhouse averaging over 32 points and 13 rebounds in his best season. But, those days are past. He could still start fora poor team but in Salt Lake City he will be a valued bench player. Falk is another solid rookie. At 19, he has time to improve. The knock on him is that he is a Shooting Guard in a Point Guard body. That is true but he will only see limited minutes behind Austyn Williams anyway.
Omaha was not a good team last year. They are making efforts to rebuilt but it will certainly be a process. They have some good young talent that they need to develop. One of their biggest challenges will be managing the young talent to get them all time on the floor. Another challenge will be guard play. They simply don’t have enough talent at the guard spots yet.
PG- Chuck Henderson: Henderson is one of the all-time great assist men and he will certainly be a Hall of Famer. But, he is on the down side of his career. He averaged only 5.4 assists a game last season for the Wild which is less than half his career average. His defense is also down. But, he is the best Point Guard on the Wild so expect him to start again this year. He will likely be serviceable until the Wild can draft a replacement next year.
SG- Antonio Gleason: The Wild picked him up last year to come off the bench. Gleason really isn’t ready to start but with Omaha rebuilding I expect that he will. He has more potential than any other Shooting Guard on the team. Sandler started last year and is a much better defender. But, Sandler is really more of a role player so Omaha should give Gleason the spot light and se how he does.
SF- Gerhold Verholm: Verholm is not a pure Small Forward. At 6’11” he is tall but at 286lbs he is also a bit cumbersome. But, he is probably the best scorer on the team and quicker than the team’s other big men. He will certainly cause match-up problems and his length gives him some advantage at the position but his lack of quickness will also hurt him on the defensive end.
PF- Vincent Miles: There is no doubt that Omaha over paid for Miles. They did it because they believe that the 20-year-old will become a star. They are probably right. He has all the potential in the world. He had very limited playing time last season for the Wild but with a big contract like he got that is not going to continue. He will struggle this year and probably next. But, given time he will be a very good player…maybe even a star.
C- Alexej Peska: Cushman is probably a better Center today than Peska. But, this team is all about the future so they should let the young player have a chance to develop. Peska is already a good rebounder and defender. With time he will get better at both.
Bench- Charles Cushman, Walter Callaway, Brandon Sandler: Cushman is a solid center and will really help this young frontcourt off the bench. The reality is that today he is better than either Miles or Peska. But they need floor time to develop. Callaway is a solid no frills bench player. He will put in productive minutes and at times will out play the starters. Sandler was last seasons starter at Shooting Guard. THis year he will provide good minutes off the bench. Like many young teams there will betimes that the bench is better than the starters but it isn’t about this year for the Wild.
Nebraska Sun Warriors
Brandon Morfeld is one of the most celebrated GM’s in WBA history. But, the Sun Warriors are now in a post-Morfeld era. The ownership brought on Johnathan Hall to replace him but fans have not been impressed so far.
PG- Kelvin Davidson: Once a tip Point Guard, Davidson is now past his prime. He still has good handles but his passing is not what it was and at 5’7″ his body has taken a beating over the years.
SG- Jeremy Aarons: This position could very easily be held also by Rick Schulz. Schulz is a better scorer but is also an elder in the WBA. Aarons is a young talent who has a bright future.
SF- Tony Henderson: Henderson is a future star. He can do it all. But, he is young- only 21. But, he is already better than any other Small Forward on the Sun Warriors.
PF- Roy Base: Roy Base is a Beast and this team is built around him. He will probably average 20+ points again this year. He is a solid rebounder, though some expect his rebounding totals to slip some, and he is an all around defender.
C- Simeon Hill: Arguably, Hill is the best Center in the league and he is only 25. He is a great rebounder and defender. He doesn’t look to score too much but he is solid when he needs to.
Bench- Rick Schulz, Ron Avery, and Vance Clopp. Nebraska actually has a lot of talent on the bench for the Bigs. Clopp is probably the best right now but Pelham was a high draft pick and Marc White will also be very good in a few years. Ron Avery will fill time off the bench at Small Forward. He is a solid all around player. Schulz will come off the bench behind Aarons…if he doesn’t start.
Right now the Stingers are a team without a plan. They have very little talent and limited bright spots for the future other than the fact that they have their own pick for 2014.
PG- Justin Krueger: Krueger had his best years with Brooklyn and then Washington when he had all sorts of talent around him. That isn’t the case in Arkansas. Plus, he is older now. Krueger has never been fancy. But, he has always been efficient. Expect the same this year. The Stingers need more than that.
SG- Pete Merritt: Like Krueger his is a no frills player. There is nothing bad about him and nothing exciting. he just doesn’t have the talent to be a starter in the WBA.
SF- Dan Kincaide: This is the one bright spot on the Stinger roster. Kincaide is young and a huge talent. However, he isn’t ready to carry a team yet. Honestly, no player could be expected to carry this team.
PF- Dave Short: Short is a long time star in the WBA. At 31, he is past his prime. He is still a solid power forward but not dominant.
C- Pat Stephenson: He is the best player on this team today. The talent around him is really lacking though. Kincaide will be great one day and Stephenson and Short make a solid duo…but that backcourt just sucks and Stephenson can’t make up for it.
Bench- Cole Bayo, John Greene, & Dave Curico: Bayo is probably just as good as Krueger and may end up starting. Greene is a former star but on the down side of the hill and Curico will be a good defender in the future. They aren’t bad but they just aren’t much punch off the bench.
- Salt Lake City Fanatics
- Colorado Pioneers
- Nebraska Sun Warriors
- Omaha Wild
- Arkansas Stingers