Way Too Early GM of the Year
Adrian Arceo – Paris Honey Bees Current Record: 28-9
Case: The Honey Bees are on pace to exceed last season’s win total by 20 or more games. That is an impressive growth. Last season the Honey Bees missed the playoffs. This season, they are a top five team in the league and are leading the World Conference. With no clear superstar, this team’s success was built around cohesion and depth. They rank first in the conference in six different team categories, and lead the entire league in steal and turnover margins.
What is needed to win: Finish the season strong. If the Honey Bees finish the season first in their conference, after having missed the playoffs last season, I think Adrian Arceo is more than deserving of the award. 60+ wins and it would take a lot to get me to vote for anyone else. Winning the conference would almost guarantee a win in my eyes, but anything less and the door opens.
Pedro Alcarez – Albacete Burning Hell Current Record: 26-8
Case: Last season Albacete won 46 games and lost in the first round of the playoffs. To make some slight improvements would be a welcome site for most teams, but not Albacete. Albacete is on pace to improve their win total by 14 games, one of the highest improvements in the league. For a playoff team to improve by that much is impressive. To do so and potentially win the conference is an added perk. Some great transactions also led to the growth this season.
What is needed to win: Finish the season strong. If the Burning Hell are able to end the season atop the conference, GM Alcarez will sit atop my list of candidates for GM of the year. Just winning the conference wouldn’t be enough, but considering that would require an improvement of 14 or more wins, that does it for me.
Quinten Lawrence – Boston Massacre Current Record: 25-9
Case: Boston is another playoff team that is on pace to improve by double-digit wins. Not an easy feat. Currently sitting at third in the USA Conference, the Massacre are having a great season. A very strong back half to the season and Lawrence could vault up with the list of favorites. Strong player development has led to some superstars playing in Boston.
What needs to happen: If somehow reaching 60 wins, the conversation will become even more tense. Boston currently leads the league in rebounding margin and points per shot margin. This is a team and GM to watch the rest of the season. Don’t be surprised to hear his name thrown around more often. I’d personally have him third on my list, but not by much. I may take a 60 game winner from the USA Conference as opposed to the World Conference winner.
The Rest – In no particular order
Gustavo Follana – Fort Worth Warriors Current Record: 19-16
Case: Normally a GM whose team is just over .500 would not be in the GM of the year discussion, however, if you consider that Fort Worth won only 20 games last season and has not exceeded 30 wins in five seasons, it is easy to see how this season is special for Fort Worth. Several key moves/acquisitions have resulted in the Warriors being one game away from last season’s win total, and we still have 45 games to play. Right now, they are on pace to improve by 23 wins from last season.
What is needed to win: Honestly, 60 wins. I think the moves made and overall growth are nothing short of amazing. But to finish the season at 43-45 wins and just over .500 would still make it very difficult to sway votes from some of the other top GM’s. I like the underdog, and I think GM Follana is worth voting for, but it would take an even better back half of the season to win this award.
Brad Bangerter – Salt Lake City Fanatics Current Record: 21-15
Case: The Fanatics haven’t made the playoffs in three seasons, and last season only won 32 games. Strong player development has them projected to exceed last season’s win total by 17 games. Very few transactions have led to the development of this team. They have drafted and developed their way to this point.
What is needed to win: Similar to FW, ending the season close to .500 would not be enough to win this award, even with the major improvements. As a GM, Bangerter has proven he can draft quality players and work to develop them, but the lack of transactions to build this team in this particular season may be seen as a detractor. Perhaps the season when the picks were made would have been the better option. This upcoming offseason may also be a defining moment if he is able to resign his top talent.
Rob Arnold – Nigeria Pirates Current Record: 23-11
Case: After missing the playoffs for five straight seasons, the Pirates are on pace to exceed 50 wins and improve their record by 16 wins over last season. Currently third in their conference, the Pirates are well on their way to the playoffs and, potentially, a favorable first round. Similar to SLC, there don’t appear to be many transactions that created success this season. A cohesive group of players seems to be their recipe to success. No one on the team averages more than 16.4 PPG.
What is needed to win: Win the conference. Nigeria missed the playoffs for five straight seasons, but still won 38 games last season. That is at least respectable. A major jump would be needed to overtake other candidates.
Brent Bangerter – Miami Xtreme Current Record: 15-20
Case: Having a losing record makes it seem very unlikely that there is any chance to really win this award, yet Miami is one of the few teams that is projected to improve their win total by double digits from last season. Because of that growth, I had to include him on the list.
What is needed to win: A winning record wouldn’t even do it. That winning record would have to be 50-60 wins. Many detractors would say that it isn’t as difficult to improve a record by 16 wins when the team only won 18 games the season before, and I think that point would resonate with many voters.
David Morfeld – Las Vegas Gamblers Current Record: 22-14
Case: The last of the playoff teams that is currently on pace to improve by double digit wins, Las Vegas had a busy offseason. With only three players remaining from the core roster of last season, a lot of transactions were completed to create the growth that is resulting this year. Similar to several other teams, there is no established superstar, but success is resulting from depth and cohesion. Seven players on the team currently average over 10 ppg.
What needs to happen: 60 wins. The Gamblers currently sit as the fifth seed in the USA Conference and are not far from being the sixth seed. Despite the good start, there is still uncertainty that the team will make the playoffs. Obviously an improved record would be a positive, but if failing to make the playoffs, GM Morfeld will fall off this list completely.
Rondall Reynoso – Brooklyn Rage Current Record: 34-3
Case: Winning. The Rage are once again at the top of the league, despite losing Dan Kincaide. Some key transactions helped alleviate some future salary cap concerns, and the team hasn’t skipped a beat. This is a championship or bust season once again.
What needs to happen: Due to the level of continued success, it may be difficult to win this award. I was surprised to see the GM Reynoso has only won this once in the last six seasons. Somehow, at 34-3, the Rage are still on pace to win fewer games than last season. Maybe if they don’t lose a single game the rest of the season…
Justin Lawrence – California Fighting Cocks Current Record: 34-5
Case: Having won 66 games each of the last two seasons, the Fighting Cocks are on pace to exceed that total by a couple of games. Amazingly, GM Lawrence hasn’t won this award over the last six seasons, despite the success.
What needs to happen: The Gamblers need to do well, and the Fighting Cocks need to win the conference. It could be argued that California plays in one of the weaker divisions in the league, with Las Vegas as the primary competition (but not close). If Las Vegas were to drop and approach .500 and the Fighting Cocks’ gap with the Rage gets worse, GM Lawrence will be fighting an uphill battle. Critics will say their record is partially due to that weaker division play. If they can overtake the Rage atop the conference, they will alter the WBA.