Race to Rookie of the Year
By Mike Begley
In this edition of the Begley Print, we look to get acquainted with some of the league’s “best” young talent as we examine the favorites for rookie of the year. Given, many top rookies in the draft are taking the long road to the WBA via the revered Developmental League, and granted Mario Bailey was in no rookie of the year race. As such there are likely some future WBA Hall of Famers that will not be on this list.
Nonetheless, these are the players who currently have manned up to the rigors of the WBA and are demonstrating they can put on a uniform and play at least 30 games, and 24 minutes per game. By this measure 14 rookies qualified, and these are the top ten for the race.
Tommy Pedersen – Osaka Fugu – Pick #7
Tommy Pedersen leads all rookies in minutes, is third in scoring, third in steals, and is the best defender on the worst defensive team in the league. Pedersen seems a great value but just does not seem that his overall game has a positive impact on the team. He just seems to be average in most aspects of the game. While he does a solid job as a defender this is offset by lack of offensive precision. No one is lining up to see Tommy not even the Who.
Valentin Muntean – Sydney Bloods – Pick #4
The Bloods expected more of an impact from the fourth overall selection. Muntean would be much better served if he never shot the ball at all. I mean never. His abysmal shooting percentages are certainly a contributing factor the Bloods last place regular season pace. Nonetheless, Muntean seems to have potential as a defender and is getting the minutes to develop. He is just not the ideal Valentine for February 14.
Gervais Calloart – Cape Town Zulus – 2018 draft
Mr. Calloart was technically drafted last season as a late first-round selection. He spent a year in Europe to refine his craft. And it has shown. Currently, the rookie scoring leader he is the 2nd leading scorer on a Cape Town squad fighting for the playoffs. He is pretty much a one trick pony driving to the basket and scoring but does it an elite level. Unlike most rookies on this list it seems Calloart is helping his team compete. With A+ stamina, there is no reason why he should not be leading all rookies in minutes played and be the favorite for rookie of the year.
Cetus Vlahakis – London Disco – Pick #15
Where would the Disco be without Cetus Vlahikis? Well pretty much where they are now. The 15th overall selection has showed he can defend at the WBA level but what is up with his shooting? Have they stopped teaching shooting fundamentals in Europe? Cetus cannot make a layup, or a jump shot to save his life. Someone tell this man not to shoot. Et tu Cetus?
Mathias Kurz – Gabon Giants – Pick #12
Kurz has been a bit of a surprise at the 12th overall selection demonstrating elite level rebounding and post defense. It is too bad he joined the team in the worst season in Gabon history and that he is currently injured as Gabon spirals into the WBA draft lottery. If healthy, Kurz helps Gabon compete with the highest positive plus minus on the Giants. Nonetheless, could Kurz have brought the curse to Gabon?
Klemens Eberle – Paris Honeybees – Pick #13
Klemens does not lead rookies in any category except perhaps winning. As Eberle is the starting center on currently the 5th best team in the league. Not bad a for a 13th overall selection. Eberle has showed he is a solid defender already at only 19 while remaining efficient as he finishes in the paint with ease. Rookie of the year, probably not but then again if he is the only rookie playing minutes in the playoffs while all other rookies are working out at home on their Peloton; then who is the true rookie of the year? To be or not to be in the playoffs that is the question.
Heinrich Rarich – Nigeria Pirates – Pick #14
At pick 14, Rarich currently leads all rookies in assists on a competitive Nigeria team, and is my choice for rookie of the year. He is having much more of an impact on the league at point guard than whoever was drafted as the number one overall selection. Anyone know his name? He is sleeping in the back somewhere on a Greyhound. But back to Rarich, he plays both sides of the court and helps his team win, very solid. Word has it that Heinrich also knows how to perform the Heimlich with proficiency.
Timoteo Gangotena – New York Firestorm – Pick #27
Well the Fire Storm traded Kelly Brandon, and who did they get back, Gangotena? Do not get me wrong he is a gargantuan on the boards but how important are boards really? I mean there are five players on the team, each player, just for standing on the court, has about a ten percent chance of obtaining a given board, so what if Gangotena gets 15% of all boards? Gangotena might have the worst turnover rate in the league so for every board he also passes the ball to the wrong team. Just go home.
Leonard Sedelmaier – Salt Lake City Fanatics – Pick #10
Well the Fanatics have a lot of young talent. More than any other team in the league. I have no idea how Sedelmaier made this list as he is probably the worse of the bunch. He’s just quiet and sits in the back of the team bus. He plays solid defense and shoots well from the line. Go figure. At the 10th overall selection, we expected more exuberance at least.
Toussaint Leclercq – Las Vegas Gamblers – Pick #17
Finally, we get to mid-first round selection, Toussaint Leclarcq, who is currently splitting time between Vegas and Reno, imagine that for a 19 year old? He should get rookie of the year for just being able to focus on basketball. With a million in his pocket Lord knows this kid is daily facing the evil beast of temptation. So, who cares if he fouls a little much he has got the best assist to turnover ratio among all rookies. Hands down my choice for rookie of the year. Give this kid some holy water.
Fulgencio Lurdes – Salt Lake City Fanatics – Pick #5
Lurdes almost did not qualify for this list as it seems Brad Bangerter is trying to bring him along extra slowly. Instead of handing him over the spotlight like his former Frenchie Debuisnes, Brad is trying to have Lurdes remain humble off the bench. Nonetheless, Lurdes might be the most talented out of this whole bunch. It’s too bad the Fanatics do not want the entire league to know. Will Lurdes demand a trade before he eventually runs away on another max offer to Tokyo?