The Chambers Review- Round 2
By Ron Chambers
I admit it. I did not do very well in predicting the World Conference. Cancun far outperformed what I thought they would be able to do with their injured backcourt and I was so taken with Moscow’s young talent that I ignored that Barcelona had their number in the regular season. I did much better in the USA Conference but those were much easier picks. Let’s give it another try in the second round. Hopefully, I have learned from my mistakes.
#1 Albacete (62-18) vs. #4 Cancun (50-30)
Split the season series 2-2
After the last round, I am hesitant to pick against Cancun. When their backcourt of Ed Summerall and Timi Rambuka got injured I figured their season was done. I’m impressed. Trentesol has been truly impressive averaging 29 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.8 steals, and 3.8 blocks to this point in the play-offs. Gerhold Verholm has also been impressive averaging 20.8 points and 2.4 blocks. His downside is that he is also averaging 5.4 fouls. He needs to change that. Alton Francis has played surprisingly well at the point. He isn’t putting up big numbers but he has the second-best +/- on the team. If you adjust it to 36 minutes he actually has a better +/1 than Trentesols.
Even with all that Albacete is hard to pick against. They had the best record in the World Conference. Lonny Jordan is a real team leader making up for his suspension last year. They have six players averaging between 14 and 24 points in the play-offs. They are a middling team on defense and Cancun is a defensive force. But during the regular season, they were #1 offensively averaging 120.3 points. I think this team is too deep and talented to lose this round, especially with Cancun’s injuries. But do not expect Cancun to lay down.
Prediction: Albacete wins the series 4-2
#2 Paris (60-20) vs. #6 Barcelona (46-34)
Paris won the season series 4-0
The Counts were impressive in controlling a powerful young Moscow team. As all my readers know, I didn’t pick that one. Barcelona really took advantage of their depth by having 10 players average double-digit minutes during the season. They did tighten up their rotation some in the playoffs but still went deep. They had nine players average at least 17 minutes. Primo Buegeja and Ira Redwine were the stars averaging over 20 each against Moscow.
Then there is Paris. They went from being the Predators to the Honey Bees and became even more deadly. They struggled more with Milan than I expected but give that credit to an experienced Milan team. Timmons is nothing short of amazing. During the season he averaged 17.1 points, 13.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.8 steals! While in round one his scoring decreased his assists increased and he averaged 5.3 steals. The offensive surprise was George Bissett. Bisset averaged a very respectable 19.6 points during the season but he poured in 27.7 a game in the first round. More importantly, he was incredibly effective averaging 57% from the floor and 47% from behind the arc.
Prediction: Paris wins the series 4-1
#1 Brooklyn (71-9) vs. #4 Colorado (55-25)
Brooklyn won the season series 2-1
There were three teams in the Central Division that were expected to be quite good. Only Colorado panned out. For the last couple of years, they have been criticized for not being a deep team. This has become even more of an issue as the once-great Edgar Kamara has aged and slowed. Jarion Harris has emerged as a very good backup for him. As much as the depth of this team takes a beating, their top four are amazing. In the first round, Lyons, Henderson, Kinsey, and Devine all averaged between 19.6-25.0 points. Despite Henderson averaging the lowest of those four, he is really the heart of this team. Last round he had a 15.0 +/1 while Lyons was their second-best at 7.8. Henderson is one of the most complete defenders in the league and this Colorado team is built on defense.
It is weird to say of the four-in-a-row champs, but they were a surprise this year. When they traded away Kinkaide and Jefferson everyone thought they would take a step back… including management. But, they still put together 71 wins and swept the first round with an average win margin of 21.25. That is pretty dominant. They owe a lot of it to Anthony David being a much better defender than Omar Jefferson and to Antonio Gleason being a much better fit on this team than expected. The other big surprise was signing David Walker to a minimum contract after he acquired the stain of playing in SLC. He averaged 27 minutes and 16 points mostly off the bench. Though he did start 31 games making a big difference when Mario Baily was injured. During the playoffs, only two players have triple-doubles: Jarius Miles and Antonio Gleason. Brooklyn likes players with multiple skill sets. Colorado is a much better team than Kansas City. But, they should not be able to match up with the Champs.
Prediction: Brooklyn wins the series 4-1
#2 California (70-10) vs. #3 Boston (60-20)
California won the season series 3-1
Neither of these teams are at full strength. Kelley Brandon started 55 of the 59 games he played this year. But, he is out. Frank Mathieu, Boston’s top rebounder and consistent 20-10 threat, went down first followed by Small Forward Michael Askins. When a team loses 37.5 points in scoring and 18.2 rebounds that is normally a game-changer. But, this is a very talented team and they pulled off a very close first-round victory. A big part of that was their under-recognized leading scorer John Keating who raised his playoff scoring average by 10 points over his season average. Even with 20 point scorer Mathieu out they still had three players Pointer, Keating, and Pinelo average 20 points in that thought first round.
California is a juggernaut though. Watt and Beck are a dynamic duo on par with Miles and Bailey. Mighty Mouse Jesse Szygiel gets the respect he deserves in California as this 5’4″ Powerball scores, passes, and is a defensive pest averaging 3.2 steals in the first round. Jarrod Roe is enjoying his first year out of the World Conference. His overall numbers may be down just slightly but his efficiency is improved. Tony Patrick is quietly highly valued with the team’s second-highest +/- in the first round, even ahead of Watt. This team is tough offensively and defensively with a lot of depth and no weaknesses. No wonder they were only the third team ever to win 70 games in a season, and the first team ever to win 70 as the #2 team in the league.
Prediction: California wins the series 4-2 (It might be very different if Askins and Mathieu were healthy.)