The Future of the WBA
by Stephon B. Smythe
I am absolutely, positively, unequivocally, distraught with what I am seeing in the WBA. I mean it is preposterous. Here we are, after the 5th consecutive Brooklyn Rage championship…not to mention the third consecutive via sweep. And I can’t get over the audacity that these coaches and GM’s have, thinking they can keep doing the same things over and over and expect to get different results. Twenty-nine…I repeat, twenty-nine different teams and not a single one has done enough to stop Brooklyn. It is blasphemous…undeniably blasphemous, the number of teams that have stepped to the plate, only to strike out time and time again. But guess what?? Change is coming my friends. This ain’t your grandaddy’s WBA. I’m here to tell you that that story is changing and there are teams that will alter the course of the future. These are the storylines that I’m watching this next season.
There are certainly some big names in free agency, but the one name that stands out as being the most pivotal to the championship is Mario Bailey. If Bailey decides to take some advice from his buddy Tom Brady, he may be moving to a warmer climate and trying to prove he can win on his own. A move like that could single-handedly remove Brooklyn from the top of the title contenders. If looking at salary cap, Boston and Albacete are the two top teams that have cap space to offer a max contract, with the hopes that they can sign a new player prior to having to resign any of their own. That means that if any of the other key players do transition teams, it will likely be from one bottom-to-middle of the pack team to another. The stories would come from any key producers leaving one of the top 4 teams in the league, or if Boston/Albacete pluck a star from the depths of the league. I don’t expect any key players to transition from the top teams in the league.
California Fighting Cocks
After losing to the Brooklyn Rage 4 games to 2 in the Conference Finals, California is poised to be the team to dethrone the champs. Free agency is going to play a big role in determining their ability to repeat their success. Hassan Watt, Kurt Beck and Kelley Brandon are all still on the roster, but can California resign Jesse Szcygiel and solidify their backcourt? Perhaps a little light on the interior, they will also have to strategically sign some productive players at the C and PF positions. Or get creative with lineups. I fully anticipate that California will sign the key targets necessary, and I am predicting that this team knocks off Brooklyn in the conference finals. The reign of the Rage will come to an end at the hand, or beak, of a chicken.
Somewhat of a sleeping giant. The Massacre have been performing well the past few seasons and don’t seem to get the attention that they always deserve. With the cap space available to potentially make a splash in free agency, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Massacre right back at the top of the power rankings. Players want to play for winners, and that is what has been created in Boston. If they can steal a max contract player from a low performing team, I would be inclined to think that the Brooklyn Rage may not even make the conference finals this season. We could see an all-Lawrence final instead.
Paris vs. Albacete
Paris and Albacete had an unbelievable completion last season, with both having a chance to win the conference until the very end of the regular season. The teams are poised to have the same battle again this upcoming season, but Albacete has more variables in free agency. While having money to spend, with the hopes of acquiring some top talent from the league, it is obvious to see that there are also more roster spots needing to be filled in Albacete with that cap space. With only five current players on roster, that money needs to go a long way. Paris still has 9 on roster, with all-star PG Jervan Timmons being one of them. If Albacete wins free agency, Lonny Jordan will always give them a chance to make a run. If they miss on one piece in free agency, I would expect Paris to finish atop the World Conference.
London Disco and Benet Da Gama
GM Earl Breese needs to do his best Vasco da Gama impression and navigate the waters to make London an instant competitor. Benet Da Gama is one of those players that will instantly thrive in the league and put up numbers that London has maybe never seen before. But without help around him, it would be easy to see Benet get frustrated with the team success and prepare to ship off after his rookie contract is over, leaving London with nothing in return. Unfortunately for Breese, his trade pieces are limited. Acquiring some good talent in free agency, with nearly $25M in cap space, will be critical to the future of this team. The right pieces, and the turnaround could be remarkable.
Continuing Conference USA Dominance
More specifically, the East Division. If I was running any other team in this league, I’d be looking to relocate so my players would be drinking that New York state water. The last team to win a championship that wasn’t named Brooklyn, was east division foe New York Firestorm. The USA conference has produced the last 7 champs, with the World Conference winning a total of 8 games in those 7 WBA Finals. While Paris and Albacete are poised to have a similar season as last year, the fact remains that Brooklyn, California, and Boston (if FA goes well) are the top three teams in the league. The USA Conference is going to add at least one more year onto its run of dominance, even if the baton is passed from Brooklyn to a Lawrence. Benet Da Gama could be the savior that the World Conference has been searching for, but it will take time to get an arsenal around him.