ALBACETE BURNING HELL. THE ROAD TO CONTEND
When Albacete Burning Hell won the 2016 lottery with that Warriors pick, they knew Lonnie Jordan would be a generational talent. So, there were no doubts that he would be selected first. Albacete was a team that had won 10 games the year before with an aging roster. In a loaded draft, Jordan’s background helped Albacete’s GM to be sure he was the right choice…one of the biggest fears of a GM is a young talent refusing to sign an extension, and Jordan had been cited often in the media calling himself a one-team player.
Of course, Albacete had to create the environment for Jordan to succeed. So, one of the main goals was to collect some young talent to develop with him, with that roster, Jordan’s prime would be wasted with a bunch of over the hill geriatric stars.
ALBACETE 1.0 THE ROOKIE SEASON
While loaded of talent, Lonnie Jordan was very raw coming to the league, but you can only learn to play basketball on the court, and you can only learn to play the right way if you have a good veteran to be your mentor. So, Albacete traded pick number 2 and William Curry for Dan Kincaid, a top 5 forward at that time, with the double task of leading the team and teach Jordan as much as he could. Kincaid was 26 at the time, and the team traded for Vincent Miles, a 24 years old PF waiting to reach his potential, well is still waiting four years later, but not in Albacete. Jordan came from the bench until the All-Star game, and he was introduced in the starting line-up. While not impressive, Jordan showed some flashes of what was to come in the future. He averaged 15 points and 5 rebounds while shooting with a 51% and being one of the best finishers around the rim with a percentage of 72%
ALBACETE 2.0 THE FAREWELL SEASON
We can say that this was the season where Albacete gave Jordan the green light to do whatever he wanted on the court, we can say that Dan Kincaid was traded to accommodate Jordan, or that the youth movement kept on with the acquisition of Lazaro Hendricks, a 24 years old center. But everything that season was overshadowed by Harry Jarvis playing his final season. So, we could say that everything that happened that season went under the radar, but at the same time, the movements were crucial. Hendricks contract was really cheap for a player of his quality, and Albacete traded for the massive ending contract of Wu Dian Fan. As frustrating as this player was, his contract allowed Albacete to open massive cap room to attract even 1 max salaries. For his part, as a starter, averaged 21 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, and he shot at a 54%. But the team only won 35 games and missed the playoffs. Next offseason would be key for the team
ALBACETE 3.0 THE CONSPIRATION SEASON
With Jarvis retired, Albacete had around 35 million in cap room to make a team around Jordan abilities. They had picks #3 and #11 in the draft, but their eyes were on a player that had been drafted the year before with the 27th pick that had experienced a vast improvement, Edgardo Blanco. Besides he would be locked in an extremely cheap rookie contract for 4 seasons. It was not easy, as Frankfurt was really high on him, but both lottery picks were headed to the Fury to make it happen. Blanco was about the age of Jordan, so they could grow together, with Blanco playing Robin to Jordan’s Batman. Albacete was lucky in free agency with the addition of Claude Weidner and Comas Neetar, and with the money left, they were able to sign Ahmed Dougherty. The season started well with jordan sharing the load with the new adquisitions…but 24 games into the season, Lonnie Jordan was positive in an undisclosed banned substance. We can’t count the times Jordan has claimed his innocence about that, but the commissioner had no mercy, banning Jordan for the rest of the season. A lot of theories have been thrown these years, even some of them talking about food poisoning, (we have seen that in some places like Salt Lake in other leagues…) Even with that, Albacete won 46 games and they were back to the playoffs
ALBACETE 4.0 THE CHIP ON THE SHOULDER SEASON
Jordan wanted blood, he was really angry about the last season events, so he needed to have a statement season. With Neetar and Weidner best suited as forwards, and with the lack of improvement of Friedrich Egg at the point, some changes were coming. First of all, Albacete needed a reliable point guard for the first time in eons. Comas neetar was traded for Sherman Mahara, solving the logjam at the forward and the point guard weakness in just one move. Besides Claude Weidner was traded for Dan Kincaid because Jordan was preparing to play power forward. With the veteran presence of Kincaid and Mahara, the dirty work of Hendriks and Blanco, Jordan displayed a full new package of abilities playing closer to the basket. He scored 27 points, got 10 rebounds and gave 4 assists in less than 36 minutes. His shooting percentages were out of this world, leading the league with a 60%, improving his mid-range game too. As a result, Albacete won 62 games, reaching the Conference Finals With all that in mind, Jordan signed a contract extension for a discount. Future was starting to look bright for Albacete.
ALBACETE 5.0 THE CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON
As well as Albacete had played the season before, Kincaid and Mahara were close the celebrate their 30th birthday and they were free agents too. That allowed Albacete to, once again, try to improve the team during the free agency. Trying to make the core of the team younger, the very first goal of the team was Alston Irving, a point guard from the same draft group of Jordan who was furious with his GM because he lowballed him with an extension offer. Once Irving saw the offer, he signed the contract to play alongside Jordan. Besides, Ryan Rogers signed a contract too the same day to give Albacete a formidable starting five. With no more room under the salary cap, Albacete needed some depth, and they took the chance to sign and trade Dan Kincaid(man, this guy needs an article about all the team he has played for) for Kelley Brandon, Victorino Pinelo and Sam White. Brandon, the best player of the package, is 22 years old and the number 2 of Jordan’s rookie class. So, Albacete has four players under 23 and the whole top of celebrated 2016 draft signed long term. How will it play?