WBA Power Rankings: Mid-Season Edition

By Mike Begley


Welcome to the heart of the injury gauntlet–pardon me, I meant to say WBA season. The trade season is over with each team’s fate etched in stone. The All Star extravaganza saw rookie Eusebio Blow-ing the roof off the arena.  Onward we march towards the playoffs! A lucky few have an eye towards a top seed another lucky few have an eye to the draft lottery bonanza. Most teams are stuck somewhere in the middle. Here we sort through the mess. Brace yourselves it will get ugly before it gets good.


#25 – Las Vegas Gamblers (13-42)

Welcome to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: the worst season in Gamblers history. For two straight seasons the team is giving away over 120 points a game making Vegas the top destination to pad your stats. Apparently 40 million in budget space does nothing to shore up the defense. To the team’s credit they might make the playoffs if they are transferred immediately to the D League. They are the worst rebounding and shot blocking team in recent memory so why not sign a guy who can rebound and block shots? It is not like the team is purposely tanking as the Giants own their first round pick.


#24 – Boston Massacre (12-40)

The Massacre had made the playoffs for the last ten seasons but as their team name implies they would then get properly Massacred in the playoffs: half of the times in the first round. The Brooklyn Rage and Fighting Cocks had something to do with this. So naturally it was time for a change. Michael Askins and John Keating are gone, so is any remnant of a competing team. In fact the team’s current best player Douglas Trice is suiting up a good two hour drive away in Springfield, Massachusetts. Good luck with the lottery balls.


#23 – New York Firestorm (12-42)

New York is expensive so no wonder the Firestorm are on a budget as the cheapest team in the league sitting 18 million under the cap. That’s one huge yacht for the owner! For some reason the owner seems to be under the spell of one Shelton Britton who is near the bottom in the league in Points per Shot yet has the green light to take over 20 shots a game. Perhaps for this reason the Firestorm are last in the league in points scored, assists per game, total turnovers, and field goal percentage. One simple move will resolve these offensive woes: Cut Shelton Britton.


#22 – Toronto Dinos (17-38)

The Dinos have not been good since the glory days of fabricated persona “Guillermo Thomas.” From three straight league finals appearances they have missed the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons. And make this season seven out of eight. That’s bad. The team cannot seem to score or defend but do excel in one single category: three point shooting. In fact they lead the entire league in three point percentage and total three pointers.  Yet are still close to last in scoring. Put those two together. Head scratcher.


#21 – Le Mans Hunters (47-2)

Tricked you! This is not a WBA team. But in fact they are a better team than any of the previously mentioned “WBA franchises.” Even with injuries Le Mans is currently undefeated at home.


#20 – Frankfurt Fury (12-43)

After missing the playoffs for eight straight seasons these Fury have been booted out of the first round for the last three seasons. That’s what I call gradual progression. Oh wait now it seems they are right back to their losing ways. What’s weird is this is actually a talented team led by former lottery selections Fola Onibiyo, Asher Irving, and Ayo Gowon. At least they are better than the best D league team.


#19 – Chicago Hitmen (17-37)

These Hitmen have made the playoffs in only two out of the last nine seasons, and after this season, two out of the last ten. They seem content at that level so long as they can witness Piotr Stoklosa swat shot after shot. With another top draft pick on the way we will hope Chicago turns things around before the end of the century.


#18 – Los Angeles Gargoyles (18-37)

The Gargoyles have made the playoffs once in eleven seasons and after this season make that once in twelve seasons. We can’t really say they are “led” by anyone but Claude Weidner puts up the most shots. The team is pretty good at rebounding but also pretty good at missing shots. So the two characteristics off set each other. The bad news is the Pandas have their first round draft pick so this really is not the time to be tanking.


#17 – Cape Town Zulus (21-34)

Once perennial playoff contenders Cape Town has missed the playoffs in three of the last four seasons, and is on the verge of missing out again. Bad luck with injuries this year may be to be blame. However, coaching may be significant part of the equation. Heinrich Rarich is one of the most talented players in the game yet is only playing 32 minutes. Safe to say if a superstar like him played 40 minutes a game the team may have a few more wins.


#16 – Shanghai Pandas (18-39)

These Pandas are much too talented to be 6-23 on the road. Something is up with the coaching decisions. Despite having exceptional scorers like Chris Acklin the team struggles to score as a whole. Perhaps being near last in assists and offensive rebounds has something to do with that. Hopefully they can fill some of these holes with two lottery picks in the upcoming draft.


#15 – Barcelona Counts (22-32)

Like clockwork we all can count on the Counts to make the playoffs and get eliminated in round one or two. In fact that has been the whole history of the franchise. Now despite having the deep pockets of a top three payroll in the league the team is struggling on the whole. Money does not buy wins but it may buy happiness. Perhaps unproven point guard Jeremy Bono has something to do with the team’s woes this season.


#14 – Salt Lake City Fanatics (25-28)

The Fanatics have now paired the most overpaid player in the league JuJu Wambaugh with one of the most overrated in Michael Askins. It is no wonder they are floating under .500. Yet despite a losing record, they are still expected to make the playoffs in the weaker USA conference.


#13 – Albacete Burning Hell (26-28)

Albacete had almost pulled off a perfect rebuild landing top draft sensation Sebastian Solana and big name free agents like Klaas Binsenshaum but then they managed to sabotage themselves by acquiring psychologically damaged Urban Navratil who has not been himself since getting thrashed by Hassan Watt in last season’s finals. After an MVP season in the D league he is now a middling one dimensional shooter. Que paso? Apparently he is not happy trying to fulfill GM Alcaraz’ dream of fielding four shooting guards at the same time.


#12 – Colorado Pioneers (33-23)

Now we get to the good teams! These young Pioneers are showing promise with a proud 21-7 home record. Hancho Durrant has become an elite three level scorer and is surrounded by a solid bunch of role players. Unfortunately Darond Lyons may be on his last productive season as a WBA player.


#11 – Cancun Outlaws (30-26)

Outlaws on a winning streak used to be as common as the sun rising over Chichen Itza. After parting ways with Clement Trentesols and deciding to rebuild the Outlaws had the unfortunate luck of tanking for a weak draft class and landing Saavedra. Nonetheless, Pat Fullum has decided to make due with what he has. And in a move to remedy a past errors, the acquisition of Kevin Whitlock has truly changed the outlook of the franchise behind 37 points a game the team is once again fun to watch. Even if they are a bit wimpy at defense.


#10 – Brooklyn Rage (29-25)

Mario Bailey is not walking through that door. Oh wait, that’s still him although we only see his shadow these days. The times have changed. These days the Rage are more about offense than defense. The team averages a league best 34.8 assists, taking on the personality of young point guard phenom Trenton Adams. Rumors circulate Bailey may be retiring after the season now the team’s fourth option on offense. If not, questions arise over whether Reynoso will once again open up checkbook to retain Bailey and Miles. The price for nostalgia is at least a full mid level exception. After winning six championships in the last eleven seasons it may be a while before Brooklyn even reaches the conference finals.


#9 – Edmonton Eskimos (32-24)

These Eskimos are a talented bunch as one of the league’s best rebounding teams and a balanced top ten offense and defense. No question two former number one selections are the key. Kenyatta Davidson is the offensive engine while Guy Piavet mans the boards. They are surrounded by solid role players who can defend, pass and take care of the basketball. With the right lineup combination, and staying healthy this team could be a sleeper in the playoffs.


#8 – Atlanta Bloods (30-23)

For some reason the Bloods tend to play better in the playoffs. When a team is built like that you just let it ride. Bonifacio Montoya in particular is like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde who opposing team’s do not want to face. The problem is the regular season usually does not work in their favor. Securing home court would do miracles for Atlanta. Oh and utilizing the D league to improve internally would help as well.  Please send Michael Perry to the D league!


#7 – Miami Xtreme (36-20)

These Xtreme need to be renamed the Miami Pickpockets as they lead the league in steals per game at 12.8. What is interesting is Venceslas Portocarrero has slowly taken the reigns as the team’s best player and MVP candidate. That is saying a lot when Jervan Timmons is your point guard. Wait? Timmons had 16 steals in Brooklyn. I take that back Timmons is still the GOAT. Together they are like Batman and Superman. Forget Robin.


#6 – London Badgers (33-21)

Benet de Gama is quite possibly the best player in the league. While Fulgencio Lurdes is quite possibly the best center in the league. Clement Trentesols is still an elite defender. So why has this team lost 21 games? Well everyone else is just not that good. Even at an advanced age it would have been valuable to have retained Ajan Estay.


#5 – Milan Mayhem (38-19)

The addition of John Keating has turned the Mayhem into a very good team. On track for the 3rd seed in the World Conference. Perhaps not as good as the 2018 Mayhem who took a trip to the league finals but these guys will bully their way to at least the second round. GM Esposito does not do as many trades as he used to  but when he does pull the trigger the deal is usually in his favor.


#4 – Paris Honey Bees (44-13)

These Bees are sporting three All Star starters in Bobbie Mason, Eusebio Blow and Klemens Eberle. This has resulted in a top 5 offense and defense yet are still a tier below the top teams in the league. For one, the team is only connecting on 32% of three pointers, at near the bottom in the league. In addition, this team is only average at passing – what had been a trademark of the Bees offensive attack. Somehow by Bee magic they are second in the league in scoring. You can always expect experimentation from this group so we will see what lineup they ride into the playoffs.


#3 – Arizona Dragons (45-11)

Some thought the Dragons were extinct but these guys are for real: A league best 125 points a game will win you a lot of games. The Dragons also boast a top ten defense so not too shabby on that end either. The mid season addition of Cancun Outlaw number one pick bust Alexander Saavedra has fit in nicely on this squad as a common role player. With a 27-2 home record it will be vital for Arizona to hold onto the best record in the USA conference if they want to make the league finals.


#2 – California Fighting Cocks (45-10)

The defending champs may be missing more shots than years past but they are making up for it on the offensive boards with a league best 16.6. This is not the same team that has made multiple finals appearances. Marc White is all but out of the rotation, Kurt Beck has lost his offensive prowess, and Dan Kincaide is no longer an elite three point shooter. These were vital cogs who got old. Now the team is ever more reliant on Hassan Watt – so it will be a chess match in the playoffs, if you stop Watt you stop the team. Nonetheless, these are still the defending champs and I put them ahead of Arizona especially with the home court advantage, which they have now taken.


#1 – Gabon Giants (52-5)

The Giants boast the league’s most efficient defense by a wide margin and is on track to improve upon the best season in Giants history. They are 25-1 in Gabon. This is championship level home court advantage. If Artie Duggons had not gone down for the playoffs a different story may have been written. Now behind an MVP type season for Artie Duggons, the Giants are poised to take what has eluded the franchise: the WBA championship. In addition, to being the favorites for the championship trophy they are also favorites to land the number one pick in the draft, we can thank the Vegas Gamblers. So the question is not whether Gabon will in the championship it is whether Gabon is poised to win 6 championships?

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