[Fleacher Report] The Early Robin's EoS Team Reviews

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[Fleacher Report] The Early Robin's EoS Team Reviews

Postby Anonymous13423 » July 3rd, 2018, 6:53 pm

The Early Robin's EoS Team Reviews
by Scott Masterson

Part 1: Western Conference Basement

Arizona Whips

25-55 (12th in WC)
Points For: 101.29 (12th in WC)
Points Against: 106.94 (11th in WC)
Point Difference: -5.65 (11th in WC)

The Arizona Whips began this year's offseason by sending Lance Wildfyre to the Bangor Tides in what was often dubbed as a "win-win trade" at the time; after all, Wildfyre had activated his contract renegotiation clause, and the Whips were seen as getting what they could out of a high-caliber player rather than risk losing him for free. Unfortunately, they happened to have an oversight concerning which of their newly acquired players were worth keeping, as they traded away potential starting point guard Shou Masaru to the Wildcards for... Kamakani Iona? While I feel this was a move to bolster Tobias Macklin's starting chances at the PG spot, it soon became clear that he wasn't up to standards, and only after former #1 overall pick Monty Silverthorn stepped in did the position somewhat stabilize.

The Whips struggled hard this season, with no reliable leader figure or scoring ace emerging to end a losing streak or pull in that close game. Blanc Mange, one of the key players involved in the Wildfyre trade, has severely felt the repercussions of age hit him, and Serhan Tevetoğlu seemed too busy attempting to score threes instead of doing what he should be doing: defending the post. Rookie swingfur J.C. Golde, franchise homeboy Morgan McCarthy, and Silverthorn all had bright moments here and there, but their efforts alone could not save the Whips from missing the playoffs for the second year in a row. While they do have a good lottery pick for next year, I feel that they need to re-tool the roster quite a bit, particularly their guards; enticing a quality FA may not be easy due to their recent reputation, but it's something they should look forward to should they want immediate results. Otherwise, I fear that next year will be another to endure for the fans, as the Whips continue on their painful rebuild.

Texas Lone Stars

26-54 (11th in WC)
Points For: 101.74 (11th in WC)
Points Against: 107.51 (12th in WC)
Point Difference: -5.78 (12th in WC)

Coming into the season, the Texas Lone Stars had a lot of things go their way. For one, two of their division rivals had both lost their starting point guards, Lance Wildfyre and Derek Kim, to Eastern Conference teams, and by contrast the Lone Stars had finally gotten a good point guard of their own in Aragon Fisher. Sure, they'd lost François Martineau to the Totems and passed on the #2 overall prospect in the draft, but based on their results from last season, surely this would be enough for them to at least scrape through the postseason, right?


The Lone Stars started off November in a disastrous fashion, losing seven of their first eight games. Their play seemed to pick up steam during the end of the month before a long-term injury hit their ace scorer Marcus Knight, and just when he was about to recover, another long-term injury hit walk-on sensation Roland Buckley, ruining their chances even further. Amidst all this, the Canadian fish bigfur duo of Wesley Lachs and Ahti Nereus seemed to collapse, no longer capable of holding their own against other teams' bigfurs. Add the fact that the coaching staff seemed unable to put faith on a consistent starting lineup (Fisher, Buckley, and Lachs being the notable casualties of this), and the team discombobulated once more, returning to the basement for the third straight year.

There are quite a few things that need to be fixed for this team in order to achieve a successful rebuild, but one in particular is the waste of their lottery picks. Three years in a row, management has used the team's first round pick in a position in which they already had an established starter in (Martineau/Berger-Kane had Knight, Ishijima had Lachs), and three years in a row, that lottery pick has failed to make a difference within the team. Conclusion? They either need to pick prospects more suited for the team, or trade their lottery pick for a starter-level talent. If this does not happen, then whatever else management is planning could all be for naught.

San Jose Thrust

35-45 (10th in WC)
Points For: 103.85 (8th in WC)
Points Against: 104.04 (5th in WC)
Point Difference: -0.19 (7th in WC)

The other two teams in the Western Conference that missed the playoffs didn't quite have the problems that Texas or Arizona had, but they both had flaws which were clearly exploitable, and ultimately couldn't survive in an ultra-competitive West.

In the case of the Thrust, one particular flaw was created when Jonathan Lawyer decided to replicate former Thrust draftee Buck Hopper's career by jumping to the Dakota Bikers, Rachel Barsky unable to replace the production or the drive that he provided. Another was that second-year point guard Jona Vastenhout, while already proficient in playmaking, still seemed unable to improve upon his shooting ability this season. While this wasn't exactly noticeable in the team's overall statistics, it came back to haunt them in those close games decided by one or two baskets in which the Thrust did not have a clutch long-range shooter to pull that game-winning shot; add in the fact that the Pacific Rim Division was the most competitive division in the already competitive conference, and this led to the Thrust's first elimination from playoffs since Reiko Akemi took over as general manager.

Not all was lost for the Thrust fans this season, however. Barnaby Jazz was a powerhouse at center both offensively and defensively, Alessandro Serra was quiet but consistent at shooting guard, and Dewitt Azad Ghakhar finally rose up as a defensive threat alongside Jazz. Given the team's overall statistics, it's very possible that a good draft pick or free agent signing at the small forward spot, along with other improvements, could get the team back on track again. Meanwhile, Vastenhout is a free agent after this season, and the Thrust may have to make a choice between keeping him, or switching Serra back to PG and looking for a quality shooting guard instead. Personally, I feel his playmaking abilities mean the Thrust need to keep hold of him, but we'll see what management thinks.

Las Vegas Wildcards

36-44 (9th in WC)
Points For: 102.01 (10th in WC)
Points Against: 103.40 (4th in WC)
Point Difference: -1.39 (10th in WC)

Coming off a Conference Finals appearance and long-time point guard Li Ho Fook's retirement, the Wildcards had to secure Misha Maxwell from free agency and get Fook's replacement this offseason. But just when they got potential starting PG candidate Shou Masaru for pretty much nothing, they decided that it was a good idea to get Ryan Malone from FA and turn him into a point guard... despite him never playing the position. He was still good enough in the production department despite his age, but he simply was not the playmaker that the Wildcards hoped he would have been.

But the real problem this season lay with Fenruss Brylee. This is his second of a potential three years with the team, but his offensive production already seems to have fallen significantly from his first year; so far, his lucrative (although relatively short) contract seems far from justified, and his revival from this year's form is key if Vegas wants to make the playoffs next year.

There were bright spots on the team nonetheless. Both Misha Maxwell and Wayne Kirkpatrick were reliable scorers when the team needed them the most, and despite falling a bit short on offense, the bigfur duo of Brylee and second-year center Lee Baraquin were able to provide good defense near the post. Should the Wildcards keep Baraquin in free agency and settle their point guard issues, whether Brylee can get it going offensively again may not be as big of an issue; however, the PG pool this offseason is rather scarce and Baraquin may want to move to a contending team, so this is certainly no easy task for the management.

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[Fleacher Report] The Early Robin's EoS Team Reviews

Postby Anonymous13423 » July 4th, 2018, 3:55 pm

The Early Robin's EoS Team Reviews
by Scott Masterson

Part 2: Eastern Conference Basement

Albany Alphas

21-59 (12th in EC)
Points For: 99.44 (T-11th in EC)
Points Against: 106.47 (10th in EC)
Point Difference: -7.03 (12th in EC)

After the sudden departure of Rodger Umaechi, the team's undisputed ace, to the Baltimore Spirits, the Albany Alphas were pretty much forced to go on the rebuilding track while playing minimum salary free agent signings on the court. To their credit, the Alphas did what they could do in a rough situation; they got hotshot point guard Tay Delgado from the Taproots in what was probably the most lopsided trade deal during the season (more on this later), and walk-on signing Yesina Selas was a decent find in free agency despite her temperamental issues. While #2 overall pick Niran Panichkul struggled a bit in the starting position, so did Barnaby Jazz before exploding in his second year, so he certainly has time left to fulfill his potential.

Of course, the downside to focusing on the future was that their immediate results inevitably suffered. Despite franchise players Apiatan Redmane and Viran Kivar's best efforts, the Alphas sank to the bottom of the league this year, posting their worst record since the 2013-14 season. They did get the #1 draft pick in the lottery, though, and they will need to make the most out of it.

One possible dilemma for the team is whether they should keep Redmane and Kivar, both of whom will be declaring for free agency in the offseason. The logical solution would be to rebuild the team around the two players, but I have a feeling Redmane may be dealt if the team chooses All-Star prospect Akiak Pratt as their starting shooting guard. Either way, if the Alphas want to make the playoffs next season, they need to be busy filling in the holes in both the starting lineup and the bench, but considering they have a healthy amount of cap space, this could be surprisingly easy if management gets a grip and signs the right players.

Lorain Firestorm

30-50 (9th in EC)
Points For: 99.44 (T-11th in EC)
Points Against: 102.89 (4th in EC)
Point Difference: -3.45 (10th in EC)

The Firestorm barely missed the playoffs this season, losing the eighth and final spot to the Huntsville Mayors after they lost their final game to the Biloxi Voodoo. Their actual results, however, display that there were serious problems within the team that were failed to be addressed all season long.

The most critical problem was that the team did not have a stable center for most of the season. Parting with Aisha Melbourne might have appeared to be the pragmatic solution based on concerns regarding her age, but when Lorain couldn't get a good replacement during the offseason, disaster struck. Samuel Roberts seemed to work as a placeholder for the first few games before falling victim to a long-term injury, and #9 overall pick Aracely Sanchez continued the bigfur struggles of the 2017 draft class as she floundered in the starting position. While they did get Miguel Mendoza from the Thrust near the end of the season, it was too little, too late.

Sadly, this was not the 'Storm's only problem. Michelle Sundos signed a lucrative contract with the team after rejecting a similar offer from Las Vegas, but she fell below expectations in offensive production and ultimately created a hole in the point guard spot as well. Lorain fans will need to hope that she comes up to her usual standards prior to this season in order for the team's resurgence.

There were some bright spots, however. Leonardo De Hugo was a reliable scoring asset at shooting guard as always, and the avian forward duo of Agundio Atti-Morales and Edwin Griega had explosive moments amidst occasional inconsistency, enough to win them both All-Star honors. Danica Magnano was also a surprise as she covered the two starters' inconsistencies from the bench rather well.

What now for the Firestorm? They definitely need to keep De Hugo and maybe Magnano as well if possible, and they will need to somehow get a decent center from a relatively large bigfur pool. I don't know if they are willing to amnesty Sundos at the moment, but considering the PG market is very thin this season, it may be better to hope for a career resurrection from her.

Tallahassee Typhoons

26-54 (10th in EC)
Points For: 100.03 (10th in EC)
Points Against: 103.43 (5th in EC)
Point Difference: -3.41 (9th in EC)

The Typhoons had all the makings of a failing team this season: the overpaid signing of Sarah Lancaster as the starting point guard to replace team legend Klaus Korber despite her never playing the position, a dysfunctional team atmosphere mostly led by Jake Velox's outspoken trade requests, and a head coach who seemed to be stuck in past glory and refused to admit her mistakes on and off the court. Add it all up, and it's only because the bottom of the Eastern Conference was egregiously below standards that they somehow remained in playoff contention until three games left in the season. While Narkissa Kassius and Rosalie Smoot struggled to keep the team afloat, and Neil LaRocca averaged a double-double per game until being mysteriously benched for some reason, it wasn't enough for the team to make the postseason.

Another peculiar issue with this team has to be the missteps considering the starting small forward position. Tahiry Andriamatsinoro was the best scorer for the team in the first month of the season before he was mysteriously benched in favor of Amelia Springer and occasionally Phryne Harred. Apparently, none of these three players were good enough to fill the spot, as the Typhoons somehow acquired Travis Buckner from the Taproots in a deadline deal at a last ditch attempt for the playoffs; however, the team couldn't handle the sheer amount of away games in the final month of April, losing every away game but one, predictably missing the playoffs in a hot mess of a season.

Where do the Typhoons go now? Theoretically, if they manage to get a new point guard to replace Lancaster and lock up their FAs nice and tight, they could make a resurgence; however, management is refusing to put Lancaster out of her misery, and Velox, Andriamatsinoro and LaRocca all seem more likely to jump ship. My feeling is that, as long as the management of this team fails to see the obvious, this team will continue to sink. One thing I'd like to give them credit for, though, is that the management at least has a certain direction for the team in mind: to win with an unwinnable team. Not really a pleasant one, but a direction nonetheless. Sadly, I can't say the same for the next team on the list.

Plymouth Taproots

24-56 (11th in EC)
Points For: 101.03 (9th in EC)
Points Against: 107.46 (12th in EC)
Point Difference: -6.43 (11th in EC)

What the hell was this team even doing I can't even.

The Taproots started the offseason by trading 2017 Rookie of the Year Erik Toivonen to the Baltimore Spirits for Theodore Rockwell. While this wasn't a good trade by any means, it at least had the excuse that the reindeer was threatening to jump ship if there was no change with the management. But then they completely flopped during free agency, missing out on all but one of their hopeful signings, even losing defensive center Darius Cole to the Moonshiners in the process. They did get Rex Kearsarge, but he was a clear downgrade from even Cole, let alone compared to the other strong centers in the league. Surely this should have been a sign to let go of this season and look towards the future, right?


On November 23, 2017, the Plymouth Taproots made the worst trade deal of the season: trading #5 overall pick and budding rookie point guard Tay Delgado to the Albany Alphas for James Frestrikial and René Lacoste. Why management thought that this was a team that could get immediate results, I have no idea, especially considering they were 2-9 at the time of the trade. It's not as if Lacoste or Frestikial did anything to change the team's fortunes either, as neither managed to score more than double digits per game. But the Eastern Conference was just bad enough for the Taproots to maybe make an April run, and with most of their games being at home, surely this was a sign to make their last ditch effort, right?


On a deadline day deal that really took way too long to process, they traded away Travis Buckner to the Tallahassee Typhoons for Amelia Springer, destroying what was left of the team's momentum as the team sank to the bottom of the league, only slightly better than their fellow division rivals, the Alphas. In the end, the Taproots missed the playoffs again after completely wasting yet another year's opportunity to rebuild, choosing to put all their eggs in the playoffs basket instead.

What's worse is that this wasn't simply a "bad luck" or "horrible judgement of player ability" problem; this could have all been prevented had management actually tried to do something. They do have a lottery pick for this year's draft, but it won't matter if they request a trade like Toivonen or get pawned off like Delgado. Just like last year and the year before, the entire league is prescribing a rebuild, but I have a feeling that nothing will change and the Taproots will be the laughingstock of the league for the fourth year in a row... unless management completely changes from what it has been in the past three years.

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[Fleacher Report] The Early Robin's EoS Team Reviews

Postby Anonymous13423 » July 5th, 2018, 5:30 pm

The Early Robin's EoS Team Reviews
by Scott Masterson

Part 3: Western Conference Quarterfinalists

Hawaii Kahunas

44-36 (6th in WC)
Points For: 104.75 (6th in WC)
Points Against: 104.99 (9th in WC)
Point Difference: -0.24 (8th in WC)

On paper, the Kahunas' regular season don't look too bad, even when considering that they were projected to be one of the top teams of the West preseason. But their metrics showed that they were relatively pretty lucky to have duked it out with the Howlers for the fifth place seed, and their playoffs sweep against Alaska pretty much exposed the team's weakness at large. Yes, not "weaknesses", "weakness".

Teo Masalia was one of the worst point guards of the league this season, with below average stats in both scoring and playmaking: hell, even Ryan Malone did a better job than he did this season, and he never even played the position before! I'll admit that his stint with the Kahunas has been somewhat of a career revival after it looked like he was done with the Minutemen, but now it seems that even this "second wind" has petered out; I won't deny that his leadership was a key factor in the Kahunas initially breaking out in the West, but perhaps this is the part where he may need to call it curtains lest he risk further embarrassment (see: Lancaster, Sarah).

Fortunately, the rest of the starting lineup was much better than Masalia. Scoonie Barrett and Zack Tate were the most defensively dominant bigfur duo this season, contributing to the team topping the league in both rebounds and offensive rebounds per game. Julian Cross-Kiraly led the team in points per game and won deserved All-Star honors along with Barrett, and Warren Doyle was also a solid presence at small forward as well. Should the Kahunas get a decent point guard or if long-time backup Sofia Kikian steps up, and they re-tool their bench a bit, I don't see a reason why they shouldn't be able to challenge for the title... but again, this year's PG pool is a bit scarce, which may make life harder for them this offseason.

Winnipeg Voyageurs

40-40 (8th in WC)
Points For: 102.83 (9th in WC)
Points Against: 103.28 (3rd in WC)
Point Difference: -0.45 (9th in WC)

After 2016 Rookie of the Year Derek Kim left the Voyageurs for the Biloxi Voodoo (citing "stagnation" as a major issue), the Canadian team's prospects for the season initially looked rather dire, even with the acquisition of veteran bigfur Aisha Melbourne. At the beginning of the season, these worries seemed close to coming true; however, long-time prospect Mike Timmids eventually was able to stabilize the team to a degree (although I'm not sure if he deserved to be the highest paid player of the team), and they scraped through the regular season in eighth place, all in a hyper-competitive Western Conference. They then shocked the world by taking Game 1 away from Seattle... but then quickly fell apart as the Summit took the next four games.

Despite Alyssia Silverman's last-minute surge as shooting guard, the general winning formula of the team was extremely centered around Yves Carbonneau. If he played well, they would win, but if he didn't, the other players usually couldn't step up in his place. Kevin Malka in particular had a slightly disappointing season with poor shooting accuracy, although he did somehow manage to outscore and out-rebound Melbourne, who clearly felt the repercussions of age this season.

Carbonneau will be a free agent this offseason, and it's perhaps Winnipeg's greatest priority to keep hold of him with a large sum of money this time; Silverman, who is also entering free agency, also may be worth a look should all the prime options for shooting guard face heavy competition. I feel that the best scenario for this team is to keep their FAs and getting a center reaching peak form, but new management should be prepared to spend much more money on their players after getting the keys from the team's current owner, lest they keep losing even what they already have.

Edmonton Totems

41-39 (7th in WC)
Points For: 105.05 (5th in WC)
Points Against: 104.20 (6th in WC)
Point Difference: 0.85 (5th in WC)

The Totems were a bit of a peculiar case this season. Given how they did last year in the regular season, I thought that they would make a challenge for the Western Conference title after Montana lost out on Sterling Bengtzing; they even improved on their previous lineup by adding former Lone Star François Martineau into the mix as well. But when the season began, it turned out that their best players were no match to the best players of other teams, and despite having a solid, balanced lineup, they ended up in seventh place when all was said and done. Their team synergy initially seemed to do a good job against the Dakota Bikers in the first round, but ultimately they couldn't handle Matthew Silvius waking up as they fell in six games.

I feel that this team is in a Catch-22 at this point; on one hand, they may have to improve on their starting lineup in order to seriously challenge the current giants of the West, but on the other hand, doing so may break up team chemistry to a point where it does more harm than good. Everyone on the Totems roster is pulling their own weight in some way or another, and asides from some shooting accuracy nitpicks from the three-point line, I can't really fault anyone for the Totems' current state of affairs.

What happens next year? Keeping Baxter Buckley and Beau Dapremont in free agency would be good. One of their current stars breaking out would be even better. Different approaches to in-game coaching could also be the solution. Maybe a new star signing could motivate the original players to better. Ultimately, though, this is a very balanced team with a pretty high ceiling, if only everyone on the team can hit their maximum level of potential... it won't be easy, but it's something that management need to think about during the offseason.

Montana Howlers

44-36 (5th in WC)
Points For: 104.06 (7th in WC)
Points Against: 103.23 (2nd in WC)
Point Difference: 0.84 (6th in WC)

The Howlers had a bit of a rough season compared to last year after having to deal with several issues throughout the year. Of course, the most notable one was Sterling Bengtzing's departure to the Biloxi Voodoo, leaving a gaping hole in the bigfur lineup that neither Wescot Yobia nor Pierre Caro could fill properly all season long. The power forward spot also turned out to be a weak spot as Brax Trenor collapsed compared to last season and LaShawn Grandon wasn't substantially better as his replacement. Meanwhile, the small forward spot was contended between Vincent Maraundi and Regulus Lowenthal, with the former maybe getting too many chances and the latter maybe getting too few; ultimately, though, neither player was able to fully cement a starting spot coming into the offseason. Considering the problems with the team, one might ask: how the hell did this broken team finish fifth in the Western Conference and duke it out to a seven-game series against the Spectrums?

The answer: Ren Inoue and Kresta Renstill. The guard duo was the best duo of last year, and they carried on being similarly outstanding this year as well, both of them capturing All-Star honors, scoring more than 20 points per game, and carrying the Howlers to victory whenever possible. Whenever either one of them left the starting lineup due to injuries, the bottom fell out hard, and this was especially notable in their quarterfinal Game 6 against the Spectrums when Inoue left in the first quarter and the Howlers couldn't hold up their lead without him.

Inoue is locked up in a long-term contract for the next three years, but Renstill is a free agent after this season; they do have enough cap space to keep her, but considering she may want to be in a contending team, the Howlers may need to make heavy reinforcements, particularly in the bigfur positions, in order to have the edge in negotiations. If not, they may be forced to sign-and-trade her to another team in order to rebuild for the future, and this just might be too risky for the team even in the long run.

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[Fleacher Report] The Early Robin's EoS Team Reviews

Postby Anonymous13423 » July 6th, 2018, 4:51 pm

The Early Robin's EoS Team Reviews
by Scott Masterson

Part 4: Eastern Conference Quarterfinalists

Queens Pride

34-46 (7th in EC)
Points For: 104.31 (6th in EC)
Points Against: 106.28 (9th in EC)
Point Difference: -1.97 (7th in EC)

This was a bit of a weird, and ultimately unsuccessful, season for the Pride. First off, after the departure of former starting center Stefan Kiković, they chose to fill the hole with Rosalind Baumhauer, a second-round pick from Edmonton last year, instead of a stable veteran. Also, they decided the best setup for the guard lineup would be Samantha Anderson and Zoie Wilds, neglecting former #1 pick Aurora Goldshine along the way. On top of all that, franchise player Adam Tevela got involved in a sex scandal in the middle of the season, dragging down the team even further. They somehow made it to the postseason, but this was honestly thanks to other teams doing even worse; they would not have made it had they been in the West. Tevela got back in form in time for the playoffs, but everyone else, particularly Micah Davenport, got silenced against the Voodoo as they got swept in the first round. The fact that they used two backup-level guards while neglecting Wilds in their final two games didn't help matters.

With Tevela announcing that he will be undergoing contract renegotiation, the future of the team seems to be in dire straits; the only relatively solid asset in the team now is Davenport, and the rest of the team is in a hot mess at the moment. It would particularly be a good idea to get the guard talent of the team in order and getting their priorities straight, after of course delivering a new contract offer to Tevela. Baumhauer may have been better than some other overpaid centers this season, but the abundance of good centers this free agency means that the Pride might want to look for a better option this offseason as well. I have a feeling that a dedicated head coach could be the solution to sort things out on the court, but we'll see.

Huntsville Mayors

31-49 (8th in EC)
Points For: 102.31 (7th in EC)
Points Against: 104.99 (7th in EC)
Point Difference: -2.67 (8th in EC)

To say that the Mayors had an inconsistent season would be an understatement. After struggling against their division rivals all season long, they barely made the postseason after the Firestorm's final game blowout against the Voodoo. They were predicted to be swept by the conference-dominating Bangor Tides in the first round, and for the first three games this seemed to be the case... but then they proceeded to take the next three games and were one game away from achieving the first reverse sweep ever in the FBA. Ultimately, Game 7 was taken away by the Tides, but they were extremely close to making that upset a reality.

The Mayors' biggest weakness this season was Jim McCormick. Gone are the days in which he used to be a reliable offensive threat; now all that remains of him are spotty defense and inaccurate shooting. It's very possible that Huntsville's sudden turnaround during the playoffs was because the coaching staff axed him from the starting lineup and replaced him with rookie Natasha Rous; while it was too little, too late, it does give a hint on which direction the team should take in the upcoming season.

Other than fixing the hole in the small forward position, the Mayors probably need to keep Emina Ferhatović in free agency and re-tool their bench a bit this offseason. If these things happen and the #steak duo hit their peak form, the Mayors could return to contending status relatively easily; considering there are a lot of good small forwards up and coming in both FA and the draft, this is probably easier than the tasks set up for some other teams.

Pittsburgh Keystones

39-41 (6th in EC)
Points For: 105.54 (5th in EC)
Points Against: 105.30 (8th in EC)
Point Difference: 0.23 (6th in EC)

The Keystones had a relatively strong start to the season, flirting with the second place spot in the conference for quite a while (the first, of course, was long since out of reach). But then the team kept taking hits in their home games (including a three-game home promo stretch where they lost all three) and ultimately slipped below the .500 mark by the end of the season. They had a well-fought series against the Tennessee Moonshiners that went to seven games, but could not overcome Tennessee's home advantage in the end.

Shirley Takamoto was the team's undisputed ace this season, leading the team in points per game; however, the fact that the second highest scorer was rookie forward Carlos Reyes might be a sign that the rest of the team was not up to their usual standards. Randy Catcher and Terrence Tolliver both had shot accuracy problems all season long, and they couldn't exactly match their production in previous seasons. While Catcher does have a long-term successor in Erik Kijani, Tolliver failing could turn out to be detrimental in the long run. Christiaan Hengst was relatively decent in his fourth year of play, however, and the backups of Tyrone Gale and Alan Murphy did help cover some of the starters' inconsistencies.

The Keystones have traditionally been a team that did well based on drafts, and Reyes was yet another gem that general manager Mark Quintaux found in the pile of draftees this season; however, they may need to do a better job during free agency in order to go beyond their current status. Murphy's eight-figure contract expires this offseason, and Pittsburgh could easily use that extra cap space to acquire a new bigfur, or even Tolliver's competitor should he show continued signs of mediocrity... but we'll see.

Williamsburg Minutemen

45-35 (4th in EC)
Points For: 105.60 (4th in EC)
Points Against: 102.38 (2nd in EC)
Point Difference: 3.22 (3rd in EC)

Fresh off dominating the Eastern Conference last season, the Williamsburg Minutemen were expected to clean house this year as well, with even some reinforcement at the center position in the form of Todd Hu from the Huntsville Mayors. Unfortunately, however, they started off the season by getting stomped at home by the Bangor Tides, and this turned out to be a premonition that they simply weren't as good as they were last season. They did recover enough by the end of the season to snatch the division title from Baltimore, but eventually couldn't overcome the star power of Umaechi and Toivonen in the quarterfinals, as they fell in seven games against the Spirits.

The trifecta of Vera La Tierra, Crystal Davis, and Renee Fiora were still strong for the team this season, despite slight dips on shot accuracy for the former two; however, Leonard Mack's decline seems to have been detrimental for the starting lineup, as Rebecca McCloud had to switch to power forward and let Hu, who lost out to McCloud in both points and rebounds per game, take the center position. On the bright side, though, Mikaylah Marley was one of the best sixth furs of the league, and Timothy Svengaard and Marcella Oliviera were decent backups as well.

Other than keeping hold of Fiora this offseason, one thing the Minutemen might want to do is to look for an upgrade in one of the bigfur positions. McCloud seems decent enough in either position, but they may not be able to challenge for the top of the Eastern Conference with Hu still in center. The upcoming season also happens to be La Tierra and Davis's final contract years, so I can see the Minutemen going for broke for a quality bigfur, especially considering there are quite a few of them available this offseason.

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[Fleacher Report] The Early Robin's EoS Team Reviews

Postby Anonymous13423 » July 7th, 2018, 5:47 pm

The Early Robin's EoS Team Reviews
by Scott Masterson

Part 5: Conference Semifinalists

Baltimore Spirits

45-35 (5th in EC)
Points For: 106.18 (2nd in EC)
Points Against: 104.61 (6th in EC)
Point Difference: 1.57 (5th in EC)

The Baltimore Spirits were one of the teams to make a big splash in the offseason, getting 2017 Rookie of the Year Erik Toivonen from the Taproots via trade, and signing perennial MVP contender Rodger Umaechi in free agency. Many expected them to take the Eastern Conference by storm based on the star-studded lineup; however, they initially struggled in their first few games and languished in the lower half of the East. It was only after walk-on free agent Robert Munteanu was played as the starting point guard that the team started looking much more cohesive on the court. After finishing fifth via conference record, they took a thrilling seven-game series against the Minutemen in the first round, but couldn't overcome the dominant Bangor Tides in the second as they fell in five games.

The Spirits' strong point this season was their offense. Munteanu was able to provide key chances for his surrounding teammates whenever they needed them, and Toivonen and Quintessa Hartnett made for a decent bigfur combination at the post. Despite decent showings from the starting lineup in general, however, the key player in this team was the coffee husky yet again, who led the team with 20.4 points per game. Mediocre defense held the team back, however, which probably was the reason they couldn't handle the Tides in the conference semis.

Munteanu, Toivonen, and Lindsey Morrison will all be free agents this offseason, and the former two will definitely have tough competition gunning for them, considering that Munteanu is currently one of the best PGs available, and Toivonen is... well, Toivonen. The Spirits do have enough cap space to gun for the best, but keeping Toivonen might not be as easy as everyone thinks it might be, since a) Toivonen might not be satisfied with being the second fiddle to Umaechi, and b) using Toivonen as a power forward is like using a filet mignon to make chicken fried steak. The reindeer has expressed his opinion that he wanted to stay on the team, though, so we'll see how this saga turns out.

Tennessee Moonshiners

46-34 (3rd in EC)
Points For: 101.95 (8th in EC)
Points Against: 100.03 (1st in EC)
Point Difference: 1.92 (4th in EC)

In a season in which most successful teams focused on their offense, the Moonshiners were the one team to go against the current and focus on their defense, culminating in stealing former Taproot Darius Cole in free agency with a massive five-year deal. While he was lackluster offensively, he certainly helped create a suffocating front court defense along with fellow gator Hal Dufrain. The Moonshiners were one of the best teams in the East for the majority of the season, and despite resting their starters for the final stretch, they still ended up third in the conference. This strategy ultimately did not work out them in the playoffs, however, as they had to go down to the wire to beat the Keystones in the first round, and fell against the Voodoo in the second.

They say that defense wins championships, but the Moonshiners had enough offense to win fans as well; Tryce Mallark and Hank Sawyer both won All-Star honors as the top two scorers for the team, with Sawyer also leading the Eastern Conference in assists; Jonas McMillan, acquired from the Huntsville Mayors, also had a decent sophomore season at shooting guard as well. Backup talent also provided decent coverage as well, with Russell Savoy and Marshall Anderson-Rhodes often subbing in for the starters.

One thing the Moonshiners might want to do this offseason is to clear out some of their bench, getting rid of players that cost too much for a bench spot, and trading some of their tried players for some young, undiscovered gems. Other than that, though, most of their starting lineup seems intact for the next few years, and as long as they figure out what to do with their shooting guard spot (either keep McMillan or seek a better option), they should be doing fine next season as well.

Santa Ana Spectrums

47-33 (4th in WC)
Points For: 108.53 (3rd in WC)
Points Against: 104.58 (8th in WC)
Point Difference: 3.95 (3rd in WC)

Fearing that L.V. McDyess might be, the Spectrums attempted to sign Misha Maxwell as their new shooting guard during the offseason; this failed, and for a while they used journeyfur Dorian Black, who they had gotten from free agency instead of Maxwell, as their starter. Rookie guard Killian Belmonte Aquino took over Black's spot, however, and while he was marginally better than his predecessor, he couldn't really fill the hole that McDyess once occupied. Still, a generally well-balanced team overall meant that they were able to edge out the Howlers in a seven-game encounter at the first round of the playoffs, but they then fell to the Summit in six games despite winning their first two away at Seattle.

Aditya Anggun was undoubtedly the key player for the Spectrums this season, leading the team in points and placing third in the league for assists per game. The rest of the starting lineup also pulled their own weight, with Lee Jin-Sung a sustainable scoring threat, Sebastian Kosciusko recovering from last year's slump, and Tyrese Vaughan being a solid wall in the front court. The other rookie Spectrums also stood out to a degree, with Gloria McFang showing deadly accuracy from the bench, and Vendela Malmqvist winning Player of the Game in the Rookie Challenge during All-Star week.

Lee and Vaughan will be free agents this offseason, but the Spectrums probably have enough cap space to keep them both next year, maybe even improve on them should they desire. If they intend to challenge for the title next year, however, they need to look for a quality shooting guard in free agency, as neither Aquino nor Black seem up to the task.

Alaska Arctics

55-25 (3rd in WC)
Points For: 107.93 (4th in WC)
Points Against: 104.56 (7th in WC)
Point Difference: 3.36 (4th in WC)

The Arctics have been a dark horse team for the last few years, always good enough to compete with the best, never good enough to reach the top. This year, however, things changed; based on the solid passwork of Devon Kellendyne, the rampant scoring of 2017 MVP Cliff Matthiews and Otis Najac, the solid post play of Ogun Okayu, and the new blood of Josh Severt, they not only soared to the top of the Pacific Rim Division for the second straight year, but also made a dangerous run to catch the Dakota Bikers in the Western Conference by the end of the regular season. Eventually finishing third in the West, they swept the Kahunas in dominant fashion in the first round of the playoffs, but despite getting the first two games away at Dakota in the second round, they would proceed to lose four straight, dropping the series to the Bikers; Severt's injury in the second game may have dampened the atmosphere for the rest of the series.

One problem for this otherwise perfect team might be free agency; Najac will be a free agent this offseason, but the Arctics currently do not have enough cap space remaining to keep him, and they might want to offload some of their higher paid bench players in order to make some room. Next season is Matthiews's last contract year with the Arctics before he goes into free agency as well, and the team could look for immediate results before they risk losing him after next season.

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[Fleacher Report] The Early Robin's EoS Team Reviews

Postby Anonymous13423 » July 8th, 2018, 3:42 pm

The Early Robin's EoS Team Reviews
by Scott Masterson

Part 6: The Final Four

Seattle Summit

61-19 (1st in WC)
Points For: 110.99 (1st in WC)
Points Against: 102.85 (1st in WC)
Point Difference: 8.14 (1st in WC)

Many expected the Summit to not do as well as in previous seasons, mostly because they kept the same roster that they had last season while quite a few of their surrounding teams in the Western Conference made huge reinforcements. However, there was someone on the team that literally no one took into account before the season even began: Kinny DeMarcus. Previously having languished in the bench for multiple teams during multiple years, the viper finally stepped up as the team's starting point guard this season, leading the league in assists per game, and finishing second in the Most Improved Player voting at the end of the season. Add this to an already strong bigfur duo of Jake Turner and Daniel Quvianuq who seemed to be out for blood, and they managed to sneak past the Bikers in the regular season to place first in the conference.

The playoffs, however, somewhat brought the weak point of this team to light: perimeter shooting. The team went 30.93% from beyond the arc in the regular season, which was second to last among all teams in the FBA. It first reared its face when they lost their first home game against the Voyageurs, a team with strong three-point shooters like Carbonneau and Silverman, in the first round; while Winnipeg eventually could not handle Seattle's overall strength as a team, proceeding rounds would have them face much better opposition. The Spectrums actually managed to take two home games away from Seattle before losing four in a row, and the Bikers, who led the league in scoring threes, would eventually take the Summit out in six games in the conference finals.

The offseason presents significant troubles for the team. Both Turner and DeMarcus, two key players in the team's success this season, will enter free agency, and while the Summit do have leftover cap space to keep both of them, the competition will definitely be fierce. Should either of them, but especially Turner, happen to jump ship, the bottom might fall out quickly for the team. They will also certainly need to stock up upon some good three-point shooters as well in order to improve upon their weakness, but whether they will have the money to do so while keeping both Turner and DeMarcus, I'm not sure. Should they fill in all the blanks, however, expect this team to contend at the top of the conference yet again.

Bangor Tides

61-19 (1st in EC)
Points For: 114.38 (1st in EC)
Points Against: 107.30 (11th in EC)
Point Difference: 7.07 (1st in EC)

What happened here?

After an aggressive offseason in which they brought in several fresh players into the team, the Bangor Tides took the Eastern Conference by storm in the regular season, going 48-8 in conference games, and tied with Seattle for the best overall record in the league. Lance Wildfyre won the MVP award and topped the league in points per game. Leon Delmont was joint winner of the Rookie of the Year award. Randulf Mackenbach was one of the most productive small forwards this year and was third in MIP voting. Everything seemed destined for them to at least reach the finals this year.

But there was one problem that would plague the team in the playoffs: the defense. As a payoff for a hyper-offensive game, the Tides also had one of the worst defensive records in the league, third only to Texas and Plymouth, both non-playoff teams. We first saw glimpses that the team was not infallible after all when the Mayors were one game away from completing the first reverse sweep ever in the FBA; while Tides fans may have relaxed after they beat the Spirits 4-1 in the second round, Bangor ultimately could not take away an away game from the Voodoo in the conference finals, and were powerless to watch as the Voodoo locked up the Tides' long-range shots and took the series from them.

The Tides are nonetheless still a promising team, and also one of the powerhouses to take it all again next season; now that the team's weaknesses are laid out on the floor, however, their offseason becomes much more important. Asides from looking back onto their team strategy next year to improve on their defense, they will need to increase player depth next season; I feel that the Tides had relatively weak depth compared to some of the other playoff teams, and while their starters may have been enough to carry them throughout the regular season, the lack of depth could have hurt them in short-term matchups. At the same time, however, the Tides don't exactly have a lot of cap space available, so they will need to be clever with who they're selecting to join the team.

Biloxi Voodoo

47-33 (2nd in EC)
Points For: 105.74 (3rd in EC)
Points Against: 102.49 (3rd in EC)
Point Difference: 3.24 (2nd in EC)

Coming into the season, I was a bit skeptical when many journalists predicted that the Voodoo would be a top contender; sure, Derek Kim and Sterling Bengtzing were marquee signings for the team, but I felt the other starters needed to step up in order for them to reach contender status. Kaspar Kuusik was still an unproven rookie back then, and Lee Evans and Tanya Feckle hadn't exactly come off a successful season for Biloxi. The start of the season was also a bit rough, with the Voodoo languishing around the .500 mark for the first couple of months while the team was struggling to get their groove.

But then, slowly but steadily, the team came together. The Voodoo kicked it up a notch starting from the beginning of 2018, eventually culminating in a 12-game winning streak that would last until February; they would falter slightly again in March, but then they turned it up again at the end of the season, with Kim in particular on fire right on time for the playoffs. Sweeping the first round of the playoffs against the Pride, they would then win a close series against the Moonshiners in the second round, and then pull off the biggest upset of this playoffs against the Tides to reach the finals. They would eventually fall in the finals against the Bikers, but were one possession away from taking it all in Game 7, the last game of the season.

The Voodoo may not have been the most consistent team this season, but when they went off, they were on fire. Kim proved that his Rookie of the Year award was no fluke by winning his first All-Star honors after being overshadowed in the Voyageurs for the past year, and Bengtzing's efficient defense at the post won him the Defensive Player of the Year award as well. Kuusik started off slow, but successfully adjusted to the FBA scene by the end of the season as he became joint winner of the Rookie of the Year award, and Feckle and Evans rebounded from a disappointing 2016-17 season to become reliably productive members of the starting lineup.

The Voodoo's offseason does not look to be too bright; a lack of leftover cap space means that they will need to part with some of their higher-paid bench players in order to free up some cash, and players like Andrius Vilkasaitis and Wallace Butler may be seeking greater opportunities elsewhere. The starting five will still be solid for next year, however, and should they manage to sort out their bench in time for next season, they should be able to make a run for the finals yet again.

Dakota Bikers

57-23 (2nd in WC)
Points For: 110.94 (2nd in WC)
Points Against: 105.29 (10th in WC)
Point Difference: 5.65 (2nd in WC)

Ladies and gentlefurs, your 2018 FBA champions, the Dakota Bikers.

The Bikers' offseason brought in several new faces into the team: Jonathan Lawyer, third-year swingfur signed from free agency, Benjamin Durby, acquired from the Tides in a draft pick trade, and Jaylen Rose, the #2 overall rated rookie in the draft. Along with the contract extensions of original stars Matthew Silvius and Dylan Redfield (the latter promoted to team captain after Ryan Malone's departure), this team aimed for the stars straight from the beginning of the season. While there were questions on Silvius's status as a point guard, he was quickly able to adjust to his new position, and dish out both points and assists at an alarmingly fast rate. Lawyer also unleashed his potential as the leading scorer for the team, and the deer duo of Redfield and Durby were also solid at their respective positions as well.

Despite the power forward slot, shared by Rose and second-year tanuki bigfur Mika Mishima, often being pointed out as a weakness, the Bikers cruised through most of the regular season at the top of the Western Conference... but then Silvius got an injury which sidelined him until the end of the regular season, and the Bikers slipped to second place without him. He was back in time for the postseason, but would he wake up in time? Long story short: he did. While he was hot and cold during the first round against the Edmonton Totems, he got his groove going starting from Game 6 of the series, and from then never looked back. While the Arctics and the Summit would give the Bikers some trouble, Silvius, along with his partner Lawyer, were able to take the decisive games when they mattered as the team reached the finals. Eventually, the team was able to edge out a hard-fought series against the Voodoo, with Silvius winning the Finals MVP award after taking PoTG honors in both Game 2 and Game 7.

Given that most of the lineup will remain for next season, I expect the Bikers to contend for the title next season as well; should they seek to improve even further, they could look to fill in Adam Tevela at power forward, but considering that Silvius and Lawyer are the two main scorers, introducing another scorer in the mix could serve to disrupt team balance, so management will have to consider what kind of player they want at the power forward slot. Congratulations on your title, Dakota, but be ready for the next season as well; as the old saying goes, it's a lot harder to defend your champion status than it is to challenge it.

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