Thursday, 07 September 2017 15:37 Written by Jian Lan
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2021 American Conference Preview


2021 Drumm 01
Three-time Heikkinen Cup winner Joseph Drumm went coast to coast this offseason, signing with the Philadelphia Americans as a free agent.

 

The American Conference had several major changes in the landscape this offseason. We see the possible rise and fall of the Americans and Dragoons. The upstart Sun Kings losing a valuable member of their team. Anaheim and Las Vegas improving via trades. All the while, we wonder is anyone really going to prevent the Tritons from a 3rd consecutive trip to the Finals. Let's take look.

American East

The biggest news in the American East is in Philadelphia. After a couple sub-par years, the Americans went out and gave their roster a huge upgrade with the signing of Joseph Drumm and Brian Montes. Drumm and Montes instantly give the team a top 3 backcourt in the league, if not the best overall, and signal that the Americans are in win-now mode. The division's two playoff participants outside of Tampa Bay took major losses; Indiana losing Noah Gutierrez and St Louis losing Daniel Goodrum. Free agency took a bite out of Kentucky as well when Albert Mitchell departed for Portland but the Stallions came back and landed Motya Kamensky. Tampa Bay made no major move but when you've owned the division since forever, there's not much that's needed. Chicago will ride out the year and hope to rebuild next year. Detroit missed out on getting a superstar but they're rebuilding nicely with the drafting of Chris Spitz and the signing of Blaine Fitzwater.

Kentucky Stallions

The Stallions have rebounded nicely since David Witherspoo jetted to South Florida. In fact, they might actually be better now than two seasons ago. Ronald Long and Richard Burke are bruisers in the paint, Motya Kamensky and Andrew Jackson are dynamic wings on the perimeter. The team is lacking only in a starting caliber point guard. Something that they would have had if Mitchell hadn't packed his bags for Portland. Instead, a couple of journeymen, Gene Stowell and Foster Wilkes, will take turns running the show for Kentucky. Regardless, their fan base should expect a return trip to the playoffs. Finally out of the shadow of Flowers and Cole, expect Kamensky to establish himself as an alpha dog.

Philadelphia Americans

The Americans decided to go into win now mode after a couple of down years. Flushed with cap space, the team signed Joseph Drumm and Brian Montes to help them get back to the playoffs. The team also drafted Van Lefevre with the 2nd overall pick. Though too young to contribute this season, Lefevre has loads of talent. But presently, the concerns for the Americans will be how the rest of the roster shakes out. Underrated Chris Graves likely gets the nod at center but the other positions remain uncertain and the bench is very thin. Any injury to Drumm or Montes will spell doom for the team.

St. Louis Sun Kings

St Louis had a great run last year, falling short of the Finals to Tampa Bay. After much rumors about the fate of Dong Richardson and where he would play next, the talented forward resigned with the club in the early days of Free Agency, proving GM Dominik Jenewein right that there was no need for concerns. The Sun Kings did take a hit though when Daniel Goodrum bolted for Denver after several Brinks trucks loaded with Benjamins and Fish Macs were delivered to his house. Despite the loss, St Louis is still a force with Richardson, Frank Williams and superstar-in-waiting Timothy Adler. Emanuel Devos is back to man the post and the team signed Trevon Booth, who appears to have a lot more gas left in the tank.

Tampa Bay Tritons

The division and conference kingpin is back and as talented as ever. Andy Teeters is a year older but remains a top 5 player and the most feared scorer in the league. Hunter Heath,Kevin Gordon, Rajeev Seifert and Ervin Glaser are also returning from last year's Finals squad. While not a lot has changed in Tampa Bay, this year's Tritons look to be better. The former #1 overall pick, Hobert Frisby, had a successful rookie year and should be inserted into the starting lineup over Glaser, giving the Tritons an explosive scorer next to Teeters. The bench is formidable with Arnulfo Milner, Stan McClelland and Ervin Glaser. The Tritons are once again the team to beat.

Chicago Blaze

Chicago is aging fast. The core of Layne Rollins, Chris Semple and Orson Almonte has seen its best days. It's a shame, the trio should have accomplished much more than first round playoff knockouts. There's nothing to be done except play out this season and wait for next year when the team will likely let Almonte, Rollins and Semple all walk. That will clear half of their current salary of $97 million. The Blaze will still be competitive but they have been perennial underachievers and this season will be no different.

Detroit Muscle

After trying to go for quick fixes, the Muscle decided it was time to do rebuilding right. So in the draft the team selected Chris Spitz to pair with last year's selection of Xander Remington. In free agency, the team went hard after young talents but eventually lost out. The front office rebounded with the signing of Blaine Fitzwater to a reasonable 4-year contract against overpaying for flashier players. While slightly undersize, Fitzwater is a legit starter at SG and his ability to rebound, distribute, and defend will help mask the holes on a rebuilding and possibly very inexperienced starting lineup. It's going to be another painful year in Motown but the Muscle are heading in the right direction. They are likely in line for another high pick and will have almost $30 million in the offseason to nab an established star.

Indiana Invaders

The Invaders upped the star power last year by trading for Leif Buyer midway through the season. He looked out of sorts playing second fiddle to Cleveland Hall. Buyer posted a career low in points and had his worst shooting year. Hopefully with a year now together, Buyer would be back to his old self. In free agency, Indiana lost Noah Gutierrez, but was able to find a replacement in always under-appreciated Wayne Eatmon. A team with Hall and Buyer should singlehandedly destroy most teams. Add on top of that big man Oscar Bixby, defensive ace Richard Sturgeon and do everything Eatmon and the Invaders have a team that can be special.

AmEast Predictions:

Division Winner – Tampa Bay

Playoffs – Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Indiana, St Louis, Kentucky

 

American West

The American West has long dominated the conference with powerhouses Anaheim and Kansas City and the continued regular season success of Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Fort Worth. This year will be much different as the West look to have taken a step back. Brian Montes is gone from Fort Worth, Los Angeles is beyond old, and Portland and Sacramento are still a long way from contending for a postseason berth. What once was a big four of Archers, Pioneers, Blackjacks and Dragoons is now down to the big three and very little behind them. The Archers upgraded their roster by trading for Herschel Hofer, the Pioneers reunited GM Ben Johnson and Noah Gutierrez, his star player from Arizona and the Blackjacks added Malik Campbell to an already potent offense.

Anaheim Archers

The Archers pulled off one of the best trades in the off-season when they acquired Herschel Hofer and a first round pick from London in a salary dump. Hofer is arguably the best post defender in the game. What makes him undesirable is his current $19 million contract. But he fits for Anaheim as they look to get back to the finals and boost a defense that allowed 100 points per game last season. Logan Goloboy remains near unstoppable with his size and scoring abilities. Though it might be time though to move him to power forward and give youngest Alain Lagon a shot in the starting lineup. Long Foote and Karl Holley are the returning backcourt. This is probably the best and deepest roster Anaheim has fielded since their championship year.

Kansas City Pioneers

Last season, was the first time in forever that Kansas City did not make it to at least the conference finals. Is this the sign of the end for the Pioneers? Absolutely not. The Pioneers are one of the top teams in the league. The team will once again rely on their All Star guards, Colby Allan and Darell Edwards. At forward, Marshall Gaudett is back along with the Gutierrez brothers (Noah and Abe). The defense remains top-notch in the hands of Dontae Grant, Stephan Willis, Jessie Robertson, et al. The lack of scoring outside of Allan, Edwards and Gaudett was a concern last season and ultimately cost them in the playoffs but that seems to be addressed with the addition of Noah Gutierrez.

Las Vegas Blackjacks

After being outgunned by Tampa Bay in the second round, the Blackjacks decided to reload with more bullets. The team traded defensive ace Louis Lysne for Malik Campbell. Campbell is not the defender that Lysne is but he fits to the Blackjacks philosophy of outscoring opponents. With Domenic Baum and Stephen Lee drawing most of the attentions from defenders, he should see plenty of looks. The trade was as much about additional scoring next to Baum and Lee as it was about replacing the aging Isaac Murphy. Before age caught up to Murphy, the Blackjacks almost took the division. This season Las Vegas climbs to the top.

Los Angeles Chaos

It's unknown how much Los Angeles' aging stars have left. Everett Dolinish is 38 and Kade Kramer is 34. The pair was excellent and injury-free last season while playing off Renato Ardoin but they are a year older now. And despite the good fortune the Chaos were still out in the first round. This season, it might be just the Ardoin show. The team did lose their starting point guard, Horace Robinson. But it's likely not that impactful since Larry Burt can replace his production and looks ready to take over the starting spot.

Fort Worth Dragoons

The Dragoons took a big step back when Brian Montes decided to walk. Could it be that he just wanted a fresh start and was tired of early exits in the playoffs? Or was it just money? We'll never know. We do know that the Dragoons are in serious trouble this year. Every season Fort Worth was always the sleeper team that could go on a deep run and challenge the likes of Anaheim, Kansas City and Tampa Bay. Not so this year. With only Jorge Denis and Matt Torres remaining it'll be a challenge for the team to make their annual postseason trip. Its likely time for management to take a knife to the team and start over.

Portland Lumberjacks

The rebuilding continues in the beaver state. Albert Mitchell was an excellent pickup in free agency and gives the Lumberjacks a young, up and coming point guard to go with their young squad. The team will continue to wait on the developments of Ronald Richardson and Jesse Yoshida and others. It's going to be another long season for Lumberjacks fans but the pieces are coming together. This year's free agency should be welcoming as the team has truckloads of cap space.

Sacramento Snipers

Much like Portland, Sacramento is rebuilding with draft picks and youngsters. The Snipers might have their backcourt of the future in place one they drafted Troy Howse to pair with Rufus Motley. Terrence Latimer, this year's #7 pick shows potential to be star in the league. It's going to take a lot of patience for Snipers fans to get through this season.

 

 

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