Sunday, 16 December 2018 16:02

Quebec Endures Difficult Season, But Await New Era

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The Quebec Coyotes and their fan base endured a difficult season, finishing the season 27-53, 6th place of 7 teams in the National Conference East Division (-38 games of division winner Toronto Huskies), including a six-game losing streak to conclude the season. The 27-53 record represents the worst record in franchise history; however, the most trying part of the season for Coyotes fans may not be the awful record, but the trading of franchise stalwarts C Charles Ottinger and PF Gary Williams after representing the Coyotes in the 2023 OBWL All-Star Game.

With the departure of Ottinger and Williams in a massive four-team trade, the Coyotes acquired assets in the form of four 1st round draft picks, and the expiring $23,934,884 contract of aged superstar SG Andy Teeters. Teeters, 34, played limited minutes with the Coyotes after his tenure with the Tampa Bay Tritons, but appeared to have an impact on some of the younger players with his competitive spirit. Teeters is not expected to be offered a contract and enters free agency having finished the season averaging 11.9 points per game (.421 FG%, .881 FT%, .364 3P%), 3.2 rebounds per game, 1.4 assists per game, 0.5 steals per game, and 0.6 blocks per game in 24.6 minutes per game. The Coyotes did acquire two players in the trade who played significant minutes, including 23-year old PF Frederic Johnson, a piece Coyotes management hopes will become a staple in their long-term plans. Johnson finished the season averaging 12.3 points per game (.466 FG%, .944 FT%, .294 3P%), 4.5 rebounds per game, 1.3 assists per game, 0.2 steals per game, and 0.9 blocks per game in 24.9 minutes per game. Johnson projects as a solid inside presence both offensively and defensively, is lethal at the free throw line, but has the drawback of not being a particularly strong rebounder despite a solid 6’9”, 244 pound frame. The other player, 29-year old PF Elijah Lea, was a solid presence off the bench and finished the season averaging 16.5 points per game (.446 FG%, .750 FT%, .270 3P%), 6.5 rebounds per game, 2.5 assist per game, 0.7 steals per game, and 0.3 blocks per game in 32.8 minutes per game. Both Johnson and Lea will likely return to Quebec next season as they are under contract for $2,913,773 and $6 million, respectively.

The Coyotes currently have seven players totaling $24,510,619 under contract for the 2024 season, though it’s expected SG Frank McGehee will exercise his $12 million to bring the total obligations to eight players totaling $36,510,619. McGehee, 29, has continued his decline nearly every category since his peak 2018 season, where he averaged 15.3 points per game and .404% from three. McGehee finished the 2023 season averaging 8.8 points per game (.416 FG%, .651 3P%, .380 3P%), 2.8 rebounds per game, 2.1 assist per game, and 0.4 steals per game in 21.7 minutes per game (67 games / 42 games started), missing some time due to injury and also being out of the rotation for parts of the season.

When it comes to additional players with obligations for next season, the team gave significant minutes to SF Joe Spurlock and C Daren Fielding. Spurlock, 23, was the 2nd overall pick of the 2019 OBWL Draft, and he’s failed to live up to those lofty expectations. The inconsistent Spurlock impressed in his second and third seasons (17.5 PPG in 2020; 18.0 PPG in 2021), but has seen a decrease in his efficiency over the past couple seasons. Spurlock finished the 2023 season with 11 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game, 1.7 assist per game, 1.1 steals per game, and 0.3 blocks per game in 30 minutes per game (75 games / 69 starts). Spurlock is an athletic specimen, but hasn’t translated that to above average defense at this point in time, nor is he a huge threat driving the lane. His strength to date has been his skills as a three-point shooter, but even that has to increase if he is to truly develop into becoming a part of the future Coyotes’ core. Fielding, 20, was considered a raw project when he was drafted with the 15th overall pick in the 2022 OBWL Draft, but projects to be an above average offensive player in the paint, excellent rebounder, and solid interior defender. Despite a lack of experience, he held his own when given an opportunity this season; he finished the 2023 season averaging 6.9 points per game (.553 FG%, .708 FT%), 4.9 rebounds per game, 1 assist per game, 0.3 steals per game, and 0.2 blocks per game in 23.1 minutes per game. PF/C Garth Hockenberry, 24, also showed solid moments on the court, finishing the season averaging 10.4 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, 1.1 assists per game, 0.3 steals per game, and 0.7 blocks per game in 24.3 minutes per game (80 games / 21 starts). Hockenberry’s contract is expiring, and it’s not a certainty that he returns given the team’s current depth at power forward / center. PG Lynn Brannen (6.5 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 3.5 APG, 0.8 STLPG in 24.3 MPG), 30, struggled and found himself out of the rotation at various points during the season, despite having three years and over $13 million remaining on his contract.

The remainder of the roster primarily consisted of younger players brought in to see who, if any, could stick. Though not spectacular, the Coyotes liked what they saw out of PG Dennis Jacobsen, who averaged 9.4 points per game, 3.6 rebound per game, 2.5 assists per game, 1.8 steals per game, and 0.1 blocks per game in 24.6 minutes per game (17 games / 15 starts). Jacobsen has a limited ability to drive, but is an above average three point shooter with above average defensive ability -- especially in the ability to record steals. His traditional point guard skills in terms of ball handling and passing are limited, but he has a chance to return next season and possibly could project long-term as a role player. SG Joe Nicely, the 15th pick in the second round of the 2023 OBWL Draft, struggled in his rookie year (6.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.2 APG in 17.2 MPG). SF Jerry Lumpkin (6.9 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.8 STLPG, 0.1 BLKPG in 18.1 MPG) and PF Andrew Gibson (5.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.7 STLPG, 0.5BLKPG in 17.8 MPG) didn’t embarrass themselves, but hardly established themselves as diamonds in the rough.

The big question is what the Coyotes will do in free agency and what will they do in the draft?  The Coyotes and Minnesota Marauders tied with the fifth worst record in the league, so it’s unclear at this time who will possess the fifth overall pick / sixth overall pick. The team will have ample room to make significant offers to free agents. Only time will tell what the landscape of the 2024 season will look like for the Quebec franchise and Quebec fans.

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0 #1 Dominik Jenewein 2018-12-18 02:49
Very nice article Josh!

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