Thursday, 14 February 2019 09:58 Written by Jian Lan
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2024 AmCon Season Preview

OBWL All-Star Hunter Heath is back, and so are the Tampa Bay Tritons.

There's a saying: "The more things change, the more they stay the same"...or do they? The American Conference have seen more than its share of changes this offseason. In fact outside of the defending champions, the top tier teams have all made drastic moves to try to dethrone the Sun Kings. Let's take a look at the new landscape and separate the contenders, the hopefuls and the rest.

Contenders: Anaheim, Kansas City, St Louis, Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Tritons

Tampa Bay ruled the American East division for what seem like an eternity until St. Louis finally put an end to their reign. The Tritons were very un-Triton like last season as they traded away Kevin Gordon and the heart and soul of the team, Hunter Heath, for Charles Ottinger, Chris Graves and Frank Williams. Ottinger is the polar opposite of Heath - primarily a scorer and lacking the grit that Heath brought. That showed in the playoffs as the Tritons were unable to hold a 2-0 lead and lost to Philadelphia. In the offseason the team quickly signed Heath and resigned Hobert Frisby during Free Agency. Ottinger was traded to Denver for Darin Deans and Joe Aviles, while Frank Williams was moved to Anaheim for Alain Lagon. The Tritons did lose Andy Teeters, the face of the franchise, but with the return of Frisby and Heath combined with the arrival of Dean, Lagon and Aviles, Tampa bay is poised to reclaim the AmEast and much more.

Anaheim Archers

After falling just short against St Louis in the conference finals, Anaheim went out and traded for Frank Williams and Chris Graves. Williams should add another dimension to one of the best offenses in the league. Graves is another big body similar to Ronald Long and allows the Archers to clog the paint with two 7 footers that can defend and score. Williams address the team's lack of a playmaker and three-point shooting. James Wall is the leader of the team but the sensational guard is a scorer and shooter first trapped inside a PG body. Rounding out one of the best starting lineups in the league is Long Foote, an athletic slasher and great midrange shooter. This team is primed to complete what they fell short of last year.

Kansas City Pioneers

Despite owning the division and having three straight 60+ wins, Kansas City felt changes were needed after their first round exit. Call it what you will but the team blew it up and decided to move away from the Colby and Edwards era. And surprisingly the Pioneers might be better for it. In exchange for their starting backcourt the team received Mack Lavoie (London) and Richard Hardee (Honolulu). Lavoie add a much needed perimeter defender against Cleveland Hall, Renato Ardoin, Brian Montes and the like. But the bigger impact might be the addition of Hardee. He finally gives Ben Johnson's crew an inside presence and move away from a strictly jump shooting team. When the game slows down to a grind they can now dump it inside for higher percentage shots. The re-tooled Pioneers look better offensively AND defensively. The league has been warned.

St. Louis Sun Kings

While others try to upgrade the roster, the Sun Kings stood pat. Why change when you're the defending champs with an intact roster. Dong Richardson, Timothy Adler, Domenic Baum and Jorge Denis are all back to try and be the first in history to repeat. The road will be tough but St Louis is talented and has a generational player in Richardson. He's going to have plenty of help in rising superstar Adler and a dominant backcourt with Baum and Denis. It was controversial when the team traded for Denis. His max contract made him untradeable and financial suicide. It was a long-shot for the point guard needy Sun Kings but Denis has solidified the position and proved that he was the missing element that helped win them a title.

Playoff Hopefuls: Philly, Indiana, Chaos, Vegas, Ft Worth, Detroit

Philadelphia Americans

After failing to find much playoff success Philadelphia walked away from star studded lineups that had featured such notables as Brian Montes, Joseph Drumm, Hunter Heath and Matt Torres. The players were sent packing and in their place are premier post defender Kevin Gordon and superstar Renato Ardoin. Ardoin is one of the best players in the league but perhaps it was East coast media bias that made him unrecognizable to the common fans. Regardless he is now in the City of Brotherly Love and he should expect to become a household name. Gordon is in a surprise place as GM Amado has shown that he prefers scoring above all and Gordon is an one-dimensional defender, though one of the best ever. Despite losing their recognizable stars, the Americans are set to continue their streak of postseason appearances with Ardoin, Gordon and a strong supporting cast (John Newton, Boris Darnell, and Stan McClelland).

Indiana Invaders

With moves being made by every team around them, Indiana maintained their composure and stood firm, living with the mantra "Dance with what got you there" or something similar. Cleveland Hall is one of the best scorers in the game and has single handily carried this team. He's gotten more help of late with the development of Lynwood Jamison and the post duo of Michael Jenkins and the ageless Louis Lysne. The Invaders are a talented squad but likely not enough to push them into the 2nd round. Hall will likely have to deal with another early exit.

Los Angeles Chaos

It's going to be fun watching Los Angeles play this season. With Lenny Davis, Octavio Morrison and Matt Torres the Chaos can score in a hurry and will be running and gunning from tipoff. The problem though is that they likely won't be stopping anyone. In the offseason the club decided to ship Renato Ardoin off to Philadelphia in return for Torres. It was a curious move, was Ardoin the fall guy for the lack of playoff success or did the team decided it was time to move on and gain financial flexibility. As it stands, the Chaos will be hard pressed to fend off two up and coming teams in Ft Worth and Detroit.

Las Vegas Blackjacks

Las Vegas is like one of those movies where all the old guys get together for one last job. In this case the job is one last run at playoff glory. The Blackjacks feature Brian Montes, Malik Campbell, Gary Williams, and Stephen Lee. Outside of Williams this group is past its prime and look ready to ride off into the sunset. Montes was acquired from Philadelphia for Kevin Gordon. With Campbell and Williams, having Gordon was a luxury that Las Vegas could ill afford. On paper this team is a shoo-in to reach the postseason. But anything more is going to require a fountain of youth.

Detroit Muscle / Ft Worth Dragoons

These two franchises are poised to take advantage should any of the teams ahead of them falter. Detroit got a taste of the playoffs last year and though fell 4-1 to the Anaheim, the series was highly competitive. The Muscle return everyone of note and now have experience. And let's not forget they also now have Andy Teeters. He's not going to get much playing time at this point in his career but he's still got some game left in him. Ft Worth was not close but the drafting of Ethan Budd and the development of Edward Baranowski have Dragoon fans feeling playoff is within their grasp. Rufus Motley leads the team and is one of the better guards that no one knows about.

The Rest: Chicago Blaze, Kentucky Stallions, Sacramento Snipers, Portland Lumberjacks

These teams are last in the pecking order. They're either building, rebuilding, or coming out of salary purgatory. Their main concerns should be hoarding picks and developing young talent.

Projected Finish:

Tampa Bay
St Louis
Kansas City
Las Vegas
Ft Worth
Los Angeles




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0 #1 Jason Warnke 2019-02-16 14:38
Nice write-up Jian!

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