Monday, 17 June 2019 13:13 Written by Dominik Jenewein
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2024 OBWL Finals Preview


2024-KEN-LON-FINALS
Superstar Andrew Jackson and the rising Kentucky Stallions have one more giant to slay -- Jean Larry and the London Knights -- in their quest to take home the Heikkinen Cup.

#1 London Knights (63-17) vs. #4 Kentucky Sstallions (41-39)

It's not often that you see a 4th seed going into the league finals, but this year the Kentucky Stallions managed to be there. In two hard fought 7-game series against the #1 seed Kansas City Pioneers and the #3 seeded St. Louis Sun Kings, the Stallions overcame homecourt advantage, bringing them to the finals against the #1 seed from the NatCon, the London Knights. Yes, the Stallions benefited heavily from injury problems for the Pioneers and the Sun Kings, but that should not lower their achievement of going to the finals. Superstar Andrew Jackson and his teammates had some great games, deserving the chance at a title. The Knights had dominant series in round 1 against the Minnesota Marauders and the conference finals against the Toronto Huskies, in which they only gave away one game in total. Round 2 had them facing the Arizona Thunderbirds however, where they managed to miraculously come back from being down 0-3, to win the series in 7 games. So both teams had a tough way of coming to the finals, let's take a closer look at what we can expect from this great final series.

Backcourt

Val Crumley and Colby Allan vs. Henry Moreland and Andrew Jackson

When it comes to backcourts, it doesn't get any better than London. In Val Crumley and Colby Allan the Knights have a combined 11 All-Star appearances, both have won a title already, Crumley even became playoff MVP while Allan won league MVP in 2021. Those two are the dream of a backcourt duo, Crumley is known for being one of the best, if not the best playmaker to ever play the game. Allan is one of the most explosive scorers in the league, even though his role on the Knights team is a bit less scoring centered. Together they make the nightmare duo that Stallions backcourt Henry Moreland and Andrew Jackson have to face. Moreland is a solid role playing veteran whose main purpose is bringing a good passing game to the floor. Andrew Jackson however is one of the best talents in the league, slowly developing into an elite player. His explosive and efficient scoring brought the Stallions to the finals and he's by far the most important asset they have.

Jackson will probably face Allan and has had some problems last round, where he faced a similar player in Domenic Baum. While staying mainly efficient, he had problems in finding possibilities to score, which the Stallions will rely on heavily in the finals. Allan is probably a bit of a worse defender than Baum, which can help Jackson.

Looking at the depth of the rosters, the Stallions might have a little advantage as a guy like Cecil Means can also jump in as the starter and with Agustin Rye they have a second guy that proved his worth during the playoffs already. London's backcourt is mainly backed up by Truman Kaplan, a very defensive minded guard, but probably less of a helping push off the bench than Means/Rye.

The Stallions need to find some open spaces for Jackson to score. The shooting guard position will certainly be the series-deciding fact, so Jackson has to bring his A game in his first ever finals appearance. Overall the Knights backcourt cannot be beaten by anyone in the league, which brings them surely an advantage there. How big that advantage will be, remains to be seen. But the experience of the Crumley-Allan superstar tandem should be enough for London to win the backcourt.

Frontcourt

Frederick Gerard, Jean Larry, and Tony Jimenez vs. Frank Gifford, Arthur Fiscus, and Herschel Hofer

The frontcourts of both teams have less stardom in them and consist mainly of good role players. London's Fredrick Gerard has developed into a very usefull option on offense, scoring extremely efficient and by drawing a lot of fouls. If he managed to sink more of the free throws he gets, he'd be even more useful. Alongside him plays another role player, that mainly does the dirty work and nothing else - Tony Jimenez. The already 31 year old Jimenez played in the OBDL for 3 continuous seasons before being brought back to the league by the Pioneers in 2023. During last offseason, he was traded to the Knights, where he gained the starting center spot lately by being a shot-blocking post-threat. But the real reason why London is in the finals has not been mentioned yet - Jean Larry. Larry is as good as it gets defensively, a triple double threat on each and every knight, averaging a crazily 11points, 12 rebounds and more than 6 blocks a game during postseason. Larry is one of the best players to ever set foot onto an OBWL court and will surely be the #1 target for teams in the upcoming offseason. Before that however, Larry has to help the Knights in winning another title with his great talent. Larry has become DMVP for 5 consecutive seasons now and will be a nightmare for the Stallions to face, so they better stay away from the inside.

The Stallions frontcourt consists of similar playing types. Herschel Hofer is a widely known defensive ace, that has gotten pretty slow over the years however. Arthur Fiscus is a similar playing type at PF as Jean Larry, but 2 classes worse. Scores less, rebounds less, blocks less, fouls more. Still his game is definitely of great quality on the defensive end, which made him a cornerstone in the Stallions frontcourt. Frank Gifford brings offensive power into the lineup, but only gets limited minutes. In his minutes on the court, he does a good job in scoring and rebounding, before being subbed off for Tony Bowe or Blair Tolman. All three are unspectacular players that do a good job in limited playtime. Off the bench the Stallions have Chris Graves and John Lenoir. Graves is kind of a do-it-all big, that played a great season for the Stallions. Lenoir has developed into a great shot-blocker with efficient offense too.

Overall the Knights surely have an advantage due to Jean Larry simply being Jean Larry. He might be better than 2 or 3 players off the Stallions combined. For the underdogs it's going to be tough scoring from the inside, as Larry and Jimenez have their arms everywhere. Their frontcourt needs to help scoring however, as Andrew Jackson can't win a game alone. If the Stallions can manage to get some efficient inside offense going, they might have a slight chance of being successful. But their chances definitely are limited, as they lack offensive power on the inside.

Summary

This series will be extremely tough for the Stallions and I can't see them getting away with more than one game. The Knights have a superstar backcourt, able to overcome Jackson's explosiveness. They have an incredibly tough inside with Larry and Jimenez, that will block everything the Stallions will try to put up inside.

Kentucky will need to focus more on the outside game than they are used to, but otherwise they risk getting annihilated without some explosive power on the inside. London has advantage in homecourt, stardom and experience, so this is going to be a pretty quick series - if they stay healthy.

London in 5.

 

 

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