Monday, 12 August 2019 09:41 Written by Jian Lan
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2025 NatCon Season Preview


2025-Allan-Lagon-01
The London Knights may have traded Colby Allan for Alain Lagon, but they remain ready to defend their championship in 2025.

 With the season about to get underway we take a look at the National Conference. There are many new faces and some returning ones as teams position themselves for a chance to knock off the defending champs. The East would be much improved and the West would be the strongest in many years. Let's take a closer look.

NEW FACES IN THE CONFERENCE

Rookie Draft

The draft is always a dice roll, most of its luck. That being said there are two types of prospects that are highly desirable: those with tremendous upside and those that minimize risk. This year's class mostly fell in the former with the majority of lottery prospects having experienced 1 or 2 years of college. Out of the top 15 picks, 6 were in the National Conference. Let's take a look at the rookies:

#2 pick Daniel Garretson, Quebec - A talented big that can score and has the potential to be one of the top defenders in the league. Garretson likely doesn't start this year as the Coyotes are set up front with Wesley Lefler and Frederic Johnson. He makes the job easier for GM Joshua Biddle as Quebec is now set in the frontcourt for the future.

#4 pick Jose Gaynor, New Jersey – The #4 pick in the draft is immediate competition for former #3 pick Luis Engram. Gaynor is actually a year older despite Engram having already played 3 years in the pros. Gaynor is mainly a slasher but can also score from the perimeter and is a capable defender. It's likely he plays in tandem with Engram at SF as both are still developing physically. Gaynor is another addition to what is easily the most talented roster for the Enforcers in a long time.

#5 pick Francis Ellender, Minnesota – While only 20yrs Ellender is ready to contribute from Day 1. He is a terrific playmaker and defender that can knock down an open shot. Look for Ellender to take over the starting point guard duties from journeymen Albert Mitchell and Hollis Warren. He fills the biggest need for the playoff bound Marauders.

#10 pick Kirby Cohen, Quebec – Cohen is a pure scorer that is sorely needed to take pressure off big men Lefler and Johnson. Cohen has the ability to score from anywhere as demonstrated by his lone year at the University of Pittsburgh where he averaged 16 points on 48/65/44% shooting (FG/FT/3P). He doesn't bring much else to the table.

#12 pick Rubin Davis, Boston – A young player with a ton of potential but nowhere near ready. That is more than acceptable for a Boston team that is ripe for a return trip to the postseason and secure in their roster depth. Davis is a shot in the dark for the Buzzards. There are many areas that he needs to improve on, so many that he might never reach his full potential.

#13 pick Charles Braddock, Honolulu – While Braddock is another young player, he is also one of the most ready to play rookies in the draft. He can score inside, defend and is strong though he does lack a nose for the ball. Braddock is a great fit for the Inferno as he can immediately back up Udo Bach and possibly even replace him in the future. He is one of the biggest steals of the draft. Sascha Zerwas once again prove that he is THE best talent evaluator in the draft as he grabs another value pick and future starter to add to his stable of home grown talent.

Free Agency / Trade

Free agency was not as deep as prior years but it did feature 5 times DMVP Jean Larry, a player that many clubs wanted. Larry quickly re-signed with London forcing teams to move onto their next target. Boston was one such team and landed Darin Deans with a max deal. Deans is one of the best post defenders in the league and now gets the opportunity to go head-to-head with Larry and 5 times MVP Charles Flowers in the National East division. Deans wasn't the only big name to head to Boston. Frank Gifford and Joseph Drumm are both joining him. Gifford proved his worth in Kentucky during their surprising run to the Finals but it remains to be seen if it continues for a full season. Also in the East, the Sharks of South Florida were wheeling and dealing as new GM Jay Amado hit the ground running. Justin Malone was traded to New Jersey for a package of young players. The Sharks also traded for Daniel Goodrum, a victim of salary cap in Denver. The biggest surprise in the East was Larry's teammate, Colby Allan, getting traded to Tampa Bay for Alain Lagon. Many had suspected that Allan would also return to London as he offered the best chance at a repeat. But even for a team as rich as London, having Allan and Larry on max contracts with the prospect of needing to max out Val Crumley and Jose Owens was too expensive.

With all the movements, people tend to forget that it was an arms race in the National West. Surprisingly, it was San Diego that kicked it off by signing Gary Williams to a max deal and capped it by trading for Chris Brawner. Both moves signaled that the Storm want to win now. The Williams signing sent shockwaves throughout the division and beyond. After seeing that, Vancouver, a traditional tight wallet franchise, opened the bank for Quintin Bergquist and then step up to keep Michael Keyes as the face of the franchise. Honolulu, another team not known to play big in free agency, gave Aaron Baum a max contract to stay in Hawaii. Then, of course, there was Arizona reloading again. The Thunderbirds signed Brian Montes and Claud Lassiter to try and break through for another shot at a title. Not all the moves where additions as Denver decided to go full on rebuild and traded away Goodrum to the Sharks and Charles Cazares to Kansas City.

THE NATIONAL EAST

The National East is going to be very competitive this year. It's not going to be the so called "Nat Beast" of past seasons but also not going to be just London and Toronto. Boston had one of the best offseason in the league and took a big leap forward. The Buzzards added Darin Deans and Frank Gifford to shore up a team that was lacking a defensive stopper and in need of another scorer. Perimeter-oriented James Wall and Jesse Yoshida now have Deans, who is a DMVP candidate, and Gifford, a bruising scorer, to run with in the starting lineup. Add to that group Sheldon Perkins, a 6th man front runner, and the ageless Joseph Drumm and Boston is a very formidable team. The past few seasons London and Toronto have sat atop the division. This year both clubs enter the season with question marks. The Knights of London chose to swap Colby Allan for Alain Lagon. How will the team adjust going from Allan's ability to score from anywhere to Lagon's jump-shooting style? Overall not the talent that Allan is, Lagon will have to show his worth from opening night if the Knights are to become the first team to repeat in the "modern" era. Toronto enters the season having once again fallen short in the playoffs. Not much has changed for the team and the clock is ticking on Flowers and company. Is this the year or will the Huskies go the way of the Blaze as age diminishes their star players?

Outside of the new Big 3, there is Manhattan and their high octane offense. With Thomas Stanley, Johnnie Bechtel and Whitney Cherry returning points will continue to flow in the Big Apple. The question has never been can the Swing score enough, it's can they stop anyone and can they stay healthy. South Florida is under new management. Long time Philly General Manager, Jay Amado, takes over for the Sharks. Amado has already cleaned house and decided to start with an empty slate. While in Quebec, GM Joshua Biddle has taken a more cautious approach and is slowly building through the draft. This is not going to be a fun season for either fanbase but they can take solace in that both clubs are likely in good hands. Lastly, we have New Jersey. The Enforcers have been terrible in recent memory but the team is on the uptick following the acquisition of Justin Malone and the continued development of their youngsters, Ronald Richardson and Luis Engram. Not quite ready for playoff contention but also no longer cellar dwellers.

Playoffs: Boston, London, Toronto

Dark Horse: Boston

Predicted Finish

  1. London
  2. Boston
  3. Toronto
  4. Manhattan
  5. New Jersey
  6. South Florida
  7. Quebec

THE NATIONAL WEST

The National West at times have been viewed as the little step brother of the league. This season that no longer is the case. The NatWest is hands down the toughest division in the league. For starters, there is Arizona, who for whatever reason is never mentioned alongside the great franchises. The Thunderbirds have won 50+ games in 6 of the past 8 seasons including a championship. Anaheim, Kansas City, London and Tampa Bay are the usual names when discussing top consistent teams. Its time Arizona gets mentioned. This season's iteration of the TBirds is the most talented since the days of Harry and Goot. Elton Carnahan and Carl Terwilliger are the returning starters and form a punishing combo in the paint. Brian Montes and Claud Lassiter are new upgrades on the perimeter and the bench remains as deep as ever. It's a shame that Harry White is not with the team for a shot at another title.

After Arizona there is the criminally underrated Vancouver Highlanders. Year after year they are regarded as a top 5, if not the best, defensive team and each year the league fails to give them the respect they deserve. Admittingly, it is an ugly style of basketball but one has to appreciate the effectiveness. That style has gotten Vancouver to the Finals once and a Conference Final once, both within the last 4 years. It looks like there is a good chance the Highlanders make it 3 in 5 years this season. Quintin Bergquist was not signed to only score. His perimeter defense fits right in with airtight defenders, Dennis Pichardo and Richard Sturgeon. The post should remain denial city with Nestor Gattis, Jessie Robertson, Jae Schafer and Chester Maines taking turns in the paint. The Highlanders even brought back Michael Keyes. The league should be on alert.

The NatWest also features dangerous up and comers in Honolulu, Minnesota and San Diego. Yes, the San Diego Storm. San Diego is no longer the bottom feeder that people perceived them to be. After their offseason moves, the Storm are in compete-now mode. Gary Williams is one of the best big man in the league, a true dual threat. James Nichol is a dominant scorer and Sheldon Cortez and Chris Brawner provide complimentary support. The Storm will compete for a playoff spot and, with luck, make it into the postseason proving most pundits wrong. While San Diego try to take their game to the next level, the Honolulu Inferno and Minnesota Marauders are already there. The young Marauders made the playoffs last year and played the champs tough. The team returns mostly intact and added rookie PG Francis Ellender in the draft. Point guard was the one weakness and it has been addressed. Look for Minnesota to be much better this year. The Inferno missed out on the postseason, but there is no questioning how good they are. The team resigned Aaron Baum to keep him at home to go along with Michael Weathersby on the wing. Up front there is Udo Bach, another homegrown talent. Bach and Weathersby are on the cusp of being All Star level. The roster is stacked with depth. Young, hungry and talented the Inferno are not going to be denied this year.

Let us not forget Denver. Despite going into a rebuild the Demons still have one of the top 5 players in the world in Greg Fore, a player that can single-handily win games. The once feared lineup is no more but the Demons will find ways to win. The management knows what they're doing even if it is filled with drama. Much like Denver, Seattle is also going through a rebuild. The Sea Dogs hit it big with selecting Charles Ackerman last season and look to be following the Inferno's blueprint in building through the draft. Its going to take another couple of seasons but the Salt Hounds are headed in the right direction.

Playoffs: Arizona, Honolulu, Minnesota, San Diego, Vancouver

Dark Horse: Vancouver

Predicted Finish

  1. Arizona
  2. Vancouver
  3. Honolulu
  4. Minnesota
  5. San Diego
  6. Denver
  7. Seattle

 

 

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Comments   

 
0 #1 Sascha Zerwas 2019-08-12 11:55
Quote:
The Inferno missed out on the postseason
This hurts.......... ....
 

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