Monday, 12 August 2019 10:39 Written by Tom Lacher
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2025 AmCon Season Preview


2025-Cazares-01
The Pioneers have about $98 million reasons to hope that PF Charles Cazares is the missing piece to a championship puzzle.

 The 15th season of the OBWL has arrived. Let's take a look at the 2025 versions of the American Conference teams and their key player. (Please note that by "KEY PLAYER" I am NOT referring to the team's best player. "KEY PLAYER" is the player I believe needs to be at his best for the team to be at their best.)

AmEast Division Outlook

1. ST. LOUIS SUNKINGS

Key Player: SF Timothy Adler

The SunKings return their 4 stars, PF Dong Richardson, SG Dominic Baum, PG Jorge Denis and Adler, a group that is only 1 season removed from a Heikkinen Cup. Denis (32), Richardson (31) and Baum (30) are all 30 or over but all proved they can still play at a high level.

Adler remains the lynchpin. He expressed his unhappiness with his 6th man role last year. He is immensely talented but for the SunKings to finish atop the AmEast he is going to have to be right mentally.

A budget crunch forced the SunKings to go cheap on the FA market and they lost their underrated C tandem (Ted Portis & Alphonso Beggs) so the 5-spot and depth may be a problem in St. Louis.

2. TAMPA BAY TRITONS

Key Player: PG Hobert Frisby

The reigning AmEast champs were unceremoniously booted from the playoffs in the 2nd Round by St. Louis. That 4 game pummeling looks to have shaped the offseason in Tampa. The team did not even attempt to re-sign C Darin Deans (now in Boston) and traded leading scorer Alain Lagon to London (along with C Erik Hall and a 1st round pick) for star SG Colby Allan. PF Hunter Heath and SF Joe Aviles are back giving the Tritons offensive and defensive versatility at the F position.

The key will be Frisby. The former #1 overall pick seemed to go backward last season even as the team had its best regular season in franchise history. Frisby will need to score more efficiently and be more creative for the Tritons to repeat as AmEast champs.

3. KENTUCKY STALLIONS

Key Player: PG Cecil Means

The reigning AmCon champions were the Cinderella story of 2024 season. While much of the success Kentucky had is directly attributable to scoring of star SF Andrew Jackson and the interior defense of PF/C Arthur Fiscus and C Herschel Hofer the breakout season of PG Means vaulted the Stallions from potential lottery team to the playoffs.

The losses of F Frank Gifford (to Boston via FA), SG Geoff Sullivan (Quebec, FA) and C/PF Chris Graves (NJ, FA) will hurt the Stallions depth. Now that Means is being paid like a franchise cornerstone (especially in small market Kentucky) he needs to take the next step and not just be satisfied to be Robin to Jackson's Batman. Make no mistake, the Stallions are Jackson's team but Means must be the 2nd star for Kentucky to come close to matching their success of last season. He has all the tools, now it's about using them.

4. PHILADELPHIA AMERICANS

Key Player: SG Frank Williams

The Americans are an enigma. They always have great individual talent but seem to never able to put it all together. SF/SG Renato Ardoin, Williams, PF/C John Newton, and newly acquired PF Michael Jenkins are all proven OBWL stars and all have had individual success. The absence of a real PG was been the Achilles Heel of the team last season. Stan McClelland is a great combo guard, but is not the answer. He's much more suited for the 6th man role.

Williams will be the key. he needs to produce consistently and play like a superstar since he is getting paid like one. The last 2 seasons have seen him trending downward. If Williams does and the Americans find a passer, watch out. If he doesn't and they don't, watch out for the same old, same old in Philadelphia.

5. INDIANA INVADERS

Key Player: PF Thomas Wilhoit

Indiana is an aging team trying to balance competing with ushering in the new era of Invaders basketball. The face of the franchise, SG Cleveland Hall, is still solid but past his prime and age has taken its toll on C Louis Lynse. PF Michael Jenkins was shipped out for vet C Kevin Gordon and young SG Garrett Bennett. PG Lynwood Jamison is only 26 and while some would think he would be a building block for the near future, the Invaders brass has actively been shopping him.

Wilhoit will be counted on to fill the hole at PF and is the hope of the future in Indiana. He's offensively gifted and can rebound and block shots even though he's a below average defender at this point. If he's ready the Invaders should make the playoffs. If he's not, then Indiana will be playing only 80 games this season.

6. DETROIT MUSCLE

Key Player: SG Mark Olivas

Detroit has a budding potential star in PG Xander Remington. They have young athletic offensive-minded bigs in C John Weatherford and PF Van Lefevre and a veteran leader in SF/SG Blaine Fizwater. That looks to be the foundation for a team on the rise.

What the Muscle lack is a wing that can defend and score because they lost that player (SG/SF Quintin Bergquist) in free agency (to Vancouver). That's why Olivas is so important in Detroit. Olivas, while not the shooter Bergquist is, has all the tools to be a solid SG who can compliment the young talent around him. He struggled in preseason but Muscle management hopes that he will gain confidence as the season goes on.

If Olivas can handle the SG duties look for Detroit to leapfrog Indiana and challenge for a playoff spot.

7. CHICAGO BLAZE

Key Player: SF Daniel West

The Blaze are in the midst of a massive rebuild. To that end, there is no belief in the Blaze front office or from their fans that they will compete for a playoff spot this season. The emphasis and key are to develop the stable of young players they have acquired. This season's #1 overall pick SG Erasmo Dryden played very well in preseason. PG Herschel Pettaway exceeded expectation during the preseason. PF Gary Budd also was solid.

The real question is whether West can play like the #1 overall draft pick he was. West is certainly not a bust but entering his 3rd pro season he must take the next step and begin to dominate to be seen as the cornerstone of the franchise and a potential elite OBWL player.

AmWest Division Outlook

1. KANSAS CITY PIONEERS

Key Player: PF Charles Cazares

The Pioneers have arguably the most talented starting 5 in the OBWL. Their lineup boasts PG/SG Mack Lavoie, SG/SF Mark Marble, C Richard Hardee and the newly acquired Cazares along with Mr. Pioneer himself, SF Marshall Gaudett. Lavoie exploded after being shifted to PG and Marble and Hardee are as good of 2-way players at their position as there are in the league. Gaudett is the glue that holds it all together.

Cazares comes over from Denver with the thought that he is the missing piece in the championship puzzle in KC. Cazares is an elite defender who can guard traditional bigs or stretch bigs. He blocks shots and has hands as quick as most guards in the league. The pressure will be on him to produce for the team and because of his enormous contract.

2. FORT WORTH DRAGOONS

Key Player: C Ray Granger

The Dragoons are experiencing an ascension up the ladder in the AmCon. They have young talent at the 1 thru 4 positions. SF Edward Baranowski, PF Ethan Budd, SG Rufus Motley and PG Norbert Cottingham can all play both ends of the floor and only Motley is over 25.... he's only 26. All 4 seem to fit together very well and the Dragoons only expect things to get better for their young core.

The lone vet in the starting lineup will be the key. Granger has fashioned himself a solid pro career but now at 31 some of his physical attributes are starting to decline. If Granger can average the near double-double he did last season and continue to be a shot blocking presence in the middle the Dragoons will have homecourt advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs.

3. SACRAMENTO SNIPERS

Key Player: C Charles Ottinger

Clearly the Sacramento Snipers are all in on the 2025 season. The front office has assembled the most talent in franchise history. Superstar SG/SF Lynwood Emmert is in the final year of his rookie contract and it is unknown if he intends to negotiate in-season or test the FA waters. PG Troy Howse and PF Gregory Santiago are the other young studs in the Snipers stable. While neither is a star both are extremely solid players with room to grow.

What a long strange trip it's been for the most talented offensive C in the OBWL. Not 3 seasons ago he was the cornerstone of the Quebec franchise and since has been traded 4 times. Ottinger's reemergence as a bona fide scoring threat will tell the tale of the Snipers season. If he proves to be a viable #2 option then Sacramento could be vaulting over Ft. Worth in the AmWest.

4. LAS VEGAS BLACKJACKS

Key Player: PG Horace Robinson

Las Vegas is the OBWL's equivalent of the Land of Misfit Toys. After losing stars PF Gary Williams (San Diego) and SG Brian Montes (Arizona) in free agency, the B-Jacks decided it was time to flip the entire (well almost) team.

Las Vegas looks to field a completely new starting lineup for 2025. All are solid OBWL players but all also have major flaws in their games that have led to their not being brought back by their former teams. C/PF Aaron Todd, PF/C Daniel Herb and SF Hugh Denton will be the starters up front. Herb and Todd had huge preseasons. The backcourt will be the streak-shooting SG Chung Patton and Robinson.

The much-maligned Robinson is playing for the 5th franchise in his career. He has tantalized GM's with his talent but has never produced the results that many think he should be capable of. This may be his last, last chance. If he can put it all together at 27 years old, Vegas has the makings of a good season.

5. LOS ANGELES CHAOS

Key Player: SF/PF Ocatvio Morrison

The LA Chaos are a confusing team. On paper, they look to have a nice mix of offensively talented vets and some solid younger players. The vets are led by C/PF Lenny Davis, SG/SF Matt Torres, SF/PF Carlos Beery and SF Jonathan Goforth. All have proven capable scorers at the pro level. However, all are 30 or over so their best days may be behind them.

Morrison is right in the middle. The 28-year old has all the tools to become a star and the face of the LA franchise but has not been able to translate that natural talent into consistent production on the court. He can score in a variety of ways and is a decent defender as well.

The young hope is led by C/PF Geoffrey Askew, SG/PG Keven Johnson and PF/C Sandy Tucker. While none of the aforementioned 3 have star potential all have good upside and should develop into solid OBWL players. 1st round pick PG Joseph Powell, while not yet ready looks like he could develop.

6. PORTLAND LUMBERJACKS

Key Player: SF/PF Roger Desfontaines

Exciting times in Portland right now. The Lumberjacks have assembled a very young and very talented group of players that look ready to step into the spotlight. What that means for the veteran leaders C/PF Richard Burke II and SF Charles Barnett we do not know. If the preseason is any indication, both will be coming off the bench and both may be dealt soon.

The excitement in the Great Northwest hinges on the talented quintet of C/PF Kendall Melanson, PF David Sage, SG Irving Silas, SG/PG Yevgeny Ilguaskas and Desfontaines. All are 23 or younger and all are immensely talented on the offensive end (we won't talk about defense). All proved they could play during the preseason.

Desfontaines remains the key. The immensely talented 7-footer started at SF during the preseason had played extremely well AND stayed out of foul trouble. If he can harness his ability in this, his contract year Portland would be one step closer to sniffing the playoffs.

7. ANAHEIM ARCHERS

Key Player: SF Randolph Wright

No this is not your grandfather's or even your father's Anaheim Archers. Gone are ALL the household names that used to populate the Archers roster. In their place are rookies, journeymen and retreads. Talk about a complete makeover, Anaheim looks to possibly be the worst team in the OBWL in 2025.

The hope is that the quartet of 1st round picks will be the foundation for a new superpower in the AmWest. Wright (#3 overall), SG Don McDaniel (#7), PF Ray Weston (#9), and C George Audley (#21) are all expected to see significant playing time during their rookie season and if preseason form holds, they will all start. While there is little to no pressure to win at this point, the development of these 4 is crucial.

Wright is the most important. He has the skill set to be a star and a cornerstone-type player but a whole lot will be thrust upon him immediately. How he responds now may well shape the future of this proud franchise.

 

AMCON PLAYOFF TEAM PREDICTIONS:

  1. KANSAS CITY PIONEERS
  2. ST. LOUIS SUNKINGS
  3. TAMPA BAY TRITONS
  4. FT. WORTH DRAGOONS
  5. SACRAMENTO SNIPERS
  6. KENTUCKY STALLIONS
  7. PHILADELPHIA AMERICANS
  8. INDIANA INVADERS

 

AMCON CHAMPIONS:

KANSAS CITY PIONEERS

 

 

 

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