So you wanna be a champion?

  • By Kris Burley, Day 89, 2026


As we move past the half way of the season, we take a look at the contenders for the 2026 JBL title.

Methodology

Team Selection:
- Top 8 teams in the league as at day 88
- Portland Lumberjacks

Metrics
- Team Leader personality rating
- Team Net Rating
- Various Player count metrics

Performance Baseline
- Championship teams between 2020 and 2025
- Finals MVP personality type

Team Leader

This is the one metric that requires some explanation. I have looked at the Finals MVP from the past 6 seasons and their is a strong correlation between what_I_consider to be positive personality traits. Here is how I've allocated them:



I've assigned values to the 5 ratings:

Major Positive 5
Minor Positive 4
Neutral 3
Minor Negative 2
Major Negative 1

I have review the earlier years and anecdotally those players have the Major Positive personalities (Craig is the first 4 from memory).

Team Net Rating

The most obvious and most important statistic to be considered as you will see in the Champions summary below.

Various Player Metrics

I have looked at the following:
- How many All Stars on the team (in the respective year)
- How many All JBL players on the team (in the respective year)
- How many players scoring >= 20ppg

JBL Champions Summary



Weighting of Metrics

For this exercise I've allocated as follows:
- Team Leader personality rating: 25%
- Team Net Rating: 65%
- Various Player count metrics: 10%

I've taken a qualitative approach to the weightings based on the summary of the past 6 champions. Highly subjective.

2026 Contenders Review

Using the described methodology, I have applied this to the 9 contenders and is summarised in the table below.



So what does this tell us? Clearly the Kangz are the favourite, but the Bullets are coming in 3rd behind in the Huskies. The Huskies rate strongly in across the board, but there are some real questions about their ability to make it. The Bullets lose points for net rating and the lack of +20ppg players. Can the Kangz bounce back this year and take the title with questionable leadership?

We then have Tier 2, led by the Jailbirds and followed by the Warriors and Fireballs. The gap between Tier 1 and 2 is vast and without some serious 2nd half of the regular season turnaround these teams are unlikely to bridge the gap.

Finally, the Tier 3, with the Jacks up front, followed by the Stangz and Blizzards. If the Jacks can get it together they have the chance to get to Tier 2 by the end of the season. Can a Mustangs introvert win a championship?

Team by Team Hot Takes

Based on the data, I've outlined why each team WILL win it, why the WON'T win it and an X Factor. Note that the Alpha term is directly related to the personality type, rather than the traditional interpretation.



Summary

So on the basis of this, here's how I see it playing out (no respect, i mean disresepect to the West)

Eastern Conference 2nd Round
KANGZ vs JBS/PHI
Bullets vs Huskies

ECF
KANGZ vs Bullets

JBL Finals
KANGZ vs POR/LAF

Net rating is king or rather it's Kangz. We will look to update this framework shortly after the All Star Break and at the conclusion of the regular season.