Barons at 10
- By Lex Gartman, Day 25, 2023
OKLAHOMA CITY -
Ten games into the 2023 season, new Oklahoma City GM [b]Homer Simpson[/b] is very pleased with his team's 5-5 start, despite losing 3 of its last 4 games. "It's been a learning experience for me, but I've really enjoyed the ride so far", Simpson said before his team's 102-95 home loss to the Denver Dragons. "The coaching staff is learning about the players' strengths, weaknesses, and commitments. The players are doing the same to us."
Predicted to finish near the bottom of the ultra-competitive West Conference, the Barons fast start and hot shooting has started to turn some heads. They currently share the Midwest's top spot with the Knights of Kansas City. Shooting at a blistering 49.3% FG rate, the team leads the JBL in shooting percentage. Averaging 115.4 points per game, OKC trails only 2-time defending champion Seattle in points scored. In short, the offense has propelled the Barons to its early season successes.
But can it last?
At some point (and perhaps soon), the team figures to regress to the mean. When that happens, Simpson is hopeful the team's veteran leaders can keep the team's youngsters on solid ground while grinding out victories.
"We have a few guys that have been through the JBL wars and that should help the younger guys as the season wears on", Simpson said. "It's a long season so in order to succeed, you've got to get contributions from everyone - not just the starting five, but also from the guys that may be sitting at 8-12 now."
A quick glance at the Barons through 10 games:
PG [b]Jamar Strickland[/b] is averaging a career-best 24 ppg, while shooting at a ridiculous 57% clip. Strick is also averaging 7 assists per contest.
Main offseason acquisition PF [b]Roy Ellington[/b] has impressed in his first full season as a JBL regular, going for 15.4 ppg while pulling down.4 rebounds per game.
[b]Idris Berkley[/b] is averaging a point below his scoring average from a season ago, but has improved on his free throw shooting and considerably cut down on his turnovers.
Oklahoma City is shooting 43% behind the 3-point arc, trailing only Cincinnati as the league's most efficient 3-ball team.
OKC is allowing 110.4 PPG this season, an improvement of 5 points from a season ago.
2 victories against the star-studded Las Vegas Scorpions.
SF [b]James Livingston[/b] has never been a prolific scorer, but a decline in his defensive rating may necessitate fewer minutes going forward.
As good as Berkley has been, he has yet to take that next step to super-stardom: taking over games when his team needs it.
The hamstring injury to backup C [b]Kori Dupree[/b], who was slowly eating into [b]Preye Crooks[/b]' minutes, will be a blow to a team already thin in the frontcourt.
Can't beat the damn Vultures.
Rebounding. An Achilles' heel a year ago, nothing has changed on this front. The team is dead last in the JBL in total rebounds. This HAS to improve if the Barons want to remain in playoff contention.