Power Rankings: Week 8 (All-Star Break) & Mid-Season Review - Part 4

  • By Bedouin, Day 56, 2020


16. Phoenix Vultures (11-19, - 1.8) (Last Week #15, - 1)

Key Statistics
Record: 11-19 (.367)
Net Rating: - 1.8 (15th)
Offensive Rating: 106.5 (13th)
Defensive Rating: 108.4 (13th)
PPG Leader: Colin Stafford – 22.4 (15th)
RPG Leader: Colin Stafford – 13.7 (6th)
APG Leader: Rasheem Fisher – 9.0 (9th)
Season Overview
The season started slowly with back to back losses to the Kings and Hurricanes but rebounded and after 3 weeks the team was sitting in playoff position at 5-3. However, claims of a Vultures resurgence proved short lived as the team levelled off and by the end of week 6 the team was several games off .500. Despite the drop off they were still in the playoff race in the weaker conference until they lost 7 of their last 8 heading into the break.
Strengths
The team is middle of the pack offensively and defensively. With the exception of offensive rebounding (ranked 4th) the team doesn’t have a clear standout strength with the exception of the performance of Colin Stafford who is having an exceptional season at age 34, and was ranked 3rd in PER at the midseason break.
Weaknesses
As stated the Vults are approximately middle of the pack at both ends of the floor. However, the weakness of the organization is the current lack of a clear path forward. At the current time the team is led by the 35 year old Winder and the 34 year old Stafford, who will be entering FA at the end of the year. Whilst the team does have quality young assets in Fisher and Vidmar, they are 2 of only 4 players currently under contract for next year. They enter this pivotal offseason with cap space galore and lots of roster spots to fill. It will be exciting to see what Sik sets in place for the organization moving forward in what is his first true rebuilding scenario.
Summary
Whilst the team was never expected to contest for a championship it was thought that the team could compete for a playoff spot after Stafford missed much of last year due to injury. Currently sitting 9th in the conference it is clear that this won’t happen.
Final Rating
DISAPPOINTING

17. Mexico City Jaguars (11-16, - 4.2) (Last Week #19, + 2)

Key Statistics
Record: 11-16 (.407)
Net Rating: - 4.5 (18th)
Offensive Rating: 105.9 (16th)
Defensive Rating: 110.4 (19th)
PPG Leader: Bryant Rodgers – 24.1 (12th)
RPG Leader: Bryant Rodgers – 14.6 (2nd)
APG Leader: Ashley Winters – 7.4 (16th)
Season Overview
Over the first three weeks, on the back of a resurgent Rodgers and the ROY frontrunner Hooker, the team played .500 ball. Despite some changes to the rotation (Rice, Cavenell and Vega have all been in and out of the starting lineup) the team was looking in decent shape. Unfortunately, the team then proceeded to lose 10 of their next 11 games taking them from the middle of the pack towards the bottom. Whilst the team rebounded slightly to win their last 4 heading into the break the organization made the determination that with Rodgers age he was expendable and traded him to the Tritons in exchange for a package highlighted by Akieem Martin, whose age more closely aligns with the rest of the roster. What this means for the second half of the season is anyone’s guess.
Strengths
With a lineup featuring Rodgers and Hooker the team’s clear strength statistically was their offensive rebounding rate, which ranked 2nd in the league. However the true strength of the organization is that post trade it may already have all the primary pieces it needs for the future, as long as everyone develops as planned.
Weaknesses
The team’s weakness is their performance on the defensive end. The team is ranked 19th in d-rating but perhaps more startlingly the team gives up the 5th most ppg despite playing the 2nd slowest pace in the league. Hookers and Rodgers were both racking up blocks (and Martin will do well defensively as Rodgers replacement) but the perimeter players are all exceptionally weak defensively. But this is largely due to physical immaturity or lack of experience, both of which bode well for future improvement.
Summary
Despite all the young talent the team was expected to compete for one of the top picks this year and at the break is currently sitting 3rd last in the league. My preseason draft predictions had slotted them in for the third pick. This is basically the definition of meeting expectations.
Final Rating
MET EXPECTATIONS

18. Houston Lightning (10-17, - 5.2) (Last Week #18, NO CHANGE)

Key Statistics
Record: 10-17 (.370)
Net Rating: - 5.2 (19th)
Offensive Rating: 100.8 (20th)
Defensive Rating: 106.4 (8th)
PPG Leader: Lamar Francis – 20.2 (18th)
RPG Leader: James Spencer – 11.2 (13th)
APG Leader: Stephen Hood – 5.9 (23rd)
Season Overview
Early in the season the Lightning showed clear signs of improvement and were sitting 6-6 after the first four weeks. However, after that point the team’s performance suffered most notably during 4 and 5 game losing streaks. During this time the team made a number of changes to its rotation at the guard and wing positions but none of these made a significant impact on the team’s performance.
Strengths
The team is 8th in defensive rating which is an excellent result for a team as young as the Lightning and the team is particularly strong on the defensive boards (4th in the league) led by its twin towers of Clarkson and Spencer. Beyond its defensive play the team’s strength is the depth of talent on their roster. There is arguably no team with more young talent in the league.
Weaknesses
The team has two significant, and likely interconnected
Weaknesses
. The first of these is the team’s offensive performance. The team is dead last in o-rating, 19th in ppg, 17th in apg, and 19th in eFG%. The only area of offensive strength is offensive rebounding (7th). The second weakness is that the team is overstocked at guard and on the wing with 7 players playing more than 10mpg across 3 positions. Whilst depth is a net positive, in this case the limited and inconsistent playing time across the team is likely hindering the offensive performance of everyone involved. Most significantly it limits the court time of Francis who is the team’s best offensive talent.
Summary
Nobody expected a team this young to compete for a playoff birth but with so much talent on board the team was expected to push their way into the league’s middle class. Whilst there could be improvement ahead in the second half of the season, to date they have failed to achieve this.
Final Rating
DISAPPOINTING

19. Miami Cyclones (10-18, - 1.6) (Last Week #16, - 3)

Key Statistics
Record: 10-18 (.357)
Net Rating: - 1.6 (13th)
Offensive Rating: 107.2 (12th)
Defensive Rating: 108.8 (14th)
PPG Leader: Isaiah McCarty – 26.9 (5th)
RPG Leader: Antoine Hall – 12.3 (9th)
APG Leader: Lucious Barclay– 7.4 (T-15th)
Season Overview
The season started off on a poor note with an injury to veteran PG Mark Robertson that would keep him out for the first 8 games during which the team went 2-6. When MRob returned the team’s performance improved and the team went 7-5 before he was traded to the Scorpions in exchange for Lucious Barclay and Lorenzo Charles. A week later the team moved Douglas to the Mustangs and it became clear that the team was embracing the idea of a rebuild. After the Douglas trade the team would go 1-5 heading into the midseason break before completing their biggest trade yet; sending IMac to the Fireballs in exchange for a package led by the Dragon and a 2022 1st round pick.
Strengths
Despite being only 12th in o-rating the Cyclones have some very clear
Strengths
on the offensive end of the court. They lead the league in 3pt makes and attempts and rank 2nd in 3P%. As a result they also lead the league in eFG%. They are also strong from the FT line, 3rd in FT%, despite shooting the least FTs of any team in the league. Interestingly despite their clear focus on the 3 ball the team ranks 3rd for rpg but part of this is attributable to the team playing the fastest pace in the league.
Weaknesses
The team’s primary weakness is the team’s turnover differential. The team ranks 1st in the league in turnovers per game but that is not surprising given the team’s pace. What is problematic is that the team also don’t cause any turnovers ranking 20th in the league for spg and 19th in opposition turnovers per game. This creates a turnover differential of -5; in practical terms the team gives their opposition 5 additional possessions per game.
Summary
Whilst the team has made some excellent moves this season as they embraced a rebuild their initial performance was disappointing for a team that many predicted would return to the playoffs in the weaker East/West conference.
Final Rating
DISAPPOINTING

20. Toronto Huskies (7-22, - 7.2) (Last Week #20, NO CHANGE)

Key Statistics
Record: 7-22 (.241)
Net Rating: - 7.2 (20th)
Offensive Rating: 101.8 (19th)
Defensive Rating: 109.2 (15th)
PPG Leader: Bryant King – 20.1 (20th)
RPG Leader: Bryant King – 12.2 (10th)
APG Leader: Brandon Terry – 8.6 (10th)
Season Overview
The Huskies held up well over the first three weeks of the season against a tough schedule. Sitting on 4-6 they had already banked wins against quality teams including the Knights and Tritons. Unfortunately from that point on the team’s record nosedived and they would win only 3 more games over the next 5 weeks, which featured losing streaks of 5 and 6 games.
Strengths
The team has a real clear strength on defence; the ability to generate turnovers. They rank equal 5th in spg and 1st in opponent’s turnovers per game. Unfortunately this ability to generate turnovers is largely offset by allowing the opposition to shoot the 2nd highest FG%. Speaking non-statistically the team has a wide array quality young talent including Houston, Terry and Barry. In particular Barry has shown flashes that he may be the next transcendent wing in the JBL. And in a league where Carter, Craig, Sowder and Swayda all have rings that’s a pretty good place to be.
Weaknesses
Independent of the defensive issues I touched upon above the team is extremely weak offensively, ranking 19th in o-rating. More specifically they rank 20th in ppg, 20th in FG% (their eFG% is a little better due to the volume of 3PA) and 20th in offensive rebounding. Whilst the FG% will increase over time, historically a poor FG% is inevitable with young teams, the team could potentially address its rebounding by adding a more traditional PF either through trade or with their next draft pick.
Summary
Whist the Huskies were largely expected to compete for the 1st pick for the 3rd consecutive year I had expected to see more concrete signs of improvement. Instead whilst teams like the Warriors have exceeded their expectations the Huskies still have the league’s worst net rating by a considerable margin.
Final Rating
DISAPPOINTING