Fireballs Wants to be Aggressive Finishing the Season
- By Jron Magcale, Day 91, 2020
LOS ANGELES - After their 2nd lost against the Phoenix Vultures after the blockbuster trade that sent veteran star big man Colin Stafford in a swap with young PF Drayton Banks, the organization have made it clear they want to see a more aggressive and focused Los Angeles team. Coach Rudaski Odrzywolski has been given the initiative to get his boys up to speed with the current changes.
The team was 10-2 when they acquires sharpshooter wing Isaiah McCarty from a deal that swapped the popular SF Liu "The Dragon" Jinghau (Only losing to powerhouses Las Vegas Scorpions and Seattle Thunder). The team was making strides when the deal with the Vultures came who is looking to get younger and bracing themselves for the retirement of Phoenix legend Ben Winder. The deal looks like a "Win-Now" prospect for Los Angeles as they build their Big 3 in LaCruz-iMac-Staff combo. But after 4 games they are 1-3 losing 2 straight (ironically vs the Vultures and again with the tough Scorpions squad), although they won vs Miami Cyclones they dropped a high scoring affair at Phoenix which again ironically lead by the renewed energy of PF Drayton Banks who is trying to fill Staff's void in the lineup finishing with 35 points and 19 rebounds and taking home the player of the game honors.
Although 4 games can't justify the trade it just puts a bad taste in the mouth for the organization. The only bright spot for LA since the trade is their star PG Chris LaCruz who have taken over for the struggling team, in his last 4 games he scored 40, 46, 38 and 31. Eversince the iMac trade LaCruz has stepped up his game droppping 51 points vs the Jaguars and a triple double vs Devils (33/12/12). iMac has slowed down a bit after the trade after being hot coming off the trade (Averaging 25/10/5 with the FBs), he also showed he can play defense with almost 2 steals a game a block a game in 16 games although the last 4 games he only scored 20+ twice and struggling vs Scorpions (8 points) and Cyclones (13 points).
Colin Stafford is a different story, known for being a versatile scorer has just been underperforming (15.8 ppg, 45% FG and 26% from the outside, a dismal 4/15 from 3) although his usual rebounding numbers are on point he had led Fireballs in rebounding 3 out 4 games since being acquired. Defensively he still hasn't getting used to the defensive rotation but with a player as special as Staff, it won't be long. Staff has been having trouble fitting in with LA's run and gun culture sometimes being out of place in the ball rotation. But Coach Rudaski Odrzywolski is a firm believer that Staff will come along nicely as time goes by. It is really hard for a bigman to thrive in the fast paced culture in LA but with Staff's versatility he'll fit in nicely.
"It's ok for Staff to struggle now and beast later, our focus is the playoffs, if Staff can bring his A-Game in the playoffs, we'll be alright." Coach O told reporters when asked about Staff's offensive struggles.
One player who is obviously impacted by the trades is last year's All-Star wing Jordan Carstensen who have seen his involvement in the offense becomes limited. But he said he is not worried about it and his main focus is team success. Carst inconsistencies outside has seen him deferring to iMac and LaCruz on offense although he was still the 3rd option before Staff came along. The acquisition of scoring wing Jamal Wilkinson also threatens his already limited touches.
Asked if Carstensen would be better used as a scorer off the bench, GM Jron told reporters that he doesn't see it that way, "Honestly, I don't see it that way. It could be a good option but it's up to Coach O. Carst has been solid for us the last couple of years and if that is an option that Coach is willing to work with then it is what it is."
"If he comes off the bench or not it doesn't matter. The best players finishes the game. He'll be in that lineup either with 3-4 minutes left in the game." GM Jron added.
It will be interesting what changes the Fireballs would do coming in being already a run and gun team, how much aggressiveness are we going to see with this team? Will they choose to attack more or are they going to settle for more outside shots now that they can spread the floor very well with their shooters? One thing is for sure, their success relies on how fast Staff can be comfortable in their offense and how well can they adjust their defense, especially against tough teams.