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Commish's Column

Preseason Review

August 25th, 2016

by Omair Zahid

 The 2016 Fall draft league tips tomorrow night and all of us at NMAA are pretty excited about it. We completed our second draft in our history last Friday and it was a lot of fun. Putting together rosters based on a draft has made our league much more balanced and exciting. Power rankings were posted earlier, but honestly I think all the teams are very close and it will come down to chemistry, execution and attendance. Attendance is a huge factor, and as serious as our base takes this league, we still have players who will miss games and every time they do it affects the outcome.

Take my team An-Nur for instance. I'm still burning from last seasons playoffs when my red hot second place team showed up ready to sweep thru the playoffs and my top two players didn't show as well as two of my younger bench players, and we ended up with only 4 players for a quarterfinal game. pretty infuriating. But what can you do? Plan better for next season and get players who won't screw you on attendance. For as long as I've been doing this, getting players who show to your games is probably the number one factor in a teams success. That's the life of league basketball.

I want to welcome back some former NMAA players. Ricky Claitt (whom I drafted) is back after being away for a couple seasons. The former Oregon state player is a top player in NMAA,  and I'm excited to see how he will do in a draft league. Also former one time MVP Mark Verdino returns to NMAA after being away for a couple of years, so we're excited to see if he can still light it up like he used to. Faysal Shafaat will also be playing in his first draft league, and we're excited to have him as well. 

To all the new players in NMAA, welcome, we look forward to having you in our brotherhood of ballers.

So, enough of that. Let's do some draft grades shall we?

Draft Grades:

Team: Jund  Grade: A

League director Dev Lachman did a great job in his draft. He doesn't have a center, but with Alfredo Williams and Dane Thompson he has two long athletes who can rebound, and number one overall pick Noodle (Alfredo) is capable of carrying a team by himself with no size (look at last season with Deen Squad).  Throw in Ramzi Chaaban and it's nice threesome for Dev. I think they're the overall favorite to win it, but by a very slim margin.

Team: An-Nur Grade: A

Yes...I just gave myself an A. Hate me, but it's how I feel. With Ricky Claitt and big man Jay Barnett in the middle, it's a great core to build around. Ben Bertot and myself on the outside will help spread the floor for Ricky, who can dominate a game just like noodle, (did I mention they were former teammates in NMAA?). Muhammad Shariff is also playing in his first draft league, and the speedy guard is an excellent defender and is sure to create many turnovers.  It's a solid squad, and I think An-Nur will make a run for the title.

Team: Haqq Grade: A-

Haqq stuck with its mantra of building around size with Tim nightingale and Tyron Louis. Add in superstar guard Iren Rainey and really it may just come down to chemistry on this team. Iren set the NMAA scoring record in a game last season with 65 points, but he had a tough time fitting in with his younger teammates. This season he's on a more veteran team, and if this team gels, Iren could lead them to the title. 

Team: Kamisars Grade: B+

I like what Coach Tareq did. He firmly believes now in chemistry, and went after players that played on his record setting Kamisar team that won 5 straight titles in 2014 and 2015. With Omar Hamouda, Ameer Zufari, Shakir Uddin all back, in addition to former mvp Mark Verdino this could be a very dangerous team once they gel. There's no dominant one on one player, although Mark is close, but they all play together well as a team. 

Team: Deen Squad Grade: B+

Yea another B+. I'm giving some high grades here, but so far I think they're all deserved. I have Deen Squad 5th in the rankings, but they probably deserve to be higher. They will control the paint with big man Hani and Jeff down low, and Akber Yasin will give them great shooting on the outside. Harris Ansari and coach Arif gives them that veteran experience. The lack of a true PG may hurt them though, but Deen Squad definitely drafted much better than last season.

Team: Al Wu7oosh Grade: B

Coach Malik has a franchise player in Faysal Shafaat. The football standout from UT-Chattanooga is a dynamic player who can drop 40 on any given night. Add solid big man Calvis Tompkins and veteran guard Steve Smith and it's a solid team. It remains to be seen how they will gel together though and if this team can make a deep run into the playoffs.

Team: Sirat Grade: C+

After having the best draft last season which led them to the title, coach Ahmed didn't get it done this time. Kane is a fantastic player, he was on An-Nur last season. But remember I mentioned earlier on top players missing my playoff game? Yea Kane was one of them. (Kane if you're reading this, I'm still salty) Reliability will be a concern for this stud. He has a good veteran big man in the middle with Jay Griffin, but PG play will be a concern. Freddy Jarett is a nice smooth player, but I feel asking him to play PG this season will take him out of his game. They have holes, and Sirat may struggle this season.

Team: MIB Grade: C

Coach Naqib won't be happy with me. He does have a great backcourt with Aaron Person and Joe Walton. But with Joe we've only heard how good he is, and not actually seen him yet. Waaris will hold the middle down on defense, but after him there's a lack of rebounding and forward depth. Aaron is a good rebounding guard and will have to crash the boards often for MIB. If this team can shoot and run, they will be competitive, but if either Joe or Aaron miss a game, MIB will struggle. 

Game Predictions:

Now it's time to make some squads happy and the others angry. Considering I haven't seen all the teams play this is pure guesswork, and of course we can always count on someone not showing up which can affect a game outcome.

Jund vs Haqq

Number 1 vs Number 3 - It's a great opening night matchup featuring noodle against Iren Rainey. I'm hyped to see how these big names will fare with their new teams tomorrow. Haqq has the size advantage but Jund has the chemistry edge since their squad is all familiar with each other. Slight edge to Jund in which should be an exciting game

Sirat vs MIB

This is the 7 vs 8 matchup and while both teams think I've undersold them this will be their chance to prove me wrong. I already have intel that Aaron Person will miss his first game with MIB, and if that holds true Sirat should easily roll in this one. Of course, that all depends if dynamic player Kane Cortollese also shows up. (Still salty Kane)

Al wu7oosh vs An-Nur

Another game I'm looking forward (and playing in) to. Wu7oosh will be led by Faysal Shafaat while An-Nur has Ricky Claitt back in. Calvis Tompkins for Wu7oosh and Jay Barnett for An-Nur may cancel each other out in the paint, so I think it will come down to the role players and what kind of contribution they can give. Slight edge to An-Nur in this game

Deen Squad vs Kamisars

Another game I'm looking forward to.  Both teams drafted well and are evenly matched. Top pick for Deen Squad Hani El Banna goes against many of his former teammates on the Kamisars. I'm going to give the slight edge to Kamisars in this game based on their chemistry. I'm also interested in seeing how Mark Verdino plays. 

That's it! Thanks for reading. Remember to show up on time for your games, bring your jersey, respect the players, staff and officials, and we expect it to be a great and fun season. Gametime fellas!

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