March 31st, 2017
by Omair Zahid
Welcome back to another season of NMAA basketball! This is year 7 now of our league, and I’ve lost count of how many seasons we've played. We have a number of new players joining us this season, six new players to be exact. I also wanted to welcome back guys like Baseel Ali, Jimmy Phipps and Brian Sealander who were longtime players but have been away for a while, we’re happy to see you guys back in NMAA.
This draft season was a complete redraft, no keepers. Yes, that means my two time back to back title winning squad An-Nur got blown up. I had no choice, a couple of our teams lost their top players and so we didn’t have a fair keeper system. As a result I had to tell my squad our run was over. So while it’s disappointing that we won’t get to see if we could have won a third straight title, we have brand new teams in the league ready to fight again for the championship. So what are the squads? After already 7 trades, this is where we are so far. I’ll start with my projections, this ought to be fun. Can’t wait for the teams I predicted to be at the bottom to start hate messaging me lol.
8 – Sirat – Sirat didn’t have the best draft. Their squad has a solid roster of veterans, but their only true playmaker is Nasser Al-Mulla. Ameer Zufari and Harris Ansari will help, but finding points elsewhere will be a challenge.
7 – Al Wu7oosh – Interesting strategy by Coach Malik Benwali as he went for size early in the draft. Easily the tallest team in the paint with twin towers Jay Barnett and Tim Nightingale. Freddy Jarrett and Asif Khan will provide the backcourt, but aside from Asif there’s a lack of outside shooting and speed on this team. They are probably better than my 7th seed projection, but that will remain to be seen.
6 – Kamisars – A core of Tareq Hafza, big man Hani El-Banna, David Troche and Mohammad Merchant will lead this team. It’s a solid team, and if they can hit shots they will be a tough out. Baseel Ali returns and could be a wildcard with his offense.
5 – Jund – It gets really tight here and Jund easily could be 2nd or 3rd. A strong core of Ramzi Chabaan, Brian Sealander and Tyron Louis makes them formidable. The drawback is guardplay. Deangelo Lee was impressive in open gym, but he’s young and undersized. Jund will be in every game, and can compete for the title.
4 – MIB – This might be a low prediction for them, like I said it’s tight and MIB is certainly capable of finishing higher, but 4th is better than the 7th seed they were last season. A nice draft and trades by Waaris Zaheer and somehow despite it being a redraft he got Isaiah Nicholsen, Aaron Person and Akber Yasin on the same team. This will be a fast high scoring team. The drawback is just veteran experience. If they play smart, they can go far.
3 – An-Nur – Blowing up the title squad hurt, but not a bad job replacing the parts. Winter League MVP Faysal Shafaat leads the team along with Edwin Franco and Rajiv Douglas. Veteran strong defensive guards like Jaret Williams and Yusef Hemmings makes An-Nur a smart and tough defensive team with some good outside shooting.
2 – Deen Squad – Deen Squad will have some firepower this season with Wassim Safadi, Dane Thompson and Ben Bertot firing away. Khaz Maaranu gives a strong veteran to the lineup as well. The lack of a center may hurt them, but they have good rebounders and their forwards offer good height. The only issue is 3 guys who need the ball and how they will manage that.
1 – Haqq – Haqq had a very nice draft and look very strong this season. Led by NBA D-League guard Norris Anderson, great 3 point shooters in Jeremy Diaz and Ahmad Shah, and strong interior play with Omar Hamouda and Jay Griffin gives Haqq a very well rounded team. I expect Haqq to be one of the top seeds.
So those are my projections, take it or leave it. There have been a lot of trades so far this season, more than the last 2 seasons, and I expect to see more soon. I know coaches are wheeling and dealing as they try to finalize their rosters. Games start this Sunday, players are expected to show up on time. We give about 5-10 minutes to warmup, so factor that into your game. Keep the games fun this season, make friends in the gym and let’s maintain that positive NMAA environment we are known for.
One friendly reminder, fellas please watch the language in game. While the officials will let you get away with some, any loud vulgar language like an F bomb that can be heard all across the gym will be an automatic technical foul. We are cracking down on that this season.
Look forward to a great season, see you guys Sunday!