Retro Basketball League - RBL

1986-87 League Preview

Auerbach Conference


Cave Creek

War Eagles unexpectedly won 50 last year without a quality rated shooter.  This year, Barkley gets rated, Malone has almost 20 inside, and Ellis is rated with 23 outside.   Add in elite dazzling at the guard position with Harper and Rivers, and the War Eagles are poised to be a scoring machine.    Cave Creek went out of way to get outside shooting bigs and moved defensive stud Eaton to get Sikma.  The wrong matchup in playoffs could make that move sting, but otherwise this has to be one of the title favorites.



Three time defending champs is trying to hold on.  However, Moncrief only plays half the season, which could be the difference between title contender and title pretender.   They spent draft choices getting some win now types like Tarpley and Branch, and the rest of the roster is deep and remains tough to defend with Hanzlik's quirky card and of course Dantley.   While they are not going to be a favorite to defend their title, they are good enough that it would not shock anyone to see them in the title series again.



Zeke, Wilkins, and Alex English give the Spartans plenty of firepower on offense.   Certainly come playoff team it's possible for this team to make a run.  However, compared to the better teams in the conference, they are weak rebounding and don't defend as well.    Will their big 3, depth (Young provides dazzles off bench, Williams/Stip/Eaton depth up front), be enough to make a serious run?



The Oilers have the makings of a title contending team, in the early 90s.   That is when guys like Adams and Brick have franchise changing cards, Rodman becomes more impactful, and Ewing continues to be one of the elite players in the league.    This year, however, Ewing is still lower in games, and the team is not as deep as some others.   Likely Tulsa will teeter between lottery and one of the last seed playoffs.



Princeton is still a work in progress and is likely headed toward lottery in yet another deep draft.  Drexler is an All-Star caliber player, but there is a lack of support around them starting with PG play and continuing to the fact that there is no scoring help for The Glide.    Without top notch 1/2 court scoring and one of the worst FB offenses in the league, Princton is going to need to win some ugly games.



How many owners are lucky enough to enter a league and end up with MJ just as he starts his career?    While he won't be surrounded by Pippen with the Splash, he will have a very solid strat supporting cast including Bagley's future dazzles, Bol, Chambers who only gets better, Gminski, Lever, Sampson, Willis, and potential rookie of the year Chuck Person.  Specific to this year, lack of dazzles compared to other title threats may prevent a ring, but they certainly have a shot.


Tar River

Few teams can boast the top end scoring power of the Dragons with Moses and Pierce.   And recent addition Mo Cheeks brings some back court defense to the team.    Dragons also have lots of versatile positional players like Green, HInson, and John Williams which will make it hard to find many mismatches.   This is another team that also is not as dazzle friendly as some other title contenders, but the scoring columns of the big dogs may make up for it.



If Magic is not enough of a stud, this year his 2 shot rating makes him even a stronger candidate for league MVP.   With him running the point and Walter Davis , JBC, Wooly, and a part time Cartwight adding to the offense, opponents may need to score 120 to have a chance to beat Flint.   But the Tropics may be RBL's verson of the 80s Nuggetts who scored a ton, but gave up a ton too, as their suspect D and rebounding may mean there are several matchups where games with Flint have a losing team scoring more than 130.




Greg added win now rookie Ron Harper, dazzling SG Richardson, and got maybe the 2nd round pick with the best win now card in Hubbard in an effort to surround Erving with one last hurrah.   Cage and DJ provide some toughness, and even guys 8-11 on this roster can play important roles on a team that is relatively deep.  But is there enough top end stud power to compete at the level that will be needed to get Erving over the top?



Title Contenders:  Cave Creek, Tex, Stil, Tar.  I think each team could make a valid argument why they would win the title.  Cave Creek's dazzles and maybe the biggest mismatch in the game, Barkley, give them a shot.   Texas might not have Moncrief a full season, but did a good job making sure that loss won't completely kill their chances at a 4-peat.  Stillwater has as many good scoring options as anyone, and may be the deepest team in the league.    Tar River's top 2 scorers can win any series.

Playoff threats:  Richfield, Flint.  If either of these teams pulls a playoff upset, it would actually not be too shocking.  They are quality teams with enough strong points that they won't be an easy out in a 5 or 7 game playoff series.  But are they strong enough to do it 3 times to get to represent the conference?

Likely lottery bound:  Del, Tul, Princeton.  Delaware actually has a solid team on paper, it's just this conference is pretty stacked at the top.  They are good enough to perhaps sneak the 6th seed, but on paper it might be tough.   Tulsa adding another lottery pick to a future title worthy team will be scary in a few years.  Princeton has some nice building blocks, just not enough to do much damage this year.


Naismith Conference


The Talons are not much different from the last two title contending teams.   Quality strat PG play in Green, Sparrow, Cooper.   Elite scoring with Kiki and Theus, and a deep front court with lots of options in Gilmore, Lister, Smith, Thorpe.   The team can dazzle with anyone, defend if they need, and score when they want.  Will this year be the season Nate can mold it all into a title?


The major part missing from the Ice to increase their competitiveness was PG, and mid round rookie Johnny Dawkins was a perfect fit.   Steve Johnson for a 2nd rounder was great value, and of course the anchor is Olajuwon.   Not sure this team will compete for a title, but there is enough to make them compete in most games.


Perhaps no team accomplished as much as Virginia did in the recent draft.  The Squires sorely needed bigs, and Daugherty and Duckworth were huge additions.  Mullin does not have his shot ratings, and Stockton has limited minutes so no matter what happens this season they will be better in the future.   Not sure they are ready to compete for a title yet, but they will soon.

Lake County:

Not having a first round pick this year has probably set them back a bit.  Dumars future is bright, Webb becomes healthier in the future, TOny Campbell has a year or two in the future where he provides some quality scoring.  But this year its hard to see the Nighthawks competing for much more than the #1 pick next year, which will help transform the team in the future.

Hill City:

I suspect Hackers ownership is disappointed they did not compete for a title more seriously the last few years.  The good news, however, is this may be the peak year for several players.   Nance and Floyd have cards that on a team less deep could be MVP candidates.   Flemming and Valentine provide a ton of additional dazzles, and Blackman and Aguirre are good enough scoring cards that they could be All-Stars on most teams.   Then there is that McHale guy.   Add in Donaldson and Tank Thompson and Banks who are ideal role players, and this could very well be the Hackers year.


Seems like the Braves have been competing at a high level and not able to get over the hump since the league started.  Of course, beginning a franchise with Bird will do that for you.  This year, Buffalo has some high quality dazzles 3 or 4 deep in the back court, potential matchup nightmare Maxwell, and still quality scoring from Jabbar.  Will that be enough or will Buffalo again be a bridesmaid?


The Champs, have some core players to build around- Oakley, Price, and Robertson.  And Antione Carr has a few very good years in the future.   But right now its a team that probably does not have enough to compete for much more than a final playoff spot.   FWIW, Oakley with his shot rating and massive boards on a team that lacks scorers is a hidden gem to be potentially first team All-Star this season.

North Coast:

One of the hardest teams for me to evaluate is the Flashes.  Some guys have better futures than presents (Schremph, Threat, West).  Some guys are better now than in the future (Cook, Long, Parish), and some are just fine both ways (Porter, Tisdale).    Dave is an owner who never quite wants to sell out, but my guess is even he would say while he will have fun with this team this year, he thinks the real competitive years lie ahead.


The Gunners went 1-81 and promptly continued to get their butt's kicked by the lottery, dropping all the way to #4.   Regardless, this draft has laid a nice foundation for the Gunners to build on- with Hornacek, Newman, and SKiles.  They almost certainly will have among the most lottery chances again next season, and you can see the beginnings of a team that will be really competitive in early 90s.

Title Contenders: It's difficult to see either Tonowanda or Hill City not making it to the finals.   Buffalo and Bird may have something to say about it, but on paper it's difficult to see Buffalo beating both in playoff series.

Playoff Bound: Buffalo, Minnesota, and N. Coast all probably have enough fire power to comfortably make playoffs.   And while they could win any single game, it would be an upset for them to make serious deep runs.

Lottery Bound:  Phx, Lake County, Bethel.    At least if they don't make playoffs, next years draft is deep enough that being in the lottery can provide some help.