The TNT KaTropa and Blackwater Elite made a trade that altered the landscape of both teams, and possibly the rest of the PBA.
Ray Parks, Jr., the 2nd overall pick of the 2018 PBA Draft, is now a KaTropa and will join a loaded lineup that is currently adjusting without the injured Jayson Castro. The Elite, on the other hand, got solid forwards in Don Trollano and Anthony Semerad, as well as a future first round pick.
What does this mean for both teams? Let's dive right in.
What the trade means for TNT
The KaTropa have dreams of pairing up Jayson Castro with Parks, a devastating 1-2 punch in the backcourt. But that will have to wait as Castro will miss time because of a foot injury. Without The Blur, and no legitimate backup point guard because of the trade that sent Brian Heruela to Blackwater, the KaTropa will turn over the keys and hopes of a championship run to Parks in the meantime.
Parks should excel in the role. He is arguably the most overqualified rookie in PBA history. Look at what he's done in only two conferences: finished top 3 in the Commissioner's Cup Best Player of the Conference race, and currently averaging over 20 points in the Governors' Cup.
Anything you ask of Parks, he can do it. He's got excellent ball handling skills at his height, which allowed him to be the de facto playmaker at times for the Elite when their guards were struggling. He's also a bull strong defender who can guard multiple positions, from point guards to imports.
But the biggest improvement Parks has made, and one that will make TNT dream big, is his perimeter shooting. Parks is averaging a ridiculous 3.1 three pointers made per game, at an elite rate of 39%. And that's with all the defense all over him. That skill fits in perfectly with the KaTropa, who could theoretically roll out lineups with elite shooters at every position: Parks, Castro, Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, and KJ McDaniels in the middle. There would be no one to sag off from, and it would be a two-way lineup that can stop other squads from scoring as well.
This is stating the obvious, but the KaTropa will be a much better team with Parks in the fold. Yes, they sacrificed some of their depth, and two good 3-and-D role players in Don Trollano and Anthony Semerad, but anytime there's an opportunity to get a player of Parks' caliber, you move heaven and earth to get him. This is a franchise-altering move by TNT.
What the trade means for Blackwater
In a span of three months, the Elite have traded the following players: promising forward Abu Tratter, reliable shooter Mike DiGregorio, veteran scorer Allein Maliksi, seldom used sophomore Reymar Jose, and now Parks. In exchange, Blackwater turned those players into Carl Bryan Cruz, Brian Heruela, KG Canaleta, Mike Tolomia. The final pieces they received were Don Trollano and Anthony Semerad.
Of all the players acquired, Trollano is undoubtedly the best. Playing over 30 minutes for the league-leading KaTropa, he averaged 11.8 points, and made 1.6 triples at a 38% clip. This season has been his breakout party. Semerad is a fine player when he's healthy, but it remains to be seen when he can be back on the floor, and if he can stay healthy for a sustained amount of time.
But if you're looking for Trollano to replace what Parks brought to the table for Blackwater, that remains to be seen. Parks' ability to create his own shot and for others was a talent that very few players have. Trollano's improved scoring came as a result of others making opportunities for him, whether it was Terrence Jones during the Commissioner's Cup finals, or this conference with the unselfishness of Castro and KJ McDaniels.
As with almost every player that arrives in the Elite, there will be bountiful opportunities and shots for Trollano to prove himself even more. However, one still can't help but wonder what led to Blackwater pulling the trigger on a deal so early in Parks' career. Whatever the case might be, this is now Blackwater's present -- a group of solid role players, with no franchise player to build around. Time will tell if any of the new players will rise up to be the main man for the Elite.