Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Laugh at the 1990s With Me

3. 


2. 

1. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ari Gold's Top 3 Moments

The visuals from todays podcast

3. Ari Gold Firing Compilation



2. Ari Gold declares war on Bobby Flay

It's still "Fuck Bobby Flay" over here. Check the video here.

1. Ari Gold gets Fired

Video would not let me embed, but you can watch it here. It's worth it.

Honorable Mention: Ari Gold eviscerates Josh Weinsten


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nikola Vucevic: $53 Million Dollars Richer

News broke today that the Orlando Magic re-signed C Nikola Vucevic to a 4 year/$53 million dollar contract extension. I've detailed my love for Vucevic in this space so it's no surprise that I love this deal. He's the first of Orlando's group of young guys to get an extension, so he's clearly someone Orlando feels is a building block moving forward and I agree.

He turns 24 on Friday. Let's take a look at the number of guys that have had multiple seasons of at least 13 PPG/11 RPG on 50% FG shooting before age 24.

  • Kareem Abdul Jabbar
  • Charles Barkley
  • Walt Bellamy
  • Elton Brand
  • Dwight Howard
  • Al Jefferson
  • Bob McAdoo
  • Shaquille O'Neal
  • Hakeem Olajuwon
  • Nikola Vucevic
  • Buck Williams
Not terrible company. Only five guys in the league last season put up at least 14/11 a night: Love, Dwight, Demarcus, Aldridge and Vuc. And he did it on 12 field goal attempts a game. With Afflalo, Davis and Nelson gone from last seasons squad, I could see that number creep towards 15 or 16, and that scoring average make its way towards 17 or 18 PPG. Vuc will also find himself paired with Channing Frye, a true stretch 4, this season. I think this helps his game in a couple of ways. One, with Frye drawing another big away from the basket, Vuc will have more freedom to work around the rim where he shot 56% last season. He'll also get to work in the paint more, due to the fact that he'll have another legit shooter on the floor. Two, with Frye standing  18+ feet away from the basket, Vuc will have an opportunity to grab a couple of more boards. I could easily see a 18/12 on 53% FG type of season for him. And you gladly pay $54 mill if your 24 year old center gives you that every night.

The deal averages out to $13.5 million a year. Vuc's deal doesn't kick in until next season, but let's take a look at what some of the other centers in the league make this season:

Omer Asik: $14.8 million
Roy Hibbert: $14.8 million
Tyson Chandler: $14.5 million
Al Jefferson: $13.5 million
Derrick Favors : $12.9 million
Andrew Bogut: $12.9 million
Kevin Garnett: $12 million
Deandre Jordan: $11.4 million
Javale McGee: $11.2 million
Larry Sanders: $11 million
Tiago Splitter: $9.1 million
Kendrick Perkins $9.1 million

To be fair, a couple of these guys are in the last years of a deal. But at the same time, I wouldn't pay Kendrick Perkins $9 million dollars over the next nine seasons, damn one season. Vuc is a young center who's trajectory is headed up. With the news of the salary cap rising, this deal has a chance at being a steal in a couple of years. Especially when you see what guys like Jordan, Hibbert and Jefferson ask for next summer in free agency. Those are guys not binded by restricted free agency like Vuc was, and I expect them to shoot for the moon in their next contracts.

As much as I enjoy Vuc, he's not without his faults. He has a couple of things to work on to really make that contract look like a steal. The first, and most critical, is his protection of the rim. Simply put, he hasn't been very good at it. Opponents hit on over 56% of their shots at the rim against him, a brutal number in line with other defensive stalwarts like Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Spencer Hawes and Nikola Pekovic. By comparison, the best guys in the league over a full season, Hibbert, Robin Lopez, Taj Gibson and Serge Ibaka, were all under 45%. Vuc is neither the behemoths that Hibbert/Lopez or the athletes that Gibson/Ibaka are, so I wouldn't expect him to be in their territory, but him getting that number under 50% would be a big step in the right direction. Teammate Kyle O'Quin allowed about 47% conversion so hopefully he can help rub off on Vuc. That, combined with his third year in Jacque Vaughn's system, and better perimeter defenders (Payton, Oladipo, Gordon all figure to be defensive improvements over their predecessors) should help Vuc take the next step to improving his defense.

The second thing I'd like to see Vuc improve on, is his free throw trips. He got to the line just 2.4 times per game last season, progress from 1.6 per game the year prior, but he can do better. Those bigs that I mentioned earlier that averaged 14/11 along with Vuc? Love gets to the line 8 times a game. Howard? 9 times. Cousins? 8. Aldridge? 5. At the very least, you'd like to see Vuc get to the line five times a game. I think his game shifting towards the post along with an increase of touches, will help him get there. His free throw percentage has jumped from 53% to 68% to 77% in his three years in the NBA and I wouldn't be surprised to see it hit 80% this year. If he does that, 20 PPG isn't out of the question and a good deal would look that much better.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Week 7 Picks

The Wildcats football team turned back into a pumpkin last night. And that's all I have to say about that. Next week, #1 Mississippi State, fresh off a bye week, pays a visit to Lexington. I actually think we'll have a decent shot, as the young Cats are undefeated at home, and should be able to pressure Heisman candidate Dak Prescott without blitzing. Either way, it should be better than a 41-3 loss where the Cats didn't turn the ball over at all and the time of possession battle was very close (UK-27, LSU-33). Just an all around beating. But again, that's all I have to say about that.

Picks.

Ravens over Falcons- The Falcons just aren't very good this season. That defense can't stop anyone and the offense can't overcome it anymore. It also may be time to move on from Steven Jackson. As an opposing fan, he scares me the least of any of the Falcons RBs with the ball in his hands. Smith, Freeman and Rodgers are all more of a threat to break a big play, which the Falcons need in the worst way.

Jigskins over Titans- This will be the game Kirk Cousins goes for 328 yards, 3 TDs and runs one in that has people talking themselves into him being a better QB than a healthy Robert Griffin III. And yes, the "a healthy" is a part of Griffin's name now. I don't make the rules.

Seahawks over Rams- Because the Rams pass rush is non-existent. This shouldn't be much of a game, so let me talk a little about Percy Harvin. How does a man his size (5'10, 180) run around delivering fades like the morning paper?? He's been rumored to have been in fights with coaches at Florida and Minnesota, and teammates now in Seattle. Is he just an abnormally good fighter? Or he just knows the same shit he tries with Golden Tate isn't gonna fly with Kam Chancellor? Either way, I'm looking forward to "Harvin/Geno Smith separated during halftime skirmish" as the Seahawks go on a 6-1 run.

Browns over Jaguars- I'm starting to fear the Browns. They've won two straight, have only lost their two games this season by five combined points, have Jacksonville, Oakland and Tampa Bay as their next three games. And each week that goes by is a week closer to Josh Gordon's return.

Colts over Bengals- I don't trust this defense at all. Two straight games of allowing well over 400 total yards, one sack in both games combined and now we're down two starting linebackers (Lamur and Maualuga). That may not necessarily be a bad thing as Lamur/Maualuga have been awful this season, but replacement Vincent Rey hasn't been much better  and this will force either Jayson Dimanche/Taylor Mays onto the field more to help with depth. RG Kevin Zeitler is expected to return, which is good, but this is his first game since week two so expecting him to be in midseason form is a bit much. I think Luck carves up the secondary because our pass rush has been disappointing. Dalton has another solid game here without three of his top receivers but it won't be enough.

Bills over Vikings- Teddy Bridgewater was sacked eight times and knocked down 12 times last week against Detroit. This week he gets to go against....the team tied for second in the league in sacks. When you get a minute, comb through this. As Bill Barnwell noted, someone took the time to go through each of Vikings LT Matt Kalil's snaps this and wrote a comprehensive report on how much he's been stinking. Some of those .gifs are incredible. NFL Reddit is an amazing place. Normal Reddit is a terrifying place.

Bears over Dolphins- I don't have a single thing to say about this game.

Lions over Saints- Saints are coming off a bye and looking to turn things around. I don't think it starts here. That Detroit pass rush will be enough to keep Brees making throws before he's ready and the Lions steal another one without Calvin Johnson.

Packers over Panthers- These may be the two of the three best QBs (Rivers) in the league thus far this season squaring off. Cam played as well of a game against Cincy as I've seen him play. And he's working with absolutely nothing. Rodgers has been shifting it back into God Tier over the last couple of weeks and has had 10 days of prep time off. And he has, ya know, actual weapons.

Chiefs over Chargers- I love Gio/J. Hill, but I see guys like Branden Oliver succeed out in San Diego and just wonder if you should ever draft a RB before day three again. That Chiefs pass rush is potent, but Rivers will negate that with quick throws. Oliver has another big day, Alex Smith has an 12/23, 181 yards type of day and the Chargers win easily.

Cardinals over Raiders- Carson Palmer came back from injury and looked great against Washington. He gets another week of practice against the Raiders, and gives his former team three TDs as the Cards go to 5-1.

Cowboys over Giants- No analysis. Let's just enjoy this while it happens. If the wheels fall off, we get to laugh. If they don't, we get to watch the narrative change on Tony Romo. I'm interested either way.

Broncos over 49ers- Hey, a Sunday night game that SHOULD be a Sunday night game! Kaepernicks numbers have looked good this year, but they feel misleading to me. He's struggled hitting open guys the last two weeks and that was without Von Miller trailing him in pursuit. I like Denver at home here as Peyton Manning becomes the all time leader in passing touchdowns.

Texans over Steelers- I'm all for watching JJ Watt on national television. Even better, when he's doing it against the Steelers. There's also a slight chance, Jadeveon Clowney returns to action this week. I'm hopeful that he does. Should be a long game for Roethlisberger either way.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Week 6 Picks + Kentucky Combine

Gotta show some love to the 5-1 Wildcats of Kentucky football. Things looked grim after a terrible start against Louisiana Monroe, but they reeled off 45 unanswered points, including two pick sixes and two touchdowns of 55+ yards. Next week the Cats head into the Bayou for a night game at LSU, and the schedule doesn't get much easier after that. Still, being one game away from bowl contention after only winning four combined games in the last two seasons feels good.

While we're talking Kentucky, I have to mention the NBA combine...I mean, televised practice Kentucky teamed up with ESPNU to televise this past Friday. That's right. I watched a team of college kids practice for two hours on Friday afternoon and I'm not ashamed AT ALL. I'm clearly biased, but I loved it. 90 NBA scouting members from all 30 teams filled the gym to watch the Cats run through a "regular practice". They also took their own measurements of players, so there shouldn't be any "Alex Poythress measured an inch shorter than listed. How will this affect his draft stock??" around the end of May. It was a controlled setting so it's hard to draw conclusions, but I still managed to pick up a couple. Imagine that.
  • Everyone is in great shape. Dakari Johnson dropped 25 pounds and it showed. He looked noticeably slimmer and looked much better getting up and down the court.
  • The Harrisons looked good. Andrew consistently beat the full court pressure of Tyler Ulis, and showed much more hustle defensively. Aaron may be the winner of the combine though. Word is, he measured around 6'7 (taller than the 6'5 I had seen him listed at ), has his vertical north of 40 inches (great news for a guy not considered an elite athlete by any means) and his shot seemed to fall with some consistency.
  • Karl Towns can really shoot. Not shoot for a big man, he can SHOOT. He nailed 78 shots in the 5 minute shooting drill, and has legit 3P range.
  • Great to see Willie Caulie-Stein and Trey Lyles on the court after they missed the Bahamas tour with injuries.
  • Tyler Ulis is going to be very good.
Now for what you really came here for. Terrible picks!

Titans over Jaguars- I'm hoping Zach Mettenberger gets the start here. Locker is still battling injuries and Charlie Whitehurst is still Charlie Whitehurst. I wanted Cincinnati to draft Mettenberger late in the draft this year and was bummed to see us go with AJ McCarron over him. I've got an eye on Mettenberger for this reason.

Bucs over Ravens- The Bucs have been on the road three straight games, and put up good efforts in the last two. They beat the Steelers two weeks ago, and lost to the Saints in OT last week after blowing an 11 point lead in the 4th quarter. I think they hold on here and knock the Ravens to 3-3. I like the limited bit of what I've seen from Mike Glennon and a Ravens defense that gave up 400+ yards last week in Indianapolis doesn't scare me.

Broncos over Jets- Geno may not be the answer in New York, but neither is Mike Vick. I don't think he gives the Jets a better chance in the short term or the long term. I rock with Geno right into a 3-13 season and top 5 pick next year. Then we get a chance to put Jameis Winston in New York media. Fun.

Vikings over Lions- It's looking like Teddy Ballgame is back for the Vikings. Which means Christian Ponder won't be playing. That's enough for me to go with Minnesota here. More than enough. 

Patriots over Bills- Jim Schwartz requesting to be carried off on the shoulders of his players and then seeing his wish come true is the story of the year in the NFL. More than Ray Rice. More than Peterson. It's Jim Schwartz requesting to be carried off on the shoulders of his players after a week 5 game that saw his team go one game above .500.

Bengals over Panthers- The injury bug is relentless. AJ Green is out with a reaggravation of turf toe, No Marvin Jones who was supposed to play last week. Tyler Eifert is still about a month away. Kevin Zeitler will probably miss this week too. The good news is that Vontaze Burfict is expected to start after missing the last two games. The Panthers have a terrible run game, which is great because we have a terrible run defense. Their line is terrible and Newton is a little banged up, so I'm hoping he has to drop back 50 times and we can get some good shots at him. On the flip side, that Panthers defense has been a far cry from last season. They haven't been able to stop the run or pass consistently, and I think that bodes well for us. I expect a lot of Gio/Hill, and wouldn't be surprised to see Gio line up at WR as a way to get both on the field at the same time and minimize the time that Tate/Sanzenbacher sees at WR. Put this next bit in stone: There will be a play where Jermaine Gresham has Luke Kuechly in a one on one situation and embarrasses him. Maybe he pancakes him on a block. Goes over top of him for a catch. Trucks him. Something to make you say, "Gresham isn't that bad". Then he's going to mess it up. He'll get called for holding after a 48 yard Gio run. Or drop the pass he shook Kuechly free to catch. And you'll say, "Tyler was right". Just you watch.

Browns over Steelers- The Browns have a great offensive line, Hoyer is doing exactly what they need him to do and they have a healthy Jordan Cameron and Ben Tate to throw in the mix. They win a low scorer over the Steelers after winning the turnover battle 2-0.

Packers over Dolphins- If Aaron Rodgers looks the way he has the past two weeks, it's going to be some time before I pick against the Packers again.

Chargers over Raiders- Cruel.

Seahawks over Cowboys- I'm tempted to pick the Cowboys here, and if this was in Dallas, I probably would. Romo and Murray are playing extremely well right now and that defense is getting by somehow. The Seahawks just got the best pro game I've seen out of Russell Wilson, and were only up 7 points with a little over 3 minutes left to go against Washington on Monday night. This should be a great game and I'm hoping for a lot of Dez vs. Sherman.

Cardinals over Redskins- Logan Thomas is not a good quarterback. He wasn't last week. He wasn't in college. The Redskins defense isn't a dominant bunch, but they should be ashamed of themselves if Thomas completes over 50% of his passes here and they dont come away with at least two turnovers.

Bears over Falcons - Ugh. The local game here. I don't really care who wins because I see both of these teams finishing 8-8 or 9-7 and just missing the playoffs. Both have "franchise QBs" who aren't quite franchise QBs, dynamic duos at WR and little else. The Bears defense is better, but they haven't shown it in the last two weeks. Though to be fair, there wasn't a defense alive stopping Rodgers in that game two weeks ago. I don't trust that Falcons defense and I damn sure don't trust that Falcons offensive line.

Giants over Eagles- The Eagles needed two TDs last from D/ST to beat a 1 win Rams team by six. Three D/ST TD's the week before composed all of their 21 points against the 49ers. The week before that, a kickoff return TD proved the difference in a 3 point win against Washington. Three weeks, six touchdowns from the Eagles defense/special teams. Maybe they are a historically great bunch at getting the ball in the endzone. Or maybe the wheels come off here with no D/ST touchdowns and things get ugly against a division rival that has won three straight games by double digits. I'm betting on the latter.

Rams over 49ers- I'm going with the upset. The Rams are at home. They've lost their last two games by a combined nine points. Austin Davis has been playing better by the week. On the flipside, the Eagles turned the ball over four times last week and didn't score a single point on offense, and San Fran only won by five points at home. The Rams have allowed the least passing yards per game in the league, and I can see them getting hold of an errant Kaepernick pass or two. 27-19 Rams. Call it a hunch.

Baseball predictions: Anyone but the Cardinals, God. Anyone at all.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Week 5 Picks

True to the regular season, the Tigers bullpen has melted down in spectacular fashion, and Ausmus has made some questionable decisions (like taking Sanchez out after only 2 innings).  Down 0-2 in the series.  It's not over, but they're going to have to really turn it on now if they want any chance of winning.

Great slate of games yesterday.  As you mentioned, UK pulled off a huge win over South Carolina, and I was actually able to watch it.  That was fun.
Within 5 minutes, UK beat SC and Arizona State pulled off a Hail Mary against USC.  Then Utah raced out to a lead and held on to beat UCLA.  A very good night for college football.

I took a couple weeks off from picks because I've had a terrible season picking so far.  Time to dust myself off and try again.

Bears over Panthers
With Greg Hardy out, the Panthers defense doesn't look the same.  The Bears defense doesn't look good either - particularly their run game - but the Panthers offense is hurting right now.

Titans over Browns
I guess this sounds right.

Rams over Eagles
I don't think the NFL has "figured out" Chip Kelly's offense, but I do think that their offensive line is beat up, and that Nick Foles isn't as good as he looked at times last season.  The Rams defensive line will wreak havoc and pull out a close win here at Philadelphia.

Falcons over Giants
I thought the Falcons were on their way back to the top, but they look extremely inconsistent.  I think they'll have a big game here and destroy the Giants.

Saints over Bucs
This game is in New Orleans.  Bucs lose by a lot.  A LOT.

Cowboys over Texans
I like that the Cowboys are using their running game more than they had in the past.  That's where their strength lies, anyway.   Still, there's a decent chance they'll kill Murray if they keep running him this much.

Lions over Bills
I don't put much faith in the Lions defense, but I trust them enough to think they'll beat Kyle Orton.

Colts over Ravens
Colts have been racking up points.  That'll continue here.

Steelers over Jaguars
I actually picked up the Steelers defense in fantasy this week just to be able to pick up some Jags points.  I predict it will work out well for me.

Cardinals over Broncos
In Cardinals defense I trust.

49ers over Chiefs
Although the Chiefs did put on a pretty impressive showing against the Patriots on Monday Night.  I'm no believer in the Patriots this year, but that was still quite a show.

Chargers over Jets
Philip Rivers goes nuts.

Bengals over Patriots
That Bengals defense is going to have a fantastic day.

Seahawks over Redskins
This could get ugly in a hurry.

Week 5 NFL Picks

First things first, shout out to the the 4-1 Kentucky Wildcats. The Kentucky Wildcats that have four wins already after having two ALL OF LAST SEASON. The Kentucky Wildcats that have two conference wins this season after losing 16 straight conference games (two entire seasons). The Kentucky Wildcats that should be 5-0, with a signature win in The Swamp if the below was called correctly:


The Kentucky Wildcats that are home next week against Louisiana Monroe and have a decent shot to crack the top 25 with a win, if EVERYONE in the top 25 loses again like they did this past week. What's so great about this team is how young everyone is. Kentucky Sports Radio took a look at what percentage of guys getting snaps on both sides of the ball are coming back next year and things look promising. A bright future could get brighter with a commitment from 5 star, #10 overall recruit Damien Harris expected to visit Kentucky later this month. He's from Berea and was very excited on the Twitter for UK's win last night so I'm hoping for a commitment soon. Either way, Coach Stoops has the start of something potentially great going on.

Picks.

Bears over Panthers- The Panthers have looked awful these past two weeks, losing by 18 to the Steelers and 28 to the Ravens. The Bears didn't look much better after getting spanked by the Packers last Sunday. Still, they were victim to Aaron Rodgers being Aaron Rodgers. The Panthers were victim to Steve Smith SR, but not a 28 point beatings worth. The Panthers can't run the ball and have limited receiving options on offense. They can't stop the run on defense. The slide continues.

Browns over Titans- The Browns are coming off a week of rest. The Titans are coming off a week of Charlie Whitehurst starting. And now they get Jake Locker back with a bum wrist. No thank you please.

Eagles over Rams- You think the Rams can still end up with RG3? Like throw the Jigskins a conditional pick or something and hope for the best? Because I'd certainly try that, though Austin Davis hasn't looked terrible in limited time.

Giants over Falcons- The Giants are looking better by the week and the Falcons are...not. The Giants pass rush isn't but it once was but they'll be able to get home against a Falcons offensive line that had their starting TE lining up at RT last week due to injuries. Might get ugly for Matty Ice, even if the score won't reflect it.

Bucs over Saints- I'm on board with the Saints ship sinking. The best part of a terrible secondary, Jairus Byrd, is out for the season and this is New Orleans first week without him. I think Doug Martin/Bobby Rainey will be able to control the clock, Glennon will be able to hit on a deep pass or two to Jackson/Evans and full panic touches down in New Orleans.

Cowboys over Texans- Going with the home team here in what should be a good one. Romo's QB rating has gone up every week since that week 1 disaster against the 49ers, and he's even running a little bit too. Demarco Murray has rushed for all of the yards and Dez Bryant hasn't had a Dez Bryant game yet. Romo has only been touched three times in the last two weeks, so I think the Cowboys will be able to keep him upright (read: out of JJ Watt's way). Fitzpatrick hands over a pair of picks to boot.

Lions over Bills- While I haven't watched any Bills games this season (praises due), I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that EJ Manuel was benched after only 14 games. His numbers look so-so, but I've heard he's been terrible and I won't dispute that. Still, there's a reason Kyle Orton is best suited at backup. He may have a couple of decent games, but we're going to remember why he's Kyle Orton soon.

Colts over Ravens- The Colts, and Andrew Luck in particular, have looked great the past two weeks against bums. The Ravens are coming off a game where all they had to do was not mess up and let Steve Smith SR do the rest. I don't think a weak Baltimore pass rush (four sacks in as many games) will be able to slow down Luck and Trent Richa....ok, Andrew Luck.

Steelers over Jaguars- Blake Bortles has looked surprisingly (to me, at least) competent in his limited snaps. He's much more mobile than I gave him credit for and keeps his eyes downfield while avoiding the rush. Fortunately for him, the Steelers pass rush is middle of the pack. I think he'll be able to make some plays, but it won't be enough.

Broncos over Cardinals- Drew Stanton on the road against Peyton Manning. No thank you please.

Chiefs over 49ers- REVENGE FOR ALEX SMITH! I mean, not really. He got paid and took his new team to the playoffs, like Kaepernick but yeah I do think KC wins here. That defense looks like they're getting back to last years form, and I think Kaepernick puts one too many up for grabs here. Sidebar: That new 49ers stadium looks amazing.

Chargers over Jets- That Jets defense has been phenomenal, but Phillip Rivers has been phenomenal-ler.

Bengals over Patriots- I'm terrified for many reasons. Dalton in primetime. Night game in New England. Patriots won't look as bad as they looked on MNF. Burfict is doubtful. Marvin Jones had a setback in practice and is also doubtful. We can't really stop the run, but it hasn't been an issue because we get up early and teams have to pass. But there are a few things on our side, and that's why I'm going with us. The Bengals have the top ranked pass defense in the league, and Tom Brady is coming off a terrible week. Dwayne Bowe had some success against Darrelle Revis last week, which gives me hope for AJ. Brandon Browner won't be active after he was supposed to come back this week and the Patriots cut a WR that started two games for them this season. The Patriots can't stop the run, so I'm thinking Gio and Jeremy Hill can keep the chains moving. Dalton's been touched one time in three games, and hasn't been sacked at all. We already won a game without AJ on the field, so even if Revis limits his impact, I think we can manufacture points. Defensively, we can't stop the run, but the Patriots don't really run much. I can see us escaping Foxboro with something like a 24-17 victory.

Seahawks over Redskins- Lol

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Week 3 Picks

I was lucky/unlucky enough to be in attendance for the Bucs-Falcons massacre. Goodness. I'm still not sure how good the Falcons are because the Bucs are terrible and the Saints are off to an 0-2 start as well. Both of the Falcons lines are suspect, but they were able to generate consistent pressure on McCown/Glennon on defense, and keep Matt Ryan upright on offense.

Either way. On to the picks.

Chargers over Bills- I'm not buying into this Bills team at all. I don't think they "lose 14 straight" fall off, but I do think they lose here by double digits.

Cowboys over Rams- I think if the Cowboys can just bide time until Romo gets in rhythm, they can run away with a terrible division. This is the first week he'll start to look like the Romo of old. The good Romo of old, I should clarify.

Eagles over Redskins- Kirk Cousins is going to turn back into a pumpkin.

Texans over Giants- Can nobody win the NFC East this year? Just throw three teams from the Cardinals in the playoffs.

Saints over Vikings- We're a mere three games away from the start of the Teddy Bridgewater era!

Bengals over Titans- The injury bug is on us hard and a Week 4 bye may actually work in our benefit. It's looking like AJ Green plays today and Vontaze Burfict doesn't (and I hope he doesn't. He looked a little too woozy out there last week after a week 1 concussion). The Titans pass rush worries me, but our offensive line has been great protecting Dalton so far. I think Gio and Hill will be able to gash the line like Demarco Murray did a week ago, and this defense will be able to force Jake Locker into some bad decisions. Another low scorer, but a victory for the Bengals.

Ravens over Browns- I don't think either of these teams are very good. The Ravens are on the road here, but had a week and a half to prepare for the Browns. I don't think either of these teams are very good, much to my delight.

Packers over Lions- I think/hope this is the week Eddie Lacy gets back on track after two bad games, and being a couple of weeks removed from that concussion. The Lions have stopped the run well so far, but they've played the Panthers and Giants, two teams not exactly known for their running games. Stafford hands over a freebie, and the Pack rolls to 2-1.

Colts over Jaguars- How did the Jaguars get this bad? Do they have five guys on a rookie contract you could point to as building blocks, Bortles excluded? Three?

Patriots over Raiders- Derek Carr leads the Raiders in passing and rushing. Derek Carr is not known as a dual threat QB.

49ers over Cardinals- Carson Palmer won't start again, and I guess that's a bad thing for Arizona? Drew Stanton had a bad game last week and escaped with a win against the Giants. Not the case this Sunday.

Broncos over Seahawks- Why? Why is this game on at 4:25 and not the SNF or MNF game? I want answers. Either way, I think Welkers returns helps the Broncos keep the chains moving against Seattle. And I refuse to believe they're held to another 8 point outing, even in Seattle.

Chiefs over Dolphins - I guess, man. Iono.

Panthers over Steelers- This a better choice for the primetime game than Broncos-Seahawks?

Bears over Jets- THIS IS A BETTER CHOICE FOR THE PRIMETIME GAME THAN THE BRONCOS-SEAHAWKS???


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Week 2 NFL Picks

I was on the road and actually missed a good bit of the week 1 games. Not the case this week. I'm back and more than ready to make some terrible predictions.

After beating the Ravens in Baltimore, I was delighted to see them destroy Pittsburgh. Neither of these teams are very good. And that delights me to no end.

Miami over Buffalo- I don't trust the Bills at all, even coming off a victory. I'm counting the weeks until they hand the Browns a top eight pick in the draft from the Sammy Watkins trade.

Jigskins over Jaguars- You'll have to watch this game and tell me about it because I have zero plans on seeing any of it.

Titans over Cowboys- This Cowboys team is bad. That defense is terrible, and Romo didn't look healthy from what I saw. I think the Titans can contend for that division if Locker stays healthy, which he's had trouble doing.

Cardinals over Giants- That Cardinals defense is the real deal, even without Dockett and Washington. The defensive line gets off the line FAST and that secondary is dynamite, and they're still waiting for Tyrann Mathieu to return. Eli is good for two picks and a lost fumble here. Sidebar: I know Deone Buchanan projects to be a very nice addition to their backfield, I'd be sick if I was a Cardinals fan and they passed on Bridgewater.

Vikings over Patriots- My second team! Not really, but I love Mike Zimmer and want him to do well in Minnesota. That Minny defense feasted on a terrible Rams offense, and from what I hear, the Patriots offense didn't look much better last week. Cassel holds onto the ball, Peterson  Patterson make enough plays to keep the chains moving and the Vikes win a low scoring one.

Saints over Browns- I see another "almost" game for the Browns here, as they keep it close at home for three quarters before losing in the last couple of minutes. That great Saints defense of last season looked awful against Atlanta last week.

Bengals over Falcons- Our cornerbacks are my biggest concern here. Steve Smith made a mockery of our secondary last week, and I can only imagine what Julio Jones will do to it. The Saints only sacked Matt Ryan once, and he picked them apart. We got decent pressure on Flacco, and I'm hopeful Wallace Gilberry will be able to make things rough on rookie Jake Matthews. Otherwise, I think we'll be able to run the ball and sustain drives on this defense.

Panthers over Lions- That Panthers defense is still legit, they're at home and Cam Newton is back in action. A couple of Stafford turnovers helps their cause.

Bucs over Rams- Shouldn't the Rams try to make a move for Mike Glennon? Word is Shaun Hill got benched, though the Rams are claiming injury, and that team appears to be in good shape besides the QB position. Glennon had a solid rookie year but saw his job taken by a guy that had an anomaly of a season. I'd kick the tires on Glennon as a fill in this year, and maybe longer with Bradford trying to recover from both injury and mediocrity.

Seahawks over Chargers- I don't see that San Diego secondary being able to do much with Harvin and I damn sure don't see their defensive line stopping Lynch.

Texans over Raiders- Clowney hurt during his first game because everything stinks. The Texans win another low scoring affair as JJ Watt makes Derek Carr's life miserable.

Jets over Packers- I'm going upset here. I think between Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson and Geno the Great running the ball, the Jets will be able to control the clock and thus keep Geno Smith from airing it out. I kinda like the Jets this season and I really like Geno this season. *fast forward to Packers winning by six touchdowns*

Broncos over Chiefs- Things might go 100 to 0 for the Chiefs real quick. Two starting linebackers out for the year. A tough schedule to start the season (@ Denver, @ Miami, vs NE, @ San Francisco) and maybe the Chiefs defense that showed up the last half of the season is the real deal and the dominant unit from the first half was a mirage.

49ers over Bears- Another erratic QB for the 49ers to feast on?

Eagles over Colts- Ok, I get it. Andrew Luck has next. He's going to be the best quarterback of all time, and probable supreme overlord of the universe upon his retirement. I get it. I still don't wanna watch this Colts team in primetime for a second straight week. That team might be below average at every position except for quarterback and receiver. And the receivers might be doing a whole lot of nothing, because the quarterback is running for his life.

NFL Week 2 Picks

I did a write-up of the Packers/Seahawks game here.  Bottom line: it wasn't pretty, but it was just one game.  That's what I keep telling myself.  Cutting down on costly penalties will help them quite a bit.  Too  many defensive breakdowns, too.  AJ Hawk needs to not be a starter anymore.

It's worth noting that my picks last week were terrible.  Pure trash.  I don't know why I keep doing this to myself.

To the picks:

Dolphins over Bills
This seems like a toss-up, but I'll roll with Tannehill.

Redskins over Jaguars
Look for Griffin to have a better day than he did last week.  It'll be close, but some big plays for the Redskins in the second half will be the difference.

Titans over Cowboys
I didn't see any of the Titans game last week, but I saw enough of the Cowboys game to not feel comfortable picking them.

Cardinals over Giants
Even without Carson Palmer starting (Drew Stanton time!), I trust the Cards to win this game.  Really, I just think the defense will force a couple Eli Manning turnovers.  It'll be low scoring, but that kind of game favors the Cardinals.

Patriots over Vikings
No Peterson this week, so I'll go ahead and take the Pats here.

Saints over Browns
The Saints defense is better than it looked against the Falcons last week.  They'll be able to shut down the Browns offense.

Falcons over Bengals
You know how much I love Matt Ryan (well, maybe not him personally, but the way he plays).  The offense is healthy, and they'll make life really hard on the Bengals defense.  Something like 27-24 seems about right.

Lions over Panthers
No Greg Hardy for the Panthers.  A cracked-rib Newton playing.  Add that to the Lions looking really good last week, and I kind of have to take them.  I don't like picking a Jim Caldwell team to win, but what other choice do I have?

Rams over Bucs
Not sure I'll be able to pick the Bucs while Josh McCown is the starter.  Free Glennon!

Seahawks over Chargers
The Chargers make their bones with running and short passing.  Those are two areas the Seahawks excel at stopping.  The Packers actually had a bit of success running up the middle on the Seahawks last week, but, with the undersized speed backs the Chargers have, they're built more to run outside.  This will not end well for San Diego, even if they are playing at home.

Texans over Raiders
I guess this looks right.

Packers over Jets
Green Bay comes out and takes out all their frustrations from last week out on the Jets.  They comes out of the gate hot and don't let up.

Broncos over Chiefs
Chiefs looked bad last week, and now they lost one of their best defenders and are heading into Denver.  This could get ugly really fast.

49ers over Bears
I was ready to pick the Bears here, but now it looks like Jeffery and Marshall won't be playing (if they do, they'll be greatly diminished).  They would have been huge against the undersized secondary of the Niners, but, without them, the Bears offense won't be able to do much.

Eagles over Colts
This could go either way, but I don't trust in the Colts defense.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

NFL Week 1 Picks

I've been M.I.A. and I apologize.  With football season back, it gives me a good point to come back to my at-least-once-a-week posting schedule.

The season is here.  So full of promise and hope and...the Packers are 0-1 already?  THE SEASON IS OVER.
I think they'll be fine.  I'm going to be looking at it a bit more in-depth this next week.  The Seahawks are tough, and the Packers looked a little off.  And they had a lot of penalties.  I'll still say 10 wins is more than fair.  I like how their defense looked, even if they were out of position from time to time (Shields biting hard on that zone-read was atrocious).  Loved how Clinton-Dix looked; he missed a couple tackles, but he seemed to have a pretty good read on plays as they developed.  I really liked what I saw out of him.

The Tigers are 2 games back and I'm pretty upset about it.  Let's drown away those sorrows with NFL picks!

Saints over Falcons
I like the Falcons this year.  I think they could have a nice rebound season/  The defense is going to be terrible, but the offense should be able to make up for some of that.  Still, the Saints pick up a win here.

Rams over Vikings
I'd be really excited about this game if Bridgewater was starting.  He's not.  I normally have a hard time picking a Cassel team to win anyway, but I have an even harder time when it's against a nasty pass rush like this.  Low-scoring, sloppy game.  Next.

Browns over Steelers
Hoyer comes out of the gate hot (or, lukewarm at least) and beats an already tired-looking Steelers squad.  

Eagles over Jaguars
Shady goes nuts.  Foles goes turnover-free.  Eagles by a lot.

Jets over Raiders
The Jets may have a secondary made up of duct tape and scrap metal, but I still trust a Rex Ryan defense to completely befuddle a middling rookie QB.

Bengals over Ravens
Dalton throws a couple picks, but Flacco throws at least one more.  Bernard Pierce should have a pretty decent day, though, leading to the Ravens feeling high-and-mighty when they sit Rice even after the suspension ends, even though it's really more of a performance issue.

Bears over Bills
Should be a close game, but the Bears will pull it out late.  Really, all Cutler has to do is throw high to his receivers against the very small Bills CBs.  Late touchdown to Marshall in the corner.

Redskins over Texans
Griffin looks like his old self.  Texans offense can't score more than 13 points (that might be generous).

Chiefs over Titans
I don't love the Chiefs this season, but the Titans will likely be terrible.

Patriots over Dolphins
It'll be close.  The Patriots are on their way down, and the Dolphins are on their way up.  Tannehill has a pretty good game, but gets hit a ton.

Bucs over Panthers
I was going to pick the Bucs anyway, but now it looks like Cam won't be playing today.  I really like the Bucs a lot this year, and I'll like them even more once Glennon takes over the starting role.

49ers over Dallas
It's going to be a struggle for the Cowboys to even get to 8 wins this year.  Their defense is terrible, and Romo's back is on the verge of disintegrating into ash, making Weeden the starting QB.  

Colts over Broncos
I keep saying, "This is the year Manning falls off," and I firmly believe it this year.  Sure, maybe he looks good  here, but it won't last.  He'll have a decent game, but the Colts win it late.

Giants over Lions
The Giants could very well be terrible this year, but it's hard to pick a Jim Caldwell coached team to win.

Chargers over Cardinals
I will be asleep by halftime.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wade, Lance, SWAGGY

Miami Heat re-sign G Dwyane Wade: 2 years, $31.1 million

There is also a player option for year 2 of this deal. Wade opted out of 2 years/$42 million so he's losing about $11 million. Still, $15 million is a nice paycheck and I'm sure the Heat will take care of Wade beyond that year for his sacrifice. I like this deal for both sides. Wade gets his money and comes out as a "good guy" for giving up money (Wade is teflon). The Heat stay competitive now and keep cap space open for the summer of 2016 when Kevin Durant and LeBron James (Ha!) can become free agents.

Charlotte Hornets sign G Lance Stephenson: 3 years, $27 million. 


"Larry, dis Lance..."
I love everything about this deal. Everybody wins here, except the Pacers. They lose pretty badly. The Hornets fill a need on the wing. They get a 24 year old with considerable upside stepping out of what was commonly known as the Pacers """""""offense"""""". Stephenson gives the Hornets a secondary ball handler and another great perimeter defender, alongside beside Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist respectively. A two year deal also isn't long enough for Lance Stephenson to kick up his feet and do Lance like things. If he has a nice three year run, he can hit unrestricted free agency again at age 26 and really lockup a long term deal. As Zach Lowe has pointed out multiple times, guys as good as Lance Stephenson don't hit unrestricted free agency at that age. He has a chance to do it twice by age 26. He's not without his risks, but I absolutely think the upside is worth the risk on what could be a two year deal.

Los Angeles Lakers re-sign G Swaggy: 4 years, $21.5 million
                                   re-sign C Jordan Hill: 2 years, $18 million

Very kind of Swaggy to take less than the max to help bring other talent to Los Angeles. Very kind indeed.
Jordan Hill had a very solid year in LA last season. He averaged nearly 10 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 1 BPG  in only 21 MPG. He played mostly PF with Pau Gasol in town, but I figure he will transition back to center with Gasol in Chicago. He and Julius Randle should form a solid frontcourt for the Lakers. A two year deal also keeps LA's cap space alive for the summer of 2016.

Cleveland Cavaliers sign F Mike Miller: 2 years, $5.5 million

The Cavs shot 35% from 3P last season, just short of the 36% league average. Miller hit 46% of his triples in Memphis last season, AND played in 82 games. You can do a lot worse than a rotation of wings that includes LeBron James, Andrew Wiggins, Dion Waiters and Mike Miller. A very nice move for a Cavs team that could compete for the East now, even without acquiring Kevin Love, due to the Pacers and Heat being forced to shake up their starting lineup.

Washington Wizards sign F Kris Humphries: 3 years, $13 million

The Wiz are having a very good offseason. They retained Gortat, signed Pierce for cheap, picked up a trade exception for a fleeing Ariza and now, Humphries. Humphries came off the bench for the Celtics last year and gave them a 8/6 on 50% FG shooting in only 20 MPG.  He'll be a great first big off of the bench and very valuable when Nene misses his annual 15 games. I really like what the Wizards have going on.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mo' Free Agency

Dallas signs F Chandler Parsons: 3 years, $46 million.

I like Chandler Parsons game. I don't like his $15 million dollars per year of his game. He's a young wing with a very nice all around game, and a three year deal for a 25 year old isn't terrible. But if you give me a choice of $15 million a year of Chandler Parsons or what Houston did to replace him, I think I like how the Rockets came out. Part of me thinks this was Dallas attempting to drive up Parsons price, knowing that Houston was going to match and now they have to pay him.

Houston Rockets sign F Trevor Ariza: 4 years, $32 million



Check the per 36 MPG numbers. Ariza shot better from 3P, FT, grabbed more boards and is a better defender. He's also 28 and just finished his 10th season so this is probably what he is at this point. Parsons shot better from 2P, dished more assists and is only going into season 4 at 25. There's still some upside, but would you rather pay $8 mill for Ariza or nearly double that for Parsons? I'd take Ariza.

Utah Jazz re-sign F Gordon Hayward: 4 years, $63 million

I don't want to pay $15 mill a season for Hayward either and I'm sure the Jazz agree, but you have to overpay to get/keep young talent to Utah so I get it. I really liked the potential fit of Hayward in Charlotte, but Utah is not in a position to let assets walk and get nothing in return. I also think Hayward's poor shooting year (41% FG, 30% 3P) was the exception and not the rule. I think he'll get those numbers up this season.

Charlotte Hornets sign F Marvin Williams: 2 years, $14 million:

I do NOT like this move for Charlotte. For what man? I won't pretend I watched a whole hell of a lot of Jazz games last year, but I also won't pretend that Marvin Williams is bringing $7 million dollars worth of veteran leadership of whatever it is the Hornets are using to justify this move. If they were looking to take a chance on a UNC guy that hasn't lived up to draft night expectations, I would have rather them signed Ed Davis and hoped he figured it out.

Memphis Grizzlies sign F Vince Carter: 3 years, $12 million

Another solid move. A shooter for a team that sorely needs shooting. I imagine that he and Jordan Adams will help lead the bench unit for the Grizz, though VC gives some versatility. He can start at SF over Tayshaun Prince, slide to the 2 and play alongside Prince, or go back to SF with Tony Allen occupying SG.

Detroit Pistons: sign G DJ Augustin: 2 years, $6 million
                            sign F Caron Butler: 2 years, $9 million

Augustin and Butler both had solid years in reserve roles for the Bulls and Thunder, respectively. I'm skeptical Augustin can duplicate what he did under the mask of Tom Thibodeau's system (sidebar: In the past three seasons, Thibs has gotten career years out of DJ Augustin, Nate Robinson, John Lucas and CJ Watson. Perhaps it's the system that makes the point guard and Derr...ah nevermind), but he should be solid off the bench for the Pistons. There's a team option on the second year of Butler's deal, so they won't be on the hook long if he can't provide much.

Phoenix Suns sign G Isaiah Thomas: 4 years, $27 million

The Suns are just going to run out Alex Len and four PG's next season. They have Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Tyler Ennis and just gave $27 million to Thomas. Dragic has a player option after next summer that he will almost certainly turn down in search for big money. Bledsoe is waiting for an offer in restricted free agency. Ennis is just a rook. This may just be the Suns collecting assets and figuring it out later, as $7 mill per for a 25 year old fresh off a 20 PPG/6 APG season is a steal. They have a ton of cap space so they may just run this season with Bledsoe/Dragic starting and Thomas as a supersub. If Dragic gets a crazy offer, they let him walk. If they can bring him back reasonably, they have Thomas as a trade chip.

San Antonio Spurs re-sign G Patrick Mills: 3 years, $12 million

I missed that one. I love this deal, even if Mills is expected to miss the first half of the season due to shoulder surgery. I would have loved for Orlando to throw this money at him. $4 million for half a season of Mills still seems like a better deal than $4.5 million for an entire season of Ben Gordon. Mills will get to take his time during rehab, work his way back into the rotation and pick right up where he left off as a spark off the Spurs bench.

Oklahoma City Thunder sign G Anthony Morrow: 3 years, $10 million

Morrow played nearly 19 MPG last year for the Pelicans and knocked down 45% of his triples. The anti-Sefolosha. Great move by the Thunder, as he'll have more than his fair share of open looks spotting up around Kendrick Perkins and Nicholas Collison.

Monday, July 14, 2014

LeBron and Some Other Guys!

Cleveland Cavaliers sign F LeBron James: 2 years, $42 million

I think that I, and a majority of the basketball world, are still reeling over the shock from this one. I will try to keep this brief, as I imagine that nearly everybody everywhere has said everything about this move. I think it was a good move for LeBron, life wise and basketball wise. It's a big risk as this Cleveland roster is not without fault. Varejao is old. Kyrie has played 60+ games just once in his three years. Wiggins is unproven. Thompson, Waiters and Bennett have been underwhelming. And still.

I think LeBron on his own adds 20 wins to any roster in the NBA. That would put a Cavs team that won 33 games last year in the 50s, and that's before you add in Wiggins value. I've heard talk of trading Wiggins for Love, or Waiters to clear space to sign Ray Allen and/or Mike Miller, and I don't know that I agree with them. I think LeBron chose Cleveland in part to grow with a flock of young guys. He does the heavy lifting now so that in a couple of years, he doesn't have to. Love is great, but he's missed 96 games in the last three seasons. I'm not a huge Waiters fan, but I wouldn't trade him for space to sign a 38 year old and a 34 year old. I understand the East is wide open this season, but if the Cavs pace themselves I think they can own it for the next several seasons. I let this season run, and pick up what I need as I need it.

New York Knicks re-sign F Carmelo Anthony: 5 years, $122 million

I wanted to see Melo in Chicago for basketball reasons, but I understand completely why he took the loot. This is his chance for a big score, and boy did he cash in. Melo may have had his best overall season last season. Melo is 30 now so the Knicks should be able to get a couple of good years in, but I would not want to be paying a 34, 35 year old Carmelo Anthony upwards of $25 million dollars. The beauty of this all, is that I don't have to. The Knicks do. So good for them.

Miami Heat: re-sign F Chris Bosh 5 years, $118 million
                       re-sign G Mario Chalmers 2 years, $8 million
                       re-sign C Chris Andersen 2 years, $10 million 
                            sign F Luol Deng: 2 years, $ 20 million

Like Melo, I wanted Bosh to switch teams for basketball reasons. A Howard/Bosh/Parsons/Harden/Beverly lineup in Houston would have been fun to watch, but again I understand why Bosh took the cash. He likely jumps from the third option from Miami to the first, with LeBron's departure and Wade's health. Do you want a 30 year old Chris Bosh as your first option? Probably not, but you could do a lot worse. He's a big that can shoot threes, neither of which will diminish in time so this contract shouldn't age too badly.

Like the Deng signing. $10 mill a year for a guy one year removed from back to back all star appearances is more than fair. I could do without bringing back Chalmers/Birdman for those prices. It probably depends on what Wade ends up signing for, but I think Miami would have been better served throwing a max offer sheet at a guy like Eric Bledsoe. $9 mill a year for Chalmers/Andersen or $15 mill a year for Bledsoe? Greg Monroe wouldn't be a bad pickup either. Maybe Detroit lets him walk as a solution to their Drummond/Smith/Monroe issue. I think I'd rather take a chance on a young guy like Monroe/Bledsoe than three vets like McRoberts/Chalmers/Andersen, even though the money is around the same. To be fair to McRoberts, he signed before LeBron skedaddled. I'd be tempted to break my verbal commitment if I was them but $23 million is $23 million and Miami is still Miami.

Chicago Bulls sign F Pau Gasol: 3 years, $22 million

I like this deal. A lot. Gasol averaged a 17/10/3.5 last season on a terrible Lakers team and even at 34, I think he showed he still has some gas left in the tank. I like this move because of the versatility it gives the Bulls. While Gasol has been spending more and more time at center as he ages, I think the defensive scheme the Bulls have will allow him to play more PF. He can play PF alongside Joakim Noah, or C with Taj Gibson at PF. Either way, the Bulls will always have another big to protect him defensively. He's also an excellent passer for a big and he and Joakim Noah immediately make up the best passing frontcourt in the league. Solid move.

Washington Wizards sign F Paul Pierce: 2 years, $11 million

Huh? I thought it was written in stone that Pierce was headed to Los Angeles to reunite with Doc Rivers? This move came out of left field, but I like it. Pierce fills the hole at SF that Trevor Ariza's departure made, and he showed in Brooklyn that he can play some small ball PF. This will come in handy when Nene misses his annual 20 games. Pierce gives them another option for John Wall to kick it out to and a guy that can create his own shot. More importantly, his two year deal keeps the Wiz competitive now and keeps cap space open for 2016 when they will surely try to bring Kevin Durant home. This move also allows them to slowly trickle a few more minutes to last years #3 pick Otto Porter, as Pierce is best suited playing 25-30 MPG. Problem is, Porter may be best suited playing 0-5 MPG.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

More Free Agent Signings!


Orlando Magic sign PF Channing Frye: 4 years, $32 million

An unexpected signing for sure. The Magic already had Vucevic, O'Quinn, Harris, Nicholson and Gordon fighting for frontcourt minutes and here comes Frye. Frye adds a legit shooting stroke a team that badly needs it so he will find his minutes. Bigs get paid. Bigs that can shoot get paid more so I don't really have an issue with the contract either. I do wonder what this makes of Andrew Nicholson, who I was hoping to see bounce back from a subpar sophomore campaign. I think this move also shows that the Magic see Tobias Harris best coming off the bench, which I agree with, and Aaron Gordon as more of a SF, which I'm still unsure about.

Miami Heat sign PF Josh McRoberts: 4 year, $23 million
Miami Heat sign SF Danny Granger: 2 years, $4.2 million

Yes. THESE are the moves that will bring James/Wade/Bosh back to town. I don't think Wade/Bosh minds taking a paycut to bring another heavy hitter to South Beach. I think they mind if it's to clear cap space for McBob and Granger. To be fair, McRoberts is a decent player. He's a big that can shoot and pass the ball very well. He can't rebound, which fits right in with the Heat, and I wouldn't want 4 years of him, but he's a solid player. Granger on the other hand, looked DONE in Indiana and Los Angeles last season. His shot never came back to him and he looked a step slow on both ends of the court. You'd hope playing with James/Wade/Bosh would help some of that, but the Pacers were playing some good ball the first half of the season and he struggled. The spacing that Paul/Griffin provided in LA didn't do much better. Throw both of these guys in the Spurs series and I don't think it helps Miami a bit.

Clippers sign PG Jordan Farmar Clippers: 2 years, $4.2 million

Listed below are the per 36 stats for a couple of backup PGs. Player A will make over $5 million next season. Player B, Farmar, will make a little over $2.1 million.


Player A is Darren Collison, who left the Clippers for the Kings. If he can stay healthy, he did miss 40 games last season, Farmar should be a more than suitable replacement for Collison as the Clippers backup PG and spot starter when Chris Pauls hamstring/knee/ovaries act up this season.

Clippers sign C Spencer Hawes: 4 years, $23 million

Hawes had a very nice season last year for the 76ers and Cavs. He averaged a 14/8/2.5 on 47/45/78 shooting. Contract year phenomenon? Perhaps, but he's 26 and will be the best backup big the Clips have had in seasons. Look at the guys that logged frontcourt minutes last season for the Clips, besides Jordan/Griffin: Antawn Jamison, Big Baby Davis, Ryan Hollins, Hedo Turkoglu, Byron Mullens, Danny Granger, Jared Dudley and Stephen Jackson. Hawes is better than any of those guys. Considerably. He'll help space the floor in a way that DeAndre Jordan can't for the Clips. Nice move.

Mavericks re-sign PF Dirk Nowitzki: 3 years, $30 million

The Tim Duncan special. Dirk quietly had a dynamite season last year (22/6/3 on 50/40/90 shooting) and the Mavs gave the champion Spurs the most trouble of anyone in the playoffs. By taking less, Dirk is counting on Cuban and Co to get him some help for one last championship run. If they keep monitoring his minutes like Duncan, I can't see any reason why Dirk won't age just as well as Timmy.

Blazers sign C Chris Kaman: 2 yrs, $9.5 million

Was shaky on this one until I saw that the second year of the deal is only partially guaranteed. The team can keep him on the roster, or pay him a million bucks and send him on his way. Very nice signing. When Kaman was healthy, he was solid....which you could really say every year of his career. He averaged 10/6 for the Lakers in just 19 MPG last season, but only played in 39 games. In theory, he'll form a nice tandem with Robin Lopez for the Blazers. In theory.

NBA Free Agency 2.0!

Orlando Magic sign SG Ben Gordon: 2 years, $4.5 million

Awful. Just awful. The second year of this deal isn't guaranteed so this isn't as bad as it looks, but I don't get it. Gordon has a reputation as a shooter but couldn't get minutes for a Bobcats team that badly needed shooting. He had spats with Bobcats Hornets head coach Mike Dunlap. So he played 19 games last year, where he shot 34% from the field and 28% from 3P, and the Hornets decided to stick it to him by waiving him last season after the deadline where waived players could be claimed by postseason squads. Sounds like a great pickup for a young team coming off a 23 win season that already has two young SG's that are better than Ben Gordon. I don't get this move at all.

Atlanta Hawks sign SG Thabo Sefolosha: 3 years, $12 million

Eek. Sefolosha still has value as a defender, but is routinely ignored offensively by good teams. He played 34 minutes in the 6 game series against San Antonio. Not 34 minutes in Game 6. 34 minutes in the total 6 Game series. The Spurs this year and Grizzlies last year beat the Thunder, in part, by abandoning Sefolosha completely and guarding others. I'm not sure how he fits on a Hawks team looking to be Spurs West, as far as fielding five guys that can dribble/shoot/pass all at the same time. His defense alone might make it worth it, but it seems hard to justify that to me for a guy teams delightfully choose not to guard.

Pacers sign SG CJ Miles: 4 years, $18 million

Huh? Guard plays 20 MPG on a 33 win team, scores $18 million dollars from team in conference finals? I don't see it. I think Larry Bird has an eye for talent (drafted George, Hibbert, Stephenson, Kawhi Leonard, Miles Plumlee) but has trouble signing deals (this deal for Miles, 5 yrs/$40 mill for George Hill, 3 yrs/$10 mill for one season of Gerald Green before trading he, Plumlee and a first rounder for Luis Scola. Yikes). Larry Legend's moves to shore up the Pacers bench have been less than stellar and I can't imagine this one panning out either.

Kings sign PG Darren Collison: 3 years, $16 million

I guess man. Collison has a nice enough season in Los Angeles, and he's only 26 but reports say they are only looking to give Isaiah Thomas $5-6 million per year over three or four years to stay in Sacramento. I'd take Thomas over Collison, especially for around the same price so I'm not sure what the Kings plan is. Word is, they want Thomas back as a sixth man but I don't know if a team that hasn't won 30 games since 2007-08 can be making those types of decisions.

Spurs re-sign PF Boris Diaw: 3 years, $22 million

No surprises here. I don't think Diaw was ever leaving San Antonio, and while $7 mill per sounds a little high to me, Diaw fits the Spurs system very well and his game, if not his body, should age well. He can also help tutor Kyle Anderson, as there are some similarities in their game.

Raptors re-sign PF Patrick Patterson: 3 years, $18 million

Always happy to see a Wildcat get paid. This is a very fair deal for Patterson, a young big who worked hard to add three point range to his game. After being traded to the Raptors, Patterson hit 50% of his two pointers, 41% of his three pointers and grabbed over 5 boards a game in his 23 minutes per contest. Very nice signing.

Raptors re-sign PG Kyle Lowry: 4 years, $48 million

Another nice signing by the Drakes. Despite being known for his defense, Lowry had a career year last season averaging a 18/5/7.5 on 42/38/82 shooting. It feels like he's been in the league forever, but Lowry just turned 28 so the Raptors should be locking up peak years from Lowry. He was an All Star snub last year, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him make it this season.


Mavericks re-sign PG Devin Harris: 3 years, $9 million

Harris only played in 40 games last season, which isn't really a surprise as he's been battling injuries. He hasn't played 75 games in a season since 2006-07. You have to hope that he can stay healthy and bounce back from a career low 38% FG, but for only $3 million per, I think he's worth the risk.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

NBA Free Agency 1.0!

Rejoice! NBA free agency is among us. I anticipate plenty of terrible deals, with a couple of good ones here, and will take this space to give my thoughts on them. First up...

Detroit Pistons sign SG Jodie Meeks: 3 years, $20 million

As a fellow Wildcat, I think this is a steal and that Meeks had a legitimate argument for a max contract. Meeks was the third leading scorer for the Los Angeles Lakers this past season. Let me give you some names of past third leading scorer for the Lakers: Pau Gasol, Magic Johnson, Jamaal Wilkes, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar and Elgin Baylor. Would you say that a little under $7 million a year is too much for any of THOSE Hall of Famers/future Hall of Famers??? I think not. #TorridSportsTakes

Seriously, Detroit overpaid for Meeks but that's a given. You have to overpay to get guys to undesirable markets/bad teams, and Detroit checks both boxes. For a team that shot 32% from 3P as a team (29th of 30 teams), Meeks and his 40% 3P shooting will be welcome. Stan Van Gundy values three point shooting and surprisingly a roster with Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith was unable to provide it. Meeks is also 26 and coming off his best season so there is a little room for upside here. Solid signing.

Golden State Warriors sign PG Shaun Livingston: 3 years, $16 million

The Warriors traded for Steve Blake and Jordan Crawford last year looking for a PG to backup Steph Curry, and didn't find a good fit with either. I think Livingston will fit that bill. He can come off the bench to relieve Curry, play off the ball with him or handle the ball and let Curry spot up around the arc. He'll also be able to help defend the Westbrook/Paul/Lillard/Parker types of PG that the West has to offer. The Nets went 34-17 after Livingston was made a regular in the starting lineup, and I'm thinking he provides some insurance in case Klay Thompson is included in a deal for Kevin Love. Livingston can't shoot threes, but he doesn't try them. He can create for himself and others and gives the Warriors some flexibility with their lineup. I like this move.

Washington Wizards re-sign C Marcin Gortat: 5 years, $60 million

Oh boy. I like Marcin Gortat. I've liked him since his days backing up Dwight Howard in Orlando and I like him now. I don't like him 5 years, $60 million much though. Gortat averaged a 13/10 on 50% FG shooting for the regular season/playoffs and played in 92 of the Wizards 93 games last season. He was durable, productive and a big man so he was going to get paid. The $12 million a season figure doesn't bother me. The five years does. Gortat is 30 and while he played nearly every game last year, he missed 21 games the season before. Do you want to pay a 33 year old Gortat $12 million dollars a season? How about a 34 year old one? Hell, 33? I know I wouldn't.

But I understand why the Wizards did it. Last year was the first time they made the playoffs since 2007-08. They have legit young talent in Wall and Beal and are trying to show that they are ready to compete in a weak East. It doesn't send a very good message to your fans to let a key piece of your team walk after reaching the second round of the playoffs. With this move, the Wizards have effectively locked themselves into a Gortat/Nene/Beal/Wall core for the next couple of seasons. You can do a lot worse than those four, but do they scare you? This doesn't even include Trevor Ariza who had a great season, but is a free agent. I imagine that after this deal, they let him walk and hope Martell Webster/last years #3 overall pick Otto Porter can give you similar numbers for a fraction of the price. But any time you can commit to paying a 35 year old Marcin Gortat $12 million dollars a season, you have to do it.

Orlando Magic claim SG Willie Green off waivers

Ugh.

Boston Celtics re-sign G Avery Bradley: 4 years, $32 million

Another solid signing. Bradley had a nice year last year averaging 15 PPG, hitting nearly 40% of his three pointers and playing his traditional excellent defense. This year, he figures to move back off the ball more with a full season of Rajon Rondo back. $8 million per sounds a little high but Bradley turns 24 later this year, so there's still a good bit of upside here too. Rondo/Bradley/Marcus Smart figure to provide a trio of guards that can struggle with their shot, but really lock down on defense. If they can't score, you can't either. A 23 year old Bradley with salary certainty for the next four years also provides a level of intrigue as a trade chip. The Meeks/Bradley deals also show you what the rate is going to be for a quality shooting guard. Remember this when you hear 100 stories about how weak the SG position is and Klay Thompson gets a max deal soon.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Rob Hennigan and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Smug bastard (pictured above)
I've defended Rob Hennigan many times in this space, and with good reason. He nailed the Dwight Howard trade when it was clear Howard was leaving. The haul as of right now, in terms of what we still have left: Vucevic/Harkless/Fournier/Payton/a 2017 first rounder still to come from the Lakers. He's shown a solid draft history. Three of the four picks (Nicholson, O'Quinn, Oladipo) he's made for Orlando coming into tonight have proven to be rotation players at least (Romery Osby, the fourth, is playing overseas). He fleeced the Bucks for Tobias Harris/Doron Lamb and only gave up JJ Redick, who was not going to re-sign in Orlando. He's just finally cleared the salary cap of Otis Smith's blunders. He got rid of Chris Duhon, Earl Clark and Jason Richardson's contracts in the Dwight deal. Last season was the end of paying Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu. This upcoming year will be the last year we have to pay Al Harrington and Glen Davis. He's done a masterful job since taking over the gig in the summer of 2012. Which made everything he did today so baffling to me.

The day for Orlando Magic fans started with news that Arron Afflalo had been dealt. Awesome. Afflalo had a very good season last year, and I was surprised to see him finish it in Orlando. He had a legit argument to make the All Star game and I thought he'd be traded while his value was at its peak. Then the trade deadline came, no trade. Coo coo. Surely he'd move on draft day. There were rumors of him heading to Charlotte, Denver and Chicago for draft picks in tonights draft. When I heard he was heading for Denver, I assumed it was for the 11th overall pick. Boy was I wrong. It was for SG Evan Fournier and a second rounder that became SG Roy Devyn Marble (top/bottom 5 name all time. I haven't decided which). Fournier is a Frenchman that wears #94 despite playing shooting guard and not defensive end. I had decided I wasn't going to like him before I read anything else and that was that. In the effort of being fair, I decided to look up Fournier's scouting reports and was pleasantly surprised.

I now have to root for this man. Send prayers up.
He went the pick after Andrew Nicholson in the 2012 draft, so I'm certain Hennigan scouted him plenty. He's 21 and just finished his second year, so we get two more years to evaluate him before deciding on his future with the team. He played and defended PG pretty well his rookie year, but an injury that kept SF Danilo Galinari out for the year forced him into more SF duty. Per 82games.com, his PER was higher and his opponents PER was lower when he played PG for 2012-13 and 2013-14. He's also a career 38% 3P shooter in his two NBA years. It looks like he'll be able to fill in for two or three positions in Orlando and provide some much needed shooting, and we get a two year look at him. I had my hopes set on a lottery pick for Afflalo, but he can opt out after the year and giving up a top 14 pick for one year of just about any player is not the recipe for success. Basketball gawd Zach Lowe also attested that Hennigan does his due diligence. He worked the phones with every NBA team and this was the best deal he could get. My biggest gripe was that even if this was the best deal you could get, wouldn't it have been available at the 2015 trade deadline? Perhaps but maybe Afflalo gets hurt. Or no one wants to give up anything of value for three months of Afflalo. Fournier also gets to start with the team from the beginning of the year. I guess, I'm ok with this deal. I guess.

Athletic things.
I like Aaron Gordon. I think he is going to be a good NBA player. I wasn't prepared to have him at #4 though. The rumors of us trading up to #1 and hopefully grabbing Andrew Wiggins had taken over my mind. When Wiggins went to the Cavs, I had conceded to the fact that we were going to roll the dice on Dante Exum. NAH. Gordon. I was legitimately caught off guard. He's a 3/4 tweener. He's too frail for the 4, but his game isn't really suited for the 3. He's not a great ball handler. He's not a good shooter. Word to Kirk Goldsberry.

Note: Blue is bad
Gordon made 23% of his midrange jumpers last year and hit a ghastly 42% of his free throws. This is the guy going 4th? Well, yes. He's a freak athlete, laterally and vertically. You can't teach this.



And he hustles. Very scrappy. Coaches dream. All that stuff. I can't help but be reminded of the last time we took a freak athlete revered for his hustle. You know, last year when we took Victor Oladipo. That seems like it's working out well because those guys find a way to make themselves useful. Gordon is a very willing passer, and a solid ball handler. He doesn't turn 19 until the middle of September. At the absolute worst, he's going to be a great defender and once his body fills out, he's the type of guy you'll want guarding the LeBron/Durant/Melo types in the NBA. Though his block/steal numbers don't show it because of Sean Miller's conservative defensive system, I think he has potential to defend the rim from the 4 position like Josh Smith/Serge Ibaka/Andrei Kirilenko. Miller's system values guys being in the right position at all times, over going for steals and blocks explaining Gordon's pedestrian numbers (around a steal and block a piece per game). He also shot an encouraging 36% from 3P, which isn't great by any means but shows that there is hope for him. He shows that Hennigan is placing an emphasis on guys high motor guys that are known for their defense. I can't be mad at that. I reckon.

The #12 pick found us taking Dario Saric, Croatian star that just signed a deal overseas that will keep him there for at least two more years. We soon traded this pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for the rights to Elfrid Payton. Cool. I've been reading quite a bit on Payton and like what I've seen. Another great athlete that has shown an affinity for playing defense, like Gordon and Oladipo. Like Gordon and Oladipo, he also can't shoot. Like, at all. He hit 26% of his three pointers last year. He hit 26% of his jumpers inside the arc last year. He shot 61% of his free throws last year. He lead the nation in turnovers. But the recurring theme, between he, Gordon and Oladipo, is that they can all affect a game without scoring. Payton averaged 19 PPG, but also had 6 RPG, 6 APG and over 2 SPG. He was also third in the nation in free throw attempts. He's a rare mix of youth and experience. He played three years at UL Lafayette, but just turned 20 in February. He's three weeks older than Joel Embiid, who finished his freshman year at Kansas. There are questions about whether he can handle his own jumping from the Sun Belt conference to the NBA, but I feel like athleticism, hustle and a willingness to play defense will translate. He won the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year award as well as the Lefty Driesell Award as the nations best defensive player. My biggest gripe here is how we attained Payton.

"Why DO we drive on parkways and park on driveways? Trippy shit when you think about it man."
Philly drafted Payton at 10, and I heard that he was headed to Orlando in a trade before the #11 pick was announced. Doug McDermott went #11 to Denver, in a trade that landed him in Chicago. Saric went #12 to us. We then traded Saric, a future first rounder (one we acquired from Philly in the Dwight trade) and a future second rounder for Payton and a future second rounder. I absolutely hate that we had to give up a first rounder to move up two spots to get a guy that probably would have been there anyway. With no trade, Philly probably takes Saric to stash again. McDermott still goes to Den/Chi. We get Payton at #12. Instead, we have to give a first rounder back to Philly, and they are clearly a team that is not trying to compete any time soon. That pick is top 11 protected for 2017 and top 8 protected for 2018, meaning Philly could still end up with a nice pick from us. Granted, this is a pick Philly owed us from the Dwight trade so we won't go without in those drafts, but I just feel like we got fleeced and gave up something we didn't have to. Still, the point of acquiring said picks is to use them to get the players you really want. Hennigan really wanted Payton, and did what he felt necessary to get him. Again, it's hard to fault him for that. I suppose.

To recap, we turned an expiring Arron Afflalo into a swingman with some upside. Drafted arguably the best athlete/defender in the draft at #4 and ended up with a player being favorably compared to Rajon Rondo at #12. You could do a lot worse than that. I imagine our depth chart next season looks something like this:

PG: Payton/veteran PG signing. I'm hoping for Patty Mills here.
SG: Oladipo/Fournier
SF: Harkless/Harris
PF: Nicholson/Gordon
C: Vucevic/O'Quinn

That's another likely trip to the lottery, but that's fine. There are some legit assets in that lineup, and I figure we will take one last visit to the lottery next season before we start shooting for playoff appearances in the following years. We've opened up plenty of cap space so if a team shooting for LeBron/Melo needs to dump a salary quick, we can take it on and pick up another asset for it. Ok, so maybe Hennigan's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day wasn't so bad after all. I guess.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why the Spurs are Champions. Again.

That's right. A revisit to a revisit of a revisit. Or is it original visit? In any case, holy smokes. The Spurs blew the doors off the Heat in five games, and the Heats lone victory was by two points. I picked the Spurs in 6 without considering the Finals format had changed back to the 2-2-1-1-1. Knowing that, I wouldn't have had the guts to go Spurs in 5 so I would have went Spurs in 7. Just a quick look at the points I made before the Finals.

1. More of the same.

Yes. More ball movement, dribble penetration, corner threes, active hands and smart team defense. Great call by me. I really went out on a limb there. I said maybe a shot goes in or out and turns the tide in the Spurs favor. OR, they throw up the greatest point differential in Finals history beating the Heat by at least 15 points in each game. Whatever man, who's really counting?

2. Get something. Anything out of Tiago Splitter.

2013 Finals: 15 MPG, 5 PPG, 2 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.4 BPG, 45% FG shooting
2014 Finals: 17 MPG, 6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2 APG, 0.6 BPG, 71% FG shooting.

The counting numbers aren't drastically different, but Splitter played MUCH better this time around. his numbers were up across the board, and that 71% FG shooting is eye-catching but the assist numbers are more impressive to me. Splitter had three multiple assist games, including one game with five, and a number of those lead to wide open three pointers. Also, a year after LeBron did this to him...



He did this to Dwyane Wade...



Was it goaltending? Yes. Did the Heat miss those two points? No. Much better Finals campaign for Splitter this year.

3. Kawhi on Wade?

I suggested that Pop might experiment with letting Leonard guard Wade and this is why I am not a NBA coach. Father Time locked Dwyane Wade up without help from Leonard or any of the other Spurs. Like Splitter, let's look at Wade's numbers from each of the last two Finals.

2013 NBA Finals: 37 MPG, 19.6 PPG, 4 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.9 SPG, 2.3 TOPG on 48% FG shooting, 77% FT shooting
2014 NBA Finals: 34 MPG, 15.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 3.6 TOPG on 44% FG shooting, 69% FT shooting

Minutes, points, rebounds, assists, steals, FG% and FT % down. Turnovers up. And this video, which I highly recommend watching all 11 minutes:



An awful, AWFUL campaign for Wade. Careless turnovers, effortless defense, minimal offensive impact. What concerns me most about Wade's offense, is that he doesn't facilitate anymore. When he gets the ball, he's looking to score only he can't score like he used to. He was never a great good three point shooter, his mid range shot comes and goes and he can't finish in the paint like he used to. He also has a player option for each of the next two years at $20 million+ per season. Good luck getting him to opt out of that.

4. Tony Parker's health

Total non factor. Parker averaged 18 PPG and 5 APG on 48/42/75 shooting, numbers very similar to his season numbers.

A couple of notes:

  • I'm so glad the Game 1 air conditioning/LeBron cramping up fiasco won't be a major issue. If this series came down to a game either way, we'd never hear the end of it.
  • The Spurs cap situation is interesting. Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner and Patrick Mills are the only free agents. They are under the cap now and should be able to re-sign each of those guys comfortably. However, Duncan has a player option. Say he declines that $10.3 million, and decides to re-sign and stretch it over two years. Not a huge difference, but what if they can add another piece off the bench like Shawn Marion or Vince Carter, or shoot for the moon and hope a Pau Gasol takes less to come play 20 minutes a game in San Antonio. Unlikely, but man that'd be fun.
  • Hell of a series by Kawhi Leonard. A well deserved Finals MVP and I really look forward to seeing the type of freedom Pop gives him offensively in the coming seasons.
  • LeBron has to opt out, right? Even if he knows that he isn't leaving Miami for any reason, he has to at least put that fear in Riley to get him a better team, no? The only guaranteed money on the books for Miami next year is Chris Andersen and Norris Cole. Udonis Haslem has a $4.6 million dollar option that he'll probably pick up. Wade has an option that he's absolutely picking up. Bosh is a little trickier. I could see him exercising that option with Wade and James for one more go. I could see him opting out for one more big deal in a bigger role elsewhere. What I can't see him doing is taking less money and a smaller role in the offense to accommodate Carmelo Anthony coming to Miami. Carmelo to Miami is hard to imagine, but not impossible. I just can't see Bosh taking another step back to bring him in. Also, if I'm Miami, wouldn't I rather bring the crew together one more year and then shoot for Kevin Love next summer? 



Saturday, June 7, 2014

NBA Draft Chronicles Part One: Joel Embiid

Last years draft chronicles were a lot of fun so I'm bringing them back this year. This year Orlando has the 4th pick, a little disappointing after finishing with the third worst record in the league, and the 12th pick, thanks to the Dwight Howard trade. Here, I will be looking at the top prospects that I wouldn't mind seeing in Orlando. The rankings are in no particular order, as far as talent/potential/who I want to see in Orlando most. The first man up is Kansas C Joel Embiid.


Strengths

-Athleticism. Freak athlete for his size. Watch the video below and tell me if you think that's a 9 foot rim he's playing on. It just might be.



-Size. 7'0, around 245 pounds, 7'5 wingspan, 9'5 standing reach. He looks bulkier to me in that video than he did at Kansas so I don't think he'll have any issue putting on weight in the league without losing any of that athleticism. This makes him particularly interesting because potentially, he's big enough to punish smaller guys and quick enough to go around bigger guys. That versatility is a must in a NBA where the Heat have legit three peat hopes by going small and running everyone off of the court.

-Ceiling. Embiid, a Cameroon native, reportedly only started playing basketball in 2011. If that's the case, he's a relatively blank slate with outstanding potential. The amount of polish his game shows at such a young age (20) is remarkable, and you can't help but wonder what he'll look like at 25 if he's shown this kind of improvement thus far.

-Devastating potential on both ends of the court. He's drawn a lot of comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon, which seem lazy at first because of the African connections/each started basketball late, but the similarities are there. He could become a consistent 20+ PPG scorer, grab 12 rebounds a game for the next decade or win multiple defensive player of the year awards. Or he could do all three. Think of the potential that Anthony Davis coming out of Kentucky, but two inches taller and 25 pounds heavier. Yeah.

-These GIFs. Look at them. Plz.

Look at the patience after the second defender comes. Note the pass out, the re-post and the shooters touch. He's 19 years old here.
Decent floor runner. Can finish above the basket in a pinch.


Can't ask for a better pass out of the double team.

Good Job. Good effort #22.

If Dwight Howard tried this footwork at 19, his feet would have exploded.
Weaknesses

-Durability. This is pretty much it. Embiid suffered a stress fracture in his back that caused him to miss the conference tournament as well as the NCAA tournament at Kansas. To be fair to Embiid, Andre Drummond suffered a similar injury his rookie year and bounced back just fine. Evan Turner suffered a similar injury his final year at OSU, and it hasn't stopped him from becoming a perfectly mediocre player. There are success stories, but people are still going to think back to Greg Oden and even Sam Bowie. The list of great big men derailed by injuries is enough to make any GM think thrice. I think the main concern is that Oden/Bowie/Walton/Daughtery/Sampson all broke down from years of basketball abuse. Embiid has been playing for three years. Embiid battled some knee pain at Kansas. Nothing major, but certainly not what you want to hear from a 20 year old big man that's only going to get bigger.

-Lack of polish. Literally every other weakness I can think of concerning Embiid will work it's way out in time, in my opinion. He could use some polish on his offensive moves. He needs to take care of the ball better. His defensive discipline needs some work. He fouls way too much (3.4 FPG though he only played 23 MPG). More finesse, than a banger so you wonder how he'll respond when a guy bigger than him really gets physical with him. Nothing out of the ordinary for a freshman big man and nothing here that would concern me long term.

Ceiling/Floor

Best case scenario: Hakeem Olajuwon. Maybe what we saw at Kansas was just the tip of the iceberg. He goes to a patient team and is allowed to develop his body and skill over time. He becomes a potent low post scorer with enough touch to step out and hit the 15 footer. He gets defensive rotations down pat and becomes an elite rim protector. He becomes a guy that can't be played off the floor because he's skilled enough to work in a half court offense or get up and down the floor in small ball. The chance of this potential is why I think he goes #1.

Worst case scenario: Tyson Chandler. I've seen Oden comparisons but I think those are a bit extreme. I don't think Oden ever moved as fluidly as Embiid does and Oden's body wore down over time. Embiid took a nasty fall and appears to have recovered just fine. Chandler is more fitting, to me. Say Embiid's body doesn't fill out and he still battles the injury bug here or there (Chandler has played 75+ games just four times in 13 seasons). He doesn't develop much offensive touch, but the defense is there. He's already a 70% FT shooter, which took Chandler years to develop, so you can't just foul him and eat the points. A very solid player.

Best fit

Cleveland. It's gotta be Cleveland, right? Spencer Hawes is a free agent, and assuming they pick up his option, Anderson Varejao will be in the last year of his deal. Embiid can come right in and play some backup minutes at center. He doesn't need the ball in his hands, which is perfect since he plays with two ball dominant guards in Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. He can be sorely needed rim protection for a team hoping to start minus defenders like Irving/Waiters/Anthony Bennett one day. The Bennett factor is huge to me. Defense might be his biggest concern and Embiid would help negate a lot of that. If he works out, it makes Bennett better and you get good ROI on both of your number one picks. He makes too much sense in Cleveland, but this is Cleveland we're talking about. They'll probably go with Noah Vonleh.

Worst fit.

Milwaukee. In Larry Sanders and Zaza Pachulia, the Bucks have a lot of money tied up in centers and I don't think either of them are ready to concede playing time to Embiid. Still, the length of some combo of Embiid/Sanders/Henson/Giannis is intriguing. Milwaukee spent a lot of money in FA last season in an attempt to make the playoffs. That money is still sitting on the roster, and even though they now have different ownership, who knows if they will want another push for the postseason in a weak East. This could lead to Embiid taking on too much too soon and not being allowed to develop at his own pace.

Conclusion

I agree with Bill Simmons (and may God help me if I ever write those words again), but Embiid is going first. There is talk that Cleveland is entertaining trade talks, but Embiid is going first no matter who the team is. The potential of what he could become is too much. Embiid could play alongside another traditional big, or be the center of a smallball crew on both ends of the floor. I'd weep tears of joy if he fell to #4 but there's no chance of it. As is, I think he goes #1 and hope he's able to stay healthy because he could really be a special talent.