Entries by: Patrick Harrell

Kevin Durant and the Era of Emo Athletes

Written by :
Published on : September 22, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Makes a decision to change teams.

 

Claims to be sleepless, days after making the decision.

 

Responds to critics on social media.

 

Comes out with shoe detailing many negative insults hurled at him.

 

Continues responding to critics by using several ghosts accounts.

 

Handles criticism by overeating junk food.

 

This is the new age athlete. This is not Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, or Reggie Miller. Gone are the days of newspaper articles slamming players, with the only retaliation from the players being to address the reporter personally. The previous era of players did not have to worry about branding, social media, and approval from their peers. Maybe it’s a millennial thing. Maybe it is the fact that money is making these athletes more vulnerable and emotional.

 

I simply see it as being soft.

 

The actions of Kevin Durant over the past year further proves that he is emotionally fragile. I’ve speculated that the reason Durant decided to leave Oklahoma City is that he did not want to play for coach Billy Donovan. This was evident to anyone that follows the NBA. We all could see that he was close to Russell Westbrook. He did so many positive things for the city and even opened a signature restaurant in Oklahoma City. The issue with Durant is with the move to Oakland he exposed himself emotionally. He went from superstar on an underwhelming team to bandwagon star looking for an easy championship. Once the big brother and protector of Westbrook he now is in a culture with players that have their own agendas; far more than just dealing with Westbrook.

 

                                                                                      The way we were.

 

The paradigm has shifted from him being protective of Westbrook, to now being on his own and needing a shield of his own. In Oklahoma City, he spent so much time deflecting criticism from Westbrook that he never had time to check his critics and his own demons. Maybe there was value in protecting Westbrook. In doing so, he bought more time from those expecting him to lead his team to a championship. He has never faced the criticism of LeBron James despite losing one championship to James and failing to capitalize on a 3-1 lead against his current team.

 

Durant used several Twitter accounts to defend himself. The effort to make several accounts, and post from them consistently, is childish. I also question his intelligence. Did he not think that someone would find this out? The same amount of effort he took to make the account, with all the obligations he has, he did not stop to think what some person with more time can figure out about him?

 

It’s not only Durant that suffers from this soft mentality. Dwight Howard recently stated how he feels he’s misunderstood and what he has had to endure as a player. Once one of the more marketable players in the NBA, Howard, is now a running joke among his peers and has changed teams three times in five years. Other players have displayed behavior that is soft as well. I can’t say definitively if it’s just the new era of players or if social media has changed how players conduct themselves. It is a slippery slope. Most of these players NEED social media to promote their brand and increase their revenue.

 

                                                                                   How far we’ve fallen.

 

Most companies have to employ people primarily to run their social media accounts. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, is not going to run the team’s social media account. The NFL Commissioner has not taken over the NFL Twitter account. If the players view themselves as CEOs of their brand opposed to merely players then I think that they would have less issue with social media. There is the desire to communicate with fans but when it becomes a detriment to what the athlete is trying to build, that is a problem.

 

Luckily for Durant, he is young enough to learn from his mistakes. I believe this may be his last season with the Golden State Warriors. At some point, one of their core four players will have to leave. This may be Durant’s LeBron/Miami experiment. He may have to move on sooner than later. Unfortunately, due to his posts, he can’t return to his original team. Durant should look no further than Dwight Howard as a cautionary tale of what not to do. I believe Durant is still respected by his peers but he is also a few years younger than Howard. This is the time to mature and define what he wants in the league. Calling out critics and former teammates is a loser move and no championship will ever erase that mentality.

 

 


The NBA has a problem

Written by :
Published on : June 17, 2017

 

The NBA has been nibbling at its own tail for some time now and it has finally caught up to the league. During the playoffs, while entertaining at certain points, the debate began as to if the league was conceding to one team (the Golden State Warriors). Over the past several years, the NBA has implemented many measures to the CBA to ensure all the teams have a fair chance at acquiring, and more importantly, keeping superior talent. There have been teams that intentionally tanked to get the players they want. The NBA has even intervened to keep star players from forming a “Super Team” (i.e., the NBA nixed the Chris Paul to Los Angeles Laker trade).

 

By putting so much effort into spreading the wealth of talent around the league, the NBA has caused the one problem it looked to avoid. The owners of the teams are crafty. Beyond analytics and cap crunching they are also in the business of making as much money as possible. Professional sports teams are a club of the elite. There are 30 to 32 teams per league and there’s not for sale signs in front of those stadiums and arenas that often.

 

 Super Team?

 

In the case of the NBA, almost every team has a franchise player. You could say “well, every team has the best player that the team can build around!” I would counter that statement by listing the Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, and the Denver Nuggets as a few teams that do not have a franchise player or one that projects to become one. Yet, these teams have consistently picked in the upper half of the draft and had cap room to lure a top free agent.

 

The talent is at an all-time high. Most fans think of eras chronologically. I tend to think of eras in terms of the most dominant player(s) during an extended period. So in my lifetime, I’ve been through the Magic/Bird, Jordan, Kobe/Duncan/Shaq, and now the LeBron eras. The transition from the Kobe to LeBron is when the league changed language and incentives in the CBA that helped teams keep their homegrown players. Moreover, the new TV contracts produced such an enormous cash flow that it has increased the cap significantly each year. This created a dilemma that while teams have been able to offer their players (with Bird rights) up to $75 million more over the course of a contract than other teams can offer, it also drove the market price of players up to stay above the cap floor. There’s a lot of teams acquiring players that they do not need at salaries that, under past conditions, they would not warrant.

 

So, how does the league fix this?

 

That’s harder than one would think. This past summer, players received such high salaries that in the upcoming years it will be hard to trade them and receive equal value. To actually trade player for player will be even harder. No one is trading Luol Deng straight up for Paul George. The salaries match up though and these are the kind of salary trades that would have worked in the past but this scenario is such a drop off in talent.

 

If I was in NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s ear this is what I would suggest:

 

Change the one and done rule: I would allow EXCEPTIONAL players to enter straight from high school. When I say exceptional I am talking about for sure first round selections. I would have a committee of non-partisan members (Rivals.com, NBAdraft.net, college recruiting services, etc.) that give all potential high school prospects a grade. If the grade is that they would be a first round pick then it would be passed to NBA GMs and scouting departments. They would grade the select few that passed the first process. If the player passes through the second phase then he can submit his name for the draft.

 

 Listen up Adam.

 

The team has done its due diligence and the player is almost ensured of being selected first round. However, the players that did not make the cut must do the following. A) Attend a public university or college for 2 years. Two years is important because it gives the player more time to develop and it increases the chances that the player can graduate from college. Instead of taking a year of classes, it gets the player at least closer to major level courses if he chooses to stay in school or go back when he goes pro. B) If a team really wants to sign a player out of high school, the player must be signed to a 2 year guaranteed minimum contract and the player has to spend at least 90% of contract duration with NBDL affiliate. C) International players must be 19 before they can enter NBA draft. The International players have more opportunities to play professionally than US players. So a starting age of 19 is more than fair and would put them on par to enter the league with the 2-year players previously mentioned.

 

I think the NBA has done well in growing the sport. The issue now is that the league has too much talent spread around. The league should want three or four “Super Teams.” I fully anticipate the Cleveland Cavaliers to make a move to keep them in contention for the championship. The San Antonio Spurs are rumored to have an interest in Chris Paul to pair with LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard. What about the other teams though? Could Kyle Lowry take Paul’s spot on the Los Angeles Clippers and form a super team with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan? Maybe a year from now could Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins link with the Lakers to create a team with Brandon Ingram and possibly Lonzo Ball? More super teams is the solution not no super teams!

 

 


Russell Westbrook for MVP, Mostly Very Petty

Written by :
Published on : February 23, 2017

 

 

I can imagine being Russell Westbrook, somewhere on vacation on July 4th, 2016. He’s probably picking out some USA themed crop top with skinny jeans, shoes are optional with this guy. As he is putting together this glorious outfit, he starts to get so many texts that before he has a chance to check his phone, the battery dies. He finds his charger, turns on the phone and before he sees his text messages, an ESPN alert pops up:

 

“Kevin Durant is taking his talents to the Golden State Warriors.”

 

Kevin-Durant-Golden-State-Warriors

 

I can imagine feeling betrayed by someone that at the very least I considered a friend. Nevermind that Durant affectionately called Russell his “little brother.” Disregard the fact Durant saved a big part of his MVP speech to thanking Russell for making him a better player. The fact that at every post-game press conference the two took questions from the media as a tandem, not individually. Clearly, Westbrook had to feel that all the years toiling with this guy, taking the blame from the media for the team’s chemistry issues while his ‘brother’ rose to stardom, was all gone.

 

On that day, Westbrook was in a relationship and found out on social media that he was the sidepiece.

 

There is no other explanation for the disdain Westbrook has shown towards Durant. He dismisses questions about their fractured relationship as professional as he possibly can. Well, except for his “Fashion Week” retort he said at the NBA All Star Weekend. The only interaction they’ve had publicly was their last game, in which Westbrook repeatedly told Durant “I’m coming.”

 

KD and russ All star

 

I don’t think that Durant went without texting Westbrook about the situation. I believe Durant possibly waited until the news went public, then tried to text Westbrook. By then, Westbrook deleted Durant’s info and off muscle memory of Durant’s number when he saw the text decided against a “new phone, who dis?” reply.

 

The thing that is in question is the actual depth of their relationship. My friends and I have had our fair share of quarrels over the years. Most of my friendships are 20 years long. In our early teens and young adult years, a disagreement would be settled with a quick shoving match or fist fight. Hours after we’d be playing video games like nothing happened. These days my friends and I are too old to fight. So, maybe a shoving match and some pointed words of anger but then you agree to disagree and move on.

 

Westbrook is acting a like a scorned lover. In my experience, when a partner is fed up they will do enough to get your attention but act as though they’ve moved on. Hence the some of Westbrook’s outfits before Thunder-Warrior games.

 

The credentialed photographer outfit: A play on Durant’s hobby of photography.

 

russ - willie beamen

 

The Any Given Sunday Willie Beamen jersey: now this one can be interpreted several ways. My personal take on it is Beamen was often blamed for the team’s shortcomings in the movie. He was considered a ball hog and me-first teammate. However, when the QB Jack Rooney was too hurt or considered too soft to play, Beamen lead the team to victory.

 

I don’t want to speak from both sides of my mouth but Russell Westbrook is one of my favorite players in the league. He’s fearless and he has endless energy on both ends of the floor. What Westbrook will realize is that this path was predestined just for him. His own team! James Harden was traded away years ago. Serge Ibaka is now in Canada. Durant is taking photos in San Francisco. Westbrook has everything he wanted through his actions but could not ever verbally say. He has his own team and he can do it his own way. All the aforementioned players will have some of the best years of their respective careers WITHOUT each other.

 

With Westbrook chasing history, averaging a triple double thus far this season he can be in reach for a MVP award. His actions will determine which “MVP” recognition he ultimately receives.

 

 


2016-17 NBA Western Conference Preview

Written by :
Published on : October 27, 2016

 

The NBA season is underway. I’ve already given you my forecast for the Eastern Conference, so let’s head to the Western Conference and see where it stands. There are some new faces in new places that may alter the pecking order of the conference.

 

15. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets are a team without a clear leader or direction. Head coach Michael Malone has a tough task ahead of him to get some production from often injured stretch 4 Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari has been viewed as a player with the potential to be one of the best shooters in the game. He has yet to live to the hype. Kenneth Faried has been in the rumor cycle for years and has yet to be traded. This year would be the best year to start a total rebuild with second-year player Emmanuel Mudiay and rookie Jamal Murray developing chemistry in the backcourt. Nikola Jokic has shown promise and received votes for rookie of the year last year.

 

14. Los Angeles Lakers

walton coach

 

Head coach Luke Walton has several pieces with which to implement the scheme he learned from the Golden State Warriors. Brandon Ingram and D’Angelo Russell were selected number two in the past two drafts. Russell is expected to lead the team under Walton’s system. Once the team trusts in Walton and Russell they will start to vie for a playoff berth. It may take a few seasons but the team is young and athletic. Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle will help keep the team competitive. The best outcome is a year to let this current roster gel and build through the draft.

 

13. Phoenix Suns

A team with a ton of young talent at nearly every position. Also a strong Kentucky Wildcat presence with four former players on the roster. The team has NBA Champion Tyson Chandler on the team and he has always been respected as a leader in the locker room. Devin Booker was the youngest player in the league last year and his post All-Star break stats were great. If he can build on his rookie season and new coach Earl Watson can learn quickly on the job, this will be a very competitive team. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of offense Watson will implements with rookie Dragan Bender in the lineup.

 

12. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs benefited last year from a top-heavy Western Conference. The team was not good and squeaked into the playoffs. Now with various players moving to different teams within the conference (including former Maverick, Chandler Parsons) it will be very hard for the Mavs to make it to the playoffs again this season. Dirk Nowitzki is in the final years of his Hall Of Fame career. Unfortunately, the roster is void of a star player to lessen the load on the aging Nowitzki. The team paid Harrison Barnes a max salary to become the focal point of their team. Unless he becomes the next Kawhi Leonard, that money will become another example of the Mavs wasting away the years of Nowitzki.

 

11. Sacramento Kings

demarcus cousins

 

This team is so dysfunctional that I have to be equally crazy to give them a ranking this high. The Kings could very well be the worst team in the league even with DeMarcus Cousins. The saving grace is that I believe they picked up a good coach, in Dave Joerger, that willed a depleted Memphis Grizzles team to the playoffs last year. Cousins is becoming legendary for his coach killing ability. At some point, he will be held responsible for all the bodies that were laid to rest on his watch. The team does have some good veterans as well as some intriguing young talent. It could make for another interesting year in “Boogieworld.’

 

10. New Orleans Pelicans

Aside from the horrible team name, this team should be better under second-year head coach Alvin Gentry. The main issue is the health of Anthony Davis. If he is healthy, this is a team that could contend for a playoff spot. Without him they’re looking at a top 3 draft pick. Another team with some good veterans to go with some talented young players. Will Buddy Hield become the scorer they’ve been looking for?

 

9. Utah Jazz

I had Jazz fans coming for my neck last season because I picked them to be last in the conference. I do feel head coach Quin Snyder is on the hot seat this season if he does not get this team to the playoffs. Gordon Hayward is regarded as one of the most underrated players in the league. If he can bring his level of play up this season I think this team may sneak into the playoffs.

 

8. Memphis Grizzles

mike conley

 

A veteran team that got annihilated by the injury bug last season. They went into this offseason with a new coach (David Fizdale), gave Mike Conley the richest contract in history, and acquired Chandler Parsons in free agency. This team, when healthy, is easily a contender for the Western Conference Finals. The Grizzles still have to acquire someone who can score on the perimeter and create his own shot. Having Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in the frontcourt has proven successful but at some point, the style of play of their competitors will make the two big men nonfactors.

 

7. Minnesota Timberwolves

The death of Flip Saunders last year possibly derailed this team from making it to the playoffs. I’m very intrigued by this team and the hiring of new President of Operations/Head Coach Tom Thibodeau. This team will make the playoffs. A few years ago Anthony Davis was expected to become the premier big man of the league. Due to injuries Davis has since been supplanted by DeMarcus Cousins and Timberwolves center Karl Anthony-Towns. Anthony-Towns is the reigning rookie of the year and a franchise talent. Add in former rookie of the year Andrew Wiggins, Slam Dunk Champion Zach LaVine, and point guard Ricky Rubio, this team has the legs to endure the push of Thibodeau’s system.

 

6. Houston Rockets

Moving James Harden to the point guard position and adding Mike D’Antoni to coach the team will be a fun car wreck to watch. The uptempo system of D’Antoni will surely help put Harden in the MVP race. While the team will suffer defensively, they will be able to run a tempo that will rival that of the Golden State Warriors.

 

5. Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell-Westbrook-Desktop

 

Russell Westbrook or die. That sums up the roster. Head coach Billy Donovan does not seem like a good fit for the NBA but he would be wise to just let Westbrook go to work. They do have two quality big men in Steven Adams and Enes Kanter that can cause problems for opposing teams. Victor Oladipo may be the shooting guard this team has needed since the departure of James Harden. Westbrook will put up amazing stats but the team will have to monitor his health over the course of the year.

 

4. Los Angeles Clippers

This team has one more year to make a championship run or it will possibly start over. There have been trade rumors for years around Blake Griffin. This season may be the year that he and Chris Paul could be moved in order to start over. Team President and head coach Doc Rivers has yet to deliver on championship promises despite having a pretty stacked roster. It’s put up or shut up time for Mr. Rivers and Co.

 

3. Portland Trailblazers

Last year, everyone wrote the Blazers off (including myself). They were expected to be one of the worst teams in the league. They overachieved and made it to the playoffs with one of the youngest rosters. This year they’ve added some veterans and re-signed some of their own to contract extensions (Allen Crabbe and C.J. McCollum). Damian Lillard is out to prove he’s one of the best point guards in the game after being snubbed of an All-Star berth last year. They’re young and athletic. Most of all, they’re coached well by Terry Stotts. This team will shock a lot of people and possibly upset the Spurs or Warriors.

 

2. San Antonio Spurs

kawhi-leonard-1

 

Life post-Tim Duncan. No one knows how it will unfold but Kawhi Leonard looks as if he is ready to take over the franchise. He’s only 25 years old and they’ve added superior front court help in consecutive seasons (Lamarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol). The most boring yet consistent team in league history will continue to give people fits.

 

1. Golden State Warriors

Last tear this team won 73 games. It is now a league record. They lost in the NBA Finals after being ahead of the Cavaliers 3-1. They let the majority of their role players leave via free agency (including Harrison Barnes). Then they added Kevin Durant. Stephen Curry took the summer to get healthy after battling knee problems during the playoffs. Oh and they still have Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Head coach Steve Kerr will probably scale back the minutes to preserve his players for a long playoff run. This should be the first of a few championships for the new look Warriors.

 

 

There you have it everyone. That’s how the NBA Western Conference will shake out come playoff time. Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy some basketball. Drop a line in the comments and tell me where you think I’m on point and where you think I’m way off.

 

 


2016-17 NBA Eastern Conference Preview

Written by :
Published on : October 20, 2016

 

 

Another NBA Season is upon us! While there was some notable events last year (Warriors breaking the single season record, retirements of Kobe, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett), there was a lull in action before the All Star break. There wasn’t a lot of great basketball being played and it was boring at times. I think this season will be much different with a surge in talent across the league.

 

With that in mind, let’s delve into my preseason rankings for the NBA Eastern Conference.

 

15. Brooklyn Nets

The “star” acquisition this summer was point guard Jeremy Lin. Yes, that Jeremy Lin! Aside from the creative hair styles, he offers nothing in regards to actually leading a basketball team. Center Brook Lopez has continued to struggle to stay healthy. Coach Lionel Hollins is gone. Insert coach Kenny Atkinson who I had to Google to find out who he is. There is not one player that could vie for All-Star recognition. This team is an instant dumpster fire. Tanking isn’t even an option as the team may have surrender it’s first round draft pick to the Celtics.

 

 

14. Philadelphia 76ers

Another year of “The Process.” The team has an overload of young big men and no point guards. They are still paying Elton Brand to play basketball at his advanced age. There is some excitement around the arrival of power forward Ben Simmons. However, it will be a few months before he will be on the court due to injury. The team must decide which big man (Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, or Jahlil Okafor) they can package in a trade to get some backcourt help. It should be a slight jump in wins for this team but anything above 25 wins would be remarkable. Another top 3 lottery pick awaits.

 

13. Milwaukee Bucks

This is the team of intrigue. Head coach Jason Kidd has brought in guys so tall that if they stood on top of one another they could possibly touch the ceiling of the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Long wingspans and crazy height across the board on this roster. The projected starting point guard is 6’11” Giannis Antetokounmpo. The question is how do all these players mesh together? The team drafted relative unknown Thon Maker in the first round of the draft. They still have to find a role for former first round pick Jabari Parker. There are trade rumors around center Greg Monroe. This team may have a lot of intriguing talent but no clear direction.

 

12. Orlando Magic

My gut is telling me that this team should be lower in my rankings. The only reason I have them this high is because of Head coach Frank Vogel. I truly believe he’ll maximize the talent that’s currently on the team. Power forward Serge Ibaka should be a great veteran addition on a young team. Point guard Elfrid Payton has to make a quantum leap in production for this team to be successful.

 

 

11. New York Knicks

Phil Jackson should be to blame for this team’s failures, but I will start by shifting the blame to the former regime for poor salary cap management. When they inked Amar’e Stoudamire and Carmelo Anthony to lucrative contracts they also ensured that the team could not obtain good free agents or bring on young talent to mold. Now with a new coach in Jeff Hornacek, should we expect the triangle offense or the three guard sets he ran in Phoenix? If he does run three guard sets, how effective will it be with ball dominant point guard Derrick Rose in tow?

 

10. Charlotte Hornets

Simply put, this is point guard Kemba Walker’s team. They will go as he goes. Beyond that, they don’t really have an identity. Can Roy Hibbert return to All-Star form? What is the role of former number two overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist? Will head coach Steve Clifford survive the entire season? This is definitely a sleeper pick for the playoffs but also a team that could tank its way to a top pick in next year’s draft. Low floor and low ceiling here.

 

9. Atlanta Hawks

Head coach Mike Budenholzer has done a great job with this team in two seasons on the job. Led the conference in wins in year one and playoff berth in year two. Even with the loss of center Al Horford, this team will be in contention for a playoff appearance. The team also let point guard Jeff Teague go, handing the keys to the franchise to Dennis Schroder. This team could be a non-playoff team or a division leader.

 

 

8. Miami Heat

Team President, Pat Riley, seems hell bent on rebuilding this team. First, there was the departure of Dwayne Wade to the Chicago Bulls. Now, he is not allowing Chris Bosh to play for the team because of concerns with blood clots. There are even rumors of a trade involving Goran Dragic. Riley clearly wants to go younger and build through the draft. Shooting guard Josh Richardson shows promise, Small Forward Justice Winslow is still developing, and Center Hassan Whiteside is emerging as one of the league’s best big men.

 

7. Chicago Bulls

This is a team that has a great mix of young and veteran talent. The issue is that head coach Fred Hoiberg does not look equipped to handle the job. Sure, you have future Hall of Famer Dwayne Wade, perennial All-Star Jimmy Butler, and facilitator Rajon Rondo on your roster. The problem for Hoiberg is how do you generate enough offense with such poor three point shooters in your starting lineup?

 

6. Detroit Pistons

It’s been a while since the Pistons were regarded as a top-tier team but the time has come. If the talent surrounding All-Star center Andre Drummond can fulfill their responsibilities then this team could be dangerous. Team president and head coach Stan Van Gundy’s style fits Drummond’s strengths. The team is loaded with catch and shoot players that will allow Van Gundy to deploy the same system he used when he coached a young Dwight Howard to the NBA Finals.

 

andre

 

5. Toronto Raptors

The league’s best overachieving team. Last year, they pushed their way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Two wins against a stacked Cleveland Cavaliers team might make you believe that they could possibly be destined for the Finals this year. However, despite having All-Stars and Gold Medal Olympians Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan, they did little to upgrade their roster in free agency. It will be hard to for the team to duplicate the success they had last year with playoff breakout star Bismack Biyombo defecting to the Orlando Magic. Unless there is a great trade in the works during the course of the season, the team is a second round playoff team at best.

 

4. Washington Wizards

The team will fare well with a coaching change from Randy Wittman to Scott Brooks. Brooks does not get the credit deserved for handling the egos in Oklahoma City for so long. John Wall and Bradley Beal seem to genuinely like one another and play well off of each other. There’s a lot of hype around the emergence of small forward Kelly Oubre Jr. This team is set at the backcourt and just need solid frontcourt play to be contenders for the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

3. Indiana Pacers

With all respect to Kawhi Leonard, I believe small forward Paul George is the third best 3 behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant. The fact that he moonlighted as a power forward makes George an even better player. The knock on this team has been the fact that they have never had a traditional point guard during George’s tenure. The team acquired former All-Star point guard Jeff Teague. Teague has tons of playoff experience to help this roster. Furthermore, center Myles Turner is becoming one of the best versatile big men. Add in proven vets Al Jefferson and Monta Ellis, and this team has enough scoring at all positions to push the number 1 team out of the playoffs.

 

 

2. Boston Celtics

There are a few teams that can leapfrog the Celtics but with head coach Brad Stevens, this team has been on the rise. The addition of center Al Horford will solidify an already great lineup. Moreover, the team brought in Gerald Green for more scoring and added versatile player Jaylen Brown through the draft. I believe that this team is LeBron’s kryptonite. This is the only team I feel can ELIMINATE the Cavaliers in a playoff series.

 

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron + Six straight NBA Final Appearances + A Healthy Kevin Love + The “Ankletaker” (Kyrie Irving) = Another Championship?

 

 

There you have it for the SBS preview of the Eastern Conference of the NBA. Stay tuned for the Western Conference preview coming soon.

 

 


Oklahoma City should trade Russell Westbrook

Written by :
Published on : July 7, 2016

 

 

Kevin Durant chose to leave a title contending Oklahoma City Thunder team to form a Big 4 with the Golden State Warriors. Typically when a team loses a player of Durant’s stature it leaves the team reeling in mediocrity for years. Luckily, the Thunder have an All-NBA point guard in Russell Westbrook. He led the league in triple-doubles last season. The year prior he willed the team to the playoffs without Durant (Durant had surgery on his right foot causing him to miss most of the season). The team built around Durant and Westbrook, adding skilled big men and floor spacing shooters. With Durant gone, the Thunder could continue to add players to keep Westbrook in playoff contention.

 

Or they would be wise to trade Westbrook now.

 

The team gambled with Durant during free agency, hoping that his loyalty to Westbrook and the OKC fans would stave off the allure of winning a championship next year. Even though the Thunder had the Warriors down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals and were within minutes of going to the NBA Finals, Durant clearly decided that his union with Westbrook had reached its peak.

 

Apr 23, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) and guard Russell Westbrook (0) react at the end of the second quarter against the Dallas Mavericks in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

 

With that in mind, we must consider Westbrook as a trade asset in order for the Thunder to start a rebuild. Here are some deals I believe the Thunder should take a look at to upgrade their roster:

 

1. The Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers Get: Russell Westbrook

Thunder Get: Luol Deng, Brandon Ingram or D’Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle. Protected 2017 1st round draft pick

 

This trade would benefit both teams immediately. The first priority for the Thunder is to see which teams would Westbrook commit to long term. I see the Lakers as a potential fit, as Westbrook is a Los Angeles guy (he played for UCLA). The Thunder would have to decide if they want Russell to be their future point guard or Ingram as the next Durant. The Lakers can’t totally gut their team because they need pieces around Westbrook to be competitive. The key to this trade scenario is that the Thunder have to wait until right at the trade deadline. They have to let the Lakers accumulate as many losses as possible before Westbrook arrives, so they can get the best use of the draft pick they would acquire.

 

d'angelo russell

 

For the Thunder, a team with D’Angelo Russell, Victor Oladipo, Julius Randle, and Steven Adams is a pretty good start to a rebuild. Once they add a player from a 2017 Draft that is rumored to be one of the best in recent years, that is quite a rebound from the heartbreak Durant inflicted on the franchise.

 

2. Minnesota Timberwolves

Timberwolves Get: Russell Westbrook

Thunder Get: Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, and Ricky Rubio. Minnesota 2017 and 2018 first round draft picks.

 

Now on paper this looks like a steal for the Thunder. They would be getting a young, proven wing player in Wiggins, a freak athlete in LaVine, and the draft picks are a nice throw in. There may be room for Rubio on the roster but the team would be better served it they traded Rubio for another wing player. The Timberwolves would be loaded with backcourt talent, with rookie Kris Dunn and Westbrook. Pairing those two players with Rookie of the Year Karl Anthony-Towns would give the Timberwolves a pretty good team. Also, head coach Tom Thibodeau would get the best out of Westbrook defensively and give him the freedom to create for himself offensively.

 

karl-anthony-towns-andrew-wiggins

 

Although Andrew Wiggins has shown improvement his first two years, there are no signs pointing to him being a superstar. I have his floor at Rudy Gay and ceiling at Vince Carter. He’s still young but giving him a new start in OKC with LaVine could possibly unlock his full potential as he would undoubtedly be the face of the franchise.

 

3. New York Knicks

Knicks Get: Russell Westbrook

Thunder Get: Derrick Rose

 

This is the biggest gamble of all. Westbrook for Rose may seem like a crazy trade. However, if you follow Westbrook you know he is into bright lights and big cities. The move would cater to his modeling and fashion vices. It would also give him a better team than what he’s currently on when you account for Carmelo Anthony, Kristap Porzingis and Joakim Noah. Getting Westbrook to commit to an extension after the season may not be as difficult when you consider Anthony’s contract will be off the books in two years and Porzingis can be a building piece going into the future. Rose would ultimately be the loser in this scenario but he would have a young team to play with for a season to prove he can return to MVP form. Sharing the spotlight with Porzingis and Anthony is more cumbersome than playing with Enes Kanter and Oladipo. Maybe the Knicks attach some future draft picks to sweeten the deal but the Thunder have to make a move on Westbrook soon.

 

 


SBS Film Vault: Varsity Blues

Written by :
Published on : May 19, 2016

 

Imagine being a 15-year-old that stumbles upon a movie with sports, drama, and nudity. Varsity Blues is one of my top 15 movies. The movie itself isn’t all that great. Watching it again as an adult, I’m less enamored with the nudity and the hijinks of the football players. However, there is a nostalgia attached to it that takes me back to sitting in my bedroom watching every detail intently, hoping my high school years would mirror the movie.

 

Although, I couldn’t relate to some of the plot points of the movie (I had yet to lose my virginity and I definitely was not a star on my football team) it still was interesting to me. Lead character Mox (James Van Der Beek) had a roller coaster senior year. He went from being a bench warmer to the starter. His arm talent was always there but his shortcomings were that he was more a scholar than jock and that he was treated like his dad was decades before. The apple didn’t fall too far from the tree in the eyes of Coach Kilmer (Jon Voight).

 

varsity-blues-1999-08
                                                                  Tweeter is up to his tricks again.

 

Now the guy I thought was the coolest was Tweeter (Scott Caan). A total badass and goofball, Tweeter definitely made a scattered movie, funny. From stealing a cop car (he also detained a few hot, naked girls) to hitting an old school alum in the groin with a bat, Tweeter definitely is must watch in this movie. On the other end, there was more to be desired in the movie for a young Paul Walker. He plays star quarterback, Lance Harbor. Not too far into the movie he suffers a horrible ACL tear and with that he becomes part of the supporting cast.

 

The tear-jerking moment comes when Coach Kilmer berates and kicks the lovable offensive lineman Billy Bob (Ron Lester) out of a post-game meeting. At this point, you see how important football is for these kids and more so how much it is like religion in the state of Texas. Billy Bob is an interesting character, and as much as he is stupid, he is also kind hearted.

 

There’s even the stereotypical black guy role. Wendell Brown (Eliel Swinton) is the black kid that isn’t great in school but is the bell cow for the football team. He has all the rushing yards but no touchdowns because the coach prefers the quarterback gets the glory. Brown made the most of his opportunity and was a great supporting role.

 

Blues
                                              Just football dudes, doing football dude stuff.

 

The highlight of the movie is when the guys decide to go to a strip club the night before a big game. Too young to drink but they’re allowed in the club anyways and they’re having the time of their life. Then, they become witness to their favorite female teacher performing on stage at her second job. It leads to all kinds of hijinks and more nudity.

 

Overall, while not my favorite movie, it is one that remains etched in my mind based on when I viewed it. If I had one suggestion, I would tell a first time viewer to watch it with their significant other. After the movie, ask them to make you a sundae.

 

 


Going Down in a Blaze (of Glory?): The Johnny Manziel Story

Written by :
Published on : April 23, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Heisman Trophy winner.

 

First round draft pick.

 

A complete waste of opportunity.

 

I decided against saying talent when describing Johnny Manziel. Over the course of the past two years, I have had several emotions regarding Manziel.

 

First, I thought “give the kid a break.” When he was at Texas A&M, he was investigated by the NCAA for signing and selling memorabilia. He was also arrested for fighting and producing a fake ID. Being young, dumb, and arrested around the same age as he was at the time, I figured it was all a little overblown. I rationalized that Manziel just needed to mature and I was empathetic to his troubles. Most young men mature at their own pace. Clearly, he would grow up one day, right?

 

 Johnny goes to Coachella.

 

Wrong! As Charlie Murphy once said in reference to Rick James, Manziel is a “habitual line stepper.”

 

Shortly after he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, he allegedly was snorting cocaine in Las Vegas. Then came the domestic violence accusations after he and his girlfriend were stopped by police in Ohio. At this juncture, I started to pity Manziel. He had to be addicted to drugs and alcohol. Only a man that was addicted to drugs could continue to make a mess of a NFL career. I figured once he had the opportunity to start he would take the job seriously and there would be no time for his off-field activities.

 

Wrong! Once again, habitual line stepper.

 

Manziel got the opportunity to start a few games his rookie season and was terrible. He also had the chance to win the starting job his second season but decided to party during the team’s bye week. To make matters worse, Manziel lied about partying. Stating that the video evidence that surfaced was from an earlier date. The music that was played in the video, Future “March Madness”, was recently released at the time; not months before as Manziel told the team. At this point, I knew the writing was on the wall. Manziel was going to be released and the humiliation of being cut would help him resurrect his career.

 

 

Habitual line stepper.

 

He did eventually get cut by the team and is currently unsigned. Manziel has continued his partying since being cut by the Browns. Two agents have left him due to his unwillingness to seek help for possible drug addiction. Therefore, even if a team was interested, he does not have representation. He also lost his endorsement deal with Nike earlier this week. What a train wreck.

 

My feelings toward Johnny Football is that I no longer care about anything regarding him. I’ve come to the conclusion that he knows he will fail in the NFL. He does not have any initiative to resurrect his career. He is excelling at the one thing he knows he can do well, partying. The time has passed where we think of Manziel as a kid that will mature and we should just let nature run its course. The drinking and possibly drug use is perhaps his way of coping with the disappointment of a failed NFL career. His parents have pleaded for someone to help. Ironically, both his parents were bartenders when they met each other. You would think that they would know firsthand what alcohol abuse could do to a person. Yet, it seems as if they’re waiting for some divine intervention to save Johnny before age 24.

 

 Manziel seems as lost in life as he was on the field in the NFL.

 

The media has a hand in this as well. Every thing that he does becomes sports fodder. Manziel stopped being relevant in sports long ago. With every news story that is published, it only adds to his rep. Clubs will always welcome him with open arms because somehow they will be mentioned and it will be the easy promotion for their establishment. ESPN has done more damage than good for several athletes that should not be relevant (Tim Tebow), but I guess that’s just what they do.

 

It is the time that everyone let Manziel go. The sooner we stop talking about him the sooner we can forget about him and move on to football players who matter.

 

 


The Locker Room Recap with Patrick Harrell: UConn, RG3 and more…

Written by :
Published on : March 30, 2016

 

 

What’s going on ScoreBoredSports family? It seems like I’ve been away from you all for too long! I have a lot going and I’ve never been too good at multi-tasking. Even though I haven’t posted much lately I have been keeping up with the sports world. Let’s take a trip into the Locker Room and see what’s been happening.

 

 

Luigi Auriemma IS Women’s College Basketball

 

Yes, Geno’s birth name is Luigi. The Connecticut Huskies head coach has received some criticism for his team’s greatness. This past week I was at work and glanced at the television. The Huskies were beating the Mississippi State University Bulldogs by 60 points. It looked as though the team was trying to win by 100 points, as they had star player Breanna Stewart playing in the late stages of a lopsided contest.

 

As much as I can’t stand Auriemma for fielding an unbeatable team every year I must also state the obvious; there aren’t many great female basketball players. Once in about every five years, there is a player that the media brings attention to that is not a UConn player. For every Candace Parker, Brittney Griner, and Skylar Diggins that escape the recruiting grasp of Auriemma there’s a Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, or Diana Taurasi to lead the charge. Let’s face it, there aren’t enough great female basketball players to go around. If we’re seeing, on average, one impact player enter the WNBA every five years then it’s safe to assume that the talent pool isn’t too deep. I can’t recall a time where I have seen an ESPN broadcast about where the #1 female high school player will attend college. There’s no Signing Day coverage. You may see on the sports ticker who was the #1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft. Maybe.

 

Geno has mastered the world of NCAA Women’s Basketball but seeing another team challenge the Huskies would be great.

 

 

RGIII as a Cleveland Brown

 

I’ll call it the way I see it. It’s about to be the Jacksonville Jaguars situation all over again. The Jags said before the 2014 season that they were essentially redshirting their rookie quarterback, Blake Bortles. Veteran Chad Henne started the year but before the season ended, the team put Bortles on the field and he has started every game since. I foresee the Browns using this strategy. Robert Griffin III is in a winning spot with a losing franchise. It’s actually a win-win for both parties. RGIII will get the preseason and maybe half a regular season to show other teams that when healthy, he can be a competent option at quarterback. The Browns, being the quarterback graveyard it has been for two decades, can slowly ease their rookie quarterback  into the system. Browns are expected to select North Dakota State University quarterback Carson Wentz with the second overall pick.

 

RGIII is getting the chance he’s desired. The Browns have a chance to change the fortunes of their franchise by handling this situation correctly. I think anyone with a semblance of a soul can root for the Browns to get this right.

 

 

Golden State: they are who we thought they were

 

The Warriors are simply plowing through the league this year. I thought that they would end up being the third-best team in the Western Conference. Just think about this, the San Antonio Spurs have not lost a home game this year (the Warriors haven’t either), Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has 16 triple-doubles this season, and Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James is having emotional meltdowns every week. Yet, the NBA world is watching the Warriors as they can possibly eclipse the 1996 Chicago Bulls record of 72 wins in a season. I clearly was wrong about this team and I’ll be watching the next two weeks to see if they can make history.

 

 

Mamba Out

 

Kobe Bryant has roughly two weeks left in his illustrious basketball career. He’s been celebrated at every arena and praised by every player. Kobe has improved his play since the All-Star break despite the horrible production by his teammates. He has done his part to fill arenas, put up points, and play sparingly enough to ensure the Lakers will have a chance to retain their top three protected draft pick. As a die-hard Kobe fan, I will be sad to see him go. The team looks like they will be embracing the Philadelphia 76ers ideology of how to build a team. It’s going to be a tough five years for us in Laker Land.

 

 

Quarterback Contracts

 

The Houston Texans signed former Denver Bronco Brock Osweiler to a four-year deal worth up to $72 million. The league is void of high-quality quarterbacks and it seems that if you have played a few games, you have hit the jackpot. There’s no way Osweiler is worth that much money. I call it Matt Flynn Rules. Remember him? He’s that guy that had one amazing game against the Lions and got rich from it, but even Matt Flynn said that the Osweiler’s contract was bananas. This year’s draft class of quarterbacks looks underwhelming so I can’t totally blame the Texans for reaching.

 

 

 

Well that’s my opinion on the happenings since you last saw me. Be sure to check back soon for my next article.

 

 

 


It’s Kobe’s Fault I Can’t Play Basketball

Written by :
Published on : February 26, 2016

 

 

There are days when I sit back and reminisce about my adolescent years. Young and full of energy, I could climb trees and run around the neighborhood for hours. I was, for the most part, of average height and build compared to my peers but the one thing I lacked was competitive drive. Growing up I was considered a nerd. An A-average student for most of my pre-college years, I started to dabble in sports considerably late in my childhood. I was 13 years old when I played on my first organized team. It was the swim team. Yes, black guy on the swim team.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I played almost every sport recreationally. Football, baseball, soccer, and even tennis. When I started playing basketball I played on the street with a milk crate attached to a light pole. This would be the beginning of an awesome ESPN “30 for 30” except for one major caveat, I suck at basketball. After 31 years of living on this earth I’ve come to the realization that basketball is not my sport. I could blame it on my parents not really being inclined to get me into sports, not exposing me to them at a younger age. There is however only one person to blame for my miserable existence as an athlete, Kobe Bean Bryant.

 

By high school, I had participated in wrestling, football, and track. I failed to the point where I pray there isn’t footage of my lack of skills. Baseball was my passion and I did fairly well with it playing all four years of high school on a rather lackluster team. I tried out for basketball, twice. Didn’t make the cut, twice. At the point of my auditions I honestly thought I was the second coming of Kobe and Magic Johnson. A willing passer, good shot selection, great rebounder, and aggressive defender. What I failed to realize is that Kobe is Kobe for a reason. He’s talented. He works hard. He’s gifted. In a moment of self-assessment I decided to give myself a scouting report.

 

 

Measurables: B+

The best part of my makeup is my physique. Other than my now 31 year old slight stomach pooch I stand at 6’5″ and 225 pounds. A far cry from the 255 pounds I weighed about a year ago. In high school, I peaked at 6’2″ and 180 pounds during my wrestling season. Fair to say that even though I was a decent size NBA guard back then I was taller than most my peers. So during pick up games I was always the Center. Try putting Derrick Rose in the paint every play and only getting the ball IF you got a rebound. Yep, I was that guy.

 

Shooting: D-

Have you ever seen a fish jump out of water? That’s exactly how my jumpshot looks. No form. I can’t seem to place my hand on the ball correctly despite having relatively small hands for a man my size. Think of Shawn Marion shooting a three pointer with his eyes closed. Once again, I’m that guy. My Kobe-esque turn around fade away is sick though!

 

Passing: A

One area of my game I can hang my hat on is my passing. I do have a pretty good court vision. Being cross eyed helps me in so many ways on the floor. I can pass on both hands and my drive and kick is legendary on 12th street in Saginaw, Michigan. However, the next category hinders me from ever getting the ball to a teammate.

 

Ball Handling: F

Remember when I said I was always the Center when playing basketball? Well that definitely did not help my dribbling skills. I am quite stubborn though and in my mind I believe I’m Allen Iverson crossing someone over when in fact I’m more like Kwame Brown. (True story) I played a pick up game about two months ago. I was bringing the ball up court to the dismay of my teammates on a fast break. As the defender approached I knew I was about to ‘drop’ him with a crossover. As I planted my foot to execute this sensational move I broke my own ankle and fell to the floor in agony and pain. I truly thought I broke my ankle only to find out I fractured my foot. I have not played a game since that day.

 

Defense: C

I’m not getting dunked on. I’m not getting crossed over. I only break my own ankles. I’m an adequate defender. That’s all you should expect of me.

 

Basketball IQ: D

If I had a good basketball IQ I wouldn’t think I’m a point guard now wouldn’t I?

 

It sucks to be this tall and have people constantly ask you if you’ve played basketball before. It’s quite embarrassing actually. Nonetheless, one day soon I’ll step out to a court for a pick up game. There will be many suitors for my services. As long as I’m tall and black I’ll get picked up every day on a playground. All I have to do is ride my team’s coattails and win games because once the next round of players see my skills I won’t have to worry about playing another game. Maybe I should just stick with swimming. At least there is NBA2k16! I’m currently a 91 rating.

 

 

 


NBA MIDSEASON REVIEW

Written by :
Published on : February 20, 2016

 

 

Boy, was I wrong about a few teams and players in my 2016 NBA Preview (East & West).

 

I missed the mark, much like Kobe Bryant is missing three pointers, free throws, and dunks this season. After watching a lackluster All Star Game, arguably the BEST dunk contest ever, and a little more than half a season of NBA Basketball, I’ve come to eat my crow in front of you all.

 

The Lakers REALLY Stink

 

My favorite team sucks. Where did we go wrong? Perhaps giving Kobe a two year deal that has handcuffed their salary cap is a start. Also, letting Kobe’s influence drive Dwight Howard away is another point. Overall, they should not be confused with the Philadelphia 76ers; at least they have a plan. With only eleven wins on the season and fighting desperately to lose as many games as possible to secure their top three NBA draft pick, the only thing to look forward to is the countdown to Kobe’s last game. I’m sure I’ll cry as he walks off the floor for the last time as a player, but by June I HOPE the Lakers start the rebuild they’ve been holding off for three seasons.

 

I Underestimated the Will of a Champion

 

I thought that the Golden State Warriors would suffer from a championship hangover. I picked the Los Angeles Clippers to be a better team and have a better record than them. Well, clearly I was wrong with this one. Other than the San Antonio Spurs (whom I picked to be the best team in the league this year) there’s not a team that can challenge the Warriors. The Clippers aren’t a bad team as they have 35 wins thus far. Blake Griffin has had a hand (pun intended) in the team’s success thus far. The Warriors and Stephen Curry have a chance to make major history as the team is en route to a league record in wins for a single season and Curry can become a MVP in consecutive years. I am sorry Based God Chef Curry.

 

Why would I believe in these teams?

 

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks had the makeup of playoff contenders. The Timberwolves have Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns as the face of their franchise. The Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker in tow to lead theirs. Both teams are 13th in their respective conferences. Both teams have dealt with absences by a head coach but for different reasons. Flip Saunders, formerly the head coach of the Timberwolves, passed away shortly before the season began. Bucks head coach Jason Kidd has missed games due to health issues. Perhaps with those two coaches at the helm the teams would be better at this juncture. That’s not the case and hopefully the teams can fulfill their potential next season.

 

Will the Cleveland Cavaliers make it to the Finals?

 

There is no team in the Eastern conference that can stop the Cavaliers when fully healthy. By keeping their core intact and going to an up-tempo offense, the Cavs may make a deep run into the playoffs. The one concern is that the team is working with another rookie head coach in Tyronn Lue. Whereas injuries played a significant role in not getting a championship last time, this year the assertive Lue and LeBron must be on the same page. Former coach, David Blatt, was merely a minutes and timeout specialist. Will Lue have the respect of LeBron to make the important decisions to get the team its first NBA championship?

 

The Detroit Pistons…might actually…be good this year?

 

I’ve been in a constant back and forth with one of my best friends over the current state of the Pistons. I do not believe in the team nor do I believe in coach Stan Van Gundy. My friend however thinks that the Pistons have a legitimate shot to go to the playoffs. He likes that Van Gundy has started to build the team around Andre Drummond. I hate to admit it but my friend may be right. Van Gundy is making the team in the mold of his Orlando Magic tenure. Getting players that can space the floor and shoot is what will propel this team in the top 8 in the Eastern Conference. They’ll likely get swept by the Cavs or Toronto Raptors but they are an improved team.

Quick Predictions on NBA honors

 

Rookie of the Year: Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves

 

The kid is getting better as the season progresses. He is a double-double machine and he is getting more comfortable with his mid range shot. He is even taking 3s. I don’t know if we’ve prematurely crowned Anthony Davis of the New Orlean Pelicans as the next great big man. Anthony-Towns seems to be just as skilled and may have the more talented team in the long run. He’s definitely worth watching out for.

 

MVP: Stephen Curry

 

I don’t think I have to make much of a case for Curry. The sad part is he’s sat out roughly 15 4th quarters thus far this season. Even if games get more competitive for the rest of the season he’ll likely increase his already league leading scoring average. Sick! I will throw LeBron James and Chris Paul in the mix as potential MVP winners but it’s Curry’s trophy to lose at this point.

 

Defensive Player of The Year: Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors

 

This is a tough one to call. I think the voters will lean toward either Green or San Antonio Spurs Kawhi Leonard. Leonard won last year despite Green receiving more first place votes. With both teams having not reached double digits in losses thus far, this award may be decided by team success. Whichever team has the better record may be able to catapult their DPOY candidate to the honor.

 

 


Everybody Loves Draymond Green for MVP

Written by :
Published on : January 11, 2016

 

Luke Harangody and Jared Dudley. The aforementioned players were compared to Golden State PF Draymond Green before the 2012 NBA Draft. In interest of full disclosure, I too was very short sighted in my projection of Green. I was called a “hater” because I proclaimed that my fellow Saginawian would be a 2nd round pick but I did not rejoice when he was taken 35th overall.

 

Clearly the only person that knew Green’s true potential is Green himself. Going from seldom used bench player during the Mark Jackson regime to potential All Star starter this season under Steve Kerr’s staff, Green has become a force in the NBA. Before the season there were questions as to how important Green was to the team’s success and many pundits claimed Green was a product of the system that Kerr built around last year’s MVP Stephen Curry.

 

 “Luke Harangody!?! Are you kidding me!?!”

 

To date Green has EIGHT triple doubles on the season. The most LeBron James has recorded in a season is seven. Furthermore, at his current rate, Green could eclipse Michael Jordan’s single season mark of 15. That’s remarkable considering that he guards every position defensively, and still has the energy to initiate the offense. In the NBA, it seems to be an unspoken criteria that the MVP must be on a top 5 team and must be an elite scorer. While that may be the norm that is not exactly the precedent. Here are some things to consider before handing Curry another MVP trophy or gifting James a 5th.

 

Assist Master

 

Curry, Tony Parker, Jeff Teague, Mike Conley, James and Derrick Rose. Green averages more assist per game than all the aforementioned players. Three of those players are former MVPs. Four of those players are pure point guards. Green’s 7.5 assist per game average is 6th in the NBA. Within the top 10 assist per game leaders he is the ONLY player that’s not listed as a SG or PG. Moreover, his assist to turnover ratio is better than John Wall, James Harden, and Damian Lillard, to name a few.

 

The New Mound of Rebound

 

No one should ever mistake Green for Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. Their games are totally different and last I checked the two really don’t care a great deal about each other. However, Green’s rebounding prowess is far better than we could have ever anticipated. Once again in comparison, Green has a better rebound per game average than Greg Monroe, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Blake Griffin. Keeping those names in perspective, Green is listed at 6’7″ which some may consider generous. The players ahead of him in rebounding are at least 6’10”. The positive consequence of Green’s defensive rebounding (7.9 per game) is that it initiates the offense as he is able to generate transition baskets for Curry and Klay Thompson.

 

Elite Scorer

green 2

 

Green’s scoring is predicated on his rebounding and improved jump shooting. The area that he has improved the most is his three point shooting. Once a sub 25% shooter from the three point line, he is now shooting 41%. That’s a remarkable clip considering that he is a Power Forward. He has improved his scoring average every year and is at 15 points per game this season. In the team’s losses this season he actually averaged more points per game than in his wins. It’s not an indictment on his ability to score as it a validation of the importance of him to facilitate. There has only been one MVP in the past 30 years to win the honor and average less than 20 points per game, Steve Nash, when he won consecutive trophies. Green could very well buck that trend or even continue to increase his point per game average during the course of the season.

 

Availability

 

Green is so reliable that in the past two seasons he has missed THREE games. Harrison Barnes, Curry, Thompson, and Andrew Bogut have combined to miss 49 games since the beginning of last season. His physical conditioning and pain threshold should be considered in the MVP discussion. Current front runner James has missed three already this season and in all likelihood will miss more as the Cleveland Cavaliers continue their dominance of the Eastern Conference.

 

Advanced Metrics and Defense

green 5

 

Over the past three seasons, the one area that critics could not dispute is Green’s defense. Last year, there was controversy over San Antonio Spurs SF Kawhi Leonard winning the Defensive Player of the Year award. Green tallied more first place votes than Leonard but was second place overall in a flawed voting system. Nonetheless, Green could very well win the award this season, unanimously. Currently, Green is in the top 5 in Defensive Box Plus/Minus, Defensive Rating, and Defensive Win Shares. Green also is top 10 in the league in Value over Replacement player. The last area of recognition is key, as he is the only player in Value over Replacement Player that is not considered a ‘franchise’ player.

 

I truly wish I was on the bandwagon from his high school days until now. I wish I could be among the many now that are saying “I told you so.” I was not, but I am now a believer. Draymond Green should at the least garner some MVP votes this season. He is a franchise player on a team that currently has an MVP on the roster. He is doing unimaginable feats on the court despite not truly having a position. The pundits have stated that Green is a product of Curry. With all due respect to the naysayers, Green is a product of Saginaw, Michigan. Curry, the Warriors, or the NBA can’t put a claim on that.

 

 


New Faces In New Places: 2016 NFL Quarterback Edition

Written by :
Published on : January 4, 2016

 

 

The NFL playoffs are primed to begin. Every playoff bound team is set with a signal caller for next season, and it’s said that to have a chance in the NFL, a team needs a good quarterback. If that is the case then that would explain why 20 of 32 teams in the league currently have a record of .500 or below. That’s astonishing considering how much money is paid not only to NFL quarterbacks but the front office personnel that are entrusted to secure the services of a competent field general. Next season, teams will shell out millions in free agency. There are only a few first round prospects at the quarterback position and they aren’t necessarily considered elite players. Their draft stock has more to do with necessity than it does to pure talent that translates to the NFL.

 

Here are a few free agent quarterbacks I feel may be on the move and the team(s) they’re likely to play for.

 

Colin Kaepernick

(Currently under contract with the San Francisco 49ers until 2020)

 

Best options for new team: Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals

 

Why? There are a few things to note about Kaepernick’s contract. It was considered to be a record breaking deal, however, the contract is only guaranteed for injury and has several criteria that could lead to de-escalators. It can be voided by April 1st and the 49ers can release him without penalty. With that said, there are rumors that he could remain in San Francisco next season. Head coach Jim Tomsula is not a lock to remain at the helm next season and a fresh start could help the struggling franchise.

 

If Kaepernick does leave, the Philadelphia Eagles (now without former head coach Chip Kelly) could be an ideal destination. Pairing him with running back DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Jordan Mathews could be a good start to rebuild after Kelly’s failed tenure. The Browns will be in the market for a quarterback and drafting the third first round QB in five years is not ideal. The Browns would be better suited to draft a mid-round quarterback and get a veteran such as Kaepernick with a team friendly contract. The Cardinals come to mind as the team desperately needing a backup quarterback for potential 2015 MVP Carson Palmer. Who has come back from an ACL injury and the team is too good to entrust to a mediocre backup. If Palmer was to go down, at least the team has insurance in Kaepernick to continue to compete in the NFC West.

 

Drew Brees

(under contract with the New Orleans through the 2016 season. Projected cap hit of $30 million for 2016)

 

Best Options for New Team: Houston Texans, wherever Sean Payton is.

 

There are conflicting stories as to what the Saints plan to do with both head coach Sean Payton and Brees. After a remarkable run to a Super Bowl and multiple passing yard titles, the end seems near for Brees in The Big Easy. Payton may also be on the move as the team has missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons and the NFC South is rather young at quarterback. Jameis Winston (21), Cam Newton (26), and Matt Ryan (30) have plenty of time to create havoc for the 37 year old Brees. The Saints defense has also been historically bad the last few seasons and regardless if Payton is an offensive guru or not, the league has caught up to his schemes. A ‘mutual’ split may be on the horizon and there is one perfect fit for Brees should he leave the Payton nest.

 

The Houston Texans have a talented team that has been derailed by a lack of a competent quarterback. Head coach Bill O’Brien hitched his future to Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. Both quarterbacks have been so bad this season that the team had to call T.J. Yates back into the fold. They have passed up on several quarterbacks in recent drafts that could have at least been serviceable, most notably Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. If Brees were to leave New Orleans for Houston then the Texans would be an instant AFC contender. Running back Arian Foster should be returning from injury, they have a budding superstar in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and let’s not forget their formidable defense led by super-alien defensive end J.J. Watt.

 

Brees and Payton could decide to be a package deal with another team, like the Miami Dolphins or Philadelphia Eagles, but I think the two would be best off without each other.

 

Robert Griffin III

(under contract with Washington Redskins through 2016 with Team Option)

 

Best Options for New Team: New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, St Louis Rams.

 

Most people would think that RGIII’s career would be best suited on a team where he can become the instant starting quarterback. I think that is the worst thing that could happen. The Redskins have done him a favor by not playing him. RGIII has been relegated to 3rd string by a team that drafted him 2nd overall. The quarterback selected to back him up is now the starter and may receive a near-massive contract extension. Yet, I think RGIII is the winner in this situation.

 

How is that?

First of all, RGIII needed a public relations makeover. By not suiting up for many games this season, we have not heard much of anything from him. That helps. Moreover, he has had the time to get healthy. He can’t learn much by watching Kirk Cousins play, but what he should have learned this season is a sense of humility and how to become a student of the game. All the physical tools are there, from arm talent to mobility. Hopefully, he has a handle on his ‘handlers’ and he can go back to just playing football, drama free.

 

If Payton and Brees were to stay in New Orleans, RGIII would be a great fit. He is young enough where he can still sit another year or two as an understudy. Payton will find a way to utilize RGIII’s talent and when Brees is gone, the team would have the cap room to build around Griffin. The best scenario for RGIII is to be on a team with an established star quarterback that is exiting his prime and near retirement. The Cowboys are a good choice, as he can back up Tony Romo, whose health entering the twilight of his career should be a concern of owner Jerry Jones. Having a player of RGIII’s stature would fit into Jones’ “entertainment before winning” business model.

 

The Seahawks are a stretch, as they are a team that does not do well with distractions. However, if Russell Wilson were to get severely hurt, would the team want to rely on Tarvaris Jackson for multiple games? RGIII’s skill set is similar to Wilson’s and would at least give the team short-term insurance if Wilson goes down. The Rams are only intriguing considering that the team took all the Redskins draft picks to give up RGIII. I don’t see Jeff Fisher being pleased to have RGIII in the lockerroom as he does not do well with high maintenance players. However, the Rams will be in the market for a quarterback and with Fisher in the middle of his contract, he would have to put his faith in a veteran to secure his job. Irony?

 

Johnny Manziel

(under contract with the Cleveland Browns through the 2017 season)

 

Best Options for New Team: Dallas Cowboys, CFL, Kansas City Chiefs.

 

All signs point to Manziel being released by the Browns after only two years on the team. Now that Mike Pettine has been relieved of his duties, there’s a chance he could stick around. The two seemed to be at war. Their personalities clashed and there was no trust. A new coaching regime could help Manziel, but looking at how the organization is run, it may not do any good. A change of scenery may benefit all parties involved.

 

The Dallas Cowboys would be the ideal destination for Manziel. Jerry Jones would love to have the Texas native backup Romo. Manziel would be able to maintain his star appeal in Dallas with an owner that is known to give players multiple chances. The Cowboys have gambled on reclamation projects before (La’el Collins and Rolando McClain), so Manziel would not be an issue. As for his value on the football field, the Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines and pairing with that and wide receiver Dez Bryant could lead to an interesting team.

 

The Canadian Football League is also an option. There have been many college stars that the NFL deemed not talented enough that have found success up north (Troy Smith of The Ohio State University comes to mind). A few years of seasoning in another league may do Manziel some good.

 

A far stretch is to backup Alex Smith in Kansas City, Head coach Andy Reid is still an innovative mind and could put Manziel in the best position to win when his time comes to be a starter.

 

 

Honorable Mention

Peyton Manning (Houston Texans), Sam Bradford (Jacksonville Jaguars), Geno Smith (San Diego Chargers)

 

 

Let us know who you think is on the move and where they are going.

 

 


WWSHD: What Would Steve Harvey Do?

Written by :
Published on : December 23, 2015

 

 

This week, Comedian/Author Steve Harvey may have had the most horrendous gaffe in the history of live television. During a live recording of the Miss Universe Pageant, Harvey announced Ariadna Gutierrez of Colombia the winner of the contest. However, Harvey read the card incorrectly and had regrettably made a mistake. He then went on to announce the REAL winner, Miss Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach of the Philippines. As you can imagine social media has taken Harvey to task in memes and Vines.

 

 

Although the world can be unforgiving, I am one to say give the man a break! It was a honest mistake that could happen to anyone. The situation got me thinking: what if Steve Harvey was involved in some of sports’ most controversial moments? What would Steve Harvey do?

 

 

1. University of Michigan Power Forward Chris Webber calls timeout (1993). Referee Steve Harvey grants team a timeout even though they don’t have any.

weber timeout

 

In this scenario, referee Harvey has the authority to force a timeout. This would be to the dismay of Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski and his evil empire. The Wolverines would go on to win the championship and be cemented as one of the best basketball teams ever. The NCAA sanctions would still ban the Fab 5 from being affiliated with the school. However, maybe the relationship of the Fab 5 would remain intact 20 years later. A championship for the Wolverines would have changed the trajectory of all the careers of those famous players.

 

2. Last season playoff (2015) contest between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers. Dez Bryant goes up for catch on 4th down. Referee Steve Harvey rules the catch complete.

 

Bryant makes the catch and the Cowboys are in scoring position to win the game. A playoff game! Harvey has single-handedly changed the fortunes of “America’s Team.” The Cowboys go on to face the Seattle Seahawks as a favorite. From there they go on to face New England Patriots and with properly inflated balls, Tom Brady stands no chance against Dem Boys. The first championship for the Cowboys since Deion Sanders Jheri curl was still full of Soul Glo.

 

3. Ronda Rousey is KO’d in the second round by Holly Holm. Steve Harvey declares Rousey the winner by disqualification.

 

Holm is shaking hands and kissing babies until she hears the announcement. Rousey is still on the ground asking the referee “Why won’t you play duck duck goose with me?” In a sudden rage, Holm gives Harvey a roundhouse kick to the chin which forces his mustache into his nostrils. Meanwhile, Rousey is unaware that she has won. Instead, she is preoccupied making snow angels with her blood on the mat. Good work Steve.

 

4. Honorable Judge Harvey receives the ruling from the jury but instead finds O.J. Simpson guilty of first degree murder (1995).

 

The case had the country clearly divided. Whether it was race or socioeconomic status that caused the divide, there was tension with the pending outcome. The murders were done in such a vile and malicious fashion. If O.J. Simpson had been convicted then maybe it would have curtailed some of the heinous crimes committed by other athletes. Simpson getting away with murder (in some people’s eyes) set a poor precedent that if you hire a revered attorney then you can possibly evade the law.

 

5. Miami Hurricanes are on the cusp on winning a National Championship in 2003. Ohio State is near the goal line. It’s 4th and 3 and Buckeye QB Craig Krenzel passes into the end zone. The pass is incomplete. The game is over and the Hurricanes win their 35th straight game and second consecutive national championship.

 

Lead referee Harvey never throws a pass interference flag on cornerback Glenn Sharpe. This changes the direction of both franchises as Hurricane coach Larry Coker gets an extended stay with the program. Meanwhile, Buckeye coach Jim Tressel will have to reassess his program and answer to critics that deem him an underachiever. Harvey leaves the stadium unscathed and the Hurricane fans are forever indebted to him.

 

 

That’s the world according to Steve. Now let’s all watch some Family Feud then go suit shopping.

 

#SteveHarveysLifeMatters

 


ESPN’s First Take Needs a Fresh Start

Written by :
Published on : December 1, 2015

 

 

A few years ago, I all but abandoned casual music radio. As much as I loved to hear Lil Wayne mumble through a 4 minute song or Drake sing me to sleep during rush hour traffic, I had to change my radio preferences. I decided that I would listen to what I love the most, Sports. Now, I listen to at least one hour daily of sports radio during my commutes to work, dropping off the kids to school, or just tuning the wife out from a conversation about her daily gossip (sorry babe!). Sports radio has become my drug of choice.

 

At one point, ESPN’s flagship show First Take was my addiction. When co-antagonists Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith would go at it I would sit for the entire two hours collecting topics for my friends and I to debate. The original show Cold Pizza would feature Bayless sparring against numerous opponents. It showcased Bayless’s wit and candor. Every so often, a young Smith would make an appearance and give Bayless a formidable opponent. Smith, at the time, was extremely hungry and knee deep in gathering intel on the prominent athletes. They soon became quite the team.

 

They’ve made a great team but it might be time to move on.

 

As the years have gone by, so has the chemistry of Bayless and Smith. The show, for a lack of better words, is boring. I believe they fail to captivate the late morning sports fans because the show wildly inconsistent and mundane. Smith has become a top ESPN celebrity and rarely appears on set with Bayless. Even though Bayless is the original torchbearer, Smith has become just as important. Now he is often at a remote location or someone has to fill in for him. Include the fact that Bayless has become so predictable with his stances and segways and we can tell that it’s just not working.

 

The moderator, Cari Champion had a very rough start to begin her tenure with ‘First Take’. She seemed out of place and uncomfortable with the boisterous Bayless and arrogant Smith. and her development seemed hindered by their theatrics. Sometimes she could not interject effectively to move the show from topic to topic. When she did try to speak her mind early on, she was often talked over by the guys. Champion left the show in July and there were many people, including myself, that were extremely happy she escaped that situation to land at a better role with SportsCenter. Now Molly Qerim is left the fend for herself as Champion’s replacement.

 

The 10am to 12pm EST time slot is prime real estate on ESPN, and right now it’s being wasted. There needs to be a serious shake up of the ‘First Take’ team. Here are my top 3 candidates to replace one or more of the members of the show.

 

Moderator: Kate Fagan

Co-Hosts: Ryen Russillo and Bomani Jones

Russillo would thrive on First Take

 

Kate as a moderator is great because she seems to have an unbiased view, but once her teeth sink in, she goes for blood. Russillo had a great run working alongside Scott Van Pelt. They never had a debate type of format but when they did disagree neither backed down. Russillo does have his own show with Danny Kanell and while the two get along great, I think he would do well debating.

 

Jones’ work on Highly Questionable with Dan LeBatard, as well as his show The Right Time, has given him the experience needed to make the adjustment to the debate forum. His Twitter activity is beyond hilarious, as he trolls followers daily. I think Bomani would excel at debating, as well as shedding light on social and racial issues like Smith has done in the past. This pairing would take some time for fans to adjust to but would be a great team.

 

Moderator: Prim Siripipat

Co-Hosts: Michael Smith and Dan LeBatard

Prim would make a great moderator.

 

I first heard of Siripipat this past April shortly after the Spain and Prim show debuted on ESPN radio. The show featured an all female cast and crew. The content of the show was informative and well structured. Siripipat would be a great moderator because she is gorgeous and has serious sports intellect.

 

LeBatard has taken over he radio slot that was once occupied by former ESPN employee Colin Cowherd. He and Jon “Stugotz” Weiner have a rather eccentric show that covers movies, music, and pop culture. Somehow he intertwines sports into his material but to the dismay of his listeners, it’s not enough. He has daily poll questions that range from “Does Stan Van Gundy look like a guy that eats a dozen donuts and then asks for a refund because there wasn’t enough creme in the middle?” to ” Is Dwight Howard a crybaby?” It makes for an interesting show as many of his callers accuse him of race baiting. Nonetheless, LeBatard is curiously entertaining and would present a polar opposite look to the tailored Michael Smith.

 

Michael Smith has been on the ESPN staff for quite sometime. He once was an insider in the same mold as Adam Schefter before transitioning to a television personality. He has honed his skills and you can see his maturation. Smith has a calm demeanor and is concise with his thoughts. I think that LeBatard’s antagonistic undertone would incite the rather nonchalant Smith and would create some great moments.

 

Moderator: Ryan Clark

Co-Hosts: Skip Bayless and various guests

A rotating stable of co-hosts would keep Skip on his toes.

 

To break up the female moderator dynamic, I believe Clark would make a great addition. He has appeared on the show numerous times and seems to be a favorite of Smith and Bayless. Clark definitely has more work to do as an analyst as he is only a year removed from being an active NFL player. He is a little more politically correct than is necessary but he wouldn’t need to be as opinionated as a moderator.

 

Skip Bayless didn’t make Stephen A. Smith a star, but Smith would even credit Bayless for pushing him into national prominence. Now Smith seems to have outgrown their show. The mutual respect between the two men is there but now they often sound feigned. If Bayless had different guests appear on the show he would not fall into a lull like when he speaks to Smith about LeBron James or the Dallas Cowboys. Bayless needs to be attacked verbally and intellectually daily to refrain from being redundant. His debates with Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and former NFL player Chad Ochocinco (Johnson) are some of the best you will ever see.

 

Bayless often criticizes the heart and dedication of athletes. It would be great to see some of the players he has ridiculed have the platform to air their grievances to Bayless and attempt to outwit him. This format would also allow Smith to make guest appearances instead of juggling between ESPN NBA lead man and First Take co-host.

 

 

 


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