Monday, July 6, 2015

1 comments Rick Telander Finds Something Meaningless to Complain About

One of the last times Rick Telander was heard from on this blog, he was growing more and more discontented with John Fox as the Bears head coach and reminiscing about the days when Bruce Jenner was a manly athlete and not a woman. Rick has a history of complaining about small problems in sports (and apparently others agreed with Rick that the height of the rim was too short in the NBA) and now Rick has noticed that NHL players are sporting playoff beards. Rick says he isn't "splitting hairs" (get it? GET it? GET IT?...it's a play on words about a beard consisting of human hair and it's funny...or not) and that the NHL players need to find a new tradition rather than growing playoff beards. Rick wrote this on June 11, which was smack-dab right in the middle of the Blackhawks march to another Stanley Cup title and all he could do was talk about playoff beards and how bad they suck. One would think there are more meaningful columns to be written during this time. One would be wrong.

Is it possible to have a meaningful discussion about Stanley Cup-winning hockey and beards?

No, because they are beards and pretending these players having playoff beards is important in any way is just laughable, no matter what any NBC executive claims otherwise. It's like having a meaningful discussion about whether Chipotle, Moe's, or Qdoba has better food. Everyone knows it's Chipotle, so there is no point in having the conversation. 

In case you missed it, the players on the Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning, who are tied at two victories apiece in the Stanley Cup Final, have beards. (Unless there’s a hairless renegade hiding in the blade-sharpening room, which I don’t believe there is.)

They have beards! Oh no!

And not just beards. They have gross, tangly, unkempt things often referred to as ‘‘neckbeards,’’ historically featured on anti-social mountain men, deceased presidents and biblical characters. And Captain Ahab had a dandy.

I don't think the purpose of these beards is to look attractive, so the argument, "they should be more attractive" fails as a real, cogent argument as to why these beards should be shaved. The beards don't negatively impact how they perform on the ice and somehow presidents, though deceased (no telling on whether it is the fault of their beard for their present condition or not), managed to achieve something while having beards. 

This is a playoff tradition, so to speak, even though its roots (roots?) can be traced back to something as banal as the New York Islanders growing out their whiskers during playoff runs back in the 1980s.

Yes, the Islanders won four Cups during that period, but have you heard from them lately? Plus, former Islanders defenseman Denis Potvin has been quoted as saying none of the hirsuteness was by design.

Oh, well if it wasn't by design then obviously a terrible mistake has been made. Playoff camaraderie as shown by not shaving isn't something that should just happen, camaraderie has to be built purposefully over a period of time. It's not real unless it's planned and contrived.  

‘‘It was just something that kind of happened,’’ he said.

The end of civilization is nigh'. Unplanned beards are popping up everywhere.

None of this would matter, except that fully bearded hockey players look ugly.

Yep, and as I said, if the argument against playoff beards are "they look ugly," then these beards truly don't matter. The players aren't trying to look attractive, they are growing beards to show camaraderie. "You look ugly" is a dumb retort to hockey players essentially saying through the action of not shaving, "We don't care how we look." 

But it’s the essential ugliness and disguise that come with the beardedness that has NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus’ whisker-free face in a grimace.

Oh no, a wealthy television executive is upset. How can he be appeased? Mark Lazarus' opinion on the facial hair of athletes must be addressed and corrected immediately. 

And his opinion matters because NBC Sports has a $2 billion deal to broadcast NHL games.

Actually, Lazarus' opinion still doesn't matter because he doesn't play hockey, isn't married to any of the hockey players and should only care (like the fans do) whether the games are exciting and garnering good ratings. Good ratings do not depend on playoff beards. I can't imagine someone not watching a hockey game because the players' beards are too ugly to look at. It's hockey. Players have broken noses, bloody lips, missing teeth and probably a concussion, being attractive isn't a part of the deal while on the ice. 

Lazarus told sports-media writer Ed Sherman on Tuesday: ‘‘I wish they all would stop growing beards in the postseason. Let’s get their faces out there. Let’s talk about how young and attractive they are, what model citizens they are.’’

You can still talk about how young they are and what model citizens they are. The beard may takeaway attractiveness to some, but I would have to think the big helmet over their head probably hurts the whole "sexy" nature of the sport while it's being played on the ice more than anything else. 

‘‘I think [the beards do] hurt recognition,’’ Lazarus went on. ‘‘They have a great opportunity with more endorsements. Or simply more recognition, with fans saying, ‘That guy looks like the kid next door,’ which many of these guys do.’’

This is a good reason why NFL players have so many problems getting endorsements. What does Russell Wilson even look like? Who knows, because he always has that stupid helmet on his head. Remove the helmet, then maybe an NFL player will have an opportunity to get some endorsements and more recognition. It's the same issue with hockey. Nevermind there is an entire regular season game schedule consisting of 82 games where there are no playoff beards, it's the playoff beards that cause these players to lose endorsements. It seems Mark Lazarus is under the impression there is no regular season in the NHL. 

But I agree with Lazarus — who is, sadly, not related to Sun-Times hockey writer Mark Lazerus — that the beards are dumb and stale.

If anyone knows about things that may be dumb and stale, it's Rick Telander. After all, his writing career is becoming dumb and stale if all he has to discuss in the middle of the Stanley Cup Finals is playoff beards. This is the same Stanley Cup Finals where the hometown team was attempting to win their third Stanley Cup title in less than a decade. Playoff beards, that's what should really be the topic of discussion for a Chicago-based writer though. 

Everybody looks the same with a beard, like genetic splicing run amok.

Perhaps Rick thinks all white people look alike or he has face blindness. I don't watch that much hockey (though I do enjoy it whenever I do) and I can tell the difference in the players. Plus, there are these things on the back of the uniform right above the player's number. It's called "the player's name" which really helps me figure out which players are which. It's the same thing everyone has to use when watching the NFL because it's hard to tell the players apart on the field otherwise. Somehow football fans don't get too confused. Try to pay attention to the names on the back of the uniforms. It may help more than Rick thinks.

My question is this: Why doesn’t a team such as the Hawks have the courage and creativity to do something different with their manliness and be a true difference-making dynasty?

The Blackhawks are not a true difference-making dynasty because they have playoff beards. Obviously.

My question is this: Why should the Blackhawks have to do something different with their manliness and spend time thinking of ways to be courageous and creative when that time could be used figuring out how they will win another Stanley Cup title? Is the Blackhawks' dynasty really going to be dependent on whether they wore playoff beards or not?

‘‘The worst has got to be Teuvo [Teravainen],’’ backup goalie Scott Darling said. ‘‘He’s got the [Justin] Bieber ’stache going. I said, ‘By the time you can actually grow one, it’s going to be illegal.’ ’’

The players enjoy playoff beards. Let them enjoy it and stop being an old man. 

The point is, break away. Do your own thing. Be original.

My advice would be to continue to win hockey games, since that's the entire point of being in the playoffs and all. The Blackhawks are doing their own thing. They are winning Stanley Cup titles, not trying to set a fashion trend. And no, playoff beards aren't holding them back from getting endorsements and or winning "People Magazine's Sexist Man of the Year" award. 

That’s how a team can win titles, too — by thinking outside the, uh, barber’s chair.

Apparently a team can win titles by growing playoff beards, because the Blackhawks have won plenty of Stanley Cup titles when the entire team was growing a playoff beard. And saying they need to "think outside the barber's chair" is an indication the team should not go to the barber's chair, thereby not getting their face shaved. Rick Telander wants hockey players to think inside the barber's chair. Oh, and it's so stupid to equate shaving as a way to win titles. It's just stupid and whether the hockey players shave or not is so irrelevant I don't see how this is an issue for Rick.

Coach Joel Quenneville certainly went all over the place in the Hawks’ victory in Game 4, mixing up his lines as though he had flung a deck of cards in the air.

As we know, we can’t trust either coach to tell us the truth about injuries, strategies or much else. And we won’t know whether Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, who was held out of Game 4, will play in Game 5 until the puck drops.

Rick doesn't have enough material to write an entire column on this issue, so he has to go off-topic briefly in order to hit the word count he wants to hit. Modern sports journalism at it's best. Telander writes an uninspired and irrelevant article bemoaning the existence of playoff beards and still has to pad it with enough rambling to hit the required word count.

But back to the beard thing. Think about it, Hawks. Think about a new tradition.

Yes, think about not having playoff beards because Rick Telander doesn't like them. I also like the idea of starting a new tradition, all while Rick provides no real suggestions for a new tradition. Just do it. It's Rick's decree, so make it be.

Be creative. More creative than Rick Telander, who wrote this uninspired column and can't even be creative enough to suggest another playoff tradition. All he is worried about is ensuring the sexiness of the NHL players shines through. Obviously these playoff beards, not the helmets or the fact hockey isn't the most popular sport in the United States, is the reason these players don't get endorsements.

How about reverse bearding? Start the playoffs with a fully grown beard, then reduce it each series — first to a goatee, then to a mustache before finishing with (ta-da!) soul patches.

Right, but the players would have to grow a beard during the regular season, thereby hurting the chances fans will recognize the players, reducing their sexiness and preventing the players from receiving endorsements. So Rick's only solution to growing playoff beards is for NHL players to grow regular season beards. If you know why regular season beards will not hurt endorsements and recognition for NHL players, like Mark Lazarus and Rick Telander claim occurs when playoff beards are grown, then please tell me. It sounds like Rick is suggesting the players grow a beard for a longer period of time during the regular season (in order to grow a full beard) as an alternative to growing playoff beards. Because apparently endorsements and recognition aren't important during the regular season. The regular season consists of a larger number of games than the playoffs by the way. 

And Coach Q? Well, if he had a full beard, we’d know who Santa Claus really is.

Yes, Rick does know dumb and stale best. This last sentence shows this clearly. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

2 comments Scoop Jackson Thinks LeBron James Saved the NBA By Losing In the NBA Finals

Scoop Jackson isn't the best of writers. The archive of Scoop's writing contributions to this blog is full dumb or bad ideas. Last time I wrote about him he thought that Derrick Rose needed to risk long-term injury to win the NBA title this year. He also thought Michael Jordan should have just done whatever he could to draft Anthony Davis, as if Jordan's want to draft Davis would cause the Pelicans (then the Hornets) trade the #1 overall pick to the Charlotte Hornets (then the Bobcats) out of kindess and respect. Scoop has not run out of bad ideas and he thinks the Cavaliers losing to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals has saved the NBA. Because the NBA can't have players dominating or else it is bad for the sport. We all remember how the NBA was wrecked when the Chicago Bulls won six NBA titles in a span of eight years and it's not like the NBA Finals have been dominated by a subset of NBA players over the past 15 years or anything like that. Scoop thinks Cleveland, yes Cleveland, needs to be hungrier for an NBA title. This makes not of sense. It sounds more like Scoop is a Bulls fan who has to dream up ideas why it's good that LeBron didn't win another title.

Thankfully, the basketball gods looked out and did not allow the King, aka "I'm the best player in the world," to win this chip. At least not this year.

LeBron IS the best player in the world. And yes, thank goodness James was denied an NBA title this year. LeBron has been in the NBA for 12 years and been in six NBA Finals, we wouldn't him to just have another title handed to him. It's much better if Steph Curry appears in one NBA Finals after six years in the league and then wins the title. You know, at least he's earned it. 

Nothing against what LeBron James and the rest of his survival unit did to make the NBA Finals as compelling and competitive as they were, but nothing good surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers' epic overachievement would have come from their Dellavedovian efforts resulting in a victory over the best team in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors.

Other than the stories about how he singlehandedly carried an inferior team to an NBA title and how this would add to LeBron James' legacy. Other than that, no good would come of this victory. 

A MASH unit beating the Splash unit wouldn't have been a good look for the NBA.

Yes, the best player in the NBA winning another NBA title would have been a death knell for the NBA and the league would have been forced to immediately fold. 

They can't lose to a team that, without LeBron, would have struggled to even make the playoffs.

The Warriors could have lost to the Cavs, because the Cavs did have LeBron. A victory in the Finals would have added immensely to LeBron's legacy. 

And in the Cavs' case, they needed to lose. Losing breeds hunger, always the prelude to greatness. And a team is only as great as its appetite.

Scoop Jackson is showing some great recognition of history and self awareness based on writing these two sentences. The one thing professional teams from Cleveland need to do is lose more important games so they don't feel spoiled by all the titles their professional franchises haven't won over the past few decades. The city of Cleveland just needs to lose more games, simply to get that hunger back. We wouldn't want the citizens of Cleveland to feel spoiled by a playoff appearance or anything.

Did Scoop really just write this? The Cavs need to be more hungry so they can get a bigger appetite for victory? How dumb is this?

If Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao are all back next year, what would LeBron have had to prove? What hunger would he have had deep inside to prove anything more?

Perhaps the same thing he had to prove after winning an NBA title with the Miami Heat and then coming back the next year to see if he could do it again with much of the same supporting cast around him that contributed to the first title. LeBron would want to prove he can do it again.

This is the dumbest argument for why it's good the Cavs lost to the Warriors. What does any NBA team that tries to repeat have to prove? What did Bill Russell's Celtics teams have to prove when winning all those titles? Why did Michael Jordan come back to play again after winning three NBA titles? Why did Michael Jordan come back (again) after winning three straight more NBA titles? If Scoop thinks LeBron wouldn't have had the hunger inside to prove anything else then he doesn't understand the competitive nature of sports.

Is the Cavs' loss good for basketball?

No. It is not bad either. 

Yes, you can say that when looking at the big picture and what is in the NBA's best interest.

No, you can not say that when looking at the big picture and what is in the NBA's best interest. I love how sportswriters like Scoop are so obsessed with storylines and narratives as if these are as important as the actual competition on the court. Scoop is just looking out for what is in the NBA's best interests, you know. The Cavs loss isn't necessarily better for him as a sportswriter or gives him something different to talk about other than another LeBron James title. Scoop just really cares about the NBA and it's best interest. That's all. 

A Cavs title this season would have made a general public -- which already has a love-hate relationship with LeBron -- lose interest in this team ever winning again.

Or, as has happened many times in the history of the NBA, there will be increased interest in another team taking down the current NBA champion. Those who lose interest in the Cavs winning another title could easily become interested in seeing the Cavs not win another title. Interest is interest and a team that is hated can help the NBA as much as a team that is loved. Scoop's background prior to joining ESPN was in discussing the NBA. Did he watch any games over the past 20 years though?

How would it have helped the NBA for the Cavs to go through the East with ease (only slightly challenged by the Chicago Bulls) minus one All-Star (Love) and then win the championship minus another All-Star (Irving), all the while doing that without their starting center (Varejao), who was out for almost the entire season?

I mean, it would have meant the Cavaliers had to win another title during the 2015-2016 season to show they could do it again? It meant other NBA teams would try to beat the Cavs. It would have meant NBA fans would watch the games to see the Cavs lose. The NBA doesn't lose if the Cavs had lost, just like the NBA didn't lose when Michael Jordan win six NBA titles. 

It would have all seemed too easy. 

Haha! This is great. Scoop Jackson spends the first part of this column talking about how it's bad for the NBA if the Cavs win a title with a depleted team. Now he calls this title run "too easy."

(Scoop earlier in this column) "Why would it be good if the Cavs are dragged to an NBA title by LeBron James? There were no good players around LeBron on the Cavs team."

(Scoop Jackson now) "It would have been bad for the NBA if LeBron had won a title so easily. What does it mean if the Cavs barely struggled without their best players? Where is the motivation to win another title next year? Please ignore that I'm while asking this question, yet automatically assuming the Cavs would have enough motivation to win next year because I've already put them down as the NBA Champions for next year if they had won the NBA title this year."

Also, I like how Scoop believes there is a correlation between the 14-15 Cavs team winning or not winning a title and how the 15-16 Cavs team performs. As if now that the Cavs lost in the Finals then the 15-16 team isn't as strong, but if the 14-15 Cavs team won the NBA title, then the 15/16 team would have run roughshod over the NBA during the 2015-2016 season...you know, even though Scoop doesn't think they would be motivated.

Yes, they would have had the overcoming-the-odds achievement of these Finals to fall back on, but after that, what?

Try. To. Win. Another. Title.

Trying to win another title just like Michael Jordan, Bill Russell and every other NBA champion has tried to do for the past 50 years. This is a shockingly non-persuasive opinion coming from Scoop Jackson. Why would the Cavs be motivated to win another title? The same reason every other NBA champion will be motivated and the same reason the Warriors will be motivated to win another title.

How would that have helped the NBA?

Because teams would have lined up to try and beat the Cavs just like teams are going to be lining up to beat the Warriors. 

The NBA, much like MLB and the NHL, is historically a league of dynasties. Lakers, Celtics, Yankees, Canadiens, Red Wings, you get the pic.

Dynasties can't be easy. There has to be some sort of struggle and adversity. An interruption of a stretch of genius. Or at least some sort of failure in the beginning.

Okay, so Scoop does realize the Yankees' dynasty that started in 1996 didn't have a struggle or adversity, right? There was no interruption of genius or failing in the beginning. They Yankees beat the Braves 4-2 in 1996 and then lost one World Series game from 1998-2000. I am sure Scoop will say 1997 was "the interruption of a stretch of genius," but that's just not accurate. The Yankees had on a single World Series and had not yet reached their stretch of genius. The Yankees faced little adversity during that five year stretch of the dynasty run. The difficulty started AFTER the Yankees stopped winning World Series titles in 2001. 

In sports, we love the players and teams that play, but what we fall in love with are the players' and teams' stories.

A happy ending to the Cavs' story this season could have ruined the rest of their story before it was even told.

This is ridiculous. A happy ending would have forced the Cavs to try and repeat. That's interesting to NBA fans. So how is the Warriors victory good for the NBA? The Warriors have their story ruined before it was ever told and they didn't struggle. I guess Scoop just assumes the Warriors aren't going to be a dynasty like the Cavs are going to be. Why are the Warriors not held to this same standard as the Cavs? The Warriors didn't struggle before winning the NBA title. 

Had the Cavs won, an offseason narrative about LeBron's greatness and place in history -- making the LeBron-Michael Jordan debate finally a legit one -- would not have been bad for the NBA. But on the flip side, had he won it with the depleted team around him, that narrative would have shared space with an open-ended discussion about how weak the NBA is.

Again, narratives and the story the media wants to tell have nothing to do with what is and is not in the best interest of the NBA.

Coming in, they were given only a 27.6 percent chance of winning it, according to the NBA BPI Playoff Projections. After losing Game 1 (and losing Irving), their chances dropped to 19 percent. After tying the series 1-1, the chance jumped to 39.3 percent. When they took a 2-1 lead and had home-court advantage, it peaked at 56.4 percent. Then, when reality set in and the Warriors evened the series, their index sank to 29.4 percent, then to the all-time series low of 14.8 percent before Game 6.

From a pure basketball standpoint, how good would it have been for the future of the NBA if a depleted team that was only once given a better than 50 percent chance of winning the Finals had walked away with a championship only to add back two All-Stars and its starting center the next season?

I don't know if it would have looked bad for the NBA more than it would have looked like LeBron James performed a Herculean effort to win an NBA title with an epically high usage rate and not very good teammates. I think a Cavs win makes LeBron even more of a legend and with Love (maybe) and Irving coming back next year puts the focus on "who can beat the Cavs?" Having the spotlight on the best NBA player is not bad for the NBA.  

LeBron and the Cavs winning it all this time would have been as bad as or maybe even worse than Magic Johnson winning one with the second-best player on the Lakers being Kurt Rambis. No Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, no James Worthy, no Michael Cooper. What if they were all injured and then they all came back? Think the NBA would have blown up to historic heights in the 1980s had that been the case?

Yes, the NBA would have blown up to historic heights in this situation. Kareem, Worthy and Cooper would have come back and then played the exact same NBA teams in this alternate universe as they played in the real universe. I don't think Scoop understands the concept that one NBA Finals won't have an impact on further NBA Finals. If LeBron had won a title with an inferior team, this doesn't mean next year's NBA Finals will be boring or non-competitive. Much like how if Magic had won a title without his Hall of Fame teammates then it would have had no effect on the historical heights the NBA reached in the 1980's. Just like because the Cavs lost to the Warriors it doesn't mean the Cavs are going to win the 2015-2016 NBA title. 

The impact of such a scenario? No rebirth of a rivalry with the Celtics. No Sixers and Pistons challenges. 

Why in the holy fuck would there have been no rivalry with the Celtics or challenges from the Sixers and Pistons? These teams would have still existed in the same way no matter who was or was not injured for the Lakers when they won an NBA title. I would like to know what Scoop thinks would have happened to the Celtics if the Lakers won a title with Kurt Rambis being the second-best player? Would the entire team have retired out of frustration? Where the hell does he think these three teams would gone or why would they just quit? 

The Cavs would be too good for anyone to really care about. And that is not good for any team sport. Especially one in which a single great player can pull off a miracle by his own damn self.

They would have been too good to cheer for, but because the Cavs were so good, there would be a population of NBA fans who would watch the games to watch the Cavs lose (like how fans watched the NBA to see Kobe and Shaq lose when they played for the Lakers). This is good for the NBA. 

The Cavs during this Finals proved that the field in the 2015-16 season -- even with major free-agent signings, big-name offseason player movement and the draft -- might not be ready.

You can't do epic s--- with basic people. That saying would have lost all credibility and substance with a Cavs victory in the Finals.

No, it would not have lost all credibility and substance with a Cavs victory. And somehow Scoop is forgetting that the Cavs struggled for a portion of the 2014-2015 season, plus Kyrie Irving is ALWAYS injured for some reason. So Scoop's assumption the Cavs will just run roughshod over the NBA during the 2015-2016 season has some holes in it based on past evidence this isn't true. Not to mention, Scoop is trying to tie all of this into how the Cavs running roughshod over the NBA during the 15-16 season is bad for the NBA, when this wouldn't necessarily be true. I hear sportswriters claim all the time that there aren't any dominant teams that polarize fans and get fans to watch the games. Now Scoop thinks a dominant team that fans can love or hate is a bad thing for the NBA. 

And had he done that, just ask yourself, for the sake of parity and competition, how thoroughly uneventful the next four or five NBA Finals stood to be once a fully loaded Cavs squad got back together to play for something already achieved.

Just like how uneventful the NBA Finals were in the 90's when Jordan's Bulls teams ruled the NBA. I remember how the NBA just thrived after Jordan retired. Because nobody had any interest in watching a dominant team play and the NBA struggled so badly during the time Jordan and the Bulls won six NBA titles. I don't know how the NBA ever survived the era where Bill Russell and the Celtics were winning title after title.

Scoop Jackson must remember the history of the NBA differently from me. Also, I can't figure out why the Warriors winning a title on the first try isn't bad for the NBA, but LeBron winning with the Cavs after multiple tries with the team would have not been in the best interest of the NBA.

Monday, June 29, 2015

2 comments Bleacher Report Has the Official List of Overrated and Underrated NFL Players Right Here

If you read this blog regularly, or just search under the "Bleacher Report articles are crazy" tag on the blog, then you know I love me some "underrated/overrated" rankings. I love these columns because I don't love them. They are purely subjective. Whether a player is over or underrated depends entirely on who is rating that player and what that person thinks of said player. It's impossible to definitely say, "He's overrated" or "He's underrated" because you don't know how anyone else rates that player. But nevertheless, Bleacher Report likes clickbait articles that create discussion and subjective rankings where idiots can argue it out in the comments. It is the bread and butter of quite a few of the articles posted on the site. It seems there are three Bleacher Reports. There is one with the real sportswriters writing columns, then there is one where halfway sportwriters (who don't get paid much of anything to do the job) write semi-informed articles that still seem like clickbait, and then there is the Bleacher Report where guys who can barely two words together (and are paid nothing to do this) post something in the hopes it's controversial enough to get pageviews. This column is in the second category because the author throws some Pro Football Focus ratings in there as proof a player is over or underrated. Still, it's quite comical at times to read the justifications for each rating.

Let's start the slideshow!

Here, we had a somewhat similar task as we designated the most overrated and the most underrated player on each of the 32 clubs in the league. Thanks to Pro Football Focus for a big assist when it comes to backing up our theories.

"Backing up our theories" or what really happened, which was "I went through the list of players who were lowly ranked at each position, saw if they were drafted high or made a Pro Bowl, then slapped an 'overrated' label on that player." Then the author probably did the opposite, looked at those highly ranked players at each position who haven't made a Pro Bowl, and then called that player "underrated." You can't fool me. So I'm betting the author had no theories and Pro Football Focus gave him the players he could concoct a theory about. I would bet a lot of money this is the case. There were no theories until Pro Football Focus came into play.

Our definition of "overrated" means the player is an underachiever—be it due to his draft status, lack of production or, in some cases, overall reliability.

That definition of overrated is not at all what the word means. You can't just make up your own definition of overrated because you are bored. What if a player is drafted in the first round, hasn't produced and has gotten injured, but everybody knows he isn't very good. How could he be overrated? He isn't rated highly, so he isn't overrated. Simply being a high draft pick or not producing doesn't make a player overrated.

As for the underrated, we took aim at up-and-coming performers or underappreciated players who have yet to get their proper due.

If a player is up-and-coming then it doesn't mean he's underrated. It means he is possibly properly rated right now. Also, if I think a player is up-and-coming then that doesn't mean he is CURRENTLY underrated. It means if the perception of him doesn't change as he progresses, then he could be considered underrated. Sammy Watkins isn't underrated because I think he'll be a Pro Bowl wide receiver in two seasons. He isn't currently a Pro Bowl wide receiver, so he's not underrated based on my perception of him in two years. Alas, it's all subjective, which is why articles (I mean, slideshows) like this are worthless.

Arizona Cardinals

Overrated: WR Michael Floyd

In three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, the former Notre Dame standout has totaled 157 receptions for 2,444 yards (an impressive 15.6 yards per catch) and 13 touchdowns. But consistency still seems to be a problem for the big-play threat. Over the last two seasons, Floyd has been targeted a combined 212 times and totaled only 112 catches.

Great. Who has been throwing Floyd the ball? He had 65 catches on 113 targets (still not great) during the 2013 season, but when he had Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley starting 10 games during the 2014 season, he had 47 catches on 99 targets. Hmmm...it's almost like his quarterback had more to do with his lack of catches during the 2014 season.

BUT WAIT, there's more. John Brown had 48 catches on 102 targets. So maybe that further proves the guy throwing the football had some impact on Floyd's 2014 performance. Floyd's reception compared to his targets have never been great, but it doesn't mean he's overrated. It means he doesn't catch enough of his targets, but there could be various reasons for this. Like, for example his yards per reception was 17.9, the best on the Cardinals team. It's harder to connect on deep passes when the quarterback throwing the football doesn't have the skill to throw deep accurately.

Atlanta Falcons

Overrated: SS William Moore

I would love to know who thinks William Moore is a great safety. He made one Pro Bowl, so therefor the author thinks everyone thinks Moore is a perennial Pro Bowler.

No team gave up more total yards or passing yards than the Atlanta Falcons last season, and Moore, who was limited to just seven games, wasn’t effective before or after he was injured.

The Falcons defense sucked, Moore was injured during the majority of the season while the Falcons defense sucked, so therefore he sucks too. Couldn't it be said that the Falcons defense wasn't good because Moore was injured, thereby making him not underrated? Nah, that's no fun.

A Pro Bowler in 2012, Moore’s play began to decline the previous year, and it will be interesting to see if he’s capable of recapturing his previous standout form.

He made a Pro Bowl one year. Therefore everyone thinks he'll make the Pro Bowl every year. That's why he's overrated.

Baltimore Ravens

Overrated: SS Matt Elam

In two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Elam (the 32nd overall pick in the 2013 draft) has yet to distinguish himself. Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun has the skinny on a player general manager Ozzie Newsome says “has to be a better football player for us next year.”

Again, simply because he was a first round pick does not mean that Matt Elam is overrated. It just means he hasn't lived up to expectations of his draft position. The general consensus as seen in the article the author linked is that Elam has been disappointing, so I don't think he's overrated simply due to his draft position.

Carolina Panthers

Overrated: C Ryan Kalil

Overrated or simply on the downside of an otherwise solid career? The Carolina Panthers' Kalil is a four-time Pro Bowler and graded out as one of the league’s better centers, but he was also one of the worst pass blockers. The eight-year veteran could simply be a victim of the players around him,

I mean, sure, he's one of the better centers if you pay attention to the grades the author has paid attention to throughout this slideshow. But if you factor in that the four players around him were either rookies or terrible at their job, then you see this means Kalil is obviously overrated.

Underrated: OLB Thomas Davis

He is properly rated. He and Kuechly are often near the top of the list as the best linebacking duo in the NFL.

And yes, every single slide of this slideshow has grades from Pro Football Focus. Obviously this data just supports what the author already knew and not at all is the basis upon which the author determines whether a player is underrated or overrated.

Cincinnati Bengals

Underrated: LG Clint Boling

The four-year pro got a new contract this offseason just after the Bengals let him hit the free-agent market.

The Bengals gave Boling 5 years and $26 million with a $2.5 million signing bonus and $5 million guaranteed. Obviously they don't underrate him. But I guess because some person who doesn't follow the Bengals may not value Boling at that amount then it must mean he's underrated. Obviously.

Cleveland Browns

Overrated: DE Desmond Bryant

The former free-agent pickup from the Oakland Raiders was considered a major acquisition two years ago. But while Bryant has posted a respectable 8.5 sacks in two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, he’s been a liability when it comes to stopping the run. Last season, no team gave up more yards on the ground than Mike Pettine’s squad.

And of course, Desmond Bryant is overrated just because the Browns don't have a run-stuffing defensive tackle on the roster. Saying Bryant has been a liability against the run and then stating no team gave up more running yards last season then the Browns sounds like the author is pinning most of these issues on Bryant.

Underrated: LG Joel Bitonio

File this one under "up-and-coming."

File it under "underrated" because that's where you put him.

And not only did Pro Football Focus rank him the fifth-best guard in the league last season, but he was a member of the service’s All-Pro Team.

After one season Bitonio is underrated because in a few years he is going to be a great NFL guard. So he's not underrated now, but he will be in a few years as long as he doesn't get attention lavished on him like most NFL offensive guards receive (sarcasm intended).

Dallas Cowboys

Overrated: CB Morris Claiborne

Nope. It's pretty well understood that Claiborne isn't very good. I'd love to know who is overrating Claiborne. I want to meet this person.

Underrated: RB Lance Dunbar

I mean he DID average 3.4 yards per carry last year and has a career high of 150 rushing yards.

In limited playing time, Dunbar totaled 316 yards from scrimmage in 2014 on just 47 touches.

I think the fact Dunbar had 18 catches for 217 yards is skewing this stat just a little bit. He's a good pass catcher out of the backfield.

Detroit Lions

Overrated: TE Brandon Pettigrew

I ask again about Pettigrew, is there someone who thinks he's really good at his position to where they overrated him?

Underrated: CB Rashean Mathis

In 2013, Mathis joined the Lions after a long career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. That year, he failed to total an interception but led the team with 16 passes defensed. Last season, he totaled 54 tackles, one interception and knocked down nine passes for the league’s second-ranked defense.

As anyone who plays fantasy football with individual defensive players knows, sometimes if a cornerback has quite a few passes defensed then it means teams are throwing the ball in his direction. So, I'm not entirely sure passes defensed and tackles is the best stat to prove Mathis is underrated.

Houston Texans

Overrated: OLB Whitney Mercilus

Despite the fact that the 2012 first-round pick recently signed a new contract extension, per HoustonTexans.com, the former University of Illinois standout has yet to develop into a complete player.

Just because Mercilus is a first round pick doesn't mean he's overrated. Everyone can think he's not very good even though he was drafted in the first round.

Underrated: RT Derek Newton

This is the same Derek Newton that just received a 5 year $26.5 million deal. But don't worry, there is a great justification for why he's underrated.

The Texans ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing offense last season and also allowed just 26 sacks. Newton, re-signed by the team this offseason, was a big part of that performance, per Pro Football Focus.

Oh. So Newton is underrated, despite getting a new contract this offseason, because the Texans offensive line was really good in 2014. So because a group of players played well, and he was a part of that group, Newton is underrated. 

Kansas City Chiefs

Overrated: NT Dontari Poe

The former first-round pick has enjoyed back-to-back Pro Bowl years, but last season, while the Kansas City Chiefs ranked seventh in the NFL in total defense and gave up the second-fewest points in the league, Poe was at the center of a unit that ranked a disappointing 28th against the run. He also slipped from 11th to 49th in Pro Football Focus' defensive tackle and nose tackle rankings.

Welp, one bad season combined with being a former first round pick and you are overrated. It's the way things go.

Underrated: RB Knile Davis

Davis emerged as an exciting performer in a 2013 AFC Wild Card Game loss at Indianapolis and took on a bigger role in 2014, spelling Jamaal Charles on occasion and finishing with 463 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

What the author leaves out is that Davis got 463 yards on 134 carries for 3.5 yards per carry. The poster boy for terrible running backs, Trent Richardson, had 519 yards on 159 carries for 3.3 yards per carry. So I'm finding it hard to believe Knile Davis is underrated in any way. Davis averaged 3.5 yards per carry during the 2013 season too.

Miami Dolphins

Overrated: DT Earl Mitchell

The Miami Dolphins defense has its share of standouts, but its play against the run in 2014 left a lot to be desired. The Dolphins ranked 24th in the NFL in rushing defense, and Mitchell, the former starting nose tackle for the Houston Texans, was a disappointment.

If a team didn't play well against the run in 2014 then that must mean one of the defensive linemen on that team is overrated. It's a trend.

One issue with citing Pro Football Focus for every player to show he is overrated or underrated is that PFF is subscription-only, so anyone who doesn't have a subscription can't see how Mitchell was a disappointment when clicking on the link. Perhaps if the author had other stats, you know the same stats that originally led to his "theory" these players were over or underrated, then it might be easier to believe the author didn't simply base his entire list on the PFF list of player rankings at each position. Bleacher Report authors have a history of using information from another site in order to use that information to build a slideshow around and reach conclusions, while trying to pretend like the slideshow isn't built around another person's research.

Minnesota Vikings

Underrated: DT Tom Johnson

The veteran defensive tackle recently hit the free-agent market, but the Vikings re-signed him after a solid season in which he finished second on the team with 6.5 sacks and played in all 16 games for the first time in his four-year career. In three seasons with the New Orleans Saints, Johnson totaled five sacks in 40 contests.

Have one good season during a career of averageness? All of a sudden, you are now underrated. Congrats!

New England Patriots

Overrated: LT Nate Solder

The former first-round pick has spent the last three seasons at left tackle for the New England Patriots after beginning his career on the right side. But Solder has yet to wow us with his play and has been somewhat inconsistent, as pointed out by Pro Football Focus.

Oh yes, an example of the author's "theory" being backed up by Pro Football Focus and their information. It seems in this case, the "theory" is entirely supported by a subscription-only site. So I guess we'll have to take the author's word for it. One would think since he used PFF as supporting evidence of what he already thought there would be more information then a rambling sentence followed by a link to PFF. But hey, it's fun to base a slideshow of supposedly original material around the work of others. If you don't have a subscription to PFF, then you have no idea why Nate Solder is overrated. Typical Bleacher Report.

New Orleans Saints

Overrated: LB David Hawthorne

The Saints were bad on defense last year, so somebody had to be overrated. It only makes sense.

Only the Atlanta Falcons gave up more total yards than the New Orleans Saints last season, and while Hawthorne performed well against the run, Pro Football Focus reminds us that the onetime Seattle Seahawk was a big liability in pass coverage.

He's not a great all-around linebacker like somebody somewhere must think he is, so that means he's overrated. It's a fact, don't question it. The author uses PFF as the only supporting evidence for his "theory" again.

Could it be more clear the author called up PFF's site, went down the list of low-ranked players at each position and then choose one player for each team as "overrated"? The author has no prior theories. PFF did the work, he did the slideshow.

New York Giants

Overrated: WR Rueben Randle

But Randle, a former second-round pick, has failed to wow anyone despite leading the team with six touchdown receptions back in 2013. He is coming off a year in which he hauled in a career-high 71 passes, but that number is inflated as both Cruz (10 games) and Beckham (four) missed time last season.

So Randle is overrated because he posted career highs in catches while the other receivers were injured? I like how the author says these stats are "inflated" because Cruz and Beckham missed 14 games. So does that mean Odell Beckham's numbers were also inflated because Cruz missed 10 games last season or does it just mean Beckham is a really good wide receiver who played well when given the chance? Couldn't this be true for Randle as well?

Also, Randle averaged 4.75 receptions on 7.5 targets per game when Beckham was injured and 5.2 receptions on 9.7 targets per game when Beckham was not injured. Randle averaged 4.3 receptions on 7.8 targets per game when Cruz was injured and 4.6 receptions on 8.2 targets per game when Cruz was not injured. So the idea his numbers were inflated without Cruz and Beckham doesn't hold water because he actually saw more targets when Beckham and Cruz were healthy. But hey, I'm sure the author knew that.

Underrated: DT Johnathan Hankins

After a rookie season in which he was basically a non-factor, Hankins was a 16-game starter on the league’s 29th-ranked defensive unit in 2014. The former second-round pick totaled 51 tackles, seven sacks and knocked down three passes as a bright spot on a dismal unit. 

But Hankins played on the defensive line of a bad defensive team! Hasn't this slideshow taught everyone that when a team is bad on defense, then someone on the defensive line must be overrated?

New York Jets

Overrated: LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson

Nine NFL seasons and 144 starts will take their toll on the best of players. But the three-time Pro Bowler hasn’t been the force he once was, and his play has slipped significantly each of the past two seasons, most notably when it came to run blocking in 2014, per Pro Football Focus.

Overrated or just getting older? I don't get why Ferguson is overrated because his performance is declining. He hasn't made a Pro Bowl since 2011, so obviously someone doesn't think he's still a Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle.

Oakland Raiders

Overrated: TE Mychal Rivera

Perhaps it’s too early to put the young tight end on the list, but the Oakland Raiders' Rivera may be the victim of added publicity due to his more recognizable sister.

I don't even think Rivera gets that much publicity. I never hear him in the discussion for one of the best tight ends in the NFL.

In any case, the former sixth-round pick has hauled in 96 passes for 941 yards and eight touchdowns in 32 games but has also been targeted 159 times. 

Ah yes, but it's important to look at who was throwing him the football. But why in the hell would the quarterback throwing the passes ever be important when judging a tight end or receiver's performance?

Underrated: C Rodney Hudson

This is the second ex-Chiefs offensive lineman on this list. It's almost like they played well as a unit last season and this makes them all underrated. Of course, the Chiefs offensive line didn't play well enough to help the underrated Knile Davis average more than 3.5 yards per carry.

San Diego Chargers

Underrated: LT King Dunlap

Dunlap has come a long way since his days with the Philadelphia Eagles. He had an efficient year in 2014, although he still has some work to do in terms of pass protection, per Pro Football Focus.

When the author thinks of a fact or stat-based reason that a player is overrated or underrated without using Pro Football Focus, I would like to be made aware. It's interesting how some offensive linemen are overrated according to the author, because they struggle in either run blocking or pass protection, but Dunlap struggles in pass protection (PER PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS!) and he's still underrated. It's almost like there isn't a method to the madness.

San Francisco 49ers

Overrated: RT Anthony Davis

Perhaps it’s the specter of playing opposite star left tackle Joe Staley. In any case, the San Francisco 49ers' Davis was a 16-game starter in each of his first four NFL seasons but missed nine games in 2014. Even when healthy, he has struggled with consistency from year to year, per Pro Football Focus, although he’s a very solid run-blocker.

Here is an example of what I was just writing. Davis is a good run-blocker, not great at pass protection (the opposite of Dunlap), but because he missed nine games, he's now overrated. So an offensive lineman who has one good season after four mediocre seasons is underrated, while an offensive lineman who had four good seasons and one injured season is overrated. Thems the rules.

Seattle Seahawks
 
Underrated: DE Michael Bennett

You somehow knew that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would miss the unheralded defensive end once he opted to sign with the Seahawks in 2013. He’s played all 16 games for the team in each of the last two years and totaled 15.5 sacks over that span.

I think a lot of people know the importance of Michael Bennett to the Seahawks defense. I could be wrong, but I don't think he's underrated at this point due to his versatility.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Overrated: CB Johnthan Banks

Perhaps it is unfair to put any Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback on this list given the lack of pass rush by the team in recent seasons.

Ah, but fuck it, let's do it anyway. Who cares?

But Banks, a former second-round pick who has picked off a combined seven passes in two years with the club,

Rashean Mathis has one interception in the last two seasons and the author has termed him as "underrated." Interceptions don't seem like the best way to defend this selection, especially given the author admits the Buccaneers pass rush hasn't been good at all.

has been hit-or-miss and can be found closer to the bottom rather than the top of Pro Football Focus’ cornerback rankings the past two seasons.

Welp, without a subscription it's hard to see exactly where Banks may be on that list. But hey, Banks has dealt with a shitty pass rush, isn't a top corner, and was a second round pick, so that must mean he's overrated. 

Underrated: LT Demar Dotson
He began 2014 at right tackle and finished the season by starting three games on the left side. Although Dotson saw his share of penalty flags, Pro Football Focus gave him high grades in all other aspects—this on an offensive unit that allowed 52 sacks last season.

Apparently not being great in pass protection puts an offensive lineman on the "overrated" list, while committing too many penalties is no big deal for an offensive lineman.
 
Tennessee Titans

Overrated: LG Andy Levitre

It wasn’t long ago that the Tennessee Titans shelled out big money to secure the services of the former blocker from Orchard Park. But Levitre hasn’t lived up to his billing (pun intended). He has started every game in his six-year career but was a disappointment last season in Nashville. Still, there’s time for the former second-round pick to get back on track.

"Blah, blah, blah, (insert filler here), blah, blah, here is the work that PFF did which I'm basing my opinion in this slideshow upon, blah, blah."

Besides the fact whether a player is overrated or underrated is a subjective opinion, it's interesting to read how the author basically piggybacks off PFF to come up with his list. You can do this at home! Just get a subscription to PFF, go through the position rankings and choose a highly drafted player or player that used to be good who is low on the rankings at his position, call him "overrated," then go to players at the top of the rankings who are generally younger, call them "underrated," add pretty pictures to the slideshow, and then hit "Publish." You too can write a list of over and underrated NFL players.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

2 comments 2015 NBA Mock Draft

My mock draft last year got all messed up in the beginning as it seems most of my NBA mock drafts do. So I figured I would go ahead and show how stupid I am for at least one more year and try to post a 2015 NBA mock draft. Last year no team really screwed up my mock like the Cavs did in 2013 (thanks again, guys), I just made bad predictions. It's par for the course I guess. This year the 76ers may have another chance at drafting a center and there are some quality foreign-born players in the draft, which we all know makes Chad Ford pee in his pants with excitement. I'm guessing I will get five picks right this year, which could end up being a record of some sort. I'm aiming high, just so the fall will be harder. Undoubtedly my picks will be ruined after the Lakers' pick. Heck, the Lakers may even screw up the rest of my mock.

It's tough, because I want my picks to be correct, but I also understand if I follow the mock drafts out there then my picks will end up being wrong. Mock drafts are very rarely extremely accurate. So I am going to miss on some picks because I didn't follow the mocks, while I may hit on other picks based on how my mock is falling. Guessing is fun until you want your guesses to be correct. 

1. Minnesota Timberwolves- Karl-Anthony Towns, PF

Here is my deal with this pick. Try to hold on to the roller coaster of my opinion. This is the right pick. Minnesota is the perfect place for Jahlil Okafor, so this is a big loss for him. Okafor needs to be paired initially with a rim protector and I have a huge man-crush on Gorgui Dieng. I think he would be the perfect guy to pair with Okafor. Towns is probably the right pick here, but if I were the Timberwolves I would be tempted to go with a player who has lower potential, but has a great offensive game to match up with Andrew Wiggins developing skill set. That's Okafor. Towns is an upside pick, a pick for good defense and maybe the right one. I would choose Okafor. I'm not mad at them for taking Towns because it makes sense as well. It's not the wrong pick, just not the pick I would make.

2. Los Angeles Lakers- Jahlil Okafor, C

It's tempting to go with D'Angelo Russell here, but if you look at his numbers in college, he tended to struggle going up against good teams. Of course, there wasn't many other great players on the Ohio State squad to help Russell, so he can be forgiven for that. The two big concerns about Okafor are overblown in my opinion. Conditioning and defense. He's a 19 year kid, so his conditioning issues are overblown. Many true centers would have conditioning issues at the age of 19. It's how it goes, but the evolution of the NBA away from a back-to-the-basket center has sort of covered up for this. "True" back-to-the-basket centers aren't in peak physical shape at 19 years of age. He did play 30 minutes per game at Duke, so it's not like he hasn't played bigger minutes. Defense is an issue, but defense can be taught. Again, Okafor is 19 years old and hasn't had to play defense because he's so good on offense. I don't think he will be a great defensive player, but he will end up being good enough. Pairing him with a shot blocker initially is a good move. That means, don't pair with Julius Randle. Oh well. Okafor has some professional post moves and he is an excellent passer. The Duke offense ran through him, but it didn't have to go THROUGH him if that makes sense. He was effective in college when not taking shots and still getting touches every time down the floor. I apologize for the length, but I have strong feelings about Okafor. He may not be Hakeem Olajuwon, but he's a center who will be able to score the basketball in the post. Those are hard to find. I know he seems to lack athleticism and upside, but he can play basketball.

3. Philadelphia 76ers- D'Angelo Russell, PG/SG

Here is where things get shaky. I have no idea who the 76ers may pick. Would they pick Okafor if he fell to them? No, because then the Celtics would trade up for Okafor (right?????????). I'm going with consensus here because the 76ers need guards. I know Sam Hinkie is "accumulating assets" but Tony Wroten, Hollis Thompson, and JaKarr Sampson are currently projected to be among the players at the guard spot for the 76ers. They need guards and though I do have some reserves about Russell that I can't pinpoint exactly, he's the sort of Steph Curry-type (not in terms of shooting ability) which teams are going to covet. The Sixers could take Emmanuel Mudiay and shock the world, but from the trade of Michael Carter-Williams I think it's clear they had their fill of taller point guards.

4. New York Knicks- Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C

Now it gets even fuzzier. If the Knicks even keep this pick, who will they select? It seems the Knicks value versatility and Kristaps Porzingis appears to be versatile from every scouting report I have read about him. He can protect the rim and allow Carmelo to play the power forward position. Of course, everything I know about him is based on the hype train that has been running through the Interwebs and I have never actually seen him play. I hope he fails miserably because his name is hard to spell. Also, Knicks fans are not going to like the idea of the team taking a foreign-born player as Frederic Weis is still fresh in their minds. I'm sure Chad Ford loves Kristaps Porzingis. Indeed, he does. Ford thinks every team should draft Porzingis. I'm sure Ford will be outraged if Porzingis goes anywhere past #7. Based on Ford liking Porzingis I'll go ahead and say this is a bad pick for the Knicks.

5. Orlando Magic- Justice Winslow, SF

The Magic just traded Luke Ridnour yesterday. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THIS PICK? I may have made this pick simply because I want to see Oladipo, Payton, and Winslow play together. I am throwing Willie Cauley-Stein in here as a wild card selection. The Magic need a rim protector and they may as well just admit that drafting Aaron Gordon probably will end up being a huge mistake. Just give up on him prematurely, that's the ticket. I think it would be interesting to see Cauley-Stein in this spot, but he has less offensive game than Aaron Gordon did coming out of college, so I can't see the Magic choosing an athletic dude without any semblance of offensive game twice in the lottery. Winslow will be one of the three best players in this draft. I believe that. I think he has a brighter future than Okafor has. He can guard multiple positions, is a good shooter and a great competitor (as long as the refs continue to allow him to run over the opposition without calling a charge).

6. Sacramento Kings- Emmanuel Mudiay, PG

George Karl likes his point guards and Emmanuel Mudiay plays the position of point guard, so that seems like an ideal fit. I think Karl is going to want to take a point guard considered a talent like Mudiay is considered to be, simply so he has someone running the offense Karl wants to run effectively. I do not like Emmanuel Mudiay all that much. He's a slasher who is a bad foul shooter, he's not a great shooter, and he has people around him who give him mediocre advice (I get going to China to play for money reasons, but I think attending SMU would have been the best choice). I'm not a fan, but Mudiay has the "upside" NBA teams like, so he goes #6 in the draft.

7. Denver Nuggets- Mario Hezonja, SF

This is another foreign-born player that I don't know very much about. I know he is confident in his abilities and the Nuggets need a player at his position. He supposedly has the personality required to in tough situations, and unlike some foreign-born players, has had success overseas prior to coming to the United States. I wish I knew more about him. I know he seems to be confident and that is something the Nuggets can build on, right?

8. Detroit Pistons- Sam Dekker, SF

Obviously these are all guesses, but I'm really guessing here that the Pistons would favor Dekker's athletic ability and shooting over the "upside" of Stanley Johnson and any other player who conceivably could be considered to be a smarter pick. I'm a little torn on Dekker. I see the potential and he had a great NCAA Tournament. I think this would be a little early to take him though. Stan Van Gundy will value Dekker's height and ability to play the stretch-four spot with Drummond at center. Maybe he's the American version of Hedo Turkoglu. At worse, Dekker can play small forward and Ilaysova can play the four spot, which means the Pistons still have height and outside shooting to surround Drummond with.

9. Charlotte HornCats- Stanley Johnson, SF

I hear the HornCats need shooting. This is probably why every mock draft but a few have Devin Booker mocked in this spot. I'm going in a different direction though. I think the HornCats are going to go with Stanley Johnson, even with the trade of Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh. I do not like Stanley Johnson, as I feel he is more potential than anything else. He could turn into something great and with Michael Jordan calling out his team's talent level recently it makes sense to me the team doesn't go with a guy who is just a great shooter like Devin Booker is.

10. Miami Heat- Willie Cauley-Stein, C

Cauley-Stein is an absolute freak of an athlete. I love watching play, but also have no clue what to do with him. He's a center, but he can guard multiple positions, but he also has very, very little offensive game. That offensive game could come in time though and this is a BPA pick since it doesn't appear the Heat need another center with Hassan Whiteside breaking out. That being said, Cauley-Stein is also insurance against Whiteside wanting to be overpaid next summer (and who wouldn't want to be overpaid?) and Whiteside ending up being a one year wonder.

11. Indiana Pacers- Cameron Payne, PG

I don't think the Pacers will be picking in this spot, because I believe they will do what they can to move up. This is another pick I'm torn on. If the mock draft goes the way I have it going, I don't know if the Pacers try to get Myles Turner in this spot. I probably don't like Devin Booker more than other teams do, so I should mock him here. Larry Bird has seen how Lillard and Payton went from small schools to success in the NBA and the biggest knock against Payne is that he comes from a school that isn't huge. I don't think this will matter to Bird. It doesn't matter to me either. Payne poured in 23-7-4 against Xavier and 23-4-6 and 20-6-10 against Belmont. Those were pretty good teams last year. He can be a starter in the NBA, despite "only" playing for Murray State.

12. Utah Jazz- Frank Kaminsky, PF/C

It's so hard not to mock Frank Kaminsky in this spot. I in no way think Kaminsky is the best talent available, but I do believe he fits what the Jazz want to do. I probably am incorrect in having Kaminsky fall this far. Adding him to a lineup featuring Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert would be a problem for other teams, especially if Gordon Hayward is playing the small forward spot in this lineup. The Jazz need a big man off the bench to shoot and provide a different look. I don't think Trey Lyles is that guy and it's too early to reach for a "true" point guard. Kaminksy will be a productive shooter in the NBA, but I'm not sure he'll be more than that.

13. Phoenix Suns- Myles Turner, C

It's hard to fairly evaluate Myles Turner because he played for Rick Barnes. Rick Barnes is not a good head coach, so is it Barnes' fault that Turner didn't quite turn into the freshmen he was supposed to be? Turner runs like he's 50 years old, but he can shoot the three-point shot* and block shots. I warned the Suns against drafting Alex Len a few years ago, so it's clear they don't listen to me. Myles Turner can block shots though, so hopefully he'll stop hanging around the perimeter in the NBA and get on the low block where I think he has the best chance of succeeding. To me, Turner is a stretch four that isn't good at running the floor, an okay shooter and he's sort of soft (in my opinion). It's a wasted pick, but I can see why the Suns would make it.

*He CAN, but he only shot 27% and I don't see any reason that he should be hanging around the three-point line as he is already 240 pounds and his body should fill out more as he ages.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder- Devin Booker, SG

Another tough choice here. The Thunder were giving regular minutes to Anthony Morrow last year and Morrow has one skill, shooting the three-point shot. Why not take the best three-point shooter in the draft and see if he can turn into something more than that along the way? The reason I say it is a tough choice is there are guys with higher ceilings available who could very well turn out to be great NBA players in time (Lyles, Oubre), inside guys who can provide rebounding and toughness (Harrell, Portis), as well as Justin Anderson who is a great all-around player. The Thunder needed bench help for most of the year last year and Devin Booker at worst will be an excellent shooter, maybe another Anthony Morrow.

15. Atlanta Hawks- Bobby Portis, PF

I'm assuming the Hawks are the Spurs of the East Coast. They like guys who play defense, know their role and can do several things well (of course, who doesn't like that?). There is no way the Hawks keep Carroll and Millsap, so they are going to need some more frontcourt depth. The Cavs seemed to kill them on the boards in the playoffs, while Portis isn't ever going to be accused of not providing enough energy and effort. It seems Portis fits what the Hawks are looking for in a player, though again, there are guys with higher upsides available. If the Hawks are wanting to go in that direction then I think Kelly Oubre or even R.J. Hunter could be the pick.

16. Boston Celtics- Kevin Looney, PF

The good news is the Celtics have a lot of options because they have quite a few holes in the lineup. Their whole starting lineup seems to consist of guys you would want on your team, but possibly not starting for a playoff team. I don't think the Celtics will be making this pick in this spot, but if they do, then there is a glaring need at small forward and power forward. I'm neutral on Looney. He's a good rebounder and is a good scorer, but he's also skinny. Weight can be put on and I think if the Celtics make this pick then they could go with a guy who I think has been slightly underappreciated in this draft.

17. Milwaukee Bucks- Montrezl Harrell, PF

For some reason, this selection makes a lot of sense to me. The Bucks need frontcourt help and Harrell has a chance to be an excellent rebounder in the pros. The Bucks have some guys up front, but I'm not sure they have a frontcourt player with the toughness that Harrell possesses. He's probably not going to be a star, but he's a violent dunker and a nice counter to what the Bucks currently have on the roster.

18. Houston Rockets- Rashad Vaughn, SG

Eh, Rashad Vaughn. I mean, I guess. He seems to be like a volume scorer who doesn't mind chucking up three points. Granted, he hit many of them in college, but I wonder if he's worth a first round pick or not. I've already accepted that Daryl Morey is smarter than I ever will be, so I should probably just assume I'm wrong. Players can improve defensively and Vaughn would definitely fit on this Rockets team in that he is a great shooter, but I just don't see him becoming worth a Top-20 draft pick.

19. Washington Wizards- Jerian Grant, PG

The Wizards need some more guard help and Grant can play both guard positions. As much as I love Ramon Sessions and Garrett Temple (I'm kidding, I HATE Garrett Temple), the Wizards could use another guard that is capable of scoring. Grant is a little older than the other NBA prospects, but I think he can at least be a reliable bench player. Now that I have said that, he'll be released in early October by whatever team drafts him in the second round. 

20. Toronto Raptors- Trey Lyles, PF

There is no logical reason for Trey Lyles to fall this far. If he is available here, then the Raptors should jump on him. Lyles played out of position nearly all year for Kentucky. This affected the perception of him in this draft. He is not a small forward, he is a power forward, and the Raptors have skated by on James Johnson, Amir Williams and Patrick Patterson at the position over the last few years. If Lyles is gone, which I reasonably expect he will when the board shakes out, then I envision them taking a defensive-oriented small forward like Hollis-Jefferson or Justin Anderson. Speaking of Justin Anderson...

21. Dallas Mavericks- Justin Anderson, SG/SF

I'm not sure shooting guard or small forward is a popular position for the Mavericks to choose in the first round, but with Justin Anderson the Mavs may be having some minor flashbacks to how Josh Howard worked out for them late in the first round a few years ago...minus the drug issues of course. Virginia really struggled without Anderson last year when he was injured and it wasn't hard to see why. He's a much improved shooter and can really play defense. If all goes wrong for him on offense, then his defense will keep him on NBA rosters. He can play small forward and allow Chandler Parsons to play the power forward spot in smaller lineups.

22. Chicago Bulls- R.J. Hunter, SG

I didn't really love the Doug McDermott pick (or trade as the case may be) last year, so I'll just mock another good shooter I don't really like to the Bulls again. The Bulls could certainly use both of them, and I like McDermott more than Hunter. R.J. Hunter is a shooter who isn't really even that good at shooting. He averages 7 three-point attempts per game and makes 35.4% of them, including only making 30.5% of his three-point attempts this past year. That's...not great. He shoots almost 50% from two-point range, but half of his shots are from three-point range. Maybe it was the team around him at Georgia State which causes defenses to focus on him and him force shots, though I doubt it on a mid-major team that had Kevin Ware and Ryan Harrow. I don't expect Hunter to be in the NBA in 3-4 years.

23. Portland Trailblazers- Christian Wood, PF

If the Blazers lose LaMarcus Aldridge, then drafting a skinny kid from UNLV probably won't make them feel very good, but even if they do re-sign Aldridge then they will need more depth at the power forward position. I may be having Wood get drafted a bit early here, but he made dramatic improvement from his freshman to sophomore year at UNLV. I think Wood could be a contributor to the Blazers if they are patient enough with him. He's a modern big man, meaning he can shoot and block shots, but isn't at all a back-to-the-basket type of player. Unfortunately, he weighs like 46 pounds, so he needs to hit the weight room and then hope for some patience on the Blazers' part. 

24. Cleveland Cavaliers- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF

There's no telling who LeBron will pick here. I kid, I kid. In seriousness, Hollis-Jefferson is going to have a Tony Allen-like existence in the NBA. He's an excellent defender, and while his offensive game needs some help, he would fit in well with the Cavs due to his great defense and versatility. He's not going to be a star, but I think being like Tony Allen is his ceiling. I think I could handle that if I were the Cavs.

25. Memphis Grizzlies- Kelly Oubre, SG/SF

Oubre needed to stay in school one more year. I think if he had done that then he would have been a lottery pick for sure. As it is, he's probably going to be taken outside of the lottery. Bill Self should have chained Oubre in the basement and forced him to stay one more year. He couldn't crack the lineup for a portion of the season and never totally lived up to expectations. He has the potential to be that type of wing player the Grizzlies are in need of having though. When he cracked the starting lineup for the Jayhawks, he scored and showed what he is capable of. Still, one more year would have made him more ready for the NBA and increased his stock. As it is, I don't see him being drafted in the Top 15 and I don't think he's ready for the NBA at this point.

26. San Antonio Spurs- Tyus Jones, PG

It seems easy to just say the Spurs will pick an international player here. I won't cheat and pick an international player though. Terry Rozier will not be the pick here. I can just feel it because Rozier is too much of a wild card for Gregg Popovich. This is probably a fantasy pick for me, because I think Jones would fit in well with the Spurs. Jones will never have the ideal NBA body and athleticism, but he's a smart player who has shown he isn't afraid of big moments. I think he will make a really good backup point guard for a contending team. I question if he will be able to get in the lane as a pro like he did in college and I think being a poor man's Tony Parker (albeit being a better shooter than Parker was at 19 years of age) is probably Jones' ceiling.

27. Los Angeles Lakers- Delon Wright, PG/SG

Delon Wright is the typical guy coming out of college who is going to fall not due to his skill set, but because he is older than most prospects and doesn't have the ceiling most other draft prospects have. I have a hard time figuring him out, because I don't know if he will adapt very well to the NBA game and thrive or be overmatched. His improvement from year-to-year at Utah leads me to believe Wright can be a bench contributor in the NBA, but he has to continue to improve his shooting and get used to not being the main facilitator on offense. The first round may be a bit early for him.

28. Boston Celtics- Robert Upshaw, C

Anybody but a Syracuse center. That's all I ask. Again, I don't think the Celtics will be making this pick, but if they did then this is an area where taking a troubled talent like Upshaw may make sense. After all, the Celtics have wasted picks on big men like Fab Melo and Colton Iverson, so they may as well spend one on a player who has actual talent, yet is a dipshit and keeps getting kicked off teams. The shot-blocking talent is there and the Celtics desperately need a rim protector. If Upshaw isn't worth the risk here in the first round, then the Celtics may choose to take him in the second round where he doesn't have a guaranteed contract.

29. Brooklyn Nets- Cliff Alexander, PF

Alexander was a highly touted player coming into his freshman year at Kansas. Then he ran into some issues trying to get time on a deep Kansas team and also ended up on not playing in the NCAA Tournament due to eligibility issues. Rest assured, he has tremendous potential and at the #29 spot in the first round the Nets should take a player with potential to help out on their front line. In 17.6 minutes as a freshman, Alexander averaged 7.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. He may never be any good in the NBA, and I hate drafting players on potential, but for a Nets team with salary issues taking a talent like Alexander late in the first round is a good risk.

30. Golden State Warriors- Olivier Hanlan, PG/SG

This is admittedly a shot in the dark. Of course, most of these picks in my mock are shots in the dark. The Warriors could use another combo guard with Barbosa and Livingston both becoming free agents (I believe) and I think Hanlan is an underrated prospect. Look at his stats. If he puts those up at a school that isn't Boston College then I think he would be considered a first round pick. He is slightly turnover-prone, but he can get to the rim and since the Warriors like to spell Curry for a longer period of time (compared to other star players) then a scorer combo guard like Hanlan will fit in well.

Feel free to mock my picks after they are all wrong or a big trade ruins my entire mock draft.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

5 comments What A-Rod Has Done Wrong Today: He Hates Charities and Won't Create Controversy on Demand

It's been a long, tough summer for New York writers who were waiting to jump on the many mistakes A-Rod would make over the 2015 season. He really hasn't made many at all. He's hitting the baseball well and adapting to his job as the Yankees' designated hitter. He's caused no problems that I know of, and if he wasn't hated due to his cheating, the fact he's playing so well at an advanced age for a professional athlete would be celebrated. But that's not how it is. No one likes A-Rod, especially when there is no reason not to like A-Rod. When A-Rod doesn't give New York sportswriters a reason to dislike him, that's more annoying than anything else. So Bill Madden does what he can to drum up some controversy by pointing out that A-Rod will not drum up any controversy to respond to the Yankees' offer of donating $6 million to the charity of A-Rod's choice.

Why won't A-Rod say anything or respond publicly to the offer? Doesn't A-Rod realize it's more exciting for him to publicly reject this offer rather than privately reject the offer? Doesn't A-Rod realize the Yankees promising him $6 million if he met a milestone is the exact same thing as the Yankees giving $6 million to the charity of A-Rod's choice? If I promise you $10,000 to run a package from Philadelphia to Japan, but don't like the fact it took longer than I wanted it to, so I say I will give the $10,000 to your favorite charity instead, wouldn't that just please you? You are getting $10,000 to give to your favorite charity. That's better than having the money for yourself.

Can A-Rod not be satisfied? He was promised $6 million and the Yankees don't want to pay it to him. Why can't he just accept the Yankees giving this money to a charity? Does A-Rod hate charities that much? If A-Rod doesn't hate charities and hates the Yankees for not giving him $6 million, why can't he say it publicly so Bill Madden can write a story about A-Rod's quotes on this topic?

I like the "new" A-Rod. He's hitting the ball and he's not really saying much. He's letting this whole grievance of $6 million play out behind the scenes and not commenting. Of course, the New York media finds this unacceptable, so they have to find something wrong with A-Rod's approach to take the high ground.

In his ever-percolating home run milestone grievance with the Yankees — which was expected to come to a head Saturday but was pushed back until Monday — Alex Rodriguez’s silence is deafening.

"THE FACT A-ROD WON'T CAUSE A DISTRACTION HAS IN ITSELF NOW BECOME A DISTRACTION! WHEN WILL THIS MONSTER BE SATIATED WITH THE DAMAGE HE HAS CAUSED?" 

A face-saving olive branch from the Yankees has been out there for a while, but A-Rod, on the advice of his attorneys and handlers, is having none of it. 

I always throw this disclaimer in here it seems, but I'm not an A-Rod apologist. I really try not to be. The way the New York media frames anything that concerns A-Rod forces me to call them on their bullshit. Let's be clear here...the Yankees signed a contract saying they would give A-Rod $6 million when he passed Willie Mays on the all-time home run list. The Yankees don't like that A-Rod got busted for using steroids, which is their right to be horrified by this. A-Rod still wants the $6 million that was in the contract he signed for passing Willie Mays on the all-time home run list, which is his right as a person who signed the contract.

Bill Madden is framing this discussion in such an anti-Rodriguez way though. Look at the language he is using.

"A face-saving olive branch from the Yankees..." like the Yankees are the ones trying to make peace in this situation when the grievance Rodriguez has is that the Yankees won't give him the money promised in his contract. The Yankees are not living up to a contract they signed, but they get credit for offering the olive branch?

"but A-Rod, on the advice of his attorneys and handlers..." like A-Rod has no control over the decision. He's totally and completely at fault on his own for using PED's, but when it comes to anything else he's just a puppet on a string. It's silly to believe A-Rod isn't anything but 100% culpable for his errors, but when it comes to making decisions about $6 million, all of a sudden A-Rod can't make his own decisions.

"...is having none of it" like the Yankees aren't trying to violate a contract they signed with A-Rod, as if he is a villain forcing them to pay money they didn't contractually agree to pay him. Bill Madden is framing this like he himself wouldn't go after $6 million in this situation. It's ridiculous the way Madden writes about this situation.

Sunday marked the 45-day deadline for A-Rod to file a grievance against the Yankees for their refusal to recognize his tying Willie Mays on the all-time home run list as a milestone, which under a separate marketing deal from his contract would have required them to pay him a $6 million bonus.

That day came and went with no agreement and no grievance filed.

So not only is A-Rod a huge distraction, but he's also not filing a grievance at this point in an effort to get the situation resolved without ever having to file a grievance. Does it get more diabolical than a person quietly asserting what he believes to be his rights in a manner that is as non-confrontational and distracting as possible? What type of monster tries to see if an agreement can be worked out before filing a grievance? He thinks he's A-God, not merely A-Rod. 

Rodgriguez, when asked following Sunday’s win in Baltimore about a possible grievance, said: “That stuff will work itself out. I don’t know much about those kind of things.”

Oh sure, now Rodgriguez (spelling, Bill, spelling) claims to have NO KNOWLEDGE about what is going on, just like Bill Madden claims he has no knowledge of what's going on. Bill Madden knows that he was wrong when he said A-Rod's handlers were taking care of the situation and making him hold out for more money, but he can't admit that. Bill can't believe that A-Rod is pretending not to know what Bill Madden claims A-Rod doesn't know when it's obvious that Bill Madden doesn't know what A-Rod knows but A-Rod knows enough to know he's playing coy about what he does know. This is very, very clear. 

While the Yankees remain confident in their position that A-Rod’s admission to using steroids and his subsequent year-long suspension from baseball has made him and his accomplishments unmarketable, they suggested to the MLB Players Association months ago that the dispute possibly could be settled by the Yankees making a donation — less than the $6 million — to a charity of Rodriguez’s choice.

So to sum it up, the Yankees not only won't give A-Rod the $6 million he claims he's owed for passing Willie Mays on the all-time home run list, but they won't even give the charity of his choice the full $6 million instead of giving the money to A-Rod. The Yankees won't give A-Rod $6 million and have held out an olive branch of an offer to give a charity less than the $6 million A-Rod claims they owe him. But again, Rodriguez is the bad guy here, not the Yankees. 

“If you guys are so interested in my charities, I’ll be at the Boys and Girls Club on Tuesday,” said a smiling Rodriguez Sunday. 

Oh, you snide son of a bitch. Bill Madden would cut your throat if he could. Smiling while talking about the Boys and Girls Club, bragging about how involved you are.

“That’s a great organization and we welcome all you guys to come out and give the Boys and Girls Club some exposure.”

What a son of a bitch's son of a bitch. A-Rod knows the New York media has no intent on giving the Boys and Girls Club some exposure. That's not what they want to do at all, but he just HAS to be cocky about it and point out the New York media is only looking for controversy to stir up rather than having a genuine interest in a charity receiving the "less than $6 million" that was supposed to go to A-Rod. What kind of animal points out the media's fake concern that charities are receiving exposure? 

Rodriguez, however, has given no indication to the union or the Yankees that he has any intentions other than trying to make them pay him the full $6 million bonus and additional $6 million bonuses should he tie Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762) on the all-time homer list.

He's given no intention he's willing to accept less than $6 million, but of course he's also not filed a grievance yet. So A-Rod also hasn't given an indication he isn't willing to work something out with the Yankees. But yeah, stay negative.

Rodriguez is apparently willing to once again go before the same baseball arbitrator, Fredric Horowitz, who found him guilty on all counts — but reduced his sentence — in his appeal of his 211-game suspension for doping in 2013, to force the payments.

All of a sudden it's A-Rod, and not his handlers, who is at the controls of this scheme again. It's hard for me to keep up with when A-Rod is and is not in control of this situation. And yes, A-Rod seems to be willing to go to this arbitrator, but as I often say when it comes to Peter King discussing contract negotiations, this is all a part of the negotiation so who knows what really A-Rod is willing to do? It could all be posturing.

If Rodriguez should prevail — and all the parties are said to privately have agreed not to hold Monday as a firm deadline for A-Rod to file his grievance since it won’t be heard anyway until after the season — the Yankees would also be required to pay an additional $3 million in luxury taxes.

Rodriguez is basically a cartoonish Bond villain at this point. Not only is he insisting the Yankees pay him the amount they contractually agreed to, but the fact the Yankees won't pay A-Rod $6 million is now costing the team $3 million more in luxury taxes. When will Rodriguez finally stop his continuous reign of evil? He's forcing the Yankees to spend more money, thereby hurting the team, by winning a grievance he hasn't filed yet in a hearing that hasn't occurred yet. If Rodriguez would just let the Yankees cheat him out of money, the Yankees could save even more money. But nooooooooooo, his selfishness knows no end.

It would appear to be a difficult case for A-Rod to prove since there have been zero commercial/endorsement opportunities presented to either Rodriguez or the Yankees for his passing of Mays — or, for that matter, to Rodriguez for the 3,000-hit milestone he’s closing in on.

A player can be marketable even without getting commercial/endorsement opportunities. Go check out how much a signed A-Rod jersey bids for and see if he is still not marketable. 

(By contrast, Derek Jeter had numerous commercial/endorsement deals after he reached 3,000 hits.)

Jeter also had numerous commercial/endorsement deals before he reached 3,000 hits as well. And of course Derek Jeter is going to be mentioned at some point, as if nearly any professional athlete can live up to the image Jeter crafted for himself on the field and as an endorser. Simply because A-Rod isn't as marketable as Derek Jeter doesn't mean he isn't marketable. 

As one baseball official noted Sunday: “Alex can’t even make the case that he’s helped the Yankees this year with his comeback season as their attendance and TV ratings are both down.”

How do we know ratings and attendance wouldn't be further down if A-Rod wasn't playing? Perhaps ratings and attendance would have declined further if it weren't for Rodriguez. Plus, attendance and ratings are a sign that the Yankees team as a whole isn't as marketable as it once was and not a reflection simply on one player. 

It is believed the only reason the Yankees made any suggestion to settle with a charity donation was because of the enormous cost of litigating the case — 

It's also believed that a charity donation isn't what A-Rod thinks the contract he signed called for and a charity donation of less than $6 million isn't even the amount A-Rod was promised for passing Mays. But again, Bill Madden has to look at this issue from the point of view of the Yankees organization. 

Regardless, if it’s war he wants with them again, the Yankees are said to be confident they will win it and prepared to spend whatever it takes to make their case.

One minute Madden is decrying how the Yankees will have to spend $3 million more in luxury taxes if A-Rod wins and talks about how ratings and attendance are down, then he paints the Yankees as an organization with deep pockets who are fighting a moral war to avoid having to pay money they contractually agreed to pay. 

“I’m not going to get into that now. All that stuff is family business and will be handled privately,” said Rodriguez. 

Congratulations A-Rod, you are now causing a distraction by refusing to cause a distraction. Now the whole team is upset with you (they aren't) and this will probably if all goes well affect your play (it won't) so that the New York media can then state you were too concerned about lining your pockets when you needed to be worried about helping the Yankees win games. Not causing a distraction is a distraction. Bill Madden is horrified that you refuse to comment on the grievance you haven't filed yet, thereby creating controversy when he has to write this column about how you aren't creating controversy.