2017 MLB Playoffs Preview

Tomorrow we begin arguably the greatest time of the year. We have the NBA season starting, we have the NFL season nearing the midpoint, and most importantly we have the MLB playoffs beginning. Even though last year’s playoffs were fantastic, this in my opinion will be even better.

What make this year’s playoffs so special is all the key teams and figures involved in it. The AL features the Cleveland Indians, a team that won a historic 22 games in a row at one point during the season. The Houston Astros, who have been consistently dominant all year and hope to live up to the Sports Illustrated cover from 2013 that said they would be “2017 World Series Champs”. The AL playoffs also features the possibility of a 2004 ALCS rematch featuring the Yankees and Red Sox, still the greatest playoff series in MLB history in my opinion. And you have the Minnesota Twins, the first team ever make the playoffs the year after losing 100 games.

On the National League side we get to see the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team who was historically great through the first five months of the season. We get the best player in baseball in my opinion in Bryce Harper and his Washington Nationals. We get to a see two offensive powers in the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. We also get to see the Defending Champs, the Chicago Cubs, a phrase that hasn’t been said since 1909 1. Since I love to do rankings on things so much, I decided I would rank my top 5 players to watch and my top 5 World Series matchups. Also, I will give my playoff prediction at the end.

Top 5 players to watch

5) Aaron Judge (New York Yankees)

Coming in at number 5 for me is Aaron Judge. The rookie came onto the scene and made an instant impact for the Yankees. The man is an absolute giant at 6’7″ and 282 lbs. He is actually the biggest position player in baseball history. What excites me about him is his pure power. During the Home Run Derby, Judge hit a home run so far it actually hit the roof of Marlins Park. What makes this crazy is that NASA did scientific research for this stadium to ensure that no man could hit it. The reason I don’t have Judge higher is he struggled in the second half of the year. His MVP hopes faded and so did his “clutchness”. By the end of the year he was statistically the least clutch player in baseball. For my family and friends, they hope that trend continues into tomorrow’s wild card game.

4) Paul Goldschmidt (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Paul Goldschmidt, the least notable superstar in sports. Not only is he unknown by many fans, he is also disrespected. This man is arguably the best player in baseball. Every year this man ranks high in batting average, home runs and RBI’s. Yet, no one seems to know him that well. If the Diamondbacks are able to make a run, Paul Goldschmidt will be the reason why. Ironically I wrote the least amount of words for the guy I deemed “disrespected”.

3) Nolan Arenado (Colorado Rockies)

Nolan Arenado is an absolute stud. He is not only incredible with his bat but also with his glove. The multiple time golden glove winner has had the luxury of playing in Colorado for his career. The thin air has maybe inflated his batting stats somewhat., but he is still one of the best hitters in baseball. However, he has also had to deal with never making the Playoffs. He might be the most competitive man in baseball so it will be fun to see what this man can do when everything is on the line.

2) Byron Buxton (Minnesota Twins)

What are four words that define Byron Buxton: fast, fast and really fast. The centerfielder for the Twins holds the two fastest inside-the-park homerun times recorded in baseball history. But it is not just his speed on the base paths that makes him so dangerous. The man is unbelievable in the outfield. He is to the outfield what Steph Curry is to 3 point shooting, they both have what seems like unlimited range. But unlike Steph Curry, Byron Buxton won’t argue every call, throw a mouthguard at a fan, and disrespectfully taunt the opposing team’s fans 2. If Byron Buxton can continue his hot hitting streak he will be something to watch, unless the Twins lose to the Yankees again in the playoffs of course.

1) Kyle Schwarber (Chicago Cubs)

It is hard for me to not pick my favorite player from my favorite team for the number one spot. However, I will give you a legitimate reason why he is at this spot. Kyle Schwarber turns into a different beast during the playoffs. He hit for 5 home runs in the 2015 playoffs. He came back from an ACL tear IN THE SAME SEASON to hit .412 in the World Series in 2016. What else could he do? He might go out and throw a no-hitter just to one up his past performances. I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if he became one of Barbara Walters’ most interesting people this year just based off his playoff performance. Whatever he does, it is going to be special.

Top 5 World Series Matchups I would like to see 3

5) Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago Cubs

You know how I said this wouldn’t be a Cubs love fest? Well I lied, I mean who wouldn’t want to watch the Cubs in the World Series again? I know I wouldn’t. The reason I have this matchup 5th is solely because of what it would mean to me personally. I grow up in a family where my mom’s side are Twins fans and my dad’s side are Cubs fans. I chose the Cubs, because like every boy growing up you root for who your dad roots for 4. This matchup scares me more than it excites me because if the Twins magically win, I lose all bragging rights with my friends and family.

4) New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

This matchup would be interesting for one reason. It would provide a series with the two biggest cities in America. It would be funny see how excited FOX would get that they were able to have a World Series with these two markets. Also, even though I hate the Yankees, their fans do provide some fun that many other ball parks just don’t offer.

3) Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago Cubs (The “Are curse was worse” series)

This series would be interesting because it would take the two most historically cursed teams in baseball history. Not only did these teams wait many years for these championships to come to them, both of them now seem to be set for many years of excellence. The series would take place in the two oldest ballparks in the MLB with arguably the two greatest sets of fans. The amount of times Theo Epstein would be discussed in this series would be outrageous but I guess he deserves it.

2) Cleveland Indians vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (The “LeBron” Series)

The reason I named this the LeBron series is simple. LeBron plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers right now and likely will be on the Los Angeles Lakers next year. Rarely do the two best teams from the regular season meet in the World Series. However, these teams were both so dominant that it seems more likely than ever.

1) Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago Cubs (The “Let’s run it back” Series)

The rematch of the 2016 World Series would be the best matchup to watch in my opinion. It would offer the Cleveland Indians the chance to exercise the demands from last year. It would offer the Chicago Cubs to defend their title. The series was so great last year that I fully would expect it to do the same. And just like last year I hope the outcome would be the same.

Predictions

AL Wild Card Game: Minnesota Twins over New York Yankees

NL Wild Card Game: Colorado Rockies over Arizona Diamondbacks

ALDS: Houston Astros over Boston Red Sox / Cleveland Indians over Minnesota Twins

NLDS: Chicago Cubs over Washington Nationals / Los Angeles Dodgers over Colorado Rockies

ALCS: Cleveland Indians over Houston Astros

NLCS: Chicago Cubs over Los Angeles Dodgers

World Series: Cleveland Indians over Chicago Cubs

I picked the Indians and Cubs to meet in the World Series again for one reason, they have the two best records since the all-star break. It pains me to put the Indians over the Cubs but they are just too hot right now. It is also hard to beat a team twice in a row. Hopefully I’m wrong in my prediction. I guess I’ll end it with two simple words that I hope I’ll be needing to say for the next 4 weeks, Go Cubs!

2017 Minnesota Vikings Season Preview

In 7 days the Minnesota Vikings season will begin. Will it be season to remember or will it be a season to forget? Since it is hard to predict what will happen in the NFL most years 1, I thought I would just write about what I am looking forward to for the season. Some might be positive and some might be negative.

1) Dalvin Cook

Every year I am always looking forward to the “New Guy” on the team. This year the best new guy we have is Dalvin Cook. After years of Adrian Peterson, I was fully aware that the next RB would not live up to what AP did. However, I am excited to see what Dalvin can do, since he brings something different to the table with his pass catching and running ability out of the shotgun. Maybe he can even win Rookie of the Year.

2) 6 yard passes when we need 8 yards for a first down

There is nothing more annoying to me than seeing a guy run a route short of the first down marker on third down. Do they expect to break three tackles and get the first down? It doesn’t make sense. Since we have “Checkdown” Sam Bradford as our QB I fully don’t expect this phenomenon to go away this year.

3) An unstoppable defense

The Vikings defense did not look good in the preseason this year. They gave up deep throws to Brian Hoyer for God’s sake. However it was preseason and maybe the guys weren’t fully “invested”. This defense last year through the first 5 games was historically good. But when you play with an offense that wasn’t always dependable you start to lose your focus. Hopefully this team can keep up what they started last year.

4) Andrew Sendejo’s BIG hits

Oh you thought I meant Andrew Sendejo was giving out the punishment? No, I meant the big hits Sendejo’s going to receive from running backs and wide receivers. I can’t wait to see him fly back 5 yards while the other team’s player is running for the endzone.

5) Paul Allen’s calls

It’s always fun listening to Paul Allen, the radio voice of the Vikings, give so much emotion and pride for the Vikings every week. The guy seems to legitimately care about the Vikings success. Maybe we will get another “Oh my Heavens” or “He’s Loose” from PA. Hopefully not a “This isn’t Detroit, this is the Super Bowl” like he did in New Orleans in 2009.

6) A clean pocket for Sam Bradford to throw all day in

Just cause I am looking forward to it, does not mean it is going to happen.

7) Another Cubs playoff run

It happens during the NFL season so it counts. Last year, right after the Vikings started 5-0, the MLB playoffs began. If you haven’t heard, the Cubs went all the way last year and won the World Series. For a whole month I didn’t pay attention to the Vikings at all. I came back to the Vikings after the playoffs were over and to my surprise, we were 5-4… Moral of the story, when one of my team succeeds the other has to fail miserably.

8) October 15, 2017

In case you aren’t sure what this date means, it’s the Packers vs. Vikings game. There is not a specific regular season game that I get more excited for than this one every year. My favorite team in all of sports versus my least favorite team in all of sports. This game has had some of the greatest moments in recent Vikings history 2 and some of the worst moments as well 3. Hopefully the game is relevant this year.

9) Super Bowl 52

Not saying we will be there, but our stadium 4will. I guess we can get excited for that.

10) If the Vikings start poorly, the Minnesota Timberwolves season

When you have a team with Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, it is hard not to look toward their season while the Vikings are still going on. If the Vikings are bad by the time the Timberwolves season starts, I am shifting all my focus to them.

Record Prediction: 10-6

2017 Minnesota Vikings 5 on 5 (Training Camp Edition)

As the Minnesota Vikings start Training Camp this week, I thought it would be a fun time to do another 5 on 5. As you may remember a 5 on 5 is basically a top 5 ranking on 5 specific things. For this 5 on 5 I will touch on specific things that deal with this year’s training camp. Let’s do this.

Top 5 things that need to happen

1) The Offensive Line needs to gel

After coming off a season where Sam Bradford was sacked 37 times, the Vikings O-Line was ranked an embarrassing 29th out of 32 teams by Pro Football Focus. The main reason for this problem was the personnel on the line. The Vikings only had two good offensive lineman in Alex Boone and Joe Berger, and their performances weren’t even that great. The one thing that I think can help the Vikings O-Line this year, besides getting new guys, is having a healthy starting 5 that can gel together. In 2015, the Vikings offensive line was able to stay healthy nearly the entire year and even with below average lineman, was able to be competent as a group. If the Vikings can find a true starting 5 on the O-Line in Camp, it would go a long way for this team.

2) Stay Healthy

2016 was the year of injuries for the Vikings. It started with Teddy Bridgewater getting severely injured before the season started to Adrian Peterson missing 13 games. The Vikings had so many injuries that their entire starting Offense missed at least one game throughout the season. If the Vikings could make it through camp with no injuries to the team then this Training Camp would be looked at as a success.

3) Laquon Treadwell needs to show he can be the 3rd Wide Receiver

Treadwell’s 2016 season couldn’t have gone any worse for him. He played in only 9 games and caught only 1 pass the entire season. Reports have recently came out that he was dealing with nagging injuries throughout the season last year. Hopefully, being fully healthy will allow him do more than he did last year. Treadwell will likely come into camp as the 3rd WR, but he needs to show everyone that he deserves that spot on the depth chart and that last season was just a fluke.

4) Find a Running Back Rotation

Last year the Vikings had the worst running attack in all of football. They were last in both total yards and yards per attempt, they were also 28th in rushing touchdowns 1. The Vikings were able to upgrade their RB group this year by signing Latavius Murray and drafting Dalvin Cook. The question heading into camp is what will the rotation end up being. The Vikings have 3 guys with 3 different styles. Cook is the most explosive and best out of the shotgun, Murray is the best for short yardage and redzone plays, and McKinnon is the best pass catcher and can run the Wildcat at times 2. If the Vikings can find a way to get each guy involved in the Offense, they could have a fun, explosive team.

5) Find an Andrew Sendejo Replacement

Sendejo has been the starting Strong Safety the past 2 years for Vikings and that is 2 years too long in my opinion. I think Sendejo is a fine backup in the NFL but frankly he should not be starting. I actually think he is the only “hard hitting safety” in the NFL who flies farther off the hit than the guy he is hitting. Come to think of it, I have never seen him actually make a fundamentally sound tackle. Hopefully the Vikings can find an actually good safety to be alongside Harrison Smith in camp. Someone who doesn’t spin like a helicopter in the air after trying to hit the guy with the ball.

Top 5 best rookies heading into Camp

1) Dalvin Cook – RB

It comes as a surprise to no one that Dalvin Cook, the first guy the Vikings took in the 2017 Draft, would be ranked number one on this list. Cook will likely be the starting running back of the Vikings and has a legit shot at Rookie of the Year. Of all the Running Back’s in the draft, Cook might be the best of all of them. If Cook can stay healthy and out of trouble, he will be a pro bowler at some point in his career.

2) Jaleel Johnson – DL

Last year, Shariff Floyd, the Vikings starting defensive tackle, missed 15 games with an injury that has a chance to possibly end his career. The Vikings were able to grab a great run stuffer in the 4th round in Johnson. Some mock drafts had the Iowa Defensive Tackle going as high as the late first round. This guy should be a great backup who could start down the road.

3) Pat Elflein – OL

The 2016 NFL draft was labeled as one of the worst drafts for Offensive Lineman in years. However the Vikings may have gotten a great O-Lineman in Elflein, a guy who can excel at multiple positions. Elflein started at Right Guard his sophomore and junior year at Ohio State and was able to be First Team All-Big Ten both years. He ended up switching to Center his senior year and what did he do? He won the Rimington-Pace Award as the best Offensive Lineman in the country. Elflein will likely start at Center this year and his ability to play multiple spots on the line will make him a huge asset.

4) Bucky Hodges – TE

Bucky Hodges will come into training camp fighting for a spot in a Tight End group that is filled with talent. What Hodges lacks in blocking and experience, he makes up in athleticism and talent. I fully expect Hodges to be one of the most exciting guys in the Preseason. However he probably won’t find much playing time at the start of the regular season. But by the end of the year, he could make a serious impact for a Vikings team fighting to make the playoffs.

5) Elijah Lee – LB

The knock on Elijah Lee is that he is undersized at 6’3″ and 229 lbs. Because of this he will suffer stopping the run. However he is a great linebacker in coverage. Having a linebacker who can cover tight ends and running backs well is a huge asset for teams. If Elijah Lee can do this the way he is projecting to, he will have a great career.

Top 5 best players heading into camp

1) Harrison Smith – FS

Harrison Smith is arguably the best Safety in football. The guy does not get enough credit, nationally, for what he does for this defense. He has the ability to blitz the QB, make hard hitting tackles in the open field, and make up for the Corner Backs’ mistakes on deep throws 3. The simple fact that he has no weakness makes Harry the Hitman the #1 player on the Vikes heading into camp.

2) Xavier Rhodes – CB

Rhodes, like Harrison Smith, does not get enough love nationally because of the simple fact that he doesn’t intercept the ball that frequently. Rhodes will go entire games without having a ball thrown his way. At 6’4″, his long arms and height make him a hard guy to complete a pass on. You could argue Xavier Rhodes is the best Corner in the entire NFL for one reason, the Odell Beckham game. Rhodes covered Odell the entire game and got into Odell’s head so bad that Odell got flagged for an unnecessary roughness call on Rhodes 4. Rhodes was the only corner I have seen that made Odell react that way and that is impressive in itself.

3) Linval Joseph – DL

Coming in at #3 is the force inside of the Vikings Defensive Line. Linval has arguably been the heart of the Vikings Defense the past years. He has the ability to take on any lineman one-on-one and win the battle. His size and strength matched with his surprising quickness makes him a focus for the opposing team’s offensive line. To realize how good Linval is, all you have to do is watch the push he gets off the ball. He is able to dictate where the running back goes better than most guys in the NFL.

4) Sam Bradford – QB

For most teams with a legit shot at the playoffs, their QB is their best player on their roster. However, the Vikings are so loaded on defense that Bradford falls to #4 on this list. Bradford, before coming to the Vikings, was criticized as being passive on throws and inaccurate with his deep ball. His past year with the Vikings was anything but that. Not only did Sam Bradford set the completion percentage record for a season, he also lead the NFL in completion percentage on throws 20+ yards. The scary thing is that he had terrible protection. If the Vikings can figure out the O-Line, he could end up having an even better year.

5) Danielle Hunter – DE

It might come as a shock to some people that Danielle Hunter comes in at #5 ahead of Everson Griffen. Everson is a great player but I think Hunter could be a legendary player. The guy has the talent, the work ethic, and after two great years behind Robison, the experience. This year he will be given the starting spot and I honestly expect him to reach 15+ sacks. I will say it now since it is going to be said by everyone by the end of the year, Danielle Hunter will be the best Vikings defensive player by the end of the year.

Top 5 position groups heading into training camp

1) Defensive End

Having one defensive end capable of 15+ sacks for a team is huge. The Vikings just so happen to have 2. Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter are going to prove to be a scary force for opposing Offensive Tackles this year. Not only are they athletic freaks, they are hard workers with a relentless drive to sack the QB.

2) Linebackers

Last year, the linebacker core of Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Chad Greenway might have been ranked #1 on this list. After the retirement of Greenway and a poor season by Barr, the linebackers have fallen down a spot. However this year I expect Barr to bounce back and have a great year. Barr’s linebacker mate, Kendricks, has been everything the Vikings wanted in a 2nd round pick. He doesn’t miss tackles, he can cover tight ends and running backs well, and he is a great locker room guy. Some might question who will fill Greenway’s spot this year, but the thing is Greenway didn’t play much. He would start then Munnerlyn, the nickel corner, would come in for him to add a 3rd CB. So whoever fills that void will end up only playing 30-40% of the defensive snaps anyway.

3) Quarterback(s)

Not many teams can say they have multiple QB’s that can legitimately start on their team like the Vikes do. The Vikings go into camp with Sam Bradford as their starter, Case Keenum as their backup, and Teddy Bridgewater on the PUP 5 list. Those 3 guys have all started at least 24 games in their careers. Having that many guys with that much experience is huge. If Teddy can ever get fully healthy, he might end up being the starter again, but for now it is Bradford who will lead this team heading into camp.

4) Running Backs

As I have discussed earlier, the Vikings have 3 RB’s that can all do different things. The problem with that is finding time for all of them. My expectation is that Cook will be the starter and receive most of the carries, Murray will take over in short yardage and redzone plays, and McKinnon will be the third and long back who has the ability to catch passes out of the backfield. Hopefully the Vikings will figure out what they want to do with them by the time camp ends.

5) Wide Receivers

The Vikings top 2 WR’s consist of a 5th round pick and undrafted player from a DII school. Stefon Diggs was expected last year to be the best WR on the Vikings heading into the season. He showed flashes in 2015 when given the opportunity and lived up to the hype last year. Adam Thielen, on the other hand, was a special teams player his entire career. Last year was his first year playing significant minutes as a WR and he showed he was good enough to do so. If Laquon Treadwell can play significantly better, this Wide Receiver group will be fun to watch.

Top 5 reasons training camp at Mankato will be missed

1) The Location

Since the Vikings are no longer having training camp at Mankato starting next year, I thought it would be a fun time to rank the 5 best things about Mankato. First off, the location is perfect. Mankato is about an hour away from the Twin Cities, which frankly is perfect. It allows players to head back to the city if they want to on off days, but it is far enough to be away from distractions. For some fans it was the drive down to Mankato that made training camp so fun to go to. Next year, fans will be able to take a 10 minute drive to Eagan, missing out on that experience of Training Camp.

2) The Fans from Mankato

Every training camp, fans from all over came to watch the Vikings practice. But it was the fans from Mankato that made it special. For those fans, training camp was the biggest thing every year. For once, their town was more popular than any in the Twin Cities. You could see houses decked out in Vikings stuff and hear stories of fans who never missed a day of training camp. Next year, we sadly won’t be hearing those stories or seeing those houses.

3) The dorm rooms

The fun thing about being in Mankato was the fact that the NFL players lived in the dorm rooms. For players making millions, it was fun to see them experience squeaky bed frames and sore backs in the morning. Next year the players will just have to travel from their homes. They will lose the experience of living in the dorms and the team building that comes with it.

4) The Heat

Yes, the players will experience hot weather at next year’s training camp. But for some reason, having training camp in Mankato for some reason made it hotter. Maybe it was being away from the city or the 80 miles more south that made it hotter. Whatever it is, the new facility in Eagan will not have that same hot experience as Mankato does.

5) The Green Giant billboard in Le Sueur

One of the things about traveling to Training Camp from the Twin Cities was seeing one memorable billboard. Every time you reached Le Sueur you would see a giant billboard of the Green Giant guy. Like what the Statue of Liberty is for New York, the Green Giant billboard is for Mankato. It was a way of telling you that you were close to Mankato. I’m not sure if there will be anything like that for the Eagan facility next year. Maybe heavy traffic and road construction. Whatever it is, it will not be the same as the Green Giant billboard.

Top 10 Most Over-hyped NFL Teams of the 21st Century

With NFL Training Camp right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to look at some of the most over-hyped teams of this century. For this list, I will look at the Vegas Odds of every team heading into the season and see which teams had the biggest drop off at season’s end with their final record. In order to be considered for this list, the team must have had their Vegas Odds be at least 8 wins before the season started. Since there will be some ties between teams for win differentials, the tiebreaker will be settled by how hyped that team was. That means that the tiebreaker is based on the higher win total in the Vegas Odds. Also, I will be discussing these win totals as being “win predictions”. This will lead to some teams having win predictions with “.5” at the end of them. Obviously teams can’t win half a game, but when it comes to this top 10 list, it helps to add them in there. So let’s begin.

10. 2008 Jacksonville Jaguars (Win Differential: -5)

The Jaguars started off the 2008 season predicted to win 10 games. After coming off an 11-5 season the year before, this prediction didn’t seem too crazy. However, after several injuries to their offensive line and one crazy incident 1, the Jaguars saw themselves finish with a 5-11 record. It is last time the Jaguars have had their win prediction in the double digits.

9. 2004 Miami Dolphins (Win Differential: -5.5)

After going 10-6 the year before, the Dolphins came into the 2004 season predicted to win 9.5 games. The team seemed like it had a real chance to make the playoffs until the shocking retirement of Ricky Williams, their star running back, before the season started. His retirement put the team in a hole that it could never get out off. The Dolphins lost the first 9 of their 10 games to start the season and finished with a 4-12 record.

8. 2015 Dallas Cowboys (Win Differential: -5.5)

The Dallas Cowboys were one of the best teams in the 2014 NFL season. They had a 12-4 record, 8 pro bowlers, and went toe-to-toe with the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round of the Playoffs 2. The Cowboys started the 2015 season 2-0 and looked to make their 9.5 win prediction seem a little low. However, after injuries to Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, the Cowboys lost 7 straight and ended the season with a 4-12 record, making their bandwagon fans disappear for a year 3.

7. 2003 Oakland Raiders (Win Differential: -5.5)

After going to the Super Bowl and having an 11-5 record the year before, the Raiders were predicted to win 9.5 games. They had Rich Gannon, the MVP the year before, they had two star wide receivers in Jerry Rice and Tim Brown, and stars on their defense in Rod Woodson and Charles Woodson. However, the next year the Raiders went 4-12, losing 7 of those games by a touchdown or less. The reason they are ranked ahead of the 2015 Cowboys and the 2004 Dolphins is that this team came off a Super Bowl appearance, which over-hyped them a little more than the other two teams.

6. 2005 Philadelphia Eagles (Wind Differential: -5.5)

The 2005 Eagles saw themselves doing the same thing as the 2003 Raiders did. Like the Raiders, the Eagles made the Super Bowl the year before and lost 5.5 more games than they were expected to. However, the Eagles were predicted to win 11.5 games, a very high win prediction for any team. They ended up going 6-10, mainly because of the problems they had with Terrell Owens. The year before, T.O. was arguably the best receiver in football. The next year, he was more of a problem than a benefit. This and the injuries they had to Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook that year lead them to having such a bad season.

5. 2012 Kansas City Chiefs (Win Differential: -6)

The Chiefs came into the 2012 season with hopes of improvement from their 7-9 season the year before. Instead, they went in the wrong direction. After being predicted to win 8 games before the season, the Chiefs went a whopping 2-14. Even with this shockingly poor record, they were still able to have 6 pro bowlers, 3 of them from their linebacker core. For a team with such a bad record, having one pro bowler would be shocking. It just shows that even if you have a poor season, the hype can stay with you.

4. 2012 Philadelphia Eagles (Win Differential: -6)

The 2012 season saw another team lose 6 more games than expected. The Eagles were predicted to win 10 games heading into the 2012 season. The Eagles went into the season expecting to make a playoff push with Head Coach Andy Reid and their starting Quarterback Michael Vick. After starting the season 3-1, the Eagles seemed like they were right on track to do so. They instead lost 11 of their last 12 games ending with a 4-12 record. Andy Reid ended up getting fired and Nick Foles took over as their starting quarterback the next season.

3. 2013 Atlanta Falcons (Win Differential: -6)

Unlike every other team on this list, the Atlanta Falcons had the best record in their respective conference the year before. They went 13-3 in 2012 and ended up being only 4 points from making the Super Bowl. The expectations that came the next year were very high as they were predicted to win 10 games. The Falcons never seemed to get going as they finished the season 4-12.

2. 2011 Indianapolis Colts (Win Differential: -7.5)

The Colts went into the 2011 season expecting make their 10th consecutive playoff appearance. Their dominance of the past decade and a 10-6 record the year before gave the Colts a win prediction of 9.5 wins. However, the Colts lost Peyton Manning before the season even started to a neck injury. He would be out the entire season and the Colts wouldn’t win their first game until week 15. The Colts ended with a 2-14 record, released Peyton Manning, and started a new era with Andrew Luck. Just goes to show how valuable a good quarterback truly is to a team.

1. 2013 Houston Texans (Win Differential: -8.5)

The 2013 Texans seemed like a true Super Bowl contender heading into the season. They came off a 12-4 season the year before, had arguably the best defensive player in the NFL in JJ Watt, and a great offense with Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. They were predicted to win 10.5 games going into the season and after starting 2-0, seemed poise to make a run. What seemed like a promising start quickly turned into a miserable season. The Texans lost the next 14 games and finished 2-14. Both their Head Coach and Quarterback lost their job the next season and the Texans haven’t truly been great ever since.

Vegas every year offers their Win Total predictions for every NFL team. It offers the fans with a perspective on what the experts expect their teams to do. In most cases, teams end up with win totals very close to their Vegas predictions. When it comes to teams on this list, they came into the season with high expectations and ended with high draft picks. Sometimes being hyped is not a good thing. For teams on this list, the season might have been better if they flew under the radar a little bit.

What’s wrong with the Cubs?

First off, let me start off by saying that the Cubs are not bad. However, for a team that has averaged 100 wins in the last 2 seasons, it is little surprising to see them be only .500 through the first 78 games of the season. I, like many, thought the Cubs would continue their dominant run into this season. They lost only one starter from their World Series Champion team (Dexter Fowler). Fowler was a great leadoff hitter, but was he really worth the 12 more wins the Cubs had at this point last year? I don’t think so. For the Cubs it has come down to every aspect of the game of baseball from hitting to pitching to fielding. Everything they did so great last year is nowhere near that level this year. But what is the main reason for this less-than-stellar season? Let’s look at everything to find out.

Let’s begin by looking at how historically bad this Cubs team is. In 1962, the MLB officially extended the amount of games in a season from 154 to 162. Since then, only 14 teams have won 100 or more games and the World Series in the same year 1. Of those 14 teams, the Cubs have the worst record of all of them through the first 78 games of the following season. Of all the dominant teams of the last 55 years to win a World Series title, the Cubs have played worse than any of them the following season.

Could the hitting be the reason for this mediocre season the Cubs are having? Well the Cubs have already been shutout in 6 games this season, the exact same amount they did in 2016. Last year the Cubs batted .256, good enough for 15th in the MLB. This year, they are batting .239, which puts them at 29th. However the Cubs are not built for having a high team batting average. Instead they are more better suited with having a high OPS. In 2016, the Cubs had the 3rd highest OPS in the MLB with .772. This year the Cubs have an OPS of .744, which puts them at 17th in the MLB. The Cubs are getting on base less and hitting fewer extra base hits than they did last year. Lastly, the Cubs finished the MLB season with the 3rd most runs at 808 runs. This year the Cubs are 16th in runs scored at 356 runs, which puts them on pace for 749 runs. Unless the Cubs can catch fire, the Cubs will remain average at best offensively.

Now lets look at the pitching of the Cubs this season. Last year, the Cubs’ pitching was arguably it’s best strength. They had a team ERA of 3.15, the best in baseball and 0.36 points better than the next team 3. The Cubs were so dominant in pitching for many reasons. First, they had the top 2 pitchers in ERA, Kyle Hendricks (2.13) and Jon Lester (2.44). Second, their “3rd” best pitcher 4, Jake Arrieta, led the league in fewest hits per 9 innings pitched. Lastly, they had a closer in Aroldis Chapman who could touch 103 mph on nearly every pitch. That combination of pitchers was at times unhittable. This year the story is different. For starters, their team ERA is 3.98, which puts them at 7th in the MLB. Their best starter, ERA wise, is Eddie Butler at 3.71. The aces they had last year are not the same this year. The only thing that hasn’t gotten worse is the closer spot. The Cubs ended up losing Aroldis Chapman to free agency only to trade for Wade Davis from the Royals. Both guys are great in different ways. The Cubs still seem to have that reliable guy they can throw out their with the lead at the end of the game. However, the starters haven’t given the Cubs as many opportunities to do so.

The last thing I want to discuss regarding the Cubs doesn’t offer any stats. This thing is the locker room. The Cubs lost Dexter Fowler and David Ross this past year, two great locker room guys that seemed to get along with everybody. They also lost Travis Wood, a guy who seemed like the life of the party at the Cubs World Series Parade, in the bullpen. Losing these three guys might not seem like a lot, but this year has shown how much of a positive effect they had on the team. The Cubs last year seemed to have so much fun. They didn’t care how much playing time they got and they kept any complaints they might have had in the clubhouse. This year has been different. Miguel Montero just got released for blaming the Cubs pitching staff for having 7 guys steal on him one game. It was an inappropriate and selfish comment Montero made to the media that he could have kept to himself. Even Anthony Rizzo, the unofficial leader of the team, called him out for it. With Montero out of the locker room, this distraction will hopefully no longer be there to affect the team.

The Verdict

It’s the hitting. The Cubs went from having one of the best offenses in 2016 to a middle of the pack offense in 2017. They still haven’t been able to even find a true leadoff hitter. Yes, the pitching isn’t like what it was last year. However, the Cubs decline in pitching has been less than their decline in hitting has been. They haven’t seemed to get in a groove with the bats and they are constantly adjusting the lineup to find something that really works. If the Cubs want any chance in the playoffs this year they are going to have get something going offensively. Let’s hope that happens before it’s too late.

 

2017 NBA Draft 5 on 5

Welcome to the first ever NBA Draft 5 on 5. A 5 on 5 is a thing I’ll do for certain events. For a 5 on 5, I will offer my top 5 ranking on 5 specific things. For this first ever 5 on 5, I will discuss the NBA Draft from yesterday. Let’s begin.

Top 5 moments from last night’s draft

1) The Jimmy Butler trade

The night started off with a bang when the Wolves traded Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and the 7th pick for Chicago’s Jimmy Butler and 16th pick. The Wolves got a 3 time all-star, 20 points per game scorer and a defensive stopper. The Bulls got a guy who can’t defend (Lavine), a guy who is horrendous on the offensive side of the ball (Dunn), and a guy whose NBA comparison was Channing Frye (Markannen) 1. Only time will tell how awful this trade will be for the Bulls.

2) Lonzo Ball goes to the Lakers

Lavar Ball had proclaimed for the past 4 months that his son was going to be a Laker and last night his proclamation came true. Lavar Ball was also quoted last night as saying that the Lakers will make the playoffs next year and his other sons will also be Lakers in the future. Right now, I wouldn’t be shocked if he is right.

3) Sacramento skips out on a Kentucky backcourt

Sacramento selected De’Aaron Fox with their 5th pick last night. Then Malik Monk, a teammate of Fox at Kentucky, was on the board by the time the Kings had their 10th pick. The Kings decided to trade that pick with Portland for the 15th and 20th pick. This ended any hope we had of seeing John Calipari’s most exciting backcourt in his tenure at Kentucky playing together in the NBA.

4) An NBA record, 16 freshmen go in the first round

Since the one-and-done era began in 2007, the 2017 NBA draft saw the most freshmen ever go in the first round. That means that more than half of the NBA decided that it was a good idea to put their trust in kids who have only been allowed to see ‘R’ rated movies without their parents for 2 years. Recently, there have been talks about allowing high schoolers to enter the draft again, so likely this record 2 will never fall.

5) Fan starts yelling picks before they are announced

During the 2nd Round, a fan in the Barclays Center decided that it would be funny to start yelling the player selected right before his name was announced. Even the announcer started laughing during it. You can thank Twitter for this as it is easy to find out picks before they happen. I honestly would not be shocked if this starts to occur during the first round of next years draft.

Top 5 Worst Picks in the entire draft

1) Lauri Markanenn – Chicago Bulls (7th pick)

Bulls take a 7 footer whose only good quality is that he is 7 feet tall and can shoot. He can’t rebound, he can’t defend, and he can’t pass. The Channing Frye comparison is something to not hang your hat on.

2) Harry Giles – Sacramento Kings (20th pick)

If this was 3 years ago this would be a great pick. Giles was the #1 player in his class all throughout high school. He then tore his ACL twice before even graduating. He averaged only 3 points at Duke and never seemed to get back to his regular self.

3) Tony Bradley – Los Angeles Lakers (28th pick)

The Lakers traded up to select a guy who is the first one-and-done player out of North Carolina in 10 years. Bradley only averaged 7 points a game at UNC and is frankly too slow and not skilled enough to be a good contributor in the NBA.

4) Luke Kennard – Detroit Pistons (12th pick)

I don’t think this was necessarily a bad pick, it’s just that Donovan Mitchell was still on the board when this pick was made. Mitchell is more athletic and a much better defender than Kennard will ever be. Mitchell might end up being a better scorer than Kennard in the future.

5) D.J. Wilson – Milwaukee Bucks (17th pick)

This one is similar to the Kennard pick. The Bucks drafted Wilson when T.J. Leaf was still on the board. Leaf was the leading scorer on the best offense in College Basketball (UCLA) and has a great ability to rebound in traffic. Wilson wasn’t even a legit draft prospect until Michigan’s tournament run in March.

Top 5 Best Picks outside the lottery

1) Justin Jackson – Sacramento Kings (15th pick)

The first player taken after the lottery was the best one taken. Jackson was the best player on the National Championship team. He is a 6’8″ slasher who will fit in great with the Kings and likely find a starting spot by the end of the year.

2) Jordan Bell – Golden State Warriors (38th pick)

The Warriors ended up giving money in order to get Jordan Bell, a shot blocking big from Oregon. Bell was the defensive anchor that led to Oregon’s upset over Kansas in the Elite Eight. He will be a fun energy guy off the bench for the Warriors.

3) Jarrett Allen – Brooklyn Nets (22nd pick)

Brooklyn gets a great inside player that can come in and contribute right away. He averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds a game at Texas. Allen was predicted to go in the lottery but fell 8 spots. He might end up as Brooklyn’s best player by the end of the year 3.

4) Josh Hart – Los Angeles Lakers (30th pick)

The last pick in the first round ends up going to the senior from Villanova. Lakers get a great 3 point shooter who can play both point guard and shooting guard. Josh Hart will have to offer some veteran leadership as he will be older than half of the Lakers.

5) Frank Jackson – New Orleans Pelicans (31st pick)

The first pick of the second round goes to the point guard from Duke. Jackson was the most athletic guy on Duke last year 4. He’ll probably spend sometime in the G-League this year but he will be great in the long run.

Top 5 best players in 10 years from this draft

1) Lonzo Ball – Los Angeles Lakers (2nd Overall)

Lonzo Ball will get the keys to the Lakers offense for many years. His passing and 3 point shooting will fit in perfectly in the new NBA.

2) Josh Jackson – Phoenix Suns (4th Overall)

Josh Jackson was lucky to get passed up by the Boston Celtics. Phoenix’s fast paced system will fit him better than Celtics heavy 3 point shooting system. If his shot develops he could be the best player in the draft.

3) De’Aaron Fox – Sacramento Kings (5th pick)

Like Lonzo Ball, Fox will also get to be the head of the Kings offense. His speed and competitiveness will be his best attributes. I expect him to be a fun player to watch for years to come.

4) Markelle Fultz – Philadelphia 76ers (1st pick)

The number one pick in this draft will end up being the 4th best. Fultz will be behind both Simmons and Embiid on the totem pole. This will cause him to not have the career others drafted around him will have.

5) Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics (3rd pick)

Tatum right now will be main offensive focus for the Celtics from the wing position. If the Celtics end up signing Hayward, Tatum’s usage will decrease. Boston, for the next few years, will be a hotspot for free agents. This will seriously effect Tatum’s growth in his first years in the league.

Top 5 draft hats from last night

The NBA every year comes out with new hats for the draft picks to wear. Some of these hats look cool, some don’t fit and some are just plain awful. This year’s hats were very well done. Here is a ranking of these hats.

1) Sacramento Kings

Sacramento Kings New Era 2017 NBA Draft Official On Court Collection 9FIFTY Snapback Hat - Silver

2) Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets New Era 2017 NBA Draft Official On Court Collection 9FIFTY Snapback Hat - Teal

3) Miami Heat

Miami Heat New Era 2017 NBA Draft Official On Court Collection 9FIFTY Snapback Hat - Black

4) Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves New Era 2017 NBA Draft Official On Court Collection 9FIFTY Snapback Hat - Blue

5) New York Knicks

New York Knicks New Era 2017 NBA Draft Official On Court Collection 9FIFTY Snapback Hat - Blue

2017 NBA Mock Draft

2017 NBA Mock Draft

It’s that time of the year again, the NBA Draft. The time of the year when NBA teams put their trust in kids still having to use fake ID’s to get into bars. The time of the year when ESPN analysts constantly say, “Great Pick” or “He will contribute right away” to nearly every pick while half of them end up spending more time picking out their wardrobe before a game than actually playing any minutes 1. It’s also that time of the year when my beloved Timberwolves will likely pass on a guy only to see him become a once-in-a-generation player for the team picking right after them 2.

Let’s forget about that last one and get to the moment we’ve all been waiting for 3, the NBA mock draft. Unlike many of the other 3,405 mock drafts on the Internet this will be a little different. Instead of predicting where I think each player will be picked, I will instead make a pick based off what the team picking should do. It’s not crazy and out of this world but it’s the way I’ll do it.

This year’s draft class is an interesting group. Some say this draft is the deepest since 2003, which saw LeBron go 1, Darko go 2 4, the Miami Heat go back and forth between drafting Dwyane Wade or Chris Kaman, and the T-wolves drafting Ndudi Ebi, a guy who has had his name mispronounced more times than the points he scored in the NBA 5. Even though many are saying how talented this draft class is, I still feel this class received less hype than the 2014 NBA draft. I frankly think it’s a great class to find you’re second or third best player for a championship team. It’s not like the 2015 draft, which had 3 players you could win a championship with as your best player: KAT, Porzingis, and Devin Booker. It’s still a good draft that I think will produce a few all-stars, but it all matters on where they end up. Let’s begin then.

1) Philadelphia 76ers: Markelle Fultz

            The 6’5” guard from Washington is whom the Sixers should take first. The thing that jumps out most when watching him is that he is just a complete basketball player. He doesn’t need the ball every possession, he can post up down low, he can stand in corner and shoot threes, he can facilitate. Many of the prospects in this draft only fit certain roles. Not Fultz, the man can do it all. Of all things he does, his ability to change speeds is the one that jumps out to me. He never seems to be in a rush and he understands the advantage of slowing down at a certain moment only to speed past the defender when the time is right. It’s a unique trait that not many prospects can do and at the level he does it at.

The only knock people have on Fultz is that his Washington team was horrendous this year. The reason I think this was the case is that his team lost two guys to the draft, Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss, and even with those guys they were only 4 games over .500 in the 2015-16 season. Washington hasn’t been relevant since Isaiah Thomas was there, when they won the Pac-12 regular season title. Adding Fultz to a team with Simmons and Embiid will be fun to watch. It will take the pressure off Simmons when it comes to ball handling and open up the floor for Embiid. I see this pick helping the Sixers become a legitimate playoff contender this upcoming year.

2) Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball

            Lavar Ball 6 gets his wish and his son goes to the Lake Show. I truly believe that Lonzo Ball is the best prospect in this draft. His passing and ability to make players better are something no prospect in a while has had the ability to do to this level. Lonzo made TJ Leaf a first round prospect and Bryce Alford shot 45% from the field when he hadn’t shot over 40% his entire career. Even though Lonzo is a quiet guy who doesn’t show much emotion on or off the court, his passing is contagious and it benefits the team in so many ways. In the one year with Lonzo, UCLA went from 67th in the country in PPG to 2nd. You might be wondering why I don’t have the Sixers taking him, the reason is that he doesn’t want to play for them, also I don’t think their style works with him. Lakers have more of a fast-paced, high ball movement style that Lonzo can take to a new level.

The one concern I have for Lonzo is his jumpshot. My concern is different than most people’s concerns for it. I think he has the ability to make 3’s from deep range with it. However he struggles making it off the dribble. The only time he can shoot it off the dribble is going to his left and stepping back. He cannot get it off going to his right and I think if he ever needs to use it for a pull up in midrange, he struggles with it. Unlike other prospects I don’t think it is fixable either. He would have to completely redo his shot, which for a guard in the NBA is nearly impossible to do. In my opinion, he will be stuck shooting deep 3’s and only layups 7 but in my opinion you need to be able to make midrange jump shots in order to keep the defense on its heels. The good thing for Lonzo is that this is not what GM’s are drooling about over him. His passing is what got him here and its what will make him the best prospect in this draft.

3) Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum

            Many, including me, thought he had a real shot at being #1 overall by the time he entered Duke. The year didn’t go as planned and because of it he slid 2 more spots than he would have liked. However, I believe this is a good spot for Tatum as he will look to be the Celtics’ primary wing scorer for years to come. The positives for him are that he is a 6 foot 8 forward who can handle the ball to some extent. He is a sufficient athlete, not one that will jump out the gym however. A lot of people liken his game to Paul Pierce. I can see where the comparison is coming from but I don’t know if Tatum has the “it” factor to himself that Pierce had. I know its hard to tell with guys but I just don’t see it with him.

His main weakness 8 is his defensive consistency. It’s not that he can’t defend, it’s that he doesn’t seem to want to. When I watch him, I get the idea that he is thinking about getting back on offense as quick as possible. He also tends to iso more than I think he should. Lastly, he went to Duke, which has produced only one all-star, Kyrie Irving, during the one-and-done era. In all, I’m not super high on Tatum. I think he has a chance to be good but I see more Rudy Gay than Paul Pierce in him. I just believe the Celtics need more of a scorer in Tatum rather than Jaylen Brown 2.0 in Josh Jackson.

4) Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson

            Recently, Josh’s stock has fallen cause of his off the court issues. Frankly, I don’t think they’re that big of a deal. He was simply backing up his teammate 9 and I have never heard a bad word about the kid. All you hear is how hard he works. Man does the kid work! I watched nearly every KU game this year 10 and I don’t think I saw a more determined to win prospect in this draft. His competiveness level is an all-time high. He has great court vision; I wouldn’t say he is an elite passer as I have seen him make bad passes when he hurries them. However he always seems to know where everyone is when he is attacking the rim. This year he had to guard some 4’s as KU went small ball. I saw him singlehandedly beat Baylor on the defensive end by blocking shots down low on guys 3 to 4 inches taller than him. When they played Michigan State 11 he went off for 23 and blew the doors off Michigan State.

The only knock people have on him is his jump shot. I agree that it needs some work but I think with a few tweaks it can become good. He has a little hitch in it that makes it look odd, but I think it can be worked on. The sad thing was that when he made a 3 this year, you felt shocked, unlike most prospects on this list. The guy has such a competitive edge to him that I think he will work to fix it. But right now, all Phoenix would need from him is to shut down the best guy on the other team and maybe play small ball 4 for them. A lineup of Bledsoe, Booker, Chriss and Jackson will be fun to watch, let’s just hope they stay together for a while.

5) Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox

            The fastest man in the draft goes to the fastest team 12. There has been some debate before the draft on whether Fox or Ball is a better prospect. Some people point to Fox’s game in the Sweet Sixteen to prove it, a game where Kentucky won and Fox went off for 39 points, as the reason to take Fox over Ball. I disagree with this. In the 2005 National Championship Game, Ty Lawson’s UNC Tar Heels beat Deron Williams’ Illinois Illini. If the Utah Jazz used the simple criteria of Lawson’s team beat Williams’ team as the deciding factor for the pick, they would have taken Lawson and the rest would be history 13.

The thing I like about Fox is his speed, his insane “quick” hops, his defensive ability, his floater game, and the fact that he is a lefty. The things I don’t like are his shot from 3, 24% from 3, the fake crying he did after he lost to UNC to boost his stock 14, and the fact that he wore his hair in a bun during some time during the SEC schedule that actually made him look like a girl. Still, I like him overall as a prospect. A guy this athletic is too good to pass up. If he can figure out his jumper, the dude could be an every year all-star. If not he’ll be the athletic guard that will be fun to watch but will end up hurting his team in the playoffs.

6) Orlando Magic: Malik Monk

            Cut to John Calipari clapping and smiling has his “son” 15 has been selected 6th overall, higher than most thought. I don’t usually like to reach for players but this one is a must. Monk fills a huge hole for the Magic in shooting. Last year, the Magic were 29th in the NBA in 3 point shooting. With Monk they should be able to move up the ranks a little bit in that category. Like Lonzo Ball with passing, Monk’s sheer ability to score is why I have him getting drafted so high. He is a supreme athlete with a 40 plus vertical, something you don’t see from kids with such a sweet shooting stroke.

The Magic have too many bigs on their roster. Monk is a necessary pick for the Magic as they need more guards. During the season, Monk will be able to take over and maybe put up something similar to the 47-point outburst he had against the eventual national champs, UNC, in Las Vegas. In all, this pick will help the Magic overall. I believe Monk could one day be an all-star and I can’t wait for when he goes off for 60 in a game.

7) Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac

            The man with the Mohawk (which would make him 7 foot 4) gets picked to go to the Timberwolves. I like this spot for him, he kind of played a “role player” role for FSU and will be able to do the same for the Wolves. The guy reminds me of poor man’s Kevin Durant, unlike Durant, Isaac isn’t afraid to list his real height. The guy has the ability to hit the outside shot, he can run the floor extremely well for his size, and can legitimately defend on the perimeter. For a team coached by a defensive guru, he will fit right in. He will be able to take the load off of Towns on the defensive side of the ball. He is also not a bad rebounder either 16.

Small thing I found interesting when I watched one of his games. When he was getting interviewed after the game, all of his teammates came over to mess with him. It wasn’t in a mean way but in a “this is our guy” way. That says a lot about a team with veteran talent. This kid is a good enough kid that they don’t feel he is standoffish since he is going in the lottery.

His only weakness is that he isn’t a polished player. Everything in his game needs to be fine-tuned. But if that is your only weakness, this kid has a chance to be special. He will fit in perfectly for the Wolves, can’t wait to be disappointed!

 8) New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina

            Congratulations Knicks fans, since you picked right after the Wolves, you will now have a transcendent talent that will change the way basketball is played… Hope you enjoy! I have the Knicks select the 6’5” point guard out of France. For this pick it came down to Dennis Smith or France 17. I chose France for a few reasons. First, I was amazed with his defense. The kid tried on every possession relentlessly to not let the guy he was guarding score. Second, he is taller and longer than Smith is. Lastly, when I watch him I see the potential of something good. When I watch Smith, I see him becoming a future overweight PG who moves around a lot 18. I think this kid could become a really good shooter and a future defensive all-nba first teamer. If he can better his point guard skill he could become a good player in the future.

9) Dallas Mavericks: Justin Jackson

I have Justin Jackson going higher than most people. I think the kid will be a very good NBA player. He has great size and length, excellent defensive ability, nice touch around the rim, and he just found his stroke this past year from 3. The thing that excites me about him are two things. First I think he has the ability to play multiple positions. He can play the 2-guard and just shoot threes. He could play the 3 and slash and knock down floaters. He could also play the small ball 4. He can guard 1 through 4 on the court as well. The second thing I like about him is he seems like a great kid who does whatever it takes to win. He came back for his junior year after the heartbreaking loss in the Title game and really improved his game. I really like this kid and I think he will have a 15-year career.

10) Sacramento Kings: Zach Collins

This is the year of the white power forwards people 19. This draft has TJ Leaf, Zach Collins and Lauri Markkanen. Of the 3, Collins is my guy. He is a legit 7 footer who can play D, rebound, and has a nice shooting stroke. The one thing that bothers me is that he fouls a lot. He fouled out in the National Championship game, which I think lost Gonzaga the title. When he gets to the NBA guys are going to go at him to make sure he fouls out. I don’t think he has a good post up game but with his shooting ability it wont matter. I feel as if he will be a good fit in Sacramento. He can play alongside Cauley-Stein and Hield, and fit in anywhere on the floor. I dont think he’ll ever be an all-star but he will be a nice fit for Sacramento.

11) Charlotte Hornets: Donovan Mitchell

I like Donovan Mitchell a lot. He is one of the few guys I have watched for Louisville that actually seems like he can score. I think he has the ability to be a knockdown shooter in the NBA. When watching him, his athleticism is what jumps out at you. He is only 6’3” so he is undersized but he makes up for it in many ways. When I looked at the Hornets roster, it looked like their starting lineup was filled. I decided that they could use a player to come off the bench and ignite something. Mitchell will be able to guard 1 through 3’s on the court and I think his ability to score will help him be a great pro. I see him being one of those guys everyone wants by the time he gets into free agency later in his career.

12) Detroit Pistons: Lauri Markkanen

This is the part of the draft where I start drafting guys I’m not big fans of for teams solely because of their potential. In this case, Markkanen is someone who fell a little in the draft and is a valuable pick at 12. I think he can fit in well for Detroit. He is a 7 footer who can stretch the floor. The problem with him is that he cannot rebound or defend. However, when you have Andre Drummond, who does both of those things at an extremely high level, you can pick a guy who just can score. Markkanen will be able to open up the lanes for the other guys on the team and Detroit can maybe get back to playing “8th seed in the east” basketball.

13) Detroit Nuggets: Dennis Smith Jr.

            I’m not a big fan of Dennis Smith. NC State, a team who usually has good seasons, was awful. He got his coach fired midway through the year 20. Lastly, I have this weird vibe that he doesn’t care that much. The reason I have the Nuggets pick him is that he fell so far in the draft, it becomes a must to take him. Since Emmanuel Mudiay didn’t play well this past year, I think it is time for Denver to look for someone new to take over the Point Guard position. That man is Smith. When watching Smith, I see a 6’3” Nate Robinson. He has the ability to get to the hole and he has great leaping ability. However, he doesn’t shoot the ball well and he is a below average defender who seems to forget his assignment a lot. I think he could fit well with Jokic because he is athletic enough to get open for his passes. Denver also has lots of shooters that can make up for Smith’s inability to shoot. It’s not a great pick in my opinion but it could work out in the long run.

14) Miami Heat: TJ Leaf

            I like TJ Leaf a lot. I think he has the ability to be a really good pro. He can rebound and defend well. He was the leading scorer on the #1 offensive team in the country, UCLA. When UCLA played Kentucky the first time, he was the best player on the floor. He grabbed offensive rebounds and even left Calipari stunned that a white guy could do this. I don’t think he is a great shooter from deep, I think he could have a nice midrange game though. He seems to get injured a lot, missed a couple games at UCLA this year. However, he is a great athlete who I think could be a great player off the bench for the Heat next year.

 

This ends my 2017 NBA Mock Draft. I decided to only do the lottery because I feel that after the lottery it’s hard to predict and pick players. Most of the time these lottery players need to make an impact right away unlike the others in the draft. The NBA Draft should be a good one, like usual, and I expect the Kings will do their best to screw it up. Once the draft is over I will recap the picks and trades. I will discuss who had the best draft and who had the worst draft. I will discuss, which player has the best situation and worst situation. I will also discuss the best moments of the draft. I am signing off now, see ya soon.

Welcome to my sports blog

Hello everyone that is reading this 1. This is the little introduction piece I am writing for my blog. It’s just a way for me to explain myself a little bit so you can better understand where I am coming from when I write my blogs. The main reason I decided to start a blog is that I love talking about sports and the stats that revolve around it. I’m a huge stat guy when I write, however I don’t totally understand analytics fully yet so I will use the simple stats instead. I mainly will write about college basketball and NBA, but I will also touch on football and baseball here and there.

My blogs will cover the entirety of a sport in most cases. However there will be times when I just talk about my favorite sports teams if something good or bad happens to them 2. For example, I will be going to the Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings game in October. I will more than likely write a blog about that game from the perspective I have in the stadium.

My blogs will also not be entirely serious. I will try to throw in some humor here and there. I find that some of my favorite sports writers, Bill Simmons and Mark Titus, do that so well that it makes me want to come back for more. Regarding Bill Simmons, he is my main inspiration for this. I became a huge fan of Grantland in 2013 and have been following him ever since. If it weren’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be doing this.

I will probably write one or two blogs a week. There is no set schedule. I will try to update the readers on when a new piece comes out over twitter. You can follow me on twitter for my commentary on certain issues and sports.

I am excited to get this started and hope all you enjoy it!