Saturday, May 23, 2015

NBA Draft: Early Thoughts on Top Five

Early thoughts on the NBA draft.
  • Wolves have been directionless for years, drafting guys that didn't fit, signing players who made no sense. But a young trio of Towns-Wiggins-Lavine makes a lot of sense and finally gives Minny some direction. Along with vets like Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, and Kevin Garnett, if these young guys play to their potential, Minny should be much more competitive next season
  • Lakers are fortunate to have the luxary of picking whichever big man the Wolves do not choose. The #2 pick will be paired with Julius Randle who missed his entire rookie season with a broken leg. It will be interesting to see who the Lakers can lure to LA to absorb all that cap space. 
  • Philly had no use for a top two pick since the two best players are centers and the Sixers have used their last two firsts on Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel. Those two pair with one of the PGs - D'angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay puts Philly in a position to succeed in the future. They'll still be a year or two competing for a playoff spot, but at least the nucleus and core would be in place...until they trade these guys away for first round picks.
  • The Knicks have quite a few options. The preferred choice is probably to trade this pick, but the question becomes who wants Mudiay/Russell, Cauley-Stein, Portzingis, or Winslow enough to part with a star player to move up? If the Knicks keep it they can take the PG that Philly doesn't take (Mudiay most likely) or Cauley-Stein, given Phil Jackson's affinity for big men.
  • With the top two big men and PGs off the board, that shouldn't worry the Magic given the pressence of Nik Vucevic and Elfrid Payton. Orlando could use some wing pay and Justice Winslow, Kristaps Porzingis, or Mario Hezonja could all be in play here.
  • Pre-draft workouts are going to be so important to seeing which player goes where. A lot of guys in the mid-teens - early 20s range are similar type players and it will be important for these individuals to separate themselves. After Myles Turner, Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, and Stanley Johnson, there will be a large glut of players looking to be drafted -
    • Trey Lyles, Bobby Portis, Kelly Oubre, Cliff Alexander, Jerrell Martin, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Kevon Looney, Montrezl Harrell, Christian Wood

Friday, May 22, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football: Rookie Running Backs

 By Michael Schneid

Now that the NFL draft has come and gone and the off-season is coming to a close, let's take a look at the rookie running backs in 2015.

1. Melvin Gordon, Chargers
Despite being the second RB drafted, Gordon should be the first rookie running back taken in fantasy drafts.

2. Tevin Coleman, Falcons
Devonta Freeman is a change of pace back and Coleman will have very little competition to win the starting job. Falcons need more balance to take pressure off of Matt Ryan

3. TJ Yeldon, Jaguars
Head coach Gus Bradley has been wanting to commit to the run since being in Jacksonville and now finally has a quality running back to run his gameplan.

4. David Cobb, Titans
Cobb is the bruising back the Titans needed, to compliment Bishop Sankey.Even if Sankey improves in his sophomore season, Cobb should be the goal-line back.

5. Ameer Abdullah, Lions
Abdullah is a rich man's Theo Riddick and Reggie Bush. He will compliment Joique Bell well and can be the recieving back the Lions lacked in 2014.

*Todd Gurley, Rams
Don't expect Gurley to make much of an impact in 2015, but if you are in a keeper league, consider Gurley with a late round pick to stash for 2016.

Motley Musings - Friday 5/22

By Michael Schneid

  • Warriors assistant and former Suns head coach Alvin Gentry, reportedly wants the Pelicans job. Yeah, so do I. Pelicans made the playoffs and have Anthony Davis, one of the five best players in the NBA. Who wouldn't want that job?
  • What if the Thunder kept James Harden and had him Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant? Would OKC have won the last 5 championships? Or would Harden not have developed into the player he is today? 
  • The Knicks should consider drafting Willie Cauley-Stein over whichever PG Philly does not draft. PGs are available in free agency and centers are hard to come by 
  • Despite working out a glut of random veterans, the Cowboys are better off rolling the dice with Joseph Randle as their lead running back in 2015 with Darren McFadden splitting carries
  • There could be as many as a half-dozen quarterbacks drafted in the first or second round of the 2016 NFL draft. 

NBA Mock Draft

By Michael Schneid

Updated: 5/21

1. Wolves - Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky
2. Lakers - Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke
3. 76ers - D'Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State
4. Knicks - Willie Cauley-Stein
5. Magic - Justice Winslow, F, Duke 
6. Kings - Emmanuel Mudiay, G, Congo
7. Nuggets - Kristaps Porzingis, F, Latvia
8. Pistons - Stanley Johnson, F, Arizona
9. Hornets -Devin Booker, G, Kentucky
10. Heat - Myles Turner, F, Texas
11. Pacers - Frank Kaminsky, F, Wisconsin
12. Jazz - Bobby Portis, F, Arkansas
13. Suns - Sam Dekker, F, Wisconsin
14. Thunder - Montrezl Harrell, F, Louisville
15. Celtics -Trey Lyles, F, Kentucky
16. Hawks (via Bklyn) - Kelly Oubre, F, Kansas
17. Bucks - Kevon Looney, F, UCLA
18. Rockets (via NOLA) - Cameron Payne, PG, Murray St
19. Wizards - Jerrell Martin, F, LSU
20. Raptors - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, F, Arizona
21. Mavs -Tyus Jones, G, Duke
22. Bulls - Rashad Vaughn, G, UNLV
23. Blazers - Justin Anderson, F, Virginia
24. Cavs - RJ Hunter, G, Georgia State
25. Grizzlies - Delon Wright, G, Utah
26. Spurs - Mario Hezonja, G, Croatia
27. Lakers (via Rockets) - Jerian Grant, G, Notre Dame
28. Celtics - Christian Wood, F, UNLV
29. Nets (via Hawks) - Cliff Alexander, F, Kansas
30. Warriors - JP Tokoto, G/F, UNC

Saturday, May 16, 2015

NBA Predictions

Predicting the next few NBA months

By Michael Schneid

Paul Pierce signs 1 year deal with Celtics
Pierce can provide the same veteran leadership he gave the Wizards this season and gets to end his career where he started it, in Boston.

Nets-Hornets swap shooting guards
There would have to be more to this trade because of the salaries, but the Hornets would acquire Joe Johnson, in the final year of his contract, and the Nets get local product, Lance Stephenson

Pelicans hire Tom Thibedau
This seems to be the direction this is heading. Thibs is done in Chicago and New Orleans is waiting to offer him however much he wants to coach Anthony Davis. 

Bulls sign Jimmy Butler to max contract

Knicks sign Greg Monroe and Wesley Matthews
New York will go after the big names but settle for some middle-tiered guys looking to break out. These wouldn't be bad moves and would put the Knicks back in the right direction.

Lakers sign Kevin Love
Love returns home to LA. Reports were he didn't enjoy living in Cleveland and also didnt like being, at times, third fiddle to Lebron and Kyrie Irving. Love will be the face of LA after Kobe Bryant departs. 

Thunder acquire Joakim Noah
Noah reunites with his college coach, Billy Donovan, and gives OKC a serious defensive threat down low.

Pacers acquire Rajon Rondo
Indy has long been considered a dark horse interester in Rondo. This would have to be via sign and trade and the Pacers could offer Roy Hibbert or David West to entice the Mavs to do this

Mavs acquire Ty Lawson
It won't take Dallas long to replace Rondo. They'll have to do a similar sign and trade with Denver, but the Nuggets likely won't ask for much to part with their disgruntled PG.

Marc Gasol resigns in Memphis
The lure of San Antonio will intrigue Gasol, but his familiarity and comfort levels in Memphis will keep him with the Grizzlies. That, and the fact that they can offer Gasol more money and years than any other team.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Rasheed Sulaimon Transferring to the University of Maryland

By Ryan Queler

Approximately one month after they won a huge recruiting battle en route to landing five-star recruit Diamond Stone, the Maryland Terrapins added another potential NBA prospect to their roster, this time, familiar foe Rasheed Sulaimon.

On Monday, Sulaimon tweeted to his followers, “Excited for he opportunity to be a part of something special and bigger than myself!!!! Hello #TerpsNation!

In his press release he had the following to say: “I am extremely grateful to the University of Maryland and coach Turgeon for this opportunity to further my education and continue to play the game I love.”

Sulaimon will spend his senior year in College Park, after playing his first three years for the Terps’ former ACC archrival, the Duke Blue Devils. He was taken off the roster in January, after coach Mike Krzyzewski claimed that he “has been unable to consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program.”

The accusation of Sulaimon adds to an already feared lineup and potential number one preseason ranking for the Terrapins, according to ESPN analyst Jeff Goodman.

“The addition of Sulaimon gives Maryland one of the best 1-2 punches with him and Melo Trimble running the backcourt. He also makes the Terps a much deeper team, allowing Nickens to come off the bench,” said Alex Ashkinos, a student at the University of Maryland.

Coach Mark Turgeon seemed confident that his program will be able to offer a new home in College Park where Sulaimon can have success both on and off the court, unlike in Duke.

“We did our due diligence. We were extremely thorough and talked to a lot of people and vetted the entire situation. I’ve known Rasheed and his family since he was 13, and I believe in him. There’s a trust factor, and we’ve had a strong relationship.”

The 6-foot-5 shooting guard chose Maryland over other rival schools, but not before Maryland did a thorough investigation into accusations which stemmed from the Duke University newspaper, The Chronicle, stating two instances of sexual assault against him. Sulaimon has declared his innocence and Duke’s lack of evidence in the past, and Athletic Director Kevin Anderson, University of Maryland President Wallace Loh, and coach Mark Turgeon came to the conclusion that they were willing to offer him a second chance in his final year of eligibility at Maryland.

“Hopefully this addition influences the NCAA to schedule Maryland and Duke in the Big Ten vs. ACC challenge next year. Sulaimon’s move to Maryland can only add fury to one of the game’s best rivalries, especially when both teams are expected to be top 5 in the pre-season polls next year. This could rejuvenate a rivalry that Duke has dominated in the past,” said Sam Feitel, another student at the University of Maryland.

Maryland and Duke have yet to face each other since the Terps left the ACC conference a year ago.

Sulaimon, who plans to graduate Duke in August, is expected to join a lineup of Melo Trimble, Jake Layman, Robert Carter, and Diamond Stone. The Terps were expected to go after a big name transfer to help fill the void of Dez Wells who will be entering the NBA draft.

“He wanted a chance to win at the highest level. He’s a piece that fits what we’re doing here – both personalitywise and on the court. He’ll add leadership. We had other options, but we felt like Rasheed was the best one,” said coach Turgeon.

Alex Rodriguez Hits Homerun No. 661

Alex Rodriguez Hits Homerun No. 661; Passes Willie Mays on Career Homerun List

By Ryan Queler

With one swing of the bat in the third inning of a tied game between the Yankees and Orioles, Alex Rodriguez etched his name into MLB’s history books forever, sending a Chris Tillman changeup into Monument Park en route to his 661st homerun of his historic, yet frequently debated career.

The fans in Yankee Stadium, whom have switched off cheering and booing Rodriguez throughout his entire tenure in pinstripes, stood on their feet to acknowledge A-Rod’s 661st homerun, significant because it places him in sole position of fourth place on MLB’s all-time home run list. Willie Mays, a former MLB legend and Hall of Famer, now sits alone at fifth place, with 660 homeruns.

“A-Rod has faced a lot of negativity throughout his career. As his best days are clearly behind him, I think the Yankees and their fans should embrace and cheer for A-Rod, rather than treat him like an opposing player. If you told me last year that Alex Rodriguez would be leading this Yankees team, I would never have believed you, but that is exactly what is happening right now,” said Spencer Pearl, a lifelong Yankees supporter.

It was only one year ago when Rodriguez was watching baseball games from home, suspended for the entire season due to his steroid use.

“All of it is pretty crazy. A year ago today, I never thought that I would get a curtain call or be hitting in the middle of the lineup for the New York Yankees, helping our team win. Or when I started playing baseball at the Boys and Girls club in Miami when I was 9 years old. I wish my father was around to see this moment,” Rodriguez said.  

Albeit all the steroid allegations, questions about his ego and overpaid contract, 661 homeruns is an unbelievable feat, considering only three players in MLB history have ever hit more: Barry Bonds: 762, Hank Aaron: 755, Babe Ruth: 714.

The Yankees acknowledged the historic homerun, making notice of it on the stadium scoreboard, but the aftermath of the homerun has already begun ongoing debates regarding whether or not he should receive the $6 million bonus for passing Mays, which was written set-in-stone in his contract signed with the Yankees in 2007.

When it was agreed upon in 2007, Rodriguez’s prospective bonuses for breaking certain records were labeled as “marketing agreements,” that the Yankees would pay to promote milestones that he was in reach of.

Written in his massive, 10-year and $275 million contract is the agreement of $30 million of homerun milestone bonuses. Still, the Yankees front office has stated they have no plans to pay A-Rod the bonuses: “We have the right but not the obligation to do something. And that’s it. It’s not ‘you do this, you get that,’” said Brian Cashman, the general manager of the Yankees.

The Yankees do not believe A-Rod and his milestones are no longer a profitable marketing opportunity due to his repeated connections with performance enhancing drugs.

While everyone seems to be focused on whether or not he should receive his bonus, Rodriguez has claimed he has matured from his past litigious ways, and is focused on performing at a level to help the Yankees win games: “I’m just happy to be playing baseball. That’s family business. That’s nowhere near where my energy is these days. My energy is playing the game tonight. Just baseball… “I’ve been in a good place for a while now, and it’s just fun to be playing baseball. I’ve learned my lesson. The old (A-Rod) is gone.”

One baseball fan took a completely different approach to the argument on how to handle the contract bonuses: “donate it,” said Eli Davis, a Baltimore Orioles fan: “I think the best way for A-Rod to improve his image would be for himself and the Yankees to reach an agreement to find an appropriate cause to donate the money to, such as a steroid abuse counseling class.”

As of today, Rodriguez is hitting .240 with 7 homeruns and 19 RBIs, leading the first place American League East Yankees to a 20-12 record.

Leonard Stokes

Leonard Stokes
Cincinnati Bearcats Legend