NBA Mock Draft v2

NBA Mock Draft v2, By Bryce Olds (@ItsBrizz)

 

So, in my last NBA Mock, I did a simulation where I also tried to predict the order as well and I didn’t perfectly predict that, but if you’re interested in seeing how that went, you can view it here. For this mock, I’m gonna try and predict the whole First Round. I’m not sure if this will be the last version, but for now, enjoy my updated Mock Draft.

Pick #1: Zion Williamson, PF, New Orleans Pelicans.

I think this one is just painfully obvious, so I won’t take too much of your time on this one, but with all the AD rumors I’m not sure what will happen with this pick. Maybe someone else is making this pick, I have no idea, all I know is that this pick will be Zion Williamson.

Pick #2: Ja Morant, PG, Memphis Grizzlies

This one is also pretty obvious to me, and it’s saddening. It sucks that such an exciting player and great talent is being forced to play in Memphis. I wish him the best and I think he’ll do well but the poor kid is gonna have a hard time getting his name out.

Pick #3: R.J. Barrett, SG/SF, New York Knicks

I don’t know what is going to happen to this pick or who’s going to make it, but I’m confident that R.J. will be the third pick in the draft. If he does end up with the Knicks, I’ll be very happy with it. I know it isn’t Zion but this kid can play and loves the spotlight, two things you need to have if you’re gonna play in the city of New York.

Pick #4: Cam Reddish, SG/SF, Los Angeles Lakers

Again, I can see this pick being moved as well. But, if the Lakers make this pick, I think they go with Cam Reddish. Interestingly enough, I had the Lakers taking Reddish in my original mock as well, just at 10th overall and not fourth. But hey, Cam is a great talent and I can see them selecting him at fourth.

Pick 5#: Jarrett Culver, SG/SF/PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

I think Culver is going to be a really solid player on both sides of the ball in the NBA, so the Cavs pairing him with the young Sexton will really help the Cavs start to reform their team after the end of the LeBron era. Culver won’t be the LeBron replacement, but he could be a solid piece on an upcoming team.

Pick #6: Darius Garland, PG, Phoenix Suns

I think the Suns make the move they have to here, they have messed up on so many draft picks that they need to take one that works, and I think Garland is their guy. I think he is for sure the second-best point guard in this draft behind Morant, and the Suns should keep this pick and take him. I’ve seen rumors that the Suns want to move this pick for a veteran guy, and I think that is an incredibly stupid idea and they should just take who they get at six and continue the rebuild.

Pick #7: De’Andre Hunter, SF/PF, Chicago Bulls 

The Bulls got it rough this draft, like the Suns. Being the third worst team in the NBA and getting the seventh pick is a nightmare, but getting Hunter is not a bad consolation prize. Hunter is kind of like Culver, but a little less offensively skilled. I think he’ll fit the gritty nature of the Bulls and help them be a bit more competitive next season.  

Pick #8: Jaxson Hayes, C, Atlanta Hawks

I know the Hawks have a young center in Dedmon, but you can’t pass up on having a trio of Trae Young, John Collins, and Jaxson Hayes if you’re the Hawks. That young trio is just exciting to even think about, think of all the fancy assists and lobs Trae could throw to Hayes and Collins. I think this is the move the Hawks have to make if it’s possible.

Pick #9: Sekou Doumbouya, PF, Washington Wizards

The Wizards need something to go their way, between the Wall injury, Beal being the center of like 45 different trade scenarios, they need something of their own. I think Doumbouya is something the Wizards can be happy with as they try to build their future after the mess of contracts they have on their roster.

Pick #10: Nassir Little, SF, Atlanta Hawks

I think the Hawks making a lineup of Trae, Huerter, Little, Collins, and Hayes is what they absolutely need to do if it’s possible. That is such a powerful, young lineup that I would be very interested in seeing grow in the future.

Pick #11: Coby White, SG/PG, Minnesota Timberwolves

I don’t think D Rose and Jeff Teague are the answer at PG for the Timberwolves, so I think they take the last first-round worthy PG left. White is a fun player, and I think pairing him with KAT will be a deadly duo and can help Minnesota start being a more competitive team again.

Pick #12: Brandon Clarke, PF, Charlotte Hornets

Clarke is a solid player and is going to help out any team he gets drafted by. Now if the Hornets lose Kemba it’s going to be a sad, hurting offseason for them, but getting a solid draft pick in Clarke would help ease that pain and give Hornets fans a reason to be optimistic about the future.

Pick #13: Romeo Langford, SG/SF, Miami Heat

With D Wade retiring, and the having only three other true guards on the roster, the Heat are in desperate need of a guard. Langford would be a good fit in Miami, I think he has the attitude and flare Miami fans love and they’ll come to like him in South Beach.

Pick #14: Bol Bol, C, Boston Celtics

This is going to be an interesting offseason for the Celtics, they could end up with anything from a Kyrie and AD pairing to a team led by Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. But based on the team right now, they need a new center to come off the bench and maybe even replace Horford once he’s done. With Hayes off the board, I think letting Bol recover and get healthy for the future would be their best option.

Pick #15: Keldon Johnson, SG/SF, Detroit Pistons

This was probably the hardest pick to map out, the Pistons need a PG to replace Jackson, but all the good first round guards are off the board. So, with that in mind, I think they take Keldon. Keldon is honestly a great fit for the Pistons, he is a gritty guy who can get a bucket when you need him to and plays great defense, so I think the motor city will come to like him if he ends up there.

Pick #16:  Kevin Porter Jr. SG, Orlando Magic

Porter Jr. I think is an underrated player in this draft, and he would be a great piece for the Magic. I know that they need a PG but Porter Jr. is better than any PG available at this point and with Fournier aging, it’s time to get a new look at the SG spot.

Pick #17: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Atlanta Hawks

So while I was writing this, this pick got traded from Brooklyn to Atlanta. In that deal was also Taurean Prince, so the Nassir Little pick makes even more sense. Originally I had Rui Hachimura going at this pick to Brooklyn, but because this is now Atlanta’s pick, they go a different route and select Walker. Walker is a great scoring SG and could maybe even be a depth piece for them as they have a solid lineup already.

Pick #18: Rui Hachimura, PF, Indiana Pacers

Instead of Brooklyn taking him, the Pacers decide to take the best available player in the draft in Hachimura. They don’t really need a PF per se, but I think if Rui did slip this far it would be impossible to pass up on him.

Pick #19: PJ Washington, PF, San Antonio Spurs

Washington is a solid player and will be for a long time in the NBA. With Pop’s guidance, he can really help PJ turn into a massive threat in this league and be the next great Spur.  

Pick #20: KZ Okpala, SF, Boston Celtics

The Celtics are in need of some help off the bench since it looks like Morris will be leaving, so KZ makes a lot of sense for them. KZ is a tough player and a good talent and should be able to get some solid production for the C’s off the bench.

Pick #21: Tyler Herro, SG, Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder need help, it’s pretty obvious. I think a guy like Herro can come in and really help take the pressure off of Westbrook and PG when it comes to scoring, even if they wouldn’t want to start him he would be great off the bench and would provide a nice spark.  

Pick #22: Ty Jerome, PG/SG, Boston Celtics

The Celtics may be losing Kyrie and Rozier this offseason, so if they don’t take a player that can play the PG spot in this draft I’d be stunned. At Pick 22, it may be a little bit of a stretch but Jerome can be a nice piece to have and can start if needed.

Pick #23: Carsen Edwards, PG, Utah Jazz

I know that is maybe a stretch, but hear me out. Edwards lit up the NCAA Tourney out of nowhere this March and I think a lot of teams slid him up on their boards because of this. Utah needs it’s next PG, as Rubio seems to be out, it makes sense for both sides.

Pick #24: Cameron Johnson, PF, Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers as of right now are pretty stacked in their starting five, so adding the best available player in the draft to their rotation can only help things. Johnson is capable of adding a lot to this team whether he’s starting or coming in as a rotation player.

Pick #25: Darius Bazley, SF, Portland Trail Blazers

The Blazers need a new SF, there’s no question about it, and I think Bazley is their guy. He’s a solid prospect that has been impressing while being independent. The Blazers like the hard nose, blue-collar guys and Bazley fits the bill perfectly.

Pick #26: Mfiondu Kabengele, C, Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs need a lot of things, and a new center that can actually score and is not eating up cap space like its a meal would be nice. Kabengele is a great addition to the Cavs and is probably a steal at 26 overall.  

Pick #27: Luka Samanic, PF, Brooklyn Nets

Samanic is a big man from Croatia that does have a lot of skill and can make an impact at the NBA level. The Nets could have a hidden gem here if he falls to 28.

Pick #28: Luguentz Dort, SG, Golden State Warriors

Dort is a bit of an interesting pick, especially for Golden State, It looks more and more like Finals MVP Iguodala and Shaun Livingston are retiring soon, so the Warriors will need new guards to help fill the rotation, and Dort is a solid pick for that.

Pick #29: Goga Bitadze, C, San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are known for turning picks into something with almost magic, and I can see Goga being one of those picks. He’s a good raw talent and with the work of Pop, he can become a great player in this league.

Pick #30: Grant Williams, PF, Milwaukee Bucks

I can see the Bucks doing a lot with this pick, but Willaims makes the most sense to me. He can come off the bench and be a spark or you can move him into the SF or PF spot and play him alongside Giannis, which is both hard to guard and hard to score on.  

So that wraps up the second edition of my mock, if you enjoyed it you can check out more of my stuff on my twitter @ItsBrizz, or you can complain about something I said people like to do that too.

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Why the Cowboys will have to overpay for Dak Prescott

With technology and social media at an all-time high, the world in sports has evolved. Why am I bringing this up? Well, anybody who goes on Twitter (myself included) seeing sports-related Tweets or posting sports-related Tweets about teams, players, etc. is posting it right there on emotion, most of the time having a “hot take” at that moment.

For those who are saying I’m a hypocrite for pointing this out, well, I have done my share in venting and taking hot takes on Twitter (I try not to, but human emotion does take over).

Why am I bringing this up? Rewind to 2016 when the Dallas Cowboys were the toast of the town, dominating with two young rookies of Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. Elliott was a first round pick by the Boys in the draft, but Dak was drafted in the 4th round as a backup to Tony Romo. Well, we know the story: Romo gets injured and Prescott takes over. And wins game after game after game for the Boys.

The toast on Twitter? Dak Prescott. He did no wrong. He was considered a front-runner for both rookie of the year and MVP. He had a great background story, a sympathetic one, etc. Life was good for the young quarterback. People went “there is no earthly way Romo should return at quarterback given how Dak is playing” But then…things started to change.

Dak’s Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones came out and said he wasn’t sure if Dak should remain the quarterback if and when Romo returns from injury. Nearly a week later, Dallas’s torrid run at 11-1 ended in New York, losing to the Giants. Many on Twitter went after Jones, who made the comments during that week. Other people started to question Dak’s ability to lead the team into the post-season and wondered if Dak was the right man, especially that Romo was on the mend.

Dallas kept Prescott as the quarterback and had homefield throughout the playoffs. They lost to Green Bay at home in a classic battle though Prescott did nothing wrong (more of what Aaron Rodgers was doing was the reason why Dallas lost).

After the season, it was reported Elliott would be suspended due to violating the NFL personal conduct policy. While he appealed his case and played early on, Elliott struggled as did Prescott. When Elliott had to serve his suspension, Prescott and the Cowboys really struggled. They went 3-3 without him, but the three losses were embarrassments, and were ones who were fighting for the playoffs (Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chargers) and the wins were to teams who were pretty much done for with the season (Giants, Raiders, Redskins).

Dallas finished at 9-7, but many wondered if Dak is the right guy for the job.

The next season a healthy and suspension-free Elliott came back. Dak’s numbers however, didn’t show the improvement or growth like some had believed and many questioned his ability to be that guy getting the Cowboys back to the promised land for the first time in 25 years. However, the trade of Amari Cooper helped things for Prescott as he finally got that big time receiver he lacked since Dez Bryant left after 2016. His numbers were stout after the Cowboys traded for Amari Cooper and Dallas won the NFC East for the second time in 3 years. A win over Seattle in the first round, but the Boys fell to the eventual NFC Champion Rams. Many pointed to the fact that Dak did not make the necessary plays as Los Angeles stopped Elliott on the run and made him pass. Of course, the take is “Dak is not an answer at quarterback and doesn’t deserve any contract extension that he is asking for.”

Which, the extension value? $30 million per year.

Needless to say, the Cowboys are in a bind. Is Dak worth that much in the scheme of things for NFL quarterbacks? No. But we have to realize a key issue here: he is an adequate, if not good quarterback. And in the NFL, you DO NOT let a franchise quarterback go unless you know you have another franchise quarterback right behind. Teams who haven’t that franchise quarterback are the teams who often languish at the bottom (see the Cleveland Browns pre-Baker Mayfield, Detroit Lions pre-Matthew Stafford, Buffalo Bills). Sure, they may have a year or two with some backup quarterback who has a nice run, but they still don’t sniff a post-season berth or they remain near the bottom and will continue to be that way. Prescott is at anything a constant for Dallas. Yes, he isn’t going to put up those massive numbers like a Brady, Brees, or Rodgers. But he doesn’t need to. He has to make sure he plays smart (which overall he does), and makes those needed plays to win games (still has SOME work there, but overall, he’s not the worst at it).

Again, I don’t think Dak is worth $30 million, but to Dallas, they may have to pay him that regardless. Not having a franchise quarterback really destabilizes a franchise. And in Big D where the owner is desperately wanting to return to the glory years of the early/mid 90’s, it is not great to have massive question marks at the one position you don’t need to have the question mark.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Kyrie and the Knicks, by @ItsBrizz

Kyrie and the Knicks, by Bryce Olds (@ItsBrizz)

The Celtics losing in the second round in five has caused some issues in the organization, particularly with Kyrie. Ever since the season has started, speculation about him leaving has seemed to be all people have talked about, the media, the fans, and even some players. Personally, I think he will leave this summer, but if he going to New York or LA, that’s a tougher question. As a Knicks fan, I feel very indifferent about Kyrie.

My first problem with Kyrie is, honestly, I don’t trust him. Kyrie stated during the preseason to all Celtics fans that he’d love to resign and stay “if they’d have him.” Well, everything he did after that contradicted that statement drastically, saying things like “ask me July 1st” or “I’m not gonna miss this shit when I’m done playing.” Most of his quotes have been backpedaling on his statement about resigning, which as a Knicks fan I love, but as someone who might have to have this guy on my team, it makes me nervous.

My second problem with Kyrie is, he did not seem like he even wanted to lead the Celtics. Again, as a Knicks fan, I loved that Kyrie hated being the guy in Boston, but it makes me wonder, what if the Knicks don’t get him a co-star? I mean don’t get me wrong, if the Knicks do get Kevin Durant, I’ll feel a lot better with Kyrie being the wingman, but say they don’t get KD and they end up with another free agent who maybe is good but isn’t better than Kyrie and he has to be the guy again? Kyrie couldn’t lead the Celtics past the second round with a good group, I can’t even imagine the nightmare of Kyrie being the leader of a 17 win team with almost strictly young guys.  

My last problem isn’t exactly a problem with Kyrie, but it’s a problem none the less, the New York media. Kyrie was furious with the Boston media all last season, and while Boston media can get annoying, New York media takes that up about 10 notches. I don’t know how he’d react to the media in New York, and if he is the leader of this Knicks team, he might want out as fast as he wanted in.  

Kyrie is an incredible player, someone who’d bring exciting basketball back to the Garden. I think he has been a little unfairly treated by the media and wasn’t used to being the leader, but what I said still remains true. If the Knicks can’t get a guy like KD, Kawhi, or even Jimmy Butler, I would stay very, VERY far away from Kyrie.  

Thanks for reading my piece, if you enjoyed and want more of my work, you can check out my articles on my twitter @ItsBrizz.   

 

Sources:

Kyrie’s Quotes: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/celtics/2019/02/01/kyrie-irving-backpedals-boston-celtics-commitment/2743445002/  

https://larrybrownsports.com/basketball/kyrie-irving-interesting-quote-walking-into-arena/486464

 

NFL Super Bowl Odds

As the NFL Draft wrapped up in Nashville on Saturday evening, big football fans are already excited for the upcoming season. We are about 4 months away from regular season NFL football, and the clock continues to tick. With the offseason nearly complete, experts are starting to map out their contenders and pretenders before the season. Obviously, not everyone will be right, and there is bound to be a team with high expectations that disappoints. But I’m going to take my crack at picking six teams who I believe are safe bets to make a run at the Lombardi Trophy in 2020. After that, I’m going to end by giving you my rankings for the other NFL teams in terms of best to worst bets and compare them to some data gathered from this article on early Super Bowl 54 odds. Let’s get into it!

 

The Favorite: New England Patriots

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MyTop SportsBook Odds: +700 (co-favorite)

 

You cannot bet against Tom Brady and the Pats until they prove otherwise. The dynasty is coming off of yet another Super Bowl Title and the G.O.A.T. is looking to add another ring. The Patriots had an interesting offseason, losing Trey Flowers, Cordarrelle Patterson, Trent Brown, and a few others. But they also acquired Michael Bennett via trade and brought back Phillip Dorsett, Jason McCourty, and special teams Star Matthew Slater. At 7-1 odds (according to MTSB), there really is nothing to lose by betting on Bill Belichick’s boys in Foxboro.

 

The Team To Avoid: Kansas City Chiefs

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MyTop SportsBook Odds: +700 (co-favorite)

 

I truly think Patrick Mahomes is the best player in football right now, but I don’t know how this Chiefs offense will flow without speedy wideout Tyreek Hill, who was huge for them in 2018 and will likely face a long suspension. MyTop SportsBook says it bluntly and straight-forward, right now you shouldn’t bet on the Chiefs, because 7-1 odds are a bad bet with their current franchise State. Obviously, the Chiefs are still a serious contender, but I just can’t list them as my co-favorite alongside New England right now.

 

My Sleeper Team: Atlanta Falcons

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MyTop SportsBook Odds: +3500 (19th best)

 

This is quite honestly a great bet to place down right now, because I think the Falcons will surprise a lot of people this season. They haven’t really been fully healthy as a unit since 2017, and this season marks another shot at redeeming their forgettable Super Bowl loss. With guys like Deion Jones and Devonta Freeman back on the field, Atlanta isn’t a team to sleep on. As long as they have former NFL MVP Matt Ryan tossing the pigskin, they will compete in the NFC South.

 

My Odds:

 

*(These are basically a power rankings list of which teams I’d bet on from highest to lowest.  MyTop SportsBook Odds are in parentheses.)*

 

Patriots (7-1)

Saints (9-1)

Rams (9-1)

Chargers (16-1)

Bears (12-1)

Chiefs (7-1)

Eagles (14-1)

Colts (16-1)

Browns (12-1)

Packers (20-1)

Cowboys (20-1)

Texans (25-1)

Steelers (22-1)

Vikings (22-1)

Seahawks (25-1)

Ravens (30-1)

Falcons (35-1)

Panthers (55-1)

Jaguars (35-1)

49ers (25-1)

Redskins (150-1)

Broncos (60-1)

Titans (70-1)

Raiders (66-1)

Lions (90-1)

Jets (80-1)

Bills (100-1)

Giants (75-1)

Buccaneers (75-1)

Bengals (150-1)

Dolphins (150-1)

Cardinals (100-1)

 

NBA 2018-19 MVP Odds

NBA 2018-2019 MVP Odds, By Bryce Olds (@ItsBrizz)

The 2018-19 NBA Regular Season has come to a close, meaning the debates about MVP are now raging more than ever before. I believe it’s down to two players, James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. These two have had incredible seasons, but there is only one MVP trophy, and I have some odds to determine who it should be.

The last set of NBA MVP odds were unanimous that Giannis Antetokounmpo was the favorite, but online sportsbooks believed the race was closer than those in Vegas. In early April, Bovada gave James Harden a +150 (40%) chance, while BetOnline had Harden at +180 (35.7%). The Westgate Superbook in Vegas, on the other hand, only gave Harden a +300 (25%) shot, while making Giannis a prohibitive -400 (80%) favorite. Whether it’s Bovada or BetOnline all these sportsbooks in this comparison chart are pre-screened to guarantee that they’re safe sites to place bets at, so you can be guaranteed it’s a safe option for NBA MVP or playoff betting.


Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Odds: -100

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I think Giannis is the all-out favorite for the MVP, and he’d get my vote. Harden has had a statistically great season but in terms of team success, Giannis takes it for me. He led the Bucks to a 60-22 season, best in the NBA and looks like his form is keeping up in the playoffs so far.


James Harden’s Odds: +100

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I think Harden’s season has been great, but Giannis’ has just been a touch better. Not to discredit Harden’s performance this year, but Giannis has turned the corner this year and I think he should take home his first MVP. Despite that its illogical to ignore the tremendous season offered up by last year’s MVP. In reality Giannis will all but certainly win this award but Harden did in no doubt give some contention. 


Thanks for reading my first Pro Sports Fandom article, I am excited to join the team and I hope to be adding new content very soon! If you’d like to drop my personal twitter a follow, click here!

 

The Obstructed Big Ten Review-2018

It was a different vibe after last season in the world of the Big Ten. Sure, they had failed to get a team into the Playoff, but the compass was pointing north. Michigan’s recruiting would get them off the snide, Michigan State had just won another 10 games, Penn State was strong, Wisconsin was strong (and many projected them to finally take that step), Purdue and Northwestern were looking to make massive strides as was Minnesota. And Iowa was Iowa (in a good way)

Then the 2018 season happened. Michigan and Ohio State fulfilled their end of the bargain, though for Ohio State, controversy plagued them and they had too many close calls to the weaker squads. Penn State had hiccups along the way. Michigan State and Wisconsin both disappointed. Purdue got off to a slow start as had Northwestern. And Minnesota was up-and-down. And Iowa was Iowa (in a bad way) And what you got was no team for the second straight year making the Playoff from the Big Ten.

So the question now is, can the Big Ten return to being that conference that was a massive threat not just for the Playoff, but a national championship.

In the Big Ten East, it was Ohio State despite all the controversy. However, the Buckeye close calls and the beatdown loss to Purdue really eliminated them from a talk on the Playoff. Michigan’s slow start at Notre Dame probably hindered their shot and their fate was sealed in Columbus where they had no response to the Buckeyes. Penn State’s two home losses to Ohio State and Michigan State deflated their season and the beatdown that was given to them by Michigan set them back. Michigan State’s offensive woes were horrid to the point they nearly collapsed in their final regular season game to Rutgers. Indiana, Maryland, and Rutgers all remained a struggle (though the Terrapins did knock off Texas for the second straight year).

The Big Ten West was a mess. Northwestern won the division at 8-4. Wisconsin, who many had to be a favorite for the title, had issues with the offense and at times defense, and realized the schedule wasn’t as easy as years before fell apart. Iowa never gained consistency nor did Purdue nor Minnesota. Nebraska got off to a very slow start, but turned it up in the second half of the season. And Illinois….um, yeah.

So looking back at my godawful predictions, let’s see what I got right, wrong, and also let’s see what to look ahead on.

Huge turnover rate from the year before, tougher schedule, and issues at quarterback were why I projected Wisconsin to have an off-year and was stunned how others had them as a National Championship contender.

I WAS RIGHT ON: Mostly the Big Ten West, but especially Iowa and Wisconsin. Iowa because while many feel like they are pretty vanilla in terms of how they play football, it isn’t like they rank near the bottom and stink yearly. I had them in 2nd place at 8-4 so voila. Wisconsin I was right on. I didn’t like their schedule. The turnover rate for returning starters was pretty high. Alex Hornibrook is not anyone’s answer (have fun with him Florida State fans) and their schedule was pretty tough compared to years prior. Though to be fair, the losses at home to BYU and Minnesota took me aback.

I WAS WRONG ON: The Big Ten East. I’ll just say that. Thank you Michigan State for crashing and burning. Thank you Rutgers for somehow being able to take a major step backwards. Thank you Penn State (notably James Franklin) for faltering against Ohio State and letting it spoil your season. Thank you Michigan for being dominant in games 2 through 11. Thank you Ohio State for winning by the skin of your teeth. Honorable mention goes to Nebraska for their slow start under Scott Frost.

Haskins did everything he could to have Ohio State win the Big Ten

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State. The one thing that the Buckeyes did right and had it not been for him, Ohio State may have ended up 8-4. Haskins did it all at quarterback for the Buckeyes, which really had been up and down since their national championship run in 2014. He made the needed throws, adjusted, and did all the things in order for the Buckeyes to avoid some disaster losses to Nebraska and Maryland. But when the guy was on fire, he was a Heisman lock. He had some moments, but again, he made the adjustments.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Jim Harbaugh, Michigan. Of course, people will be ridiculing him more in part because of the inability of winning the big game against Ohio State (0-4 now) and how Michigan can’t get over that hump. But this was the first time really that the Wolverines looked like a dominant team under Harbaugh prior to that. The recruits are coming in, and with Urban Meyer not on the sidelines in Columbus, he can really take the Big Ten East.

MOST SURPRISING TEAM: None. Nobody really sneaked up an anyone this year.

Lewerke and Michigan State’s offense was anemic at best in 2018

MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM: Michigan State. The Spartans defense is a top ten defense in the nation. But the offense stepped back to about 50 years ago where they couldn’t pass, couldn’t run, and couldn’t do anything right. Some you can point to the injury to Brian Lewerke, but for only so long. The running game struggled and the special teams were a problem. The hope was with a solid offense to go along with the defense, the Spartans would have been in the mix for the Big Ten title and possibly a playoff. But the offense killed this team.

COACHING CHANGES: Mike Locksley replaces DJ Durkin/Matt Canada at Maryland; Ryan Day replaces Urban Meyer at Ohio State. The big news was Urban Meyer stepped down. Of course there will be debate whether it was Ohio State politely asking him to step aside in light of the controversies that plagued him all season or if Urban really wanted to coach and if his mental state is in question. Anyway…Ryan Day takes over an elite football program and all eyes in Columbus and Buckeye Nation will be on him. If the Buckeyes struggle in 2019 (their schedule isn’t demanding as no power 5 non-conference game happens, and the road game at Michigan is their toughest one right now) and if he can’t beat Michigan, he will be looked at very closely after this year so for him, there’s no “getting accustomed.” It is win or else. Mike Locksley takes over at Maryland again (he was the interim after the Terps fired Randy Edsall and was a meager 1-5), but he went under the tutelage of Nick Saban at Alabama for three seasons including transforming Alabama into an offensive juggernaut. So there is hope perhaps for the Terps with Locksley.

TOP 3 QUESTIONS

Harbaugh vs. Ohio State…..yeesh.

IS IT BOOM OR BUST FOR JIM HARBAUGH? Yes and no. I think yes because he HAS to beat Ohio State now with Urban Meyer gone and the fact the Buckeyes and Michigan State come to Ann Arbor, a place where Harbaugh is 0-4 against both. Next year Michigan’s schedule is VERY favorable of a 12-0/11-1 run (road games at Wisconsin and Penn State are on there, but honestly, I don’t see the Badgers being a threat again nor do I see Penn State look as dominant as they have in the past few seasons). However, while maybe not a Playoff berth will happen, but giving the Wolverines a Big Ten title would also suffice and a return to the Rose Bowl will temporarily satisfy the Maize and Blue faithful. But he has to do something against Ohio State. And it’s not up for debate on that.

IS THERE ANYBODY IN THE BIG TEN WEST THAT CAN LOOK LIKE A MAJOR THREAT TO THE BIG TEN EAST? Nope. Wisconsin showed they were not the legit threat. And until they find something at quarterback and handle a tough road schedule, they cannot be taken seriously. But Michigan, at Ohio State and two interesting road trips to Nebraska and Minnesota (who beat them in Madison this year), and I don’t see the Badgers winning more than 8 or 9 games. Purdue is in a similar situation at quarterback, but if that gets solved, they avoid Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State this year, but three roadies at Penn State, Northwestern, and Wisconsin is going to be tough. Nebraska if the trend continues upward (Ohio State and Wisconsin both are at home), could see the Big Ten Championship game (I said that last year and failed miserably however), but they are a year away at the earliest.

WHO IS ON THE HOTTEST SEAT HEADING INTO 2019? Well probably the obvious is Lovie Smith if Illinois can’t get to a bowl game and given how Smith has now been there for 5 seasons, yep, time is ticking. But also while I don’t think either one is in danger of losing their jobs for next season, both James Franklin (Penn State) and Mark Dantonio (Michigan State) started to get plenty of critics within their own bases. Franklin for not beating any of the Big Ten threats last year (1-5 in the last two seasons against Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State) and Dantonio for having inexplicable futility in some of Michigan State’s losses during the season (home to Northwestern, at Nebraska) and just inept play on offense (3 of the last 4 games the Spartans failed to score a TD and the other game could only muster 14 points to Rutgers…..AT HOME). So both Penn State and Michigan State need rebound years in a big way (of course, both have to travel to Columbus-good luck with that), but people will bicker more if these two teams fail to take that next step.

That’s it for this week.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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76ers Top Pacers

This would be the first game that Joel Embiid would appear in since the last couple of weeks. He scored 18 of his 33 points in the fourth-quarter as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Indiana Pacers 106-89.

Embiid also grabbed 12 rebounds and recorded two steals. He showed in this game why he is one of the best players in the world right now.

Ben Simmons scored 15 points, grabbed four rebounds, recorded six assists, and recorded one steal. Jimmy Butler scored 12 points, grabbed four rebounds, recorded four assists, blocked one shot, and recorded one steal.

Tobias Harris scored 16 points for Philadelphia. He also grabbed eight rebounds, recorded four assists, blocked one shot, and recorded one steal.

The 76ers scored 21 bench points. James Ennis III and Mike Scott each scored eight points off the bench. Ennis III grabbed five rebounds and recorded one steal. Scott grabbed six rebounds, recorded two assists, and recorded two steals.

Philadelphia’s biggest lead in the game was 18 points and Indiana’s biggest lead in the game was 14 points.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 18 points, grabbed five rebounds, recorded two assists, and recorded two steals for the Pacers. Darren Collins scored 14 points, grabbed four rebounds, recorded two assists, and recorded one steal.

Indians scored 37 bench points and Domantas Sabonis scored 10 of them. He also grabbed six rebounds, recorded six assists, and recorded one steal.

The Philadelphia 76ers move into the number three spot in the east and the Indiana Pacers move back to the number four spot in the east, even though both teams have an identical 42-25 record right now.

Philadelphia won the season series against Indiana 3-1. The Pacers next game will be at home against the New York Knicks on Tuesday night. The 76ers next game will be at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

Manny Machado to Padres: Obstructed Thoughts

One of the last remaining free agents in the off-season in Major League Baseball finally has a home.

Manny Machado and the San Diego Padres agreed to a 10-year, $300 million contract, thus presumably spiking the Padres chances of being a major threat in the NL West.

Machado, a 4-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner with Baltimore, hit .297 with 37 HR last year combined with the Orioles and Dodgers while registering an impressive .905 OPS in the process. Many felt like he may be more of an asset to a team than current prized free agent Bryce Harper (primarily for the position on the field). However, some wondered after his comments about not hustling every play would diminish his contract chances. Needless to say, that’s a firm no.

So what are some takes I have on this?

PADRES MADE A GREAT MOVE: I get it: you don’t want to shell out $30 mil per year for the next ten years if your team signed him. However, San Diego is close to just having a sick team with the farm system they have led by Fernando Tatis Jr. (a guy whom my friend says is a can’t miss-to which I won’t really dispute; he’s going to be something else). Also, it has been too long for Padres fans to really get pumped up about the MLB season. There was false hope in 2015 when the Padres signed James Shields and then traded for Justin Upton and Wil Myers. But that failed miserably. But with Machado, Myers, Hunter Renfroe, and Eric Hosmer, it’s now a formidable lineup and if they get Manuel Margot going, it will be very scary. So to me, with everything falling in place in San Diego, this is a sign that the Padres are now a threat in the NL West to the Dodgers.

BRYCE HARPER STILL NOT OUT OF DISCUSSION WITH THE PADRES: If you could only imagine the Padres throwing out that money to Machado, and then they could still get Bryce Harper? It’s possible. Not probable, but possible. I don’t know if a team can invest in TWO $30 million guys for ten years, but stranger things have happened before.

SAN DIEGO IS ONE TEAM WHO CAN AFFORD MACHADO/HARPER WITHOUT MUCH CONSEQUENCE: I think a reason why the Padres signed Machado was because of their standing financially and from a roster standpoint. The big spenders of the Cubs, Red Sox, and Yankees were not even remotely rumored to pick up Machado in part because of their payrolls. The Dodgers did a payroll shift when they traded Kemp, Puig, and Alex Wood to Cincinnati, thus making people believe Harper is going there (and still very well could). And the teams like the Cubs and Yankees will be looking at mega extensions to their young stars such as Kris Bryant, Aaron Judge and so forth. San Diego has a great load of talent in the farm system, but while we could see the Padres start displaying their young guns, they are safe from having to lock down any of their stars in the foreseeable future. That is also why I think the Chicago White Sox have been active trying to get Harper or Machado.

IT WILL BE A FUN YEAR IN SAN DIEGO: Again, the Padres have desperately tried to put out a winner in the last few years but have come up short in a big way. Ever since the team moved to PETCO Park the offense has been a very weak point and people have not taken the Padres seriously. Machado is a great hitter who doesn’t necessarily needs to rake it out all the time. He can hit them in the gaps and elsewhere. Put him with a crew of Hosmer and Myers, and you have a pretty good crew there. It may be another year before we really see how legit San Diego is, but they will be pretty exciting nonetheless.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Bruce Arians Named Head Coach of Buccaneers; Can They Go From Worst to First?

Bruce Arians was hired to be the new head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is 66 years old. Arians will also have a four-year deal and a fifth-year team option, according to a source that told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Bruce Arians retired after the 2017 season with the Arizona Cardinals. One of the reasons why he decided to take this job was because Jason Licht is the general manager for Tampa Bay. He used to work in Arizona’s front office in 2012 as the Director of player personnel and in 2013 as the Vice President of player personnel.

Arians is expected to bring in some interesting names as his assistants. Todd Bowles is expected to be the defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers. He was the head coach for the New York Jets from 2015-2018. Bowles was the defensive coordinator with the Cardinals when Bruce Arians was coaching there.

Harold Goodwin will be the running game coordinator and the offensive line coach. Byron Leftwich will be the passing game coordinator. Leftwich was the Arizona Cardinals Offensive Coordinator after Week 7. Clyde Christensen will be the quarterbacks coach.

With Bruce Arians being hired as the new head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is it possible this football team moves from worst place in the NFC South to first place in the NFC South in 2019?

Tampa Bay will be a much better football team next season with the presence of Arians alone. He will be the alpha male this team needs in the locker room. Bruce Arians will discipline quarterback Jameis Winston really well.

The offense has a lot of talent. They have players like Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, and Cameron Brate. The Buccaneers also have Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones, and Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield, but they might be able to find another running back in the draft or sign someone in free agency. A player like Le’Veon Bell could do the trick for this Tampa Bay team.

The defense has some good personnel like Gerald McCoy, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Lavonte David. They need to draft some more defensive personnel, but Bowles could fix this defensive scheme. Tampa Bay played a 4-3 defensive scheme last season and they could very well switch to a 3-4 defensive scheme for next season.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have seven picks in the NFL Draft. They will own the fifth overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Tampa Bay finished with a 5-11 record for the past two seasons. They haven’t made it to the playoffs since the 2007 season when the Buccaneers finished in first place in the NFC South with a 9-7 record. They lost in the first-round that season against the New York Giants.

Speaking of first place, it won’t be easy for Tampa Bay to jump from worst to first because of the schedule they have to face. Their homes next season will be against the Atlanta Falcons, the Carolina Panthers, the New Orleans Saints, the Arizona Cardinals, the San Francisco 49ers, the Houston Texans, the Indianapolis Colts, and the New York Giants.

Their road games will be against the Atlanta Falcons, the Carolina Panthers, the New Orleans Saints, the Detroit Lions, the Jacksonville Jagaurs, the Tennessee Titans, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Seattle Seahawks.

Five of those teams on Tampa Bay’s schedule made it to the playoffs this past season.

They could be an 8-8 or 9-7 team next season. The New Orleans Saints will probably be the best team in the division again next season. The Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers both missed the playoffs this season after making it to the postseason a season ago.

Arians’s record with the Arizona Cardinals from 2013-2017 was 49-30-1. He made the playoffs twice with them. I don’t think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will win the NFC South next season, but it is very possible they could be one of the two wild card teams in the NFC.

Packers Hire Matt Lafleur

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The Packers search for a new head coach is over. Looking to update a stagnant offense Green Bay has seen fit to hire Titans offensive coordinator Matt Lafleur. Lafleur reportedly edged out fellow front runner Todd Monken, Tampa OC.

Mariota

Lafleur’s style of offense has generally centered around two TE sets. What the Packers have seen however, is a coach with the ability to adapt his offense when top TE talent goes down. A Lafleur-style offense utilizes the best 11 guys on the offensive side of the ball, although ideally two of which are at the TE position. Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith couldn’t stay healthy in Tennessee and Lafleur was still able to put a productive product on the feild.

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If you look back, Lafleur has quite the “under the radar” resumé. In Washington he was the quarterback coach that helped RGIII get rookie of the year honors. Also while in Washington he assisted Kirk Cousins in convincing the rest of the league that he should be one of the highest paid QBs. While in Atlanta he helped Matt Ryan win an MVP award and took the Falcons to the superbowl as quarterback coach. A stint with the Rams as offensive coordinator saw Lafleur turn Jared Goff’s career around. Lastly Lafleur was able to make lemonade out of dirt with a below average and oft injured offense in Tennessee.

Aaron Rodgers

The Packers liked what they saw and felt the need to jump on Lafleur quickly. On the surface this hire doesn’t look like much, but when you dig into Lafleur’s past it could be the answer for Green Bay. One question looms, however, how will Lafleur and QB Aaron Rodgers get along?