Archive for January, 2013

In breaking news, Rudy Gay has been traded to the Raptors as part of a three team deal that includes, among others, Gay and Jose Calderon. Time to break down the deal:

Toronto:
Trades Jose Calderon and Ed Davis for Rudy Gay and Hamed Haddadi. This is a good trade for the Raptors, as they solved their point guard logjam and picked up the best player in the deal. Gay’s contract is cumbersome, and the small forward is over payed and probably overrated, but he will immediately become Toronto’s star. They probably didn’t want to trade Davis, who can become a solid role player or starter, but they still have Amir Johnson, Andrei Bargnani and the promising rookie Jonas Valanciunas down low. They have created a bit of a logjam at the SG/SF positions. DeMar Derozan and Gay are slotted to start right now, but Alan Anderson was playing well and Terrence Ross has shown immense talent. Both will now be buried in the depth chart. Overall, Toronto probably will win 2-3 more games than they would have before the trade, but trading an expiring contract in Calderon and a young player in Davis for an expensive few years of Gay might prove costly (pardon the word usage).

2012/13 grade: B+
Grade for the future: C

Memphis:
Trades Rudy Gay and Hamed Haddadi for Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis and Austin Daye
I don’t really like this trade for Memphis. They were supposedly trying to get a shooter for Gay and I don’t think Prince or Davis can be considered a shooter. Their starting lineup got considerably weaker with Prince in there instead of Gay but their bench got a boost as Davis should be their 6th man and could get 20-25 minutes in relief of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Daye has played just 24 games this season and is playing just 14 and a half minutes per game. He is not a game changer. Their bench improved and they will slip under the salary cap for next season, but this was a team that was geared to win this season. I’m not sure they can anymore.

2012/13 grade: D+
Grade for the future: B-

Detroit:
Trades Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye for Jose Calderon
Detroit is the third wheel in this trade, and they also traded for cap space. They gained Calderon’s expiring contract and dealt Prince, who has two more years of 7+ million dollars. Daye also has one more year a 4 million dollars. At point guard the Pistons already had Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey, but both of them can also play SG. Still, this has to be a bad thing for one or both of them. I think the Pistons want to land some quality FA’s this year so clearing 12 million in next year’s cap will help them.

2012/13 grade: B
Grade for the future: A-

Super Bowl Mania Part I

Posted: 01/29/2013 by levcohen in Football
Tags: ,

In case you don’t know, the Super Bowl is next week. I doubt this is new news to anyone (if it is, you sure have been sleeping for a while), but the teams are the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. Many experts are predicting it to be a close game, much like the Super Bowls of the past decade. We’ll be going over for the advantages for each team with a final prediction on Sunday. Just to start it off, I believe that San Francisco has the superior talent. They have arguably the four best defenders among both teams combined (sorry Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata) in Aldon and Justin Smith, Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman. On the offensive side of the ball, the teams are pretty comparable aside from the QB’s. Both have two good running backs (Frank Gore, the Niners lead back, is much like an older, better version of the Ravens change-of-pace Bernard Pierce. Ray Rice, the Ravens lead back, is much like an older, better version of 9ers change-of-pace LaMichael James). Both teams are great at the offensive line position (both ranked as top six o-lines). Both have talented tight ends who are sometimes a big part of their offense and sometimes phased out (Vernon Davis and Dennis Pitta). Both have strong wide receiver groups, but neither have elite wide receivers (Michael Crabtree and Torrey Smith are good but not great top receivers). As for the quarterbacks, I can see each easily winning or losing their team a game. Colin Kaepernick is starting his 10th career game. It’s pretty shocking for a QB to be in the biggest game of the season in just his 10th start. Kaepernick can win a game with his legs or his arm, but he can lose it by making poor decisions with the ball (an example is the pick-6 he threw early in the game against Green Bay). He is the more explosive QB, but Joe Flacco is the more experienced one. He has never missed a game in his five year career and has won eight playoff games, including at least one each season. He might be the best deep passer in the NFL. His completion % is low, but that’s only because of the complexity of the throws he has to make. Flacco can lose games by misplacing intermediate passes or just by losing patience. One thing I know for sure about both QB’s is that they are both immensely confident, which can be a good thing and a bad thing.

Over the next few days, I’ll be exploring these points more in depth, while bringing out the dreaded stat sheet (actually just looking at footballoutsiders.com data. Thanks FO)

Shaun White Continues to Dominate

Posted: 01/28/2013 by phillyisforphanatics215 in Snowboarding
Tags:

Shaun White ended the X-Games with a bang, for the sixth straight year. He tied the record for most X-Games gold medals in a row with Tucker Hibbert, who broke the record earlier that day in Snowmobile Snowcross.

White’s second run started with an X-Games record, he went up 24’1″ during a Backside air. Then, he continued with the same run that earned him a perfect 100 last year. The run was highlighted with back-to-back double cork 1260s However, this year he only earned a 98.0 which was still 5.7 points better than 14 year-old Ayumu Hirano’s silver medal winning run. White, 26, was the oldest of the competitors, while Hirano was the youngest of the field.

White was determined to destroy the competition after failing to medal in Saturday’s Slopestyle final.

After the events of the last week or two, I think it’s about time to give you an update on how topsy-turvy things have been for most of the Philadelphia teams. This year in Philadelphia there are no elite college basketball teams. In years past, we have seen Villanova and even Temple as shoo ins for a top five seed in the NCAA tournament. This year, that’s not going to happen. With that said, there are at least three or four teams that I consider to be above average. I would put three Philly teams in the tournament right now but all three are basically on the bubble. A fourth has the talent to be the best Philly team but its record doesn’t reflect that. Time to look into each team from worst to best.

6. Penn (3-15, 0-1 IVY): Penn is a young and inexperienced team, and it’s showing. The Quakers don’t have a senior on their roster, and have four freshman and five sophomores. Their two top players, both juniors, are Fran Dougherty and Miles Cartwright. Cartwright averaged 15 points per game in his first 11 games, but since then he has averaged just 11. The one thing I can say about Cartwright is that he steps up in games against fellow city 6 teams. In three games against Philly teams, he has averaged more than 18 points per game, including 26-26 from the free throw line in those games (in other games he is just 52-67 from the line). Penn has been without leading scorer and rebounder Fran Dougherty for the last nine games, and are just 1-8 in that time. Hopefully for Quaker fans this is just a down year and next year Penn will be back near the top of the Ivy League.

5. Drexel (8-11, 4-3 CAA): The Drexel Dragons have been devastated by the injury to Chris Fouch. Though Fouch played just three games, he hit 12 three point shots in those games and led the team in points. Without him, sophomore Damion Lee has picked up the slack, and is now averaging more than 17 points per game. Tavon Allen, a freshman forward, also looks to have a bright future. The main problem for Drexel is their lack of depth down low. Two of only four players above 6”7 on the team, Dartaye Ruffin and Darryl McCoy are each getting into a lot of foul trouble. Both have averaged more than three fouls a game. With the big men always in foul trouble, the Dragons have to run a small lineup, which is usually when they get into trouble. Look for the Dragons to continue to get better as the season progresses. They could have a shot at the CAA crown.

4. St. Josephs (11-7, 2-3 A-10): St. Joes has disappointed me this season, but I still think they are going to be good. They are another team that is younger than most, as they have just two seniors. St. Josephs really lacks depth. They have six players averaging at least 30 minutes for game, but after that only one player is averaging double digit minutes. They are going to need some of the bench guys to give them a boost, because one injury will destroy this team. Free throw shooting has been a problem, as they’re shooting just 69%, good for 163rd best in the country. St. Joes is getting enough production out of their starters, but if they want to take the step into the top three teams in the A-10, they are going to need to get some bench production.

3. Temple (13-6, 2-3 A-10): After the past few seasons, it feels really weird to take the Owls outside the top two, but they have a lot of flaws. Flaw #1 is their inability to score when Khalif Wyatt is resting or on a cold streak. They are shooting just 41% from the floor, and Wyatt is scoring a quarter of their points. For the Owls to succeed, they need to play shutdown defense and Wyatt needs to score 20 points. They need to find alternate ways to win. One way would be letting Anthony Lee shoot the ball more. Lee is the only player in their every game rotation shooting above 50%, and he is at 55%. The next highest shooter in their rotation is Jake O’Brien at 45%. Lee has shown a lot of potential and I think now is the time to give him more touches. Temple is going to be on the bubble come tourney time. In their favor is a win over Syracuse, but counting against them is brutal losses to Canisius and St. Bonaventure (and this year, losing to Xavier isn’t too good either). They also have been slumping of late. In their last seven games, they are 3-4, and in their last four they have a two point win over GW, a seven point win over Penn, a 12 point loss to Butler and their first home loss to St. Bonaventure in forever. If they can turn it around, they can still make the tournament.

2. Villanova (13-7, 4-3 Big East): I would have put the Wildcats at #4 on this list coming into the week. After their win over Louisville, I would have moved them up to #3. Their win over Syracuse pushes them up another slot to #2. I need to see that ‘Nova can win on the road before I believe in them. Their best road win was probably at South Florida. South Florida happens to be 1-6 in the Big East, so that isn’t really saying much. I still don’t think this team can make a run at a single digit tourney seed. Their field goal % is low (even lower than Temple’s) and unlike Temple they turn the ball over way too much (16 times a game). In the Syracuse game, Nova shot the three very well at the end of the game. If they can continue to have those outbursts, I like their chances. Among the actual players on Nova’s roster, there are only two seniors. Their three best players (in my opinion) are freshman or sophomores. Darrun Hilliard and JayVaughn Pinkston are sophomores, and Ryan Arcidiacono is a freshman. Nova will need a few more quality road wins if they are going to have a shot at a safe NCAA tournament spot.

1. LaSalle (14-5, 4-2 A-10): LaSalle #1! I don’t know when the last time this happened was. LaSalle seems to be coming out of a dark few years (ok, many years). Like Villanova, they beat two top 20 teams this week. They beat the two best teams in the A-10 in Butler and VCU. On the bad side, losing to Central Connecticut State and Bucknell is pretty bad. Ramon Galloway has been great in their three big wins (against Villanova, Butler and VCU), with 21 points per game in those three to go along with nine steals in that time. Galloway and Tyreke Duren both average more than two steals per game, which is impressive. LaSalle’s main problem is with rebounding, where they are ranked 259th (in rebounds per game). This comes from having only five players taller than 6”5, and only two play every game. I have LaSalle ranked over Villanova because of their head-to-head win over the Cats, but I could see LaSalle start slipping down these rankings over the coming weeks. Hopefully they continue to prove me wrong

 

 

It’s time for the first mock draft of the season.. There will be a few more after the combine and closer to the draft, but why not start now? First half coming today, second half coming later in the week.

Note: It’s impossible to predict trades so I won’t be doing that

1. Kansas City Chiefs. Team Needs: QB, WR, CB, guard. The pick: Luke Joeckel, OTWhy would the Chiefs draft a player who is not on their long list of glaring needs? Because Joeckel is the best player in the draft. It’s tough to pass up on a guy who many scouts consider the best tackle they’ve scouted EVER. They’ll be in a long rebuilding stage, so they just need to pick up some quality players. Many people have them reaching for a QB like Geno Smith or Tyler Wilson, but I don’t buy it. They can find someone in the second or third round with high upside. Left tackle Branden Albert is a free agent, and Joeckel can slide right in there. The Chiefs want to bring Albert back as a guard.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars. Team Needs: DE, QB, CB, WR. The pick: Bjoern Werner, DEI would argue that if the Jaguars drafted Werner, he would immediately become their best defensive end. He fills a glaring need at defensive end, and while he isn’t a super exciting player, he might be the most NFL ready player in the draft. I think new coach Gus Bradley, a former defensive coordinator, would be happy with drafting a polished defensive player.

3. Oakland Raiders. Team Needs: CB, LB, defense in general. The pick: Star Lotulelei, NT
A nose tackle isn’t the Raiders’ biggest need, but Lotulelei would make sense. Lotulelei is the type of player who demands a double team on him on every snap. This could set up more sacks for the outside rushers. Lotulelei is a difference maker, and he should continue to make a difference in the NFL. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Raiders traded down a few spots and then snagged Dee Millner, but I’m not predicting trades.

4. Philadelphia Eagles. Team Needs: QB, O-Line, Safety, CB. The pick: Eric Fisher, OT
Eric Fisher is slowly (actually quickly) moving up the draft boards, and he could eventually rival Luke Joeckel for the crown of top offensive lineman selected. The Eagles really need some offensive line depth with a lot of guys coming off injuries, and Fisher could immediately start at right tackle (with Todd Herremans moving back to his old guard position). New coach Chip Kelly probably wants a new QB, but it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to reach for one at the #4 pick when they have other needs.

5. Detroit Lions. Team Needs: DE, CB, OT, S, WR. The pick: Damontre Moore, DE
The Lions want to draft the best available player, and in this case that player happens to fill a huge need. Cliff Avril will man one defensive end slot, but there is an opening on the other side. Moore is a great pass rushing threat, and the Lions had trouble getting sacks last year. While the Lions also need a new #2 WR, there is nobody to take this high in the draft. As for a cornerback, Dee Millner would probably be a popular pick here after seeing what he did in the national championship game, but I think Moore would be the smarter pick.

6. Cleveland Browns. Team needs: QB, LB, G. The pick: Jarvis Jones, DE/LB
The Browns need a pass rusher. That much is for sure. The two possible picks here are Jones and Barkevious Bingo, and I think Jones gets the call because he had the better college career. He does have more red flags than Bingo, but we’ve also seen a lot of good things from Jones. With Jones added, the Browns will continue to stockpile the defensive players and could be a surprise team next season.

7. Arizona Cardinals. Team needs: QB, O-Line, CB, RB. the pick: Tyler Wilson, QB
Right now, I think Tyler Wilson will be the first quarterback selected at #7 to the Cardinals. Wilson is a really good player, and I think he will have a better NFL career than Geno Smith. The Cardinals are in desperate need for a quarterback. Just ask Larry Fitzgerald. After drafting Wilson, the Cardinals will need to draft an offensive lineman or three later in the draft, and then they’ll be on the right track.

8. Buffalo Bills. Team needs: QB, WR, LB. The pick: Geno Smith, QB
It’s pretty obvious that the Bills are going to draft a QB. In fact, General manager Buddy Nix, who is generally forthcoming about his offseason plans, told the media that he plans on drafting a franchise quarterback. With that in mind, Smith is the obvious pick here. The Bills have said that they could trade up to draft a QB, presumably Smith, but they won’t have to do that.

9. New York Jets. Team needs: Just about everything. The pick: Barkevious Mingo, DE
The Jets have a ton of needs, and high on that list is a pass rusher. They are free to take the top available player, and just like the Lions that player will actually be someone who helps them a lot in the immediate and long term future. Mingo might easily go before #9, but I think this is as far as he falls.

10. Tennessee Titans. Team needs: CB, G, DT. The pick: Dee Millner, CB
The Titans pass defense is pretty bad, and they need a cornerback after they were reportedly looking to draft one last year. They didn’t, and you see how that turned out. This time, with a top 10 pick, Millner would be a pretty safe selection.

11. San Diego Chargers. Team needs: OT, WR, CB, DE. The pick: Lane Johnson, OT
The Chargers are likely to pick an offensive tackle in the first round. If Eric Fisher is available, he is the no-brainer pick. Since I’m predicting that Fisher will be gone, the Chargers will reach for Lane Johnson. It could be worse. They could be starting the season with Jared Gaither at tackle.

12. Miami Dolphins. Team needs: WR, WR, WR, WR. The pick: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR
As you can see, the Dolphins need a wide receiver. Patterson is raw, but he has the most talent of any WR on the board this year. And the Dolphins have a history in using a high pick on a raw player. See Tannehill, Ryan. Patterson could turn out to be a great receiver, and that is something the Dolphins really need. No offense to Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, but those two guys really won’t provide the offense needed to really help Tannehill. As #2 and #3 WR’s, they’d be solid. But not as #1 and #2.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Team Needs: CB, CB, CB, CB. The pick: Jonathan Banks, CB
Much like the Dolphins, the Buccaneers have one clear need coming into draft day. They will have several CB options at #13 and the two should have equal value. There is Banks and there is Xavier Rhodes. I think they’ll choose Banks because SEC players always are given an immediate draft boost because of the talent they play against. Banks was a star in college for Mississippi State, so the Buccaneers will pull the trigger.

14. Carolina Panthers. Team needs: DT, WR, DT, DT. The pick: Jonathan Hankins, DTAgain, the Panthers have a clear need. They are desperate for an interior lineman, and Hankins could possibly the best player available at #14. The Panthers gave up a huge amount of rushing yards, and Hankins would really toughen them up against the run.

15. New Orleans Saints. Team needs: DE, DT, CB, LB. The pick: Sheldon Richardson, DT
The Saints need a lot of defensive help, and will be pleasantly surprised to see Richardson available at 15. Richardson, out of the University of Missouri, played tremendously last season. He might have been the best defensive lineman in college last year other than Werner, but doesn’t have the upside of those picked ahead of him. The Saints don’t need upside. They just need a solid player to play defensive tackle. Richardson, one of the best available in the draft at this point, is their man.

16. St. Louis Rams. Team needs: OT, OG, WR. The pick: Chance Warmack, OG
Guards aren’t usually taken this high, but Warmack could be something special. He was part of the great Alabama offensive line that shut down almost every defensive line they played against, and he was probably the best of that bunch. Sam Bradford gets hit way too much, and he really could be a good quarterback, so I think the Rams are going to elect to protect him and pick a very good player who has a chance to be a star at #16.

NBA All Star Game Reserves Announced

Posted: 01/24/2013 by levcohen in Basketball
Tags: , ,

This evening, the reserves for the NBA all star game were announced (the starters had already been announced). Here they are:
East roster (starters in bold):Rajon Rondo
Dwyane Wade

LeBron James
Carmelo Anthony
Kevin Garnett
Kyrie Irving
Jrue Holiday
Chris Bosh
Tyson Chandler
Joakim Noah
Luol Deng
Paul George

West roster (starters in bold):
Chris Paul
Kobe Bryant
Kevin Durant
Blake Griffin
Dwight Howard
Tony Parker
Russell Westbrook
Tim Duncan
Zach Randolph
LaMarcus Aldridge
James Harden
David Lee

My thoughts on the East:
I actually agree with most of the players who were selected by coaches into the all star game. Paul George has a unique skill set and he has become the bona-fide star on the third best team in the East. Kyrie is now one of the seven players who made an all star team before the age of 21. The other six? Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson and Kevin Garnett. Pretty good company, and Irving deserves it. Holiday has been terrific on what has turned out to be one of the worst teams in the East. Playing without Andrew Bynum, Holiday has stepped up and is in the midst of a breakout season. Chandler and Noah are each having underrated seasons, as both are great defenders and probably are each the most valuable player on their team (well, Chandler is second behind Melo, and Noah is second behind a healthy Rose). Bosh is having a much better season than he did in year one or two in his time with the Heat, but I probably would have selected Brook Lopez over him. The Nets are not represented at all, and Lopez has had one of his best seasons, averaging a team high 19 points per game. According to John Hollinger’s PER, Lopez has been the fourth best player in the NBA this season. As for Deng, I can’t really argue with the selection, although Josh Smith would have been the better pick. Deng is leading the league in minutes and has been a valuable player, but Smith provides more on the defensive end.

Who I’d put in: Brook Lopez, Josh Smith
Who I’d take out: Chris Bosh, Luol Deng

My thoughts on the West:
As Bill Simmons of Grantland pointed out, there were 14 deserving candidates for 12 spots, so there were bound to be two glaring snubs. Those two snubs were Stephen Curry and Marc Gasol. I was shocked at the exclusion of Curry. He might be the best volume shooter in the NBA other than Kevin Durant (shooting 44%, and 45% from three point land). Averaging 21 points, seven assists and four rebounds, Curry’s value to the Warriors is clear. Without him, I don’t think they’d be a playoff team. As for Gasol, I thought he should have made it too, but I was less surprised at his exclusion, as he is more of a guy who does all the little things right, including a lot of stuff that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet. Parker, Westbrook, Duncan and Harden were shoo ins. I think each actually would have an argument for a starting spot, but when push comes to shove I’d only put Duncan in the starting lineup over Howard. Aldridge, Lee and Randolph are also deserving, but less so. Aldridge is a great offensive player, probably the best of the three. But his defense is a big strike against him. Opponents are scoring against him at a high rate. Lee is a 20 point/10 rebound guy which is pretty special. He also shoots a stellar 80% from the line. Lee’s soft spot is also on the defensive end, but he’s certainly a better defender than Aldridge. Lastly, Randolph is having a good season after a year in which he was hampered by injuries. He’s the best rebounder of the three, but also the worst scorer. Like the other two, he is not an all star level defender.

Who I’d put in: Stephen Curry, Marc Gasol
Who I’d take out: Zach Randolph, LaMarcus Aldridge

Which team has the edge?
The West, and it isn’t close. The East has the best player in the NBA, but the West has players 2, 3 and 4 (Durant, Paul and Kobe). The West is also a lot deeper. Think of it this way: If Curry, Gasol, and even Serge Ibaka were in the East, would they all miss out? I don’t think so. In fact, I think at least two of the three would make it.

All in all, the coaches did a pretty good job in selecting the reserves. In my opinion, possibly the two least deserving players in this game were voted starters by the fans (Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard). Nothing the coaches could do about that.

Ballboygate

Posted: 01/24/2013 by phillyisforphanatics215 in Soccer

As soon as we think that Chelsea’s current reputation could not get worse “ballboygate” happened. Chelsea winger, Eden Hazard, was sent off in a league cup semifinal match for kicking a ball boy. He was apparently trying to retrieve a ball when this happened.

Gordon Taylor who is the chairman of the Professional Footballer’s Association was talking to BBC on Thursday and told them that Hazard should not have “taken the law into his own hands.”

Since the incident, the ball boy has received  an apology from Hazard. He will face at least a three game ban for violent conduct, but lucky for him he will not face any criminal charges.

Many ex-footballers have actually sympathized with him, because he was trying to return to play as quickly as possible with Chelsea down two goals late in the second half to Swansea City. That game eventually concluded with a 0-0 tie which resulted in a 2-0 win for Swansea on aggregate.