JakeWatts23's Wiz-Blog

The Best Growing Rivalry There Is…

May 15, 2011
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“Every single night we are going to let the world know that the Miami Heat are back” – Lebron James

“I feel sorry for two guys who are going to have to guard us” – Dwayne Wade

“Not two, not two, not three, not four, not five (fans screaming), not six (Lebron starts to look stupid), not seven, not eight championships” – Lebron James

“Everything is all about basketball” vs. “Coach Spo knows he has to meet us halfway. He wants to work, we wanna chill” – Chris Bosh

Just less than three hours from now another chapter in the times of the Miami Heat will begin to take shape. Lebron James has been outstanding. Dwayne Wade has arguably been the best player of the playoffs this far. Chris Bosh got his one big play of the playoffs in and it was essentially the deadly blow the aged and beaten Boston Celtics. There is no question that the Miami Heat are the favorites to not only win the series against the Chicago Bulls, but also to then roll up on the winner of the Western Conference.

After a season that in many was disappointing and underwhelming, the Heat have caught their stride at the best time. With an 8-2 record thus far in the playoffs and an extremely impressive round 2 performance against the Eastern Conference’s best team of the last four years, the heat are on fire (pun intended).

The Chicago Bulls, the NBA’s surprise team of the 2010-2011 season, come into this series as the underdogs. They have the league’s MVP. They have the league’s Coach of the Year, and hell they have the NBA’s co-NBA Executive of the Year as a few awards to boast on this year’s success.

Their first two rounds have looked less than stellar. They had a hard time getting past Indiana even though they won in 5 games. They lost game one at home vs. Atlanta and from there that series was off on the wrong foot. Boozer had his struggles. Derrick failed to close a game and facilitate the ball in their second loss. Korver has essentially been a non-factor. And everyone in Chicago has been calling for Rasual Butler…

Wait, wait, wait, Rasual Butler!!!! Has Chicago pressed the panic button too early? Have they forgotten that in all four of the Bulls wins over Atlanta they won by double digits? The Bulls might have lost two games to Atlanta, but their wins weren’t even close and they closed out game six by 20 points. They are not riding into this series slumping at all.

If you remember Space Jam, this game is essentially the Monstars (see the Miami summer welcome to Miami clip and tell me they aren’t Monstariffic) vs. the Toon Squad (the underdogs that are led by one of the best). Let’s do a quick analysis of the biggest key points in the series…

 

Dwayne Wade, Lebron James vs. Derrick Rose

Not even a question this is the biggest and most important argument. It’s also the most blatantly obvious so I’m not going to spend your time or my time making too many points here. If D Rose doesn’t play like the NBA MVP in every game Miami wins in 5 or 6, no question. If D Wade or LBJ cool off at all at any point in the series, then it’s an obvious play that Chicago as the more complete team has the advantage.

Can 2 ½ players really beat a complete team with NBA’s MVP and Coach of the Year?

They absolutely can. This is the biggest point of the entire series. However here’s my argument against it and it’s an exercise that I want everyone to do with me. Look at this list and acknowledge those with their name’s scratched off. Then evaluate the ones with a complete name.

Lebron James

Chris Bosh

Dwayne Wade

Mario Chalmers

Joel Anthony

Mike Bibby

Erik Dampier

Udonis Haslem

Eddie House

Juwan Howard

Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Jamaal Magloire

Mike Miller

Dexter Pittman

No disrespect to those players not with a strikethrough in their name, but this is the supporting cast, and there is a strong potential that they can all be NBA champions in a month from now…exactly.

I think Lebron might have over exaggerated with his celebration after round two. Why? Well he deserved to feel like he got that monkey off his back and that was clearly his release.  However, I think he might have forgotten one very important thing. Outside of Paul Pierce, the most important figure that represented that monkey that was the Celtics wasn’t in the organization this season. That man is now the Bulls Head Coach. Did Lebron forget that Thibs was the architect of the Boston Defense that took down both Dwayne Wade’s team and his team last season (outside of Delonte West playing some defense too). Thibodeau has essentially made his career as a coach on shutting down Lebron in the playoffs. Does anyone think that’s exactly going to change this year?

To the credit of all Miami fans, this is Lebron’s best team so far, and Luol Deng isn’t exactly Paul Pierce. But it’s not like Lu is a chump here. He will be on Lebron for 46 minutes of every game in the playoffs (provided he’s healthy). Lebron will definitely get his, but if Lu can contain LBJ to a 25ppg average instead of a 30+ then I consider this a success.

The biggest takeaway here is everyone has to believe that the defense that brought the Celtics one title and two trips to the finals and that also brought the Bulls the league’s lowest points per game average in the course of the season will come to play. Thibodeau will have a game plan to execute defensively and if I had to guess it would largely revolve around letting Lebron get his and letting him go one on one, but smothering every player on the court who doesn’t have a strike through their name above.

Miami will 100% win this series if James Jones averages over 10 points per game, if Mike Miller shoots over 45% from 3, and if Bibby is able to be a big ex-factor. Those are the players that will absolutely shoot the Bulls down. If D Wade and Lebron prance around for 20 seconds of the shot clock then dish it off to a role player who hits a shot, you mine as well put a fork in the Bulls. But if you force Dwayne and Lebron to score 85% of the Heat’s points, you have to believe the Bulls are in a good position to win.

Carlos Boozer vs. Chris Bosh

On the same point as the last with defense, I don’t think Thibodeau will have Boozer guard Bosh, but rather have Boozer guard the offensive liability that is Joel Anthony. It makes no sense to not put Joakim Noah on Bosh and Boozer on Anthony. However, this is not what this point is all about. Everyone in Chicago is dawgin Boozer. He hasn’t come to play in the playoffs, he doesn’t play defense, and he’s going to be reason we are going to lose.

Chris Bosh is just as much of a wildcard. If Bosh has a great series, then the Heat are in a great position to win. But if he disappears then they are in a terrible position to win. This series and potentially the next for the Heat will determine the make up of this team for years to come as the “big 3” or whether it’s just James and Wade. The 4-spot that plays the best in the series will have a bigger influence on the series than any of the other starters.

The rivalry is just beginning… and this will ultimately be the first chapter in what should be a great rivalry for years to come. It has potential to be like Bulls/Knicks of the 90s! Chicago hates Dwayne Wade and Lebron James for teasing us and getting us excited about them to come here. Derrick Rose was offended that Dwayne or Lebron never responded to his text’s over the summer trying to recruit them. Dwayne Wade wants to be the man in Chicago and still has a big fan base here in the city he was raised in. Lebron wants to just win titles, and Chicago as the most complete team will consistenly be their biggest competition for years to come.

Let’s not forget the best part in the fact that Joakim Noah and Lebron James hate each other. I don’t know many players that really dislike Lebron. But Joakim as the leader of this team hates Lebron, back to the time two Decembers ago when Joakim got upset at the dance-a-thon that went on in Cleveland during a game. I think that these two have the possibility of raising the stakes and raising the intensity of this series.

I really don’t know which way to go with this series. Do I go with the team that’s got the more proven playoff formula of better coaching, better defense and better big men? Or do I go with the team that has the better superstars? Both formulas have worked before and I really hope that at the end of this series, we will be saying that this series was better than Chicago/Boston round one three seasons ago.

But at the end of the day, I really, really, truly hate the Heat. I despise everything that they stand up for and their over inflated egos. Yeah I’m from Chicago, but I love the humble Derrick Rose/Kevin Durant breed of superstar. I can’t stand Heat fans who claim to either be die-hard city fans, or who claim that they aren’t apart of this bandwagon. The Lebron movement is annoying, and it’s really one of those that casts a net that just rubs the wrong way. Lebron is a great player though.

With all of that being said, it’s going to be DA BULLS IN 7!

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The NBA Playoffs As I See It…

April 16, 2011
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In my wildest dreams you couldn’t tell me that preseason the Bulls were going to have the leagues best record, the potential league MVP and the potential Coach of the Year. Sparing you from my overarching bias (well kind of there is a good amount of that ingredient in this apple pie) I had a difficult time laboring back and forth with certain picks and how to have things unfold a certain way, more so than I ever have in the past because of the Bulls, but also because in each conference there are at least 3 teams that you can make an argument for to not only get there but win it all. In my attempt to be able to do something that mimmicks the makings of an NCAA bracket, I needed a platform to be able to publish my picks and in the meantime why don’t I shed some analysis on it for the hell of it. Here’s everything, thanks for the time…

East Breakdown

(1) Chicago Bulls Vs.  (8) Indiana Pacers

I will save your eyes and brain from even thinking about the possibility of reading more than two sentences in my analysis of my favorite team’s first round games. Next!!!

Bulls in 5, game three will go to Indiana

(2) Miami Heat Vs. Philadelphia 76ers

 

Heat in 6, on a stretch pick. Really I think this series goes to six games because of a few small reasons. Doug Collins probably can outcoach Erik Spolestra for two wins. Brand probably could make Bosh a puppet for two games. Igoudala could score 30, and he and Thaddeus Gibson could contain Wade and Bron for two games. Philly could have a crowd in the home games. There are enough feasible ‘coulds’ in this series to make me believe six is this series destination.

(3) Boston Celtics Vs. (6) New York Knicks

 

Boston wins in 7. Okay so let’s play a good game of ‘who you got’. Carmelo or Pierce? KG or Amare? Chauncey or Rondo? I would rather have Carmelo, Amare, and Chauncey all in a playoff series…but I wouldn’t want them to be on the same team! Boston has chemistry, veteran playoff experience, clearly the better coach, and as a cohesive unit that will survive 4 wins before New York gets 4. The most exciting about this series is the Boston/New York rivalry. There will be a good amount of highlights from this series, but even more important, I’m really excited to see how the fans in the Garden bring it for this playoff series.  New York wins 1 of the first 2, Boston then responds with game 4,5,7.

Orlando Magic (4) Vs. Atlanta Hawks(5)

 

Magic in 5. They win in 5 because of playoff experience, the better coach, better big man, and because they are more of a team than playoff disgrace Atlanta. Atlanta goes out early again just because I bet, and had to watch that awful performance of last year.

 

Chicago Bulls (1) Vs. Orlando Magic (4)

 

A good friend of mine, who is usually wiser when stepping out on a prediction expressed his lean towards Orlando in this matchup. It was humbling, this is a legitimate possibility. Bulls fans would be remised to just completely write off the 2nd round vs. Orlando as a joke. This is still the Orlando team that matches up well with the Bulls, or did in the regular season at least. The same Orlando team that went to the finals 2 years ago and has a lot of playoff experience, something that is so valuable in the NBA. That being said, my friend will lose all of his money that he has in the playoffs on this series and will bite the bullet by being wrong. The Bulls will very well win this series if Thibs has the Bulls prepared to not overlook an opponent. As Thibs said “I believe you have to be moving in the winning direction constantly, you can’t accept moving in a losing direction”. Chicago will come out with confidence, play hard and take advantage of homecourt. Bulls in 6.

Miami Heat (2) Vs. Boston Celtics (3)

 

I could write as much about this series as avid NBA fans can talk about it. I think this has the potential of being the obvious pick for most exciting series of the NBA finals. The Heat are very talented, with a ton of playoff potential Chris Broussard is very excited and so is “source”, Lebron is excited to get another shot at the playoffs (But not really … Lebron ‘Role Model’ voice),  Bill Simmons can hardly control himself, and hold up, neither can Gloria James, she gets to watch her baby Lebron, and her boo, Delonte ‘Hot Sauce” West play on the same court against each other…”this is so exciting” (Craig Robinson, Pineapple Express Voice). Boston’s team chemistry, Doc Rivers coaching, veteran experience, passion will be able to override Miami’s 2 and ½ players, no coach, and no chemistry. Rondo, RayRay, Pierce, Garnett, Doc together still does more for me than Lebron, Wade, Bosh, Bibby, Spolestra. Celtics in 6, Delonte get’s the girl, and Lebron ices his elbow after walking off throwing his jersey into the crowd in frustration. Lebron also underperforms because of ghosts from playoffs past arise causing a drastic shift in the playoff series.

Chicago Bulls (1) Vs. Boston Celtics (3)

Tom Thibodeau (1) Vs. Doc Rivers (3)

Brian Scalabrine (Red Hair/Red Jersey) Vs. Brian Scalabrine (Red Hair/Green Jersey)

 

Bulls edge out a rematch of the best playoff series of all time. Derrick is familiar with having a tough series with the Celtics and he remembers losing. The Celtics are good, they are very respected, a nicely run team and will carry a very good legacy as the “Boston 3” in the NBA’s bible when it’s all said and done. It’s Doc’s last year and it’s KG’s last year (I’ll bet). This series reminds me of something that has a lot of potential to happen in the west too, when ferocious young meets seasoned, experienced old. This time the older, very impressive dog will end up meeting the very good young dog at the wrong time. In many ways the Bulls are trying to mold themselves around the Celtics organization of the last 4 years and Thibs is fully capable of developing an athletic team with a veteran, mature playoff mentality because of his experience with Boston. Bulls have the better combo of bigs in the series, the better team defense,  draw in coaching, maybe with edge Doc on experience, but Bulls also have great team chemistry, and the MVP. Overall Thibs will have the advantage of being able to gameplan for Boston’s playoff strategy because he was the architect of Boston’s defense that they still use today, so if anyone can design a system to beat it, its him. Bulls players believe in Derrick Rose, and Derrick believes in them, and they  play amazingly exciting basketball.  Bulls don’t come out intimidated at all in this series, if they do it might be in a lot of trouble, but the Bulls win in 7 at home on a D Rose dominated game 7.

 

Western Conference Breakdown

 

(1) San Antonio Spurs Vs. (8) Memphis Grizzles

 

Ginobili might be injured for the first initial series, but this won’t matter. Spurs veteran zest, Pops is one of the best coaches in the game, and San Antonio’s home venue is a tough spot in the playoffs.

(2)  LA Lakers Vs. (7) New Orleans Hornets

 Lakers in 4, no questions asked.

(3) Dallas Mavericks Vs. (6) Portland Trailblazers

Dallas wins this in 7 games. Everyone is picking Portland over Dallas like it’s Belmont over Wisconsin in this years NCAA bracket (I learned my lesson there). Portland has Gerald Wallace (huge midseason pick up), LaMarcus Aldridge, and about 5 other guys to throw at Dirk, which will quiet him or at least contain him. However, this is still the veteran Dallas Mavericks playoff team with the best player in the series. Kidd is better than Andre Miller, Tyson Chandler is going to be healthy, and Dallas has enough to beat Portland in a series, plus they are at home and that’s why I pick them.

(4) Oklahoma City Thunder Vs. (5) Denver Nuggets

Probably the best first round matchup of the Western Conference, or at least most intriguing. Denver can very well win this series with their chemistry, new found sense of team pride post-Melo, and George Karl is a good coach with a great story. However, best player, better chemistry, and overall better team is the Thunder and I think they win a good series here especially since Denver has a few injuries. Thunder in 6

(2) LA Lakers Vs. (3) Dallas Mavericks

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Now this is really where we start testing the classic Lakers age question, where we still ask, “do they still have it” versus “yes they actually still have it, and we are all absolutely insane for picking against them…again”. Still the Mavericks are also old, they are veteran, but LA is a better version of old. It’s fascinating that these two teams have never played in a playoff series with their current talent that they are working with, meaning Dirk versus Kobe. I think Dirk vs. Kobe will be a great set up and age vs. age will only make the winning elder more tired. Lakers have more size, better coaching, better chemistry, Lakers in 7.

(1)  San Antonio Spurs Vs. (4) Oklahoma City Thunder

 Remember what I said with the Bulls playing the Boston as the older dog who typically advances in a round like this versus the young pup. Well fortunate for OKC they might also be that team that is able to meet the old team at the right time, where the youngsters stake a claim at what they want. Durant brings the quiet confidence with the desire to be the best, Russ Westbrook brings the swagger and the explosion, and Kendrick Perkins rounds out their playoff ability. More about their bench in then next round. I might have to buy a Thunder jersey by the end of the playoffs. Oklahoma City in 6.

(2)  LA Lakers Vs. (4) Oklahoma City Thunder

 Call me crazy here, but Lakers fans, if it doesn’t interest you to read about me predicting your team losing here then you can stop reading. The OKC Thunder will win this series as well. Let’s analyze what we spoke about in the last paragraph. Durant, well he’s got my money for the 2011-2012 NBA MVP (Preseason I picked D Rose for this year and the only other person who was in that same category was Durant, and naturally since Derrick did his thing this year, Durant will get my vegas money for preseason MVP next year). So let’s dig deep to last year in the first round when Russell Westbrook waxed Derrick Fisher and will do that again this year. Kendrick Perkins knows how to play Bynum, and if Bynum’s injury significantly plays a factor in the playoffs or at least carries over into this series, then I say edge Thunder. Thunder have Perkins, Ibaka, Collison with 18 fouls total to throw at Hollywood’s big men, Durant and Lamar Odom in a good matchup but Durant is definitely better and more proven in his young career to get a playoff edge. Essentially this is a big reach pick. On paper the Lakers still have the better coach, better player with the better (or more proven) killer instinct, the only player to consistently on a year in year on basis emulate the exact type of player that Jordan tried to be (hold your jets), a better core of big guys, better playoff experience, however I just think OKC will be able to pull it off. I know it’s going to take a lot here but like the Bulls over. the Celtics, the Thunder have players that have experience winning games in a series against the Lakers and that plays a role. It will definitely take a few calls, a few breaks, but it’s not inconceivable. Thunder in 7.

THE FINALS

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder @ The Chicago Bulls

 

Wow what a picture perfect series from an entertainment standpoint. Where the younger, more humbled superstars who work hard and shut up, literally out play the latest generation of out spoken, overly cocky, under-proven in clutch moment superstars for the throne to play each other for the ultimate grand prize (shot at Lebron, Carmelo, Bosh and crew). I will pick the Bulls in this amazing matchup for obvious reasons. Both teams have allure, both teams have up and coming superstars that are more deserving of championship series games played than endorsement deals. The Bulls bench is deeper, I believe they are better coached, Chicago home court advantage will help too and ultimately the MVP goes for what he has played to deserve all year, the ultimate hardware. Realistically I will be on cloud nine if I predict this championship series correctly, but mark my words, one of these teams will absolutely be in the championship series.  Chicago Bulls in 7! D Rose D Rose D Rose D Rose!


Why Lovie is Nostradamus? Probably not but let’s roll with it…

January 23, 2011
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Wow, what the hell is there else to say but….DAAAAA BEARS. Waking up this morning, getting ready for the day, I don’t think I’ve felt this excitement since February 2007 and its even greater today. Today is truly one of the biggest sports days I’ve experienced as a Chicago sports fan to date, and to be back in this big, sports-crazed city for today is truly a thing of beauty. Today could represent the best chapter in the newfound age of Chicago athletics, and what a surprise our Bears have been.

 

“Fire Lovie”. “Get his ass out of town, he’s a terrible coach, making terrible decisions”. “Looking at him just makes me want to throw up”. I have to admit these are all statements that have come my mouth in the last 365 days.

 

But today, Lovie please come front and center. This is for you.

 

(Transition, please keep reading)

 

I’m not one to mesh pro sports and college sports but for the sake of my point I am going to bring up an Ohio State reference (Michigan fans please keep reading). When Jim Tressel took the stage, freshly hired as Buckeye’s newest Head Coach his biggest claim is one that resonates through modern day 2011. His biggest statement/focus as the newest head coach was and still is to BEAT MICHIGAN (UM fans thank you for enduring that).

 

(Lovie, will you please stand up and take the mic)

 

“Everything the Chicago Bears do as an organization is for the purpose of beating the Green Bay Packers in the Lovie Smith Regime. During Lovie’s first press conference he laid out three goals: 1) beat Green Bay, 2) win the division and 3) win the Super Bowl.”

 

Now while this comparison draws near to my heart, I know not everyone sees this right off the bat. Tressel made this top priority for the Buckeyes and I would say it has worked out pretty well for him. In Lovie’s tenure as Bears HC, he has played the Pack 14 times, and he has an 8-6 record. While it is not overwhelming, he has beat the Packers more times then he has lost, and everytime he has needed to he has brought his best foot forward.

 

While watching “Inside the NFL” this Friday, I got a glimpse at what the Bears lockerroom was like after they beat Seattle. Sure they handled business as usual, but I saw emotion out of Lovie’s face when he announced they were playing the Packers. It wasn’t an “Oh Shit we have to play them face”. It was a “I can’t wait to gameplan how to beat that teams Ass look on his face”. And if history remains in Lovie’s presence then as Bears fans we have a lot to feel confident about.

 

 

So let’s get into it, predictions!

 

Green Bay is more explosive. Aaron Rodgers is the Real Slim Shady, the next greatest QB to join the Pantheon of elites. James Starks is the RB of the playoffs. Cullen Jenkins is back alongside B.J. Raji and they will dominate. Charles Woodson was the Defensive POY last year and Clay Matthews is going to be this years. They have been super bowl favorites all year and now they are back.

 

That is what I’ve listened to all damn week.

 

Bears are going to win this game. I was going to go 20-17 Bears, then Obama picked that so I had to switch it up. I think the Bears play very well all game, in fact they play better than Green Bay does all game. But in typical Bears fashion, they don’t capitalize on Touchdown Opportunities, so enter in team MVP, the man with the golden leg, Mr. Robbie Gould. The Packers will be around all game, scoring, turning it over, committing penalties, essentially playing bipolar football. It will be a close game, Robbie will have 3, Bears O will get one in the end zone. Rodgers will toss 2 TD’s, including one late. But what it will come down to is a missed Field Goal.

 

Bears 16 Packers 14… Super Bowl Super Bears!!!!!

 


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Bears-Seahawks…Eh, looking forward to GB next week…

January 16, 2011
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Last night, I witnessed Quitness sit out because of a bum ankle, Chris Bosh cry and whine about getting hurt on a hustle play and I have to admit now that Dwayne Wade is a top 5 player in the league (but he now knows that Chicago has disowned him in favor of a more likeable, less arrogant superstar). More importantly I am even further convinced that, all things remaining constant, with D Rose’s current progression in his first three seasons, there is no reason why Derrick shouldn’t be considered to be a top  5 player, the best point guard in the league, with the potential of being an MVP player year in and year out (provided he doesn’t take his talents to South Beach and compromise the integrity of the league see LBJ, Lebron James, or formerly known as “the King”). I was extremely discouraged when I heard Lebron wasn’t playing. He did it to me again, I wanted to see him play live, but really I wanted to see him lose, live. His ankle was supposedly too bum to play, but apparently it wasn’t too bum to go out hard on the dance floor at Cuvee for the “Lebron James Party” on Friday night.

With that being said it’s Sunday in January and we are graced with another Sunday to proudly shout, DAAAAA BEARS. For those of you who don’t know, Da Bears get a shot of redemption in T-minus 2 hours to beat the Seahawks. Last night, bar chatting with friends and strangers, I didn’t find many people as confident as myself going into this game. Lots of fans getting nervous about the game, starting to think negatively before kick-off, questioning the thought of a bears victory, you know that typical BS that comes from un-opptomistic fans. Perhaps I just really enjoy being a homer and being overconfident.

And that leads me to my next point: Bears 31, Seahawks 10

The most intriguing part of this game is going to be the first quarter where the Bears will need to shake off their bye week rust. I can see Seattle scoring first, maybe getting three, but then not much going their way after that. The reason I feel so bold about this is look at all of the x-factors going into this game:

-The Bears have homefield advantage. Seattle won last week in part to their famous “12th man” factor at Qwest Field, known as the hardest place for any opposition to think straight because of the noise in a situation like last week. Seattle has to come into Chicago this weekend, where Bears fans who haven’t hosted a playoff game since ’07 are going to be hungry to feel the energy again

-The Bears already lost to Seattle this year. This is where my optimism reins over the counterargument. Where as many say that this is case and point as to why Seattle is going to win this time around, I say this is simply bulletin board material for the Bears. Since the early season blunders, the bears have really caught stride (minus the Patriots game). Since the Bears back to back crap losses against Washington and Philly, and since our  bye week we have won 7 of our last 9, with the two losses against GB (fighting for their lives with a bye already clinched in our hands) and New England (we sucked). Of those wins Philly and NYJ were impressive enough performances, at home, to make me believe that Seattle is an after thought at this point.

-Pete Carroll said this week on the Afternoon Saloon that he is going to kick to Devin Hester. Chalk up 14 points right there, only have 17 to go by our Defense and Offense.

-With the opportunity to play Green Bay next week at home in the NFC Championship, I believe that our guys woke up this morning now with even more motivation to make a statement game today. I am one of the first to admit that a lot of the Bears season this year can be chalked up to the ball falling in our direction and luck going our way. But I have news for the Bears haters: Tough $#!T, we’re here, you are not (86 Pats/Jets/Packers/Steelers fans from that) and all we have to do is win now! We are there because we didn’t choke, stayed healthy (knock on wood), played good defense and now we are in a position where all we have to do is go out and put a three game win streak together and you are telling me that this path to the Super Bowl will lead through the Windy City, we have an opportunity to be the Packers to get there and all we have to do is go out an beat Seattle at home to have that moment, I think that that’s motivation enough.

See ya next week Bears fans….DAAAAAA BEARS


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Bulls/Heat, Packers Lose, and Rapelessberger gets engaged

January 15, 2011
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Alright, I am less than 8 hours away until tip-off for Bulls/Heat tonight, 7:00 PM at the UC. Needless to say I have been waiting for this game since July 8th, 2010 and if Queen James doesn’t play tonight, like he did to me last year with the Cavaliers towards the end of the season (scrub). I respect James’s game but his choices off the court and the way he uses his words just make me want to dislike him more and more. Why, well because he stands up for what is a crappy product of professional basketball and that is exactly why Derrick Rose is going to posterize him and Dwayne Wade on the same play. With that being said let’s get to a couple of predictions for the day.

Bulls 94 Heat 93: Yep I said it. I will absolutely include a big homer bias in this pick and be the one that picks the Bulls over the Heat. Despite the Bulls playing 4 games in 5 days on consecutive weeks I have got to believe they are going to get up for this one. In order to win, Korver, Brewer, Kurt T., Taj (aka the role players) will need to all contribute. There is no question that Derrick is going to bring his game tonight, but we need Boozer and co. to fill the void and keep us playing strong throughout. Plus add in LBJ’s bum ankle, elbow, leadership I think that gives us the slight edge. Look for the UC to be rocking.

 

Falcons 27 Packers 23: This is my pick where I am betting strictly on going against the public opinion. All of a sudden Green Bay makes the playoffs and Aaron Rogers is the next John Elway? He’s awesome, but let’s not forget that this team has underperformed and not lived up to expectations all year of being the dominate Packers (hater in the house). They won last week, but can they go through Philly, Atlanta, and a team to be named next on their way to the Super Bowl? No, of course not, they won’t get past Matty Ice, whom I am predicting out duels Aaron Rogers tonight.

Steelers 31 Ravens 17: Just to throw another game in the picks I’m predicting Pittsburgh over Baltimore, definitively. Why? Pitt is playing at home, Polamalu is healthy now, Ben is pretty good in the playoffs on opposite years, and Ray Rice is battling a stomach flu. You are telling me that Joe Flacco and his slow receivers are going to go into Heinz field, with a sick Ray Rice and Mike Tomlin coaching. Child please, keep it in the NFC North, Black and Yellow victorious.


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Buckeyes, TP and Why I hate the NCAA/SEC

January 9, 2011
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The first week of the year is always a great sports week regardless of what’s happening because you’ve got NFL Playoffs, BCS Bowl Games, a few bad college football teams playing in bowl games to satisfy the gambler’s fix of needing to be on something, and of course the NBA is about to kick it into another gear getting to the next leg of their season. Let’s look at the parody in college football and address just a few flaws that I see.

Idiots that are going to be examined: Terrelle Pryor, Tattoo U and why the SEC/NCAA trump the former.

How is your girlfriend similar to your favorite sports team? Here’s how: You fight, you argue, you are overly critical when you shouldn’t be, but at the end of the day you love them/her, even if they lose. Even if the Buckeyes lost on Tuesday I would still love them, but I’m very glad to say they didn’t (6 consecutive BCS games, record = 3-3, .500, 6-3 overall, go home haters). Anyways, Terrelle, Boom, DeVier, Solomon, and Mike, you guys suck. I mean, if there was a VP of Common Sense position governing you guys you would get one big “C’mon Man”. Sell your flatscreen, sell the PS3 that you get for free from the Sugar Bowl, shit take a booster if you have to get by, just don’t disrespect OSU football and the fans by selling the awards/rings that have so much honor and pride to have in your possession. That stuff is priceless and should never be sold, you should take it to the grave with you. Why? Because people like me will never have the opportunity to do what you do and win those awards, and millions of fans look up to you guys to hold that honor and distinguish yourself in the pantheon of our favorite buckeyes ever. With you selling OSU awards, you now have “asterisked” your legacy as a Buckeye regardless if you win a National Title next year, kind of like if you took steroids and won the home run title in baseball.

How can you correct your ways TP?

So glad that you asked. You work your ass off every day this offseason, you transform yourself into the most savvy media guy that Columbus can ask for by removing all arrogance from your voice, learn to speak like a pro that’s in college, and get Buckeye nation so pumped for next season then fulfill on your promise to win a national title. Finally, I think you should give a call to LaGarrette Blount and ask him how he took his draft stock from undraftable and “F#@#ed” to the NFC Rookie of the Year candidate in less than a year from his senior year “season long suspension”.

For anybody that thinks Terrelle Pryor doesn’t have pro potential here’s a thought, Terrelle could represent the best wildcat QB in the league. When I say that, I mean Part-time QB/Part-time Jermichael Finley. He’s not a Michael Vick, not a Vince Young, not a Tim Tebow, but the reality is that he could be a Brad Smith 7.0. Any team that drafts Terrelle should teach him how to be split out/on the line 75% of the game, and how to take snaps 25% of the time including during a games most crucial moments. Don’t think he’s got that ex-factor in his arsenal at QB to win ball games? Just ask Wisconsin fans from the ’08 season, Iowa/Arkansas/Illinois fans in the ’10 season when he needed to be stopped on a final drive or on 4th down. Yeah he has and consistently crushes peoples dreams of beating the Buckeyes when they play them (shot out to the Badgers for the win this year as they represent my biggest fan base of people that hate me writing  about OSU).

Now let’s address everybody’s counter argument to TP’s success: Cam Newton. How can TP possibly escaped Cam’s shadow. I cannot argue that Terrelle is a better prospect than Cam Newton because of statistics, awards won, big play ability demonstrated this season. But that leads me to my next point…

Screw Cam Newton and the horse he rode in on. How does this all make sense? Terrelle Pryor is publicly turned into the NCAA’s biggest problem child for doing what everybody in the NCAA does. He made a mistake that every player does, he just got in trouble for it. Total net worth of TP’s mistake = $2500 out of his pocket to charity (god bless that charity). Total Net Worth of Cam Newton’s Heisman trophy, $200,000. Am I missing something here? Cam Newton sold his eligibility for 100x what Terrelle made and he was awarded with a Heisman trophy. Did the NCAA learn anything from Reggie Bush? Oh and let’s not forget here that he was already kicked out of UF for stealing laptops. It’s like the NCAA is this really rich family that lives in the hills and does what they want. The SEC and their biggest asset is the favorite child that always gets favorite treatment. But when that kid grows up and has to do something on his own (NFL), he is completely incompetent to do anything on their own. This is why I believe TP is better suited for the NFL then Cam Newton. What kind of adversity or issues has Newton dealt with? None, he has been football raised to believe that whatever he does he can get done naturally and he can skate by above everybody else and what he did this year was 100x worse than TP’s. But we so commonly forget that this type of player usually is doomed when they play at the highest level. Look at Vince Young, his career at Texas is much more similar to Cam’s at Auburn then TP’s at OSU. TP has tried to become a pro-style QB, he hasn’t done it perfectly but every year he has improved steadily at the position. I’m not saying Terrelle is going to be a good pro, but if he succeeds next year and learns from this, he’ll be much more ready to handle adversity at the highest level because he paid the price first before he got there.

So in summary the overriding theme here is screw the SEC. Arkansas you lost. We scored more points in one half then you did the entire game (say what you will). Arkansas fans tried to taunt OSU fans by chanting SEC after the game, too bad that just lowered them even more. Come play OSU in Columbus in January, come play the Badgers in Madison in January, go play the Hawkeyes in Kinnick in January. Speed in heat doesn’t lie, but speed in freezing cold gets slower and eventually hurt. Let’s play all the BCS games in Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, New York and Pittsburgh. Then let’s track the Big 10’s record and the SEC’s record. Go Bucks and on Monday, Go Ducks.


#1 – 1.1.11

January 2, 2011
1 Comment

The new year came and it went last night and I feel grateful that I can be one of those pleasantly surprised that the night lived up to the hype. The day was nothing short of relaxing and the night was filled with food, fireworks, and booze…Of course the booze. Needless to say that my whole process that is waking up and getting home was punishment in its own respect and I think after human nature taught me that one valuable lesson that it has taught me and many other like me before that the morning afters suck. But now, I think I have gotten it together, I’m ready to build myself out of that deficit that I dug myself in to start the year and I’m not looking back.

If you are like me this New Years and you have one goal or multiple goals then let’s keep this short and sweet. This quick chronicle is dedicated to having goals and sticking to them.

Its been just over six months since I’ve graduated from school and even though the working life isn’t as exhilarating as college, I find that I’m naturally acting and thinking like my age. However, as anyone will tell the those about to go through it or yet to go through it, the transition is tough. In my first six months I found myself focusing so much on work that I had to “sacrifice” other areas of my life, or at least make changes to what I was used to. I stopped going to the gym, stopped eating right, and for the very few people I had reading my first series of blogs, stopped doing productive things that  I find enjoyment out of such as writing and playing basketball.

But that is all about to change. It’s not enough to just say that you can’t make it happen anymore like you used to. It’s about making a commitment to something and opening up your focus to the bigger picture. To those about to rock and do work on their goals this year, think about that feeling of satisfaction you will have next year, one year from today when you have a whole year’s worth of production to show for yourself. Then remind yourself of a couple of keys to making them happen:

-Make sure they are realistic and SMART

-Build yourself some momentum early on. Focusing on discipline and inner strength this Winter, once you’ve established this everything becomes easier because it’s engrained in your lifestyle

-Don’t try and do to much and make them fun. For example a few of my goals are to play basketball twice a week, write 52 blogs this year, and read 6 books amongst others.

From here on out I don’t want to take up too much more of your time because I know there’s a whole year’s worth of ambition out there with the new year. Remember that what you do this year will define whether your year was good/bad or somewhere in the middle, you are in control of this. When you are about to lay off and let your goals go to the wayside just remember to ask yourself are you a Walker or a Talker? Do you walk the walk, talk the talk, or try and do both? I do both, but I can’t talk without walking. Best of luck and Go Bears.

 


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Fantasy Football, I Love You

September 9, 2010
1 Comment

As one of my favorite and most intelligent Ying Yang Twinz song goes, “Boom It’s On”, referring to the feeling that is setting in tonight and will erupt starting tomorrow night. The night that’s better than the night before Christmas, for most it more exciting and experienced more sober than New Years Eve, and for some heavy gamblers the night that is more nerve wracking, exciting, and invested than the night before their wedding night (if they were lucky to get that far in relationships). It’s the 24 hours before the NFL football season starts.

Let’s face facts, I try and stay busy at work. To my company, I really do try, but on this day and for many days to come, I become obsessed with pressing the refresh button my Safari explorer on profootballtalk.com, yahoo sports, and on ESPN just to maybe get the inside scoop or some news for my fantasy football team. I don’t have any actual feelings (except hatred) towards any of the teams involved in tomorrow nights game, but what I do have is Purple Jesus, my prized fantasy possession, my work horse, the one and only the Adrian Peterson (enough hype?) going in game one to start my fantasy season off right. Besides the pure and budding rivalry with my week one opponent Alex Kimball (who I might add is playing hardcore fantasy football in South Korea), I will be watching AP on every Minnesota possession screaming at Brad Childress to just hand the ball off to AP in the red zone and get my guy some damn touches! For those football fans that don’t play fantasy football, press up your nerdy glasses and ask me the question “don’t you want New Orleans to win to give an in-division rival a week one loss”?

No. No. No. I don’t, I don’t care what the final score is and screw you for asking (it would be nice if they lost). All I care is that my stud gets his.

This is the grip of fantasy football. It is the glass of whiskey for the alcohol deprived, it’s the nicotine for the cigarette puffers, and its the Prada bag on the credit card for those females reading this blog (thank you). In other words, it’s the crack.

For the last three weeks everyone involved in my fantasy league has been going crazy. Trade proposals here, nonsensical free agent picks there, all with a dash of preseason S#!& talk. In business terms, no moves that truly affect anyone’s bottom line. These last three weeks have meant nothing in practical terms but they have meant everything at the same time. When it comes down to the .00 mark on Monday nights San Diego vs. Kansas City game, week one will be decided. Fantasy leagues world wide will have two groups of people: The F you for doubting my team, I told you I’m the Ish group that got on the board with a win and the F you (Insert NFL Figure Here) for (not doing what you are paid MILLIONS of dollars to do) group. Next week’s offices will be filled with co-workers discussing how their team pulled off a miracle victory because Phillip Rivers found Malcolm Floyd in the last 30 seconds of the game for a 10 yard pass to give his team a one point lead in a perfectly synchronized comeback from an early deficit. And those will be countered with how one guys team lost in “the worst fantasy loss that you have ever heard let me tell you why”. Boss’s will become unprofessional to talk crap to the associates after they just beat their team, and associates will get fired for beating the bosses team. College roommates will have houses divided with 1-0 teams and 0-1 teams, but they’ll still be drunk. People who play across an entire body of water will be able to celebrate victories and losses on different time zones (Kimball Shout Out), but will still be able to rub it in. The possibilities and outcomes will be endless and are undescribe-able.

The point of this pointless blog entry (the first of many this season and the first in a while) is to wish all of my fellow fantasy players out there good luck on your season. Sleep tight tonight because the madness starts tomorrow and I can’t wait… I love fantasy football.

One last thing Please Stay Healthy Beanie Wells!


2010 Free Agency Sucks, I Said It…

June 29, 2010
6 Comments

Chad Ford: “I think Lebron is genuinely torn between leaving the city that has embraced him and he grew up with and being loyal and winning an NBA championship. I think he probably understands now thats not going to happen in Cleveland, at least not anytime soon, and which of those two are going to matter the most to him? Everything that  I hear from a credible source is that he is truly conflicted about that.”

Bill Simmons: “I think he ends up in Chicago with Bosh. I think they end up trading Luol Deng to Atlanta for Joe Johnson, and put those three with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, the NBA is over until 2020.”

Chad Ford: “The most credible source I have talked to has said that that is what’s exactly going to happen and that despite all the stuff about playing in Michael Jordan’s shadow, Lebron is actually so intrigued with Jordan, that to kind of live out his life…”

Bill Simmons: “The argument against him is, ‘oh why would he want to go play in Chicago and live in Jordan’s shadow’, what the hell did Kobe just do with Magic. These guys if anything, they like that shadow, they want to continue a legacy they feel a kinship to that shadow. I don’t buy the whole ‘oh he wants his own thing and start his own’, these guys don’t care about that, and if anything we know that Lebron who wore #23 his entire career and was a gigantic Michael Jordan fan, so I don’t think that’s going to disuade him from signing there.”

Chad Ford: “I think people that are saying that have no idea who this guy is. I think it’s almost a bonus, not a detriment that the Bulls were Michael Jordan’s team.

Bill Simmons: “I  think that he would get a rush from the (imitating Ray Clay’s starting line-up for MJ) “Annnnnnnnnnd now” and being introduced. I think thats a bonus for him, not a negative.

Chad Ford: “And he’s close to home, he’s close to home. I think that if he feels that once he goes back into Akron, after leaving the Cavs, I think he does it…And if you listen to him closely, the last time he spoke, he talked about his loyalty, not to CLEVELAND, but to Akron. I thought that was a message”

To the shock of no one, this little three minute blurb was enough to create a euphoric sports fantasy that kept me smiling all weekend. Articulating all of the points and emotions I have been looking to put to writing or to argument since the Cavs got rocked and the Lebron shake up happened. No I don’t think that it’s a done deal that Lebron is coming to Chicago, nor do I think its a guarantee that he will leave Cleveland, but I do think that it is short sided to use the claim “Lebron will ABSOLUTELY not go to Chicago because he wants to start his own legacy and he will not want to follow in Jordan’s footsteps”. I don’t think that most athlete’s comprehend what’s going on around them: the fans, the media, the outrageous rumors and unsupported claims by journalists looking to get a token in the credit machine. Additionally I think that they are way too busy to worry about the drama of the whole jungle that is the league. The media and the fans themselves are very much the sorority girls of sports. You know the people that sit around all day, spend 40% of their time thinking about how the world should cater to them, spend 30% of their time thinking about how much better they are than anyone else, 15% of their time thinking about how they can bring down their friends and the other 15% gossiping complete nonsense that fills the air with noise and corrupts the minds of the insecure (no offense to my sorority friends, I mean you guys don’t fall in this category, only the ones I don’t know…).

What do we really know about free agency?

We know nothing, absolutely nothing. Chris Broussard knows more than my neighbor and probably more than your neighbor (unless you live next to World Wide, The King, or any 2010 free agents), but at the end of the day if he signs with the Knicks then he looks like the 3 month idiot. Stephen A. Smith says insecurely that Lebron, Bosh, and Wade are all destined for Miami and it’s a done deal according to his sources. Rich Bucher says that Bosh and Bron are a done deal to Chicago, but what does he know, he said Kobe to Chicago was a done deal back in 2007 and even reported it as if it were facts, look how that turned out. Chad Ford and Jalen Rose really believe in their sources that Lebron is going to Chicago and leaving Cleveland, and we all know that they only make claims unless they are more likely to be true. Marc Stein now says its a done deal that Lebron and Bosh will Join D-Wade in Miami according to his sources. ESPN first reported that there was a huge free agent summit to be held at May and that was for sure going to happen, it didn’t. ESPN and RealGM.com also reported that Lebron’s first trip on his recruiting fantasy week was to a lavish dinner in NYC with celebrities like Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg, Chris Rock and famous courtside hero Spike Lee. Well all of a sudden Maverick Carter reportedly says “that’s not happening” and LBJ is supposed to stay in Ohio and have teams visit him. Better yet the Knicks don’t have solo-dolo rights to speak with Lebron next Thursday, the Nets, and the Cavs both are unleashing their red carpet bargaining chip that night as well.

The point is that today’s media has gotten to the point where everything that is being used as content is not verifiable information. It has suscribed to the world of the blog and to word of mouth reporting. ESPN, New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune (to name a few) used to have credible reporting, but by today’s standard it seems as if they only care about content and not character of a story. Reporters can’t even get their facts straight. For example after last week’s draft, more specifically, the Bulls trade, the story was that the Bulls now had enough salary cap space to sign two max players. But in today’s (Tuesday 6/29) Chicago Tribune, K.C. Johnson wrote that the Bulls “can’t even afford two max players”. These guys don’t even know the guidelines of what it is  they are reporting, and we, as fans, are supposed to sit back and listen to these guys “sources”? Since when was it ever acceptable to use “source” as the means for your base claim. If I was allowed to write a quote in a school paper and cite it with “source” college would have been a lot easier. If CNN or MSNBC were allowed to follow the same guidelines, our economy would be more in the toilet than it really is.

But that’s the point. Sports media reporting has gotten so relaxed and uncredible that most of it deserves to be thrown out and ignored. I just feel that if I have to listen to another Marc Stein or Stephen A Smith “from everything that my sources have said” rant I might go crazy because it changes so frequently, like every day. Who are these guys sources? I’ve dabbled in sports media and from everything I gathered or felt, these guys are not the athletes favorites to deal with. Granted they probably have more wiggle room because they are at the top and that league members do socialize with them, but everyone knows that they are just there to pick away at the gatekeepers of knowledge. That must be annoying for the athletes and members of team’s front offices. I mean do you think Danny Ferry, as his time as the Cavs GM, with all of the stuff he had to do on a daily basis ever gave this order “alright Tim, we now need to get this information to Chad Ford, he needs to know, he needs to let the sports world know!” Or does this sound more like it:

Chad Ford: “Hey Cavs Intern, you sit in on some meetings and maybe have talked to Danny Ferry once or twice, what do you know?”

Cavs Intern: “hmmm, uh, let me see, oh yeah, Ferry said that Lebron is coming back, and we are going to do a sign and trade for Chris Paul, sign Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, yeah that’s right that’s what he said in the last meeting”

Point is that the reporters won’t disclose their sources, but will report whatever it is that they want. So we are just the majority of suckers who believe whatever comes out of there mouths. The story changes every day, and in these last days fans really need to soak in what it is they believe, and really live in the moment of what they actually want to happen. If Lebron signs with the Heat or the Cavs, I will be disappointed yes, but these last two weeks of thinking that the King will be in the Red and White in the 312 has been such an awesome thought that helps me get through my day. So Cleveland fans believe what you want, likewise for New York and Miami fans, just don’t get caught up in the media dial, because at the end of the day, no one really knows.

So really what we know or can assume from all of this nonsense is:

-Lebron is truly conflicted about leaving

-Lebron is also the biggest piece in the domino effect, once he decides we will see more movement.

-The Knicks refuse to lose, but have a back up plan of Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudemire

-Chris Bosh is probably leaving, and probably following LBJ

-Wade is more likely to stay then leave, unless he proves to not be a saavy recruiter to Miami as he has so arrogantly demanded that he be

-and that is about it…

With all that out there to clear the air, i’m going to give some “far out” picks, meaning that all picks are general at this point, so my picks are a long shot and are a means to force second thought (and they are bias)

Joe Johnson- Los Angeles Clippers. Joe Joe needs to be recruited and the Heat and everyone forgets that the Clippers have a ton of cash, and they need a more established 2/3 guy.

Amare Stoudemire- Miami. I had a hard time with this one because I wanted to put Dirk in Miami, so I did, and let’s face it, he’s already got a crib in Miami, he’s got a life there, its the best place for him to win and he fits the culture best.

Dirk Nowitzki- Miami. Why, because I am sick of seeing him in Dallas and there’s got to be some kind of shake up in free agency. Gut feeling tells me that he will play best with D-Wade.

David Lee- Thunder. Why, well the Thunder are one all-star away from being the second best team in the West. Lee could be the presence for them

Carlos Boozer – Bulls. This is a veteran move by Reinsdorf. He wants James more than he wants Bosh. He wants D Rose to be the #2 on this team, this move gives the Bulls a rock solid core with veteran leadership, it also minimizes personalities on the team.

Ray Allen- Bulls. Reinsdorf can pitch to Shuttlesworth that his role on this team will be exactly the same as it was 3 years ago on the Boston 3 Party, Ray Ray would love the opportunity at deja vu, and to be better than Reggie Miller.

Dwayne Wade- Miami. This seems like about as a done deal. The only way Wade leaves is if he doesn’t get anyone to join him in the city of white pants, cuban love and a second home for Jersey folks and old people, then he will leave to where ever Lebron isn’t.

Paul Pierce (potentially)- Boston. He’s about as entrenched in Boston as Matt Damon and Bill Simmons.

Chris Bosh- Lakers. Bosh has Hollywood in his eyes, and if the Lakeshow had free agent $$$ they would for sure be his number 1. If the Lakers wanted a sign and trade I bet Toronto would be open for it.

Lebron James- Chicago. My dream has come true, I retract all of my hate from the last four years and accept the King as my lord and savior of basketball.

*knicks will end up with Al Harington and Josh Howard as a consolation prize, sorry New York, guess you asked for it when the Yankess organization was constructed.


Please Oh Please Bulls – Don’t Mess This Up!

June 22, 2010
1 Comment

10 days until the madness ensues, 10 days until the King can be courted, 10 days until teams will take shape in the form of either a ‘roided out superfreak or like a fat video gamer eating Wendy’s JBC’s, and 10 days until the start of what will be the reconstruction or power shift of the NBA. So if you haven’t figured it out by now, in 10 days, NBA teams can start legally pursuing free agents. There is no doubt that on the top of every teams grocery list stands Lebron James, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Dwayne Wade, Joe Johnson, Dirk Nowitzki etc… but, an event that should not be overlooked is the NBA draft. Exactly one week before free agency starts, and two weeks before free agents can sign with a team, the NBA draft is where we will get to see what teams are serious and going in the right direction leading up to free agency, and what teams are in position to lure the jackpot but really have no idea how to reel the big fish in. Fortunately and unfortunately the Bulls are one of those teams. Past history shows that in times like this we, as Bulls fans, can trust the fact that Jerry Reinsdorf is giving GarForPax the green light into making moves (see the failed Ben Wallace experiment, at least he experimented), or at least he has a list of players that he is saying “here’s my list, I will spend all the money I need for them and if you can’t bring me Lebron James or Chris Bosh, and if you settle for Joe Johnson and Al Harrington, consider yourselves Vinny Del Negro’d”. So to make a quick point come back more full circle, when Reinsdorf can “date the model” that is Ms. Opportunity, he wines and dines and does what he can to make opportunity his.

But let’s leave the major free agency talk until after we can breakdown the Bulls moves this Thursday. So this entry is dedicated to future young Bullies and the rumors surrounding the No. 17 pick.

So let’s dive right down into it. What do you want to go with first, the candidates or the rumors? Let’s go with the rumors and analyze each one.

Chicago Bulls trade Luol Deng to the Orlando Magic for frenchman Mickael Pietrus and overzealous, cheerleading, big man Marcin Gortat.

This rumor was brought to my attention yesterday and I am still not sure of how realistic it is, or how official the rumor is, but like gossip in 7th grade, rumors are always brain twisting and fun to mess with so we’ll go with it. Perhaps what makes this trade rumor most legit is that it works on the NBA’s Trade Machine, so it’s got the Chronicles stamp of approval. Analysis: The Bulls are actively looking to ship Captain Kirk and Lu Deng around the draft, not only move positions, but more importantly to free up cap space to sign two major free agents (Kirk and Deng combine for about 20 million in annual salary, an average of 28 PPG, and a consistent production of inconsistent results). I was on the record last year saying how I wish they would not have resigned Deng for that much money so I am all for this trade with a couple of alterations. If you told me that the Bulls were going to trade Deng for Pietrus and Orlando’s 2nd round pick I would be much happier. Why? Well because the Bulls are actually coming out in the red of this trade and absorbing more money than they had originally invested in Deng, thus making it more difficult to get that #2 max contract. Pietrus is the golden child in this trade. Already off of a playoffs where he should have played more, he can play both the 2 and the 3, he can start but he is better off of the bench, he is one of the best defenders in the league, and he brings a consistent outside perimeter game that the Bulls are in need of. If the Bulls take Gortat, I like his size and what he adds to the big man rotation, problem will be that Kirk will now need to be traded for nothing if we want to free up cap space. Either way I really like what this move signals more than anything. That would be the Bulls are even more serious in adding Lebron. Dispensing of your starting small forward, adding a top caliber, proven bench stud who fits in perfectly defensively to a new coach who is considered a “defensive genius and architect”. This will be one right move that will help shape the 2011 Bulls.

Chicago Bulls trade the No. 17 pick to Portland for the No. 22 & No. 34 pick (escalation of trade throw in Kirk Hinrich and Rudy Fernandez)

Correct me if I am wrong on this but last Summer Portland had expressed interest in acquiring Hinrich via trade. We can assume that a season later they would still seriously consider a trade proposal being thrown their way. The more overriding rumor regarding this specific trade is that the Bulls are once again looking to trade Hinrich or Deng, along with that No. 17 pick to free up as much cap space as possible for free agency. I read this morning that Portland is looking to trade up in the draft and they already swapped 2nd round picks with Golden State, jumping 10 spots, looking for any kind of moving up leverage they can get. But in my days of watching drafts, 2nd round picks can only boost your status a few picks. Chad Ford if you don’t believe that they can’t jump that many spots, “They like some guys at No. 34, but could package with No. 22 to move up a few spots.”The No. 22 and the No. 34 pick are not enough to crack the lottery, and additionally with their outward desire to move up in the draft indicates that they one player higher up on their radar and they feel he won’t be available at 22. So why not swap picks? The Bulls don’t have just one player on their board, it seems that they have a few guys they would be happy with, and it is reasonable to assume that anywhere between 1-3 of those players will be available at 22. What I threw in at the tail-end of this trade was that if the Bulls wanted to repackage the offer to include Kirk to Portland and Rudy Fernandez to the Bulls. I am sure that they could use Portland to their advantage in this situation. Off of just the player swap alone the Bulls would save 8.34 million dollars in salary cap space, and with the 22nd pick the Bulls would save about 300 thousand a year over the course of the rookie’s contract (remember what your grandpa told you: a penny saved is a penny earned).

Fill in your Rumor here….

With the #17 pick, the Chicago Bulls select…

Something that everyone needs to realize is the true value of a draft pick or a free agent. When I say true value, I am implying that fans often do not realize the importance of having a true role player unless their team is a championship contender (remember Mark Derosa when the Cubs had the best record in the league, or how about Big Baby Davis/Nate Robinson/Rasheed Wallace on this years Boston Celtics). As Chicago fans we need not put the role player on the throne, but we need to embrace the players that surround the nucleus, that give our stars a break when they need it, and the players that may pull together a few wins every year. Let’s also face facts, after we experienced Michael Jordan, the greatest superstar of all time, we became so spoiled that sometimes we have such high standards for the players that we bring on that they are doomed (when was the last true star to succeed here). So when we step into this draft, we need to acknowledge that we are drafting for the 5th best player on the squad next year AT BEST. Remember the front office has the mindset that we are going to get at least one star in July amongst others, so the incoming Rookie is not going to be expected to be anything more than a role player. The job of the front office (if they keep their pick) is to anticipate the players that are coming in via free agency and determine the teams needs ahead of time.

3 players that solve some future problems

1. James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State

The Big 12 Player of the Year is my favorite and most ideal candidate to grab with the 17 pick. He fills the biggest foreseeable need, a tall (6’6″), perimeter shooting guard, who is a proven scorer. Last season he averaged 22.3 ppg in 34.5 mpg grabbing about 5.8 rpg. Additionally he shoots 45% from the field and shoots 34% from three. The rap on him is that he will be a role player at best because he has a limited ceiling in terms of athletic potential, but in a draft where there is no proven science on how to draft for success, the best way to draft people is often times by saying collegiate production=professional production. He has done it at the collegiate level, he’s mature enough to handle the NBA because he’s 21, and he did this in one of the best basketball conferences in college, the Big 12. Draftexpress.com say that James Anderson is one of the  highest usage/highest efficient players in the league and that players like him often get overlooked in the draft but succeed tremendously in the league. The leagues comparison is a better version of Marcus Thornton.

2. Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas

Last season Henry was a lottery pick but don’t let the slight downgrade in position fool you. Experts are considering him to be a sleeper to slide up into the lottery, possibly the top 10 this Thursday. But in case teams panic and sleep on Henry, he would be an excellent fit. He stands at 6’7″ but he has a 6’11″1/4 wingspan, he can play both the 2 and the 3, and he brings to the table a higher ceiling than Anderson in terms of potential. Last season at KU he averaged 13.4 ppg while shooting 45% from the field and a very impressive 41% from three. Henry is considered to be raw, but also a sure thing, and a player who is looking to excel at the next level. If the Bulls are lucky enough to have him fall to them at the 17th pick, don’t be surprised to see the Bulls take him and have him become the starting #2 guard by years end, regardless of LBJ or not. Henry, like Anderson, is also one of the highest efficient players in the draft.

3. Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier

I will spare you the excess of reading material on this spot by justifying myself simply with “Do you remember watching Xavier vs. West Virginia in this years NCAA tournament?”, or “Do you remember the kid who started up the fuss last year by rising up and posterizing Lebron James at his own camp?” Yeah, that was Jordan Crawford. Sure he may be a reach at 17, but at 22 he may be a steal, and if the Bulls don’t care about this pick, like they have implied, the Jordan Crawford experiment would be one that could bring lots of excitement. He would be a great fit, personality wise, with James (Ohioans run together).

Other players whom I would like (if they slipped) or at least who I wouldn’t complain about: Cole Aldrich, Patrick Patterson, Avery Bradley

3 Players that will make me lose faith in this offseason

1. Damion James, SF, Texas

What would be worse than cloning James Johnson? How about drafting a person who is being compared within the Bulls organization to JAMES JOHNSON. I mean did they watch their own team last year? James Johnson showed that if he continues down this path he is a broke man’s Donyell Marshall but worse. Drafting James would show that the Bulls have already given up on James Johnson and that they are willing to completely saturate their teams with small forwards (provided they don’t trade Deng, sign James, and don’t trade Johnson). What could only be worse is if they tried to have him play the four. Texas sucked this year under Damion James’s leadership, why would you draft that personality and skill?

2. Hassan Whiteside, PF, Marshall

A good friend of mine yesterday informed me that he averaged 13 and 11 last year in the MAC. He also is being described as raw, unpolished, unproven, extremely athletic with lots of potential. Do you remember Tyrus Thomas? Why kick yourself in the ass again? Chris Bosh, Amare, Boozer and David Lee are out there for free agents. You already have proven starters (yes starters) in Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. 2008 draftee Omer Asik (whom is reportedly good) is showing up to training camp this year and Brad Miller is said to be available at the right price. You would be adding a 6th big man to a rotation that already has 4 proven players ahead of you, and Asik who the organization took a bigger chance on than this pick. Why go big with an unproven nothing, I don’t know.

3. Larry Sanders, PF, VCU

Let me start his analysis by telling you how partial I am to Taj Gibson. For so undervalued going into last season, Gibson finished the season on the 1st team All Rookie Team, started for the team and proved to be successful, and he got valuable playoff experience. Not to mention he is a hard worker, has a strong desire to succeed, and he was the 3rd best player on the team last year. Now why would you draft someone to try and take Gibson’s position? His position is not the problem, far from it, so why draft him?

Finally just for fun I want you to picture the best case scenario team next year for the Bulls (it’s realistic too)

PG: D Rose

SG: Mickael Pietrus

SF: Lebron James

PF: Chris Bosh

C: Joakim Noah

B: #17 pick listed above

B: Taj Gibson

B: Omer Asik

B: Brad Miller

B: Rudy Fernandez or Kirk Hinrich

Go Bulls!


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