Thursday, July 20, 2017

2018 NBA Mock Draft Unveiled

We've released our first version of our 2018 NBA Mock Draft this morning. It can be found here.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Minnesota Twins First Half Recap

With the first half of the baseball season finished, the Minnesota Twins are in firm contention in the American League central. With a run differential of -60 and terrible starting pitching, however, the team is almost certain to fall out of contention in the second half. As we hit the All Star Break, though, let's take a look back at the good and bad of the Twins first half.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Ricky Rubio Trade a Big Mistake for Timberwolves

After two off-seasons of Ricky Rubio trade rumors, the Minnesota Timberwolves finally pulled the trigger on a trade yesterday that sent the much-hyped Spaniard to the Utah Jazz for a 2018 first round pick.

After garnering a lot of well deserved praise for fleecing the Bulls for superstar Jimmy Butler, Thibs and Co. have made a head scratching move in every way. The draft pick is a very minor asset, because it's top-14 protected and is actually the Oklahoma City Thunder pick. With their recent blockbuster acquisition of Paul George, that pick is likely going to fall at the end of the first round. The Wolves weren't looking to get back fair value for Rubio, of course, because they wanted to shed salary cap space to sign Jeff Teague. Teague will reportedly get a 3-year deal in the $55 million range, which makes him more expensive for a longer period of time than Rubio.

For some reason, fans and "experts" alike have been talking about how Rubio and Butler weren't an ideal backcourt pairing, as neither is a great shooter, and it was no secret the team needed to find some shooting one way or another. What seems to be forgotten is that the Timberwolves offense ranked 10th in the league last season according to most advanced metrics, and replacing Jimmy Butler with Zach Lavine is quite clearly a massive upgrade on both ends of the court.

As I've said multiple times, Lavine is a personal favorite, but as smooth as he looks shooting the ball, he shot 38% on 3's last season. Butler shot just under 37%. Lavine is a higher volume three point shooter, which helps spacing, but factoring in both players entire offensive arsenal and it's clear Butler is a far superior offensive player. Offensive fits were not a major issue last season, as evidenced by them being ranked 10th, and despite public opinion, the team was going to be just fine offensively.

Last season's issues were on the defensive side of the ball, with both Towns and Wiggins being black holes on that end of the floor. Replacing Lavine's porous defense with Butler's elite ability was a massive upgrade, so it was clear just with the Butler trade alone the team was going to be more efficient on both sides of the ball.

Unfortunately, by trading Rubio and reportedly planning to sign Jeff Teague to replace him, the team hasn't really solved their shooting problems. They've signed an older, more expensive point guard who's not a great defender and is clearly declining, while Rubio is improving every year still. In my opinion, Teague is actually a WORSE fit with the current Wolves roster, and he's more expensive/not as good. A Teague-Butler backcourt should be better defensively than a Rubio-Lavine backcourt was last season, but the team clearly under valued the kind of impact a Rubio-Butler backcourt would've had on the team's overall defense.

Players also shoot a much higher percentage playing with Rubio than without, so while Rubio's defense is what makes him so underrated, losing him is going to have an effect on the team's overall shooting percentage. Even with Rubio's own poor shooting, he does enough to improve others percentages with such great passing that it more than makes up for it.

Undoubtedly, Thibs thinks Teague is an upgrade, so he's thinking he not only used the cap space to upgrade his starting point guard, he also got the Wolves a first round pick next season when they will likely send their own first round pick to the Atlanta Hawks for the ill-fated Adrian Payne trade years ago. Thibs is wrong to think Teague is an upgrade, but that's okay because a team with stars like Towns and Butler gives the decision makers more of a cushion to make mistakes as they should win with any above average point guard.

The Timberwolves likely have a few other moves planned to fill  out their roster, and even with the downgrade at point guard yesterday they are still very likely to make the playoffs next season. To be clear, a Teague-Butler-Wiggins-Dieng-Towns starting lineup should be very good, but the organization had a better, cheaper, younger option and decided to move on from him in exchange for a pick that is likely to fall in the late 20's next season. Yuck.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Thoughts: McMahon, Silver, Balls and Paul George

Just some random sports thoughts to help distract you from that annoying co-worker who keeps telling you it's Hump Day.

  • Vince McMahon and Adam Silver should have a business together. No matter what you think about wrestling or the NBA, both men have proven time and time again that they understand what the fans want. While Roger Goodell clearly is serving the NFL owners' interests at all times, Silver seems to actually worry about what the fans of his sport actually think. Vince McMahon is one of the most innovative minds of his generation, which he'd need to be to make grown men in underwear play-fighting a multi-billion dollar business. The WWE is unbelievably entertaining, and their latest foray into the sports world saw the Ball family appear on Monday Night Raw at Staples Center.
  • LaVar Ball is growing on me. He's still wrong about almost everything, but it's hard not to laugh at and be entertained by the character he's become. He's basically a WWE character living in the real world, which is why his appearance on Raw was so perfect. Lonzo is soft-spoken and by all accounts a great teammate, so LaVar is Paul Heyman to Lonzo's Brock Lesnar. His hype man, so to speak. It's important to remember all we're really watching sports for is to be entertained, and LaVar is definitely entertaining. As long as Stephen A Smith and Sean Hannity remain television fixtures, it's clear nobody cares about getting things right, so LaVar, keep doing what you're doing.
    • There's little chance George would re-sign with the Wolves, so it'd be a one year rental with a small chance of changing his mind if the team performs as well as they'd be projected, which makes it unlikely the Wolves would ever make this kind of offer.
    • The Pacers may prefer future draft picks to actual young players, but if they like Wiggins as much as some around the league it seems unlikely another team would beat this offer with George's contract situation. Wiggins is due to sign a max extension in the near future, but it'd be considerably less than George's next contract and Wiggins would likely have no reservations about signing long-term. Aldrich gets included to leave the Wolves enough cap room to target a shooter and/or a decent power forward.
    • This will not happen in a million years, so it's really a waste of time, but a Rubio-Butler-George trio would be the best trio of wing defenders in the league. Having one of the best defensive minds in the last three decades as their head coach would be unfair to the rest of the league (except those damn Warriors).
    • Giving up Wiggins for one year of George has to seem crazy to some Wolves fans, but I think barring a huge improvement this season from Wiggins paying him a maximum salary contract will be a big mistake. It's worth the risk to try to compete with Golden State, but even more so to try and show Paul George his best chance at winning is being paired with Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns long-term.