Transfer Update

As many club’s season are finishing, teams are already beginning to make moves for the upcoming summer window. Here are some updates on moves that have become official.

Done Deals:

Neymar:

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Neymar has officially signed with Barcelona which finally ends the speculation on one of the most anticipated transfers in recent memory. While Santos is set to receive around 30 million euros for the Brazilian star, Santos only owns 55 percent of Neymar’s rights so the transfer will cost much more. Neymar will add a new dimension to Barcelona’s attack and will be able to play with some of the world’s best players. If all goes right, Neymar will develop to become an proven elite player and take over for Messi down the road.

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Bayern Munich Wins Champions League

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2013 Champions League Champions: Bayern Munich.

Bayern Munich defeated Borussia Dortmund 2-1 to win the 2013 Champions League in a thrilling game. Before discussing what this win means for Bayern, Dortmund should be congratulated for an impressive performance in both the final and in the Champions League this season. Defeating an excellent Real Madrid team in the semifinal and dominating large parts of the final is remarkable and Dortmund showed how good they really are. Unfortunately, they came up just short and Bayern Munich finally ended their losing streak in the Finals. Continue reading

Player Profiles: David Luiz

Player Profile: David Luiz

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David Luiz has come a long way to where he stands today. He is originally from Diadema, Brazil and is 26 years old. He started his professional career with Brazilian club, Vitoria in 2006 and then signed with Portuguese power, Benfica in 2007 after a brief loan. It took some time for David to develop, but soon enough David was the best player in the league and won Portuguese Liga Player of the Year in the 09-10 season. Clearly he was pretty fired up about it.

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Rating NBA Draft Prospects’ Bust Potential

Kwame Brown. Darko Milicic. Adam Morrison. What do these guys all have in common? Well, besides the fact that two of them were drafted by Michael Jordan. They’re some of the biggest busts in NBA history, of course! Sometimes it’s easy to spot a potential bust, but other times they come completely out of left field. Take Adam Morrison for example. No disrespect to the WCC, but he was not exactly facing stiff competition. He dominated the NCAA his junior year, putting up over 28 points per game, but came up very small in the tournament. And then tried to spin that in a positive light. All of the comparisons to Larry Bird were based solely on Morrison being a far from athletic, white jump shooter. In retrospect, it’s absurd that Morrison was the #5 pick in the draft, just another one of MJ’s brilliant personnel decisions over the years. Hindsight is 20/20, but the Morrison pick should’ve been more obvious. He was a one tool player. He was a scorer, but he was used to touching the ball every possession and being the go-to-guy, a role he would clearly never have in the pros. Morrison couldn’t handle the ball, couldn’t rebound, couldn’t play ANY defense, and didn’t come close to making his teammates better.

Was it really a surprise that this guy was a bust?
Was it really a surprise that this guy was a bust?

And yet what makes the Morrison case so frightening was that he wasn’t even drafted on that dreaded word that gets GMs fired: potential. More often than not, GMs will salivate over super athletic players who’ve yet to completely translate their athleticism onto the court. In other words, they’ve underachieved and often look like they’ve never played Basketball before, yet teams still believe it’s just a matter of time before these guys figure it out. This is not to knock athleticism as a guiding principle of drafting players, but sometimes actual college production and talent are overlooked at the expense of athleticism. How do you know you’re dealing with one of these guys? Well, there’s a few key phrases are sure-fire signs. If you hear phrases like “he has an NBA body,” “he hasn’t figured it out yet,” “he’s a tweener,” or “he needs to improve his motor” then stop whatever you’re doing, cover your eyes, and run. Sometimes these guys pan out, but more often than not, their potential is nothing but a pipe dream.

Marvin Williams had no business being a top 3 pick, but his ideal athletic 6'9 frame was too enticing for scouts to ignore.
Marvin Williams had no business being a top 3 pick, but his ideal athletic 6’9 frame was too enticing for scouts to ignore.

 

This year’s draft has been called perhaps the worst ever. There are no obvious franchise players or even future perennial all-stars like most years. Most scouts though believe there are many rotation guys in this draft and that the 30th pick may not be much different from the 3rd pick. Let’s take a look at the some of the players projected to go in the first round to see who some of the safest picks are, as well as the most likely busts. We will evaluate each player’s bust potential on a scale from 0-10, with 10 being a definite bust.

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Transfer Talk

As the summer transfer window nears, lots of speculation is starting for the world’s top players. Neymar’s next destination seems to be the most discussed subject as his move to Europe seems likely to happen this summer even if he said he would stay with Santos until 2014. Below is a breakdown of the destinations of some of the world’s best players:

Neymar (Santos): 

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Will Neymar join Messi next year?

There has been talk for many months now that Neymar and Barcelona have an agreement in place to send Neymar to Camp Nou. This appears to be the next destination for Neymar and now the price is the only question. While Real Madrid and Bayern Munich may offer him more money, many reports indicate that Barcelona is the only team Neymar actually wants to play for. Barcelona is a perfect fit for Neymar and by joining a team with other stars, he will not have to carry all the pressure and focus that he had at Santos.

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Lottery Breakdown

Ahh, it’s that time of the year again. The time of the year when the most incompetent franchises in the NBA pray that they’ll be gifted the absolutely unearned right to draft a great player. The draft is supposed to be a plac

e to get promising players who are very cheap. Unfortunately, many of the same teams find themselves in the lottery year after year, and are either hindered by bad luck or by delusional incompetence. (See: 2008-2009 Washington Wizards) This a useful example, if only because it is so absurdly idiotic and illustrates why every Wizards fan feels like this whenever Ernie Grunfeld is about to make a decision. It would not surprise me if some fans have in fact “lost their eyes,” being forced to watch the likes of Oleksiy Pecherov and Jan Vesely in the past few years. Anyway, the 2008-2009 Wiz give us a textbook example of a GM and team that are impatient and ridiculously delusional. We’re talking about a team coming off a 19-63 campaign. What does a 19 win team look like you ask? Well, we’re talking about a team 1) whose best player was bringing guns into the locker-room, 2) had a soon-to-be convicted murderer, and perhaps the worst indictment of all, 3) started Darius Songaila.  We’re looking at a historically dysfunctional team that needed to be dismantled ASAP. So what did manageme

nt do when it had the 5th pick in the draft and the chance to draft Stephen Curry? They did what any competent team would do: they traded the pick for two mediocre role players, Randy Foye and Mike Miller! The Wizards may have been 19-63 and the punchline of the NBA, but they were going all-in next season! What’s the point of this example? The point is that patience is key and trading away top picks is rarely worth it, unless it’s possible to acquire a franchise player in return. Sort of like how the Wizards had a chance last year to trade the #3 pick used on Brad Beal for JAMES HARDEN, one of the ten best players on earth. This year’s draft has been called one of the weakest of all time, and while that may be true, there will inevitably be very good NBA players somewhere in this draft. Let’s look at the best and worst case scenarios for each of the lottery teams in this draft whose top prospect is a 206 pound center with a torn ACL!

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1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Best-Case Scenario: Victor Oladipo
Worst-Case Scenario: Nerlens Noel

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What would it take to Challenge the Heat in the East?

As everyone knows, the Heat are 45-3 in their last 48 games. That’s an unprecedented streak that not even the 72-win 1995 Bulls matched. At this point, it’s hardly likely that anyone will stop the Heat from repeating as the champs. Unless Wade’s knee problems flare up to the extent that he can’t play, there’s no reason to think the Pacers and then Grizzlies/Spurs will beat the Heat four times out of seven. The Pacers won’t be an absolute cakewalk, but they’ll be lucky to end up with more than two wins in the Eastern Conference Finals. Injuries have riddled many teams’ hopes this season, as D-Rose (and just about every other player on the Bulls), Danny Granger, Rajon Rondo, and others missed the playoffs. While the Heat probably would have reached the Finals either way, these injuries only further paved an easy path for Heat. Not only are the majority of the teams in the East weaker, but also the Heat are considerably better this season with improved depth, notably the additions of Ray Allen and Chris Anderson. With the current state of the East, would an all star team made up of the Eastern Conference playoff teams be able to beat the Heat? Let’s play a game to find out.paul-george-lebron-james-elite-daily-600x300
Let’s pick one player from each Eastern Conference playoff team to create an all star squad and assess its chances at beating the Heat in a seven game series. The only catch is that we can only pick healthy players, so we can’t select Derrick Rose from the Bulls, for example. Without further ado:

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Confederations Cup Squad

Yesterday, Scolari officially announced the 23 man squad he will use in this summer’s Confederation Cup. The squad featured many players that have been on team in the past and a few newcomers, mostly from the domestic league clubs. Like always, Scolari was criticized for some of the players he snubbed from the squad. Here is a breakdown of the squad:

Goalkeepers:

Julio Cesar (QPR)

Diego Cavalieri (Fluminense)

Jefferson (Botafogo)

These three goalkeepers have all been in the squad before so this is no surprise. Julio Cesar has had a great season even though his club, QPR, has been relegated from the English premier league and will most likely be the starter for Brazil in the tournament. It is thought if Julio Cesar wants to keep his spot in the squad, he must leave the club for another top league club in either Europe or Brazil. One player that has an argument for having made the squad is Valencia’s Diego Alves who is another great goalkeeper who has experience with the national team. After Julio Cesar, the rest of the keepers are pretty even so Scolari probably just picked the players he was most comfortable with.

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What does the Future hold for the Thunder and Bulls?

After the short-handed Thunder and Bulls both lost their respective series in five games, it’s unclear where they’re headed. Even with the return of Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook, the Bulls and Thunder will need to make moves if they plan on being real title contenders next season. While getting healthy will be the main way the Bulls and Thunder improve next season, they still need to make moves, even with their minimal cap room and late draft picks.

Durant had no help as soon as Westbrook went down.
Durant had no help as soon as Westbrook went down.

Thunder
Coming off of a disappointing second round exit, the Thunder may believe a healthy Russell Westbrook will bring them back to the Finals, but seeing the series against the Grizzlies, it’s clear that the Thunder have some more work to do. With Westbrook, the Thunder will surely be the favorite to come out of the West, but it’s now clear that the Thunder are a very average team without him. Serge Ibaka, the guy Sam Presti decided to pay instead of James Harden, has proven to be a 13 and 8 guy who looks like he’s already hit his ceiling. Ibaka is only 23, but his failure to step up in Westbrook’s absence is just another reminder that the Thunder absolutely made the wrong choice picking him over James Harden.

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First Round Playoff Predictions

With the playoffs finally upon us, it’s time to make some predictions. In the East, it seems inevitable that the Heat will come out and get a chance to repeat, but the West isn’t as obvious. Injuries this year have decimated many teams’ chances in both conferences. This might be the year that handed the title to the Heat. In the West, Kobe’s season-ending (and career? just kidding, Kobe) injury has been a hot topic, Manu has been hurt, Danilo Gallinari tore his ACL, and David Lee just injured his hip and is out for the playoffs. In the East, most notably Derrick Rose hasn’t played all season, Danny Granger is out for the playoffs, Rondo tore his ACL, and Amare Stoudemire hasn’t been 100% all year. Injuries happen every year, but this year is worse–key starters and go-to-guys are missing from this year’s playoffs.

In the East…

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