Fixing Soccer’s Penalty Shootout: A Simple Alternative

Imagine if at the end of a tied basketball game, each team went to the foul line. Each team chose five players to shoot free throws. The team with the higher percentage of made shots won the game. There would be a huge uproar over this, and not because otherwise-worthless shooters would suddenly become invaluable. One team shooting free throws better than another does not necessarily indicate that one team is better or worse than the other. It is a gimmicky way to decide which team is better. Now imagine if at the end of a tied football (American football, of course) game, each team decided five players to kick field goals. I know, crazy, right? Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson would probably be on the bench. And just imagine Peyton or Brady trying to kick a field goal. The analogy doesn’t fit quite as well with football, as it does with basketball. The point stands though, that both ways of deciding a game are pointless. They don’t show that one team is better than another. Continue reading

The 15 Best Free Agents Not Named LeBron or Carmelo

NBA free agency starts at midnight tonight. Almost all of the free agent talk so far has been focused on LeBron and Carmelo. Where will LeBron end up? Will he take a pay cut? (No.) Will Carmelo join or create a Big 3? Is he headed to Miami? (Just stop.) Chicago? (Hmmm.) Rockets? (They certainly want him.) New York? (Sorry Knicks fans.) Let’s put aside the LeBron and Carmelo talk for just a second, and rate the rest of the free agents. This free agent class is by no means loaded once you get past LeBron and Carmelo, but there are still some very attractive free agents this summer that could alter the NBA landscape.

A Few that Didn’t Make the Cut

A couple guys didn’t make this list, but will be targeted by several teams. Patty Mills had a stellar run in the Finals and is bound to be overpaid by someone in the league. Plenty of teams will only remember how well he shot the ball in the Finals and be willing to offer Mills the starting job and a salary raise. His speed and pace gave the Heat fits. Speaking of the Heat, they will have to figure out what to do with the Big 3. Obviously, the Heat will do all they can to keep the Big 3 together and make another run at the Finals. There’s no way they’ll let Dwyane Wade go. He’ll probably play his entire career in Miami, and the Heat will offer him a Kobe-like extension, based on what he did for the franchise in the past, not what he will do in the future. Wade could be in this list based on previous ability and his name, but in terms of ability, he doesn’t belong on the list. He looked finished in the Finals. The Heat breezed through the weak East, beginning with their first round sweep of the upstart Hornets. The Hornets look like an up-and-coming team in the East and are trying to keep their point-forward Josh McRoberts, one of the best passing big men in the league. Michael Jordan loves McRoberts and calls him a “connector”, basically meaning Jordan would’ve loved playing with him since McRoberts only passes the ball. A connector is just another word for a glue-guy, and McRoberts is that. Continue reading

Raptors and Hawks Make a Trade: Free Agency Implications

Two Eastern Conference playoff teams made a trade last night. The Hawks sent streaky scorer Lou Williams and Brazilian big man Lucas Nogueira to the Raptors for John Salmons. It’s a classic NBA trade, really. It’s essentially a ‘contributor for cap space’ deal. The Raptors acquire another piece that they think will help them reach the next step in the Eastern Conference, and the Hawks receive John Salmons, whose contract has a team option that the Hawks will promptly decline. The deal will give the Hawks around $4.5 million extra cap space this summer, since waiving Salmons’ contract has a $1 million buyout. Lou Williams had his worst season in over five years, coming off his ACL tear from the previous season. He didn’t ever make an impact in Atlanta, like he had in Philadelphia, where he finished second in the 6th man of the year award voting in 2012. He was second only to James Harden, one of the best players in the league. The bigger loss, in the Hawks’ eyes, is last year’s first round pick Lucas Nogueira, a 21 year old project big man from Brazil. With REALLY COOL HAIR. Continue reading

A World Cup Roster of NBA Players

Ever imagine how good the United States would be at soccer if the country’s best athletes decided to focus on soccer, instead of soccer or basketball? I know, it’s a popular talking point for Americans, who try to defend their country’s relatively weak soccer team. Don’t get me wrong: US soccer has made great strides. We’ve gotten out of three of the last four group stages, but imagine how good we could be if our best athletes were soccer players. Without even considering the NFL, let’s construct a World Cup roster from the current players in the NBA, who are American.

Goalie: LeBron James
LeBron would be the idea goalie, center defender, center-mid, and center striker. He would be perfect no matter where you put him. In goal though, he would never lose a ball in the air, and he’d be stronger than any striker he encountered on corner kicks. He’s also agile enough to dive and make quick stops. You can count on clean sheets with LeBron in goal. Continue reading

NBA Draft Losers

This year’s NBA draft didn’t see as many crazy picks as usual. The lottery went as scripted, for the most part. And then by the middle of the first round, things got interesting. The Raptors took some guy named Bruno, who no one had heard of. And he was called “the Brazilian Kevin Durant!” Then the Thunder took a big man, who hadn’t played in over a year due to back surgery–a guy that we only know about because of two or three games in the NCAA tournament two years ago! The Grizzlies then took a shooting guard who may or may not be able to dunk. That was just the beginning of the madness. Here are the players, fans, and teams that lost the NBA draft.

Toronto Raptors
That’s what you get for drafting a guy 20th overall that wasn’t even on one of Chad Ford’s ten big boards. Bruno Caboclo could be really good. In like four or five years! For a team that finally turned itself around, winning 48 games, you’d think the Raptors would be looking for a player that is NBA-ready and could be in their rotation next year. Caboclo might never make their team. Continue reading

NBA Rookie of the Year Power Rankings

Take a look at who has won Rookie of the Year. It’s a pretty incredible list. Winning Rookie of the Year is a pretty

Rookie of the Year winners are often franchise cornerstones.

Rookie of the Year winners are often franchise cornerstones.

good indicator of just how good a player may be. In the past 13 years, ten of the Rookie of the Year winners have made an All-Star game: Lillard, Kyrie, Blake, Rose, KD, Brandon Roy, CP3, LeBron Amare, and Pau. Those who didn’t make an All-Star game? Carter-Williams, who has only played one year, Tyreke Evans, and Emeka Okafor. Those guys are still good players. Eight of those players are legitimate franchise players: Lillard, Kyrie, Blake, Rose, Durant, CP3, LeBron, and Pau. Three of them would have been perennial All-Stars if not for devastating injuries: Rose, Roy, and Amare. The bottom line the Rookie of the Year list is pretty good company. This year has been called one of the deepest drafts in history. But the list of guys who could win Rookie of the Year isn’t quite as deep. Continue reading

NBA Draft Winners

It’s officially time to overreact to the NBA draft results and hastily hand out make-believe grades. Rather than grade every team, I’ll focus on those teams that won the draft. It’s almost impossible to tell who won the draft, until we look back on the draft in a couple of years, but we’ll go ahead and try anyway. Here are the teams and players that made the Deans List for last night’s draft:

San Antonio Spurs
Obviously. They always win the draft. The Spurs are the smartest team in the league. They always walk away from the draft with a player that will help them. It’s no wonder that the Spurs are the most successful team in the league in the past decade. They don’t waste picks. Last night, they got Kyle Anderson with the last pick of the first round. He was projected earlier as a mid-first rounder, but probably due to his lack of athleticism, he slipped. Anderson is a unique player that wouldn’t fit on many teams. Hell, on the Wizards, they’d probably stick in the corner and expect him to be a corner 3 guy. That’s obviously not his game. The Spurs will improve his shooting, no doubt, but they drafted him for his passing and playmaking. He’ll create even more open shots on the perimeter, which is scary considering how open most of the looks were against the Heat in the Finals. In a couple of years, or maybe even months, teams will be kicking themselves for letting Anderson slide so far. Continue reading

Three Steals in the NBA Draft

This draft was deep. Real deep. There was legitimate first round value available in the second round this year. That doesn’t happen very often. Last year, first round value was hard to come by anywhere. But this draft was unusual. Teams weren’t as stupid as usual! We didn’t have any Charlie Villanueva or Dion Waiters-like unexpected picks, or Anthony Bennett for that matter. The lottery went, for the most part, as most people predicted. There were some minor hiccups. Noah Vonleh slid a little bit. Aaron Gordon went a tad higher than people expected. Maybe, some people thought Embiid would slide a few picks further. But other than that, things were pretty rational, and that’s saying a lot for NBA GMs! Toward the second half of the first round though, things got a little frisky, as always. Some obscure Brazilian guy no one had ever heard of was chosen 20th! No really, like no one even knew who he was. He didn’t even show up on a single one of Chad Ford’s ten mock drafts, or however many he ended up doing. And the Hornets inexplicably appeased LeBron’s demand that the Heat get Shabazz Napier. The Hornets drafted Napier, and before the entire basketball universe could rejoice over the future 30 for 30 documenting Napier and Kemba Walker reuniting in the pros, Napier was informed he’d been dealt to the Heat. But aside from some of those crazy story lines, there were a couple of very good players that slipped unnecessarily far in the draft. Continue reading

World Cup Group Stage Recap

The group stage of Brazil 2014 has not failed to entertain. With the focus prior to the World Cup being on Brazil not being prepared, the world’s greatest sporting event has started much better than many were expecting. There has been no shortage of goals in the games and just about every game has been fun to watch no matter what team you are rooting for. Many teams have surprised in the groups of death. Below I will share my highlights and disappointments of the group stage.

 

Highlights:

South America – With 5 of the 6 teams from South America qualifying for the final 16 (and Ecuador almost qualifying), South America has shown that it is the dominant continent in this tournament. Columbia has arguably been the most impressive team so far from South America this tournament and looks primed to battle for a semi-final spot. Both Brazil and Argentina have not been at their best, both have shown in glimpses why they are projected to face off in the finals. With both Neymar and Messi in great form, a Brazil-Argentina final would be one for the ages. Chile has also impressed by knocking the reigning champions Spain out of the tournament in just their second game. Unfortunately, four of the five remaining teams all been paired up in the same leg of the bracket, meaning only a maximum of two South American teams making it to the semi-finals. Continue reading

NBA Draft: Who has the Most Bust Potential?

The NBA draft is a crapshoot. Everyone knows it. Look at the top five or ten picks from any given draft, and you’re bound to find players you either: A) have never heard of or B) forgot existed. For every superstar in a draft, there are going to be at least five guys in the first round that don’t make it more than a few seasons. That’s why there’s a couple approaches you can take to the draft. Maybe you only go for the safest players that you know will make your rotation. Or maybe you figure you can sign those types of guys in free agency and swing for the fences in the draft. That second approach seems more like something a real NBA GM would do. You know, kind of just say ‘Fuck it’ in the draft, and go for the tantalizing freakishly-athletic player who’s never come close to sniffing his potential, but you’re sure he’ll fulfill that potential on your team. Regardless of your approach, there are some guys who seem much more likely to be busts than others, and those are the guys you want to avoid. If you really question a guy’s ability, and are almost always left wishing he had shown just a bit more, but can’t stop thinking of how good he could be, then you’re probably looking at a bust. Let’s take a look at some of the first round prospects in tonight’s draft, rating them, on a scale of 1-10 (1 being a very safe prospect and 10 being Kwame Brown) on their chances of becoming busts.

Andrew Wiggins: 4
If you’re rating Wiggins on the chances that he comes a superstar in the NBA, then sure, he could definitely be a bust by that unrealistic standard. Almost everyone would be a bust by the standard that has been set for Wiggins. He probably won’t be a superstar. But he probably won’t fail either. He’s too athletic to completely flame out. He should at least be a starter in the league for a very long time and be a lockdown defender for many years in the NBA. Whether he’s ever a 20+ scorer, Wiggins should be a big contributor to whatever team drafts him. Continue reading