When LeBron came back to Cleveland, he made two impactful trades:
Let’s get real… Fans want an MVP player on their team… But they go nuts when their team wins a title.
Bay area fans have been blissed with many great individual performances resulting in MVP awards:
1954 & 1965 Willie Mays (NY Giants & SF Giants)
1969 Willie McCovey (Giants)
1970 John Brodie (Niners)
1971 Vida Blue (A’s)
1973 Reggie Jackson (A’s)
1974 Kenny Stabler (Raiders)
1988 Jose Canseco (A’s)
1989 Kevin Mitchell (Giants)
1989 & 1990 Joe Montana (Niners)
1990 Ricky Henderson (A’s)
1992 Dennis Eckersley (A’s)
1993, 2001, 2002, 2003 & 2004 Barry Bonds (Giants)
1992 & 1993 Steve Young (Niners)
2000 Jason Giambi (A’s)
2000 Jeff Kent (Giants)
2002 Rich Gannon (Raiders)
2002 Miguel Tejeda (A’s)
2006 Joe Thornton (Sharks)
2012 Buster Posey (Giants)
2012 Chris Wondolowski (Quakes)
2015 & 2016 Stephen Curry (Warriors)
These awards are all very deserving and I truly appreciated each and every one of these fabulous performances. Totally proud to have witnessed history for these remarkable athletes (except for the 1954 MVP award for Willie Mays).
Having said that, nothing got my blood flowing and my heart thumping more than during the championship title runs of all of our Bay Area teams.
It is a totally euphoric sensation and the culmination of what we fans have envisioned for our team(s) to be able to stand atop Mt. Everest at the end of the season.
My top moments that I still recall vividly are:
- 1981 – The Joe Montana to Dwight Clark “Catch” which started the Niner dynasty. I was with my brother and we both went bananas…
- 1989 – The Joe Montana to John Taylor “Catch” to win SB XXIII. My son and I jumped so high, we almost hit the ceiling…
- 2010, 2012 & 2014 – While the Giants were on their title runs, what I still recall are the Halloween nights where I was constantly interrupted by Trick-or-Treaters and had to run to the door to greet them and quickly run back to the TV so I wouldn’t miss anything. In the final game of the 2014 series, MadBum the STUD, came into the game in the 5th inning and shut out the Royals for the remainder of the game. Of course, I almost had a heart attack when Alex Gordon hit a ball that Gregor Blanco badly misplayed which resulted in a triple. All turned out well when Salvador Perez popped out to Pablo Sandoval and the celebration started throughout the Bay Area…
- 2015 – The GS Warriors season was a total blast topped by Steph Curry’s remarkable leadership and play. The season was culminated by the recommendation of a Warrior staffer, Nick U’Ren, to start Andre Iguodala and go small & fast against the Cavs. It worked so well, Andre was named the Finals MVP and the Warriors won their first title in 40 years. What I recall was in Game 7, we had a comfortable lead but JR Smith started hitting insane bombs and it got uncomfortably close. My son and I “chest bumped” and “high fived” as the clock ran out…
The bottom line is that fans are fans of their team. They are also fans of great individual performers while they play for their team. OKC fans loved Kevin Durant while he was there but hated him when he left for another career opportunity. Their favorite now is Russ Westbrook as he is having an MVP season. If Westbrook choses to leave OKC next year, they will hate him, too. It’s natural for fans to react this way as their first priority is their team.
MVP’s are nice but Championship Titles are everything!!!
After a long 82 game season, the sweet 16 teams are ready to rock n roll…
The West matchups are all great and anything can happen. The East matchups are more predictable.
Let’s start with the East:
#1 Celtics vs #8 Bulls
They split the season series 2-2. This is one series that could go the distance and although the Celtics should win, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the Bulls unseat the #1 seed.
The Bulls are a great rebounding team while the Celtics are the 4th weakest in that category. Both Butler and Wade have to have great series for the Bulls to have a chance.
Isaiah Thomas is the key to the Celtic’s success along with Avery Bradley, the best defensive guard in the league. They also have a great home winning record (30-11).
Prediction: Celtics in 6.
#2 Cavs vs #7 Pacers
Cavs won the season series 3-1. The Cavs played the last two games of the season smartly by not playing LeBron and Kyrie due to “injuries”. They basically tanked these games and gave up the #1 seed to avoid having to play the Bulls who swept the Cavs 4-0 during the season. Pacers have only Paul George and very little beyond him.
Prediction: Cavs will sweep in 4.
#3 Raptors vs #6 Bucks
Raptors won the season series 3-1. The Raptors made two key acquisitions during the season, Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker while the Bucks lost Jabari Parker to season ending knee injury. The Raptors were the best 4th quarter team in the league. They do have depth which helps to explain their 4th quarter success.
Prediction: Raptors in 5.
#4 Wizards vs #5 Hawks
Wizards won the season series 3-1. The Wizards have a great back court with Wall and Beal. The Hawks have the 4th best defense in the league but their offense is dreadful. They finished with a winning record but were outscored by a negative 70 points this season. This is not likely to change in the playoffs.
Prediction: Wizards in 6.
Now, for the Wild, Wild West:
#1 Warriors vs #8 Trail Blazers
The Warriors won the season series 4-0. This is deceiving as the all 4 wins were before the All-Star break. Since then, the Blazers have acquired Jusuf Nurkic and have won 17 of their last 24 games. Nurkic did suffer a fractured left leg but is expected to play. We won’t know at what level he will play. The Warriors lost Durant for 6 weeks but adjusted very nicely and won 13 straight games without him. This actually made the team stronger as the bench got extra work and responded fabulously. Durant came back for the last 3 games and looked strong playing long minutes. His shot came back in the last game of the season.
The Warriors are the deepest team in the league… Strength in Numbers.
Prediction: Warriors in 5.
#2 Spurs vs #7 Grizzlies
The Spurs and Grizzlies split the season series 2-2. This will be a great series as both teams will try their best to impose their will on each other. The Grizzlies are the grind-it-out team while the Spurs play with precision and simply know how to win. Marc Gasol and Z-Bo Randolph are beasts while Mike Conley is the most under-rated guard in the league. If the Grizzlies can control the boards (especially offensively) and get 2nd chance points, they have a shot. But the Spurs have Kawhi and a very deep bench. Both teams are great defensively so every game will come down to the wire. The Spurs’ bench will be the difference.
Prediction: Spurs in 6.
#3 Rockets vs #6 Thunder
The Rockets won the season series 3-1. This will have very high national viewing ratings as it pits Harden vs Westbrook, the dual of the MVP candidates. Westbrook will out-point Harden but the Rockets have other 3 point weapons that the Thunder lack. The difference is that the Rockets have a much deeper bench. Additionally, Harden can draw defenders to him and he can dish to his other weapons. Westbrook will draw defenders, also, but his other weapons are bb-guns.
Prediction: Rockets in 5.
#4 Clipper vs #5 Jazz
Clippers won the season series 3-1. This will be the best of the 1st round match-ups. The Jazz are the “coming” team while the Clippers are the “going” team. What I mean by that is that the Jazz are the upstarts while the Clippers have been a playoff team for years without many playoff successes. This is their final try as Paul, Griffin and Reddick will be free agents after this year. If Hayward and Hill have a great series, then they will be the difference. Gobert will outplay Jordan. Paul and Griffin have to have monster games in order for the Clipper to win.
Prediction: Jazz in 7.
The Cavs and Celtics were tied for the #1 seed with 2 games left. They decided to not play LeBron and Kyrie due to “injuries”.
The Bulls were the #8 seed and swept the Cavs 4-0 this season.
Did the Cavs tank the game vs Miami to avoid playing the Bulls in Round 1?
It’s always fun to look back at previous drafts and have “what if” conversations. Since I am a 49er fan, the first round of the 2007 NFL draft was a bonanza. The Niners selected Patrick Willis with pick #11 and Joe Staley with pick #28. Until Willis retired in 2015, the Niners were a powerhouse and Staley continues to play at a high level.
A great “what if” question is, what if the Houston Texans drafted Willis ahead of the Niners and he didn’t suffer the career ending toe/foot injuries? The Texans would then have Watt, Mercilus, Clowney, Cushing and Willis. That defense has been dominant w/o Willis. Think of the possibilities with him…
And, if that happened, “what if” the Niners selected Marshawn Lynch (Beast Mode)?
What I really want to focus on are the QB’s drafted in 2007:
#1 Jamarcus Russell
#22 Brady Quinn
#36 Kevin Kolb
#40 John Beck
#42 Drew Stanton
The top 5 QB’s drafted that year had 2 “can’t miss” players (Russell and Quinn). The results (or the lack of) speak for themselves. This year, there are no “can’t miss” QB’s. The point is that picking any of the top 2017 QB prospects in the first round can be very risky.
As a Niner fan, since Myles Garrett will be selected #1 by the Browns, I recommend that the Niners trade down to get an additional draft pick either this year or next. They can then pick the best available linebacker (Reuben Foster, Haason Reddick or Zack Cunningham). Then select the best available wide receiver as their top two picks. This year’s draft is filled with quality receivers. They should then fill out the linebacking core through round 4. The Niners were not able to stop anyone’s running game last year. With NaVarro Bowman coming back and paired with new hungry LB’s, we should have an improved defense.
As far as QB’s, the Niners should go with Brian Hoyer this year, then sign Kirk Cousins as a free agent next year. Additionally, if the Niners have a bunch of draft picks next year, they should go all in and try to draft Sam Darnold, the USC QB, as their future.
I feel fairly confident that the Lynch/Shanahan team will do the right things to get this team back on track.
The Plus/Minus statistic measures how the team performs when the player is on the court. A higher Plus score means that the team scores more points when the player is on the court and the Minus score is the converse.
This stat is influenced by how the other 4 players perform. However, over a season, a conclusion can be made that players having the highest Plus scores do have a positive impact on their teams.
Following is the Plus/Minus scores for the 2016-2017 NBA season for the Top 50 ranked players with positive Plus scores. You can draw your own conclusions on what this means to the MVP voters. One thing that can positively be concluded is that the Warriors have 5 of the top 6 players with respect to this metric. Thus, it should come as no surprise that they have the best record in the league.
Note: These stats come from Sportingcharts.com
|Rank||Player||Team||Plus/Minus||Per Game||Per 36 minutes|
|40||Luc Richard Mbah a Moute||LAC||217||2.8||4.6|
As we head into the 2017 NBA playoffs, the Warriors have guaranteed the #1 seed throughout the playoffs. The Cavs are seeded #1 in the East as of this writing, but they have not yet secured it. Regardless, the Warriors and Cavs are the two most dominant teams in the playoffs.
The Warriors have a tougher road ahead of them as the Spurs will rise up and present them with a huge challenge. Fortunately for the Warriors, the Grizzlies, who present the Warriors with match up problems, have to play the Spurs in the 1st round. The Rockets and Thunder who sport the two top MVP candidates simply aren’t deep enough.
The advantage that the Warriors have is that they have a rested Durant with whom they have integrated into their system already. It’ll take only a couple of games for KD to be playoff ready. Additionally, with KD’s absence, the bench got much stronger. West, Iguodala, Livingston, Barnes, Clark, McCaw and McGee will “out bench” their opponents and Kerr knows “match ups”. My belief is that Matt Barnes will be the difference maker in the Finals this year. He, along with Draymond, brings a toughness that the Warriors lacked last year. Thank goodness that the Kings traded Boogie to the Pelicans, who in the process, had to release Barnes allowing the Warriors to pick him up. Lastly, the Warriors are the best defensive team in the NBA and it will show throughout the playoffs.
The Cavs have been struggling lately, but they are the Champs. One can never discount a LeBron lead team, especially during a playoff run. Both the Celtics and Wizards will give the Cavs a good series if/when they meet, but count on the Cavs to represent the East in the Finals… period.
Everyone, including me, wants to see a Warriors vs Cavs repeat match up in the Finals. With the Cavs being challenged this year in the East, look for the Warriors to win the Finals in 6.
Here is my take on the 2017 NBA MVP. There seems to be a consensus that the winner will be amongst 4 players… LeBron, Westbrook, Harden, or Leonard.
There is no mention of Steph Curry even though he is the reigning 2 time MVP and his stats for this year mirror his stats of 2 years ago when he won his first MVP. Additionally, there is no mention of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson or Draymond Green, all of whom are having a great year. The Warriors have the best record in the NBA for a reason. They are ranked #1 in both Defense and Offense. Yet, nobody from the #1 ranked team is even mentioned as an MVP candidate.
The NBA selects its MVP based mostly on individual accomplishments. If that were the only criteria, then Westbrook would win hands down. If making the team better were a large component, then Harden, Leonard and Thomas would be ranked higher than Westbrook.
I use another component based on performance against the best team in the league (the Warriors) when they play them at home giving them home court advantage. By looking at the MVP candidates’ performance at home against the Warriors, their team lost and the candidates’ performance basically sucked. The most important stat in the chart below is the Plus/Minus column. This number reflects how the team performed while that individual was on the court. As an example, on Jan 16, LeBron played 35 minutes and during his playing time, the Warriors outscored the Cavs by 32 points. The poor shooting stats across the board reflects the dominance of the Warrior Defense.
|LeBron James||Jan 16||35||6-18||1-4||-32||126-91 Warriors|
|Russell Westbrook||Mar 20||27||4-16||1-6||-25||111-95 Warriors|
|James Harden||Mar 28||38||5-20||1-9||-9||113-96 Warriors|
|Kawhi Leonard||Mar 29||36||7-20||0-5||-4||110-98 Warriors|
|Isaiah Thomas||Mar 8||35||7-20||4-10||+4||99-86 Celtics|
While Isaiah Thomas’ shooting stats aren’t great, he had a positive Plus/Minus and the Celtics beat the Warriors at Oakland. Additionally, it is clear that Isaiah has made the Celtics much better and as of this writing, they are only 1 game behind the Cavs for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Since no Warrior player is under consideration, I am picking Isaiah Thomas as my NBA MVP for 2017.
Within one year, Colin Kaepernick has become a man without a job and a country. Let’s first talk about his loss of job. Colin’s performance as a NFL QB has declined in his last 3 years since his rise in 2012 when Jim Harbaugh replaced Alex Smith with him due to a concussion. Alex never regained his starting job. Colin had a superb year and took the team to a Super Bowl and came up 5 yards short of a victory. He had another solid year in 2013 taking the 49ers to the NFC championship game losing to the Seahawks on an ill advised pass to Michael Crabtree who was well covered by Richard Sherman. If you review the play, on the right side of the end zone, Anquan Bouldin was WIDE OPEN for the possible winning touchdown. And, therein lies the fundamental problem with Colin’s game. He cannot survey the field and can only look at his primary receiver. If he is covered, the play most likely will fail. Although Jim Harbaugh was fired for purely political reasons, that in itself was not the main reason for Colin’s decline. Defenses figured him out and his lack of being able to survey the field was the main reason. I’ll illustrate his decline with QBR ratings on three QB’s:
Alex Smith had a QBR of 68 in 2012 as a 49er before he was replaced with Colin. As a Kansas City Chief, his rating dropped initially but improved every year as he became accustomed to their system. Conversely, Colin’s QBR took a drastic downturn in 2015 and he was actually benched to start the 2016 season behind Blaine Gabbert. I showed Tom Brady’s stats as a guideline on what all other QB’s goals should be.
Thus, based solely on performance and the fact that NFL coaches know that he can’t survey the field effectively, other teams are reluctant to hire him, especially as a starting QB. His salary is another issue that requires downward negotiations.
Now, I’ll discuss his political stance that he took before the 2016 season by refusing to stand for the national anthem. While I respect his stance, my belief is that he should have expressed his position about race, police targeting and brutality, and free speech in a forum outside of the game of football. Perhaps by holding press conferences with Harry Edwards, a well known race activist, who has consulted with the 49ers for decades. Sending his message in a constructive manner with the help of Dr. Edwards would have garnered support without offending Americans who have and are currently serving this country with their lives. This applies to both armed forces personnel and their families as well as the police force who enforce this country’s laws and protect our communities. By disrespecting the American flag, he has by default lost the heart of this country.
Sports is an entertainment outlet and should not be used for political messages.
In the Fall of 2016, I wrote this letter to Jed York (with no reply, of course). Since then, He has taken some positive actions by finally firing Trent Baalke and bringing in a new regime who will hopefully turn this team around. While I am cautiously optimistic, I realize that it will take years to undo the damage that York/Baalke has brought to this team…
The State of the 49ers…
I have been a 49er fan since I was a kid and still remember vividly the first game I ever attended at Kezar Stadium in 1966 when we beat the Green Bay Packers 21-20 in a thriller. I became glued to my transistor radio from that point forward listening to the great Lon Simmons call the games.
I finally became a season ticket holder in 1981 and had the pleasure of attending their first Super Bowl in Pontiac and again in 1984 at Stanford. The 1980’s and 1990’s were our golden treasure years under the leadership of your Uncle Eddie who brought us 5 Super Bowl trophies.
I’m sad to say that since your Uncle Eddie DeBartolo left, leadership has been lacking as well as the product on the field.
I’m sadder to say that I have lowered my expectations to the point where I simply wish that our team would be better than the Cleveland Browns. They spanked us pretty good last year.
The truth is that since your Father fired Steve Mariucci in 2003, the team has been in a downward trend. There was a fleeting 3 years of hope when you hired John Harbaugh in 2011. He was a real football man and the product showed it. Then politics became more important than football and the team has been in a steep downward spiral since with no end in sight.
I have some doubts that Chip Kelly is a real NFL caliber football man, but, he has no talent to work with due to your lack of leadership and the incompetence of your GM, Trent Baalke.
I faithfully watch the NFL draft, but in the last 5 years, I now look for when Baalke will draft a player with an ACL tear. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he drafted a highly touted wide receiver with big hands and two broken knees. At least, he will be able to make a great one-handed catch at the line of scrimmage for no gain on a 3rd and 2 situation.
Last year, I cringed when Baalke drafted a punter in the 5th round. But, after thinking about it, it was a wise move as he is now the most used player on the squad.
In terms of our QB situation, we have lost the last 2 games within 4 days to teams playing their 2nd string QB’s. I am now thinking that the other 31 teams in the NFL have QB’s on their practice squads that are better than any QB on our roster.
I know that you desperately want to be a Jedi, but somewhere along the line, you lost your “i”. And, if you had a light saber fight with Baalke, he will say to you, “I am your Father”… and you would be mesmerized.
As far as the new stadium, it is nice, but too sterile. It’s been two years now and I’m still waiting for the Ring of Honor to be proudly displayed. Could it be that all of the Honorees were produced under prior leadership and you are afraid that none will ever be added again under your reign?
When can I expect this team to become better than the Cleveland Browns again?