2007 NFL Draft Re-Visited

posted in: Football | 10

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.

2016-2017 NBA Player Plus/Minus Statistics

posted in: Basketball | 2

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
1 Stephen Curry GS 979 12.7 13.7
2 Draymond Green GS 815 11 12.1
3 Klay Thompson GS 771 10.1 10.7
4 Kevin Durant GS 653 11.1 11.9
5 Chris Paul LAC 526 9.1 10.4
6 Andre Iguodala GS 513 6.9 9.5
7 LeBron James CLE 495 6.9 6.6
8 Kawhi Leonard SA 453 6.4 6.8
9 Rudy Gobert UTA 432 5.6 5.9
10 J.J. Redick LAC 419 5.6 7.1
11 James Harden HOU 417 5.4 5.3
12 DeAndre Jordan LAC 412 5.3 6
13 Patty Mills SA 411 5.4 8.8
14 Zaza Pachulia GS 395 5.9 11.8
15 Blake Griffin LAC 392 6.8 7.1
16 Ryan Anderson HOU 386 5.7 6.9
17 Trevor Ariza HOU 385 5 5.2
18 Patrick Beverley HOU 354 5.5 6.5
19 Kevin Love CLE 345 6.1 7
20 Gordon Hayward UTA 342 4.9 5.1
21 Kyrie Irving CLE 338 4.8 5
22 Patrick Patterson TOR 336 5.4 7.9
23 Eric Gordon HOU 332 4.6 5.3
24 Jae Crowder BOS 330 4.8 5.3
25 Kyle Lowry TOR 327 5.7 5.5
26 Bradley Beal WAS 318 4.2 4.4
27 David Lee SA 297 4 7.7
28 LaMarcus Aldridge SA 293 4.2 4.7
29 JaVale McGee GS 292 3.9 15.2
30 Nikola Jokic DEN 281 4.1 5.3
31 Danny Green SA 276 4.2 5.6
32 Manu Ginobili SA 266 4 7.7
33 Russell Westbrook OKC 259 3.3 3.4
34 John Wall WAS 255 3.3 3.3
35 Isaiah Thomas BOS 245 3.4 3.6
36 George Hill UTA 238 5.1 5.7
37 Cody Zeller CHA 230 3.9 5
38 Dewayne Dedmon SA 221 3.1 6.3
39 Pau Gasol SA 217 3.6 5
40 Luc Richard Mbah a Moute LAC 217 2.8 4.6
41 Marcin Gortat WAS 215 2.7 3.1
42 Steven Adams OKC 209 2.8 3.3
43 Jonathon Simmons SA 209 2.8 5.8
44 Victor Oladipo OKC 206 3.3 3.5
45 Otto Porter WAS 200 2.5 2.8
46 Kemba Walker CHA 195 2.5 2.6
47 Al Horford BOS 194 3 3.3
48 Nene Hilario HOU 191 2.9 5.9
49 Tony Parker SA 190 3.2 4.5
50 Amir Johnson BOS 189 2.4 4.3

The Warriors are the Best, but the Cavs are the Champs

posted in: Basketball | 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.

2017 NBA MVP

posted in: Basketball | 4

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.

Date Minutes Shooting 3 Pts Plus/Minus Score
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.

Colin Kaepernick – A Man Without a Job and a Country

posted in: Football | 10

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:

2013 2014 2015 2016
Colin Kaepernick 68 67 46 55
Alex Smith 50 56 61 63
Tom Brady 65 79 75 83

 

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.

A Letter to Jed York – State of the SF Forty Niners

posted in: Football | 0

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…

Dear Jed,

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?

LaVar Ball – Basketball Media Craze

posted in: Basketball | 22

LaVar Ball has made some outlandish statements about his son, Lonzo, being better than Steph Curry, Michael Jordan, or Jason Kidd. He went on say, “Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one.” For context, LaVar played basketball at Washington State where he averaged 2 points per game before transferring to Cal State – Los Angeles, a Division II program. He was an All-Conference player there in 1990. Not sure, but I think Jordan’s resume reads a bit better than LaVar’s…

LaVar has been involved in war of words with the likes of Stephen A. Smith, Charles Barkley, and LeBron James to mention a few and there is no sign that his lips will stop moving as he still has two more sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, who play for Chino Hills High School. In one game, while LiAngelo was out, LaMelo scored 92 points.

Now that UCLA has been ousted by Kentucky in the March Madness tournament and Freshman De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky outscored Lonzo, 39 to 10, his whole family will suffer major backlash.

My take on LaVar is that he is a brilliant marketer of his sons. They will be NBA level players and while we won’t know how good they will be at the highest level, we do know that they will mostly likely be set financially for life.

Having said that, I don’t know how his sons and his wife, Tina, feel about LaVar’s big mouth. There are reports out there indicating that Tina suffered a major stroke in February, 2017 and that LaVar has not allowed his sons to visit her due to the media attention it would draw. During a life threatening skull surgery on Tina to reduce pressure, LaVar chose to watch his sons play at Chino Hills High School instead of being with his wife.

If there is harmony within the Ball family, I’m fine with LaVar’s marketing strategy. If the reports of Tina’s health and actions that LaVar has taken are true, then it appears on the surface that there some serious family issues that LaVar needs to prioritize. After all, sports is entertainment, family is life… While I don’t know them, my prayers go out to Tina and the Ball family.

My advice to LaVar is to relax, support his family and let his son’s actions and play on the court speak for themselves. But most importantly, TAKE CARE OF YOUR WIFE !!!

Past NBA stars don’t respect Steph Curry and the Warriors

posted in: Basketball | 0

Oscar Robertson, Phil Jackson and Charles Barkley don’t respect Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors success. Oscar believes that Curry is good only because today’s NBA coaches don’t know how to defend shooters. Oscar further states that his teammate Adrian Smith was a better shooter than Steph (huh?). Phil believes that Steph Curry reminds him of Chris Jackson/ Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who had a short but brilliant run in NBA (Huh?). Charles said last year that the Warriors couldn’t win an NBA title because they are a bunch of midgets who only shoot 3-pointers. This year, Charles is guaranteeing that the Warriors won’t repeat for the same reason.

I understand that these are high profile great old timers whose voices should be heard.

My take on it is that what the Warriors are doing is not only revolutionary, it is totally FUN. This is what sports is meant to be. Sometimes, it is wiser to just chill out and enjoy greatness in the making.

Bryce Harper – Baseball is tired

posted in: Baseball | 6

Bryce Harper, the young sensation from the Washington Nationals came out in March 2016 and declared “Baseball’s tired. It’s a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself,” Harper began. “You can’t do what people in other sports do.”

I happen to agree with him. MLB has way too many “unwritten rules” to indicate that you must respect the game and never show up an opponent whether you hit a home run, strike out a great hitter, steal a base when you have a large lead, etc. These rules are all old school and no longer apply to modern day baseball players who want to express their successes. Sometimes, change is good and in this case, I say let the players celebrate their successes as they do in the NFL or NBA.

Old Timer’s like Goose Goosage, on the other hand, truly believe that the young stars of today are total disgraces to the game. His quotes:

“[Jose] Bautista is a f—ing disgrace to the game,” Gossage said at Yankees spring training. “He’s embarrassing to all the Latin players, whoever played before him. Throwing his bat and acting like a fool, like all those guys in Toronto. [Yoenis] Cespedes, same thing.”

Well, I guess we all know how Goose Gossage feels about this topic.

He continued…

“The game is becoming a freaking joke because of the nerds who are running it. I’ll tell you what has happened, these guys played Rotisserie baseball at Harvard or wherever the f–k they went and they thought they figured the f–king game out. They don’t know shit.”

Baseball was invented as a pleasure sport to relax and have FUN, not to always follow outdated starchy rules that aren’t even written down.

So which side of the aisle are you on?