Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Prospect Thoughts

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Previously, I addressed who the Chiefs might take in the first round in tonight's NFL Draft. But I have other thoughts too! Here's a random jubilation of thoughts on players scattered throughout the shazbot. Enjoy!

I'm gonna start by ranking the Top QB's (where they're drafted is a factor, i.e. I would rather have Stanzi in the 4th than Gabbert with the 5th pick):

1. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas - 2nd
2. Andy Dalton, TCU - 2nd
3. Ricky Stanzi, Iowa - 3rd/4th
4. Cam Newton, Auburn - 1st
5. Christian Ponder, Florida St. - 2nd
6. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri - 1st
7. Colin Kaepernick, Nevada - 2nd
8. Jake Locker, Washington - 1st
Sleeper: Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M

Here's my Top 5 prospects overall in this year's NFL Draft:

1. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU - Will be a top 5 CB in the NFL in a few years
2. Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M - Hoping the Broncos don't pick him at #2
3. J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin - Hoping the Chargers don't pick him at #18
4. Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn - Wasn't he considered the #1 pick immediately after the season?
5. A.J. Green, WR, Georgia - Top flight Wide Receivers seem to be boom or bust - He Boom
Sleeper: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson - Freefalling because of longterm injury concerns - should dominate in the short term

Here are some potential 2nd round picks by the Chiefs:

1. Sam Acho, OLB, Texas - 8 sacks each of the last 2 years
2. Rodney Hudson, C, Florida St. - Considered the best Center in the Draft
3. Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland - Discussed in my Chiefs first round article
4. Randell Cobb, WR, Kentucky - Small, playmaking WR
5. Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami - Big, fast, productive WR with questionable hands
6. Stefan Wisniewski, C, Penn St. - Considered 2nd best Center in the Draft
7. Jabaal Sheard, OLB, Pitt - 8 sacks last year - spells his name like JamaAL Charles
8. Titus Young, WR, Boise St. - Tiny, big play receiver of the Blue Waffles
9. Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas - Would be very happy to get the best QB at pick #55
10. Jon Baldwin, WR, Pitt - Not high on my list because he's essentially the same type of WR as D-Bowe

But, Dirk Noss, you didn't mention any Nose Tackles for the 2nd round, whatupwitdat? Well, it's because past Phil Taylor (projected late 1st/early 2nd) there isn't much until later in the Draft. Here's a look at the top prospects who could plump down at Nose in a 3-4 defense (as well as their listed weight and when the Chiefs would have to take each of them):

1. Phil Taylor, Baylor - 334 lbs - 1st round
2. Kenrick Ellis, Hampton - 346 lbs - 3rd round
3. Jurrell Casey, USC - 300 lbs - 3rd round (Seems too small to me, but read this)
4. Jerrell Powe, Ole Miss - 335 lbs - 3rd round (whoddathunk 2 prospects named Jerrell and Jurrell)
5. Ian Williams, Notre Dame - 319 lbs - 4th round
6. Chris Neild, West Virginia - 319 lbs - 5th round
7. Anthony Gray, Southern Miss - 330 lbs - 6th round

And since I listed Outside Linebacker as the Chiefs #1 need for this offseason, here's a list of the top 10 hybrid prospects who project as a 3-4 OLB:

1. Robert Quinn, North Carolina - Will be selected before #21
2. Aldon Smith, Missouri - Slight chance he falls to #21
3. Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue - Decent chance he falls to #21
4. Akeem Ayers, UCLA - Should be available at #21, good chance Chiefs select him
5. Brooks Reed, Arizona - My #1 choice for Chiefs pick at #21
6. Justin Houston, Georgia - Failed drug test might slide him to 2nd round
7. Jabaal Sheard, Pitt - Popular choice for Chiefs 2nd round pick
8. Sam Acho, Texas - The most reoccurring mock selection for Chiefs in 2nd round
9. Chris Carter, Fresno St. - Recorded 11 sacks last year, should be around in 3rd round
10. Dontay Moch, Nevada - '09 WAC Defensive POY, potential 3rd rounder
Sleeper: Greg Romeus, Pitt - Combined 15.5 sacks as Soph/Junior but missed most of 2010 with injury

And just for the smell of it here are some other lower round prospects that I like:

- Austin Pettis, WR, Boise St.
- Tyler Sash, S, Iowa
- Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan St.
- Stanley Havili, FB, USC
- Eric Hagg/Dejon Gomes, CB/S, Nebraska
- Jeremy Beal, DE/OLB, Oklahoma
- DJ Williams, TE, Arkansas
- Ahmad Black, S, Florida
- Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas St.
- Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia
- Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
- Lazarius Levingston, DE, LSU (never heard of him but check out that name)
- Alex Henery, K, Nebraska (the best College kicker of all time)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2011 Kansas City Chiefs Draft Preview

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My publicist tells me the NFL Draft is tomorrow night. If you're feeling unprepared for it, don't worry, you're not alone. I blame it on the lack of Free Agency, which we'd normally be almost 2 months into by now. So since there has been no Free Agency, the Draft almost feels like it takes on a greater importance since no team's needs have been satisfied thus far. I'm really not sure what role Free Agency will play this year, however I have no interest in finding out because I refuse to follow the current lockout. But, to my knowledge, they have to have something because of all the players that aren't under contract right now. And that's the last you'll hear from me about the lockout.

Fortunately, the Chiefs have the added bonus this year of not being under tremendous financial pressure with their first pick (the first time since 2007). Thus, I've been able to sit back and relax, instead of studying Mel Kiper's browline (prominent) and Todd McShay's girth (lacking) on a daily basis. Honestly, I think my assessments will be more spot on this year, simply because I'll be avoiding over-analysis.

I noticed an interesting trend when studying the Kansas City Chiefs' recent first round draft history. If Tyson Jackson pans out, which I honestly think he will, I would argue they have hit on their last 8 first round picks. Hali, Bowe, Dorsey and Berry are the headliners. Some people aren't as high on Albert as I am. Derrick Johnson is atleast solid and definitely not a bust. Larry Johnson may be one of your least favorite Chiefs of all time, but he work-horsed his worth. Ty Jax is the question mark, but I can't get the images of his fiery play against Baltimore out of my head. I think he's due for a breakout year in 2011. How many other teams can make that claim though? With absolutely no research completed, I'd guess none, and couldn't see anymore than two. So throw away any doubts you had about this franchise's ability to draft good players (and I do feel like they have a somewhat undeserved poor reputation in that department).

Lets start with a positions of need list for the Chiefs since I have yet to throw one out this offseason:

Big 3 (positions that MUST be addressed)
1. Outside Linebacker - The most important position on defense (in the 3-4) has a vacant spot left behind (played by Mike Vrabel's corpse last season). Unlike last year (when there were no prospects worthy of our #1), there are a handful of prospects the Chiefs could select at 21.
2. Wide Receiver - The biggest hole on the roster (Studebaker is decent at OLB). I would like to see them add two weapons to Cassel's arsenal this offseason. While I hope they draft one, my hunch on the other just received good news with Steve Smith having previously demanding a trade from the Panthers. Given that artillery, Cassel is forced into something of a put-up or shut-up type season (a good thing).
3. Nose Tackle - A position that really hasn't been fulfilled since switching to the 3-4. The run defense was held together with smoke and mirrors through the first half of 2010, but fell apart the latter half. Yanno those trucks with Oversize Load signs on them? We need someone to hang that sign on in the middle of our defense.

Secondary 6 (would be nice to address these positions)
4. Center - Casey Wiegmann was good but you can't think he won't decline atleast a little bit this year (he's getting a little long in the tooth). It would be nice to fill this undervalued position with a youngling for the next 15 years.
5-6. Offensive Tackle/Inside Linebacker - Both positions have one solid starter (Albert, DJ) and one iffy starter (Richardson, Belcher). I like both of these players, but both could be improved upon. While Belcher is better right now, Richardson has a better chance to improve.
7. Backup QB - Every night before I go to bed, I pray to Lord Lebowski that the Crodie Broyle era is over in Kansas City. Wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Chiefs snag a QB in the 2nd round (I prefer Mallett) or later (I'm seeing lots of Ricky Stanzi from Iowa).
8. Fullback - Yet to replace Tony Richardson. Maybe we should get Tony Richardson. Or Stanley Havili, USC.
9. Safety - People are way more sold on Kendrick Lewis than I am at this point. While he is young, people too often mistake playing as a youngster with showing great potential. Doesn't always work out that way. Oh yeah, and Jon McGraw.

Now lets take a look at who I think the Chiefs are most likely to select with their first round pick come tomorrow night...

1. (WAS #6) Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona - Stock is high right now because he can match Clay Matthews in the flowing locks department. Lacks great athletic ability, but has a high motor. But hey, long hairs are so hot right now. Count me in. Grade ~ B

2. (WAS #1) Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin - Keep hearing this name pop up and I must say I'm quite impressed. Won the Outland Trophy last year (best interior lineman). He was a unanimous All-American. Captain at Wisconsin (well documented how the Chiefs like that). And nicknamed "The Jewish Hammer." Alright, alright. Not crazy about the position grab, but I like him the best. Projects as a Right Tackle despite starting 49 of his career 52 games at Left Tackle. Grade ~ B+

3 (WAS #3). Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA - Played more of a natural stand up LB position at UCLA so he never really put up the sack numbers (career high 6 in 2009). More of a coverage LB than a pass rusher (although flashes the ability to do so when watching his highlights). Seems to have great instincts. Makes plays. However, I'm skeptical at putting an inexperienced pass rusher in a position to constantly rush the passer. Grade ~ C+


4. (WAS #5) Nate Solder, OT, Colorado - Another potential Right Tackle. Every year the NFL Draft analysts say we need to upgrade the offensive line, but I'm not sure if the KC brass agrees with that sentiment. Solder stands a monstrous 6'8 and has a boring Wikipedia page. Grade ~ C+


5. (WAS #9) Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland - Have yet to see anybody with Smith being drafted this high. This pick becomes increasingly more likely if the Chiefs are able to trade down, which we haven't seen the Chiefs do yet under Pioli, but the Patriots are famous for it. He was an excellent returner his first two years, but concentrated on receiving more in 2010. Has the top end speed the Chiefs should be coveting opposite D-Bowe. Grade ~ B-


6. (WAS #4) Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor - Was everybody's mockulation for the Chiefs until word spread about an irreparable foot condition. That concerns me, but so does never noticing this guy despite watching a handful of Baylor games last year. Although there is something intriguing about a player who's last name  rhymes with his alma mater. Grade ~ C-

7. (WAS #7) Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, Purdue / Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri - Both of these pass rushing LB's would be ideal, however both will most likely be off the board by the time the Chiefs pick at 21. Grade ~ A


8. (WAS #2) Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia - Different than other projected 3-4 OLB's because he actually played in the 3-4 defense in college. Earned All-SEC honors as well as a finalist for the Butkus (best LB) and Nagurski (best DL/LB) awards last year, when he tallied 10 sacks. Would probably be considered a bit of a reach, but ultimately fills the Chiefs' biggest need. [EDIT: Apparently, just came out that Houston failed a drug test. Drop him 3-4 spots on this list then.] Grade ~ B+

9. (WAS #8) Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida - Should send half of his signing bonus to his brother, who excelled with the Steelers as a rookie last year. I'm all for taking a Center early on, but wasn't this the guy that had like 13 bad snaps in Florida's first game of the year? Red flag. Plus, if he plays Guard, we don't need him. Grade ~ C

10. (WAS #10) Marvin Austin, DE, North Carolina - One of the Tarheels that was suspended for the entire 2010 season. Was considered a top prospect until that suspension, now just considered risky. However, this dude is an animal. He's a wildebeest. He's huge and he can run. Probably not big enough to play Nose Tackle, but if you love him, you can never have enough defensive linemen. And I love him. Grade ~ B+

More to come with the Draft beginning Thursday but extending through the weekend.

NEW PLAYERS

Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama - The Chiefs might want to strengthen a strength and give themselves the best 1-2 punch at RB in the NFL. It wouldn't shock me to see them take the former Heisman winner if he slides. He would be the ideal compliment to Jamaal Charles' running style, and you know they're set on keeping Charles's legs fresh. They may believe Thomas Jones is done. Grade ~ A-

Danny Watkins, G, Baylor - Wow. Mike Mayock of NFL Network has the Chiefs taking this clown. No matter if we're already 3 deep at Guard (Waters, Lilja, Asamoah), or that Watkins will be 27 years old by the time the season starts. If this is the pick, expect a devastated Dirkness detonation document. Grade ~ F

Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi St - Another Offensive Tackle possibility. Blah. Grade ~ C

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame - Got some comments on Arrowhead Pride from people that wanted to take this guy. I was flabbergasted, dumbfounded, maybe even bamboozled. He had all of 328 receiving yards last year. But that was in half a season they tell me. Oh, so he has injury concerns too? Alright! Grade ~ G

Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple - Appears to be a physical freak that some people love. I don't know much about him, but don't like the position at all, where he seems to project perfectly as a 3-4 DE. If we take him it's because we absolutely love him. Grade ~ C+

Julio Jones, WR, Alabama - There are rumors spreading that the Chiefs love Jones and might look to move up if he slides past 12 or so. This is my ideal selection for the Chiefs, and would have no problem giving up a 3rd rounder to move up and choose him (could get us up around 16 or so). He's got the speed and downfield threatability that we need opposite D-Bowe. Grade ~ A+

Dirkness

Monday, April 18, 2011

NBA Playoffs Opening Weekend Thoughts

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Purely judging off the opening weekend, this could be the craziest NBA Playoffs of all time. Yes, it's rash to believe that already, but would you really be surprised? The Lakers are fading. The Heat aren't yet the juggernaut they will be in a couple years. Same with the Knicks. The Spurs are nearing extinction. Same with the Celtics. The Bulls and Thunder are a year or two away from maturing into superpowers. Same with the Dirkness. In other words, this thing is wide open.

It feels like the NBA is due for a crazy playoffs. With by far the tamest postseason of all the major sports (mostly due to 7 game seriesesesses), there isn't much precedence for a wild n' crazy (KIDS!) playoffs. In 1999, the Knicks went to the NBA Finals as an 8 seed, but that deserves a huge asterisk because it was a strike shortened season that only saw 50 regular season games (EXACTLY what the NBA should go to). Outside of that, you have the Mavs going down to Golden State as a top seed (I think I finally see why it was such a big deal) in 2007 and the Sonics to the Nuggets as a top seed in 1994 (the images of Dikembe are fannnntastic). We haven't seen a 7 seed over a 2 seed since 1998 (also Knicks over Heat). The last 6 seed to beat a 3 seed was in 2006 (and it was the Clippers!). Beyond the first round, the Pistons over the Lakers in 2004 and the Magic over the Cavaliers in 2008 come to mind, but those definitely weren't shockers. Upsets in the NBA playoffs just don't happen all that often (and yes I live in a sports world that began in the 90's).

Every game of this opening weekend seemed to be a toss up though. The Pacers should have beaten the Bulls. The 76ers put a scare into the Heat. The Hawks whooped the Magic. The Grizz and the Hornets shocked the Spurs and the Lakers, respectively (pinky extension), while the Knicks and the Nuggets led throughout playing on the road. Not one of the home teams dominated the opening game of the opening round. Wild n' crazy? Not yet, but a great start.

Lets hit up some of the seriesesesses for some further in depth analysis, shall we? We shall...

Dirks/Blazers - The Mavs finally have some size to protect Dirk down low. Tyson Chandler might be the perfect compliment to His 'Ness. However, the Mavs are gonna have trouble scoring throughout these playoffs (I feel they were fortunate to even be in Game 1 after their 2nd half shooting slump, and I thank the refs for that). Their best bet is to manage games, keep them close, and then win them in the end. Dirk was able to take over in the 4th quarter (18 points) on Saturday, and will have to continue to do so for the Mavs to advance.

Bulls/Pacers - I felt bad for the Pacers the way they dominated that game, but couldn't pull it out. I'm sad to say, but I think they'll get swept now. The real story of this series is His Forgiveness of Tyler Hansbrough. Once thought to be a permanent Dirkness whipping boy, I've found it in my heart to forgive he. Call it the Josh Freeman Theory. If I speak out against you time and time again, but you prove me wrong, I'll usually come out as a fan of yours. I'm a very flexible fan that likes my impressions of teams and players to adjust on the fly. I've been practicing my Psycho T celebrations ever since.

Heat/76ers - One of the best, if not the best, traditions in sports returns with the Miami Heat playoff White outs!!!!!!! It's time to FAN UP. Just caught the PTI interview with LeBron from Friday, and was shocked to hear Bron concede that he has accepted his role as a villain, when in reality I don't think he has (not showing up for the intros in Cleveland is my best evidence). This is a great example of why I just can't get behind LeBron.

Spurs/Grizzlies - Didn't get to watch it but BOO YAH!!!

Lakers/Hornets - Boy, do I owe an apology to Chris Paul after making this statement...

For whatever reason Chris Paul bores me.
From the sounds of it (I didn't get to see this game either) Paul was the most exciting player of the opening games. I was just firing him up! The Hornets only had 3 turnovers in the game. 3!!! Seems like it was all Chris Paul. I had forgotten about Trevor Ariza, who is now going up against his former team, and could have something to prove. Hopefully this series stays fun. For now, the next 3 games are all must see TV.

Celtics/Knicks - Interesting series because both teams best players all matchup with one another. Billups and Rondo. Carmelo and Pierce. Amar'e and KG. Which leaves the difference maker, Ray Allen. The Knicks need a fourth player to step up (Toney Douglas might be he), and will need even more than that if Chauncey is out for more than just Game 2 (which is what they're saying now). Lastly, the call on Carmelo last night was incomprehensibly bad. I really believe the ref forgot where they were at in the game. You can't make that call at that time. And if you argue a foul is a foul (which is a tired, sophomoric argument) then they should've called the illegal screen on Garnett at the other end.

Thunder/Nuggets (similar to stuff you get out in California) - This was a trendy upset pick, but as I was watching this game, I never thought the Thunder would lose despite trailing throughout most of the contest. Everybody's worst fear of the Nuggets shined through, and they were completely unable to score at the end of the game (Kenyon Martin long jumper and Tymond Lawton heaving a 3 on their two biggest possessions).

I conclude thee with a look at the +/- stats (only the most telling stat in the game) from the games this weekend. Here's the high man and low man from each of the games...

Bulls/Pacers - Kyle Korver +13, Keith Bogans -11
Heat/Sixers - Dwyane Wade +17, Jrue Holliday -8
Magic/Hawks - Kirk Hinrich (and his sniper goggs) +21!, Brandon Bass -20
Mavs/Blaze - Dirk Nowitzki (like there was any doubt) +17, Brandon Roy -10

Spurs/Grizzlies - Marc Gasol/Tony Allen +8, Gary Neal -16
Lakers/Hornets - Aaron Gray +25!!!, Andrew Bynum -15
Celtics/Knicks - Big Baby +13, Jermaine O'Neal (odd because he played really well) -11
Thunder/Nuggets - Nick Collison (high on the regular season +/- list) +12, JR Smith -11

There you go, that's who's good and who sucks. Not up for debate. Here's to hoping Game 2's live up to the expectations of Game 1's.

His dirkness

Saturday, April 16, 2011

NBA Playoffs Preview Extravaganza

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I am pumped for these NBA Playoffs. The best regular season I can remember hopefully leads directly into the postseason. However, I must admit that a little bit of the momentum has been lost because of how stupid long the regular season is. Shorten the season to 50 games and the NBA skyrockets in popularity (I hesitate to say NFL territory, but if the lockout continued...who knows?).

I'm gonna hit you all with a few lists to get you ready for a weekend chalk full of 8 games. I'm gonna appetize you all by ranking the 16 teams in order of my personal rooting interests, entree you by ranking the teams' chances of winning the Championship, impress you with my top 10 most intriguing players souffle, and finally rank the playoff series in pumptitude for your midnight delight (predictions included - hanky panky not included). Bon appetit.

Ranking my favorite NBA Playoff teams:
1. Dallas Mavericks (some competition from the Knicks but not enough)
2. New York Knicks (may pass the Mavs if they go on any kind of run and I get sentimental)
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
4. Memphis Grizzlies
5. Portland Trailblazers
6. Indiana Pacers
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Boston Celtics
9. Philadelphia 76ers
10. Denver Nuggets
11. Atlanta Hawks
12. New Orleans Hornets
13. Orlando Magic (don't really dislike but they are somewhat favored)
14. Miami Heat (huge dropoff from 14 to 15)
15. Los Angeles Lakers (hate them more than #16 but
16. San Antonio Spurs (so boring I can't watch them)

Ranking the NBA Playoff teams' title chances:
1. Los Angeles Lakers - They're the favorites, but I feel like their run is over at the same time. I feel like if they do win it this year, it'll be their last.
2. Miami Heat - I've gone back and forth about loving and hating the Heat. I've finally settled on rooting against them, but they certainly have made things interesting. No matter how they do in these playoffs, it's bound to be dramatic and spectacular. My biggest question is if they've gone too hard in the regular season trying to prove everybody wrong and don't have much left. My biggest fear is that they've been saving something for everybody in the playoffs and blow everybody to smithereens.
3. Boston Celtics - Everybody is making a big deal that the C's haven't played that well the last month of the season (9-10). People might've forgot they finished last season 27-27. Then they made the NBA Finals. This is what the Celtics do.
4. OKansaslahoma City Thunder - Became a legitimate threat with the acquisition of The Kobe Killah Kendrick (or as I like to call him, KKK). Love their chances this year, but am worried about too many teams hopping on their bandwagon and them blowing their first round matchup with the Denver Dankness.
5. Chicago Bulls - Worried about their title chances because NBA teams usually have to pay their dues before they win an NBA title. Remind me of the 2011 Kansas Jayhawks with Boozer and Noah bangin' down low like the Morrissi, and D-Rose banging chicks at midcourt of the United Center like Tyshawn. Will their supporting cast (of Deng, Bogans, Korver, Gibson, Thomas) let them down like KU's?
6. San Antonio Spurs - The final Finals candidate. Yes, this is a 6 team tournament. I just don't see it out of the Spurs this year (as you'll find out later), or maybe it's just wishful thinking. I'm not sure what it is about them, but I'd rather watch the WNBA Draft than a Spurs game. Seriously.
7. Orlando Magic - Became semi-contenders by trading away Vince Carter. Gonna need Turd Glue to dominate in order to make a run. I'm bored with them.
8. Dallas Mavericks - Never good when the bottom teams are jockeying for position to play you in the first round. I hope the Mavs have a run in them, but I don't see it. Once again, they have no second option to His Dirkness. In fact, since Steve Nash departed, the Mavs have only had two All-Stars opposite Dirk - Josh Howard (who was so bad that I swore the Mavs off until they cut him - also he was an injury replacement) and Jason Kidd (who was an honorary selection in 2010) - That's it, that's the list.
9. Portland Trailblazers - Sucks that they're squaring off with the Dirks in the first round. In Sports Guy's playoff podcast he said "Dirk might be the best player in the series, while the Blazers might have the next best 4-5 guys." Eeks, egads!
10. New York Knicks - Very excited to watch meaningful basketball in the Gahden. I was hoping and pleading for Knicks/Heat in the first round so we could hopefully see another big time brawl. Seriously, when was the last time a big fight took place in the playoffs?
11. Memphis Grizzlies - The Grizz beat the Spurs twice in the month of March, and lost to them earlier in the season in overtime. AND, apparently, they tanked at the end of the season in order to draw the Spurs in round one. I'm intrigued.
12. Denver Nuggets - Astounding 10 players averaging double figures for them this season (more amazingly, 8 of those players are still on the team).
13. Atlanta Hawks - Could be fired up after getting absolutely embarrassed by the Magic (their opponent again this year) last season. Either way, nobody in Atlanta will care.
14. Philadelphia 76ers - Literally have no players of note.
15. Indiana Pacers - Like a College all-stars team with Brandon Rush (BRong), Tyler Hansbrough (secretly become a fan), Darren Collison, Roy Hibbert, Josh McRoberts (he made the NBA! And he plays!), and TJ Ford baby! Haven't watched them all year, but am secretly very excited to.
16. New Orleans Hornets - For whatever reason Chris Paul bores me.

Top 10 Most Intriguing Players:
**Kobe Bryant will not be included out of respect for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance**

1. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks - Here's a player who isn't interested in his own image, legend, or perception of him (he's soft) filling people's minds. He's not afraid to be himself, despite getting crushed for not carrying himself like the western media thinks he should. Despite that, he's more interested in self-depracating himself than self-promotion. He leaves it all on the floor each and every game but accepts losing if that is his fate. And if you said to me that's not a winner's attitude, then I wouldn't argue with you. But my love for him is complicated and goes deeper than just winning. I think his biggest problem might be that he goes all out every time he steps on the floor, and therefore doesn't have that extra gear come playoff time. I believe he's of the mindset that everything is bigger than wins and losses. I might not like him as much if he played for "my team," but casually watching him he's really developed into one of my favorite athletes of all time.
2. Kevin Durant, oKC Thunder - Declared his greatness after seeing him live at Allen Fieldhouse 4 years ago (best athlete I've ever seen live - yes I saw LeBron this summer). I've believed he's had a certain special nature about him. I've seen him score in the NBA, but now I'd like to see him dominate. I can't perfectly describe what I mean, but if you watch him in these playoffs you might see it. He is special.
3. LeBron James, Miami Heat - I'm glad Bron bolted for Miami because he could've easily become very stale and boring in Cleveland. Now he's polarizing and has become very interesting. Now if only he'd embrace his role as the villain (I'm talking Hollywood Hogan style) he could gain my undying support.
4. Kendrick Perkins, oKC Thunder - Stands as the reason the Celtics can't win it all and the reason the Thunder can. Could be the best defensive big man in the league. The Kobe Killah has now walked off the Staples Center floor (without injury) victorious three times in a row. He don't like Kobe.
5. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls - I love any player that ever records more rebounds than points in a game (not to mention players that shoot free throws like my mom). Noah has to be commended if the Bulls do win it all. Dude is just a winner.
6. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks - Just excited to see what he can do. I have never really rooted for him before, but he is delightful to watch. He's a big body and likes to play physical. Would love to watch him v. LeBron in a 7 game series.
7. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics - Actually led the NBA in +/- per minute (the most important stat in all of basketball). Always a joy to watch the most unheralded clutch player in the game clash with the LeBroner.
8. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic - I'm excited for the day when he wins an NBA title. Why? Because Howard seems really immature and I don't think he'd handle the success very well, which I'd love to see.
9. Gerald Wallace, Portland T-Blazers - Seems like a uniquely special player that we've never really seen before because he hasn't made the playoffs before (Stat Boy tells me he made the playoffs with the Bobcats last year, but there's little evidence to support that).
10. Brandon Rush/Mario Chalmers/Darrell Arthur, Kansas Jayhawks - Good to see both bottom seeded teams with KU players in the regular rotation. It's cool see these guys in the playoffs, and gives me a reason to support the lesser teams in games that might otherwise be meaningless to me.

Ranking the Playoff series (Predictions included):
1. Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks - Celtics in 7
2. Dallas Mavericks vs. Portland Trailblazers - Mavs in 7
3. oKC Thunder vs. Denver Nuggs - Thunder in 6
4. San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies - Grizzlies in 6 (oh no he didn't!)
5. Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers - Heat in 5
6. Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Bulls in 5
7. Los Angeles Lakers vs. New Orleans Hornets - Lakers in 4
8. Orlando Magic vs. Atlanta Hawks - Magic in 6

NBA Finals Prediction:
Miami Heat over Oklahoma City Thunder

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Remembering KU's 2008 Team

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To get pumped for this most recent NCAA Tournament and to remember a time when KU got the job done, I watched KU's 2008 Final Four game against the North Carolina Retards. It was the first time I had watched the game since rewatching it the day after it occurred. I couldn't wait to relive KU's famous first half run (which ran somewhere from 18-0 to 25-2) featuring multiple Chalmers/Russ-Rob steals, Colehelm's a plenty, and some big time Sherronergy, not to mention Billy Packer's somewhat infamous "This game...is...over" line. But, as is with all of my teams, no lead is ever safe. The Tardheels immediately responded with a 10-0 run, and put together a 14-0 run in the 2nd half, mostly spurred on by Danny Green's ass waddle and Tyler Hansbrough flopping around like a marathoner going commando. Perhaps by biggest intrigue of the game was how KU responded to blowing their lead (all the way down to 4). Well, it was a BRong Rush offensive rebound and putback, a lob to Darnell over the top, and back to back Sherron2Kaun's. Game over.

While watching the game, I couldn't help but think that no KU team could ever surpass that 2008 team. First of all, I won't be at the University at the same time as the team ever again. Second of all, it'd be very difficult to match the likeability of that team. And third of all, there's VERY little chance I'll ever do bong rips with one of the players in the middle of the season again. My only question is if any championship could ever compete with being a fan of the 2008 National Champions. I think the Chiefs are the only team with the potential, but I have little concept of how I'd feel if they were to win a Super Bowl. It wouldn't surprise me if it greatly surpassed or fell woefully short. I'll be sure to let everybody know come February 5, 2012.

So you're probably wandering where I'm taking this entry from here. Well, here goes. I'm interested to take note of how players from that team are remembered over time. I'm also infatuated with attaching overrated/underrated tags to people. Boom...lightbulb! So here are my personal reactions to how each and every (relevant) member of that team has been remembered since cutting down the nets...

UNDERRATED (presented in order of most to least)

*Sherron Collins - The inspiration for this column. It's as if his reputation has been tarnished by his off-the-court antics, his lack of an NBA career, and one loss from his college career. Are you freakin' kidding me? Lets not forget that he was the best point guard on the floor in a National Championship Game that included the likes of Derrick Rose and Mario Chalmers. Not to mention his ideality as a sixth man. He can carry a lesser a team on his back by scoring, brings great energy, and is a great leader on the floor.

*Darrell Arthur - Every team needs a go to scorer. Shadyyyyyyy was just that, only people never seemed to recognize that fact. Well, pay attention to the first plays of both the Final Four games and you'll see what I mean. Or the play that ignited the comeback against Memphis (comically called "the worst shot KU could've taken" by Packer when he shot it). I've actually seen him make Sportscenter a few times this year playing for the Memphis Grizzlies, ironically.

*Darnell Jackson - My favorite player from the team. One of two jerseys that hangs in my rafters to this day (along with Priest Holmes). D-Jax plays within himself more than any other KU player I've ever seen. He was a capable scorer, but never took bad shots. He put all his effort into defense and rebounding because that was exactly what the team needed. He was also loved by all of his teammates and seemed as genuinely nice as a basketball player at KU could.

*Rodrick Stewart - A player of little impact becoming the supposed driving force of the team at the Final Four? I tell myself, "Lets write this for Rod" before diving into any write-up ever since.

*Russell Robinson - The heart and soul of the team. His want to win was maybe somewhat taken for granted at the time, but boy have KU fans missed it since. Also, has to be underrated because of people's overall lack of appreciation for good defenders, despite that aspect representing 50% of the game of basketball. He was a spectacular on the ball defender.

VERY PROPERLY RATED (presented in no particular order)

*Sasha Kaun - I thought and I thought, but I couldn't relegate Kaun to being either over or underrated. He was exactly spot on rated. He was very replaceable, but he had a special skill (alley oops) that fit in very well with this team. I will never forget that he went on to make more money the next year than any player from that team.

OVERRATED (presented in order from least to most) - Let me start by saying that I hate labeling any of these players as overrated. Most all are near and dear to my heart (Cole isn't), and this isn't a reflection of how I feel about them, but simply a reaction to the public's perception of them.

*Brandon Rush - Because of his name. He was the biggest recruit on his team, and he might be the best pro from the team when it's all said and done. But, I wouldn't necessarily list him as the best player on that team. Therefore, he qualifies as overrated. Even though he did make the biggest play of the game in the game against UNC. Bet. Whip. Lil' Wayne. 'Nuff said.

*Mario Chalmers - Calm down, calm down. Yes, the man that gave me an alternate to that annoying "Kobe" saying, as well as my go to phrase in the bedroom ("Who's the best blogger in the world") is listed as overrated. But how could he not be? If I met Jesus I would tell him he was overrated too. It's not their fault. It's not his fault. It's not your fault. Look at me, Mario....It's not your fault. Lastly, it's funny when people seemed unaware of what KU would do down 3 to Memphis, when the exact same situation occurred the previous year in the Big 12 Championship. See if this looks familiar at all...



*Cole Aldrich - It is your fault, Cole. Actually, it's just that the game of College Basketball has passed you by. It's no longer a place for slow, plodding, 7 foot, traditional centers anymore. They slow your team down, and become counterproductive. It's just much more suitable to have an athletic 6'10 player nowadays. My last point of intrigue from KU-UNC was examining exactly how good Cole's stretch of play was (remember, he was a relative unknown then), of which I was blown away by how dominant it really was. Here's a simple breakdown of his carnage: block, tip-in, after the foul block, block, turnover, BENCH. Offensive rebound, 2 free throws (reshot 2nd because of UNC lane violation), rebound, offensive foul, after the foul block, offensive rebound, made shot, block, steal, offensive rebound, missed shot, block, and a grand finale of a ball being dunked off his dome. "Gosh, it was awesome yanno."

His dirkness

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Final Four Live Chat

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