During Week 15 of last year’s college basketball season, it was evident that the Kentucky Wildcats were the premier team in college basketball and UK’s freshman center Anthony Davis was the best player in the country. The Wildcats had a 25-1 record, with their only slip up being a 73-72 loss at Indiana early in December that will forever be remembered for the “Wat Shot.” Kentucky lost only one more game, the SEC Championship, the rest of the season and lived up to expectations by winning last year’s NCAA Tournament.
There is no Kentucky this year. In the past six weeks, the No. 1 team has changed five teams. No one has separated from the pack and any team that enters the top five seems to play hot potato with the No. 1 spot by losing. Last week, four of the top five teams–Indiana, Florida, Michigan and Kansas–in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll lost at least once. Kansas dropped consecutive games for the first time since November 21-22, 2005. Every team in the latest AP Poll has at least two losses, the average number of losses per top 25 team is slightly over four and No. 20 Wisconsin has seven.
So what does it all mean?
A) The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee are going to have a difficult time determining the field of the 68 teams that make it to the Big Dance.
B) Once the teams and seeds are finalized, the national championship is truly up for grabs.
Without further adieu, here are my NCAA men’s basketball power rankings for Week 15:
1. Miami Hurricanes (19-3, 10-0)-Miami is the only team in one of the power six conferences to have a perfect conference record. The Hurricanes’ 10-0 record in ACC play has given Miami a two-game cushion over Duke. The Hurricanes have proven that they can run traditional college basketball powerhouses out of the gym as seen by their 27-point win against Duke and 26-point victory over North Carolina.
2. Indiana Hoosiers (21-3, 9-2)-Indiana let an 11-point lead with seven minutes remaining against Illinois slip away, which could been a major concern for the Hoosiers if it wasn’t for IU’s bounce back win at No. 10 Ohio State. The 81-68 victory was Indiana’s first road win over a ranked opponent since 2002 and kept the Hoosiers atop the AP Poll.
3. Michigan Wolverines (21-3, 8-3)-If Ben Brust’s half-court prayer didn’t force overtime in Madison, Wisc. and eventually lead to a Badgers victory, Michigan would likely be No. 1 team in the country. The Big Ten’s abundance of tournament-bound teams has taken its toll on the Wolverines, who are tied for third in the conference with Wisconsin.
4. Duke Blue Devils (21-2, 8-2)-The Blue Devils have finally gotten their feet under them after losing senior forward Ryan Kelly to a foot injury. Duke lost two of its first three games without Kelly but have rattled off five straight wins as the team sits in second place in the ACC.
5. Michigan State (20-4, 9-2)-Don’t look now but the Spartans are tied for first in the Big Ten with Indiana. The Spartans still have to play Michigan twice as well as Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin a second time; if Sparty can survive the gauntlet, they have a shot at a No. 1 seed in March.
6. Florida Gators (19-3, 9-1)-The Gators should not be judged too harshly for their 80-69 loss to Arkansas. Every team has off nights and Florida showed that their lone conference loss was a fluke. They returned to their prior form by beating Mississippi State by 25 on Saturday.
7. Gonzaga Bulldogs (23-2, 10-0)-Barring a horrible loss or two, Gonzaga seems destined for a No. 2 seed with an outside chance to be a No. 1 if the teams in front of them don’t finish the regular season on high notes. The Bulldogs are a major question mark because of their weak conference schedule. They aren’t tested on a nightly basis the way that ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12 teams are. Gonzaga played against three ranked opponents and lost two of those matchups, which could hint at an early exit in the tournament.
8. Syracuse Orange (20-3, 8-2)-If Syracuse can settle senior forward James Southerland’s eligibility issue, then the Orange may be the favorite to win the Big East and ‘Cuse could match last year’s Elite Eight appearance.
9. Kansas Jayhawks (20-4, 8-3)-Last week may have been the darkest period in the history of Kansas basketball with three losses. Texas Christian University’s first Big 12 win, an unexpected 62-55 upset of the Jayhawks, was sandwiched by Kansas losses to unranked Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. With four teams within one game of the conference lead, Kansas doesn’t have any more room for error in a wide open Big 12.
10. Arizona Wildcats (20-3, 8-3)-Arizona was one of the hottest teams in the country and arguably the best team out West early in the season with wins against No. 5 Florida, Miami (Fla.) and No. 17 San Diego State during its 14-0 start. However, the Wildcats have started to show their true colors and fade from the spotlight with losses to unranked Oregon, UCLA and California.
A discussion with my friends Braxton and Max last night about which college basketball program has the best current professional players inspired me to go through the current players in the NBA and find the top fifteen programs. I ranked the teams based on the number of players currently in the league and their level of production over an extended period of time. Duke took the number one spot because there are 17 former Blue Devils in the NBA and many of them are major contributors on their teams (or at least they were when they were in their primes).
1. Duke University
Luol Deng-17.7 ppg 7.0 rpg 2.8 apg/43 career playoff appearances/1-time NBA All-Star
Carlos Boozer-14.4 ppg 9.8 rpg 2.0 apg/66 career playoff appearances/2-time NBA All-Star
Shane Battier-6.8 ppg 2.3 rpg 44.2 3P%/74 career playoff appearances/NBA Champion/All-Rookie First Team
J.J. Redick-14.2 ppg 2.3 rpg 4.9 apg/44 career playoff appearances
Kyrie Irving-23.6 ppg 3.7 rpg 5.5 apg/2012 NBA Rookie of the Year
Elton Brand-Career averages of 18.0 ppg 9.3 rpg 50 FG%/30 career playoff appearances
In the past few days, the Los Angeles Lakers fired Mike Brown and Houston Rockets Coach Kevin McHale took a leave of absence, leaving assistant coach Kelvin Sampson at the helm. Will these coaching adjustments impact either team in this week’s power rankings?
1. Miami Heat (5-1)-The Heat have won four straight and are the highest scoring team in the NBA.
2. San Antonio Spurs (6-1)-The Spurs are unselfish and there’s no other way to put it. They lead the NBA with 25 assists per game.
3. New York Knicks (4-0)-The Knicks are the only undefeated team in the NBA. The key to their success has been their uncharacteristicly tough defense, which has allowed the fewest points per game out of all thirty teams.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (4-2)-After starting the season a bit shaky, OKC has won three straight games. Kevin Martin has adapted to coming off the bench and putting up big numbers.
5. Los Angeles Clippers (5-2)-Don’t look now but the Clippers are the best team in L.A.
6. Chicago Bulls (4-2)-The Bulls’ stingy defense has carried them this far, along with big games from Luol Deng, Nate Robinson, and Joakim Noah. Carlos Boozer will need to improve his offensive production for Chicago to be one of the best Eastern Conference teams.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (4-1)-The Grizzlies haven’t lost since their season opener against the Clippers. They are in the top nine in the NBA in points scored, rebounds, assists, and points allowed per game.
8. Philadelphia 76’ers (4-2)-Philly’s only losses have come at the hands of the hot-shooting Knicks.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves (4-2)-They lack a star in his prime but the Timberwolves have managed to win four games already this season.
10. Denver Nuggets (4-3)-After dropping their first three games, Denver has turned things around by winning four straight. Kenneth Faried is even better this year. He’s put up 18/17, 18/10, and 16/16 in terms of points and rebounds in his past three games.
11. Milwaukee Bucks (3-2)-The Bucks are going to live and die by Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings’s shooting ability.
12. Boston Celtics (3-3)-Boston has enough talent between Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, and Jason Terry to be one of the best Eastern Conference teams if they can stay healthy and get hot at the end of the season.
13. Brooklyn Nets (3-2)-The Nets may have one of the most balanced offenses. One player can go cold and seven others can pick their game up and score double figures.
14. Dallas Mavericks (4-3)-Could O.J. Mayo be the most improved player this year?
15. Indiana Pacers (3-4)-The news that Danny Granger will be out for three months with patellar tendonitis certainly hurts the Pacers. With all of their close games lately, they could use another scorer.
16. Houston Rockets (3-3)-Houston is now in last place in the Southwest Division and James Harden has had more humbling games of late.
17. Los Angeles Lakers (2-4)-If Phil Jackson comes out of retirement to coach the Lakers, they’ll be a top four team without question.
18. Atlanta Hawks (2-3)-The Hawks are better than their record because they may have the hardest schedule up to this point in the season, with games against the Heat, Thunder, Clippers, Rockets, and Pacers.
19. Utah Jazz (3-4)-Gordon Hayward has developed well in three seasons, improving his points per game from 5.4 to 11.8 to 14.1 this season.
20. Golden State Warriors (3-4)-Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Carl Landry are all averaging more than sixteen points per game this season.
21. New Orleans Hornets (3-2)-Having Anthony Davis back in the lineup will be huge for New Orleans.
22. Phoenix Suns (3-4)-The Suns’ three wins have come against Detroit, Charlotte, and Cleveland, which doesn’t say a whole lot about how good of a team Phoenix is.
23. Charlotte Bobcats (2-3)-Charlotte is in second place in the Southeast Division but don’t expect it to last.
24. Portland Trail Blazers (2-4)-Portland allows over 104 points per game, on average, which makes it difficult to win in the NBA.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers (2-4)-Dion Waiters proved to be a smart draft pick by Cleveland. He is averaging 16.7 points per game and is shooting 53% from behind the arc.
26. Orlando Magic (2-4)-Orlando has dropped four consecutive games and has scored seventy-five points or fewer in three of them.
27. Sacramento Kings (2-4)-The Kings’ two wins are by a combined four points.
28. Toronto Raptors (1-5)-Kyle Lowry started the year averaging eighteen points per game but re-injured his ankle and leaves Toronto without its best scoring option.
29. Washington Wizards (0-5)-“At least we’re not Detroit!”
30. Detroit Pistons (0-7)-The Pistons are beyond bad, they’re terrible. They could be this year’s version of the 2011 Charlotte Bobcats.
The first week of the NBA is in the books. James Harden has been a man on a mission for the Houston Rockets thus far, scoring 82 points in his first two games, which is the fifth best start in terms of scoring in that time span in the history of the league. Where do the Rockets lie in this week’s power rankings?
1. Miami Heat (2-1)-Miami was blown out by twenty by the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Dwyane Wade was vocal about not wanting to play the game due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and the players’ hearts was not in the game. The Heat’s only loss was a much bigger game for New York because of what their home opener meant to the city. Plus, the Knicks shot 19-36 from behind the arc, which certainly won’t happen every night.
2. San Antonio Spurs (3-0)-Tony Parker’s dagger gave the Spurs the victory at home against last year’s Western Conference champions, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2)-OKC is still trying to figure out Kevin Martin’s role. Regardless if Martin is coming off of the bench or is in starting lineup, one thing is certain–Russell Westbrook should not be taking more shots than Kevin Durant.
4. Los Angeles Clippers (2-1)-Jamal Crawford has led the team in scoring twice so far this season while coming off the bench.
5. Indiana Pacers (2-1)-George Hill’s basket in the closing seconds of their season opener gave Indiana a two-point victory over Toronto. Six Pacers are currently averaging in double figures in scoring.
6. Dallas Mavericks (2-1)-O.J. Mayo has proven to be a great pick-up for Dallas and having Chris Kaman return to the court should only bolster their lineup.
7. Houston Rockets (2-1)-Fear the beard.
8. Chicago Bulls (2-1)-The Bulls are staying afloat so far without Derrick Rose. Nate Robinson is no D-Rose but has filled in well at point guard.
9. Atlanta Hawks (1-1)-Atlanta handed OKC its second loss of the season after losing to the Rockets at the hands of James Harden’s 45 points Friday night.
10. Milwaukee Bucks (2-0)-Monta Ellis will need to shoot the ball better if the Bucks want to continue to win.
11. Portland Trail Blazers (2-1)-Damian Lillard is making his extremely early case for Rookie of the Year. The point guard is averaging 21 points, 9 assists, and 4 rebounds per game as a starter.
12. Boston Celtics (1-2)-Jeff Green is healthy and Jason Terry is now a Celtic but Boston dropped its first two games of the season.
13. Golden State Warriors (2-1)-Golden State will need to ride Carl Landry and Stephen Curry’s twenty-point performances to get into the playoffs.
14. New York Knicks (2-0)-The Knicks have shot the ball very well in two games this season but will be in trouble if they go cold and have to play defense.
15. Philadelphia 76’ers (1-1)-Philly has a number of players (Spencer Hawes, Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner) ready for breakout seasons.
16. Memphis Grizzlies (1-1)-Second best frontcourt in the NBA after the Lakers?
17. Brooklyn Nets (1-0)-The Nets may not be deep but their starting lineup is respectable.
18. Phoenix Suns (1-2)-A trio of foreign players–Marcin Gortat, Goran Dragic, and Luis Scola–has the the Suns off to a shaky start.
19. Utah Jazz (1-2)-A team where Mo Williams is the featured scorer concerns me.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (1-1)-The T-Wolves may be lost until Kevin Love returns.
21. New Orleans Hornets (2-1)-Anthony Davis suffered a mild concussion over the weekend but his Hornets are 2-1 thanks to pulling out consecutive wins by small margins.
22. Cleveland Cavaliers (1-2)-Kyrie Irving is playing at an All-Star level at point guard but the rest of the Cavs is too far behind him for Cleveland to be an Eastern Conference power just yet.
23. Orlando Magic (2-1)-Glen Davis and J.J. Redick have Orlando off to a hot start but how long will it last?
24. Charlotte Bobcats (1-1)-Kemba Walker’s thirty-point performance allowed Charlotte to squeak by Indiana but the Bobcats were blown out by twenty-seven in their next game, showing their true form.
25. Toronto Raptors (1-2)-Kyle Lowry is off to a heck of a start, leading the Raptors in practically every statistical category.
26. Los Angeles Lakers (0-3)-Kobe, Dwight, and Pau are thriving statistically in the Princeton offense but L.A. has failed to get a “W” this season. By the end of the season, they will likely be much higher in the power rankings but just like the Miami Heat in the first year of the Big Three, chemistry takes time to develop.
27. Denver Nuggets (0-3)-The Nugget’s opponents are 5-2 this season.
28. Sacramento Kings (0-3)-The Kings lost two games in regulation by a combined eight points and were defeated in a third game in overtime.
29. Detroit Pistons (0-2)-Detroit lacks a top-tier scorer. The Pistons are asking a lot from veterans past their prime and players who are new to the NBA.
30. Washington Wizards (0-2)-John Wall’s knee injury is preventing him from running and jumping, which makes the Wizards’ slim chances of a winning season even more minute.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sports.Eat.Sleep.Repeat.!
We are only a few hours away from the tipoff to the 2012-13 NBA season, which means it’s time for the first edition of my NBA power rankings. There have been a plethora of major moves since last season, which completely changed the NBA outlook for this season. Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to the Lakers. Jeremy Lin is now a Houston Rocket. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis have joined the movement in Miami. Joe Johnson and his outrageous contract are in Brooklyn. Andrew Bynum will be suiting up for the 76’ers this season. Did any teams compile championship rosters through offseason trades or draft picks? We’ll find out soon enough.
1. Miami Heat-Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis improve the Heat’s bench and make them the Eastern Conference favorite to play in the NBA Finals.
2. Los Angeles Lakers-The starting five of Nash, Kobe, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard might be the best in the league.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder-Losing James Harden hurts OKC but their foundation of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka is locked up for the near future from maximum contracts.
4. Boston Celtics-Kevin Garnett played like a man ten years younger in last year’s playoffs and will have an ax to grind since his former teammate Ray Allen left Boston to join the defending champions.
5. Los Angeles Clippers-Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have had a year of playing together to develop chemistry but will have to take a back seat in L.A. behind the Lakers.
6. San Antonio Spurs-Their core of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker is not getting any younger but they are certainly a team that no one wants to face when the playoffs roll around.
7. Denver Nuggets-With only one player older than 28, Denver has a young roster that could go under the radar on its way to being one of the best in the Western Conference.
8. Indiana Pacers-While the Pacers lack a start who can take over a game at will, they have the most depth in the Eastern Conference and center Roy Hibbert will continue to cause matchup problems for opponents.
9. Atlanta Hawks-With Al Horford healthy for the entire season, Atlanta can be an elite Eastern Conference team.
10. Memphis Grizzlies-A frontcourt of Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and Rudy Gay gives Memphis a shot to win the Southwest Division.
11. Chicago Bulls-With the uncertainty surrounding Derrick Rose’s return this season, the Chicago Bulls cannot be ranked any higher. Carlos Boozer will have to step up in a big way for Chicago to make it out of the first round in the playoffs.
12. Philadelphia 76’ers-Andrew Bynum’s knee injury raises concern for Philly but with him healthy, the 76’ers can stir the pot in the East.
13. Utah Jazz-The Jazz have a roster full of good role players, which is good enough for one of the final playoff spots in the West.
14. Dallas Mavericks-With three new starters, O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison, and Chris Kaman, to go along with Dirk Nowitzki, the new look Mavs are good enough to make the playoffs.
15. New York Knicks-The Knicks will be fun to watch but Carmelo Anthony is a black hole on offense. New York is relevant again but not a title contender.
16. Brooklyn Nets-The acquisitions of Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson will give Deron Williams more options on offense. We’ll have to see how Brook Lopez plays after appearing in only five games last season.
17. Phoenix Suns-The Suns start the post-Steve Nash era with Goran Dragic taking over at point guard.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves-Kevin Love is out for six to eight weeks from fracturing the meta carpal in his hand. Without Love, the T-Wolves will struggle to get into position to make the playoffs.
19. Milwaukee Bucks-Doron Lamb and John Henson join a Bucks team that was just a few games shy of making the playoffs last season.
20. Portland Trail Blazers-With two rookies, point guard Damian Lillard and center Meyers Leonard, starting, Portland will have to work out some kinks before they move forward.
21. Houston Rockets-James Harden gives Houston a player to build their organization around and the Rockets are hoping that Jeremy Lin can bring Linsanity back in Texas.
22. Detroit Pistons-The Pistons have a talented young center in Greg Monroe, who will lead Detroit this season.
23. New Orleans Hornets-Anthony Davis will look to turn around a Hornets team that was last in the Western Conference in 2011-12.
24. Toronto Raptors-Toronto is looking to improve upon last season, when they went twenty games under .500.
25. Sacramento Kings-DeMarcus Cousins had a breakout season last year and Thomas Robinson gives the Kings depth on the bench.
26. Golden State Warriors-Golden State drafted very well, signing Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes in the offseason.
27. Cleveland Cavaliers-2011 NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving is looking to get the Cavs back to their winning ways for the first time since LeBron James left.
28. Washington Wizards-Bradley Beal is a great shooter out of Florida but is not enough to turn Washington around.
29. Orlando Magic-Losing Dwight Howard will hurt Orlando more than they can imagine.
30. Charlotte Bobcats-Not getting the first pick of the 2012 NBA Draft last year means that Charlotte will once again be the worst team in the NBA.
It was no surprise when former Kentucky forward-center Anthony Davis was taken by the New Orleans Hornets with the number one overall pick but the next fifty-nine picks remained mysteries until the official announcements from NBA commissioner David Stern. As expected, six Kentucky players were drafted along with a handful from UNC, Duke, UConn, Baylor, and Syracuse, and of course, this year’s draft had no shortage of European players that you have never heard of, with names that you wouldn’t dare to try to pronounce.
Kentucky Wildcats-6 picks-Anthony Davis (1-NOH), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2-CHA), Terrence Jones (18-HOU), Marquis Teague (29-CHI), Doron Lamb (42-MIL), Darius Miller (46-NOH)
North Carolina Tar Heels-4 picks-Harrison Barnes (7-GSW), Kendall Marshall (13-PHX), John Henson (14-MIL), Tyler Zeller (17-DAL)
Syracuse Orange-3 picks-Dion Waiters (4-CLE), Fab Melo (22-BOS), Kris Joseph (51-BOS)
Baylor Bears-3 picks-Perry Jones III (28-OKC), Quincy Acy (37-TOR), Quincy Miller (38-DEN)
Boston Celtics-The Celts shocked the league by coming within one win from advancing to the NBA Finals after the Big Three were nearly broken up early in the season and despite Rajon Rondo trade rumors in the regular season. With the Big Three most likely losing a member, 37-year-old Ray Allen who became a free agent after the 2011-2012 season ended, Boston reloaded its roster with fresh legs and young talent, especially in its frontcourt. They added former Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger along with a pair of ex-Syracuse players-Fab Melo and Kris Joseph. With KG returning to the Garnett of his mid-twenties and Rajon Rondo playing in his prime, the Celtics could make another run at the Finals in the next few years in the post-Big Three Era.
Houston Rockets-Houston seems to be stuck in a cycle of seasons around .500 and a roster with average players. However, the Rockets are looking to change that identity. They have made serious runs at acquiring Dwight Howard and made the most of their three picks in the top eighteen selections last night. With the twelfth pick, Houston drafted UConn shooting guard and NCAA national champion Jeremy Lamb. Four picks later they drafted Iowa State standout Royce White and completed their draft by selecting University of Kentucky forward Terrence Jones. If White can get over his fear of flying and Jones doesn’t butt heads with Houston’s coaching staff, then the trio of Rockets draft picks can change the culture in Houston as they mature over the next few years in the NBA.
Oklahoma City Thunder-OKC may have had the steal of the draft by picking up Perry Jones III, who slipped down to the 28th pick. Runners-up in last season’s NBA Finals, the Thunder made the most of their sole pick in the draft to improve their frontcourt and it gives them a player who could replace Serge Ibaka if they can’t sign him to a long-term contract down the road.
New Orleans Hornets-Drafting Anthony Davis with the first pick in the draft improved their future more than can be described in words but Austin Rivers and Darius Miller take New Orleans’ draft to the next level. Along with shooting guard Eric Gordon, the Hornets could have a very formidable starting lineup in a few years.
What Were They Thinking?
Golden State Warriors-The Warriors certainly added some talented small forwards and centers by drafting Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli, and Ognjen Kuzmic. And that is exactly why I am questioning their draft as a whole. Yes, Barnes was the best player available with the seventh overall pick and has great potential to develop into a very good player at the next level. Green is a fantastic leader and team player, someone who you would not question his passion for basketball. With Ezeli, it never hurts to add a seven-footer who can grab rebounds and contest shots. But did Golden State’s front office look at their roster closely enough before draft day? They only have three guards, their best being Stephen Curry, and none of them are players who can take over a game with their outside shooting or penetration in the lane. If they plan to deal Andris Biedrins or Andrew Bogut, who earn a combined $21 million per year, then I will feel much better about their draft because no team needs more centers than point guards and shooting guards combined.
Chicago Bulls-I have to wonder if Derrick Rose’s injury-prone 2011-2012 season that limited to only 39 regular season games and will likely have him missing much of next year caused the Bulls to start panicking. With the 29th pick, Chicago drafted Marquis Teague out of Kentucky, which means that the Bulls have three point guards in addition to their three shooting guards. Jae Crowder and Draymond Green were both available when Chicago was on the clock. As a Bulls fan, I would have been thrilled if either of those forwards were Chi-Town bound to learn from and play alongside Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Carlos Boozer. Instead, the Bulls got an insurance policy. Teague will get his share of playing time with D-Rose out but he will go to the bench as soon as the 2011 MVP returns to the court. Unless Teague changes positions as a Bull or Rose becomes an off-guard, the two point guards probably won’t be on the floor at the same time during most situations. As good as Teague may be in the future in the NBA and as much as the Bulls may need another ball-handler until Rose comes back, I would have preferred Crowder or Green.
The Most Anticipated Matchup
Boston Celtics vs. New Orleans Hornets-It will be a family rivalry that is unlike any other we’ve seen in professional sports. Coach Doc Rivers of the Celtics scheming defenses to stop his flashy shooting guard son Austin Rivers. You have to wonder if Doc Rivers will get a Father’s Day card in the mail after Kevin Garnett throws an elbow into the younger Rivers next season.
The Best European Names of the Draft
Kostas Papanikolaou-SF-48th pick-Greece-New York Knicks
1. New Orleans Hornets-Anthony Davis-PF/C-University of Kentucky
Davis was the best player on the best team last season. He was the National Player of the Year on the University of Kentucky team that won the national championship. He can be expected to start from the first game of the season and be a dominant big man on offense and defense for at least the next ten years. Along with Eric Gordon, Jarrett Jack, Emeka Okafor, and Chris Kaman, Anthony Davis would complete a very solid starting lineup for New Orleans.
2. Charlotte Bobcats-Thomas Robinson-PF-Kansas University
The Bobcats are coming off of the worst season in NBA history with a 7-59 record. Anthony Davis would have been a great addition to their roster, but after the Hornets won the number one pick, Thomas Robinson is the next best option. The Bobcats are a team made up of great college players who haven’t panned out in the NBA. D.J. Augustin averaged nineteen points per game and an All-American at Texas, Kemba Walker led UConn to a national championship in 2011, D.J. White was the Big Ten Player of the Year in 2008 at Indiana, and Derrick Brown led Xavier to an Elite Eight and Sweet Sixteen in consecutive years. Between Gerald Henderson, Augustin, and Walker, Charlotte’s guards are not as bad as the team’s record would suggest-the trio averages 38 points, 10 rebounds, and 13 assists per game. Robinson will be a force down low for Charlotte and will hopefully allow them to be competitive in the NBA next season.
3. Washington Wizards-Michael Kidd-Gilchrist-SF-University of Kentucky
The Wizards have two talented, young guards in John Wall and Jordan Crawford, along with veteran center Nene. What they are missing is a good forward. Kidd-Gilchrist was a starter for UK as a freshman and was an integral part of their national championship run. He averaged nearly 12 points per game and 7 rebounds per game for the Wildcats and can be expected to put up the same, if not better, numbers for the Wizards next season.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers-Bradley Beal-SG-University of Florida
Beal averaged fifteen points per game and seven rebounds per game as a freshman for the Florida Gators, who made an Elite Eight run last season. The Cavs have the 2011-2012 Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving at point guard and a good veteran at forward in Anderson Varejao, along withTristan Thompson. Beal and Irving could develop into a very nice scoring duo for the Cavs.
5. Sacramento Kings-Harrison Barnes-SF-University of North Carolina
The Kings were in the top ten in scoring and rebounding during the regular season and Harrison Barnes (17 ppg and 5 ppg at UNC) will only help Sacramento. Barnes has proved himself to be a top ten draft pick over the past two years at UNC and he will complement the pieces that the Kings already have in place-Marcus Thornton, DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas, and Jimmer Fredette. Assuming that Cousins can keep his emotions in check, he and Harrison Barnes could be a great scoring and rebounding duo down low.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (from New Jersey Nets)-Perry Jones III-PF-Baylor University
The Portland Trail Blazers had at least one player at every position average double figures in points, except for center. At 6’11”, 220 lbs., and nearly a 7’3″ wingspan, Jones could transition to playing center for Portland.
7. Golden State Warriors-Andre Drummond-C-University of Connecticut
Many NBA teams look for prospects who were good for one or two seasons in college, who will develop into stars at the next level. Andre Drummond is one of those players who was good in college at UConn, averaging 10 points per game and 7 rebounds per game, but Golden State will try to take him to the next level in his game. He has the size to be a force down low but he still needs a lot of work on his offensive game and free throw shooting (29%). The Warriors are in desperate need of a good center to go along with David Lee at power forward and Steph Curry at point guard.
8. Toronto Raptors-Terrence Jones-SF-University of Kentucky
Jones has two years of experience on very talented Kentucky teams that have made deep runs in the NCAA Tournament. He can play as a 3 or 4 man and creates a lot of mismatches with his size when he plays small. He averaged fifteen and nine during his sophomore season, which is very impressive considering how much talent was on John Calipari’s squad last year. Toronto has talent and depth at center and the guard positions, but they are lacking at the forward position and Terrence Jones should be able to fill that void well.
9. Detroit Pistons-John Henson-PF-University of North Carolina
Henson showed improvement in each of his three seasons at UNC. He is a double-double machine and has lots of big game experience from his time at Chapel Hill. He will be a good option in the post for Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight.
10. New Orleans Hornets (from Minnesota Timberwolves via Los Angeles Clippers)-Jeremy Lamb-SG-UConn
In his freshman year, Lamb was a key player on UConn’s national championship team in 2011. In his sophomore season he averaged 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. In addition to Anthony Davis, Jeremy Lamb will help turn the Hornets franchise around.
Last night was the highly-anticipated raffle for Anthony Davis, or as most people refer to it, the NBA Draft Lottery. The Charlotte Bobcats, who infamously had the worst winning percentage of any team in NBA history at 7-59 had a 65% chance of getting the number one pick after all but two teams had dropped out of the running but instead landed the number two pick behind the New Orleans Hornets (21-45 record this season).
Let the conspiracy theories begin.
In mid-December, NBA officials nixed the proposed trade between the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Hornets that would send point guard Chris Paul to L.A. and forward Pau Gasol to New Orleans, among a handful of other players traded between the two teams. With the league in control of the Hornets, they did not think that the trade was good for the team. Within a week, the other NBA team with which the Lakers share the Staples Center, the Los Angeles Clippers, acquired CP3 via a trade with New Orleans.
Maybe the NBA gave the Hornets the number one pick to make up for cancelling the trade with the Lakers.
The owner of the New Orleans Saints, Tom Benson, is looking into purchasing the New Orleans Hornets as well from the NBA. And since the better quality of a product, the higher the price that can charged, what if the NBA gave New Orleans the number one pick so that they can make more money from selling the Hornets to Benson?
It is certainly entertaining listening to all of the conspiracy theorists who claim that the NBA is rigged. However, it is amazing how irrational their logic is and that they actually believe the draft lottery was a scam. It was not as if the NBA was able to pick a team of their liking to receive the number one pick. The entire process took place in the presence of a representative of all 30 NBA teams as well as various members of the media. So yes, the NBA draft lottery could be rigged if every single team and members of the media agreed to keep quiet about it, which we know would never happen. And conspiracy theorists are blowing a 30% chance of selection way out of proportion. If two more ping pong balls were chosen after the one bearing the Hornets’ logo, chances are that they would have both been in favor of the Charlotte Bobcats. New Orleans just happened to get lucky that a ball in their third of the total number of balls was chosen.
Having a team other than the one with the worst record in the league win the first draft pick is no anomaly. Since the first year of the draft lottery system in 1985, only four times has the team with the worst record received the number one pick. The amount of attention surrounding this year’s draft is more than normal because Charlotte had the worst record in NBA history as well as that we’ve known who the first overall draft pick, Kentucky center Anthony Davis, will be for months. Stranger things have happened than for the team with tied for the third-worst record to earn the number one draft pick including the Orlando Magic getting the top pick in consecutive seasons (1992 and 1993) and two teams having the number one pick despite having less than a two percent chance of getting chosen. In 1993, the 41-41 Orlando Magic had a 1.52% chance of being selected and in 2008 the Chicago Bulls had a 1.70% probability. Both teams ended up getting picked in their respective years and went on to draft Chris Webber and Derrick Rose.
As fun as it may be to create conspiracy theories and point fingers at David Stern and the NBA, it is not productive. Instead of asking if the NBA draft lottery was fixed, a better question is whether or not the lottery is the best system to decide the order of the draft. Certainly there needs to be some form of lottery system in place to prevent teams from bagging their season half-way through in order to get the top pick. Maybe the NBA should consider the records of the fourteen teams that participate in the lottery and increase the probability that the worst teams will be chosen based on how many games they are behind the rest of the pack, which certainly would have helped the Charlotte Bobcats this year. Another way to help ensure that the teams who need the top draft picks the most get them would be to make different tiers of the lottery. This would mean that the five worst teams would have their own lottery to determine their position 1-5. The next worst teams would have a lottery for spots 6-10 and so on.
While I completely disagree with the conspiracy theory rumors that are spreading like wildfire, I do think it would be worth the time and effort of NBA executives to discuss revisions to the current NBA draft lottery. It is a shame to think that the Charlotte Bobcats were the worst team in the league by fourteen games and they may once again be a cellar dweller next year since Anthony Davis will be headed to New Orleans, Louisiana instead of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Mo Egger is a lifelong Cincinnati sports fan and gets the chance every week day to talk about his teams on the radio. He works for both ESPN 1530 and 700 WLW as a sports talk show host. His talk show from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN 1530 is a must-listen on the ride home from school for all local sports fans. After months of being a daily listener, I decided to reach out to him for the chance to talk to him about the ever-changing radio industry, his career, and of course, Cincinnati sports.
When did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in radio and what do you like the most about your job?
Mo Egger: When I was a kid, I was kind of a nerd. I listened to 700 WLW and sports talk radio when I was a kid. I was a terrible athlete so those dreams that most kids have about playing pro sports, I had them, but I knew pretty early that they weren’t going to come true. I love talking about sports as much as anybody. Even more than listening to the play-by-play of games, I’ve always enjoyed opinion sort of stuff. I listened to sports talk radio and heard those guys arguing with callers. I have a strong take on local teams and thought “Wow, you can get paid to do that? That sounds pretty good.” I wanted to be in radio, specifically sports radio, ever since I can remember, at least since I was 11 or 12 years old.
As a kid, who was your favorite athlete and were there any radio personalities who inspired you to become a radio host?
ME: I don’t know if there was a specific personality. I grew up loving the NBA—Marv Albert was probably my favorite broadcaster but he really wasn’t a radio host or a talk show host. I always thought it was a cool profession. I thought the people who did it sounded like me arguing with my buddies as a kid. In terms of my favorite athlete as a kid, my favorite of all time had to be Bernard King, who played for the New York Knicks. Also, Barry Larkin was huge when I was a kid. The Bengals were actually good when I was a kid, with Boomer Esiason, so those would probably be my “big three.” And it’s going to be hard to find anybody my age that didn’t idolize Michael Jordan so he would obviously have to go on the list too.
What was your first job in the radio industry and where do you want to go in your career?
ME: My first job was actually at WLW and I’ve been there since I was 19. My first job was when I was in college at the University of Dayton in the summer between my sophomore and junior years. I was hired to play the religious tapes that they roll on Sunday mornings. I would get up, work from five to nine, and would literally just sit there playing religious programs. I started working my way up and I’ve been with the same company ever since. As far as what I want to do, it sounds pokey, but I want to keep on doing what I do now. I really have my dream job—I do a radio show in a city that my family is from and I talk about the teams that I like. It would be really hard for me to go somewhere and talk about the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Miami Marlins. What I like about my job is that I care about the teams I talk about and talk about stuff that matters to me. Hopefully that comes across and makes listening to the show more fun. The best radio hosts are the ones who genuinely care about the things they say and I get the chance to do that.
Where do you see the future of radio with the rise in technology such as live streaming, blogging, and Twitter?
ME: I think it’s good and I think it can supplement what we do. I don’t think radio is ever going to go away. People have been predicting the death of radio for decades. People thought that TV was going to kill it, people thought that satellite radio was going to kill it, people thought that the Internet was going to kill it and it’s still around. I think the new technology makes radio hosts a little bit more versatile. It’s become more engaging and we have to become more immediate. If I have an opinion on something, I can’t wait until three o’clock the next day to say it. I have to Tweet it or write about it. I also think that the next wave of radio hosts is going to be found on the Internet. They’re going to be found on YouTube and they’re going to do their own podcasts. I tell kids all the time, especially college students, when I was in college, you had to get on a campus radio station, which no one had ever heard of. Now you don’t have to—it’s great if you are, but you can do your own podcast or make your own YouTube videos and send them to everybody in order to have them go viral. That way more people see it than would ever hear you on a college radio station. Also, some small market stations have completely eliminated local programming so those opportunities just aren’t there anymore; you have to create your own. I do think it can give younger people a jump start on a career, a jump start on becoming comfortable in front of a microphone, and becoming comfortable on camera. I really do think that the impact of the new technologies is being felt now obviously, but it’s really going to be felt in ten to twelve years when radio stations are looking for the next wave of talent.
What is a typical day like for you?
ME: I get up around seven and the first thing I do is jot down the three, four, or five things that people are talking about. Obviously there’s a lot of reading and watching involved. Usually I’ll write on my blog for about two hours and then I go into the radio station. My producer and I meet around ten to talk about the day’s show, what we’re going to talk about, different angles, and plan out stories. Then we go our separate ways—she’ll do her job and book guests. Then for me, it’s like taking a test—I spend the three or four hours before the show studying for a test. Reading, talking to people, coming up with angles, researching topics, and the test is at three o’clock. Eleven to three is the part that’s not that much fun but three to six is the fun part. It’s just like anything else, it’s all about preparation. It’s all about forming a plan for the show and making sure that I have enough content. It’s all about making sure I’m on top of what people are talking about. That’s how I spend most of the day and then three o’clock hits and if I did a good job from ten to three, then three to six will go well and if we didn’t, then three to six will be a struggle.
Who is your favorite guest that you have had on your radio show before?
ME: The coolest experience talking to somebody would have to be when we did the show from the Baseball Tonight set and talking to Barry Larkin. It was a big deal for me and that was a very cool experience. We tend not to do guests for the sake of doing guests. We tend to make them topical and make them timely by bringing in somebody who can add something to the discussion. The one thing I wish we did more of would be long interviews where you can get to know people, but that’s really hard to do. My favorite person to have on consistently is Chris Mack, the coach of Xavier, because he’s funny and always insightful. He likes to give it to me a little bit because I’m a UC fan. He’s always is willing to go on, always friendly, and always accommodating.
What advice would you give a high school or college student interested in pursuing a career in radio?
ME: The number one thing is don’t wait for a radio station to hire you, do it now. Buy podcasting software, do a daily video on YouTube, write as much as possible, or start a blog. Do it now. I believe that these forums will be where people are going to be hired from. I think the earlier you start, the better you’re going to be. I always tell people that I was lucky enough to start working at WLW at an early age and I knew that I was surrounded by people who were really good and who I could pattern myself after. I always tell people who want to work in radio to listen to the radio. If I wanted to learn to be a great rock guitarist, I would pay attention to and listen to the great rock guitarists. If I was going to be a quarterback, I want to watch Tom Brady and I want to pattern myself after him. Find the people that you like, find the people that you think are good, and not just sports, but in all disciplines, and listen to them. Listen to what makes them sound compelling, what makes them interesting, and listen to how they bring up different angles. I think the one thing we don’t do enough of is listening to those who are good at it. Find the people you really like, “like” doesn’t have to mean agree with, and find the people who are good. Some of the people I listen to the most are some of the people who I disagree with most of the time. Listen to the radio, listen to people as much as you can, and find what you can apply to your own skill set when you listen to others.
As a lifelong Cincinnati sports fan, which team (from a specific year) is your favorite of all time and why?
ME: The 1992 UC Final Four team. It’s because, number one, they went to the Final Four. Number two, it’s not that they came from nowhere but they’re a team that people have forgotten. It was a program that hadn’t been relevant nationally in a long time but it was really before people cared about UC basketball. I was a freshman in high school and I loved those guys. I could give you details from every game. I could talk abut Nick van Exel going wall-to-wall at the end of the half against Brooklyn College and I could talk about them beating Memphis four times and stopping Penny Hardaway. I just liked that team because it was a team that the country didn’t pay much attention to and they came out of nowhere. That’s my favorite of all time and the one that I put on a pedestal.
What does the tradition of Opening Day in Cincinnati mean to you?
ME: It’s bigger here than anywhere else. It’s a big deal everywhere but not what it is here. That’s not cliché, it’s true. I don’t really get worked up about the fact that the Mariners and A’s played in Japan or that the season doesn’t necessarily begin in Cincinnati anymore. I think it’s very cool that they let the Reds open up at home every year. I think it’s cool that it’s a big deal to the city. I went to every Opening day from ’97 to 2009 with my dad and I think about him and those memories with him since he’s not with me anymore. It made fathers and sons and traditions. It means a party and everybody loves a party.
What are your thoughts on the new Joey Votto deal and can they still sign Brandon Phillips?
ME: I think it’s going to be really hard to sign him. I don’t know how you can financially make that work. I like it but I have questions just like everyone else does. I think it’s fair to wonder how they’re going to pay for it. I think you need to remember that the owner of the team is a good business man and he’s wealthy for a reason. He’s wealthy because he’s spent a lifetime making sound financial and business decisions and done so with a lot of homework. I think you have to keep in mind that this is not a person who accumulated a lot of wealth by just throwing dollars around. I think if the Reds are really good over the next four or five years, we’re going to be more than okay with paying an older Joey Votto, even if he clogs up the roster. I think it puts a lot of pressure on the Reds, which I like, and the Reds have to do a better job in their farm system because they’re not going to be major players in free agency. I love the message that it sends that we’re no longer going to be a team that settles for mediocrity. We’re going for it and we’re trying to win championships. That’s something that I don’t think this team has conveyed to its fan base successfully for a very long time.
With Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder out of the Central Division, how well can the Reds do this year?
ME: It’s the most interesting division in baseball. If you listen to the experts, nobody has a feel for who the favorite should be. I still think St. Louis is going to be very good once Chris Carpenter comes back. I think people underestimate the influence of Dave Duncan, their pitching coach. I still think Milwaukee is going to be fine. They weren’t a very good defensive team last year and they’re going to have to be better this year. The Reds have question marks. Bronson Arroyo is going to start thirty plus games for them. He’s going to have to look more like the guy we saw in 2010. Scott Rolen has to hold up for 120 games. I think they’re equipped to compete but I haven’t picked them to win the division quite yet. I think they will be a playoff team and they’ve answered a lot of questions, but they have some major issues to address.
After UC’s basketball program has had a few down seasons and having some of its player serve suspensions for the Crosstown Shootout brawl, how miraculous of a turn-around was it for them as they made the Sweet Sixteen this season?
ME: It was awesome. This was not a great team by any stretch. I thought the way they responded after the Shootout was great. I thought the way they played after the Shootout was really special. I don’t think most teams would have emerged from it for the better in the way that they did. It took a lot of mental toughness for them to make the season about more than just the fight. I’m happy for those involved with the program because people wrote them off, stopped going, stopped caring. They made people start caring and getting emotional about UC basketball again, that’s why it was special. When they beat Florida State, I thought of the people who abandoned the program, the people who stopped going, and I thought of the people who would laugh at me for still being a fan of the team. I felt bad for them because they missed what ended up being a pretty good time. They missed what ended up being a really fun, endearing team. And it made the last six years worth it. It was finally the payoff for their patience. I think that’s all sports fans want. We’re willing to be patient but we want a payoff. This year’s basketball season was a major payoff, at least for me.
After Kentucky’s success as a “one-and-done” type of program, will other programs attempt the same style and how does it affect college basketball, if at all?
ME: I don’t think it affects college basketball as a whole. I think most programs in the country would like to have Anthony Davis. I think most programs in the country would like to have Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. I think most programs would like to have Marquis Teague and John Wall. If you don’t want your coach to get those players then you don’t want your coach to do everything he can to win. Is Duke going to start recruiting waves of players who leave after their freshman year? Sure, if they can get them. Would programs that can’t do it be able to do it? No. Kentucky is still going to gobble up the best players. I don’t think it affects the sport. I don’t think it’s going to really change anything. If anything, it gets people talking about the rule and maybe that will change, but probably not. I think some are overstating the impact and I don’t think there’s going to be much of one.
How do you think the Bengals can improve their roster in the NFL Draft?
ME: They have to get a guy who can block and open up holes in the running game. They have to get a guard and they’ve done that in free agency. They want to run the ball better and they have to run the ball better. They have to have starters who can beat people at the point of attack, and up front, in the middle of the offensive line. The line was deficient last year. Nate Livingston and Bobby Williams aren’t going to cut it. They need to add somebody else to the interior of the offensive line. I’m a firm believer in this NFL, where people are throwing the football all over the place, that you can’t have enough good defensive backs. They need defensive backs. They need a corner, they probably still need a safety, and if they can get more than one at each position then I would probably be in favor of it. People are throwing the ball all over the place in this league. We sometimes talk about the third corner being the guy who’s your third best corner and he better be really good because he’s going to be on the field more than fifty percent of the time. Especially with the Leon Hall injury, they need guys who can play in the secondary and play at a high level. They have to find those guys in the draft.
After the Bengals went 9-7 last year and made the playoffs, Xavier and UC made the Sweet Sixteen, and the Reds have a great chance in the Central, how does this year stack up with the best years in Cincinnati sports?
ME: It’s getting up there. Certainly in recent history we haven’t had a year like this. Think of 1990, the last year both teams were really good, but other than that there haven’t been many years like this. I would look at 2009 and 2010, when UC won all of their games in football and went to bowl games both seasons, the Reds followed it up with a division-winning season, and XU went to the Sweet Sixteen in ’09 and 2010, so that might be as good of a stretch. But in terms of an individual year, there haven’t been many like this.