- So much NBA going on. Lebron opts out. Carmelo opts out. Love trade speculation. NBA draft. It's actually really fun. I'll try to write this in some kind of coherent narrative, but I make no promises.
To start, I can't believe the Warriors balked at the Love trade because they didn't want to trade Klay Thompson. I like Thompson, and he's one of the top 2-guards in the league, but a lineup of Curry/Martin/Iguodala/Love/Bogut is a definite contender, more so than what they have now. On the flip side, I would have been ok with the Wolves getting Thompson as the center piece of a deal. He's the #2 guy in Golden State, but would have been #1 here and who knows if he would thrive or not, but it's possible. Plus, assuming Flip is dead set on not bottoming out, a lineup of Rubio/Thompson/Barnes (if they got him too)/Lee/Pekovic could be a playoff team, and you're giving Barnes room to sink or swim rather than be stuck in a logjam at the wing position the Warriors had. Personally I'd prefer bottoming out and grabbing as many picks as possible, and that's why things are getting more and more interesting.
Lebron opted out of his deal today, and with him and Carmelo both on the market teams are maneuvering like crazy to either clear cap space, build a roster that would look good to either/both of them, or both which means we could see some crazy trades and picks flying around before Thursday's draft. One good way a team could entice either of them would be to have another Top 10 player on board (or more) and that makes Kevin Love that much more attractive. Cleveland, or at least the media, seem to think there's a realistic chance Lebron might come home, and they have the pieces to put something together with that first overall pick, Dion Waiters (who by all accounts doesn't get along with Kyrie Irving), and Tristan Thompson. The Bulls are in the mix as well, offering Tony Snell, Taj Gibson, and the #16 and #19 in the draft. Plus the Celtics still have one million picks they can throw at the Wolves. I think I'd prefer the Cavs trade to get the #1, then the Celtics, and then the Bulls. If they trade with Chicago hopefully they package 2 or 3 of those picks to get closer to the top.
Of course, it all could be for nothing since I think it's mostly likely Lebron and the other two opt out and restructure their deals to reduce the cap number and get at least one more competent player in place. Most likely that's the plan, but it's curious they didn't announce their opt outs at the same time. Pay attention, because Dwyane Wade is poised to lose the most money if he opts out, so if he opts in then game on. Until then I'd assume Lebron's back to the Heat. Carmelo I'm guessing will be a Bull.
- Speaking of the NBA draft, let's talk about the NBA draft. I think your steals are going to be Noah Vonleh (criminally underutilized in college, freak athlete, great post-up game and good perimeter game for his size), Julius Randle (already an NBA ready rebounder with a good enough offensive game that should develop), Adreian Payne (already has the skills to be a stretch 4 and could eventually be an elite defender), Tyler Ennis (might not end up a big time scorer, but should be an excellent point guard for a long time), Cleanthony Early (could step in and start for most teams Day 1), and Jerami Grant (2nd round steal). Busts look like Dante Exum (top 4 pick? Please), Aaron Gordon (has absolutely zero skill beyond athleticism), Elfrid Payton (will get abused), Zach LaVine (another athlete light on game skills), Rodney Hood (disappeared way to many times) and Mitch McGary (no clue why anybody would take him first round).
It's hard to say who I'd want the Wolves to end up with since who knows what the roster will look like by time they pick (or after), but I'd go for either of the Michigan State guys at #13. They could end up with Early and Grant in the 2nd round and that'd make me happy. Should be a fun draft no matter what goes down. I might even live blog this bad boy. That way we have more proof of how stupid I am like when I said Kawhi Leonard would be terrible or when I said Stephen Curry would be terrible or when I said Xavier Henry would be a sleeper or when I said Earl Clark could be a star.
- Man I enjoy the hell out of the World Cup. Every four years I completely devour it, convince myself I'm going to become a soccer guy, watch 5 minutes of EPL, and then bail until the next World Cup. The combination of the best in the World, the nation vs. nation thing, and the gambling make this such a fun time. This year I also got into a WC pool to make every game more interesting, but I made the mistake of picking Spain to win the whole thing so I'm likely dead. Sadly, I'm tied for second so far too. Stupid la roja. Obviously Brazil and Argentina remain the two big favorites, but I like Belgium to give it a hell of a run. Don't sleep on Mexico, either, and Colombia's been a buzz saw.
Anyway, I won't pretend to actually know enough about soccer to really analyze that tying goal in the Portugal/USA game, but man, what a gut punch. I mean, not really because as a Minnesota sports fan I was completely expecting it, but for fans of other sports teams that probably really hurt. The friends of mine who really know soccer tell me I should be mad at Michael Bradley, so picture me shaking my fist and looking really mad right now. Maybe swearing a little.
- I owe one of the longest tenured and consistent readers of this stupid blog an apology - Dawger, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I doubted Brian Dozier and your opinion of Brian Dozier. I said he was garbage, you said he was good, and now I am firmly down on the side of good. You were right, I was wrong. You're smart, I'm dumb. You're good looking, I am not attractive.
- Basketball futures are out for the NCAA Champion, and you may recall that I advised you to take UCONN last year when they were 40-1 and advised taking Louisville two years ago when they were 15-1. Yeah, I'm good. This year my first recommendation is a team that offers significant value at 25-1 (I got them at 33-1). Let's see:
- Significant post season run, albeit not in the NCAA Tournament? Check.
- Strong regular season results? Check.
- Nearly every single minute back from last season? Check.
- Impact freshman coming in with a ranking that suggests he's a program changer? Check.
- One of the top transfers coming in who will be immediately eligible? Check.
- Outstanding guard play? Check.
- Elite level head coach? Check.
Figure it out? That's right, the SMU Mustangs. Take a team that won 27 games, finished third in the conference, beat UCONN twice, made the NIT final and basically has everyone back and add in the nation's top ranked incoming freshman in Emmanuel Mudiay and sharp-shooting transfer wing from Xavier Justin Martin and these team definitely has the pieces. Plenty of questions such as how Mudiay and incumbent point guard Nic Moore mesh and if they have enough size, but at 25-1 it's a no brainer.
- Jurassic Park 4: Jurassic World. It's real. God I have such a boner.
- I'm not going to update Gopher recruiting news or anything because it's still just way too up in the air, but know that there are a lot of balls in motion right now and I think in the last couple of weeks through the next couple weeks the Gophers are getting 5-6 visits (official and unofficial) from guys who I am pretty sure Pitino would take a verbal from immediately if he could get one. I would really love to snag and early commitment this year. Like tomorrow.
- I saw Carlos Gomez was on the cover of Sports Illustrated recently. Even though it kills me to see him be this good, let me rub a little salt in the womb:
- Gomez's average of .312 ranks 13th in the majors.
- Gomez's OBP of .377 ranks 22nd, whilie his SLG of .525 ranks 12th.
- That gives him an overall OPS of .902, which ranks 18th.
- His batting alone gives him 18.2 runs above replacement so far this year, which ranks 14th.
- He's also fast and a good base runner, which gives him another 1.5, and his defense is superb giving him another 1.7. After a bunch of other league and position related factors he nets out at 31.7 runs above replacement which translates to 3.4 wins above replacement, which ranks 6th in the majors.
- Yes, Carlos Gomez has become a tremendous all around player who, according to one metric, is the 6th most valuable in baseball.
- After the trade for J.J. Hardy (defensible) and then the trade away of Hardy (completely indefensible) the Twins ended up with half a season of Hardy and 24.2 innings of terrible relief (1.91 WHIP and 5.47 ERA) from Jim Hoey. Gross.
- Seriously though, you could make a pretty good team out of ex-Twins - better than usual even:
C - Wilson Ramos (.261/.314/.370)
1B - Justin Morneau (.298/.336/.509 with 12 HRs)
2B - Nick Punto (.230/.331/.294)
3B - Danny Valencia (.236/.291/.333 - ok so this isn't the team's strength)
SS - J.J. Hardy (.294/.321/.373)
OF - Carlos Gomez (.312/.377/.525 with 12 HRs and 11 SBs)
OF - Michael Cuddyer (.317/.366/.500 with 5 HRs)
OF - Torii Hunter (.266/.290/.441 with 9 HRs)
DH - David Ortiz (.255/.354/.478 with 17 HRs)
Ok I'm getting a little tired of looking up all these stats, but your rotation would be Francisco Liriano, Matt Garza, R.A. Dickey, and Kyle Lohse with the fifth starter being Kevin Slowey unless I think of somebody else. The bullpen would be ok with Joe Nathan as the closer and a whole mess of guys like I know Pat Neshek is kicking ass this year. Really, I mean, that's a pretty good team. Fill the obvious holes (C, 2b, 3b, fifth starter) with current Twins and make Joe Mauer catch again and you might really have something here. And it really doesn't matter.
- I suppose I could live blog this Twins game, but it's already 5-3 in the top of the second which means this things going way past my bedtime. Adios muchachos.