- So Jonathan Nwankwo, one of the Gopher hoops signees for next season, was let out of his letter of intent. Here's my post from when he originally committed so I won't rehash all that, but this sucks. There are all kinds of rumors to why, but they all agree on it being an academic thing. If it's an NCAA issue as some suggest, well, what are you going to do? If it's a U of M thing, man that sucks. I get that being a high level academic institution is important, that's kind of the Big 10's thing, but I don't really care because it doesn't affect me. I'd rather have them just go ahead and admit anybody who can play basketball at a high level and work it out from there. I like that the U is a big time smarty pants research school, but can't we just make an exception for sports?
- The Wolves won the lottery! They get to pick first, and the cynic would say of course they won this year when there are 3-4 legitimate options for first overall pick, but as much as I love DeAngelo Russell, and I do, I think the clear 1-2 are Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor. For me, it's clear that Towns needs to be the pick.
Okafor is a ready made post scorer with more polish on that end than Towns, but Towns can do so much more and, in my eyes, has a lot more potential. Towns is nearly as good in the post, hitting 72% of his attempts at the rim while Okafor hit 75%, but Towns can step out and do some other things offensively. Seventy percent of Okafor's shots came at the rim, while Towns was just 54%, and Okafor didn't even attempt a single shot farther out than 17 feet this year, while Towns actually attempted eight three pointers and plenty of mid-range stuff. Here are their shot charts from shotanalytics.com:
|Almost all at the rim|
That doesn't mean that Okafor can't develop a perimeter game, but it does mean Towns is closer and the disparity in free throw percentage (Okafor 51%, Towns 82%) suggests the same. Additionally, Towns averaged nearly double the blocked shots per game despite playing nine fewer minutes and on a per possession basis Towns blocked 11.7% of shots when he was on the floor (16th in the country) and Okafor just 4.5% (still good for 245th). Rebounding, Okafor edges Towns by about 1.5 per game, but again, per possession Towns' percentages are absolutely elite, while Okafor's are merely very good.
Okafor showed his game all season, while Towns merely began to tap his potential. It also remains to be seen if Okafor can up his defensive game while I don't think there's any question how good Towns can be, and Okafor struggled against seven footers last season while Towns held his own pretty much against anybody. The choice is clear, it needs to be Towns, or it's a huge mistake.
- I suppose I have to talk Twins seeing as how they're suddenly on a 93 win pace, but I'm kind of trying to ignore it because it's just beyond fragile right now. Everything from run differential to pythagorean winning percentage to cluster luck says this isn't a 93-win team. Pythagorean winning percentage says this is probably more like an 80 win team, and digging even deeper into the nerd stats says they might even be worse than that. And this so far with Mike Pelfrey pitching out his ass and Kyle Gibson greatly outperforming his peripherals (though Gibson could do it all year, but don't expect Pelfrey not to crash).
Still, Phil Hughes should get better and Trevor May will hopefully get better, plus reinforcements should show up at some point in Alex Meyer and Ervin Santana, not to mention a couple extra bullpen arms who could show up. The offense has been great - 6th in runs scored in the majors - and though it will probably regress a bit it should be fine, and with just as many candidates who should get better as who will likely fall off a bit that's looking good. Oh man I'm getting optimistic. This is horrible.
Here is one guarantee: Santana is eligible to return sometime in July. The trade deadline is July 31st. I promise you if the Twins are anywhere near contention we will hear "Well we're getting Santana back, that's just like making a trade" or something similar. And then I will drive my car off the nearest bridge.
- A few other baseball things of note: Bryce Harper becoming a young monster (1.203 OPS at age 22), Miguel Cabrera's Day/Night splits (1.427 OPS in the day, .645 at night), Eric Hosmer being good now and maybe even Mike Moustakas too, Joc Pederson's three true outcomes (54% of his plate appearances have ended in a walk, strikeout, or home run), Kris Bryant, Dee Gordon's insane luck (.444 BABIP), the Astros quest to break the strikeout record (batting) while still being good, Chase Utley's disappearance (.513 OPS), Giancarlo Stanton crushing the ball, Danny Santana's attempt to never walk, Michael Brantley trying to finish with twice as many walks as strikeouts, Melky Cabrera's complete loss of power (3 XBH this year) and Billy Hamliton looking to have more stolen bases than hits.
Also, every Aroldis Chapman appearance, James Shields striking out everyone in sight, Chris Tillman's sudden inability to throw a strike, everything about the Trevor Bauer experience, Michael Pineda being (and staying healthy), Cole Hamels trade watch, Jason Marquis still being in the league and still having a rotation spot, Shelby Miller becoming a star, Matt Harvey appointment TV, and what the hell happened to Stephen Strasburg?
- I thought there'd be more, but apparently I'm out of practice and my stamina isn't what it used to be. So, bye.