Milwaukee Brewers on verge of a 7-2 start and 6-0 on the road. Pretty impressive, I still personally do not have any respect for Ryan Braun, cheating is cheating man.
It is easy to preview a team and think of how great they will be before the season starts. But let me tell you something, it is hard to criticize and pick at a team such as the Denver Nuggets who in my opinion are at least a 5 seed any given year with the squad they have. I like the Brian Shaw coaching decision. He was coached by Phil Jackson and held a assistant job with the Lakers as well. He has a good philosophy on the game but needs to implement the defensive point of view with this team. Its like here we go again with another team who can score lights out but once again…you know the drill already I will not even mention it! The Nuggets are interesting in the fact that they have so much talent on the starting five and even Mozgov has turned out to be a solid center. Lawson is average defender but he hustles hard and thats all that matters. Foye is mediocre as he loves the three ball, just not defending it. Faried I love with his dreads and tenacious defense and rebounding skills. Hickson can either come off the bench or start and he is a rebounding machine as well. Mozgov is okay defensively, more tall than strong and a threat in the paint. Chandler I never see as someone who I really think can shut a team’s number three down for the night. Obviously having someone like Lawson can instantly ignite your team very quickly. This team gets beat at its own game, the fast break and transition. It is quite nerve racking to be beat at your own game, and that is what the Nuggets are dealing with. A team does not need to have a Lebron James player defensively wise, they just need to play good as a unit. Knowing who is cutting to the basket, calling picks out, and obviously rebounding and the intangibles such as steals and blocks amount to a quality foundation of defensive basketball. There is such thing as a balanced team in the NBA although some teams do not like to do it. The reason why they don’t do it? I think it is a pride thing; too much is image and brand related such as what is going to put fans in the seats. So with a team like Denver, they have a show-stopping lineup that can run for days on the court but don’t run back on D. Very frustrating for Shaw, but he has the offseason to figure out what needs to be done. The offensive talent is there undoubtedly, now lets take a look at the bench and contract issues. Lastly, before moving on, I would like to mention they have 6 players in double figures and one with 9 and another at a good 8.4. Vesely was included in a trade this year, but at 3 million I hope they get rid of him and free up some space. There is no need for him plus they have guys like Mozgov, Darrell Arthur and Anthony Randolph at the 4-5 position. Gallinari is getting 10 million even though he has been hurt. I would be too harsh to say they rid him, although I do not see much room for him on this team. He is a slow, minimal defensive and intangible player who shoots 3’s and wastes his size. Javale McGee will be back and will anchor that defensive frontline with Faried down low. That gives you Hickson and Mozgov at a 4-5 or 5-5 sub off the bench. That is already looking good. At the small forward they also have Quincy Miller, who has been playing quality minutes this year despite injuries to others. Here is where it gets tricky though, the guard situation! Lawson obviously starts on any NBA roster. Nate Robinson hurt this year but everyone knows no matter where he goes he will give you instant energy and quality minutes and points too. They have a 21 year old Frenchman by the name of Evan Fournier, who in my own eyes view as a future star in this league. He is a prospect you want to keep for the future coming. That leaves Randy Foye and Aaron Brooks left. I did not mean to leave them last thinking back at it, but maybe my zen knowledge predicts they will be gone by years end. Brooks picked up in a trade to help fill the void on Robinson’s number, but at 884,000$ and Foye at 3$ millon, I do not expect these guys to stay. Maybe Foye but even then what does he do beside shoot threes? If you are trying to win with the Nuggets you have your big men and guard at point, a quality bench, just need a few changes on the defensive end and not be afraid to lose your image as a team. Just because it is not attractive basketball does not mean you cannot win, ie. Chicago Bulls, enough said.
Although this article is about numbers and statistics (both do not lie) I personally enjoy the Jazz roster and entertain it to and idea of making the playoffs next year as a 8 seed maybe 7. If this is to happen they need to get a better coach, offseason will be used to do that but let us continue to review their 2013-2014 season. Two recent college stars in Alec Burks and Trey Burke made the transition to the NBA in fine form. Burke averaging almost 13 points a game and over 5 assists is awesome and just why they drafted him. He and Gordon Hayward seem to be the future of this franchise. Burks is second on the team with 13 points a game and gives u a quality shooter and scorer but lacks anything more than that at this time. For a guy that shoots as much as he does being his only weapon, he is only 44% from the field. He will only get better as his focus on scoring will improve. Hayward is big time in my opinion and does not get a lot of coverage, playing in Utah does not help. He has the intangibles and gives you rebound and assists 5 and 5 respectively. But Hayward who is 15 points leads the team per game, is just 40% from the field. He shoots 13 shots a game on average and only 40%, not something you wanna see from a good guy like Hayward. Second leading scorer Derrick Favors is to me, the ultimate star on this squad. Only 13 points a game but 8 rebounds and is only 22, a huge upside for the Jazz club. Enes Kanter is also big time in his rebounding and scoring abilities, enjoy seeing his physical presence day in and day out. Rudy Gobert is a work in progress but was drafted for his size, over 7 feet tall. Gobert hopefully will pan out to be a platoon center and someone you can rely on as a defensive and offensive threat. So why is this Jazz team so bad this year and last in the Western Conference? For one, their team shooting percentage is not good from its top players as I noted earlier. Kanter and Favors flirt in the low 50% which is good, but Burke, Burks and Hayward are 38, 44, and 40%, I find that atrocious from players that are relied on. It is hard to write about the Jazz because of their young talent and had 6 players averaging double digits. There are the 8th worst shooting team in the league and it is pretty black and white why they are. Also the Jazz are in the last ten in 3 point % at 35%. Defense wins championships they say, I do not necessarily agree as we live in a powerful offense first NBA league. The Jazz simply do not have enough offense to keep up with others based on their shooting skills, although they do have the talent. Jazz are second worst giving up 47% opponent shooting percentage, with a young inexperienced squad you can guess that, but second worst? Well rebounding is huge as well in this league, being able to capitalize on the mistakes of others is vital. With only Kanter and Favors as legitimate rebounders, the likes of Gobert should pan out, but probably not as soon as you would like,as he is a work in progress. It just has not been a good year period for the Jazz, they should however get a lottery pick and another young player who they hope will instantly impact their squad. Im sure the Utah Jazz faithful do not want this rebuilding process and second guessing of the team’s strength to go on for much longer. I like the Jazz but simply put they do not have enough weapons to continue the old days of Jerry Sloan era. Perhaps he should come back and revive this team, it is not like their is no talent, there is plenty. This team needs heart and a better coaching methods to work with the young talent. Lastly, I expect Trey Burke to shoot more and get better as a point guard, he can be dangerous if used correctly, providing the scoring and passing threat. Well for that being said I wish them a good draft pick and much better record for next year, come back Jerry!
Well what an exciting few hours of tennis it has been…syke! Absolutely on the edge of my seat for the Nadal vs Dolgopolov matchup and Camilla Giorgi dethroning Sharapova. Just in case people don’t know I enjoy gambling as a safe hobby and fun thing to do. So as a lover of sports and an aspiring journalist, I do like to gamble. Now, lets look at the prematch odds for my parlay I dove into. I took Giorgi in a separate bet to win 2-1 set at +750, threw a dollar on it and won. Now the interesting thing is that she was in my group of death parlay which included her at +450, Dolgopolov at +465 and my girl Sloane “Smooth” Stephens at +120 against Ivanovic. To cut to the chase I threw the one dollar down and not much needed to be said, it netted me 81$!! Now it was not luck because let me tell you why. As an avid tennis fan I dissect players games and always look to see if they are in form, never go with a favorite just because they have won over a dozen grand slams, aka NADAL! Dolgopolov has been playing really well this year and his NASA like forehands ad a tremendous force to his unorthodox but powerful game. He simply took the risks nobody likes to take and beat Nadal at his own game which was POWER. Awesome phenomenal match to watch and be apart of, monetary wise haha! Now Giorgi has the body of an angel and tenacity of a lion, she has it all going for her. Got a chance to see her at the beginning of her peak last year at US OPEN. What a woman, who knew wit that tiny frame of hers would be so much power and flat pure speed off the raquet. I love her game and I don’t wish anyone harm but Sharapova became arrogant towards the end having a challenge issued against her, and she knows she put her arm up to challenge, not to sulk. Anyways great match! Thirdly I needed Smooth Stephens to beat Ivanovic. Sloane is awesome but is still young and mentally sometimes not in it. All the tools to be a #1 player she just needs to get mentally stronger. Ivanovic on the other hand is a crafty gal whose looks are as good as her game, quite stunning. The match was boring at times where both ladies were being broken off serve multiple times and lots of unforced errors. Ivanovic has sneaky power for her thin frame but makes lots of errors and her serve is not the best. Sloane won the first set tie break and made it difficult to watch but her hard hitting forehand and backhand strokes proved the difference. All in all what a great parlay and event to be apart of and lots was learned today, UNDERDOGS CAN THRIVE!