Articles By Athlon Sports

All taxonomy terms: Adam Scott, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2015-majors-no-2-adam-scott
Body:

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2015 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s Brandel Chamblee.

 

No. 2:

 

Born: July 16, 1980, Adelaide, Australia | Career PGA Tour Wins: 11 (9 on European Tour) | 2014 Wins (Worldwide): 1 | 2014 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,098,588 (13th) World Ranking: 6

2014 Key Stats:

      Par Breakers: 24.18% (2nd)

      Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 55.88% (1st)

      Approaches from 100-125 Yards: 15’8” (2nd)

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Scott will be the object of a lot of scrutiny this year, the last in which he’ll be able to use an anchored putter, as he will inevitably have to begin testing alternative methods for 2016. He has said, however, that he will use the long putter until he has to change. If that is the case, then I don’t expect much to change in Adam’s game this year from the previous four. Since 2011, when Adam first went to the anchored putter in majors, he has six top fives in the game’s biggest events, and in two of those years, 2012 and 2014, he did not finish worse than 15th in a major, something Tiger Woods has managed to do only three times in his career (2000, 2005 and 2007).

Scott is the game’s most consistent performer as evidenced by his Tour leadership in consecutive cuts made and the All-Around category at the end of the 2014 season. He simply does not have a weakness. In an age where players seek high launch-low spin numbers to maximize distance and suffer with accuracy off of the tee, Adam does not give into this trend. He has the power to have much more control with low launch-high spin tee shots and then the ability to adjust and hit green-grabbing, towering irons. At 35 of years of age, turning 36 in July, Adam is in the prime of his career, when experience, talent and ability are at their peak, and nobody in golf is better equipped to do more this year than he is.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 55
Wins: 1

2014 Performance:
Masters - T14
U.S. Open - T9
British Open - T5
PGA Championship - T15

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - 1 (2013)
U.S. Open - T9 (2014)
British Open - 2 (2012)
PGA Championship - T3 (2006)
Top-10 Finishes: 13
Top-25 Finishes: 26
Missed Cuts: 15

 

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the . Be sure to follow him  on Twitter.

 

Athlon's 2015 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Billy Horschel, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - 09:59
Path: /nba/spurs-spank-warriors-late-season-statement-game
Body:

Last week, we told you the San Antonio Spurs were . Over the weekend, they confirmed this theory emphatically.

 

Their 107-92 thrashing of the league-leading Golden State Warriors was never close. Kawhi Leonard made the Warriors’ usually impeccable offense look helpless against the veritable giant quid he creates with his long, relentless arms — Leonard had seven steals in the game. And the Spurs’ passing has rarely been as gorgeous as it was yesterday; with their thrilling chain reactions of ball movement they find open men that even the most expert of viewers have a hard time noticing.

 

The Warriors have enjoyed a 63-win season largely by being smarter than anyone they face. From their terrific coaching staff — including Steve Kerr and major luxury assistants Ron Adams and Alvin Gentry — to their role players, Golden State has a very impressive brain trust. But San Antonio showed us yesterday that theirs is probably better. They had the Warriors’ moves figured out before they were made, on both sides of the ball.

 

They were also able to thwart the Warriors’ scintillating perimeter shooting perhaps better than anyone has all year. Golden State shot just 9-for-28 from beyond the arc in the contest, with Steph Curry ultimately getting his (5-of-10 from deep for 24 points overall) but with Klay Thompson being held to just six points, and Harrison Barnes a mere four.

 

The loss is a reality check for the Warriors. As excellent as they’ve been all season, they need to be even better to take down a dialed-in version of the 2014 champions. Golden State might be making history this season, but the title is still the Spurs’ to lose.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, April 6, 2015 - 10:40
All taxonomy terms: Justin Rose, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2015-majors-no-3-justin-rose
Body:

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2015 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s Brandel Chamblee.

 

No. 3:

 

Born: July 30, 1980, Johannesburg, South Africa | Career PGA Tour Wins: 6 (7 on European Tour) | 2014 Wins (Worldwide): 1 | 2014 Earnings (PGA Tour): $3,926,768 (15th) World Ranking: 11

2014 Key Stats:

      Strokes Gained (Tee to Green): 1.505 (4th)

      Bounce Back: 25.14% (4th)

      Approaches from 175-200 yards: 29’1” (3rd)

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Rose has won in each of the last five seasons on tour, and it seems he plays his best golf on the best courses, winning at revered venues such as Muirfield Village, Aronomink, Congressional and Merion Golf Club. His great ball-striking is most rewarded where tee-to-green mistakes are hard to overcome. If his putting were anywhere close to his ball-striking — he hasn't finished better than 108th in Strokes Gained on the greens in the last three years — he would be higher placed on this list. Also of some concern is his inability to play links golf courses well, evidenced by only one top 10 in The Open Championship in his career, and that came when he was a 17-year-old amateur. Given the links nature of three of this year’s four majors — and one could argue that Augusta National falls into this category as well — Justin will need to find a more imaginative game in the inevitably windy conditions if he is to add to his one career major championship. Majors aside, Justin’s win streak will not come to an end any time soon; his swing and attitude are simply too good not to serve him well for many more years.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 43
Wins: 1

2014 Performance:
Masters - T14
U.S. Open - T12
British Open - T23
PGA Championship - T24

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T5 (2007)
U.S. Open - 1 (2013)
British Open - T4 (1998)
PGA Championship - T3 (2012)
Top-10 Finishes: 8
Top-25 Finishes: 22
Missed Cuts: 14

 

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the . Be sure to follow him  on Twitter.

 

Athlon's 2015 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Billy Horschel, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, April 6, 2015 - 10:02
All taxonomy terms: MLB, News
Path: /mlb/mlb-predictions-2015-national-league
Body:

Opening Day of the 2015 season is here with the San Francisco Giants in place as defending World Series champions for the third time in the last five seasons. There is no lack of National League teams aiming to knock the Giants from their perch, starting in their own division. The NL West was transformed during this offseason thanks to a flurry of trades.

 

The team to beat in the Senior Circuit could come from the NL East, thanks in part to the addition of Cy Young winner to an already formidable starting rotation. And the NL Central could end up being the toughest division in all of baseball, depending on the healthy return of some key players and how one new manager fares with his young charges.

 

Related:

 

Here is how Athlon Sports sees the NL shaking out in 2015, including a look at the leading candidates for MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year.

 

2015 National League Predictions

 

 

NL East

NL Central

NL West

1

2

3

4

5

Wild cards: Pittsburgh, San Francisco

 

NLCS

    over    

 

World Series

    over    

 

 

NL East Breakdown

The Nationals made the biggest splash in free agency this offseason, signing Max Scherzer to a seven-year, $210 million contract. The 2013 AL Cy Young winner gives them a starting rotation built for October. However, postseason success has eluded Washington to this point, and a rash of injuries during spring training has only added pressure to the team many are expecting to not just get to the World Series, but win it. Elsewhere, the Marlins and Mets bear watching as both teams hope the return of their aces from Tommy John surgery can propel them into playoff contention. The Braves began their rebuilding project in earnest this offseason while everyone is still waiting for the Phillies to do the same.

 

NL Central Breakdown

This could end up being the most competitive division in the majors, as it’s not out of the realm of possibility that both wild card teams come from the NL Central. While the Cardinals and Pirates remain the class of the division, the Cubs, Brewers and Reds are each capable of defying expectations and emerging as a playoff contender. Chicago’s extensive rebuilding project overseen by Theo Epstein and company could finally bear fruit with manager Joe Maddon and ace Jon Lester among the new faces for an organization that has a wave of talented prospects waiting in the wings.  Milwaukee’s fate is largely tied to the health of Ryan Braun’s right thumb, while Cincinnati is hoping for bounce-back years from the likes of Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey.

 

NL West Breakdown

The Giants are the reigning champs, but the Dodgers revamped their infield in their continued pursuit of getting back to the World Series. No team was busier this offseason, however, than the Padres, as first-year general manager A.J. Preller overhauled his roster through a series of trades, landing Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers (and Craig Kimbrel on Sunday), as well as signing free agent workhorse starter James Shields. The Diamondbacks just want to get off to a better start this season, while the much of the focus on the Rockies will be on Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Will either or both All-Stars finish their season on the DL and/or with another team?

 

NL MVP

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins

The runner-up last season, Stanton is the reigning NL home run champion and could get the extra benefit of playing for a team in playoff contention. As long as he stays healthy, Stanton’s numbers should be MVP-worthy with better lineup protection (Dee Gordon, Martin Prado, Mike Morse added in offseason) around him.

2. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates

3. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

4. Buster Posey, Giants

5. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

6. Bryce Harper, Nationals

7. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks

8. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs

9. Anthony Rendon, Nationals

10. Carlos Gomez, Brewers

 

NL Cy Young

1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

The winner three of the past four years and the reigning NL MVP to boot, the Cy Young probably belongs to Kershaw as long as he stays healthy. Don’t forget he missed more than a month last year and still placed the majors in wins (21), ERA (1.77) and complete games (six).

2. Max Scherzer, Nationals

3. Madison Bumgarner, Giants

4. Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals

5. Johnny Cueto, Reds

 

NL Rookie of the Year

1. Kris Bryant, Cubs

The best prospect in baseball will start in the minors, but it shouldn’t be long before he takes his place in the heart of the Cubs’ lineup. Bryant should still get more than enough at-bats and hit enough tape-measure home runs to get the votes at season’s end.

2. Joc Pederson, Dodgers

3. Jorge Soler, Cubs

Teaser:
MLB 2015 National League Predictions
Post date: Monday, April 6, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: MLB, News
Path: /mlb/mlb-2015-american-league-predictions
Body:

The American League champion has won just one of the past five World Series. Will the 2015 season produce a different result for the Junior Circuit? Last season, the Kansas City Royals put an end to their 29-year playoff drought in dramatic fashion, venturing on a magical postseason run that came just one game shy of winning it all. This season, the Royals figure to have a tough road just to get back to the playoffs, as they must navigate a crowded AL Central.

 

The AL East features a little bit of everything – a team that spent big in free agency this offseason, one that’s pinning their hopes on several young players, another that’s hoping their aging superstars can turn back the clock, and a franchise that’s going through a makeover both on the field and in its front office.

 

The AL West has seen plenty of change too, as one team that’s made it to the playoffs three straight years could take a few steps backward in 2015, while the team that strung together three consecutive 100-loss campaigns from 2011-13 is slowly making its way back towards respectability.

 

Related:

 

Here is how Athlon Sports sees the AL shaking out in 2015, including a look at the leading candidates for MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year.

 

2015 American League Predictions

 

 

AL East

AL Central

AL West

1

2

3

4

5

Wild cards: Cleveland, Seattle

 

ALCS

    over    

 

World Series

    over    

 

 

AL East Breakdown

From last place in 2012 to World Series champs in ’13 and back to the basement last season, Boston is looking to go from worst to first yet again. The additions of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval along with the emergence this spring of dynamic leadoff hitter Mookie Betts gives the Red Sox the deepest lineup in the majors. Now it’s up to the pitching to hold up their end of the bargain. Elsewhere, defending division champion Baltimore stood relatively pat, while Toronto is banking on several young, unproven players and the addition of third baseman Josh Donaldson to end its 21-year playoff drought. Derek Jeter has retired, but the Yankees don’t lack for veteran leadership, while Tampa Bay is under new management both on and off the field, and could struggle to score runs in support of the Rays’ underrated starting rotation.

 

AL Central Breakdown

Detroit has won the last four division crowns, but don’t be surprised if this ends up being a four-team race. The Tigers still have Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, but neither are getting any younger and underwent surgery in the offseason. Justin Verlander will start the season on the DL, putting even more pressure on David Price, and the bullpen is suspect at best. Cleveland looks to have the pitching, fronted by reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and finished off by closer Cody Allen, so it will be up to the offense to take care of the rest. Chicago was the most aggressive team in the offseason, adding Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson and Melky Cabrera to its one-two punch of Cy Young contender Chris Sale and MVP candidate Jose Abreu. Kansas City was the story last season, but the Royals lost more than they added and will rely on their pitching, defense and team speed even more in 2015. Minnesota should be a better team, but this may not be reflected in the win column due to the depth of this division.

 

AL West Breakdown

Los Angeles is still smarting from last year’s brief playoff stay, but the Angels have a pair of MVPs in Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to lead their offense and appear to have enough pitching and depth to defend their division crown. Seattle has its own award contenders in Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano, and has added enough pieces that should make the Mariners a thorn in the Angels’ side all season long. Texas is healthier, but has already suffered a big blow in the loss of ace Yu Darvish (Tommy John surgery). If Prince Fielder and Shin Soo-Choo bounce back and Adrian Beltre stays productive, the Rangers should at least surpass last year’s win total (67). Houston may not be able to match it’s 19-win improvement from last season, but the Astros have plenty of budding superstars that bear watching, starting with Jose Altuve and George Springer. Oakland won the division in 2012 and ’13, but this is a completely different A’s team, as GM Billy Beane cashed in on most of his valuable assets this offseason in hopes of building a team that can contend for many years in the future. In other words, don’t be surprised if the A’s take their lumps in 2015.

 

AL MVP

1. Mike Trout, Angels

Trout won his first MVP award after two runner-up finishes his first two seasons, and he did so with arguably his worst numbers (.287-36-111, 115 R, 16 SB). , the sky is seemingly the limit for the best player in the game.

2. Robinson Cano, Mariners

3. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

4. Jose Abreu, White Sox

5. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

6. Michael Brantley, Indians

7. Victor Martinez, Tigers

8. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

9. Adam Jones, Baltimore

10. Adrian Beltre, Rangers

 

AL Cy Young

1. Felix Hernandez, Mariners

The 2010 recipient finished a close second to Corey Kluber last season despite posting career-bests in ERA (2.14), strikeouts (248) and WHIP (0.915). As long as he stays healthy, Hernandez should receive enough offensive support to challenge his high-water mark for wins (19 in 2009).

2. David Price, Tigers

3. Chris Sale, White Sox

4. Corey Kluber, Indians

5. Alex Cobb, Rays

 

AL Rookie of the Year

1. Rusney Castillo, Red Sox

Similar to favorite Kris Bryant, Castillo will start the season in AAA. However, the only thing that stands between the Cuban import and the necessary at-bats to flash his power/speed potential is 34-year-old Shane Victorino, who underwent back surgery in August.

2. Steven Souza, Rays

3. Dalton Pompey, Blue Jays

Teaser:
MLB 2015 American League Predictions
Post date: Monday, April 6, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/nba-power-rankings-april-edition
Body:

1. Golden State Warriors (62-13)

The Warriors are winning at a rate that puts them up there with the best squads in league history, and the question of whether they’re title favorites need to be answered with a clear “yes” by now. The real ask is whether you’d take them or the field to win the Finals.

 

2. Atlanta Hawks (56-19)

The Hawks have been laggard for weeks, but that all seems to be part of coach Mike Budenholzer’s plan. They’re a napping giant, resting their bones, and they’re still the team to beat in the East.

 

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (49-27)

LeBron James and Co. look better with every day, and only Atlanta appears good enough to beat them in the East. A seven-game series between the two might see Cleveland take the super-talented pieces of their game to an unbeatable stratosphere, though.

 

4. Houston Rockets (52-24)

James Harden’s MVP campaign is the spearhead at the center of the Rockets’ surprising season. And with Dwight Howard back as the defense’s final line, they seem like the team to meet Golden State in the conference finals.

 

5. San Antonio Spurs (49-26)

A rejuvenated San Antonio squad is the biggest remaining threat to the Warriors’ throne. The defending champs have regained form behind the amazing play of Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker, and it should surprise no one if they shock the world in the playoffs.

 

6. Los Angeles Clippers (50-26)

Chris Paul is having one of the least noticed MVP-worthy seasons within recent memory, and the Clippers’ starting five remains one of basketball’s very best units. They’ve still got glaring holes all over their bench, though.

 

7. Memphis Grizzlies (51-24)

After looking the part of a championship fighter for much of the season, the Grizzlies have underwhelmed since the All-Star break — they essentially been a .500 team. Memphis hopefuls are praying that the postseason will ratchet their intensity back up.

 

8. Portland Trail Blazers (48-26)

The Blazers have won a surprising amount of games with Wesley Matthews out for the year. But the numbers (and the eye test) have turned out terrible results for their defense without Wes, and their Western Conference peers will know just how to attack them in the postseason — on the perimeter.

 

9. Chicago Bulls (45-30)

The Bulls continue to struggle through identity issues and fall short of the ideal dream their hyper-talented roster offers. But if they reach their ceiling in the playoffs, watch out.

 

10. Toronto Raptors (45-30)

The Raptors might be on the verge of an overhaul, if they experience another first-round exit this spring. General manager Masai Ujiri isn’t one to sit on his hands with a middling collection of talent.

 

11. Dallas Mavericks (46-30)

Rajon Rondo is starting to look like his scrappy, creative old self as the postseason approaches, and that’s great news for the Mavericks. Now if only they could get Monta Ellis in the right mood…

 

12. Washington Wizards (42-33)

John Wall is one of the best point guards in the game, but it’s hard to see him overcoming his coach’s strange, nostalgic court vision and a mediocre, aging supporting cast to push Washington deep into the second season.

 

13. Oklahoma City Thunder (42-33)

How far can Russell Westbrook’s insanity take the Thunder? Without Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka… probably not very far, especially seeing as they’re likely to draw the Warriors in the first round. But it’s still impossible not to get drunk on Westbrook’s inspired play.

 

14. New Orleans Pelicans (40-34)

Anthony Davis has had as good of a season as any 22-year-old ever has. Maybe next year, he’ll have the coach and supporting cast to help him take New Orleans Pelicans to the postseason.

 

15. Utah Jazz (34-41)

The Jazz have had arguably the NBA’s best defense since the All-Star break, and things are looking way, way up for them as soon as next season.

 

16. Milwaukee Bucks (37-38)

Time will tell whether the Bucks made the right moves at the trade deadline, reshuffling the deck of their youth. For now, though, they’ve lowered their ceiling demonstrably.

 

17. Miami Heat (34-41)

Goran Dragic hasn’t been the shot in the arm to the Heat’s offense that they were hoping for, but they’ve still got enough firepower to make things interesting in a likely first round matchup with LeBron and the Cavs.

 

18. Phoenix Suns (38-38)

The future is dubious for the Suns, who’ve had a tragic, tough-to-stomach season by losing Dragic and an unheard-of number of games decided in the waning seconds.

 

19. Brooklyn Nets (34-40)

The Nets are a team about nothing, with management more concerned with saving lost money than making playoff noise, and no visible plan for team-building success in place.

 

20. Boston Celtics (34-41)

The Celtics are the friskiest, most fun candidate for the East’s eighth and final playoff spot. Of all the cores fighting to get blown out by the Hawks, the one with a progressing Marcus Smart is the most compelling.

 

21. Charlotte Hornets (32-42)

The Hornets, like the Nets, are stuck with a bunch of questionable investments, and look to have no way out of them anytime soon. Optimism isn’t easy, here.

 

22. Indiana Pacers (32-43)

Paul George’s return looks less and less likely every day, and there’s really no reason for it as Indiana falls further and further away from postseason contention.

 

23. Orlando Magic (22-53)

Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo have established themselves as perhaps the most exciting young backcourt in the NBA. Now the Magic need to solidify the future with the right coaching hire this summer.

 

24. Sacramento Kings (26-48)

DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most intriguing talents in the game, and he deserves a consistent culture to grow in. Hopefully George Karl can finally provide that for him next season.

 

25. Detroit Pistons (29-46)

Stan Van Gundy has tinkered with his roster a ton this season, which has resulted in a lot of inconsistent play. But he’s shown an encouraging knack for player development.

 

26. Denver Nuggets (28-47)

The Nuggets, like the Magic, need to nail their coaching hire to get fans excited again. A lot is resting on what they do during this offseason.

 

27. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-59)

The Timberwolves are right where any young team should be: at the bottom of the standings, ready to add another potent piece to their already terrific farm of talent through the draft. The future looks real fun up north.

 

28. Philadelphia 76ers (18-58)

Nerlens Noel isn’t getting enough attention in the Rookie of the Year race. He’s been on a tear that puts him among the very best rim protectors of the game, but the constant moral outrage over the Sixers’ tanking endeavor has covered it up.

 

29. Los Angeles Lakers (20-54)

What’s new, here? Nothing. The Lakers are terrible, and the only way out seems to be another big-name signing in free agency. Does L.A. still have enough glamorous appeal to pull one off?

 

30. New York Knicks (14-61)

The Knicks are awful, and Phil Jackson has his work cut out for him to prove he’s the man to shift their sorry trend. If New York still sucks in 2015-16, will his legend start to diminish?

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, April 3, 2015 - 15:09
All taxonomy terms: Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/golf-experts-poll-are-tigers-problems-mental-or-physical
Body:

Tiger's decision regarding The Masters dragged on into the 11th hour, much like waiting through a boring Oscars telecast for the Best Picture announcement. We finally know that he will, in fact, be on hand for the season's first major.

 

Although he's decided to tee it up at Augusta National on Thursday, he's clearly not the steely-eyed golf machine he once was, having displayed an all-too-human vulnerability to an aging body and decaying confidence. We never thought we'd say this, but we hope he doesn't embarass himself come Thursday.

 

Athlon polled a number of golf insiders on a variety of topics, but we start with this question: Are Tiger's problems primarily physical or mental?

 

Participants

Jay Coffin, Editorial Director, Golf Channel, @JayCoffinGC

Jason Deegan, Senior Staff Writer and Golf Advisor with The Golf Channel online, @WorldGolfer

Steve DiMeglio, USA Today, @Steve_DiMeglio

Bob Harig, ESPN, @BobHarig

Dan Jenkins, Author, Golf Digest Contributor, @danjenkinsgd

Garrett Johnston, Golf journalist, @JohnstonGarrett

Dave Kindred, Golf Digest, Sports on Earth Contributor, @DaveKindred

Alex Miceli, Senior Writer, Golfweek, @alexmiceli

Dan O’Neill, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Dave Shedloski, Golf World, @DaveShedloski

Art Spander, Global Golf Post, @artspander

 

Are Tiger's problems mental or physical?
Mental       4
Physical    1
Both          6

 

Comments
• Started mental as the scandals ended his aura of invincibility and led to a loss of confidence in every aspect of his life, even the swing.

 

• He's worn out between the ears after nearly two decades of carrying the game on his shoulders.

 

• Mental. Everybody but him seems to know it.

 

• It's 90 percent in his head and 50 percent physical. Yeah, the math doesn't add up, but that's how I see it.

 

• He will never be 100% healthy physically, but his mental game pulled him through. Now with his mental game in flux his game in general is substandard.

 

• He’s in a vicious circle right now. He needs to play a lot of golf to get out of his funk, but his body isn't healthy enough to do that.  

 

• Based on his play this year, he obviously has some confidence issues. He admits to being less focused than he was in the past and his physical problems hinder his ability to practice, much less play frequently. Not a good combination.

Both, I believe. If you have back or knee troubles, in golf or baseball (or tennis), well, they are games of swinging. And once doubts creep into the mind, you have what you had in Phoenix, the former greatest golfer in the world  chili-dipping and blasting long. That's a man untrusting of his game at the current time.

 

• Both. His back problems might be better, but he was still away from the game for long period of time and he needs to practice. In the meantime, he changed coaches, altered his swing and saw those problems creep into his short game. For one of the best ever around the greens, it is surely more than physical. There are issues of confidence and doubt that have come along with all the other changes.

 

• Tiger's struggles are more physical than mental. His inability to perform physically is hurting the mental part, however.

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, April 3, 2015 - 10:51
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/florida%E2%80%99s-billy-donovan-might-be-headed-nba
Body:

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

 

University of Florida’s long-tenured head coach, Billy Donovan, is said to be looking for an opportunity in the NBA. The 49-year-old saw his Gators disappoint this season, finishing below .500 and missing the NCAA tournament, so now he’s toward the pros for his next campaign.

 

Donovan’s most likely landing spot could be with his in-state Orlando Magic, a team that already has a coaching vacancy lined up for the summer.Donovan would, in theory, be a terrific fit with the team’s young core, including Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic.

 

The Magic may be hesitant to get involved with Donovan, though — he’s left them feeling burned before. In 2007, Orlando and Donovan went so far as to introduce Billy as their new head coach at a press conference, only to have Donovan retract his agreement in the coming days, after having second thoughts about leaving the college ranks.

 

The Denver Nuggets will also have an opening on their bench, and the New Orleans Pelicans and Chicago Bulls are candidates to follow suit.

 

Donovan’s friend Rick Pitino believes the 49-year-old is ready to make the jump after nearly two decades in Gainesville. "I think Billy has looked at it,” Pitino said , “I think he has an urge to coach in the NBA — a strong desire to coach in the NBA — and would like to try it, very similar to Brad Stevens, who is doing a . I think people like that, with that type of personality, will do very well.

 

“If Billy doesn't do well, he can go back to college. Brad Stevens can go back to college. When you get to be our age, Tom [Izzo] and my age, where are you going back to? The McBurney's YMCA on 37th Street or 34th Street? If you're happy where you're at, it's a good place to stay."

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, April 3, 2015 - 10:25
All taxonomy terms: Dustin Johnson, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2015-majors-no-4-dustin-johnson
Body:

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2015 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s Brandel Chamblee.

 

No. 4:

 

Born: June 22, 1984, Columbia, S.C. | Career PGA Tour Wins: 9 | 2014 Wins (Worldwide): 1 | 2014 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,249,180 (12th) World Ranking: 7

2014 Key Stats:

      Driving Distance: 311.0 (2nd)

      Fairway Proximity: 27’9” (1st)

      Par Breakers: 23.39% (4th)

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Starting with his rookie year in 2008, Johnson has won in eight consecutive seasons on the PGA tour, which is something very few players have done. In fact, going back over 50 years, only Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have matched this feat, putting the South Carolinian in Hall of Fame company. That Dustin is amongst the most talented golfers in the world is no question — he gets so much for free, it seems — but just as big as his talent are the questions that follow his commitment to the game and his off-the-course activities. In taking a leave of absence for professional help with personal problems late in 2014, Dustin missed the Ryder Cup and the PGA Championship, the latter being the second major he has missed in recent years for questionable reasons. His return to the PGA Tour is accompanied by a lot of buzz, and for good reason, since he’s one of the longest and straightest hitters in the game. Nobody on tour hit their approach shots closer to the hole on average in 2014, and with the improvement he made in his short shots and putting, only Adam Scott ranked higher than him in the All-Around category. He could be one of the greatest players of all time if he respected his talent the way his peers do.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 20
Wins: 0

2014 Performance:
Masters - Cut
U.S. Open - T4
British Open - T12
PGA Championship - DNP

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T3 (2013)
U.S. Open - T4 (2014)
British Open - T2 (2011)
PGA Championship - Cut (2013, '14)
Top-10 Finishes: 1
Top-25 Finishes: 3
Missed Cuts: 3

 

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the . Be sure to follow him  on Twitter.

 

Athlon's 2015 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Billy Horschel, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, April 3, 2015 - 10:17
All taxonomy terms: Jordan Spieth, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2015-majors-no-5-jordan-spieth
Body:

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2015 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s Brandel Chamblee.

 

No. 5:

 

Born: July 27, 1993, Dallas, Texas | Career PGA Tour Wins: 2 | 2014 Wins (Worldwide): 2 | 2014 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,342,748 (11th) World Ranking: 4

2014 Key Stats:

      Birdie or Better Conversion Percentage: 34.24% (2nd)

      Total Birdies: 389 (2nd)

      Scrambling from the Rough: 62.01% (9th)

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Spieth, after having a share of the 54-hole lead at the 2014 Masters, went on to finish second, and in doing so became the youngest-ever runner-up at the year’s first major. One month later, he very nearly captured The Players Championship. For most of the rest of the year his play was not as spectacular, but it’s what he did in the brief offseason that turned heads and dropped jaws. There is no bigger predictor of superstardom than contending in majors at an early age and winning tournaments by a wide margin while one is still in their early 20s. Though Jordan didn’t win The Masters, his play there left no doubt that major wins are in his future, and his six stroke win at the Australian Open and 10-stroke blowout at the Hero World Challenge in December showed a gear that no one knew he had. For the year, he led the tour in one-putt greens and was 13th in scrambling but struggled with his driver until an offseason fix by his teacher Cameron McCormick put him on track. It is that change and his runaway wins that put him among the favorites to win multiple times this year. His play thus far in 2015 — a win at Valspar, a runner-up at the Valero Texas Open and three other top-7 finishes — has done nothing to diminish those expectations.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 8
Wins: 0

2014 Performance:
Masters - T2
U.S. Open - T17
British Open - T36
PGA Championship - Cut

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T2 (2014)
U.S. Open - T17 (2014)
British Open - T36 (2014)
PGA Championship - Cut (2013, '14)
Top-10 Finishes: 1
Top-25 Finishes: 3
Missed Cuts: 3

 

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the . Be sure to follow him  on Twitter.

 

Athlon's 2015 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Billy Horschel, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, April 2, 2015 - 10:14
Path: /nba/san-antonio-spurs-are-beautiful-again
Body:

After a season spent lying about with a championship hangover, the San Antonio Spurs finally look like title contenders again.

 

Following a 12-3 March campaign, they seem like the only legitimate Western Conference threat to the dominant . The Spurs have regained their dazzling, selfless form — the giant has awakened from its slumber, with no game more telling than their recent 114-95 road spattering of the Atlanta Hawks.

 

Atlanta has been the apple of the league’s eye for much of the year, running out to the East’s No. 1 seed with a formula that coach Mike Budenholzer brought over from the decade-plus tenure he had under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. But the Spurs quickly reminded the league that no one plays their brand of ball as well as they do, with the win.

 

At the center of their resurgence is Tony Parker, who shot 56 percent from the field through March — an almost unheard-of figure for a point guard. Parker had shot around 40 percent for the previous two months, clearly exhibiting some malaise and creaky body issues, but now he’s back to being the dark horse leader that’s fueled the Spurs’ offense for years.

 

Alongside Parker’s rise back to prominence has been the continued improvement of Kawhi Leonard, who missed games with various injuries throughout the year but now looks more and more every day like he’s eclipsing Carmelo Anthony, to enter the rare air of top-three — Kawhi’s still got work to do to stand up to LeBron James and Kevin Durant. But Leonard’s relentless length on defense is difficult for any team to account for.

 

The ever-steady Tim Duncan, meanwhile, continues to amaze. The soon-to-be-39-year-old has been the Spurs’ most consistent player in 2014-15, netting the seventh best in the league — Leonard’s is fourth.

 

Perhaps most encouraging of all, though, is the rejuvenation of the league’s most consummate — Boris Diaw. Parker’s French friend is the crazy glue that turns the Spurs into something unstoppable, and that’s just what San Antonio might be again… even against the Warriors.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - 16:31
Path: /nba/warriors-clippers-rivalry-rages
Body:

If L.A. is , then California is most certainly its most important republic. And no NBA storyline is doing the state more good these days than the current rage between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors.

 

Golden State beat Lob City 110-106 last night, and the game provided a rare dose of intrigue during the stale final weeks of the regular season. The Clippers are still fighting for optimal playoff seeding, and while the Warriors have already locked down the West’s No. 1 seed, their season-long mission toward perfection wasn’t about to stop against their thorniest foe.

 

Steph Curry delivered a deep blow to the Clippers swagger in the contest, when he crossed L.A. leader Chris Paul over so hard that all he could do was engage in crab-walk stance:

 

The Warriors overcame a terrific performance from Blake Griffin, who dropped 40 points and 12 rebou nds at the Staples Center, on 16-of-25 shooting. Perhaps even more encouraging, though, was who Golden State got the victory without — Defensive Player of the Year candidate Draymond Green sat for this one. 

 

 

But Draymond, as he’s wont to do, still made his presence felt. When asked by reporters about his reason for missing action (rest) Green said, “I’ve got Blake-itis,” taking a jab at Griffin.

 

Dubs coach Steve Kerr also beamed confidence before the game, stating matter-of-factly that "this game is really important to them. It's more important to them than it is to us… If this meant anything,” he said about Green, “we would play him.”

 

The Clippers have been playing very well this spring, coming into the game against G.S. on a seven-game winning streak. But what the Warriors are doing is singular, historical, special. They’ve now won ten games in a row when their regular season stakes are all but risen to zero, because they’re a cocky, destructive winning machine now. At 61-13, they’re still in the running for one of the league’s all-time best records.

 

Can anyone in the West hope to beat them?

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

()

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - 09:59
All taxonomy terms: Sergio Garcia, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2015-majors-no-6-sergio-garcia
Body:

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2015 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s Brandel Chamblee.

 

No. 6:

 

Born: Jan. 9, 1980, Borriol, Castellon, Spain | Career PGA Tour Wins: 8 (11 on the European Tour) | 2014 Wins (Worldwide): 1 | 2014 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,939,606 (5th) World Ranking: 8

2014 Key Stats:

      Scoring Average (Actual): 69.38 (2nd)

      Strokes Gained, Total: 1.984 (2nd)

      Scrambling: 66.67% (2nd)

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Garcia is no longer called El Nino (“the little boy”), as he was referred to when he first skipped-jumped into golf stardom at the age of 19. Nor is he El Jefe (“the boss”) as the world of golf might have thought he would’ve grown into by the age of 34. What he is, is a victim of his own early success and exuberance. It seems that nothing that he has ever achieved has been good enough for his critics — nor, at times, for him. Chronologically cursed to play in his youth against Tiger Woods and now as a thirtysomething against Rory McIlroy, he plays the role of immensely talented supporting player to superstars, a similar fate to ‘70s players Tom Weiskopf and Bruce Crampton. Those two had the misfortune to play when Jack Nicklaus was playing his best as well, leaving them both endlessly frustrated, which is not an unfamiliar disposition for Sergio. In recent years though, Garcia’s smile and his game have returned, perhaps in conjunction with his newfound aptitude around and on the greens to complement his genius from tee to green. Only Rory had a lower scoring average than Sergio in 2014 and only Jim Furyk was able to get up and down around the greens more frequently than the talented Spaniard. With the U.S. Open being played at Chambers Bay on the Puget Sound southwest of Tacoma, Wash., and the PGA Championship being played at Whistling Straights on Lake Michigan, links golf will be rewarded more than usual in 2015, and given his penchant for that style of play, so too might Garcia.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 65
Wins: 0

2014 Performance:
Masters - Cut
U.S. Open - T35
British Open - T2
PGA Championship - T35

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T4 (2004)
U.S. Open - T3 (2005)
British Open - 2/T2 (2007, '14)
PGA Championship - 2/T2 (1999, 2008)
Top-10 Finishes: 19
Top-25 Finishes: 28
Missed Cuts: 18

 

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the . Be sure to follow him  on Twitter.

 

Athlon's 2015 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Billy Horschel, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - 09:49
All taxonomy terms: New York Knicks, NBA
Path: /nba/phil-jackson-sends-video-letter-knicks-ticket-holders
Body:

It’s been a historically bad year for the New York Knicks. At 14-60, they’re the worst team in the NBA, with little sight of Carmelo Anthony or any other recognizable star at Madison Square Garden for months.

 

Maybe that’s a good thing, though. Team executive Phil Jackson is hoping season ticket holders can believe so, anyway.

 

In a recent video letter from Jackson to the Knicks’ customers, he made sure to mention that the Knicks, for the first time in a long time, will have a top pick in June’s draft, and enough cap space to lure a big-name free agent. The bottoming out of 2014-15, unsightly as its been, is laden with silver linings; this is what it takes to move on from the bloated mistakes of years past, goes the argument.

 

"We have a clear plan and expect our efforts to take really take shape as we enter the 2015 draft and free agency in the months ahead," Jackson said in the video, as reported by . "I ask that you remain optimistic and hope you will join us on our continued journey as we build a team that once again reflects the spirit of being a New York Knick.”

 

Of course, “the spirit of being a New York Knick” hasn’t meant anything too honorable for the better part of the young century. Skeptics of the team and Jackson’s vision for the future will be quick to note that large salary offers and the glitz of Manhattan have only done so much to build title-worthy teams in years past, and that young talent hasn’t blossomed in New York, either.

 

Jackson, of course, has nothing to do with those sorry old campaigns — only his own, inaugural folly of the 2014-15 season. He deserves fair judgment, to be sure, but the chips are stacked way against the Zen Master as he strives to break the Knicks’ curse.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 17:01
Path: /nba/raptors%E2%80%99-derozan-scores-42-bests-childhood-friend-james-harden
Body:

Los Angeles is the basketball capital of the world. The home of the Lakers, the sport’s most storied franchise, is also the breeding ground for many of the NBA’s best ballers, and will likely continue to be for a long, long time.

 

Two of the most notable current alumni of the city of angels squared off in Toronto last night, and got to reawaken some friendly childhood rivalry while they did so. DeMar DeRozan and go way back, and DeRozan’s 42 points in a 99-96 Raptors victory over the Houston Rockets sent DeRozan into some delightful nostalgia about their bond.

 

"He didn't have no beard back then," DeRozan kidded about Harden, after the win. "It's definitely cool because we've been playing against each other since we were kids. That’s one of my close friends in the league to this day. I'm close to his family, he's close to my family, so it's always cool. Now we can cherish this 20 years from now, 30 years from now, just joking, you know, have fun together."

 

DeMar, of course, might end up cherishing it more than James. Harden’s 31 points, five rebounds and five assists weren’t enough to push Houston to a road victory, one they needed in their race toward optimal playoff seeding. As the Western Conference standings lie today, they’re in the conference’s No. 3 spot, and would face the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. Taking the second position from the Memphis Grizzlies would net them the much more beatable Dallas Mavericks.

Toronto, meanwhile, is trying to bump up from No. 4 in the East, and displace the three-seeded Chicago Bulls. As it stands, they’d face John Wall and the Washington Wizards to start the playoffs. If they can get ahead of Chicago, though, they’ll go up against the unseasoned . Stay tuned as these races develop.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 10:06
All taxonomy terms: Martin Kaymer, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2015-majors-no-7-martin-kaymer
Body:

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2015 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s Brandel Chamblee.

 

No. 7:

 

Born: Dec. 28, 1984, Dusseldorf, West Germany | Career PGA Tour Wins: 3 (11 on the European Tour) | 2014 Wins (Worldwide): 2 | 2014 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,532,537 (10th) World Ranking: 13

2014 Key Stats:

      Approaches from 125-150 Yards: 19’6” (3rd)

      All Around Ranking: 480 (28th)

      Strokes Gained, Putting: -.114 (120th)

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Kaymer has one of the most fluid swings in the game today; his move is a perfect combination of elegance and fury. When he is winning, as he did wire-to-wire last year at both The Players and the U.S. Open (the latter by eight shots), one wonders how it is that he doesn't win every week. If he improves his short game, which is the main reason he struggles at Augusta National and fails to contend when he is not spot on tee to green, then he could become as consistent as he is brilliant. This year’s majors line up well for him, as the PGA Championship returns to Whistling Straits, site of his first major win in 2010, and The Open goes to St. Andrews, where he finished seventh during that same year.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 28
Wins: 2

2014 Performance:
Masters - T31
U.S. Open - 1
British Open - 70
PGA Championship - Cut

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T31 (2014)
U.S. Open - 1 (2014)
British Open - T7 (2010)
PGA Championship - 1 (2010)
Top-10 Finishes: 5
Top-25 Finishes: 7
Missed Cuts: 10

 

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the . Be sure to follow him  on Twitter.

 

Athlon's 2015 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Billy Horschel, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 09:58
All taxonomy terms: Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA
Path: /nba/bucks-guard-khris-middleton-breakout-star
Body:

Among the NBA’s most devoted followers, one previously obscure name keeps coming up, over and over again, throughout the 2014-15 season: Khris Middleton.

 

The Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard has swiftly become one of the game’s most admired young players, modestly developing into one of the best “three-and-D” guards in the league. He has the best among anyone at his position, and shoots 41 percent from deep. He’s also quite adept at creating his own shots.

 

An alumni of Texas A&M and the D-League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants — where the Detroit Pistons had him assigned in 2012, before trading him to Milwaukee — Middleton is headed for restricted free agency this summer. The Bucks can match any offer sheet a competing team may send his way, and they’re likely thanking their lucky stars for that.

 

Middleton has improved consistently under new head coach Jason Kidd, with his star peaking when he hit one of the season’s most memorable shots against the Miami Heat last week. Here’s his buzzer-beating game-winner, which sent the Bradley Center into a tizzy:

 

The shot was not only exciting in isolation — it also carried big playoff implications. The Bucks have struggled to hold onto their seed since a roster mixup at the , in which they sent Brandon Knight to the Phoenix Suns in a multi-team trade that netted them Michael Carter-Williams from the Philadelphia 76ers.

 

 

Losing Knight hurt in the short term, but it was done in anticipation of free agency. The Bucks calculated that they didn’t want to pay both Knight and Middleton big money, so they opted to carve out a space in their purse for Middleton, instead. Alongside and , the guard is part of one of the most promising young trios in all of the NBA.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, March 30, 2015 - 14:14
Path: /nba/ranking-nba-playoffs%E2%80%99-biggest-x-factor-players
Body:

6. DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta Hawks

If the Cleveland Cavaliers can be stopped from reaching the NBA Finals, Carroll might have more to do with it than anyone. He’s been the closest thing to a LeBron James antidote this season, holding James relatively in check through three Hawks victories over the Cavs since November. Carroll’s peripheral role in the Hawks’ offense — in which he usually takes the fewest shots among fellow starters — means he’s one of the less noticeable players to the casual eye. But his defense on the wing could very well prove to be the fulcrum that decides whether LeBron can make it five straight trips to the championship round.

 

5. Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls

It’s not often that you see a rookie like Nikola Mirotic. The 24-year-old has already been the MVP in one of the better non-NBA pro leagues, in Spain, and now he’s a serious difference maker for an American contender. In March, Mirotic has been the Bulls’ saving grace through injury issues, averaging 20.8 points per game off the bench, often acting as the team’s deadly closer as he lights it up in the fourth quarter. Tom Thibodeau and Co. have found especially compelling use of the Montengro native by occasionally slotting his 6’10” frame into the small forward spot — a role made possible by Mirotic’s unusual mobility for his size.

 

4. Timofey Mozgov, Cleveland Cavaliers

If there was an annual award for “best role player,” Mozgov would be in contention for this season’s trophy. The Russian center has filled huge dividends since coming over from the Denver Nuggets in a winter trade. Cleveland needed someone who’d be happy to do dirty work down low on defense, and act as a screen-setting pylon on offense — and to be okay without the ball in his hands very often. Mozgov has more than risen to that task, as the Cavs have thrived with him in the lineup as their thunderous, selfless tree.

 

3. Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

The Warriors have been basketball’s best team this year, and the competition hasn’t been especially close behind them. Golden State’s +10.9 point differential is the stuff of legends, and nothing like it has been seen since the Boston Celtics’ magical first year with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen — an outfit that finished the season with a +10.2 difference. Bogut is the least recognized piece of the Warriors’ equation, but he’ll likely be their second-most important player behind MVP candidate Steph Curry in their race to an NBA title. His robust rim protection and uncanny wingman skills as a seven-footer are what can take the Warriors to the extra level they’ll need to squeak by the defending champion Spurs.

 

2. Jeff Green, Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies’ midseason trade for Jeff Green makes total sense, in a vacuum. The former Celtics’ wing is an able scorer, and Memphis was able to get him for relatively little. But the strength of the Grizzlies lies in their cohesive, steely core, and Green hasn’t been an entirely natural fit in their typically bone-crunching defense. Green has remained a minus defender as he’s switched from green jersey to blue. And while’s certainly helped their spacing on offense, the playoffs will truly tell us whether the Grizzlies’ identity barter was a worthwhile endeavor.

 

1. Boris Diaw, San Antonio Spurs

Don’t look now, but the Spurs are beautiful again. The defending champions appeared to be struck by an unusually large dose of malaise for much of the season, but in March they’ve gone 11-3 as they’ve manhandled more than one fellow playoff team. The Spurs are undeniably back in the title mix with their suddenly revitalized chemistry, and everyone knows that Diaw will be the extra-difficult piece of the puzzle to account for. At an agile, hyper-intelligent 250 pounds, Boris creates headaches for wingmen all over the league, and no team is better suited to capitalize on his very rare skill set like San Antonio is.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, March 30, 2015 - 10:41
All taxonomy terms: Rickie Fowler, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2015-majors-no-8-rickie-fowler
Body:

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2015 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s Brandel Chamblee.

 

No. 8:

 

Born: Dec. 13, 1988, Murrieta, Calif. | Career PGA Tour Wins: 1 | 2014 Wins (Worldwide): 0 | 2014 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,532,537 (10th) World Ranking: 12

2014 Key Stats:

      Bounce Back: 24.07% (9th)

      Putting from 5-15’: 50.36% (7th)

      Scrambling from the Rough: 61.27% (15th)

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Fowler works under the tutelage of Butch Harmon, who is as much a sport psychologist as he is teacher. With Harmon, Fowler has retooled his very idiosyncratic golf swing to become more consistent, and in a very short period of time, he laid the groundwork for one of the most memorable years in the majors that the game has ever seen. Only Jack Nicklaus in 1971 and 1975 and Tiger Woods in 2000 and 2005 were able to do what Rickie Fowler did in 2014 — finish in the top five in all four of the game’s biggest events. Of course, both Nicklaus and Woods won majors in those years, and the best finish Rickie could muster was a runner-up in both the U.S. Open and Open Championship, but the conclusion to draw from those finishes is a big 2015 for the 26-year-old. Increased clubhead speed, improved putting and an uptempo freedom to his play give Fowler the aura of a superstar that belies his lone PGA Tour victory, but that win total will increase this year and be more commensurate with his stature in the game.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 20
Wins: 0

2014 Performance:
Masters - T5
U.S. Open - T2
British Open - T2
PGA Championship - T3

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T5 (2014)
U.S. Open - T2 (2014)
British Open - T2 (2014)
PGA Championship - T3 (2014)
Top-10 Finishes: 6
Top-25 Finishes: 8
Missed Cuts: 4

 

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the . Be sure to follow him  on Twitter.

 

Athlon's 2015 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Billy Horschel, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, March 30, 2015 - 10:31
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/ranking-nba%E2%80%99s-hottest-coaching-seats
Body:

6. Melvin Hunt, Denver Nuggets / James Borrego, Orlando Magic

While Hunt has done well as the Nuggets’ interim man, and holds onto a chance to keep his job come 2015-16, it’s believed that both of these coaches are merely temporary patches. The Magic and Nuggets both seek a big-name leader. For Orlando, that means finding the man to lead a promising young nucleus including and Victor Oladipo — , a dubious choice for that task, has been linked to the job. The Nuggets, meanwhile, have a strange roster that’s likely to stay that way regardless of who they hire, but the prospect of Mike D’Antoni aiding Ty Lawson’s pick-and-roll calls in the thin Rockies altitude is certainly an alluring one.

 

5. David Blatt, Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers have been , so it’s hard to believe they’d want to change much this summer. But rumors persist that Blatt is not long for his current job. He was hired before the organization realized LeBron James was due for a return, and James hasn’t exactly seemed in love with the man he didn’t choose. Assistant Tyron Lue often appears to be the head coach in scrums, with James and the other players seeming to react more favorably to him. Recent reports that the University of Kentucky’s John Calipari is eyeing a return to the NBA have naturally led to him being connected to a possible opening in Cavsland.

 

4. Randy Wittman, Washington Wizards

Wittman should be higher on this list, but his front office favors him. The Wizards’ man has shot his team in the foot all season, espousing a sort of ground-and-pound approach with a dearth of 3-pointers despite having one of the best young backcourts we’ve seen in ages. John Wall and Bradley Beal should be made to go nuts in the open court, but instead they’ve been appropriated into agents of Wittman’s nostalgic half-court vision, and Washington’s been sagging for months. Wall’s college coach, Calipari, is an intriguing possibility here too, as is D’Antoni. But don’t keep your fingers crossed, Wizards fans.

 

3. Byron Scott, Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers support Scott publicly, but behind closed doors they must see his glaring shortcomings. Scott is grumpy to a fault, clearly grating on his young roster, and preaches an anti-3-pointer ethic that is downright comical. The possible availability of (who seems to be on his way out of his Chicago Bulls job) would make L.A. pull the trigger on Scott’s tenure almost immediately. So would the availability of anyone who they thought would do better to help them lure free agents like Kevin Love, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook down the line. Scott is an interim coach in all but title.

 

2. Monty Williams, New Orleans Pelicans

Like Scott, Williams may be a sitting duck in the event that Thibodeau hits the market. Anthony Davis is the best talent of his generation, and many analysts feel that the Pelicans are in danger of squandering him if they don’t make some substantial changes to their program soon. More importantly, though, his franchise has displayed a certain impatience, and desire to get their car fast-tracked toward title contention soon. Williams isn’t perfect, but he definitely hasn’t shown he’s the man for that task.

 

1. Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls

This one doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. Thibodeau is one of the best coaches in the NBA, his players like him, and the Bulls have been in a renaissance era ever since he took residence on their sidelines. They’ve regularly led the NBA in defensive performance, and trumped expectations despite disappointing injuries to Derrick Rose in multiple seasons. But virtually every NBA media member reports a terrible tension between Thibodeau and his front office, and anything short of a championship seems like it will be reason enough to send him packing this offseason.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, March 27, 2015 - 10:09
All taxonomy terms: Matt Kuchar, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2015-majors-no-9-matt-kuchar
Body:

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2015 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s Brandel Chamblee.

 

No. 9:

 

Born: June 21, 1978, Winter Park, Fla. | Career PGA Tour Wins: 7 | 2014 Wins (Worldwide): 1 | 2014 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,695,515 (9th) World Ranking: 14

2013-14 Key Stats

      Strokes Gained, Total: 1.573 (5th)

      Par 4 Performance: -29 (2nd)

      Top 10 Finishes: 11 (2nd)

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Kuchar is an impressive player when one looks at how many wins he has over the last five years (five), but when one considers what he could’ve done and what he is imminently capable of doing this year, you’ve got a truly elite player whose overall game and guile make him a major threat. Since 2010 no other player in the world — not even Rory or Tiger or Adam — has come close to being in the hunt on the PGA Tour as often as Kuchar. His 48 top tens are 12 more than Rory, 27 more than Tiger and 16 more than Scott over the same time period. Of course, he is criticized for not winning more, but given his lack of length off of the tee, he is succeeding in the most power-prejudiced era in the history of golf. His improved accuracy in driving will make him more of a threat in the majors in 2015 and in particular at The Masters, where he has finished third, eighth and fifth the last three years. If you're looking for the best player to have never won a major with the best chance to rid himself of that moniker, look no further than Kooch.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 36
Wins: 0

2014 Performance:
Masters - T5
U.S. Open - T12
British Open - T54
PGA Championship - DNP

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T3 (2012)
U.S. Open - T6 (2010)
British Open - T9 (2012)
PGA Championship - T10 (2010)
Top-10 Finishes: 6
Top-25 Finishes: 14
Missed Cuts: 15

 

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the . Be sure to follow him  on Twitter.

 

Athlon's 2015 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Billy Horschel, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, March 27, 2015 - 10:01
All taxonomy terms: MLB, NBA, NFL, Overtime, NFL, NBA, MLB, Overtime
Path: /overtime/pro-sports-20-worst-teammates-all-time
Body:

There are many different ways for a locker room to implode, splinter and almost assuredly fail to accomplish much of anything. Many times, these locker rooms are infested with teammates who clearly aren't committed to winning championships.

 

Here are our worst teammates of all-time:

 

Ryan Leaf, NFL

The torrid and tawdry tale of the San Diego Chargers' first-round pick in the 1998 NFL Draft is well documented. His off-the-field drug issues as a coach alone make him one of the most tragic members of any locker room in all of sports. As a player, he was in yelling matches that nearly developed into physical altercations with teammates, general managers, fans during practice and one famous reporter who really, really needs to "knock it off." There is a reason he won only four of his 21 career starts.

 

Tonya Harding, Figure Skater

It doesn’t gets any worse than physically assaulting your teammate with the direct intent of ending their career. On Jan. 6, 1994, Harding conspired with ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and her bodyguard, Shawn Eckhardt, to break teammate and competitor Nancy Kerrigan's right leg. They hired a man named Shane Stant to assault Kerrigan at Cobo Arena in Detroit, causing Kerrigan to withdraw from the 1994 US Championships. The attack didn't keep Kerrigan from competing in the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer where she won the silver medal. Harding would end up pleading guilty to conspiracy.

 

Barry Bonds, MLB

Possibly the most talented and most high profile player on this list, it seems awfully appropriate that Bonds never won a World Series title. The stories from teammates, fans and reporters stretch out longer than one of his bombs into the Bay. Not showing up for team photos, blaming teammates for failed drug tests, berating journalists, distracting the team and constantly distancing himself from his team. There also is Rob Dibble's assertion that Bonds' own Pirates teammates would offer steak dinners and cash to opposing pitchers if they would hit the slugger during his days with Pittsburgh.

 

Latrell Sprewell, NBA

Few players have wasted more talent on nonsense than Sprewell. Not many players can say they have literally choked their head coach. His excuse? "It's not like he was losing air or anything." Spree's laundry list of locker room dust-ups is too long to comb through. But choking your coach and publicly wondering how he was going to feed his family on a $21 million contract is enough to make this list.

 

John Terry, EPL

One of the most decorated English soccer plays of all-time, Terry won "Dad of the Year" in 2009. The voters must not have known about his bar fights, airport altercations, handicap parking tendencies and general sleaziness. He has been investigated for racial abuse and was busted for having an extramarital affair with a teammate’s significant other. Well done, sire.

 

Jeff Kent, MLB

Few players have ever been as abrasive as Mr. Kent. Stories of Bonds — yes, Barry Bonds — having to play the role of peacekeeper in the Giants clubhouse should tell you all you need to know about Kent. Teammates, media, coaches and fans couldn't stand to be around him. Neither could the people on "Survivor" apparently.

 

Gilbert Arenas, NBA

He was known for his propensity to berate and verbally abuse teammates. He also was connected with some of the more vicious rookie hazings. However, being suspended for nearly an entire season because you brought a handgun into the locker room takes the cake.

 

Delonte West, NBA

This one isn't too hard. Over a three-year period of time West was traded three times and eventually waived by the Minnesota Timberwolves. His career began unceremoniously when officers found a concealed handgun in his pocket and, you can't make this up, a shotgun in a guitar case on his back during a speeding stop — while on a motorcycle. In 2010, he got into a locker room fight with Von Wafer, one that witnesses say West instigated. In 2012, he wasn't allowed to attend the Mavericks' trip to the White House.

 

Bill Romanowski, NFL

The burly and physical tackler was a menace on the field as one of the nastiest hitters in the game. Off the field, he was one of the worst teammates. During his playing days, he was long-linked to potential steroid use that likely led somewhat to his insane practice habits. No less than six major violent incidents with teammates dot Romanowski's resume. He shattered Marcus Williams' eye socket, ending his career, broke Kerry Collins' jaw and attacked Tony Gonzalez. He kicked another teammate in the head, spit in another's face and was known to aim for an extra-sensitive area of the body with the football from time to time. He’s since toned down his antics dramatically and has been slowly working to rebuild his image off of the field.

 

Manny Ramirez, MLB

No one makes you shake your head quite like Man-Ram. He had physical altercations with teammates and even apparently knocked over an elderly secretary. He was one of the most bizarre outfielders in the history of the game. Cutting off throws, disappearing into the Green Monster and landing on the baseball only scratch the surface. He also was suspended for using steroids late in his career. But Manny also is guilty of the worst crime in all of sports: intentionally not playing hard. Manny Being Manny was great for a laugh — if you didn't play with him. To his credit, Ramirez is trying to rehabilitate image by working with young players as a hitting consultant for the Cubs.

 

Terrell Owens, NFL

Constantly throwing teammates under the bus, Owens' selfish attitude on and off the field cost his locker room any cohesion and, at times, cost his team yards on the field. Effort was never his issue like some other prima donna wideouts in the NFL, but to blame quarterbacks and coaches for his own failures is absurd. And to infer certain things about Jeff Garcia in a negative way is unacceptable, distasteful and classless. Especially, coming from a guy as vain as T.O.

 

Steve Smith, NFL

Multiple fights with multiple teammates made Smith a constant headline in Panthers' training camp during his 13-year tenure with the team. He has been sued, fined, suspended and sent to anger management training stemming from a lengthy list of indiscretions. He also has long been one of the yappiest players in all of the NFL.

 

Carlos Zambrano, MLB

He was suspended for arguing with teammate Derrek Lee. He got in a fight between innings with catcher Michael Barrett. His temper and childish behaviors were caught on film numerous times on the North Side of Chicago. Why did you think the Cubs' new regime was willing to pay millions for him NOT to be in their clubhouse when he was traded away in January 2012?

 

"Worst" of the Rest:

 

Albert Haynesworth, NFL

A paycheck player who refused to play certain positions and never stayed in shape following his monstrous payday.

 

Keyshawn Johnson, NFL

Was always wondering why the Jets were throwing the ball "to that little white guy." Hmmm... TMZ also is pretty sure that he cheated on his wife.

 

Stephon Marbury, NBA

Constantly battling with teammates and even his GM, he single-handedly derailed the Knicks from 2004-09 before taking his act overseas to China.

 

Allen Iverson, NBA

Game effort was never the issue. His diva persona and attitude towards practice was.

 

Joe Horn, NFL

On the field antics and sleeping with a teammate's wife qualifies Horn for this list.

 

JaMarcus Russell, NFL

Lazy, out of shape and unfocused on anything that had to do with winning games.

 

Milton Bradley, MLB

Eight teams in 12 years for the short-tempered maniac. Bradley also has dealt with multiple domestic abuse-related incidents.

Teaser:
Pro Sports 20 Worst Teammates of All-Time
Post date: Friday, March 27, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/sweet-16-game-preview-and-predictions-michigan-state-vs-oklahoma
Body:

It wouldn’t be fair to Tom Izzo to call Michigan State’s run to the Sweet 16 unlikely. Really, it is business as usual for the Spartans’ head coach. 

 

But for this Michigan State team — a team that started January with five losses and entered the Big Ten tournament with 10 — unlikely seems like a fair word. This Spartans team wasn’t supposed to be a Sweet 16 team, yet here they are, two wins away from Izzo’s seventh career Final Four. 

 

The Spartans made it this far thanks to a balanced offensive attack that features a new star every night and the typical pressure Spartan defense we’ve grown accustomed to under Izzo. 

 

Sooners coach, Lon Kruger, is no stranger to Izzo as the two coached against one another in the Big Ten when Kruger was leading Illinois from 1996-2000.  Kruger went just 3-6 against Izzo then. 

 

Each team that Kruger has lead has had one glaring trait, defense. The Sooners play lock down defense and rank sixth nationally in defensive efficiency. Oklahoma may lack quality depth, but that doesn’t stop the Sooners from getting out and running, grabbing defensive rebounds, and scoring in bunches in transition.

 

Other Sweet 16 Previews

 

No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Oklahoma

Region: East (Syracuse, N.Y.)

Time: Friday, approx. 10:07 p.m. ET

TV: TBS

Announcers: Verne Lundquist and Jim Spanarkel

Line: Michigan State by 2

 

Matchup to Watch: Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine vs. Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield

Junior Spartan swingman Denzel Valentine is one of the Big Ten’s most versatile players. Valentine is second on his team in points, assists and rebounds and is the best perimeter defender Tom Izzo has. Valentine will not only have to score, dish and rebound if Sparty wants to keep dancing but also shut down the Big 12’s leading scorer in sharpshooter Buddy Hield. The Sooners go as Hield goes, and Hield goes fast — unafraid to pull the trigger from anywhere inside of half court. 

 

Tournament Surprise: Oklahoma’s Frank Booker

Teams can never have enough 3-point shooters in the NCAA Tournament, and Oklahoma found one in Frank Booker. He had two 3s in his last four games of the regular season, but he has gone 6-of-12 from 3 in two Tournament games. He scored 8 points against Albany and 12 against Dayton.

 

Michigan State will win if...

Valentine has to find his offensive flow against a stout Sooners’ defense. In the past four games, Denzel Valentine has scored four or less points twice as the Spartans have failed to top 70 points in all four games. In order for Sparty to win, Valentine won’t have to go for 25, but he will need to score close to his season average of 14 points per game against the Sooners’ sixth-ranked defense. Valentine is fantastic in transition and should be able to drive to the bucket and shoot well from the perimeter within the flow of the fast-paced game. 

 

Oklahoma will win if...

Michigan State and its balanced scoring attack will be able to run with Oklahoma in the Sooners’ fast-paced attack. The Sooners are poor at limiting opposing offenses to just one shot, so curbing extra Spartan possessions will be crucial for Oklahoma’s success. In order to shut down Michigan State, Lon Kruger will have to throw multiple defensive looks to slow Spartan point guard Travis Trice. Trice, who lit up Virginia’s second-ranked defense for 23 points in the Round of 32 last weekend, is the engine that propels this steady and dangerous Spartan offense.

 

Athlon Staff Predictions

David Fox: Michigan State 65-60

Braden Gall: Oklahoma 70-65

Mitch Light: Oklahoma 66-64

Jake Rose: Michigan State 68-61

 

-By Jake Rose

Teaser:
Sweet 16 Game Preview and Predictions: Michigan State vs. Oklahoma
Post date: Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 17:10
Path: /nba/cavaliers-have-been-spanking-western-conference
Body:

All the talk about the Cleveland Cavaliers, these days, has been about the drama between their personalities.

 

Perhaps you heard that Kevin Love, on a recent promotional jaunt, said that he and LeBron James are and went on to proclaim that — not the King — is the NBA’s lead MVP candidate. Words like these, in combination with some very adolescent passive aggression on social media amongst the team, has led skeptics to believe that there’s a fire in the Cavaliers’ locker room, beneath all this smoke.

 

And maybe there is. But, whatever is or isn’t happening between these men in their changing quarters, on team planes and elsewhere, it doesn’t seem to carry over onto the court. Since mid-January, they’re 14-1 against the vaunted Western Conference. A rejuvenated James, who took time off after the holidays, has been the spearhead for an augmented roster that picked up J.R. Smith, Timofey Mozgov and Iman Shumpert as reinforcements via trade.

 

Love may be displeased with his life in the Midwest, as he’s taken a backseat when he could be the centerpiece on any number of other teams. He’ll have the opportunity to pursue that end this summer, when he can enter free agency. But for now, he’s bought into what the Cavs are doing — at least in his actions, he is. He’s a luxury for his team, who stretches defenses more than he gets to attack them, but he’s an important luxury. 

 

The Cavs’ critical mass of contingency plans on any given possession makes them almost impossible to guard when they’re clicking; there are just too many ballers out there. Love, LeBron, Kyrie Irving, and Smith are all capable of scoring in bushels on their own. That they’ve started to look like something greater than the sum of their talents is what should scare the rest of the league.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 11:58
All taxonomy terms: Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2015-majors-no-10-tiger-woods
Body:

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2015 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s Brandel Chamblee.

 

No. 10:

 

Born: Dec. 30, 1975, Cypress, Calif. | Career PGA Tour Wins: 79 | 2014 Wins (Worldwide): 0 | 2014 Earnings (PGA Tour): $108,275 (201st) World Ranking: 96

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Woods could be placed anywhere on this list with the exception of first, depending on whether one looks at his abilities or, given his age, his unprecedented physical ailments. He has averaged only twelve events per season over the last seven years with injuries of almost every nature plaguing his numerous comebacks and swing changes. Never over that time, though, has he looked worse than he did last year, when it was hard to know whether his swing was causing injury to his body or if his body was keeping him from swinging the way he did in 2013, when he won five times. Which is to say nothing of his issues around the greens that surfaced at the Hero World Challenge late in 2014. At 39, Tiger needs four more majors to equal Jack Nicklaus’ total of 18 and three more PGA Tour wins to equal Sam Snead’s record of 82. While the likelihood of catching Jack is slim, Tiger has won three or more times during a season in 13 of his 19 years on Tour, so it seems inevitable that Snead’s record will fall — if not this year, then at some point in what’s left of his career, if he stays healthy. That is a big “if,” because  with each swing he seems to do further damage to his body, and with each chip, he seem to do further damage to his mind. For the first time in Tiger’s career, though — whether it’s his age, injuries, swing changes or short game issues that flared up at the end of 2014 — the questions overshadow his obvious abilities.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 72
Wins: 14

2014 Performance:
Masters - DNP
U.S. Open - DNP
British Open - 69
PGA Championship - Cut

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - 1 (1997, 2001, '02, '05)
U.S. Open - 1 (2000, '02, '08)
British Open - 1 (2000, '05, '06)
PGA Championship - 1 (1999, '00, '06, '07)
Top-10 Finishes: 38
Top-25 Finishes: 54
Missed Cuts: 6

 

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the . Be sure to follow him  on Twitter.

 

Athlon's 2015 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Billy Horschel, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 10:18

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