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Here's a look at the NBA teams that need the most out of this year's draft:
6. Detroit Pistons
In Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons have a promising man to build their future. But wise as their head coach and team president is, their circumstance is still thorny. Detroit already has a number of young pieces they’ll need to pay big money this summer or next, with Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Reggie Jackson at the top of the list. They’ve also been a poor destination for quality free agents for the better part of this century, and have a glaring hole at the wing spot. If they find the right small forward in this draft, the Pistons will have every bit of the core they want for the coming years, with youth across the lineup, so long as they can secure what they’ve already got.
Best fits: Justise Winslow, Stanley Johnson
5. Sacramento Kings
The Kings have the one major piece that most other stalled teams would kill for: A bonafide superstar, in the mercurial character of DeMarcus Cousins. A slew of poor decisions aside from drafting and re-signing the hyper-talented big man, however, has left Sacramento in a bad way. The team is saddled with culture problems after giving Cousins as many coaches as he’s had seasons—and even more point guards—plus a number of weighty salaries owed to middling players. The only way that an organization as dysfunctional and clueless as this one can find their way out of so deep a hole is by getting lucky with the ping pong balls.
Best fits: Emmanuel Mudiay, D’Angelo Russell
4. Charlotte Hornets
The schadenfreude parade has long waltzed all over Michael Jordan’s post-Chicago Bulls career. The Hornets’ owner has made a number of questionable draft selections, including high picks spent on Adam Morrison and Sean May. Jordan’s greatness on the court was so staggering that you just knew the audience would turn around and satirize him for any failures he had off of it. But the hard truth, more recently, is that Charlotte has simply had rotten luck in the draft. Missing out on Anthony Davis after a historically bad season especially stands out as an instance of the basketball Gods seeming not to favor M.J.’s franchise. Jordan and Co. have had a better record in free agency in recent years, but what they really need to turn things around is a superman.
Best fits: Mario Hezonja, Kristaps Porzingis
3. Los Angeles Lakers
Who ever thought it could get this bad for the Lakers? It would often seem that Kobe Bryant’s squad exists just as a reason for him to keep his celebrity alive, these days, and that the organization’s front office has all but given up on the now, and staked their claim in a post-Kobe future made up of fertile draft prospects and big-name pickups in free agency. The former part of that equation involves the further development of Jordan Clarkson, and a hopefully resilient recovery from Julius Randle, who had a season-ending injury early on in his rookie season. Things can always turn around quickly when you’re the most storied team in the sport, but more steps toward a brighter tomorrow must start occurring today.
Best fits: Karl-Anthony Towns, Justise Winslow
2. New York Knicks
Tire fire, rubbish yard, pity party… choose your bit of negative hyperbole. The Knicks have been a mockery of themselves for the past two seasons, and Phil Jackson has a lot of work to do in repairing their creaky state. New York City will always be a draw for certain free agents, because it’s New York City, but the Knicks haven’t actually been able to land any top birds for some time. Jackson may be able to change that (he was able to convince Carmelo Anthony to stay, after all) but what he does in the draft is arguably more important. The team’s new, aging president needs to prove he has the vision everyone talks so much about by seeing something special in someone.
Best fits: D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns
1. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets weren’t even a bottom-five team last season, in terms of wins and losses. When measured with a longer view in mind, though, it’s not hard to say that they’re in a perhaps worse position than anyone. A mismatched roster full of questionable contracts and personalities plus no superstar-level talent, Denver is as unanchored as they come. A new head coach may be able to complete the incredibly complex equation that is shaping this crew into one that could fight for the final playoff spot in the staggering Western Conference, but that’s the absolute ceiling here. A team this lacking in direction needs a godsend to change course for the better.
Best fits: Willie Cauley-Stein, Justise Winslow
— John Wilmes
Russell Wilson is testing out his acting abilities.
The Seahawks quarterback has a part in Entourage, and he plays it well. Wilson has fun in a scene sitting next to Mark Cuban, well as much fun as someone could have sitting next to the Mavericks owner. He even throws a couple passes to Turtle, and that's something not many NFL players can say they've done.
Football, baseball, acting ... is there anything Wilson can't do?
Steph Curry may play for the Warriors, but he's still a product of Davidson.
His former school sent the point guard a good luck tweet ahead of their series against the Rockets. It features a cool video of Curry hitting a 3/4 court shot, as he's become so accustomed to doing, one from Davidson and the other during his series against the Grizzlies.
Let's hope #StephBeingSteph will never change.
The battle to replace Jameis Winston at Florida State has extra competition. Former Notre Dame starter Everett Golson announced his intention to transfer to Tallahassee on Tuesday, and the senior will be eligible immediately as a graduate student. Sean Maguire finished spring as the Seminoles' No. 1 quarterback, but Golson will provide depth at the position and push for the starting job in the fall.
Golson completed 443 of 745 passes during his two years at Notre Dame and threw for 5,850 yards and 41 scores. Golson also tossed 20 interceptions in two seasons as the starting quarterback for the Fighting Irish.
What Everett Golson’s Transfer Means for Florida State
1. Taking Everett Golson is the Right Move for Florida State
Winston’s production, leadership and on-field performance simply won’t be replaced by Florida State in 2015. And regardless of whether it’s Sean Maguire or Golson taking the first snap, the Seminoles were in a transition season. But taking Golson is really a low-risk, high-reward move for Florida State. After Maguire, the Seminoles have talented freshmen in J.J. Cosentino, De’Andre Johnson and Deondre Francois and sophomore John Franklin III competing for snaps. That’s a lot of youth. Even if Golson doesn’t win the starting job, he’s a proven backup and a good insurance plan.
Considering Maguire’s small sample size of snaps, it’s hard to compare the two quarterbacks before fall practice. However, Golson is talented and has experience at a major college program. That’s an upgrade over Maguire’s resume so far in his Florida State career.
2. Golson is Not Guaranteed the Starting Job
Coach Jimbo Fisher has already made this clear. Maguire finished spring as the top quarterback in Tallahassee, and the junior has one career start (Clemson, 2014) under his belt. Maguire was a three-star prospect in the 2012 signing class and the No. 564 prospect by 247Sports. The New Jersey native clearly lacks the experience that Golson has from two years at Notre Dame. However, Maguire has a clear edge in learning the playbook – but Golson isn’t transferring to sit on the bench.
3. How Quickly Can Golson Learn Florida State’s Offense?
That’s the big question. Not every graduate transfer at quarterback has succeeded at his new destination. For every Russell Wilson (Wisconsin), there’s a handful of quarterbacks that couldn’t pick up the offense in time or acclimate to their new surroundings. Florida State’s offense is not easy to learn in a short amount of time. Fisher is one of the best in the nation at tutoring quarterbacks and developing offenses, and it’s not easy for a player with a couple of months to pick up the offense. If – and it’s a big if – Golson masters the offense by the end of August, he could start the full season at Florida State.
4. Golson’s Mobility Could be an Asset
In two years of snaps at Notre Dame, Golson rushed for 581 yards and 14 scores. Here’s why that could be important in 2015: Florida State’s offensive line returns only one starter. If the line struggles early, having a quarterback that can create plays outside of the pocket would be an asset for Fisher.
5. Does this Change Florida State’s Outlook in the ACC?
Not much. Florida State or Clemson was the favorite in the ACC this season, and Golson’s decision to transfer might tip the scales slightly in favor of the Seminoles just a bit more. As we mentioned above, Florida State is in transition this year. The Seminoles return only 10 starters and have holes to fill on both sides of the ball. Golson probably won't have a season-defining impact but he is likely worth at least one win for Florida State.
6. Does this Push Florida State into National Title Contention?
As a team, Florida State is better with Golson in the mix. But Golson’s decision to play for the Seminoles doesn’t move this team into Playoff contention. Florida State has enough talent and a favorable schedule to win 10 or 11 games this year. However, becoming a Playoff team will depend heavily on how much the offensive line develops and if the defense improves after ranking ninth or worse in the ACC in the four major categories. Golson certainly helps, but there are bigger question marks for Fisher than the quarterback.
7. Who Takes the First Snap for Florida State in 2015?
This battle will be close. Maguire started his only game against the nation’s top defense (Clemson) last year and had an up-and-down spring game (which doesn’t mean a whole lot). After spending three years in Fisher’s system, Maguire has a clear edge when it comes to knowledge of the playbook. But the guess here is Golson outperforms Maguire and takes the first snap for Florida State versus Texas State on Sept. 5.
The only guy who likes the Ryan Tannehill contract extension more than Tannehill should be Andrew Luck.
The Miami Dolphins locked up their starting quarterback with a massive $96 million deal that runs through 2020 — with $45 million guaranteed.
Tannehill had his best season a year ago under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, throwing for 4,045 yards and 27 touchdowns. The former Texas A&M wide receiver has started all 48 games under center since being selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft.
He's a great athlete, a quality member of the locker room and hasn't had a ton of support in South Florida by way of talent. A first-guy-in, last-guy-out player is exactly what any team wants under center. So he's clearly a good player.
But is he the fifth-best quarterback in the world like his new contract indicates?
It's a lot of money for a guy with a losing record and two more years of team control left on the table. Only Drew Brees ($20.0), Peyton Manning ($19.2), Aaron Rodgers ($18.7) and Tony Romo ($17.1) are averaging more money per year than Tannehill now ($16.0).
The Dolphins' quarterback is just 23-25 overall in his three-year career and has 42 interceptions and 28 fumbles in those 48 games. His long-term value is still mostly unknown compared to the future of a guy like Luck.
Luck has already seen his option picked up by the Colts (duh!), keeping the No. 1 pick of the 2012 NFL Draft under contract for two more full seasons.
Indianapolis would have to be the dumbest franchise in the history of sports to allow Mr. Luck to walk, so an extension is all but assured for No. 12 in blue and white.
The same goes for Seattle's Russell Wilson, but it's Luck who appears to be the surefire Hall of Famer. If Tannehill is worth $96 million, how much is Luck going to cost? $120 million? $150?
And he'd be worth every penny. Is Tannehill worth the fifth-largest contract for an NFL quarterback?
The answer today is no chance.
How many franchises would trade their starter for Tannehill right now? Half a dozen? Buffalo, Cleveland, St. Louis and the Jets for sure and probably Chicago and Houston. But who else? Would the Vikings give up Teddy Bridgewater? Would Jacksonville swap Blake Bortles? Oakland and Derek Carr?
Colin Kaepernick? Sam Bradford? Robert Griffin? Alex Smith?
No, Tannehill is a solid quarterback but has much left to prove. He simply hasn't done anything to prove he belongs in the same conversation as Brees, Manning and Rodgers.
If Marcus Mariota's NFL career is half as good as his commercials, he'll do just fine.
The Titans rookie starred in an awesome Beats by Dre ad, and now in a First Hawaiian Bank commercial. It shows the letter the quarterback wrote in the fourth grade and it seems his dream is finally coming true.
Cal’s blue and gold traditional uniforms could have some extra company in 2015. Pictures of a new white helmet have started to circulate recently, which features the school’s new logo instead of the “Cal” script.
Even if California unveils these for just a game or two, it’s an awesome new look for coach Sonny Dykes’ team.
Needless to say, these helmets have our stamp of approval:
Oh my. pic.twitter.com/QcRZg0kgpY— Terrell Bynum (@TDBynum) May 17, 2015
When healthy, Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is one of baseball’s most complete and exciting players. The problem is Tulowitzki is hardly healthy. When Tulo is on the diamond, he is one of the elite, five-tool players in the game and potentially one of the faces of baseball.
There is no question that the four-time All-Star is likely on his way out of Denver, as the last-place Rockies have win just two games in May to this point. The trade chatter surrounding Tulowitzki, 30, has been growing increasingly louder over the past season and a half and could soon come to fruition as the Rockies are falling closer and closer toward a complete rebuild.
Having only played in 140-plus games in a season just three times in his 10-year career, the returns for Tulowitzki’s services are diminishing rapidly — especially after his latest injury leg injury suffered over the weekend and his diminished numbers early in the 2015 season (33 games: .283/.290/.442 .732 OPS, 2 HR, 11 RBI).
The risk-reward factor with Tulo is fluid, but when he’s at his best, it’s hard to find a better player in the game today. Here are four teams that could serve as possible landing spots for the slugging shortstop.
New York Mets
To much surprise, the Mets are currently a game up over the heavily favored Washington Nationals in the NL East. But injuries to franchise player/third baseman David Wright and catcher Travis d’Arnaud have landed the Mets in the bottom third of almost every major offensive category. The Mets are absolutely going to need offense to keep pace with the Nats throughout the summer. Tulowitzki could be the best option for New York, but the current financial shackles on the Mets will limit the amount of Tulowitzki’s contract they are willing to pay.
The $109 million remaining on Tulo’s deal after 2015 will no doubt scare teams due to his injury history. With the Mets owing the oft-injured Wright $107 million over the next six seasons, it’s easy to see why they would be hesitant to sign another high priced 30-year old infielder with health issues and most-assuredly will have to give up at least one of their coveted pitching prospects the Rockies desperately need.
New York Yankees
Currently, the Yanks hold a one game advantage over the Tampa Bay Rays in the very mundane AL East. Tulo could be the piece that puts the Yankee offense over the top, especially with the short Yankee Stadium porch in left field. The Yankees have never been known to build their big league club through their farm system and could be quick to trade their top pitching prospects, Luis Severino and Ian Clarkin, for Tulo’s services.
Tulowitzki would make a great designated hitter, but with A-Rod currently hitting well and being 38 years old, he won’t be moving back to shortstop ever again — Tulo would have to play the field. But the question is where? Would he be willing to slide over to second base and allow for Didi Gregorious or Stephen Drew (assuming one of them isn't part of the trade for Tulo) to play shortstop?
It is unlikely that Yankee GM Brian Cashman will be willing to pay the remaining $109 million left on Tulo’s contract to play shortstop full-time on a roster full of players past their prime. The Rockies are going to have to eat part of that contract, no matter what. Cashman might be willing to take the risk and bring in Tulowitzki as the heir-apparent to the retired Derek Jeter.
Los Angeles Angels
After playing under .500 for the first month of the season, the Angels have found their stride, winning six of their last 10 games. Despite their recent success, LA has been struggling to keep pace offensively with the rest of the AL. With the improvement of Erick Aybar's offensive output (last 11 games: .405/.419/.476 .895 OPS) it is unlikely that GM Jerry Dipoto is going to make a move at shortstop. But with the trade of Josh Hamilton, the Angels need help at DH — Tulo could be the perfect fit.
The Angels, who have a history of giving massive contracts to players in their 30s (See: Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Hamilton), could be willing to bear Tulowitzki’s contract and use him primarily at DH, giving his body the much-needed rest from the stresses of playing shortstop every day.
The M’s are another underperforming AL West team that is desperately in need of offense. Free agent signee Nelson Cruz (.340/.395/.694 1.089 OPS, 15 HR, 30 RBI) has been fantastic, but no other Mariner is hitting above .265, including $100-plus million dollar infielders Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager.
One thing the Mariners do have is pitching, and plenty of it. The conundrum is complex for GM Jack Zduriencik. Does he hold on to his young pitching prospects, like Taijuan Walker, and hope that the rest of the bats catch up to Cruz, or does he make the move to bring in Tulowitzki, a two-time Sliver Slugger honoree, to give his stumbling club the kick-start it needs?
— Written by Jake Rose, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. An avid baseball fan, Rose also takes time to do some play-by-play work for the radio broadcasts of Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider baseball games. He can be reached on Twitter @JakeRose24.
The Houston Rockets are riding one of the craziest emotional highs you’ll see in the NBA. Looking dead and done in their series against the Los Angeles Clippers last Thursday night, down three games to two on the road and losing big in the second half, they began a nutty comeback that the league is still wrapping their heads around.
How did we get here? This is the most appropriate question after a whirlwind finish to a series that was about as predictable as divine intervention. The Golden State Warriors, Houston’s new opponent in the Western Conference Finals, are undoubtedly the favorites in the series. But, just as the Clippers’ surge of adrenaline after slaying the San Antonio Spurs turned them into a combustible element, capable of unusual things, the Rockets’ shocking conquest brings more than a dose of volatility into this series.
The Warriors killed the Rockets in the regular season, winning each of their four games by an average of 14.8 points. A 131-106 victory at Houston in January seemed especially damning at the time. But Houston is, in many ways, a new team now. Their historic comeback is the kind of experience that can galvanize a franchise for multiple seasons, and it came with emboldened performances from relatively new pieces like Josh Smith, Trevor Ariza, Corey Brewer and Pablo Prigioni.
The Rockets’ best weapon against Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Co. is not James Harden or Dwight Howard, the pivotal superstar duo whose faces always appear next to the headlines. It’s their depth, particularly with their bevy of lengthy wingmen, who catalyzed their revival against L.A. and who may be asked to take turns guarding Golden State’s world-class backcourt.
The Warriors, however, looked mighty impressive in their closeout of the Memphis Grizzlies, operating as close as they have to their 67-win excellence as they have in the whole playoffs. If they’re hitting top gear at just the right time, it’s likely that no amount of Houston momentum will be enough. Barring the improbable—a busy force these days—Golden State takes this series.
Prediction: Warriors in 6
— John Wilmes
The Pac-12 is one of college football’s top conferences for offense, and the league is loaded with talent headed into 2015. Even with Marcus Mariota leaving Oregon, there’s no shortage of proven options at quarterback, and the skill talent is deep at running back and receiver.
To help pick the top offensive triplets in each of the Power 5 leagues, we devised a simple formula. We ranked the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers and assigned a 12 to the No. 1 player, with the point total decreasing to just one point to the No. 12 ranked player at each position. Only one player from each team was ranked per position.
Ranking the Pac-12’s Offensive Triplets for 2015
Total Points: 29
QB: Anu Solomon (3)
RB: Nick Wilson (4)
WR: Cayleb Jones (3)
Arizona averaged 33.4 points per game in Pac-12 contests last season, and coach Rich Rodriguez’s offense could be even better in 2015. Quarterback Anu Solomon is returning to full strength after suffering from an ankle injury late in 2014. Wilson and Jones are among the Pac-12’s top playmakers.
Total Points: 27
QB: Vernon Adams (4)
RB: Royce Freeman (3)
WR: Byron Marshall (5)
Marcus Mariota will be missed, but the Ducks offense should still remain among the Pac-12’s best. Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams replaces Mariota at quarterback, and Oregon’s running back and wide receiving corps are among the best in college football.
Related: Oregon Football Turns the Page from "Emotional" Ending
Total Points: 27
QB: Cody Kessler (1)
RB: Justin Davis (10)
WR: JuJu Smith (1)
The only thing holding USC back from ranking No. 1 on this list is the committee approach at running back. Will someone step up as the go-to back in 2015? Cody Kessler ranks as the Pac-12’s best quarterback, and JuJu Smith should have a huge year as the Trojans’ top receiver.
Related: USC's Cody Kessler is the Pac-12's No. 1 QB for 2015
Total Points: 26
QB: Jared Goff (2)
RB: Daniel Lasco (5)
WR: Kenny Lawler (6)
The Golden Bears ranked No. 2 in the Pac-12 (conference-only games) by averaging 37.6 points per contest last year. Don’t be surprised if that number climbs even higher in 2015, as coach Sonny Dykes has a loaded receiver corps, one of the nation’s rising stars at quarterback in Jared Goff, along with an underrated running back in Daniel Lasco.
Total Points: 24
QB: Josh Rosen (9)
RB: Paul Perkins (2)
WR: Jordan Payton (4)
Uncertainty remains at quarterback with the departure of Brett Hundley, but true freshman Josh Rosen is one of the top recruits in the 2015 signing class. Running back Paul Perkins led the Pac-12 with 1,575 rushing yards last season, and receiver Jordan Payton averaged 14.3 yards per reception in conference games.
Total Points: 21
QB: Mike Bercovici (5)
RB: Demario Richard (6)
WR: D.J. Foster (7)
The Sun Devils have a balanced trio and could easily climb this list by the end of 2015. Bercovici has played well in limited action, and Richard is set to have a breakout year as Arizona State’s No. 1 running back. D.J. Foster will slide from running back to receiver to replace the production lost by Jaelen Strong.
Related: Arizona State's Todd Graham Ranks as the Pac-12's No. 1 Coach for 2015
Total Points: 19
QB: Sefo Liufau (7)
RB: Christian Powell (11)
WR: Nelson Spruce (2)
Expect to see plenty of Liufau to Spruce connections in Boulder this spring, as the Buffaloes ranked third in the Pac-12 with 545 pass attempts in 2014. Liufau is one of the conference’s rising stars, while Spruce tied for the Pac-12 lead with 12 touchdown catches last year. Christian Powell leads the way in the backfield after leading the team in rushing in each of the last three seasons.
Total Points: 18
QB: Travis Wilson (8)
RB: Devontae Booker (1)
WR: Kenneth Scott (12)
If the passing game takes a step forward, there’s potential for the Utes to rank higher on the list by the end of 2015. Devontae Booker is coming off a standout 2014 campaign and ranks as Athlon’s top running back in the Pac-12. Wilson cut his interceptions from 16 in 2013 to just five in 313 attempts last year.
Related: Utah's Devontae Booker Ranks as the Pac-12's No. 1 RB for 2015
Total Points: 17
QB: Kevin Hogan (6)
RB: Christian McCaffrey (8)
WR: Devon Cajuste (8)
The Pac-12’s overall offensive depth pushes Stanford down this list a bit, but the Cardinal has a balanced and effective trio. Quarterback Kevin Hogan finished the year on a high note, and the offense should benefit from a full year of Christian McCaffrey as the go-to running back. Devon Cajuste averaged 16.4 yards per catch in 2014.
10. Oregon State
Total Points: 10
QB: Seth Collins (12)
RB: Storm Woods (7)
WR: Victor Bolden (10)
Solving the quarterback position is new coach Gary Andersen’s biggest task this offseason. Collins enrolled in time to compete this spring and has an edge to start over redshirt freshman Nick Mitchell. Storm Woods should reach 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career, while Bolden is back after leading the team with 72 receptions in 2014.
Related: Oregon State Defensive Coordinator Kalani Sitake is a Coach on the Rise
11. Washington State
Total Points: 8
QB: Luke Falk (10)
RB: Jamal Morrow (12)
WR: River Cracraft (9)
This is another team poised to climb the rankings if the pieces fall into place. Luke Falk and Peyton Bender are locked into a tight battle for the starting quarterback spot, and the receiving corps is loaded with playmakers. Washington State won’t run the ball a ton, but Morrow caught 61 passes last year.
Total Points: 8
QB: K.J. Carta-Samuels (11)
RB: Dwayne Washington (9)
WR: Jaydon Mickens (11)
Second-year coach Chris Petersen has a busy offseason ahead. Washington returns only nine starters, has uncertainty at quarterback and must replace three standout defensive players from 2014. K.J. Carta-Samuels gets a slight edge at quarterback, but Jeff Lindquist and Jake Browning aren’t far behind. Washington rushed for at least 100 yards in three out of his last four games and should see an increased workload in 2015.
Eddie Lacy is pretty good on the field, off of it is a different story.
The Packers running back was at a Next Door Milwaukee charity event and decided to take on the kids in a tricycle race. Big mistake.
Having to be pushed by a little girl is nothing to be ashamed of.
Nobody wants to fight Ronda Rousey, but what would it take for her to ever take on Floyd Mayweather?
The UFC bantamweight champion sat down with Access Hollywood to talk about her role in the Entourage movie, and things got interesting from there. Rousey was asked if she could beat Mayweather, and she kept it brutally honest.
"Well, I will never say that I can't beat anyone," Rousey said. "But I don't think me and him would ever fight, unless we end up dating."
It'll be difficult, but let's make that happen.
Alabama opponents better watch out.
Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry has an insane workout routine. Flipping tires and pushing a Ford F-150 all while wearing a weighted vest. Beast.
Watching guys trying to tackle this kid will be a sight to see.
Odell Beckham Jr. is the youngest cover star of Madden, but his real-life ratings may not be as good.
The Giants receiver went on "Garbage Time with Katie Nolan" and issued himself a few ratings that would apply to the real world.
Judging by his Instagram feed, Beckham's selfie game is more like a 99.
Mike Conley’s “broken face game” will serve as a defining highlight of the 2015 postseason. So will Tony Allen’s “first-team, all defense” brilliance as a stopper and a lovable character, before injuries forced him out of the Memphis Grizzlies’ 4-2 second-round loss to the Golden State Warriors.
But after that, the NBA’s Tennessee franchise has a lot of question marks. The biggest, most pressing one is whether they can bring back All-Star center and 2013 Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol, who’s a free agent this July.
Gasol is the most important piece of what the Grizzlies do. Next to Zach Randolph, he makes up a front court that is big, plodding and skilled enough to usually force teams into a grinding style that goes against every trend of the modern NBA. Memphis had Golden State locked into such a battle, but MVP Steph Curry’s dynamism and Allen’s absence eventually led to the Warriors winning the series and finishing it with an exclamation point, claiming their final two victories by 20 and 13 points.
Which leads to the more philosophical question of whether Memphis needs to change their strategy. The 2015 “pace and space” version NBA is no coincidence; it’s the result of years of aggregated rule changes and systemic coaching reactions. Steve Nash and Mike D’Antoni’s “seven seconds or less” era with the Phoenix Suns was merely the germ of a revolution that sees its most recent torch-bearer in Curry and Co.
Continuing to play foil to the direction of the rest of the league is quite the undertaking, with or without Gasol. Memphis, in all likelihood, needs to supplement their thunder down low with some lightning on the wings. Having Conley, an elite point guard, is a good start. But what the Grizzlies should be seeking this offseason is versatile guards, who can shoot from deep without giving up much where Memphis butters their bread: defense.
— John Wilmes
President Barack Obama is a huge Chicago sports fan. He loves the Bulls, Bears, White Sox, Blackhawks, and... that's it.
The President joined the majority of the world and finally got on Twitter today.
Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.— President Obama (@POTUS) May 18, 2015
The first thing he did was follow all of his Chicago sports teams, except for the Cubs. Ouch. They felt the shade all the way from Wrigley Field.
Guess he won't be throwing the first pitch at Wrigley anytime soon.
The Tom Brady jokes just don't stop.
On "Saturday Night Live" the Patriots quarterback was impersonated and the results were pretty funny. The "Weekend Update" segment gave "Brady" a chance to speak out about the allegations and the NFL suspension.
The NFL can suspend him, but the "Brady charm" will never go away.
A week ago, the Los Angeles Clippers looked like bonafide title favorites. On the heels of their shocking, impressive first-round slaying of the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in seven games, they carried that momentum into a 3-1 series lead over the Houston Rockets, including a 128-95 dismantling in Game 4.
Today, the Clippers are done. The Rockets came back and crawled out of their hole, becoming just the ninth team to ever overcome such a deficit. Sizzling as their first unit was all season—it was probably the best in the league—their short bench inevitably did them in.
L.A. had the series all but won in Game 6, as they were up by 20 for much of the second half. But Houston’s super subs Corey Brewer and Josh Smith ran amok on them as Dwight Howard protected the rim, and a 40-15 fourth-quarter scoring edge for Houston turned the series.
The usual ghosts are certain to follow the Clippers this offseason. People will claim that Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, who have still never been to a conference finals, aren’t winners. DeAndre Jordan’s issues shooting free throws will be cited.
Make no mistake, though: This historical loss is a condemnation of Doc Rivers as a general manager. While Rivers is an excellent coach who gains the love and fire of his players like perhaps none other (and while he’s vastly overlooked as a tactician) his moonlighting duties as the roster’s transactional caretaker have been a problem for Lob City.
Rivers inherited all of his best players and has only managed to augment them with the likes of Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, Lester Hudson, Spencer Hawes and, of course, his son Austin. All have had redemptive moments, but none of these pieces have given the Clips anything like consistent depth, and the wear on Paul, Griffin and Jordan has been more noticeable.
What can Rivers the GM do to help Rivers the coach this summer? Rivers doesn't have a lot of financial flexibility if he re-signs Jordan, a free agent, to the maximum contract he'll demand this summer, and finding bench help on the market will be a struggle. For better or worse, these are likely the same Clippers you'll be seeing for a while.
— John Wilmes
The hype train is pulling in Tampa Bay with a full head of steam.
The Buccaneers released a video for their superstar rookie Jameis Winston. The video featuring highlights of the former Florida State star during his tenure with the school, making play after play. Along with narration the team is hoping to be true, and shots of Winston in a Bucs uniform thrown in, it's all Tampa Bay fans need to get behind the new-look team.
The entire Buckeye nation is about to take a collective sigh of relief.
According to Eleven Warriors, Braxton Miller told Ohio State athletic director he's not going anywhere. Gene Smith is sure the quarterback is staying.
"If you pay attention to him, he's not going anywhere," Smith said. "He loves it here first and foremost. He has a child. He's from here. He's in a good position.
Smith says the school is going to take care of him in regards to his injuries and things of that nature, and Miller's ties to the school are too strong to break. The rumors are just rumors.
"My conversation with him was well before spring ball," Smith said. "He's working out in the weight room and we got into a conversation and I just asked him, I said, 'You good? All these rumors out there, you good? You need some help if you want to transfer?' He said, 'Mr. Smith, I'm not going anywhere. I love it here.'"
There you have it. Another rumor hopefully put to rest and Meyer will have his pick of quarterbacks this fall.
Proven offensive talent is plentiful in the SEC this year. Quarterback Dak Prescott should be among the frontrunners to earn first-team All-America honors, while running back Nick Chubb is one of the leading candidates to win the Heisman. Ole Miss receiver Laquon Treadwell should be back at 100 percent after a leg injury ended his 2014 season.
Ranking the best quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers by conference is a key part of any offseason preview. But what happens when you combine those three positions to form a trio? Of course, this is a fictional argument since there’s no game that compares the trios of any team. But it’s an interesting offseason question to debate.
To help pick the top offensive triplets in each of the Power 5 leagues, we devised a simple formula. We ranked the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers and assigned a 14 to the No. 1 player, with the point total decreasing to just one point to the No. 14 ranked player at each position. Only one player from each team was ranked per position.
Ranking the SEC’s Offensive Triplets for 2015
Total Points: 31
QB: Jeremy Johnson (2)
RB: Jovon Robinson (9)
WR: Duke Williams (3)
Gus Malzahn’s offense has averaged over 30 points per game in back-to-back seasons in SEC contests. The 2015 version of Auburn’s offense will be just as explosive, as quarterback Jeremy Johnson is a rising star, and there’s no shortage of skill talent, including All-America candidate at receiver Duke Williams.
Total Points: 29
QB: Joshua Dobbs (3)
RB: Jalen Hurd (6)
WR: Marquez North (7)
Tennessee is on its way back into SEC East title contention under third-year coach Butch Jones. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs shined in the second half of 2014, and the junior will be surrounded by a young and talented group of skill players. Hurd leads the way in the Volunteers’ backfield, but junior college recruit (and former Alabama running back) Alvin Kamara is a player to watch in 2015. Receiver Marquez North was limited by injuries last season.
Total Points: 27
QB: Dak Prescott (1)
RB: Ashton Shumpert (13)
WR: De’Runnya Wilson (4)
Mississippi State and Arkansas tied for the third spot on this list, but let’s give the edge to the Bulldogs with the SEC’s No. 1 quarterback in senior Dak Prescott. While running back Josh Robinson will be missed, there’s talent in place with Ashton Shumpert and Aeris Williams battling for carries. Wilson averaged 15.3 yards per catch in SEC games last year.
Total Points: 27
QB: Brandon Allen (6)
RB: Alex Collins/Jonathan Williams (4)
WR: Keon Hatcher (8)
The Razorbacks improved their scoring average by 11.2 points per game from 2013 to 2014. Expect this unit to take another step forward under new coordinator Dan Enos, as Arkansas returns an experienced quarterback in Brandon Allen and the nation’s top running back duo in Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams.
Total Points: 25
QB: Brice Ramsey (9)
RB: Nick Chubb (1)
WR: Malcolm Mitchell (10)
New coordinator Brian Schottenheimer doesn’t plan to alter the strength of Georgia’s offense, but the passing attack needs some work with a new quarterback and uncertainty at receiver. Running back Nick Chubb is one of the nation’s best, while the Bulldogs need a healthy year from receiver Malcolm Mitchell.
6. Texas A&M
Total Points: 24
QB: Kyle Allen (4)
RB: Tra Carson (11)
WR: Josh Reynolds (6)
The Aggies will have an explosive offense once again. Coach Kevin Sumlin’s team is loaded with talent at running back and receiver, while quarterback Kyle Allen should thrive in his first full season as the starter.
Total Points: 23
QB: Jacob Coker (8)
RB: Derrick Henry (3)
WR: Robert Foster (11)
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Alabama finishes higher on this list in 2015. But ranking higher than No. 7 in the postseason largely depends on how far the Crimson Tide’s passing attack develops. Jacob Coker is the projected starter here, but David Cornwell is still in the mix. There’s talent at receiver. But who steps up to replace Amari Cooper?
Total Points: 22
QB: Brandon Harris (12)
RB: Leonard Fournette (2)
WR: Travin Dural (6)
Quarterback remains a question mark for coach Les Miles, but LSU has one of the nation’s top running backs in sophomore Leonard Fournette, along with a cast of talented receivers. Travin Dural ranked third among SEC receivers with eight catches for 30 yards or more in 2015.
Total Points: 22
QB: Maty Mauk (5)
RB: Russell Hansbrough (5)
WR: Nate Brown (13)
Ranking Missouri ninth in the SEC in offensive triplets seems low considering the success this team has had in finding new receivers under coach Gary Pinkel. Nate Brown appears to be the next standout receiver for the Tigers, but the offense also needs better play from quarterback Maty Mauk in SEC games (48.9 percent in league games last year). Russell Hansbrough might be the league’s most underrated running back.
10. Ole Miss
Total Points: 20
QB: Chad Kelly (10)
RB: Jaylen Walton (14)
WR: Laquon Treadwell (1)
The Rebels have the SEC’s No. 1 receiver in Laquon Treadwell, but question marks remain at quarterback and at running back. Junior college (and former Clemson) quarterback Chad Kelly is the frontrunner to replace Bo Wallace, while Jaylen Walton, Akeem Judd and Eugene Brazley all could share carries at running back.
Total Points: 19
QB: Patrick Towles (7)
RB: Boom Williams (7)
WR: Ryan Timmons (12)
Kentucky has work to do on defense, but the offense returns nearly intact after averaging 29.2 points per game in 2014. Quarterback Patrick Towles ranked fifth in the SEC with 226.5 passing yards per contest, and receiver Ryan Timmons led the team with 45 catches last year. Boom Williams is one of the SEC’s top breakout candidates in 2015.
Total Points: 19
QB: Will Grier (11)
RB: Kelvin Taylor (10)
WR: Demarcus Robinson (5)
The pieces are in place for Florida’s offense to improve under first-year coach Jim McElwain. Will Grier edged Treon Harris for the starting quarterback job in the spring, and Kelvin Taylor and Demarcus Robinson should push for All-SEC honors. Offensive line isn’t a factor here, but the Gators have major concerns about their starting five.
13. South Carolina
Total Points: 18
QB: Connor Mitch (13)
RB: David Williams (12)
WR: Pharoh Cooper (2)
Pharoh Cooper was all-purpose threat for the Gamecocks last year, and the North Carolina native is also one of the SEC’s top receivers. David Williams and Brandon Wilds are expected to share carries in replacing Mike Davis. Both players averaged over five yards per carry in limited action last year. Connor Mitch is the frontrunner to replace Dylan Thompson and has only six career pass attempts.
Total Points: 9
QB: Johnny McCrary (14)
RB: Ralph Webb (8)
WR: C.J. Duncan (14)
New play-caller Andy Ludwig has a lot of work to do this offseason. The Commodores averaged only 12.8 points per game in SEC contests last season. Quarterback play remains a concern, but Ludwig has a promising running back to build around in sophomore Ralph Webb.
Tom Brady has a knack for never letting people see him sweat. He's made a career out of it.
The Patriots quarterback isn't letting the stress of Deflategate bother him. He was seen golfing with his buddy Michael Jordan in the Bahamas. That's one way to take the four-game suspension off his mind. Brady is making the most of his time away from the field.
Brady doesn't appear to be too upset about Deflategate. Playing golf with MJ. pic.twitter.com/WBtilFblFJ— Sean Wagner-McGough (@seanjwagner) May 17, 2015
Many people couldn't even imagine living a life as stress free as Brady's.
Penn State’s Anthony Zettel is one of the top defensive tackles in the nation. The Michigan native recorded 17 tackles for a loss and eight sacks in 13 games last season.
Despite his huge 2014 campaign, Zettel isn’t sitting idle this offseason. Instead, Zettel is keeping in shape by tackling a tree.
Showing proper tackling form, here’s a short video from Zettel just destroying a tree:
Penn State DT Anthony Zettel tackled a tree and uprooted it. WATCH: http://t.co/fMC3JGMTRA— ESPN (@espn) May 17, 2015
Forget Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, this is the fight no one expected to happen.
Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is stepping in the ring with Evander Holyfield. Friday night we'll get to see another side of Romney. The fight is for charity, but if he's not careful he could get hurt. Holyfield has a definite size advantage.
Romney says he plans to fight the former heavyweight champ fair and square.
"I'm staying far away from his ears," Romney told The New York Times. "I don't for a moment want for him to confuse me with anyone from his past."
Officially, there are three coaching vacancies in the NBA. The New Orleans Pelicans, Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets are all on the lookout for new leaders after hitting the reset button.
Less officially, we’re headed for four. The Chicago Bulls are expected to part ways with head man Tom Thibodeau this offseason, and his availability is likely to beget a chain reaction in what’s been largely a holding pattern. With both Orlando and New Orleans waiting for Thibodeau to officially hit the market before they make a move, Denver is stuck with a field of wait-and-see candidates.
Mike D’Antoni, Scott Brooks, Scott Skiles, Vinny Del Negro and Alvin Gentry are all potential winners for any of these four slots. Thibodeau, the lead horse in the race for seemingly all coaching jobs, has also long been connected to the Los Angeles Lakers, where head coach Byron Scott is considered by many to be an honorary lame duck.
Many believe Thibodeau will end up in New Orleans, where he can build a new, elite defense around Anthony Davis (the most appealing young player the game has seen in some time) who he coached with Team USA last summer.
If this speculation becomes fact, the Magic would likely turn to Skiles or Brooks, both coaches who have had success with younger rosters. While Orlando is interested in Thibodeau, it seems more probable that he’d join a team looking to take the next step in their playoff contention, as opposed to an upstart roster.
Wresting Thibodeau from Chicago may take some sacrifice. His acrimonious relationship with the Bulls’ front office comes while he’s still under contract, and Chicago is a notoriously frugal franchise that wouldn’t want to pay multiple more years of his deal and not get anything back. We could see the rare—but perhaps increasingly frequent—instance of a coach trade this summer.
— John Wilmes