February 2013

Readers,

Above all, we would like to thank you for reading Sporting Gentlemen and hope you find it not only informative, but fun and engaging as well. We understand that there is an extensive world of sports blogs out there, but what sets us apart is our point of view and attention to detail in the articles that we present. We strive to put out high quality work and always keep our subscribers in mind.

Because I work as the blog’s editor, I do not really get to post articles on a regular basis as a contributing author. I do, on the other hand, also enjoy the part of sports that leans more towards pop culture and not always scores and statistics. I guess you could say this is like the “beyond” part in our motto, “Looking beyond the PPGs and TDs.” That being said, you may see a variety of content within my Letters from the Editor posts. Since this is my first letter, I want to take advantage of it to show my journalist side because I think it would be fun to do. Next month, though, I will most likely start a trend of writing about unconventional topics, such as what I thought about this player wearing a certain style of basketball shoes or perhaps strange facts about spring training baseball.

Today I feel like being relevant and current and writing about the future of the NFL.

With the NFL Scouting Combine having just ended, and the Draft being two short months away, many questions are being asked: Who will be drafted first overall? Who is the best quarterback available? Will this team trade up or down to get the player they want? Does this player fit this team’s offense or defense? A number of thoughts popped into my head after watching the workouts from this past week.

First, I am a big fan of Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel and am glad that he did well in the combine. I think he has an enormous upside and may fare even better than fellow Seminole and Vikings starter Christian Ponder. He does, however, need time to develop, as we saw him throw a few inconsistent passes during his drills.

I am going to stop myself now before I go on rambling about more prospects I like (Mike Gillislee, Keenan Allen, Dion Jordan), it must be said that this draft will be dominated by “non-scoring position” players. I did not know how else to phrase that, but what I mean is the offensive line or defensive line, or a position where a player would not typically record points. Many top draft prospects, such as Star Lotulelei, who is one of the top ranked defensive tackles this year, are obviously outstanding athletes, but may not get to see the national attention other big name players, such as Robert Woods, would because of the position they play. Many people would complain that this draft is “boring” because the first overall pick is not a star quarterback, running back or receiver, but any position player has the ability to provide an immediate impact to the team that selects them.

While I have casually watched the NFL Combine in the past, this year was the first time I really sat down and paid attention to it. I realized how important the 40-yard dash is and how it can positively or adversely affect a player’s draft stock. Speed and quickness is essential no matter what position one plays, as it could be the difference between scoring and not scoring. The main event at the Combine, the 40-yard dash measures a player’s explosiveness from a cold start, simulating the acceleration they could create from a snap during a game. Manti Te’o was under much anticipation going into his workouts and ran a rather slow official 4.82 sec 40. Other sources claim his time will not render him an unfavorable draft prospect, but he still has the opportunity to show off his skills at the Notre Dame pro day on March 26.

I was holding my breath on Sunday while the running backs and wide outs were running their 40-yard dashes. These are usually the fastest players on the field and it showed as four players in particular broke a few stopwatches. Texas’ Marquise Goodwin and West Virginia’s Tavon Austin ran official 4.27 sec and 4.34 sec times, respectively. Goodwin was only 0.03 seconds shy of Chris Johnson’s Combine record 4.24 sec dash from back in 2008. Then, the Auburn Tiger running back Onterio McCalebb posted an unofficial 4.21 sec time, which Chris Johnson himself thought to be “childish.” McCalebb’s time was too good to be true and turned into an official 4.34 sec, the same as Texas A&M wide out Ryan Swope‘s time. Mostly I was relieved that no one broke the dash record because Chris Johnson is my favorite football player, but I was happy to see these guys run fast times.

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Miami’s Big 3 close out February 12-1

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After losing to Indiana for the second straight time this season on the first of February, Miami put together the longest winning streak in the Big 3 era. The Heat won twelve straight and scored 100 points or more in ten out of twelve wins. They closed out their last win in February in a double overtime scare from the Kings. Marcus Thorton was cooking from deep all game but ran into the superpower that is the Big 3. Bosh, James, and Wade scored all twenty nine Miami Heat points in the two overtimes. The Heat are 25-3 at home and have Memphis coming to town on Friday.

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LeBron’s incredible month: He is on pace to have the best season ever statistically. In February Mr. James had a better field goal percentage than Tyson Chandler, higher FT% than Chris Paul, and a better 3PT% than Ray Allen and Stephen Curry. Re read last sentence. The King averaged 29.7 Pts, 7.8 Ast, 7.5 Reb on 64% shooting and 43% from deep in February. LeBron began the month with an NBA record scoring 30 points on 60% shooting in six games. He opened up a can of whoop ass and displayed his ability of scoring a lot of points on the least amount of shots possible. LeBron is on pace to have the highest PER in NBA history(31.9 currently) and thats due to his sick 38.5 PER in February. He shut down his February by disrespecting the Kings with 16 assists and 40 points. Long Live the King.

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The Walking Dead(WOW): Dwyane Wade aka WOW has quietly risen from the dead the past two months and is unleashing his forces on buttercup NBA defenders. This is D-Wade’s best month statistically for scoring(23.4), rebounding(6.2), and passing(5.5). Wade is also posting his highest FG% of his career(51%). Remember those Wade trade rumors?(I was one of them) Well those are gone. Wade is excelling in a second option role and has quietly put up great numbers this season. Although his season success is being overshadowed by the King, this is still Wade County.

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Like a Bosh?: This was not the month for Chris Bosh. In my opinion he wasn’t in the best mental state after Lil Wayne’s outburst. Bosh had great games against Portland, Oklahoma City, and Los Angeles before the all-star break. The last five games of February for CB1 were bad(10.6ppg 4.8rpg). He was pushed around on the glass and clanking jumpers. You take the good and bad with Bosh because he is all for the team. Bosh needs to overcome his struggles fast with games against tough front courts coming up (New York(twice), Memphis, and Indiana).

Winners and Losers from the Combine- Defense

Winners and Losers from the Combine- Defense

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(Dee Milliner picture above)

NFL combine results of who hurt and helped their draft stock the most. Defense is harder to comment on because there are different types of defenses and players can be rated higher or lower due to this. For me it’ll be tougher to do because positions can vary so much but I’ll do my best to categorize each player.

Defensive tackles– Good, quality players here expect 3 maybe 4 of them to go in the first round depending on teams’ wants and needs

Person who helped their stock the most: Sheldon Richardson (Missouri) – He did everything that he had to at the combine. His problem isn’t whether or not he is ready physically for the NFL but, whether he has the mental aspect of the game in him. When you look at him compared to Floyd or Star, you would think this guy was a second day selection. His game tape doesn’t do justice to his potential. I’m not a fan of people who haven’t proved anything too much but, he does have great potential. He also outperformed the other top defensive tackle there in Floyd (Star didn’t participate; I will get to that shortly). He ran a fairly close time in the 40 to Floyd and then beat him in all the other events and the rest of the competition.

Person whose stock was hurt the most- Sadly it has to be Star Lotulelei (Utah). Although he did absolutely nothing wrong in any way, this heart news will scare away many teams. This could not have come at a worse time and I only hope Star the best. He and Jarvis Jones were once seen as 1 and 2 in this class and now both have conditions that will impact their stock drastically. Star Lotulelei is a dominating defensive tackle who many scouts saw as a clone to Haloti Ngata. Sad news for such a great player.

Defensive end- They really sucked it up at this year’s combine. By far the most disappointing No one really showed up as a shocker or even performed what they were expected to do. I do however think it’s tough for true defensive ends to compete with these 3-4 pass rushes because they are two different positions but that’s how it is.

Person who helped them self the most- Margus Hunt (SMU): He is physically scary period. The man is 6’8”, 275 pounds and ran a 4.6 40. Teams left very impressed with Hunt and I’m not sure if the hype was added because everyone else did so bad. He did also put the bench up 38 times and just seemed like he killed everything he did. He is raw when it comes to football due to the fact he just started playing and another downside is he is 25 already. But, he did just so much better than everyone else and could be seen as a possible first rounder now.

Person who hurt them self the most- Sam Montgomery (LSU): He hurt himself with his stock without touching the field and yes, he did participate. Sam decided that scouts would like to hear him tell them that he took easy games off and that he took plays off. That was an instant turn-off to scouts. He then went on to perform at the combine like an average defensive end. Again it’s tough to judge because he was competing against these small hybrid guys, but that’s just how the NFL is now. Sam Montgomery might have just kicked himself till mid second round now and hurt his stock very much.

Outside Linebackers (A.K.A the Pass Rushers)- This position to me also underperformed. I was just so disappointed when watching these two groups perform (If that’s what you call it) at the combine. Those that ran fast were very small for the position and those that did well in the bench ran very slow.

Person who helped them self the most: Cornelius Washington (Georgia) This is why this position and defensive end are so hard to judge. Some scouts have Washington as a DE and some have him as an OLB. The other two that impressed are viewed as the same type (Mingo (LSU) who I see too small to even be considered a DE and Jordan (Oregon) who has massive potential as well). So I choose to stick with Washington because as I watched him, I personally got scared. If I saw this man on the street there was no way of escaping him, I would be dead. He decided to go out and run a cool 4.55 then bench 225 36 times and just show up anyone else who was doing the drills with him. Perhaps overshadowed at Georgia by the two other great linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Olgetree, he doesn’t have much game tape on him. Don’t expect this guy to be the first off the board and perhaps could go late second day but he definitely had scouts running back to those tapes to see what they missed. I did the same, and saw some spark in his game. I’m not saying he is the next best thing but WOW. One thing I will say about him negatively is that scouts are saying that he is only going to be used in certain situations because he has bad run recognition and isn’t too good in coverage either.

Person who hurt them self the most: Damontre Moore (Texas A&M)– I was really high on this guy coming out of college. It seemed like he was in the backfield all the time and was sacking the opponents QB at a ridiculous rate. So coming into the combine I thought that he was going to run a very good 40 and do well in the drills but, that wasn’t the case. To explain just look at his 40 and bench alone; he ended up running a 4.95 40 and benching 225 only 12 times. As a pass rushing guy, who was supposed to be an expert at it, you would expect him to have either crazy quickness and explosiveness or a very strong person. He proved to scouts neither and now he may fall behind some guys who will be looked at as projects like Ansah from BYU or Jordan from Oregon.

Inside Linebackers- This position to me is one that may be overlooked. The inside linebacker in today’s game is viewed as less valuable than the other defensive positions but, this class has some very good players in it.

Person who helped their stock the most: Ok I’m going to be selfish here and name two people. One who helped himself the most in the scouts’ eyes is Jon Bostic (Florida). He ran a 4.5 as an inside linebacker which is almost unheard of. Also many teams are looking for an inside linebacker that is fast like a Seattle since that’s what teams are focusing on now a days. He was seen as a 4th round talent but may find himself going in the second to third round range. I want to give another person a little shout out. Although he got hurt running the 40 he ran his first 40 in a time of 4.6 which was very impressive to me and that’s A.J. Klein (Iowa State). I really like this kid’s game and when he ran the 4.6 it put some doubts away about his athleticism. It sucks he got hurt right away but I have faith he will produce at the NFL level.

Person who hurt them self the most- Lennay Kekua (Manti Te’o): You’re tired of it, I’m tired of it, and heck I think sportscenter is tired of it (which is almost impossible, Ex: Tebow). He just can’t seem to catch a break these days and the combine did not help. He ran a 4.8 which was average at best and sucked it up at the bench not to mention being average in the shuttle and cone drills. I don’t want to keep pounding the negativity on him so I’ll stop because he doesn’t deserve all of this. (Sorry Lennay)

Cornerbacks- Another position I like in this class has a possibility of 4 people going in the first round. You almost never see and the possibility of safeties going in the first makes this secondary class special.

Who helped them self the most- 4 people helped themselves equally in my eyes. So I’m going to list these people and tell you why quick. Dee Milliner (Alabama) ran a 4.3 40 which made some scouts drop their mouths. That’s all he really needed to do because he could have left after that. Running that 40 time just solidified himself as a top 5 pick in this draft. Second is Xavier Rhodes (Florida State), he had the highest vertical in this entire class and ran a 4.4 40. Because of this you have to view him now as the second corner available and a top 15 pick at least. Next we have Desmond Trufant (Washington). He showed scouts impressive strength by benching 225 14 times for such a quick guy (second fastest shuttle). On top of that he ran a 4.38 40 and solidified himself going in the first round. Lastly is a name that you will most familiar with and that’s the honey badger. Now Tyrann Mathieu may not have had the most impressive combine however, he proved to scouts he still has his quickness. He also showed good ball skills in the drills with what the analysts even called swagger. Look for him to go in the third round.

Person who hurt them self the most- Johnathan Banks (Mississippi State) – I was not as high on him as other scouts were and thought Rhodes was better and he was just barely better than Trufant. He won the best corner back award for college but may have to be the third or fourth one of the board. Banks is a big physical back and may fit with a team like the Seahawks or Jets who look to press you off the line but he just does not possess the speed some scouts thought he had. When looking at his tape he gets burned for his TD’s and it was all because of his speed. Look for Banks to fall to the late first maybe second round due to this performance.

Safeties- The three safeties that will go 1, 2, and 3 in this order are Vacarro (Texas), Elam (Florida) then Reid (LSU). Neither of these safeties changed their stock after the combine but they did very well for themselves. I personally love Elam and would not mind the Jets moving back to get him and get more picks in return. He literally will knock people out of the game. That being said, this is a good group with the top 2 going in the first round.

Person who helped their stock the most- Shamarko Thomas (Syracuse)– He put up the most reps from the safety spot and also ran the fastest 40 time. Scouts say that he is not that good of a football player that he would be a thought in the second or even third round but, he improved his stock dramatically. He was seen as a 7th round pick and now will definitely get drafted before that.

Person who hurt their stock the most- Bradley Mcdougald (Kansas): He was projected as a 7th round pick and most likely now won’t be drafted. I know 7th round to undrafted isn’t a huge hit but for a guy trying to make the NFL it is. Being drafted means you have a chance with a team at least and now Mcdougald lost that. I just didn’t see one thing he did that I said “I can see him doing well in the NFL because of this.” His 40 was bad and so was everything else.

Written by James (J.D.) Hogan follow him on twitter @sportinghogan

Winners and losers from the combine- Offense

NFL Combine: Who helped/hurt their stock by position (Tavon Austin from West Virginia pictured below)

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QB’s- This position is seen as one of the weakest QB classes in a while and the QB’s really needed to prove themselves at the combine.

Person who helped their stock the most- Now Geno Smith (West Virginia) is going to be the first QB taken so even though he had the best combine out of anyone his stock didn’t really change. The person I think improved his stock the most is Mike Glennon (NC State). Now I hate saying this because I do not like him as a pro prospect at all (only simple minded Landry Jones do I hate more than Glennon). He showed scouts what exactly he does best, show off his rocket like arm. Glennon has a cannon for an arm. He made deep ball passes with ease and only missed on a few throws. This being said he got to do what HE DOES BEST! With pressure coming at him and having to make quick decisions is where he struggles. He also struggles on some short throws that involve throwing with more touch and having to change arm angles. He has extreme height at 6’ 7” and I do not like his mobility. However he may have worked his way into the first round if he has the same type of Pro Day.

Person who hurt them self the most: People might think it was Matt Barkley (USC) since he is a fringe first round prospect and didn’t throw but it was not him. One Quarterback had an abysmal day and that quarterback’s name is Tyler Wilson (Arkansas). Especially on deep ball throws he struggled with his accuracy and his thing is supposed to be accuracy. People are saying his hands are too small (a very small 8 and 5/8th inches) and he won’t be able to make “pro” throws in the NFL. On top of this terrible day something even more embarrassing happened. Tyler Wilson was supposed to have athleticism like Aaron Rodgers as one scout put it. Instead he ran a 40 time that was worse than Mike Glennon (the 6’7” goon) himself. Scouts were very shocked to see that he ran this slow. He also had one of the worst broad jumps for the QB class at the combine. So, now instead of having this sneaky athleticism scouts now are wondering if he has any at all.

RB’s – This is a position that you may not see anyone in the first round go. It’s possible with needs towards the end of the first round but I think it’ll be very hard to crack. A team would definitely need to fall in love with someone for it to happen. That person who it could be (Eddie Lacy) didn’t even participate in the combine. That being said there is some value in round 2 and 3 in this draft and some running backs that I like.

Person who helped them self the most: Knile Davis (Arkansas) – I was so happy when I watched the combine and saw him perform so well. He was second in 40 time among running backs with a 4.34 and was also second among bench press as well (losing to a fullback so it shouldn’t count). Knile Davis after his very strong 2010 campaign was an easy candidate for the Heisman for the 2011 season. However tragedy occurred by injuring his ankle before the season ever started. The poor kid missed out on potentially winning a Heisman. Then when he returned in 2012 he didn’t seem to be his self and lost his starting job. The downside to Knile is he has already had a career plagued with injury before ever reaching the NFL. Hopefully he can remain healthy in the NFL because he definitely has the potential to be an effective NFL player and possibly a star.

Person who hurt them self the most- The two running backs I have chosen certainly aren’t the best or going to be drafted that high but this is what I saw at the combine remember. This person was Pittsburgh running back Ray Graham (Pittsburgh). Graham was seen as a possible 2nd to 3rd round pick due to his big play potential and his seasons as a sophomore and a junior. His season year he had a career high for running the ball but his yards per carry decreased by a yard and he didn’t show the same explosiveness. So his potential was already limited as a runner since he most likely will not be an everyday back. Then, the combine came. Ray was known for his quickness and able to escape defenders but, he ran a 4.8 40 (the same as Manti Te’o) and didn’t do too well in the bench either. He was just average at the shuttle, which was supposed to be his thing. He was injured and didn’t play in Pitt’s bowl game so that may have had something to do without but I don’t see him going before the 4th maybe even 5th round now.

WR’s- This class in my opinion is the most underrated. There are guys that I don’t find to intriguing (Terrance Williams, Baylor) but the depth of this class along with playmakers make this position very appealing to me.

Person that helped them self most- Justin Hunter from Tennessee and it’s not really close. Sure Tavon Austin proved to us that he certainly is fast and that Marquise Goodwin came close to breaking Chris Johnson’s record however Hunter dominated. Coming into the 2011 season Hunter drew comparisons to people like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens for his big play ability. Then injury struck another college star. He tore his ACL and his year was gone in a flash. He came back this season and like Davis just didn’t look the same. He did produce pretty well but it was against weaker foes. But, then Justin Hunter all of a sudden felt it again. He bet his two friends (Patterson and Rodgers) that he would have a better combine and he certainly did. He ran a 4.4 40 and had the best vert of any receiver. He also stands at a tall 6’4” with long arms and good hand size. Not to mention he beasted the broad jump and no one came close to his 11’6”. Maybe, hopefully this means that Hunter is back to the player he once was and can be that talent he was projected to be before the injury. (Now I do want to say many receivers performed very well in this draft and increased their stock, Justin Hunter just had a freakish day).

Person that hurt them self the most- Ace Saunders (South Carolina): Ace was the go to receiver at South Carolina and was probably going to go in the 4-5 range. However he ran an awful 40 yard dash 4.58 seconds and only putting up the bench 7 times. He also put up poor scores testing his jumping ability to go along with that. Don’t even get me started on catching the ball since it seemed like he dropped everything and if he didn’t drop it he caught it with is body. I do not like his prospects as a wide receiver and I would stay away from him if I was an NFL team.

TE’s- Just like the running back position I just don’t see someone going in the first round or being of value to go in the first round. I really don’t like this class at all. There may be some prospect that will come out of nowhere who has a lot of raw talent. There are the two decent tight ends in Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz (Stanford)  but after that it’s unknown if anyone will produce.

Person who helped them self the most- Tyler Eifert Notre Dame: Yes I know, I’m not taking a huge risk by saying that the top tight end performed the best at the combine, but I have a reason. Tyler and Ertz are the two people battling it out for the top tight end in this year’s class. The chances of one being taken in the first round are low but the chances of both being taken is very slim. So, whoever impresses the scouts more takes that chance at going in the first round and getting that guaranteed contract and getting more money. I think Eifert may have just cemented that spot in the combine by just outshining Ertz in every drill (he did). Also Ertz really didn’t do anything exceptionally well. If I was to take a risk I would say Vance McDonald (Rice) was the most impressive and may go at the end of the second, beginning of the third now after his combine performance. He ran a 4.69 and beat out all tight ends in the bench by doing 7 more reps than anyone else.

Person who hurt them self the most- It’s very hard to hurt your stock when it barely exists but, D.C. Jefferson (Rutgers) actually got hurt. He went to do his first drill of the day, which was the bench and went to put up his 4th rep and hurt himself. Now that he couldn’t prove himself to scouts. He had a chance to be taken in the 7th round but now there is no way a team takes him.

OL- Offensive line is the position that may be taken the most in this draft. For example in the first round you may see as many as 9 linemen go in the first and probably be mad. Don’t be because if your team picks one of them they are getting a very good player.

Person that helped them self the most- Tie- Lance Johnson (Oklahoma) and Eric Fisher (Central Michigan) both offensive tackles just solidified themselves as possible top 10 picks. Fisher was probably going to go in the top 10 already but now definitely is and may go as high as 4. Some scouts are saying Fisher is actually better than Joeckel who is projected to go first overall. Lance Johnson on the other hand was seen as a top 20 pick and now because he showed just how athletic he is teams are saying he has the most potential out of any of the tackles. I see teams like the Jets, Cardinals and the Chargers begging he falls to them and the Cardinals most likely taking them. They just showed how athletic they were and that they can only get better with blocking. Terron Armstead (Arkansas Pine-Bluff) probably improved his stock the most going from a 4th round hopeful to now being likely taken in the second with the 40 he ran (a 4.65).

Person who hurt them slef the most- No one at all, this class is so deep and loaded with prospects to be found in the first two rounds. No prospect drastically hurt their stock only some just kept what they expected. People like Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M, Chance Warmack (Alabama) and Larry Watford (Kentucky) all kept their stock which was 1st overall, top 15 pick and second round respectively.

Post by James (J.D.) Hogan follow him on twitter @sportinghogan

NBA Weekly Wrap

NBA Weekly Wrap is my own brief recap of the week. My rising team and the falling team of the week. The top 5 player performances.

RISING TEAM: INDIANA PACERS

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Detroit Pistons

Defensive Dominance: Indiana is getting mainstream media love like never before. The small market team has won nine of its past eleven and is only allowing 80.2 points in their last four games. The mid-season hype hasn’t just come from a stint of games, but from overall season consistency. In 35 wins this season the Pacers are smothering offenses, only allowing them only shoot 39% from the field and 30% from downtown. The defense starts with offensively challenged Roy Hibbert. Hibbert is fourth in the NBA in blocks and first in overall defensive rating. He beats out defensive standouts Larry Sanders and Tim Duncan in defensive rating. Paul George and George Hill provide the tough perimeter defense. Their highlight win of the week was owning the Knicks by 36 points on Wednesday night. The Knicks shot 33% from the field and Melo, Felton, Amare, and J.R. combined for an abysmal 28 percent shooting. It is hell trying to attack the paint against Indiana because of they’re speed and length. Indiana has taken over as the 2nd seed and is the team with the tools to harass Miami in a playoff series.

Crashing the boards: The Pacers have 3 players over 7 rebounds per game. David West(7.6), Paul George(7.9), Roy Hibbert(8.1) are the top rebounders on the team. The elite rebounding team in the league with 46 per contest. Indiana’s superiority in rebounding is also on the offensive glass. They are third in the league in offensive boards and Hibbert leads the team with 3.7 per game. Like their defense, Indiana dominates the glass with their length and aggressive attitude towards missed shots.

Improving offense: Still a work in progress but Indiana is becoming a threat to score 100 a night. Averaging 100.7 ppg over the last 10 games raises hope that the Pacers might be able to win games at both ends. Paul George has been on a tear with his three point shooting and transition game. Elias Sports Bureau says the Pacers are 1st team to win its 1st 2 games immediately following the All-Star break, each by 30+ points. Pretty incredible. Now with Granger back from injury it will be interesting to see how that affects their offense.

FALLING TEAM: NEW YORK KNICKS

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Ugly Losses: The Knicks look bad, real bad. The Knicks have lost 4 in a row and are on a free fall. They are 14-15 since starting 18-5. New York was ran off the floor by the Pacers and allowed 74 points at halftime. To sum up how ugly they played, the Knicks had as many personal fouls as made shots. When you are hacking as much as you make shots, you have a hit rock bottom as a team. Nothing wrong with losing to the surging Pacers, but getting outplayed by the Wizards by 10 and losing a game of hero ball against the Raptors twice is not good moving forward. The Knicks are 4-5 in February and have dropped to the third seed.

Melo cooling off: Carmelo Anthony was the front runner for MVP by most media outlets and was playing the best ball of his career for two months. After averaging 32points, shooting 47% from the field, 42% from downtown, and only two turnovers a game, Melo has gone down in every stat category. In the month of February Carmelo is averaging 24.6points, 40% from the field,33% from three and is at 3.5 turnovers. He has become a shadow of his old self with volume shooting, sloppy ball handling and passing. It is very simple, if the Knicks want to make a deep playoff run, Melo must get better.

Forcing shots: The Knicks have gone down in field goal % and 3 point % every month since November. In November the Knicks shot 45% from the field and a league best 42% from three. February has become a month of volume shooting for New York(41%FG) (34%3PT). The Knicks average more three point attempts in losses than they do in games they win. In tight games the Knicks no longer run an offense. It is have J.R. and Melo play hero ball, become complacent, and take low percentage shots. This starts with Mike Woodson, who should design plays with more off ball action to become less predictable.

TOP 5 PLAYER PERFORMANCES

#5: Dwight Howard vs. Celtics(2/20): 24pts 12reb 7 0ff. reb 10-13FG

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Dwight looked fresh Wednesday night against Boston looking like his old self. He dominated in the paint early with five made shots in the 1st quarter. Dwight was active on the glass and did a great job setting picks to get Kobe and Nash open. Dwight got himself open easy for dunks and made easy shots in the paint with some put backs and lay ins. The frontcourt of Boston gave little resistance and let Dwight have his way.

#4: Tony Parker vs. Clippers(2/21): 31pts 2reb 7ast 12-16FG 9-9FT

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Tony Parker is playing MVP basketball and is owning the month of February. He also owned the Clippers on TNT. An all around efficient game only missing four shots. He blew by Clippers defenders and was getting to the basket easily. Parker was 6 for 7 on layups and was 6 for 9 on jump shots. This is another game Vinny Del Negro was owned by Tony Parker.

#3: Jeff Green vs. Suns (2/22): 31pts 7reb 4ast 5blk 2stl 11-14FG 3-53pt

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 Jeff Green took the starting spot for Garnett who took the night off. What a stat sheet for Green. He took Phoenix defenders to rack every time he touched the ball and was in isolation mode for most of his points. He was on fire with his jumper making 8 out of 10. Green and Avery Bradley ran the break well and found each other for buckets. A great game defensively for him with 5 blocks and steals. Luis Scola saw the back of Jeff Green’s jersey a lot Friday night.

#2 Russell Westbrook vs. T’Wolves(2/22): 37pts 7reb 9ast 13-22FG 9-9FT

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A season high in points this season for Westbrook. This is his 11th game this season with 30 plus points and his 32nd game with 8assists or more. Russy started off making his signature dribble, hesitate, pull up Js. As usual he was aggressive early and was 7 for 8 on layups. It was a normal game for him but stats wise his best all around game of the season.

#1 James Harden vs. Thunder(2/20): 46pts 8reb 6ast 14-19FG 7-83PT 11-12FT

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Let me be cliche and say if you looked up the definition of efficiency, you’ll see a picture of James Harden. An incredible night shooting from the field, taking 19 shots with 46pts, with one missed 3, and one missed FT. Harden was making shots all over the court, 5-7 on layups and 9 for 11 on jumpers. He went at OKC defenders with pull up threes or he cut them up with crossover dribbles and straight drives. Mr. Beard had one ridiculous half court shot that said sure enough this guy can’t miss. Outscoring Durant in the 4th by 12 points, Harden finally got his revenge game after to bad performances against OKC this season.

SOSA FUN STATS:

– Ty Lawson scores more, and is better from the field in Denver losses (16.3ppg 47%fg)

– In the past 3 games, OKC has only missed 4 free throws

Heat vs. 76ers Grades and Notes

Miami Heat win their 39th game this season 

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GRADES

          LeBron James: 16pts 10reb 11ast 2stls 7-12FG  

          Could be his least impressive triple-double of his career. He flirted with a triple-double the entire night until the 11 minute mark in the 4th quarter recording his 10th rebound. He was struggling with his jumpshot(2-6) and could not get any lift on it because of a sore quad(reported by Brian Windhorst), but he still was his usual self. He toyed with Philadelphia defenders with crossovers and straight drives in the paint for layups. LeBron was key to tonight’s ball movement with a parade of great passes to open Miami shooters. He didn’t put up his average of 27 points, but Philadelphia had no answer for his rebounding, passing and defending.

GRADE: A-

           Dwyane Wade: 33pts 6reb 2ast 2stls 14-18FG

           Recorded his 16,000th point of his hall of fame career in the 1st quarter. Wade used and abused Jeremy Pargo and Nick Young with baseline drives and crossovers for layups. Wade who is usually suspect with shooting jump shots, made nine of thirteen jumpshots tonight. He looks fully recovered from his nagging injuries and tonight’s game looked like a replay of his games against Dallas in the 2010 finals.Wade had another signature pump fake for a foul and the victim was first time all-star Jrue Holiday. This is D-Wade’s sixth time this season with 30 points or more.

GRADE: A

            Chris Bosh: 13pts 1reb 1ast 6-12FG

            In just 25 minutes of play, Bosh watched 76ers defenders concede defeat against LeBron and D-Wade. He caught his usual three rocket passes from James for mid range splashes but struggled most of the night. Bosh was just 3 for 9 on jump shots in Wells Fargo Center.  Haslem and James took away most of the rebounds from Bosh as he wasn’t aggressive crashing the boards. Not a great game from Bosh, but he didn’t need to do much tonight against a weak 76ers defense

GRADE: C+

             Ball Movement: 27 assists

             A true unselfish game from Miami Heat passing the ball. It started with LeBron finding open three point shooters and cutters. One play in particular was incredible, LeBron got a pick from Chalmers, Chalmers opened up and received a pass from James, Chalmers pump fakes a wide open three, then drives and passes to a cutting James, LeBron had an easy lane for a layup but decides to pass to Haslem for a sweet 17 foot jump shot. To sum it up  Miami went on a 15-3 run in the 3rd quarter with five different scorers.

GRADE: A++

NOTES

– I did not realize how bad the perimeter defense of Philadelphia was.

– Philadelphia needs a healthy Andrew Bynum back badly, too perimeter oriented.

– LeBron is looking to become the 2nd player in NBA history to record 25ppg with 60%FG in a month (Shaq did this in 2001)

– Shane Battier has a made a three point shot in twelve straight games.

– LeBron has a made a three point shot in eight straight games

– In the last two February’s(2012 and 2013), Miami has 20 wins and 3 losses.

– Jrue Holiday and Russell Westbrook are the only two players to average 18points and 8assists this season.

– LeBron recorded his 35th career triple double, his 7th with the Heat

– This is just Ray Allen’s third game this season with four threes made or more.

– Miami has won 12 straight regular-season games against Philadelphia.

NFL Mock Draft 2013

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J.D Hogan’s First Round 2013 NFL Draft

1. Kansas City (2-14)-Priority needs: QB, offensive line, WR, Pass rusher. The Chiefs aren’t as bad off as some teams are (Oakland and Jags to name a few) but have a key need at the QB position. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, this QB class is not the best out there. Not like the past two years have been. They aren’t terrible, there is potential but not one where I would draft a QB number 1 overall. However the need is strong and Andy Reid likes mobile QB’s with arm strength (Ala McNabb). I could easily see them taking Geno Smith with the Number one pick of this draft. He definitely has potential but would not be a person who could come in and run a team right away. If I were the Chiefs I would either 1. Trade back to a team like Cleveland who could be looking for a player like Damontre Moore or DeMarcus Milliner. 2. Take Luke Joeckel with the first pick and have a sure fired Pro Bowler as you’re anchor of your offensive line. Or 3. Trade a mid-round pick to the Eagles for Nick Foles (to bring Andy Reid a QB he drafted and is familiar with) and still take Joeckel with the first pick. UPDATE!!!! the Eagles have told the Chiefs that Foles is unavailable and now they may turn to Alex Smith

Who they will take: Luke Joeckel Texas A&M OT- Like I said I don’t think Geno Smith is deserving of a number one pick but don’t be surprised if he does because he did this with McNabb. Joeckel just makes the most sense here at this time.

Who they should take- Luke Joeckel

2. Jacksonville (2-14) – Jacksonville in my mind is in the biggest mess in terms of just being a franchise in the NFL. They can’t get fans to games, management has been awful and the players on the field have been as well. Things seem to be on the up though since the new G.M has already proclaimed Blaine Gabbert as the QB of the Jags…. Sense the sarcasm. This team is in a heap of trouble and I hope they can turn it around (maybe these new jerseys they are getting will give them Seahawks like power on the field). That being said their needs are an entire new team and could go anywhere with this draft. With a team full of needs you would hope they would take the best player available.

Who they will take: Star Lotulelei Utah DT- Best player available and is a star (pun very intended) in the making. Has all the talent and work ethic in the world. Scouts compare him to a Haloti Ngata and say he is a clone. I’m not a huge fan of comparisons but that should be an indicator of just how good he is.

Who they should take- Star Lotulelei

3. Oakland (4-12) – Oakland is another team with a whole bunch of needs. This is a team that could go into the season having the QB that screwed over Ohio State (yes Terelle Pryor may start an NFL game… very scary). They desperately need a pass rusher, their secondary is in shambles and with McClain not even wanting to play for them need a middle linebacker. Also lastly they just got rid of Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly is the most overpaid player in the NFL so look for him to be gone as well.

Who they will take-Shariff Floyd Florida DT –He is gaining huge momentum in scouts’ minds and some people are even putting him in front of Star as the best player other than Joeckel in this draft. He had a very good year at Florida and can become a pro bowler in the NFL. .

Who they should take- – Damontre Moore . Notice how I said can and could be a pro bowler when describing Floyd. He is not a sure thing at the DT position and I just like Moore’s ability to get to the QB.

4. Philadelphia (4-12) – The Eagles could use a corner as well as an upgrade at the tackle position. The tackle position is biggest need since Mike Vick or Nick Foles couldn’t get a pass off without have to scramble or avoid a rusher. The cornerback position is also a need because Nnamdi will most likely be released since his signing was a fail and Rodgers Cromartie is a free agent.  Those are the two biggest needs they have and they are big ones. The Eagles will also most likely use a mid round pick on a QB. Also they could spend a quality pick in order to get a decent pass rusher to acquire some depth.

Who they will pick- Eric Fisher Central Michigan OT- Another offensive tackle off the board as the Eagles will continue to look at offense first then defense. Fisher gives them an athletic tackle that will fit into Chip Kelly’s system very well.

Who they should take- The Eagles will have no coverage corner left if Rodgers Cromartie decides to goes to another team. DeMarcus Milliner  is the best player available and fits this need. I also have my personal questions on Eric Fisher. He had an outstanding year and a great senior bowl but he played against very weak competition the whole year and I’m afraid that he’s not as good as he shown.

5. Detroit (4-12)– The Lions just recently released Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril did not live up to his expectations at all this year. With an interior line that could be elite with the right pass rush I would expect them to draft a pass rusher. They also need a running back seeing as Jahvid Best may never play a down in the NFL game with his concussion problems. Running backs though have become expendable in the league and need to be a rare talent (Peterson) to be drafted this high. A wide receiver to go along with Calvin Johnson is all of a sudden a need with the loss of Titus Young (if you look at it as a loss since this is the man that lined up in the wrong spot on purpose on multiple occasions). Lastly possibly their biggest need is in the secondary. They have struggled mightily for the last couple year at this position and Milliner would be the perfect fill.

Who they will draft- Ezekiel Ansah BYU DE/OLB- has HUGE potential. Scouts compare his potential to JPP with the way his college stats may never show just how good of a pro he can be. I’m sure that after the combine the scouts will be raving about him and will have a Vernon Gholston like effect on his stock.

Who they should draft- they should take either Bjoern Werner (due to the fact he has proven himself in college and is a safer pick) or DeMarcus Milliner because he solves their biggest need in a shutdown corner.

6. Cleveland (5-11) – The Browns usher in an entire new regime and no one is really safe on this team other than their big three (Joe Thomas, Joe Haden and Trent Richardson). Obviously one can tell Brandon Weeden just never had pro talent at either sport he tried and maybe he should try golf. They will definitely think about Geno Smith if he does fall to them and I see them as a sleeper to take him. Geno has athleticism more like Andrew Luck than the likes of a Cam Newton but the new coach was an offensive coordinator for Cam Newton and may look for a QB with mobility. They also could take a hard look at a pass rusher since last year they only had one (Jabaal Sheard). I also could see them taking Milliner at this spot and pairing him up with Joe Haden to have a deadly duo at the cornerback position.

Who they will draft- Damontre Moore Texas A&M DE/OLB-   he is an absolute beast when it comes to getting to the passer and fits the biggest current need of the Raiders. He was an absolute stud for A&M’s defense this year for college football and look for it to translate well to the Pros

Who they should take- Damontre Moore

7. Arizona (5-11) – The Cardinals are another team who run into the problem of having a QB problem in the wrong draft to have one. Another team who will be tempted to take Geno Smith with their pick. They also have a need at the RB position due to the injuries their running backs seem to pile up every year (Suns training staff where are you?) and the biggest need on the offensive line. Eric Fisher dropping to them would obviously be ideal.

Who they will draft- Geno Smith West Virginia QB- One last, desperate risk taken by management at the QB position to please Larry Fitzgerald. Geno Smith resembles Andrew Luck Physically and Bruce Arians will not be able to pass that up.

Who they should take- if no offensive line is available I believe the best bet would be to trade back, draft Lane Johnson for their line and use the other pick acquired on another QB.

8. Buffalo (6-10) – Buffalo also has a new head coach and another team that is looking for a franchise QB in the wrong draft. Sadly, Fitzpatrick has not been able to live up to expectations after his great start two years ago. However, if Geno Smith would enter panic mode because they would expect to be the next team to take him after the Chiefs. The Bills have needs at the WR position and all over their new defense they are implementing.

Who they will draft- Coradelle Patterson WR Tennessee- Doug Marrone will be very torn in his first ever draft. I believe that he give Fitzpatrick a chance at QB although in no way does he deserve one. Coradelle Patterson gives them a legitimate number two receiver who could ultimately replace Stevie Johnson if he wants to leave but, could also makes Johnson’s career easier by relieving him of double teams. Patterson did it all at Tennessee and is a big playmaker

Who they should draft- Jarvis Jones- Many teams will pass on him because of his “Red Flags” due to his spinal injury, but most will regret it when he’s sacking the their QB next year. He could be that hybrid rusher perfectly for their new defense.

9 .New York Jets (6-10) – oh the beloved Jets. This team constantly hurts me with the moves they make and always seem to do the opposite of what I hope. Their needs are basically at every skill position and the team seems to be an absolute mess (it is). Knowing Rex going into this draft losing two players at the linebacker position that’s where he will look. Beyond that they have a serious need at the safety position, a huge gigantic problem at the CB position, a need at the WR position, a right tackle who can actually block not just lug his 340 pound body in front of people and hope for the best and of course a new QB (which they have needed since the day they drafted Sanchez).

Who they will draft- Dion Jordan Oregon DE/OLB- He is a physical specimen standing at 6’ 8” and being able to play in the 3-4 so well makes him so intriguing to Rex. Still raw in pass coverage but that won’t stop Rex from looking past it and looking at how he can get to the QB. UPDATE!!!! Jordan will need surgery and this could effect his draft stock and have him fall drastically

Who they should draft- In my eyes the Jets can’t go to wrong with this pick. I would know if I’m going to keep both of my corners by the time the draft rolled by so I would know whether or not to pass up on Milliner or not. However if I’m making this pick I’m making this pick I’m taking the man that led the NCAA in sacks last season, Jarvis Jones. The Jets will suck next year anyway so why not take a little risk on a guy who mass produces with a little neck problem.

10. Tennessee (6-10)  – Tennessee last year wanted to take a corner however all of them were taken by the time it was their pick. This year playmaking corner has the chance to drop to them and I don’t think they could pass that up. That being said they have stated the want to bolster the offensive line to help Chris Johnson.

Who they will take- DeMarcus Milliner Alabama – Just too good to pass up. A top five prospect in my eyes that can shut down an entire side of the field with the way he plays.

Who they should take- Milliner or Chance Warmack- Depends but if Milliner falls they HAVE to take him but I could see a team trading up for Milliner ahead of the Titans screwing them yet again. If that does happen look for them to take Warmack.

11. San Diego (7-9) – Chargers are a team that has a QB that is supposed to be in his prime but seemed to regress big time last season. It was not all his fault, since he couldn’t get a pass of due to his porous offensive line that couldn’t block a 10 by 10 doorway if they tried together. This is a glaring weakness for the Chargers. They also have a weakness at the pass rushing position but that should be addressed later on. The team should also spend a mid round pick on a WR if Danario cannot hold up this year like history has proven with him.

Who they take- Chance Warmack G Alabama- this is a pick the Chargers need to make if they want Phillip Rivers to have the best chance to succeed. I see this as his last hurrah if he can’t get it done this season. He is that good of a guard to take this early an immediately improves the Chargers in the pass and rush game on offense.

Who they should take- Chance Warmack- He is just that good at what he does. You never see guards get drafted this early however he was just that good in college and possess the skills already to be a pro bowler.

12. Miami (7-9) – Miami is a team who I see having a pretty bright future. They have a good QB in Tannehill (he needed time to develop as a QB because of his first two seasons as a WR in college) a decent running game, good blocking and a pretty good defense. However they are lacking a big time receiver and also could use some upgrades in the secondary.

Who they will pick: Keenan Allen California WR- my favorite receiver in this draft along with being tied to Jarvis Jones as my favorite player in general. He posses the height (6’3”) along with great ball skills and a nack for running in the open field. I would love this pick if I were Miami. I hate comparisons but I just see so much Brandon Marshall in him.

Who they should pick- Keenan Allen

13. Tampa Bay (7-9) – Tampa Bay is another team who has great upside as a team as do most teams in this mid range area. Their problems remain mostly on the defensive side of the ball and need a solid defensive end along with a much needed improvement in the secondary.

Who they will pick- Johnathan Banks Miss ST CB- was voted the top secondary player in this previous college football season and is another great corner in this draft. The Bucs were close to last in all passing stats last season and have no prospect on their team for the position.

Who they should pick- Johnathan Banks

14. Carolina (7-9) – The Panthers run defense was awful last year and that’s me being nice. It was like Vin Diesel trying to sing Rihanna. (Oh wait he did that) anyway the team could go after a number two receiver or address their need at the safety position as well.

Who they will pick- Sheldon Richardson Missouri DT – he is a big nose tackle out of Missouri who was the only bright spot on the team. Has some athleticism but mainly will be used to stop the run which is exactly what they need.

Who they should pick- Sheldon Richardson

15. New Orleans (7-9) – The Saints are switching their defense to a 3-4 this year which means that they will have needs on defense. Offense they were fine as they were scoring points but the other teams were just scoring more.

Who they will pick- Bjoern Werner DE/OLB Florida State-  I just can’t see him dropping anymore and even if he is better fit for a 4-3 the Saints will not be able to pass up his talent. He could come in and give them an immediate boost in the pass rush. I would expect a team to quickly trade up if they saw this fall from Werner so do not expect him to drop this far.

Who they should pick- Probably someone more suitable for their defense like a Jarvis Jones or Mingo from LSU. But Werner is too good to pass up here

16. St. Louis (7-8-1) – The Rams have had a serious need on the offensive line ever since Sam Bradford has got there (the poor guy). They also have a need at the safety spot and the front office has come out and said they will look to fix this through the draft. Also the Rams still have yet to find that go to receiver for Bradford.

Who they will pick- Lane Johnson Oklahoma OT- He solves their need at on the offensive line and fills in perfectly at the tackle spot. It would be very hard for the Rams to pass up on a tackle like Johnson

Who they should draft- Either Johnson or Vaccaro. They both fill in the two biggest holes of the Rams but I just think the line is a bigger problem right now.

17. Pittsburgh (8-8) – They are getting old on defense and most likely loose Mike Wallace so they are a team that has some needs to get younger at. James Harrison will most likely be gone and they will look to fill his role from someone. Also wouldn’t be a bad idea to start thinking of finding a back-up to Roethlisberger. Lastly the RB position is in need of a serious upgrade as well.

Who they will pick- Jarvis Jones Georgia OLB- This is one team who will look past the spine problem and be so happy that he falls to them. He fits perfectly in with the scheme and will anchor that defense for many years.

Who they should pick- Jarvis Jones

18. Dallas (8-8) – Dallas’ line was pretty bad last year at blocking for Tony Romo last year. Also they could use a safety due to the fact they want to cut Church from the team and he is the starter. Lastly they could use a replacement for Anthony Spencer since they might not be able to re sign him.

Who they will pick- Kenny Vaccaro Texas S- He probably has the talent to go earlier but not many teams need a safety. He is a ball hawking safety which Dallas could use since Claiborne got burned many times last year.

Who they should pick – Kenny Vaccaro

19. New York Giants (9-7) – The Giants are a team whose offense right now seems just fine. They could use an upgrade on the offensive line but, it wasn’t really that bad. The true need exist on the defensive side. The Giants biggest weakness is too easy to pick out and if you watch one game you’d see it to. He’s a big slow linebacker that wore a cast the entire season named Chase “I once backed up into Amani Toomer’s Porsche with my big jeep” Blackburn. The other need remains in the secondary and most of the reason is because the Giants just can’t seem to stay healthy there. Lastly, the Giants could need a pass rusher if Tuck and Osi leave.

Who they will pick- Alec Olgetree Georgia ILB/OLB- The hidden gem on Georgia’s defense who was overlooked due to Jarvis Jones’ outstanding play. He has great instincts as an inside linebacker and is somewhere who can come in and start at the position right away (sorry Chase).

Who they should pick- Alec Olgetree

20. Chicago (10-6) – Everyone and their mom knows where Chicago’s biggest need lies. The team always puts out a stout defense, has a QB who is a top 10 QB when playing at his best a big time RB and a big time receiver. However Jay cutler can’t seem to get it to his weapons because his line is the problem. The Bears may look to find Urlacher’s replacement if they choose not to resign him and could also look to find a second receiver for Jay in the first round. In the second I expect them to go after a tight end.

Who they pick- D.J Fluker Alabama OT- A big talk among scouts right now is all that weight he has lost since college has ended and how he is showing to be a beast physically. He fits their need at the right spot.

Who they should pick – D.J Fluker

21. Cincinnati* (10-6) – The Bengals biggest need isn’t something I expect them to address in the first round. The Law firm (Green-Ellis for those of you that have lives) was only good for one thing and that was his ball security. This year he didn’t have that and has become expendable to the Bengals. However, no running back these days gets drafted that early especially when it isn’t that big of a need. Two other areas they should draft remain at either the middle linebacker position (only person worse than Blackburn was found here Ray Maualuga) or if they don’t resign Michael Johnson take a defensive end.

Who they will pick- Leenay Kekua… uh ummm I mean Manti Te’o Notre Dame ILB – He is a person the Bengals won’t be afraid to take and anyone is an upgrade over Maualuga. His stock has dropped significantly since New Years but I believe he will stay in the first round.

Who they should pick- Kevin Minter- I personally love Minter’s game and think that he and not Mr. Te’o deserves to be recognized as the 2nd best inside linebacker in this class .

22. St. Louis – from Washington* (10-6)- St. Louis has their second first round pick and this time they will most likely address the other side of the ball now although don’t rule out a receiver here. They could use someone at the outside linebacker position and as stated before are looking for a young guy at safety.

Who they pick- Matt Elam Florida S- I think he may have more talent than Vaccaro personally. He is an extremely big hitter and form tackling because he seems to go for the big hit every time. He is good in coverage but could use some improvement.

Who they should pick- Matt Elam

23. Minnesota* (10-6) – This team made the playoffs with CHRISTIAN PONDER as their quarterback. CHRISTIAN PONDER. The man who managed to average less yards per attempt than Peterson had per carry. Now I know Peterson had a historic season but that is just pathetic. Maybe it’s jealousy since he is married to Sam Steele however I just don’t see how he can be a starter in the NFL. If I was the Vikings I would seriously think of drafting a new QB (Matt Barkley or Tyler Wilson) here. This is unlikely since management has “faith” in him as does his coach. Yea, some quarterback that sat out your biggest game of the year. Other than that rant, the Vikings could use a big upgrade either at the DT position due to old age or cornerback position (where they got toasted at all year) on the defensive side. On offense the only other upgrade would be at receiver however after the first two I don’t see any first round talent at the position.

Who they will take- Johnathan Hankins Ohio State DT- They find the perfect replacement for Kyle Williams who is getting old and can start Hankins right next to him. He is a huge body that stuffs anything coming his way. He has character questions however I’m sure a pro like Williams can straighten him out

Who they should take- Although I like the pick I would take a long and hard stare at the QB position and really work those two QB’s out. But, that still wouldn’t be my pick. I would take Marcus Trufant’s brother Desmond Trufant. He played extremely well at Washington this year and I think he is very underrated when it comes to this draft.

24. Indianapolis* (11-5) – The Colts released another Colts legend this year in Dwight Freeney and will look for someone to take over for him. They also could use a cornerback and a big tackle on the defensive side. Last draft they picked all offense so don’t be surprised if they do the same for defense this time around.

Who they will pick- Barkevious Mingo OLB/DE LSU- His slide finally stops. At the beginning of the college season he was a projected to be a top 5 pick but due to his production this year he fell off. He would be a great fit for the Colts new defense and could be an impact in his first year as a pass rusher.

Who they should take- Barkevious Mingo (man do I like spelling his name Props to Mrs. Mingo)

25. Seattle* (11-5)– Seattle the last three years have been very impressive drafting and for all the time teams say draft best player available, they drafted needs, and it worked. I assume they will only continue this trend. Seattle defense was impressive and ruined many playoffs games for fantasy football with that performance against the Cardinals. The only need I really see for them on defense is at the defensive tackle position. That being said, their need is more on the offensive side of the ball. They desperately need a WR (they cannot rely on touchception from Golden Tate every time) and a tight end. It really is amazing the season Russell Wilson had looking at the players he had around him.

Who they take- Zach Ertz Stanford TE- Like the past they choose to take a need and take the top tight end available. He had some short arm concern at the combine but I still think he is the better option over Eifert because he is a better blocker as well.

Who they should take- Kawann Short- I think a tight end should not be taken in the first round of this draft and Short is a better prospect. He recorded 7 sacks a tackle and would help the Seahawks immediately.

26. Green Bay* (11-5) – The Packers struggled mightily in blocking for Aaron Rodgers this year and I see them spending their first pick on it since he’s the face of the franchise. They also did just loose Woodson so looking at the secondary and filling that position could be spent with the first pick. A sleeper pick could be taking a receiver since Jennings will most likely be gone as well. Running back has always been a need for them but they seem to like to wait till mid round picks to choose one.

Who they take- Jonathan Cooper UNC G- He is a guy that could play both guard and center. Whatever the Packers need him at he can be ready to start for them. He blocked at UNC for my favorite running back in this draft Giovanni Bernard. Bernard just went on to be the ACC offensive player of the year.

Who they should take- Barrett Jones (I wish) sadly due to his injury he is dropping all the way to the third round. It’s so sad since he is such an accomplished NCAA blocker and person in general. Cooper is the right choice here

27. Houston* (12-4) – Houston has 3 big needs. Middle linebacker since Cushing is hurt (Steroids) and Bradie James is a free agent. The second is at the WR position since Johnson is getting old and they have never found a number 2 to play next to him (I personally think they should move up in the 2nd to get one) and the third would be a cornerback. They signed Joseph and he has been good but they do not have anyone to play on the other side with him.

Who they will take- Kevin Minter LSU ILB- This is why Houston is more successful faster than the Bengals. The Bengals continually draft one pick that sets them back a couple years. Minter is a solid choice here.

Who they should take- Minter

28. Denver* (13-3) – One of the two teams that may actually take a running back in the first round due to the need. The fact the team two picks behind them needs one may rush them to take the top one available. They also need a corner back since Champ Bailey is no longer a top corner or a reliable one. He was burned twice in the playoffs and blew that game for them. Also they could use a nose tackle, someone that really stuffs the run.

Who they pick- Eddie Lacy Alabama RB- With Atlanta lurking in the background they fold to the pressure. They let Mcgahee go and have a good punch with lacy then Hillman to go with their passing attack.

Who they should take- Desmond Trufant- He is a much higher rated player than this pick but the need is to strong for Denver.

29. New England* (12-4)– They will most likely let Wes Welker leave which means they will need to find a replacement at his position and more importantly what he did (not these past 2 years because that would be dropping passes). They also could always use secondary help since they seem to never improve in that aspect.

Who they pick – Tavon Austin West Virginia WR- this pick makes so much sense it’s scary. Austin is the quickest guy in this draft and I’m sure Bill is just drooling over the plays he could run with Austin.

Who they should draft- I’m just gunna keep suggesting Trufant because he deserves it

30.  Atlanta* (13-3) – Tony Gonzalez may be gone but, as every fan feels, there’s the feeling he will be back. They could take a replacement in this draft if it’s the right person however. They also desperately need a defensive end since that was their weakness on defense last year. Also as stated earlier they needed a running back since Turner will be released. I don’t think they will find someone of value in the first round unless Lacy falls here.

Who they take- Sam Montgomery DE/OLB LSU- The LSU defensive end just like Mingo saw his draft free fall after this season played out. However he is a great NFL prospect according to some scouts even though I don’t see it.

Who they should take- John Jenkins- Their whole line to me needs a remake even if defensive tackle isn’t there strongest need. He could at least help against the run and is a first round talent.

31. San Francisco* (11-4-1) – The 49ers have very few needs when it comes to the draft. Especially with rumors of them throwing a ton of money at Wes Welker and as long as they can lock up Gholson (or at least franchise him). The two positions of need are WR and CB. Culliver played awful in the playoffs and well Manningham is better off as a third receiver rather than a second.

Who they pick- Desmond Trufant Washington CB- Finally he gets picked I feel relieved for him. The kid has major talent and will look to prove all of those that passed on him wrong.

Who they should take- Desmond Trufant

32. Baltimore* (10-6) – Baltimore ofocurse could use a replacement for Ray Lewis, but that’s not how the best G.M in the NFL does. He will choose someone who stock fell for the wrong reason or a player that talent was look passed. He seems to do this every year.

Who they pick- (Best player available)- I’m sure Ozzie would love for Desmond to fall to him and was probably licking his chops when he saw this but, he will gladly take John Jenkins (Georgia DT) because he’s the best player available and he fits a need

Who they should take- not arguing with Ozzie … ever.

Article written by James (J.D.) Hogan follow him on twitter @sportinghogan

Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls Reaction

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Heat MVP: LeBron James 26pts 12rebs 7asts 2stls 11-15FG

Who else but LeBron. He set the pace early with transition layups and swarming defense. The 2nd quarter he ate up every Nate Robinson pick-n-roll, shutting down his dribble penetration and one time forcing Thibs to call a timeout because Nate could no longer dribble. He made his array three straight 20 foot jumpers in 3rd quarter with good defense in his face. LeBron dominated the glass all night leading the Heat with 12 rebounds, dishing out dimes, and owned the paint.

Bulls MVP: Joakim Noah 11pts 8rebs 8asts 2blks 3stls 5-11FG

Can we call this guy the best all around big in the league now? Noah played great in all facets of the game, first by leading the Bulls in assists with eight. The guy is a super underrated passer and was anchoring the defense and was moving great on his bum ankle. Noah struggled shooting and couldn’t get anything going offensively besides close range dunks.

LVP: D-D-D-D Deng…? Luol Deng was non-existent all night besides one forced jump ball on LeBron. Deng couldn’t hit his jumper(making 1-5 jumpers) and was a non factor off the ball. He was even missing layups(2-6 on layups) and looked slow. Deng was neutralized and taken out the game mentally by LeBron.

27 Turnovers: Yes you are reading that correctly, the Bulls finished with 27 turnovers the most they have had all season and recorded 17 in the first half. Miami’s defense was looking like a combination of late 80’s Detroit Pistons and 1985 Chicago Bears, swarming pick-n-rolls, clogging lanes, and picking off passes. The Bulls looked ugly on offense and finished with 67 points.

Miami Heat trade Dexter Pittman and 2nd round pick to Memphis

Al Horford, Dexter Pittman

Sources tell Yahoo sports that the Heat have agreed to send Dexter Pittman and a second round pick to the Grizzlies for a trade exception. In three season in South Beach, Pittman averaged 2.8 points per game, 2.0 rebounds per game, and nearly eight minutes an outing. The Miami organization was extremely high on Pittman the last two seasons, giving him multiple chances to prove himself but never panned out. Pittman almost has as many fouls(71) as rebounds(73) which sums up his three year stint in Miami.

RickySanchez400

Miami has acquired the rights to Ricky Sanchez through trade exception who is now playing in Argentina. Sanchez was drafted by Portland in the 2nd round but was immediately traded to the Nuggets for Jarrett Jack. He’s 6 foot 11 who likes to roam the perimeter and take long jumpers. Sanchez will most likely never see a minute for the Heat.

 

Brook Lopez quietly is the Nets M.V.P.

Brook Lopez underappreciated while being Brooklyn’s MVP

It is impossible to put up an argument to defend his rebounding averages as a seven foot center. Brook is 18th of out 37 centers with 7.4 rebounds per game. It is also impossible to deny his improvements as an all around player. Brook will always be an under the radar player because of his unattractive, slow style of play. The league and the fans have grasped their attention to incredibly athletic players and clearly Brook is nowhere near an athlete like most centers today. He doesn’t run the floor like Joakim Noah, nor is he a pick-n-roll alley oop highlight show like Dwight or Chandler, or a jump and block shots guy like Ibaka. Brook quietly beats opponents with his smarts, fundamentals, and underrated strength.

The guy is now a legitimate rim protector. His 2.2 blocks per game ranks seventh in the league, and that an incredible improvement from the 2011 season. In 81 games played in 2011, he swatted 121 shots while averaging 1.4 blocks a game. Already through 46 games played this season, he has blocked 98 shots. Besides the stats he is truly an improved pick-n-roll defender. Lopez is becoming smarter of how to alter shots without getting into foul trouble. He’s at 2.1 personals a game, which is a career low. He looks rejuvenated; he rotates on other assignments and closes out on shooters.

Watch these highlights of him harassing the Miami Heat defensively.

The most complete part of his game is his cluster of post moves. Lopez can face up and drive, then use his length to make shots over defenders. His moves are effective and efficient in the paint. This season he’s been finishing well, dropping in 211 shots at the rim on 65% shooting. His length and size when moving towards the basket with the ball is hard for defenders to neutralize. He has a close to automatic mid range jumper. Lopez makes most of his mid-range jumpers from face up shots and pick and pop shots from Deron Williams. Lopez is second in the league on shots from 10 to 15 feet out behind Nikola Vucevic. All these efficiency numbers don’t add up to his PER (Player Efficiency Rating). Lopez’s 24.8 PER is only behind the best player in the universe LeBron James, following Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and Tim Duncan.

Watch these highlights of Brook Lopez scoring from being the pick man.

Brook Lopez’s emergence to being an elite center is an incredible thing considering him being injured for a long period of time and being a questionable return back to Nets with the Dwight Howard rumors. All this adversity he’s overcome has led him to become the leading scoring center in the league and having the second most field goals made for centers this season. The Nets are putting the load on Brook’s shoulders, he has a career high in usage percentage of 26.1% which is the highest on the Nets. Brook is succeeding in his role and is being undervalued by the media. He’s legit.