Zak’s 2017 NBA Mock Draft (Version 5.0)

More commentary and updates to come as draft approaches. This mock predicts trades as well.

And check out Cole’s mock right here

Updated June 22nd, 4:30 PM

Round 1

#1) Philadelphia 76ers – Markelle Fultz (G, Washington)

Duh.

#2) Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball (G, UCLA)

All the talk of Jackon or Fox going here seems to have been a smokescreen to convince the Celtics to take Jackson #1. I still think Lonzo is the Lakers’ guy. The trading of Russell all but confirms it.

#3) *Sacramento Kings – Josh Jackson (F, Kansas)

*via trade with Boston. Teams swap 3 & 5, Celtics get additional future pick.

Whether the Kings want Jackson or Fox, they have to move ahead of Phoenix to guarantee it happens.

#4) Phoenix Suns – De’Aaron Fox (G, Kentucky)

The Eric Bledose era in Phoenix is coming to an end and Fox is the best player on the board.

#5) *Boston Celtics – Jayson Tatum (F, Duke)

Boston gets their guy at 5, picking up extra picks along the way.

#6) Orlando Magic – Dennis Smith Jr. (G, N.C. State)

DSJ is the most explosive guard in the class and should make for a fine Elfrid Payton replacement.

#7) *Dallas Mavericks – Frank Ntilikina (G, International)

*via trade with T’Wolves. Teams swap picks #7 & #9, T’Wolves receive additional future pick.

Both Dallas and New York love Ntilikina. Here, the Mavs leapfrog NY to ensure they get their guy. He’s a big guard still developing but reminds me of a longer George Hill.

#8) New York Knicks – Jonathan Isaac (F, Florida State)

The Knicks would have to be ecstatic to see Isaac on the board here. He’s a tantalizing and diverse defensive prospect, who also has great touch on his jumper and plays within himself offensively.

#9) *Minnesota Timberwolves – Lauri Markkanen (F, Arizona)

The Wolves grab the sweet shooting seven-footer they probably would’ve taken at 7, picking up a future pick in the process. A wise move.

#10) Sacramento Kings – Donovan Mitchell (G, Louisville)

Maybe Mitchell won’t develop the point guard skills the Kings would like with one of their two picks, but he’s going to be an elite defender capable of guarding 1-3. 

#11) Charlotte Hornets – Malik Monk (G, Kentucky)

I really thought Charlotte might take a center here, but the trade for Dwight Howard would seemingly end that idea. Monk would make for a nice pick though and would elevate the Charlotte bench right away with his ability to score without being ball dominant.

#12) Detroit Pistons – Zach Collins (F/C, Gonzaga)

Whether or not they view Drummond as part of the team’s future, Collins is a nice pickup outside the top 10.

#13) *Phoenix Suns – O.G. Anunoby (F, Indiana)

*via trade with Nuggets. Phoenix sends Eric Bledsoe and a future 2nd rounder in exchange for #13 & Emmanuel Mudiay

Enter the polarizing O.G. Anunoby, who’s ready to be a plus defender right away and showed some nice strides offensively pre-injury. Phoenix lands him, after trading Bledsoe for this pick to clear minutes for Fox.

#14) *Los Angeles Lakers – Luke Kennard (G, Duke)

*via trade with Heat. Miami receives #27, #28, & a future pick swap rights in exchange for #14

The Lakers reportedly LOVE Kennard and want to move up to get him. A possible a Paul George trade package involving picks #27 & #28 complicates things a bit but if Kennard is still on the board in the 12-16 I wouldn’t be surprised to see L.A. pounce.

#15) Portland Trail Blazers – D.J. Wilson (F, Michigan)

An intriguing faceup 4 with a high skill level offensively and great measurables/athleticism defensively. He finally started to put it together this year and thus has risen up boards.

#16) Chicago Bulls – John Collins (PF, Wake Forest)

Best low-post scorer in the draft. By no means a position of need but Chicago is rebuilding soon and I think Collins is better than Portis.

#17) Milwaukee Bucks – Jordan Bell (F, Oregon)

Rising up boards because he can both protect the rim and move his feet. Has the makings of an elite defender.

#18) Indiana Pacers – Terrance Ferguson (G/F, International)

Not quite ready yet but oozes potential as a 3nD wing. High level athlete. would be a nice start to Pacers rebuild.

#19) Atlanta Hawks – Bam Adebayo (C, Kentucky)

Bam has reportedly impressed many teams in workouts. He didn’t always get to show it at Kentucky but he’s got a really high skill level for a guy who also protects the rim and mauls inside. Atlanta would be wise to start their frontcourt rebuild around him.

#20) Portland Trail Blazers – Harry Giles (C, Duke)

Apparently the medicals are promising. Portland has three picks this round and a full roster already, so it’d be a nice risk for them regardless.

#21) Oklahoma City Thunder – Justin Jackson (F, UNC)

I’m not sure how real Jackson’s improvement as a perimter shooter actually is, but he’s a player who keeps getting better and makes up for his thin frame/average athleticism with smart positioning on both ends.
#22) Brooklyn Nets – Justin Patton (C, Creighton)

Upside pick for Brooklyn. Patton probably isn’t ready to play major minutes yet but he moves really well for a seven-footer.

#23) Toronto Raptors – T.J. Leaf (F, UCLA)

Skilled big who projects as a nice offensive option off bench.

#24) Utah Jazz – Wesley Iwundu (G/F, Kansas State)

Skilled guy with point guard instincts who defends. Evan Turner but maybe a better athlete. One of my personal 15 favorite players in this draft.

#25) Orlando Magic – Jonah Bolden (F, International)

Fast riser, arguable lottery talent. He can move.

#26) Portland Trail Blazers – Anzejs Paseckniks (F/C, International)

With three picks this round, Portland probably needs to trade or draft-n-stash someone. Paseckniks has become a late riser and looks like a great bet to go in the first.

#27) *Miami Heat – Ike Anigobogu (C, UCLA)

A big, big man who should at the very least turn into a plus rebounder and rim protector.

#28) *Miami Heat – Dwayne Bacon (G, Florida State)

I think this bouncy bucket getter is higher on team’s boards than the media is giving him credit for. I know Miami has looked closely at him. He’s ready to play. My favorite sleeper this year.

#29) San Antonio Spurs – Jawun Evans (G, Oklahoma State)

Lottery pick if he’s 2″ taller. Creates his own shot, distributes, and defends. A complete backup PG prospect.

#30) Utah Jazz – Derrick White (G, Colorado)

Arguably the best senior in the draft, White is a very good offensive combo guard who could be this year’s Malcolm Brogdon

 

2nd Round

This round is a crapshoot. Half these picks will be traded. This is more of a stab at which guys will actually be taken rather than where they’ll go.

#31) Charlotte Hornets – Semi Ojeleye (F, SMU)

#32) Phoenix Suns – Ivan Rabb (F/C, California)

#33) Orlando Magic – Tyler Lydon (F, Syracuse)

#34) Sacramento Kings – Isaiah Hartenstein (F/C, International)

#35) Orlando Magic – Frank Jackson (G, Duke)

#36) Philadelphia 76ers – Jarrett Allen (C, Texas)

#37) Boston Celtics – Mathias Lessort (F/C, International)

#38) Chicago Bulls – Thomas Bryant (C, Indiana)

#39) Philadelphia 76ers – Devin Robinson (F, Florida)

#40) New Orleans Pelicans – P.J. Dozier (G, South Carolina)

#41) Atlanta Hawks – Kyle Kuzma (F, Utah)

#42) Utah Jazz – Sterling Brown (G, SMU)

#43) Houston Rockets – Caleb Swanigan (F, Purdue)

#44) New York Knicks – Johnathan Motley (F, Baylor)

#45) Houston Rockets – Vlatko Cancar (F, International)

#46) Philadelphia 76ers – Edmond Summer (G, Xavier)

#47) Indiana Pacers – Tony Bradley (C, UNC)

#48) Milwaukee Bucks – V.J. Beachem (F, Notre Dame)

#49) Denver Nuggets – Cameron Oliver (F, Nevada)

#50) Philadelphia 76ers – Aleksandar Vezenkov (F, International)

#51) Denver Nuggets – Sindarius Thornwell (G, South Carolina)

#52) New Orleans Pelicans – Josh Hart (G, Villanova)

#53) Boston Celtics – Rolands Smits (F, International)

#54) Phoenix Suns – Isaiah Briscoe (G, Kentucky)

#55) Utah Jazz – Kobi Simmons (G, Arizona)

#56) Boston Celtics – Alec Peters (F, Valparaiso)

#57) Brooklyn Nets – Damyean Dotson (G/F, Oregon)

#58) New Yorks Knicks – Jaron Blossomgame (F, Clemson)

#59) San Antonio Spurs – Frank Mason (G, Kansas)

#60) Atlanta Hawks – Davon Reed (G/F, Miami)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cole’s 2017 NBA Mock Draft (Version 2.0)

Woj leaked me every pick already, so don’t even worry about watching the draft tonight. I got you all covered.


#1) Philadelphia 76ers – Markelle Fultz (PG, Washington)

Philly capitalizes on the Celtics questionable move of trading out of this pick to get Fultz, the clear top player in the draft. Philly now can hang a banner for having the most talented young core in the league.

#2) Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball (PG, UCLA)

This is a virtual lock now that DLoading is gone. I don’t like this fit as much without Russell in the fold, but Ball fits Luke Walton’s uptempo and free-flowing offense.

TRADE – Boston trades the rights to the 3rd overall pick, Jae Crowder, Terry Rozier and their own pick next year for Kristaps Porzingis.

#3) *New York Knicks – Josh Jackson (F, Kansas)

If Boston stays here, I think they’ll take Tatum, but Phil Jackson is reportedly trying to trade into the top 4 to take Josh Jackson. I don’t know why the Knicks are trying to trade Kristaps, but Boston takes advantage of the Knicks inept front office and nabs Porzingis while the Knicks get the talented and athletic wing in Jackson.

#4) Phoenix Suns – De’Aaron Fox (G, Kentucky)
Phoenix elects to pass on Tatum and take Fox, the more talented prospect. Fox will mesh well with Phoenix’s young and talented core. The Suns will then look to flip Eric Bledsoe.

#5) Sacramento Kings – Jayson Tatum (F, Duke)

Sacramento misses out on Fox, but they get a talented wing in Tatum. Tatum is a three level scorer who can rebound and is an underrated defender.

#6) Orlando Magic – Jonathan Isaac (F, Florida State)
New Magic GM John Hammond drafted Giannis while he was in Milwaukee, and he takes a similarly built and talented prospect in Isaac. Isaac is the second best player in the class.

#7) Minnesota Timberwolves – Zach Collins (F/C, Gonzaga)

Minnesota lands the talented big man in Collins that can play the 4 or 5. Collins can protect the rim, rebound and switch in pick and roll situations on defense, while provide shooting and post scoring on offense.

#8) New York Knicks – Dennis Smith Jr. (G, NC State)

The Knicks get their point guard of the future in Smith. Smith is a three level scorer with elite athletic tools. He has loads of potential if he can put it all together.

#9) Dallas Mavericks – Frank Ntilikina (G, International)

Dallas gets their choice of two talented guards here in Monk or Ntilikina, but decide to go with the big and French prospect. Ntilikina can play either guard spot and guard 1-3 on defense. He’ll also provide shooting.

#10) Sacramento Kings – Malik Monk (G, Kentucky)

The Kings miss out on the top point guards, but never fear, Monk is a great consolation prize. Monk can flat out shoot the rock. Sacramento will start him off ball, but will hope to mold him into a point guard to play next to Hield.

#11) Charlotte Hornets – Donovan Mitchell (G, Louisville)

The Hornets land the talented and athletic guard in Mitchell. Mitchell has been the biggest riser throughout the draft process. He can play and guard either guard position and score at all three levels.

#12) Detroit Pistons – Lauri Markkanen (F/C, Arizona)

Markkanen’s fall ends here. Detroit scoops up the extremely talented big man who is the best shooter in the draft. Markkanen will start off as a bench player with the ability to play either the 4 or 5.

#13) Denver Nuggets – O.G. Anunoby (F, Indiana)

The Nuggets land arguably the most talented defender in the draft. Anunoby is recovering from a knee injury, but the Nuggets can be patient with him. OG has a good shot to be a quality 3&D player in time.
TRADE – Miami trades the rights to this pick for the Lakers 27, 28 and Larry Nance Jr.

#14) *Los Angeles Lakers – Luke Kennard (G, Duke)
The Lakers reportedly want to trade back up into the lottery for Zach Collins or Luke Kennard. Kennard can score from 3 or from mid range. Kennard will complement Lonzo well on the offensive end..

#15) Portland Trail Blazers – John Collins (F, Wake Forest)

Portland lands Collins, the talented forward from Wake Forest. Collins can provide a spark off of the bench for the Blazers at the 4 position because of his low post scoring arsenal and rebounding ability.
#16) Chicago Bulls – Jarrett Allen (C, Texas)

The Bulls take a chance on the physical freak from Texas in big man Jarrett Allen. Allen won’t play much early, but he has the tools to develop into a good defensive big who defends the rim and rebounds, and scores in the low post on offense.
#17) Milwaukee Bucks – Ike Anigbogu (C, UCLA)

Milwaukee takes another long and athletic big man. Anigbogu should be able to protect the rim and rebound immediately. He also has the length and athletic ability to catch lobs at the rim.
#18) Indiana Pacers – Justin Jackson (F, North Carolina)

PG is likely on his way out, so the Pacers select his replacement here. I’m not a big fan of him, but the Pacers will rely on Jackson to score early.
#19) Atlanta Hawks – D.J. Wilson (F, Michigan)

The Hawks should start rebuilding now that their best player in Millsap is out. Wilson can stretch the floor, attack off the dribble, and is good guarding the pick and roll on defense.
#20) Portland Trail Blazers – Anzejs Paseckniks (C, International)

Portland doesn’t have a ton of room on their roster, so they elect to take a draft and stash guy here. Paseckniks has reportedly had great workouts throughout the draft process.
#21) Oklahoma City Thunder – T.J. Leaf (F, UCLA)

I like this fit a lot. Leaf can space the floor and give Russ more space to work with. Leaf is good enough off the dribble for a big man and is a decent rebounder.
#22) Brooklyn Nets – Harry Giles (C, Duke)

Brooklyn is rebuilding and they are in no rush to win now. Therefore, Giles makes sense here, as he was an extremely athletic and talented big man before the injuries. He has the potential to be a star role player.
#23) Toronto Raptors – Jordan Bell (F, Oregon)

Bell is one of my favorite players in this class. He’s an athletic big who is best on the defensive end, blocking shots and rebounding the ball. He can finish down low on offense and has shown he is capable of developing a shot.
#24) Utah Jazz – Bam Adebayo (C, Kentucky)

Utah lands the talented Kentucky big man here in Adebayo. Bam can backup Gobert and there won’t be a big dropoff from a rebounding and rim protection perspective. I think Bam should go higher than this, but alas.
#25) Orlando Magic – Tyler Lydon (F, Syracuse)

Lydon is a stretch 4 who can hit shots. He’ll come off of the bench and he’s a good complement to Aaron Gordon’s skillset.
#26) Portland Trail Blazers – Terrance Ferguson (F, International)

Portland takes a shot on the athletic forward Terrance Ferguson. Ferguson has the chance to develop into a nice 3&D player.
#27) *Miami Heat – Justin Patron (C, Creighton)

Miami takes the falling center in Patton. Patton is good guarding the pick and roll on defense and rim running on offense, but he’s raw pretty much everywhere else. Patton can backup Whiteside early on.
#28) *Miami Heat – Frank Jackson (G, Duke)

Jackson was overshadowed in his lone season at Duke, but he’s a talented guard. He can shoot and score, while offering the versatility to play either guard position.
#29) San Antonio Spurs – Caleb Swanigan (F, Purdue)

Swanigan has the potential to be a quality role player. He can hit shots, score down low and rebound the ball. No one can better maximize Swanigan’s skillset than Popovich.
#30) Utah Jazz – Wesley Iwundu (F, Kansas State)

Iwundu is tall (6’7”) and long (7’1” wingspan) and fits perfectly into the defensive minded Jazz team. He can guard 2-4 and showed an improved 3 point shot in his senior year at Kansas State.
 

Cole Rightley’s 2017 NBA Lottery Big Board (Version 1.0)

Cole’s (@TrashAsTweets) first 2017 NBA Draft big board. For Zak’s big board click here, and stay close for more content as the draft approaches.

The talent in this years draft is top heavy. It’s not as deep as once was thought of because of talents like Miles Bridges and Robert Williams opting to return to school. However, teams picking in the top ten will still be pleased with the star talent available to them and teams picking in the middle to late first round range will be excited with the role player potential with this years pool of talent. He are my top 14 players in the 2017 NBA draft as of April 22nd.

1) Markelle Fultz (PG, Freshman, Washington)

Markelle Fultz is the clear prize of this draft class. He is quite frankly in a tier of his own. If you were creating a point guard from scratch, you would end up creating Fultz. He has great size, standing at 6’4”, weighing 195 pounds with a 6’10’ wingspan. He’s not an elite athlete at the position, but he is a dang good one. Fultz greatest strength as a prospect is his ability to score at all three levels. He can get to the basket using his vast array of dribble moves, he can pull up and hit a mid-range jumper if a defender is sagging off, and he can hit the 3, in which he shot at a 41% clip in his lone season at Washington. He is a good passer and displays good vision. He dominates in the pick and roll, thanks to his ability to threaten the defense at all three levels, combined with his ability to whip passes to the screener or an open man on the perimeter. Although Washington’s defense this year was abysmal, it wasn’t because of Fultz. He was inconsistent on defense, but he has a ton of potential on that end of the floor because of his size, quick feet and length. Fultz is the clear-cut #1 prospect in this class.

2) Lonzo Ball (PG, Freshman, UCLA)

Lonzo Ball is an extremely unique point guard prospect. He is 6’6”, which is outstanding size for a two guard, let alone a point guard. Ball is a slightly above average athlete. He doesn’t have the foot speed to stay with good athletes at the position and must rely on his basketball instincts and size on that end of the floor. Although he’s not a particularly good individual defender, he is a pretty good team defender. He lets his instincts take over off the ball, flying in for steals and the occasional block.  Ball’s best quality by far as a prospect is his passing ability. He is an elite passer with elite vision. He does a pretty good job attacking the basket and finishing at the rim thanks to his size. The biggest question with Ball is if his unorthodox shot will translate to the next level. He shot the 3 at a 41% clip at UCLA, whether that was in catch and shoot situations, or with his patented step back heave off the dribble. He was able to get his shot off at the college level, but playing against bigger and more athletic players in the NBA will leave him with an extremely small room for error shooting the ball. The team that ends up with Ball will be extremely happy to get a player of his caliber and his ability to transform an offense.

3) Jonathan Isaac (F, Freshman, Florida State)

Jonathan Isaac is the ideal stretch 4 that the NBA looks for. He has good size at the position at nearly 6’11” with a 7’1” wingspan. He is a great defender with the ability to guard the 4 or the 3. He has quick feet, and can more than hold his own out guarding on the perimeter. He averaged nearly 2 steals and 2.5 blocks per 40 at Florida State. Offensively, Isaac can attack off the dribble due to his quickness and handle. He can shoot the 3, as evidenced by his nearly 35% behind the arc. He is extremely unselfish on offense, maybe a little too unselfish at times. He doesn’t go into a game thinking that he needs to “get his”. He lets the game come to him. He doesn’t really have any post moves at this point, and when he is in the post, he usually gets pushed off of his spot. He needs to get stronger to reach his full potential at the next level. Any team in the early part of the lottery looking for a stretch 4 with the ceiling of being an extremely good role player should look no further than Jonathan Isaac.

4) Josh Jackson (F, Freshman, Kansas)

The first thing that sticks out when watching Josh Jackson is his defensive ability. Jackson can stay with quick wings out on the perimeter and can bang down low with bigger players in the post. He displays good instincts on defense as shown by his 2 steals and 1.5 blocks per 40. He stands at 6’8” with a 6’10” wingspan. Jackson is a great athlete with extremely quick feet and strong body for someone his age. He is a great leaper, and will be able to catch any lobs thrown to him at the basket that are in his vicinity. Jackson is an ideal 3 at the next level, but can play some small ball 4 if needed because of his strength and rebounding ability. He is great at attacking the basket and finishing at the rim. He has rare vision for his position and he won’t hesitate in passing the ball. Jackson’s 3-point shot improved drastically over the course of the year, but his FT% remained very bad. His shot will be something to keep an eye on at the next level. The team that selects Jackson early in the draft will be pleased with his ability to guard the opposing team’s best player along with his skills attacking the basket and facilitating on the offensive end.

5) De’Aaron Fox (PG, Freshman, Kentucky)

De’Aaron Fox is a lightning quick player on both ends of the floor. He is extremely good athlete with good leaping ability. On offense, he is great at attacking the basket because of his great first step, but will struggle with length while finishing at the rim. He also will get pushed off his spot when attacking due to his lack of strength. He is a good and willing passer with an improving jump shot. He only shot 25% from 3 in college, but his shot improved throughout the course of the year. While statistically he wasn’t a good 3 point shooter, he was very good using a one dribble pull up. Defensively, Fox is an extremely fun watch. He is not scared to pick up the opposing team’s point guard full court and pressure him all the way up the floor. He is able to stay in front of nearly every single player he guards because of his elite foot speed. I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if De’Aaron Fox turns out to be a better pro than Lonzo Ball. He put Ball in a blender in both of their matchups showing off his elite athleticism and outstanding on-ball defense.

6) Jayson Tatum (F, Freshman, Duke)

Jayson Tatum is aesthetically pleasing to watch. Just watching his his smooth movements on both ends of the floor is fun. Tatum comes in at 6’8” with a 6’11” wingspan. He’s not super explosive, but he’s a pretty good athlete. Tatum is an extremely good offensive player that can score at all three levels. He is the best iso scorer in the draft, whether that be using his quick first step attacking the basket, using his ability to back defenders down and turn over either shoulder shooting the ball, or pulling up from 3 at a 34% rate while he was at Duke. Tatum doesn’t get the credit he deserves on defense. He is able to stay with most 3s, and can guard some 4s in small ball situations. He is a very good team defender and a very good rebounder for his position. Tatum can be a cornerstone piece to the team that selects him because of his elite scoring arsenal and underrated defensive ability.

7) Dennis Smith (PG, Freshman, NC State)

When watching Smith, the first thing that immediately stands out is his athletic ability. He is a very good athlete with an outstanding leaping ability in which he can be seen to to throw down highlight dunks. He is a tad undersized at the point guard position at 6’2”. He is a score first point guard but he is willing to pass the ball on offense. He is very effective in the pick and roll because of his ability to either attack the basket or shoot the 3, which he did at NC State at a 36% clip. He can be turnover prone on offense due to his bad decisions with the ball at times. Smith is very inconsistent on defense. He has the ability to stay with guards because of his athletic ability but didn’t do it enough in college. The team that gets Dennis Smith will be getting a player with elite athletic ability and the ability to score but a player that contains a lot of untapped potential if he buys in.

8) Lauri Markkanen (F/C, Freshman, Arizona)

Lauri Markkanen is the next European big man that can shoot the ball. He is a legit seven footer with unlimited range. He is a sniper on offense, shooting the 3 at a 42% clip at Arizona this past year. He has the ability to come off of screens and shoot the ball which is extremely rare for a player his size. I’m not sure if he’s a 4 or 5 at the next level, but whoever is guarding him will not be able to contest his shot due to his size and his slight lean back when shooting the ball. He is decent attacking off the dribble and has a couple of good post moves. He’s not a good passer and he doesn’t display good vision when attacking the basket or when facing double teams in the post. Markkanen improved defensively throughout the year but he still has a long ways to go on that end. He doesn’t have fast feet and will get pushed around down low. He is a decent rebounder but he offers no rim protection. I’m not sure he’s strong enough to guard 5s, or quick enough to guard 4s, which will obviously be a problem at the next level. The team that selects Markkanen early will love his shooting ability at his size with the hope that he can develop to an average defender on defense.

9) Malik Monk (G, Freshman, Kentucky)

Malik Monk gets buckets. He is a fantastic offensive player that can score in bunches. His size at 6’3” would suggest for him to be a point guard in the NBA, but he doesn’t display the passing ability or vision to be the lead ball handler full time. Due to that, he is an undersized two guard. Lucky for him, his freakish athletic ability helps compensate for his lack of size. Monk is an extremely good offensive player. He is best known for his three point shooting ability in which he shot at 40% at Kentucky, but he can also attack the basket and show off his very good leaping ability. He’s not very good as a defender right now, but he has the potential to stick with guards at the next level due to his athleticism. However, he will get bullied by bigger and stronger guards. If Monk isn’t scoring, he’s not impacting the game, which is why I think he is best suited as player who can come off the bench to provide a spark. Monk is a better prospect than Jamal Murray was last year, and the team that drafts him will be excited in his ability to immediately provide bench help.

10) O.G. Anunoby (F, Sophomore, Indiana)

OG Anunoby is a freak of nature. He is a 6’8” forward that weighs 230 pounds with a 7’6” wingspan. When watching Anunoby, his defense immediately sticks out. He is extremely quick for someone his size and is pretty strong. He has the ability to guard 2s, 3s or 4s, and probably some 1s and 5s at the next level. He is that good on defense. On offense, Anunoby is work in progress. He is a good straight line driver with rare leaping ability when attacking the rim. He has shown the potential to be able to knock down spot up 3s in which he shot at a 37% clip at in his two years at Indiana. However, he doesn’t have a good handle, can’t shoot off the dribble, and doesn’t have good vision. Anunoby is for sure a lottery talent, but his knee injury complicates things. The team that drafts Anunoby will first be hoping that he comes back fully healthy from his knee injury. If he shows signs of his old past, they will be ecstatic in his ability to immediately guard 1-5 at the next level with the hope that he can develop more on the offensive side of the ball.

11) Frank Ntilikina (PG, 19 y/o, International)

Frank Ntilikina’s size immediately sticks out as soon as you watch him. He has great size for the point guard position at 6’6” with a 7’ wingspan. His greatest strength as a player is his defensive ability. He’s a menace on defense. He uses his long arms to get in passing lanes and disrupt shots. He’s more  of a fluid athlete with good body control compared to an explosive athlete. On offense he has a good handle with the ability to drive the ball and finish at the basket due to his length and body control. He is also a willing passer. His shot has improved greatly over the past few years and he has extended his range to behind the three point line. Ntilikina is a very good point guard prospect because of his size, length, defensive ability and offensive improvement. He will be able to play early on for the team that drafts him because of his ability to impact games defensively now, while continuing to develop his offensive game on the job.

12) Zach Collins (C, Freshman, Gonzaga)

Zach Collins is an intriguing center prospect. He has good size at 7’ and 230 pounds with room to add strength. Collins’ offensive and defensive ability stands out for someone his age. On the offensive side of the ball, Collins has shown the ability to execute different post moves down on the block, displaying nice touch with either hand. He does struggle with length at the rim and can get pushed off of his spot at times. He can also step out at and hit mid range jumpers, or step behind the arc and shoot 3s in which he did at Gonzaga at a 48% rate, albeit he shot less than one per game. Defensively, you notice Collins’ length immediately. He blocked an incredible 2 shots per game while playing only 17 minutes per game, which translates to around 4 blocks per 40 minutes. The team drafting Collins will get a player that will develop into an above average starter at the center position with the ability to protect the rim on defense and score the ball in multiple ways on offense.

13) Luke Kennard (G, Sophomore, Duke)

Luke Kennard was the unexpected second best player on Duke this year. He took a big jump from his freshman to sophomore season. Kennard is a 6’5” guard prospect with the ability to score at all three levels. He is an extremely good shooter, whether that be from downtown, where he shot at 44% this past year, or whether that be from the mid range, in which he shows craftiness as a ball handler and impressive footwork. He can drive the ball and score at the rim, but will struggle at finishing due to his average athletic ability and lack of length. Kennard is a good player in the pick and roll due to his threat to score, combined with his handle and passing ability. On defense, due to his lack of athletic ability, he has trouble staying in front of quicker guards. However, he is a good team defender. Kennard is probably best used as a scorer and facilitator off the bench at the next level. The team that drafts him will be getting a good scorer and playmaker on the offensive end and a willing defender.

14) Bam Adebayo (C, Freshman, Kentucky)

Bam Adebayo is an imposing physical specimen. He is a 6’10”, 250 pound center prospect with a 7’2” wingspan. Bam is a good vertical athlete and a pretty good lateral mover. He was the defensive anchor for Kentucky this past year. He is very strong, and due to his length and strength, it is hard to score down low on him whether that be a big man trying to score on him in the post, or a guard/forward attacking the rim. Bam is a very good rebounder and can contribute to an NBA team early next year if he remains a consistent rebounder. However, he’s not particularly a smart defender at this stage, as his off ball defensive awareness needs to improve. Bam improved vastly on the offensive side of the floor throughout his lone season at Kentucky. He has always been able to catch lobs at the rim and score off of offensive rebounds, but he showed a greater display of post moves as the year went on. He can step out a little bit and shoot, but that is not a consistent part of his game yet. Wherever Bam goes come draft night, the team that drafts him will be getting an immediate contributor to the defensive end of the floor as a rebounder and a good enough shot blocker with potential on the offensive end.

 

2016 NBA Mock Draft (2 Rounds)

Crazy to think we’re just a few days away from the 2016 NBA Draft considering we JUST watched a game seven. I do a mock draft every year, because it’s fun. And I like fun.

No credentials or claimed expertise I just watch a lot of ball and love to rattle off takes.

Oh, no trades because I don’t want to think that much.

ROUND 1

1.       Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons (SF/PF, LSU)

As much as Brandon Ingram seems like a better fit on paper due to Philly’s complete inability to shoot; when you pick number one, you pick based on your board, not need. All indications are that Simmons is Philly’s guy and has been for a couple years now despite his refusal to work out for them (I mean, if you’re Simmons, why would you work out for anyone?). He’s 6’ 10” with legit point guard skills and plus athleticism. Even if the shot never really comes, he’s going to be a star.

Alternate: Brandon Ingram

2.       Los Angeles Lakers – Brandon Ingram (SF, Duke)

The Lakers will choose whomever the Sixers don’t between Simmons and Ingram (as funny as the Bender rumors may be, they’re silly. If the Lakers really want Bender they can trade back up or out of this pick. Simmons/Ingram are too valuable around the league to just not take one of them). This is a nice scenario for them because given their current young core, Ingram appears to be the better fit. If D’Angelo Russell is your PG of the future using a top-2 pick on Simmons is a bit repetitive. If Ingram were to go to Philly you have to wonder if L.A. has a trade in place for this pick.

Alternate: Dragan Bender

3.       Boston Celtics – Dragan Bender (PF, Israel)

There are at least four prospects being linked to the Celtics here, as well as a million trade rumors. If they hold their pick, Bender is both the best fit for their roster and best value. His size, versatility, and shooting/passing skill would immediately improve their offense if he were to play in the NBA right away (and if not, who cares?). If not Bender, look for athletic swingman Jaylen Brown to go here. I just can’t justify mocking another guard to Boston. I want it to be Bender. I think it will be Bender. Please Danny Ainge, pick Bender so I don’t have to go on another bender.

Alternate: Jaylen Brown

4.       Phoenix Suns – Jaylen Brown (SF, California)

Phoenix is likely praying that Bender is still available here. High-upside bigs like Marquese Chriss and Deyonta Davis make sense to pair next to Alex Len, but the best players on the board here are all guards and wings. Jaylen Brown would be a nice compliment to sharpshooter Devin Booker on the wing and can certainly play the 4 spot in small-ball lineups. Bledsoe-Knight-Booker-Brown-Len is an intriguing core. They could go with a big here, but they also pick #13 and the board implies there will be much better post talent than wing talent available at that point.

Alternate: Marquese Chriss

5.       Minnesota Timberwolves – Kris Dunn (PG, Providence)

This selection would signify the impending end of the Ricky Rubio era in Minnesota, and a changing of the guards of sorts under Thibs (or as much of a changing of the guards as you can have with guys like Towns and Wiggins in tow). Dunn’s physicality on defense and playmaking ability should make him effective from day one, but of course his long-term success will be tied directly to the improvement of his jumper.

Alternate: Jamal Murray

6.       New Orleans Pelicans – Jamal Murray (SG, Kentucky)

Gotta think the Pelicans will look to add some punch to the backcourt here. Dunn would help a team that doesn’t really have a pure PG, but a shooter would also be nice. Looking at Hield or Murray, the former is the better ballhandler right now but Murray is 19. I simply like Murray more, but it’s a toss-up.

Alternate: Buddy Hield

7.       Denver Nuggets – Marquese Chriss (PF, Washington)

A shooter to pair next to Emmanuel Mudiay (i.e. Buddy Hield) would be nice, but so would an athletic big seeing as Kenneth Faried’s time in Denver appears to be coming to an end. Many are mocking Chriss as high as #3 to Boston. He’s the most athletic forward in the class but isn’t ready to play in an NBA game right now (needs LBs and some serious coaching). This would be a mutually beneficial pick. Also keep an eye on the skilled Henry Ellenson and rim-protecting savant Deyonta Davis (one of my favorite prospects in this class).

Alternate: Buddy Hield

8.       Sacramento Kings – Deyonta Davis (PF, Michigan State)

Davis is likely going somewhere in that 7-12 range. He’s physically strong and his 7’ 2” wingspan will allow him to be a great rim protector. He’s got athleticism and is great at running the floor. The offensive game will take time but he’s ready to play next to DeMarcus Cousins and improve this team right now. If Hield is still on the board here, like in this mock, he’s an obvious option and would widely be viewed as the best player available.

Alternate: Buddy Hield

9.       Toronto Raptors – Jakob Poeltl (C, Utah)

EVERYONE is mocking this pick, and it makes a lot of sense. Bismack probably played his way into a huge contract with another team, and the Raptors will want to replace him instantly and remain competitive. Poeltl has size, skill, and better feet than he gets credit for. He’s ready to step into an NBA rotation right away.

Alternate: Buddy Hield

10.   Milwaukee Bucks – Buddy Hield (SG, Indiana)

I’m going against the grain by having Hield fall this far. Most of my reasoning comes down to a pick-by-pick basis where I see better matches, but I must admit I’m not quite as high on him as others seem to be. He can shoot, and find his shot. He’s also improved drastically as a defender and ballhandler. But I still think he’s going to struggle against more athletic guys. Will he be anything more than a catch and shoot guy? He’d be a great value for the Bucks here though and they need a shooter.

Alternate: Henry Ellenson

11.   Orlando Magic – Domanatas Sabonis (PF, Gonzaga)

A strong and skilled big guy who can play either spot, Sabonis didn’t go to the combine or do many workouts, implying that someone in the lottery virtually guaranteed they’ll take him. Perhaps Orlando covets a more fluid athlete to put next to Vucevic, but I’m not entirely sure Vucevic is part of this team’s future.

Alternate: Skal Labissiere

12.   Utah Jazz – Timothe Luwawu (SG/SF, France)

I don’t believe Utah picking a ballhandler (like Wade Baldwin) here. It’s too early to give up on Exum, and Gordon Hayward does a lot of the creating for this offense anyways. The best prospects at this point aren’t ballhandlers. Timothe Luwawu is a long wing with plus-athleticism. He’s got to get better defensively but there’s nothing physically that suggests he can’t. Is he a bit repetitive on this roster? Maybe. But he’s a better prospect than any of the ballhandlers available.

Alternate: Wade Baldwin

13.   Phoenix Suns – Henry Ellenson (PF, Marquette)

Ellenson would probably be a top five pick if he was quicker on his feet. There are legit concerns about his ability to switch on defense and while he’s not a picture perfect fit next to Alex Len, he’s a skilled offensive player who can shoot and easily one of the two or three best guys available. I have the Suns going wing at #4, so a big makes sense here.

Alternate: Taurean Prince

14.   Chicago Bulls – Skal Labissiere (C, Kentucky)

The Bulls are perhaps in for the most interesting offseason in the league. What do they do? Do they completely blow it up after a hugely disappointing season or do they still believe they’re just a player or two away from winning in the East. Joakim Noah is as good as gone. If Jimmy Butler is still in Chicago and the team picks here, a developmental big who can shoot and protect the rim would be ideal. Skal did not have a good freshman season but this time one year ago many thought he was a surefire top 3 pick. He’s going to be a really good player once he gains some weight and tightens up his mental game. In fact, I think he’s a top 5 best prospect in this draft. Back concerns, though.

Alternate: Malachi Richardson

15.   Denver Nuggets – Furkan Korkmaz (SG/SF, Turkey)

Furkan can shoot, which is exactly what Denver will be looking for here if they go big at #7. And the Nuggets will need to stash at least one of their three first-rounders overseas for a year or two.

Alternate: Dejounte Murray

16.   Boston Celtics – Malik Beasley (SG, Florida State)

You figure the Celtics are looking into multiple trades and draft-and-stash players, but Beasley is intriguing here. This may seem like a reach but Beasley would probably be a lottery pick if he didn’t injure his leg pretty severely. He’s a great athlete and a knockdown shooter. Projects as a great 3-n-D wing and his ballhandling problems aren’t an issue seeing as he’ll be a bench guy you can easily pair with two other guards. I LOVE him as a potential Celtic.

Alternate: Ante Zizic

17.   Memphis Grizzlies – Wade Baldwin (PG/SG, Vanderbilt)

This would be a great situation for Memphis regardless of whether or not Mike Conley is back. Baldwin is a true combo guard with length and a very good shooter. He could realistically go as high as #8 to Sacramento, so this presents great value.

Alternate: Dejounte Murray

18.   Detroit Pistons – Taurean Prince (SF, Baylor)

A nice combo-forward who plays with toughness and can also drill threes. He’ll be able to guard the 3 or 4 in the league. Not the best fit on the Pistons current roster but he’s versatile enough to find a spot anywhere.

Alternate: Cheick Diallo

19.   Denver Nuggets – Cheick Diallo (PF/C, Kansas)

Saved himself with some impressive workouts after a disappointing season. He could still go in the lottery. He’s a very good athlete with quick feet and a 7’ 4” wingspan, which makes him valuable defensively. Zero post game. His offense is transition dunks and putbacks. But if you’re drafting Cheick, you know you’re getting a raw guy. Denver can make a luxury pick here.

Alternate: DeAndre Bembry

20.   Indiana Pacers – Tyler Ulis (PG, Kentucky)

Great burst, a nice shot, pesky defense, and UNREAL floor general ability. Ulis would be a homerun top 5 pick if he were even 6’ 2”. He’s not though, and that’ll likely limit him to a reserve role. Regardless, I think he’s in for a long career and a Pacers team likely moving on from George Hill could use all the point help they can get.

Alternate: Demetrius Jackson

21.   Atlanta Hawks – Ante Zizic (C, Croatia)

Not a guy who’s going to wow you with his skill and athleticism. More of a throwback type center. Rebounds, finishes at rim, doesn’t get moved in paint. Physically strong. Ready to play in NBA right away and it’s fair to think he’s going to develop at least a bit considering he’s just 19. Atlanta’s likely to be without Al Horford next year.

Alternate: Damian Jones

22.   Charlotte Hornets – Dejounte Murray (PG/SG, Washington)

6′ 5″ combo guard with a 6′ 10″ wingspan and legit playmaking skills, even if he needs to tighten up his decision making. Wows with some of the passes he makes, though he doesn’t do it consistently enough right now. Great athlete but needs to add weight and improve shot (and shot selection). Not ready to help a team right now but a high upside pick Charlotte can afford to make if there’s no one here they think will improve them immediately.

Alternate: Malachi RIchardson

23.   Boston Celtics – Thon Maker (PF/C, Sudan)

Draft him, stash him. A huge mystery. YEARS from being ready, but he’s 7′ 2″ with ballhandling skills and good feet. I doubt the Celtics use all three of their firsts, but if they do, they’re one of the few teams that can actually justify using one on Thon.

Alternate: Patrick McCaw

24.   Philadelphia 76ers – Demetrius Jackson (PG, Notre Dame)

Jackson is one of the best players still on the board and Philly simply needs talent on its perimeter. You wish he was bigger, but he’s an outstanding athlete and very good distributor. If the shot continues to improve I wouldn’t rule him out as an NBA starter in a couple years.

Alternate: Malcolm Brogdon

25.   Los Angeles Clippers – Malachi Richardson (SG/SF, Syracuse)

It’s rare to see a player’s stock improve so much over a two week span. Richardson has a 7′ 0″ wingspan and is a knockdown three-point shooter. He doesn’t have the athleticism to ever be much more than a shooter off the bench but, whatever, it’s the 25th pick and a contender like the Clippers need someone with one undeniable skill as opposed to a high-risk, high-reward guy.

Alternate: Denzel Valentine

26.   Philadelphia 76ers – DeAndre Bembry (SF, St. Joe’s)

Yet another Sixers draft pick. Bembry is a wing who’s developed an all-around game, though his jumper isn’t there yet. Could even play a point forward role.

Alternate: Juan Hernangomez

27.   Toronto Raptors – Patrick McCaw (SG, UNLV)

Needs to add weight before he can step into an NBA game but McCaw is a long, athletic shooter and a GREAT defender. If the Raptors go big at #9 they need to address the wing here.

Alternate: Denzel Valentine

28.   Phoenix Suns – Juan Hernangomez (PF, Spain)

Probably a draft-n-stash guy until he improves his footwork defensively, which very well may never happen. But he’s a floor stretching big who can bang inside a bit. NBA teams like that.

Alternate: Brice Johnson

29.   San Antonio Spurs – Denzel Valentine (SG, Michigan State)

Recent concerns over Valentine’s long-term longevity due to degenerative knee issues have probably dropped him out of the lottery, though some team could still take the risk. He’s a great ballhandler and distributor, a shooter, and can guard any perimeter spot. If you’re the Spurs and you even get 2 decent years out of him, that’s a steal this late.

Alternate: Gary Payton Jr.

30.   Golden State Warriors – Zhou Qi (C, China)

Warriors could use a rim protector ready from day 1 but I think they’ll go with a guy they can stash. Qi needs to get stronger but he has a 7′ 8″ wingspan and moves like a small forward. Stash him overseas for a few years.

Alternate: Chinanu Onuaku

ROUND 2

A crapshoot, as always.

1.       Boston Celtics – Malcolm Brogdon (SG, Virginia)

Great defender and playmaker probably ready to step into a rotation right away, but his long-term success will depend on improving his jumper.

2.       Los Angeles Lakers – Damian Jones (PF/C, Vanderbilt)

Borderline first-round talent. Never showed much at Vandy but he’s a seven-footer with great feet and vertical athleticism. High-upside pick.

3.       Los Angeles Clippers – Brice Johnson (PF, North Carolina)

Good athleticism, GREAT rebounder, more skilled offensively than he gets credit for. But he needs to get stronger to have a chance as a backup big.

4.       Phoenix Suns – Ben Bentil (PF, Providence)

I like Bentil more than most due his skill as stretch-4 but he really doesn’t give you much beyond nice touch inside the arc.

5.       Boston Celtics – Ivica Zubac (C, Croatia)

Stash him. 7′ 1″ 19 year-old with an NBA body. If he never develops anything or keeps getting hurt, *Terrence Howard voice* whatever mayne.

6.       Milwaukee Bucks – Chinanu Onuaku (C, Louisville)

A STEAL this late. Explosive, long athlete who’s going to be a good rim protector and finisher.

7.       Houston Rockets – A.J. Hammons – (C, Purdue)

7′ 0″ with a J.

8.       Milwaukee Bucks – Caris LeVert (SG/SF, Michigan)

Continues to hurt his foot which is scary but he’s a shooter with great length and underrated handling ability.

9.       New Orleans Pelicans – Stephen Zimmerman (C, UNLV)

Shot blocker with decent touch.

10.   New Orleans Pelicans – Michael Gbinije (SG, Syracuse)

24 years old already but he can shoot and hold his own defensively on the wing.

11.   Orlando Magic – Sheldon McClellan (SG, Miami)

Great athlete with a scorer’s mentality but will need to change his mindset. Will be unplayably inefficient in league if he doesn’t.

12.   Utah Jazz – Diamond Stone (C, Maryland)

High-upside pick this late due his strength down low and underrated post skills, but he can’t really move which limits him in the current NBA. Could be a bully big off bench though.

13.   Houston Rockets – Guerschon Yabusele (PF, France)

Stretch-4 with great athleticism but he’s short and doesn’t show anything defensively.

14.   Atlanta Hawks – Isaiah Whitehead (SG, Seton Hall)

Not efficient AT ALL but he improved every year in college, so maybe a good system like the one in Atlanta can make an NBA-level combo guard out of him.

15.   Boston Celtics – Isaia Cordinier (SG, France)

Draft-n-stash athletic wing.

16.   Dallas Mavericks – Gary Payton II (PG, Oregon State)

If he could shoot at even a slightly below average level he’s probably a lottery pick.

17.   Orlando Magic – Pascal Siakam (PF, New Mexico State)

Skilled big with limited upside who probably would’ve benefited from another year at the college level.

18.   Chicago Bulls – Georges Niang (SF/PF, Iowa State)

Doesn’t really project any plus-NBA skill but I just don’t see a player who was as good as he was in college going undrafted. Hoiberg connection.

19.   Detroit Pistons – Rade Zagorac (SF, Serbia)

Stash stretch big.

20.   Indiana Pacers – Kay Felder (PG, Oakland)

Great athlete but he’s only 5′ 9″.

21.   Boston Celtics – Mathias Lessort (PF, France)

Stash another one for the Celtics if they somehow hold their picks.

22.   Utah Jazz – Georgios Papagiannis (C, Greece)

The coolest last name of the draft actually projects as a decent rim protector. A steal this late.

23.   Denver Nuggets – Wayne Selden (SG, Kansas)

Shooter with length, could become a playable 3-n-D guy.

24.   Atlanta Hawks – Marcus Paige (PG, North Carolina)

Good one-on-one scorer but he’s going to have a tough time with NBA athletes.

25.   Brooklyn Nets – Joel Bolomboy (PF, Weber State)

One of my favorite sleepers. He can hit the boards hard.

26.   Denver Nuggets – Jake Layman (SF, Maryland)

Stretch forward.

27.   Memphis Grizzlies – Anthony “Cat” Barber (PG, NC State)

It’s a crapshoot this late but Cat has always found a way to be productive.

28.   Boston Celtics – Dorian Finney-Smith (SF, Florida)

LOVE him as a defensive sleeper due to his length and refined skills on that end.

29.   Sacramento Kings – Jarrod Uthoff (PF, Iowa)

Whatever.

30.   Utah Jazz – Daniel Hamilton (SG/SF, UCONN)

Whatever.

The Life of Pablo (Sandoval)

It’s really stupid to idolize athletes and expect them to be role models for the youth. Like the rest of us, they’re deplorable human beings with selfish aspirations and many intrinsic character flaws. They just happens to be good at a particular sport. They’re just going through the motions, pretending to care, and waiting to die alone. Charles Barkley said it best, “I get paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court, not be a role model.” The notion that it’s part of an athlete’s job to position him or herself as an upright, admirable person in the public eye so to provide inspiration for the children is a dumb fairy-tale concept. For real, what world do you live in? Life is a $14.99 buffet with free Pepsi refills whose clientele like Reagan as a politician and as an actor. Just like you and me, professional athletes are trying to weasel their way through that buffet line to get the most food before everyone else whether they need/deserve it or not.

Speaking of buffets, there’s a chance you heard about how the Boston Red Sox announced that Pablo Sandoval will NOT be their starting third baseman on opening day. A baseball player being relegated to the bench in favor of a better baseball player? Nothing out of the ordinary; until you consider that Pablo Sandoval signed a fully-guaranteed 5 year/$90 million contract with the Red Sox in November of 2014. At the time, it didn’t appear to be the absolute worst agreement in the history of organized labor. Sandoval was at least a decent player, and if the Sox ever needed more money they could just charge $10.75 for Bud Light instead of $10.25. There’s no salary cap in baseball, so who gives a shit, right?

pablo

Pablo’s first season with the Sox was an unmitigated disaster to an extent rarely seen in human history. I’m talking “directed by Zack Snyder” levels of awful. Pablo, who goes by the nickname “Panda”, had an OPS of just .658 and graded out as the worst defensive third baseman in the majors. On top of that, Pablo took full advantage of the Sox NOT putting a weight clause in his contract (something that was a deal-breaker when the Padres tried to sign him). Pablo ballooned to a reported 300 lbs. He didn’t seem to care about staying in shape or playing baseball. He even got caught liking pictures of girls on the Gram during a game.

In other words, Pablo is the realest, and my personal hero. There’s this false idea that the American Dream is about finding something you’re good at and love doing, then being well compensated for producing to the best of your ability. FALSE. The American Dream is actually about fooling some asshole who’s richer than you into overestimating your abilities, getting him to legally owe you a lot of money, and then collecting paychecks while putting in as little effort as humanly possible. If I signed a piece of paper entitling me to $90 million regardless of the quality of my work I would spend my days eating Cheetos, not licking my fingers adequately, and then getting artificial cheese all over my work computer as I tweet out borderline misogynist memes suggesting that the music of Iggy Azalea holds as much artistic value as the shits I take after winning a bet that I can’t eat $15 worth of Taco Bell in one sitting.

Many athletes would use a down season as motivation to come into camp next year in the best shape of their lives with intents of playing well and proving the talk radio meatheads wrong. But not Pablo, because he’s too real. He came into spring training this year fatter than ever. The Red Sox cannot find a trade partner willing to take on his contract. It’s looking extremely likely that Pablo will make $18 million a year for the next four years to NOT work. That’s Charlie Weis level finessing. You simply have to give credit where credit is due. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

As for the question of whether or not Sandoval served as inspiration for the title of Kanye West’s most recent studio album (The Life of Pablo), my sources could not confirm one way or the other. Most speculation has hinted at it likely being a reference to Pablo Picasso, St. Paul, or Pablo Escobar. Maybe Kanye wasn’t personally inspired by the achievements of Pablo Sandoval. But I sure was. Hell, Sandoval is the 2nd most-inspiring Pablo after Pablo Sanchez in Backyard Baseball.

Fuck it. I haven’t shared my thoughts on TLOP yet so here’s a quick track-by-track look at the album imaging that Pablo Sandoval remixed it.

“Ultralight Beam” or “Ultra Light Cream (Remix)”

Kanye version: We on a Ultra light Beam, we on a Ultra Light Beam / THis is a God dream, this is everythaaang

Sandoval version: I hate that Ultra Light Cream, I hate that Ultra Light Cream / I want heavy cream, in my coffee draaank

“Father Stretch my Hands Pt. 1” OR “Frosting on my Hands Pt. 1 (Remix)”

Kanye version: Now if I fuck this model, and she just bleached her asshole / And I get bleach on my t-shirt, I’m feel like an asshole

Sandoval version: Now if I hit this bakery, and they’re all out of cheesecake / I won’t care all that much, cuz I’ll just eat a different cake

“Pt. 2”

Kanye version: Woke up this morning, miss you bad / Sorry I ain’t call you back, same problem my father had

Sandoval version: Woke up this morning, had a snack / Two pounds of bacon, hash browns and some Apple Jacks

“Famous”

Kanye version: For all my South Side n****s that know me best / I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous.

Sandoval version: For my grocery store n****s that know me best / Give me a pack of bread crumbs and your two biggest breasts / Why? I want that shit deep-fried.

“Feedback”

Kanye version: Pablo bought a Roley and a Rottweiler / Seems like the more fame, I only got wilder

Sandoval version: Pablo always tips the delivery driver / Seems like the more I order, I only get wider

“Highlights”

Kanye version: I bet me and Ray J would be friends, if we ain’t love the same bitch / Yea he mighta hit it first, only problem is I’m rich

Sandoval version: I bet this salad would be bomb, if it were an enchilada / The first phrase I learned in English, was “No I don’t want an ensalada”

“I Miss the Old Kanye” OR “I Miss the Old Menu (Remix)”

Kanye version: I miss the old Kanye, straight from the go Kanye / Chop up the sould Kanye, set on his goals Kanye / I hate the new Kanye, the bad mood Kanye / The always rude Kanye, spaz in the news Kanye

Sandoval version: I miss the old menu, the super-size menu / Sixty-four ounce menu, extra large fries menu / I hate the new menu, the fuckin’ wack menu / Nutrition facts menu, calories from fat menu

“Waves”

Kanye version: Sun don’t shine in the shade (turn it up) / Bird can’t fly in a cage (turn it up!) / Even when somebody go away (turn it up!) / The feelings don’t really go away

Sandoval version: I like a lot of butter on my toast (churn it up!) / Also buttered gravy for my roast (churn it up!) / Paula Deen man I swear she do the most (churn it up!) / Signed for $90 million time to coast

“Wolves”

Kanye version: So cover Nori, in lamb’s wool / We surrounded by, the fuckin’ wolves

Sandoval version: So cover that ham, in honey glaze / My favorite chip, barbeque lay’s

 

Okay that’s all I have today. Enjoy TLOP and pretend to enjoy baseball season.

 

5 observations from the 2015 NFL season

We’re hitting the home stretch. Thanksgiving has passed and all of a sudden the NFL playoff picture is beginning to clear up. Here are five things that have stood out to me this year.

Side Note: It was recently announced that Coldplay will be doing the halftime show at the Super Bowl. I will time my drinking and eating carefully so I can spend 45 minutes in the bathroom during halftime.

#1) Receiver play is at an all-time high, while Offensive Line play is at an all-time low.

I hate to use the term “elite” in regards to athletes. What does “elite” actually mean? Top 5 at their position? Top 10? So one’s list of “elite receivers” says more about one’s definition of the term “elite” than it does about the receivers mentioned. With that being said, there are plethora of receivers currently in the league who are simply impossible to cover on the outside for four quarters in simple one-on-one man coverage. My list, in no particular order:

Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr, DeAndre Hopkins, Dez Bryant, Alshon Jeffery, Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Marshall, Josh Gordon (when not suspended) Demaryius Thomas (despite his down year), Jordy Nelson (when healthy). That’s thirteen guys.

ODB

Factor in dynamic but developing young talents like Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, and Amari Cooper…as well as dominant slot players Larry Fitzgerald, Julian Edelman, Randall Cobb (when Jordy is healthy), Jarvis Landry, and Emmanuel Sanders…also accounting for vertically limited but quintessential possession/midrange guys like Michael Crabtree, Keenan Allen, and Eric Decker…on top of more-polished-than-you-think big play threats like Jeremy Maclin, TY Hilton, Brandin Cooks, DeSean Jackson, and Martavis Bryant…you’re looking at a HUGE list of weapons you simply have to gameplan for. That’s not even counting very good players like Allen Hurns, John Brown, Steve Smith, Vincent Jackson, and Stefon Diggs. These names, along with the way the game is officiated, have made times tough for defensive backs and coordinators.

In the offensive trenches, it’s the opposite. There’s simply a glaring lack of productive talent in the league right now. Part of this is NFL development. It’s not a coincidence that teams like the Patriots, Packers, and Bengals, who’ve done a fine job of developing line talent under their current regimes, all sit near the top of the pack. Another factor is the lack of contact allowed in practices under the new CBA. Then there’s a pipeline issue; offensive line play is just as bad at the college level right now. And finally, NFL personnel directors have been way too willing to spend a high pick on athletic but raw lineman, just assuming that the coaches will figure it out (no, I’m not singling you out Kansas City, but I kind of am).

#2) There could/should be as many as eight Head Coaching jobs open this offseason.

The list of coaches I personally don’t want to see back next year:

Dolphins interim HC Dan Campbell, Titans interim HC Mike Mularkey, Mike Pettine of the Browns, Gus Bradley of the Jaguars, Mike McCoy of the Chargers, Chip Kelly of the Eagles, Jim Caldwell of the Lions, Jom Tomsula of the 49ers, Jeff Fisher of the Rams, and Sean Payton of the Saints. That’s TEN. Obviously, some of these guys will be retained. And if Kelly and Payton were to leave, there’s a good chance an NFL team would hire them.

Just because you’re a great coordinator or a great college coach doesn’t mean you’re cut out for life in the NFL. But there’ll be a handful of those exact types of coaches who get shots next year. Same names being thrown around are Bengals OC Hue Jackson, Bears OC Adam Gase, Panthers DC Sean McDermott, and Stanford HC David Shaw.

#3) JJ Watt is the best defensive player the league, but the gap isn’t nearly as wide as most would have you believe.

Watt is very, very good. But any MVP talk surrounding his name is preposterous. Over the course of a 16-game season, how much does Watt really increase your chances of winning an extra game or two when compared to the following guys?

  • All four Panthers defensive stars; lockdown corner Josh Norman, rangy Will LB Thomas Davis, prototype Mike LB Luke Kuechly, and versatile interior defender Kawann Short.
  • The freakishly athletic and surprisingly strong three-techniques Geno Atkins (Bengals) and Aaron Donald (Rams), both of whom disrupt QB’s as much as anyone and also stuff run plays in the backfield on a regular basis.
  • Broncos edge-defender Von Miller, who’s grown into one of the league’s best run stoppers on top of being a great pass-rusher.
  • Saints edge savant Cameron Jordan, who just happens to play on a crappy defense.
  • Vikings safety Harrison Smith, whose versatility allows Mike Zimmer do whatever he wants with his ten other guys on the field.
  • Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. Corner, safety, slot corner. Call him whatever you want. He’s a terror.
  • And then there are remarkably productive pass-rushers such as Justin Houston (Chiefs), Ziggy Ansah (Lions), and Chandler Jones (Patriots).

Again, none of these guys are quite as good at what they do as Watt. But this “clearly the DPOY”/”best of all-time” talk is just misinformed. I’m not sure if Hard Knocks, Pro Football Focus, and all the commercials have anything to do with it, but it’s annoying.

#4) Running backs don’t matter, and they should never be drafted in the first round.

Outside of the timeless Adrian Peterson (who may be the best ever, by the way) is there a single RB you could argue is even one of the FIFTY most valuable players in the league? The three best after AP- Marshawn Lynch and Jamaal Charles and Le’Veon Bell- have all gone down with injuries and seen their backups fill in and make up at least 80% of the production. Running backs are naturally fragile given their role and, in the modern game, the value of a bell cow RB if you can somehow find one isn’t nearly what is was even five years ago. Todd Gurley was picked 10th overall this year. While he’s slowed down after a blistering start, he still looks as good as advertised. But, again, is Gurley even one of the most ONE HUNDRED most valuable players in the league? And don’t even get me started on Chargers rookie Melvin Gordon, who got picked 15th overall despite not being able to actually carry the football or hit a hole without hesitating.

And we’re all about make the same mistake again. Those of you who follow college ball have surely heard the talk about how great Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, Alabama’s Derrick Henry, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, and LSU’s Leonard Fournette will be. They’re all good players who will probably be good in the league. But I wouldn’t want a team I’m a fan of, regardless of how the roster looks, to use a first round pick on any of them.

This extends to fantasy football as well. The general consensus has been “get your running backs early”. PFFFFFFFTTTTT. In my league, “standard” scoring with half a point per reception, the top 10 running backs this year are…

Deonta Freeman, Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram, Doug Martin, Lamar Miller, Chris Ivory, Todd Gurley, DANNY WOODHEAD, LeSean McCoy, and DeMarco Murray. Seven of those ten (excluding AP, McCoy, and Murray) weren’t even considered first-round picks going into drafts. The next five features three backs who weren’t even primary guys on their teams to start the year (DeAngelo Williams, Giovani Bernard, Darren McFadden). In your draft next year, unless AP is there, do yourself a favor and take Rob Gronkowski or the best available WR in the first round. At least you can reasonably predict what’s going to happen with those guys.

#5) There are only five good teams.

New England Patriots. Carolina Panthers. Arizona Cardinals. Cincinnati Bengals. Denver Broncos. That’s it (probably in that order). I will take those five against the field to win the Super Bowl no matter what the odds are. They’re the only teams that have shown at least some consistency on both sides of the ball. Four of them, save for Denver, have top 5 QB’s this year. They can all rush the passer. They all have good secondaries. They’re not without their flaws, but those are clearly the five best teams in the NFL right now.

Some folks are living in 2014 and assuming the Packers are real contenders because of Aaron Rodgers and the Seahawks are real contenders because they’ve been to the last two Super Bowls. Don’t listen to those folks.

 

NFL Power Rankings (Taking stock of the league at the halfway mark)

The 2015 NFL season is (about) halfway in the books. Some teams are playing well, others are not.

Group A: The apparent Super Bowl Contenders

I’ll take these 6 against the field, whatever the odds.

#1) New England Patriots (7-0)

They’re bringing a ton of pressure up the middle and having athletic, sound-tackling linebackers allows them to cover up gaps in the running and short passing games. The primary corner trio in New England is playing well enough considering the remarkable play they’ve been getting out of both safeties (Patrick Chung, really?). They actually rank 11th in Defensive DVOA (adjusts for opponent, valued over league average). If they can continue to be close to a top-10 defense, they’re going to be very tough to beat as long as the key skills guys (Gronkowski, Edelman, Lewis) stay healthy.

Undrafted rookie David Andrews has stepped in at the center spot and done a fine job. It’s pretty insane how the Patriots always find ways to dominate with a makeshift offensive line, but hey, that’s what good coaching does.

good lord, Dion Lewis

#2) Denver Broncos (7-0)

Far and away the best defense in the NFL right now. They’re elite at every level. The trio of DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller, and rookie Shaq Barrett lead the league in adjusted sack rate. Talib and Harris Jr. are as good of a corner duo as you’re going to find, and there’s not a LB in the NFL playing better than Brandon Marshall right now other than maybe Luke Kuechly.

Whipping Green Bay was a statement win given how Denver did it. Not only did they make Aaron Rodgers look like Colin Kaepernick, but they moved the ball efficiently both through the air on the ground against a good defense. Manning threw for 340 yards on just 29 attempts. Kubiak seems to be figuring out to how gameplan around some of their offensive issues (Manning’s arm, tackle play).

#3) Cincinnati Bengals (7-0)

The NFL’s deepest roster has stayed healthy and got a boost from the return of all-world linebacker Vontaze Burfict, a boost that instantly made the defense noticeably better in an important, division-winning(?) W in Pittsburgh. The Bengals showed they could win a game even when the offense struggles (though you have to think Roethlisberger playing on essentially one leg had some impact).

Looking ahead at Cincy’s remaining schedule, there are really only four tough games on paper (at Arizona, vs St. Louis, vs Pittsburgh, at Denver). There’s no reason to think they won’t be right in the thick of the battle for home field advantage in the AFC.

#4) Carolina Panthers (7-0)

They’re 7-0 and have been the best defense in the NFC, don’t they have to try and find a receiver somehow and make a run for it this year? (technically, they rank behind Philly and Arizona in DVOA, but those two are trending downwards). Tom Brady looks like the clear-cut MVP right now, but Cam Newton really does belong in the discussion. They have the best rushing offense in the NFL, in large part thanks to a line that has surprised everybody (only New Orleans has a higher success rate on power runs).

There are stars all over the defense. Kuechly, obviously. But CB Josh Norman and interior defender Kawann Short looks like two of the very best in the league. Charles Tillman has held up in coverage as well. It’s tough to see this team winning multiple playoff games without finding something from their passing attack, but right now, they’re the NFC’s best.

#5) Green Bay Packers (6-1)

The Packers have been pedestrian offensively over the last month. They simply haven’t been able to win matchups on the outside with Jordy Nelson injured. Cobb has struggled to get open against top CB’s, and James Jones has come back down to earth. Perhaps the return of Davante Adams will help. Something needs to happen, Aaron Rodgers can only dance around in the pocket for so long.

Defensively, they’ve looked very good up until last week. They get to the QB, and despite Ha Ha Clinton-Dix continuing to make baffling whiffs, the secondary has played well. If the Packers just win the games they’re supposed to, they’re going to get a first round bye. That’s big, because I’m not sure the skill position talent is there for them to beat a Carolina or Arizona on the road in the playoffs.

#6) Arizona Cardinals (6-2)

A loss to the Steelers sans Big Ben a few weeks back really made this team look vulnerable, but they’ve responded with two straight wins. The secondary is outstanding, and Carson Palmer is playing as well as anyone not named Tom Brady. In a league that requires you to pass the ball and defend the pass at a high level in order to be competitive, Arizona looks like a well-built roster.

Chris Johnson has found second life as a between-the-tackles rusher. They’re talking contract extension. Nobody saw this coming, but it’s a huge development for them that’s helped them balance out the offense. They have a very tough remaining schedule, but will make the playoffs if the manage to break even. Winning two of three remaining games against Seattle/St. Louis will let them play a home game too.

Group B: We’re here too!

Large group of teams, all hoping to bust into the playoffs and hope a few things bounce their way. Too early to be talking about next year.

#7) Minnesota Vikings (5-2)

The wins haven’t been pretty, but they’re sitting just one game back in the division and get Green Bay twice still. Credit head coach Mike Zimmer for having this team prepared and focused, seeing as there isn’t anything this year they’ve done particularly well. Despite some great individual talent on defense, the unit has been wildly inconsistent.

Bridgewater has had an up-and-down sophomore season, but he hasn’t gotten much help out of line or pass catchers (until the emergence of Diggs over the last few weeks). This still feels like Adrian Peterson’s team, and it’s a little surprising to see him running the ball only 20 times a game given Bridgewater’s been throwing it 30.

#8) Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)

Losing the best running back in the NFL always hurts, but if DeAngelo Williams can give you even 70% of what Bell did, the Steelers will be fine offensively once Roethlisberger gets his legs under him. Losing at home to the Bengals last week was bad, as it basically eliminated them in the division race, but managing to go 2-2 without Roethlisberger kept this team right in the thick of the playoff race.

They have two winnable home games coming up against Cleveland and Oakland. If they can go into the bye 6-4, they can feel reasonably comfortable heading into a difficult stretch run that includes trips to Seattle and Cincinnati.

#9) Atlanta Falcons (6-2)

I’m not saying the Falcons start was lucky, but they were on the right side of some late game coaching gaffes. The defense looks average, and Matt Ryan has played rather poorly. It really does feel like this team is just riding Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman.

Luckily for Atlanta, their fast start means they’re still in the driver’s seat for a wild card spot, and if they can win one of two against Carolina, they could reasonably win 11 games (which will surely get them in). They’re coming off a home loss to Tampa, and the narrative surrounding this team will completely flip if they lose in San Fran this week.

#10) Seattle Seahawks (4-4)

Despite Seattle’s struggles on both sides of the ball, everyone seems to be assuming they’re going to find a way to sneak in. They very well might, but it’s not a lock, and they don’t have the makeup of a team that can put together a playoff run. The line is just awful. It’s finally time for us to admit that they got took in the Jimmy Graham trade. Their defense has been good (12th in DVOA), but not good enough to make up for an offense that struggles to consistently move the ball through the air.

Two of Seattle’s losses came in games they blew late against undefeated teams (Carolina, Cincinnati). At least they’ve proven they can play with anybody. Their two L’s back in terms of both the division and wild card, but they get to play Arizona twice and Minnesota once. If they can win two of those three, they probably sneak in.

#11) Oakland Raiders (4-3)

They have one of the league’s most potent passing attacks. Derek Carr looks very good, Crabtree looks rejuvenated, and Amari Cooper is as good as advertised. They’re even finding big plays out of their running game. They need to find some pass rush outside of Khalil Mack, however.

Beating the Jets last week gave Oakland their first win of the year over an above .500 team, but when you consider that two of their three losses came against Cincy and Denver, their 4-3 record looks pretty good. This week’s matchup in Pittsburgh is about as important as a week 9 game can be in terms of playoff picture. If they win, they’ll have the head-to-head advantage over the AFC’s other top two wild card contenders.

#12) St. Louis Rams (4-3)

Dominant front seven play, perhaps the best RB in the NFL, and a better-than-expected Nick Foles. The Rams have looked good. But I have doubts as to how good a team that ranks just 30th in passing efficiency can be. Tavon Austin and Jared Cook are nice role players, but they can’t be your top two targets.

They’ve already beaten both Arizona and Seattle, and could have another potentially huge win next week against the Vikings. A very important game for them. That two-touchdown loss to Washington week 2 was inexplicable and potentially devastating.

#13) New York Jets (4-3)

Strange how Ryan Fitzpatrick is all of a sudden one of the most indispensable players in the league, right? This is probably the NFL’s best defense outside of Denver, and they have plenty of talent at the skill positions. This is a playoff team on paper. But we haven’t really seen them beat anybody good yet.

With four upcoming games that they should win (vs Jags, vs Bills, at Texans, vs Dolphins), the Jets have a real chance to be 7-4 or 8-3 heading into a stretch run that doesn’t look all that difficult outside of the New England game.

#14) Dallas Cowboys (2-5)

Yes, they’ve lost five straight. But they’re in the thick of the division race with a very manageable remaining schedule and Romo should be back soon. I still think they make the playoffs. This defense is legit. Greg Hardy is the NFL’s most unpopular person and for good reason, but there aren’t many better 4-3 ends in the game. His impact hasn’t shown up in the win column yet, but he’s been great.

Romo or no Romo, this team essentially has to beat Philly at home on Sunday night. The loser of that game is probably cooked.

#15) Indianapolis Colts (3-5)

They’re bad. Even the vaunted passing attack can’t crack the top 20 in the league. A beat-up Luck continues to make baffling decisions, and the WR’s aren’t getting open consistently. This isn’t a team that’s gotten unlucky; this is a team that’s gotten outplayed in all five of their losses.

But they’re going to win the horrid AFC South and host a playoff game, even if they finish just 7-9. The immediate schedule doesn’t get any easier with games against Denver and Atlanta, but they can probably bank on winning three of their final four (at Jags, vs Texans, at Dolphins, vs Titans). They might make the playoffs without having a “good” win all year.

Group C: NFL Purgatory

I don’t see any scenario where these teams win a playoff game, but based on the standings and whatnot, it’s too early for them to look ahead to the draft.

#16) New York Giants (4-4)

No pass rush to speak of, a beat up secondary, unreliable running game. The Eli Manning-Odell Beckham Jr. connection can only take you so far. They’ve developed a nice line though that protects Eli well and does a decent job blocking at the second level, but it does allow too much initial penetration in the run game.

Prince Amukamara will reportedly be back this week, which, along with the possible return of JPP, could save the Giants season. They really need to beat the Bucs this week because they’re not beating New England the following Sunday.

#17) New Orleans Saints (4-4)

The defense is horrible, but the passing attack has found life the last couple weeks and, at 4-4, they’re very much in the wild card hunt after an awful start to the season. Their next three games are also very winnable (vs Titans, at Redskins, at Texans). Brees should continue to cook.

But someone other than Cameron Jordan needs to show life defensively or it won’t matter how many yards Brees throws for.

#18) Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)

If you’re an Eagles fans, don’t you almost wish this team was 2-5 or 1-6 so you could have an excuse for blowing up the organization and moving on? They’re not going anywhere despite having one of the NFL’s top defenses. Their receivers don’t win downfield, and Sam Bradford has been as bad as any QB this season save for Kaepernick. Chip Kelly might be outthinking himself.

With that being said, if Philly can go into Dallas after the bye and win, they’ll arguably become NFC East favorites. I don’t think a QB change this week is out of the question. Be sure to ice up, Sanchize.

#19) Buffalo Bills (3-4)

The defense is struggling despite generally good corner play and a ton of talent up front. Tyrod Taylor coming back should help the offense, but this isn’t a team built for shootouts (as evidenced by all three of their wins coming when they hold opponents to 14 or less).

The Bills can establish themselves as the 2nd best team in the AFC East, whatever that means, if they can beat Miami and New York the next two weeks. But I don’t think they will. Given that the following game is in New England, we could quickly be looking at a 3-7 team that fires its coach.

#20) Kansas City Chiefs (3-5)

At 3-5, with a good defense, and an easy remaining schedule, the Chiefs should be considered a wild card player even without Jamaal Charles. They still get to play San Diego and Oakland twice. All the complaints about Alex Smith’s unwillingness to look downfield and Andy Reid’s unwillingness to actually give the ball to his good players are legitimate, but this team is still clearly better than the bottom-feeders in the AFC.

They’ll have a bye to rest up before a West Coast road trip to Denver and San Diego. Those two games will tell us everything about KC’s playoff chances.

#21) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4)

How about Jameis and the Bucs? They’ve quietly put up some very impressive offensive numbers over the last three, winning two of them. I doubt they really have much of a wild card chance, but wouldn’t a 7-9 season for this team be a success?

Their pass defense, however, is arguably the worst in the league. Part of that is coverage, part of that is lack of a rush when they don’t blitz. Eli Manning might throw for 400 on them this week.

#22) Miami Dolphins (3-4)

After a coaching change and two exciting wins (against bad teams), Miami appeared to be on the upswing. But then they had to go into New England on a short week. Their season is pretty close to over (a loss this week in Buffalo would seal it), but there are reasons to watch this team down the stretch.

Which Tannehill is the real Tannehill? Is a defense with this much expensive talent really just average? Is Dan Campbell a long-term answer at coach? Hey, maybe Miami hangs 40 on Rex Ryan and looks like a potential wild card contender at 4-4. Crazier things have happened.

Group D: The Squids

These teams are done. It’s time to start thinking about next year, and it’s barely November!

#23) Washington Redskins (3-4)

Mathematically, they’re right in the NFC East race at 3-4. But don’t kid yourself after a thrilling win over the Bucs two weeks ago; this is a very bad team. The run defense that looked so good early on has crumbled, and they’re too mistake-prone offensively to win many shootouts. Cousins’ longest pass TD is just 7 yards.

They still have to visit both New England and Carolina. Even with a couple more division wins, I can’t see these guys finishing better than 6-10.

#24) Chicago Bears (2-5)

Credit the Bears for fighting. Jay Cutler has played well, and the undermanned defense is doing everything it can. But a heartbreaking home loss last week to a division rival, in a game that Chicago controlled, essentially ended any chance they had at putting a run together.

On a positive note, it’s nice to see a healthy Alshon Jefferey dominating again, and Matt Forte continues to produce.

#25) Baltimore Ravens (2-6)

The Terrell Suggs injury decimated this pass rush and their corners haven’t played well enough to make up for it. Add that to the fact that an under-preforming Joe Flacco doesn’t have any plus players to throw to, and you have a 2-6 football team. At this point, Baltimore’s season is about seeing what some of the kids can do.

I’m not sure why they were such a hot Super Bowl pick before the year began. Ozzie Newsome did absolutely nothing via the draft or free agency to replace multiple key players who left for various reasons. They need a homerun draft or they’re really not going to be much better next year. This is the weakest Ravens roster in a long time. At least all their losses have been close?

#26) San Diego Chargers (2-6)

Keenan Allen being out for multiple weeks was the last thing San Diego needed. The only thing they do well is get first downs via the pass, and Allen was a huge part of that. The line has been bad, but hyped rookie Melvin Gordon has been worse. He runs hesitantly. Maybe he looked good in college because he was running behind an NFL line against bad Big-10 defenses?

At 2-6, the Chargers will likely need to sweep both Kansas City and Denver to have a shot at the playoffs. That isn’t happening.

#27) Houston Texans (3-5)

How the hell does this team have 3 wins? Oh yeah, they play in the AFC South. They’re hyped front seven hasn’t been good for much, as they rank just 27th in adjusted sack rate. Obviously, there’s little to like offensively outside DeAndre Hopkins, especially with the Foster injury.

Is Bill O’Brien on the hot seat? He should be for convincing fans that this team could compete with the top dogs in the AFC with Hoyer/Mallet at QB.

#28) Cleveland Browns (2-6)

Cleveland has done an admirable job staying in games but they appear poised for yet another rebuild. Their next four games are all within the division, where the Browns generally stay competitive. But this is a Browns team that’s slightly below average in every single facet of the game. They’re not scaring anyone or playing spoiler.

#29) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5)

There have been some positives (The “Allen’s” at WR, Telvin Smith), but more negatives (everything else). They’re still at least a year of roster-building away from doing what the Raiders currently are. They simply blow too many coverages and commit too many boneheaded turnovers to be taken seriously.

#30) San Francisco 49ers (2-6)

Smart move by San Fran benching Kaep so they can cut him loose this Spring with no cap penalty (they would’ve owed him a ton in guarantees had he gotten hurt). They’re horrible, and they’re going to need much more than one draft to get better.

#31) Detroit Lions (1-7)

Matthew Stafford is a horrible QB and Jim Caldwell is horrible head coach. That is all.

#32 Tennessee Titans (1-6)

They just fired their coach, nowhere to go but up? I’m not sure. The offense lacks usable talent and it’s completely unrealistic to expect Mariota to regularly play like he did in week 1.