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Archive for the month “February, 2014”

Will Demarcus Cousins Ever Get It?

Demarcus Cousins

Demarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings is an extremely talented player. At 6’11”, he can handle the basketball, shoot the mid-range jumper and use his bulky frame (270 pounds) to bully opposing players in the paint. The sky is the limit for him in regards to his talents. If you ask people about him, they will say he is easily one of the more talented big men in the NBA. But unfortunately his attitude seems to overshadow his skills.

Cousins started off the season doing better with his attitude. But even with that, he still had some hiccups in the early going, most notably this moment against the Los Angeles Clippers:

Some would get the impression that Cousins was just mad at losing while others said “there goes Demarcus again”. But even in this so-called “instance”, Demarcus was not angry or emotional high-strung at all. As the season has gone on, however, it is apparent the losing has worn on Cousins. This recent incident versus the Rockets this week was the tipping point:

Cousins completely lost control again and forgot some of the things that Shaq had talked to him about as one of the new owners of the Kings. His coach was handling the issue, but Cousins just had to get his point across and in an emotional way. Honestly, Cousins should not have gotten the initial foul call and it did not look like he even said anything to receive the technical. But even in that, he has to handle that situation better. And because of his slow erosion back to the things he did last season, he has become a target for referees and a distraction for his team.
Cousins cheering on his teammates

This is now Demarcus’s fourth season in the NBA and it seems that when he takes two steps forward, he takes three steps back. The talent keeps getting blocked by the attitude. And with him being signed to a new four-year, $62 million extension in Sacramento, it looks like he is not leaving anytime soon. The Kings are counting on him to lead their franchise. But the big question is if he will ever mature into the player and person the Kings need him to be? That remains to be seen, but one thing needs to happen to give Cousins a better shot to make it. The Kings need to bring in a veteran presence that he respects to either be an assistant coach or be a part of the bench. An assistant coach like former NBA player Rasheed Wallace, who was a volatile personality at times himself, would be perfect for Cousins. Wallace would be able to teach Demarcus how to handle his temper on the court while helping him be an even better teammate than he is now. After all, Wallace was a loose cannon at one point and time until he learned when to reel it in for the sake of his team.

Until something like this happens, Demarcus may still continue to have his moments on the court. Hopefully he eventually matures or someone gets through to him. Because if he continues down this path, he could end up taking it too far and permanently damaging his career.

For more sports conversations, feel free to follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

It’s Time For Coaches To Embrace Social Media

In this new age of sports, there is much more to the game than just playing. The image a player projects has become very crucial in creating your own brand. These days, social media is an important aspect of creating that brand. Everyone has a Twitter or Facebook account and uses that to express themselves and their thoughts. But apparently, not everyone is a fan of players expressing themselves. The latest expression of disdain for social media with his players came from Louisville head coach Rick Pitino.

rick pitino

Apparently, Pitino is not the biggest fan of social media. He recently made the following statement to ESPN’s Mike and Mike:

Pitino had some strong words for social media in regards to athletes. Even going as far as to say that “every hour on it is like taking a little bit of poison.” I could understand some of what he was saying. From a certain viewpoint and in what city he lives and coaches in, players can receive a ton of praise. But they can also receive a ton of undue criticism from overly passionate fans. And if athletes are not prepared for it, they can be blown away by it. Some learn over time how to handle the criticism, but Richie Incognito showed that some still have a lot to learn. But in the grand scheme of things, it sounds like technology has passed Rick by. Gone are the things that he did as a youth and here are the things of today’s America. You cannot hope to have players avoid something that is part of society as a whole. So, instead of trying to steer his players away from social media, Rick ought to pay attention to his in-state rival’s head coach and his way of thinking.

john calipari

Kentucky’s John Calipari is a coach that has attracted the top talents in college basketball. Some would say that he is just in it to make himself look better. People can talk until their blue in the face about what he is in coaching for, but one thing you cannot dispute is the things he does to help these players with social media. Calipari is one of the few coaches in America that seems to care about his players on social media. Here is what he said on ESPN’s Mike and Mike:

Calipari’s frame of mind is way different than Pitino’s. And he spoke the truth about him and other coaches that encourage their players not to use social media. They truly don’t understand it and how to use it. While he probably embellished when he said he did not read one response, he did drop some knowledge in terms of what social media is used for and how he helps prepare his kids for the usage of it as their careers go on.

Ultimately, the thoughts of Pitino are null and void because kids are going to be kids. Social media is here to stay, so why not embrace it and help them instead of discouraging them. Athletes more than anyone are seen in the public eye through all they do everywhere. So why not prepare them to handle social media and other things instead of having athletes pretend social media does not exist? In this instance, Pitino needs to come out of the dark ages and embrace what is there instead of continuing to badmouth it like it’s a sickness. While social media can get you in trouble, it can be a blessing when handled correctly. Maybe Rick needs to learn that and teach his players like Calipari is at Kentucky.

pitono vs calipari

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

The Decision On Jimmy Graham Could Change The NFL Forever

jimmy graham

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is a physical specimen. Standing at 6’7” and weighing 265 pounds, he has become a huge weapon for Drew Brees. His 86 receptions for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns had some thinking he was the best tight end in football. And the Saints were getting all that production out of him as he was getting paid only $1.323 million in salary. But a good bargain deal can only last for so long and Graham is up for a new deal. However, a new deal for him comes with one wrench in the plans: how is he classified?

Despite being labeled as a starting tight end, Graham hardly does things that normal tight ends would do. He is not known as a good in-line blocker despite his size. But what he is known for lining up in the slot or out wide, creating serious mismatches for defenses. And it’s because of the way he has been used that has him thinking he should not be paid as a tight end. Graham may end up having the franchise tag placed on him this offseason. And if that happens, he will more than likely be tagged as a tight end. The problem is he and his agent feel that he has been used more as a wide receiver than a tight end due to unconventional ways the Saints use Graham. His agent is reportedly getting prepared to file a grievance should Graham be classified as a tight end and in this scenario and Graham and his agent have a compelling case.

graham splitting out

The difference between Graham being classified as a tight end or a wide receiver, should he be franchise tagged, is very significant. For those that don’t know, when you receive the franchise tag, the salary you are paid for that year is the average of the top five players at that position. In regards to the tight end position, Graham would be looking at around $5 million a year to play for New Orleans. If he were to be classified as a wide receiver, Graham would be looking at $6 million more for that one year of playing for the Saints. But the decision on Graham would not only affect him, but the future of the tight end position.

Many offenses are starting to redefine the way tight ends are used these days. Gone are the days where the tight end is an in-line receiver that lines up next to the offensive tackle. More often, tight ends are used as slot guys as the position becomes even more athletic than it once was. And as a result, you could classify some of these guys as a hybrid between a tight end and a wide receiver. With the changes at that position, if Graham was to win that case, it would fundamentally change the tight end position and its importance. Gone would be the days where tight ends are viewed as a level below the wide receiver. Monetarily, the pay grade for tight ends would rise if Graham was to challenge and win a ruling to be classified as a wide receiver. That would completely alter the way franchises construct teams offensively due to the allocation of funds. A new model would have to be come up with as players like Denver’s Julius Thomas and Baltimore’s Dennis Pitta are about to get paid eventually.

dennis pitta

In the end, this decision on Graham’s deal has more to do with the NFL and less to do with him. He could fundamentally change the game fiscally forever and I think he just might do so. He’s earned big money and it’s time to open up the pocket book New Orleans.

For more sports conversation, follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

The Evolution Of Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin and Doc Rivers Blake Griffin is definitely a specimen of a basketball player. Generously listed as 6’10”, he is one of the most explosive leapers in the NBA. And he has been known to posterize players. Who can forget what he famously did to center Timofey Mozgov in 2010:

All the highlight dunks were extremely exciting to watch, but they just were not enough. Blake and the Clippers have rode the Lob City moniker to through the regular season the last couple of years only to falter in the playoffs. Star point guard Chris Paul seemed to be the only consistent player on the court in the postseason, while Griffin and center Deandre Griffin became non-factors due their limited offense. And because of this fatal offensive flaw, some wondered what the future of this team had in store. But with a new coach and a new system, Blake may has definitely taken his game to the next level.

Once Doc Rivers stepped in as coach in Los Angeles, he began to construct this team in the image of what he felt they needed to be. He convinced Deandre Jordan to focus on being a great defender. Rivers told Chris Paul that he needed him to be more aggressive offensively and shoot the ball more. But his best bit of coaching was the things he told Blake Griffin he needed to work on. As previously mentioned, Blake has been more of a premier dunker than post player in the NBA for most of his career. But when Doc came in, he challenged Blake to become a better jump shooter. For the first few years of Blake’s career, he shot 32.5% and 27.7% respectively from 10-15 foot range. This year, he is shooting a career-high 40% from that range. In the past, Blake had awful form when shooting the jump shot. He would shoot the ball on the way down, have his elbow in odd positions and shoot with an uneven base. But this year, his form has really improved as evidence here:

Notice that Blake is on balance when he shoots this fadeaway jump shot. He also takes the time to gather himself and square his shoulders coupled with shooting the jump shot at the peak of his jump instead of on the way down. Here is another view of Blake’s improved jump shot:

Blake takes his jump shot out even further in this clip and again shows balance, perfect form, shoots at the peak of his jump and gathers himself before going up. This improvement makes Blake more dangerous and in turn helps the Clipper offense function better than before.

Another request from Doc Rivers was for Blake to be more of a playmaker. Most of his professional career, Blake has been a finisher at the rim and not a facilitator. Ultimately, that approach caused a ton of pressure on Chris Paul to do everything for the Clippers. But Rivers saw something in Blake that many had not seen. He saw the ability for him to not only be a finisher but a playmaker. Many times you would see Blake get a rebound, dish it to Paul or another guard for Los Angeles and run the floor. But this year, Blake has taken action into his own hands:

Doc Rivers has taken more to running the offense through Griffin this season and as a result, it has led to the growth in his game. He can be seen now setting up guards for big shots or, of course, throwing up the lobs to Deandre Jordan. He even has taken the liberty of gathering the rebound and pushing the tempo to set up his teammates for easy baskets. This Blake is a far better offensive player than the Blake we saw last season. The confidence in Blake to be a playmaker also helped the Clippers sustain while Chris Paul was out with a shoulder injury.

These two improvements in Blake’s game have made the Clippers a very dangerous team in the West. And this also speaks to the power of Doc Rivers, who has taken the talent that Blake has and fine-tuned his game a little more this year. Blake will undoubtedly get better as he goes along. He still has to improve at the free throw line and his defense still is coming along. But there is no doubt that with the skills and ability he has, he could be the most dominant power forward in basketball very soon.

For more sports conversations follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

The Real Thug Life

Richard Sherman During the last few weeks, the term “thug” has been used pretty frequently. It was used for cornerback Richard Sherman after his passionate interview after his Seahawks defeated the 49ers for the NFC title. The term was used after the Marcus Smart incident where the Oklahoma point guard shoved a fan. It seems like this term is used just as freely as any word in the English dictionary. Black people on the football field and in life are being called “thugs” a lot these days for the way they act, dress or conduct themselves. It’s alarming that this word has replaced the N word as the new name to call Black people when they do something that is frowned upon by members of society. But what I wonder is if anyone using the word “thug” even knows what it means or better yet, where the term came from. If they did, then maybe they would reconsider calling Black kids “thugs”.

The original thugs
Around 1356, a group of Indian people named Thugs were first introduced in the world. They were described using the word Thuggee, which is a Hindu word for “thief”. The Thugs came about from banned members of from society that banded together to make a fraternity of thieves and killers. Although they came around in the 1350’s reportedly, the thugs really became strong around the 1800’s in India. These Indian people would join travelers and gain their confidence, only to strangle or tie a noose around the neck of the people they befriended. They would rob the victims as well as bury their bodies after robbing them. The Thugs would continue to do this until the 1830s when the British came in and eventually subdued them. The Thugs were reported to be responsible for at least 2 million killings over their entire existence. In essence, they terrorized India and had the country living in fear.

The real Thugs in India were on a whole higher level than what people consider “thugs” in today’s society. In fact, there should be absolutely no way the so-called “thugs” of today compare to these people. The Thugs in India were ruthless. They would smile in your face only to kill and rob you later. The only thing Richard Sherman did was be loud and emotional after playing a great game. And as far as Marcus Smart, he may have lost his cool at the wrong time, but he is in no way a thug. In fact, I believe the original thugs would laugh at the thought of these two and others that have even been called the term they put on the map.

Maybe the next time people will examine the words they use when calling people things. And for all those that like to call people thugs, maybe they should take a look at the history of the word and think long and hard before calling someone that term again. Smart, Sherman, and many other athletes that have been called thugs are not thugs at all. The real thug life happened in India. Read up on your history people.

For more sports conversations, follow me on Twitter @General_MP or come check me out at my Facebook page Mike Patton-The General .

The Fallacy Of Bad Officiating

lebron talking to official Officiating has been one of the biggest thorns in a lot of fans’ collective eyes. Fan have let it be known their thoughts on officiating over the years and it is no secret that most are not thrilled with them. Some would even say that their calls throughout the game could be the cause of their teams losing. It seems as if everyone wants the same thing: perfect officiating. But honestly, is it really possible for perfect officiating to happen?

Examining some of the complaints with officials can leave you with mixed reviews. One complaint that always comes up is the free throw line disparity. For example, the University of Memphis played against the University of Connecticut this past Saturday. The Huskies won the game in overtime by five points, but there was some discussion over the discrepancy in free throws shots. The Tigers shot nine free throws the entire game while the Huskies shot thirty-six free throws. The first thing you would hear is the Tigers were treated unfairly by the officials. That may or may not be true, but what is being missed is the Tigers were not the aggressor for most of the game. More often than not, the team that is more aggressive gets rewarded with the calls. The Huskies came out and went right at Memphis and that made all the difference in the disparity.

Vision of a referee is always a thing that is questioned. You always see people disagreeing with a referee with every blown whistle. And with those “missed calls”, plenty believe the referees are blowing calls against their teams on purpose. But the imperative word to remember is judgment in these situations. Not everyone is going to interpret each and every call the same way. Some see every single bit of contact as a foul, while others think that more contact should be let go. No wonder there is complaining on every single call. Some don’t understand there is contact in the game of basketball while others have the game confused with football. With no clear and concise definition of how the game is played, more fans have a distorted view of what is or isn’t a foul. And that leads to disgruntled fans and some inaccurate statements.

The root of most of the complaints really comes down to one big thing: sore losing. When their team is losing, the fans of that team are the main ones complaining about the officiating. And not only do they complain, but people always bring up the “if this call had been made then we would have won” statements. Honestly, the only reason a lot of people complain about perceived bad calls is due to their team not getting the benefit of the whistle. If the situation was turned around and there was a supposed missed call that benefitted their team, there would be no complaint at all from those same fans. Funny how that one works when bad calls help your team.

It’s always interesting to see how fans can view calls when they affect the teams they root for. Some become blind to the fact that maybe their team did not deserve some calls. And it seems the refs are used as an excuse for why their team did not win. In the end, good teams do not depend on the referees nor do they blame them. Good teams win despite what is perceived as a bad call or not.

For more sports conversations, follow me on Twitter @General_MP or come check out my Facebook page Mike Patton-The General .

Joakim Noah: The Soul Of Chicago

Joakim Noah At the beginning of the season, the Chicago Bulls were expected to challenge for the Eastern Conference crown. They returned a strong defensive team, Derrick Rose was on the mend and of course they had one of the best coaches in the NBA in Tom Thibodeau. Everything was in place for them to succeed. In the preseason and the beginning of the regular season, it looked like Rose was still shaking the rust off. He was starting to gain some steam after the team played the Denver Nuggets, but early in the season when the Bulls were playing the Trailblazer in Portland, this confident Bulls team was shook to the core by Rose going down again:

Rose was later diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his knee and was lost for the season. After the injury, the Bulls looked like a defeated team the next few games. They eventually got out of the short slump, but then management dealt them another body blow.

Chicago forward Luol Deng was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers after he had rejected a three-year, $30 million dollar extension from Chicago. In return, the Bulls landed Andrew Bynum, who they quickly released to save money against their salary cap. This team was left for dead after that trade. All hope anyone may have had for them to at least make the playoffs dissipated. And some thought the team was getting ready to tank. But one man had other ideas. He refused to quit and give into those thoughts. After all, he did not quit when the chips were down in his career.

Joakim Noah was selected with the 9th pick of the 2007 draft. He was the center of the two-time defending National Champion Florida Gators and had declared after his junior season. But unlike his collegiate teammates Corey Brewer and Al Horford, Noah was a mystery to people as to what he would be. He could rebound and pass, but he could not shoot and was not a smooth operator out of the post. In the first couple of years of his career, the doubts about Noah were validated by his play. He was only averaging around six points and six and he really seemed like just another player. But it was not until the 2009 Eastern Conference 1st round series that Noah then showed he had arrived. Noah played with heart, desire and fought to the bitter end as the Bulls fought the veteran Celtics. Who can forget this memorable play during Game six of the Bulls 128-127 triple overtime win that series:

The Celtics would go on to win the Game seven, but Noah definitely made his presence felt. Gone was the guy that no one knew about and present was the guy that would become the emotional barometer of the team.

Noah would continue to improve every season from that playoff battle. And over the years, his skill and his grit have become the backbone of this team. And because of that grit, he would not let this team quit when all had given up on them this season. Instead of letting his team tank, Noah has taken the reins and become the leader not only by his emotion but by his play. He is again averaging a double-double and he is making the game easy for his teammates with his excellent passing skills (leads all centers in assists per game with 4.3 a game). And after their big win versus the Brooklyn Nets Thursday, the Bulls have gone from the bottom to near the top of the NBA’s Eastern Conference. They now are hot on the Toronto Raptors trail for the third spot in the East and they are only gaining momentum. The unselfishness, emotion and grit of Noah has been permeated throughout the whole team. His effect cannot be measured by mere stats because he is now the heart and soul of the Chicago Bulls. And as long as he is there, the Bulls will always be a tough out for anyone.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter @General_MP or come check out my Facebook page at Mike Patton-The General .

Smart And Not So Smart Moves

Marcus Smart Marcus Smart is one of the most talented players in America. The Oklahoma State point guard is considered by most to be a lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. He actually could have been a lottery pick last year, but he came back to school to work on a few things to prepare him for the NBA. Things started off well, but as the season as gone on, the frustration has seemed to build coinciding with the play on the court. Smart has not shot the ball as well as he would like and his team has been scuffling as of late. As if the frustration was not enough, the incident on Saturday night versus Texas Tech took the scrutiny for the young man to another level:

Just like the announcer for ESPN, many were going off on Marcus Smart and his actions in this whole thing. And to his credit, he took responsibility for his actions in this press conference the following day:

But let’s get into what was reportedly happened in this incident. Smart reportedly told his coaches that he was called a racial slur by the fan in the stands, Jeff Orr. And to that accusation, Orr responded by stating he did not use a racial slur, but that he did call Smart a “piece of crap” (the video confirming that is not conclusive). Honestly, we may never know what was truly said in this incident because it is quickly turning into a “he-said, he-said”. But something was said because Orr apologized and voluntarily decided to give up his seats for the remainder of the season. Smart was handed a three game suspension by the Big 12 conference for his role in this incident and this will undoubtedly hurt his team. But to some that think this will hurt his stock in the draft, think again. Per Adam Katz of ESPN, many NBA scouts see this incident as a blip on the radar screen and still hold Smart in high regard heading into this draft. But the action has now painted a broad stroke as to what some will now know of this young man and that is not fair at all.

I can understand the feelings of Smart in regards to the being allegedly called a racial slur. In fact, I can identify completely with his reaction. I experienced someone calling me a racial slur when I was around his age. And of course I was angry when it happened. Fortunately, I did not do anything that would cost me the rest of my life. We all have to remember that Smart is a young man. And as a young man, he is going to encounter situations that he may not have come across before. To expect him to know how to handle himself in all situations as a young kid is crazy. And like Marcus said, he has looked at the situation and he will move forward from it and learn. Hopefully when or if he comes across the same situation, he will not give in to the people that are trying to get a reaction out of him. Because when you react to people in these situations, that’s when you give them some power over you through your emotions. That’s the lesson I had to learn and I’m sure this is a lesson that Smart will learn as his profile grows.

The real question needs to be asked of Mr. Jeff Orr. Just like Marcus Smart could have handled the situation better, Orr could have as well. And what makes it even worse for him is that he is in his 50’s. What 50 year old man does anyone know that heckles young men at a college basketball game? And by heckle, I mean say and do things to them that are meant to be hurtful and demean them. One example of Orr going a little crazy was when Texas Tech was playing the Texas A&M Aggies a couple years back:

Who would have thought a man in his 50’s could act like a kid when watching a game. John Lucas III, a former Oklahoma State player himself, chimed in via Twitter and had this response in regards to Orr: “I just saw the video. That same fan was at the games talking crazy even when I was in school and I don’t forget a face. He talks a lot of crazy ish.” So to Mr. Orr, what kick do you get out of flipping birds and talking trash to college kids? It seems to me he has some sort of issue and that this was not an isolated event.

After this whole situation, I have come to be an even bigger fan of Marcus Smart. He understands he must rise above that situation and did not run or point fingers in the aftermath. Not many people realize that at any age in this world. I hope he comes back and carries Oklahoma State to the NCAA tournament and then some.

For more sports talk, follow me on Twitter @General_MP or hit me up on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

Changing The Age Limit To 20 Would Be A Good Move By The NBA

Adam Silver Adam Silver has officially taken over as the new NBA commissioner. And one thing he has immediately mentioned is the age limit in the NBA. Silver has mentioned that he would like to change the age limit in the NBA from 19 to 20 years of age. This rule would effectively make it where kids would have to stay in college for two seasons after graduating high school. Of course this rule has been met by some pushback from some fans of the game. But overall, this rule would be excellent for the NBA.

Over the years, the NBA has become a league where offenses have become hard to watch. Some of that can be attributed to the specialization of the game these days. But a lot of blame lies on the development (or non-development) of players when they enter the NBA. More often than not, we see players enter the NBA that are not physically or developmentally ready to play. As a result, players tend to either sit on the bench while they develop, play before they are even ready or get sent down to the D-League. In some instances, this works out. But in other instances, the underdevelopment of a players leads to a quick exit from the NBA. By allowing the kids to stay in school for a minimum of two years, this could let them develop more and also would help produce a better product on the floor in terms of developed players.

Another good positive would be reflected in the salary cap for teams. A lot of times, teams draft these players without them being able to be contributors right away. That leads to money being tied up in players that will not help your team. With a two-year minimum, it decreases the chances of having underdeveloped players tie up salary. That would allow teams to have more money to get that veteran that may be the missing piece to their championship run. Or for teams with lower expectations, it would be a chance to make the playoffs with a good piece they would be able to add.

We witnessed LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tracy McGrady enter the NBA right out of high school and many feel that should be what the league allows. All four have had successful careers in the NBA. But for all the success these four had, some tend to forget the stories of guys like Korleone Young and James Lang. Young was considered one of the top high school players in America as a senior at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. The 6’7” small forward was thought to be one of the top picks taken in the 1998 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, things did not work out for Young the way he wanted them to. He was drafted 40th in the NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons, only to play three games and be cut by the team. Young never played in the NBA again. Lang was a 2003 high school All-American and he felt he was good enough to take his talents to the NBA. Apparently, NBA teams did not think as good about him as he did himself. Lang was drafted with the 48th pick by New Orleans but he was waived by the team after he was deemed to not have shown ability to be on the active roster by GM Bob Bass. After a couple of 10-day contacts and some D-League stints, Lang was eventually out of chances to prove himself. Both Lang and Young were talented kids, but there were underdeveloped and maybe by going to college they could have developed more skill to hang around longer in the NBA. But instead, they are now nowhere to be seen on the NBA scene. Allowing the college option to be there would be great for some kids because some will find out that they were not as ready as they originally thought they were. And with that, they could start to work on parts of their game that could get them ready.

Ultimately, I believe this rule will be put in place. It helps not only the NBA but college basketball. And maybe with this rule, we can get back to a less watered-down product on the court in college and the NBA. In the end, it’s about having a kid be prepared for life along with the spoils of the NBA and college can help that kid prepare for both at the same time.

For more sports talk, follow me on Twitter @General_MP or come visit my Facebook page Mike Patton-The General .

The Setup Starring Knicks Coach Mike Woodson

Mike Woodson Entering the season, the New York Knicks were a team that some felt (rightly or wrongly) could do some damage in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Well, damage happened, just not to the other teams. The Knicks’ collection of players they assembled has not exactly worked out so far and now Coach Mike Woodson is shoulder some, if not all, of the blame. But should he be shouldering so much of the disappointment the fans have in the Knicks?

Mike Woodson guided the Knicks to the second round last season, further than they had gone in a long time. Heading into this season, they acquired forward Andrea Bargnani during the offseason, much to the chagrin of some Knicks fans. New York also picked up Metta World Peace (free agency), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (NBA Draft) and also re-signed 2012-2013 6th man of the year JR Smith. This collection of players along with their core was expected (by owner James Dolan) to compete for a title. Well, it seems like Dolan was overlooking a few things. First, besides Carmelo Anthony, there is no other consistent second scorer. JR Smith filled that role last year with his instant offense off the bench. But he did that while shooting some of the worst shots on the court. This year those same shots aren’t falling and he has been more of a distraction than a welcomed contributor for most of the season.

Another issue with the Knicks is their point guard situation. They re-signed Raymond Felton last year and the former North Carolina star played pretty well. Unfortunately, through injuries and poor shooting at times, he has not reached the type of level he did last season. And couple his production with the likes of Pablo Prigioni (reluctant shooter) and this team just has not had any consistency at that position. Neither of these guys are required to be stars, but at least bring some steady ball-handling and decision-making. It’s never good when you are holding your breath when a Knicks point guard does something.

This Knicks were a bad rebounding team last season with Melo at the power forward. It wasn’t like Melo was not giving effort though. He played as hard as he did ever in his career defensively. But in the end, he just was worn down and that affected his offense. Heading into last offseason, you would think they would address that and get a power forward. But instead of doing so, the Knicks went out and acquired a big man that does not really have an affinity with grabbing rebounds. Bargnani (currently injured) did a little better than some thought, but he is not a guy you can depend on to get that crucial rebound when you need it. And ultimately, Melo gets worn down playing the power forward. At this pace, Melo’s field-goal percentage will continue to get worse because of the physical play he is taking every single night as an undersized power forward.

With all these issues, there is one place to put a lot of the blame: Management. They are the ones that put this team together and got their fans to believe they would be able to compete. Meanwhile, other teams like the Heat and the Pacers just continued to grow better as well. The Knicks have gotten worse since last year and that is not all on Woodson. Management now has now constructed a team with no consistent perimeter shooting, no consistent point guard, an enigmatic second scorer and a small forward masquerading as a power forward. Not many will win with that combination. It’s clear Mike Woodson was setup by management. And because of him trying to make this team look as good as management thought they would be, he will probably lose his job.

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