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16 Bold Predictions For 2016

(photo courtesy of Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)

(photo courtesy of Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)

A new year is upon us and there will be many great sports events that will happen. Some will be expected like the Super Bowl, college football championship game and the college basketball national championship game. But there are also things that happen that catch us all off guard. It’s easy to predict things that will happen, but it is not as easy to predict the unpredictable events that can happen. But with that being said, let me take my shot at it. Without further ado, here are my 16 predictions for 2016

  1. The Alabama Crimson Tide will win the National title

Clemson is a worthy opponent for Alabama in the National Title game. They are solid in each facet of the game and can make some explosive plays. But versus Alabama, the game will be won or lost in the trenches. Alabama is a physical football team and they have dominated teams up front for majority of the season. Clemson is a physical bunch as well and they will not wilt when facing the Crimson Tide. But eventually the physical play and the explosiveness of the Alabama front seven will get to the Tigers.

  1. The Golden State Warriors will not win the NBA title this season

The Warriors are again having a great season. And of course they will be a factor in the West this year. But let’s not forget that there are some other teams that can get it going and potentially knock them off. Teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs are talented enough to give the Warriors fits. And this season, one of those teams jumps up and gets the job done, ending the Warriors’ season prematurely.

  1. Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke will not make the NCAA Final Four this year

All three teams are very deep and talented. But in this year’s college basketball, each team has some flaws going with them. Of course North Carolina is the most talented of them all and they are shooting the basketball well this year. But eventually the shooting will fall back to earth and they will have to win a game with defense. That will be where they fall. As far as Kentucky, they have been pushed around more in the post than usual. And even though they are talented, that shortcoming will leave them hamstrung in March. And as far as Duke, they may have their tough guy, forward Amile Jefferson, back before the season is over. But they still don’t have enough scoring from inside that will scare someone. And that will be something that eventually catches up to them.

  1. The Chicago Cubs will win the World Series

This past year, the Cubs went further than anyone thought they would. And heading into this season, the expectations are they will go even further. Some may wilt under those type of goals, but this team may just thrive under them. And with the additions they have made this offseason, the Cubs will finally make it back to the World Series and will win one, breaking the supposed curse that was placed upon them.

  1. The Carolina Panthers will win the Super Bowl

Quarterback Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are sitting on top of the football world right now, sporting the best record in the NFL at 14-1. But that is not the ultimate goal for them. The thing that they are striving to get is the Lombardi Trophy. And for the Panthers, plenty keep speaking on all the reasons this team cannot win the Lombardi Trophy. Well, Cam and the boys have been listening and they will use that as extra motivation to go to the first Super Bowl for Carolina since 2003. And instead of coming up short like they did against the Patriots the last time they were there, the Panthers will seize the day and win their first Lombardi Trophy.

  1. Steph Curry will win another MVP

Curry was in another world last year. He averaged 24 points per game and eight assists last season while locking up the MVP trophy. And just when it was thought he could not get any better, he shows up this season and is putting up better shooting, scoring and rebounding numbers across the board. He has gone from another world to another stratosphere and there is no doubting that he is the best player in the NBA right now. And with the record the Warriors are currently sporting, he will be the MVP again. As much as some want to give this award to LeBron, it just will not happen again.

  1. The Philadelphia 76ers will swing and miss in the Ben Simmons sweepstakes

The talk around Philly is they are in tank mode once again. And the object of their affection this year seems to be LSU forward Ben Simmons. The Australian forward can do everything on the floor and that combination of size and skill has every NFL scout hoping Christmas comes in June for them. It would seem the perfect storm would have Philly getting the first overall pick this year in the draft. But unfortunately, it will not be for them this year either. The 76ers will get the second or third pick, not the first. And with that, they can kiss goodbye to Ben Simmons ever wearing a Philadelphia uniform.

  1. The Jacksonville Jaguars will make the playoffs next season

Head coach Gus Bradley is building something in Jacksonville. He has a quarterback in place in Blake Bortles, a reliable tight end in Julius Thomas, two young receivers that are making it happen in Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson and running back TJ Yeldon. Defensively, the Jags have taken a step forward this year and will more than likely add a pass rusher next season. That combination of things along with the state of the AFC South could have them either winning the division or making the playoffs as a wildcard.

  1. The Oakland Raiders will make the playoffs next season

The team showed growth this season. Derek Carr showed even more improvement this season. And with the weapons he has offensively, the offense should do nothing but get better next season. And defensively, they have a standout player in Khalil Mack. If they are able to add more defensive backfield help, this team will definitely be ready to make the playoffs next year. The Silver and Black will be back next year.

  1. DeMarcus Cousins will not be a member of the Sacramento Kings

DeMarcus is a very talented player. Unfortunately, he has not been able to wrangle his temper on the court. And with the surroundings in the city of Sacramento, it may not be the place for him to have success and mature as a player. So with that being said, Cousins will be out of Sacramento this offseason. Boston would be one place that has assets to trade for him. But there will be plenty that will be vying for his services. Only time will tell, but he will be playing in another city come next basketball season.

  1. Kevin Durant will re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder

Much has been said of where Durant will land next year. There have been rumors floated out there of him landing in everywhere from Golden State to Washington next year. But in the end, the prevailing thought is he will end up staying in Oklahoma City. The chemistry he and Westbrook have is something that he will not find anywhere else. And if they can get some consistent scoring from a third option, then this team will be able to make that magical run like they did when they met LeBron’s Miami team in the NBA Finals.

  1. Peyton Manning will not retire.

It was looking like he would be done at the end of the season last year. But instead of doing so, he decided to come back this season. Needless to say, this has not been the most memorable of seasons for him as a starter this year. And despite the thoughts that he will be retiring at the end of the season (and by looking at him right now, he should), he will more than likely try to play yet another season in the NFL. The question now is where he will play because it surely won’t be in Denver next year.

  1. Hue Jackson and Teryl Austin will get head coaching jobs this offseason in the NFL

Both have been excellent coordinators and Jackson never really got a shot when he was in Oakland. Jackson has been very solid as the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati and Austin has been excellent as the defensive coordinator in Detroit. Both are definitely qualified and you are hearing their names mentioned over and over again in coaching searches. It will only be a matter of time before both become head coaches. And this offseason is the perfect time for both to become head coaches in the NFL.

  1. Luke Walton will be named the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers

Unexpectedly, Luke Walton has been the interim head coach of the Golden State Warriors. Some may have expected the Warriors to not do so well without their leader, but Walton has led the team very well in his absence. And he has done so well that he will garner some head coaching looks around the NBA. One place that will be looking for a head coach soon will be the Los Angeles Lakers. With his experience with the organization as a player and his familiarity with the team, he would be a perfect fit for them and their young team.

  1. The Kansas City Royals will not make the playoffs this upcoming season

I know this is something that Kansas City fans will not want to hear, but it could definitely happen. The Royals just won the title, so there is always that moment of relaxation knowing you have achieved your goal. And the Royals will be fighting that all season long as they try to repeat as champions. Unfortunately, they will not be able to overcome that as they miss the playoffs this upcoming season.

  1. Fans will continue to show no chill on social media

As time has gone on, keyboard courage has grown more and more amongst fans of sports. You can see on social media all the people that continue to call people out knowing they will never meet them in real life. Unfortunately, this is not going anywhere and there will be more of it to come. A thing I have proposed is that things would change if people had to attach their employer to the things that they say. I bet the fear of losing their job would change the things that people say.

The new year brings some new things and also some new happenings as well. It will be interesting to see if these sixteen things happen or if these thoughts going flying in the wind.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter or check me out on Facebook.

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Jahlil Okafor’s Teaching Moment

(photo courtesy of www.philly.com)

(photo courtesy of http://www.philly.com)

On draft night, the Philadelphia 76ers were lucky. The Los Angeles Lakers drafted guard D’Angelo Russell instead of drafting Duke big man Jahlil Okafor. That left the talented big man there for the 76ers to draft. And in their rebuilding process, they did not have a big man that could give them scoring consistently. Nerlens Noel is more of a defensive guy and we have yet to see last year’s draft pick, center Joel Embiid. The insertion of him immediately into the starting lineup was something that would help this team. And with his reputation off the court being good, the prevailing thoughts were that the team would have nothing to worry about there. Well, one month into the season and we are already hearing things about Okafor. He was caught on video punching out a heckling fan in Boston and he has had a gun pointed at him in an incident October with a separate heckler. And to add to that, a report recently came out that he was stopped for going 108 across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. To give you heads up, anything over 40 miles per hour on that bridge is considered reckless driving. Okafor has put out a few words on Twitter saying that he is not proud of his actions. But the fact remains that he was involved in those actions and they were potential dangerous situations.

One thing that we can all say is that we have had situations where we have gotten involved in as 19 year olds. And many times we can look at those situations and ask ourselves “what were we thinking?” Of course plenty of us would not have an answer as to what we were thinking because we were not. Jahlil was in a situation in regards to the gun and punching incident that he was not prepared for and just reacted. The hecklers took it to another level when talking to him and not respecting his face, but as you grow older, you grow wiser. In that scenario, he has to realize that he has more to lose than the people speaking to him. Unfortunately, he did not in that moment and he lost his cool. And the result may be a civil suit in one of the instances. Another thing he has to realize is that he puts himself in a dangerous situation responding to hecklers. People, especially fans, are always going to have something to say. And with them having nothing to lose, the situation could become more than just words. For example, the instance where he had a gun pulled on him by a heckler got to dangerous really quickly. Okafor could have gotten injured in that situation or even worse, he could have gotten killed. That would have been a horrible situation. All because a heckler could not control himself and Okafor responded to him. Sometimes it is better to just walk away and he will learn that as time goes on. The bad thing is he will not likely learn the ropes from any veterans on his team, as most of the players are not recognizable and have not been in this type of situation.

If the 76ers even cared about the development of their players on and off the field, they could help that by hiring one former player to help out. Allen Iverson is one of the greatest players in Philadelphia 76ers history. He had his share of flareups over time. Who can forget the “Practice” rant and the issues he had off the court? But all in all, he survived all those issues and had a productive NBA career. He may not have the cleancut image that some may want, but he is definitely a good teacher for some of these young 76ers because he lived through his mistakes and could serve as a warning through his experiences. And for Jahlil Okafor, he could really be a mentor to him because both have their lofty status in common and the fact that Iverson came to the 76ers as a losing team and helped them win. There is no indication that Iverson wants to be a coach at all. In fact, he has not said anything about coaching. But one thing that he may be open to is helping these young players develop and being a sounding board for them off the court about situation and how to handle them. A mentor/ambassador role would be something the city would love to see and Iverson would probably enjoy as well.

Okafor is a talented big man and he has many that are rooting for him to do well. But with these incidents all coming within his first month into his rookie season, there has to be some level of concern. But the good thing is he recognizes that he has not been making the greatest decisions and wants to do better going forward. Iverson would be someone that could guide him in the right direction because he lived the life of stardom that awaits Okafor and could guide him through it. Hopefully these incidents are just blips on the radar screen for Okafor and he can focus on getting better and trying to help the 76ers get better.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter or check me out on Facebook.

Who Wants JaVale McGee?

One of the league's most athletic centers, JaVale McGee remains jobless. (photo courtesy of www.bleacherreport.com)

One of the league’s most athletic centers, JaVale McGee remains jobless. (photo courtesy of http://www.bleacherreport.com)

JaVale McGee has been an interesting character in the NBA. He has made us all laugh on Shaquille O’Neal’s Shaqtin-A-Fool and he has also made some great plays with his athleticism. Last year he did not get to show that athleticism off, as he was injured for a good portion of the time he was with the Nuggets last season. And when he made it on the court, he was not as effective as he hoped to be. McGee played only eleven minutes a game while averaging five points and three rebounds in 17 games played. He was traded at the trade deadline to the Philadelphia 76ers, but that trade was only a means to dump his contract, which was set to expire after the 2015-2016 season. The 76ers eventually bought McGee out after only six games played with them and there was some interest in him from the Boston Celtics. Unfortunately for McGee, the two sides could not come to an agreement on a deal and it seems as if McGee has been a big man that many have stayed away from. But when DeAndre Jordan was making his decision between the Mavericks and the Clippers, McGee’s name was brought up. First it was with the Clippers as a potential replacement for Jordan and now the Mavericks are speaking with him in regards to a new contract. But what is keeping McGee out of the NBA right now?

Besides the brain cramps he tends to have on the floor, McGee has had some problems staying healthy. In the last two seasons, he has only played in a total of 28 games due to various leg injuries. With him seeking a multi-year deal, there has to be some concern about him being able to hold up. Most teams are only interested in his services on potentially a one-year deal and the injuries are part of the reason that they are only interested in that. But due to the reported persistence on a multi-year deal with whomever he signs with, McGee is still unemployed. One of the main reasons McGee is reportedly looking for more than a one-year deal is because he wants to develop his game more. He wants to be a part of a team that will allow him to grow his game outside of just being a shot-blocker, finisher and rebounder. McGee feels that if he is able to showcase what he can be, he can be even better for whatever team that chooses him. But unfortunately, self-belief will only get you but so far. The reality is that McGee is a rebounder, shot-blocker and finisher at the rim. After so long in the NBA, it would be foolish for him to think he is going to develop a consistent offensive game that he has been missing his entire career. So even though he may feel he can be that consistent offensive force, he has to realize who he is and what he can do for a team that signs him.

Because of the injury-riddled last couple of seasons, McGee would do best to only sign a one-year deal with his next team. Instead of wanting two years to develop, he would be wise to play one season and play well. In a sense, he needs to bet on himself. If he comes through and has a good season, then he will be wanted by many a team that is out there. And with the salary cap going to a whole new level next season, McGee could be looking at a payday of around $15 million at least. At his best, he could potentially have the type of effect as DeAndre Jordan. Now of course there will still be the moments where he falls asleep at the wheel, but when he was focused in Denver while playing under coach George Karl, he looked the best he looked in his career. But let’s also take a look at the worse-case scenario. If McGee takes a one-year deal and does not produce, then he could be looking at his last chance to make some things happen in the NBA. Although he is big, athletic and mobile, he can also be a guy that can make you scratch your head. And if that aloof player shows up more than the focused McGee, then the team he signs with is going to have a guy that will continually show up on Shaqtin-A-Fool. The choice of McGee is a crucial one in his career. He is getting closer and closer to 30 with each passing day and this decision could make or break his career.

McGee is a solid, athletic big man when he is focused on the court. But too many times he has had moments that make you wonder whether he seriously wants to play in the NBA. JaVale can help some team, but it is all up to him whether he wants to roll the dice or hold out for a multi-year deal. That will be the big decision going forward for him. McGee could definitely help someone but he could also hurt them salary-cap wise too. The teams that are thinking about him have to ask themselves one question: do they think they can get the best out of him?

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter or check me out on Facebook.

The Everyday Man’s Sports Blog Presents…The Official Everyday Man’s 2015 NBA Mock Draft (Picks 1-15)

The NBA Draft is almost here and each team is breaking down who they want and why. Check out what I think each team should do. (photo courtesy of www.lakersnation.com)

The NBA Draft is almost here and each team is breaking down who they want and why. Check out what I think each team should do. (photo courtesy of http://www.lakersnation.com)

The NBA Draft will be upon us very soon. And there will be a lot of young men that will becoming instant millionaires. But where will they go and who will be taking them? Many have taken stabs at trying to predict it, so here at the The Everyday Man’s Sports Blog, I have decided to take our stab at it and explain as to why some teams will be taking some players. Here are the first 15 picks of my  mock draft and why. Disclaimer: This will not include trades of picks or anything like that. The predictions of picks will be for the team that has that pick at that certain time. Well, let’s get started!

1st Overall (Minnesota Timberwolves): Jahlil Okafor (C), Duke

The Minnesota Timberwolves already have the reigning Rookie of the Year, Andrew Wiggins, to build around and now they have the 1st overall pick. With the team they currently have, they are more of a speed team. With players like Zach Levine and Wiggins filling the wings and point guard Ricky Rubio dishing assists, it would actually make more sense for them to select Towns to run with this team. But again, the Timberwolves do need someone they can throw the ball to in the post and get a basket. And with that notion, they may not want to wait and see what Towns becomes at the NBA level. So with the affinity that Timberwolves coach/general manager Flip Saunders has for Okafor, it is almost a no-brainer that he gets selected there. When the game slows down, the Timberwolves are hoping Okafor can be the guy to sustain their offense with his offensive footwork and soft touch. Of course the Timberwolves may suffer defensively with the young big man, but they will take their lumps there if the big man is able to produce for them.

2nd overall (Los Angeles Lakers): Karl-Anthony Towns (F/C), Kentucky

One of the coveted big men in this draft is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers. Assuming Flip Saunders is still in love with Okafor, the second most-coveted big man is headed West. The Lakers are looking for yet another piece to help them in their rebuild. They selected power forward Julius Randle last season out of Kentucky and he was essentially hurt all year after he suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the season. But even though they lost their top rookie, the Lakers still got great play from second-round pick Jordan Clarkson out of Missouri. Now with Randle coming back next season, the Lakers can add a healthy but aged Kobe Bryant and versatile big man in Towns. The big man out of Kentucky will add rebounding, shot-blocking and versatility to the Lakers frontcourt and he will also be able to learn the Laker way under Kobe for what some think is Kobe’s last year in the NBA. Look for the Lakers to begin the rebuild with Towns, Randle and Clarkson and maybe another piece in free agency to add with Kobe Bryant. It may take a little time for Towns to show his skills. But once Towns settles in, the Lakers will be happy with the monster they end up drafting.

3rd overall (Philadelphia 76ers): Emmanuel Mudiay (G), Guangdong Southern Tigers (Chinese Basketball Association)

The Philadelphia 76ers had a chance to get multiple picks in the lottery. But with the way the ping pong balls dropped, they ended up with only one. However, the 76ers still ended up in great position with the 3rd overall pick. The last couple of years, the 76ers selected injured players and essentially redshirted them for their first season in the NBA. Well, this season will be something different. The 76ers have some nice complimentary pieces that would fit well on a team that had a star. But the team is void of star power currently as they stand. Nerlens Noel is a player the team is high on, but they also have a decision to make with how they can use he and Joel Embiid. They may try Noel at the power forward position, but they will be physical and rugged up front. The problem with this team is they do not have a point guard. Well, in this draft, they have their choice of which point guard they want. Some may want the services of D’Angelo Russell here, but the 76ers may have others ideas. 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie was the only general manager to fly to China to see Mudiay and that should tell you right there the way he is leaning. The 6’5” point guard, who many don’t know a ton about, will be the 76ers international man of mystery this year and he will be one that will have Philly fans excited because of his size, speed and athletic ability.

4th overall (New York Knicks): D’Angelo Russell (G), Ohio State

The Knicks are going to have a lot of cap space this summer and plenty of Knicks fans were hoping the number one pick would be joining the players the Knicks are able to obtain with the money available in free agency. Well, everything did not pan out as well as the Knicks and their fans had planned. But all hope is not lost. Things could have been worse for them and they could have landed even further back. They will more than likely not get one of the coveted big men in this draft and that could have been something that would have helped Carmelo Anthony when he returns next season. But another thing they didn’t have last season was solid point guard play. The Knicks need a player that can be special with the basketball and bring some sizzle to the Garden. Russell is as talented an offensive player as there is in the draft. He has a nice stroke, good handles and can make the perfect pass in a tough situation and he is no slouch defensively either. He and Carmelo together and maybe a big man in free agency could be an interesting dynamic together. And the Knicks will finally have a point guard that could compete with the top point guards in the NBA potentially in a point guard driven NBA.

5th overall (Orlando Magic): Willie Cauley-Stein (F/C), Kentucky

The Orlando Magic have been out of the spotlight since they traded away Dwight Howard. The team has not been close to being a playoff-caliber squad and that is quite bad considering they play in the Eastern Conference. But this team does have some young pieces they can build with. Victor Oladipo is starting to catch his stride in the NBA, starting point guard Elfrid Payton got better as the season went on and Nikola Vujevic was a machine inside. The Magic fired their head coach, Jacque Vaughn, during the season and hired former Magic player Scott Skiles to man the ship. With Skiles, the Magic will have a demanding head coach that will want to execute and play hard. And what better piece would fit his scheme than Kentucky Willie Cauley-Stein? The athletic big man from Kentucky will remind some of current Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah with his game. He is not a scorer, but he is a guy that will defend, block shots, rebound on both ends of the floor, give you putbacks and play hard at all times. The passing is not the level of Noah, but he can have a great effect on a team that is trying to form an identity.

6th overall (Sacramento Kings): Kristaps Porzingis (F/C), Latvia

The Latvian big man joins a long line of European players that have tickled the fancy of many scouts and executives. Many of those that have observed the 7’1” big man have been wowed by the things that this kid are capable of. He can shoot the midrange shot and can put the ball on the floor. And he is also not too bad an athlete. For the Kings, they would love to have a guy like this join their team. George Karl is still missing a power forward that would complement starting center DeMarcus Cousins, but this guy could be the guy. With many comparing his skills to that of Dirk Nowitzki, he would be able to space the floor for Boogie to operate in the paint. Porzingis, for all his talent, is one that could take time to develop though. He is still pretty young (19) and the step to the NBA could be one that proves difficult for him at first. But the Kings have a history of taking guys like Peja Stojakovic and Hedo Turkoglu, so naturally he would be a choice for them. Look for Karl and company to take him with their selection.

7th overall (Denver Nuggets): Justise Winslow (G), Duke

Winslow was the less-heralded member of Duke’s big three recruits last season (Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor). But over time, he became the most important member of the trio. Winslow played well down the stretch and helped lead the Duke Blue Devils to the National Championship. Not a bad way for a freshman to start and end his college career. Winslow is an intriguing prospect for many. He is a very solid defender and can be special offensively, especially on the fast break. With the team the way it is in Denver, they will probably be more uptempo. And with the skills of Winslow, he would fit in perfectly with what they would like to do. He and Ty Lawson would be a perfect fit beside each other or he could slide to the small forward position at times even though he is not the ideal height for the position (slightly under 6’6”). Imagine the type of energy Winslow and Faried could create on the court should they become teammates. Wow.

8th overall (Detroit Pistons), Mario Hezonja (G/F), Croatia

The Pistons will more than likely keep Reggie Jackson as their point guard and match him alongside Caldwell-Pope as their guard tandem. And even if they lose starting big man Greg Monroe, Detroit still will have the talents of Andre Drummond to sustain them. And even though he is limited in the post, Jackson could get him easier shots when he gets in the paint and distributes. But the biggest hole this team has had is the small forward position. They have not been solid there for a while and that includes two tours of service from their best small forward in over a decade, Tayshaun Prince. Adding Hezonja would bring some athleticism to that position along with someone that can shoot the basketball. He could slide into the starting lineup as the small forward eventually for the team should they sign a veteran to get the nod on the starting spot. But if he is drafted by the Pistons, he would be a welcomed addition and likely groomed as their small forward of the future. The only thing the Pistons would have to worry about is how his defense will hold up. And that could be the main reason he does not start immediately in Detroit for Stan Van Gundy.

9th overall (Charlotte Hornets): Stanley Johnson (G/F), Arizona

The Charlotte Bobcats are a team that struggled to score all season long. Al Jefferson was just not the same as he was the year before and Kemba Walker was not the same either due to injuries. They brought Lance Stephenson in for added scoring punch, but that move has proven to be a failure at this point. So in a move to get more offense, the Bobcats could bring in Stanley Johnson. The young guard/forward out of Arizona had some troubles shooting in college at times, but he can attack the rim and be a playmaker as well. With his addition and his acclimation to the professional game, he can definitely be a good addition to this team. And with his addition, it should be interesting to see what they do with Lance Stephenson, whether it be bring Stephenson in off the bench, start Stephenson or trade him before the season starts.

10th overall (Miami Heat): Devin Booker (G), Kentucky

Booker was one of the overlooked players on the loaded Kentucky basketball team last season. But there is no mistake that he was their best shooter. And when he got cooking, it was trouble for everyone. The Miami Heat are staring the potential end of the Dwyane Wade era whether it be this offseason if he indeed opts out of his contract and leaves or down the line when his body cannot hold up anymore. Whether he comes back or not, Booker would add a young guard that can make some things happen with the jump shot. Miami does not really have anyone on the perimeter that would be as consistent a shooter as he can be. And the great thing about him and potentially being a Wade replacement is he is not just a stationary shooter. Booker’s game off the dribble is underrated and many did not get to see it much due to the team he played with. But Booker can maneuver with the basketball (even though he does need a little bit more work with his handles). And the best thing that he can do is shoot the midrange jumper. That shot could be dangerous if he improves his handles. Booker would fit in whether being off the bench and would spread the floor for Bosh as well.

11th overall (Indiana Pacers): Frank Kaminsky (F/C), Wisconsin

The Indiana Pacers were playing without their star, Paul George, all season long. You would have thought that would have meant they would focus the offense more on center Roy Hibbert. But unfortunately, he was not able to come through like they have paid him to do and they struggled to get it done as a team without George. Some would think they would go point guard and select Cameron Payne out of Murray State, but they need someone that can get them some buckets and some production out of the center position. Kaminsky fits the bill for what they need. He needs to get stronger, but he can post and can also step outside and shoot. The Pacers offense would be better with the addition of him and with Hibbert going into the later stages of his contract, he could end up sliding right in as the starter eventually.

12th overall (Utah Jazz): Myles Turner (PF), Texas

The Utah Jazz finished the second half of the season strong after starting off slowly. The team had some issues with chemistry in regards to forward/center Enes Kanter, but when they traded him they seemed to play better. Derrick Favors and fellow big man Rudy Gobert fit better together as a duo than Kanter and Favors. But what that team is missing is another big man to fit in their rotation that brings something different than Favors asnd Gobert. Both players are athletic and can finish at the rim, but neither can shoot with any kind of range. With Myles Turner, the Jazz get a guy that can stretch the defense with his shooting ability and could cause some problems with his size as well. He would give them some pop off the bench as well. And with his addition, the Jazz would be able to continue their rebuilding process towards contention again.

13th overall (Phoenix Suns): Bobby Portis (PF), Arkansas

The Phoenix Suns were definitely a team that a lot was expected of last season. But with the team did not live up to expectations and did not make the playoffs. The results are a team that some are down on at this time. The Suns are known for pushing the tempo and guard Eric Bledsoe will be entrusted to do so going forward. But when you look at production in the post, the Suns really don’t have that one guy that can get you a bucket in the paint. With Bobby Portis, that issue is taken care of. Portis can post in the paint as well as can shoot the midrange jump shot. His addition would allow for the Suns to have a more fluid offense that can do everything. Love the Morris twins, but they cannot be depended on to score in the post at all despite their solid perimeter skills.

14th overall (Oklahoma City Thunder): Kelly Oubre Jr. (SF), Kansas

The Oklahoma City Thunder just could not stay healthy last season. And even though they had struggles there, they still almost made the playoffs. Despite that, this team is still looking for some additional parts to add to their arsenal. Looking at what is out there, they have some athletic wings that can make it happen. But they are missing that one lockdown perimeter defender that can take them to the next level. Although Oubre will not be the starter there in Oklahoma City over Kevin Durant, he could be that guy. Andre Robertson is nice, but he does not have the overall ceiling that Oubre does and the length advantage also goes to Oubre as well. With his addition, he will help make the Thunder a deep team under new head coach Billy Donovan. And although his offense may be sporadic at the beginning, he will definitely add to the athleticism they have and his versatility defensively will be a thing of beauty to watch.

15th overall (Atlanta Hawks), Sam Dekker (SF), Wisconsin

The Atlanta Hawks were definitely better than many expected, as they played their way into the first seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. And despite lacking a superstar, they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Free agency may not be kind to them this offseason as both their starting forwards, DeMarre Carroll and Paul Milsap, are free agents. With that in mind, the Hawks may be able to keep one but not the other. Assuming they are able to keep Milsap there in the ATL, the Hawks will be looking to add another small forward to their team. The best possible fit for them at that position is Dekker from Wisconsin. He has good size, athleticism and can shoot the basketball. And most importantly, he is able to defend at the next level. He should fit right in with what Atlanta likes to do and be an additional cog in their already talented and deep team.

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The 2015 NBA All Ski-Mask Way Team

Who made the NBA's All Ski-Mask Way team this season? (photo courtesy of www.imgarcarde.com)

Who made the NBA’s All Ski-Mask Way team this season? (photo courtesy of http://www.imgarcarde.com)

The NBA season is almost to a close as the NBA Finals are upon us. We have had many exciting games, plays and individual performances along the way. Who can forget the reception when LeBron returned Opening Night to Cleveland or when Russell Westbrook was on his triple-double streak? While those moments stand out in the memory of a lot of people, there are also performances that many would love to forget. Some fans may want to even forget their teams even played this year. And even worse, there are some players that fans may want to forget were even on their roster this past season. The trouble is some of those players are hard to forget because of the huge pricetag they tote with them. Some fans may accuse them of stealing money from their organizations. These players have earned the ire of many fans across the board and have been taking their paychecks with a ski mask all season long. So to honor these players, The Everyday Man’s Sports Blog presents the NBA All-Ski Mask Way team, dedicated to recognizing the best of the best of stealing money from organizations in the NBA.

Lance Stephenson-Guard, Charlotte Hornets)

When Lance was given the opportunity in Indiana to replace Danny Granger, he took full advantage of his chance. He was putting up triple-doubles and making the winning plays for them. He also was the only one that played and showed up consistently when the Pacers played the Heat last season in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals. It was all set up for him to have a huge payday and take his career to the next level. Some thought he would stay in Indiana and continue his growth there, but he decided to take his game and go to Charlotte. His deal with the Hornets was for three years and $27 million (last year of the deal is a team option) and he was expected to be the number two option beside center Al Jefferson. Well, he did not quite exactly reach the level he thought. Lance averaged 8.7 points per game, even less than his average salary per year. And he shot below 40% from the field (37.6%) for the first time since 2011. And to top it all off, the youngster out of Cincinnati was relegated to the bench for most of the season. Not what you expected from him going there. He may rebound next year, but we know the Hornets are looking to get rid of him if they can. But for now, he is there little salary albatross they cannot ship out of town if they wanted.

Eric Gordon- Guard, New Orleans Pelicans

Who can remember in the summer of 2012 when Eric Gordon was a restricted free agent? At that time, he signed an offer sheet with the Phoenix Suns and declared that he had found his home and did not want to go back to New Orleans. Well, the then Hornets signed matched the four-year, $58 million offer from the Phoenix Suns and ever since he has been disappointing the Hornets/Pelicans. This season he continued his downward fall in scoring from 15.4 points per game to 13.4 points per game. And he wasn’t even a dynamic player this past season either. It seems like he has been passed by on the team by the play of Tyreke Evans and if Jrue Holiday is healthy next season, he could be looking at a bench role or even (or should I say hopefully) someone will take his expiring contract off their hands. The Pelicans are probably very thankful that he is coming off the books after this year. But until then, that over $15 million salary for next season is a haunting upon the management there in New Orleans.

Deron Williams- Guard, Brooklyn Nets

Who can remember the time when Williams used to be in the argument about the best point guard in the NBA? The Nets were banking on Williams showing them that he was that guy when they signed him to a five-year, $98 million in the summer of 2012. To say the Nets have not got a good return on their investment is an understatement. The guard out of Illinois has been battling injuries during his entire time in Brooklyn and when he has been on the court, he has not been the same guy he once was. In fact, since he signed the big deal with the team, Williams’ points per game have declined each season, dropping to 13.0 points per game this season (his lowest since his rookie season in the NBA). People can say that it was because of his coach and the change of system, but good players get it done no matter what system they are in. As time goes on, it has become apparent that Williams was a star in Jerry Sloan’s system in Utah, but is an ordinary guard outside of it. He does have his moments, but he is not steady enough to be even considered a superstar point guard anymore. He does not perform like it and he likely never will again. He played good at the right time for the Nets and Brooklyn has been footing the bill for his declining performances ever since.

Channing Frye- Power Forward, Orlando Magic

Channing Frye was one that probably would not have made this list if it had not been for Orlando overpaying to obtain his services. Nevertheless, the rangy big man out of Arizona locks down the power forward spot on this team. Frye had the worst shooting year of his career (39.2%) after signing the four-year, $32 million deal. The Magic may not have expected Frye to be a superstar, but they certainly did not expect him to have his worst output since the 2009-2010 season. And to be someone that is 6’11”, you would think that he would average more than 4 rebounds a game despite averaging 25 minutes a game. But that is just the reality when you have a stretch four shooting three’s that does not do much else. Hopefully next season will be better for him, but that all depends on if his jump shot is falling. Because if it isn’t, then he will not have much more impact on anything else at all. Whatever the Magic saw in him as a prized free agent was an illusion.

JaVale McGee-Center, Denver Nuggets/Philadelphia 76ers

The JaVale McGee experience was limited this year due to injuries at the beginning of the year. But once McGee hit the court, the hilarity ensued. It just seems like McGee is not all there at times when he is on the court. And honestly, it seems like he is purposely trying to make us laugh and make Shaqtin-A-Fool each week. Tragic Bronson, as he is called by Shaq on his bloopers segment, is a very talented athlete. He is that rare combination of speed, agility and leaping ability. And that was on full display when he was under the tutelage of former Nuggets coach George Karl. But since he has been gone, he has been non-existent and not deserving of that contract that pays him $11 million a year. He may not have played but 23 games, but that was enough of a sample to let us know he was getting things done the Ski-Mask way and that he played good enough at the right time to fool the Nuggets to give him a deal. Great thing for the next team that signs him is that he has devalued himself enough where he does not come close to getting that amount of money. Philly bought him out once he was traded to them and he is out there for someone to grab.

All Ski-Mask Way MVP- Kendrick Perkins, Center, Oklahoma City Thunder/ Cleveland Cavaliers

The MVP had some stiff competition this year, but in the end, it could only be him. The big man was getting an average of $9 million a year from the Oklahoma City Thunder. When he was brought there, he was brought in for brute toughness, his defense and his locker room leadership. He definitely was not brought there for his scoring at all. But when his defense started to suffer and he was just a body out there that could not finish a layup consistently, then he became a liability. Honestly, his contract extension was not the smartest thing that Oklahoma City could have done because at the time, his deal knocked them out of contention to sign both Serge Ibaka and James Harden. And for what? 4 points per game. He was eventually traded to the Utah Jazz and bought out by them, only to join Cleveland on their championship run. But even though he is making a little less than $500,000 for the rest of the season, he still robbed the Thunder in broad daylight for a couple years. He is the true definition of doing things the Ski-Mask way.

Honorable Mention

Landry Fields-Guard, Toronto Raptors

Many have not heard this name in forever and that is because since he has been a member of the Toronto Raptors, he has entered the basketball equivalent of the Witness Protection Program aka the end of the bench. Not what many expected from a guy that made $8.5 million this season. The Raptors must be jumping for joy that he is not on their roster next season at that number. And with the exit of him, maybe they can use that money to bring in someone that can actually contribute in points per game and not claps per good plays by his teammates.

This is your 2015 NBA All Ski-Mask Way team! Hope you all enjoyed the team and enjoyed arguing about how bad they were this year.

The Everyday Man’s Sports Blog Presents The 2015 NBA Top 5 Draft Pick Predictions

Who goes where when it comes to the NBA Draft? (Photo courtesy of www.insider.espn.go.com)

Who goes where when it comes to the NBA Draft? (Photo courtesy of http://www.insider.espn.go.com)

Tomorrow’s superstars could potentially be in the 2015 NBA Draft. Many are excited over the many talents that are out there including the teams. But before anyone can pick, the NBA had their usual routine during the Conference Finals, the NBA Draft Lottery. In the lottery, the order in which teams pick is determined by their record and the bounce of a ping pong ball. The more you lost during the year, the more ping pong balls you had available to obtain the 1st overall pick. There were many teams that were hoping to obtain the 1st pick, but in the end, the Minnesota Timberwolves ended up with the number one spot. They were followed by the Los Angeles Lakers and then the Philadelphia 76ers. The top five was completed by the New York Knicks and the Orlando Magic. With that being set, many are starting to envision who will be wearing their favorite team’s jersey. Well, let’s take a second and check to see who could be landing where!

1st Overall pick (Minnesota Timberwolves): Jahlil Okafor, Duke

The Minnesota Timberwolves already have the reigning Rookie of the Year, Andrew Wiggins, to build around and now they have the 1st overall pick. With the team they currently have, they are more of a speed team. With players like Zach Levine and Wiggins filling the wings and point guard Ricky Rubio dishing assists, it would actually make more sense for them to select Towns to run with this team. But again, the Timberwolves do need someone they can throw the ball to in the post and get a basket. And with that notion, they may not want to wait and see what Towns becomes at the NBA level. So with the affinity that Timberwolves coach/general manager Flip Saunders has for Okafor, it is almost a no-brainer that he gets selected there. When the game slows down, the Timberwolves are hoping Okafor can be the guy to sustain their offense with his offensive footwork and soft touch. Of course the Timberwolves may suffer defensively with the young big man, but they will take their lumps there if the big man is able to produce for them.

2nd overall pick (Los Angeles Lakers): Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky

One of the coveted big men in this draft is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers. Assuming Flip Saunders is still in love with Okafor, the second most-coveted big man is headed West. The Lakers are looking for yet another piece to help them in their rebuild. They selected power forward Julius Randle last season out of Kentucky and he was essentially hurt all year after he suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the season. But even though they lost their top rookie, the Lakers still got great play from second-round pick Jordan Clarkson out of Missouri. Now with Randle coming back next season, the Lakers can add a healthy but aged Kobe Bryant and versatile big man in Towns. The big man out of Kentucky will add rebounding, shot-blocking and versatility to the Lakers frontcourt and he will also be able to learn the Laker way under Kobe for what some think is Kobe’s last year in the NBA. Look for the Lakers to begin the rebuild with Towns, Randle and Clarkson and maybe another piece in free agency to add with Kobe Bryant. It may take a little time for Towns to show his skills. But once Towns settles in, the Lakers will be happy with the monster they end up drafting.

3rd overall pick (Philadelphia 76ers): Emmanuel Mudiay, Guangdong Southern Tigers (Chinese Basketball Association)

The Philadelphia 76ers had a chance to get multiple picks in the lottery. But with the way the ping pong balls dropped, they ended up with only one. However, the 76ers still ended up in great position with the 3rd overall pick. The last couple of years, the 76ers selected injured players and essentially redshirted them for their first season in the NBA. Well, this season will be something different. The 76ers have some nice complimentary pieces that would fit well on a team that had a star. But the team is void of star power currently as they stand. Nerlens Noel is a player the team is high on, but they also have a decision to make with how they can use he and Joel Embiid. They may try Noel at the power forward position, but they will be physical and rugged up front. The problem with this team is they do not have a point guard. Well, in this draft, they have their choice of which point guard they want. Some may want the services of D’Angelo Russell here, but the 76ers may have others ideas. 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie was the only general manager to fly to China to see Mudiay and that should tell you right there the way he is leaning. The 6’5” point guard, who many don’t know a ton about, will be the 76ers international man of mystery this year and he will be one that will have Philly fans excited because of his size, speed and athletic ability.

4th overall pick (New York Knicks): D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State

The Knicks are going to have a lot of cap space this summer and plenty of Knicks fans were hoping the number one pick would be joining the players the Knicks are able to obtain with the money available in free agency. Well, everything did not pan out as well as the Knicks and their fans had planned. But all hope is not lost. Things could have been worse for them and they could have landed even further back. They will more than likely not get one of the coveted big men in this draft and that could have been something that would have helped Carmelo Anthony when he returns next season. But another thing they didn’t have last season was solid point guard play. The Knicks need a player that can be special with the basketball and bring some sizzle to the Garden. Russell is as talented an offensive player as there is in the draft. He has a nice stroke, good handles and can make the perfect pass in a tough situation and he is no slouch defensively either. He and Carmelo together and maybe a big man in free agency could be an interesting dynamic together. And the Knicks will finally have a point guard that could compete with the top point guards in the NBA potentially in a point guard driven NBA.

5th overall (Orlando Magic): Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky

The Orlando Magic have been out of the spotlight since they traded away Dwight Howard. The team has not been close to being a playoff-caliber squad and that is quite bad considering they play in the Eastern Conference. But this team does have some young pieces they can build with. Victor Oladipo is starting to catch his stride in the NBA, starting point guard Elfrid Payton got better as the season went on and Nikola Vujevic was a machine inside. The Magic fired their head coach, Jacque Vaughn, during the season and reports are that they are looking at current Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau and are willing to do anything to get him there. If that happens, you can bet he will look to build his team identity through defense. And what better piece would fit his scheme than Kentucky Willie Cauley-Stein? The athletic big man from Kentucky will remind some of current Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah with his game. He is not a scorer, but he is a guy that will defend, block shots, rebound on both ends of the floor and give you putbacks. The passing is not the level of Noah, but he can have a great effect on a team that is trying to form an identity.

This NBA Draft could help a lot of teams, but these in the Top 5 need it the most. And if they draft correctly, these guys could make their teams better immediately if they are selected where they are. It should be interesting to see if these selections hold true to form or if trades happen to change up the selection. What are your thoughts on The Everyday Man’s Sports Blog’s Top 5 NBA Draft Projections?

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