Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Recap: Top stories from Monday

Mavericks halt Heat win streak at 12 games: Lebron was held scoreless in the first half, and it looked like he held the offense up with multiple turnovers. James had 5 turnovers for the game and ended the night with a +/- of -20. Dirk Nowitzki and super-sub Jason Terry were the main catalysts in the Mavs' victory, Dirk had 26 points on 8-21 from the field and 10-10 at the charity stripe. Terry finished with 19 points on 6-15 from the field, all of them coming in a closely contested 4th quarter. Dallas has won 15 of their last 16 games.

New look Magic drop first game to Hawks: Orlando Head Coach Stan Van Gundy joked that the Hawks had six years playing together while these Magic had only six hours. That may be the case for this game, but this could become a recurring theme. The new look Magic are an extremely mismatched group that will have trouble finding chemistry. As I said in my previous post about this trade, SVG started Nelson, Richardson, Turkoglu, Bass and Howard, with Arenas coming off the bench; but that lineup wasn't very productive. Howard and Nelson had their usual night, but Turkoglu, Richardson, and Arenas combined for only 27 points on 6-23 from the field - that won't get it done.

Spurs extend their NBA best record to 24-3: Albeit it was against an under-manned Phoenix Suns squad, the Spurs are quietly off to a great start. Tim Duncan led the charge last night with 20 points 15 boards and 6 assists, while Gary Neal provided a much needed spark off the bench, scoring 22 points in 31 minutes. The Suns were without new acquisitions Vince Carter, Mikael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat.

Favre makes "final" MNF start, but doesn't finish: Brett Favre knows how to start drama. His last minute decision to play last night against the Chicago Bears was the talk of the sports world, and it started out looking like it was a good decision. Favre led the Vikes to a touchdown on the opening drive with a TD pass to WR Percy Harvin, but it all went downhill from there. The very next drive, Favre looked like the guy we've all come to know lately, a turnover machine. The second drive quickly ended with an interception. On the third drive, Favre was sacked, and drove into the frozen turf. He remained on the ground for a a minute or so, and limped off the field, and did not return. Maybe it was a fitting end to his career, but who knows what will happen this off-season with Favre, I hear a few teams are desperate for a QB (49ers, Cardinals).
The departure of Favre made way for rookie QB Joe Webb to make his NFL debut. Webb, a sixth round pick in this years draft, didn't do much with his arm, 15-26 for 129 yards and 2 interceptions, but he did make a dent with his legs, 6 carries for 38 yards and a TD.
With this victory, the Bears improved to 10-4 (6-1 on the road), and clinched the division. Cutler threw for 194 yards and 3 TD's and RB Matt Forte had a fairly productive night, 17 carries for 92 yards, on a night with such terrible weather.

Sidney Crosby extends point streak: Crosby, arguably the games best player, extended his consecutive point streak to 21 games Monday night, ending the Penguins 6-1 rout of the Coyotes with a goal and 2 assists. This is the second longest streak since the NHL's work stoppage in 2004-05, and trails only Mario Lemieux for the longest point streak in team history. Not to be outdone, teammate Evgeni Malkin finished the game with a career high 5 points on 2 goals and 3 assists.

Stamkos scores 100th goal as Lightning beat 'Canes: Steven Stamkos is quickly proving that Crosby, Ovechkin, and Malkin aren't the only ones who should be talked about. Stamkos' goal late in the second period made him one of six NHL players who have scored 100 goals before their 21st birthday, that list includes: Wayne Gretzky, Jimmy Carson, Brian Bellows, Dave Hawerchuk, and Ilva Kovalchuk.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A look at the Magic/Suns/Wizards trade

The NBA gave us sports fans an early Christmas present on Saturday in the form of a blockbuster trade. If you have yet to hear (or live in a hole), there were two separate trades, all involving major contributors from the Suns, Magic, and Wizards. Here is the breakdown of the trades:
Trade #1 -

Magic Receive:
G Jason Richardson
F Hedo Turkoglu
F Earl Clark

Suns Receive:
G Vince Carter
G/F Mickael Pietrus
F/C Marcin Gortat
2011 First round draft pick

I like this trade for Orlando a lot. They get Jason Richardson, who is an athletic wing player that can slash and finish, as well has spread the floor with the three. Richardson is shooting the three at a 42% clip, which is the best of his career, he is also averaging a very respectable 19 points per contest. J-Rich is a much needed improvement over Carter in more ways than one. Not only is Richardson producing at a much better rate with stats, but he is also cheaper, and four years younger.

Another great acquisition is Hedo Turkoglu. Turk is a 6-10 playmaker who played very well for the Magic from 2004-09, and helped lead them reach the 2009 NBA Finals, which they eventually lost to the Lakers. After that disappointing loss, the Magic elected to not match an offer made to Turkoglu by the Toronto Raptors. The decision to not resign Turkoglu surprised a lot of people including me, as he was the main catalyst in a very potent Magic offense. Orlando now brings him back, hoping that he can provide the same production that he gave them for over five years earlier this decade, averaging 16 points, 4 assists, and 5 rebounds. Look for Turkoglu to start, and play the same role that he did during his first stint with the Magic.

Earl Clark is a rarely used second year player who will most likely fill a seat on the bench, or be sent down to the D-League to develop. Clark does have some upside, however, in college he was used much like Turkoglu will be used with Orlando. Clark was a do-everything player for Rick Pitino at Louisville.

Overall, I think this trade makes Orlando a much more dangerous team on offense, but defense is a different story. Both Turkoglu and Richardson are more commonly known for their prowess on offense, but not on defense. If the offense is clicking on all cylinders, Dwight Howard can shore up the defense enough to get wins, but if it's not, it will be a long season for the Magic.

Looks like Robert Sarver decided that with the departure of Amar'e Stoudemire via free agency, his Suns needed to rebuild. The 33 year-old Carter's nearly 18 million dollar expiring contract will give the Suns tons of cap room and flexibility this off-season, but it may have come too late, as "The Decision" has already been made. Carter is amidst the worst statistical production of his career, but he can still play the game at a high level. Carter will be a focal part of the high tempo attack the Suns deploy, and if he plays well, Phoenix could still make the playoffs.

Pietrus is a guy who is known for his three point shooting, and defense. He is 28 years-old, and relatively cheap for what he can bring to the floor at $5.3 million this season. Pietrus is experiencing a down year so far this season, mostly due to knee problems, he has played in 19 games, averaging 6.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, and shooting 39% from behind the arc. When healthy, I believe Pietrus will be a very good player in the Suns system.

Gortat, a former second round pick of the Suns, was a coveted free agent this past off-season. He received a five year $34 million offer from the Mavericks, but because he was restricted, the Magic decided to match that offer, and Gortat was retained. The "Polish Hammer" has never been a starting center in the NBA, but he has shown the skill and defensive capabilities that could make him a very serviceable option in the Suns system. At 26 years-old, Gortat is young, and doesn't have a lot of miles on him. I think that this is a great chance for him to show his true capabilities. Good move for Phoenix.

If the Suns can make something out of Carter's expiring contract, I would rule this as a very good trade. The window for a championship in Phoenix shattered as Amar'e slammed the door behind him on his way to New York. The next move for the Suns is to move Nash, as hard as that may be, or as crazy as it sounds, if you are going to rebuild, you must commit to it 100%.

The second deal didn't involve as many players, but it did make just as big of a splash amongst the sports world. Here is a breakdown of the trade between the Magic and the Wizards:

Wizards Receive:
F Rashard Lewis

Magic Recieve:
G Gilbert Arenas

Washington's decision to rid themselves of Arenas comes as no surprise. They have their point guard of the future in John Wall, and it seems like "Agent Zero" brought nothing but problems. Lewis has seen a serious drop in his production this season, he is only averaging 12.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and shooting 36% from behind the arc. Lewis will immediately be inserted into the Wizards starting lineup, and should see a spike in his production. Lewis will be able to spread the floor for John Wall, and he doesn't have too many players fight for looks with. Not only can Lewis bring much of the same game as Arenas (other than ball handling), but he will save Washington a considerable amount of money over the life of his contract; he will also save them a lot of headaches.

I'm greatly confused as to how Arenas will fit in with Orlando. Stan Van Gundy has already guaranteed Jameer Nelson a starting spot, so where does that leave Gilly? I am assuming the starting lineup will be Nelson, Richardson, Turkoglu, Bass, and Howard. We all know the great scoring Arenas can bring, but we have also seen the problems that ensue if he doesn't get his way. Coming off the bench is not the way of the Hibachi, and he wont hesitate to let his thoughts and feelings be known. If Arenas can keep his cool, and understand his role, sixth man of the year, and a trip to the NBA Finals could be in his future.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A bad Choice?

After a Monday night loss to Michael Vick and the Eagles, Cowboys RB Tashard Choice asked Vick to autograph his gloves for his nephew, follow this URL to get the video:


This has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but for me, not so much. Dallas is completely out of playoff contention, and Choice is only trying to do something nice for his nephew during the holiday season. Choice apologized via Twitter, which I feel is unnecessary. Big deal, or not so big deal?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Save Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin has broken onto the NBA scene with a firestorm of ferocious dunks, rebounds, and a tenacity that can only be matched by few others in the league. Watching Griffin play the game is a breath of fresh air, he understands fundamentals, and is a smart, coachable player. Unfortunately for Blake, and all NBA fans, his greatness is buried deep within the doldrums of the 'other' team who resides at Staples Center.

The Los Angeles Clippers are synonymous with losing. Since changing from the Braves to the Clippers in 1978, the Clip Show has been nothing more than the laughing stock of the NBA. In 32 years as the Clippers, they have made the playoffs four times. They have no division titles, no conference titles, and of course, no NBA championships. The most alarming, and telling statistic that completely describes the Clippers, they've had only three seasons of winning basketball ('78-'79, '91-'92, '05-'06).

There are many reasons why this franchise has been so terrible for so long. Ownership, coaching, drafting, free-agent decisions, and trades have all been factors in making the Clippers one of the worst franchises in all of sports.

This blog post is dedicated to showing everyone that not even Blake Griffin, and all his amazing talents can get this team out of the gutter. In fact, Donald Sterling, Neil Olshey, and Vinny Del Negro should do Griffin a favor and trade him from the black hole that is the Clippers before it is too late.

Let's now take a look at the numerous poor decisions that have created such a sub-par team for over 30 years:
1985: Picked Benoit Benjamin third overall. Chris Mullin, Karl Malone, and Terry Porter were picked after.
1987: Picked Reggie Williams fourth overall. Scottie Pippen, Kevin Johnson, Reggie Miller and Horace Grant were picked after.
1995: Traded second overall pick, Antonio McDyess to Denver for Rodney Rogers and Brent Barry. McDyess has gone on to have very productive seasons despite knee injuries.
1998: Picked Michael Olowokandi first overall. Mike Bibby, Vince Carter, Antwan Jamison, Dirk Nowtizki, and Paul Pierce were picked after.
2002: Picked Chris Wilcox eighth overall. Amar'e Stoudemire and Caron Butler were picked after.
2005: Picked Yaroslav Korolev 12th overall. Danny Granger was picked after.

When analyzing a team who has had so many lottery selections in their history, one would expect them to have a plethora of young talent to develop. The problem lies with developing those young players. When the Clippers did make the right decision on draft night (Danny Manning, Danny Ferry, Lorenzen Wright, and Lamar Odom), the organization didn't bring them along properly. The other terrible decisions made, caused them to lean too heavily on many of their good selections. As a rookie, the pressure to single-handedly save an entire NBA franchise has proven to be too much to handle.

Although the Clippers have had over 20 lottery picks since 1985, they have only had the first overall pick twice. In 1998 they chose Michael Olowokandi, and in 2009 they made the no-brainer pick, Blake Griffin. We all know the Olowokandi disaster, but the pick of Griffin may be just as bad; not for the Clippers, but for Griffin himself.

The ultra talented, and supremely athletic forward is now stuck in a franchise I like to refer to as the abyss. So many players have been sucked into the Clipper way, and have never come out the same. Can we call it a curse? Maybe. Only one player I can think of has been drafted by the Clippers, and has gone on to have success, and that's Lamar Odom. Odom found his way to the brighter side of Staples Center and has flourished in his role, and is now the proud owner of two championship rings.

Griffin was forced to sit out his entire rookie season due to injury, strike one. He has been playing like a man possessed for most of the games this season, it has lead to a 1-13 record, strike two. Who knows what the third strike will be, but we know it is coming. I'm hoping the Clipper organization realizes what they do to very talented players, and save Blake Griffin's career.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week 6 Picks

Week 4: 6-8
Week 5: 6-8
Overall: 34-28

Packers over Dolphins - 24-23
Bears over Seahawks - 21-10
Chargers over Rams - 24-13
Ravens over Patriots - 20-17
NY Giants over Lions - 27-17
Falcons over Eagles - 24-17
Steelers over Browns - 31-6
Saints over Bucs - 28-13
Texans over Chiefs - 24-21
Jets over Broncos - 24-17
49ers over Raiders - 20-17
Vikings over Cowboys - 28-24
Colts over Redskins - 31-20
Titans over Jags - 24-17

Sunday, October 10, 2010

NFL Week 5 Picks

Jacksonville over Buffalo - 24-17
Cincinnati over Tampa Bay - 21-17
Atlanta over Cleveland - 17-14
St. Louis over Detroit - 20-13
Indy over Kansas City - 31-17
Green Bay over Washington - 27-20
Chicago over Carolina - 24-10
Baltimore over Denver - 27-17
NY Giants over Houston - 24-21
New Orleans over Arizona - 34-17
San Diego over Oakland - 31-14
Dallas over Tennessee - 27-24
Minnesota over NY Jets - 24-17

Upset of the week: San Francisco over Philadelphia - 17-13

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NFL Week 4 Recap

Fantasy Update:
Team FTS has won back to back weeks since going 0-2 to begin the season. Phillip Rivers has been carrying my team on his back, this week lighting up the Arizona Cardinals. Maurice Jones-Drew finally came out of his 3 game slump, getting me a nice 23 points. The surprise of my entire Sunday was Raiders TE Zach Miller. Miller caught 11 passes for 122 yards and a TD, he sealed my victory this week. I'm gonna need some RB adjustments this week due in part to the groin injury suffered by Clinton Portis, but mostly due to Shonn Greene allowing LT to take over his feature back slot. Marshawn Lynch was traded to the Seahawks today, so that opens up a few options at RB for all fantasy players. Lynch is available in a lot of leagues, and Fred Jackson along with C.J. Spiller will be getting a lot of carries with the departure of Lynch.

Best of Week 4:

5. Charles Woodson - The Packer DB has had his fair share of interceptions throughout his career, but this one was different. Woodson made the pick, then had the presence of mind to realize he was not touched down. Woodson proceeded to return the interception 48 yards, capping it off with a 5 yard touchdown dive into the end zone. That's how you play football, kids.

4. Danny Amendola - The Rams WR made a ridiculous one-handed catch against the Seahawks on Sunday, if you didn't see it, just turn on ESPN, because you need to.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars - The Jags finally got a great game out of their star Maurice Jones-Drew, and they beat the Colts with a nail-biting last second field goal by Josh Scobee.

2. Taylor Mays and Roddy White- Former WR punishing USC DB Taylor Mays, now delegated to special teams in the NFL, made his first big splash in the pros on Sunday. Mays tightroped the back line of the end zone and waited for the ball to fall into his hands. That recovery gave the Falcons a much needed 7 point boost. White usually makes his best plays on offense, but against the Niners on Sunday, his best play was on defense. After Nate Clements picked off Matt Ryan late in the fourth quarter, White chased Clements down, and tapped the ball out from behind, and the Falcons recovered the fumble, setting up the game winning Matt Bryant field goal.

1. Patrick Chung - The Patriots unknown defense and special teams gem was unleashed yesterday on Monday Night Football against the Dolphins. With the Patriots struggling mightily on offense, Chung took over with two blocked kicks, and an interception return for a TD. Who says special teams doesn't matter?

Worst from Week 4:

5. Colts - Not only did the Colts lose to the Jags on Sunday, but the also lost backup safety Melvin Bullitt for the season. With starting safety Bob Sanders expected out for the season as well, the Colts secondary is now more vulnerable than ever before.

4. Bears QB's - First Jay Cutler was sacked an NFL record nine times in the first half. On the ninth and final one, Cutler was knocked out of the game with a concussion. Backup QB Todd Collins started the second half for the Bears and he quickly threw an interception and was also knocked out of the game with an injury.

3. Bears O-Line - The Bears O-Line got worked by the NY Giants front line to the tune of 10 sacks, nine coming in the first half, ridiculous.

2. Dolphins Special Teams - To allow one guy to completely turn around the momentum of a football game is unacceptable. But to allow a guy named Patrick Chung to single handedly beat you on special teams is just outright bad. The Dolphins fired their special teams coach after the game.

1. You flip the bird to the refs, you get fined $40,000. Unhappy with the refs, or maybe how horrible his defense was playing, Titans D-coordinator Chuck Cecil was caught on tape flipping off the refs, and was swiftly fined $40,000.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

NFL Week 4 Picks

Falcons over 49ers - 24-13
Jets over Bills - 27-9
Bengals over Browns - 24-10
Packers over Lions - 31-13
Titans over Broncos - 28-13
Seahawks over Rams - 17-13
Steelers over Ravens - 17-10
Saints over Panthers - 31-10
Texans over Raiders - 24-13
Colts over Jags - 34-21
Eagles over Redskins - 24-21
Chargers over Cardinals - 24-17
Bears over NY Giants - 24-20
Patriots over Dolphins - 21-17

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

NFL Week 3 Recap

Congratulations to me on my first Fantasy Football win of the season. I'd like to take this opportunity thank a couple of people. First, I'd like to extend my highest praise to Joe Flacco for targeting my WR Anquan Boldin 11 times, and I'd like to thank Boldin for catching 8 of those passes for 142 yards and 3 TD's, that raked me in 32 fantasy points. Second, I'd like to thank Phillip Rivers for having a big statistical game against the Seahawks, he put up 28 points. Last, but definitely not least, Santana Moss was the difference maker for me this week. I decided to sit the struggling Mike Sims-Walker in favor of Moss, and it paid off, to the tune of 16 fantasy points. I beat a dear friend of mine this week, Pat Rammer, by a score of 115-107, but we all know friendships are thrown out the window when it comes to fantasy football.

Last week I went 11-5 with my picks, this week was much less successful. I went 9-7 in week 3 thanks to S.F. laying an egg, and New Orleans kicker Garrett Hartley bricking a field goal, again. You'll hear about Hartley later in this post. So my two week running total of picks is now at 20-12, not bad.

Fantasy Adjustments for week 4: I have only one guy on bye week, TE Jason Witten, so I added Oakland TE Zach Miller from waivers. I know the Raiders don't have a great offense, but I think Miller will have a decent game against the lackluster Houston defense. Other than that, I think I'm gonna leave everything the same. I'm tempted to start Shonn Greene against Buffalo because the matchup is so enticing, but, I don't feel like he will get enough touches to warrant a start over Portis or Jones-Drew. Let's now move on to the best and worst from week 3.

Friday, September 24, 2010

NFL Week 3 Picks

Tennessee over NY Giants: 24-17
Pittsburgh over Tampa Bay: 13-6
Cincinnati over Carolina: 27-10
Baltimore over Cleveland: 21-6
Houston over Dallas: 31-24
S.F. over Kansas City: 17-14
Minnesota over Detroit: 24-13
New England over Buffalo: 31-9
New Orleans over Atlanta: 27-20
Washington over St. Louis: 24-10
Philadelphia over Jacksonville: 27-17
Arizona over Oakland: 13-10
San Diego over Seattle: 28-17
Indy over Denver: 24-20
Miami over NY Jets: 20-17
Green Bay over Chicago: 24-17

Upset of the week: Miami over NY Jets
The Jets will be without Darrelle Revis on Sunday in Miami, which puts a lot more pressure on rookie DB Kyle Wilson to try and contain Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall. I think Marshall has a huge game, very reminiscent of his days with Jay Cutler in Denver. Miami's defense will also give the Jets a lot of trouble, we saw their full potential last week in Minnesota, and I see them playing just as well at home this Sunday.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

NFL Week 2 Recap

So I did half-way decent on my week 2 picks. The Vikings, Patriots and Titans killed me, but I ended up with a week 2 record of 11-5. My fantasy team lost for the second straight week, Maurice Jones-Drew seems to have forgotten how much success he had last season, or maybe he just forgot how to run. Jones-Drew ran the ball only 12 times for 31 yards, not the kind of production one would expect from a top 3 fantasy back. Shonn Greene was again a huge disappointment in week 2. Greene was a preseason top 5 fantasy back, rated in the top 10 by every single one of the fantasy "experts" that you can find. The LT resurgence in NY has cut into a lot of carries for Greene, and his lack of production shows that maybe he just isn't that good. Greene carried the ball 15 times for a lackluster 52 yards. I need production out of my two big time running backs to climb out of the fantasy hole they have dug for me. Let me give you a breakdown of my fantasy starters, and some bench guys that may end up contributing:
QB: Phillip Rivers, Chargers
RB1: Maurice Jones-Drew, Jags
RB2: Shonn Greene, Jets/Clinton Portis, Redskins
RB/WR: Santana Moss, Redskins/Mike Sims-Walker, Jags
WR: Andre Johnson, Texans
WR: Anquan Boldin, Ravens
TE: Jason Witten, Cowboys
D/ST: Packers
K: Rob Bironas, Titans
On paper, I think this is a really good team, but until guys start producing the numbers that they are capable of, I'm gonna lose.

Best and Worst from week 2:
5. Matt Schaub and Michael Vick - Schaub had a huge game in Texans 30-27 overtime win over the Redskins. He threw for 497 yards and connected on 3 TD's. Mike Vick had a spectacular start in the Eagles 35-32 win over the Lions. Vick threw for 284 yards and 2 TD's and might have caused head coach Andy Reid to rethink his devotion to having Kevin Kolb as his starter.

4. Randy Moss' one handed catch in the end zone was a thing of beauty. He escaped Revis Island with a ridiculous move off the line to get free, and finished in style. Another thing I liked about this play was Moss acted like a professional, no taunting, no celebrating.

3. The Colts Offense - after a disappointing loss in week 1 to Houston, the elder Manning didn't waste anytime in taking control of the Manning bowl. Before the Giants could blink, Peyton had shredded their defense for 24 points in the first half. Joseph Addai and Donald Brown combined for 161 rushing yards and a TD. Indy won the game 38-14.

2. The Miami Dolphin Defense - they held Brett Favre and the Vikings to only 10 points in their 14-10 victory on Sunday. They pressured Favre into making a lot of bad throws resulting in three interceptions, and a fumble recovery in the end zone for a TD. The Dolphins defense also collected three sacks.

1. Steelers Defense - maybe the Steel Curtain is back. I have doubted the ability of this team to recover from the loss of Ben Roethlisberger to suspension, and after Sunday's dominating defensive performance against Chris Johnson and the Titans, Pittsburgh has gotten my attention. The Steelers held Johnson to just 34 yards on 16 carries, picked off three passes, and had 4 sacks in a 19-11 victory to put them at 2-0 to start the season.

5. Vince Young - Young got worked over by the Steelers, and was benched in favor of Kerry Collins. Could this possibly be a repeat of the VY breakdown we saw back in 2007? We will have to wait and see.

4. Brett Favre - not only did he look old in the Vikings loss to the Dolphins on Sunday, but he looked disinterested. Favre threw three picks and had a costly fumble in the end zone that resulted in an easy six for the Dolphins.

3. Chris Johnson - Johnson carried the ball 16 times for just 34 yards against the Steelers. CJ is the offensive catalyst for this Titans squad, and if he's not going, the team doesn't either.

2. Reggie Bush - Bush is on this list not because of his performance, but because of his nasty looking knee injury. The Saints RB was helped off the field with 6:58 left in the game, and has been ruled out of action for at least the next six weeks.

1. The Dallas Cowboys - Most people's preseason favorite to reach the Superbowl lost to the Bears on Sunday 27-20, which puts them at 0-2 to begin the season. The offense looked terrible, the defense looked worse, and there are rumblings from certain members of the team, saying that the players got caught up in their own hype. This looks like a disaster waiting to happen in Dallas.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

NFL Week 2 Predictions

Tennessee over Pittsburgh: 21-17
Minnesota over Miami: 31-14
Atlanta over Arizona: 21-14
Baltimore over Cincinnati: 17-10
Kansas City over Cleveland: 14-9
Dallas over Chicago: 27-21
Philadelphia over Detroit: 21-7
Tampa Bay over Carolina: 14-7
Green Bay over Buffalo: 28-6
Denver over Seattle: 17-14
Oakland over St. Louis: 13-10
Houston over Washington: 24-17
New England over NY Jets: 28-21
San Diego over Jacksonville: 24-21
Indy over NY Giants: 31-24
New Orleans over SF: 28-17

This will be a new feature of Five Tool Sports, I will pick each game every week (besides week one) and keep track of my wins and losses. Also, I will give you guys an update of how my fantasy team is doing each and every week, besides week one of course, because Mike Sims Walker and Shonn Greene decided not to show up. So, from here on out, expect this on Sundays!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Skateboard Street League

As I was flipping through the channels on my 56" Samsung flat screen last night, I came upon something that I had heard about a few weeks prior, the Skateboard Street League. I remember hearing it once on Rob Dyrdek's MTV show 'Fantasy Factory' and again through email from a friend. I actually attempted to score some press passes to one of the events, but unfortunately, I never heard back. Although I was still a bit perturbed from being snubbed for press passes, I decided to watch; I mean, it was either that, or my sixth repeat of SportsCenter.

So, I was expecting to hear some random, confused announcer, attempting to use skateboarding terminology, but sounding extremely ignorant. To my surprise, Dyrdek himself, along with friend and fellow pro-skater Steve Berra, were each giving play-by-play and color commentary. It seemed as if they were right at home. Both Dyrdek and Berra were giving great explanations of what was taking place, how the scoring worked, why certain tricks were harder than the others and even giving background on each skater. Having the right people conveying information to the audience shows me that Dyrdek put a lot of deep thought and hard work into the Skateboard Street League.

Again, I was expecting the scoring and overall idea to be a little complicated to follow, but once I caught on (took about 2 minutes) it was very easy to follow, and it made a lot of sense. Let me break everything down for you:

Seven of the best skateboarders on Earth:
Nyjah Huston
Torey Pudwill
Paul Rodriguez
Shane O'neill
Sean Malto
Chaz Ortiz
Chris Cole

Four Sections:
1. Creative
2. Line
3. Technical
4. Big

In each section, every skater gets seven runs. Each run is given a score on a 1-10 scale, 10's are very hard to come by, as the highest score I saw from the competition in Phoenix was a seven. Each score is added together and that is the skaters score for that section. The score's from each section are then added together, and a winner is crowned.

Another thing I liked was the scoring bar located on the bottom of the screen, it allows the viewer to see which skater is up, how many points they are behind first place, and the score that they get for each trick. I've been out if the skateboard game since about 8th grade, when I realized that I wasn't any good, so I actually didn't know a few of these skaters (Sean Malto, Chris Cole, Chaz Ortiz). Leave it to Dyrdek to have the perfect solution to my problem. Throughout the competition, there are athlete profiles, where the skater himself gives you some background on where they came from and how they got to where they are today. It's the perfect way to help get a person on the fence to buy into the Skateboard Street League.

This competition is not just for fun either, there is a lot at stake, $150,000 to be exact. The fact that there are pretty hefty cash prizes for first and second place make this competition REAL. You can watch as the competitors strategize before taking their next run. They know their score, they know what they have to get to take the lead, or they know what kind of trick is needed to keep the lead, it's great to watch.

As Dyrdek stresses throughout the competition, the key is consistency. If you land every trick, you win, plain and simple. But it's not so simple, because skateboarding is difficult. I have the highest respect for anyone who can pull of the kind of insane tricks that these seven skaters were doing throughout the competition, it was absolutely amazing. The Skateboard Street League allows these guys a platform to perform their skill for people who may have never seen it live.

The part about this thing that struck me the most is Rob Dyrdek's sheer brilliance. First of all, the idea of having a Skateboard Street League is pure genius, never done before. Second, to have his other brands being advertised during the commercial breaks, DC and his kids toys the Wild Grinders, he's knocking out three birds with one stone. Lastly, Dyrdek is giving back to his true passion in life, skateboarding.

Dyrdek's success is unmatched in the skateboard world, and maybe even the world of entertainment. From DC to Rob and Big, Fantasy Factory, Wild Grinders, and now the Skateboard Street League, it's like everything Dyrdek touches turns to gold. I was intrigued by the idea, and now I am hooked, I think everyone should take time to sit down and watch this event, it's the future of skateboarding.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Best and Worst from Week 1 in the NFL

It was a very interesting opening week in the NFL, to say the least. A lot of good things happened, Arian Foster, the Houston Texans RB had a coming out party at the expense of the Colts. A lot of bad things happened as well, Bob Sanders, the Colts star DB is out indefinitely with a torn biceps muscle. So with no further delay, here are the five best and worst happenings from week 1 in the NFL.


5. Redskins beat the Cowboys in a battle of division rivals on Sunday Night Football.
Washington dominated the game on defense, and had a good controlled flow on offense in Donovan McNabb's Redskins debut.

4. Cheifs beat the Chargers in another battle of division rivals on Monday Night Football.
The Cheifs were counted out by almost everyone in their season previews (including myself). Kansas City gutted out an ugly win over the highly favored Chargers, and gave their rabid fans something to look forward to for the rest of the season.

3. Chris Johnson picks up where he left off.
Johnson showed no signs of slowing down in his first game of 2010. He carried the ball 27 times for 142 yards and 2 TD's in a win over the Raiders.

2. Ray Lewis lays out Dustin Keller.
If any of you watched the Ravens/Jets game on Monday night, you know what I'm talking about. If you didn't, youtube it, now.

1. Arian Foster arrives in a big way.
Arian Foster single handedly downed the Colts with his ridiculous performance on Sunday. Foster carried the ball 33 times for 231 yards and scored 3 TD's.


5. Chargers lose to Cheifs.
San Diego look abysmal in their Monday Night Football loss to the Chiefs. The Chargers offense desperately missed both LaDanian Tomlinson and Vincent Jackson, and their defense looked anemic.

4. Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles traded Donovan McNabb to division rival Washington, and the guy crowned to replace him looks horrendous. Kevin Kolb only attempted 10 passes, connecting on 5 of them for 24 yards before leaving the game due to a concussion. Another terrible judgement call was allowing LB Stewart Bradley to re-enter the game after suffering a very ugly looking head or neck injury which caused him to have trouble getting off the turf, and led to him stumbling and falling back to the ground.

3. 49ers get pummeled by Seahawks.
Maybe all the preseason love given to the Niners went to their head. San Francisco got shellacked by the Seahawks 31-6 on Sunday. Quarterback Alex Smith looked terrible, as did RB Frank Gore. The Niners defense couldn't stop a lackluster Seattle offense led by over the hill QB Matt Hasselbeck.

2. Tony Romo and Tashard Choice to end the first half.
Either take a knee or throw a hail Mary. No, Romo decided to throw a shovel pass to Tashard Choice, and Choice actually thought he could make a play out of it! Well, he got stripped of the ball by DeAngelo Hall and gave the Redskins six points, wonder how much the 'skins paid him for it.

1. Shonn Greene.
The Jets allowed RB Thomas Jones to walk after the most productive season of his career in favor of Greene, and how did he repay them? Five carries for 18 yards and 1 catch for 9 yards, oh yea, he fumbled twice and lost one of them.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

NFC East Preview and Predictions

1. Dallas Cowboys - 11-5
I really like the Cowboys offense, but their schedule is extremely difficult. We all know that QB Tony Romo can produce at a very high level, but his problem is performing under pressure. The past few seasons, Romo has choked on the biggest of stages. That being said, numbers don't lie, since becoming a starter in 2006, Romo has thrown for over 4,000 yards twice and 107 total TD's. I look for Romo to have another huge regular season in 2010. The running game in Dallas is definitely a strength, they have a nice combo of backs with Felix Jones and Marion Barber. Barber brings the traditional smash mouth running style, while Jones changes the pace and likes to break to the outside with his quickness. Miles Austin has emerged as a fantastic receiver that Romo loves to target, in 2009, Austin broke onto the scene with 1,320 receiving yards and 11 TD's. His counterpart, Roy Williams, hasn't lived up to the expectations he set for himself in Dallas, in fact, Williams has created nothing but problems since coming over from Detroit. I expect rookie receiver Dez Bryant to fill in where Williams doesn't, and have a nice year. Tight End Jason Witten is one of the best at the position, and every football fan knows he and Tony Romo have a great relationship.
The Cowboys have a really good front three with Igor Olshansky, Jay Ratliff, and Marcus Spears. Ratliff will be the anchor on the D-Line, he had a nice season last year with 6 sacks. Their linebacking core is very talented, and it consists of DeMarcus Ware, Bradie James, Keith Brooking and Anthony Spencer. DeMarcus Ware leads this defense, since coming into the league in 2005, Ware has accumulated 64.5 sacks. Don't sleep on then other three guys, though, because they are all savvy veterans and solid defensive players. The Cowboys secondary is led by CB Terrance Newman, but safeties Gerald Sensabaugh and Alan Ball can cause serious problems for opposing offenses. Third year CB Mike Jenkins had five interceptions last season, I'm looking for him to build on that performance.

2. Washington Redskins - 10-6
Not only have the Redskins bulked up on the field, they bolstered their coaching staff as well. They acquired veteran QB Donovan McNabb from division rival Philadelphia, and they signed veteran WR Joey Galloway to take some of the pressure off of fellow WR Santana Moss. Everyone knows the type of impact that McNabb can have on the field, but the impact off the field could be more important. McNabb brings the stability at the most important offensive position that the 'skins haven't had in quite some time. Maybe the most important signing the Redskins made in the off season was head coach Mike Shanahan. Shanahan is best known from his very successful tenure in Denver, and a lot of people are excited about what he can bring to Washington. Clinton Portis is the starting RB in Washington, and if he can stay healthy, we can all expect big things. If Portis does lose time due to injury, backup RB Larry Johnson will step in and see if he can recapture the success he had with Kansas City. McNabb will have three solid receivers to use at will, Santana Moss is a guy who can beat you both short and deep, Joey Galloway always has very productive seasons, and Chris Cooley is as sure handed as they come.
The front three may be the only question on this Redskins defense. We've all heard about the problems between Shanahan and Albert Haynesworth throughout the preseason, and if they can work through the disagreements, the 'skins defensive unit will be complete. I love the linebacking unit that Washington has put together, London Fletcher, Andre Carter, and Rocky McIntosh are all veterans who can teach rookie LB Brian Orakpo how to be a successful NFL linebacker. I think the biggest strength on this Washington defense is their secondary, LaRon Landry, DeAngelo Hall, Phillip Buchannon, and Carlos Rogers are all experienced veterans who can make big plays when needed.

3. NY Giants - 9-7
Eli Manning is back, and so are his extremely awkward interviews. Manning, since becoming a starter in 2005, has thrown for at least 21 TD's and 3,200 yards in each season, including his first 4,000 yard performance in 2009. Although Manning is a different cast of receivers this year, I don't expect any drop in his performance. The Giants receivers are an interesting cast of characters, someone has to step up to be the number one guy, and all the talk is about Steve Smith. Smith emerged as Eli Manning's favorite target in 2009, he caught 107 passes for 1,220 yards and 7 TD's, all being career highs. Smith may be the decided number one receiver, but WR Hakeem Nicks, a second year guy out of North Carolina, has the size and skill to be a great NFL wideout. Brandon Jacobs will again be the mainstay in the back field for the Giants. Last season, Jacobs production fell dramatically compared to the 2007 and 2008 seasons due in part to injury. As I watched Jacobs throughout the 2009 season, it doesn't look like he is running as hard as he did in the past. I doubt that Jacobs will have another 1,000 yard season in 2010. Look for Ahmad Bradshaw to have a much more productive season than Jacobs.
When healthy, the Giants defense is one of the best in the league. The front four of Justin Tuck, Barry Cofield, Chris Canty and Osi Umenyiora are very versatile and can cause huge problems to any offensive line. The linebacking group is young, Michael Boley is the only starter who has more than five years under his belt at the NFL level. The Giants signed veteran linebacker Keith Bulluck in the off season, look for him to steal some time from the youngsters. I really like the Giants secondary, CB's Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas combined for six interceptions in 2009. The Giants signed made a huge upgrade to their secondary by signing safety Antrel Rolle in the off season, look for Rolle to have a huge 2010 season.

4. Philadelphia Eagles - 6-10
The Eagles traded former franchise QB Donovan McNabb to division rival Washington, thus ushering in the Kevin Kolb era. The people in Philadelphia must know something about Kolb that we don't. I've watched Kolb throughout the preseason, but I have seen nothing to justify shipping out McNabb in favor of him. It should be very interesting watching how Kolb develops throughout the season. If I were Andy Reid, I'd take a long look at making Michael Vick the starting QB. The running back position is another question mark on the Eagles offense, second year guy LeSean McCoy will take the reign from Brian Westbrook who departed for San Francisco. In 2009, McCoy rushed the ball 155 times, for 637 yards and 4 TD's. I like the Eagles receivers, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek should all help make Kolb's transition to starting NFL QB much easier.
The Eagles defense is not as feared as it has been in the past. Trent Cole will lead the front four, while rookie Brandon Graham is looking to make a huge impact in his first NFL season. LInebacker Stewart Bradley will lead this unit, he had a big year in 2009 with 108 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception. The secondary is the bright spot of this defense, Asante Samuels, Ellis Hobbs, Quintin Mikell and Nate Allen are all very experienced, and very good defensive players. This may be sort of a " rebuilding" year for the Eagles.

Friday, September 10, 2010

NFC North Preview and Predictions

1. Green Bay Packers - 12-4
I really like the Packers team as a whole this year, and we'll start with the offense. Aaron Rodgers has grown and developed into one of the best QB's in the league. In 2009 he set career highs in passing yards (4,434), completions (350), and TD's (30). Rodgers also has some decent legs on him, he had five rushing touchdowns in 2009. Green Bay has kept all the weapons that Rodgers used to have such a productive 2009 campaign, I only see him getting better. Running Back Ryan Grant is coming into his third full season as the starter, and in each of the past two seasons, Grant has broken the 1,000 yard mark on the ground. Last season he set career highs with 1,253 rushing yards and 11 TD's. With another year of experience under his belt, I expect more production out of Grant in 2010. The Packers receivers are a mix of old reliable (Donald Driver), the young dynamic guy (Greg Jennings), and the quick slot receiver (Jordy Nelson). Jennings has emerged as not only the Packers number one option, but he's also a top 5 receiver in the NFL. Jennings has had back to back seasons with over 1,000 yards receiving.
Green Bay lost Aaron Kampman in the off season, but their defense still has the chance to be extremely dangerous. The Defensive Line Is led by Cullen Jenkins, but look for second year Nose Tackle B.J. Raji to have a huge year in his first as a starter. The core of Linebackers is the biggest strength of this defensive unit. A.J. Hawk, Clay Matthews, Nick Barnett and Brad Jones form one of the most feared LB units in the NFL. In 2009, Matthews has 10 sacks on his own (a Packers rookie record) and the LB unit as a whole had 19 sacks. Green Bay's secondary is led by six time Pro-Bowl CB Charles Woodson. In 2009, Woodson had 9 interceptions and 2 sacks, and was nearly matched by FS Nick Collins who had 6 interceptions and 1 sack.

2. Minnesota Vikings - 11-5
Favre is back, but Sidney Rice is out. Favre's favorite target from a year ago is out indefinitely after having hip surgery. Favre will be Favre, there is no need to go through stats, because we already know how good Brett can be. Running Back Adrian Peterson also needs no introduction, he alongside RB Chris Johnson, are fighting for the title of best back in the league. Second year receiver Percy Harvin and deep threat Bernard Berrian are gonna have to step up in Rice's absence, but the migranes Harvin battled all through training camp have to be a cause for concern in Minnesota. Favre always seems to have a good relationship with his Tight End's, so look for him to be targeting TE Visanthe Shiancoe a lot more often.
The Vikings also have a very good defense. The front four of Jared Allen, Ray Edwards, and Pat and Kevin Williams has to be considered one of the best in the NFL. The Linebackers are also solid, Chad Greenway, Ben Leber and E.J. Henderson can all produce at high levels. The secondary is lead by veteran CB Antoine Winfield, but second year CB out of Georgia Asher Allen is primed for a great season in 2010.

Chicago Bears - 6-10
Quarterback Jay Cutler struggled in his first season with the Bears, but Cutler can stil throw the ball with the best of 'em. Cutler has one of the biggest arms in the NFL and I look for him to have a better season in 2010. Unfortunately for Cutler, the Bears haven't put together a dangerous core of receivers. Both of his top pass catchers, Devin Hester and Johnny Knox, are Kick Returners turned into Wide Receivers, which doesn't really make sense to me. I am very surprised the Bears didn't make a deal for WR Brandon Marshall, given all the success he and Cutler had during their time in Denver. Running Back Matt Forte is an all-purpose back, he can run the ball like a traditional one, but he is also a very good receiver out of the back field. Forte had a down year in 2009, but I expect good things out of him in 2010. Also, look for WR Devin Aromashodu to emerge as Cutler's favorite target.
On paper, the Bears defense looks just plain scary. Tommie Harris and Julius Peppers are leading the front front four, and those two guys combined in 2009 had 13 sacks. The Linebackers are led by Chicago Linebacking staple Brian Urlacher, whose season was cut short in 2009 due to injury. Urlacher, along with Pisa Tinoisamoa and Lance Briggs create a very formidable group of LB's that should have great success in 2010. The secondary is a combo of really good players. Third year CB Zachary Bowman had six interceptions in 2009, and veterans Danieal Manning and Charles Tillman are always very dangerous.

4. Detroit Lions - 2-14
Quarterback Matthew Stafford is coming into his second year in the NFL, and this one won't get any better than the first one. Stafford had a pretty decent year in 2009, considering the lack of talent the Lions front office put around him. In ten games, Stafford threw for 2,267 yards, 13 TD's and 20 interceptions. I think Stafford himself will have a better year, but the Lions schedule is very difficult and it will be tough to come across wins. Detroit used a first round pick on RB out of Cal Jahvid Best, and by the looks of it, Best will be the starting back in week one. It is very important for a QB to feel comfortable with his RB, and hopefully Stafford can feel comfortable with a rookie in his back field. The Lions receivers are actually pretty good, fourth year man Calvin Johnson has proven to be a legit number one receiver, and Nate Burleson is a nice compliment on the other side.
The guy to watch on defense will be rookie DT Ndamukong Suh. The Lions used the second overall pick in 2010 on Suh and are expecting a lot of good things. Veteran DE Kyle Vanden Bosch enters his first season with the Lions and Detroit will be counting on him to be a defensive leader. Linebacker Julian Peterson will anchor the linebacking unit, he brings a lot of experience and stability. The secondary is a cause for concern, CB's Chris Houston and Johnathon Wade are both entering 2010 as first time starters. Safety C.C. Brown has some experience, but hasn't been a starter in two years, and second year Safety Louis Delmas has unlimited talent and athleticism, but he does tend to make a lot of questionable decisions.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

NFC South Preview and Predictions

1. New Orleans Sants - 13-3
The Super Bowl XLIV champs return their basically their entire offense in 2010. Drew Brees is one of the best QB's in the league, if not the best. Last season, Brees threw for nearly 4,400 yards and connected on 34 TD's, I don't doubt that Brees can best that performance in 2009. Running Back Pierre Thomas provides the tough, hit you in the mouth running style, while RB Reggie Bush brings dynamic play making ability both in the running and passing game. The Saints have four solid Wide Receivers in Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore. All four of those guys have the ability to produce at very high levels. Tight End Jeremey Shockey also gives Brees a huge target when all else fails. Drew Brees has unlimited options on offense, and they will be one of the top 3 offenses in the NFL.
The defense took a tough hit when Free Safety Darren Sharper was place on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which will cause him to miss the first six weeks of the 2010 season. The Saints do have a very good defense, despite the loss of Sharper. Linebackers Johnathon Vilma and Scott Shanle combined for 5 interceptions in 2009, they also signed veteran LB Danny Clark in the off season. New Orleans' secondary will be able to hold their own while Sharper is out, CB's Randall Gay and Jabari Greer both have the ability to be lockdown defenders, and fifth year safety Roman Harper has broke onto the scene as one of the best in the league. Defensive End Will Smith had 13 sacks last season, so look for him to have another huge year in 2010.

2. Atlanta Falcons - 10-6
The Falcons have three very good pieces to make their offense a very productive one. Quarterback Matt Ryan has developed into a solid NFL player, in 14 games last season, Ryan threw for 2,916 yards and connected on 22 TD's. I expect Ryan's numbers to be much better this season, as RB Michael Turner and WR Roddy White are healthy coming into 2010. Michael Turner is one of the most explosive backs in the NFL. His 2009 season was dampened with injuries, so I fully expect him to return to 2008 form when he rushed for 1,700 yards and 17 TD's. Like Turner, WR Roddy White battled injuries all through 2010. Despite all the nagging injuries, White started all 16 games and put up good numbers, 1,153 receiving yards and 11 TD's. I expect White to have many more receiving yards this season and about the same amount of TD's. Look for Ryan to take comfort in having TE Tony Gonzalez as someone he knows he can count on to get first downs.
For all the good players on offense, the Falcons defense cannot be talked about in the same light. John Abraham will lead the Defensive Line, and LB Curtis Lofton will try and teach rookie LB Sean Weatherspoon how to be an effective NFL defender. Atlanta gave a big free agent contract to CB Dunta Robinson in the off season, they're hoping he can provide another defensive stopper on the opposite side of Brent Grimes who had 6 interceptions in 2009.

3. Carolina Panthers - 5-11
The Panthers have good pieces on offense, but QB Matt Moore is gonna have to lead this team, and I don't know if he can. Moore is coming into his first year as a full time starter, and the Panthers haven't shown the utmost confidence in him; they used two 2010 draft picks on young QB's Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike. Wide Receiver Steve Smith is coming into 2010 healthy and is looking to have another season like the one he had in 2005 in which he had 1,563 receiving yards and 12 TD's. The Panthers have one of the best back field's in the NFL with the combination of DeAngelo Williams and Johnathon Stewart. Williams and Stewart combined for 2,250 rushing yards and 17 TD's in 2009.
The Panthers lost DE Julius Peppers in the off season, and it will be difficult to replace him. Defensive End's Tyler Brayton and Charles Johnson will help make the loss of Peppers sting a little less. Linebacker Jon Beason will be the only guy who was a full time starter at the position in 2009. Cornerbacks Chris Gamble and Richard Marshall are both very good players and combined for 8 interceptions last season. Safeties Sherrod Martin and Charles Godfrey are young, energetic players who definitely have playmaking ability.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 3-13
The Bucs easily have the best team website I have come across through this process, but they don't have a good team, and that is what matters. Second year QB Josh Freeman will be the starter, and I don't have much confidence in him, especially with the lack of weapons around him. Running Back Carnell "Cadillac" Willams has been broken down like the three Caddies my next door neighbor has rotting in her backyard. The number one Wide Receiver listed on the depth chart is rookie Mike Williams out of Syracuse, the Bucs are hoping he doesn't turn out like Pete Carroll's first reunion piece in Seattle. Tight End Kellen Winslow is an accident waiting to happen.
Tampa Bay's defense used to strike fear in the heart's of opponents, but not so much anymore. Some of the players from those great defensive teams still remain, Ronde Barber and Barrett Ruud, but defensive leader Derrick Brooks opted to retire. The Bucs used a first round pick on Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy out of Oklahoma, so look for him to get a lot of run. The Bucs secondary is quite dangerous with Aqib Talib, Ronde Barber and Tanard Jackson patrolling the area. Defense is not the problem in Tampa, the offense is.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

NFC West Preview and Predictions

1. San Francisco 49ers - 10-6
Former top overall pick, Quarterback Alex Smith played his way into another shot to the the starter in San Francisco. In his first few seasons, Smith could not live up to the expectations of being a franchise QB. In his first three seasons as a starter, Smith threw 19 TD's and 31 interceptions, that's not the output a team wants from a player they build their franchise around. Midway through the 2007 season, Smith was benched, and he didn't play at all in 2008. Last season, however, Smith got a second chance, and he took advantage of it. In 10 starts in 2009, Smith threw for 18 TD's, 12 interceptions and 2,350 yards. That career best 10 game stretch that Smith put together solidified him as the starting QB in the 2010 season. The 49ers have quietly put together a good offense around Smith. Frank Gore is one of the best RB's in the NFL and TE Vernon Davis has tremendous speed and skill at his position. The only question mark I see with this offense is at the Wide Receiver position. Michael Crabtree has yet to prove himself as a NFL wide out, but he does have the ability. Ted Ginn Jr. came over from Miami in the offseason, and he fits in as a slot receiver that Smith can count on to make sure handed catches. Overall, if Alex Smith can keep it together for an entire season, I like the 49ers offense.
The defense in San Francisco is nothing to sleep on. They have one of the NFL's best group of Linebackers with Patrick Willis, Takeo Spikes, Parys Haralson and Manny Lawson. In 2009, those four guys combined for 19.5 sacks, 7 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions. The Niners also have a lockdown Cornerback in Nate Clements, and another Cornerback who is primed for a huge year in Shawntae Spencer. San Francisco is gonna benefit greatly from the departure Kurt Warner.

2. Arizona Cardinals - 6-10
I think the Cards will quickly get over the break up with Matt Leinart, but with Kurt Warner gone, the starting QB job has been handed over to Derek Anderson. Some of you may remember the one taste of success that Anderson had with the Browns back in 2007 when he threw for 29 TD's and nearly 3,800 yards, the Cardinals hope that Anderson can come up with another season just like that in 2010. There are plenty of guys on the Cardinals offense that can help Anderson achieve success in 2010, WR Larry Fitzgerald is easily a top five wide out in the league, Steve Breaston is a good slot receiver, and the combo of Tim Hightower and Chris " Beanie" Wells in the back field can be very effective. It's up to Anderson to keep the offense on track.
Arizona's defense took a huge blow when LB Karlos Dansby left for Miami, but the Cards defense should still be feared a bit. Defensive Tackles Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell each had 7 sacks in 2009, and the Linebacking core led by veterans Joey Porter and Clark Haggans has the chance to be very dangerous. Arizona's secondary is also very dangerous, starting with CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who had 6 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles in 2009. Safeties Kerry Rhodes and Adrian Wilson combined for 8 interceptions last season.

3. Seattle Seahawks - 4-12
First year Coach Pete Carroll has his work cut out for him. Many were surprised that he left his lofty position as Head Coach at USC, but soon realized that Carroll was escaping NCAA sanctions for recruiting violations. Carroll inherits a Seahawks team that is not exactly a well rounded team, especially on offense. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is still a serviceable player, when he is healthy, and staying healthy has been his biggest problem over the last few seasons. Seattle will start third year RB Justin Forsett who had a very productive 2009 season despite limited action. Forsett ran the ball only. 114 times but gained 619 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and scored 4 TD's. Carroll surprisingly cut WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who was the Seahawks best receiver only a year ago. What was even more shocking was that Carroll cut him in favor of former USC WR and draft bust Mike Williams. Williams was drafted 10th overall in 2005 by the Detroit Lions, but never lived up to the high expectations. Carroll must be trying to get back the USC glory days.
The weakness of the Seahawks defense is their Defensive Line, their front four only combined for 4.5 sacks in 2009. The Linebackers are led by sixth year man Lofa Tatupu, but second year LB Aaron Curry will be the anchor of this defensive unit. Seattle's secondary is mixed with experience, Marcus Trufant and Lawyer Milloy, and inexperience with rookie DB out of Texas, Earl Thomas. Thomas will learn a lot from Trufant and Milloy this season, let's just hope he's listening.

4. St. Louis Rams - 3-13
The Rams are in rebuilding mode, and Sam Bradford is not a bad way to start the process. I can't give many stats on Bradford because college football doesn't come close to the NFL, but the Rams didn't make him the first overall pick in 2010 for no reason. Like any rookie, Bradford will have some major growing pains. I think he has the skill and maturity to handle the rough times with an open mind and work through them properly. Bradford will eventually be a good QB in the NFL, but 2010 will be a true test of will. Running Back Steven Jackson will provide Bradford with someone who can bail him out. Not only is Jackson a fantastic runner, but in my view, he is the best receiving RB in the NFL. Bradford can find a lot of peace in handing or throwing the ball to the ultra talented Steven Jackson. The Rams receivers will not provide Bradford with the same sense of peace, however, their inexperience may be detrimental to the development of the highly touted QB. Their number one WR Laurent Robinson's highest catch total in a season is only 37, I am extremely surprised that the Rams front office didn't make a move for a veteran receiver who could give Sam Bradford some stability.
The Rams defense has a couple of nice pieces with third year DE Chris Long, veteran LB Na'il Diggs, rookie LB James LaurinaitIs and Free Safety OshIomogho Atogwe. The good players this defense possesses will not make up for how many holes opposing offenses will be able to expose.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

AFC East Preview and Predictions

1. NY Jets - 12-4

Second year QB Mark Sanchez showed flashes of both brilliance, and stupidity last year in his first NFL season, finishing it off with 12 TD's and 20 interceptions and nearly 2,500 passing yards. The experience as a full time NFL starter in his rookie season will prove to be invaluble. I have a feeling that "Sanchize" will cut down on the interceptions and have more confidence in himself going into the 2010 season. With the departure of RB Thomas Jones, second year man Shonn Greene out of Iowa will get the nod as the Jets starting RB. Greene saw limited time last season behind Jones, but when he got the ball, he did good things with it. In 14 games, Greene rushed the ball 108 times for 540 yards (5.0 yards per carry), and scored 2 touchdowns. The Jets brass is expecting big things out of Greene, as am I. Sanchez needs one of his recievers to step up and take the role of the go-to-guy, and that could be newly acquired Santonio Holmes. Holmes was acquired in the offseason from Pittsburgh after the Steelers heard of his four game suspension for violating the leagues' substance abuse policy. When Holmes is eligible to play, look for Sanchez to take comfort in having him on the field.

The Jets defense is extremely talented. Yesterday, the Green and White finally came to a contract agreement with All-Pro DB Darrell Revis after a long hold out. The defensive line is led by Shaun Ellis and Kris Jenkins, who cause a lot of trouble for opposing offensive lineman. Linebacker Bart Scott is a do everything guy, and brings the intensity and toughness he learned from Ray Lewis in Baltimore. The real strength on this defensive unit are the defensive backs, Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Jim Leonhard, Brodney Pool and rookie out of Boise State, Kyle Wilson are all lockdown defenders at their position. The Jets defense will be one of the top three defenses in the league, and will be the sole reason for at least three wins in 2010.

2. New England Patriots - 11-5

When healthy, Tom Brady is a top three QB in the NFL, and guess what, he's healthy. Brady has nearly the same exact offense from 2007 when he threw for almost 5,000 yards and connected on 50 touchdowns. I am expecting another Bradyesque season in 2010. I like the combo of Fred Taylor and Laurence Maroney in the back field. Taylor is a wiley veteran who still has a ton of ability, while Maroney has shown flashes of greatness in the past, but seems a bit disinterested at times. I think the Patriots front office brought in Taylor to teach Maroney what it takes to be a good player and teammate. From the moment Moss arrived on scene in New England, he and Brady were an unstoppable force. In 2007, Brady and Moss connected on 23 TD's (an NFL record) and we can expect these two to connect on 13 or more TD's this season. Wes Welker is one of the best slot/possession receivers in the league. In 2007, Welker had 112 receptions, tied with T.J. Houshmandzadeh for most in the NFL. The Patriots offense is very potent, and should emerge as one of the best in 2010.

The big question mark for the New England is their defense. They have a few bright spots with Vince Wilfork up front, Jerod Mayo leading the Linebackers, and Brandon Meriweather breaking through as a young, dynamic DB. As of now, rookie DB Devin McCourty out of Rutgers is listed as the starting right Cornerback, if he is high on Belichick's list, then he must be good. Much like the 2009 season, the Patriots secondary is very questionable and will be tested eary and often.

3. Miami Dolphins - 7-9

The Dolphins have made huge strides over the last couple of seasons. They now have a Quarterback who I like to describe as cool, calm and collected in Chad Henne. Henne didn't have a huge season in 2009, his first as an NFL starter, but he played better than most expected. Now, with one of the best receivers in the NFL on his side in Brandon Marshall, I expect Henne to nearly double his TD total from 2009. Speaking of Marshall, he gives the Dolphins the big time receiver that every NFL team covets. Miami also has a nice one-two punch in the back field with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Both of these guys, at one time, were successful full-time backs, but injuries and personal issues have resulted in a steady decline in ability. Look for the Dolphins offense to have a solid 2010 season, also look for LeBron James to be roaming the sidelines wearing Dallas Cowboy gear.
The Dolphins defense, like a lot of others in the league, has some bright spots, but more holes. They start two rookies at key positions, Jared Odrick at Defensive End and Koa Misi at Linebacker. Miami does have a couple of supremely talented veterans to show Misi the ropes at the position, Channing Crowder and Karlos Dansby. The Dolphins secondary has two very good players in second year Cornerback Vontae Davis and veteran Strong Safety Yeremiah Bell who spend a lot of their time making up for other peoples missed assignments. Miami may nit be a playoff team this year, but watch out for them a couple years down the road.

4. Buffalo Bills - 3-13
The Bills, like the Browns and the Raiders, are a complete mess. They attempted the T.O. experiment in 2009 to no avail, now they are left with only one wideout who has proven he can produce, Lee Evans. Quarterback Trent Edwards was ready for a breakout 2009 season, but injuries last year prevented him from getting comfortable with new Head Coach Chan Gailey and getting in rhythm with WR Terrell Owens. The Bills used the 9th overall pick in the 2010 draft on an explosive RB out of Clemson, C.J. Spiller. In drafting Spiller, however, it creates a logjam at the Running Back position, with Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson also vying for carries. Look for the Bills to try and trade one of their three backs for another threat in the passing game.
Buffalo's defense is in shambles. They have a bunch of mismatched parts thrown onto the field together. I'm hoping they give rookie Linebacker Aaron Maybin out of Penn State a lot of run this season. Bills Defensive Coordinator George Edwards has his work cut out for him this season.

Monday, September 6, 2010

AFC North Preview and Predictions

1. Baltimore Ravens - 11-5
In the past, the Ravens have been feared for only their defense, now, their offense has joined the party. Third year QB Joe Flacco has blossomed at the position, and is primed for a huge season. Dynamic second year RB Ray Rice reminds me a lot of Maurice Jones-Drew down in Jacksonville, and will now be the featured back in a very potent offense, look for Rice to have a huge season. The acquisition of Anquan Boldin in the offseason gives Flacco another threat alongside veteran WR Derrick Mason. Also, look for WR Donte Stallworth to spread the field with a lot of targets deep down field.
The Ravens defense is still one of the most feared in the league, thanks to veteran LB's Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. Although CB Dominique Foxworth is out with an injury, the Ravens core of DB's can still be considered one of the best in the league. Guys like All-Pro Safety Ed Reed, CB Fabian Washington, CB Chris Carr, and Strong Safety Dawan Landry make it very tough on opposing teams ariel attacks.

2. Cincinnati Bengals - 9-7
I'm banking on Ochocinco and T.O. NOT turning this team into a reality show, but I can't guarantee it. If "Team Obliterator" (compliments of ESPN First Take analyst Skip Bayless) can keep quiet for an entire season, the Bengals have a chance to be very dangerous. Not only do they have a couple of top notch receivers, they have a good QB in Carson Palmer and a resurgent RB in Cedric Benson at their disposal. Benson had a breakout season in 2009, setting career highs in carries (301), rushing yards (1,251), and TD's (6), now with more attention being paid to Ochocinco and T.O., look for Benson to build on those numbers.
Cincinnati has put together a very nice defensive unit. When looked at one by one, it is very tough to find a glaring weakness. The real strength is their Linebacking core of Rey Maluga, Keith Rivers and Dhani Jones. Look for Right Defensive End Antwan Odom to have a massive season in 2010; in 2009, Odom was on a record setting sack pace with 8 through the first six games, unfortunately, his season was derailed by a ruptured achilles.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers - 8-8
With two-time Super Bowl winning QB Ben Roethlisberger suspended for the first four games of the season, the Steelers will find themselves in a deep hole by the time he comes back in week 6 against the Browns. It has not been decided who will start the season at QB in the Steel City, but it's between former Oregon star Dennis Dixon and veteran Charlie Batch. As of today, on the official website of the Pittsburgh Steelers, there is no QB listed on their depth chart. One positive to start the season is the emergence of third year RB Rashard Mendenhall as a full-time back. Mendenhall was one of many RB's to have a breakout 2009 season, setting career highs in carries (242), rushing yards (1,108) and TD's (7). With Roethlisberger sidelined for the first four games, Mendenhall should see a ton of carries.
The Steelers field one of the best and most intimidating defense in the league along with the Ravens. Nose Tackle Casey Hampton Is a force on the Defensive Line, and it allows the Linebacking core of LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior to blitz and attack at will. Strong Safety Troy Polamalu is coming of a disappointing, injury plagued 2009 season, so look for him to make up for lost time.

4. Cleveland Browns - 2-14
The Browns are a mess. I think the front office of the Browns are still mourning the loss of LeBron James, and forgot that they have an NFL team to run. They traded QB Brady Quinn to the Broncons, and chose QB Jake Delhomme, a guy who is far past his prime, to lead this "offense". Not only did they sign a QB who has thrown 30 interceptions in the last two seasons, they gave him no one to throw to. The one bright spot could be RB Jerome Harisson who should see a ton of carries this season.
The Browns don't even have a defensive depth chart to refer to. That must mean that they don't plan on playing defense this year, not a surprise to me.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

AFC South Preview and Predictions

1. Indianapolis Colts - 13-3
You can always count on the Colts to have one of the best offenses in the league, and they may have the best in 2010. Peyton Manning is getting better with age, and he has a full stable of thoroughbred receives to throw to: Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez will all get a ton of targets this season. If there is any question mark in the Colts offense, it lies upon the shoulders of RB Joseph Addai. Addai made a splash in his first two years as a Colt, rushing for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons. In his third and fourth seasons, however, Addai has failed to break 1,000 yards, mostly due to a reduction in the amount of carries he was given.
The Colts defense is good, but it's never at full strength. Defensive Back Bob Sanders is usually the one who is injured, but if it's not him, it's Dwight Freeny or Robert Mathis. The Colts defense comes in at full strength to start the 2010 season, and if they can remain injury free, look for them to be one of the best defenses in the NFL.

2. Tennessee Titans - 12-4
The Vince Young resurgence will be tested for a full season in 2010, luckily, he has the best running back in the league to help him. Chris Johnson had a monster 2009 campaign, which led to a contract dispute at the beginning of training camp. The Titans brass worked out a new deal with Johnson, and he is set to try and build upon the greatness he achieved last season. The wide receivers are a big problem for the Titans, Nate Washington, Justin Gage, and Kenny Britt have never been go to receivers, and one of them is gonna have to step and take that role.
I like the Titans defense a lot, Middle Linebacker Stephen Tulloch is primed for another huge season, and veteran Linebacker Will Witherspoon was signed in the offseason to bring some stability and leadership on defense. The biggest strength for the Titans defense is their Defensjve Backs, Cortland Finnegan, Michael Griffin and Chris Hope combined for 9 interceptions last season, and Jason McCourty will play his first full season as a starting Cornerback.
The key to the Titans success will be Vince Young. Can he keep it together for an entire season and lead the Titans deep into the playoffs? It should be fun to watch

3. Houston Texans - 8-8
There is no question about how good the Texans offense is, Matt Schaub is now an elite NFL Quarterback, Andre Johnson is arguably the best Wide Recievers in the league. After a lackluster 2009 season from Steve Slaton, Houston has turned over the starting RB job to second year man out of The University of Tennessee, Arian Foster. Foster is a big, bruising back who has underrated speed and agility, Foster is also a good receiver out of the back field. Matt Schaub needs a secondary option to throw to, and that will be deep threat WR Kevin Walter. Walter was injured for most of last season, and didn't get to make much of an impact, but look for him to get a lot of deep targets this season.
The Texans have some good pieces on defense, but it's not one that will outright win you games. Mario Williams, Brian Cushing, DeMeco Ryans, and Kareem Jackson are all elite NFL defenders at their positions, but there are too many holes to consider Houston's defensive squad an elite one.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars - 5-11
Maurice Jones-Drew is easily considered as one of the top three RB's in the NFL, and rightfully so. In 2009, MJD rushed for nearly 1,400 yards and reached pay dirt 15 times. Look for MJD to build on those stats in 2010. Quarterback David Garrard is one of the most accurate passers in the league, but he is not one that can beat you with his arm. The receiving core is lead by 2009 breakout Mike Sims-Walker. Last season, MSW lead the Jags in receptions (63), receiving yards (869), and receiving TD's (7) on limited time. Jacksonville doesn't have much to offer for Garrard at the WR position past Mike Sims-Walker, so look for them to try and address that with some sort of trade this season.
The Jags defense is definitely not going to help win games. It's sort of a rag tag bunch of guys, but they made some progress by signing Defensive End Aaron Kampman away from Green Bay and Linebacker Kirk Morrisson away from Oakland.

Friday, September 3, 2010

AFC West Preview and Predictions

Five Tool Sports would like to take this opportunity to gladly welcome the start of the 2010 NFL season. Many sports fans have been struggling mightily with boring, pointless baseball in between the end of the NBA Finals and the much anticipated start of the new NFL season. FTS is going to give you a fresh, straight forward look into each division, starting with the AFC West:

Predicted Standings:

1. San Diego Chargers - 10-6
The Chargers come into 2010 sporting a new look, LT is 3,000 miles away in New York with the Jets and Vincent Jackson, who led the Bolts last season in receiving yards and receiving TD's, is in the middle of a contract holdout with no solution in sight. The Chargers will be able to play through the aforementioned situations, relying heavily on the arm of Phillip Rivers. Rivers finished last season throwing for over 4,000 yards, and connecting on 28 TD's while throwing only 9 interceptions. Look for Rivers to connect a lot with TE Antonio Gates, Gates is one of the most sure-handed receivers in the NFL. LT's replacement is rookie RB Ryan Matthews out of Fresno State. There are huge expectations for this guy, and if he can live up to them, look for the Chargers to make some noise in the playoffs.

2. Denver Broncos - 7-9
The Broncos benefit from having the Raiders and Chiefs in their division, but it still wont help them reach the playoffs this year. The departue of All-World receiver Brandon Marshall to Miami leaves a huge void for WR's Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal to fill. I like Kyle Orton, but not as a franchise Quarterback. Orton can definitely throw the football, but I think he needs a top tier receiver in order to be fully effective. If Orton struggles, Head Coach Josh McDaniels has a big decision on his hands, play Brady Quinn or the much scrutinized Tim Tebow. I hope, for the sake of the Broncos and all of Denver, Kyle Orton has a successful 2010 campaign. It seems that the Broncos always have a 1,000 yard rusher no matter who is in the back field, and this year it should be Knowshon Moreno's turn. Last season, Moreno carried the ball 247 times for 947 yards and 7 TD's. I'd like to see Moreno carry the ball almost 300 times this year to help open up the passing game. Denver's defense is always solid, but they took a huge hit when LInebacker Elvis Dumervil went down with a torn pectoral muscle. Sources say that there is a possibility Dumervil could miss the entire season.

3. Kansas City Cheifs - 4-12
After a disappointing 2009 season, QB Matt Cassel is coming into this season with something to prove. In his first year as a starting QB, Cassel was less than spectacular, throwing for less than 3,000 yards, while connecting for 16 TD's and throwing 16 interceptions. I'll give Cassel a break, however, because the offense was developing under first year head coach Todd Haley. The Chiefs made a lot of good moves with their coaching staff, bringing on Charlie Weiss to run the offense, and naming former NFL head coach Romeo Crennel as their defensive coordinator. I also like the Chiefs back field, Jamaal Charles was one of the top rushers in the second half last season, and the acquisition of Thomas Jones brings a hard-nosed running style that is perfect for goal line situations. Wide Receiver Dwayne Bowe has the skill to be one of the best in the game, the problem is getting him to stay healthy. The Chiefs defense is very suspect, but look for rookie DB Eric Berry to have an immediate impact, also, all-purpose rookie Dexter McCluster can make some noise on the offensive side of the ball.

4. Oakland Raiders - 3-13
Al Davis has some big expectations for his team, but I'm going to have to disagree. The Raiders definitely upgraded at the QB position with Jason Campbell, but anyone would be an upgrade from Jamarcus Russell. Campbell, like Kyle Orton, is a nice player, but not someone who is going to lead a team like the Raiders to the playoffs. Oakland's receiving core will lead the league in longest names with Johnnie Lee Higgins and Darrius Heyward-Bey, but that's about the only crown they will hold. The silver and black will feature two guys in the back field with Michael Bush and Darren McFadden. I'm not a fan of the "running back by committee" approach, there should be a feature back, and a goal line back, but neither Bush or McFadden can handle the feature back duties. The Raiders defense will be responsible for any wins that this team may get this season. With Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Rolando McClain and Nnamdi Asomugha lurking on defense, some good things are bound to happen.

Friday, August 27, 2010

New FTS Logo

Sorry for the long delay everyone, but it has been a little hectic the last couple of weeks for me. I did happen to stumble upon someone very talented in taking my vision for an FTS logo and making it a reality: Mr. Kenny Tran. So, with great excitement, here is the new logo for Five Tool Sports, which will be fully implemented when I get the new website up and running.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sometimes, the Second Round Does Count

It's not too often that an impact player is chosen outside the first round in the NBA. When it does happen, however, it is a rare occurrence that is always interesting to look back on.

Since the NBA shrunk down it's draft to two rounds in 1989, there have been 26 second round picks worthy of being called good one's. The criteria for a good second round draft pick is different than its first round counterparts. A good second round pick is a guy who is serviceable over a long period of time, or a guy who shows the ability to be an impact player by doing "the little things" to help his team win. Although huge statistics in the scoring and rebounding categories would be nice, only a few of the guys on this list have put up numbers like that.

The list starts in 1989 and moves up to the present day:

Sherman Douglas - Drafted - second round, 1st pick (28th overall) by the Miami Heat
Seasons: 16
PPG: 11.0
APG: 5.9
SPG: 1
Douglas was a more than serviceable starting point guard for 16 seasons in the NBA. His numbers aren't spectacular, but he did play in 765 games in his career, logging over 21,000 minutes. His best season came in the 1990-1991 season when he averaged 18 ppg and 8.5 apg, shortly after that he was traded to the Boston Celtics for Brian Shaw. Douglas went on to guide the Celtics to multiple playoff births, and earned the nickname "The General" for his superior leadership abilities.

Cliff Robinson - Drafted - second round, 9th pick (36th overall) by the Portland Trail Blazers
Seasons: 20
PPG: 14.2
RPG: 4.6
APG: 2.2
Any guy who averages 14 ppg for twenty seasons in the NBA is a good pick no matter where they were chosen, but getting a player like that in the second round, it's a great pick. Robinson was a guy who showed up every night ready to play, and he always knew when to make a key play. He played in 1380 games, playing over 42,000 minutes. His best season came in the 1993-1994 season when he averaged 20 ppg and 6.7 rpg. In his 20 NBA seasons, his teams were in the playoffs 17 times.


Toni Kukoc - Drafted - second round, 2nd pick (29th overall) by the Chicago Bulls
Seasons: 17
PPG: 11.6
RPG: 4.2
APG: 3.7
Kukoc was a guy who helped pave the way for European basketball players to make their way to the NBA. Kukoc was deceptively effective on the basketball court, he did a little of everything. He had a soft shooting touch out to 19 feet, he could handle the ball and pass like a point guard, and he was big enough to grab a good amount of rebounds each game. At the end of his career, Kukoc ended up with three NBA titles under his belt, all of which he made key contributions to. His best season was in the 1998-1999 season when he averaged 18.8 ppg, 7 rpg and 5.3 apg. A lot of people forget how big of an impact Toni Kukoc had in those three Bulls championship run, but the numbers don't lie.


P.J. Brown - Drafted - second round, 2nd pick (29th overall) by the New Jersey Nets
Seasons: 15
PPG: 9.8
RPG: 7.7
BPG: 1.0
Brown wasn't a guy who was going to put up huge offensive numbers, but everyone who played against or with him knew he was going to give 110% every night. Brown was a guy known for his great defense and intense focus, he only missed 45 games throughout his career. Like I said before, a good draft pick is not just someone who puts up great stats, and P.J. Brown is the perfect example.


Bryon Russell - Drafted - second round, 18th pick (45th overall) by the Utah Jazz
PPG: 7.9
RPG: 3.5
SPG: 1.0
Russell will be forever known as the guy that couldn't stop Jordan from hitting the game winning step back jumper in game six of the 1998 NBA Finals; but if you watch closely, Jordan pushed off. Anyway, Russell wasn't a guy who was going to beat you with his numbers, but he would beat you with his hustle and his heart. His 12 seasons in the NBA could only be described as "gritty". Russell's best season was in 1999-2000 when he averaged 14.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2 apg and 2 steals per game.

Nick Van Exel - Drafted - second round, 10th pick (37th overall) by the LA Lakers
Seasons: 14
PPG: 14.4
APG: 6.6
SPG: 1.0
Van Exel had an interesting start to his college career. He wasn't heavily recruited coming out of high school, so his first two collegiate seasons were in Junior College. After those two dominating seasons, he caught the eye of Bob Huggins, the head coach at the Universtity of Cincinnati. Van Exel went on to have two productive seasons for the Bearcats, and it earned him a shot to play for the Lakers. There was no question in anyone's mind that Van Exel could play the game at he highest level, the only question mark was his character. He was quick and crafty with the basketball, and he had a very quick release on his shot, with distance far beyond the three point line. Van Exel's best season was in 1994-1995 when he averaged 16.9 ppg, 8.3 apg and 1.2 steals per game.


Eric Snow - Drafted - second round, 14th pick (43rd overall) by the Milwaukee Bucks
Seasons: 13
PPG: 6.8
APG: 5.0
SPG: 1.2
In his first few seasons in the NBA, Snow didn't have many chances to contribute, mostly due to the fact that he was backing up Gary Payton in Seattle. Snow remained optimistic, however, and was rewarded for his patience. In 1998, Snow was traded to the 76ers and finally got his chance to contribute as a starting point guard. Snow had his best seasons in Philadelphia, helping the team reach the playoffs five of the seven seasons he was there, including a memorable run to the NBA Finals in 2000-2001. Snow's best statistical season came in the 2002-2003 season when he averaged 12.9 ppg, 6.6 apg, and 1.6 steals per game.


Malik Rose - Drafted - second round, 15th pick (44th overall) by the Charlotte Hornets
Seasons: 14
PPG: 6.2
RPG: 4.1
Malik Rose was another gritty player who gave 110% every night he stepped on the court. He didn't ever put up spectacular numbers, but he did all the dirty work to help his teams win. Rose was a key contributor to two Spurs championship teams in 1999 and 2003. His best season was in 2002-2003 when he averaged 10.4 ppg and 6.4 rebounds per game.


Stephen Jackson - Drafted - second round, 14th pick (42nd overall) by the Phoenix Suns
Seasons: 10 (still active)
PPG: 16.1
RPG: 4.0
APG 3.2
Jackson was drafted directly out of high school into the NBA, that, combined with character issues, made it hard for him to get a legit chance with an NBA squad. Once Jackson got a chance, there was no denying his talent. San Antonio gave Jackson his first big shot to contribute, and he didn't disappoint, in only 26 minutes per game, Jackson poured in an efficient 11.2 points per game. Still, Jackson's character issues have caused for him to bounce around the league, playing for six different teams in his 10 seasons in the league. Jackson's best season came in the 2008-2009 season when he averaged 20.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, and 6.5 assists per game.


Rashard Lewis - Drafted - second round, 3rd pick (32nd overall) by the Seattle Supersonics.
Seasons: 12 (still active)
PPG: 16.7
RPG: 5.7
3P%: .392
A lot of teams overlooked Lewis in the 1998 draft because he was a kid coming out of high school, and they thought his game was a little one dimensional. In his first couple of seasons, Lewis didn't get off the bench too often; but he had a breakout season in his third campaign. In that third season, Lewis became a full-time starter and did so in all 78 games he suited up for. Given those huge minutes, Lewis but up nice stats, 14.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg and a very strong 43% from behind the arc. Lewis' production only got better from there, he became a consistent 22 point threat while grabbing six rebounds and shooting 40% from three-point-land. In 2007, Lewis was traded to Orlando and picked up where he left off in Seattle. Lewis led the league in three point field goals made (220) and attempted (554) in 2008-2009. He helped lead the Magic to an NBA Finals appearance in that same season. Lewis' best season came in 2006-2007 when he averaged 22.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg and 2.4 assists per game.

Cuttino Mobley - Drafted - second round, 12th pick (41st overall) by the Houston Rockets
Seasons: 11
PPG: 16.0
RPG: 3.9
SPG: 1.2
There was no doubt in anybody's mind that Mobley could score coming out of college, but the question was his dedication to the defensive end and the dedication to playing team basketball. Mobley didn't waste any time in showing that he could score on the NBA level, averaging 9.9 ppg in a very limited rookie season. In his second season, Mobley was the Rockets very deadly sixth man, putting up 15.9 ppg while playing only 30 minutes per game. After a very productive stint with Houston, the Rockets used him in a trade to land the much coveted Tracy McGrady. Mobley finished his career with stops in Orlando, Sacramento, LA Clippers and the NY Knicks. His best season came in 2001-2002 when he averaged 21.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg and 1.5 steals per game.


Manu Ginobili - Drafted - second round, 28th pick (57th overall) by the San Antonio Spurs
Seasons: 8 (still active)
PPG: 15.0
RPG: 4.0
APG: 3.8
SPG: 1.5
The Spurs always seem to have great late first round or second round picks, and Ginobili was one of their best. They drafted him in 1999, but he didn't play his first NBA season until 2002-2003. The extra time overseas gave Ginobili the chance to develop his game to better fit in the NBA. Ginobili is your prototypical South American player, he plays tough defense, can score in multiple ways (sometimes very unorthodox), and he always leaves it all on the court. Manu was a key player on three Spurs championship teams, and he won the Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2007-2008. His best season came in 2007-2008 when he averaged 19.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.5 apg and 1.5 steals per game.


Michael Redd - Drafted - second round, 14th pick (43rd overall) by the Milwaukee Bucks
Seasons: 10 (still active)
PPG: 20.3
RPG: 4.1
3P%: 38.4
In college, Redd's best season was his Freshman year, and every year thereafter his stats went down in every category. I think that, combined with a clear lack of athleticism, led to Redd's second round selection; but what a pick it was. In his first two NBA seasons, it was tough for Redd to crack the rotation, so the summer before his third season, he needed to find an identity. Redd became a dead-eye three-point shooter and a crafty all around scorer, four out of the ten seasons he has played, Redd has been in the top 10 in scoring. Unfortunately, Redd is stuck in Milwaukee where he can't win, and he doesn't get the credit he deserves. Redd's best season came in 2006-2007 when he averaged 26.7 ppg and shot 38.2% from behind the arc; surprisingly, Redd didn't make the All-Star team that season.


Gilbert Arenas - Drafted - second round, 2nd pick (30th overall) by the Golden State Warriors
Seasons: 8 (still active)
PPG: 22.7
RPG: 4.2
APG 5.6
SPG: 1.7
Arenas has a "me against the world" type attitude, and I think that was the main reason he slipped out of the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft. He wore the number 0 at the University of Arizona because all of his doubters said he would play 0 minutes at UofA. That trend continued in the NBA, and he has famously donned the cold and empty zero on the back of each of his two NBA jerseys. Even with all the problems that come with Gilly, he does bring a nice game to the table. When healthy, he is one of the top five scorers in the NBA, and you can't deny his passing skills, either. Arenas has made three All-Star teams, won a Sixth Man of the Year Award, and has been named an All-NBA performer three times. Arenas' career has been marred lately by injuries and the gun incident that kept him out for more than half the season last year. His best season came in 2005-2006 when he averaged 29.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg and 6.1 assists per game.

Mehmet Okur - Drafted - second round, 9th pick (37th overall) by the Detroit Pistons
Seasons: 8 (still active)
PPG: 13.9
RPG: 7.2
3P%: .378
After being drafted by the Pistons, they stashed him away overseas to develop a better back to the basket game, the type of big that can fit in the Motor City. Okur was more comfortable, however, playing his natural European style face-up game, so when the Pistons brought him over, he didn't fit in their system. When Okur's contract with Detroit expired, the Pistons let him walk, and he did so right to Utah. The Jazz catered to Okur's strengths and were rewarded by doing so, he has been a starter, and key offensive option for Utah the last six years. His ability to spread the floor with great three-point shooting allows Deron Williams to run the pick and roll much more efficiently. Okur's best season came in 2008-2009 when he averaged 17 ppg, 7.7 rpg, and shot 44% from behind the arc.


Carlos Boozer - Drafted - second round, 6th pick (35th overall) by the Cleveland Cavaliers
Seasons: 8 (still active)
PPG: 17.2
RPG: 10.2
FG%: .541
Boozer slipped because scouts thought he was a "tweener" at the NBA level. A tweener is a guy who is in between two positions, for example, at 6'8" Boozer was in between a small forward and a power forward, and NBA scouts really like guys who have defined positions. What the scouts didn't realize was Boozer didn't need a defined position, he is one of the hardest working guys in the league, and has a nice outside shot. Boozer has been in the top ten in rebounding four times, and has been in the top ten in field goal percentage six times. Boozer, a two time All-Star, is another second round selection that found his niche in Utah. His best season was in 2006-2007 when he averaged 20.9 ppg, 11.7 rpg and shot 56% from the field.


Monta Ellis - Drafted - second round, 10th pick (40th overall) by the Golden State Warriors
Seasons: 5 (still active)
PPG: 18.1
APG: 3.9
Ellis was one of the last players to be drafted straight out of high school into the NBA. It's tough for anyone to make that jump, but it's especially hard for a small guard to do it. Ellis isn't your prototypical point guard, but there is no doubt he can score the basketball. The Warriors made the perfect pick here, the skills Ellis brings to the table fit with Golden State's style of play like a glove.


Paul Millsap - Drafted - second round, 17th pick (47th overall) by the Utah Jazz
Seasons: 4 (still active)
PPG: 9.9
RPG: 6.5
FG%: .527
Millsap hasn't had the chance to showcase the skills that he possesses due to the fact that he has been backing up Boozer in Utah his whole career. Millsap has shown flashes of greatness throughout his four NBA seasons, and Utah has taken notice. They matched a huge offer last offseason that Portland presented to Millsap, and they let Boozer bolt to Chi- Town this offseason because they think so highly of him. This season will be Millsap's first as a full-time starter, and we will see if he truly belongs on this list.