The 300 Million Dollar Man

Manny Machado reportedly will sign a 10-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres, the largest contract for a free agent in the history of the Unites States (credit: ESPN)

Manny freaking Machado.

In my junior year U.S. History class, my teacher asked the class what the strongest union in country was.

He suddenly looked over at me; “NIIIICK!?” he asked.

I knew it was sports related (and he knew I knew that), but this was the around the time the NBA had cashed in on a lucrative TV deal that was about to drown everyone in money (see: Timofey Mozgov), so my mind was swayed.

“Basektball…” I said.

He was kind of angry (or sad) I got it wrong; the answer was baseball.

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NBA “Midseason” Award Winners

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James Harden is averaging a historic 36.6 PPG, and has made 274 threes this season (5th all-time); is it good enough for a second straight MVP? (Credit: ABC Houston)

Okay, so “technically” the NBA has already gone past the halfway point, with all teams having played over 50 games, but the All-Star break serves as a ceremonial end to the first half of the NBA season. Players get a week to rest, the league showcases it’s stars, and we gear up for postseason runs, with the playoffs starting in just less than two months.

Also, all the people who spent their time watching football one day a week now have free time to focus on basketball (which is funny, because it’s on Monday-Saturday, but I digress). More games will be seen on prime time (Saturday Nights on ABC anyone!?), and a national focus will emerge.

There’s been lots of good basketball played this season, and through this time, lets go over who’s ahead of the pack for award season. Continue reading “NBA “Midseason” Award Winners”

The IT Conundrum

Isaiah Thomas has done a fantastic impression of Carmen Sandiego this season. Just when we think he will finally return to the court, Thomas vanishes again, pushing his activation date further and further into the future. While the Denver Nuggets have succeeded in IT’s absence, some tough decisions will have to be made when he is ready to play.

Will Isaiah Thomas return this year at all?

Thomas had to sign a one year “prove it” deal with Denver in the offseason, the result of an unproductive 2017-18 season split between the Cavaliers and Lakers that was cut short by arthroscopic hip surgery. The upside of this deal for the Nuggets was massive – if IT could even somewhat replicate his All-NBA level of play from just two years ago, then Denver would have one of the top guards in the league – and there was little risk because of Thomas’ league minimum salary.

When Thomas inked his deal with Denver, he was slated to be their main 6th man coming off the bench and running the point. However, as this season has progressed, second-year player Monte Morris has emerged as a rock solid second unit floor general for the Nuggets. In about 25 minutes per game, Morris is averaging 10.7 points on 49.6% shooting from the field and 43.8% from three point range; which is the 7th best mark in the entire NBA. Even more impressive than his shooting is Morris’ mistake-free playmaking, as he averages 3.9 assists per game against a miniscule 0.6 turnovers. Turnover percentage is a stat that estimates the number of TOs a player commits over 100 plays, and Morris’ number is 6.4, which is good for 6th in the NBA.

Former 2nd round pick Monte Morris has contributed to the Nuggets’ success this season. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

With Morris’ help, the Nuggets have thrived this season, holding onto the best record in the West for a while before the Warriors got back to being the Warriors. Now Denver is sitting in the second spot in the conference, and you have to wonder where Thomas fits in this squad that already seems to fit together seamlessly. Every team can use more scoring, but if Thomas isn’t impacting the offense significantly when he returns, Nuggets head coach Mike Malone will have to closely consider his playing time because of IT’s defensive deficiencies and Morris’ excellent play.

There are a few ways Thomas can still have a positive impact on the team even if he doesn’t immediately have a large role upon his return. The Nuggets are a young team and, with the exception of Paul Millsap, have very little playoff experience. Anyone who watched Thomas play in the postseason with the Celtics knows he has incredible heart and can motivate his team. Denver is going to need that passion once the playoffs come around and the going gets tough. Another key aspect to keep an eye on is Thomas’ ability to get baskets when the game slows down. He was known as the King of the 4th for a reason, and you know IT wants to reclaim that status.

Thomas has been biding his time on the bench so far. (Photo by John Kuntz, cleveland.com)

With Thomas’ return date theoretically getting closer, the Nuggets will soon have to deal with integrating him onto the court. It would be amazing if Thomas came back completely healthy and fit in perfectly with what Denver is already rolling out. However this is far from a perfect world, and the Nugget’s just have to hope that IT is ready to contribute when his abilities are needed the most come playoff time. It’s been quite a roller coaster ride for Thomas since he entered the league, maybe we’ll get to see it go up again by the time this season comes to a close.

(All stats from basketball-reference.com, through Feb. 11)

The Anthony Davis Saga

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Anthony Davis’ request of a trade from New Orleans caused a lot of drama the past two weeks in the NBA; is this just the beginning? (Credit: Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports)

The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and Anthony Davis is still a member of the New Orleans Pelicans. After asking for a trade January 28, ten days of drama ensued as Davis was immediately connected to the Los Angeles Lakers.  We heard endless amounts of information (as well as misinformation) from the main parties involved, and the hurricane of madness even hit the shores of Boston, instilling doubts about the future of Kyrie Irving.  My favorite part? LaVar Ball came out of the cave Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka (must have) paid him to stay in, and told the world LeBron James is nothing without his son Lonzo!

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Who to Watch (February 8 – February 14)

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Credit: Michael Dwyer/AP

Welcome back to Who to Watch! Before we begin, we just want you to know about the changes we’re making.

With the NFL season now over, we’re scaling back the writers who participate on Who to Watch so we don’t overwhelm people with takes.  Since we primarily focus on basketball, football, and baseball (soccer coming soon, keep an eye out for that), that means it’d be all basketball, all the time, and too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing at all.  So between now and the start of baseball season, we’ll rotate Fredy, Andy, Mike, Kerm, and Nick by having three of those lovely gentlemen write a player to buy and sell. Don’t worry, you won’t go more than a week without seeing one of their pieces (we did the math).

Back to sports.

We just saw the Patriots cap of yet another Super Bowl season, their third in 5 seasons, and 6th since 2001… sounds like Mike was right about McVay (and Fredy was W-R-O-N-G about Goff).  In the NBA, TRADES galore! The following players were traded since we last met: Tobias Harris, Marc Gasol, Markelle Fultz, Harrison Barnes, Otto Porter, Nikola Mirotic, Markieff Morris, Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker, Iman Shumpert, Zach Randolph, BOBAN, Michael Beasley (sorry Kerm), and ANTHONY DA— oh wait… he wasn’t.  With the trades behind us, the season will now intensify, and we’ve got you covered, starting here.

Continue reading “Who to Watch (February 8 – February 14)”