Jamal Crawford

2010-11 NBA Preview: Southeast Division

Miami Heat (47-35 last season)

Miami is still Wade's town.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Carlos Arroyo

Shooting Guard: Dwayne Wade

Small Forward: LeBron James

Power Forward: Chris Bosh

Center: Joel Anthony

Key Reserves:

Guard: Mario Chalmers

Forward: Mike Miller

Forward: Udonis Haslem

I’m sick of having to play the injury card, but it really is that important to a team.  The big three of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh must stay healthy for the Heat to win, but three players cannot win a championship.  The role players (Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem) must step in and deliver if this team wants to win an NBA championship.  The most important thing for the big three to control is their egos though.  Does anyone care about the last shot?  Or how many touches?  Or who averages the most points?   Time will tell if they coexist.  Regardless, they are strong enough to win their division.

Orlando Magic (59-23 last season)

Arguably one of college basketball's greatest players, Reddick will make huge strides this season.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Jameer Nelson

Shooting Guard: Vince Carter

Small Forward: Mickael Pietrus

Power Forward: Rashard Lewis

Center: Dwight Howard

Key Reserves:

Guard: J.J. Reddick

Guard-Forward: Quentin Richardson

Forward-Center: Marcin Gortat

Get ready Magic fans, because Dwight Howard is coming off a summer spent with free throw shooting and Hakeem Olajuwon.  Will Dwight finally have a couple moves up his sleeves other than the occasional baby hook at times?  We’ll have to see if this possible MVP candidate can up his game.  The main focal point around this team is at shooting guard though.  Vince Carter is either going to cash in and have another solid season, or check out and become that veteran off the bench.  J.J. Reddick is slowly starting to get ushered in for the appropriate time to fill the starting shoes.  He is on the cusp of taking that next step and this could be the year.

Atlanta Hawks (53-29 last season)

With Mike Woodson gone, Josh Smith can breathe a sigh of relief. NO MORE YELLING!

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Mike Bibby

Shooting Guard: Joe Johnson

Small Forward: Marvin Williams

Power Forward: Josh Smith

Center: Al Horford

Key Reserves:

Guard: Jeff Teague

Guard: Jamal Crawford

Center: Zaza Pachulia

I really like this team and they are still very young especially if Jeff Teague takes the starting job away from Mike Bibby.  Bibby was very inconsistent last season and the most unproductive starter.  Teague definitely has the skills to start with a solid shot and a superb passing ability.  Joe Johnson got paid big time so hopefully he doesn’t go on cruise control until the playoffs because he is the glue to their offense.  If the Hawks want to go far in the playoffs, they need to pray they don’t meet Orlando.  Dwight Howard always has field days against Atlanta because they have no one to stop him.

Washington Wizards (26-56 last season)

Agent Zero no more, now number 9.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: John Wall

Shooting Guard: Gilbert Arenas

Small Forward: Al Thornton

Power Forward: Andray Blatche

Center: Javale McGee

Key Reserves:

Guard: Kirk Hinrich

Forward: Josh Howard

Center: Yi Jianlian

This will be one of the most exciting teams to watch this year.  With John Wall and Gilbert Arenas in the backcourt, who knows what jaw-dropping things can be done.  Arenas must stay healthy though (again with the health, it really is important).  Andray Blatche is also going to love having Wall pass him the ball.  Blatche is going to put up the numbers that he did after the All-Star break last season (20+ ppg).  Javale McGee has a ton of potential to be a very good center.  He is just starting to grow into his body, and his lankiness will cause a lot of blocks and altered shots in the key.  The Wizards have a definite shot at a playoff berth, but I think they are a year or two away.

Charlotte Bobcats (44-38 last season)

The league's best shot-blocker and rebounder, pound for pound.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: D.J. Augustin

Shooting Guard: Stephen Jackson

Small Forward: Gerald Wallace

Power Forward: Boris Diaw

Center: Nazr Mohammed

Key Reserves:

Guard: Gerald Henderson

Forward: Tyrus Thomas

Forward: Derrick Brown

The Bobcats are still a good team, I just feel that this division is stacked and they will be at the bottom of it.  I believe the loss of Raymond Felton will have a huge toll on the offense.  He doesn’t get the credit he should deserve and D.J. Augustin won’t be that problem solver.  Stephen Jackson is also at that point on a team where the honeymoon could be over.  He never seems to last long on teams because of his fiery and aggressive attitude.  With Jackson and Gerald Wallace this team still has a shot to be a very good defensive unit.  Look for Tyrus Thomas to also chip in both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.  As for the playoffs for the Bobcats…not happening.

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2010-11 NBA Preview-Overview

The NBA season is less than a week away and many are getting excited for what should be a fantastic thrill ride.  I will be posting division previews sporadicly during the course of this week and into the weekend.  Stay tuned for analysis on your favorite team, but for now, here is a division breakdown with projected records and the four important awards handed out at the end of the year.

Eastern Conference

Can New York make the playoffs thanks to Amar'e?

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics (51-31)

New York Knicks (36-46)

New Jersey Nets (32-50)

Philadelphia 76ers (29-53)

Toronto Raptors (25-57)

Central Division

How will the Cavs fare without LeBron?

Chicago Bulls (50-32)

Milwaukee Bucks (47-35)

Indiana Pacers (32-50)

Cleveland Cavaliers (30-52)

Detroit Pistons (29-53)

Southeast Division

Wall and Arenas will be a fun duo to watch!

Miami Heat (61-21)

Orlando Magic (54-28)

Atlanta Hawks (46-36)

Washington Wizards (37-45)

Charlotte Bobcats (36-46)

Western Conference

Northwest Division

Oklahoma City Thunder (52-30)

Portland Trail Blazers (51-31)

MVP! MVP! MVP!

Utah Jazz (47-35)

Denver Nuggets (41-41)

Minnesota Timberwolves (22-60)

Pacific Division

Los Angeles Lakers (59-23)

Phoenix Suns (46-36)

Los Angeles Clippers (36-46)

Sacramento Kings (30-52)

Golden State Warriors (28-54)

 

Southwest Division

How many games will Yao play in?

Dallas Mavericks (51-31)

Houston Rockets (47-35)

San Antonio Spurs (45-37)

Memphis Grizzlies (41-41)

New Orleans Hornets (37-45)

 

My pick for the NBA Finals is Lakers over Heat in a seven game series.  Here are the awards for the end of the season.

MVP: Kevin Durant

Most Improved Player: Hedo Turkoglu

6th Man: Jamal Crawford

Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard

Rookie of the Year: Blake Griffin

Ross Geiger’s NBA Mock Draft 3.0

1. Washington Wizards- John Wall, Kentucky

Oh how a year changes things.

2. Philadelphia 76ers- Evan Turner, Ohio State

3. New Jersey Nets- Wesley Johnson, Syracuse

4. Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech

5. Sacramento Kings- DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky

6. Golden State Warriors- Ekpe Udoh, Baylor

7. Detroit Pistons- Ed Davis, North Carolina

8. Los Angeles Clippers- Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

9. Utah Jazz- Luke Babbit, Nevada

10. Indiana Pacers- Greg Monroe, Georgetown

11. New Orleans Hornets- Gordon Hayward, Butler

12. Memphis Grizzlies- Paul George, Fresno State

13. Toronto Raptors- Cole Aldrich, Kansas

14. Houston Rockets- Patrick Patterson, Kentucky

15. Milwaukee Bucks- Xavier Henry, Kansas

16. Minnesota Timberwolves- Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati

17. Chicago Bulls- Avery Bradley, Texas

18. Oklahoma City Thunder- Damian James, Texas

19. Boston Celtics- James Anderson, Oklahoma State

20. San Antonio Spurs- Craig Brackens, Iowa State

21. Oklahoma City Thunder- Kevin Seraphin, France

22. Portland Trail Blazers- Hassan Whiteside, Marshall

23. Minnesota Timberwolves- Larry Sanders, VCU

24. Atlanta Hawks- Solomon Alabi, Florida State

Kentucky is well represented in the 1st round.

25. Memphis Grizzlies- Daniel Orton, Kentucky

26. Oklahoma City Thunder- Elliot Williams, Memphis

27. New Jersey Nets- Jordan Crawford, Xavier

28. Memphis Grizzlies- Dominique Jones, South Florida

29. Orlando Magic- Devin Ebanks, West Virginia

30. Washington Wizards- Quincy Pondexter, Washington

31. New Jersey Nets- Keith “Tiny” Gallon, Oklahoma

32. Miami Heat- Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech

33. Sacramento Kings- Ryan Richards, England

34. Portland Trail Blazers- Stanley Robinson, UConn

35. Washington Wizards- Willie Warren, Oklahoma

36. Detroit Pistons- Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky

37. Milwaukee Bucks- Jarvis Varnado, Mississppi State

38. New York Knicks- Terrico White, Mississppi

39. New York Knicks- Trevor Booker, Clemson

40. Indiana Pacers- Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia

Butler was the heart of WVU, and he now goes to the city where Butler University plays ball. Coincidence??? Yes.

41. Miami Heat- Armon Johnson, Nevada

42. Miami Heat- Dexter Pittman, Texas

43. Los Angeles Lakers- Greivis Vasquez, Maryland

44. Milwaukee Bucks- Samardo Samuels, Louisville

45. Minnesota Timberwolves- Nemanja Bjelica, Serbia

46. Phoenix Suns- Thomas Heurtel- France

47. Milwaukee Bucks- Dwyane Collins, Miami

48. Miami Heat- Tibor Pleiss, Germany

Radford is also represented...

49. San Antonio Spurs- Art Parakhouski, Radford

50. Dallas Mavericks- Latavious Williams, USA (D-League)

51. Oklahoma City Thunder- Derrick Caracter, UTEP

52. Boston Celtics- Manny Harris, Michigan

53. Atlanta Hawks- Sylven Landesberg, Virginia

54. Los Angeles Clippers- Sherron Collins, Kansas

55. Utah Jazz- Jon Scheyer, Duke

56. Minnesota Timberwolves- Artem Zabelin, Russia

Looks like Kahn is going to steal Zabelin from Prokorhov

57. Indiana Pacers- Ben Uzoh, Tulsa

58. Los Angeles Lakers- Alexey Shved, Russia

59. Orlando Magic- Mikhail Torrance, Alabama

60. Phoenix Suns- Lazar Hayward, Marquette

Hey, Phoenix! DRAFT ME!!!!!!!!

Ross Geiger’s NBA Mock Draft 2.0

With the 2010 NBA Draft  just 2 weeks away, I give you my updated NBA Mock Draft 2.0. A lot has changed since my first mock draft: NBA Draft Combine was held, team scheduled workouts are underway, and player evaluations have improved. For the past two weeks, I’ve been staying up on my research of the top prospects: from their completed workouts, interested teams, to all the rumors. From everything I’ve compiled through the web, daily newspapers, magazines, and of course my own sources here’s how I feel this year’s NBA Draft will shakedown if the draft were to be held tomorrow. Enjoy!

1. Wizards- This pick is going nowhere, John Wall will be a Washington Wizard next season, I can assure you that.

Selection: John Wall, Kentucky

2. 76ers- As I mentioned in my mock draft, the 76ers aren’t 100% certain they’ll hold onto this pick. There’s definitely a possibility that the #2 pick could be sent away if I the trading partner is willing to take on Elton Brand and his long-term contract. Unless Brand is included in a deal, I see Philly keeping the pick, don’t see them involving Iguodala unless they’ll receive a high 1st round pick in return.

Selection: Evan Turner, Ohio State

3. Nets- There has been some outside interest from around the league regarding their 3rd pick in this year’s draft but as of now don’t expect any deals involving the pick to happen.

Selection:  Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech

That's Right DeMarcus, you're draft stock is rising

4. Minnesota Timberwolves- Minnesota is all but satisfied with this pick and are exploring their options on moving up as well as out of the draft with their fourth pick. With two other first round picks in this year’s draft, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get rid of the 4th pick if the right deal was on the table. The fourth pick is definitely available to all teams, if the price is right. If they don’t move the pick, I now see the Timberwolves selecting DeMarcus Cousins here at #3. Many would scratch their head to where exactly he fits in, but let’s not forget the Wolves kept surprising us last year, stocking up with point guards in each of their three first-round picks. They shipped off one of them in Ty Lawson and I see the selection of Cousins allowing them to ship off either Kevin Love or Al Jefferson (the more likely to be moved).

Selection: DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky

5. Sacramento Kings- Each year it seems like nobody has a clue what the Kings organization has up their sleeve on draft night and once again the NBA world is kept pondering their options here. What I can tell you is that the Sacramento Kings have no interest in trading this pick. The question that remains unknown is whether or not they’d select Greg Monroe over DeMarcus Cousins. While Cousins is regarded as the player with most potential, Monroe is the safe pick who reminds Sac-Town of a young Chris Webber. I see Sacramento not rolling any dice and taking the safe pick with Monroe.

Selection: Greg Monroe, Georgetown

A sign & trade deal could point Wesley Johnson in a different direction come July

6. Golden State Warriors- If Wesley Johnson falls to the Warriors here at #6, there’s no chance they’ll pass him up. But I’m going to throw you a Oakland-like Zito curve ball to ponder, could the Phoenix Suns do a sign-and-trade Amare Stoudemire to Golden State in exchange for Wesley Johnson. No truth behind this happening, but I like the proposition. Amare gets his max contract with a good fit in Golden State, while the Suns get a nice piece to move towards the future with, just saying.

Selection: Wesley Johnson, Syracuse

7. Detroit Pistons- While the Pistons have been reportedly aggressively trying to move up into the 4-5 range, I just don’t see it happening unless they strike a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves. I wouldn’t have the slightest idea what the Pistons would be willing to offer and what the Timberwolves would be willing to accept but I’d say Rodney Stuckey and/or Tayshaun Prince would be included in any deal. If Detroit doesn’t deal, expect them to take Al-Farouq Aminu. He’s a young, up and coming small forward that allows them to continue to shop Tayshaun Prince who they’re more than willing to get off their hands.

Selection: Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

8. Los Angeles Clippers-Lots of hype around the Web say the Clippers are hot on Gordon Haywood and that isn’t a surprise to me. He’s versatile, he’s a winner, and could pan out to be a great pick, even here as high as eight. I find their interest in Hayward comical because I see a lot of Mike Dunleavy in Gordon Hayward as an NBA prospect. Hayward will definitely be mentioned inside the Clippers draft room when on the clock but in the end I see them passing on him and going with Xavier Henry instead.

Selection: Xavier Henry, Kansas

9. Utah Jazz- ESPN’s Chad Ford wrote that the Utah Jazz have been high on Luke Babbit longer than most and they’ve continue to remain high on his potential. But do I really see them using their 9th pick on Babbit? Absolutely not, maybe this is just my own bias here, being that I’m not high on Babbitt as a top ten pick, but I see the Jazz going power forward. They know they’re losing Carlos Boozer this summer so why not go with a power forward with high potential to back-up the new starting power forward in Utah, Paul Millsap? I see Jerry Sloan and the Utah Jazz taking none other than Ed Davis as big with a high potential and basketball intellect.

Selection: Ed Davis, North Carolina

10. Indiana Pacers- Maybe the scenario is too perfect but if Gordon Hayward is still on the board, we all know the talk will be how in the world could Indiana pass up on him? I see them buying into the idea of selecting him for a variety of reasons. Not only will he help sell seats and be a great fit building toward the future, but it gives the Pacers the ability to unload Danny Granger. I remain high on the idea that the Timberwolves will strike out in snagging restricted free agent Rudy Gay and will elect to trade for Danny Granger. Pacers then get either Kevin Love or Al Jefferson in return which replaces departing free agent Troy Murphy (after next year) and they’re future finally gets on the right track.

Selection: Gordon Hayward, Butler

N.O. could be a perfect fit especially as Whiteside draws the Tyson Chandler comparisons

11. New Orleans Hornets- The Hornets could go any direction outside of drafting a point guard at the eleventh position. But of all their immediate needs, I see them selecting a center with this pick. With Okafor everything but impressive in his first season with the Hornets, it’d be wise that they take the opportunity to draft a big man to develop. If there was a time to do it, the time is now. This year’s draft at pick #11 offers a variety of attractive centers that could potentially blossom into stars. The three top candidates for this pick if they decide to look inside would be Cole Aldrich, Hassan Whiteside, and Daniel Orton. Though it’s pretty clear that Aldrich is the most NBA-ready center to step right in to contribute I see the Hornets drafting on overall potential and athleticism. With that being said, I see New Orleans taking Hassan Whiteside, a prospect often compared to Tyson Chandler type player around the basket. Last time I checked, Chris Paul played pretty well with the real Tyson Chandler, maybe Whiteside can tandem to do much of the same down the road. But there is some definite concern, it has been reported that Hassan Whiteside and Daniel Orton both got schooled recently by Rockets center (& former Hornet draftee) Hilton Armstrong, take it for what it’s worth. I know that hearing that kind of concerns me, but I’m still a buyer on Whiteside’s potential.

Selection: Hassan Whiteside, Marshall

12. Memphis Grizzlies- I don’t hear much drift out of the Memphis Grizzlies camp but credible sources around the league have said that the Grizzlies are set on selecting Luke Babbitt if he happens to fall into their hands at twelve. Personally, I don’t like the pick nor Babbitt as an NBA prospect, but this is the same team that drafted Hasheem Thabeet 2nd overall last year.

Selection: Luke Babbitt, Nevada

How is he not a perfect fit in Toronto if he falls to them at #13? Can he play for the Maple Leafs too?

13. Toronto Raptors- With Chris Bosh departing, drafting a power forward is a must for the Toronto Raptors this year.  Or do they? Last year Toronto signed their former first pick Andrea Bargnani to a 5 year, $50 million dollar extension. If Cole Aldrich is still on the board, I see them picking him in a heartbeat; they’d not only select the most NBA-ready talent, but add toughness at the center position. This selection is also key in allowing Bargnani to move over to the starting power forward position. Obviously losing Bosh will be a huge loss, but having the ability to take Aldrich with the 13th pick should help Raptor fans restore some sort of optimism looking towards the future.

Selection: Cole Aldrich, Kansas

14. Houston Rockets- Even after acquiring Jordan Hill near the deadline last season, the Rockets need to invest in drafting another power forward to turn too next year. I see their man being Ekpe Udoh at #14. Udoh bring the long, defensive minded power forward they’d love to have down low. Never underestimate Rockets GM Darryl Morey and his “numbers” system, Udoh might solve his math problem with what to do at the 14th pick.

Selection: Ekpe Udoh, Baylor

15. Milwaukee Bucks- If all goes as planned in this mock draft, the Bucks are left scratching their heads on what to do here with this pick. All of their favorite prospects have been taken, not one of them has slid down to them at the midway point of the draft. Even I, as someone who covers the Milwaukee Bucks am left confused on what to do here with Ed Davis, Hassan Whiteside, and Xavier Henry off the board. So I see them taking the best available player which at this point is easily Paul George. While George is labeled a small forward, I think the Bucks would experiment with placing George at the shooting guard position since it’s such a slight change as far as the Milwaukee Bucks offense is concerned. George could very well end up being a blessing in disguise for the Brew City, could it be two straight years of successful draft picks for the Milwaukee Bucks?! We’ll have to wait and see….

Selection: Paul George, Fresno State

Ross Geiger’s 2010 NBA Mock Draft

2010 NBA Mock Draft (1 Month before Draft Day)

Wall definitely holds all the "Wizardry" that's needed to become a star in the NBA

1. Washington Wizards- John Wall

One of the most hyped up draft picks in recent history, John Wall has a lot challenges awaiting him in D.C., but behind the luck of Mr. Abe Polin’s championship ring Wall is everything the Wizards organization could ever ask for. Skills aside, his marketability alone will help change the face and image of the Wizards’ franchise as it moves forward from their past nightmare of a season. While I feel as though, Wall maybe a little overhyped, my only concern with his development are those influences around him. Being so young is great, but the Wizards must keep a close eye out on Wall, keeping him on his steady path towards being successful. Wall in Washington offers a variety of challenges on and off the basketball court, hopefully he can keep a level head, stay smart, and can continually grow as a professional. With Gilbert Arenas and Josh Howard on board, the smartest thing the Wizards could do is go grab a long-time veteran point guard that can lead Wall by example. A great example of this can be seen with the Chicago Bulls going out and grabbing Lindsay Hunter when the Bulls drafted Derrick Rose, a player Wall is often compared too.

This Year's National Player of the Year

2. Philadelphia 76ers- Evan Turner

It’ll be interesting to see what shakes down next season in Philly. Turner very well could be the key to the 76ers being able to make some trades. Many are already pondering whether or not Turner and Andre Iguodala can coexist together. While I think they can definitely work together I wouldn’t be surprised to see Philly keeping Iguodala out on the trading block. One team that really stands out as a possible trading partner would be the Memphis Grizzlies. If the Grizzlies are unable to resign Rudy Gay, they may be interested in acquiring Iguodala, a player so similar to Gay that it wouldn’t be a completely change in offensive strategies next year in Memphis. The 76ers can’t go wrong with drafting Turner, from his overall potential to the decisions he immediately allows the franchise to make, this great situation for both Turner and the 76ers.

3. New Jersey Nets- Derrick Favors

So what if the New Jersey Nets weren’t rewarded with the first overall pick for their horrendous play last season, this very well could be a blessing in disguise. Drafting Derrick Favors is the best fit for New Jersey anyways. Drafting Wall would’ve led to having to make a tough decision on Devin Harris’s future with the franchise, Favors on the other hand, helps them avoid the unneeded headache. He’ll compliment Brook Lopez very well and gives them a drastic improvement at the power forward position. For Favors there’s not a better situation available, if all goes as planned he should be a starter from jump. He’ll be given plenty of minutes and will have the chance to gain valuable exposure and experience; Nets fans should be looking forward to the progression he’ll make immediately. Looking down the road, I like Yi Jianlian being my sixth man off the bench, a foreigner whose not always consistent but should be much better off not having to deal with as much expectations. Derrick will do both the Nets and Yi a big Favor (pun intended) even as a rookie.

4. Minnesota Timberwolves- Wesley Johnson

With the Timberwolves under the leadership of General Manager David Kahn, you never quite know what to expect on draft night as we all found out this past year. Despite what many mock drafts around the Web suggest, I’m not so sure the Timberwolves take Johnson here. Even before NBA draft workouts, my gut tells me not to count out the Timberwolves selecting DeMarcus Cousins. Whether or not Kahn decides to pull the trigger on Cousins depends on how patient he’s willing to be. Earlier this past season, the Timberwolves and Pacers came extremely close on deal that would’ve sent Al Jefferson to Indiana in exchange for Danny Granger. Cousins is often compared to Al Jefferson in terms of size and abilities. It’s not out of the question that Kahn selects Cousins, then attempts to pull the deal for Granger offering up Al Jefferson and Corey Brewer. This trade would immediately improve both teams, the only road block that may stand in the way is Pacers forward Troy Murphy. But for the Timberwolves, adding Cousins and Granger instantaneously makes them no laughing matter next season. Don’t forget that the sooner the Timberwolves become successful, the sooner Ricky Rubio may decide it’s time make the move over to the join the team. But that’s a lot of speculation on my part and until the draft talk continues to heat up I’ll stand pat with the majority of mock drafts and take Wesley Johnson here at number four.

Whichever team takes Cousins must monitor the amount of times he calls to order pizza

5. Sacramento Kings- DeMarcus Cousins

The last thing the Sacramento Kings need is another young big man, but unfortunately for them, the best players availiable are in face big men. Sac-Town will choose between taking DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Monroe here at five. With the Maloof brothers all to familiar with gambling owning their luxurious Palms hotel in Las Vegas, I got to say they’ll go with Cousins. His definitely the risky selection but I see his overall potential too hard to pass up. As Jason Thompson continues to develop, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to take Greg Monroe here, even when he’s by far the safest pick. You cannot have Thompson coming off your bench, especially now that they have sixth man of the year candidate Carl Landry after the trade with Houston. If Cousins can live up to his potential, stay in shape, and improve his game the it’s scary to envision what Sacramento’s future may have in store with the combination of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins.

6. Golden State Warriors- Greg Monroe

Monroe has arguably has the highest basketball IQ out of all the projected lottery picks. After snagging the very intelligent basketball player in Stephen Curry in last year’s draft, it makes perfect sense to put Monroe alongside their future point guard. The two would work very well together, having too very young and wise talents inside and outside. If Anthony Randolph can bounce back from injury, the Warriors future big three can consist of Curry, Randolph, and Monroe.

7. Detroit Pistons- Cole Aldrich

The Pistons desperately need a big man and Cole Adrich is the next best option left on the board once Cousins and Monroe are off the board. A good shot blocker, Aldrich can continue to help Detroit basketball have a strong defensive presence down low. This year the Pistons went with Ben Wallace as their starting center and Big Ben has just never been the same since deciding to leave Detroit to sign with Chicago a few years back. Aldrich is Mo-Town’s new future at the center position.

8. Los Angeles Clippers- Al-Farouq Aminu

Considering that the Clippers traded away Al Thornton, it makes me feel much better predicting them to take Aminu here at number seven. I realize they have Travis Outlaw and I’d fully expect him to fulfill the team’s starting role, but Aminu will be their work in progress. I see Aminu being a instant energy guy coming off the Clipper bench next season and a guy you can count on taking over in the next couple years to go along with Blake Griffin

9. Utah Jazz- Patrick Patterson

With the likely departure of Carlos Boozer, Patterson would be a nice addition to the Jazz young core group of guys. The Jazz main concern will be his ability to knock down the open mid-range jump shots that are very important in the two-man game with Deron Williams. But Patterson’s lack of a NBA ready jumpshot should be the least of Utah’s concerns, he posses a lot of intangibles you just can’t teach. He has soft hands and even more importantly a high basketball IQ, something that will go a long way with Head Coach Jerry Sloan.

The Pacers most likely regret trading away Jerryd Bayles, their 2008 draft pick, Bradley has the same type of game as Bayless

10. Indiana Pacers- Avery Bradley

While Xavier Henry most likely is the best player availiable on the board, they Pacers don’t need another shooting guard, they need somebody to fill the void at the point guard position. Bradley isn’t close to ready to handle the starting duties, but can be immediate spark plug the Pacers are missing. One of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, Avery won’t help them improve in that department but in the NBA if you cannot play defense, you can always try to out score opponents. Avery has a knack for putting the ball in the basket and can contribute some points off the bench.

11. New Orleans Hornets- Xavier Henry

The New Orleans Hornets had a very successful draft night last year, adding Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton both whom raised eyebrows throughout the league with their rookie season performances. Henry is a deadly shooter who can do all the things Morris Peterson isn’t able to do anymore. This young prospect has the size and strength to play both the shooting guard and the small forward position which is extremely valuable to the Hornets. Next season they’ll look to play point guards Paul and Collison at the same time and being able to place Henry in that small forward can help both of the Hornets’ penetrating point guards tally up some assists with his perimeter game.

12. Memphis Grizzlies- Paul George

The issue isn’t whether or not Rudy Gay decides to stay because George will be a work in progress throughout his entire rookie season. But his upside is worthy of being selected at number 12. He’s long, athletic, and has a quick release on his shot. If selected by the Grizzlies, he may find a few spots minutes to prove his rookie worth but don’t expect to see him out on the floor much more than Suns fans saw Earl Clark this season.

13. Toronto Raptors- Donatas Motiejunas

With Chris Bosh leaving soon, the Raptors definitely need to add a big man here. Though Ed Davis and Ekpe Udoh remain on the board, I see Bryan Colangelo intrigued by the Motiejunas who has all the potential to make him a steal at pick 13. Always the biggest concern with young international players is whether or not they’ll be able to fully transition their games to the NBA style of play. In Toronto, Motiejunas has best chance to transition his game moderately fast with a team consisting of many international sensations with the likes of Jose Calderon, Hedo Turkoglu, Marco Belinelli, and Andrea Bargnani (the player Motiejunas is often compared to).

Whiteside's Size & Length is Unmatched

14. Houston Rockets- Hassan Whiteside

Unfortunately it looks as though my favorite draft prospect won’t be available when it comes time for the Milwaukee Bucks to be on the clock. The Houston Rockets would get a steal here if Whiteside happens to fall into their laps at 14. I start salivating just hearing the comparisons of Whiteside being a young, raw talent that is comparable to Marcus Camby. He would be a good fit in Houston due in large part that he won’t be expected to contribute much his rookie season. So if you’re an NBA fan looking to catch a glimpse of Whiteside, get to the game when the gates open up one and half hours before game time, you can be sure he’ll be putting in a lot of work in pregame workouts. If Whiteside pans out to be just 70% of the player he has the potential to become, this selection will be well worth it.

15. Milwaukee Bucks- Ed Davis

While I’d love to see Bucks General Manager John Hammond and the Bucks attempt to trade up for the rights to Hassan Whiteside, I see them ultimately sticking with their pick here at 15. That pick is looking like it’ll be Ed Davis, the power forward out of North Carolina. My favorite description of Davis can be seen on NBADraft.net where these words fall under his strengths section: “live” legs, high motor, excellent touch, and tremendous footwork for his age. Then one last description on Davis drops louder than a bomb in the eyes of anybody who understand the Milwaukee Bucks team mentality: He “does not have a superstar attitude, he has a workman’s approach to the game that is refreshing to see.” The Bucks will love every bit of that characteristic, the thought of developing two gym rats in Brandon Jennings at point and Ed Davis down low could definitely be something to look forward to in the future.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves- Ekpe Udoh

Udoh can help add to the Timberwolves strength down low. He’s a tremendous shot blocker and should end being more of a defensive minded player in the NBA. Udoh could learn a lot practicing with Kevin Love and Al Jefferson on a daily basis.

Anderson's Stroke is a Thing of Beauty from the Outside

17. Chicago Bulls- James Anderson

Could end up being of the better steals in the draft if he does slide past the lottery picks. Anderson brings the outside shooting presence that the Bulls lacked all season long from the perimeter. Don’t sleep on the Big 12 player of the year who averaged 22.3 points last season, he offers a lot of upside, and would fit in nicely in Chicago.

18. Miami Heat- Damion James

Considering that Heat only have five players under contract next season, the possibilities at this pick are endless. The Heat’s hope is to sign a big name PF/C and hope to also persuade Dwyane Wade to remain with them as well. So I’d see the Heat looking to add a small forward with high energy. Big 12 Conference’s all time leading rebounder fits the profile and is one of the more athletically gifted talents available in this draft. The Heat wouldn’t go wrong with taking James here at 18, even when many NBA analysts may find this a little too high for James.

19. Boston Celtics- Larry Sanders

Who knows how many more seasons Kevin Garnett’s knees can handle. Sanders is a very late bloomer who never played organized basketball until the 10th grade. A very strong defensive player, Sanders could learn a lot from of the best defensive power forwards in the business in Garnett. He has a lot of room for growth and could end becoming a very solid player in this league.

Hayward may rock a very similar black and silver jersey soon in San Antonio

20. San Antonio Spurs- Gordon Hayward

Though I must say it’s hard picturing Hayward in a Spurs uniform, I think he’d be a nice pick here at 20 for the Spurs. He provide a little bit of everything and could potentially be a huge boost of the Spurs bench. With Richard Jefferson, all but impressive after his first year with the Spurs, Hayward might find a fair amount of time to play. If I’m Gregg Popovich, I love having to young talents in Hayward and DeJuan Blair to turn too off the bench.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder- Luke Babbitt

We’ll just have to wait and see how Babbitt’s future pans out in the NBA but if it’s anything like it’s projected to be, the Thunder have find another great piece that fits with their future. Babbitt at 6’9 is a lethal shooter with the ability to play both the small forward and power forward positions. For his own sake, he better prepare to play the power forward position with Kevin Durant occupying the majoring of the small forward minutes. Realistically, if Babbit lands in Oklahoma City I see him being a bonafide sixth man that could potentially be a sixth man award candidate down the road.

22. Portland Trail Blazers- Kevin Seraphin

It’d be silly for Portland to even consider any prospect outside of the power forward and center positions. With their luck with injuries, they could always improve their support system down in the paint. The popular options here are Solomon Alabi and Daniel Orton, but I see Blazers General Manager Kevin Pritchard taking his chances on Kevin Seraphin, the young product out of France. Already having Nicolas Batum on board, Seraphin would have French companion to help aid his adjustment to the NBA if the Blazers decide to bring him over to play next season. Seraphin’s upside is worth the gamble as the first round gets into it’s later selections.

There's No Debate: Stephenson Definitely Has the Size

23. Minnesota Timberwolves- Lance Stephenson

Once again you must pop the question, do you go best player available or do you go immediate needs? I see the Timberwolves opting against taking the best player available (either Orton or Alabi) and rather choosing a shooting guard. Heading into the NBA Draft Combine I would’ve put Elliot Williams ahead of Lance Stephenson in my rankings, but after missing the NBA Draft Combine due to injury, Stephenson jumps him in my book. It was very costly time to get injured and allowing teams to get a look at you in the pivotal pre-draft camp is so important for anyone’s draft stock. But in the long term, Stephenson is the more promising player of the two shooting guards, he’s got an NBA ready body who’s a guy that needed one more year of college to fully blossom. Depending on what happens during free agency, Stephenson may have a outside chance of starting next season for the Timberwolves if they’re willing to endure another long losing season.

24. Atlanta Hawks- Willie Warren

The Hawks have so many questions left unanswered at the shooting guard position, what will all pan out with Joe Johnson? Nobody has the slightest idea but the chances of Atlanta holding onto him looks all but promising. With that being said, they need to look at drafting a shooting guard with this pick. I see Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford becoming the Hawks starting shooting guard next season so he’ll need a backup. Warren has an NBA ready body and has the offensive skills to be a highly productive scorer in the future. He’s a very interesting prospect who was listed as a lottery pick in many mock drafts before last season.

25. Memphis Grizzlies- Daniel Orton

Both Orton and his agent will finally be relieved to know he’ll be coming off the board in the first round after being a guy who fell way past where he’s currently projected to be drafted (in the high teens). This is a great pickup by the Grizzlies here with the 25th pick and Orton hopefully can develop his game having to defend Zach Randolph each day in practice.

26. Oklahoma City Thunder- Armon Johnson

Not very well known, Johnson could very well be a big sleeper in this year’s draft class. He’s quick and crafty which could be the perfect player to back up Russell Westbrook. While Eric Maynor will still find his own opportunities to find minutes at the backup point guard slot, Johnson will give him a run for his money next season.

27. New Jersey Nets- Solomon Alabi

His size alone is very intriguing, but he’s a work in progress. If the Nets are willing to gamble, stay patient then this is a wise pick with Alabi being one of the best available here at 27. If not, expect the Nets to go get a better-known college player like Devin Ebanks.

Wait is that John Wall? No folks, that's the 6'1 Eric Bledsoe

28. Memphis Grizzlies- Eric Bledsoe

He was very much hidden behind the play of John Wall last season with Kentucky and I definitely feel Bledsoe may be one the this year’s best keep late first round secrets. He’s very athletic and has the strength that allows him to absorb contact while finishing around the rim. Nice backup to Mike Conley next season and he could potentially take over Conley’s starting job in the coming years.

29. Orlando Magic- Elliot Williams

This highly explosive young shooting guard needs to improve his perimeter shooting, but has the leaping ability you just can’t teach. A year under the wing of Vince Carter could really benefit Williams during his rookie season and it’s worth the Magic taking him here this late in the first round.

30. Washington Wizards- Gani Lawal

Much like Eric Bledsoe, Lawal was hidden behind Derrick Favors this past year at Georgia Tech. While still raw, Lawal has a lot of potential to become solid down the road. Wizards need some help in the frontcourt and Lawal is the best available.

5/6/10 NBA Playoffs Game Prediction

Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic- 8 ET ESPN

I warned you of the matchup nightmare in my Game 1 preview post, but never would I of guessed a 43-point victory for the Orlando Magic. I don’t care how many matchup problems there are out there on the floor; you shouldn’t ever be embarrassed to that extent. All I can say right now is that the Hawks are giving Joe Johnson every reason of why he shouldn’t even think about staying in Atlanta this summer.

Fortunately I didn’t decide to tune into this one, instead choosing to use my time wisely, but even without tuning in, I can tell you how the Hawks must improve heading into Game 2. Here’s three obvious keys:

  1. These These Amigos Didn't Make a 3 point Attempt in Game 1

    Put the ball in the basket: The Hawks epically failed to this in Game 1, shooting 34 percent (28-81) for the game as team! Even more surprising, the Hawks went 2-13 behind the three point line and the two threes they did connect on came courtesy of rookie Jeff Teague, yes Jeff Teague! I can’t imagine watching 48 minutes of basketball and not seeing a three point attempt from Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby, or Jamal Crawford fall through the net.

  2. Take care of the ball: If you were to take away team and player names and just observed the stats, you would think you were taking a look at a grade school stat sheet. The Atlanta Hawks committed 15 turnovers and only recorded 12 total assists. More turnovers than assists, there’s really not much else to say.
  3. Step Up!: Hawks must call out Mike Bibby, Jamal Crawford, and “All Star*” Al Horford (in quotation marks for a reason). Combined the three shot 3-23 for a whopping total contribution of 9 points.

Along with this three important factors for the Hawks to even stand a chance, you have to give some kudos to the Orlando Magic as well. Having been sitting around waiting to begin the 2nd Round after sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats, they came prepared for Game 1. Rest assured, the Hawks won’t get embarrassed again tonight, but the game will have the same outcome, another Hawks loss.

Magic- 108 Hawks- 94

Maybe the Hawks should get back to being a little more touchy, feeley? Would that help?

Bucks/Hawks Game 7 Predictions (Special Edition)

Milwaukee Bucks at Atlanta Hawks- 1 ET- ABC

Prepare for Game 7

As we all know, December 25th is quite the holiday celebration. Now that I’m all grown up, outside of getting to spend quality time with my family, watching the highlighted NBA games on ABC each year is what I look forward to most. This year, Christmas came a little bit early in many respects. On Friday it came for the Hawks as the Bucks gave them a huge gift as they came out very poorly and never recovered, which allowed the Hawks to regain control of the series. Tomorrow marks a gift for the Milwaukee Bucks as they play a deciding Game 7 in Atlanta. You may be wondering how can it be a gift for a Bucks team that could’ve closed out the series at home? While you’re absolutely right, it’s for those exact same reasons that Game 7 is a gift to the Milwaukee Bucks. This Game 7 will forever be known in my book as The Gift & The Curse.

The Bucks gift wrapped Game 6

“The Gift” will come in it’s appropriate holiday fashion with the Bucks wearing their traditional Christmas team colors. “The Gift” will be opened by the Atlanta Hawks and it shall be shared amongst the entire Hawks organization, team, fans , and city. Maybe you’ve already see where this is leading but the Gift is the Curse. The curse to what’s to come in the near future in Atlanta after tragic Game 7 loss in Atlanta occurs. Now you may wonder: How will the gift be successfully sent and presented? How dare you ask such a question, you should’ve learned that answer growing up. The answer: By the reindeer of course!

These "Reindeer" will decide Game 7 for their respected teams

Dasher: “Jamal Crawford” Whomever is defending Crawford must make sure to know where he is at all times, especially during the closing seconds of this game. In his first playoff appearance, Crawford’s going to be dashing all around the floor looking to get off a clean look at the basket. If anyone’s going to deliver the unbelievable dagger to the Bucks chances of moving on it lies in the hands of Jamal Crawford.

Dancer: “Brandon Jennings” In the Game 6 postgame press conference Jennings stated he’s coming ready to play come Sunday afternoon. When he means ready to play, it also means he’ll be ready to swag, so expect a little dancing on and off the court.

Prancer: “Ersan Ilayasova” The Bucks need Ilayasova to prance all around the glass on both ends of the floor. He’ll be important in limiting the Hawks second shots on the defensive end and cleaning up the Bucks missed shots with put backs on the offensive end.

He'll be fired up for Game 7

Vixen: “Joe Johnson” The term Vixen just sounds scary and evil which is exactly how Bucks’ fans would describe Johnson all series long but especially now heading into Game 7. The grammatically correct definition of a vixen is a female fox or ill-tempered woman, none of which apply to Johnson.

Comet: “Josh Smith” J-Smoov will continue to be unsmooth near and around the basket whenever he’s unable to finish above the rim. Under the rim, he’ll continue to look he should be playing for the WNBA’s Houston Comets.

Cupid: “Carlos Delfino”It’s safe to say by now that Delfino has found his shooting touch from the outside. Knowing you can count upon him to hit his open looks, take some pressure of Salmons, and hit big shots, what’s not to love about Carlos….

Donner: “Mike Woodson” Since Donner is not an actual word and just a name, it didn’t ring a bell to who be honored with this reindeer. But Donner does rhyme with goner and that’s exactly what Mike Woodson will be at the end of the playoffs: win or lose tomorrow. Unless the Hawks win the NBA Championship, he’s gone: either leaving under his own will which could potentially end up being to Philly with Larry Brown. Why would he opt to leave on his own? Job Security. Some would already say his job is on the line and that’s before Joe Johnson packs up and leaves this summer.

Everyday a Scrub is Born, Clap for 'em, Clap for 'em...eeeyyy

Blitzen: “Zaza Pachulia & Dan Gadzuric” When it comes to this name, I can’t help but think of the word blitz. Not only would both of these honorable bench players be great defensive football players but they more than make up for it by blitzing (fouling) on the basketball court. Whether it’s to send a statement or just a shot block attempt, both are very gifted when it comes to fouling.

It may be unfair, but the Bucks' Game 7 chances are determined by Salmons

Rudolph: “John Salmons” Coming off a horrendous 2-13 shooting night for only 8 points in Game 6, Salmons is the key to delivering “The Gift and The Curse” to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 7. Being Rudolph, he’ll need to use his famous Red Nose to guide his deer to victory. While that starts off on the offensive end by providing a bulk of the scoring load, it can’t end there. Salmons must also provide “hard-nosed” defense on Joe Johnson for the entirety of Game 7. Can he do it all? Of course; has Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer ever let you down? Like Johnson, Salmons leadership is never vocal, but like another popular “Rudolf”, he’s going to “Let It Rock” in Game 7.

NBA fans across the globe should mark this game down as a holiday. Hawks and Bucks fans in particular will be rushing to the television sets like a child rushing to see what Santa left on Christmas morning. The rest will be up to 3 keys to the game are nearly identical to those that determine your Christmas presents:

  1. The Reindeer: Whichever “reindeer” are able to take care of business consistently until the final buzzer sounds will win the game for their respective teams. Collectively as a whole, they must all be on the same page and click with one another. Which “team” of reindeer do this the best separate themselves from other and move their slay onto Orlando to face the Magic in Round 2.
  2. NBA Playoffs = NBA Christmas

    Santa: You may find it a little shocking for me to admit this being the big NBA supporter that I am but NBA Commissioner David Stern is Santa. In the end, Santa has a lot of influence on who’ll end up taking the sleigh to Orlando. As the NBA Playoffs progress he’ll be making a list, checking it twice, gunna find out who’s naughty or nice. And come time for one “nice” team to hoist the NBA Championship trophy, Santa Clause is coming to town!!! My advice to the Bucks being the underdogs and a team that wouldn’t be expected to have much of a chance in making a Round 2 matchup against the Magic a competitive one that has the potential to go 6 or 7 games (bringing in that much more money for the league…cough, cough) and to remember to leave Santa a full glass of Milk (fresh from Wisconsin) and some chocolate chip cookies!

  3. Elfs (Santa’s Little Helpers): Once again, I’m ripping my own support of the NBA into little pieces right now but it’s true. We all know Santa has his little helpers and for the David Stern and the NBA that’s of course the officiating. Like I mentioned above, with the Hawks at home and being the team that looks to be much more able to stretch a series with the Magic to at least 6 or 7 games, the Elf’s most likely will be handing the favorable calls to the Hawks. Here are two prime examples from this year already:

For most of us, Christmas is among the most cherished childhood memories we carry with us throughout our lives. We never forget those mornings we rushed out to the living room to see what Santa had left us. While our thought and belief of one man traveling across the world spreading holiday cheer and leaving children gifts that they had on their wish list may diminish; Christmas is amazing and Santa is a big reason for that. The NBA is also where amazing happens and whether we’d like to admit it or not, David Stern has a lot to do with what’s granted off our wish list.

For Bucks fans, it’s hard to add to the wish list, the Milwaukee Bucks have gotten all that could ever ask for this year and more. An exciting future star in draft pick Brandon Jennings, a strong return from overseas from Ersan Ilayasova, drastic improvement in both leadership and performance roles from Andrew Bogut, a solid free agent signing in Jerry Stackhouse, a great deadline trade grabbing John Salmons, saved tons of money moving Richard Jefferson’s contract and picking up Kurt Thomas who turned out to be a blessing in disguise, great bench play and attitude from Luke Ridnour, even more improved defense from Mbah a Moute, a great swap receiving Carlos Delfino, and the creation of Squad 6. With all of this came recognition and respect, all year long the Bucks weren’t the laughing matter they once were, both of the Bucks masterminds were honored: John Hammond won the league’s Executive of the Year Award and Head Coach Scott Skiles was runner-up for NBA Coach of the Year. And most importantly, the NBA now knows why it should FEAR THE DEER.

Ever since stepping foot onto Marquette campus as a college freshmen, I’ve been a all out supporter of the Milwaukee Bucks. I’ve stood by this team since the first game I ever attended, now over 70 games later (having not missed a single game (preseason or season when in Milwaukee) I’ll continue to stand behind the Bucks in Game 7. While I’ll admit and it’s definitely clear in this post that I have my doubts about Game 7, I’m going to let my bias and just overall passion for the Bucks organization to get the best of me in my Game 7 prediction. No way I’m picking against the Bucks in Game 7, I’ve always been a believer in this city, this franchise, and this team, and it ain’t stopping now.

Bucks- 108 Hawks- 107

If this indeed ends up being my last Milwaukee Bucks Game Post of the Season, I hope you enjoyed them & be sure to stay with us as we follow the rest of the NBA playoffs! Thanks for the support!- Ross Geiger


Weekend Picks (Oct 31-Nov 1)

With the NBA season under way, we will add the NBA to the list of games I pick every weekend. As much as I would like to pick a weekend World Series game, I really need to look at how the two teams look before really having an idea.

(5) USC @ (10) Oregon

Upset Alert! No one wants to go play in the Autzen Zoo, let alone when it is inhabited by rabid Ducks from Oregon. Since their loss in Boise, the Ducks have gone on an absolute tear, including a demolition of then #6 Cal that defies description. In these two, we have a rested USC team who looked less than amazing against an inconsistent Notre Dame squad and an Oregon team that smells blood. If they take down the Trojans at home, they will control their own destiny to win the Pac-10. Whether or not they can pull it off is one thing, but they can, and will, pull off the upset at home. USC 28, Oregon 38.

(3) Texas @ (14) Oklahoma State

Upset Alert! Again! Texas has really not impressed me this year, coming out of the gates extremely slowly and just not looking like a top 3 team. Games against Colorado, Wyoming, and Bradford-less Oklahoma come to mind. Coming out of the gates slower than Andre Smith’s 40 time is bad, but when you do it in Stillwater in a game that the Oklahoma State faithful are salivating, it can be catastrophic. If Texas can come out and turn the tables on a pumped up Cowboys team, then they might be able to avoid the upset. I realize that the Texas defense is very good, but right now the offense is not keeping up with the defense. I would be much surer of this pick if Dez Bryant was back, but I am doing it anyway. Oklahoma State 24, Texas 20.

Giants @ Eagles

Since the line for this game is “Pick”, I will oblige. I want the Eagles in this game for a few reasons, but ONLY if Brian Westbrook can go. The Giants looked pretty bad last weekend, especially through the air and if there is one thing the Eagles do, it is throw the ball. If Osi Umenyiora has a repeat of his gajillion sack performance of 2 years ago, then all bets are off, but I think the Eagles will be able to protect McNabb and will have the right screen call on for when the Giants bring pressure. It would help even more if the Eagles could get a consistent ground game going through either Westbrook or McCoy, but I know better than to expect that out of Andy Reid. I realize it is somewhat sacrilege to pick the Giants to lose three in a row, but I am doing it. I have liked this Eagles team (with the exception of the Oakland game) since day one, and their season will continue on a positive note as they commemorate Jim Johnson. Giants 20, Eagles 27.

Denver @ Baltimore

Preseason, this game looked like a blowout, but at this point in the season, these two teams have been some of the more impressive teams in the league. Baltimore’s offense has been awesome and Denver has just been solid all around. So how do you go about picking it? Both teams are coming off byes, so we can throw that out. Baltimore’s offense is explosive and the Broncos’ is steady; that’s a slight advantage to the Ravens. The Ravens defense relies on turnovers, but has been less consistent than Jamal Crawford. The Broncos defense on the other hand has been solid all around and should be more than capable of at least slowing the Ravens high-powered attack. One potential tiebreaker for me is that the Ravens defense relies on getting turnovers, and if there is one thing that the Broncos do not do is turn the ball over. I keep trying to talk myself into the Ravens winning this one, but everything points to the Broncos. The Ravens can jump on top, but the Broncos are an excellent second half team. The Broncos have dealt with deficits in their past three games, but none larger than 10, and that one went to overtime against the Pats. The Ravens have an explosive offense and shaky, but occasionally explosive defense, but the Broncos are just solid all around. The dream season continues Broncos fans. Ravens fans; you are home to the absolute best 3 win, 4 loss team I have ever seen. Broncos 21, Ravens 20.

Rams @ Lions

I know, I know, it seems like a joke. They are two of the saddest teams of the last few years and their futility has extended into this year. The Rams are the holders of the longest current losing streak in football, and we all know about the Lions. With all that being said, both teams have at least showed some signs of life. Against the then undefeated Vikings, the Rams made it into the 10 three separate times and came away with 0 points as the result of some bad turnovers. It got out of hand late, but if they could have held on to the ball, they may have at least made it interesting. Usually we would call this bad luck, but with the Rams, it seems like an acquired trait. The Lions, on the other hand, have looked alright this year, a vast improvement over last year’s efforts. If Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford are back, it should be a rout, but if the Rams can get out of their own way, they will have a good shot. Sorry St. Louis, the streak continues. St. Louis 16, Detroit 24.

Magic @ Raptors

It might be a little premature to pick an NBA game this far in advance, but I am going to take the Raptors in this game. They are not quite as deep as the Magic overall, but I like how Toronto matches up. Calderon is probably better than Jameer Nelson at this point though I expect big things from Nelson. Bosh usually plays well against Dwight, Bargnani and Rashard Lewis have similar playing styles, although Lewis is the better player overall by quite a bit. All that being said, I like the Raptors to win at home in this one with Bosh putting up big numbers and Hedo exacting revenge on his former team. Raptors 94, Magic 90.

MC