Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jovan Belcher

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and baby's mother before going to the team's practice facility and taking his own life in the parking lot in front of the GM, coach and Defensive Coordinator. This ordeal brings a pressing issue to the table, the alarming number of athletes, especially NFL athletes, that are taking their lives. A study found that most of those football players (34 of 35) had the degenerative brain disease, CTE. The next step in the study of CTE is finding a way to diagnose while the person is alive.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NFL Awards

This NFL season has been one of the most compelling and entertaining in some time. I'm glad that no one even mentions the whole replacement refs fiasco anymore, leaving our focus where it should be, on the field. Through 12 games, 75% of each team's season, some performers have stood out above the rest. I will give my picks for postseason awards.

MVP- Tom Brady Runner up- Peyton Manning

Offensive Player of the Year- Adrian Peterson, Runner up- AJ Green

Defensive Player of the Year- J.J. Watt/ Charles Tillman, Runner up- Aldon Smith

Rookie of the year: RG3, Runner up- Andrew Luck/Doug Martin

Coach of the year: Chuck Pagano/Bruce Arians

Friday, November 16, 2012

NBA Storylines

I'm taking this chance to point out some story-lines that have caught my attention during the first few weeks of the NBA season. The play of the undefeated New York Knicks is great to see. Its clear that the Knicks made the right call in letting Jeremy Lin walk and using the money on Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd. Lin averages 11 points and five assists while Felton is at 16 and 6.5 I also have noticed that while the Heat are clearly at the top of the pack, the Grizzlies, aforementioned Knicks and the Clippers are staking their claim as elite teams. The Lakers will probably join the elite group once they get healthy and comfortable playing with each other. After much internal debate, I can see why the Lakers chose Mike D'Antoni over Phil Jackson. Jackson's system is similar to the Princeton offense that many of the Lakers looked lost in, so the front office decided that championship history non withstanding, D'Antoni was best for the current roster. Allowing them to just get out and play without thinking. The Lakers felt that style of play was better fo the current roster, and I can't say I disagree with their logic.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Top 5 NFL Power Rankings

At the midway point of the season, we have learned Adrian Peterson's ACL is just fine, Andrew Luck was the right choice at #1 in the draft, and the Bears defense is playing defense and forcing turnovers like it's 2006. Here are my Power Rankings at the midway point of the season

1.) Atlanta Falcons- 8-0-The defense is improved and the offense has taken a step forward, in conjunction with the ascension of possible league MVP Matt Ryan, who has led his team in close games, blowouts and all contests in between. Sad thing is, for the Falcons, a good regular season won't cut it, this team will be judged on it's playoff performance.

2.) Chicago Bears- 7-1-The defense is playing at a championship level and has forced a ridiculous 28 turnovers in the team's first 8 games. They also rank 3rd in the league in sacks with 25. The depth on the defensive line makes them a scary team with the potential to win a Super Bowl. Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall also is looking as good as advertised. Once the rest of the offense begins to play with some consistency, this team will definitely be in the Super Bowl, book it.

3.) Green Bay Packers-6-3- The early season breakdown of Aaron Rodgers was greatly exaggerated. He has bounced back in a big way, starting with his 6 touchdown assault of the Texans in week 6 against the then-top-ranked defense. He is now at 25 touchdown passes and the offense is starting to look like it did during the Super Bowl run and the following regular season. The league should be scared, the Pack is back!

4.) Houston Texans-7-1-The Texans defense and rushing attack is allowing the team to have consistent success winning games. This week they and the Bears will provide a stiff test for each team.

5.) San Francisco 49ers 6-2- The Niners defense and running game are as dynamic as ever. The rushing offense especially is being run with such creativity and effectiveness. The offense could be the one drawback for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Will Alex Smith be able to carry the team when the defense has an inevitable bad day? Who knows, but that question could very well determine the Niners' season, especially if that bad day by the D comes in the playoffs.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Harden Trade

Last night the NBA world was rocked with news that James Harden had been traded from the OKC Thunder to the Houston Rockets. From OKC's perspective, it was a trade that had to be made. While Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins have taken less to remain with the Thunder, James harden was unwilling to make the same sacrifices that go into the OKC Thunder's way. The individual sacrifices for the good of the team. Harden was set to become an unrestricted free agent and OKC General Manager Sam Presti decided to avoid the season-long drama by trading Harden now. OKC is a winner in the trade because they unloaded Harden for an expiring contract (Kevin Martin) that can duplicate Harden's off-the-bench scoring, a potential superstar in the making (Jeremy Lamb) and multiple 1st round draft picks. The downside of this trade is that KD, Westbrook and Harden formed one the league's most explosive offensive trios. OKC made a trade to make themselves better for the future but clearly disrupted their chemistry and will miss Harden pg skills. They also will miss his defense, which is lockdown compared to how Kevin Martin plays. I think this trade takes OKC out of the title conversation at least for this year. Houston won because they had been stockpiling assets for the past few years in an attempt to land a star player via trade and after numerous strikeouts() they finally got their man, a cornerstone player to build around. Harden lost because he won't be playing for a contender this season. Harden won in this deal because he stands to make up to $25 Million more and he gets the chance to become the number option on a team. He had to realize that no matter what, he would always be third fiddle to Durant and Westbrook.

Friday, October 19, 2012

NBA Standings

Barring major injuries, here are my picks for the playoff seedings

Eastern Conference

1.) Miami Heat      60-22
2.) Boston Celtics  55-27
3.) Chicago Bulls  54-28
4.) Indiana Pacers  52-30
5.) New York Knicks 50-32
6.) Brooklyn Nets  48-34
7.) Philadelphia 76ers 47-35
8.) Milwaukee Bucks 44-38

First teams out: Cleveland Cavaliers 42-40, Washington Wizards 41-41

Western Conference
1.) La Lakers 61-21
2.) OKC Thunder 58-24
3.) San Antonio Spurs 55-27
4.) La Clippers 55-27
5.) Memphis Grizzlies 53-29
6.) Denver Nuggets 52-30
7.) Dallas Mavericks 50-32
8.) Golden State Warriors 48-34

First teams out: Minnesota Timberwolves 46-36, Houston Rockets 45-37

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


     Preseason games have started and the beginning of a very highly-anticipated season is fast approaching. With coast to coast storylines, a good crop of rookies and a host of players ready to take the next step to superstardom, this season should be very fascinating. I'll start with a couple of questions I have:

-What will the reigning Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving do for an encore? All-Star selection?

-Will the Lakers, Heat, and Thunder be as dominant as everyone thinks?

-When will Derrick Rose make his return and what state will the Bulls be in by then?

-Will the Brooklyn Nets be a top-four team? Or will they just be glad to get into the playoffs? Im expecting big things from Brooklyn, health granted.

-Will Linsanity live up to the hype in its new stop?

-What will Brandon Roy look like after his brief retirement?

-What about Anthony Davis and the rest of the rookies?

Now I will give my awards:

MVP- Kevin Durant/OKC Thunder. After finishing second last year, Durant will come out fueled by OKC's loss in the Finals and play like a man possessed on his way to his frist MVP trophy. Runner up: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant

Defensive Player of the Year: Serge Ibaka/OKC Thunder.

Sixth Man of the Year: Jason Terry/Boston Celtics. Terry will take his title back as he will benefit from the play diagraming wizardry of Doc Rivers.

Most Improved: Paul George/Indiana Pacers. I expect George to have a breakout year and become the unquestioned best player and go to guy on the team.

Rookie of the Year: Anthony Davis/New Orleans Hornets. As I type this I'm still trying to figure out if this is the right choice. A huge part of me wants to go with Damian Lillard of the Blazers, as he will man the point and have the ball in his hands much more than Davis. I'll just bank on Davis' versatility and game-changing defensive ability to help him edge Lillard in a close race.

All-NBA First Team: Deron Williams, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard

All-NBA Second Team: Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Andrew Bynum

All-Rookie First Team: Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal,  Jeremy Lamb, Harrison Barnes, Anthony Davis

In conclusion, these are the players I am anxious to see continue their development:  Klay Thompson, Greg Monroe, Marshon Brooks, Eric Gordon, Jeremy Lin, Kyrie Iriving and Paul George.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Future #NBARank Top 15

     Last year, ESPN sparked a ton of debate with it's inaugural NBA player rankings, from 500 to 1. This year has been no different, with two of the most griped-about rankings being those of  Dwyane Wade (#8) Kobe Bryant (#6). I have my issues with this list but I'll delve into that another time. This list got me to thinking about the landscape of the league, and in doing so, I came up with my top 15 five years from now, at the top of the 17-18 season. Rankings are based on personal projections, Enjoy:

15.) HARRISON BARNES- With confidence, and an NBA ready mid-range game, Barnes could be going into his fifth season as one of the best scorers in the league. His game reminds me of Carmelo Anthony's, not as fluid though.

14.) STEPHEN CURRY- One of only three players in league history to post career averages of 40+ 3P% and 90+FT%. (Mark Price, Steve Nash) If he can stay healthy, Steph's quick release and improving PG skills can make him a fixture near the top of the list.

13.) GREG MONROE: This versatile big man's trajectory would have him battling Anthony Davis as the best big in the league.

12.) ERIC GORDON: This guy gets buckets in his sleep, by this time I see him as a perennial All-star.

11.) KLAY THOMPSON: If my projections are correct, the Warriors could possibly be one of the league's scariest teams with three top-15 players. (Barnes, Curry) Klay Thompson's combination of skills, including great work off the ball, a pure shooting stroke, the ability to score off the dribble, and the ability to see the defense with his 6 foot 7 frame could make him the best of the Warriors young guns.

10.) DWIGHT HOWARD: Enough said, this guy is ranked third this year and I see the inevitable wear and tear causing him to fall to the bottom of the top 10 by now, but still very much an elite player.

9.)  JAMES HARDEN: Harden's do-everything game will earn him a top spot on this list on a yearly basis.

8.) PAUL GEORGE: George is one of the most intriguing players in the league now. This athletic freak is a 6 foot 10 shooting guard that can defend virtually every position, He is a committed and willing defender and passer, both skills I think will continue to flourish. With that improvement along with a more consistent stroke, George can truly become a dominant player on both ends of the floor. Think LeBron James 2.0

7.) RUSSELL WESTBROOK: By now, I expect for Russ to be a more composed, poised player. By now I see him channeling his energy better and becoming one of the best wingmen in league history as he rides shotgun with Kevin Durant on the way to what could be a burgeoning dynasty.

6.) KEVIN LOVE:  Gonna keep this one short and sweet. Love averaged 26 and 13 last season. If he can stay close to that production those aren't just elite player numbers, they're Hall of Fame numbers.

5.) ANTHONY DAVIS: He enters the league as one of the best big men defenders. He"ll only get better, stronger, and a more refined offensive game, which already included a good shooting stroke. He will be the best big man in the league, with a game reminiscent of Kevin Garnett when he was at his peak.

4.) KYRIE IRVING: By this time, Irving will easily be the best PG in the league not named Derrick Rose. At his best, Kyrie Irving will be a quicker Chris Paul with a much more consistent shooting stroke.

3.) LEBRON JAMES: By this time, LeBron will be what Kobe is now. The former undisputed best player in the game that has slipped a few rungs. Will have multiple rings, and still going toe to toe with the league's younger generation.

2.) DERRICK ROSE: By now, Derrick Rose will be the best player in the league not named Kevin Durant. He will be a multiple time champion and will have begun his assault on the record books and the league's historic PG hierarchy.

1.) KEVIN DURANT: Any doubt who would land number 1? After being 2 this year, its clear he is the heir apparent once LeBron's game takes it's slightest dip. At his current rate, Durant would be well on his way to Kareem Abdul-Jabaar's all-time scoring record.

Best of the Rest: Austin Rivers, Josh Smith, Nikola Mirotic, Roy Hibbert, Nerlens Noel, Shabazz Muhammad, Jabari Parker, Ty Lawson

~Justin Jones~

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Goodell: Get a Clue

     Overwhelmed, frightened, inept, just plain bad. All of these are words that have been used to describe the performance of the NFL's replacement officials through the first two weeks of the season. There have been countless phantom calls and obvious, egregious no-calls. Pass interference penalties are being called for looking at a receiver too long. The refs seem intimidated by the players and they make decisions based on their reactions as well as those of fans and coaches. An example of this would be Randall Cobb of the Packers, who returned a punt that was aided by an obvious clipping penalty, which was called on the field. After intense scrutiny from the Lambeau faithful, the refs picked up the flag and awarded the touchdown.
     The bigger issue than bad calls is just the simple operation of the game, with many instances of refs placing the ball in terrible spots, not knowing when to stop and start the play clock and above all, not applying the NFL's rules for player safety. They have allowed a lot of dirty plays and after the whistle stuff that has just been ignored. The refs don't have any control and have done a bad job at breaking up fights, they have allowed them to escalate and take fooorrrreeeevvvveeeerrr to sort them out. This was made painfully obvious during last Monday night's Falcons vs Broncos game. The refs were incapable of breaking the players up and didn't seem willing, or maybe courageous enough to use their authority. The most pressing issue I noticed is that the refs go listen to everyone plead their case before keeping the game going. This led to a first quarter that took over an hour to complete.
     Episodes like these, among many others have led to harsh criticism from all angles, including many current and former players. Steve Young, who works the Monday night games for ESPN said "the NFL doesn't care because people will still watch the games, they will still make money." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has come under fire for his inability to get a deal done with the officials. He has been called a hypocrite for going on and on about player safety, yet allowing these refs to work games and put players at risk. "There's no doubt the integrity of the game has been compromised not having the regular officials out there," Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka has said. "We've got to get that taken care of." 
     Simply put by the Giants linebacker, this has to be "taken care of." This entire ordeal has to be placed at the feet of Goodell. The refs can't be blamed because they just weren't prepared for the NFL game with many of them from high school or low-Division college football. Goodell is the man that even atop a massive, billion dollar corporation, won't give a few extra bucks to the refs. Players have griped about Goodell for years and his "my way or the highway" approach but this has reached an all-time low point. Petty just for petty's sake, is he trying to prove a point? Goodell owes it to the fans to go into the next negotiating meeting, give them a blank check and have them write in a reasonable amount, with pensions and all the perks included.
     The sooner the better, so we can get back to talking about what should be an exciting, intriguing season. The replacement refs are hopeless, everyone can see it. Once again, it's not their fault, they were set up for failure. Goodell needs to get this done and give his league it's integrity back, he owes it to the fans. In last week's Ravens-Eagles game, a ref told Eagles running back LeSean McCoy hey man I need you for my fantasy team;  another ref was pulled from the Saints-Panthers game after his allegiance to the Saints was discovered through his Facebook page. Get them off the field and back to watching Mr. Goodell. They make up part of the crazed fans that have helped you get the league to where it is; and they always say, you can't let the inmates run the asylum.

~Justin Jones~