May. 05, 2018
Ten Things I Think
1. I think that Josh Rosen will turn out to be the best quarterback from the 2018 draft class. He is the purest passer of the bunch and reminds me a great deal of Aaron Rodgers. His touch is pristine and his arm strength is underrated. The fact that nine teams passed on the UCLA product is inconceivable to me.
2. I think Victor Oladipo has the quickest first step in the NBA. To be honest, I am not even sure it is that close. In their series against the Cavaliers, the Pacers essentially stopped setting screens and resorted to having their point guard blow by his defender. In the blink of an eye, Oladipo was exploding past the likes of JR Smith, George Hill, and even LeBron James. It was truly a sight to behold. Russell Westbrook and John Wall are in the conversation, but I believe Oladipo takes the cake.
3. I think the Browns biggest mistake wasn’t selecting Baker Mayfield, but instead passing on Bradley Chubb with the fourth pick. Imagine a tag-teaming pass-rush of Myles Garrett and Chubb for the next decade. That would make the lives of opposing offensive lines absolutely miserable. Instead, the Browns selected Denzel Ward, a cornerback from Ohio State. Ward might turn out to be a fine player, but passing on a perennial All-Pro to pair alongside Garrett doesn’t seem like smart business.
4. I think we will look back and be dumbfounded that Derwin James fell into the Chargers lap at pick 17. The former Seminole is a bruiser. Think Kam Chancellor; think Ed Reed. James will add a physical presence to a Chargers secondary that has been absent for many, many years. With Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram rushing the passer, the Chargers defense was already a dangerous unit. Now with James in the fold, I expect the defense in Los Angeles to be among the league’s best.
5. I think Domantas Sabonis will make an All-Star team before his career is through. I wouldn’t consider this much of a hot take. The son of Arvydas has an innate feel for the game. He has extraordinary vision and passing ability for a big man and can shoot from three, while also being nimble enough to attack a hard close out. Many viewed him as just a throw-in when the Pacers traded away Paul George for Victor Oladipo, but he is so much more than that.
6. I think there is no market for Hassan Whiteside. After essentially being deemed unplayable by Erik Spoelstra in Miami’s playoff series with the 76ers, the out-spoken big man made his displeasure well-known. Referring to his lack of playing time, Whiteside bluntly stated that “It’s bulls***. It’s really bulls***, man. There are a lot of teams that can use a center.” While he might be right that a lot of teams are in need of a center, his skillset at the center position is not what teams in today’s NBA are craving. Whiteside is a black hole on offense. Once he touches the ball he is almost assuredly going to back his defender down before tossing up some hot garbage. I am not even sure the word “pass” is in his lexicon. The Heat big man racked up a career high 1 assist per game this season. I know it’s not his job to pass his teammates open, but my 90-year old grandmother could dish out one assist per game. In a league that values shooting more than ever, Whiteside just doesn’t have a role in the modern NBA. And his salary in excess of $25 million in each of the next two season surely doesn’t help his cause.
7. I think Dez Bryant would be a perfect fit in Green Bay. I am convinced that the former Cowboy wide out still has plenty left in the tank. Speed has never been Dez’s calling card, but what he lacks in explosiveness he more than makes up for in physicality, along with his ability to catch footballs in traffic. Pairing him with Aaron Rodgers makes all of the sense in the world. The Pack recently parted ways with Jordy Nelson, who in his own right is a physical wide receiver. Bringing in Dez to fill his shoes seems to be the move.
8. I think the best way to defend Ben Simmons is to pressure him when the ball is in his hands. Naturally, because Ben Simmons cannot shoot, teams sag off of him. When he stands at the three-point line with the ball, his defender is often barely outside of the key. Still, Simmons has found a way to be effective this way. To really stifle Simmons, I think defenders need to impede his airspace. For one he will be caught off guard after being defended this one way all season, but on top of that crowding him does not give him a runway. Right now, when his defenders are giving him 10 feet of space and daring him to shoot (which he isn’t even considering), Simmons is simply attacking them and by the time he reaches them he is moving so quickly that suddenly the defense is at a disadvantage. It seems counterintuitive because his jumper is broke, but crowding Ben Simmons and really pressuring him is the way to contain the rookie. I wouldn’t be shocked if Brad Stevens and the Celtics tried to do just that.
9. I think Sony Michel will thrive in the Patriots offense. Back in January I said that the Georgia product was my favorite running back in the Draft and that he reminded me of Alvin Kamara. Michel can do it all: he can pass protect, run inside and out, while also being a threat in the passing game. Tom Brady has always had a knack for throwing to his running backs and I am not sure he has ever had one with the ability to take it to the house like the Patriot’s rookie does. I expect Belichick to really utilize Michel and would not be surprised in the least bit if he was the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.
10. I think Doris Burke should be on ESPN’s lead broadcast with Mike Breen. In fact, I will go so far as to say that it is criminal that she currently is not. Burke is a wealth of knowledge; every time she opens her mouth I seem to learn something. As it stands now, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson currently reside alongside Breen. What was once a fun, entertaining broadcast is now littered with complaints and clichés. Burke calls it how she sees it while Van Gundy and Jackson shield their friends and longtime peers from criticism that at times they certainly deserve. Doris Burke deserves her opportunity and I really hope she gets it.