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2017 NBA Combine: Measurements vs. College Listings

Posted in 101 ESPN, 2017 NBA Combine, 2017 NBA Draft, Basketball, Bleacher Report, Draft Express, nba, NBA Draft, NCAA, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2017 by Shane Gray

Shane Gray (@RealShaneGray)

Earlier this month, the NBA held its annual Draft Combine, where dozens of NBA hopefuls and representatives of all 30 NBA teams gathered for player interviews, athletic and strength tests, 5 on 5 scrimmages and, yes — official length and height measurements.

For decades, fans have taken interest in discovering just how tall some of the NCAA’s biggest stars actually were/are. Some of the measurements over the years have been eye-opening and — in some cases — hurt a prospects draft stock.

Way back in 1992, Oklahoma State stud Byron Houston — a collegiate All-American who was listed at 6’7″ with the Cowboys — measured just 6’4″ barefoot at the Combine, putting him closer to 6’5″ in shoes than his supposed 6’7″.

More recently, Kansas State standout Michael Beasley — who was billed at 6’10” in college and has continued to be listed at 6’10” at his various NBA stops — measured just 6’7″ in socks and 6’8″ 1/4 with shoes at the 2008 Combine.

As you can guess, some teams showed diminished interest in Houston and Beasley after their measurements. For Houston, who primarily played the post, 6’5″ in shoes wasn’t nearly as attractive as 6’7″. For Beasley, a classic tweener who can play a little at both the three and the four, his 6’8″ in- shoes measurement wasn’t as appealing to some clubs as a 6’10” measurement would have been.

At this year’s combine, as has long been the case, many of the players came up significantly shorter than advertised. I took the time to compare every prospect measured at the Combine to their college listing, checking at least two to three sources to ensure accuracy. Here are the results — first as a group and then individually.

Of 66 players measured both with and without shoes early in day when people are significantly taller (1/3 inch to 3/4 inch+ in some cases than afternoon/evening due to spinal compression), here are the results of the NO SHOES measurements:

-13 of 66 prospects (19.6%) measured 2 to 2.5 inches below their listed college height.
-29 of 66 players (43.9%) measured 1.75 to 2.5 inches below listed college height.
-41 of 66 prospects (62.1%) measured 1.5 to 2.5 inches below listed college height.
-50 of 66 players (75.7%) measured 1.25 to 2.5 inches below listed college height.
-59 of 66 players (89.3%) measured 1 to 2.5 inches below listed college height.
-62 of 66 prospects (93.9%) measured .75 to 2.5 inches below listed college height.
-65 of 66 players (98.4%) measured .5 to 2.5 inches below listed college height.
-1 of 66 players (1.5%) measured same height as listed college height.

In terms of IN SHOE measurements — players play in shoes, after all, and thus in-shoe measurements are completely valid and appropriate — just 25 of 66 measured as tall as their listed college height. Even with shoes on, 41 of 66 were shorter than their listed college height.

Individually, the results were as follows:

Player                     No Shoes     In Shoes      College Listing  College
Jonathon Jeanne   7’0 3/4″         7’2″                 7’2″                       France
Thomas Welsh      6’11 1/2″        7’0 1/2″          7’0″                       UCLA
Omer Yurtseven   6’10 1/2″        6’11 3/4″       7’0″                       N.C. State
Zach Collins           6’10 1/4″        7’0″               7’0″                       Gonzaga
Justin Patton          6’10”              6’11 1/4″       7’0″                      Creighton
Moritz Wagner      6’10”              6’11 1/4″       6’11”                    Michigan
Thomas Bryant      6’9 1/2″         6’10 3/4″      6’10”                     Indiana
Tony Bradley          6’9 1/4″         6’10” 3/4″     6’11”                     UNC
Harry Giles             6’9 1/4″         6’10” 1/2″     6’10 & 6’11”         Duke
Jarrett Allen           6’9″                6’10 1/4″      6’11”                     Texas
Bam Adebayo        6’8 3/4″          6’9 3/4″        6’10”                     Kentucky
TJ Leaf                     6’8 3/4″         6’9 3/4″         6’10”                     UCLA
Kennedy Meeks     6’8 3/4″         6’10 1/4″       6’10”                     UNC
Ivan Rabb               6’8 3/4″         6’10”              6’11”                    California
DJ Wilson                6’8 3/4″         6’10 1/2″       6’10”                    Michigan
Ike Anigbogu          6’8 1/2″         6’9 3/4″         6’10”                    UCLA
Eric Mica                 6’8 1/2″         6’9 1/4″         6’10”                    BYU
John Collins            6’8 1/4″         6’9 1/2″         6’10”                    Wake Forest
Tyler Lydon            6’8 1/4″         6’9 1/2″         6’9″                      Syracuse
Chris Boucher        6’8″                6’9 1/2″         6’10”                    Oregon
Kyle Kuzma            6’8″                6’9 1/2″         6’9″                      Utah
Jonathan Motley    6’7 3/4″         6’8″ 3/4″        6’10”                   Baylor
Caleb Swanigan     6’7 1/2″         6’8 1/2″          6’9″                     Purdue
Isaiah Hicks            6’7 1/4″         6’8 1/2″          6’9″                     UNC
Alec Peters              6’7 1/4           6’8 3/4″         6’9″                     Valparaiso
Jordan Bell             6’7″                6’8 1/2″         6’9″                      Oregon
Justin Jackson        6’7″                6’8 1/4″         6’8″                      UNC
Cameron Oliver     6’7″                6’8 1/4″         6’8″                     Nevada
Devin Robinson     6’7″                6’8 1/4″         6’8″                     Florida
Svi Mykhailiuk      6’6 1/2            6’7 1/2″         6’8″                    Kansas
OG Anunoby           6’6 1/4″          6’7 3/4″         6’8″                    Indiana
V.T. Beachem          6’6 1/4″          6’8″                6’8″                    Notre Dame
Nigel Hayes            6’6 1/4″          6’7 1/2″          6’8″                    Wisconsin
Jaron Blossomgame 6’5 3/4″      6’6 3/4″          6’7″                    Clemson
Justin Jackson        6’5 3/4″         6’7″                 6’7″                    Maryland
Jamel Artis             6’5 1/2″         6’6 3/4″           6’7″                    Pittsburgh
Terrance Ferguson 6’5 1/2″       6’7″                 6’7″                    Abelaine 36ers (pro)
Wesley Iwundu     6’5 1/2″         6’6 3/4″           6’7″                    Kansas State
P.J. Dozier               6’5 1/4″         6’6 3/4″           6’6″                    South Carolina
Semi Ojeleye          6’5 1/4″         6’6″                 6’7″                    SMU
Dillon Brooks         6’5″               6’6″                 6’7″                    Oregon
Dwayne Bacon      6’4 3/4″         6’6 1/4″           6’7″                    Florida State
Damyean Dotson  6’4 1/2″         6’5 1/2″           6’5″                    Houston
Luke Kennard        6’4 1/2″        6’5 1/2″           6’6″                    Duke
Davon Reed            6’4 1/2″        6’5 1/2″           6’6″                    Miami
Peter Jok                 6’4 1/2″         6’5 3/4″          6’6″                     Iowa
Edmond Sumner   6’4″               6’5 3/4″          6’6″                     Xavier
Hamidou Diallo     6’3 3/4″         6’5″                6’5″                     Kentucky
Josh Hart                 6’3 3/4″         6’5″                6’5 1/2″              Villanova
Sindarius Thornwell 6’3 1/2″     6’4 3/4″         6’5″                    South Carolina
Kobi Simmons        6’3 1/4″         6’4 1/2″         6’5″                    Arizona
Derrick White        6’3 1/4″          6’4 1/2″         6’5″                    Colorado
Tyler Dorsey           6’3″                6’4 1/2″         6’4″                    Oregon
Andrew Jones         6’3″                6’4 1/4″         6’4″                    Texas
Rawle Alkins          6’2 1/2″          6’3 3/4″         6’5″                    Arizona
De’ Aaron Fox        6’2″                 6’3 1/4″         6’3″                    Kentucky
Frank Jackson        6’2                  6’3 1/2″         6’3″                    Duke
Nigel Williams-Goss 6’1 1/2″       6’3″               6’3″                    Gonzaga
Isaiah Briscoe        6’1 1/4″           6’2 3/4″        6’3″                     Kentucky
Donovan Mitchell  6’1 1/4″          6’3″               6’3″                    Louisville
Monte Morris         6’1 1/4″           6’2 1/2″        6’3″                    Iowa State
Melo Trimble         6’1 1/4″           6’2 1/2″        6’3″                    Maryland
Kadeem Allen        6’1″                 6’2 3/4″         6’3″                    Arizona
Frank Mason         5’11”                6’0″               5’11”                  Kansas
Derrick Walton     5’11”                6’0 3/4″         6’1″                   Michigan
Jawun Evans         5’10 3/4″          5’11 1/2″       6’1″                  Oklahoma State

The View From Mt. Airy 07-29-16

Posted in Basketball, Football, Los Angeles Rams, nba, St. Louis Rams with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2016 by MtAiryPhil

images@MtAiryPhil

PHILADELPHIA, PA

Legends of The Dome appeared to be wildly successful. Looked like a repass for a loved one who was loved by all and left here far too soon. Kudos to the many Rams all-timers who came out, mixed, mingled and reciprocated the love and adoration of the St. Louis faithful who gathered more than likely, for the final time, to express their love and respect for the “Greatest Show On Turf.”

That being said, it’s time for the Arch Angels to redirect their collective sports energies.

Once upon a time, there was a wildly successful St. Louis sports franchise. They dominated their division, owned the Lakers, and are one of the few NBA franchises that can claim a win over the dynastic Boston Celtics in an NBA Final. The St. Louis Hawks, who landed in the Gateway City in 1955 after 4 last place finishes in Milwaukee (http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nba/stlhawks/stlhawks.html) and immediately turned around their fortunes behind a young Bob Pettit, who in the Hawks first season would win the 1st NBA MVP Trophy and lead them to the NBA Finals with a 33-39 regular season finish followed by an upset of the Lakers in the Western Division finals which was one of the most remarkable playoffs ever. The Hawks won Game 1 by a  single point. Lost Game 2 by 58 points, and won the decisive Game 3 by a single point. Total aggregate of -56 points but they moved on. The early Hawks would win consistently and would leave St.Louis for Atlanta in 1968 after winning the division with a 56-26 record under coach Richie Guerin and an imposing roster led by Paul Silas, Sweet Lou Hudson, Lenny Wilkens, Jumping Joe Caldwell and the Pride of Prairie View, Zelmo Beaty. For years I heard the story of failed attendance as the reason for their departure but upon further review that doesn’t resonate as truth. The Hawks didn’t break records, averaging just 6800 paid per game, but the ENTIRE league avg. in the Hawks final season was just 6,749 paid including the champion Celtics, whose paid attendance average was just 8,670 per game. Look it up. The New York Knickerbockers were the only team over 10k in average attendance in the ’67-68 season and I still can’t figure out the move to Atlanta, especially when you factor in that in the Hawks first season in Georgia, they would average just 4,427 per game and wouldn’t crack 6,000 per until their 6th season in the south. Why this walk down memory lane? Why this opening of a nearly 50-year old wound? Because if I’m a St. Louis sports fan, I’d be thinking its time we got our focus off the traitorous, despicable Rams and their carpetbagging owners who will soon find that not only is the grass NOT greener in the City Of Angels, but the bank account isn’t either. There is a reason why the Rams and Raiders left, and yes I know that TV pays the bills in today’s NFL, but empty seats resonate still. Goodbye.

Beat the NBA drum. Remind them of the storied tradition of the St. Louis Hawks. Show Adam Silver the St. Louis Blues history of drawing huge crowds in a market where everyone assumed the NHL had lost their collective minds expanding into, despite having never won a Stanley Cup. The Blues now have nearly half of a century of selling out the St. Louis Arena (CheckerDome), Kiel, oops I mean, Scottrade Center.

The infrastructure is there. Beautiful NBA ready arena. Lustful fanbase that has been simmering for years in the shadow of the Chicago Bull dynasty, and now looking over their shoulders and seeing the sold out crowds partying in OKC. It’s time St. Louis. Gather your elbows and begin to beat your NBA drum. The league will expand in the next the next four years under the billions and access to every market guaranteed by their historically wealthy 24 billion dollar, 9-year deal. The league wants always to expand by two, maintaining an even number of teams that makes scheduling and conferences sure numerically. Seattle gets the first franchise. Write it down. Until Kevin Johnson rode to the rescue of the city of Sacramento, the Kings were headed to the Emerald City 2 seasons ago. The city had broken ground on a new arena and the league was prepared to welcome back am amazing an supportive fanbase that had nothing to do with the Sonics departure to Oklahoma City in the first place. The city of Seattle still owns the rights to the colors, name, all trophies and records of the original franchise under the settlement allowing the ownership under Clay Bennett to jump ship in 2008. They are a lock to be the first city in any future NBA expansion.

That leaves St. Louis. The natural geographic location for the second team. What other choices are there. Adam Silver and the NBA don’t need Vegas in the way that the NHL does. NBA history has been littered with hints and instances of manipulation. I don’t think they want their product across the street from a sports book as a playoff Game 7 takes a left due to a referee’s whistle.

I’ve gotta believe the NFL thirsty  citizens would grab 10,000 NBA season tickets on day 1, even with the knowledge that the expansion product in year one would most likely be an assembly line of end of the benchers (think Nik Stauskas) and problem contracts and everybody’s NBA knuckleheads (think Nick Young). Sounds like fun to me.

St. Louis, from over here in the land of Ben Simmons, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and the emergent Philadelphia 76ers, we’d welcome you back. Turn the page. Raise a collective middle finger to the pirates who stole your NFL team. Bury ’em. You had a great sendoff with the legends game.
Finally, you’ve got an owner in waiting. The two brothers Ozzie and Daniel Silva, who have made $800 million since signing away their rights to the St. Louis Spirits in the ABA contraction and merger which netted them $2 million and an NBA TV share in perpetuity (the best business deal ever made anywhere) that still reaps major benefits. Bring ’em to the table.
Times yours St. Louis. Can’t you hear the Scottrade Center in Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference semi-finals? Surely you can feel opening day. This one’s a natural. How about this? The St. Louis Sounds. Stop the NFL nightmares and begin the NBA dreams. Goodnight.

http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2014/01/09/nba-settles-perpetuity-deal-with-former-owners-of-aba-spirits/

Russell Westbrook headed to The Big Easy?

Posted in Basketball, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2016 by kaleelweatherly

heat-thunder-game-3-nba-finals-russell-westbrook-dwyane-wade-udonis-haslem

To the fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder, this statement will resonate with you: It’s so hard to say good-bye. Kevin Durant, the team’s star small forward, is now a part of the Stephen Curry-led Golden State Warriors. Durant has been a model of consistency for the Thunder, and his presence on the court for them will be missed. Fans in Oklahoma City are not pleased with Durant’s decision to take his talents to Golden State.

However, the fans are not going to like what happens next. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City’s All-Star point guard, is scheduled to become a free-agent in 2017. Since Durant is no longer with the team, no one knows if he is willing to sign an extension. Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reported this: “If Westbrook chooses not to extend his contract this summer, multiple league executives told ESPN they believe the Thunder will consider fielding trade offers for Westbrook.”

Let’s be honest. Westbrook is not going to sign an extension, so the Thunder should just look for trade offers now. The New Orleans Pelicans is a team that may try to trade for the five-time All-Star. New Orleans is on the cusp of being a great team in the West. Led by power forward Anthony Davis, the Pelicans are ready to go deep into the playoffs and compete for a championship. Davis, a three-time All-Star, is arguably the best big man in the NBA. He can play with his back to the basket, rebound, stretch the floor, and play incredible defense.

Davis isn’t the only player on the Pelicans with a lot of talent. Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday are exceptional players who can score and play defense on the perimeter. New Orleans also drafted Buddy Hield out of Oklahoma with the sixth pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Hield can score from anywhere on the court, and he is lethal from beyond the arc.

New Orleans should trade Evans, Holiday, and multiple draft picks to Oklahoma City for Westbrook. You are probably asking yourself this question right now: Why should this trade happen? Well, the Pelicans need another player to take some of the pressure off of Davis. Furthermore, Evans and Holiday are not stars, but they are good players. Oklahoma City needs to start rebuilding. Evans and Holiday are both young players who have experienced success in the NBA.

Last season, Evans averaged 15.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 6.6 assists. Holiday averaged 16.8 points, three rebounds, and six assists. Both players are quality starters.

Having a team that consists of Davis, Westbrook, and Hield would immediately strike fear into the hearts of opposing players in the NBA. Teams are not going to double-team Davis in the post if Westbrook and Hield are on the perimeter.

New Orleans deserves to win a championship. Westbrook would increase the Pelicans’ chances of winning one because of his scoring and passing abilities, explosiveness, and defense. Davis and Westbrook would make a great one-two punch. Don’t you agree? 

“The Big Four” in Golden State?

Posted in Basketball, Sports with tags , , , , , , , on June 29, 2016 by kaleelweatherly

Durant

The Golden State Warriors already have two phenomenal sharpshooters like point guard Stephen Curry and shooting guard Klay Thompson. Shouldn’t that be enough? Don’t forget to add in power forward Draymond Green, one of the best two-way players in the NBA. Sure, the Warriors suffered a heartbreaking NBA Finals defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but that’s all in the past. Golden State is looking forward to making a huge splash in free-agency by luring in Oklahoma City Thunder’s small forward Kevin Durant.

According to cbssports.com’s Ananth Pandian, the “Warriors’ front office is planning on sitting down once free agency starts with Durant to discuss the opportunity in Golden State.” Golden State, along with other suitors, are scheduled to meet with him when free-agency starts on July 1. Durant is one of the best players in the NBA, and he is a lethal scorer. He stands at 6-foot-9 and weighs 240 pounds. Durant is a threat from beyond the arc and in the paint.

He can shoot 3-pointers as well as anyone in the NBA, and he is fearless when driving to the hoop. Durant’s playing style is reminiscent of George Gervin because he is smooth and patient with the ball in his hands. Last season, he averaged 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and five assists per game.

You are probably asking yourself this question right now: Why should the Warriors pursue Durant in free-agency when the team does not need any more scorers? If you were watching the NBA Finals, then you saw the Cavaliers play tight defense on Curry, Thompson, and Green and left players like small forward Harrison Barnes open from beyond the arc. While Cleveland allowed him to take uncontested shots, he kept missing. He shot 35 percent from the field in the Finals, according to desmoinesregister.com’s Tommy Birch.

Imagine if Durant was the one attempting all of those open shots. He would have made most of them. Barnes’ abysmal shooting percentage in the Finals is one of the reasons why Cleveland forced a Game 7 and avoided losing the series 4-1.

If Durant does sign with the Warriors, he would bolster their starting lineup and take a lot of pressure off of Curry. Besides, Barnes is scheduled to become a free-agent, and the Warriors are not interested in re-signing him.

Durant would give the Warriors another lethal scoring option, and a player who attracts double-teams. Some fans do not want to see Durant play for the Warriors because they believe the team already has a lot of talent.

Those fans are correct, but great teams are always looking for ways to improve. It’s clear that Durant wants to play on a team that has the talent to win multiple championships. Is there a better team to sign with than Golden State? No.

Sfgate.com’s Rusty Simmons said, “Thompson and Curry will be part of the Warriors’ full-court press to reach an agreement with Durant when free-agency opens this week.”

The Splash Brothers are trying to help the Warriors’ front office make a splash in free-agency. Will it work? Golden State better hope so. If it does, folks, say hello to “The Big Four.”

Follow me on Twitter @KaleelWeatherl1

The View From Mt. Airy – NBA Draft Preview 2016

Posted in Basketball, Sports with tags , , , , , , , on June 23, 2016 by MtAiryPhil
Ben Simmons, potential #1 overall pick

Ben Simmons, potential #1 overall pick

@MtAiryPhil

PHILADELPHIA, PA

IT’S DRAFT NIGHT!

The most heated draft in recent NBA history is now a few hours away. If you know Phil at all, than you must know already I like it new and shiny, whether right or wrong or even in working order. This NBA draft gives me all that and more and this final few hours will be my Ritalin, my Adderall acquired suspiciously from a former BALCO operative.

What’s not to love?

You’ve got LeBron James Jr. in Ben Simmons.

The Phenom.

Questions?

Yup.

How much did he care as me-marked time at LSU waiting for his NBA destiny? Why couldn’t he accomplish at least a visit to the NCAA tournament if he’s truly the “next big thing?”

Projected at #2 is Brandon Ingram out of the storied program of the man who invented basketball, as he’d have the world believe. For me the Ingram choice goes beyond talent and directly to his alma mater. I’ll wait as you make a list of the great NBA players from Duke taken in the first round. You should be finished. However, if we assign the same quiz to the “bust” container then pack a lunch. May not scare you, but I believe an NBA GM has to have a moment of pause as he ponders precedent with the value of the 2nd overall. Ultimately the pick by the Lakers will be Mr. Ingram, barring a bone jarring trade by the 76ers.

Trade? Yup.

According to my Sixers’ source, despite their open declaration Tuesday that they would be selecting Simmons with the 1st overall pick, there is a scenario brewing where Philadelphia (who own six 1st round picks over the next 2 drafts) are being courted by multiple teams. These deals all involve the 76ers ending up with 2 of the first 5 selections tonight. Sixers will not, if they acquired the 2nd of two first fives, select Simmons. The whispers in my ear say they would select Ingram 1 and either Kris Dunn or Buddy Hield depending on how high the second pick is. The preference obviously would be Dunn and that trade partner would have to be the Celtics, who openly covet Jahlil Okafor yet seem to on the verge of sending that pick to Utah.

That enough intrigue for you? I got more. There are some x factors in the top of the draft that will make for scintillating, cell phone ringing, Twitter exploding moments. Who is really the 3rd pick? My heart screams Jaylen Brown as the default 3rd. Yet many NBA scouts believe there is not a possibility Dunn goes beyond three. Phoenix takes Brown without hesitation and tier 1 of the 2016 NBA DRAFT is complete.

Buddy Hield kicks off tier-2. After his selection you got to own a crystal ball. Exactly why today will be an amazing run of NBA TV. There will be exactly zero moments that allow for an exhale. Who drafts the man child Thon Maker? What top ten projections will slide precipitously out of the lottery and into the green room of misery? Who wears the most outlandish suit/outfit? What player will we ignore in the bottom ten of round 1 who becomes Paul George or the emergent beast for whom simplicity demands I identify simply as “the freak?” Denzel Valentine scares me and I want it on record. Taurean Prince too. Both will be drafted tonight in round 1.

Tier 3 seems simple. Dragan Bender seems slightly overvalued to me. Those who profess to know have him in their first 5 but I don’t see a fit. Most likely he belongs at 8 to Sacramento and he well should. Tier three will also feature the Celtics taking over the draft with 4 of the first 31 selections barring a trade. One of those picks will be an enigmatic Skal Labissiere who seems to grow in stature despite a resume that belies this late love. Finally, what does the Hawks trade of Jeff Teague do to tier 3 as they also own pick 21 and this is why tonight will be “Must See TV.”

Finally, what makes the NBA DRAFT 2016 the spectacle I truly believe it will be is that, by the time you read this, things will have changed. Again.

N The Zone promises to have a full recap and breakdown of NBA Draft 2016 online and on air. Stay tuned.

Let’s Hoop – NBA First Round Playoff Preview

Posted in Basketball, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2016 by A-Train

The A-Train here…I want to bring on our NBA contributor Robyn Browning and she has your preview for the upcoming first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Robyn, the floor is yours.Larry O'Brien Trophy

ROBYN:

The regular season ended on a historic and spectacular note with Golden State setting the record for most wins in the season (73) and Kobe Bryant ending his career with a 60 point effort to defeat the Utah Jazz, thus securing his name as a basketball legend. Now, the playoffs are here and hopefully the NBA will build off the energy of Wednesday night and extend it through the playoffs. Here are my predictions for the first-round series in order of seeding.

Golden State Warriors (1) vs. Houston Rockets (8)

Golden State wins if they keep applying pressure on offense with quick ball movement, pressure defense with closeout double teams, and aggressive rebounding.

Houston wins if they take the red pill from the Matrix and become the team in an alternate reality in which Harden plays defense, more plays are run for Trevor Ariza, and Dwight Howard becomes a 70% free throw shooter.

Players to Watch: Harrison Barnes and Trevor Ariza

My Pick: Golden State in 4

Cleveland Cavaliers (1) vs. Detroit Pistons (8)

Cleveland wins if they become the playoff team we expect them to be. LeBron James will run the point, be efficient from the field, and open up spot-up shooters. Kyrie Irving must contain Reggie Jackson in pick and roll situations.

Detroit wins if they wear down Cleveland through offensive rebounding and pick and roll play with Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond. They must play with the same confidence and fire that led them to defeat Cleveland during the regular season.

Players to Watch: Andre Drummond and Cleveland’s three-point shooters (JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Kevin Love)

My Pick: Cleveland in 5

San Antonio Spurs (2) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (7)

San Antonio wins if they control the tempo and no one gets hurt.

Memphis wins if they transform into the Monstars from Space Jam.

Players to Watch: Danny Green, Spurs bench, and Jordan Farmar vs. Spurs point guards

My pick: San Antonio in 5

Toronto Raptors (2) vs. Indiana Pacers (7)

Toronto wins if they shoot well from the perimeter, drive to the basket, and get to the foul line a lot.

Indiana wins if they win Game 1 and fluster Toronto’s confidence. Indiana’s front court must get Luis Scola and Jonas Valaciunas in foul trouble.

Players to Watch: Toronto’s backcourt vs. Indiana’s frontcourt and DeMarre Carroll (Is he healthy?)

My Pick: Toronto in 5

Oklahoma City Thunder (3) vs. Dallas Mavericks (6)

Oklahoma City wins on talent alone. Russell Westbrook is too much for Deron Williams to handle and Kevin Durant can pour in points by the handful.

Dallas wins if they can contain the Thunder—not outright stop them defensively, outscore them, and coach Rick Carlisle changes the lineup so much that the Thunder stay off balance.

Players to Watch: Wesley Matthews (Can he keep up with Kevin Durant?) and Russell Westbrook (watch for a triple-double game or two)

My Pick: Oklahoma City in 5

Miami Heat (3) vs. Charlotte Hornets (6)

Miami wins if their veterans will use their post-season experience to their advantage and Hassan Whiteside can defend the rim, keep fouls to under control, and wear down Al Jefferson.

Charlotte wins if they forget about the 2013-2014 playoffs when they were swept by the Heat, Kemba Walker’s mid-range game stays great, and Jefferson, Nick Batum, and Marvin Williams lock down Miami defensively.

Players to Watch: Charlotte’s defense and Jeremy Lin and his hair

My Pick: Miami in 6

Los Angeles Clippers (4) vs. Portland Trailblazers (5)

Los Angeles wins if they continue to play with confidence and overpower the Blazers in the post.

Portland wins if Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum break down the Clippers defensively to score inside and outside the paint and set up their teammates for easy shots.

Players to Watch: Lillard vs. Chris Paul (top-notch NBA point guard play) and Clippers bench

My Pick: Clippers in 6

Atlanta Hawks (4) vs. Boston Celtics (5)

Atlanta wins if Paul Millsap takes advantage of the Celtic’s frontcourt, especially on pick and roll plays and make the Celtics run half-court offense.

Boston wins if Isaiah Thomas continues to score as he has for over a month, get Atlanta to turn the ball over, and have more points in transition than half-court.

Players to Watch: Isaiah Thomas vs. Jeff Teague/Dennis Schroder (Teague/Schroder turnover-prone & Thomas can capitalize in a major way)

My Pick: Atlanta in 7

 

You can follow Robyn on Twitter. Her handle is @robynbirdfly.

Ten For Tuesday: March 1 Edition

Posted in Baseball, Basketball, Football, Los Angeles Rams, MLS, NFL, Sports, St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, St. Louis Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2016 by Shane Gray

10_black_logo_on_white_background

(St. Louis, MO)

Shane Gray (@RealShaneGray)

Welcome to my new weekly column entitled “Ten for Tuesday”. I hope you all will enjoy the debut edition, which touches on yesterday’s Rams feature, the St.Louis Cardinals, why I’m not necessarily hyped about the prospects of MLS to STL, what Mizzou Football must do to regain elite their elite status, the good and bad of the NFL Combine, the mystery of NBA Pre-Draft Measurements, the wonder that is Stephen Curry and much more.

With that said, I hope you will enjoy week one of “Ten for Tuesday”.

Let’s get to it:

1- For those who missed it, I penned a feature yesterday named “Monday’s Missile: Los Angeles Rams Not Worthy of St. Louis’ Support”. It has proven to very controversial and his elicited very strong, passionate responses from folks all over the nation. If you haven’t yet taken a look at the rather brief read, I’d love for you to take a moment to do so. Whether you love it or hate it, I’d enjoy hearing your take on the feature. Hit me up on twitter via @RealShaneGray and let me know how you feel.

While on the topic of the aforementioned feature, I’d like to make a couple things clear that I didn’t touch on yesterday:

One, I wish no ill will whatsoever towards the Rams players. Obviously, they had nothing to do with the move. I interviewed several of them on different occasions over the last few years, and think the world of guys like Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Quinn, free agent wide receiver Brian Quick and former Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis, all of whom were great people, great interviews and wonderful assets in the community.

Two, I wish to congratulate any and all CLASSY fans from L.A. who will get to watch the Rams return to Cali. I don’t blame them for being excited. Not at all. As for those who want to bash St.Louis and the fans here, however, well… that’s another story altogether.

2- With the Rams moving on, I plan to turn more attention back to the St. Louis Cardinals. I will be honest and admit that much of my focus turned away from the Redbirds after the Rams came to St. Louis. As a child, though, I was an absolute die-hard, live-and-die Cardinals fan. They were my first true love in regards to a sports team. Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my passion for the game even after playing it in college.

As probably everyone is aware by now, the Redbirds are in the thick of Spring Training in preparation for the 2016 Major League Baseball campaign. Can they hold off the rival Cubs? Will the Pirates again make major noise in the division? That discussion will come on another day and I look forward to diving into some Cardinals coverage this year.

3- Switching gears, a group of prominent, local investors — including Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt and former #STLNFL Task Force co-head Dave Peacock, among others — recently united to form #MLS2STL and are exploring the possibility of bringing an expansion MLS franchise to St. Louis. (In case you missed it, here’s the full story.)

While I have nothing against MLS and am all for anything that would be a positive for the region, I do have one significant reservation about bringing an MLS team to the city.

Why am I so lukewarm on the MLS2STL? Here’s why:

I don’t believe St. Louis is currently viewed by many as a four team region. If true — and I have reason to believe that is indeed the case — I’d prefer our third professional club to be something other than an MLS franchise.

With the MLB and NHL deeply rooted in the Gateway City, that realistically only leaves room for one other major pro sports league/team, and I’d personally hate to reduce or remove any future hopes for an NFL expansion team with truly committed local ownership and a 30 year plus iron-clad lease, or even a chance at an NBA franchise at some point down the road in exchange for MLS. I could be wrong, but I think the presence of MLS would greatly reduce any chances of eventually making a run at having a team from either of those two more prestigious leagues,and if that is indeed true, that bothers me.

As for the NBA, keep in mind that Stan Kroenke relative Bill Laurie nearly locked up an expansion team even WITH the NFL and three other pro teams in town. With that considered, IF a legitimate effort were made at a time when there are but two major pro teams in town rather than three, I think it could certainly get done.

4- Speaking of the Association, Stephen Curry continues to amaze me. To me, he’s the best player in the League right now. He’s the best scorer and best shooter, he’s money in crunch time, he’s a willing and effective passer and he can D up when the chips are on the line.

In short, if there’s one guy in pro basketball that I’m paying to watch play right now, it’s Curry… and nobody else is a close second at the moment.

5- Last year, the Missouri Tigers football program fell off and fell off hard, going 5-7 in a year filled with off-field controversy, on-field struggles and the eventual resignation of Head Coach Gary Pinkel, who ran the show at Mizzou for 15 years, leading the Tigers to ten winning seasons, 10 bowl games, six bowl wins and a combination of five Big 12 North/SEC East Division championships.

After a down year, what does Mizzou need to do to get back on track?

To me, the most glaring hole on the Tigers roster a year ago — and something that was always a strong point during Missouri’s best years within the Pinkel era — was a deep, productive receiving corps.

Last season, the Tigers lack of depth and overall talent at receiver was undeniable, and the offense struggled to produce points and generate big plays largely because of it.

If Mizzou is going to get back to its winning ways and again become a power in the SEC, they need to get their wideout talent back to something close to the level it had been prior to the 2015 debacle.

6- I have always enjoyed the annual NFL Combine, and watched it extremely closely when covering the Rams and preparing for draft-related articles from 2011 through 2015.

That said, the Combine can be either a blessing or a curse for NFL talent evaluators and NFL teams — depending on how it is utilized.

When game tape is kept as the priority, the combine is a fine tool to further evaluate prospects. When the combine is used strictly as a complimentary tool to hone in on what a player has done on the field and fine tune evaluations, it is great.

But when scouts and teams take the bait and move someone up or down a draft board based more upon the combine than what a player or players actually did on the gridiron, teams are asking for major problems.

The combine is fine to help refine grades on a given player, but when the grades become based more upon the combine stats than the football stats, teams are begging to end up drafting busts.

7- Speaking of the combine, the NBA Combine has always been fascinating to me in regard to the measurements, and — more specifically — the height measurements.

At the NFL Combine, players are measured only once, and in their bare feet. But at the NBA Combine, prospects are measured early in the morning (when players are 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch taller than they would be late in the day), and are measured both in their bare feet and in their shoes.

As many of you are probably aware, in-shoe heights are commonly used on rosters in college or pro basketball. One can argue about whether that makes sense or not, but its been a common practice in recent decades to either list players in roughly their shoe heights or add anywhere from a half-inch to over two inches to a player’s barefoot measurement.

For example, Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love was measured at 6’7″3/4 without shoes at the 2008 pre-draft camp, but has been listed at 6’10” throughout his pro and college career.

Former Cavs guard and rumored lover of Lebron James’ mom Delonte West was measured at 6’1″1/2 barefoot, 6’2″3/4 with shoes while being listed at 6’4″ for portions of his pro career.

John Starks, who starred for the New York Knicks during the Patrick Ewing era, admitted to a 6’2″height while playing with a 6’5″listing.

Finally, former Oklahoma State standout Byron Houston — from way back in the Big 8 days — measured just 6’4″ barefoot while being listed at 6’7″ both in college and the NBA.

On the other hand, there are always a few players who use their barefoot heights and are even taller without shoes than their listed heights. Longtime legend Kevin Garnett is one of those players, listed at 6’11” while being been measured at 7’1″ in shoes. Another future Hall-of-Famer, Kevin Durant, is listed at 6’9 but stands close to 7 foot on the hardwood in shoes.

In general, when you see a player’s height on a roster, you can bet it is either an in-shoe listing or roughly an inch to an inch and a half above their barefoot height, but it’s always interesting — to me at least — to see the extremes of the over-inflated listings or the few who utilize their barefoot measurement.

8- With the concussion issue coming to the forefront in the NFL, particularly after Will Smith’s blockbuster “Concussion” movie, has it changed how you feel about your son, brother, nephew or cousin playing the game?  I’d love to hear your take on the topic. Hit me up on Twitter (@RealShaneGray) and let me know how you feel about your loved ones playing football.

9- Speaking of movies, let’s play make believe for a quick second and pretend that YOU are going to star in a sports-related feature film. If you were the star and had your pick of women to play the role of your wife or girlfriend, tweet me her name and why you chose her using #NTheZone and #MyLeadingLady. It will be interesting to see what women y’all have been scoping out.

10- Finally, on next week’s N The Zone Podcast with Palmer Alexander (@thelegendkil) of the St. Louis American and Arlington Lane (@TheATrainSTL), we will be introducing a new segment entitled “Ask Shane/Get at Gray”. For those following me on twitter, DM me your question/questions, and I will answer a few of them over the air next Sunday. For those whose answers are chosen, we will let you know by tagging your twitter handle when tweeting out the segment. I look forward to the inquiries.

Thanks for reading…

 

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