Is Lonzo the Lakers MVP?

I stumbled upon a take the other day and it left the Soft7 chat speechless. Apparently, not everyone loves the Ball’s as much as I do. You all already know my take on Lavar Ball and how he is the greatest promoter in recent history, but if you forgot here it is. But anyway, the rest of the Soft7 contributors are not Big Baller’s unlike me.

Lavar has always had some wild takes. Some we can dismiss, like Gelo ever playing in the NBA, but some we can’t. Lavar has constantly said that the Lakers need Lonzo and that “without Lonzo they can’t win.” He has a point. When the Lakers played with Zo, Kuz, Ingram, and Bron all together, they went 15-8 with a +5.3 net rating and a 99.9 net rating on defense in over 350 minutes. This would qualify them to have the 4th best net rating and the best net rating on defense. To go one step further, with Zo playing 25+ minutes, the Lakers are 19-16 this season, but only 25-25 when Lebron plays 25+.

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Now, I am in no way saying that Zo is better than Lebron, what I am saying is that Lonzo is more valuable, especially since Bron does not play defense anymore. Zo was having a season comparable to last, averaging 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists and just like last season he went down with an ankle injury. But that hasn’t stop Lavar.

Lavar recently said “Lonzo makes everybody better. That’s what he’s always done all his life. You don’t even hear of Kuzma if Lonzo don’t make him in the Las Vegas Summer League. You see every time Kuzma play by himself? Him and Hart play by themselves? They don’t get nothing. Ingram play by himself? They don’t get nothing. They look raggedy. You put Lonzo in the mix, now everybody 30, 40 points scorers and doing this and that.” This is true. What Zo does for the Lakers does not show up on the scorecard, but it does in the stats department.

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The Lakers went from the third best defense to the bottom 10 after Lonzo got hurt. Since he has been gone, their defensive rating has been over 120, which allows them to secure a bottom 3 spot in the league.

To be completely honest, Zo gets a bad rep. His dad is just like any other dad. He supports his kids and he advertises his kids, but he is just more vocal than most. But why should we bash Lonzo? Stats do not lie. Lonzo Ball completely changes the identity of the Lakers. Lavar is right in saying that there wouldn’t be a Kuz without Zo, because Zo gets defensive stops which then leads to pull up 3’s or fast break dunks. The Lakers went from a playoff spot, to shutting down half their team in the last week. Without Zo, the Lakers are forced to rely on Kuz and Ingram for defense and we all know they aren’t the best. Plus, with Zo playing, no one would have to know how Bron just quits trying on defense. Zo fills the gap. Zo is the most important player for the Lakers.

FBI comes at the NCAA Again

There’s a bit of breaking news this morning as the FBI announced that “several NCAA D-1 coaches have been charged in a large-scale nationwide entrance exam scandal by the FBI and US Attorney’s Office.”

The scheme apparently involved the following colleges: Georgetown, Stanford, UCLA, University of San Diego, USC, Texas, Wake Forest, and Yale. While there have not been any names of athletes released yet, one name has surfaced and that is former Full House star Lori Loughlin and Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman. The actresses are among 50 people arrested for this, but no more names were released. Loughlin and her husband are accused of paying of $500,000 for their daughters to be designated as recruits for USC’s crew team even though they never participated in crew.

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The suspects allegedly paid $6 million in bribes to attend these colleges, but in most cases the actual student did not know of the money. There have also been coaches and administrators arrested so there is still more that can come from this. The coaches would allegedly make a fake profile which listed the student as an athlete and the exam administrators would either hire students to take the exam for the athlete or change the answers of the student.

This is the second FBI/NCAA scandal in the past years. If you remember, Louisville lost Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich due to the first payment scandal. LSU recently suspended their coach for the same reason, and Sean Miller of Arizona kind of said his goodbyes to Arizona the other day.

This is a developing story, so be sure to follow us on twitter @soft7sports

Cal Provides Another Update on Travis

Yesterday, John Calipari provided an update on Reid Travis. He said that Travis had been practicing with Kenny Payne and that he plans on sitting him and PJ down to talk about Reid’s plan. He did go further and said if he does play, it’ll only be a few minutes to “get his feet under him.”

To me, this is a positive. Everyone who watches Kentucky basketball knows that Reid is essential to this years success, but why rush it? . Look, I’ll tell you what everyone has been thinking: Reid Travis is healthy. He is doing the same thing Zion is, saving his legs. Could he play Friday? Yes, he probably could and most likely will, but it will be 10 minutes max.

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Reid Travis on Senior Day (A Sea of Blue)

Kentucky may not win the SEC and that’s completely fine. They have their eyes on a much bigger prize. But one thing to note, Kentucky can beat any team in the nation with or without Travis. Obviously he helps, but last time against Tennessee, PJ ran into foul trouble and so did Richards/Montgomery. This time, they’ll have Reid for 10 or so minutes which gives them a better chance to win. And I’d be willing to bet they do. And if Kentucky plays on Sunday, I expect Reid to be back to normal minutes. After all, if Kentucky wins the SEC they’ll most likely be a 1 seed in the Louisville regional. Something everyone wants to happen, including John Calipari. He’ll do whatever he can to get there…

Kofi Kingston Continues to Get Screwed

Sunday night at the most pointless PPV in the WWE year, Vince announced that Kofi would be partaking in a Triple Threat match for the WWE Championship, but to his surprise it ended up being a 2 on 1 handicap match against the Bar. Not surprisingly, he got completely squashed and made himself even more lovable to the WWE universe. Big E and Xavier Woods tried to come to his defense, but they were knocked out by Rusev and Nakamura.

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Vince is a genius. He knows exactly what he’s doing with Kofi and honestly so does the entire WWE universe. Kofi will somehow get his shot at Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania and will deliver probably the best match of the night, behind maybe Becky, Ronda, and Charlotte. We all know Kofi will get his chance, but you have to love Vince resorting to old school him and squashing a fan favorite to build his popularity even more.

Now, I don’t know if Kofi will actually win at Wrestlemania, but he’ll get his shot at the grandest stage of them all. Even if he does win the title, he won’t keep it long because you can’t incorporate the New Day into a title picture unless you break them up which Big E could do with Kofi if he wins. There are tons of rumors, but the only one I hope is true is that Kofi wins the title at Wrestlemania.

When I first got into the WWE (thanks Alex), I used to always use Kofi on WWE16. Kofi was just the perfect wrestler to use due to his agility. We saw a glimpse of it against Bryan and truth be told, we’ve seen it every Wrestlemania when he avoids elimination due to his acrobatics. I have no doubt in my mind that Kofi and Bryan will put on a show, but I hope they don’t add anyone else. Those two can be unreal, but if they add Kevin Owens it would, in a way, be a rerun of Sunday Night by just switching Kofi and Mustafa Ali.

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Another thing about Vince’s story telling… Ronda interfering in Flair vs Lynch last night was amazing. Ronda punched Becky, this causing a disqualification to Charlotte and Becky winning and joining the championship match at Wrestlemania. What an amazing sequence, one no one could have guessed.

Lastly, just a stat to keep an eye on, Rusev has now lost 17 times in a row on a pay-per-view. That ties him with the Great Khalid for the most losses on a PPV in WWE history. No wonder he tweeted this…

PS… Fastlane sucked. If you watched it you knew. I just recapped the best parts for you. Now that it’s Wrestlemania season, I’ll update every week on matchups and what happens on Raw and Smackdown… see you then.

Sunday Night Baseball: AL Central Preview and Predictions

I am continuing with my MLB divisional breakdown. This time we head to the AL Central. I have done the NL West, NL East, and the AL West. Let’s jump right into it.

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Cleveland Indians

Projected Lineup: Francisco Lindor SS, Jason Kipnis 2B, Jose Ramirez 3B, Carlos Santana 1B, Jake Bauers OF, Hanley Ramirez DH, Tyler Naquin OF, Leonys Martin OF, Roberto Perez C.

Projected Rotation: Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber

This is the Indians easiest division title in the last few years. From the looks of it, their rotation seems to be one of the top in the league. Kluber and Bauer very well could be in Cy Young talks by the end of the year. Their offense is just as good. They had a top 5 offense and pitching last season, so I do not expect much to change there. The Indians are one of 4 teams in the American League that can win the World Series, along with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros. I really like this team. I like that they have kept their core mainly together. They will make a trade at the deadline, which they always do and we’ll see them in October. They’ll finish 92-70.

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Kansas City Royals

Projected Lineup: Adalberto Mondesi SS, Whit Merrifield 2B, Alex Gordon OF, Ryan O’Hearn 1B, Jorge Soler DH, Hunter Dozier 3B, Chris Owings OF, Billy Hamilton OF, Cameron Gallagher C.

Projected Rotation: Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Brad Keller, Jake Junis, Jorge Lopez

Look, I love the Royals. They have a young squad and who knows, they could make a run. I have them as my surprise team from this division. I think they’ll finish second, maybe hitting a Wild Card spot. Merrifield is a solid infielder and a solid hitter and I still really love Alex Gordon. They also added one of the most underrated CF’s in the game, Billy Hamilton. Yes he struggles hitting, but his defense is unreal and he knows how to work a count. He was also unsigned by his team, the Reds, so I think he is out to prove himself this season. I’ll say they finish 87-75.

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Minnesota Twins

Projected Lineup: Jorge Polanco SS, CJ Cron 1B, Eddie Rosario OF, Nelson Cruz DH, Jonathan Schoop 2B, Marwin Gonzalez 3B, Max Kepler OF, Jason Castro C, Byron Buxton OF.

Projected Rotation: Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Martin Perez.

No one thinks they’ll win the division, right? The Twins are one of those teams that disappoints pretty much early, just like last year. They have one person in their rotation that has a career ERA lower than 4.00 (the Indians have all 5 under 4.00). This team will be the second best team in the division, because the rest of the division is just plain awful. This is the most predictable division in baseball, thanks to the constant mediocracy from the Twins. They’ll finish 83-79.

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Detroit Tigers

Projected Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Christin Stewart DH, Nick Castellanos OF, Miguel Cabrera DH, Jeimer Candelario 3B, Niko Goodrum OF, Grayson Greiner C, Jordy Mercer SS, Jacoby Jones OF.

Projected Rotation: Michael Fulmer, Matt Boyd, Jordan Zimmermann, Tyson ross, Matt Moore.

Another team that really hasn’t done much and will continue to disappoint. Not much more to say here, they’ll finish 60-100.

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Chicago White Sox

There is no one else in this league that is a bigger laughing stock than the entire Chicago White Sox’s organization. They signed everyone related to Manny Machado and had their media always say they were signing him, but they failed… just like they do every single year. Just a complete joke of a team. They’ll finish dead last, 50-112.