An Open Letter: The Content is Coming…

Dear Soft Sevens,

As is the case with most 20-somethings out of/in college, the whole Soft 7 staff was no different: we got busy as shit. A lot of us were extremely fortunate and got to go on summer vacations. Unfortunately, that is not the only issue. Some had summer classes drag their attention away, while others had 9-5 work weeks axing a lot of free time. Some were in rec leagues, some traveled for work. Some had family issues rise up, some had relationship issues rise up. It sucks that the content took a hit, since we all love writing. As I’m sure you saw from other sport’s content sites, the summer months are a tough time for content as it is anyway. Life getting busy didn’t help this, and it sucked for most of us having to take a step back and put our hobby to the side.

You didn’t come here to read excuses. You came here for the plan ahead.

We at the Soft 7 staff are extremely fortunate in announcing a new model and schedule going forward. We all feel like we have gotten a grip on our new schedules as they stand currently, and any issues in our personal lives have been resolved. I have a few articles I am working on. Wic is putting together some, and I believe Juice may have a few Morning Juice’s in the works for this upcoming college football season. Expect big things from the staff. We hope to break many of the milestones we set before us this year. Who knows, maybe a long-awaited addition to our website gets added around Christmas time.

On behalf of the entire staff, we are sorry for the lack of content. However, get ready for a wild season up ahead.

Stay Soft Sevens,

Buck

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Calipari Watching Closely

As we are all aware at this point, Kentucky is looking to add another piece to their 2019-2020 team. With the AAU Peach Jam ongoing, the main point of attraction for Cats fan is N’Faly Dante as he told KSR he wanted to reclassify if everything works our academically. Well, his team is playing in the semi-final this evening and guess who is there…John Calipari (see below). Calipari was straddling two courts watching N’Faly on one and Jalen Green vs Cade Cunningham on the other (both in the 2020 class). (Picture via @JackPilgrimKSR on twitter)

If you follow us at Soft7, you know how much I want N’Faly Dante. N’Faly is such an athlete and would add so much talent to this current team. With an obvious “weak” spot at the center position, N’Faly would allow EJ and Nick more rest as well as a huge defensive asset. He is going to cause so many issues inside the paint and the one thing that has come out of the Peach Jam is the dude is “100% NBA ready.” N’Faly told KSR if everything works our academically, he’ll be reclassifying but he’s waiting on a few test as well as finishing classes. He is considering Oregon, LSU, and Kentucky but honestly if he reclassified, Kentucky is the leader. He also said Calipari told him they have a spot either this year or next, meaning they want him to be a Wildcat regardless.

As a refresher, Dante is 6’11” and he has a wingspan of 7’5” which just makes him a beast. Watching some of his highlights, I feel like Dante is the closest to Bam. Bam was an absolute tank but he wasn’t the best shooter. His defense will set him apart from the others as he is a complete package with shot-blocking and rebounding and the ability to switch off the pick. The issue Dante may have is his outside shot. While he drains threes in his videos, his shot is just so inconsistent. With his height, he has the ability to again rebound and dunk but he’ll need to develop an outside shot and it will take patience from everyone. He has the peak of a Karl Anthony Towns with his athleticism and he can grow into a shot and with Kenny Payne, this is possible.

From an interview with the Athletic, Dante’s AAU director claims that they are doing everything possible to reclassify. The hardest thing to do is reclassify but it is even harder when English is not your primary language. His family wants him to reclassify and they love Kentucky, but again it will take time and it won’t likely happen until the end of the summer, if at all. They claim they are working “around the clock” to make it possible and by all accounts, he wants it to happen. Oregon and Kansas are possible contenders but I really think if he reclassifies, he is Kentucky’s to lose.

Here are my thoughts…if N’Faly reclassifies Kentucky is in the driver’s seat. He could potentially stay home at Kansas and even Oregon is atop of is list, but Kentucky is the school he has his eyes on and his host family feels the exact same way. If I had to take a guess, I think he will reclassify but it would happen after Peach Jam and those AAU events. This gives him more time to visit, work on school work, and show off his skills against the elite of the elite. It may be a waiting process, but I think the Cats wrap up their 2019 recruiting class with N’Faly.

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Latest N’Faly Dante Update

At this point you know who N’Faly Dante is and what he brings to the table. In case you forgot, N’Faly Dante is the 2nd ranked center in the 2020 class but his family seems to be pushing for him to reclassify into 2019. While he is from Wichita, Kentucky is also pushing for a reclassification due to his ability to own the paint and it doesn’t hurt that he is long as hell. While he is technically 6 foot 11 inches, his wingspan stretches to 7 foot 5 and some measurements even think it is bigger. With Calipari still looking to add to his already stacked 2019 class, Dante could be the final piece of the championship puzzle.

While the Kerry Blackshear saga continued for weeks, the N’Faly Dante sweepstakes could take even longer but at no fault of his own. Being a junior in high school, N’Faly has perhaps his most important AAU summer and he’d be a fool to skip out on it. With the Peach Jam about to begin, we could see him make a decision anytime after July 14th but hold on and keep your hopes to a minimum.

N’Faly is an amazing player, there’s no arguing that and he is one of those players that could leap into the 2019 class because his skill set is so special. There is a holdup though and for him, it’s harder than most situations. With him being originally from Mali, english is his second language. Reclassifying is hard enough but he’ll have it harder. A ton of media reports came out saying he was staying in the 2020 class…they’re wrong. N’Faly wants to reclassify and he is awaiting a few test results as well as the Peach Jam. But as the Peach Jam begins soon, he’ll face media and we’ll be able to get more answers.

Again, N’Faly would be a stud. His length, his shot blocking ability, and his speed are a few things to look out for. I feel like Dante is the closest to Bam. Bam was an absolute tank but he wasn’t the best shooter. His defense will set him apart from the others as he is a complete package with shot-blocking and rebounding and the ability to switch off the pick. The issue Dante may have is his outside shot. While he drains threes in his videos, his shot is just so inconsistent. With his height, he has the ability to again rebound and dunk but he’ll need to develop an outside shot and it will take patience from everyone. He has the peak of a Karl Anthony Towns with his athleticism and he can grow into a shot and with Kenny Payne, this is possible.

Here are my thoughts…if and it’s about 70/30 right now, IF N’Faly reclassifies Kentucky is in the driver’s seat. He could potentially stay home at Kansas and even Oregon is atop of his list, but Kentucky is the school he has his eyes on and his host family feels the exact same way. If I had to take a guess, I think he will reclassify but it would happen after Peach Jam and those AAU events. This gives him more time to visit, work on school work, and show off his skills against the elite of the elite. It may be a waiting process, but I think the Cats wrap up their 2019 recruiting class with N’Faly.

So as we wait, make sure you follow us on Twitter @soft7sports and on Facebook for the latest updates. Come on down, N’Faly.

Division Title Within Reach

I said earlier this week that this could be the most important week of the season because they had series against the division leading Cubs and Brewers. Well, here we are on July 5th and the Reds won both of the series with a combined 5-2 record and they ended it with perhaps the most dominating pitching performances of the year from Sonny Gray and our ace, Luis Castillo.

As Wic wrote the other day, the Reds have allowed the fewest runs in Major League Baseball. A huge part of that comes from their outstanding shift in their pitching with a league ranking of third. They are second in the league in shutouts with nine, but they currently are dead last in the NL Central. But things are changing. With the momentum building week they have had, the Reds currently sit only 3.5 games out of first in the Central and currently 3.5 games out in the Wild Card as well. They have the ability to gain some more ground with the Indians coming in town but their schedule does not get any easier after All-Star break. In fact, they will play a ton of games against the NL Central which gives them so much ground to gain. So what needs to happen?

Image result for sonny gray luis castillo

It’s easy to say that hitting is the issue, and it is, but consistency is the real problem. The Reds have been producing in the first inning which has led them to tons of wins recently, including last night against the Brewers. They are lucky to have a top bullpen (4th overall, 2nd in NL) that has let them kind of breeze by without scoring runs but that needs to change. Votto, Senzel, and Puig have been producing like no other recently so let’s hope the rest of the team catches on.

But let’s get real. My expectations for this team remain the same, a NL Wild Card spot and a visit to either Milwaukee or Los Angeles for the NLDS. This team has the ability to reach the NLCS but it will start with their hitting. Their pitching has proved it can remain a force and once the offense wakes up, this team could be atop of the NL. Realistically, they are a Wild Card team but as MJ once said, “the ceiling is the roof.” So I ask you, what are your expectations?

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BLACKSHEAR DECISION TOMORROW

Breaking news from our friends over at KSR as Kerry Blackshear will make a decision tomorrow according to Evan Daniels. It’s either Kentucky or Tennessee but the saga is ending tomorrow. Let’s go!

I have said Kentucky since day 1 and I still believe that. Kentucky has the ability to get players to the NBA, put players in the national spotlight, and has the best chance to win a title. In the John Calipari Era, 38 players have been drafted with 29 going in the first round. With Keldon going to the Spurs, all 30 franchises in the NBA have had a Calipari Era player on their roster at some point during the last 10 years. Their ability to get players to the NBA is unparalleled and ultimately that is what Kerry wants for his future. Not to mention the 8 National Championships as well as being the winningest program in College Basketball. To me, the decision is easy. But again, Kentucky is not for everyone and we all need to respect his decision regardless. 

For the latest updates, follow us on Twitter @soft7sports and on Facebook.

2019 Mock Draft (T-minus 2 hours)

This originally started as a piece that would be done by the whole staff. Life and plans got in the way for all of us, so I will be doing this myself. However, expect the final version to be staff-wide come pre-draft night where we play the part of multiple teams and their GMs. For now though, this is just a mock draft with no trades whatsoever. This is a mock where, instead of predicting what the teams are GOING to do, I am predicting what they SHOULD do.

…well, sort of. If it was up to me, I would not touch Bol Bol or RJ Barrett with a 50 foot pole, and that is reflected in this. I have to keep this somewhat realistic, so even though it will pain me to do some picks, I will make them. I won’t do any trades in this, but I will note where they should if it applies.

1) New Orleans Pelicans – PF Zion Williamson

Can I get a “Duh” here? Might be the easiest pick ever. No need to explain since every outlet covers him like it is their job (R.I.P. Goga Bitadze’s pre-draft presser).

2) Memphis Grizzlies – PG Ja Morant

Another “Duh” moment here. Ja is the most complete prospect to come out this year, and he reminds me a lot about how the dynamic was last year. Even though Luka Doncic was the best player in the draft, he still dropped due to knocks against the level of his competition. Same can be said for Ja. Sure, he may have played in a weak conference all year, but that doesn’t discount what he did in the tournament. He is the first guard since Dwayne Wade to have a triple-double in the NCAA tourney. That is no slight thing, considering the next round he was triple teamed and his other 4 teammates couldn’t beat the 2 guys guarding them.

3) New York Knicks – SG/SF RJ Barrett

I will absolutely hate this selection. Is it because I hate RJ Barrett? Nope, love the guy, think he may be one of the nicest people in this draft. However, I do not see the how the hype relates to the production. Zion shot better than him from 3; he can’t drive right; he shows an inability to pass due to his horrible assist rate; he shows horrible decision-making due to the fact he always took the last shot in every close game instead of Zion. Personally, I think the Knicks would be better served to draft this guy I have slotted at #7 instead, but the Knicks are a horrible franchise. Can’t expect logical decisions from one of the worst owners in the NBA. Comp is Josh Jackson, and stats back in up (+/-, Synergy, literally any stat).

4) Atlanta Hawks – SF DeAndre Hunter

An amazing defender capable of getting his bucket whenever he wants, he is capable of playing the 3 or the 4 in the NBA. He can play on or off the ball, and essentially won Virginia the championship this past year.

5) Cleveland Cavaliers – SG Jarrett Culver

Culver is not going to drop out of the top 5 in no way, shape, or form. The Cavs will take the defensive wing if he drops to them, and that seems like an inevitable thing. They can place the ball-dominant guard next to Sexton, providing relief for the 2nd year point guard in terms of playmaking and spacing.

6) Minnesota Timberwolves – PG Coby White

The Twolves need a point guard more than I need a haircut (which I always seem to need, but I cannot cut the glorious mullet just yet). The Wolves SHOULD take Garland here. White is good though, and will be able to provide additional playmaking and shooting, alleviating the burden slightly off of Tyus Jones and Jeff Teague.

7) Chicago Bulls – PG Darius Garland

Reports have been coming out that, even though the Bulls love White, they won’t be able to get him due to White “receiving promises from a team above the Bulls that they will take him”. So yeah, expect them to land Garland, who was regarded as the best point guard in this draft before going down with an injury earlier this year. He has a Kyrie Irving handle and shot-making ability, and he apparently does not believe the Earth is flat. Sounds like a win to me, especially considering that the Bulls need someone else besides Lavine to create shots for them.

8) New Orleans Pelicans – SF Cameron Reddish

Good size, good shooting, and willing to not be the first option? I’d personally like to have the next player with this pick, but this is not how I would do it, but how others are going to do it.

9) Washington Wizards – PF Sekou Doumbouya

I could expect the Wizards to drop down in the draft in order to save a bit on their projected tax bill. Maybe go down to Miami or Boston’s pick. Until them, expect to take the French Stretch in the draft. Many comps (comparisons) have him likened to Pascal Siakim or Serge Ibaka. I view the Serge mold more, seeing as he is not as athletic as Pascal. However, stretch big is definitely in his future.

10) Atlanta Hawks – C Jaxson Hayes

I also don’t think Hayes is the best center in this draft, but the NBA media seems to (sorry Goga). A lengthy center with a reach that can block out the sun, Hayes projects as a rim-running shot blocker. Can’t really rebound or score, but he can block shots…then again, with Zion, do you really need to rebound or score? Think of Rudy Gobert as his comp.

11) Phoenix Suns – SG/SF Nassir Little

Suns desperately need a wing option that can score, and Nassir is the best one available.

12) Charlotte Hornets – PF Brandon Clarke

Better defender than Rui, and a lot younger. Fits their projected rebuild they will have to do in 4 years.

13) Miami Heat – PF Rui Hachimura

The Heat desperately need a better defense and a new big, seeing as Olynyk and Whiteside are kind of “meh”. Rui gives them switch ability on the defensive end AND also the ability to run the court more.

14) Boston Celtics – SG Tyler Herro

Herro has been skyrocketing up the boards today. I do not know if the Celtics will be able to take him, seeing as the Heat and Hornets do need shooters. He would fit well into their lineup, since they desperately need a bench scorer/three point bomber on their team.

15) Detroit Pistons – SF Keldon Johnson

The Pistons desperately need a small forward, seeing as they don’t have one on their roster. Easy pick to be honest, would get a lot of minutes for them.

16) Orlando Magic – SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker

Another easy pick. Nickeil has been dipping recently, and I would rather see him go to the Celtics. He would get a lot of minutes in their lineup, and may even turn out to be their point guard. I see a lot of Donovan Mitchell in his game, potential, and this situation.

17) New Orleans Pelicans – C Goga Bitadze

The best center in this draft may slip this far, yes. Perfect situation though. Zion needs another center on his roster at the end of this draft. Unfair for the future NBA that the next Jokic and the next LeBron may be on the same team after this draft.

18) Indiana Pacers – PF PJ Washington

Pacers need someone to replace Thad Young, and PJ is the best one. He will be amazing in the Pacers system.

19) San Antonio Spurs – PF Nicolas Claxton

Perfect Spurs player, and one that I can see enjoy playing in San Antonio. Dejounte Murray and Derrick White with the former best player from Georgia? Sounds deadly.

20) Boston Celtics – C Bol Bol

Boston loves Bol Bol, and I don’t get it. I see the benefits of taking him, but he cannot play center in a conference that has big centers. Think he can play bully ball with Embiid, Griffin, Drummond, Whiteside, and Vucevic? Doubt that he could even beat up Myles Turner. Good luck with this pick.

21) Oklahoma City Thunder – PF Eric Paschall

They need someone that can shoot the three, and Paschall is the best available unless they want to go the Romeo Langford route.

22) Boston Celtics – C Mfiondu Kabengele

I am saying this solely because they probably will not trust Bol Bol and Robert Williams to stay healthly. Kabengele is a good rim protecting center.

23) Memphis Grizzlies – SG Kevin Porter

Capable guard that can get buckets? Perfect for a team in desperate need of a rebuild.

24) Philadelphia 76ers – PG Ty Jerome

Wing defender that has the potential of hitting the three? Yes please.

25) Portland TrailBlazers – SF KZ Okpala

Definitely need a wing defender that is better than Evan Turner, and that is what this pick is.

26) Cleveland Cavaliers – SF Darius Bazley

I think the Cavs will go with an outside shot that can switch with Cedi Osman on the defensive end. He’s a bit better than the remaining for what the Cavs need, seeing as they already drafted a defensive stopper in Culver.

27) Brooklyn Nets – PF Luka Samanic

Again, another outside shot. They need a PF that can score after having dealt with RHJ’s (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson) unproductive a** on the offensive end.

28) Golden State Warriors – SG Matisse Thybulle

They will take the best available, and that is who Thybulle is. Defensive wing/guard that has the potential to develop a three point shot.

29) San Antonio Spurs – C Bruno Fernando

They need a center that can at least give them better minutes at backup center than Poeltl. I do think they could take SF Isaiah Roby here too.

30) Detroit Pistons – SG Romeo Langford

They just need a scorer desperately here.

Outside Looking In: The Notables That Dropped
SF/PF Chuma Okeke = Another great kid that has nothing bad against him at his time in college. While the former Auburn Tiger would have easily been the best option at SF/PF for a lot of teams in this draft, his leg injury will keep them all away. I still hope he gets drafted though, since he is an amazing player.
PF Jalen McDaniels – I am not really buying a lot of the hype surrounding the PF from San Diego State. However, all I have watched so far are his highlights, so I will have to do more digging. However, his stats are pretty good, he has good size for his position, and he was able to beat up his bad conference.
PF Grant Williams – Another great guy that I hope gets drafted. Even being a Kentucky fan, I did love me some Grant and Admiral. While I don’t think he will have a good NBA career, I still think it is noticeable he isn’t going in the first round. He should land on a decent team that needs a really good bench player, and I think Grant can be that.
SG Admiral Schofield – I absolutely love Admiral Schofield. I completely see the old Marcus Smart kind of player that will absolutely dominant in the NBA. I think Admiral is better on the offensive end than Marcus, I still think that the Schofield’s defensive potential mirrors that of Smart when he initially went to the league. I will see him off the board early in the second round, and probably before his counter-part from Tennessee.
SF Isaiah Roby – Just like with McDaniels, I am not buying the hype around Roby. I see Roby as a capable bench player in the 24-28 minutes a game range. He has a good range on both ends of the floor, but is too foul-happy for my taste. However, he would be perfect for a team like the Brooklyn Nets, Portland Trailblazers, or Oklahoma City Thunder. However, lots of people are saying he is quick enough to be a 3 in the NBA. I’ll check the tapes more.
SF Ignas Brazdeikis – As a pure-blood Ohio State fan, I already despise this guy. However, Ignas is a super skilled player. He has nothing to show on the defensive end, but he is one of the most talented offensive ones to be in this draft. He led the Wolverines on the offensive end, being their option in the clutch moments of a game multiple times. While I am terrified that my Cavs may be stupid enough to draft this man with the 5th pick since they hired his college coach, I’ll just keep my fingers crossed on draft night.
SG Kyle Guy – If Kyle Guy wrote a book, I would not only buy it, but invite him on my (upcoming) podcast to talk about it. The man has a story that needs to be heard, and I recommend you seek it out. However, many NBA teams may not seek him out due to his size. He may be THE BEST three point shooter in the draft, him being 6’2″ will pose a lot of issues to many teams. I hope he can stick on a roster as a corner specialist or something of that ilk, since I know he will be a great player wherever he lands.
PF/C Jontay Porter – Another guy I am not buying the hype for. Coming from the horrible gene pool the Michael Porter, Jr. is from, Jontay played like 5 minutes for Mizzou this year. I do find it concerning that the Porter family keeps getting hurt, but I do not know whether that is due to their vegan diet or bad genes. However, the 6’11” Porter is just as skilled as his brother. A team will take a flyer on him late solely for the family name, but the injury history is showing signs of making him slip in the draft process.
SG Terance Mann – Terance Mann is another player I view like Marcus Smart in this draft. Terance is super athletic and talented, and I don’t see lasting long in the second round. I don’t know if his speed or shooting will be the factor that keeps some teams away from him, but he will be worth the risk for some. Many are saying he is going to climb the boards, and I can see it happen.
SF Brian Bowen – I hope Brian Bowen doesn’t slide outside the first round. I think he is amazing, and he unfortunately took the fall for the whole Under Armor fiasco. He is super athletic, super talented, and super fresh since he didn’t play a single minute last year. I would consider him a steal right now wherever he goes, but that is subject to change right now.
PG/SG Aubrey Dawkins – Dawkins played well on the biggest stage, and I hope teams remember that. He comes from a basketball family, and he was THE guy on his team (sorry Tacko). He’s a good combo guard, and I am viewing him a bit like D Rose when he was at Memphis. He is going to slip, and a team will be very lucky to acquire him. I think he has the drive to become a solid bench player in his rookie year, and that would be great for a lot of teams.
SG Fletcher McGee – He is a guy I bought the hype for in the tournament, but am now selling out. He jumps into his shot in workouts, and he couldn’t perform on the biggest stage. I see a touch of Jimmer in his game, and I think the NBA is rightfully apprehensive of those guys.
C Tacko Fall – I love Tacko. I want him to succeed. But the best thing people are saying about him is, “He moves really well for a guy his size.” However, I do think his tape against Zion will only help his stock. I think he will get the proverbial cup of coffee with a team and move on. I keep circling back to Yao and Boban molds, but I do not know how Tacko will do. He’s not fast enough and doesn’t have the best endurance. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for him though.

TWOLVES TRADE FOR #6!

Again, another trade. Woj is absolutely blowing my mind right now.

Suns Receive: #11 pick in 2019 NBA Draft, PF Dario Saric
Twolves Receive: #6 pick in 2019 NBA Draft

Very beneficial for the Twolves. They never really saw the benefit of Saric as a long term option for their team, so it makes sense.This puts them in prime Coby White, Sekou Doumbouya, and Darius Garland range. All three make sense, but I am hearing that they are targeting a point guard with this pick.

Bad trade for the Suns, proving once again that they are idiots. They need a point guard, but trade out of getting one? And all you get is the #11 pick and Saric? Jesus, at least you traded one of your wings/bigs away before this (good move adding wing depth Pacers). At least the #11 pick puts them in Nassir Little or a center/power forward range