Buck’s Correct Predictions For 2019 NBA Season

I already published an article on my thoughts about season awards and such.  If I could go back I would say the Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder wins Coach of the Year instead of Brad Stevens.  But my picks are locked.  So here go my predictions… WESTJUST MISSING BY SOME SMALL MARGIN/TIEBREAKER

  1. Spurs
  2. Thunder
  3. Timber-Bulls

Playoff Seeding

  1. Jazz
  2. Warriors
  3. Lakers
  4. Pelicans
  5. Blazers
  6. Rockets
  7. Grizzlies
  8. Nuggets

Conference Semis: Warriors vs. Lakers; Jazz vs. Pelicans Conference Finals: Lakers vs. Jazz Western Conference Champion: JAZZWHY?I hate to say it, but I think the 4-11 teams in the West (even with the Spurs and Thunder already dying to the injury bug) are going to have a similar thing happen like last year, where the 4-10 teams (last year) were separated by 2 games in the standings.  I think the Spurs, Thunder, and Timber-Bulls are the most injury/locker-room-disaster prone in the West this year, so expect them to be on the outside looking in. Jazz will be the best team in the West this year in the regular season.  Resting for the playoffs drops the Warriors from 1 to 2.  Bron and the Lake-Show take awhile to start gelling, but will cruise past after the All-Star break.  Pels will run a high pick-and-roll/pop with AD and Jrue until teams start quadruple-teaming them.  Blazers will play their hearts out in the season for Paul Allen.  Rockets’ defense will be so bad that they will drop off the face of the Earth.  Grizzlies will be a surprise to everyone, and I think their starting lineup of Conley, Temple/Seldon, Anderson, Jackson, and Gasol can be one of the best starting 5 in the West.  The Nuggets have sold out for the “we will just outscore them” mentality, and will be the best regular season offense. Jazz defense will shut down the Nuggets offense.  Warriors “Lineup of Death” will force Gasol off the court, and will be the demise of them.  The Lakers will gash the already hole-filled defense of the Rockets.  AD will give any Blazers player in or the near the paint nightmares. LeBron is in full revenge-mode, and wants to destroy the Warriors before they even get to the finals.  He went into THEIR conference after all, and I fully expect the Warriors to get caught off-guard and rest on their laurels too much.  I also fully expect Draymond and/or Boogie to get ejected after getting in a stupid fight with someone from the ‘Meme Team’.  While I think AD will be the best player in the Jazz-Pels series, the Jazz are just too deep and versatile.  They are pretty much the Celtics of the West with how crazy deep and defense-oriented their team is. Jazz will be able to beat the Lakers solely for the fact that they are/will be the best defensive team in the NBA.  They have 3-4 guys that can actually guard LeBron (historically that is), and they have a center who’s name isn’t Javale.  I haven’t mentioned much about Donovan being a key factor, but I believe that’s because teams will key in on him up until this series.  I fully believe he will be the best player in this series if his teammate Rudy Gobert doesn’t show it. EASTJUST MISSING BY SOME SMALL MARGIN/TIEBREAKER

  1. Nets
  2. Hornets

Playoff Seeding

  1. Celtics
  2. Raptors
  3. Bucks
  4. 76ers
  5. Pacers
  6. Wizards
  7. Heat
  8. Cavaliers

Conference Semis: Celtics vs. Pacers; Raptors vs. Bucks Conference Finals: Celtics vs. Bucks Eastern Conference Champion: CELTICSWHY?So the Hornets and Nets are on two opposite ends of the spectrum.  One good, one bad.  The Hornets slide from mediocrity to abysmal will hit full stride after the All-Star break.  Fully expect them to gut the team and trade, but Jordan is ‘too smart’ to do that.  He wants to compete, and it will handicap this team tremendously.  The Nets are the reverse.  They have a young core, and will make strides.  I fully expect them to barely get left out, and they will be able to secure a better team through the FA and the draft (since they actually have their pick for now). Celtics are the 2nd best team in the NBA behind the Warriors.  Raptors may finish the year behind MVP Robo-Kawhi and their amazing defense.  Giannis will be what LeBron was in Cleveland during the 2015-16 season, and lead an above average team with a good coach.  The 76ers are going to destroy teams with Simmons and Embiid being the ‘Unguardable Duo’.  The Pacers will either have the 2nd best or 3rd best defense in the East, and Dipo is going to try and prove they shouldn’t be overlooked.  The Wizards (based on their talent) should be one of the best teams in the NBA…BUT they will implode and be lucky to even be the 6th seed.  The Heat and Cavs will limp into the playoffs, and that is solely because of the fact that they have All-Stars on their teams, while the rest in the East do not. The Celtics beating the Cavs and Raptors beating the Heat will almost be unwatchable by how big these blowouts will be.  The Bucks will also destroy the Wizards, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a ‘Player’s Only Meeting’ held by the Wizards during (lol).  The 76ers and Pacers will be a great series, and I only have the 6ers falling solely because the 76ers don’t have an answer for Dipo and their defense. Celtics will easily push past a tired Pacers, and will bludgeon them down with their depth.  The Raptors and Bucks will b

e matchup of (in my mind) the #1 and #2 vote-getters in the MVP race.  The only reason I have the Bucks edging past the Raptors is because Giannis shows that his lessons with Kobe paid off.  I fully expect the Greek Freak to decimate them, and the Raptors to have no answer. The Celtics will be able to contain Giannis’ supporting cast, and pretty much play amazing defense throughout the series.  I also expect that every aspect about their team (depth, offense, defense, etc.) overwhelms the Bucks. FINALS (Jazz vs. Celtics)Winner = Celtics (in 7)Finals MVP = Marcus Smart WHY?So this scenario was a little easier to stick to.  Let’s dissect the easiest part first: the MVP.  The last couple winners of Finals MVP have been people that can guard the best player on the court or the best player on the court.  By that logic, Smart easier gets the MVP award.  I also expect him to capitalize on the offensive end as well. The Celtics and the Jazz will be the refresher that is well-needed in this era of Western Warrior dominance.  Both teams have the depth that is needed to get there at every position, have young stars capable of handling the spotlight, and will have outstanding defensive/offensive ratings.  Even though the Warriors will be the most talented team in the NBA, these will be the best OVERALL teams in the NBA.  It is going to be a long, drawn-out, exciting series.  I believe that this will break numerous viewing/streaming records. In terms of the players, I can’t think of any players that will have a bad series off the top of my head.  Every player will have a minimum of 10 quarters where they play out of their minds, and that’s not factoring in any games going into OT (which I expect more than a couple of these to go to) and any players maintaining a game-long hot streak. Do I think this will happen? Yes.  What percentage am I giving this championship in occurring? Less than 20%, closer to 15% in actuality.  Why am I so certain?  Simple really. I think the Warriors cockiness, Boogie’s polarizing attitude/play, and a ‘hunger’ in the West to dethrone them will make it happen.  You may notice I am only describing the West aspect in this, since I am willing to take/make bets on whether or not the Celts will get to the ‘Ship. Enjoy this hot take hotcake boys and girls.

Happy Tip Day.

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Beginning of Season NBA Awards

It’s almost time ladies and gents.

As the preseason begins to slow down, and teams switch from training camp focus to season focus, it is time for my favorite sport to begin to get underway. With the season starting to pick up pace, this means every writer (myself included) gets to put on our “Smarterest Preddictor” hats, and act like we know the future. So, without further ado, here we go…

Awards (in descending order)

Coach of the Year – Brad Stevens, HC of Boston Celtics

Not exactly the hottest of takes coming right out the gate. In reality, it is a pretty easy assumption, since they are the reigning #2 team in the East following the Cavs getting divorced by the player/owner/GM/coach that was LeBron. However, there are a lot more than just winning the East that earns Brad this award. He’ll get it by managing the egos and playing times of numerous head cases on the team, and by getting Kyrie and Gordon back up to speed. He has to keep the Celts in the top 5 in both offense and defense, while maintaining the potential trade value of all players (because Danny Ainge is still the GM here). The spotlight of the East is shining the brightest in Boston going into this season.

Defensive Player of the Year – Joel Embiid, C Philadelphia 76ers

I struggled with this choice since I am personally a huge fan of both Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert. I also think DeAndre Jordan (deciding to finally sign a deal in Dallas) will have a better year than he did last year. But the West is strong. Very strong. So strong, that I believe that it will be super difficult for these spectacular centers in the West to really have consistent play throughout the year. This is why Joel will take the crown. With the best center in the East after him being an argument between Al Horford and Dwight Howard (since Joel proved Hassan Whiteside can’t measure up to him in the slightest), it should be easy to get a big distance between himself and the other competitors for this award.

Most Improved Player – Brandon Ingram, F Los Angeles Lakers

I was going to pick Dejounte Murray for this, but alas, Murray will more than likely not play a single minute this year. So, I will pick the guy that, while I was not high on him a couple years ago, looks to be a sure-fire candidate for the Showtime Lakers to make a comeback. His FG% had nearly a 12% increase from his 2nd season to his 3rd, and when Lonzo went down he turned into a Point-Forward, taking the ball up the court and being responsible for their Full/Half Court offenses. If he can finish the year healthy, then he is my candidate (I also think he is the key for the Lakers success this season, but that’s a side point).

6th Man of the YearLou Williams, G Los Angeles Clippers

This may have been harder than any pick I have had to do this year. With how the 76ers are planning to roll out a weird lineup that could have JJ Redick or Dario Saric being the 6th man, I couldn’t do that. With how the Pacers may do a 3 guard lineup of Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, and Tyreke Evans (or even have Vic be the 1 and Evans be the 2), I stayed away from Tyreke. That just left me with Lou Will and (Scary) Terry Rozier. I think the plethora of talent in Boston will hurt Terry, and the lack of star power on the Clippers allows Lou Will to not only claim that role, but be the sole provider of buckets for this team. He’s an offensive god, and his playmaking is off the charts. On a team that has sold out defense for offense this year, expect their primary ball handler (lol) to be lights out on that end, especially with the fact his defensive limitations will keep him from starting.

Rookie of the Year – Luka Dončić, G Dallas Mavericks

I mean, it only seems right to say that Donovan Mitchell should win it based on what occurred last year, but life sucks…unless your name is Luka. Dončić is going to be a phenom this year. His only competition is a combination of Jaren Jackson, Wendall Carter, Collin Sexton, and Kevin Knox. Ayton and Young are too raw/bad for me to give them serious consideration. Jaren and Carter are both big men, and expecting rookies (let alone rookies that defenses revolve around) to lock NBA offenses up is nearly impossible. Knox can put up the numbers, but his team won’t win. Sexton is the only one that I can see contest Luka for the crown, but his team (even though it resides in the dumpster fire of the East) is bad.

Luka (even though his team resides in the pinnacle of good TV basketball that is the West) has a supporting cast Sexton is dreaming of. Luka has a former DPoY at center, an electric PG that scream Russell Westbrook comparisons, 2 solid defensive role players rounding out the rest of the starting lineup, and a man that has a fadeaway named after him. The reason why Simmons and D Mitch did so well was because they had a supporting cast that could take the spotlight off of them and allow them to mature at their own pace while still getting the touches they needed. Expect to see that from Luka, especially since he showed in the preseason he had the capability to guard the 1-4 position (something very unexpected).

Top 4 Losing Vote-Getters for MVP (in no particular order)

  • LeBron James, F Los Angeles Lakers
  • Russell Westbrook, G Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Anthony Davis, C New Orleans Pelicans
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, F Milwaukee Bucks

Most Valuable Player – Kawhi Leonard, F Toronto Raptors

I was THIS close to picking Giannis. It took me making a complete pro/con list between the two (and trust me, it is VERY thorough). The simple reason comes down to one fact: the Raptors have a better defensive team…on paper. I think the Bucks are a great team, and I think Giannis will be an absolute monster in a conference where only a handful of people have the chance to guard him. Unfortunately, the best one happens to be Kawhi.

Expect Kawhi to absolutely tear up a division and put 2k-esque numbers up. The best defense in the league won’t be a team from the West or the Celtics, the team from the North will take that crown. The switch ability of this team is outstanding, and almost every player 1 through 10 on this team has the potential to guard minimum of 2 positions. Kawhi will lead this team through the East and will be top-dog if not 2nd in the East come playoff time. Why am I saying this about a guy that didn’t play at all in the 2017? Simple really: 2016 Kawhi was easily one of (if not, the best) player in the league. Expect his “F*ck the Spurs” tour this year to be something beautiful to behold.

How Is Michigan Ranked 6?

Last week in College Football, 8 of the Top 25 teams were defeated, including 4 in the Top 10. One of the teams that not only escaped a loss, but also dealt one out to another Top 25 team was the Michigan Wolverines. Yes, Harbaugh got a much needed win versus a ranked team this past Saturday with an absolute beat down of Wisconsin, 38-13. Because of this, the AP has Michigan at #6 jumping 6 whole spots in the polls. This is utterly ridiculous. Let me first say, I know that a bunch of other teams ahead of them lost, they destroyed another ranked team, and their only loss came against a very good Notre Dame team that has yet to choke this year. I get it, but #6 is far too high for this team.

Let’s look at the teams that Michigan jumped this week. Oklahoma. Fine. They also only have one loss to a Top 10 team, but Michigan has been playing better. I am fine with them being ranked higher than the Sooners. UCF. Give this team some damn respect. There were 4 Top 10 losses and these guys remain at #10. Does the phrase “defending national champions” mean nothing anymore? All they lost was their coach who apparently is a piece of hot garbage. I guess Michigan has beaten a ranked team or whatever, but I do not agree with that. Texas. Seriously? Texas is playing so much better than Michigan right now. There is absolutely no reason for Michigan jumping them in the rankings. Georgia. So Georgia lost to what is now a Top 5 team and they drop 6 spots? The AP poll dudes (or chicks) really think that Michigan could beat Georgia? What is going on at the Associated Press?

So not only does Michigan not deserve to be ranked higher than most of the teams they jumped, but their win last week was not as impressive as everyone thinks. They beat Wisconsin. The same team that lost to the fourth best team in Utah, BYU. After their second loss of the season, the BADgers dropped 8 spots to #23. I feel like it’s got to be one or the other. When there is a blowout of one ranked team by another ranked team, especially when the blowout is won by the favored and higher ranked team, it proves that one team is either really bad or really good. So if Michigan jumps 6 spots, then Wisconsin should drop but not 8 spots. And if Wisconsin drops 8 spots, then Michigan should not jump as much. It just doesn’t make any sense that they were 3 spots away from each other last week and now they are 17.

I have a couple theories about why this happened. The only one that really holds any weight involves Ohio State. The #2 ranked team in the nation. Their annual rivalry game is coming up and they really want a spectacle this year. It’s been a while since they have been able to justify a Top 10 match up and this year, it makes sense. I’m on to you, AP. I already knew the NCAA was a bunch of corrupt bastards, but I expected better from you all.

AFC South Mariota Sucks

The Titans are currently 3-3, leading the AFC South. But, are they good or does their division just suck? Let’s take a look.

The Jaguars are 3-3, they beat the Patriots handily. They beat the jets handily. They beat the Giants in a close game. But, they lost to the Chiefs in a blowout and they lost their 3rd straight game to the Titans. They also got blown out by the Cowboys. The Jags are an interesting team. They have one of the league’s best defenses, but their offense is really hit or miss. They should win the AFC South, but they’ve gotten into a pattern where they play well, then bad, then well and so on. The inconsistency of Blake Bortles is what is wrong with this team and it will be interesting to see how their season shapes out, but I think the Jaguars we all know and love are back, meaning they’ll miss the playoffs and sneak in as a Wild Card. The Colts are irrelevant, I won’t waste anyone’s time here. And the Texans are trash. That’s a wrap on the AFC South.

What it comes down to is whether or not the Titans can keep up. Their offense ranks 29th in points, 29th in yards, 29th in passing yards, and 17th in rushing yards. Just watching them, you can tell if Henry and Lewis are having a good game then there is a good chance this team wins. But if you have to depend on Mariota, good luck. Marcus Mariota has been a huge disappointment. Yesterday, Mariota was sacked 11 times. The Titans have 2 Pro Bowlers on their offensive line, what the fuck? The loss of Delaney Walker has obviously hurt the Titans, but the loss of Walker should not mean the offense just sucks. What sucks is the Titans are going to win this division. An 8-8 team will win this division. Then they’ll get blown out by whoever they play in that shitty 5pm Saturday game the first week of playoffs. Vrabel was supposed to fix this team, but it is not the coach’s fault. Marcus Mariota is a bust, that is why the offense sucks.

Super Mario-ta had such high expectations. In 2015, he played 12 games and threw for 2,818 yards with 19 passing touchdowns. He also ran for another two. Okay, so not a bad rookie year. He played well and met expectations, but his year ended with an injury. His “sophomore” year was promising. He threw for 3,426 yards with 26 passing touchdowns and another 2 running. Again, ending in injury. This was a promising year for Mariota, but in his third year, he fell off. He threw for 3,232 yards with only 13 touchdowns but ran for 5 more. In this season, he led the Titans to a playoff victory in Kansas City and an eventual lead against New England (suck it, Tom) but they got blown out in the end. Bad statistical year, good result. So, this year we expected an in-between year but honestly, we’ve gotten his worst yet. He’s thrown 2 touchdowns and has rushed for 1. He’s already thrown 4 interceptions. He looks like a lost puppy on the field. I don’t know what to expect from him this season, but if the first 5 games prove anything, we’re in for a long year, Titans fans.

NBA News as of 10/15/18

Before we go any further, rest in peace Paul Allen. Paul was the owner for the Portland Trailblazers, and he died from complications of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. My dad had the same diagnosis, and I know what Paul’s family expected to have happen. You won’t be forgotten, and I hope you are now at peace. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family.

As tough as it is to move on, my job dictates that I must.

So, we have 2 notable extensions coming out these last few days. Both Larry Nance and Miles Turner got that bag. Nance secured a 4 year/$45mil, while Turner got the more lucrative 4 year/$80 mil extension. Congrats young cats (even though we are the same age lol).

In other financial news, Gordon Hayward has signed a lucrative new shoe deal with Anta. Expect to see me copping a pair of his signature shoes when they debut in 2019.

Pelicans are also in the news, but for great/smart reasons. First off, Gentry came out and said AD is ‘untouchable’. Props, we will see what happens at the end of the year, but it does set the line in the sand early. Secondly, they trade center Alexis Ajinca (more than likely their 3rd center this year) for forward Wes Johnson from the Los Angeles Clippers. Both teams got what they needed (Clippers got a backup center not named Montrezl Harrell; Pelicans get a true small forward that isn’t one of the quad that is Solomon Hill, Julius Randle, Nikola Mirotic, or Etwuan Moore). I let me be the first to say that I am impressed at the Pels right now, they are trying to win.

Jordan Crawford, aka the Craw-sover, has signed with the Phoenix Suns. While this definitely helps the Phoenix PG rotation, it does hurt two things: Okobo’s playing time and the defense. I don’t see a rotation of Crawford, Booker, Ariza, Jackson, and Ayton being able to really stop people from scoring…like at all haha. Might as well kiss that defensive rating goodbye.

That is all the highlights for now.

Vegvisir Paul Allen.

FTD: Playoff Overview and Predictions

The 2018 Playoffs are finally here. After the treacherous 162 game season, we have finally learned who will be playing for the World Series. So, let’s start with my predictions for the American League.

New York vs Boston

The last time these two teams played in the postseason was 2004, when Boston came back from 3-0 to win and ultimately break the curse. A lot has changed since then. Boston has won 2 more world series, the Yankees only one. Both teams have gone through a rebuilding process, but now they are the two most explosive teams in the MLB. This series will depend on starting pitching. Boston needs their starters to go at least 6 innings, ideally 7, for them to have a chance. They have one of the worst bullpens, blowing over half of their second half saves. The Yankees need at least 5 solid innings, and then can hand it to their bullpen. The offense for both of these clubs is incredible. They’re all healthy, so this will get interesting. Boston will win a slugfest, we’ve seen it all year. If the Yankees can keep them under 3 runs, they win. I think New York could sweep this series. Chris Sale has a 0-2 postseason record with an over 8.00 ERA. David Price cannot beat the Yankees and posts a 2-8 postseason record. I think the Yankees steal one in Boston, most likely Game 1 with JA Happ then drop Game 2. However, I would not be shocked if they win both in Boston and win in 3. The Yankees are the better all-around team and they’re clicking right now. My prediction: Yankees in 4.

Cleveland vs Houston

This will be an overlooked matchup due to the other matchup in the American League, but this series will be some of the best baseball imaginable. The Astros have the edge, in my opinion, due to their starting pitching. Their offense is also amazing, which makes them a hard out in the postseason. On the year, the Astros defeated the Indians in 4 out of 7 games played this season. The Astros have the fifth best offense and the best pitching staff in the league. The Indians have the fourth best offense and the seventh best pitching. What scares me for the Indians is their pitching is very inconsistent. Against the Astros, you need reliable pitching and reliable hitting, which the Indians do not have. In order for the Indians to win this series, they need Kluber and Bauer to pitch lights out, like they did in the 2016 postseason. If they get that, they have a chance. Ultimately, I think Houston’s pitching will be too much for the Indians to handle and the Astros will win the series in 5.

Now for the National League:

Braves vs Dodgers

The Braves were a surprise to many this year. With Acuña, the Braves won their division handily. The Braves have the 10th best offense and the 7th best pitching staff. They have the Rookie of the Year, a first-time manager, and little to no postseason experience. But, they have a chance. The Dodgers just played the Rockies in a game 163 and they looked like the Dodgers of last year. The Dodgers are a scary team. After falling short to the Astros last year, they solidified their pitching staff. They started the year amazingly with a comfortable lead in the NL West and hobbled into All Star break, looking for a change. Then, they added Manny Machado and Brian Dozer through waivers and trades. The Dodgers have finally found their way of late, and I expect them to go far in this postseason. The Braves do not have a bullpen and the Bellinger, Muncy combo will be too much for the Braves. I wouldn’t be shocked if they sweep them, but I’ll say the Dodgers win in 4.

Rockies vs Brewers

These are two of the hottest teams in baseball right now. The Brewers have won 23 out of their last 30 while the Rockies have won 20 of their last 29. This series will be interesting, and I think it will come down to if the Rockies can hit outside of Colorado. That has been their issue all season long, posting about a 60-point higher batting average at home, which will happen in Colorado. On the other side of it, you have the NL MVP and perhaps the hottest hitter in the game right now, Christian Yelich. Another thing going against the Rockies is that they have had no rest. They played in LA on Monday, Chicago Tuesday, but they were off Wednesday. Wednesday was their first off day since September 20th, which will be something to keep an eye on. Their starting pitching is underrated, but their two best started Monday and Tuesday, which gives Milwaukee an advantage. I think the Brewers win this in 3 and continue their hot streak.

I’ll break down the Championship Series when it is set, but below are all of my predictions. Let’s have an unforgettable October.

Prediction:

ALCS: NYY vs Houston

NLCS: Dodgers vs Milwaukee

World Series: NYY vs Milwaukee

Winner: NYY in 6

Soft 7 Staff World Series Picks

Parmesan Don: Dodgers vs Red Sox- Red Sox in 6

Buck: Brewers vs Indians- Indians in 7

Wic: Yankees vs Dodgers- LA in 7

Jimmy Butler First And Last Practice With Timberbulls

Oh. My. God. The Great and Almighty Woj (aka Adrian Wojnarowski) has dropped the bomb of all bombs today: what happened at Jimmy Butler’s first practice with the Timber-Bulls. Woj reports that Jimmy did practice today, despite some reports that he wouldn’t (even though Woj said he would).  The best part isn’t that Jimmy showed that he was true professional and came to work.  No, the best part is what occurred at said practice. So apparently Jimmy, during the course of the practice, verbally berated coaches, players, and the front office during the course of the practice.  Most was directed towards Thibs, Towns, Wiggins, and the GM.  On top of is, he also screamed towards the GM, “You f***ing need me.  You can’t win without me.” You know what makes this even better?  That in a scrimmage, Jimmy and the third string players went up against the starters.  According to Woj, not only did Jimmy and his band of misfits win, but Jimmy also ‘dominated in every single way’. I absolutely LOVE this Jimmy Butler right now.  I honestly hope he gets traded (which this should speed along the process if anything) to a team in the West now so he can absolutely destroy the Timber-Bulls more than twice this year.