Project Shanks NBA Season Predictions

By Matthew Carpenter
PSDC Writer

NBA PREDICTIONS

lebron-james-back-in-cleveland-1

Eastern Conference (Regular Season Order of Finish)

1. Cavs
2. Bulls
3. Wizards
4. Hornets
5. Raptors
6. Hawks
7. Heat
8. Knicks

EC Finals: Cavs over Bulls

Too much LeBron and more questions about Bulls’ health than Cavs’ chemistry. [Read more…]

Project Shanks NBA Preview: Southwest Division

By Matthew Carpenter
PSDC Writer

NBA SOUTHWEST DIVISION PREVIEW

tim-duncan

Since the NBA realigned to six divisions in 2004, this might be the best division ever assembled. All five teams have the ability to make the playoffs. It will be fun to watch and is really difficult to project.

Projected Order of Finish

1. Spurs. The coolest thing about the Spurs’ 2013-14 regular season run is that they won 62 games and had no player average more than 30 minutes-per-game. (Tom Thibodeau please take note.) I won’t hide my bias. Gregg Popovich is my favorite coach in any professional sport in my lifetime. If you’re into stats, check out just how valuable Pop has been to his team relative to win expectancy.

Say ‘Hello’ to: (assistant coach) Becky Hammon. This is only a cool story because it’s not a gimmick. I know very little about Hammon but I know GM R.C. Buford and Pop wouldn’t hire her if it didn’t help the team.

Outlook: No one manages a roster better than Pop, but he can’t control Father Time. In the playoffs, will San Antonio have 2012 Manu Ginobli or 2013 Manu? Sure the emergence of Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills helps age-related concerns, but each year the core gets older, the tighter the fingers are crossed. They’re a team capable of another title run, but matching last season’s greatness will be a tall order. [Read more…]

Project Shanks NBA Preview: Pacific Division

By Matthew Carpenter
PSDC Writer

NBA PACIFIC DIVISION PREVIEW

Projected Order Of Finish

chris-paul-clippers

1. Clippers. Championship Formula: Elite point guard? Check. Still the best in the business. Multiple players who can create their own shots? Check. Jamal Crawford is the best second unit creator in the league (depending on how the lineup shakes out in Phoenix). Can the team defend in the half court? They can now (post-Vinny). Multiple players who can attempt to guard Durant and LeBron? Check. Great coaching? Check. Look at the development of Blake Griffin and the previously abysmal team defense. Doc Rivers is a top-5 NBA coach. There’s no doubt about it. Distractions? While Spencer Hawes will piss someone off (probably Chris Paul) I guarantee nothing will be as bad as last spring… [Read more…]

Project Shanks NBA Preview: Northwest Division

By Matthew Carpenter
PSDC Writer

NBA NORTHWEST DIVISION PREVIEW

Projected Order Of Finish

1. Blazers. I’m going there. The Blazers are thin, but man can they score. There’s not a better point/post offensive duo than Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. I went there too. I’m also a big Nicolas Batum fan. The Blazers have to score 100+ to win, but they’re able to do that most of the time. Some believe Portland is a prime candidate to take a step back in a ruthless conference. My response is that Lillard just turned 24 and for each birthday he’s gifted more ice for his veins. He’s one of my favorite players to watch and only getting better. The Blazers only have a handful of national telecasts for the first half of the season so they’re a great League Pass team if that’s your thing.

damian-lillard

Say ‘Hello’ to: Chris Kaman! Reluctant to begin his post-NBA career as an evolutionary biology class specimen, the Caveman tries to jumpstart his career after an uninspiring turn with the Lakers. And the Blazers desperately need his help. [Read more…]

Project Shanks NBA Preview: Southeast Division

By Matthew Carpenter
PSDC Writer

NBA SOUTHEAST DIVISION PREVIEW

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In only a couple of years, this division quickly transformed from “The Heat and Scrubs Division” into “The Pleasantly Competent At Basketball (And Also the Magic) Division.”

Projected Order Of Finish

1. Wizards. Conventional wisdom may portend a Bulls/Cavaliers Eastern Conference Finals but don’t tell the Wiz. Washington possesses an underrated veteran frontcourt with Nene and Marcin Gortat and the conference’s best backcourt in prime “bust out” candidate Bradley Beal and the already busted out John Wall. Someone feel free to tell Colin Cowherd that Wall has become a complete point guard. He led the league in assists (turnovers too…) and was fifth in steals while playing excellent all-around defense (Defensive Win Share of 4.0). The loss of Trevor Ariza will hurt them in the playoffs, but this is still a solid team. They could really use a contribution from Otto Porter but, beyond a decent Summer League, Porter shows no indication of meeting the projection that coincides with his high draft selection. Paul Pierce will provide a nice vessel for announcers to proclaim a “veteran presence” during your NBA drinking game. [Read more…]

Project Shanks NBA Preview: Central Division

By Matthew Carpenter
PSDC Writer

NBA CENTRAL DIVISION PREVIEW

(Projected Order of Finish)

1. Cavaliers. Let’s state the obvious: This is the most talented team in the Eastern Conference. There are seemingly limitless possibilities on offense when you add Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to the best player on the planet. LeBron James is also likely to get guys like Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters overpaid at some point in the near future. But while shiny and new, these are known quantities. I’m most excited to see how new coach David Blatt employs his bounty. Basketball insiders love him but he’ll be under a ton of scrutiny for a first-time NBA coach.

lebron-james-back-in-cleveland

Say ‘Hello’ to: James Jones. LeBron and the Floor Spacers. Jones and Mike Miller reunite with LeBron . Wave the towels from the bench. The open looks are sure to follow. [Read more…]

Project Shanks NBA Preview: Atlantic Division

By Matthew Carpenter
PSDC Writer

The AT&T Center cut the lights. Planes were boarded. Somewhere Gregg Popovich cracked a nice bottle of wine. The 2013-14 NBA season was put to bed. While there wasn’t much drama to close the season, the San Antonio Spurs gave us something to watch. The Spurs playoff point differential (214) was an NBA record and not a fluke. I sat in awe, not only of San Antonio’s domination of a Heat squad that was playing 1-on-5 for much of the series, but of the swathe of destruction they carved through a hellacious western conference. Watching the Spurs defend pick and roll, and then use it on the offensive end to set up secondary action was pure beauty. The 2013-14 Spurs were a champion of champions. This isn’t hyperbole. I’m talking 90s Bulls level of excellence.

Much of the drama was saved for the offseason and that didn’t disappoint either. LeBron, Melo, Jimmer, Love. There is no shortage of storylines as we embark on the 2014-15 season.

I count six teams with legitimate NBA title hopes and a few others on the fringe. That’s a big number for professional basketball. This season should be a lot of fun and filled with intrigue.

And then there’s this group…

Atlantic Division – We’ll start with the “Sad Clown” of NBA divisions. Big markets. Storied franchises. Lots of bad.

Order of Finish

1. Raptors – Toronto won 48 games last season and mostly retain the status quo for 2014-15. As a team with a history of hemorrhaging promising players, the re-signing of Kyle Lowry should be viewed as a huge win for general manager Masai Ujiri. The underrated backcourt of Lowry and Demar DeRozan are a “plus” tandem on both sides of the floor. For 4 years/48 million, the Raptors landed a very reasonable contract for a 27-year-old coming off a career season in which he posted 17ppg and a 20+ PER. [Read more…]

An Idiot Previews the NHL Playoffs – Round 1

By Matthew Carpenter
PSDC Writer

The NHL postseason is hard to beat, even for me, the dreaded casual hockey fan. So I am here to preview the playoffs. It’s the best we can do. Here’s a preview extrapolated from information I overheard at bars the last couple of months.

Photo Credit: AP

Photo Credit: AP

Western Conference

I have Western Conference bias, which is swell, because the hockey is much better out West this year. In other words, these predictions should be spot on.

Ducks (114 pts) v. Stars (91 pts)

The Battle of the D’s should be a good test for the West’s #1 seed. I guess Tyler Seguin (D-Dallas) is no longer a hard-partying bro, and now just a bro who scored almost 40 goals this season. Unfortunately, offensive depth swings to the Ducks so don’t expect their shaky goaltending to be exposed in this round.

Prediction: Ducks in 6 [Read more…]

Just When I Thought I Was Out, Bo Ryan Pulls Me Back In

By Matthew Carpenter
PSDC Writer

It was only halftime of Wisconsin’s Round-of-32 game against Oregon, but I was already sending the told-ya-so texts to fellow Badger fans at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center. The Ducks were too athletic. Too deep. Too well-coached. It was a terrible matchup. “Badgers can’t defend” was my standard refrain. Or “OMG they can’t defend IRL,” to use the parlance of our time. After Ryan received a technical on an acceptable no-call by the officials, Badger Nation was predictably flustered. The momentum was all Oregon. It was going to be another early exit for Bo’s Badgers, a program with a ton of regular season success during Ryan’s tenure, but very little postseason noise (one 2005 Elite 8 appearance) to speak of.

But then a funny thing happened. The Badgers blitzed the Ducks out of the break. Drive-and-kick and the 3s rained down. Their transition defense went from non-existent to outright palatable. Wisconsin outscored Oregon 48-28 in the second half to win by eight. As I mocked myself for prematurely throwing in the towel, I once again realized it’s better for your team to win than to be right.

Wisconsin basketball is a tricky thing. Their newfound success around the turn-of-the-century was always cute but never exciting. Dick Bennett’s 2000 Final Four team is romanticized but was a difficult team to watch, despite a legitimate defensive excellence. The Dick Bennett Badgers probably had more in common with the 1941 Wisconsin team that won the school’s only NCAA title than they did with 21st century basketball. [Read more…]

NLRB Rules For Northwestern Football Players

By Matthew Carpenter
PSDC Writer

The National Labor Relations Board has stunned many legal observers by granting Northwestern football players the right to unionize. According to the Regional Director of Chicago’s NLRB, the College Athletes Players Association Union can now hold an election. From most accounts, led by quarterback Kain Colter, the players have the numbers to certify the Union.

pay-college-athletes-1

In all likelihood, the University will appeal to the NLRB in Washington D.C. If the Board upholds the decision, the school can then appeal to Federal Court. The process is far from over, but this could be momentous day in college athletics. [Read more…]

Maurice Cheeks Out in Detroit. Is Joe Dumars Next?

By Matthew Carpenter
PSDC Writer

According to Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo! Sports, the axe has fallen on Pistons’ coach Maurice Cheeks. Fifty games into his tenure, the Pistons sit at 21-29, in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Photo Credit: USA Today

General Manager Joe Dumars remains employed, as the Pistons are on the cusp of having their sixth coach in seven seasons. [Read more…]

College Football Players, Awaken…

By Matthew Carpenter
PSDC Writer

[Former NCAA President Myles Brand:] They can’t be paid.
[Q:] Why?
[Brand:] Because they’re amateurs.
[Q:] What makes them amateurs?
[Brand:] Well, they can’t be paid.
[Q:] Why not?
[Brand:] Because they’re amateurs.
[Q:] Who decided they are amateurs?
[Brand:] We did.
[Q:] Why?
[Brand:] Because we don’t pay them.

– Michael Rosenberg’s 2010 Sports Illustrated interview of former NCAA president Myles Brand

pay-college-athletes-1

Yesterday, quarterback Kain Colter led a group of Northwestern football players in petitioning the National Labor Relations Board to be represented by the National College Players Association, the first such action taken by college athletes.

If recognized by the Board, the official name of the organization would be the College Athletes Players Association. According to CAPA’s web site, their goals include: [Read more…]