Friday’s Den: Running Diary of the 1st round of the NBA Draft…….

7:25: Before the NBA Draft, some NFL news. Bucs’ QB James Winston will be suspended for three games, for something that happened with an Uber drive in Arizona two years ago. 

Buccaneers open at New Orleans, then the Eagles/Steelers come to Tampa Bay. Not great to play those teams without your starting QB. 

Winston had character-related issues in college, too. This isn’t good for him or the Bucs or the NFL or coach Dirk Koetter, who needs a good season to keep his job. 

7:30: NBA Draft is in Brooklyn; they need to do what the NHL/NFL do now and move the draft around the country, get out of New York City. 

Commissioner Adam Silver is one of my heroes; a tall, bald man with glasses who has a great job and does it very well, but stop with the opening statement. Drafts get over-hyped; need to see teams picking players as soon as possible. 

7:35: Jay Bilas has already questioned Deandre Ayton’s “motor” which means he doesn’t try hard all the time. Good Lord, that bothers me, if you spend your #1 pick on someone who is often lethargic. Effort should never be an issue. 

Anyway, the Phoenix Suns take Ayton, whose Arizona team got plastered by Buffalo in the first round of the NCAA tournament. I picked Arizona, but I’m not bitter at all. 

ESPN has Chauncey Billups (good) and Bilas (annoying) as its analysts, Rece Davis (very good) as its host. Billups compares Ayton to Joel Embiid. Davis points out that Ayton is the 9th straight college freshman to be the first pick in the draft. 

7:44: Marvin Bagley III goes #2 to Sacramento. Bilas downplays Bagley’s defensive liabilities, but Duke played a 2-3 zone almost all of last season. Go figure. Billups compares Bagley to Chris Bosh. Bagley is happy to be in Sacramento, which is refreshing. 

Duke had a player picked in the top 3 in the last five NBA Drafts, which is a record. 

NBA saved me lot of money by putting four patches on the right side of each team’s hats which they’re selling on the Interweb. I’m not a fan of a lot of junk on the hats I buy, so this saves me a decent amount of money, because the front of the hats are nice. 

7:48: Worst part of the NBA Draft is they don’t announce the trades as they happen, which is stupid and misleading. Atlanta Hawks take Luka Doncic but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski says he is being traded to Dallas, with the Hawks winding up with Trae Young. 

7:55: Memphis takes Jaren Jackson Jr, whose mother is Director of Player Ops for the WNBA. At first, Jackson said he didn’t want to play for Memphis, but I’m sure he won’t mind being paid by Memphis. Billups compares him to Joakim Noah.  

Jackson’s dad played 13 years in the NBA; his first eight years in the NBA, he played for a different team every year. 

8:00: Dallas takes Trae Young, who will be traded to Atlanta. ESPN ruined Young’s season at Oklahoma by over-hyping him a sickening amount and putting a huge target on his back. The Hawks get a 2019 first-round pick from Dallas in addition to the Young/Doncic swap. 

8:08: Orlando takes Mo Bamba with the #6 pick; he has a 7-foot-10 wingspan, the longest wingspan ever recorded at the NBA Combine. Bilas says he needs to get a lot stronger. 

They showed video recently of Bamba making ton of 3-pointers in a workout, but he shot 27.5% behind the arc at Texas last year, so we’ll see. The NBA 3-point shot is longer than college. 

NHL Draft is Friday; it’ll be different than this draft. Not better, not worse. Different. 

8:13: Bulls won their fewest games in 14 years this year; they take Wendell Carter, a center from Duke. Carter could’ve gone to Harvard had he wanted to; he is a good shooter, but again, Duke played a ton of 2-3 zone last year, so will defense be an issue, especially on pick/roll? Billups compares him to Carlos Boozer. 

8:18: Cavaliers take Alabama PG Collin Sexton, who Billups compares to Eric Bledsoe. Kid is highly competitive, but Cleveland might be a sad place to watch basketball for a few years, with Lebron James expected to skip town. 

8:24: Knicks missed the playoffs the last five years; why does ESPN have to show Spike Lee before their draft pick? New York takes Kevin Knox, another Kentucky player. John Calipari’s recruiting has to get easier and easier with every year all his guys go in the 1st round. 

Knox played quarterback in high school, which hints at leadership qualities.

8:30— 76ers take Mikal Bridges, a 4-year player who played on two national title teams with Villanova. He is 6-7 wth a 7-2 wingspan; Billups compares him to Nicolas Batum of the Hornets. 

Bridges’ mother is VP of Human Resources with the 76ers. 

8:37: Charlotte Hornets take a Canadian PG and another Kentucky player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who reminds Billups of Michael Carter-Williams, but the kid will be traded to the Clippers. I’d rather live in LA than Charlotte anyway, but no one asked me. 

He shot 40.4% on the arc and 82% on the foul line, both good things, and he didn’t start early last season- he earned his way into the starting lineup. 

ESPN has an international scouting guy named Mike Schmitz on; he says Gilgeous-Alexander was the best guard in the draft. 

8:43: Clippers draft Miles Bridges, who will be traded to the Hornets. Bridges would’ve been a high draft pick LY; Billups compares him to Shawn Marion, a pretty big compliment. 

Clippers gave Charlotte two future 2nd-round picks to swap the 11th and 12th picks. 

8:48: University of Buffalo’s social media people posted this on Twitter: 

“Congrats to @DeandreAyton on being selected #1 overall in the #NBADraft by the @Suns! We hope your @NBA career starts better than your college one ended”

Wow. Ayton’s college career ended with an ugly loss to Buffalo. 

8:50: NBA Lottery started in 1985; Boston College’s Jerome Robinson is the Eagles’ first player ever taken in the lottery— Clippers took him at #13. John Bagley was the 12th pick in the ’82 Draft, taken by Cleveland. 

Tonight is June 21; on July 6, the NBA Summer League begins in Las Vegas, so these kids who get drafted will be fighting for jobs in 16 short days, against other kids who didn’t get drafted and veterans who’ve played in the NBA before, or are fighting to get there. Very competitive. 

8:54: Denver owner Stan Kroenke’s son Josh started for Missouri’s hoop team 15 or so years ago; if they don’t take Michael Porter Jr, who the hell will?

8:58: Nuggets draft Porter; their trainer should ask for a raise. Billups compares him to Kevin Durant, which is a total insult to Durant. Porter played three college games, and one of them was for two whole minutes. He is more suspect than prospect. 

In totally unrelated news, Flava Flav threw out the first pitch at the Richmond Flying Squirrels game tonight. Squirrels are the AA affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. They had 6,117 fans in Richmond, for a game that was shortened by rain. 

9:06: Washington Wizards take Oregon alum Troy Brown, who I think is a Las Vegas kid and is considered a versatile player. Billups compares him to Andre Iguodala. 

There is a guy sitting next to Arizona coach Sean Miller who has the shiniest bald head I’ve ever seen. As a bald man myself, just don’t have the energy to do that day after day, keep my head totally slick. Plus I’d look like Mr Potato Head if I did that, so no thanks. 

9:14: Zhaire Smith played one year at Texas Tech; the Suns drafted him, but he’s getting traded to the 76ers for Mikal Bridges, which puts the kibosh on Mrs Bridges’ happiness from 45 minutes ago. Smith wasn’t an ESPN top 100 recruit coming out of high school- it is rare for a player like that to be drafted so high. 

9:22: Milwaukee Bucks take Donte DiVincenzo, who started only 10 of Villanova’s 40 games LY, but he played starter’s minutes (29.7 mpg), scoring 13.4 ppg, making 40.1% on the arc, in his only season of college ball. 

He scored 31 points in the national championship game, but anytime I hear a kid raised his draft stock in the Combine, it bothers me. Billups compares him to Tyler Johnson. 

Random fact; over half the players in the NBA (53%) have played in the G-League. 

Talk about draft/trades in the NBA; on June 24, 1998, Dirk Nowitzki was traded by Bucks with Pat Garrity to the Mavericks for Robert Traylor. How did that work out? 

9:29: San Antonio Spurs drafted G Lonnie Walker from Miami, FL, who has had knee issues and also has ballhandling/defensive issues, but he can score. Spurs’ coaches will develop him. Not many kids who go to high school in Reading, PA go to college in Miami. 

9:34: Atlanta Hawks take a kid from the Albany area, Kevin Huerter from Maryland. Huerter’s dad and brother play/played for Siena College; Kevin is an excellent shooter; good luck to the young man. I was surprised when he came out of school, but shooters are always in demand. 

People have too much money: LeBron James’ jersey from Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals just closed on @NBAAUCTIONS to a winning bid of $100,322. Oy. 

9:42: Minnesota takes Josh Okogie, a guard from Georgia Tech. Bilas says his man asset is that “…..he plays his tail off all the time.” No wingspan, no upside, he just tries hard. There are worse things someone can say about you. 

Budweiser just ran a commercial with John Starks, the old Knicks’ guard who talks about being undrafted, then fighting to make it in the NBA. Damn good commercial. 

Starks played 13 years in the NBA, scored over 10,800 points. 

9:46: Utah drafts Grayson Allen; Jazz are coached by Duke alum Quin Snyder. Now I have to watch all of Utah’s summer league games to see if someone kicks Allen’s ass. He got away with being a dirty player in college because Coach K sheltered him, but now he is out on his own. We’ll see how that works out. 

9:51: Chicago Bulls take Chandler Hutchison from Boise State. He is the first Boise player drafted since 1999, which should help their recruiting. Billups compares him to Kyle Kuzma. 

OK, I have Madison Bumgarner on my fantasy baseball team and he’s pitching in a few minutes, so time to grab some food and watch that game. Hope you enjoyed this…….

Wednesday’s List of 13: College football knowledge…….

13) Since 2009, Alabama has been an underdog once in 125 games; in 2015, Bama was a 1-point underdog at Georgia. Alabama hammered the Dawgs 38-10 that day. 

12) Over last decade, Texas A&M is 14-22-2 vs spread as an underdog; average total in their last five bowl games is 79.6. 

11) Since 2010, LSU is 14-7 vs spread coming off a straight-up loss; since 2012, they’re 22-28-1 vs spread coming off a win.  

10) Ole Miss is 17-8 vs spread in its last 25 games as road underdogs; favorites covered their last five bowl games, only one of which was decided by less than 14 points. 

9) Since Urban Meyer bolted Florida eight years ago, Florida is 12-19-1 vs spread coming off a loss. Over last decade, Gators are 2-5 as home dogs, 7-10-1 as road dogs, 15-8 as road favorites. 

8) Last three years, South Carolina is +23 in turnovers; underdogs covered their last four bowl games. In two years under Muschamp, Gamecocks are 11-5 vs spread in SEC games. 

7) Auburn lost four of its last five bowl games, allowing 34+ points in all four losses. Since 2009, Auburn is 12-6 as a home underdog. 

6) Arkansas hasn’t covered as a road favorite since 2010; they’re 0-5 since then. Razorbacks are 9-15-1 vs spread the last two years.

5) Kentucky lost its last four bowls; their last bowl win was in 2008. Last two years, Wildcats are 2-9 vs spread when favored. 

4) Tennessee is on its 5th coach in 11 years, not counting interim coaches; last two years, Vols were 1-6-1 vs spread as an underdog, 3-12-1 vs spread in SEC games. 

3) Vanderbilt was 1-7 vs spread in SEC games LY, ending a 6-year streak where Commodores went 5-3 vs spread in SEC tilts every year. Vandy QB Kyle Shurmur is the son of Giants’ coach Pat Shurmur. 

2) Since 2009, Ohio State is 9-1 vs spread as an underdog. 

1— Over last decade, Michigan is 16-31 vs spread in road games. Wolverines lost four of their last five bowl games. Last four years, Michigan is -17 in turnovers. 

Friday’s List of 13: Our first 2018 dose of college football knowledge

One of the best days each summer is when the Phill Steele college football magazine comes in the mail. It is a great resource to use all season long. 

13) According to Phil Steele Magazine, the three toughest college football schedules for 2018 are: 1) UCLA, 2) Purdue 3) Michigan 

12) Best three offensive lines: 1) Wisconsin (150 starts back) 2) Georgia (69 starts) 3) Alabama (103 starts). 

11) Offensive lines with most returning starts: Wisconsin (150), Boston College (139), Wake Forest (131), Florida Int’l (129). 

10) Four best QB’s: Will Grier (West Va), McKenzie Milton (UCF), Jarrett Stidham (Auburn), Jake Browning (Washington).

9) Four best kickers: Matt Gay (Utah), Austin Seibert (Oklahoma), Rodrigo Blankenship (Georgia), Jameson Vest (Toledo).

8) Tulsa was the only team in America last year that lost five games by a TD or less. They didn’t win any games by a TD or less.

7) Army won six games LY by a TD or less; they lost two games by a TD or less. Troy and North Texas both won five games LY by a TD or less; they didn’t lose any. South Carolina won five and lost one. 

6) Since 1991, 369 teams have been +10 or better in turnovers in a season; of those 369 teams, 240 had worse records the next year. Only 85 (23%) had better records the next year. 

Over the last seven years, only 6 of 48 teams who were +14 or better in turnovers had a better record the following season. 

Best turnover ratios is 2017: Wyoming (+24), UCF (+17), Stanford (+16), Memphis (+15). 

5) In the past 27 years, 311 teams were -10 or worse in turnovers; of those 311 teams, 208 of them had better records the following season. 

Worst turnover ratios in 2017: San Jose St (-26), Rice (-23), Kansas (-17), New Mexico (-16). 

4) Four teams Phil Steele thinks will be the most improved this year: Florida, Utah State, North Carolina, Colorado. 

3) Underdogs are 4-0-1 vs spread in last five national championship games (3-2 SU). 

2) Over last four years, underdogs are 4-1 vs spread in these bowls: Orange, Holiday, Pinstripe, New Mexico Bowls. 

1) The current King of Bowls is Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who is 11-1 as a head coach in bowl games. 

Thursday’s List of 13: Happy Armadillo Day!!!!

13) 17 years ago today, was born; the world has changed a lot since then, not always for the better, but hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading this space, thru good and bad. 

As year #18 begins here, let’s hope the world becomes a happier, more cohesive place. 

12) June 14 also means it is my friend Big Dawg’s 29th birthday (again); happy birthday!!! 

11) Nationals 5, New York 4— Juan Soto is 19 years old; he is hitting .349 in his first 20 major league games and hit two homers in this game. 

Soto played only eight games in the AA Eastern League, batting 31 times; he skipped over AAA, which is very unusual, but Soto appears to be an unusual talent. 

10) Detroit 1B Miguel Cabrera (biceps) is done for the year, but a doctor posted on Twitter Tuesday night that he should be 100% for 2019. 

Tigers are on the hook for $154M for Cabrera AFTER this year (2019-23). He better be 100%. 

9) Ruben Amaro Jr is first base coach for the Mets this year, which is only newsworthy because from 2009-15, he was general manager of the Phillies. Guys don’t go from being GM’s to base coaches, very unusual. 

Amaro took over the Phillies the year after they won the World Series, let their nucleus get a little too old before he broke it up, then got fired. 

Now he is trying to work his way up into becoming a field manager. Interesting career. 

8) Speaking of the Mets, they hit .147 on their recent 9-game homestand. Thats the worst batting average EVER for any homestand of 7+ games, for any team in baseball history. 

7) In 1970, Bob Gibson went 23-7 pitching and hit .303; he is the only pitcher ever to win the Cy Young Award and hit .300 in the same season. 

6) Someone at the Westgate SuperBook bet $1,200 Tuesday on Eldrick Woods to win the US Open this week at 20-1. 

5) Paid attendance in Miami Tuesday night for Giants-Marlins; 5,928 (announced). As the old saying goes, many of those 5,928 “fans” were disguised as empty seats.

4) Braves 2, Mets 0— Jacob deGrom pitched Wednesday; he has a 1.31 RA in his last eight starts, but won only one of the eight games. Mets haven’t hit for him, and the bullpen has blown leads late in the game for him. 

Braves pitched Mike Soroka had a no-hitter thru six innings, trying to become the third Canadian pitcher to throw a big league no-hitter. 

3) There have been two no-hitters thrown by Canadian pitchers; James Paxton in Toronto earlier this season, and on September 9, 1945, Philadelphia’s Dick Fowler no-hit the St Louis Browns 1-0 in the second game of a doubleheader. 

That was Fowler’s first start in three years; he had served in the Canadian Army during World War II and this was his first start after returning from the war. 

Fowler wound up going 66-79 in 10 years in the major leagues, all with the A’s; he passed away at age 51 in Oneonta, NY.

2) Major league umpire Stu Scheurwater is from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, not a place you’d expect a major league umpire to come from.

1) Seven weeks left until the trade deadline in baseball; media types will keep themselves busy with useless speculation. Wake me up when an actual trade happens.

Why I call it useless speculation; Mets have already said that deGrom isn’t available, but until he’s still a Met on August 1, you’ll see speculation that he’s going to be traded.