Tuesday, July 9, 2013

D12 Has Landed: Who wins and loses?

In case you've been living under a rock over the last few days, or are just in hibernation until the NFL season starts, you know that Dwight Howard has let the world know that he will sign with the Houston Rockets once the league allows it. Before we get into the winners and losers of this deal, can't we all agree that the fans are the ultimate winners here? The "Dwightmare" is over, at least for the next three seasons when Howard can opt out of his soon to be signed deal. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Instead, let us all focus on the here and now and talk about who wins and loses with Howard, wait for it......taking his talents to Texas.

Winner: Dwight Howard

Obviously one of the big winners is D12 himself. By all accounts and opinions he chose the team that gives him the best chance at winning a NBA championship over the next few seasons. He can finally unpack his bags and set up roots on a team that is up and coming, and he can go about the job of repairing his damaged reputation. Of course, the best way for him to ultimately make people forget about his exit and waffling in Orlando and the failed season in Los Angeles is to win big and consistently in Houston.  

Winners: Houston Rockets

We will continue with the obvious theme here with the organization of Houston being a huge winner as well. The Rockets haven't truly been relevant on the NBA's landscape since the days of Yao Ming, but now they have managed to catapult themselves into the upper echelon of the Western Conference's elite teams. It is amazing what a trade here and a signing there can do for the Vegas odds of a team.

Winner: Rocket's GM Daryl Morey

This man now officially looks like a genius while the people who doubted him are left to ponder what they could have possibly been thinking. Morey set out on this plan a couple of off seasons ago and even in his wildest dreams he couldn't have imagined his plan working out any better than it did. He has officially turned Houston around and he didn't have to mortgage the future to do it. Houston.....you have yourself one helleva general manager.

Winner: James Harden

If you're "The Beard" you have to love the situation you're sitting in now. You went from a guy coming off the bench in OKC (albeit a team that made the NBA Finals and has a great future as well) to a guy that signed a max contract, being one of the top 10 (arguably) players in the NBA, and now being the go to player on a team that has the look of a potential Western Conference Finals team. Not bad for a guy who received some criticism for not taking less money to stay in Oklahoma City. I'd say he landed on his feet.

Losers: LA Lakers

Wherever there are winners, if you look in the corner you will see the losers wondering what happened. In this case, in one corner you have the LA Lakers. Regardless of what the smoke signals emanating out of the Staples Center are saying, you have to believe that the Lakers are reeling from D12's decision. Never before has a star player spurned the bright lights of Hollywood for another team. But now, not only has the best big man in the league decided to play elsewhere but he also left the Lakers in a state of uncertainty. No one is quite sure what the future looks like for the purple and gold, and they more than likely will reload because they are still the Lakers after all. But for now they undoubtedly have to be considered one of the losers in this deal.

Losers: Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks

Never has a NBA championship seemed so far gone. In case you have forgotten, before the Miami Heat went back to back there was the "other" team in Texas that were the champions. It was after that season that Mark Cuban decided to gamble the precious prime seasons of his seven foot tall German MVP on the belief that his skills to persuade star free agents like Deron Williams and Dwight Howard to join forces in Dallas would all be worth it. Yeah....how did that work out for Cuban? This isn't Shark Tank buddy, in the world of the NBA you don't sit in the position of power. I think Cuban found that out, but it is unfortunate for Dirk Nowitzki that he'll have to waste his last few seasons on teams that have zero chance at winning a title. Or will he? Stay tuned.

Losers: Sam Presti and the OKC Thunder

How are the Thunder and their general manager considered losers in this scenario? Mr. Presti is now responsible for the rise of two power forces in the Western Conference. Not only has he built up the Thunder, but Presti is directly responsible for the growing juggernaut known as the Houston Rockets. On October 27, 2012 Sam Presti and OKC traded James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, and Lazar Hayward to Houston for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first round picks, and a second round pick. If Harden doesn't land in Houston, neither does Howard. The city of Houston should send Presti a gift basket filled with fruit, NASA memorabilia, and a gift card to iTunes for the purpose of downloading Houston rapper Slim Thug's greatest hits. Because without that trade taking place Houston is just a minor footnote on the NBA's path and not a premier destination.

As for the Thunder, that trade doesn't look as good as it did some nine months ago does it? The jury is still out on Lamb so no indictment there, but Martin lasted only one season in OKC and wasn't the difference maker that Harden was/could have been. The Thunder used one of those first round picks to draft Steven Adams this past draft, and he might turn into a serviceable big man in the league. But he isn't the player you envision when you manage to pry coveted first round picks from the cold hands of opposing general managers. While there's still time for OKC to come out on the winning end of this deal I wouldn't hold my breath.

Losers: Every team that was in the Howard sweepstakes with the exception of Golden St. 

Golden St. never had a legitimate shot to get Howard, regardless of what you may have read. Plus, they managed to sign Andre Iguodala who is a better fit for the personnel and team that they have assembled in the Bay Area. Atlanta, LA Lakers, Dallas, all come out on the losing end here. Any time you try to sign an impact player and you come up short you are in the losing category. It may work out over time for all the teams involved but in the meantime if you're not winning....well, you know the rest. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

When Will They Learn?

Welcome one and all to another edition of Tha Weatha Report. There’s a lot going on in the world of sports lately, but only one topic can bring me from the dark caves of silence to drop some knowledge on you. So, relax your mind and let your conscience be free and roll with Tha WeathaMan as we hit this journey. 

Aaron Hernandez, NFL
A. Walcott, NFL
O. Pistorius, Running
Josh Brent, NFL
Donte' Stallworth, NFL
Dany Heatley, NHL
Tammy Crow, Swim
Dwayne Goodrich, NFL
Rae Carruth, NFL
Ray Lewis, NFL
Leonard Little, NFL
Brian Blades, NFL
Charles Smith, NBA
Bruce Kimball, Diving
Reggie Rogers, NFL
Derrick Fenner, CFB
Craig MacTavish, NHL
-        -Credit to ESPN research for this list-

The above list is just the pro athletes that have been arrested and/or convicted of murder, homicide, and/or manslaughter in my lifetime.  Granted, not all of these involve weapons but there are enough that do to give pause. What’s the point? The point is that this is a list that just keeps growing.
As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the latest incident involves the former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. There’s no need to retell the story (click here if you need to catch up), but the same cycle that has caught up to previous athletes seems to have engulfed Mr. Hernandez into its web. Kid is born, people discover that said kid has athletic talent, kid becomes popular, popularity attracts unsavory characters (commonly known as “thugs”), kid goes on to be drafted by *insert team name here*, unsavory characters follow along said kid’s path, kid ALLOWS (key word here) unsavory characters to hang around, unsavory characters bring said kid down in a heap of fire and brimstone. We’ve seen it too many times to be surprised at this point. The biggest issue is that these “kids” keep making the same mistakes. 

Adam “Pacman” Jones has made the move to speak at the NFL’s annual Rookie Symposium about this very cycle. We’ve seen upstanding citizens such as Ray Lewis caught in this cycle. Michael Vick was the last big name to be involved in something similar. Now true, Lewis and Vick were able to rebound from their incidents to resurrect their careers but something tells me that Hernandez won’t be able to say the same. Hell, at this point he needs to be more worried about his personal freedom versus catching passes from Tom Brady, Peter Brady, or even Peter Pan. 

The problem is that these athletes don’t realize that in order to live a life like no one else, they have to live a life like no one else. Meaning, not everyone around you is for you. Sometimes the folks that are behind you are the individuals that have the knife that will be inserted into your spine. As opposed to finding out the hard way, these athletes need to realize that cutting off the folks that are hanging on by a thread is the only way to live. A five year $40 million contract is enough motivation to “turn your back on the hood”. 

I understand the stigma of “forgetting where you came from”. It is the most common thing that successful people hear. As soon as you become something special and move up in the world, the crab in a bucket mentality kicks in. People want to pull you back in because you’re leaving them behind, and we all know that it isn’t fair that you get to make it big while Pookie, Ray-Ray, and ‘dem stay in the old neighborhood wasting their lives away. Heaven forbid that the athletes deserve to live a nice lifestyle because they showed the dedication and determination necessary to do something with their lives. 

There’s a lot of information still yet to come concerning the Aaron Hernandez situation. He might even make it out of this mess with no jail time and only a ton of press clippings to his name. But that really isn’t the point now is it? The point is that he allowed himself to be put in this situation to begin with. Somewhere along the line Hernandez allowed all of the pre-draft concerns that teams had about him to become a reality and now he will have to live with the consequences of his actions. There has been too many NFL players (28 since Feb 3 of this year) and athletes in general that find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Yeah, they may be targets because of their wealth. But they also create that target by allowing the openings needed to hit the target. You can either close the cycle, or find yourself scrolling across the bottom of the ESPN screen like Aaron Hernandez, Michael Vick, and Plaxico Burress. The choice is yours professional athletes…us “common folk” can only hope that you make the right one.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Is Carmelo Anthony Really Overpaid?


Usage Rte
Win Shares
Player A
Player B

Welcome one and all to another edition of your favorite internet sports blog, Tha Weatha Report. It has been a while since we've sat down and chatted, but I'm sure you remember how we do this. For this edition of the forecast, I felt the need to tackle a subject that has been brought up and bantered about recently. A few days ago Tom Van Riper of Forbes magazine wrote his list of the top 10 NBA overpaid players. It is a list that created a small bit of controversy due to his #1 selection of Carmelo Anthony, he of the five straight 35-point games. So, I decided to examine if Mr. Honey Nut Cheerios is indeed the most overpaid player in the league. 

Above you will see a table comparing two players that were compared in the Forbes article (all stats courtesy of one of my favorite sites http://www.basketball-reference.com/). I think we would all agree that for the most part, the two players have very similar numbers with the only exception being Player A being responsible for nearly twice the wins that Player B is responsible for. Diving a bit deeper if we're talking about players being overpaid, then we have to talk about contracts. Player A is making over $16 million this year while Player B is making over $19 million. Both players are on teams that have already clinched the titles in their respective divisions with Player A's team having a better record than Player B's team by six games as of this writing. 

In case you haven't figured it out yet, Player A is Kevin Durant and Player B is Carmelo Anthony. While the numbers above are close, Mr. Van Riper states that the Durant is far and away better than Anthony and cites a few stats of his own. Basically he states that Anthony is not an efficient player and that Durant is the epitome of efficiency and that equates to wins for the Thunder. Is that completely true?

Last year Anthony's efficiency rating (listed under PER in the table above) was 21.1 and the Knicks had a .545 winning percentage. This year his PER has increased to 24.5 and the Knicks have responded by increasing their winning percentage to a robust .662. While Van Riper is correct in that Durant is more efficient than Anthony, Durant is second in the NBA while Anthony is sixth in PER, to state that Carmelo is not in Durant's class is just a ludicrous statement that fit the agenda of the article. Not only is Anthony in Durant's class, but count this blogger among those that feel that Carmelo Anthony is the best pure scorer in the NBA. Oh, and that isn't a close argument either because there is no player that can match him.

The Thunder do have a better winning percentage, but they are also a better team. Durant is comparable to Anthony, Russell Westbrook is one of the best point guards in the league, and Serge Ibaka has maintained his tenacity on the defensive end while greatly improving his offensive game. Simply put, Oklahoma City has more weapons than New York. They are supposed to be better. However, while Durant plays a huge part in that success he is not the end all be all. If he has a bad night it does not necessarily spell doom for OKC's chances at winning that particular game. The Knicks go as Anthony goes. With the exception of a few cases of JR Smith carrying the team, Carmelo Anthony is the catalyst that carries New York and that team will only go as far as he can take them. That is clear by the fact that Carmelo leads the NBA in usage rate, which estimates the percentage of plays that each player is involved in while on the court. Can a player that leads the league in scoring, leads the league in percentage of plays ran for him, and is sixth in efficiency be overpaid? 

This isn't meant as a knock against the Forbes article. I found it to be a very well written article and the author backed up his opinions with stats that he felt helped his cause. It just so happens that I found his opinion to be totally off the mark and incorrect. While it is true that Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony are not the same, it is important to note that they are not asked to do the same things. Anthony carries his team, Durant has plenty of help. If being overpaid means you lead the league in scoring and lead your team to a division title, then I'm sure there are plenty of teams that would gladly "overpay" for that kind of production. Maybe Forbes should stick to writing about businesses and leave the sports to others. Or maybe they should find writers that can bring a better perspective to the table. I think I know a guy that could help them. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

What to Make of Tiger's Win

It feels so good to be back! It has been months since the pages of Tha Weatha Report have been seen, but now is the time to dust off the old keyboard and see if Tha WeathaMan still knows how to do this. I apologize for leaving you for so long, but sometimes even the most dedicated sports fan has to take a step back. Now come here and give your old pal a hug and journey with me through another forecast on the world of sports. As you may have guessed from the title and picture, Mr. Tiger Woods is today's focus.

The last time Tiger Woods graced this report was almost exactly a year ago (conveniently linked here for your enjoyment). At that point the golf world was all abuzz over Tiger and his lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational tournament. Tha WeathaMan, on the other hand, was not impressed. Don't get me wrong, I love a Tiger Woods' tournament win as much as the next fan. The game of golf needs Tiger and I'm fully aware of that. But I wasn't fooled. I knew Tiger was still inconsistent, and his play for the rest of the season proved that. In 2013 however, Tiger looks different. He's won twice already this year as we head into the race for the green jacket. However, isn't this the same thing that happened last year? Tiger won a tournament that he's won seven times, became the de facto favorite to win the Masters, and then proceeded to go to Augusta and shoot +5 on his way to a 40th place finish.

This year Tiger wins a tournament that he's won seven times, becomes the prohibitive favorite to win the Masters, and then goes to Augusta and....well, we'll just have to see how that sentence gets finished now won't we? Also, lets not pretend that Tiger isn't a favorite to win whatever tournament he enters. I mean, the man won a tournament with a broken leg! Most of us get a paper cut at work and start looking for the first aid kit. If Tiger Woods is breathing, he is the favorite to win that weekend. The biggest difference between the Tiger Woods of today and the Tiger Woods of 1999-2006 is that he no longer wins tournaments just by showing up. The unbeatable aura that Woods once held over the rest of the PGA Tour has been decimated. He actually has to outplay a few golfers these days. No worries, if I was a betting man I would still place my money on red....as in the championship red shirt that Tiger dons on final round Sundays.

So what does this all mean? Well simply put, I think Tiger should be the favorite at this point. He's the only golfer with multiple victories on tour so far and his short game has finally looked consistent. He's driving the ball with accuracy and outside of two rounds (one at Abu Dhabi and the other at the Honda Classic) he has looked good on the greens. With the exception of Brandt Snedeker, good ol' Eldrick has been on his own level as far as consistent players this year. But the days of Tiger showing up and dominating a major are over. Right? At the end of the day, isn't that the beauty of Tiger Woods? Even when you don't necessarily want to believe that the return of the man, myth, and legend is upon us he does something that makes us stand up and take notice. Well, consider us on notice Mr. Woods. We eagerly await your response.

Quick Hits

- DeAndre Jordan should be ashamed of what he did to Brandon Knight. It was the first dunk I've seen in a while where I said to myself "He just took that man's soul." See for yourself  

- I've held firm from the beginning that I felt the Lakers would make the playoffs. If they can make it to the 6th seed they have a shot against the 3rd seed (probably Clippers). 

- NFL free agency is set to kick off shortly. Mike Wallace will be the big winner. Surprised more attention isn't being given to Greg Jennings and Aqib Talib

- I'm looking forward to this year's NCAA tournament more than any in recent memory. There are about 10 teams that could have a legitimate shot at becoming the National Champion.