We are now almost 19 years removed from the game that propelled Kevin Love and Klay Thompson toward NBA stardom – and me to an award winning career as an elementary school teacher.
Of course, I am talking about the District 4 Little League All-Star Championship game between Lake Oswego and Murrayhill in 2001.
The gloves are off at this point. Kevin and Klay have had about a year to respond now, and still nothing. Only crickets. KLAY YOU WERE A NON-FACTOR IN LITTLE LEAGUE DUDE.
The 2019 calendar year has come and gone – providing another opportunity for all three players (Kevin, Klay and myself) to further their baseball careers. So where do we stand – from a purely statistical perspective?
Baseball Statistical Breakdown
The last time we looked at this there was a clear winner – Player 1 dominated every statistical category from 2009-2011 and 2017-2018. Were things similar in 2019?
Across the board Player 1 (me) continued to prove that they are the better athlete and ballplayer through the 2019 season – competing in an incredibly prestigious independent baseball league. Player 2 (Kevin) and Player 3 (Klay) did not even attempt to improve their game – although they do get credit for their consistency.
I hate to toot my own horn – but Kevin and Klay, I’m better than you guys at baseball.
My buddy took me to the Blazer game on Sunday night. I haven’t been to a game in a while – I am reluctantly becoming a basketball fan again. Overall. pretty fun and unbelievable night. Here is a recap of the events that unfolded:
The game turned out to be pretty entertaining. The Trailblazers beat the Hawks 124-113 in OT. Trae Young led all players in scoring on the night, and I have no idea how – he was unimpressive most of the night. The lone Atlanta Hawk that stood out to me was De’Andre Hunter – who nailed four three-pointers. The stars of the Blazers put up their numbers, but the difference in the game for me was Anfernee Simons. BigAnf (as I now refer to him) seemed to make an impact each time he was on the court.
The most unbelievable thing of the night was that Bernie Sanders sat right in front of me for the entire game (maybe). Nobody seemed to notice! I didn’t want to hound the guy, I just let him enjoy the game. He was there in his sweater (maybe) – super into the on court action. He even pointed at some guys. What a wild evening!
I know that my photo is not completely conclusive – but I dare you to look at the back of that head and not think “oh, thats Bernie Sanders“.
Zion Williamson is a generational talent. He was so influential and relevant that even I – someone that doesn’t care about basketball as a sport – am writing about him.
Last night the NBA Draft Lottery took place, and the heavy favorites did not come away with the first pick. The Knicks had the best odds along with the Cavs and Suns. I projected the Bulls would get the first pick. In the end, the New Orleans Pelicans came away as the lottery winners, nabbing the first pick with only a 6.0% chance.
The New Orleans Pelicans are a disgustingly branded basketball team. New-Orleans-Pelican-great Zion Williamson does not roll off the tongue. The Pelicans already won the lottery in 2012, drafting Anthony Davis. Guess what? Davis wants out of New Orleans. Why will things be any different for Zion?
Williamson is without a doubt the most marketable player to enter the league since LeBron James. But how much more marketable is he in a marquee city?
Darren Rovell of the Action Network says this will cost Zion $100 million plus.
Here is the kicker, Zion is not a member of the Pelicans, yet. He doesn’t have to be. It is not unprecedented for a high draft pick to dictate where they end up.
In my lifetime, the most memorable instance of a player dictating where they would go in the draft would be in 2004 with Eli Manning. The San Diego Chargers had the first pick overall. Eli was the #1 prospect and the Chargers needed a Quarterback. The Manning family had publicly stated that Eli had no interest in playing in San Diego. In fact, Eli’s agent told reporters that he would sit out the entire 2004 season if he was drafted by the Chargers. In the end, Eli Manning ended up where he wanted, with the Giants trading their #4 pick that year along with additional draft picks to get their guy. Of course, this all worked out for the 2x Super Bowl Champion. He made the right choice, and the Chargers have still yet to win a Super Bowl.
We all remember Charlotte Hornets legend Kobe Bryant, right? Kobe was drafted 13th overall by the Hornets in 1996. It is still unclear who orchestrated Kobe’s path to the Lakers. There were numerous teams that had major interest in drafting Kobe, including the Nets. However, it is well documented that there were skipped pre-draft workouts, rumors of playing in Italy, and other rumblings that eventually led to Charlotte and Los Angeles agreeing to a trade before the draft took place. Kobe has said that all the posturing was just a bluff – if Charlotte had kept him he would have played for the Hornets. There is no way that is true – luckily for him everything worked out and he was a lifelong Laker.
As I have stated – Zion does not have to play for New Orleans. Playing for the Pelicans will without a doubt hurt his overall value and marketability. There are much bigger and brighter cities that can showcase him.
Why have a future superstar go to a team and a city that has shown that it simply cannot support established-superstar NBA players? Anthony Davis has already demanded a trade out of New Orleans – just like Chris Paul did years before him.
Zion deserves to be in the national spotlight. He belongs in New York, or Los Angeles, or Chicago, or even Miami – but New Orleans? He should demand to go somewhere else.
The NBA Lottery takes place tonight at 5:30 PM Pacific Time. If you were planning on watching The Lottery, don’t waste your time. The League has already decided that the Bulls will get the first pick.
As it stands the odds to get the first pick are as follows:
New York Knicks
New Orleans Pelicans
Los Angeles Lakers
Looking at the list, the teams with a realistic shot at the #1 pick are the Knicks, Cavs, Suns, Bulls and Hawks. There is absolutely no way the league will let Zion Williamson end up anywhere outside of Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Miami or LA. They simply cannot let a generational talent like that end up in a non-marquee city.
The Knicks have been bad for a while – it almost makes too much sense for Zion to go there as the #1 pick.
Let’s take a look at how the lottery has historically shaken out over the last decade:
Brooklyn Nets (76ers)
New Orleans Hornets
Los Angeles Clippers (Cavs)
Los Angeles Clippers
Over the last 10 years, the team with the best lottery odds has taken home the #1 pick just four times – the past four years in a row. The average pre-lottery position of the team taking home the #1 pick has been 3.5. As we all know – 3.5 rounds up to 4. Guess who holds the the number four spot in pre-draft lottery odds? The Chicago Bulls.
Based on the history of the NBA Draft Lottery, as well as the data I have analyzed, I can conclude that the Chicago Bulls will win the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery.
Many people are saying the Knicks are getting Zion, but I see things differently.
In this series, the Golden State Warriors are seeking to become a dynasty by winning a third straight NBA title while the Trail Blazers seek to make their first NBA Finals appearance in 27 years. The Golden State Warriors come in heavily favored over the three-seed Portland Trail Blazers despite the loss of Kevin Durant, who will likely miss at least the first two games in this series.
Damian Lillard/ Steph Curry
The marquee matchup in this series without question is Dame vs Steph. Both players struggled at times during the Western Conference semifinals and but were both able to hit big shots in key moments to secure wins late in games. Lillard comes in averaging 28.5 ppg while shooting.431/.375/.818 during the post-season thus far. Curry enters the series averaging 27.3 ppg while shooting .472/.437/.916.
The key to this matchup will be simply put who can hit more shots. Both players will be handling the ball in constant pick and roll situations and the player who can knock down the most shots is going to likely decide the series. Both players can get to the rim and finish as well as be unselfish and create for others. Curry will have an increased role in the offense due to the absence of Durant for at least the first couple of games and the Blazers will need to adjust accordingly if/when Durant returns. But for now, Curry is in the driver’s seat of this offense. One x-factor for this series is that it will be a homecoming for Damian Lillard who returns to his hometown of Oakland. Look for Lillard to be re-energized by this after a long and exhausting series with the Denver Nuggets.
Curry is clearly the more accomplished player in this matchup, but also has had the luxury of playing with much better teammates around him during this run. We saw Damian Lillard elevate his game against another elite NBA point guard in the opening round, Russell Westbrook, and I think the same will be true in this series.
Klay Thompson/CJ McCollum
Two of the best offensive talents in the game square off in this matchup. CJ McCollum dominated the Denver Nuggets with his elite ball handling and shot making, while Klay continues to be the most elite off the ball player in the NBA. While both put up big numbers they do so in very different ways. McCollum is best with the ball in his hands while Klay relies on screens and player movement to get open for spot up shots. In the end these two should cancel each other out in terms of their ability to put up points, however Thompson gets the edge here for his ability to defend. McCollum, not known for his defense, will likely be chasing around Thompson when tasked with having to defend him. Look for the Warriors to take advantage of this matchup on the offensive end.
Draymond Green/Chief Aminu
Clear advantage for Golden State in this matchup obviously. Green comes in as a premier NBA defender and energizer while Chief Aminu often looks half asleep while going up and down the floor. Aminu was flat out terrible in most of the minutes he played in the Blazers series against Denver and look for that to continue as the pressure increases in the Western finals. Neither player will contribute significantly on the scoreboard, however Green’s size and athleticism will cause the Blazers problems on offense.
Andre Iguodala/Mo Harkless
Iggy moves into the starting lineup with the absence of Durant the first two games. In all likelihood, Harkless will be tasked with defending Thompson or even Curry rather than the older Iguodala who does not create the offense he once did in his earlier years. Iguodala has been a key xfactor for the Warriors in their years of recent success and there’s no reason to believe this series will be different. Harkless will need to provide some sort of boost for the Blazers in this series as the Blazers will likely be without Rodney Hood who was injured in the second half of Game 7 against the Nuggets.
Andrew Bogut and Kevin Looney/Enes Kanter
It remains to be seen if we will see DeMarcus Cousins at all in this series, but for now the Warriors will send out a combination of Bogut and Looney to go against Enes Kanter. Kanter, who is observing Ramadan, is currently fasting during hours of sunlight to include hydrating during the game. This had seemed to become a slight factor in the Denver series as Kanter’s performance seemed to slump after the start of the holiday period. That being said, Kanter has been a godsend for the Blazers since the injury of Nurkic. Kanter is an extremely skilled offensive player and will have the upper hand in this series against whomever is on the floor opposite of him.
Early Thoughts and Predictions:
The Blazers MUST MUST MUST win one of the first two games in Golden State. Simply put the Blazers cannot fall down 2-0 to the Warriors. Getting a split of the first two games in this series and flipping the homecourt advantage early on is their only chance.
The Blazers at times struggled against Denver, however I feel this series is a much better matchup for them. The Blazers struggled with the on the ball pressure from Denver’s bigger guards and that simply won’t happen against Golden State. The shorthanded Blazers also had no answer for Nikola Jokic or Paul Millsap on the defensive end. Denver’s size was simply too much for Harkless/Aminu/Kanter to handle. The Warriors will not create these same issues for Portland and should result in better play from their frontcourt on defense.
Kevin Durant better hurry up and get back if the Warriors are to win this series. The 2019 Warriors without Durant are not the same as the 2015 Warriors that won a record 73 games and that will be apparent in the first two games without him.
This series will be very testy. There is bad blood between these teams and things will get very chippy at times. Both teams will need to be composed during these flare ups and not get hit with cheap technical/flagrant fouls
Hot Take: The MVP of the series will not be Thompson, Durant, Curry or Lillard.. This series will be dominated by CJ McCollum.
Tough to call without knowing if/when Durant returns. With Durant, the Blazers likely lose in five games. However, the door creaks open with his absence. This series will be decided in the first two games. If the Blazers can pull just one upset on Tuesday or Thursday, they will be going to the NBA finals. And that’s exactly what is going to happen. Blazers in six.
*This is a debut blog for @Reaves9. He will be covering all things Blazers, Seahawks, NFL, NBA, and whatever the hell he wants to write about. Give him a follow on twitter @Reaves9.
The Portland Trailblazers beat the Denver Nuggets in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals 140 – 137. The significance of this game was that it went to quadruple overtime. The Blazers took home the win and are leading the series 2 -1 .
Do I care? Not really.
I have never really been a basketball guy. I think it’s a boring sport. For me, the fun of the NBA is the twitter drama along with the ongoing Trade/Free Agency buzz.
The Blazers always make the playoffs – they rarely go beyond the second round. Like always – they don’t stand up to the elite NBA teams down the stretch.
So what was I doing while one of the biggest games to happen in my city in recent memory was taking place?
I was watching the San Francisco Giants come back from an 8-0 deficit to win 12 – 11 in extra innings. Yes, the San Francisco Giants scored 12 runs! Steven Vogt, fresh off a shoulder surgery and a spell in the minors hit a clutch 2-out homerun to tie the game in the 9th. His first game back in the majors.
Evan Longoria hit a go ahead homerun in the 11th. I actually put my fist in the air when his ball went out.
I was more excited to watch the (14 – 18) San Francisco Giants play a regular season game in Cincinnati – than I was to watch my hometown Portland Trailblazers play a 4OT game in the second round of the playoffs.
The Blazers play Game 4 against the Nuggets on Sunday night at 4:00PM. The Giants close out their series with the Reds at 1:10 PM. Game of Thrones starts at 6:00PM.
On a midsummer night in July of 2001, my little league dreams were shattered. Every all-star dreams of making the trek out to Williamsport and living out their fantasy of playing on ESPN against a team from Asia in the finals. However, a couple of future NBA all-stars discarded my aspirations that fateful night. I was on the team that lost in the district championship to the team Kevin Love and Klay Thompson played on. Looking back on it 18 years later, the question still lingers….who became the better baseball player in the end?
To keep this unbiased, as I am one of the dogs in this fight, I will make my arguments purely statistical in nature.
Baseball Statistical Breakdown
The best way to analyze athletes from a statistical perspective is to give a blind sample. I will provide season by season statistics to help evaluate each player, in the end I will reveal which stats belonged to who. All stats were from seasons in which players were 18+ years old.
Pretty easy decision here. Player 1 stands out the most. It appears that Player 1 may have been a bench player that season. While their at bats were limited, they had a pretty solid on base percentage. Not a bad batting average either. Like they say, if you succeed 3/10 times in baseball you are a hall of famer. How does 3.33/10 look Cooperstown?
Player 1 – 1 pt Player 2 – 0 pts Player 3 – 0 pts
Once again, there is a player that stands out. You would have liked to have seen more from Player 2 and Player 3 in the 2010 season. While the numbers dipped a bit for Player 1 this year, I have to say that it was nice to get, I mean, for them to get more playing time this season. Player 1 also dramatically increased their number of stolen bases this year.
Player 1 – 2 pts Player 2 – 0 pts Player 3 – 0 pts
I hate to sound like a broken record, but wow, more of the same. Player 1 doubled their amount of stolen bases. Player 1 was also able to get their homers totals back up this season. Player 2 and Player 3 struggled at the plate, not even producing a single at bat or plate appearance.
Player 1 – 3 pts Player 2 – 0 pts Player 3 – 0 pts
2012 – 2016
All three players took time off from baseball for five seasons. Maybe it was because they were struggling so mightily with the sport (Player 2 and Player 3)? Maybe they just wanted to be lazy because they graduated college and didn’t feel like being active any more?
2017 – The Return
Wow. Incredible. Five seasons without picking up a bat and Player 1 comes out of the gates with a .321 AVG and .446 OBP. This was probably a wood bat league, so it is incredible to see their numbers at this level after so much time off. While Player 2 and Player 3 matched Player 1 in HR and SB, Player 1 edged out both players in the all important triples category. Another point for Player 1.
Player 1 – 4 pts Player 2 – 0 pts Player 3 – 0 pts
You are only as good as your most recent game. In this case you are only as good as your most recent season. Player 1 was able to get their homerun totals back up to their regular number. While Player 2 and Player 3 remained consistent, it ended up not being enough in the end.
Player 1 – 5 pts Player 2 – 0 pts Player 3 – 0 pts
Blind Reveal – Who is the best baseball player?
Now you may be thinking, it is pretty obvious that one of the NBA champions is the best baseball player currently. Normally I would have to side with you there. However, as we have seen from our statistical breakdown, Player 1 is the runaway winner. The true identity of player one is….