MLB Trade Deadline: Pillaging The Weak; What Are The Best Assets On Last Place Teams?

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundTheMundo)

Every year at the MLB trade deadline there are buyers and sellers. The buyers’ first stops are the teams with no chance to contend–they are searching for prospects, and will often give up productive, expensive stars as the prospect grade rises. Let’s look at the best players on bad teams that could realistically move.

Boston Red Sox: 

Jon Lester, SP: Lester is 30 years old, lefty, and in the midst of his best season ever. He’s probably PO’d that the Sox lowballed him a few times, and he’s going to command a big contract. Studies have shown (e.g. Verlander, Justin) that huge deals for pitchers entering their 30s generally don’t work out well. That said, some teams may not care about re-signing him and could view him as the final piece of their World Series puzzle. He did help Boston win a title last year.

Koki Uehara, RP: Think I’m crazy? Uehara may have become a dominant closer but he’s 39 years old too. Closers are wasted on last-place teams and you know who else was a dominant closer for two years? Jim Johnson. He signed a $10M deal with Oakland this season and then got sent to the minors while three other RPs were better. Also, they could just pay 29-year-old Andrew Miller less and let him try.  Continue reading

NBA Free Agency Tracker: Re-Signings And Grades

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

This will be the Sports Deli’s official tracker for free agency. As players get signed, this will be updated. I’ll provide the contract, grade the player, the deal, and the fit. Without further ado…

THESE ARE THE RE-SIGNINGS

Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors, PG) 

Player: A- Lowry was pretty much the best point guard in the Eastern Conference for most of last season, and was the heart and soul of a surprising, young Toronto team who finished the season as a No. 3 seed. He put up career-highs in points per game (17.9) assists (7.4) and tied a career high in rebounds (4.7).

Contract (4 yrs, $48M): A Looking at some of the contracts for top PGs around the league, Lowry’s is perfectly fine. While he’s six years older than Kyrie Irving, the Cleveland youngster just signed for five years and $90 million. Lowry’s a downright bargain compared to that.

Roster Fit: A Basically, this re-signing is a huge home run for Toronto. Obviously Lowry was a tremendous fit, whose dogged nature was perfect on a young, impressionable club.  Continue reading

MLB All Star Game: Proper National League Picks, What The Lineup Should Be

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo

Every year players who don’t deserve All-Star nods get voted in by fans who aren’t paying attention, or pick players based on their name alone. Then people like me (not me specifically) get all hot and bothered over the snubs. Personally? It doesn’t really matter to me when legacy players get voted in. It’s supposed to be fun you know? But that doesn’t mean the snubbed shouldn’t be recognized. And not just the snubs either–this is a space to acknowledge who is doin’ the damn thing in 2014. My list of who should be All Star starters in the National League.  Continue reading

MLB All Star Game: Proper American League Picks, What The Lineup Should Be

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

Every year players who don’t deserve All-Star nods get voted in by fans who aren’t paying attention, or pick players based on their name alone. Then people like me (not me specifically) get all hot and bothered over the snubs. Personally? It doesn’t really matter to me when legacy players get voted in. It’s supposed to be fun you know? But that doesn’t mean the snubbed shouldn’t be recognized. And not just the snubs either–this is a space to acknowledge who is doin’ the damn thing in 2014. My list of who should be All Star starters in the American League.   Continue reading

NBA Draft Analysis: Big Winners, Losers and Questions

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

The 2014 NBA Draft has come and gone, and as predicted on The Deli Counter, some of the rich got richer. Some of the poor got richer as well, while others made head-scratching decisions galore. Basically…it was a draft. We’ll start with the bad news.

Losers

Oklahoma City Thunder: These playoffs exposed a few flaws the Thunder have. They’re clearly too reliant on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to do everything, and even when both play well it may not be enough. They sorely lacked a third shot-creator, and when two high-end options were staring them in the face at No. 21 (Rodney Hood, Kyle Anderson), they passed on them for an active big (Mitch McGary). Yeah he might be solid, but a lengthy shooter like Hood, or even lengthier combo guard like Anderson would’ve been great. Then at No. 29 they grabbed Josh Huestis, who sounds like Thabo Sefolosha 2.0. The Spurs then took Anderson at No. 30–a.k.a. all you need to know. HUGE misstep in OKC.

Sacramento Kings: At No. 8, why take Michigan’s Nik Stauskas? He’s the typical pick for a team that’s one shooter away. Sacto has Isaiah Thomas as a shoot-first PG, Ben McLemore at the 2-guard spot whom they drafted last year, and Rudy Gay at SF. Why not grab Noah Vonleh? Why not grab Elfrid Payton if you think someone’s throwing moolah at Thomas next offseason? Nah, shooter off the bench sounds good!

Atlanta Hawks: This is more a mehhh draft than a losing one. Adreian Payne‘s a nice player but I’m unsure why they need him with so many big men already blocking his path.

Orlando Magic: The reached hard for Aaron Gordon, when the obvious choices seemed to be Dante Exum and Marcus Smart at No. 4. Why deal away a top 5 SG in the NBA (Arron Afflalo), on a reasonable contract for Evan Fournier and a 2nd-rounder? It made little to no sense, and even though they did get Elfrid Payton, I think I’d rather have kept the bargain in Afflalo and supplemented him with Smart or Exum. Simply put, they didn’t get enough for Afflalo–it would’ve been smarter to wait out free agency, then deal him to whichever team missed out.

Winners

Cleveland Cavaliers: Hooray! They didn’t screw it up! Wiggins was the perfect fit, the highest-upside prospect, and they nailed it.

Utah Jazz: They snared Exum at No. 5, which is a little high for my taste but hey, they seem sold. Then they somehow got Rodney Hood at No. 23 (I had him pegged for No. 9) and all of a sudden they have a very promising backcourt. With Burke, Exum and Hood running around expect some exciting basketball in Utah.

Denver Nuggets: This year’s Dallas Mavericks. They went out and acquired Afflalo for dirt cheap, stole Gary Harris (No. 19) from the Bulls, and took a few other dudes who may or may not pan out. Their starting 5 is now playoff-worthy (Lawson, Afflalo, Gallinari, Faried, McGee) and there’s real depth to them. Awesome offseason so far.

Boston Celtics: In Marcus Smart (No. 6) they literally may have gotten the best player in this draft. Then they took James Young (No. 17) to space the floor and may already be a playoff team in the terrible East. Rajon Rondo and Smart might be the most fiercely competitive guard tandem in the league and figure to be a problem for years to come.

Phoenix Suns: I think for their plan to be truly successful, they’ll need to trade some pieces to land a Kevin Love-caliber player at some point, but T.J. Warren‘s a quality NBA player, Tyler Ennis is my pick to be the best PG in this draft, and they already had a roster stuffed to the gills with young, quality talent. Bledsoe and one or two other players may be on the move for K-Love.

???

Philadelphia 76ers: Must be nice to land Joel Embiid (No. 3), but while everyone loves their tank-tastic strategy to roster building, they’ve incurred A LOT of risk. Nerlens Noel is not a proven commodity by any means, who knows if Embiid can stay upright, and Dario Saric won’t be seen in the United States for two or three years. Sure if all of these players pans out it’s a dynamic core, but that’s a lot of eggs in the injury basket. We shall see Philly, we shall see.

Chicago Bulls: I don’t see how trading Gary Harris for Doug McDermott works out for them. McDermott’s future is a reserve sniper, while Harris has all the makings of an explosive starting 2-guard. Sure Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler are there right now, but Rose’s last healthy season was in 2011 and Tom Thibodeau could use some depth so he doesn’t run his starters ragged. McDermott can’t defend, and I think that’ll hurt his ability to crack Thibs’ rotation.

 

2014 NBA Pre-Draft Podcast: The Deli Counter

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

Coach Gottlin and I break down the 2014 draft class, talk Joel Embiid, plus LeBron, Carmelo and Kevin Love. It’s a big one!

NBA Draft 2014: Top Player/Team Combinations [VIDEO]

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo

For this article, I want to take a look at how some of the players in this absolutely loaded 2014 draft class would ideally fit in the NBA. Some may be realistic, some may be impossible, but these are just dream scenarios where good players can thrive.

Andrew Wiggins: Cleveland Cavaliers

You may ask why I would wish such horror upon a bright young talent like Wiggins, but I think this would be a match made in heaven. Wiggins is going to walk into the league a good defender, which Cleveland needs. They’re going to lose Luol Deng, so Wiggins can step right in. He has ridiculous offensive potential, but he’s still raw–luckily Kyrie Irving is there to carry the scoring load while he learns the league.

Joel Embiid getting hurt might’ve been a blessing for the Cavs. As good as Embiid might be, Wiggins has crazy potential as well and they need him way more than another big man.

Tyler Ennis: Orlando Magic 

I’m not saying they need to take him 4th overall, I’m saying they don’t need to take Dante Exum. Ennis showed a few hallmarks of NBA success in his sole season at Syracuse–5.5 assists per game, just 1.7 turnovers per game, 2.1 steals per game (admittedly 2-3 zone aided), and most importantly giant, bulging cojones at the ends of games. 

Victor Oladipo is a nice player, but he’s a 2-guard. Arron Afflalo‘s also a 2-guard, but he can play the 3. This is a potentially vicious backcourt, and it can free up Oladipo to do what he does best–attack the hoop.

Secondary fit: Oklahoma City Thunder

Rodney Hood: Charlotte Hornets

Hood was overshadowed at Duke by his more famous teammate Jabari Parker, but Hood is a sure bet to be a good NBA player. He can put the ball in the basket–he averaged 16.1 PPG last year for the Blue Devils. However, his 3-point shooting is what makes him such an ideal fit for Charlotte. He knocked down 42 percent of his 3-pointers last year on about five attempts per game. This is from a 6-foot-8 shooting guard. The Hornets have a big man (Al Jefferson), an attacking point guard (Kemba Walker) and a ballhawking defender on the wing (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist). They need a knockdown shooter, and that’s what Hood provides along with fantastic length on the perimeter.

Adreian Payne: Sacramento Kings

The Kings are better than you think. They’re young and have plenty of dudes who can light up the scoreboard. What they don’t have are dirty work guys capable of playing big minutes. Enter Adreian Payne out of Michigan State. Sure he was a star in the Big 10 but in the NBA I’d be surprised if he had the scoring chops to be an All-Star. What he can do is bully people in the paint with his strength defensively, and stretch teams out on offense with his deep range.

That’s right, the 6-foot-10, 245 lb. beast was a 42 percent shooter from 3-point land last season, and he launched 3.4 per game. He will clear out tons of space for DeMarcus Cousins down low and be the enforcer they never had.

 

Ruslan Provodnikov vs. Chris Algieri Podcast–The Deli Counter

Matty Borgata and Joe Labisi return to the Deli Counter to talk about a number of things, notably Provodnikov vs. Algieri, and what’s next for Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

NBA Finals Podcast With Coach Gottlin–Deli Counter

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

Coach Gottlin and I have caught our breath after the busy playoffs, and talk about the futures of the Pacers and Thunder, as well as break down the NBA Finals.

Chris Bosh 2014 NBA Playoffs: Miami Heat STILL Have a Big 3

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo

If you’re watching the NBA Playoffs chances are you noticed LeBron James scored 49 points in Game 4 of the East semis vs. the Brooklyn Nets. You know he did it with frightening efficiency and is scoring 30.1 points per game this postseason on 65 percent shooting on 2-pointers.

How about Dwyane Wade? He’s clearly no longer the “Flash” from 2006 that won the Heat their title (sorry Shaq) but he’s at 50.5 percent on his 2-pointers.

A major reason for their efficiency, and 7-1 playoff record to date, is Chris Bosh. CB is quietly reminding NBA observers that he very much belongs in the discussion as the NBA’s top power forward even though his numbers don’t jump off the page anymore like Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge.

Sure 14.4 ppg and six rebounds in the playoffs don’t blow anyone away, but you try compiling big nightly numbers with LeBron and Wade combining for 31 shots per game. Instead of moping, Bosh has always been a good soldier content to bail out the other two in times of need. Now, his main function has been to be a 3-point sniper.  Continue reading