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B&B Big Story Banter: NBA Draft Winners & Losers

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B&B Big Story Banter: NBA Draft Winners & Losers

Posted on 27 June 2014 by Brett Dickinson

2014 NBA DRAFT WINNERS: Barry Kamen

Los Angeles Lakers: The worst NBA team in Los Angeles stocked up on SEC talent, landing F Julius Randle with the 7th overall pick, and acquiring combo guard Jordan Clarkson from the Washington Wizards in round two. Prior to injury concerns, Randle was widely considered to be a top 5 talent. Randle is a polished lefty who has great passing abilities for his size, and should be on of the few players in the NBA Draft Lottery to make an immediate impact. In Clarkson, the Lakers get a productive player from Missouri that can guard both positions and could see significant minutes for the team if the Lakers decide to move forward without Steve Nash. The Lakers still have plenty of work to do, and the jury is still out on how Kobe Bryant will play in his return from injury, but acquiring a player of Randle’s caliber at number 7 is a great starting point for the offseason.

Jabari Parker Milwaukee BucksMilwaukee Bucks: The team with just 15 wins last year truly had nowhere to go but up. The Bucks used their four picks on NBA-ready players (trading their last selection, Lamar Patterson, to the Hawks), with the crown jewel being F Jabari Parker with the 2nd overall pick. I feel very strongly that Parker is the best player in this year’s class, and the opportunity for the Chicago native to become a star for a Midwest team that needs a star to build around. In the second round, the Bucks selected French wing player Damien Inglis, who is an above-average defender that will benefit from practicing against Parker. My favorite pick of the Bucks was was former LSU F Johnny O’Bryant. Another SEC talent, O’Bryant is an undersized power forward who is a great rebounder for his size. O’Bryant’s ceiling is probably Reggie Evans, but there’s a role for him behind Ersan Ilyasova and John Henson.

San Antonio Spurs: The rich just get richer. The Spurs traded both of their second round selections for cash, and used the final pick in the first round on UCLA G/F Kyle Anderson. Anderson is a carbon copy of Boris Diaw who fits the pass-first style of the Spurs. Anderson will likely come off of the bench to begin the season, but will certainly find a way to average 25 minutes per game.

 

2014 NBA DRAFT LOSERS: Brett Dickinson

Toronto Raptors: The most mind-boggling pick of the entire first round was Bruno Cabolco of Brazil; a small-forward that is three to four years away from even contributing.  Maybe he pans out and becomes the hidden gem in this draft, but why not move down and acquire extra assets before selecting him? It seems Toronto was stuck on their man and did not play into his value at all when considering their 20th pick.  Not to mention their best player, All-Star wing Demar Derozan, plays the same position! For a team that was making strides in the Eastern Conference playoffs, they did nothing to help develop their roster into a contender next season.

Tyler Ennis Phoenix SunsPhoenix Suns: For a team with three first round picks, none were used to address their biggest needs in the low post or at outside shooter.  Instead, they added two small forwards (T.J. Warren, Bogdan Bogdanovic) and a point guard (Tyler Ennis) with those selections, which are the deepest positions on their roster. Passing on players like forward Adriean Payne and shooting guard Gary Harris will hurt the playoff chances next year and their long-term future as well. As a team that made major improvements in 2013-14, they may be doomed to take a step back, unless they overpay to resign key free agents guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Channing Frye.

Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trailblazers, Golden State Warriors: These are the teams that did not have any selections or trade into the deepest draft of possibly the past decade. It is just terrible team planning for not throwing your hat into a draft that saw tons of first round talent slip into the second round.  Many of the players selected will make up the heart of the next generation for the NBA; and the Mavericks Trailblazers and Warriors didn’t select any of them.

 

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Bovada says Bulls favorite to land Towson Catholic alum Anthony

Posted on 27 June 2014 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).

 

Odds to Win 2014-15 Rookie of the Year

Jabari Parker                             5/1

Andrew Wiggins                        11/2

Julius Randle                            9/1

Nerlens Noel                             9/1

Dante Exum                              10/1

Doug McDermott                      10/1

Elfrid Payton                             10/1

Marcus Smart                            12/1

Nik Stauskas                             12/1

Shabazz Napier                         12/1

Noah Vonleh                             15/1

PJ Hairston                               15/1

Aaron Gordon                           20/1

Adreian Payne                           20/1

Gary Harris                                20/1

Jordan Adams                          25/1

Kyle Anderson                          25/1

TJ Warren                                 25/1

James Young                            33/1

Joel Embiid                              33/1

Mitch McGrary                           33/1

 

Player Props (Note: The rest of the rookie numbers will come out before the regular season starts)

Average Points per game in the 2014-2015 NBA Regular Season – Andrew Wiggins

Over/Under                   14.5

 

Average Points per game in the 2014-2015 NBA Regular Season – Jabari Parker

Over/Under                   15.5

 

Average Rebounds per game in the 2014-2015 NBA Regular Season – Jabari Parker

Over/Under                   7

 

Average Points per game in the 2014-2015 NBA Regular Season – Doug McDermott

Over/Under                   11.5

 

Games played in the 2014-2015 NBA Regular Season – Joel Embiid

Over/Under                   41.5

 

Where will Carmelo Anthony Play his first game of the 2014-2015 NBA Season?

Chicago Bulls                            1/1

New York Knicks                       2/1

Miami Heat                                5/1

Houston Rockets                      11/2

Dallas Mavericks                       10/1

Los Angeles Lakers                   15/1

Atlanta Hawks                           30/1

 

Where will Lebron James Play his first game of the 2014-2015 NBA Season?

Miami Heat                                1/6

Cleveland Cavaliers                   5/1

Los Angeles Clippers                10/1

Houston Rockets                      12/1

Los Angeles Lakers                   12/1

Chicago Bulls                            20/1

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Former Towson F Benimon to play with Heat, Nuggets in Summer League

Posted on 27 June 2014 by WNST Staff

TOWSON, Md. – Former Towson forward and two-time Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Player of the Year Jerrelle Benimon will begin his professional basketball career on the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets NBA Summer League teams.

Though not selected in the 2014 NBA Draft, Benimon will join the Heat, which will participate in the Summer League from July 5-11 in Orlando, and the Nuggets, which will compete in the Summer League from July 11-21 in Las Vegas.

“We are excited for Jerrelle as he gets ready to begin play in the NBA summer league for two very strong franchises,” said Tiger Head Coach Pat Skerry. “I know he will carry over his many talents as well as his strong work ethic and team-first attitude that he played with here at Towson as he continues to build his professional basketball resume.”

Benimon put together one of the most impressive two-year stints by a player in Towson basketball history. A two-time CAA Player of the Year and 2013 AP Honorable Mention All-American, Benimon ranked in the Top 5 nationally in both rebounding and double-doubles each year he was in a Tiger uniform.

A Mid-Major First Team All-American this past season, Benimon guided Towson to a Division I school-record 25 wins, including a pair of victories in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. The 6-8 forward led the Tigers in scoring (18.7 ppg), rebounding (11.2 rpg) and assists (3.6 apg) as a senior. His 404 total rebounds during the 2013-14 season set a new school record and his mark only trails NBA Hall of Famer and former Navy standout David Robinson for the most rebounds in a season in CAA history.

Benimon also impressed scouts after the season as he was named the Most Valuable Player of the Reese’s College All-Star Game at the Final Four and posted impressive numbers at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.

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Dorsey’s Dugout- Team USA Advances, NBA Draft, LeBron and More

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Dorsey’s Dugout- Team USA Advances, NBA Draft, LeBron and More

Posted on 27 June 2014 by Nick Dorsey

 

Team USA is back in the knockout round of the FIFA World Cup after losing 1-0 to the final team in their group Germany. The Americans now give themselves a shot to advance another round next Tuesday when they face off against Belgium. They are a team that the United States should beat, especially since they were able to do the near impossible.

Before the World Cup began, it was a consensual non-possibility that the Americans would survive the “group of death” that featured heavy weights such as Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Survival is the best way to define what the Americans did through group play, which resulted in a big win over Ghana and a draw to Portugal.

This is one of the biggest accomplishments that USA soccer has had in the World Cup in quite some time, but the ride is not over yet. The Americans have shown they can play with the upper class of the soccer world, so they have a chance to make a splash in the round of 16.

Tim Howard has allowed a goal each match, but he has made quality saves to always give team USA a chance to win. Howard has been solid, especially since the possession time has been favoring the opponent every match. There is hope on the defensive end of the field and things should swing upward on the offensive side.

Clint Dempsey is the best player for the American squad and he has been consistent throughout group play. He has scored two goals in three games and he continues to get his opportunities. Dempsey nearly scored an equalizer using his head in the closing moments against Germany. With the best player continuing to produce scoring chances, it should open up opportunities for other players.

Jozy Altidore has missed every game ever since his injury early on against Ghana. With extended time until their next game, there is a chance that Altidore can get his second start. If Altidore can crack the lineup, the offense gets an immediate impact.

If there is one player that needs to step up it is Michael Bradley. He has not played well at all throughout group play so he cannot play any worse. Luckily for Bradley, he has a chance at redemption now that team USA has moved into the knockout round. If Bradley can take his game to another level, the Americans will definitely advance.

Any way that the Belgium game goes next Tuesday, it is a huge accomplishment for Jurgen Klinsmann, coaching his first World Cup with the Americans, to get out of the group of death. This is not where the road ends for Team USA, as they will win Tuesday against Belgium 1-0. With that win they will most likely have to face Argentina.

NBA Draft

One of the most anticipated draft classes that has come in nearly a decade, the NBA draft featured a plethora of future potential stars. Once former Kansas standout Joel Embiid fractured his foot during a workout, there was uncertainty at the top of the draft board. Everyone waited to see what the Cleveland Cavaliers would do with the first selection in this year’s draft.

After selecting Anthony Bennett first overall in last year’s very weak draft, the Cavaliers selected Kansas Jayhawk freshman Andrew Wiggins. The Wiggins selection did not come as a big surprise because there is a lot of upside with the pick.

The former Jayhawk product has elite athleticism and is productive on both sides of the floor. Wiggins can match up with just about any player on the wing in the NBA defensively. His length gives him an advantage one on one and on the boards down low.

Jabari Parker is the safest player in this draft and is the most NBA ready right away. Parker is a much better offensive player than Wiggins is right now. Wiggins still needs to improve his jump shot and ability to finish consistently at the rim. The former Blue Devil has a better offensive game than Wiggins, but defensively is not as sharp. Parker was a great pick for the Bucks in their start to rebuild the franchise.

Joel Embiid most likely would have been the first selection if not for the foot fracture, but he found his way to becoming the third overall pick to the 76ers. It is a great decision for Philly to go with Embiid, who is clearly not in a hurry to win now, as they seem to be taking a patient approach. They still have Nerlens Noel and might be dealing away last year’s rookie of the year Michael Carter Williams.

If Philadelphia gives Embiid the proper time to recover, they could be getting one of the best players to come out in a very long time. Embiid has an extreme amount of potential and you cannot teach being over seven feet. Watching Embiid at Kansas, you could see drastic improvement from his first game to his last.

The other picks that stood out the most in the top ten and look to be great additions is what both Boston and Los Angeles did. Marcus Smart is arguably the best scorer in this years draft alongside Parker. Adding Smart to a backcourt with Rondo is potentially lethal. Rondo makes everyone around him better and if they can find a way to play together, it will make for one of the better young back courts in the league.

Julius Randle makes for a great addition to the Lakers starting five, as he will provide good offensive output. Any time you play with Kobe Bryant, your opportunities will open up. Randle has a good inside and outside game, so he is a versatile player on the floor. If the Lakers can add someone like Kevin Love via trade, Randle, Love and Bryant will make for a solid three-pair.

NHL Awards

The NHL awards took place Tuesday in Las Vegas and most of the top tier awards were predictable. Sidney Crosby was the most obvious choice for the Hart Trophy, which is the NHL’s most valuable player award. There wasn’t really another candidate that gave Crosby a run for his money for the Hart, especially since the awards in the NHL are based on the regular season. If it were based on post-season, Getzlaf would have gotten it since Crosby had a 13-game scoring drought in the playoffs dating back to last post-season.

The most puzzling award winner seemed to be Bob Murray, who was awarded general manager of the year. Not to take anything away from Murray, the Ducks had a fantastic season and ultimately lost in the second round to the eventual Stanley Cup champion, but the GM of the year should have gone where the Cup resides.

Dean Lombardi made the best move during the trade deadline and it paid off in the biggest way possible. Marian Gaborik was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets and was one of the main difference makers for the Kings in the top six. Anze Kopitar and Gaborik had instant chemistry, which propelled them through the Stanley Cup playoffs.

In the twenty-six playoff games played, Marian Gaborik led everyone in scoring with 14 goals. The former Blue Jacket also cashed in eight assists that brought his points total to 22 in the 26 games played. Without Gaborik and his timely goals, the Kings do not win the Stanley Cup.

Patrice Bergeron won the Selke tropy, which goes to the best defensive forward in the NHL. The Boston Bruin won the Selke in 2012 and once again this year. Bergeron is definitely one of the best defensive forwards, but Anze Kopitar should have brought the hardware home. Kopitar was the best defensive forward in the league and it was on display during the playoffs. He has not won the award yet in his career and deserved to after this seasons performance.

NBA Free Agency:

Carmelo Anthony

After opting out of his contract with the New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony heads to free agency with many options out there. There are all kinds of sources putting out possible destinations for Anthony, even the possibility of teaming up with his good friend LeBron James. All this sounds great and all, but there is one team that is a perfect match for Carmelo. There is no better place for Anthony to go than to the Windy city. The Chicago Bulls are a perfect destination for the former Knick for a number of reasons.

The Bulls are a defensive powerhouse, which could make up for the liability Anthony brings defensively. What the Bulls showed they did not have during their only playoff series against the Wizards is a closer.

The Bulls had difficulty scoring in the fourth quarter and never had a go to guy. With the uncertainty of Derrick Rose’s future, Anthony would provide the lineup with a consistent scoring threat.

Tom Thibodeau is one of the best coaches in the NBA and would find the best ways to utilize Anthony in the lineup. He could potentially make Anthony a better defender in the Bulls system. If Rose comes back healthy, Thibodeau could make the adjustments to fully maximize Anthony and Roses potential together.

LeBron James

It is time for the Decision 2.0 and there are plenty of rumors everywhere discussing the future of the 4-time MVP. Anywhere from Cleveland, LA or even Houston the possibilities seem endless. Everyone needs to relax because the King is not going anywhere. If you are LeBron James, why would you leave the Miami Heat?

From an organization standpoint, how much better does it get than Pat Riley? If James decides to give Miami his loyalty, Riley will find the pieces to put around James to bring the team back to championship caliber.

The Heat already drafted Shabazz Napier, the tremendous guard from the NCAA champion UCONN Huskies. In a few years everyone will be looking back at the 2014 draft and say why did we pass on Napier because he will be an impact starter from the beginning. If LeBron decides to stay, Napier will be one of the better rookies in the NBA.

Napier has the all around game as a point guard: he is a versatile scorer, underrated passer and is an absolute stud defensively. The most noteworthy ability seen in his time at UCONN is his killer instinct. Napier has the mindset and ability to take over a game and hit the big shot. With this much potential talent at point guard, LeBron will not leave Miami.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 24 June 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Legends Football League-Atlanta Steam @ Baltimore Charm (Saturday 8pm Baltimore Arena); WNBA: Connecticut Sun @ Washington Mystics (Friday 7pm Verizon Center), San Antonio Silver Stars @ Washington Mystics (Sunday 4pm Verizon Center); MLL: Chesapeake Bayhawks @ Florida Launch (Saturday 7pm from Boca Raton, FL live on YouTube); Boxing: Tori Nelson vs. Nicole Williams (Saturday 6pm Du Burns Arena); Auto Racing: NASCAR Quaker State 400 (Saturday 7:30pm from Sparta, KY live on TNT); Mixed Martial Arts: UFC Fight Night Nate Marquardt vs. James Te Huna (Saturday 5am from Auckland, New Zealand live on UFC Fight Pass), UFC Fight Night Cub Swanson vs. Jeremy Stephens (Saturday 10pm from San Antonio live on Fox Sports 1)

10. Great American Backyard Campout (Saturday 6pm Oregon Ridge); Transformers: Age of Extinction“, “Snowpiercer” and “They Came Together” out in theaters (Friday); 300: Rise of an Empire” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday)

None of this means much of anything for me-so instead I’ll post this new photo of Sofia Vergara that came out Monday. You can thank me later.

9. Thank You Festival feat. Tiesto (Thursday 4pm Merriweather Post Pavilion); Katy Perry (Tuesday & Wednesday 7pm Verizon Center); OneRepublic/The Script (Friday 7pm Jiffy Luve Live), Toby Keith (Saturday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live), Avicii (Sunday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live); Ben Folds (Wednesday 8:15pm Wolf Trap); Ballyhoo! (Friday 8pm Power Plant Live); Say Anything (Wednesday 7:30pm Rams Head Live), Drive-By Truckers (Thursday 8pm Rams Head Live); Diana Ross (Saturday 8pm Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric); Dr. John (Tuesday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Air Supply (Friday 8pm Rams Head Center Stage); Primus (Sunday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Lake Street Dive (Tuesday 7pm 9:30 Club); Jamestown Revival (Sunday 8:30pm Gypsy Sally’s); Rebirth Brass Band (Sunday 2pm DC Jazz Festival); Ed Sheeran “X”, Phish “Fuego” and Clutch “Earth Rocker Deluxe” available (Tuesday)

I’m including Katy Perry this week. Let’s just go ahead and move on so we don’t have to talk about it any further.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KSOMA3QBU0

Say hello to Kevin Van Valkenburg at the Truckers’ show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A8n4IVd308

Lake Street Dive is rather enjoyable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89Oc1UE7SS4

Someday I’ll be coming home…to see Jamestown Revival.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy9EzRP8tdc

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Brett & Barry Big Story Banter: NBA Lottery Mock Draft

Posted on 21 June 2014 by WNST Audio

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B&B Big Story Banter: NBA Lottery Mock Draft

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B&B Big Story Banter: NBA Lottery Mock Draft

Posted on 20 June 2014 by Brett Dickinson

As the NBA Draft is rapidly approaching (even though the season just ended last week), lots of news and rumors are swirling around the NBA.  Considered to be one of the deepest drafts in the past decade, there is still a lot to be answered on team needs and prospect fits.  The uncertainty on how things will shake out has grown with top overall player Kansas center Joel Embiid now needing foot surgery.  So here is our attempt to predict the picks in the NBA Lottery for 2014, as we alternate amongst the worst teams in the league.

 

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins (Kansas Forward)- BRETT

Though they are still trying to entice LeBron James to return home and play the same position as Wiggins, his upside is too great to pass up.  He would give them the athletic wing that can take over games alongside point guard Kyrie Irving. He already has the defensive skill set to cover the likes of LeBron, Carmelo and Paul George in the Eastern Conference.

 

2. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker (Duke Forward)- BARRY

Despite their bad luck in the NBA lottery, Milwaukee still lands the best all-around player in the draft. Parker’s body and offensive skillset are his most impressive assets, with his defensive abilities being a slight liability. Coupled with Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have an uber-talented nucleus that could compete in the Eastern conference in a couple of years.

3. Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid (Kansas Center)- BRETT

Embiid now has major injury concerns, trying to bounce back after a balky back and now a foot injury.  But he has the greatest potential of anyone in the draft. The Sixers have already proven they are willing to wait an entire season for the top prospect in the draft to be healthy (i.e. selecting and resting Nerlens Noel last season). The possibility of pairing those two big men with Rookie of the Year Michael Carter Williams makes them a scary team in the future.

 

4. Orlando Magic: Aaron Gordon (Arizona Forward)- BARRY

Gordon is a strong kid with outstanding athleticism in the mold of a Blake Griffin. Magic F Tobias Harris played well towards the end of the year, meaning Gordon could be a spark off the bench early in the season while he continues to add weight to play the power forward position. With two picks in the top 12, the Magic will look to establish themselves as immediate playoff contenders, and Gordon can be the spark they need.

5. Utah Jazz: Julius Randle (Kentucky Forward)- BRETT

Randle is a plug and play prospect that has the physical tools to dominate the low post.  He has good footwork and  by adding some bulk could be Karl Malone 2.0 for Utah fans. He may have a limited upside, but should become an All-Star playing the pick and roll with last year’s first round pick Trey Burke.

 

6. Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh (Indiana Forward)- BARRY

While his numbers at Indiana are nothing special, Vonleh’s frame and ability to be a stretch power forward intrigues a number of NBA teams. At the moment, the only other power forward on the Celtics is Brandon Bass, a stretch PF in his own right. A healthy Rajon Rondo could make all the difference for Vonleh and his development.

 

7. Los Angeles Lakers: Dante Exum (Australia Guard)- BRETT

The Lakers whole organization is still holding onto the hopes that Kobe Bryant can still carry them.  By selecting Exum, they get a distributor to run their offense, while having the ability to guard any of the wing positions. He has the potential to be a superstar, as he played well internationally against some top competition.

 

8. Sacramento Kings: Dario Saric (Croatia Forward)- BARRY

Finally…my first pick for a Western Conference team! As a 6’10” Croatian headed to Sacramento, the comparisons to Peja Stojakovic will be easy to make. However, Saric is a much better passer, and not much of an outside threat. Saric immediately becomes Sacramento’s starting power forward in a lineup that features score-first PG Isaiah Thomas and  the talented DeMarcus Cousins. Saric’s statistics won’t impress early, but they won’t have to.

9. Charlotte Bobcats: Doug McDermott (Creighton Forward)- BRETT

Michael Jordan has slowly been adding nice pieces to the Bobcats, getting them into the playoffs in 2014.  McDermott is a great shooter that could serve a huge role for a team looking for more scorers. McDermott is also a coaches son and brings in leadership qualities to help a young core grow into contenders.

 

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Nik Stauskas (Michigan Guard)- BARRY

As they look to the future with the Embiid pick to start, they select someone that can fill a need and help right away here. The backcourt of reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams and Stauskas, coupled with the debut of Nerlens Noel, makes Philadelphia one of the most intriguing teams in the NBA. Stauskas will be asked to do what he did at Michigan: bury three pointers and turn the team into a winner.

 

11. Denver Nuggetts: Rodney Hood (Duke Guard)- BRETT

The Nuggetts need a dynamic wing to play alongside Ty Lawson and some of their low post players. Hood has good length and the ability to score from anywhere on the court. Playing in the uptempo offense will help create lanes and open spots at the three point line for Hood.

 

12. Orlando Magic: Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State Guard)- BARRY

In what could be the steal of the draft, the Magic land a dynamic talent with the perfect situation. After drafting Gordon in the top 5, Orlando lands another top 5 talent in this slot. While MCW-Stauskas in Philadelphia sounds like a fun young backcourt, the idea of Smart and Oladipo together sounds dynamic. Add in the mentorship from PG Jameer Nelson, and Smart has no excuse to fail.

 

13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Zach LaVine (UCLA Guard)- BRETT

LaVine has been one of biggest risers during the draft process, displaying great athleticism.  Minnesota needs to find playmakers, especially if Kevin Love is traded and LaVine has the ability to create from either guard position. As a team looking for an identity, the need to look for as much potential as possible.

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Dorsey’s Dugout- The First Edition

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Dorsey’s Dugout- The First Edition

Posted on 20 June 2014 by Nick Dorsey

 

This is the very first edition of my new weekly column that tackles all sorts of topics in the sports world today. I have opinions on all different kinds of events or sports that are going, so the new weekly column called “Dorsey’s Dugout” is where you can find my latest take on any hot topic.

There has been so much going on lately, including two of the big four sports seasons concluded with another major sporting event that comes around once every four years. So much to write about so now let the first edition of the new column kick off starting with the NBA Finals reflection.

NBA Finals

The Spurs-Heat rematch was what everyone wanted to see after the Heat miraculously came back in game six and won the series in seven games last season. It was their second championship in a row and Miami looked like the favorite to repeat. Despite being the “2-seed” in the East, everyone knew who the beast from the East truly was and were ready to see if they could three-peat against the team with the top record in the NBA during the regular season.

Last year’s finals was one to never forget with so much going on, including Danny Green’s historic three point shooting performance throughout the series and Ray Allen’s season saving three pointer from the corner. There was a bad taste that resonated with the Spurs after the loss and Tim Duncan made no secret of that before the rematch began.

Once the first two games in San Antonio came to a close with the series tied at one heading to Miami for another two games, I thought the Heat were in full control and ready to run away with the third trophy in four years. Lesson learned here, never underestimate the power of revenge.

San Antonio looked like a different team when they hit the floor in south beach. Greg Popovich outcoached Erik Spoelstra for the remaining duration of the series and fundamental basketball was at its absolute peak of excellence.

Throughout the regular season, many fans of the NBA always made the comment about how boring the Spurs were to watch. They do not have an explosive player like a LeBron James and their style of play is not all up and down the floor with flash, but this series was a display of excellent basketball all around. It was not just one player trying to get it done; it was a team effort all around.

If I were a basketball coach trying to teach the game, I would make my team watch the Spurs play from games three through five. The way the ball was moved around unselfishly and how every teammate was willing to make that extra pass, it may have been boring for some who watch the NBA, but I found it to be a beautiful display of basketball.

The Finals were won due to basketball being played fundamentally spectacular led by the winningest trio in NBA postseason history. Duncan now has his fifth ring and solidified his place in basketball history once again. In my eyes, he is the greatest power forward of all time.

How sweet was this victory for Manu Ginobli? Manu was one of the scapegoats in last year’s Finals due to his poor play, but  this year was a different story. Manu was just being Manu scoring over double-digit points in four of the five games.

There are plenty of support players that surround the long-tenured trio such as Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter and Patty Mills. There is not a player outside of that trio that had more of an impact on the series than Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

It was remarkable what the 22 year old out of San Diego State accomplished this post-season. For Leonard to be that young and not full of experience in the NBA with the responsibility of guarding LeBron James one on one, it was astonishing.

When the series was tied at one, coach Popovich made it known they needed more from Leonard to take the next step in the series. With a combined 18 points in the first two games, Kawhi answered his coach’s request with three straight 20+ point performances, including a 29 point-performance in game three. Once Leonard took his game to the next level, the Heat were unable to catch up.

What came as the biggest surprise from this series besides the rise of Kawhi Leonard was how lopsided the Finals were. After a tremendous finish last season, this year could not have been more of a blowout unless Miami never captured game two.

No one could have seen a 4-1 Spurs win before the Finals began, it would have almost been deemed impossible. What we learned most from this series going forward is “teams” win championships and the Heat were not a good enough team throughout the lineup.

The Spurs starters were clicking on all cylinders and the bench came out providing a spark. On the other side of the floor, some of the Heat starters were inconsistent and struggling.

So now the off-season begins in the NBA and there are many storylines that will unfold within the next few months. Will the Spurs veterans call it a career riding out on top of the world or come back for more? Will LeBron James opt out and force us to watch another national televised “Decision” to see where he ends up? My thoughts on the James off-season will be coming later in another column. For now, the Spurs are the champions of the NBA. They are the best overall team in every possible aspect and deserved it this season.

Stanley Cup Playoffs

The NBA Finals was not the only championship series that took place during the beginning portion of the summer time. The Stanley Cup was the other major series that went on during the nights the NBA had off.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are the cream of the crop when it comes to post-season play in professional sports. There is absolutely no other major sport that can compare to what playoff hockey provides throughout its entirety.

The best way to sum up the Stanley Cup Playoffs is the following phrase that I continuously say to those who aren’t the biggest of hockey fans. It is the best playoffs in sports, playing for the best trophy in sports and commentated by the best in all of sports.

It takes so much to win the Stanley Cup and the trophy itself is a trophy unlike any other in sports. Lord Stanley continues to grow in size each season as more teams and players names are inscribed onto the trophy after each season. As for the final part of the phrase in regards to the commentating, there is nothing better in viewing sports than listening to Mike “Doc” Emrick commentate a hockey game.

Doc Emrick is a legend in the commentating world and listening to him work throughout the playoffs is more than a gift. The enthusiasm and excitement he brings to the network every night is truly spectacular. When one team in a game is down one goal with an empty net and down to its last breath, Doc Emrick calling the last two minutes or so of a game sounds similar to a horse race. It is absolutely gripping and consistently has the fans on the edge of their seats in their living rooms.

Now for the Stanley Cup playoffs that took place just recently, the team that was handed Lord Stanley on their home ice, goes down in the history books. The 2014 Los Angeles Kings are a historic hockey team that displayed resiliency that I have never seen out of a team in maybe all of sports in my short lifetime.

The Kings were 4-1 losers to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals last season, so they had aspirations of getting back to that position to avenge their loss. The Kings hit a brick wall during the first round against one of their fiercest rivals.

Los Angeles was dead in the water round one to the San Jose Sharks, as they were down three games to none. After a game three loss in overtime on their home ice, the Kings were on the verge of getting swept. It was a devastating loss and their leader in goal Jonathan Quick had given up 17 goals in three games.

A moment that will forever stand out in the Kings history is Quick acknowledging his teammates on the ice telling them he will play better and everything will be ok. He was the last man off the ice for the Kings, which is unusual for a goaltender.

After giving up 17 goals in his first three games, Quick only gave up five in the next four, which gave the Kings a golden chance to recapture the series. Jonathan Quick looked like the same goaltender that won the Conn Smythe in 2012.

The rest of the team did its part and came back from a three-game deficit to win the series in game seven. The Kings became only the fourth team in the history of hockey to come back from a 3-0 deficit and win a series. This is just the first bit of history that the Kings made throughout the playoffs.

After a first series that had the Kings fans sitting uncomfortably, the second series was another roller-coaster ride. Round two Los Angeles faced their other California rival, Anaheim. It was the first time that these two had ever met in the playoffs ever.

The Kings won the first two games on the road, but then allowed the Ducks to steal both games at home. The series was at 2 all when they went back to Anaheim for game five. The Ducks won game five and the Kings went back home for game six on the verge of elimination.

Los Angeles was once again in a situation with their backs against the wall, but they did not let the pressure get to them. They went on to win the next two games to advance to the Western Conference finals. After just the first two series, the Kings were 6-0 when facing elimination. A team that kept its composure no matter the circumstance, had its chance at sweet revenge the next round against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks won Lord Stanley the season before and were coming into the Western conference finals with a bit more rest than the Kings. Los Angeles had their Cup hopes crushed by Chicago last season, so they wanted to return the favor.

A team that had been battle tested and always climbing their way back into series’ consistently, the Kings fought their way for a 3-1 lead over Chicago. The Kings had always had their backs against the wall, but now were in full control. They had their chances to move on, but were unable to capitalize on the golden opportunity.

Chicago had tied up the series at three a piece and had a chance to move on to the finals for a second straight season. LA was once again in a familiar situation, on the brink of elimination despite the 3-1 lead they had. Game seven of these conference finals was as good as it gets in hockey.

LA went into the third period down one goal and looked as if Chicago was on their way to another Finals appearance. With just over seven minutes left in the third frame, Marian Gaborik scored on a rebound to even the game up at four. With the game tied at four and all sixty minutes had passed, an overtime period was needed to conclude the western conference finals.

The last time a conference final needed an overtime period to decide a game seven was twenty years ago when the Rangers eliminated the New Jersey Devils. It did not take long for the series to end as Alec Martinez threw a puck to the net with traffic in front. The puck went over and in behind Corey Crawford to send the Kings to the Stanley Cup.

The Stanley Cup Finals had a similar 4-1 series victory that the NBA Finals presented us with, but the Cup finals were not lopsided like the NBA Finals was. Three out of the five games featured overtime periods, two of which were double overtimes. The Stanley cup playoffs were hard fought, but the team that deserved it the most ended up being the last team standing on the ice.

Alec Martinez scored the game winning goal that sent the Kings to the Stanley Cup and it was Martinez who ended the long journey at home in double overtime. Game five was as intense of a hockey game as there could have been with amazing performances between the pipes from both Lundqvist and Quick.

The Los Angeles Kings won on home ice and the ride was one of the most historic runs I have ever witnessed in sports. Some of the marks that the Kings made in the history book are the following: Fourth team to ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series, first team to ever win three game sevens on the road on the way to a Stanley Cup, their 26th game played in one post-season ties for the most ever and their 64 playoff games played in last three seasons is an NHL record.

Watching the Kings for the duration of this past playoff run was a historic portrayal of resiliency. A team that consistently had their back against the wall with deficits in series leads and in games never quit and overcame those deficits.

Two Stanley Cup titles in the past three years begins to raise the constant discussions on whether they are on the verge of being an NHL dynasty. They are close to doing so, but will need to capture another title. For this team, winning another Cup is not too far fetched.

They have the best goalie in the world with Jonathan Quick, the best defenseman in Drew Doughty and they are deep within the corps of their forwards. The acquisition of Marian Gaborik sparked the Kings run this post-season, as he led everyone in the playoffs in goals. What an acquisition that was at the deadline.

The resiliency that was on display for the roller-coaster ride that was the Los Angeles Kings proves that there is nothing in the same league as playoff hockey. It is the hardest fought journey for the most storied trophy in sports with the top guy in the business calling the dramatic finish. I cannot wait until hockey is back for the next season. This past year was an amazing portrayal of how dramatic the Stanley Cup playoffs are year in and year out.

The Rest of the Sports World

With the NBA and NHL seasons wrapped up, there is still plenty going on in sports. The World Cup is in full blast, the NFL mini camps are about finished and the off-seasons are ahead for the other major sports. Here are some of the topics I would like to cover and my thoughts on each.

USA over Ghana

What a game it was this past Monday when the American squad finally captured three points over the arch rival Ghana. Clint Dempsey is the face of USA soccer now that Donovan was not brought back on the team and Dempsey got the nation going from the get go.

Dempsey scored just over thirty seconds into the match giving USA the one goal lead. It was an inbounds play from the sidelines and could it have been a more pretty display of futbol?

Great inbound pass, touch pass to Dempsey and an incredible individual effort the finish the play. It got the nation rocking from the start and the rest of the game had the Americans on the edge of their seat.

Ghana tied the game up near the matches end, but that was long overdue. They had dominated the game as USA just sat back and played a defensive style of game. Klinsmann’s crew failed to establish possession in the offensive side of the field consistently throughout the match and it led to a plethora of chances for Ghana.

I wrote a major piece above talking about resiliency in regards to the Kings, but the Americans had their own version of it. After giving up a goal that you could feel the devastation countrywide, USA responded with a converted corner to win the match.

Coach Klinsmann got a major win to start off the World Cup for team USA and it is a step in the right direction if they hope to make it out of the group of death. I had been on the record for bashing Klinsmann due to some off the wall comments he has made leading up to the games in Brazil, but he did an excellent job game one.

Team USA’s next match is this Sunday against Portugal. Portugal is desperate as they lost in their first game to Germany, so the Americans are going to need to bring their best effort Sunday. If they play the same way they did against Ghana, they will be wiped off the field.

NBA Draft Chatter

Joel Embiid, arguably the top talent in the NBA Draft, suffered a foot fracture and will be undergoing surgery in the near future. This injury puts the draft in a frenzy now just six days away from the night the first card is drawn.

Before the foot injury, I would say that Embiid is the best player in this draft. His potential is through the roof, especially if you watched him play at Kansas. From his first game as a Jayhawk to his last, his improvement on the floor is a worlds of difference.

He has so much room to grow as a player still, it is potentially scary how great he could be. His back injury was a concern and now the concerns grow with the foot fracture.

If I am a GM in the top five, I cannot risk taking a chance on Embiid despite the potential. His injury problems scare me away and we have seen this same theme so many times in the draft. As a Jayhawk fan, I have strong opinions on the two stars that are in this draft.

Andrew Wiggins is perceived as the man to get this year, but I am not fully on his bandwagon. Its not because he did not live up to the hype he was given during the pre-season because that was astronomical. It is because what I saw on the hardwood floor.

Wiggins has serious potential just like Embiid in some ways because Wiggin’s athleticism is top tier. When it comes to actual basketball on the floor, I saw flaws on a consistent basis.

The way teams found a way to slow down Wiggins during the season was going to a zone defense. It prevented him from using his stellar athleticism to attack the paint and get to the rim. It forced him into becoming a jump shooter and a three-point shooter. Wiggins struggled when he was forced to take jump shots because he could never get into rhythm.

Even when Wiggins got to the rim, he struggled to finish good opportunities. Where Andrew succeeded throughout his freshman year was on the defensive end. He is a good defender one on one and is a great rebounder. He often used his rebounding ability to finish second chance opportunities in the paint.

Wiggins is still extremely young and has plenty of time to grow, but I do not take him at one. I would take Parker with the first selection. The perfect situation in my eyes for Wiggins is at the third overall selection with the Sixers.

This concludes my first edition of Dorsey’s Dugout. It is my new weekly column that brings you into my corner and allows me to give out all my opinions on anything going on in sports. There is still plenty to cover going forward and will be back next week with still more to write about. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back next week.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 09 June 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Charm City Roller Girls (Saturday 6:30pm Gardens Ice House); WNBA: Phoenix Mercury @ Washington Mystics (Tuesday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Chicago Sky @ Washington Mystics (Friday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Atlanta Dream @ Washington Mystics (Sunday 4pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet); MLL: Boston Cannons @ Chesapeake Bayhawks (Saturday 7:30pm from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium live on CBS Sports Network); Boxing: Ruslan Provodnikov vs. Chris Algieri (Saturday 10pm from Brooklyn live on HBO)

10. Frank Caliendo (Friday & Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Pablo Francisco (Thursday-Saturday Magooby’s); Nick Offerman (Friday 8pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); Honfest (Saturday & Sunday Hampden); Ray’s Summer Days (Friday & Saturday various locations); 22 Jump Street” and “How To Train Your Dragon 2” out in theaters (Friday); Non-Stop” and “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday)

Caliendo will never stop being funny. Ever.

You know what? Just some more of this.

9. Rebelution (Sunday 6:30pm Pier Six Pavilion); Brad Paisley (Thursday 5pm Merriweather Post Pavilion), Willie Nelson/Alison Krauss & Union Station (Saturday 5pm Merriweather Post Pavilion); Tim McGraw (Saturday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live); Ringo Starr (Thursday 8pm Wolf Trap); Damon Albarn (Tuesday 8pm Rams Head Live); Playing For Change (Wednesday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Rick Springfield (Thursday 6:30pm & 9:30pm Rams Head Center Stage); Lalah Hathaway/Ruben Studdard (Thursday 8pm Howard Theatre); MS MR (Tuesday 7pm 9:30 Club), Kelis (Sunday 7pm 9:30 Club); Bacon Brothers (Saturday-Monday 7:30pm Birchmere); Buddy Guy (Tuesday 7pm State Theatre), Leon Russell (Thursday 8:30pm State Theatre); Morrissey (Tuesday 8pm Meyerhoff Symphony Hall); Jeff Tweedy (Tuesday 6:30pm Lincoln Theatre); John Prine (Friday 8pm Strathmore); O.A.R. “The Rockville EP”, Jack White “Lazaretto” and Chrissie Hynde “Stockholm” available (Tuesday)

I would pay the same price of admission to see Willie Nelson OR Alison Krauss & Union Station.

This is perhaps the most significant song/video I’ve EVER HEARD/SEEN.

John Prine is better at making songs than Manny Machado is at throwing baseball bats.

Purchase O.A.R.’s new record with your cash or I.WILL.FIND.YOU.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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This week’s #WNSTSweet16 comes faster than a speeding “Bullet”

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This week’s #WNSTSweet16 comes faster than a speeding “Bullet”

Posted on 08 June 2014 by Glenn Clark

We certainly got some people fired up last week.

We’re 22 weeks into our #WNSTSweet16 celebration, and we’re a week removed from perhaps the most controversial list of the year. It’s going to be a hard act to follow. The rest of our staff is grateful Nestor Aparicio handled last week’s prep list so that we could avoid the heat-and the difficulty.

If you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about (I mean…there’s always one), 2014 marks our 16th year of serving the Baltimore community as sports media leader here at WNST.net. We’re celebrating by taking a different “water cooler” topic every week and dissecting it before declaring an “official” list every Tuesday.

We then continue the celebration by yelling, screaming, name calling and then ultimately agreeing to hug it out. Well, most of us do anyway. Luke never really gets involved with the name-calling. Actually one time he did. He said “I have to be honest, I respectfully disagree” and then apologized for such an outburst.

If you’ve missed any of our #WNSTSweet16 lists thus far this year (including Nestor’s hotly debated list from a week ago), here’s your chance to catch up. (The #WNSTSweet16 is brought to you by Jerry’s Automotive!)

Week 22: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 all-time greatest local high athletes
Week 21: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 greatest local lacrosse players of all time
Week 20: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 most unsung Orioles
Week 19: Gary Quill-Sweet 16 all-time Maryland horse racing moments
Week 18: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 most important picks in Ravens draft history
Week 17: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 worst draft picks in Baltimore Ravens history
Week 16: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 greatest players in Washington Capitals history
Week 15: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 games we’ve been treated to
Week 14: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 Masters moments of the last 30 years
Week 13: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 greatest pro wrestling moments in Baltimore history
Week 12: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports goofballs/personalities
Week 11: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 local sports saints-athletes who gave back
Week 10: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 events a Baltimore sports fan must attend
Week 9: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 greatest Baltimore college basketball players
Week 8: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 Orioles who didn’t live up to the hype
Week 7: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 most underappreciated Maryland basketball players
Week 6: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local sports “Heartbreakers”
Week 5: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local Olympic sport athletes
Week 4: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local athletes who deserved to win a championship but didn’t
Week 3: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 local sports people who “had a dream”
Week 2: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports playoff moments
Week 1: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 “debuts” in local sports history

And in Week 23, we’ve got the NBA on our mind here at WNST.

I’m in the cockpit for this week’s #WNSTSweet16 for the second time in three weeks. We’re in the throws of the NBA Finals, with the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat offering a couple of classics to start the series.

With that in mind, we thought this week would be appropriate to look back on the area’s own professional basketball history. Our topic this week is the “Sweet 16 best ever Baltimore/Washington Bullets/Wizards”.

Sure, that sounds like a disjointed topic title, but we have to imagine you understand why. The pro franchise that currently plays down in DC’s Chinatown neighborhood once called Charm City home-beginning their existence playing games at the historic Baltimore Arena. We wanted to recognize Baltimore’s pro history (albeit brief) and then also recognize the players who played for the franchise in Washington since there are a number of Wizards fans in our area as well.

This means that not only are Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and Wes Unseld eligible for our list, but so are John Wall and Bradley Beal-and everyone in between.

I’m struggling already with the list. There are a couple of Hall of Famers that immediately go to the top of the list-but how does the list shake out after that? There were a number of players during the Bullets/Wizards’ lean years in the District that were good for a short time, but not for an extended period of time. Where does Gilbert Arenas fit into this picture?

These aren’t easy determinations to make.

I want your suggestions. You can leave them here in the comments on this blog post or email me (glenn@wnst.net). We will be discussing the list throughout the day Monday on AM1570 WNST.net. We’d love to have you Tweet with us or discuss the topic via Facebook by using the hashtag #WNSTSweet16.

On Tuesday morning, I will unveil the “official” list here at WNST.net and then discuss it with Drew and Luke on “The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” at 8am. I will then re-visit the list at 4pm Tuesday with Nestor on “The Happy Hours”.

I need to hear from old Baltimore Bullets fans and (frankly) younger Washington Wizards fans alike for this one. Who are the greatest players in franchise history? Make your voice heard!

-G

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