MLB Player Props: Home Run Leader Betting Predictions


There are few things that excite baseball fans quite like the crack of the bat that immediately let's you know that the player in the box just destroyed a pitch that most likely is destined to break through someone's windshield in the Fenway parking lot.

Over the past few seasons, we've seen players come out of no where to lead the league in home runs. A few seasons ago, a little known Jose Bautista made one of the most unpredictable jumps into the elite power hitter plateau in major league baseball history.

Unfortunately for me, I ended up wasting a few hundred dollars trying to become the man above before I realized that I was significantly less coordinated, not a baseball player and about as likely to become one as Kobe Bryant transforming into an unselfish pass first point guard or a Google search of Farrah Abraham turning up something besides video stills and parenting advice.

Similarly, last season saw Chris Davis, a player who had eclipsed 30 home runs in 2012 but one that had a notorious reputation of struggling with off-speed pitching at the major league level explode for 53 long balls.

Of all the awards that usually lead to big money for someone, none are more profitable than the MLB long ball leader should you pick the right horse to ride. At the end of the day, a short stint on the DL or a cold week or two at the plate usually separate the winners from the rest of the field.

Simply, you need a lot of luck in combination with the immense talent the sluggers of the league possess in order to lead the league at the sport's premier statistic.

At the end of the day, the usual suspects, such as Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis and Giancarlos Stanton are obvious choices at reduced values but for the sake of actually providing something not known to the reader, I'm going to give you my three sleeper picks that I believe will all end up in the top five to ten in the category if not win it all.

Bryce Harper (40/1, Williamhill)

If you've been keeping tabs on the third year phenom, you have probably heard him described as a tad bigger than he's been in his career. More likely, however, is that you've heard the name Harper and the saying "big as a house" thrown into the same sentence. After an off-season dedicated to gaining strength to his already impressive physique, something that has him tipping the scales at around 230 pounds, it's safe to say that the quick bat will get a big boost of sheer power, something that Harper didn't lack in the least bit to begin with.

Personally, if he stays healthy, I see Harper not only hitting the most home runs in the league but also taking home the NL MVP award in the process as the Washington Nationals ride him, Ryan Zimmerman and their impressive starting rotation to an NL East crown. 

Prince Fielder (33/1, Williamhill)

Let's take Prince Fielder, a year removed from an off-season marred by a nasty divorce and all sorts of distractions, and move him from one of the worst hitter parks in the entire league and into the Ballpark in Arlington, arguably the friendliest hitter's park in the entire league, especially for left handed power bats. Now, let's slot that low strikeout-rate power hitter into the number three slot in the lineup and surround him with Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios as protection.

More pitches to hit, a notorious jet stream in right field in his home tadium and a sorter way to hit them in order for them to get out.

That sounds like a formula for forty to fifty home rums if ever I've heard one.

Jose Bautista (16/1, Bodog)

He's done it before and is still one of the premier power hitters in the game. With Edwin Encarnacion, one of the best power hitting first baseman, slotted behind him as protection along with a lineup containing the likes of Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Brett Lawrie (about to explode in 2014), Colby Rasmus and Adam Lind, pitchers will have no choice but to pitch to Bautista.

Add that to the fact that a large portion of games will be played at Fenway, Rogers Centre and Yankee Stadium and Camden Yards, all great hitter parks, and you can rest assured that if he remains healthy, he will be right there at season's end.

NBA Fiction: The Day That the Ball Stood Still, An NBA Ball Hog Story



Whether one is a fan, media member or intense NBA 2K gamer, the 1992 USA Dream Team created an obsession with creating just such a team on an NBA roster. Some, like former Phoenix Suns general manager Bryan Colangelo, felt that the way to go was to construct a team that ran a nightly track meet. Others, like Pat Riley, sought to convince players to stray away from the alpha dog mentality made famous by Michael Jordan and instead chase the title as a collusion of talents that in the past would try to step over one another for that allusive championship ring. Needless to say, some of these strategies worked better than others but one man changed the entire landscape of the term dream team, a man known all too well within NBA circles. It is the story of what happens when strategy goes very, very wrong and one that while not true,  could very well become the airline passenger safety manual of how not to run an NBA organization. This is the story of the summer that David Kahn took reigns of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kahn has never been the type of executive that has shied away from making the tough calls as an executive. As we saw his desire to floor the first starting unit constructed entirely out of point guards, Kahn has always thought outside of the box. You see, although Kahn was a fan of the seven-seconds-or-less-system that revolutionized the offensive tempo of the NBA and envied the success that Riley achieved by constructing a Miami Heat roster of unselfish stars, he believed that returning the Lakers into title contention needed a different touch. Almost overnight, the talk among fans of the game turned to the latest gift that Kahn bestowed onto the NBA, the two-passes-or-less offense.

With the same fire that burned deep in his eyes the day that Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn and Ty Lawson were all selected by him in the same draft, Kahn got to work on putting together a roster that would excel within his masterpiece. After the dust settled from the wave of strings pulled, backs scratched and draft picks shipped off, a starting five for the ages through the eyes of the controversial general manager had been established.

 

In Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, Rudy Gay, Carmelo Anthony and Michael Beasley, the belief was a simple one: defense and size simply did not win titles in the modern era while the idea of ball movement was something that needed to be minimized or even abolished all together in order to keep defenses off balance. Furthermore, the notion of five players that looking for their own before that of others seemed to comfort Kahn because he believed that rebounding, something he held as vital to success, would get a kick start with just such a group of personalities. Simply put, with each shot taken, five guys would be crashing the boards because the one that grabbed that ball would probably be the one that dribbled and shot it over the course of the following possession.

In the case of the two-passes-or-less Lakers assembled by Kahn, it took a mere two preseason games to see what would happen if the NBA`s greatest collection of ball hogs were stuck under one roof. With every out of control drive by Westbrook, unnecessary fading jump shot by Gay, forced three pointer by Bryant, and contested step back by Anthony, the tension and lack of cohesion on the floor grew more evident. After escaping with a narrow victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, a game that many marked as the biggest fluke in NBA history as Bismack Biyombo went off for 45 points against a suspect interior defense, the following game against the Toronto Raptors served as the nail in the coffin for the system that seemed destined for failure.

Entering opening shoot around, the Lakers made their way onto the court with renewed optimism that the five key cogs in the system could make it work. Sadly, the shot heard around the world, a simple corner three pointer during that warm-up by Gay, sealed their fate. The ball, after dropping seamlessly through the basket with the perfection that can be expected from Gay on about a third of his in-game attempts, was picked up by Westbrook. After a successful long range attempt of his own with that very same basketball amid cries of `respect` from Gay, the loose ball made its way squarely between the likes of Anthony and Bryant. The scene that ensued, as described by Beasley and the baffled ball crew who sat two feet away from two full racks of basketballs, is to go down as one of the dark marks in league history.

Witnesses to the scene described the argument between Bryant and Anthony as one that they could not quite understand, stating that it seemed that both demanded the ball in mental preparation of a final in-game shot that neither had the chance to take in the closing seconds of the previous contest. After deciding on a one-on-one game to resolve the issue, their diplomatic solution was interrupted as Westbrook and Gay entered the fray. Demanding for the ball due to a breach of the unspoken rules of basketball that would take place if the ball was not handed over, the argument became heated. After half an hour of conflict, tempers looked to have cooled as the group collectively decided that the best course of action was to simply leave the ball at center court and proceed with the shoot around with the remaining balls sitting untouched at the baseline. As the four superstars slowly made their way to the baseline, betrayal reared its ugly head as the group of players, almost in unison, turned and sprinted toward the idle basketball. With chants of "give him the chair" echoing throughout the now packed Air Canada Centre, the four players wrestled and fought for that lone basketball until security finally made its way to the floor to break up the melee.

In the following weeks, all save for Bryant were scattered throughout the league in a series of trades while Kahn was relieved of his active duties as general manager of the organization. Once believed to be the future of the league, the team assembled to become legend within the sport`s history instead became one that would forever remain its greatest myth, the one forever known in the books as "David Kahndalf and the `you-shall-not-pass Lakers."

 

NFL Futures Betting: New Orleans Saints are the Post-Christmas Present Everyone Can Enjoy


Once in a while, Vegas baffles me with some of the odds they release.

I'm not even talking grade twelve calculus baffling, more like Tila-Tequila-just-said-she-was-a-Nazi baffling.

Anyways, that brings me straight to the New Orleans Saints, my pick from a few months back to take the ship this coming February when MetLife Stadium plays host to Superbowl XLVIII.

At the moment, Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham and the rest of their Saints teammates are pegged by Bodog.ca as 25/1 long shots to win the Superbowl and 14/1 bottom dwellers among NFC teams to win the conference.

Let that sink in for a second.

Give it a minute.

Ok, now let's tackle this beast to hopefully make a few people some money.

First of all, the NFC playoff picture looks as follows:

1. Seattle Seahawks

2. Carolina Panthers

3. Philadelphia Eagles

4. Green Bay Packers

5. San Francisco 49ers

6. New Orleans Saints

Which, after accounting for the bye weeks that the Seahawks and Panthers have earned, leaves us with the following match-ups:

Eagles-Saints

49ers-Packers

Personally, I believe that the Eagles are a good football team but one with a defense that has no chance of stopping Brees and co. from getting whatever they want on the offensive side of the football. That being the case, should the Saints win this upcoming week, they will be the first team asked to do something that has seemed all but impossible the past few seasons, to stop the Seahawks in CenturyLink Field

If they find a way past that stiff test, the sky is the limit.

Now I understand that entering the playoffs as a number six seed, one that will have to fight its way to February solely on the road, will be a tough test for the Saints, a team that has struggled on the road this past season. That said, we've seen the New York Giants and Packers win the Superbowl in recent times while stuck just such a position, a fact that surely will be underlined and preached throughout the Saints locker room.

Not only that but in the Saints, we might just have the most talented number six seed in the history of the NFL, something that 14/1 and 25/1 fail to take into account.

On offense, the return of Sean Payton to the Saints' sidelines has brought back with it the kind of genius play-calling and offensive explosiveness that just seemed a hair off last season. In Brees, the Saints put their trust into one of the best in the game at the quarterback position and one who has experience leading a team to the Vince Lombardi trophy. With the likes of Graham, Darren Sproles, Marquez Colston, Kenny Stills and the rest of the weapons at his disposal, the team finished 4th in total yards while averaging 25.9 points per contest, good for 10th in the NFL.

Sure, the Saints offense is good and we've come to expect that but personally, what sets them apart to me and pushes me strongly enough to promote them as such is their defense.

As a team, the Saints finished 4th best in the league at total yards given up, 2nd best at yards conceived through the air and 4th in regards to sacks on the quarterback. If one ignores their lack of appeal in terms of forcing turnovers to lead to extra possessions for the offense, this just might be one of the better defenses in the entire NFL.

In Cameron Jordan (12 sacks) and Junior Galette (12.5 sacks), the Saints have one of the best young pass rushing duos in the league and in a league where the air rules the kingdom. More importantly, it is a league where disrupting and cutting the time the quarterback has can lead even the best to struggle and given enough consistency that quarterback faces, can lead to a season full of disappointment and epic struggle faces for even the most decorated of individuals.

 

Aside from the duo, the rest of the Saints defense will strive to give the opposing offense different looks throughout the contest to keep them off-balance and at worst, are a bend-but-don't-break type of unit which can still be combined with an offense as explosive as the Saints' to give someone as good a chance as anyone's to be successful in the playoffs.

The road will be a tough one but one that definitely has big potential at a payoff, play responsibly.

BONUS: As far as exact Superbowl match-up predictions go, look into the Broncos-Saints (22/1) and Patriots-Saints (50/1) odds as the two most intriguing ones.

Is Carmelo Anthony To Blame For Early Season Struggles of New York Knicks?


We've gotten pretty use to teams like the Charlotte Bobcats and Sacramento Kings sitting at well below .500 in recent times. Over the course of the past few years, they've provided the fuel to the dumpster fire and basically been nothing more than teams that were around to pad stats, extend winning streaks and see Michael Jordan up close and personal while trying not to gush over the greatest of all time like one was an eleven year old just picking up the sport.

For the New York Knicks, at least over the course of the Carmelo Anthony era, these are uncharted waters.

Now, for some teams that come into a season with high expectations, the term struggling can mean playing around .500 or even attaining a record beyond that but doing so in a way that sounds alarms over some deficiency while doing so. Sitting at 3-13 on the season, the Knicks have gone from a team that some thought to be a dark horse contender in the Eastern Conference to one that seems destined to headline sports news for all of the wrong reasons.

In simple English, it's been about as big of a dumpster fire in New York as the days when Eddy Curry was still around gobbling up tasty fatty treats on the sidelines and the likes of Jared Jeffries and Renaldo Balkman were getting significant minutes in front of the MSG faithful.

Is there any hope for the Big Apple?

First of all, as long as the Knicks have Anthony suiting up for the team, they have a chance any given night. No matter what argument people attempt to throw around to kick dirt at his status within the NBA, Anthony is a superstar and arguably the league's greatest scorer. That said, I believe the struggles with this team began when the issue of his impending free agency was handled in such a way that as a fellow player in the locker room, would have me questioning his commitment to the team. Many of us presume that all of the trade talk and free agency talk that gets thrown around in the media gets tuned out by the athletes that actually take the court.

A few seasons ago, we had Dwight Howard trade rumors envelop the entire sporting world, something that the Orlando Magic would like to very much forget. Imagine for a minute, you are sitting in that Magic locker room, let's assume as either Hedo TurkogluJameer Nelson or even Stan Van Gundy. You are neck deep in a dog fight in your pursuit of an NBA championship, something you came within a few games and a healthy roster from grasping only a few years prior to that one, when a certain story begins to circulate. As time goes by, that one story becomes two, two becomes ten and before you know it, Skip Bayless is seen ranting and somehow relating Tim Tebow to the whole ordeal with regards to the situation on ESPN First Take.

You enter the locker room, whether home or away, and you look at the guy the rumors are circulating around. Yes, the teammate before you still puts on the very same jersey that you do, runs up and down the same court and even produces at a high level. That said, if one questions the commitment to the team, the extent to which that player is in it through thick and thin, how can you trust that player? How can you look at that player in the eyes and get into the trenches with them when somewhere deep inside, you know that player might not want to be in them with you? 

Are the days where Carmelo himself would jump in front of a teammate to prevent a heated exchange with a fire extinguisher gone?

Sadly, such is the case for Anthony and the Knicks thus far this season. Yes, injuries have played a big part in the struggles as losing defensive anchor Tyson Chandler while having J.R. Smith and Amare Stoudemire hobbled have made winning ball games consistently a tough task for the team. That said, can we honestly assume that the team doesn't have significant locker room issues, especially stemming from its best player?

A few seasons ago, we saw the exact same events transpire as Anthony suited up for the Denver Nuggets, one in which we saw the passive aggressive style of stress resolution used by the star in just such a conundrum. Looking at the way that the situation was handled by the 29 year old small forward, doesn't it ring any bells of similarity, possibly to the season unfolding before the eyes of Knicks fans this season?

At 3-13 in a weak Atlantic division, the season is not over for the Knicks but in order to save their season from becoming a complete disaster, they will need their best player on board the ship, not dipping his foot in the water checking if its warm enough to swim in.

For more, follow @Gambitguru77  or check out my NBA articles on Rantsports.com.

Green Bay Packers, Jermichael Finley and the ICU: Could There be a Green Bay Packers Logo on Madden 25?


Well, this is just getting a little bit silly.

I've heard about the Madden Curse that derailed Shaun Alexander, Eddie George, Michael Vick, Peyton Hillis and Donovan McNabb to name a few. That aside, I've never seen a curse follow a team more closely than what has transpired the past few weeks for the Green bay Packers .  

This past Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, Jermichael Finley was the latest to join the Packers' long list of impact players sidelined with injuries. The resulting blow to the head of Finley was one that was serious enough that a trip to the intensive care unit followed the always scary sight of a player being stretchered out. As an athlete, even when facing the grimmest of injuries, there's always that pride that one refuses to swallow when it comes to being unable to fight through the pain of an injury. If a player can crawl to the sideline under his own player, they usually will. That said, this is why it's always scary to see the stretcher scenario unfold before your eyes. It's a rare time when we see these proud behemoth human beings simply accept that they are too battered to pick themselves up off of the ground. Although the reports on Finley indicate that all major muscle movement has returned, it nonetheless comes at the most dire of times for the Green Bay Packers .

Entering Sunday, the Packers roster looked more like the combined medical reports of Gren Oden and Grant Hill than they did an NFL roster. Somewhere in Wisconsin, its dairy farmers are probably blaming themselves for not investing enough into public service announcements about the benefits of milk on the strengthening bones. Moreover, a few probably regret buying their kids voodoo dolls that had green and yellow shirts that suspiciously looked as though they might be Packers' jerseys. For those affected, no matter how many pins you pull out of that Malibu Stacy lookalike Clay Matthews doll, it's not bringing him back any time soon and that goes for the other pincushions too. 

 

With the addition of Finley to the list of wounded, the list of significant players lost for the Packers look something like this:

Randall Cobb: Out until week 15 at the earliest

Nick Perry:  Out at least 2-4 weeks

Clay Matthews: Out at least a few weeks

James Jones: Sprained PCL

Casey Hayward: Out until at least week 9

Needless to say, the Green Bay Packers could certainly use some luck right about now.

At 4-2, they sit atop the NFC North but have the Chicago Bears  and Detroit Lions  breathing right down their back. Although the schedule remains one that is less than stellar from a competition standpoint, if the Packers are to not only get into the playoffs but make some noise once they enter, they'll not only need their hobbled bodies to regain some of their health but also to pray that the wave of injuries is a thing of the past.

Drink your milk Green Bay Packer players, it's good for you and what do you have to lose at this point?

As always, follow me @Gambitguru77 or add me to your network on Google .

Andre Drummond, the Detroit Pistons and the Journey towards Superstardom and Contender



Every now and again, we are witnesses to an athlete who seemingly defies everything we learned in a high school physics class. In the 1990s, a 7'1, 350 pound man named Shaquille O'Neal dropped jaws with athleticism and speed that we've only seen in one other man in the history of sports. That man, of course, is probably the greatest athlete in the history of the world and the only one to score 100 points in an NBA game while resembling what I imagine a volleyball Greek god would look like if we took a trip back through time, took some LSD and got a game going in a sandy field in Athens. For anyone slow to catch up on that rollercoaster of references, Wilt Chamberlin, not Greg Ostertag, was the man with the modest intro granted upon him. In this era, LeBron James basically is to the NBA what Michael Vick was to Madden 2004 as the only real question left to ask is whether or not he could outrun a cheetah if we brought one into the American Airlines Arena.

Last season however, I believe we've finally gotten the opportunity to see the next in line in the Dwight-Howard-athletically-gifted-big-man-who-could-build-a-school-in-Kenya-with-all-of-his-FT-bricks, a prestigious class of athletes for the Gambit Chronicle. Simply put, although Ben Wallace and his chronic dislocating wrist look like Ray Allen at the free throw line compared to the man, Andre Drummond is a human being that defies what we believe is possible for a human being at that size. Furthermore, not only is he driven along with Anthony Davis to become synonymous with the title of the NBA's next great big men, he's someone that you have no reason to expect anything but a steady improvement from because of his work ethic.

At 6'11, 280 pounds, Andre Drummond was once heralded as being the fastest athlete on the court during his freshman season at the University of Connecticut. Let me rephrase that, on a team with Jeremy Lamb, Shabazz Napier and a load of other athletic guards, a center took the floor that could consistently beat them in a foot race. Did we mention that he's 280 pounds, strong as an ox and has a 35 inch vertical jump?

Athleticism aside, Drummond has a skill set for a post player that screams star potential. He combines world class athleticism with great instincts on the court and ideal offensive awareness in knowing where the ball and his man are at all times on offense, leading to lobs that we've seen and lobs that are yet to come. He possesses great finishing ability around the basket and throughout the past few years in college and the NBA, has shown the ability to hit a short jumper, something that with consistency can become the weapon that opens up the rest of his game. On defense, he is a weak-side defensive terror and is already one of the better instinctual rebounders in the NBA. To say that a package such as the one Andre Drummond presents us with doesn't have superstar written all over it is to say that Kate Upton doesn't have sex appeal, both blasphemous unless you just happen to be the type that prefers Mehmet Okur and female librarians.

Last season, I believe that Andre Drummond gave the NBA a glimpse of what probably will become a career lamented by accolades of all-star appearances, defensive player of the year awards and titles such as being the best center in the NBA. Although the season averages of 8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks seem counterintuitive to someone looking simply at statistics, let's not forget that he was brought along slowly and just turned 20 years of age this past August. In the NBA, the average course of development for a big man to reach his prime is usually about five seasons. In comparison to guards who have had the hand checking rule among others aid to their exploits in the past decade, the post position is one which hasn't really changed in terms of the physicality that occurs and as such takes time to adjust to as a young post just entering the league. In his second season, I believe that Andre Drummond will take that next leap from promising young player into borderline all-star and someone that a lot of conversations will be centered around. If my eye test is right and it usually is, the 2013-2014 season could be the season that we see the emergence of the next great NBA center.  

As a team, the Detroit Pistons are night and day when Drummond is on the court which can only bode well for their future as they continue to establish one of the up-and-coming young rosters in the NBA. With the consistent presence of Greg Monroe along with the acquisition of Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith, the Detroit Pistons are slowly starting to assemble what many could come to see as one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. Although the skillset of Josh Smith and his fit with the rest of the Piston roster will be a question that will always draw more doubts than legitimate answers, one cannot deny that the defensive potential and star power on this roster are legitimate and more importantly, young and healthy. Whether Drummond does so this year or the next, the night and day within his own game and maturity as an NBA star is something NBA fans eagerly await to witness. At present, we are in the midst of watching LeBron James and Kevin Durant toy with the league and carry the titles of alpha dogs on alpha teams but there are storm clouds approaching, storm clouds that originate in Motor City.

As always, you can follow me @Gambitguru77 to get notified when I come out with new material, hope to see you back here!

Anthony Davis and The New Orleans Pelicans: Witnessing the Birth of the NBA's Next Superstar


The upcoming NBA season will be one that will most likely be dominated by the headlines involving the looming early termination clause of LeBron James, the exploits and progression of the Brooklyn Nets as the NBA's newest super team and the hurt that lone ranger Kevin Durant will put on the league as he regularly threatens to break the 50 point mark with running mate Russell Westbrook sidelined for the foreseeable future. With those, we'll have the have our share of stories about Jason Terry getting a "BKN > NYK :P" tattoo on his forehead and joining teammate Andrei Kirilenko in forming the league's most dominant one-two Google search combination of tattoo-looks-bad-already-but-I'll-be-wearing-turtlenecks-everywhere-in-twenty-years duo. As well, I've got a feeling we'll probably see Blake Griffin finally clear Pau Gasol like a hurdle on a dunk which creates "neck beard sobbing", the newest trend to rival planking.

Hell, I'm pretty sure the rapid evolution of Richard Jefferson from basketball talent to least listened to and respected player-coach in league history is all but guaranteed like a Josh Smith bad decision in a game.

 That said, if you keep your eyes and ears open just long enough each morning during your routine of checking the highlights while scarfing down a bowl of cereal to allow the other teams to graze your television or computer screen, you'll see the headline that I believe we'll see as one of the biggest by season's end. You keep those eyes fixed on the screen and I guarantee you'll slowly see the birth of the next great NBA superstar. The world is about to take notice as we're about to see the birth of Anthony Davis, the next great big man of the NBA.

Last season, the majority of the 2012-2013 rookie crop attention was paid to Damian Lillard and with good reason as he lit up the league playing alongside a promising Portland Trailbrazers squad. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis, the player selected with the first pick in the 2012 NBA draft, struggled to stay healthy but still produced a very good rookie season while playing amongst men in a body that would rival Frankie Munez in regards to muscularity. On the season, Davis averaged 13.5 point, 8.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 29 minutes per game while showing glimpses throughout the season of the promise most saw in him entering the NBA.

Although never reaching Lillard's level of consistent excellence in his rookie year, Davis managed to put together a few games that you had to take notice of as a fan. Although not as common as a Pelicans fan would've hoped entering the season, impressive games like the pair against the Memphis Grizzlies in March, putting up 20/18/2 and 18/15/2 against the NBA's toughest post tandem in March gave us a glimpse of what could be. More importantly, despite giving up significant weight to the post players of the NBA, Davis managed to shoot 51% of his field goals and 75% of his free throws which are ideals for any big man let alone one in his first season. On a per 36 clip, that comes out to 16.9 point, 10.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, numbers that we could very well expect from the talented young big man if we assumed his young 20 year old legs would get all the burn they can handle this season we weren't expecting any growth.

               Simply put, we'd be idiots to even consider such a thought as the growth we're about to witness can only be rivaled by the physical growth of Barry Bonds in the first months of steroid use in the late 90s which I have a feeling we don't have to worry about seeing with Davis.

               Entering the 2013-2014 NBA season, a lot of hype is surrounding the New Orleans Pelicans as the acquisitions of all-star point guard Jrue Holiday and fellow young budding star Tyreke Evans have brought optimism to a franchise that hasn't had the term associated with it in quite some time. While the duo might represent an infusion of talent to a team that sorely lacked talent and required a makeover in order to compete, the greatest acquisition coming into this season is an Anthony Davis with a season under his belt and an offseason in which he knew how to prepare for the 82 game grind. Through the first four preseason games, to say that Davis has been impressive would be like saying that the US economy is kind of in a mess or that The Godfather was a decent movie as he's all but dominated the competition. By putting up high scoring games, pulling down rebounds and enforcing the paint defensively in a way very few players do in the NBA, we're being point on notice. The arrival of Anthony Davis into the conversation of not the best young players in the game but the best players in the game period is quickly approaching if it hasn't already arrived.

               As a talent, what Davis might lack in physicality (although he's reportedly put on 10-15 pounds this offseason) he more than makes up for in his diverse talents. There are very few players in the NBA that can be a Swiss army knife, possessing a plethora of tools on both sides of the court as the names LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Derrick Rose and a few others usually come to mind when we begin to ponder the thought. As a big man who can shoot the jump shot with great accuracy and technique, run the floor like a gazelle, make free throws, score in the post with a go-to move on each block, and defend the paint to the point of scaring off penetration, does Anthony Davis not sound like someone who should be right in that conversation? Although I am jumping ahead a tad because we're talking about a player just entering just his second full NBA season in comparison to the game's elite, we cannot deny that Davis' repertoire of talents doesn't at least remind us of some of the game's best in recent times at the power forward position. Personally, I can't watch Davis on the court without being reminded of Kevin Garnett. Both are lanky big men, skilled jump shooters and face up players, gifted physically and change the game with their defense alone. Similarly, I look at Davis and see the same kind of impact that Tim Duncan has on a basketball game as both have a refined and fundamentally sound skill set that very few big men can achieve on both ends of the floor. Although Duncan will always have a size advantage, the NBA's shift to a more athletic versus larger-than-life-post-player era means that Anthony Davis fits the bill as a hybrid next-era type of dominant post player that we've been waiting on players like Blake Griffin to become for years.

Many NBA fans see a player like Carmelo Anthony or Stephen Curry as someone they'd regard with the label "superstar" when throwing the term around. Personally, while those players might be stars, a true superstar is someone who changes the game on both ends enough to totally change a team's fortunes for a season, not a stretch of games. It is the players that you place into a situation that immediately change your status from "alright" to "potential contender" by their mere presence that signifies the difference between a "star" and a "superstar". At the moment, the list of names that fit that bill in the NBA is a sort one in my opinion: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and Chris Paul. That's it. Every other player either has a massive flaw in their game (i.e. Dwight's post game and free throw shooting, Carmelo's rebounding and defense, etc.) or has seen their prime pass them.

With the upcoming season mere weeks away, just as we saw Tim Duncan ascend to the cream of the talent crop of the NBA, I believe we're going to be seeing a new face slowly creep into this conversation as the jazz playing in the streets of New Orleans and Anthony Davis become a mainstay among basketball conversations for a decade to come.

NFL Week 6: Adrian Peterson and the Five Big Stories to Watch for on the Gridiron


Another Sunday is upon us and with that, another week's worth of surprises and suspense are mere hours away. First of all, let me state that Canadian Thanksgiving is something that can't even begin to be understood by Americans because of the fact that NFL fans who don't sleep in Redskins or Cowboys pajamas actually have a full slate of games to shoot the breeze over turkey with.

Imagine it for a moment: sitting among your family feeling like you're about to give birth to the child (although it feels more like a Danny Devito sized sack of potatoes) that Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie career almost self destructed with in Junior. 

Clearly, after demolishing enough food to feed a group of runway show models for three lifetimes, you have no reason to do anything other than attempt to not pass out when you notice an NFL game...and another...and another. Oh, it feels good to be Canadian sometimes.

Although this week's slate of games are nothing to write home about, each match-up is relatively even which should make for at least a few very tight games. That said, competitiveness aside, there are a few very interesting stories that are worth keeping an eye on as kickoff approaches this Sunday. 

Lesean McCoy might just have himself a day

Simply put, with the injury to Michael Vick, who else is going to do the heavy lifting? The Philadelphia Eagles enter week six with more questions than answers about the season to date. The offense that was suppose to revolutionize the NFL and take it by storm has proven to be nothing more than a hybrid no-huddle of sorts that really hasn't been able to propel the Eagles to anything worth noting to this point in the season. Although the injury to Jeremy Maclin should've been the first warning sign of an over-hyped offense not meeting expectations due to a lack of weapons, I still believe that with another receiver to compliment Desean Jackson, the offense would shed the label of bust that many have deemed it to be thus far. That said, the Eagles are stuck with what they have and what they have at the moment is an inexperienced quarterback, a deep threat and one hell of a running back.

Last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ranked among the best in the NFL at stopping the run and while that has not quite been the case this season, the defense is vastly improved as a whole. With a must win game facing the Eagles, I believe we'll see a game very similar to the season opener against the Washington Redskins for Lesean McCoy that saw him get his number called on 31 rushing plays that led to 184 yards. With the Bucs defense, I expect we'll see plenty of loading up for the run that will result in short yardage gains but I also don't doubt McCoy's ability to break long runs as there is no one save for Adrian Peterson that is better at breaking tackles, making defenders look silly and breaking off a long one. If he got 25-30 carries against Tampa and totalled close to 200 yards or even over, I would not be surprised one bit, in fact I expect it. Speaking of Adrian Peterson... 

How will tragedy affect All Day's Sunday?

By this point, most sports fans that haven't been living under a rock have heard of the tragic story involving Adrian Peterson's personal life and the subsequent shocking loss of his young son. I can't personally even to begin to imagine what a man must go through in his heart and mind when a tragedy such as losing a child occurs but I offer my condolences nonetheless and hope that the Peterson family remains strong. In the grand scheme of life, football is just a game, whether you play it professionally or not. At the end of the day, all that we have to really show for our lives isn't the car that we drive, the job that we work, the house that we live in or the status among society as celebrity or high class that we have achieved, it's the people inside of that life. The relationships and memories that you develop along the journey to that car, house or career are the only things that really matter as the experience of loving another or enjoying one's company is something that doesn't really go away with age whereas beauty, popularity and physical prowess usually do. 

Philosophical rant aside, there are two very different possibilities that we could see from AP in a few short hours. We could potentially see AP play like a grown man playing against ten year old boys and just oppose his will against the Carolina Panthers and their talented defense. Alternatively, we could see a man that just doesn't look himself for very obvious reasons. As a human being, seeing the former would be what I'd pray to see but deep down we know that it's the least important thing happening at this juncture for Adrian Peterson as a game, whether great or poor, means very little in the grand scheme of things.

The toppling of the Houston Texans

If ever you wanted to take my word on an upset in the making, listen to me on this one: unless a devastating injury hits the St. Louis Rams, they should be a very tempting +275 moneyline play against the Houston Texas and one that I think occurs. Thus far, the Rams have underachieved in a way as the defense hasn't really held down opponents the way the talent of that group suggests they should have done while the offense has just been a step behind where they have needed to be in order to be right in the running for the NFC West crown. With Andre Johnson hobbled and Matt Schaub seemingly in a nose dive as a starting caliber NFL quarterback, I believe that enough pressure from the Rams' talented front seven on Schaub will force at least a few turnovers that Sam Bradford and co. will use to take down the AFC South powerhouse. 

A real possibility that the New Orleans Saints absolutely embarrass the Patriots at Gilette Stadium

As you can tell by reading my New Orleans Saints article, I'm pretty high on this team.

Superbowl high.

Anyways, the offense that the Saints possess at this point in the NFL season is something that is altogether a very impressive feat considering they've had to re-establish the trust and cohesion between the players and now re-instated Sean Payton. Specifically, the constant presence that is Drew Brees as one of the game's best along with the emergence of Jimmy Graham into almost a tight-end version of what Randy Moss was in his prime has given the Saints enough to beat anyone on a football field. Along with the air assault duo, Darren Sproles, Marques Colston and the rest of the Saints' complementary receivers ensure that every moment for an opposing defense is an anxious one. 

With that said, I believe that the Patriots are going to get absolutely embarrassed in their own stadium tomorrow. With Rob Gronkowski most likely sidelined for another week and the Saints defense playing better than it has in years, I just don't think that the Patriots have the firepower to keep close with the Saints. 

The Steelers begin their climb to the postseason

The Pittsburgh Steelers are like that older woman that you swear is no where near as attractive as she looked in her Mamas and Papas/Michael Jackson phase but yet you can't shake the feeling that she still has just enough moves to leave you satisfied. Ladies and gentleman, you're older woman: the Pittsburgh Steelers. When you remove the players' ability to relax in the locker room, you're clearly in desperation mode. For Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers, that desperation mode occurred about two weeks ago. As I've stated in one of my earlier articles, I believe that the Steelers' season is not lost yet as a relatively easy and winnable schedule gives the Steelers the chance to make up the games trailed behind the likes of the two most likely season long divison contenders, the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. With both the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers possessing very capable defenses, I think the difference will lie in how the quarterback perform. If you had to choose between a two time Superbowl winner and seasoned veteran or a rookie with no notable football achievements after his senior season in high school, I imagine most would go with numero uno. 

I'm one of those people.

Enjoy your Sunday everyone!

Dwight Howard, James Harden and the Houston Rockets: A True Contender for the NBA Title?


Let's begin this article with a montage of pictures that accurately portray Dwight Howard's career and the general unhappiness and nausea he has caused to coaches, players and the basketball world over the past year and a half on and off the court.

The Orlando Magic Debacle:

The Mike Brown Open Casket Funeral:

The Mike D'Antoni One Night Stand:

Finally, the Wrath of the Black Mamba:

Hell, even Gregg Popovich got into the festivities:

The saga that transpired over the past two seasons of Dwight Howard's career was nothing short of a circus. He turned on a coach that had raised him from the boy he entered the NBA as to the man that man that he partnered with to raise the Orlando Magic and Howard's career to heights not known since the Shaquille O'Neal era of the 90's. He quickly disposed of a Mike Brown like he was the newspaper padding a cat's litter box and had about as much chemistry and positive working relationship as John Tortorella and Larry Brooks.

Three word links because one just can't do John vs. Brooksie the justice it deserves, you're welcome planet Earth.

On that rocky path, he saw one of the game's greatest players in Kobe Bryant sour on Howard as a player, questioning his competitiveness and thirst for true legacy, and even had Gregg Popovich, arguably the greatest coach in NBA history, scream for Howard's removal in an all-star game. We've seen Shaq self alley-oop himself in these festivities in front of Gregg Popovich, Zydrunas Ilgauskas play the point, and Jason Richardson throw a basketball at Carlos Boozer's head in a blowout and yet Dwight somehow got the better of Pop's temper.

Thank Tom Cruz that chapter in Howard's career is over.

After all the drama, Dwight Howard finally was able to make the long term commitment to an organization that the sporting world begged for by joining forces with James Harden, Chandler Parsons and the Houston Rockets.

Last season, the sensational breakout seasons by both Harden and Parsons, emerging as top flight players both at their positions and in regards to the rest of the league, led the Houston Rockets to a surprising appearance in the NBA playoffs in which they kept pace with an Oklahoma City Thunder squad that, albeit injury riddled, bit off a lot more than they could comfortably chew in that series as it was by no means a cake walk from game one of the series. 

Entering this season, the foundation of the Houston Rockets rests solely on the backs of James Harden, Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons. Although they don't have the star power of the Big Three in Miami, The Fab Five in Brooklyn or star laden Southwestern Kentucky State Institute of Basket Weaving, the fact that they perfectly complement each other's skill sets makes them similar to the Boston trio that took the basketball world by storm in their first season together. To support the talents of Howard and co., Omer Asik adds exceptional defensive and rebounding skills with his presence on the court while Patrick Beverly and Jeremy Lin make for one of the more balanced and consistent point guard tandems in the NBA. 

After that, it's a lot of question marks.

Will the Rockets get anything of value from their young power forwards?

Will there be consistency in production from a bench made up of cast offs and young unproven commodities?

How will the Rockets sprint pace of offense gel with Dwight Howard and his preferance and experience in a more traditional half court offense?

Although unproven, Terrence Jones, Greg Smith and Donatas Motiejunas are all promising young post talents that have the mid-range and spot up abilities that can potentially make them perfect compliments to Dwight Howard on the floor. In terms of bench, the reliance on Omri Casspi, Lin/Beverly and the three stated above will probably end up being the achilles heel of the Houston Rockets but not necessarily one that is debilitating. We've seen teams which much less from the bench have great success simply because they had enough top heavy talent that possessed the necessary qualities to make up for it. By that, a team like the Boston Celtics and the Mike Brown Los Angeles Lakers come to mind as the perfect comparison. The Big Three Celtics were a team that possessed great defense, great outside shooting and interior scoring while heavily relying on their starting unit for scoring for the most part. On the other hand, although the trio of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant were arguably second to Miami's, the lack of perimeter shooting and players with consistent impact on the defense meant that their top heavy talent just couldn't do enough lifting to propel them to any meaningful success. 

With the Houston Rockets, the questions stated above are definitely ones to keep an eye on as the season opens up in November but not ones that will define their success or lack of in the long run. The team possesses the poise and perimeter talents of Harden and Parsons, talent in the starting unit and the potential to be a top flight defense in the NBA due to the mouth watering combination of Asik and Howard defending the paint and Patrick Beverly to stifle penetration.

In the West, the presence of the Thunder, Spurs, and Clippers present a tough task but I believe that in all but the Spurs series, the result of it is a coin flip because there just isn't as big a gap between the Rockets and the Thunder/Clippers as we are led to believe. Looking at the Rockets' title hopes, I don't believe that they yet possess the missing piece or two to push them over the top over the East's five finals contenders in the Nets/Heat/Pacers/Bulls/Knicks but if they can somehow avoid the Spurs in the playoffs, reaching the NBA Finals is a definite possibility. 

It's going to be an interesting season in the NBA and the Houston Rockets will be one of the most interesting situations to watch.

The New York Giants: The Curious Case and Unfortunate Demise of a Dynasty


Well, like I stated in my first article ever, I'm not always right.

And boy was I off on this one.

The New York Giants are a team that I still believe is much better than their 0-6 record thus far indicates. The offense still has mainstays Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Eli Manning which is as good an offensive trio as you will find in the NFL.

Unfortunately, that's where it seems to end.

First of all, the offensive line has been an absolute debacle and that's putting it lightly. If we were to make a UNICEF ad that featured imagines of Eli Manning getting pounded and put on his back in slow motion, we might actually be able to create a half hour special that could legitimately be able to fund something. At that point, our only worry would be whether we fund a good cause or just buy Jay Cutler a puppy so we might actually give the man the first smile of his life. Hell, after seeing this face, I'm shocked the trainers didn't take him in for concussion tests if even just to give him a break from looking across the sidelines towards monstrous human beings that look ready to snap his head off, something that at least for me would sour my day a little bit. Either you've just had taco bell and are about to pay the toilet pied piper, are going through the immediate regret that follows sleeping with Sarah Jessica Parker or have suffered slight head trauma by getting hit by a human train resembling one of the Mon-Stars from Space Jam, there's just no other explanation for it.

Simpy put, if you can't give the quarterback time to make the right decision, he's not going to make them. As a talent, Eli Manning is a very good quarterback in the NFL and I argue still among the top five to seven at his position. That said, he suffers from the tendency to lock into certain options and to force throws which when combined with a gunslinger mentality and far too little time to operate usually results in disaster. 

In a way, it's sort of comical how much attention his turnovers are getting this season. Looking through his career totals, Manning has consistently thrown interceptions at a high teens clip while crossing the 20 interception mark on two separate occasions. Hell, he threw 25 interceptions in the sandwich year between his two Superbowl runs and yet it shocks us when he has a rough patch of games because of a flawed offensive foundation. I will always compare Eli Manning and Brett Favre if only for the fact that both were fearless and could pick you apart on any given night but also caused headaches for themselves and fan bases alike when they'd get a little too bold for their own good. The mentality and style of Eli Manning will always be one that costs the team possessions because he's more impulsive as a decision maker than other low-turnover-high-profile quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning or Tom Brady who will hold onto it for even a second longer just to make sure the coast is clear for the ball to be thrown. 

You can win with both type of quarterback but you need to give someone a little bit more impulsive a clear mind to make their decisions and by forcing him to run for his life like he's Hines Ward in the Dark Knight Rises, the New York Giants have failed him, their locker room and their fan-base.

The train wreck that is the Giants' offensive foundation aside, the defense that vaulted them to two Superbowls has seemingly become toothless. The pressure provided by the great pass rushers of the Giants' recent success, whether it was from Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, or what once constituted Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, was the backbone that lifted these great teams over the pass happy juggernauts such as Tom Brady's Patriots, Aaron Rodgers' Packers or Matt Ryan's Falcons. As I've stated 1,534,660 times thus far within my NFL analysis, the key to any successful NFL team is the ability to take time and peace of mind away from the opposing quarterback. As long as that guy has the thought of getting crushed as a legitimate concern, you've given yourself a psychological advantage, if even the slightest of ones like with a pitcher who throws high and up to back a player off the plate for his own advantage. Thus far into the season, the only worry the Giants have given opposing quarterbacks is whether there will be a stoppage because a Tom Coughlin yelling induced brain hemorrhage or the anxiety one can feel when they have to give a sugar coat post-game congratulations to Eli Manning who just got blown out, turned the ball over six times and resembles a farm hand from the amount of dirt, bruising and grass on his face.  

The New York Giants are currently a team that is broken in both body and spirit. The offense lacks bite and the defense any sense of intimidation. Fortunately, where there is darkness, there is usually a tad bit of light also present  and with the reemergence of Jason Pierre-Paul and the recovery of Stevie Brown inevitable within the next calender year, the Giants do have hope to cling to. With the offensive skill positions already stocked, the Giants can focus on adding need-specific talent through the draft and free agency which should allow them to compete for the Vince Lombardi trophy as soon as next season. Although one could shoot for the sky and tank the remainder of the NFL season to acquire the tantalizing talent of pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, the presence of a once again healthy Blaine Gabbart will most likely jeopardize those chances. In one corner, we have a two-time Superbowl winner who regularly leads the league in clutch fourth quarter comebacks and in the other we have what would exist as a human being if Chad Pennington's body, Breaking Bad's Badger & Skinny P's minds and a toughness conversion name thesaurus were put into a blender, who do you think will do worse?

Although I fully expect the Giants to recover to a level of respectability this year which will prevent the addition of Jadeveon Clowney, that doesn't mean that a quick rebuild isn't in the cards. With the need of a few linebackers, pass rushers and an offensive line being the main concern, said positions are pieces that regularly appear to not only come in quantity from the draft but ones that tend to produce sooner rather than later. As well, with defensive impact free agents such as Jared Allen, B.J. Raji, Michael Johnson, Jairus Byrd among the notables, the possibility of adding bark to their defense through free agency and resurrecting the phoenix that is the New York Giants in quick, dramatic fashion is a legitimate possibility.

The present of the New York Giants is one that engulfed in turmoil and uncertainty but let's not forget that proven Superbowl performers still reside and will for a very long time to come in the Big Apple. With that, it's not a matter of if but when the New York Giants once again rise to the cream of the crop in the NFC East.