Friday, May 29, 2015

2 comments Grading Mel Kiper's 2006 NFL Draft Grades

From time to time I like to go back and look at what kind of draft grade Mel Kiper has given a team's draft in a certain year. I have graded NFL draft grades for Mel's 2001 draft, the 2002 draft, the 2004 draft, the 2005 draft, and also covered Dr. Z's 2007 draft grades. For some reason, the 2005 post about Kiper's draft grades is one of the most read posts in the history of BotB. Go figure.

It's nearly impossible to be a draft expert since there are so many variables that affect whether a draft prospect succeeds or not in the NFL. Yet, Mel Kiper has made his living guessing at who the best players in each draft would be while kindly handing out "C" and "B" grades to the teams who draft these players. Mel seems to be pretty lukewarm on nearly every team's draft. In his 2006 draft grades he gives zero draft grades that aren't some form of a "B" or a "C." That's right, the guy who is paid to evaluate draft-eligible players and evaluate how teams performed in the NFL Draft thinks EVERY SINGLE team did average or slightly above average. There's no risk in taking a risk and actually evaluating a team's draft I guess. Here is where I got Mel's draft grades from since I am not an ESPN Insider.

I'll start in alphabetical order and give Mel's grade along with some of my comments on Kiper's draft grade. I promise I won't give every team a "B" or a "C" like Mel Kiper does. It's absolutely unfathomable to me he thinks every NFL team did average or above average in the draft. He's hedging like crazy and if I were ESPN I would want a draft expert on my payroll who actually has an opinion other than, "Man, I hope I am not wrong about this draft grade so I will ensure I'm not by refusing to give a realistic grade."

Arizona Cardinals: GRADE: B
 

I give them an A for the first day and a C for the second day.

What do you know? Kiper gave them an "A" for one day and a "C" for the other day and it equals a "B." Don't go too far out on that limb, Mel. You might fall.

The Cardinals' QB of the future, Matt Leinart, fell into their lap at No. 10 (I had Leinart as the third best player in the draft).

I'm not even sure Leinart was the third-best guy named "Matt" in this draft. Actually, there was only one guy named "Matt" drafted, so Leinart is the winner by default. Matt Prater was undrafted so Leinart is the second-best Matt in this draft among players who were drafted and undrafted.

OLB Brandon Johnson and DT Jon Lew could be good backups.

They weren't. The best player out of this draft for Arizona was either Gabe Watson or Deuce Lutui, so given the fact they missed on two of their first three picks this ended up not at all being a "B" draft. It's more like a "C-" draft.

Atlanta Falcons: GRADE: C

You have to factor in the trade that brought them defensive end John Abraham.

I don't have to factor this in, but I will. The Jets drafted Nick Mangold with the selection that sent Abraham to Atlanta. I'd say that wasn't a bad trade on the whole. Still, I don't think I factor that into my grade since I prefer to grade a team's draft on the players drafted and not on what they received for draft picks traded away.

Cornerback Jimmy Williams will help the secondary and was a good second-round pick.

Williams was out of the NFL by 2009 and had not been on an active roster since 2007. He was one of Roger Goodell's earlier personal conduct policy victims. This is better than the Falcons fifth round pick Quinn Ojinnaka who was fairly productive for the Falcons, but was arrested in 2009 after allegedly trying to throw his wife down the stairs. Though in his defense, she was trying to stab him with a pen and a 300 pound man has a right to defend himself. It probably wouldn't shock you to learn the argument was over Facebook, would it?

I was prepared to hate this draft, but while the Falcons didn't do great and missed on their second round pick, they had three guys (Jerious Norwood, Ojinnaka, and D.J. Shockley) who hung around until 2010 as backups and occasional starters. Not bad overall, but not great. I think Kiper was right..sort of. Bump the grade down to a "C-" and it's correct.

Baltimore Ravens: GRADE: B+

Their first-round pick, DT Haloti Ngata, will help right away on the interior of the line and, they hope, will free up MLB Ray Lewis. Chris Chester will help on the offensive line,

It's always nice that an offensive lineman that is drafted in the second round will be able to help on the offensive line.

On the second day, the Ravens helped themselves with WR Demetrius Williams, RB P.J. Daniels, TE Quinn Sypniewski and OLB Ryan LaCasse of Syracuse, who will be a good special-teams player.

And we all know most NFL teams are eager to draft two players in the fourth round who will be good special teams players. The Ravens got Ngata, Chester, Dawan Landry, and Sam Koch out of this draft. That's pretty good. Considering Ngata would possibly be the #1 overall pick if this draft was re-done, then I'd say this is an "A-" draft.

Buffalo Bills: GRADE: C

While it was a reach to take safety Donte Whitner with the eighth pick, he is a great prospect and I like him.

I don't understand this. Whitner was a reach, but Mel Kiper likes him and he's a great prospect. So was it really a reach if the Bills liked Whitner as much as Kiper liked Whitner?

Cornerback Ashton Youboty lasted longer than I thought

That's what she said.

Safety Ko Simpson and defensive tackle Kyle Williams are solid. Overall, the Bills reached on both of their first-round picks but drafted players who will help the team.

Remember, Mel Kiper gets paid to evaluate a team's draft and he just wrote the sentence, "The Bills reached on both of their first round picks but drafted players who will help the team." That's good to hear they drafted players that will help the team. This is analysis.

I don't know if I'm being overly-kind here, but Whitner was decent in his time in Buffalo, while McCargo was a bust. Still, the Bills came out of this draft with Kyle Williams, Brad Butler (who quit the NFL to pursue his other passions in 2009) and Keith Ellison. That's not bad at all in the last rounds. Kyle Williams is a really good player and I don't think he always get enough credit for how good he is.

I think this draft deserves the Mel Kiper special ("A" for the late rounds and a "C" for the early rounds)...a "B."

Carolina Panthers: GRADE: C

Carolina didn't draft a wide receiver and didn't take a tight end until the fifth round.

Oh my. Have you told the cops about this? What did they say? 

Taking RB DeAngelo Williams at No. 27 gives the Panthers good security behind DeShaun Foster. Getting CB Richard Marshall makes up for the loss of Ricky Manning to the Bears. The Panthers made some reaches on OLB James Anderson, OT Rashad Butler and FS Nate Salley, 

Anderson is still in the NFL, so he wasn't a huge reach in the 3rd round, right?

but Jeff King could be a serviceable tight end.

Jeff King was the kind of tight end who conveyed absolutely no threat in the passing game, so that's why he ended up catching over 150 passes in the NFL. Teams could leave him open because he wasn't a threat. I guess that's "serviceable." Overall, the Panthers had players like Will Montgomery and Rashad Butler who made bigger impacts for teams other than the Panthers. It wasn't a bad draft, but also not a very impactful draft for the Panthers. Mel's grade is about right.

Chicago Bears: GRADE: B

The Bears traded out of the first round and were still able to get secondary help in Danieal Manning.

And here I thought all of the cornerbacks and safeties would have been taken by the second round.

Devin Hester is a great athlete, but is he a cornerback or wide receiver? Hester will help the Bears in the return game.

Well, this was a massive understatement. Hester helped in the return game by becoming possibly the greatest return specialist in NFL history.

I really like the pick of defensive end Mark Anderson in the fifth round.

Props to Kiper because this was a great pick. Let's see, the Bears got the greatest return specialist in NFL history, a safety who was an All-Pro once, and a guy with 36.5 career sacks in the fifth round. Their third round pick missed time due to injury and the Bears didn't really miss on a player until the 6th round. Mel's grade might be a little low, but almost accurate.

Cincinnati Bengals: GRADE: C

CB Johnathan Joseph was a solid first-round pick and OT Andrew Whitworth was good value in the second round, but DE Frostee Rucker was a reach in the third round. LB A.J. Nicholson slid because he has had off-the-field issues but is good with the pads on.

Interestingly, A.J. Nicholson wasn't in the NFL long enough to cause problems because he wasn't good enough with the pads on. The Bengals got Joseph, Whitworth, Rucker, and Domata Peko out of this draft. Two of these guys are still playing for the Bengals. There's no way this is a "C" draft. This is an "A-" draft if I have seen one.

Cleveland Browns: GRADE: B

First-round pick Kamerion Wimbley will be a perfect OLB in the 3-4 defense,

Wimbley has had as much success in a 4-3 system as a defensive end as he did as an OLB in the Browns 3-4 defense. Phil Savage drafted Wimbley over Ngata because he wanted to pressure the quarterback. So there's a clue as to why the Browns are where they are now.

Wide receiver Travis Wilson could be a third or fourth option in the passing game.

He was more like the third or fourth option to be cut when it came time for cuts in 2008. Wilson did have two catches during his career, so...that's not a lot of catches. The Browns did draft Lawrence Vickers, Jerome Harrison, and D'Qwell Jackson, so this wasn't a complete bust draft for them. I think Kiper's grade ended up being slightly high. I wouldn't give it a "B."

Dallas Cowboys: GRADE: B-

In the first round, they drafted a very versatile and talented OLB, Bobby Carpenter.

Or not. Though Carpenter was one of the players out of this draft (along with Anthony Fasano) that Bill Parcells was reunited with when he joined the Miami Dolphins organization. I have no idea what this means, but Carpenter was versatile only in how many curse words Cowboys fans could use in referring to him. The Cowboys got Jason Hatcher out of this draft and there wasn't a ton more long-term (and by long-term I mean "on the team in 2008") Dallas Cowboys out of this draft. This isn't a failing draft grade, but it is close. I'm guessing Mel just picked a grade out of a hat at this point in his draft grades.

Denver Broncos: GRADE: B

You have to factor in the acquisition of WR Javon Walker when grading the Broncos.

So you want me to lower my grade because of this? 

I wasn't as high on QB Jay Cutler as much as some people were -- Denver took him at No. 11 -- but he is going to a well-coached team.

A well-coached team? I thought Cutler was drafted by the Broncos? I'm kidding of course. Every single one of these draft picks, except for one (out of seven) made an impact in the NFL. The problem is every draft pick but two made an impact for the Broncos and another NFL team. Tony Scheffler, Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Domenik Hixon all had as much of an impact for other NFL teams as they did the Broncos. The Broncos did get Elvis Dumervil and Chris Kuper in this draft as well. It's pretty hard to grade the draft. Based entirely on the talent they drafted this is an "A" draft, but based on the impact this draft had for the Broncos over the long-term it was probably a "B" draft. I have said a lot of negative things about Mike Shanahan, but this was a really, really good draft for him. The Broncos may have had the second-best draft to the Saints in 2006.

Detroit Lions: GRADE: C+

I thought I'd be higher on the Lions,

"I can't believe my thoughts don't reflect the thoughts that I thought I might have."

but what concerned me was that they passed on Leinart.

In retrospect, this wasn't concerning at all. This was one of Matt Millen's smart moves. Not picking Leinart doesn't save this draft though. The Lions came away with Ernie Sims, Daniel Bullocks, and Brian Calhoun from this draft. That's still not very good. I wouldn't fail the Lions, but it is somewhat close. Mel's grade is another cop-out.

Green Bay Packers: GRADE: B

I gave Green Bay an A after the first day.

But then you realized you are going too far out on a limb and needed to push the grade back to a "B" or a "C" like every other draft grade you gave for 2006?

The Packers had a lot of picks (12), and some were definitely reaches.

And when a team has 12 picks there is zero room to reach for a prospect the team likes. Of course in keeping with his tradition of not wanting to be wrong, Kiper doesn't tell us which picks he thought were reaches.

Linebacker A.J. Hawk, their first-round pick at No. 5, will give the Packers a much-needed face on defense.

Unfortunately, this is the face he gave the defense. 

Offensive tackle Daryn Colledge needs to get stronger and become a better run-blocker. I really like WR Greg Jennings, LB Abdul Hodge and C Jason Spitz. Will Blackmon was both a wide receiver and cornerback at Boston College, but reportedly he will get a chance to play corner initially.

The Packers got Hawk, Colledge, Jennings, Spitz, Blackmon and Johnny Jolly out of this draft. They also drafted Dave Tollefson but he didn't make the active roster. That's not a terribly bad roster of draft picks, even with having 12 of them. The Packers really only missed on three of these picks. I'm inclined to grade this draft highly. I would probably give it an "A." It appears Mel pulled the grade "B" out of a hat, so that's what he gave the Packers.

Houston Texans: GRADE: B+

I would have taken Reggie Bush with the first overall pick. But I have to respect the pick of Mario Williams,

Rest easy Houston Texans, Mel Kiper respects your pick of Mario Williams. Wipe the sweat off your brow now.

DeMeco Ryans at linebacker was a solid second-round pick, while Charles Spencer and Eric Winston will help out the offensive line.

Again, it's great to hear this analysis that offensive linemen drafted by an NFL team will help out that team's offensive line. Very refreshing to hear these offensive linemen won't help the team's concession stands increase their sales of popcorn.

The Texans came out of this draft with three players who have made a Pro Bowl, as well as Eric Winston. Of course, now Mario Williams and Ryans are playing for teams other than the Texans, but they did a pretty good job in drafting and I would say taking Mario Williams over Reggie Bush worked out. I think Mel's draft grade is correct, if not slightly low.

Indianapolis Colts: GRADE: C

First-round pick Joseph Addai (at No. 30) is a good blocking running back, but he is not all that dynamic running the ball. Tim Jennings will be a solid nickel cornerback, and I like the pick of LB Freddie Keiaho in the third round.

Drafting a blocking back in the first round and a nickelback in the second round is worth a "C" grade? I wonder what kind of grade Mel would have given the Colts if he felt they had actually drafted a starting player with their first two picks?

The Colts drafted three guys in this draft who had made a Pro Bowl, but Jennings didn't make the Pro Bowl while a member of the Colts team. I'm inclined to be kind to this draft considering the Colts got Antoine Bethea and Charlie Johnson in the sixth round and Addai was a key member of the 2006 Colts Super Bowl winning team. This wasn't a "C" draft and I think based on his comments Mel should have graded it lower than that. Of course, that would have made him even more wrong when evaluating the talent the Colts acquired through the 2006 draft and he can't have that. This is one of many times Mel's comments don't reflect the grade he gives a team's draft. I think this is a "B+" draft.

Jacksonville Jaguars: GRADE: C+

First-round pick Marcedes Lewis (No. 28) will get a great opportunity to be the pass-catching tight end the Jaguars need.

This type of comment means absolutely nothing. Yes, Lewis was drafted in the first round and he is a tight end, so he will get the opportunity to be a tight end that catches passes for the Jaguars.

The Jaguars only had six picks in this draft and they only really hit on three guys in the draft who had any kind of impact on the team. I still can't decide if Marcedes Lewis was a disappointment in where he was taken or not. I lean towards saying he has earned his status as a first round pick, especially since the last three years he hasn't had a decent quarterback throwing him the football. Plus, the Jaguars came out of this draft with Maurice Jones Drew in the second round. Mel's grade might be a little bit high.

Kansas City Chiefs: GRADE: C

I thought the Chiefs would go with a cornerback, but you can't argue with their first-round pick at No. 20, DE Tamba Hali. S Bernard Pollard is a hitter but is questionable in coverage.

This is the part where Bill Simmons would write BERNARD KARMELL POLLARD and I would get annoyed. The Chiefs got Tamba Hali, Pollard, and Jarrad Page out of this draft. Of course they also got the non-quarterback of the future Brodie Croyle out of this draft, so I should probably knock them down a grade for that. I think one of the many "C's" that Mel gave was right in this case.

Miami Dolphins: GRADE: C

This was a Dolphins draft when Nick Saban was the head coach. The Dolphins didn't really do great on any of their picks. Jason Allen was pretty good and the rest of the draft (Derek Hagan, Fred Evans, Devin Aromashodu) had more success with other NFL teams. This is a "D" draft, bordering on an "F" draft if you ask me.

Minnesota Vikings: GRADE: C+

Linebacker Chad Greenway was a very good pick at No. 17, while Cedric Griffin is a solid defensive back who needs to play the ball better.

Fortunately he is a cornerback so he won't have to play the ball very much or anything like that.

QB Tarvaris Jackson went a bit high, but he has a chance to be the Vikings' future quarterback

Again, it's always nice to see a quarterback drafted in the second round has a chance to be the quarterback in the future for the team that drafted him. Overall, the Vikings did pretty well. They got Chad Greenway, Cedric Griffin, Ryan Cook and Ray Edwards in this draft. Tarvaris Jackson was also taken in the second round. Not a great showing, but also not average like Mel's grade reflected. I thin Mel's grade is too low.

New England Patriots: GRADE: B

Laurence Maroney, selected at No. 21, gives the Patriots a security blanket at running back. WR Chad Jackson was a nice pick in the second round and could have gone in the middle of the first.

Ugh, I shudder at that thought.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski was a reach in the fourth round (I didn't think any kickers would get drafted).

Gostkowski was in no way a reach and he has become one of the best kickers in the NFL. That's worth a fourth round pick. The Patriots sort of hit on Maroney in the first round and Chad Jackson was an absolute bust. Overall, the best player out of this draft was probably Stephen Gostkowski and they drafted Jeremy Mincey, but he had his most success with Jacksonville. The Patriots had 10 picks and only two of them were on the team after the 2008 season. Definitely not a "B" draft.

New Orleans Saints: GRADE: C

The Saints got the top player on the board in running back Reggie Bush, but I don't understand the pick of safety Roman Harper in the second round when they needed help at cornerback and linebacker...I do like guard Zach Strief in the seventh round, especially since he could have gone as high as the third round.

Roman Harper is still on the Saints team, so that seems to have worked out. Overall this was an excellent, excellent draft for the Saints. They had eight picks and four of these picks are still on the team today, while Reggie Bush wasn't close to a bust and Rob Ninkovich bounced around a bit before landing in New England. A draft where the Saints landed Roman Harper, Marques Colston, Jahri Evans, and Zach Strief is an excellent draft. Mel missed on this draft pretty damn bad. This was the best draft class in the 2006 NFL Draft. I would give it an "A+."

New York Giants: GRADE: C+

DE Mathias Kiwanuka was a reach late in the first round, but he will get a chance to learn from Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora.

Oh, he "has a chance to learn" from these two guys. That's good to hear. I'm glad they aren't going to ignore him completely and no one on the Giants coaching staff will choose to not coach Kiwanuka.

Getting WR Sinorice Moss in the second round was one of the best picks in the draft; he could be the deep threat the Giants' offense needs. 

Or he could be injured a lot and never turn into a productive receiver. So the Giants got Kiwanuka, Barry Cofield, and a couple of guys (Guy Whimper and Charlie Peprah) who were successful as much on other teams as they were the Giants. That miss on Moss in the second round and their third round pick being a specials team-only kind of linebacker doesn't help this draft classes's grade. Let's put a "-" in front of the "C" instead of a "+."

New York Jets: GRADE: B-

I thought the Jets reached late on the first day with LB Anthony Schlegel and S Eric Smith.

It turns out Schlegel was a reach, but Eric Smith wasn't a reach at all. He was productive for the Jets for a while. The Jets drafted Nick Mangold, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Leon Washington, and Drew Coleman in this draft as well. They did miss on a second and third round pick, but overall not a terrible draft. I think Mel's grade is a bit low, but who is to argue with the letter grade drawn out of a hat?

Oakland Raiders: GRADE C:

Safety Michael Huff, their first-round pick at No. 7, and linebacker Thomas Howard will help the defense,

Defensive players drafted by the Raiders will help the Raiders defense! What a concept and I'm glad Mel Kiper is around to provide this kind of analysis to his readers. Without it, I would be lost.

while S Darnell Bing made sense in the fourth round.

(Mel Kiper looks through his notes after Bing gets drafted, sees that Bing plays football and is draft-eligible, then nods knowingly because choosing a guy who played football in college and is eligible for the draft does make sense)

Paul McQuistan and Kevin Boothe both had more success with teams that weren't the Raiders and Michael Huff was always a bit of a disappointment. The Raiders didn't exactly blow any draft picks, but they also didn't draft any guys who made a huge impact on the team over the long-term. Mel's grade is about right.

Philadelphia Eagles: GRADE: B

This is the year the Eagles drafted Jeremy Bloom, who was a downhill skier/wide receiver in college. He was quite the big deal for a day or two. Mel got excited about the hype and said Bloom would help in the return game, which he didn't do. The Eagles got Brodrick Bunkley, Winston Justice, Chris Gocong, Max Jean-Gilles, Jason Avant, and Omar Gaither out of this draft. They drafted eight guys, six of which were contributors to their team. That's a better draft than a "B" in my opinion.

Pittsburgh Steelers: GRADE: C+

I feel like the Steelers deserve an "A" for a draft that included guys named Willie (two of them!), Orien, Omar, Marvin, and Cedric. It sounds like the names in a boy band where every member is 65 years old or more. It doesn't look like Mel gave the Steelers extra grade points for this unfortunately. This was not a great draft for the Steelers and none of the picks are currently on the team and all but two were off the team by 2008. It's not even a "C" draft.

San Francisco 49ers: GRADE: B+

Mel starts to get board at this point and write stuff that's even more useless than what he had written earlier in his draft grades. The 49ers drafted Vernon Davis, Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson, and Delanie Walker out of this draft. I think Mel's grade is about right. 

San Diego Chargers: GRADE: C 

CB Antonio Cromartie (first round, No. 19) could be a great player and has tremendous upside. The Chargers needed a cornerback, and Cromartie is worth the roll of the dice.

Cromartie has "tremendous upside"? Is Cromartie an NBA player or something?

OT Marcus McNeill is good, but he plays tall and could have trouble with quick, smaller defensive ends.

It's weird that a guy who is 6'7" would play tall. Who would have thought it? Of course if McNeill was 6'2" then Mel would drop McNeill down his draft board for being too short and not playing tall enough. Despite playing too tall, McNeill managed to start every game he played in as an NFL player. I think a "C" grade is too low. McNeill retired due to injuries, Cromartie was traded for population control reasons to the Jets since he was singlehandedly responsible for re-populating the San Diego area, and Jeromey Clary is still with the team having started 89 games with the Chargers. Definitely a better grade than the one Mel gave. I would give it a high "B" grade.

Seattle Seahawks: GRADE: B

They had only six picks, but I like what the Seahawks did with each of them.

Mel liked every pick the Seahawks made. Naturally, liking every pick a team made isn't enough to get an "A" grade. I don't know what in the hell an NFL team would have to do to get an "A" from Mel, but I chalk the "B" grade up to Mel not wanting to even come close to going out on a limb. What would an NFL team have to do in 2006 to get an "A" grade from Mel if he doesn't give an "A" to a team whose every pick he liked? Would the Seahawks have to find a way to draft more players than they had draft picks to get an "A"?

Interestingly, Mel's grade is about right. The Seahawks got Darryl Tapp, Kelly Jennings, Ben Obomanu, and Rob Sims out of this draft.

St. Louis Rams: GRADE: C+

I like some things the Rams did -- like taking CB Tye Hill at No. 15 --

Not a very good move in retrospect.

They got two very good tight ends in Joe Klopfenstein and Dominique Byrd, although Byrd dropped because of concerns about his knees.

These two tight ends had 41 combined catches in their NFL careers. The Rams didn't get much out of this draft at all. The most successful player was either Hill or Klopfenstein. Not a "C+" draft in any way.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: GRADE: C+

I still think it is hilarious that Mel only gave out "B's" and "C's" in his draft grades. How useless can he be?

Tampa Bay went offensive line with its first two picks: OG Davin Joseph and OT Jeremy Trueblood. Joseph might have been high for the first round,

Well, Joseph is still in the NFL and hasn't failed a drug test so I don't think he was high for the first round.

while Trueblood is tall and sometimes plays upright.

Mel Kiper hates tall offensive linemen. If he was building a team he would only have offensive linemen who were 6 feet tall and hunched over all the time. That's Mel's perfect offensive lineman. One who isn't tall and doesn't play tall. The Buccaneers had seven picks that didn't last past the 2007 season. Possibly Jon Gruden should have stuck to simply drafting offensive linemen since Joseph and Trueblood were the two best picks here. the Buccaneers did get two starters out of this draft, but out of 10 picks I don't think I can give them quite a "C+" for this draft.

If I were Jon Gruden I would say, "Now this draft here. I like it a lot. If I had to choose one draft class the Buccaneers had in 2006, this would be the draft class I would choose. I just love those guys."

Tennessee Titans: GRADE: B

I would have taken Leinart, but Vince Young will be a very good quarterback.

Matt Leinart was Mel Kiper's Jimmy Clausen before there was a Jimmy Clausen available in the NFL Draft. I have a feeling somewhere there is a notebook with Mel's doodle-writing all over it with hearts around Matt Leinart's name. Actually, Mel has probably burnt that notebook by now.

RB LenDale White will be highly motivated coming in as a second-round pick. 

This Titans grade should be subtitled "Mel Kiper's Worst Hits."

Don't forget that he's reunited with Norm Chow, the former offensive coordinator at USC who holds that position with Tennessee.

Oh, we didn't forget it. White scored 24 touchdowns in the NFL but calling him "highly motivated" seems to be overstating the case quite a bit.

A "B" is probably a little high for this draft. Vince Young was great for the Titans in the short-term, while Cortland Finnegan and Stephen Tulloch were also great picks. Considering their first, second and third round picks didn't last being on the team past the 2010 season I have a hard time thinking this is a "B" draft.

Washington Redskins: GRADE: C

The Redskins had only one pick on the first day,

Some things will never change. Ever.

McIntosh will come in and start at weakside linebacker.

He started two games in his rookie year at weakside linebacker. The Redskins had six picks actually still have two players from this draft still on the roster. Reed Doughty and Kedric Golston. Neither player are a star, but like Rocky McIntosh they were able to contribute to the Redskins team for more than just a few years. I think for having three picks the Redskins did decently in the draft. I think Mel's draft grade is about right.

If Mel gives enough (32 of them in this case) "B's" and "C's" then eventually he will be right about a few of them. That's all that matters with Mel's draft grades. Not saying anything that could make him look bad down the line, yet by not saying anything or taking a hard stance he looks even worse than he would if he actually had the guts to really grade the draft of these teams. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

5 comments How To Fix the NBA Lottery By Making it More Non-Sensical and Absurd

Has anyone been worried about the NBA lottery and how it rewards teams for tanking? No worries from here on out! This problem has been figured out by "Slate." There is a brilliant idea posted on the site on how to fix the NBA lottery and make everything more fair. The best part is this idea takes the lottery process and turns it into a circus atmosphere, where the intention goes away from choosing lottery spots for each team and becomes more of an exercise in creating manufactured drama. Why does everything have to be dramatic and overly-difficult?

On another note, does anyone but sportswriters care that the NBA lottery is fixed to where teams have some incentive to tank? Like, is this a big deal that the normal sports fan really cares about or is the complaining about tanking simply something the media cares about more than a sports fan does? Me personally, I could care less if the 76ers tank and get a high draft pick. It doesn't bother me. The idea some teams are so terrible they get rewarded for being bad just doesn't bother me that much (as long as I'm not a fan of that team). I could be in the minority, but I feel like others in the media are more concerned about this than I am.

This is the year that NBA tanking went off the rails. 

Every year over the past few years, this has been written somewhere. 

The Philadelphia 76ers, for starters, exemplified a whole new level of basketball seppuku with a team so willfully awful that the New York Times Magazine felt compelled to publish a feature story about their willful awfulness.

The 76ers were so terrible that people in the media noticed how terrible they were.

By descending into “tank mode,” the Sixers hoped to lose enough games that they’d receive one of the valuable first picks in the upcoming NBA draft.

Oh, so THAT is how tanking works? Thanks for clearing that one up. By the way, this is the third straight season the 76ers have essentially done this. So if they were "off the rails" this year then it isn't "the year" tanking went "off the rails." There are a lot of quotes in that sentence. More quotes than good points made in this column in fact.

The New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, and other teams were accused of plunging into the tank for large swaths of this season. Which is sad.

Let's be slightly fair, the Lakers stumbled on to tanking. They managed to lose their first round pick to injury, their best player to injury, and their old point guard tried to come back from injury and had to retire instead. The intention wasn't to tank, but at some point they have to throw up their hands and realize it ain't their year.

Tanking makes for ugly basketball and it throws off competitive balance.

(Bengoodfella shrugs his shoulders) As long as a large percentage of the NBA isn't tanking then I really don't feel too concerned about this problem.

Perhaps worst of all: Fans of tanking teams find themselves not only watching putrid hoops but also perversely rooting against their hometown squads

And again, this is very weird and not good for the fans of these teams. Would fixing the lottery so these teams don't get good players really help the situation? The assumption is management would stop tanking, but would it really stop this strategy? I'm not entirely sure. Lest it be forgotten that the current lottery system was put in place to prevent tanking. From the Bondy column:

The lottery was put into place by David Stern after the spring of 1984 turned into an uncomfortable tank-fest. The way it worked, teams with the very worst record in each conference flipped a coin for the first pick and then other selections were made in inverse order of won-loss records. Not surprisingly, the franchises that still owned their first-round picks hemorrhaged defeats. The Rockets dropped 14 of their last 17 games, nine of their last 10, and their final five. They were rewarded with Olajuwon as the No. 1 pick. The Bulls lost 14 of their last 15 to land Jordan at No. 3.

To quell this perception, Stern instituted the draft lottery, which gave teams far less reason to throw away games.

Sounds a lot like the strategy teams are using 30 years later. The draft lottery was supposed to stop teams from tanking. It didn't. So changes are being suggested again. And again, teams will tank anyway.

You know something has gone awry when Knicks coach Derek Fisher feels pressure to apologize to fans for winning.

In that article, Fisher seemed to say he doesn't feel pressure to apologize to fans for winning. He's not going to apologize for it, so therefore I would say he doesn't feel the pressure. OR it could be we are arguing over semantics in regard to a lottery change that won't ever change the fact NBA teams are going to tank.

The best tanking solution would be relegation, as happens in European soccer leagues. Each year, the bottom three teams in the continent’s top divisions are kicked out of the league and relegated to a lower one. Regrettably, with NBA teams currently selling for $2 billion apiece, it's unlikely we'll get owners to agree that a few of them should be banished to the D-League each year to compete against the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Clearly the author is a fan of Bill Simmons since Bill has floated this idea jokingly (not jokingly?) in columns before. And yes, no NBA team will be relegated. I don't even know how that would work with the NBA Draft and I don't really care either.

A more likely solution would be for the NBA to flatten out the lottery odds. Right now the worst team has a 25 percent chance at the top pick while the 14th-worst team has a 0.5 percent chance. We could switch to a true lottery, in which all 14 non-playoff teams would get an equal 7.14 percent chance at the top pick.

So basically the same lottery system the NBA used to use, then got rid of in order to discourage teams from tanking? Get rid of the currently lottery system in order to go back to the old lottery system which was changed because it encouraged teams to tank? Gotta have a sense of history. The odds are not as great now that a team would land the #1 pick (it was around 14% thirty years ago), but the system was no longer used for a reason. 

Another draft scheme that’s gotten lots of attention is “the wheel”—a system in which the draft order would be set far in advance so that a team’s draft position would have zero to do with its on-court performance.

Sounds great, but I have a feeling teams would still find a way to tank. I have no idea how, but NBA teams have tanked at times for decades and it is almost a reflex for some teams who are looking to rebuild. 

This would eliminate any reason to tank, but it would also do nothing to help bad teams get better. The worst team in the league might end up picking dead last in the draft.

And therein lies the whole problem with the media's teeth-gnashing over fixing the lottery. How can a lottery be set up for the purpose to help teams that aren't very good so they do become very good, while also not giving teams incentive to tank? The NBA can't help bad teams, while also not giving teams incentive to be bad. That is, unless some convoluted lottery set up over a several year span where to occur. Something like a team can't get a Top 5 pick for a certain amount of years if they have had one in the previous year. But again, this would work at cross purposes to help a team that's trying to get better. The Thunder never would have had the chance to draft James Harden and Russell Westbrook if this rule were in effect over the last decade.

As horrible as the status quo is, some version of reverse-order drafting—and the increased parity it helps create—is still a worthy goal. So the problem seems intractable.

It is. It's very hard to help bad teams while not incentivizing these teams to be bad.

But fear not, NBA fans! A superior answer exists, and a friend of mine has invented it. It’s fair, it’s elegant, and it’s fun. My friend calls it the “You’re the Worst!” draft.

Maybe not ironically, this draft idea is the worst draft idea. It's convoluted and turns the lottery into a drama that becomes more game show than simple lottery to determine draft position.

How would it work? On the day before the regular season began, the NBA would hold a “You’re the Worst!” draft. Selection order for the YTW draft would be determined like any standard reverse-order draft—the team that had the worst win-loss record in the previous season would pick first, the team that had the best record would pick last. But the teams wouldn’t be drafting players.

(Cue overdramatic music)

They’d be choosing the rights to another team’s position in the next NBA draft.

I see that you, as a reader, maybe confused by one part of this. You may be asking, "But, would each team point at each other and say 'you're the worst' during this process?" Fear not, that is something that would happen. Just wait for the full plan to be revealed.

So, for example, the Minnesota Timberwolves, who finished this season with the worst win-loss record, would have the first YTW pick in the fall when the 2015–16 season started. One day before opening day, all of the league’s general managers would gather together in a room. The T-Wolves would look around that room and decide which team they thought would finish worst in 2015–16.

Again, this is over complicating the entire lottery process needlessly. There is no reason to do this, other than to provide needless drama and over-complicate the process. It's a fun idea, but not something that should really happen.

Minnesota general manager Milt Newton might predict that the Knicks would be the worst team next season. In which case he would shout, “You’re the worst!” while pointing at Knicks President Phil Jackson, stealing the Knicks’ position in the 2016 NBA draft.

I wonder if it doesn't count as saying a team is the worst if a team's GM chooses to point but not shout or simply decides to shout without pointing? I would say this is all a joke, but I really don't think it is based on the columnist really defending why this is a good way to determine a team's lottery position.

If the Knicks indeed finished worst next year, the T-wolves would then receive the top pick in the 2016 draft. If the Knicks finished with the third-worst record, the T-Wolves would receive the No. 3 pick.

I'll play this game. I feel like there is some issue with this method if one team owns another team's first round pick in certain situations (if it falls out of the Top 7, etc) that could affect how this idea would work. I'm trying to think of specific examples, but can't. Perhaps this isn't an issue, but it feels to me like this lottery set up could impact draft picks that are lottery protected.

In this scenario, say the Knicks plan on tanking during the 15-16 year to get a better pick and everyone knows this. The Timberwolves know they will end up getting a high pick in the draft no matter what because they have chosen the Knicks as the team with the worst record, so it won't affect whether THEY tank or not. They are free to tank (again) because they know they will get the first (or really close to first) team choice again the next year. Alternatively in this scenario, say the Timberwolves plan on trying to win as many games as possible and they are chosen to have the sixth worst record in the NBA. If the Timberwolves know the Knicks are tanking during the 15-16 season and they are guaranteed to have a high lottery pick, then what's the point in trying to win games? They have another chance to pick early during the 16-17 lottery! Why should the T-Wolves care if another team gets a higher pick through the T-Wolves deciding to tank as long as the Knicks keep losing? At that point, the T-Wolves can continue to tank, but just as long as they know the Knicks are worse than them.

(Hopefully that made sense. Basically, the T-Wolves still have no incentive to be a good team in this lottery system.)

After the Wolves picked, Jackson and the Knicks, with their second-worst record this past season, would look around the room, predict which remaining team might perform most horribly in 2015–16, and select that team’s 2016 draft pick. Preferably while pointing and shouting, “You’re the next worst!”

Yes, preferably there would be pointing and shouting.

Let’s look at how things would have panned out if we’d held a YTW draft for the 2014–15 season. Since the Bucks accumulated the worst win-loss record last year, and the 76ers appeared to be clearly the worst team entering this season, the Bucks would've selected the 76ers first in the YTW draft. It turned out that the 76ers earned the third-worst record, so the Bucks would be getting the third pick in this June’s NBA draft. 

And the Bucks made the playoffs, so naturally they should be rewarded for making the playoffs by receiving a higher draft pick. Wait, that's not the purpose of the lottery is it?

Here’s how the 2015 NBA draft might look if there’d been a YTW draft on Oct. 27, 2014, the day before this season started (we’ll use SCHOENE projections from the start of the season as a proxy for how general managers might have projected other teams):

  1. Denver Nuggets (The Nuggets had the 11th-worst record in 2013–14, so they’d pick 11th in the YTW draft; the Timberwolves were projected to be the 11th-worst team this season, so the Nuggets would have stolen their pick. Since the T-Wolves finished with the league’s worst record, the Nuggets would get the first pick in June’s draft.)
  2. Sacramento Kings (seventh-worst record in 2013–14, steal New York Knicks pick)
  3. Milwaukee Bucks (worst record in 2013–14, steal 76ers pick)
  4. Boston Celtics (fifth-worst record in 2013–14, steal Lakers pick)
  5. Philadelphia 76ers (second-worst record in 2013–14, steal Orlando Magic pick)
It’s a pretty good result. 

It is a pretty good result based upon your guess on which teams other teams would choose as being the worst. It's always fun when a writer wants to prove his point as correct and then uses his assumptions as the "factual basis" that shows the underlying points as correct.

And it's not exactly pretty good. Two of these teams made the playoffs and out of the 10 worst teams in the NBA this past year only 3 will get a Top 5 pick and of the 5 worst teams in the NBA, only 1 of those teams gets a Top 5 pick. So if the purpose was to stop tanking, it would work, but if the purpose was to help teams like the Knicks, Lakers, T-Wolves, and Magic get better (and really, I would only count one of those teams as truly tanking) then this result doesn't work well at all.

Although the Bucks, last year’s worst team, wouldn't end up with the first pick in this year’s NBA draft—something that often doesn't happen anyway, due to the lottery—the new positions still would be heavily weighted toward the bottom feeders.

As long as you ignore that of the bottom 5 teams in the NBA, only 1 of them gets a Top 5 pick. As I said, it works at cross-purposes to decrease tanking while trying not to award the worst teams with the chance to draft the best players. It's very hard to do both.

Though the Timberwolves wouldn't receive the first pick in the upcoming player draft, despite finishing with the worst record, they would own the YTW No. 1 this fall, which would very likely pay off in 2016.

I like how the author tries to sell this. He sells it as "the T-Wolves didn't get the first pick in the draft, so preventing tanking works, but next year they will get the first chance to pick which NBA team will be the worst, so tanking does pay off."

Funny how that works isn't? Tanking isn't necessarily discouraged any more than a team knows the pay off for tanking will come, but maybe not immediately. The author can't have it both ways. He can't have this system as a way to prevent tanking, then point out how a team that tanks will be set up to have an early pick two drafts from now.

The obvious benefit of this system is that no team would have an incentive to tank throughout the season (barring collusion). Just think about how this season could have been different.

But a team would still have incentive to tank, because as the author just said, the Timberwolves wouldn't receive the first pick in the draft by having the worst record but they would still have the chance to pick the worst team in the NBA the next year. In fact, the author says having the worst record during the 14-15 season would "pay off" in 15-16. So there's the incentive.

If the Knicks didn’t derive a direct benefit from being so terrible, would they have shut down Carmelo? Would the 76ers dare to build a team so nakedly atrocious?

Yes, because teams that tank aren't thinking about the short-term, but only in the long-term. In the long-term, tanking will "pay off" through having the first chance to choose the worst team in the NBA for the upcoming season. There is the incentive to tank.

Another benefit to the “You’re the Worst” system: It would be exciting! 

No, this is the only benefit. Something being exciting doesn't mean that it's also a good idea. I don't think this system would prevent tanking, especially since most teams that are tanking aren't looking at the short-term view. Having to wait another year for tanking to pay off wouldn't be a big deal to an NBA team.

With YTW, we’d replace the lottery with even better drama. Wouldn’t you tune in to see Newton, or better yet Wolves president and coach Flip Saunders, walk up to the podium on national television, look Phil Jackson straight in the eye, and say, “You’re the worst!”? (OK, it would be more like, “With the first pick in the preseason selection-order draft, the Timberwolves select the Knicks.” But the implied insult would be there.)

I probably would not be more inclined to watch this than I'm inclined to watch the current lottery selection show.

Because NBA fans have long memories, animosity would instantly sprout. Consider: If the Knicks visited Philadelphia right after calling them “the worst,” the Philly crowd might get rowdy

There's nothing like trying to manufacture a rivalry AND manufacture drama.

It stinks to root against your own team, but it’s hella fun to root against other teams. Players would also be eager to prove rival teams’ projections wrong. Ultimately, YTW would enhance—wait for it—competitiveness!

It would not in the same way the current lottery system was supposed to stop tanking and it did not. But it's hella fun to pretend NBA teams aren't going to just tank anyway in an effort to stop something that will happen as long as the intent of the lottery is to get the best players to the worst teams.

To be sure, this system is not perfect.

Noooooooooooooooooo. This system seems pretty perfect to me.

It might take a casual fan a few run-throughs to understand. And it puts a heavy premium on the forecasting skills of NBA front offices. Nerdy spreadsheet jockeys would become even more valuable than they already are.

Does the author really believe the Sixers would not have tanked over the past three seasons in an effort to get a good draft pick if they knew they had to wait another year for the tanking to pay off? This is a real belief the author has? A team like the Knicks or 76ers that are trying to cut salary and gather high draft picks won't be willing to wait another year for the tanking to pay off? These teams know they would get a pretty good pick if they tank, because they would get to choose which NBA team they think will be the worst during the upcoming season, and they know a 3-5 year rebuilding plan takes 3-5 years. So what's waiting another year for tanking to pay off?

But it might be better for Sam Hinkie to put his geek skills to use in the service of predictive analysis—or maybe even figuring out how to help his team win—instead of searching for the most efficient way to lose.

Because he wouldn't use that predictive analysis to find out which teams will be the worst so that once the Sixers continue to tank they can choose another team that's just as terrible as they are, all in the name of getting a higher pick. This system won't stop tanking any more than the change to the system used prior to 1985 stopped tanking. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

0 comments Jay Mariotti's Hypocrisy About the American Court System Is On Display for All to See When He's Bashing Barry Bonds

Jay Mariotti is no stranger to court cases and defending his name against people who make claims against him. When Jay re-introduced himself for the first time on the Sports Talk Florida site, he wrote the following about the woman who accused him of assault and the court system that he thinks chewed him up unfairly: 

While the Internet paves new avenues of media creativity, it also enables the irresponsibility of hacks. I know this too well, having come off a legal case filled with countless lies and accompanied by lazy, reckless, inaccurate, incomplete news coverage.

I’m confident we would have won at trial. But realizing the L.A. justice system is bureaucratic at best and insidious at worst, I had no interest in spending a half-million dollars on legal fees, exposing my daughters and family to what clearly was one-sided media coverage

Wrote Rieder: “Life is packed with nuances and subtleties and shades of gray. But the news media are often uncomfortable in such murky terrain. They prefer straightforward narratives, with good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains. Those tales are much easier for readers and viewers to relate to.”

You can say I’m uniquely qualified now to comment on athletes in legal messes. I’ve been among those who’ve offered quick-trigger opinions about athletes in trouble, and after seeing how the system works, I’ll know in the future to investigate all angles.
 
Perspective, it’s called.

Jay (of all people, which is what I wrote at the time) lectures his readers about nuance, subtleties and the one-sided coverage of the news media in his original re-introduction with Sports Talk Florida. He writes about how the media jumps to conclusions without all the facts, doesn't care for shades of gray, and prefer straight narratives with good and bad guys. He has "perspective" now that he has been chewed up by the legal system. I didn't buy it at the time and for good reason.

Then in Jay's next re-introduction with the "San Francisco Examiner," after his media mogul gig at Sports Talk Florida failed, he doubled down on his disdain for the legal system. He wrote the following:

The media should be firm but fair, edgy but accurate. I realize this more than ever now, having experienced my own news-cycle storm that made me understand why people in sports — and everywhere, really — dislike and distrust the media. To recap, I was accused of domestic violence offenses I did not commit by a plaintiff who tried, without success, to win a financial reward in a civil suit. Not only did that suit fail quickly, the original case was dismissed and expunged ("Not guilty," read the court documents), which means there was no conviction. Expungements, as The New York Times recently noted, are issued rarely and with considerable diligence.

Know this: Just because someone is accused doesn't mean he is guilty, and just because one pleads no contest doesn't mean he is acknowledging guilt.

I've seen firsthand how sleazy it all is — traffic-obsessed media, sloppy and dishonest police work, headline-seeking prosecutors, predisposed judges, a rival lawyer who advised my lawyer not to represent me. I wrote about it three and a half years ago in my e-book, The System, and I've learned a mean lesson about watching my associations.

In my case, only one media outlet has bothered to try to complete the story and publish news of the expungement. And that happened only when I had the document sent to a confused San Francisco Chronicle reporter earlier this month — he said he was having trouble finding it — and demanded that he publish it, as did my attorney. That didn't stop the Chronicle's tweeting editor-in-chief, who should know better, from mischaracterizing a quote of mine from her own paper and calling me a name that does not legally apply. Since the announcement of my appointment at the Examiner, how many news outlets have written about the expungement even after the Chronicle grudgingly reported it? None that I've seen. I'd suggest media outlets require all writers and editors to take law classes.

I apologize for the wall of text, but it's important to know these are Jay's positions when going through the column he has posted about Barry Bonds. See, these really aren't Jay's positions overall, but Jay's positions regarding HIMSELF. HE was chewed up by a corrupt court system. HE was the victim of an over-zealous prosecutor. HE was a victim of the traffic-obsessed media and HE knows that just because someone is accused that doesn't mean the person is guilty. This rule only pertains to himself though. HE knows that an expunged record gets a lot less media coverage than the original accusations.

As it pertains to others who are accused, chewed up by the system and are a victim of the traffic-obsessed media? Fuck 'em. Jay doesn't care. When it's Jay's head on the chopping block the whole system is doing him wrong and the media is ravenous for a good story. When it's Jay's chance to become a part of the ravenous media who is traffic-obsessed and unable to understand any type of nuance, well, he is eager to join the media in working with the corrupt court system. Barry Bonds' conviction for obstruction of justice was overturned and all that perspective Jay had has gone out the window because he smells chum in the water. Everyone in the media is out to get Jay. He's quick to cry about this, but when he has a chance to work in the media and go after someone, Jay is just another media scum who doesn't truly have the perspective he now claims to have.

I believe Barry Bonds used steroids and all of that. I'm not really looking to defend Bonds' good/bad name. I find it hilarious at what Jay writes when he laughs off one of the federal judges believing the legal system was out to get Bonds, mostly because Jay has written several times about how the legal system was out to get him personally. As always, there are different rules for Jay Mariotti and everyone else. He's always the victim, and quick to laugh at those who claim to also be a victim or may be a victim of the legal system themselves.

So now we can expect the Incredible Shrinking Barry Bonds to hit up his Instagram feed — if you need a good laugh, check it out — and take a retaliatory selfie. Maybe he thumbs his nose.

This is as opposed to Jay Mariotti trashing the court system, his alleged victim and everyone else in a column...which he has done twice.

And also, plenty of athletes shrink down some after they retire. It's not terribly unusual. Most get fat if they don't shrink down. 

Maybe he signals that we should shove it where the syringe doesn’t stain. Maybe he resends his self-portrait bearing the inscription, “99 PROBLEMS BUT A PITCH AIN’T ONE.”

Just remember that Jay has perspective now...or he claims to have perspective. Remember that Jay claims to be able to differentiate between accusations and what a person may have really done. Perhaps Bonds is guilty of using steroids (which he probably is), but Jay now claims to have the ability to understand that it doesn't mean Bonds is guilty of obstruction of justice as well...or he claims to have this ability now, but doesn't seem in a hurry to use this ability.

Because today, technically, Bonds can tell the world that his record is clean, that he never has been convicted for an offense related to performance-enhancing drugs. Thanks to a hometown ruling seemingly hatched in a booth down the street at Dottie’s True Blue Cafe, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Bonds’ felony conviction for obstruction of justice,

It's a "hometown ruling"! Now the corrupt court system is ruling in favor of the wealthy when in Jay's situation the corrupt court system was trying to tear him down because he's wealthy. The courts wouldn't rule for Bonds if he wasn't just so damn well-liked. Barry Bonds is so engaging and kind to everyone that the court probably factored that in, while Jay Mariotti being surly and confrontational is why the LA courts were so biased against him.

with 10 of 11 judges concluding that his long-winded answer during a 2003 grand jury proceeding wasn’t material to the government’s probe into steroids.

Jay Mariotti in his introductory column for the "Examiner":

Since the announcement of my appointment at the Examiner, how many news outlets have written about the expungement even after the Chronicle grudgingly reported it? None that I've seen. I'd suggest media outlets require all writers and editors to take law classes.

Perhaps the law classes that Jay suggests others take based on his experiences within the legal system could help him as well. Jay could learn that 10 of 11 judges probably don't care about Barry Bonds and only concerned themselves with the rule of law before them. But I'm sure Jay thinks this ruling is another example of "the system" letting famous people off easy, except for Jay of course. "The system" persecutes Jay. He's such a victim.

Which means Bonds can launch what surely will be a loud, aggressive campaign for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

He's not getting in any time soon, so I'm not sure why this is a concern or even relevant to whether the non-legal expert Jay Mariotti is correct in questioning and being snarky about the legal opinion of 10 federal judges or not. How dare the judges validate Barry Bonds and his Hall of Fame credentials by ruling that his felony conviction would be overturned! I want to know what happened to Jay's "Accused doesn't mean guilty" line of thought? This line of thought disappears when Jay isn't the one accused but not really guilty.

Which means the Giants, who have worked cautiously in bringing Bonds back into the organization, now can make him an ambassador or a roving minor-league coach or — if their hitting problems persist — a batting instructor without having to address criticism about a felony conviction.

You mean sort of like how Sports Talk Florida or the "San Francisco Examiner" can hire Jay Mariotti as a columnist or multi-media mogul without him having to address criticism about his no-contest plea? Or is this totally different because (a) it deals with the victimized Jay Mariotti and (b) Jay has given his biased side of the story while calling the entire system corrupt?

Which means Bonds’ legions of Bay Area fans, who wore blinders about BALCO and the Steroids Era while the bloated Barry was passing the honorable Henry Aaron as the sport’s all-time home run leader, now can hoist him as the Power King without legalities usurping their joy.

No, because he still clearly used PED's. He just didn't obstruct justice. Did Jay even read the ruling? Also, it's just grand to read about Jay's new perspective on the legal system and how the media is so quick to make a rush to judgment. It's grand to read about because Jay completely ignores this perspective when discussing Barry Bonds. Jay has no idea if the ruling was correct or not, instead he's just worried this will validate Bonds in some way and indicate that Bonds didn't use steroids. I can't see how Jay is "investigating this story from all angles" as he promised to do just a few years ago after his tangle with the legal system. No time for that when there is chum in the water and Jay can become the person he has railed against.

Let him bask. In my mind, as a longtime member of the voting group known as the Baseball Writers Association of America, nothing changed Wednesday.

Doesn't Jay hate when sportswriters are "uncomfortable in murky terrain" and prefer straightforward narratives with good guys and bad guys"? I think it's hilarious that Jay is becoming guilty of the very things he supposedly was going to rail against, though it shouldn't shock me. Most of Jay's anger towards others in the news media (like ESPN, big media entities) results from his not being allowed to be a part of that news media any longer. If given the chance, Jay would gladly take a job with the huge news entities with corporate interests, but while he's not given the chance, he'll rail against them until the time comes to be a hypocrite.

Bonds still is a bum who symbolizes an era we’re trying to purge from our collective consciousness — a treacherous period of cheating and lying that irreparably damaged the public’s trust in sports — and anyone who thinks he suddenly belongs in Cooperstown is a bigger dope than the dopers themselves.

SO FUCKING NUANCED! The amount of nuance I'm reading about right now is literally choking me and pulling my hair (allegedly) until I plead "no-contest" to the nuance just taking my mind over to where all I can see is nuance. But hey, Jay understands why so many dislike the media. Thank God for nuance such as this.

“I think at the end of the day, America knows the truth and who the real home run record holder is, who did it the right way, and it’s obviously not Barry Bonds,” said Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, who told The Associated Press the decision was “almost meaningless for the real issue, which is whether he used performance-enhancing drugs to cheat the fans of baseball.”

He's right. It's meaningless, but Jay just had to show off the "new Jay Mariotti" and display the thorough knowledge of the legal system he learned about (and wrote a book about!) while defending himself against false accusations. Jay has learned the system chews him up and spits him out, but treats everyone else fairly. Jay also learned, using his knowledge of "the system," that a court ruling Bonds did not obstruct justice means the court has ruled Barry Bonds did not use PED's and should get a red carpet invitation to join the Hall of Fame. Obviously.

This isn’t a time to celebrate as much as a reason to wonder how the justice system works and how many taxpayer dollars are wasted in flip-flop cases.

If in making this statement Jay means that the taxpayer dollars were wasted in prosecuting Barry Bonds for obstruction of justice, then he is absolutely correct. If Jay means the taxpayer dollars were wasted because 10 of 11 federal judges agreed on a ruling that Jay doesn't agree with, then Jay needs go take his anger out on someone he can batter or assault. Maybe try to make it a person of the male gender this time though.

Clearly, Bonds gave a rambling, evasive answer when asked if his trainer, Greg Anderson, ever gave him steroids, human growth hormone or “anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?”

I wonder if this would qualify as "lazy, reckless, inaccurate, incomplete news coverage" if it were written about Jay Mariotti? My best guess is that it would be. Of course, Jay pled no contest to save a few dollars and because he wanted the world to know he was innocent of the charges, so there is no public court testimony for Jay to sound rambling and evasive when answering questions.

I have no idea if Jay was innocent or not, but his whole "I went with a no-contest plea to save money and to keep my good name" excuse has always sounded like bullshit to me. So you plead no-contest and basically admit you aren't going to defend yourself against the charges and this is supposed to save face for Jay? Whatever, not my deal. What is my deal is that Jay didn't get any testimony on record where he could ramble or be evasive (probably by design) and now the "new" Jay Mariotti is up to his old tricks of doing the same things he accuses the media doing to him.

Bonds: “I’ve only had one doctor touch me. And that’s my only personal doctor. Greg, like I said, we don’t get into each others’ personal lives. We’re friends, but ... we don’t sit around and talk baseball, because he knows I don’t want — don’t come to my house talking baseball. If you want to come to my house and talk about fishing, some other stuff, we’ll be good friends. You come around talking about baseball, you go on. I don’t talk about his business. You know what I mean?” 

Prosecutor: “And, again, I guess we’ve covered this, but did [Anderson] ever give you anything that he told you had to be taken with a needle or syringe?”

Bonds: “Greg wouldn’t do that. He knows I’m against that stuff. So, he would never come up to me — he would never jeopardize our friendship like that.”

Exactly. Everyone knows that Barry Bonds isn't injecting anything to his body. He prefers creams and other more non-invasive methods of using steroids.

Prosecutor: “OK. So, just so I’m clear, the answer is no to that, he never gave you anything like that?”

Bonds: “Right.”

Now Bonds has resorted to just naming general directions? "Right," "Left," "Straight"...at what point do these evasive answers become obstruction of justice? Jay Mariotti, Esq. knows that answers and the corrupt legal system again screwed up by not acknowledging Jay's reality as the reality that is the rule of law.

Shrewd and calculating, Bonds waited out the pitcher. He didn’t swing and took his bases on balls. Now, years later, he somehow gets a complete pass,

This is an excellent example of Jay "not pushing a straightforward narrative" to find "heroes and villains." Jay was quick to point out how an expungement is issued rarely and with considerable diligence. Apparently a federal court overturning the decision of a lower court in a 10-1 ruling happens often and with zero diligence or regard for the facts of the case. Federal courts sometimes overrule a lower court's ruling by a 10-1 margin rather than confirm or remand the case just because the Magic 8-Ball says to do so.

I still chuckle at the "perspective" that Jay claims to have now. He's the worst.

Judge Alex Kozinski writing, “Making everyone who participates in our justice system a potential criminal defendant for conduct that is nothing more than the ordinary tug and pull of litigation risks chilling zealous advocacy. It also gives prosecutors the immense and unreviewable power to reward friends and punish enemies by prosecuting the latter and giving the former a pass.”

So Kozinski is suggesting Bonds has been wronged by a corrupt prosecutor. What a world, huh?

Apparently Jay wrote this sentence with no sense of irony regarding what Jay has written before. Here is what Jay wrote prior on Sports Talk Florida:

I've seen firsthand how sleazy it all is — traffic-obsessed media, sloppy and dishonest police work, headline-seeking prosecutors, predisposed judges, a rival lawyer who advised my lawyer not to represent me.

Yeah Jay, suggesting that you were wronged by a corrupt, headline-seeking prosecutor is RIDICULOUS though isn't it? Bonds didn't even say he was wronged, but a federal court judge mentioned in his opinion he was concerned by unnamed, possibly not existing and definitely not existing in this case, prosecutors maybe having unreviewable power. Jay, using the same legal knowledge that allowed him to write a book about "the system," takes this to mean the Judge Kozinski is calling THIS prosecutor as corrupt. In reality (which is a place where Jay does not live), the only one complaining about a corrupt and power-hungry prosecutor is Jay Mariotti.

I side with the lone dissenting judge, Johnnie B. Rawlinson, who wrote: “I cry foul.”

The smell is foul, too. 

Maybe you should take a shower and wash the stink of your own bullshit and hypocrisy off of you then. Nice "perspective" you have now, Jay. Jay wants to have it both ways. He wants to write about the corrupt legal system and the headline-thirsty media, all while taking part in being headline-thirsty himself. He wants to claim he's a "new" Jay Mariotti while also claiming he isn't going to change. Jay wants to claim a special knowledge of the legal system all while clearly having no idea what a legal ruling entails and means. He's a fake and a hypocrite as always. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

7 comments Skip Bayless Mindlessly Criticizes Chris Paul, Ignores His Teammates Shortcomings

Skip Bayless was probably salivating, waiting for the Clippers to lose in the NBA Playoffs so he could write about how bad Chris Paul sucks. Skip has this ability to take a team game and make it all about one player. LeBron James isn't clutch so that's why his teams can't win titles. He won two NBA titles? Well, he still passes the ball when it comes crunch time. LeBron made a game-winning basket? FINALLY! This only makes up for all of the other mistakes LeBron made during the game. Kevin Durant needs to play angry and that's why the Thunder don't have four NBA titles right now. Today, Skip takes aim at Chris Paul for having the audacity to not lead his team to the Western Conference Finals. Skip thinks of a cutesy, bullshit nickname for Paul as he always tends to do. There's not much else to say at this point. It's Skip Bayless and he's a shitty troll and a shitty writer. Now he has taken aim at Chris Paul.

After 10 years in the NBA, at age 30, his greatest achievement remains his "twin brother" commercials, Chris and Cliff Paul, both played so convincingly by him.

And after 60 years on this Earth, Skip Bayless' greatest achievement is that he has dedicated his life to make sure as many people as possible hate him. Chris Paul has also earned a ton of money to where his family won't ever have to work again. There's that accomplishment too.

If only Chris Paul played basketball a little less like if he were Cliff Paul, who dedicates his life to helping State Farm customers in need of insurance "assists."

Because helping teammates score baskets is a definite negative to Chris Paul's game. How can Paul be a superstar if he's setting up his teammates to score points? Only Chris Paul's points count towards a Clippers victory, don't you know? By the way, Paul averaged an assist-and-a-half below his 2014-2015 per game average in the playoffs, as well as scored three points more above his 2014-2015 per game average during the playoffs. Paul also averaged a shot-and-a-half more per game during the 2014-2015 playoffs than he did during the 2014-2015 season. So, he did try to score more and pass less in the playoffs.

Obviously, Skip did zero research prior to writing this column. He would never dare do anything like research for his columns (which I'm sure ESPN probably doesn't care about, which is sad to me), but if Skip had done research, he would see Paul too more shots, scored more points and passed the ball less during the 2014-2015 playoffs. So he didn't provide "assists" to his teammates just as Skip requested that he do. Perhaps if Skip thought before he wrote then he would see he sounds ridiculous.

If only when Chris Paul's team needed him most -- in a Game 6 or 7 against Houston -- he played less like his nerdy alter ego in black-framed glasses, trim little mustache and Argyle sweaters and more like the quick-tempered CP3 known for hitting big shots and taking below-the-belt shots.

Paul had 57 points, 12 rebounds, 21 assists, and 4 steals in those two games. He played pretty fucking good basketball in those last two games, yet somehow Skip Bayless is pointing the finger at Paul for the Clippers loss to the Rockets. Of course. Skip would never change his tune in the face of clear evidence he is incorrect. He just doubles down on his stupidity.

They mostly got low-key good guy Cliff.

Unless you want to consider the statistics he put up in those two games, the Clippers got low-key good guy Cliff that played really well in those two games.

His nature is to pass the basketball, which is why he has led the NBA in assists four times, including the past two seasons. Yet his coach keeps pleading with him to shoot more, to be a little more selfish, to take over more and take it to the opposition.

And this is exactly what he did during the NBA playoffs this year. He shot more, assisted less and even hit a game-winning shot against the Spurs. Because the Clippers lost to the Rockets in seven games, Skip Bayless forgets all about this.

As a purely pass-first point guard, Chris Paul is a star, an eight-time All-Star. But when his eyes flash anger and he starts attacking, using his fullback's physicality and ballerina's balance to create space for his jump shot, he can be a superstar.

What is Skip's fascination with athletes "playing angry." It's like some juvenile, 5th grade criticism that Skip has for every athlete. He thinks LeBron, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul should all play "angry" and that makes them become a superstar. It's a ridiculously simplistic way of looking at it.

CPZero, I've called him. As in, zero rings.

HILARIOUS! Get it? Chris Paul hasn't won an NBA Title and his nickname is "CP3" so Skip Bayless calls him "CPZero" in the long line of fun nicknames Skip has given NBA players. "Princess Bosh" and "CPZero" are fantastic nicknames. Two points for cleverness.

Let's see, maybe I should join in the creativity and call Skip Bayless "Bullshit Bayless" or "Skip Clueless."

A superstar gets to at least one conference final in his first 10 seasons.

Maybe he does. A smart sportswriter looks at all the reasons a superstar hasn't reached one conference final in his first 10 seasons. A smart sportswriter doesn't blame the superstar solely for his team not making a conference final in his first 10 seasons. Obviously Skip isn't smart so I wouldn't expect him to do either of these things.

CP3 has yet to get past the second round. A superstar refuses to let his team, up 3-1 in a second-round series against an inferior foe, lose three straight games by a combined 46 points.

A superstar can't force his teammates to play well or hit their three-point shots. A superstar can only do whatever he can do in order to help his team win games. Chris Paul was injured for the first two games of the series against the Rockets (after hitting a game-winning shot against the Spurs) and played well over the last three games against the Rockets. J.J. Redick (and other Clippers players) did not play well and the Clippers don't have a very deep bench, which eventually did them in.

For sure, a superstar sees to it that his team does not blow a 19-point lead late in the third quarter of a closeout Game 6 at home.

A superstar can try, but when four Clippers players go a combined 14-46 from the field (Redick, Barnes, Rivers, Crawford), then that superstar can only do so much. Paul took 19 shots in that game, so it is not as if he didn't shoot the ball enough. But again, what good are facts when Skip just wants to ignore these facts and just push through an uninformed opinion?

And if it does come down to a Game 7 back in Houston -- a game Chris Paul's team was favored to win by two points -- a superstar does not allow his team to trail from start to finish and lose by 13, not to a Houston Rockets team it had beaten by 16 in Game 1 (without CP3), by 25 in Game 3 and by 33 in Game 4.

And again, a superstar can only do so much when those same four guys shoot 11-36 in this Game 7. Chris Paul shot 20 times in this game, so it's not like he was too busy dishing out assists to propel his team to victory. In the last two games of the Clippers series Chris Paul played well while the Clippers four shooters went a combined 25-82 (30.4%!) from the field. Let's re-think who may actually be the reason for the Clippers losing to the Rockets. I'll give Skip a hint, it wasn't entirely Chris Paul's fault.

Chris Paul, president of the NBA Players Association, can lead an entire league but can't lead his team when it really counts.

Chris Paul can try to lead his team, but there isn't much he can do if his team doesn't play well enough for him to have success while trying to lead them. What would it take for Skip Bayless to drop the act and understand that basketball is a team game? Chris Paul and Blake Griffin can't outscore the Rockets on their own. They need help from their shooters to score points and stretch the Rockets defense. Four of the Clippers' shooting guards and small forwards did not do this in two straight games. Therefore, because basketball is a team game, the Clippers lost to the Rockets in a 7 game series.

Feel free to blame coach Doc Rivers for the Clippers' epic Game 6 collapse. He deserves some blame for failing to push the right psychological or strategic buttons.

I wonder if Skip knows there aren't real psychological or strategic buttons? Like, there aren't real buttons that Doc Rivers could push and simply "playing angry" isn't going to allow Chris Paul to actually "play better." These are things that are pure hyperbole and couch potato criticism that Skip is engaging in. Doc Rivers deserves some blame, but Chris Paul deserves most of the blame for not using mind control to force the basketball into the basket when shot by his teammates. Skip Bayless needs to see more Chris and less Cliff Paul. Perhaps Skip would have been satisfied if Paul shot the ball 30 times instead of 20 times in Game 7?

By sheer force of will, Chris Paul couldn't say or do the right thing to inspire his teammates to snap out of it?

Again, this is real life. In real life inspirational words don't automatically make a team or group of players perform better. If this were true, all coaches would do is give inspirational speeches and teams would never practice.

No doubt, Chris Paul, as usual, put up superstar numbers in this year's 12 playoff games: 22.1 points and 8.8 assists while shooting 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3. But his team was 6-6. His overall playoff record is now 28-37.

Chris Paul played well. Chris Paul's team still lost. Basketball is a team game. The only natural conclusion to be drawn is that Chris Paul is at fault for his team losing the series to the Rockets. Obviously.

You can argue Blake Griffin (who plays full-tilt to a fault) wore down and finally out by Game 7. You can argue J.J. Redick (2-for-9 from 3 with six turnovers), Jamal Crawford (3-for-9 from 3) and Matt Barnes (0 points in 22 minutes) just ran out of mental gas. All are fair points.

Right, you COULD argue that Chris Paul's teammates did their part in preventing the Clippers from winning the playoff series against the Rockets, but where is the hot take potential in that? There's no need to be logical and even handed when there is an easy "Chris Paul isn't a winner" hot take ready and waiting to be debated.

But the larger point is that "little" Chris played biggest only after a shocking event occurred in the second quarter of Game 7 at home against the Spurs in round one: He felt his hamstring begin to pull late in the first quarter. At first, he appeared devastated, as he sat on the bench with his head in his hands. He went to the locker room, then, just as shockingly, returned to the game five-and-a-half minutes into the second quarter.

Returned mad. Returned with the attitude, "No way I'm going to let this stop me." If the hamstring had torn, no amount of courage could've overcome it. But apparently, it was just strained, and he gutted through the pain and fear of a potential tear to play his greatest playoff game.

See, Chris Paul played angry and that's why he led the Clippers to the playoff victory over the Spurs in Game 7. This victory had nothing to do with Rivers/Crawford/Redick/Barnes shooting 19-42 and scoring 47 points in that game. It's just coincidence that the Clippers won that game while these four players performed well and the Clippers lost when these four players didn't perform well. Obviously, the real determination on whether the Clippers will win a game or not is if Chris Paul plays angry and provides inspirational speeches. Without those 47 points the Clippers still would have won the Game 7 against the Clippers. This goes without saying.

Skip Bayless is the worst. I can't emphasize this enough.

The stars get along OK but don't exactly love each other. Jealousy and finger-pointing sometimes rear their ugly heads behind the scenes. And sometimes on the court, CP3 wears on teammates with his constant complaining to refs and occasional complaining to them about blown assignments.

What one would call "leadership" where Paul tries to get his teammates to stop missing assignments, Skip Bayless would call "complaining" to them about their missed assignments. There's a thin line between complaining and leadership sometimes and that line is often drawn based on whether a team wins or loses a game or series.

Yet CP3's damn-the-hamstring demeanor in Game 7 against the Spurs inspired his teammates in ways he couldn't against Houston in Games 6 and 7. The Spurs had seen this CP3 once before, in Game 7 in New Orleans in 2008. Then, Spurs insiders told me they feared CP3 because he could channel his psycho side -- his rage to win -- into a virtually unstoppable offensive force.

Skip's insistence that athletes "play angry" all the time is exhausting. Playing motivated or playing with more vigor can be a good thing, but Skip's lazy fallback to explaining why an athlete's team win or lost inevitably goes back to whether that athlete "played angry" or not. It's just such lazy analysis...not that I expect anything more from Skip.

This is where I disagree with my First Take debate partner, Stephen A. Smith, who always reminds me Chris Paul is only 6 feet tall, so his "superstar" ceiling is lower. 

If you watch "First Take" then you are aiding and abetting obnoxious, ridiculous discussions such as this one. Chris Paul is short, so his "superstar" ceiling is lower. Okay then.

Stephen A. calls Chris Paul a superstar point guard but not a superstar, period.

Considering Stephen A. says a lot of stupid shit, this is a really stupid comment, but not up there with his pantheon of dumbass comments. If Stephen A. says it, just assume it's stupid. That's how I work.

Take it from a Spurs fan: Every time the ball left CP3's hand in this year's Game 7, I thought it was going in. He made nine of 13 shots, including 5-of-6 from 3. He was just too quick and shifty, even protecting his hamstring. He got a "superstar" call with 13 seconds left -- on the great Tim Duncan, no less, who was called for not giving CP3 room to come down on his jump shot. Of course, he made both free throws (he was 48-for-51 in the playoffs).

Paul must have shot his free throws angry. I love how Skip attributes to Clippers winning Game 7 of the Spurs series to Paul playing angry and well, while Paul played well in Game 7 of the Rockets series, and the Clippers lost. I like it because Skip ignores the variable in there that the supporting cast around Paul played well against the Spurs in Game 7 and didn't play well against the Rockets in Game 7. There is one constant in both series and variables changed in both series, yet Skip thinks something was wrong with the constant that affected the outcome of the series against the Rockets.

Then, with the game tied, Chris Paul ignored the Cliff Paul inside him and took the shot himself, blowing past Danny Green, somehow launching a runner over Duncan's outstretched fingertips with one second left, high off the glass ... and in.

That was the CP3 we failed to see in Games 6 and 7 against the Rockets.

Because the game wasn't close enough to where it was up to Chris Paul to hit a game-winning shot. The game wasn't close enough because Chris Paul was one of the few Clippers players to play well in these two games. Of course, if Paul had played angry then his teammates would have upped their performance as well. This makes sense in the fantasy world where Skip Bayless spends most of his time.

Maybe too often, he tries to live up to being president of the players' association or the twin good guys in the State Farm commercials. Maybe the commercials have done his psyche more harm than good.

Yes, that would explain nothing absolutely perfectly. Maybe two things that have nothing to do with each other do have an impact on each other. When you are Skip Bayless and aren't smart enough to use logic and reason to explain an event, you have to reach for an explanation to make it seem like you know what you are talking about.

Playing for Wake Forest, that CP3 once punched Julius Hodge in the privates midway through the first half at North Carolina State. CP3 eventually won that game with a buzzer-beater.

IF CHRIS PAUL PUNCHED A PLAYER IN THE NUTS DURING EVERY NBA GAME, THEN THE CLIPPERS WOULD GO 82-0. DON'T QUESTION THIS CONCLUSION! IT'S UNASSAILABLE!

This certainly isn't to say Chris Paul needs to do more of that, just that he needs to summon and channel his competitive anger more.

I have an idea...how about Chris Paul's teammates channel their competitive anger more. That way they don't go missing in the middle of important playoff games? If Paul's teammates played angrier then the Clippers would win every series, because after all, playing angry leads to a better performance on the court. Or is this conclusion to partially blame Paul's teammates for the series loss to the Rockets not "hot tak-y" enough and too even-handed?

If not, at this rate, he'll be best remembered for selling insurance.

Or he will be remembered as a Hall of Fame point guard who just happened to never win an NBA title. I realize that Skip is brain dead, but Chris Paul doesn't actually sell insurance and he's probably the best point guard in the NBA. Paul may never win a title, but he's also not 100% to blame for never having won an NBA title. His teammates have to play well too.