2014 NFL Predictions… and Asses

Preseason totally doesn’t matter except for the bottom of teams rosters.  The real season is almost here!  Due to my fantasy team picks, I am heavily rooting for the Packers.  Well, just Aaron Rodgers, but still!  My number 1 receiver is Calvin Johnson, so I am basically rooting for no defense in the NFC North… and that’s enough about my fantasy team.

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Not a bad catch…

There has already been one game won by the Seahawks, but that has no effect on my picks.  Because I said so.

Will defense win out again this year with San Fran or Seattle taking it all?  Or will it be legendary QB’s operating high-octane offenses in Denver or New England?  I don’t know.  Here are some guesses though:

(1st – 4th = Final Divisional Standing)

(* = Wild Card)

AFC West

The Denver Broncos (1st) are easily the favorite to win the division, and I will agree.  The offense lost Eric Decker on the edge, but will still be strong with Manning at the helm.  They did acquire DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib on defense which will boost that side of the ball.  I don’t see them quite having the record-breaking season like last year, especially with Wes Welker’s off the field issues, but this will certainly be one of, if not the best offense in the league.

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San Diego Chargers (*2nd), Phillip Rivers will continue his solid play this year.  The team is good enough to finish second in the division, but doesn’t have the D to make the playoffs.  The Kansas City Chiefs (3rd) are a solid team with a good coach in Andy Reid, but don’t have the QB play that Denver has, which is calculated thusly: Alex Smith vs. Peyton Manning = :/

Oh and the Oakland Raiders (4th) will finish last.  Almost forgot they were still in the NFL!

AFC North

The quarterback play for the Cincinnati Bengals (1st) is… eh, but the skill positions are outstanding.  AJ Green is a freak who gets better every year, and that defensive line is awesome.  They will win a tight division race, narrowly beating out the defensively, and offensively average Baltimore Ravens (*2nd).  Too soon?  *Ray Rice reference

The Pittsburgh Steelers (3rd) will also be entertainingly average, and hopefully can get back to being a decent defensive team, unlike last season.  Very strange for Pittsburgh to be less than good defensively.  The Cleveland Browns (4th) will suck, which means we’ll see Johnny Football start by Week 6.  Sweet!

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Somewhere in the Midwest Drew Carrey is having a Clevegasm. Yeah, that’s my new word. It’s like a nerdgasm but for Cleveland sports. Genius.

AFC South

If the defense can keep up with the big-play offense for the Indianapolis Colts (1st), they will be great. If not, Andrew Luck is good enough to get the team to the playoffs and win the division, but the D will have to step up for them to get anywhere in the postseason.  The Houston Texans (2nd) will have a very entertaining pass rush with Clowney and JJ Watt, but the Texans look like a textbook 6-10 team.

The Tennessee Titans (3rd) and Jacksonville Jaguars (4th) are so boring and untalented that I don’t want to waste my time on them.  Blake Bortles should get a shot at starting by Week 5, and I think he should be starting Week 1.  The Jags should just start his development immediately.  What the hell else will they be playing for?

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Not very relevant, but I just love this damn sign!

AFC East

Man do I hate the New England Patriots (1st), but once again they are the clear favorite in this division.  The Miami Dolphins (2nd) don’t have the quarterback play, or receiving talent to score with the best in the league.  They have a solid defense, but Ryan Tannehill needs to step up his game for the Dolphins to go anywhere.

The New York Jets (3rd) will be quite awful on offense, which may bring on an entertaining Mike Vick show… for a few weeks until he is concussed whilst scrambling.  The Buffalo Bills (4th) have young talent, especially with Sammy Watkins, but are at least 2 seasons from being any good.

NFC West

The Seattle Seahawks (1st) are a slight favorite to win the division over the San Francisco 49ers (*2nd), especially in light of the Niners’ recent legal troubles.  Seattle lost a few players on defense, but still return this year with the best secondary in the league.  It’s hard to imagine Russell Wilson not continuing his improvement, plus you have Beast Mode and Percy Harvin playing Week 1.  These are good things.

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The Arizona Cardinals (3rd) overachieved last year, and in this tough division, it will be an accomplishment to finish 7-9.  With no Sam Bradford, the St. Louis Rams (4th) have zero chance.

NFC South

If you plugged in Sean Peyton, Drew Brees, and Jimmy Graham into the offensive of… Jacksonsville… Oakland… or any other shitty team, that is instantly a playoff team.  That is how good those 3 are and why the New Orleans Saints (1st) will beat a very talented Atlanta Falcons (2nd) team to win the division.  Atlanta will be a tough matchup every week, as they are one of the most complete overall teams in the league, the Saints just have too much offensive firepower.  Roddy White and Julio Jones for Atlanta are the best receiver duo in the league.  (Second place goes to Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall in Chicago)

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The Carolina Panthers (3rd) are one of my favorite teams to watch due to the explosive play of Cam Newton, and they return with an elite defense.  However, this is a tough division this season, and Carolina will be one of the best NFC teams to not make the playoffs.  A coaching change might help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4th), but who cares? It’s the Bucs man.

NFC North

The surrounding cast of the Chicago Bears (1st) made a backup look like a Pro Bowler last year, so with an actual Pro Bowler, that means greatness right?!  It should be with Jay Cutler calling the shots, but he has always underachieved considering his freakish arm talent.  They are a solid team though and will win the North over the Green Bay Packers (*2nd), who will be great on offensive but continue their annual quest to bolster their lackluster defense.

The Detroit Lions (3rd) are like a crappy Green Bay: great offensive and slumping defense.  Calvin Johnson is amazing to watch, but this team is far too one-dimensional on offense, and lack defensive talent or discipline.  I believe Teddy Bridgewater was a gift to the Minnesota Vikings (4th) at the bottom of the 1st round, and should get an early chance to start and develop.  This plus watching Adrian Peterson maul linebackers are the only positives for another wasted season in Minnesota.

Adrian Peterson, Connor Barwin

NFC East

Chip Kelly proved the doubters wrong and showed that his innovative offensive does translate to the NFL, and has worked wonders for the Philadelphia Eagles (1st).  Even with the loss of DeSean Jackson, the Eagles are stacked on offense and will put up some HUGE numbers this year.  The Washington Redskins (2nd) will be fun to watch, but RG3 just seems like he is waiting to make a mistake or get hurt.  I love to watch him play, but he just isn’t as consistent as you need a franchise quarterback to be… yet.  He will be.

The soap opera known as the Dallas Cowboys (3rd) continues in 2014, and they are sure to be one of the more entertaining 7-9 teams you will see.  Will it be good Eli, or weird Eli for the New York Giants (4th)?  Eli is such an anomaly because he is a 2-time Super Bowl Winning quarterback, but isn’t expected to have a good season. Noone knows what to expect from this guy.  Consistency is not his trademark.  Regardless of which Eli shows up, the rest of the team is lacking, and will finish dead last.  5-11 is to be expected.

Then there’s the playoffs…

AFC Wild Card Round:

Chargers def. Bengals 23-17

Colts def. Ravens 31-13

AFC Divisional Round:

Broncos def. Colts 35-16

Patriots def. Chargers 27-21

Come on, someone give him a high five already.

Come on, someone give him a high five already.

AFC Championship:

Broncos def. Patriots 24-20

———————————————————

NFC Wild Card Round:

Packers def. Saints 34-28

49ers def. Eagles 22-17

NFC Divisional Round:

Seahawks def. 49ers 23-19

Packers def. Bears 31-24

NFC Championship

Packers def. Seahawks 28-20

————————————————————

Super Bowl:

Broncos def. Packers 30-16

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Dude, I totally farted.

Ah, and here’s the ass.

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So that’s Kendall Jenner, the little sister of those Kardashians.  Remember her as a tween on Keeping up with the Kardashians?  (Yes I watched that show, you know you did too, admit it!)

These days she’s all grown up, well at least she’s 18, and a pro model.  Not bad. Her Instagram page is pretty amazing.  See below.

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K, bye.

The 10 Hottest Movie Aliens

Guardians of the Galaxy had a great opening weekend, and one of the highlights for me is Zoe Saldana as Gamora. She has established herself as a fixture of the sci fi genre already with appearances in Avatar and Star Trek, and is adding to her resume as a sci-fi hottie with this summer’s Marvel blockbuster.

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Not an alien, but man is she beautiful.

This has inspired a very meaningful ranking, the hottest female movie aliens of all time.  (I’ll let everyone else comment for dudes)

10) Laura Vasquez, Rosario Dawson, Men in Black II

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Rosario Dawson is not particularly hot in this movie compared to many of her others (see Sin City).  However, this is more of an honorable mention due to her “body” of work… see what I did there!  Other memorable Rosario Dawson films in which she is pretty awesome, in no particular order: Deathproof, He Got Game, Alexander, and The Rundown.

9) Neytiri, Zoe Saldana, Avatar

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Is it weird to consider a blue alien hot?  Probably, but anything that even resembles Zoe Saldana qualifies.  Plus she is super badass with her archery skills, although you do have to deal with a massive number of in-laws.  That’s quite a packed Thanksgiving Dinner table.  Does Jake Sully still celebrate Thanksgiving?  Does he celebrate any Earth holidays?  I’m sure these questions will be answered in the 3 Avatar sequels…

8) Ella, Olivia Wilde, Cowboys & Aliens

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Yeah… she’s super pretty.  This movie is terrible, but Olivia Wilde looks amazing in any situation. She could wear a potato sack and look great.  Still, don’t let me confuse you, please don’t ever see this movie.

7) Gamora, Zoe Saldana, Guardians of the Galaxy

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Obviously this article was just an excuse for various Zoe Saldana pics.  That aside, Gamora is a hottie in the comics, and Zoe Saldana certainly fits the bill in the live adaptation.  I was wondering: if she sits out in the sun, does she tan to a forest green?

6) Serleena, Lara Flynn Boyle, Men in Black II

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Men in Black II was a very forgettable movie, aside from Lara Flynn Boyle being quite pretty, the aforementioned Rosario Dawson, or if you are into the whole Biz Markie/Will Smith beat boxing thing.  Tommy Lee Jones is cool as always, but still, this movie sucks.

5) Number 6, Teresa Palmer, I am Number Four

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I really disliked this movie… but just look at her!  She’s number 1 in my book!  Well actually number 5. I’m no mathematician.

4) Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher, Return of the Jedi

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A legendary piece of cinema that made Carrie Fisher do thousands of sit-ups and inspired the perfect slutty nerd costume.  Just remember, she kissed her brother.  Gross.  Anyways, these ladies are obviously not Carrie Fisher, but I think they deserve to be in this article for the hell of it.

3) Commander Troi, Marini Sirtis, Star Trek TNG Films

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Counselor, and later Commander Deanna Troi was at her best in The Next Generation, and is in the Hall of Fame of sci-fi beauties.  She was mind-raped in Nemesis which is lame, but she gets her vengeance in the end against Bane. I’m sure every TNG fan would love to be in Riker’s place right here, although Riker doesn’t seem so thrilled… not the beard!

2) Leeloo, Milla Jovovich, The Fifth Element

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At some point in the movie, she is referred to as “perfect”.  Maybe not perfect, but she sure comes close.  She has such alluring eyes… and don’t forget about Bruce Willis’s blonde toupee.  That and Jean Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg.  Classic Gary Oldman.  I love this damn movie.

1) Sil, Natasha Henstridge, Species

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This is a pretty terrible movie, which is kind of surprising because of the great: Forest Whitaker, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Michael Madsen, Alfred Molina, Marg Helgenberger… and then you have Natasha Henstridge. Wow.  Her only role in this movie is to be hot, and she sure is.

Thank you for your time, please stay on the line for a brief survey.

Miami Wade County after Lebron

So Lebron James is going to Cleveland.  Not a big surprise.  Lebron makes emotional decisions and this is certainly one.  He chose his hometown team, and wants to be the man to bring a championship to Cleveland.  Lebron, Irving, Wiggins… that’s awesome.  Varejao and Tristan Thompson, not so much.  That backcourt alone though would be a championship contender in the terrible East.

NBA Rising Stars Challenge

Chris Bosh should go to Houston, that is clearly the best option for him.  The Rockets are in his home state, and there is too much money to be left on the table.  Miami would be a good situation for Bosh, even without Lebron, as he could expand his game.  However, the best choice for Bosh would be Houston with Harden, Dwight Howard, etc.  This is an automatic championship contender, even within the ultra-competitive West. 

It is fairly obvious that Dwyane Wade will stay with Miami, possibly without Chris Bosh.  What happens next for Miami?  Right now, the team will be Norris Cole, Shabazz Napier, Dwyane Wade, Danny Granger, and Josh McRoberts.  No center signed yet.  This team alone is a top 6 playoff team in the East.  It is odd Carmelo is not considering Miami, because it would be a great situation for him.  Carmelo would fit very well with Dwyane Wade.  Wade is a natural distrubutor, and can play off Carmelo’s one-on-one game.  Carmelo, Wade, and Granger is a pretty great trio.

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If Miami cannot acquire Carmelo they can at least get a decent player to play the wing alongside Dwyane Wade and Danny Granger (a former all-star player himself).  Paul Gasol would be a great fit.  So would Paul Pierce, although he may not want to play against his longtime rival.  Miami can then add a few veteran exception players, and this is still a top 4 team in the terrible East.

The management and ownership of Miami should certainly be disappointed, but not too surprised.  After all, this is what Lebron did to Cleveland in 2010.  At least Lebron learned how to break the news better this time around.  The essay was a little much, but at least it wasn’t The Decision.  Miami should not be angry.  Two championships and 4 NBA Finals appearances is outstanding.  Miami will move on, and be competitive as always. 

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Most Improved Player NBA 2013-2014

1) Goran Dragic, Guard, Phoenix Suns

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The Dragon played for Phoenix before, was traded away, and has ended up back with his old team and is playing better than ever before. He showed flashes back in Phoenix’s playoff run a few years back when he scored 26 points in a quarter. Every part of his game is better: defense, shooting, passing, scoring, driving to the hoop, decision-making, defense. He is a very intense player and plays with a ton of confidence. Analysts will call that “feisty”, meaning he doesn’t smile a lot on the court and always looks like he’s on the verge of fighting someone (i.e. Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley). Practically the whole Phoenix team is improved this year, which means Jeff Hornacek is a top candidate for coach of the year.

2) Kyle Lowry, Guard, Toronto Raptors

He came into the pros with a lot of hype, and has not quite lived up to it until this season. He is a very close second to Demar DeRozan as the best player on his team, with Terrance Ross playing backup to those two to create a great, young, athletic backcourt. Look out for Toronto in the playoffs, and for years to come.

3) Anthony Davis, Center, New Orleans Pelicans

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Man do I hate that unibrow!

It’s tough to improve on a scale that Davis has when you come in as the #1 overall pick, but he has done just that in a very short time. The amazing thing is that Davis has the skills of a guard, but the body of a Center. Very lean, but has an extremely long wing span. His decision making has greatly improved, and he has a sweet shooting stroke. He will be a top 10 player very soon.

4) Blake Griffin, Forward, Los Angeles Clippers

Right now, Griffin is easily the best player on this list, which is obvious. Heck, he’s a top 5 player in the league right now. He has greatly improved his entire game this year, from shooting to passing to one-on-one post play. He can still be a bit wild at times, but his athleticism makes up for it. Credit must go to Doc Rivers for Griffin’s improvement, unless his arrival to LA and Griffin’s game this year are coincidental… I think not. The one aspect that Blake can still improve (which shocks me still) is his shot-blocking. He just doesn’t block a lot of shots, which is really odd considering his crazy hops. Oh well.

5) John Wall, Guard, Washington WizardsJohn+Wall+Washington+Wizards+v+New+York+Knicks+tpzx49JQaSHl

Like the last two guys on this list, Wall was the #1 overall pick, and thus came into the league with a lot of expectations. This year he has lived up to them. He showed in the Dunk Contest how athletic he is, but has really made notable strides in the important aspects of a point guard’s game: leadership, decision making, passing, etc. His team is improved as well, which helps his cause and certainly brings him more attention, but there are few guards you would take above Wall considering his talent and age.

These dudes can easily be on this list. In terms of most improved teams you can put a number of guys from Toronto and Phoenix as well. Honorable Mentions: Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Victor Oladipo, Terrance Ross, Joakim Noah, Robin Lopez, and 4 more players on Phoenix (Gerald Green, P.J. Tucker, and the Morris twins).

The Case for Johnny Manziel in the NFL

There was no one I enjoyed watching more the last two seasons of college football than Johnny Manziel.  He would make wild and unpredictable plays that you normally see on a basketball court or a soccer pitch, not on the football field, and in the SEC at that!  That is why so many people, myself included, would love to see him perform well at the next level… and he can.  However, it is certainly a risk, something that most GM’s and draft analysts already know. However, I have hope for the dude.

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Yes, it’s good to be Johnny Football.

If I were a GM, and I had a top 16 pick, I would take Bridgewater or Bortles as the first or second quarterbacks respectfully.  The reason being Bridgewater is a beast.  Watch him throw a few times (granted he needs gloves) and you can see the arm strength.  That is so important at the next level because you have to zip throws between premier Linebackers and Cornerbacks, and floaters will be picked and lead to 6 the other way more times than not.  Watch him throw on the run, and there is a “wow” factor to his precision.  He is not perfect yet, but you can see the talent.  He looks like a potential Pro Bowler within his first four seasons.

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Bortles is simply a prototype quarterback.  He certainly has the “look” of a quarterback, tall and able to make all the throws.  Detractors might point to his weak conference in college, but that really does not matter too much.  Joe Flacco went to Delaware, Colin Kaepernick was at Nevada Reno, Romo is from Eastern Illinois, etc.  He will certainly be a career starter.  Not great, but solid and reliable.  He might need a year or two to develop.

Johnny Football is rougher around the edges.  His main drawbacks are not necessarily his height, but rather is slender frame, his arm strength, and his ability to read defenses and play the cerebral game.  In college, even in the SEC, he can slice and dice around linebackers and secondary defenders with smooth style.  In the NFL, as we have seen with so many quarterbacks, most recently RG3, you get a big hit from an NFL linebacker, and lights out.  People make the comparison to Russell Wilson, but he is much stronger than Manziel, and can take the big hits.  Additionally, Wilson knows how to avoid contact as much as possible, whereas Manziel has not displayed such ability.  It makes for exciting football, but leads to disaster in the pros.  However, a good coaching staff can help him develop that ability to avoid the big hits.  Putting on a few pounds of muscle wouldn’t hurt either.

The arm strength is an issue because you need a rifle for an arm in the NFL.  It’s not just about making the tough throws to the sidelines, every throw needs to have some juice on it or it will be picked, even by linemen!  One must never forget that every NFL player is an elite athlete, something Manziel only faced a handful of times in his college career: a team stacked with pros.  He did okay in those games, particularly against Alabama, but facing them every week will present a challenge.  He made far too many hail mary throws in college that will not work at the next level.

Scrambling quarterbacks like Romo and Roethlisberger have found much success in the NFL playing out of the pocket, but the difference between them and Manziel is they have proven they can play in the pocket as well.  That is why they are dangerous; because they have the threat to do both.  NFL defenses are too smart and fast to let Manziel get to the edge, so they will make him prove he can throw from the pocket, and over the top of 6’ 6” defensive linemen.  Wilson can do it because he has a rifle arm and is a great decision maker.  Brees can do it with his deft movement in the pocket, footwork, and anticipation of his targets.  Manziel has exhibited none of these traits.

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What overrides everything is the ability for Johnny Football to do what he does.  He makes plays.  He wins.  Vick made it work at the next level, but he was way faster than Manziel.  Coaching will make all the difference, as well as the question if Manziel is willing to be coached.  I don’t think that is an issue.  Sure he is a diva, but he’s not stupid.  He will have the best coaching around, and whatever team drafts him will do everything possible to make him comfortable and develop him into a great player.  That is what he will be, it will just take about three seasons, and that is fine.

Aaron Rodgers is the perfect example of a team showing patience and smarts with a quarterback.  Who knows if Rodgers would be as good had he been thrown into the fire right away, and I guarantee that if Manziel is forced into starting right away, it will be a disaster.  I would take him mid to late first round, be patient, and let time show how good a player he will be.  I would take a position player with a higher first round pick, as there are some great corners and defensive players available this year.  With the right handling, he can be a Pro Bowler down the road, and lead a team to the playoffs.  Not as the focal point, but as part of a solid team.  He is not Cam Newton.  But he could be in the ballpark of Joe Flacco or Russell Wilson: a championship quarterback that “manages” a solid team that also has a great defense.   

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Bridgewater will be taken number 1 overall by Houston, Bortles by Minnesota at 8, and Manziel will be taken by Arizona at number 20.  This would be great for him to sit and learn from Carson Palmer.  Plus, this is a solid team that is built on defense.  Not the sexiest team or location, but that would work out very well for him. Personally, I would love to see him juking and spinning around NFL linemen and linebackers on highlight reels, and I think he can do it.  Just give it a few seasons.

 

Top NBA Players by Position

Just because I feel like it, and injured players don’t count!

Point Guard

So many to choose from, this is the deepest position in the league right now.  If you are a starting PG, you are practically an all star.  So there are a lot of Honorable Mentions: Kyle Lowry, Damian Lillard, Monta Ellis, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Goran Dragic, John Wall, Kyle Lowry, Ty Lawson, and Mike Conley.

  1. Chris Paul – CP3 is the best facilitator in the game.  He is the biggest reason why Griffin and Jordan are having such great seasons.  Noone runs a team like Paul.   chrispaul2
  2. Russell Westbrook – Health and rust are holding him back a bit right now, but his athleticism is off the charts.  His defensive intensity and presence changes games, and although he is hurting Durant’s stats, OKC definitely needs him to get to the Finals.  russ-richkidsbrand
  3. Tony Parker – Maybe it’s because he’s French or on the Spurs, but people forget about Parker.  He’s not flashy, but just gets it done every night.
  4. Kyrie Irving – His offensive game is stupid good, he just needs to improve his defensive intensity.  If he were on a decent team, he’d be a superstar right now.
  5. Steph Curry – The best shooter in the league, but needs to improve his defense.  This might be tough considering his slender frame, so maybe he can put on some muscle.  However, becoming stronger could affect his shooting, so this might be what he is, a specialist at scoring.  A great one at that.

Shooting Guard

This is the weakest position in the league, which is strange considering it was once the deepest, especially after MJ’s reign.  Honorable Mentions: Victor Oladipo, Bradley Beal, Gordon Hayward maybe… Manu Ginobli kind of… very weak position.

  1. James Harden - His game can be annoying at times because of his proclivity for flailing and drawing fouls, but he gets it done.  He is a great shooter, and is the primary focus on a rising team in the West.imagesCAS03WKF
  2. Dwyane Wade -  Might have been #1 a year or two ago, but you can see Wade has lost a step.  He isn’t Flash anymore, but can still score, facilitate, and defend with the best in the league when called upon.  A devastating second option to Lebron.
  3. Joe Johnson - Doesn’t make a lot of waves and doesn’t rock the rim, but is amongst the best shooters and scorers in the league, and is a clutch performer.  Defense leaves much to be desired.
  4. Klay Thompson - Has risen to be the best long range shooter in this group next to Harden, and plays very good defense every night against premier wing players in the West.  In a few years, he might top this list.
  5. Jamal Crawford – Perennial 6th Man of the Year contender, is the best weapon off the bench in the league.  Does not defend much, but can score from anywhere on the floor.  Makes crazy perimeter jumpers on a consistent basis.

Small Forward

A close second to Point Guard as the strongest position in the league, with some young guns who will move up the list in the years to come.  Honorable Mentions: Paul Pierce, Andre Iguodala, Luol Deng, Josh Smith, Kawhi Leanord, Rudy Gay, and Chandler Parsons.

  1. Lebron James – Not only the best Small Forward, but also the best player in the league, this one’s pretty obvious.     Kevin_Durant_Lebron_James_20120615073543_640_480
  2. Kevin Durant – The second best player in the league behind Lebron, KD is the best scorer in the league due to his size and shooting, and is a greatly improved defender.  Lebron gets the nod because of his rings, and his defensive presence is the stuff of legends; the guy covers every position!
  3. Carmelo Anthony – Next to Durant the most versatile scorer in the game, and is even stronger than Durant with his ability to score on the block.  The terrible season by the Knicks has overshadowed what might be Carmelo’s best season as a pro.
  4. Paul George – Has risen to become the second best defender in the league next to Lebron, and has amazing skills and athleticism.  When he becomes a more consistent scorer, he will be right up there as a top player in the league.
  5. Demar DeRozan - Relatively unknown by non-NBA fans, has freakish athleticism and has really improved his scoring ability.  Leading a surprisingly solid Toronto team that can make waves in the Playoffs.

Power Forward

Garnett and Nowitzki changed the needs of this position and in many ways the look of the league, making the “stretch 4″ and the ability to guard them a primary focus of GM’s across the league. Power Forwards now must rebound and make long range jumpers.  Honorable Mentions: Anthony Davis, Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph, David West, David Lee and Paul Millsap.

  1. Kevin Love – The most versatile big in the game right now as both a top flight rebounder and 3 point shooter.  Is a solid defender and the best outlet passer in the game.   KevinLoveShooting640
  2. Blake Griffin – Will be #1 when he develops a more consistent jumper, which is already improved this year.  The most entertaining player to watch in the league.
  3. Lamarcus Aldridge – Quietly has built himself into one of the top offensive big men in the game.  Also is a solid defender and is constantly improving his game.
  4. Chris Bosh – Bosh gets lost in the stardom of Wade and Lebron, but his defensive versatility is excellent and is a great spot up shooter, a perfect fit for Lebron’s constant double teams.
  5. Dirk Nowitzki – He is getting up there in age, but still has that soft shooting touch that has made him one of the best shooting big men of all time.

Center

It might not be the premier position it once was, but there are still some very good Centers in the league right now.  I still find it odd that the Center was eliminated as an official starting position in the All Star Game… Honorable Mentions: Pau Gasol, Deandre Jordan, Serge Ibaka, Andre Drummond, and Tyson Chandler.

  1. Dwight Howard – Remains the premier defensive big man in the game.  His offensive game and free throw shooting are not elite, but he is still an invaluable piece of a great Houston team.   Dwight+Howard+Houston+Rockets+v+Washington+ZpPtxC1Y4Osl
  2. Joakim Noah – Has shot up the rankings of big men in recent years, and is now the best passing big in the game.  Also is one of the most entertaining interviews in pro sports! 
  3. Roy Hibbert – Under the radar until last year’s playoff run, Hibbert is a huge physical presence and has a great soft shooting touch.  Just needs to become more consistent night to night.
  4. Al Jefferson – One of the top offensive big men in the game, and leads the way for a Bobcats team set to make the playoffs, albeit in the East…
  5. Marc Gasol – Has missed much of the 2013-2014 season, but his mere presence on the court makes such a difference to his Grizzlies.  The reigning Defensive Player of the Year as well as a great passer and shooter, would be higher on the list if he was at 100% health.

Lebron James is Great and Noone Cares

Lebron is already one of the top 10 NBA players of all time.  Maybe top 5 all time.  Is there a better Small Forward in the history of the league?  Nope, Lebron is the best SF of all time.  I will get to that in a second.  The problem is despite Lebron’s greatness, and the emergence of exciting young players like Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, Durant, and Westbrook, people just don’t love the league like they did in MJ’s day.  But first thing’s first.

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That’s a lot of trophies…

I’m not a huge stats guy for basketball.  They can be misleading because there are way too many factors like being on bad teams and getting more shots.  Or if your team is constantly dominating, you get less touches, so a better player who wins might have lower stats than one on a losing team (see Carmelo Anthony).  I feel the same with titles, they can be overrated.  Is Robert Horry a better forward than Charles Barkley because of his rings?  No.  If you know basketball, and the era which players played, you can understand the skills of players relative to the skill of their competition.  Thus, I will always give the edge to players of the late 80’s and the 90’s.  The athletic edge goes to modern players, there have never been NBA players as fast and skilled as today.

I look at the players as players.  I don’t take into account how everyone was hurt by “The Decision”.  Yes, that was handled awkwardly, but people who don’t think that free agency and college recruiting is not basically done the exact same way, only behind closed doors, is just naive.  Eli Manning refused to play for the Chargers when drafted, I don’t hear much about that.  John Elway threatened to play baseball until he landed on the team he wanted in the draft.  Kareem left Milwaukee for LA, as most athletes do.  They go for a bigger market and/or more money.  In any career, would one turn down more money or to live in a better city?  People also forget, Lebron took less money to go to Miami.  Post comments that think comparing to Lebron to the greats of the NBA is not even a conversation are just not thinking straight.  Lebron is definitely an awkward guy, and probably is in the media too much for his own good, but he is an athletic freak.  For any sport.

Larry Bird. On first mention this sounds crazy.  Larry Legend is one of the most skilled ballers ever.  Given his size, he was a ridiculous shooter. Great decision maker.  Plain tough.  However, this is pretty easily in favor of Lebron purely due to longevity.  Larry’s career was unfortunately cut short due to injuries.  Even in his last few years, he was just way too slow to guard a guy like Lebron.  It is a testament to Bird’s amazing abilities that he was still a top player with his poor athleticism.

Skill-wise, Bird was a way better shooter than Lebron, but Lebron was just as good a passer.  A better finisher at the rim.  More athletic.  Plus, people forget that basketball is a 2-way sport, and Lebron’s defensive dominance and versatility is criminally overlooked.  Larry could not guard 5 positions with the speed and quickness of Lebron.  I don’t remember Larry flying in out of nowhere to block a fast break dunk.

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Oh what a mustache.

Julius Erving.  Dr. J is famous for his high flying dunks, and awesome style.  Probably the best NBA afro of all time!  But Lebron is an amazing dunker in his own right.  I’d give the edge to Dr. J because he was more original and was definitely smoother about his business, but it’s a close one.  Erving was more of a post player, and Lebron is a better overall shooter.  Also a better passer.  Dr. J did play much of his prime in the ABA, so we may have missed out on even more greatness.  However, Lebron’s overall ability to cover multiple positions (his speed) gives him the edge over Dr. J.

Scottie Pippen.  This one is pretty close.  Skip Bayless is one who attributes Scottie’s greatness to merely riding the coattails of Jordan, and that is a common view of Scottie.  But that is crazy.  The two seasons when MJ decided to be mediocre at baseball, the Bulls still made the playoffs in a loaded Eastern Conference, and they were still a contender.  Scottie was their best player.  He had about as much defensive versatility as Lebron.  He was also a great dunker with speed and leaping ability.  He was not a great shooter, and Lebron is certainly not great, but I would say he was a better long range shooter that Scottie.  Scottie was a good passer, a smart player, but not on the level of Lebron.  Lebron is a top 5 point guard in today’s NBA, and he’s 6′ 9″, and 250 lbs.  Throws dimes.  Chris Paul is probably the only player in the league who is a better passer than Lebron.

Scottie’s Bulls teams without MJ were still pretty good, not great, but good. Lebron carried a pretty bad Cleveland team all the way to the Finals.  His title-winning Miami teams have basically been Lebron, Wade, and 10 3-point shooting guards.  Bosh is technically an all-star, but he doesn’t play like one.  I will concede that Lebron did not have to go through Ewing’s Knicks or Reggie’s Pacers, but you can’t fault the competition.  A championship is a championship.  Lebron takes this one.

Jerry West.  I will keep this short.  I have already run down Lebrons dominance in terms of athleticism, passing, defensive flexibility, etc.  Jerry West is the logo of course, and a champion.  It is certainly tough to compare players based on their eras… but if they played one on one, Lebron would block just about every one of West’s shots.  The End

There are a few other Small Forwards that might qualify… Dominique, Havlicek, and Rick Barry.  Dominique was not the passer or shooter Lebron is, and Havlicek and Barry aren’t even close due to athleticism.  Personally, I would be more entertained by Larry Bird, and I like him better as a player.  Realistically though, Lebron is already the greatest Small Forward in NBA history, and he’s 28.  Give Lebron a few seasons, and this won’t even be a conversation.

Of course this is where noone cares, and that is unfortunate.  I count myself as one who recognizes Lebrons greatness, and I don’t like watching him play.  It is rare that the greatest player in a sport is not the most attractive to watch.  Sometimes, he is just too dominant.  It doesn’t seem that entertaining because if Lebron is on, he just takes over.  He does not have the prettiest jumper, but he is statistically pretty good, and has gotten better every year.  He is a little too demonstrative on the court.  Basically, he is an awkward guy.

You can’t blame a guy for being the most popular player in the NBA in the new social media error.  Lebron could do a better job of limiting his exposure, and could certainly talk less, but MJ was known for his trash talking.  He used the media too.  He was just better at it.  Who knows what MJ would be like in today’s social media era, where every word, every play is dissected in an instant.

It is unfortunate that the NBA is not the beloved sport it was more than a decade ago, and the country has adopted football as the new favorite sport. Even hockey or MMA will often get more enthusiasm than pro ball, but that doesn’t change the fact that if you drop Lebron on the court in any era, against any lineup, he would be a top player on the floor.  The greatest Forward period of all time?  The greatest player of all time?  That will take many more rings, and let’s face it: Jordan ruined it for everybody.  Lebron might not be able to do anything to match Jordan’s greatness, his swagger, his Nike campaigns, he was just so cool.  Maybe if he switches to baseball… football maybe?  Lebron would be an all-star in any sport.  That would be great to see.