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Pro Sports Wrap - by Sam Ruesler

Pro Sports Wrap - May 2011

2010 NBA Finals Preview

May 31st 2011 15:15
This is a rematch that one man has relished more than anyone else. This is a shot at redemption, most likely the last one, for one of the NBA's biggest stars. This series dates back to 2006 when the Dallas Mavericks blew a 2-0 series lead against Dwayne Wade and Shaq in a series that featured an epic collapse from Dirk Nowitzki. The man who is perhaps the greatest player in Mavericks' history has took it upon himself to lead his team back to this moment. Will they get their vengeance. One thing's clear, they won't go down without a fight.

The 2006 Finals have haunted this team ever since, and the word "choker" has long been associated with the name Dirk Nowitzki. That is, until this season. The man largely blamed for what happened in 2006 and the loss to the eighth seeded Warriors in 2007. Nowitzki scored just eight points on a team that won 67 games and was considered to be one of the best teams in recent memory. That's all behind the man born in Wurzburg.

It's difficult to describe the drastic difference in Dirk's postseason play that happened this year. The shot were finally falling and the legendary work ethic was paying it's dividends on basketball's biggest stage. He and the Mavs didn't wilt when the Blazers tied the series 2-2 when the Mavs were up 2-0. It seemed like deja vu, but the Mavs showed they were a changed team and won the next two games.

The Lakers were supposed to be easily into the Finals after the Spurs were bounced out by the Grizzlies. The Lakers imploded, and the Mavs exploded on their way to a surprising sweep. The Mavs showed they were for real, and Dirk Nowitzki had the series of a lifetime. He obliterated the Thunder and had the highest true shooting percentage in a playoff game in NBA history. Dirk was brutally efficient, got to the line with ease, and turned in a performance that has skyrocketed his reputation.

The Heat's journey to this point has been well-documented, and LeBron James cemented himself as the NBA's best player after a playoff series against the Bulls that we can simply chalk up as being dominant. There really is no other word to use to describe the clutch shots, the efficiency, and the remarkable defense against the league's MVP who actually wasn't my MVP.

This is tantalizing matchup that we need to savor in. It's so captivating because of the storylines surrounding this game. It's the Big Three trying to prove the doubters and "haters"- one doubter being Mavs' owner Mark Cuban- that they are the best team in the league.

So far in the playoffs, Chris Bosh is easily the best player that Dirk Nowitzki will be guarded by. He's far more athletic than Gasol, Ibaka, and Aldridge as a defender. I think Nowitzki wins this battle though. Shawn Marion played superb defense against Durant, but LeBron isn't going to be pushed around as easily. Again, Marion is better at defending LeBron than the guys he has faced in the playoffs right now. Deng and Iguodala play good D, but they aren't as physical on the ball as Marion. But nobody can guard LeBron at this point.

The Mavs don't really have anyone to take on D-Wade either. Jason Kidd has turned into a good defensive player, but Wade is too fast and is incredible at attacking the rim. I don't see how Kidd can contain him, unless if Wade gets gassed out like he did against the Bulls. I doubt that's going to happen.

These are two unquestionably talented teams that fully deserve to be at this point. Sports are all about matchups and utilizing matchups. This series is definitely winnable for both teams, but I think the Heat have the better matchup against the Mavericks. It's going to be close considering the fact that the Mavs have the far better bench.

I've been very critical of the Heat over the season, but they really proved me wrong against the Bulls. I rarely ever pick series to go seven, but I do think these will be six hard-fought games. Want an MVP? I think Wade gets his second one against the Mavs in the Finals. He's going to rise up and show us he is the second best player in basketball behind LeBron. Yes, I just said that Wade is better than Kobe, but that's a debate for another day.
Trying to Duplicate 2006

The Minnesota Timberwolves want to get a couple of veterans in return if they were to trade the number two pick in the upcoming draft. Although their owner says otherwise, many GMs have stated that the Wolves are talking about dealing their pick. Hey, I would do the trade depending on who the veterans are. I mean, David Kahn doesn't exactly have the best draft track record out there.

Danny Ferry has been linked with a move to the Trail Blazers. The best GM in basketball could be going to one of the best front office's in basketball. If the Blazers can get Ferry, this would be a huge move. I think he gives them a really good chance to get to the next round in the playoffs, provided he has the opportunity to make some moves.

Mike Brown was an incredible coach for the Cavs, but LeBron James was the reason why he was fired. Brown was drawing up plays, and James would never run them. His immaturity frustrated his coach, and LeBron grew to hate Brown. Brown was fired for fear that LeBron would leave if Brown was kept. They got the part where James would leave right, but they didn't make a good decision in firing Brown.

There are always greener pastures for a former Coach of the Year, and this one may have hit the jackpot. The Lakers are in very serious discussions with Brown. He may be named the successor to arguably the greatest coach in NBA history on arguably the greatest franchise in NBA history. Kobe is man enough to not pull a LeBron. Brown seems to want a four year deal worth at least four million per year. That's quite a bit of cash, so I think that's the deciding factor. Rick Adelman and assistant coach Brian Shaw are two other top candidates to keep an eye on.

I am hearing that the Milwaukee Bucks want to trade Brandon Jennings. That's a really stupid idea, and they seriously undervalue him. I hope Jennings goes to a team that realizes just how good he can be when used properly. Jennings is understandably not happy with his situation in Milwaukee. He's a player who can become a star point guard in this league, and I think he's best suited to move on to a team that can help him reach his potential.
Next In Line?

Randy Moss had the most receiving touchdowns in an NFL season with the New England Patriots in 2007. After an ugly breakup last year, the Pats' biggest rivals could sign Moss. This would only happen if the Jets were unable to re-sign either Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards. Holmes and Edwards are better players than Moss at this point in time, but Moss would fit right in in New York.

Mike Brown is the worst owner in the league, and he has the most interesting QB situation on his hands. We all know about the Carson Palmer quandary, and Brown has reiterated the fact that the Bengals will keep Palmer. If Palmer holds true to his statement and retires, then Brown says the team will just put in Andy Dalton. He also added that Palmer would be the starter if he stayed. I think the Bengals need to move on and trade Palmer. They'll also get good value for him as opposed to getting nothing in return. Palmer was terrible at the beginning of the year, but he was great in the last few weeks of the season. Was it injuries or luck? Either way, I think there are going to be teams that will try and give too much for him.

The Carolina Panthers will start Cam Newton when he knows the offense, and when they assemble a solid supporting cast around him. Read: get another receiver to play next to Steve Smith. They will make a QB competition with Newton and Clausen, and Newton will act more of a game manager when he first plays. Yeah, they're going to play John Fox ball early on.

The Dallas Cowboys probably won't release Roy Williams, and I honestly wouldn't either. Why? Because there's this thing called trading where you can get something in return. Williams is way too expensive for a receiver who is only average. The Cowboys would also have to give about 12 million dollars to him if they released Williams. Yeah, not happening. Williams is a solid red zone target who can have that occasional big game when he and Romo click.

Barry Cofield wants a new and long-term deal. The defensive tackle is set to be a free agent, and the Giants should grant his request. He's one of the most vocal leaders in the NFL who is also a force on the line for the G-Men. Pay the man and give him a deal that gives him some security; he's earned it.

Mike Sims-Walker is good friends with Brandon Marshall, and he wants to join him in South Beach. I don't think the Dolphins should sign Sims-Walker because he's too similar to Marshall. They're both athletic possession receivers. I think the Fins need to sign a deep threat instead. It's not that I think Sims-Walker is a poor player. It's just that he's not the type of player the team needs. Sims-Walker is a very talented, but also very a inconsistent receiver who struggles against press coverage.
Rex Is Interested

5/2011 Starting Pitcher Rankings

May 22nd 2011 14:01
1. Tim Lincecum
2. Roy Halladay
3. Josh Johnson
4. Cliff Lee
5. CC Sabathia
6. Adam Wainwright
7. Jon Lester
8. Felix Hernandez
9. Justin Verlander
10. Dan Haren
11. Josh Beckett
12. Ubaldo Jimenez
13. Jered Weaver
14. Clayton Kershaw
15. Chris Carpenter
16. Cole Hamels
17. David Price
18. Matt Cain
19. Zack Greinke
20. Tommy Hanson
21. Francisco Liriano
22. Yovani Gallardo
23. Roy Oswalt
24. Trevor Cahill
25. Wandy Rodriguez
26. James Shields
27. Chad Billingsley
28. Jaime Garcia
29. Clay Buchholz
30. Ryan Dempster
31. John Danks
32. Max Scherzer
33. Jake Peavy
34. Mat Latos
35. Johan Santana
36. Jorge De La Rosa
37. AJ Burnett
38. Shaun Marcum
39. Brett Anderson
40. Phil Hughes
41. Ricky Romero
42. Zach Britton
43. Michael Pineda
44. Jeremy Hellickson
45. Ricky Nolasco
46. Matt Garza
47. Jonathan Sanchez
48. Johnny Cueto
49. CJ Wilson
50. Madison Bumgarner

5/21 Baseball Stats Check

May 21st 2011 15:56
1. Jonny Gomes has the lowest BABIP at .185 as well as the 14th highest strikeout rate 31.2%. He is hitting .176.

2. A.J. Pierzynski is hitting .252, but he has the lowest strikeout rate in the league at 5.8

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1. The Hawks were 25th best rebounding team in the NBA according to Hoop Data's Rebounding Efficiency Rating.

2. They had the 6th best turnover rate in the NBA

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What a postseason. Each year, the NBA Playoffs never disappoints. There's always action, storylines, suspense, upsets, and great games. This year is no different, and both series have interesting matchups. The West may be the most perplexing, because it all has to do with which team is streakier. The Heat and Bulls are the two best teams right now- I have the Bulls winning it all- but these two teams are either on or off. They're not sure things.

I haven't been impressed with the Thunder so far in the playoffs. They were terrible at times against the Grizzlies, and I don't think they are a good enough team on the road. Even if they beat the Mavs, I doubt they win the whole thing. Even against the Nuggets, the Thunder were poor at times. They got lucky in pretty much every fourth quarter of that series. Their execution in crunch time was extremely poor

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5/2011 Player Profile: Shea Weber

May 16th 2011 15:03
When you talk about the five best defensemen in the NHL, Shea Weber has to be one of the names you talk about. The Predators' captain is the team's best player. Not only is he a great defender and leader, but he is also a valuable threat on offense.

Weber is set to become a free agent, but he loves playing in Nashville and will certainly re-sign with the Preds. He's the face of the franchise, so money and years are no problem even though the Predators are short on money. I'm betting that Weber will give his team a discount of some sort. The James Norris Trophy nominee's 16 goals were tied for fourth among all defensemen in the NHL, and that stat shows his offensive ability. Weber had 48 points in total

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5/15 NBA News: Hawks' Future

May 15th 2011 11:48
The Atlanta Hawks were finally able to beat the Orlando Magic, and they also have their future at point guard figured out with the emergence of Jeff Teague in the playoffs. Larry Drew did a poor job of coaching during the regular season, but he actually made some good decisions in the playoffs. They were never going to beat the Bulls but taking the best team in the NBA to six games is certainly something to be proud of. The future looks bright in Atlanta, and this team could challenge for the Conference Title with another big man.

Jamal Crawford was huge for them in the playoffs, and he's a very important piece for the Hawks. They might lose him because they didn't give him an extension last year. He is set to become a free agent, and it doesn't seem as if he wants to re-sign with the Hawks. That would be a huge loss for them because Crawford is their second best scorer and second best shooter. That's because there's this guy named Joe Johnson on the Hawks

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Rafael Furcal broke his thumb on April 11, and he will begin his rehab assignment. Furcal is expected to return next week, but manager Don Mattingly says that it will be days and not weeks. Jamey Carroll has hit surprisingly well so far, but he will definitely come back down to earth. His BABIP is over his career average, and it is always good to get the better player back (Furcal). Carroll can hit for average, but he has absolutely no pop. The Dodgers (18-20) could really use Furcal back in the lineup.

Steve Cohen sent in a $200 million dollar bid for 49% of the Mets, but there has been a break in negotiations. It seems like Cohen wants to hold a lot of control over how the Mets run their day-to-day business. Talks are still going on, and the Mets obviously want to get a deal done with Cohen quickly. For now, the Mets can rejoice a powerful win over the Rockies thanks to a trio of dingers from Carlos Beltran. Beltran has been a pleasant surprise this year, and he's been incredible with 8 dingers at a batting average (.295) that will stay where it is. He might be traded if the Mets can eat up his huge contract as the mets obviously need some cash

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5/2011 Closer Rankings

May 12th 2011 14:23
1. Mariano Rivera
2. Jonathan Papelbon
3. Heath Bell

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What does the future hold for the Kings? Where are they going to go? Their days in Sacramento are certainly numbered, and there are really no other options for a team that has put itself into financial disarray due to low revenue and poor contracts. I don't want to answer these hypothetical questions right now. I want to talk about this team from a personnel perspective.

Marcus Thornton played in 27 games for the Kings, and the shooting guard was easily the team's best player in those games. He's the main scoring threat on the Kings, and that's not a good thing. The Kings don't really have a marquee player. I have never really been sold on Tyreke Evans as that kind of guy, and his poor season last year proved my doubts

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2010 PSW NBA All-Defensive Team

May 10th 2011 14:29
Team One

PG Rajon Rondo

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Maggette had a borderline All-Star caliber season in 2009- his last season with the Warriors and best of his career. Last season was the worst of Corey Maggette's career by far. He had an average year overall, but it was a stark drop off from 2009. He turned the ball over too much and had the worst shooting season of his career. Maggette has always been known as turnover-prone- and foul-prone- but he did cut down on his fouls. His turnover rate was far too high especially considering he had another subpar assist rate.

Maggette had the highest usage rate of his career, and he's playing the least minutes of his career- 20 per game. Maggette's been decent for a player of the bench, but he's easily had the worst year of his career. I think if he has a similar year next season, Maggette may never have another good year in his career. At 31 years old, his body can no longer take all those slashing drives Maggette made earlier in his career. Those plays have caught up to him at this age, and he'll never be the same again

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Devalue The No-Hitter

May 8th 2011 11:23
First off, Justin Verlander is a beast. He was throwing it 100 miles an hour even after he threw 100 pitches. Verlander and his pitching coach have worked to make Verlander a better pitcher by slowing down his delivery in order to increase his control. With this added knowledge, Verlander has been pinpoint accurate at the beginning of games. Although he won't pitch as fast in the beginning, his blazing speed is showcased at the end of the game. Verlander has always been great at maintaining a fastball that is actually fast through the late innings. He's starting to mix up his pitches more, and this may just be a glimpse of what is to come for Verlander as the year goes on. I mean, he's always been a slow starter. This is probably Verlander beginning to get back on track.

I have always been calling for the devaluation of the no-hitter ever since Edwin Jackson's "gem" last year. Jackson walked eight batters and had a game score of 85. To put that into perspective, Verlander had a game score of 90. Game score is a Bill James stat that basically calculates how well a player did during one particular game. This year, six pitchers have had a game score of at least 90. The highest, 92, was a three-hitter with 12 K's by Cliff Lee. I believe that we should use game scores to evaluate who truly pitched the best games

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2011 NFL Draft Rankings

May 7th 2011 11:25
This post overviews all of the five parts and ranks which teams did the best and worst in the 2011 NFL Draft.


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St. Louis Rams A plus- The Rams had an amazing draft. First, they got the best defensive end in the draft with just the 14th pick. That's unquestionably a huge bargain. Then, they spent the rest of the draft adding receivers to surround Sam Bradford. The guys they got look good to me. The Rams may finally have a decent receiving tight end with the selection of Lance Kendricks. He's got good hands, and Bradford would love to have him as a safety valve; any young QB would.

Danny Amendola is a decent receiver, but the rest of the other receivers on the Rams are average at best. Austin Pettis will be big in the red zone, and he could emerge as the main guy. He was a nice bargain in the third round. Greg Salas had a huge year for Hawaii, but we all know about how much players are too positively effected by their very pass-friendly system. Salas isn't a guy to write off just because he played at Hawaii. He's a sleeper pick and was a nice value in the fourth. He is raw, but he runs good routes, he's the toughest wideout in the draft, and he's fast. He isn't really a playmaker though, but Salas will be another reliable target for Bradford. Did I also mention that Josh McDaniels- the same guy that made Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd look really god- is their offensive coordinator? Watch out NFL, these Rams will air it. And hey, Steven Jackson ain't a bad running back either

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Philadelphia Eagles B plus- The Eagles usually do a solid job in the draft, and they did a good job this year. Danny Watkins is definitely going to start at guard, and he's a huge upgrade on the line. The Eagles' linebackers were poor last year, so the addition of Casey Matthews in the fourth round was a huge one for Philly. He was a nice deal there, and he will start. Dion Lewis can be a solid running back in the draft, and he was a nice pick in the fifth round.

Pittsburgh Steelers D plus- I really didn't like the draft the Steelers turned in this year. I love the Cameron Heyward pick a lot, but there was really nothing of note besides him for Pittsburgh

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New England Patriots B Nate Solder has a ton of upside, and he'll develop on the bench under assistant offensive coach/offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia who is one of the best in the league's history. Ras-I Dowling is a physical corner with good length who fits the Pats' system. He'll most likely start right off as a nickel corner, and he can match-up against the tall receivers of the NFL too. Shane Vereen was a poor pick, but the Stevan Ridley choice was a pretty good one. He's the power back they need, and while he was somewhat of a reach, I think the Pats have something special worked up for him.

Ryan Mallet's character concerns are somewhat overblown. There really was none of that when he was at Arkansas, and he showed he could lead in college. While there are concerns, he can't really do anything stupid under Belichick. Marcus Cannon was my favorite pick by the Patriots, and I thought it was the best value pick in the draft. He will start right away if Matt Light is not re-signed, and he is a versatile lineman that was worth a second rounder. He only fell because he has Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, but he'll make a full recovery. The trade with the Saints was a nice one at the end of round one

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Detroit Lions B minus- Nick Fairley slipped, and the Lions knew that his value at the 13th pick was too good to pass up on. While he doesn't fill a need- the Lions are already beastly at D-Tackle with Suh, Corey Williams, and Sammie Lee Hill- Fairley was far too talented to not pick. Titus Young will definitely help out Matthew Stafford because Detroit's third receiver last year- Bryant Johnson- was horrendous. Mikel LeShoure will spell the end of Kevin Smith in Detroit.

Green Bay Packers B minus- Derek Sherrod was needed to bulk up the tackles, and Randall Cobb was a nice selection at the end of the second round. He's a playmaking receiver that will most likely replace James Jones. Cobb will probably handle returns, and he will also make an impact in the passing game because the Packers love their four receiver sets.To me, Davon House was the best pick the Packers made. Although they are already stocked at corner, House was a steal as a compensatory pick in the fourth round. House fits what Dom Capers does defensively, and he is another one of those really good press corners. D.J. Williams was a solid 5th round choice at tight end

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Arizona Cardinals A minus Patrick Peterson is the third best prospect in the draft, and the Cards got a bargain with Sam Acho in the fourth round. Ryan Williams and Robert Housler were also nice additions.

Atlanta Falcons C plus The trade to get Julio Jones was steep, but it was a solid move in my opinion. The addition of Akeem Dent was pretty good, but I wish the Falcons didn't trade up to get Jacquizz Rodgers

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Sorry for not posting yesterday. My computer got all messed up when I just finished my post that reviewed the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft. The post didn't go through, my computer broke down for some reason, and it has all left me quite angry at technology. I'll kick off May by looking at the best 20 players on the Texans. I did a post on their top 20 in November, and we'll see if there was a change. That post was on my other site Next to the players are their change in ranking.

1. WR Andre Johnson (Same

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