Boogie Is Free

It was so precedented.

It was so unprecedented.

The Kings, after two years of rumors, finally traded DeMarcus Cousins.  It happened.  We were stunned, but we weren’t.

We were stunned because the team that acquired him came out of nowhere.  We were stunned about the return that the Kings got, and the complete 180 from the past week’s reporting, which had the Kings and Cousins restating their desire to stay together and for Cousins to sign an extension this Summer.

We weren’t stunned because the Boogie trade rumors hadn’t gone away since the Lakers came close to getting him during the 2015 Draft.  Boston and Phoenix had emerged earlier in the season as possible candidates.  We weren’t stunned because the Kings relationship with Cousins has been extremely rough.  We weren’t stunned because the Kings are the worst-ran franchise in the league, and consistently make terrible move after terrible move.

I have been in Boogie’s corner for as long as I can remember.  He’s one of my three favorite players in the league.  I’ve advocated to get him out of Sacramento ever since I launched this site.  But I never would have thought the New Orleans Pelicans would be his new team, and I never would have thought the Kings would sell him so low.

Pelicans get: DeMarcus Cousins, Omri Casspi

Kings get: Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, 2017 1st rounder, 2017 2nd rounder

The timeline of Sunday’s trade was so insanely fast.  Reports that morning suggested that Sacramento had held discussions with New Orleans and Orlando.  There were also reports that New Orleans had inquired about Paul George.

My first reaction to the Pelicans rumors was: “Where are the assets needed to make a trade like that happen?”  It makes sense why the George trade never got momentum.  Indiana is smartly ran.  New Orleans’ offer for George had to be so incredibly underwhelming, simply due to the fact that New Orleans does not have assets to make that trade.  The Pelicans then engaged on Boogie, because his value is (admittingly) lower than George’s, and New Orleans knew they could trick the Kings into making a bad deal.  They did.

The Pelicans literally got one of the ten best players in the league for a rookie flameout who is taking on the “Only good in college” mantra in Buddy Hield, a washed up shooting guard in Tyreke Evans, an interesting future piece in Langston Galloway, and a 1st and 2nd rounder.  So basically Galloway and a 1st round pick.

Hield was awesome at Oklahoma, which led to me wanting the Suns to take him in the Draft, but is struggling to adjust to the NBA and seems destined to be a 2nd Tyreke Evans: An overconfident shooting guard who takes bad shots and thinks they’re the best ever.  The Kings see Hield as the star of the return.  Yikes.

I’m not a fan of Evans whatsoever, but I do feel bad for the guy.  He’s having to go back to the Kings, who are more irrelevant than they were when he was there.

For New Orleans, getting rid of Evans is huge.  He was part of the problem in the Big Easy.  He was too injured and too possessive of the ball.  It just never came together there for him.

Galloway is the first of two pieces of actual value the Kings got for Boogie.  Sacramento needs a point guard.  I don’t think Galloway is the future for them, but he’s a very nice player who can start (He’s an upgrade over Darren Collison) and then transition to a 6th man role once they find their guy.

The first round pick isn’t very attractive either.  I don’t follow college hoops like I do the NBA, but this draft is stacked.  There’s like 13-15 solid dudes in this draft.  New Orleans could very well sneak into the playoffs, putting them 16th or 17th in the draft order.  If the chemistry takes awhile to develop, the pick lands in the early teens.  Its fine, but the Pelicans’ first rounder which will land in the teens and Langston Galloway should not be the two most valuable assets in a trade for DeMarcus Cousins.

Its a new low for the Kings, somehow.  They sold Boogie for 40 cents on the dollar when he’s one of the ten best players in the league.  They hoarded him for almost two years in an attempt to sky-rocket his value and faltered.  They failed to put a good team around him.  They failed to find him a long-term point guard.  They failed to give him a good coach.  They failed to give him a stable front office.  And you all wonder why Boogie has character issues?

With most poorly ran organizations/franchise, it starts at the top.  Vivek Ranadive has completely mismanaged the Kings ever since he bought them.  Its been a complete and utter failure in every way basketball wise.  This trade only advanced that.

The forth-coming Boogie trade should have made the Kings better, or at least better equipped for the future.  Instead, they got a rookie bust, a washed up Tyreke Evans, a sixth man, and a pick that may or may not be valuable.  And don’t think the Kings didn’t know what they were doing.  Vlade Divac told the media he had a better offer from another team.  But no, I guess Buddy Hield is the next Stephen Curry.  Did they decide that after watching Hield drop 28 points in the Rising Stars Challenge Friday night?

Its totally insane.  And its even getting sad.  Boogie just wasted so much of his career playing for a crappy team.  Kings fans are watching the front office throw away seasons at a time.  The team is now unwatchable, and when you’re in a new arena, thats not good.

I’ve been saying it for years, but I now I think its plainly obvious.  Can we start a movement to get me to be the new Kings GM?  I’m smarter than anyone in that organization; I can guarantee that.

As for the Pelicans, this is an unbelievable trade.  It takes them from being the team that literally needed to trade everyone  (Trading AD was a conversation a month ago) to a possible title contender next year.

The remainder of the season should be taken with a grain of salt.  I’ll talk about it more later, but there’s going to be some chemistry things they’re gonna have to work out, and the Pelicans are currently out of the playoffs right now (Sacramento is ironically ahead of them, but in worse shape).  Still, if the Pelicans can sneak up the 8th seed, I’m not looking forward to playing them in the first round if I’m Golden State.  I’m in no way saying the Pelicans can beat the Warriors, but I don’t think a six game series is inconceivable.

The Pelicans now have two of the five best centers in the league, and thats in a really talented pool too.  And the sneaky part to it: Two stretch fives.

This is why I’m not super worried about the chemistry.  There’s no spacing issues here.  Both have an amazing amount of killer post moves and can knock down a three if needed.  One can occupy the post while one slides out on the perimeter.  Good luck to the undersized power forward guarding either one on the three-point line!

Defensively is where there could be some issues.  Both are excellent at rim protection and rebounding, but the positive on offense is a negative on defense.  Either Anthony Davis or Boogie is going to be guarding a much smaller, more athletic player who’s probably positioned on the perimeter.  He’s gonna be able to go right around Boogie or Davis, because while both are good athletes, they’re not agile enough to guard someone much smaller and faster.  These guys are rim protecters, not wing defenders.  Again, this is an awesome trade for the Pelicans, but if there is a little cause for concern, it lies here.

Overall, New Orleans is a thousand times better talent-wise and is better suited for the future.  This is a good team!  It helps having two of the twelve best players in the league, but there’s solid talent here.  Jrue Holiday has been awesome this year, and seems destined to re-sign (assuming the remainder of this season isn’t a total disaster and/or Chris Paul doesn’t decide to land a SI cover that reads “I’M COMING HOME”).  Speaking of Holiday and how good this team is…  Envision the double screens that are coming with Holiday/Boogie/Davis.  I mean, thats devastating.

The wing is a little bit of the question mark for New Orleans with E’Twaun Moore and Solomon Hill, but the new trio is formidable enough to overcome that.  And hey, Moore is fine.

The Pelicans are a free agent signing away from being really, really good.  The wing needs an upgrade, and if they find it, this team is good enough to contend with the big boys next season.  Anthony Davis and Boogie are only three years apart in age.  Boogie is a sneaky 26, and AD is a crazy 23…  That just seems way too young considering how long he’s been in the league.  These guys are just hitting their primes, and once the chemistry works itself out, they’re gonna be on pace for greatness.

I have no doubt that this is the best frontcourt in the league.  I mean, its on pace to be one of the best of all-time.  Cleveland and Golden State aren’t as talented down low.  The Clippers are, but lack versatility and are built completely differently.  Same with the Grizzlies.  The pairing of two stretch fives is something we’ve never seen before, and is a massive mismatch for anyone.  Add that to the double screens and Jrue Holiday carving dudes up, and the Pelicans are ready to fly.


Super Bowl Roundup

Sunday night’s game was everything we could have possibly hoped for.  Two high-powered, high scoring offenses.  Two unpredictable and confusing yet talented defenses.  A weird, unexpected start.  And an insane, unprecedented, and truly unbelievable ending that made history in so many ways.

Super Bowl 51 could not have been better.  In fact, thats the best game the NFL has seen.  It cements Tom Brady as the best quarterback ever and Bill Belichick as the best coach ever.  It cements the Patriots as the most successful sports franchise since I’ve been alive.  Its the first Super Bowl to ever go into overtime.  New England orchestrated the largest Super Bowl comeback ever.  I can go on and on.  Super Bowl 51 was the GOAT game.

So, how did that happen?

It was a weird start.  I wasn’t a fan of New England’s game-plan early on.  Clearly the best way to attack Atlanta was through the air.  The Falcons young defense was swarming to the ball.  LeGarrette Blount was stuffed.  Dion Lewis was strangely nowhere to be found.  Tom Brady had an up and down first quarter.  He did a lot of  Tom Brady things, and also some not Tom Brady things.

The biggest problem early on for the Patriots was dwindling the Falcons pass rush.  Brady was hurried way too much throughout the game, and was beaten up badly by the end.  Atlanta’s biggest key to the game was pressuring him.  There were times where Brady was able to get out of it, making good, quick throws to his receivers.  And other times there weren’t.  Brady’s not taking off and scrambling for a first down.  He’s 39 years old.  New England’s pass protection was extremely iffy in the first half, a first half where the Patriots got stomped on.

New England was gonna be okay if they could contain Atlanta’s offensive attack.  That certainly didn’t happen.  It simply came down to the fact that the Patriots could not cover every weapon of Atlanta’s.  And when Matt Ryan is the opposing quarterback, that is not a good situation to be in.  Julio Jones was unstoppable, catching four balls for 87 yards; no configuration of Patriots defenders could shut him down.  Taylor Gabriel had a big catch and run, and also blew Malcolm Butler away on a fake in-cut.

I mean, my goodness.

The Atlanta running back tandem gave New England all sorts of issues too.  Devonta Freeman was a beast.  His open-field moves and agility murdered New England early on.  It was stunning that the Patriots tackled so poorly.

The defensive issues plagued New England, but the fact they could not generate hardly any offense was the most surprising element of the game to me.  Brady’s pick-six was the most unlikely event of the whole game, well, at least until the late third quarter.

Everything that happened in the first half was completely anathema from how I expected the game to play out.  I expected Matt Ryan to throw that pick.   I expected  Brady to be able to escape the pressure (Drops by his receivers didn’t help).  If anything, I expected the Patriots to be the team that took an unexpected lead.

By the mid-3rd quarter, all hope seemed lost for the Patriots.  They attempted and didn’t recover an onside kick.  The offense looked just as stagnant as before.  The lead was somehow 28-3.  Blowout.  This thing was over.

Or so you thought.

I thought it was.  I know it was Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots.  If anyone was gonna do it, it was them.  But it seemed too improbable.  Atlanta was the better team.  They were somehow more prepared.

The weird part about the comeback was that it happened so subtly.  When epic comebacks happen, things usually fall apart for the opposing team dramatically.  While things fell apart for Atlanta, it wasn’t dramatic.  The fumble by Matt Ryan was the only real obvious mistake.  That fumble though turned out to be the biggest  contributor to the Pats comeback.

I should mention that New England actually got points prior to that fumble.  They actually scored a touchdown!  It was the first sign of competence from their offense all night.  However, Stephen Gostkowski decided to miss the extra point, so that kinda killed any glimmer of hope.

I’m sidetracking, but at 28-3, my prediction for this game could not have looked worse.  This line from Friday’s preview should be shot into the sun.

“Matt Ryan is more likely to throw that interception.  Matt Bryant is slightly more likely to miss that kick.  And the youth on Atlanta’s defense is more likely to commit that penalty.” -From Super Bowl 51 Preview, February 3rd

Tom Brady threw that pick.  Stephen Gostkowski missed a kick.  Atlanta’s defense did commit a ton of penalties; those should have cost them more early on.  New England’s lack of preparation offensively bailed them out.

We’ll come back to my prediction later, because after a rough start, it rebounded quite well, just like the Pats.

Anyways, Matt Ryan’s fumble was the spark the Patriots needed desperately.  Getting the ball deep in Atlanta territory down only two possessions at this point was huge.  Brady’s face (Which Fox showed) said it all.  That man was ready to steer the ship in the right direction.  And boy did he.

If New England doesn’t score off the turnover, who knows what happens.  Donta Hightower comes out of this game as the secret hero for forcing that fumble.

Just like that, it was a one possession game.  Nothing too flashy.  Nothing too dramatic.  Just a simple New England touchdown drive that was long overdue and one massive turnover.

By then, you started to get the feeling that New England was gonna get this done.  They had the momentum.  They had Tom Brady.  Usually you only need one of those things.  They had both.

As for Atlanta, I was taken aback by their lack of conscious and common sense late in the game.  They ran the ball a grand total of five times after taking a 28-3 lead.  Considering that (even with Brady’s and the Pats’ struggles) you wanted to keep the ball out of their hands as much as possible AND that Devonta Freeman had gashed the Patriots front seven early, it made zero sense to continue throwing the ball.  Besides Brady being relentless, its one of the main causes for the Falcons loss.

Atlanta had so many chances to put it away.  Julio Jones’ catch, despite the loss, will go down as one of the best catches in Super Bowl history (There’s been an insane amount of unreal catches in the Super Bowl).  Honestly, thats probably one of the five best catches of my lifetime.  Atlanta failed to capitalize on it though.  A holding call (The penalties finally caught up to the Falcons) wiped out a field goal attempt, forcing them to punt and give the ball back to New England, who eventually tied the game.

The Patriots final drive was what we had waited to see all night.  This was the Patriots offense we were used to.  Methodical.  Brady finding dudes.  Amazing catches.  Great play calls.  It made too much sense for it to end like this.

It seemed impossible that anything could top Jones’ sideline grab, but Julian Edelman’s bobbling, how-the-(explicate)-did-that-not-touch-the-ground catch erased memories of David Tyree, Mario Manningham and Jermaine Kearse for Patriots fans.  It left my Dad and I speechless.  We could not believe that ball didn’t touch the ground.  I’m sure everyone around the country felt the same.

Once THAT happened, it just seemed too improbable for the Patriots not to win.

The touchdown and two-point version just capped it off.  What a playcall on the two-point try though.  They nailed that perfectly.  Brady sold the high snap so well, and the snap to White was dead-on.

Overtime was so improbable yet so unnecessary.  No matter how that coin toss played out, the Patriots were winning this game.  And they took care of the task, and fast.

So yeah, while New England came out super crappy, was down 25 points, and didn’t look like they’d ever recover, Super Bowl 51 taught us to never give up on anything, and to always believe, no matter what the odds may be.

That statement also held true for my prediction.  In Friday’s preview, I picked New England 34-28.  That pick didn’t look so hot mid-way through the 3rd quarter.  But the Patriots were resilient, and the machine that is Tom Brady came through once again.

Super Bowl 51 Preview

This Super Bowl has a ton of storylines, like most.  But the types of storylines are different.  Neither team was a shoe-in to get here.  I thought the Falcons were an 8-8 squad at the beginning of the year.  Tom Brady missed four games and people wondered whether Jimmy Garrapolo would take over his job (That ended up happening in another city).  Atlanta’s defense has improved more than anyone’s.  New England hasn’t had Rob Gronkowski, one of the scariest weapons in the NFL, since Week 12.  Has he played his last game as a Patriot?

Off the field there’s plenty of storylines too.  Does Roger Goodell send DeMaurice Smith to the winner’s podium if the Patriots win, forcing him not to have to hand the Lombardi Trophy to the trio of Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft, the trio which he railroaded/witch-hunted the past year and a half?  Is Brady the GOAT QB if he wins ring number five?  What is his future?  And if the Falcons win…  What does the song composed by every terrible-or-not Atlanta rapper dedicated to the Super Bowl Champions sound like?

S0 yeah, like always there’s a lot at stake.  This reporter clearly didn’t realize that.

Don’t be that reporter.

This game figures to be a shootout.  Atlanta has more weapons than anyone can cover.  Tom Brady and the Patriots, no matter what weapons they have, are a hassle to deal with, mostly because Brady is a machine that cannot be stopped.

But is there any way that its not a shootout?

The Patriots could do some things to disrupt Atlanta.  They’re gonna do a double team on Julio Jones, put Malcolm Butler on the speedster Taylor Gabriel, and let the Falcons beat them running the ball and throwing to Mohammed Sanu.

If that goes well, the Patriots can easily match Atlanta’s offensive output.  The Falcons have gotten much better defensively though.  They’re fast and can rush the passer.  Thats huge against Tom Brady.  The stats don’t really show it, but Brady can struggle a bit with guys in his face – Its the best way to get in any 39 year old’s head.

But New England’s offensive line has been too good this year for me to see that happening.  If you can’t pressure Brady, he’s going to eat you alive, no matter how well you do at taking away his weapons.  He’s going to find Julian Edelman across the middle or Chris Hogan along the sideline.

The New England defense likes to keep everything in front of them, which is usually a pretty sound strategy.  But Atlanta’s wide receivers and running backs are insanely fast, and the Falcons have some of the best yards-after-the-catch runners in the league.  Its not hard for them to slip through and be gone.  New England has to focus on tackling well Sunday night.  They’re probably gonna get beat a couple times with good defense, but with bad defense, the Falcons could soar offensively.  Thats not a situation the Patriots want to get into, even with Tom Brady on their side.

Atlanta is too explosive and powerful on offense.  You don’t want to test them, and if the Patriots defense falters, you’re putting a lot of pressure (Not that he can’t handle it) on Brady.  Its probable he can work you out of it, but the situation is not ideal.

I see this game being extremely close throughout.  Like, its Tom Brady (GOAT) vs. Matt Ryan (MVP).  This game is coming down to who’s making that tiny mistake, whether its via a penalty, turnover, or missed kick.  Who’s more prepared?

This where it gets hard to go against the Patriots.  This is Tom Brady’s 7th Super Bowl start.  This is Belichick’s 7th time preparing for one.  Who is not doing their job on the Patriots?  Its a psychological thing with them now.  Its too hard to imagine anyone on the Patriots screwing up, or being upset, or being at fault for something.  The two times they’ve lost in this game have came on plays and occurrences that they couldn’t help.

Put it all together, and the Patriots just aren’t screwing up.  Matt Ryan is more likely to throw that interception.  Matt Bryant is slightly more likely to miss that kick.  And the youth on Atlanta’s defense is more likely to commit that penalty.  Its the little things, and its gonna determine this game.  It sounds mainstream, but when the matchup is this close, it matters so much.

Prop Bet Fun!

Before I make my pick, I’m gonna find some of my favorite prop bets for the game.  We’re continuing the yearly tradition!

Overall line (-3 NE): Sounds about right.  I’m kinda surprised it hasn’t gone up a bit, since the Patriots have been here before and Atlanta hasn’t.  But this game could very well come down to a kick at the end.

Over/under 59: OVER.  Tough call.  This game really feels like one team scoring 30 or more and the other scoring slightly below 30.  But if the Patriots defense really has no chance, then both teams probably score above 30.  Trust the offenses and take the over.

Over/under total touchdowns scored in the game 6.5: OVER.  Split it evenly and someone is scoring more than 30.  I see that happening.

The pick

The Falcons are going to have to get substantial pressure on Brady if they’re gonna have a shot.  Their defense is good, but its not great.  Even with some pressure, Brady is going to be able to adjust on the fly and make a play.  Matt Ryan, though equipped with the better weapons, isn’t able to do that.  New England is going to give up some big plays; its too hard to stop everyone on the Falcons.  But the Patriots have the experience, the coaching, and the reliability of not screwing up.  I think this game is close and down to the wire.  Its gonna come down to a kick or turnover at the end.  The Falcons are really good, but I don’t see them being able to stop the machine that is Tom Brady.

Prediction: Patriots-34 Falcons-28