Thursday, January 30, 2014

Why 2014 could be the Buccaneers' year

The Buccaneers are coming off a season in which they went an NFC South-worst 4-12, not to mention starting an NFL-worst 0-8, and not only cut their starting Quarterback [Josh Freeman] but also fired Head Coach Greg Schiano the day after their season ended.

But despite all the disappointment they encountered last year, I still feel as if they can make a serious run at the playoffs and, possibly, an NFC South title.

 Why? Well, the guy the team brought in to replace the dismissed Schiano, former Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith, is a defensive mastermind, and the team also brought in former Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier to be the defensive coordinator. 

Plus, the team could land Defensive End Jadaveon Clowney in the draft to go with top-three shutdown corner Darrell Revis. 

The Bucs also have a promising young Quarterback in Mike Glennon, who looks like a future Pro Bowler. 

Glennon will have former Pro Bowler Vincent Jackson, and receiever Mike Williams [who was a key piece of the team before going down to injury] to throw to. 

And the running game? Tampa Bay will be getting back Pro-Bowl Running Back Doug Martin and solid backup Running Back Mike James from injury after they both missed a big chunk of the 2013 season. I believe Tampa Bay will get 9 or 10 wins and win the NFC South, along with making the Playoffs. In fact, I honestly believe the Buccaneers will be true Super Bowl contenders in a few years.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

NBA Midseason Report: Southeast Division

1. Miami Heat 32-12
Good news: 
The Heat have the best player in the game in Lebron James.
Bad news:
Star Dwayne Wade has missed multiple games with a knee injury, and the 31-year old veteran out of Marquette doesn't seem to be getting better. Lebron James's Heat career-high 39 minutes per game is also a concern, as the team will need to keep its best player fresh for the playoffs. 
First Half Grade: A- 

2. Atlanta Hawks 23-21
Good news: 
Power Forward Paul Millsap has been a great offseason pickup by Atlanta, as he has played like he deserves every penny if the 4-year, 19-million dollar contract he signed recently. The Hawks are playoff bound in the weak Eastern Conference and have a surprisingly good backcourt duo in Jeff Teague-Kyle Korver. 
Bad news: 
Atlanta's best player, Center Al Horford, suffered a season-ending injury a few weeks ago and will miss the rest of the season. This all but ended the Hawks (unlikely) dream of winning the putrid East. 
First Half Grade: B-

3. Washington Wizards 21-22
Good news:
The Wizards have a top-five backcourt duo in John Wall and Bradley Beal, and Power Forward Marcin Gortat has been a key player since being traded from the Suns. 
Bad news: 
The team will make the playoffs but aren't legitimate championship-contenders. 
First Half Grade: B-

4. Charlotte Bobcats 19-27
Good news:
The Bobcats have climbed out of the NBA's cellar, and close to respectability, with a nice young nucleus of guards Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson, coupled with the post play of Josh McRoberts and "Big" Al Jefferson (who stands 7 feet tall,) that has brought the team not only playoff aspirations, but also one of the leagues best defenses. They could be legitimate title contenders in 3-5 years. 
Bad news: 
Prospect (and starting) Forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been suffering through a broken hand, and the team is one of the worst offensively in the league. Rookie Cody Zeller has been not surprisingly below-average. 
First Half Grade: C

5. Orlando Magic 12-33
Good news: 
Things have not gone their way, sure, but rookie Victor Oladipo has the looks of a potential top-10 player one day. They also have a nice young big man in Nikola Vucevic. I really believe that if they can win big in the draft just once, they'll be legitimate title contenders by 2016-17. 
Bad news:
The team is one of the worst in the NBA, but at least their future is bright, unlike some other struggling teams (Knicks, Nets, Lakers.)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

2014 World Cup Predictions

 Win= 3 points 
Tie= 1 point 
Loss= 0 points 

Group Stage

Group A:
1. Brazil 7 pts 
2. Mexico 4 pts 
3. Cameroon 3 pts 
4. Croatia 1pt 
This is a relatively weak group with the only serious threat to win the Cup in the group being Brazil. Cameroon or Mexico could sneak up on teams though. Croatia will finish in Group A's cellar.

Group B: 
1. Spain 7pts
2. Chile 5pts 
3. Australia 1pt
4. Netherlands 1pt 
Defending Champion Spain and Defending 2nd place Netherlands are in this group but I'd look for Chile as a dark-horse. Australia will likely not make it out of the group. 

Group C:
1. Columbia 5pts 
2. Japan 4pts 
3. Ivory Coast 4pts 
4. Greece 1pt 
Japan is expected to get out of the group while Columbia is a much better squad than people give them credit for. Ivory Coast and Greece will struggle against the two top-teams. 

Group D: 
1. Italy 6pts 
2. England 5pts
3. Uruguay 2pts 
4. Costa Rica 2pts 
This is a rather strong group with defending 4th place Uruguay and powerhouses Italy and England. Poor Costa Rica stands next to no chance of advancing. 

Group E: 
1. Switzerland 5pts 
2. Ecuador 4pts 
3. Honduras 2pts
4. France 2pts 
This group is one of the best in the cup as Honduras and Switzerland could contend for a cup, and Ecuador is a dark-horse, while France is a proven powerhouse. 

Group F: 
1. Argentina 9pts 
2. Nigeria 4pts 
3. Bosnia-Herzegovina 
4. Iran 1pt
This is a weak group with a lock in Argentina and not much else.

Group G:
1. Ghana 6pts 
2. Germany 5pts 
3. United States 2pts 
4. Portugal 2pts 
This is easily the strongest group with all 4 teams set to be contenders to bring home the cup but only 2 can advance. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out. 

Group H:
1. Belgium 5pts 
2. South Korea 5pts 
3. Algeria 2pts 
4. Russia 1pt 
This is a weak group, however, Belgium is a major dark-horse.
Advancers: Algeria, Belgium 

Round of 16

Brazil 2-1 Chile

Columbia 2-0 England 

Switzerland 2-0 Nigeria 

Ghana 2-2 South Korea (Ghana 4-3 on PK's) 

Spain 0-1 Mexico 

Italy 2-1 Japan 

Argentina 2-3 Ecuador 

Belgium 3-1 Germany 

Quarter finals 

Brazil 2-0 Columbia 

Switzerland 0-1 Ghana

Italy 3-0 Mexico 

Ecuador 0-1 Belgium 

Brazil 1-1 Ghana (Ghana 4-2 on PK's)

Italy 0 Belgium 1 

Ghana 1-2 Belgium 

Friday, January 24, 2014

NBA Midseason Report: Central Division

1. Indiana Pacers 34-8
Good news: 
The Pacers have earned their way to a league best 34-8 record in the seasons first half, with a stifling defense, and an incremental starting 5. It has been hinted by many that Indiana has one of the best starting units in NBA history, although they'll need a championship or two to back up that assumption. 
Bad news: 
Flying under the radar last year, Indiana nearly shocked the world, and took the eventual-champion Miami Heat to 7 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers are no longer under the radar. Everyone in the NBA is aware of their presence atop the East and they no longer have the advantage of a team possibly looking past them. Also, Point Guard George Hill's questionable ball-handling continues to be an issue. 
The Pacers have been the NBA's best team over the first half and will look to win their first title since joining the NBA. 
First Half Grade: A

2. Chicago Bulls 21-20
Good news: 
It has been a rough year for the Bulls, they lost superstar Derrick Rose to season-ending knee surgery and traded star Luol Deng to get under the salary cap. But amidst all their injury woes, Chicago still appears poised to make the playoffs, led by swing man Jimmy Butler, who has turned into a crucial piece in their team.
Bad new: 
As I stated above, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng are gone, and now Derrick Rose's backup, Kirk Hinrich, is limping with injuries as well. 
First Half Grade: C+

3. Detroit Pistons 17-25
Good news: 
The Pistons are in playoff contention! With a nice young group featuring Point Guard Brandon Jennings and Center Andre Drummond, Detroit dominates the glass and gets many second-chance points. 
Bad news: 
Detroit's three best players: Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, and Josh Smith are all big men. They all start together, however, it is not a very good combination and it looks as if one of then will have to go. Not Drummond because he is the teams franchise player, and not Smith because he's in just his first year of a 5-year $55 million contract. So all signs point to Greg Monroe being traded before the trade deadline, or in the offseason. 
First Half Grade: C

4. Cleveland Cavaliers 15-27
Good news: 
After adding former Bulls Small Forward Luol Deng, the Cavs have shown small, yet promising, improvement. Deng gives them something they didn't have before: playoff aspirations. 
Bad news: 
Before trading for Deng Cleveland was AWFUL. They came into to the year expected to make the playoffs riding with new #1 pick Anthony Bennett, but Bennett has been one of the biggest busts in recent memory, shooting just %26 from the field, and the team as a whole has been largely underwhelming. 
First Half Grade: C-

5. Milwaukee Bucks 8-33
Good news: 
Not much...but rookie Giannis Antokuempo (or however you spell his name) has shown some bright potential, and could, with a little work, be a top-10 player in 3-5 years. 
Bad news: 
Franchise player (or at least he is supposed to be) Larry Sanders has been incredibly disappointing, he has been injured and gotten himself into trouble off the court, and even when he DID play, his stats were not franchise player level. Swingman O.J. Mayo and stretch 4 Ersin Illysova are also having the worst season of his careers, and the team has been unable to make up for the scoring punch they lost when Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis left. 
First Half Grade: D- 

Central Division All-Team (through the first half) 
PG Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers 
SG Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls 
SF Paul George, Indiana Pacers 
PF Josh Smith, Detroit Pistons 
C Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

NBA Midseason Report: Pacific Division

1. Los Angeles Clippers 29-15
Good news: 
Blake Griffin has developed into the best Power Forward in the game and Center DeAndre Jordan has also shown significant improvements in his offensive game. And with experienced coach Doc Rivers leading the helm, the Clippers are legitimate title-contenders. 
Bad news: 
Chris Paul will still be sidelined for 4-6 more weeks, but aside from that, Los Angeles has been playing pretty well this season. 
First Half Grade: A- 

2. Golden State Warriors 26-17
Good news: 
Andre Igouldala has been a premier lockdown defender this year, and provides a defensive presence that, last year, was not felt outside of Andrew Bogut. And Harrison Barnes makes a nice 6th man. 
Bad news: 
The team is incredible offensively when streaky shooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are hitting shots, but can falter when both go cold. 
First Half Grade: B+

3. Phoenix Suns 24-17
Good news: 
The Suns have been surprisingly good this season, and have looked like a playoff team, led by an efficient backcourt duo of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, a nice perimeter player in Channing Frye, and two quality big men in Miles Plumlee and Emeka Okafor. 
Bad news: 
Bledsoe is currently out with an injury, and Phoenix has sputtered a little without him. He'll need to come back fully healthy, and soon if the Suns are to make the playoffs. 
First Half Grade: B 

4. Los Angeles Lakers 16-26
Good news: 
Uh...Center Jordan Hill has been better than expected...I guess...
Bad news: 
Pau Gasol is no longer an All-Star level player, and Kobe Bryant re-injured himself right after signing a contract that made him the highest paid player in the NBA. 
First Half Grade: C-

5. Sacramento Kings 15-25
Good news: 
Rudy Gay came from the Raptors and was expected to be an inefficient ball-hog, but he has been great for the team because he has been put with fellow-scorers Isaiah Thomas and Demarcus Cousins, which helps make the Kings...nearly relevant. 
Bad news: 
Well...the Kings have been awful as expected but not much has happened in the win/loss column that wasn't anticipated. 
First Half Grade: C- 

Pacific Division All-Team (through the first half) 
PG Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 
SG Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns 
SF Andre Igouldala, Golden State Warriors 
PF Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
C Demarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

NBA Midseason Report: Atlantic Division

 1. Toronto Raptors 20-20
Good news: 
Toronto got off to a rough start to the season, with an offense that revolved around isolation jump-shots, and a putrid league-worst defense. But then they traded their leading scorer, and, alas, huge improvements. The Raptors have been the third-best team in the East since the trade and are excelling on offense, with a mediocre yet not league-worst defense. 
Bad news: 
While the team has playoff hopes for the first time in years, they are not s true contender in an Eastern conference that looks certain to yield just two contenders: Indiana and Miami. 
First Half Grade: B 

2. Brooklyn Nets 18-22
Good news: 
The Nets are on a hot-streak right now and look to be the only, if nonexistent, challenger to Indiana and Miami, with a talented big 3 featuring Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Paul Pierce. 
Bad news: 
Brooklyn lost all hopes of prevailing over one of the East's (two) powerhouses when star Center Brook Lopez went down to a season-ending broken foot injury, his third break on that foot. Deron Williams has not played in many games this year either, due to ankle issues, they'll need him to come back at full-strength if they want to win a playoff series. 
First Half Grade: C 

3. New York Knicks 15-26
Good news: 
Star Center Tyson Chandler is back from injury, and it's a good thing to. The Knicks were incredibly mediocre without Chandler. Perhaps he can elevate them into the playoffs. 
Bad news: 
Swingman J.R. Smith has caused locker-room problems and the team is actively looking to ship him elsewhere, while Point Guard Raymon Felton is suffering through the most inefficient season of his career, and the team has a whole has shown a lack of effort on both ends of the floor. 
First Half Grade: C- 

4. Boston Celtics 14-29 
Good news: 
Franchise player Rajon Rondo is back from an ACL injury, and has started to round back into form. General Manager Danny Ainge has also managed to trade valuable assets in order to obtain multiple high draft picks, and if the team can get lucky just once and land a franchise-building player in the draft, it could spark a new era in Celtics basketball. 
Bad news: 
When your teams #1 option on offense is Jeff Green, you aren't exactly a playoff contender. The C's will miss out on the playoffs this year, but their future is definitely bright. 
First Half Grade: D+ 

5. Philadelphia 76ers 13-28
Good news: 
Once again buried at the bottom of the Atlantic (Division), there has been a silver lining in the teams disappointment: rookie Point Guard Michael Carter-Williams not only looks like a lock for Rookie of the Year, but a franchise player that can be an All-Star one day. 
Bad news: 
Apart from Carter-Williams' emergence, their hasn't really been anything good for Philly thus far this year. 
First Half Grade: D 

Atlantic Division All-Team (through the first half) 
PG Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors 
SG Demar Derozan, Toronto Raptors 
SF Jeff Green, Boston Celtics 
PF Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks 
C Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ronaldo wins Ballon d'Or

 Real Madrid Midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo won the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or award, an award given to the years best player. Ronaldo beat out FC Barcelona Midfielder Lionel Messi for the award, and although many say Ronaldo only won the award because Messi was injury-riddled in '13, that was not the case. Ronaldo won the award because he was simply better than Messi. 

NBA Power Rankings #7/Playoff Picture Power Rankings

The Indiana Pacers are #1 in the latest Power Rankings.

Power Rankings
1. Indiana Pacers 32-7
Last Ranking: 1 
2. San Antonio Spurs 32-9
Last Ranking: 3
3. Portland Trailblazers 31-9
Last Ranking: 4
4. Miami Heat 29-11 
Last Ranking: 2 
5. Los Angeles Clippers 28-14
Last Ranking: 7
6. Oklahoma City Thunder 31-10 
Last Ranking: 6
7. Houston Rockets 27-15
Last Ranking: 8
8. Golden State Warriors 26-16
Last Ranking: 5
9. Memphis Grizzlies 20-19
Last Ranking: 10
10. Dallas Mavericks 24-18
Last Ranking: 
11. Phoenix Suns 23-17
Last Ranking: 14
12. Toronto Raptors 20-19
Last Ranking: 9
13. Atlanta Hawks 20-19
Last Ranking: 12
14. Denver Nuggets 20-20
Last Ranking: 15
15. Washington Wizards 19-20
Last Ranking: 16
16. Chicago Bulls 19-20 
Last Ranking: 17
17. Minnesota Timberwolves 19-21 
Last Ranking: 13
18. Detroit Pistons 17-23
Last Ranking: 18
19. Brooklyn Nets 16-22
Last Ranking: 19
20. Charlotte Bobcats 17-25
Last Ranking: 20
21. New York Knicks 15-25 
Last Ranking: 21
22. Cleveland Cavaliers 15-25
Last Ranking: 23
23. New Orleans Pelicans 15-24
Last Ranking: 22
24. Los Angeles Lakers 16-25
Last Ranking: 27
25. Sacramento Kings 14-25
Last Ranking: 25
26. Utah Jazz 14-28
Last Ranking: 26
27. Boston Celtics 14-28
Last Ranking: 24
28. Philadelphia 76ers 13-27
Last Ranking: 28
29. Orlando Magic 11-30
Last Ranking: 29
30. Milwaukee Bucks 7-33 
Last Ranking: 30 
Playoff Picture
1. Indiana Pacers 
2. Miami Heat 
3. Toronto Raptors 
4. Washington Wizards 
5. Atlanta Hawks 
6. Chicago Bulls 
7. New York Knicks 
8. Brooklyn Nets 

Indiana over Brooklyn 4-0
Miami over New York 4-1 
Chicago over Toronto 4-3 
Washington over Atlanta 4-2

Indiana over Washington 4-1 
Miami over Chicago 4-1 

Indiana over Miami 4-3 

1. San Antonio Spurs 
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
3. Portland Trailblazers 
4. Los Angeles Clippers 
5. Houston Rockets 
6. Golden State Warriors 
7. Memphis Grizzlies 
8. Dallas Mavericks 

San Antonio over Dallas 4-2 
Oklahoma City over Memphis 4-2
Portland over Golden State 4-3 
Los Angeles (Clippers) over Houston 4-2

San Antonio over Los Angeles 4-2 
Oklahoma City over Portland 4-1 

San Antonio over Oklahoma City 4-2

Game 1: Spurs 
Game 2: Pacers 
Game 3: Pacers 
Game 4: Spurs 
Game 5: Pacers 
Game 6: Pacers 
Indiana over San Antonio 4-2
Finals MVP: Indiana Pacers Shooting Guard Lance Stephenson