A Decade Later

By: Prad, THE New York Knicks Fan

The 2002-2003 NBA season saw the San Antonio Spurs beat the Nets in the NBA Finals, Tim Duncan winning MVP, Tracy McGrady winning the scoring title, and the Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers tied for the worst record in the NBA, both having a 17-65 record. When the 2003 NBA Draft Lottery came along, the Nuggets and Cavaliers each had a 22.5% chance of winning the number one overall pick. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, they didn’t get the first or second pick in the draft eventually dropping to the third pick. The Memphis Grizzlies attained the second overall pick, but because of a 1997 trade with the Pistons for Otis Thorpe, it was awarded to Detroit.

Courtesy of niketalk.com
Courtesy of Nike Talk

2003 NBA Draft

Today marks the 10th anniversary to the day of the 2003 NBA Draft. Every NBA fan in the country knows who the Cavs selected with the #1 overall pick and how that panned out. LeBron James was considered one of the most anticipated basketball players in NBA draft history, so much that 2003 was dubbed the “LeBron Lottery”. But after that pick, the next four picks were met with uncertainty. Joe Dumars, the Pistons’ President of Basketball Operations, saw a 17 year old Serbian named Darko Miličić workout several hours before the lottery and felt that he could help the Pistons win another title, which hadn’t been done since Isaiah Thomas’ Bad Boy Pistons. Prior to the workout, the projected second overall pick was Carmelo Anthony, a freshmen who just led Syracuse to the NCAA Championship. Anthony fell to Denver with the third pick because of the massive gamble that Detroit took. Chris Bosh was fourth to the Toronto Raptors and Dwayne Wade went fifth to the Miami Heat. Of these first five picks, Wade, the fifth, was the first to win an NBA Finals MVP and led the “Redeem Team” in scoring during the 2008 Summer Olympics. Yet, I don’t believe he should have gone second in the draft if this draft was picked all over again 10 years later.

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated
Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

LeBron James 

Initial Pick: #1

10 years later: #1

Every NBA fan and NBA player will say that LeBron should have definitely been picked first overall in this draft with the exception of Cavs fans. He is a four time MVP, two time Finals MVP, two time NBA champion, and nine time All-Star. He is the most successful NBA player to ever come straight out of high school. In his first decade in the league, he has accumulated the most points, assists, steals, and is 7th in rebounds for any prep-to-pro player in their first 10 years in the league. The rebound statistic is impressive considering that for the majority of his career he has played small forward. LeBron’s versatility is unquestionable as he has the ability to play any one of the five positions on the floor at any given time. Although he was scrutinized greatly about his signing with the Miami Heat, people tend to forget that he is still the centerpiece of his team, not Wade. He posted one of the all time greatest stat lines in history this season, but 26.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 7.3 APG, and 1.7 SPG seems pedestrian for his standards. People will continue to challenge his ability to perform when the pressure is on because of his failure to do so earlier in his career, but Game 6 and Game 7 of this year’s NBA Finals will attest to his recent growing dominance in clutch time.

Courtesy of Bleacher Report
Courtesy of Bleacher Report

Darko Miličić

Initial Pick: #2

10 years later: NA

The Detroit Pistons and everybody on their staff from their most senior executive to their assistant coaches were enamored with Miličić after watching him workout the day of the NBA Lottery. They asked him to do certain post moves and drives. They thought it was the best basketball workout they had ever seen and these people had been in basketball for decades. But in hindsight, I’m sure everyone there has thought that they should have seen him play more than once before making him the second overall pick in a star studded draft class. And now, Darko Miličić’s name is added to the list, Sam Bowie, Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, Kwame Brown. Miličić might even top this list of North America’s historic draft busts. At least Bowie, who was drafted above Jordan, had a few decent seasons where he averaged over 11 PPG topping at 16. Darko Miličić has never had a season over 9 PPG or 6 RPG. However, he is the first of the first five selections to win an NBA Championship, but hardly had an impact on the title run. He averaged a mere 4.7 minutes per game and 1.4 PPG during that season, coincidentally his rookie campaign. He never played starting minutes in his NBA career. Miličić doesn’t even play in the NBA anymore. A decade later, Dumars and the Pistons surely regret this pick, as Miličić will go down in NBA infamy for being selected above Anthony, Bosh, or Wade, all All-Stars. If he was redrafted with all of this knowledge, I’m certain that he wouldn’t even make for a mid second round pick.

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Courtesy of DV Sports Blog

Carmelo Anthony

Initial Pick: #3

10 years later: #2

Carmelo Anthony was an exciting prospect that led his school to the NCAA Championship as a freshman. He had an innate scoring ability with a big frame when filled out with muscle could make for a dangerous offensive player. Anthony won the scoring title this year, he’s a six time All-Star, and scored the most points in history in a single game for the US Olympic team (37). When he was with Denver, he single-handedly led them to the Western Conference Finals one season. Anthony shoots a higher career three point percentage (33.4%) than Dwayne Wade (28.9%). Melo and Wade have virtually the same career PPG, Melo has 25.0 PPG and Wade, 24.7 PPG. Of the first five players drafted, Melo is the most statistically clutch when it comes to the last 24 seconds in the game. From 2006-2012, Melo shot 37.5% (15/40), LeBron shot 29.5% (18/61), and Wade shot 18.9% (10/53). The difference however are the titles won. Melo still hasn’t won that elusive ring that haunted LeBron for nine years. Meanwhile, Wade has won three rings in the last ten years. But, the argument can be made that Melo has never had a strong supporting cast to help him capture the ring, while Wade had Shaq in 2006 and of course, LeBron in 2012 and 2013. Clearly, Wade was not the main driver behind the latter two championship runs. Shaq’s support in the 2006 season made a huge difference as he averaged 20.0 PPG and 9.2 RPG to go along with almost 2 BPG. To be fair, Wade too played outstanding basketball in the Finals, scoring at least 35 points in Games 3, 4, 5, and 6, which helped him garner the NBA Finals MVP. Nevertheless, it’s probably my love for the Knicks, but if I were to draft the 2003 class again, Melo would be second overall and not Wade.

Courtesy of Bleacher Report
Courtesy of Bleacher Report

Chris Bosh

Initial Pick: #4

10 years later: #4

Chris Bosh has been under appreciated by all NBA fans his entire career with the exception of Toronto Raptor fans who adored him the seven years he was there. The member of the Big Three who’s always left out, is an eight time All-Star and two time NBA Champ. Of the top five, I believe Chris Bosh is the only one who should stay at the position he was drafted excluding LeBron. This past season, he had a higher true shooting percentage than Carmelo and Wade. He generally averages more rebounds than any of the other top five picks in part because of his size and role as a big man. This season however was a poor performance from Bosh and I expect him to do much better next year. He averaged a career low in rebounds (6.8) and had his lowest scoring output (16.6), since his first year in the league. He has the ability to go inside and drive but shoots perimeter shots as well. He was heavily criticized for this, during this year’s Eastern Conference Finals, where he allowed Roy Hibbert and David West to attain rebounds they wouldn’t usually because he wasn’t boxing them out in the paint.

Courtesy of elitedaily.com
Courtesy of Elite Daily

Dwayne Wade

Initial Pick: #5

10 years later: #3

Pat Riley and the Miami Heat organization were contemplating picking Dwayne Wade or Chris Kaman. Before he declared himself for the draft, Dwayne Wade, as a junior led Marquette to the Final Four while notching a Triple Double, only the fourth in NCAA tournament history. I’m sure Riley is very happy with his decision in picking Wade over Kaman. Wade is noted for his ability to drive hard using his quickness and speed. Wade has won a scoring title, is a nine time All-Star, and has the aforementioned NBA titles on his resumé. For a shooting guard, Wade is very efficient, shooting 48.9% in his career and traditionally averages around 1.5-2.0 SPG. In the Carmelo Anthony segment, I explained my rationale and why I believe that Wade should have gone third overall.

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated
Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Where 2003 will be in history

1984, 1996, and 2003 will go down as arguably the three greatest draft classes in NBA History. 1984 featured Jordan, Olajuwon, Barkley, and Stockton. There have been only four quadruple-doubles in NBA history and two of them were achieved by people in this draft class, Hakeem Olajuwon and Alvin Robertson. ’96’s class had Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, and Steve Nash. Both of these classes possessed great scorers, rebounders, passers, defenders, and winners. These same great traits are held by members of the 2003 class. There is no doubt though that 2003’s class is already the greatest draft class since the turn of the century. Perhaps, when all is said and done the 2003 NBA Draft class could top the list. This class is special, it’s got more in its tank and is going for history.

Top Second Baseman and Future Star

By: Jon

1. Robinson Cano – Yankees

Robinson Cano
Robinson Cano

Although many Red Sox fans will disagree, Cano is the best second baseman in the game and one of the best overall players in the league. For the past four seasons, Cano has batted over .300 while increasing his HR total every year. Last year, Cano hit a career high 33 HR while still batting .313 and in the middle of the Yankee’s lineup. Although Cano’s average this year is way below normal, .277, the rest of the Yankee’s lineup is mostly to blame for Cano’s average. Robinson is one of the few All-Star hitters who has no one protecting him. Instead of having Pujols or Fielder protecting him, like Trout and Cabrera, Cano has Travis Hafner or Lyle Overbay behind him. Cano is an amazing fielder as well. The two time Gold Glover has the best arm of any second baseman, while having amazing range up the middle.

2. Dustin Pedroia – Red Sox

Dustin Pedroia
Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia, the 2010 AL MVP, is the heart and soul of the first place Boston Red Sox. He plays and swings harder than any other second baseman in baseball. Although he is not as good a hitter as Cano, Pedroia is a solid hitter, averaging a .304 batting average, 16 HR, and 95 runs. Similar to Cano, Pedroia is a two time Gold Glover, who has the ability to cover a lot of ground.

3. Brandon Phillips – Reds

Brandon Phillips
Brandon Phillips

Although Phillips has the weirdest batting stance in baseball, he is one of the most productive players in baseball. Phillips, like Cano and Pedroia, is great on both sides of ball. Phillips is one of the most consistent players in baseball, averaging a .278 batting average, 20 HR, and 20 steals. Brandon, a two time All-Star, has won three Gold Gloves over the last 5 years. Phillips is one of the main reasons why the Reds have rebounded of late and is a contender for the World Series.

Future Star: Jurickson Profar

Jurickson Profar
Jurickson Profar

Jurickson Profar is rated as the number one prospect in baseball. Although he is currently a shortstop, he will probably move over to second base because of Elvis Andrus blocking his path. Profar has great speed and arm, along with the potential to be a good power hitter. In 37 games this season at Double-A, he batted .278 with 7 homers and 27 runs scored. Profar has amazing instincts as well as a good eye, which allowed him to walk 21 times in the minors.

Stats from Baseball Reference

Aaron Hernandez Investigation

By: Prad

UPDATE: Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hernandez was arrested this morning around 8:45 AM and is charged for first-degree murder to go along with 5 counts of gun related offenses. He pleaded not guilty to all counts during his arraignment but doesn’t have a bail set. If he gets incriminated on first-degree murder charges, he could get life imprisonment.

His arrest was followed by the Patriots organization releasing him within two hours.

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Courtesy of NBC News

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

For the last week it feels like cops have been parked outside Hernandez’s North Attleborough home in Massachusetts at all times. Over a couple dozen law enforcement officials have been to his house in the past week. He is a prime suspect in the homicide of Odin Lloyd, a 27 year old semi-pro football player who happened to be Hernandez’s friend and was seen with Hernandez on the night of his death.  Lloyd’s body was found in an industrial park half a mile away from Hernandez’s home. The police confirmed that is was in fact a homicide and he was shot in the back of the head.

Courtesy of wpri.com
Courtesy of WPRI

No arrest has been made in the case, but sources have reported that an arrest warrant for obstruction of justice had been made for Aaron Hernandez in the last few days despite his lawyer denying that any arrest warrant had been made. The police realized that his home’s video surveillance had been destroyed and the phone he handed over to Massachusetts State Police was crushed into pieces. The police are also questioning him about why he hired a team of cleaners for his house on Monday morning, hours after the alleged crime took place. Police have issued three search warrants during this investigation including this past weekend when police were inside the home for more than four hours. Officials brought a k-9 unit and locksmith to Hernandez’s home and appeared to leave with dozens of bags of evidence. Authorities also searched a few of his cars with rubber gloves, which could end up becoming critical for the investigation. On Monday, police wrapped up their search of a possible weapon in the nearby pond and woods, where there appeared to be no leads in the investigation.

bos_a_hernandez_mb_600
Courtesy of ESPN

This is not the first time Hernandez has been in trouble with the law. He has a well documented past that involves marijuana use as well as him being linked to gang activity in his home state of Connecticut that forced NFL teams to drop him until the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Earlier this year, he apparently shot a gun at Alexander S. Bradley and it resulted in the loss of a right eye for Bradley. With a complicated history, it is difficult to believe that Hernandez didn’t murder Lloyd, but thats up to the officials to determine.

Many questions still remain regarding his contract with the Patriots. In August 2012, Hernandez signed a 5 year $40 million extension through the 2018 NFL season. He might be able to keep $2.5 million of his contract because of the wording of the deal. The “failure to perform” or “failure to practice” clause does not seem to appear in his Patriots contract. His contract dictates that $16 million is guaranteed and $9.25 million has already been paid. The remaining $3.25 million would be dealt in 2014. Due to the absence of the “failure to report” clause, Hernandez will receive $1.323 million in 2013 and $1.137 million in 2014 in base salaries from the Patriots. Yet, this all remains as speculation as the Patriots have declined to comment on Hernandez’s current situation.