Surveying the World Cup and NBA Draft
June 19, 2018 3:00 AM
by Alan Berg
With no big fights on top this weekend and hockey season officially over let’s talk a little news and notes.
By the time a lot of you read this we will have seen the first games of group play at the 2018 FIFA World Cup from Russia. The headline grabber thus far was 8/1 Mexico shocking Germany 1-0. Other surprises included a pair of 1-1 ties between Brazil/Switzerland and Argentina/Iceland.
My favorite game of the tournament was Spain vs. Ronaldo… I mean Portugal. What a wild and entertaining game that was as a fan. The game saw a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty kick in the 4th minute, Diego Costa evening things up in the 24th minute and Ronaldo scoring just before the half to give Portugal a 2-1 lead. Costa struck again in the 55th followed by another goal three minutes later from Nacho to put Spain on top for the first time.
Then Ronaldo finally sunk a World Cup free kick in the 88th minute to give Portugal the draw. It was the 51st hat trick of his career and it was the 51st hat trick in World Cup history. He’s like the LeBron of this team, they will go as far as he can take them.
Rule of thumb, it seems no one wants the draw bet in the books, so there might be some value there as you look ahead to the next batch of games.
Call me crazy, and I am sure you college basketball nutcases will, Trey Young should go No. 1 overall in the draft. OK, bring on the hate; the fact is the only way to combat the Warriors is to beat them at their own game. The Rockets tried and they might have done it if Chris Paul hadn’t gotten hurt at the end of Game 3. Point being, making threes is not just part of the game plan it is the game plan.
I have driven anyone who knows me nuts with these factors: Make 3’s, play defense and hit your free throws. That’s winning basketball in today’s NBA.
Young is small and has a ton of work to do on defense, but he’s the best pure shooter in the draft and he can rely on teammates for defense; plenty can’t shoot. He fits two of the major criteria as an 86.1% foul shooter. The major thing here is the big man era is dead.
GamingToday editor Mark Mayer brought up an interesting scenario that I wouldn’t mind seeing (though it won’t happen). Could LBJ with DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis work in New Orleans? That might be the only logical big man game that might work. I still think the Pelicans would have a nightmare defending the Warriors’ three point shooters and would get smoked in transition. But hey, at least it’s a different idea.
As far as the rest of the draft, it looks full of busts to me. Luka Doncic looks very slow on tape. Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III can’t play defense and won’t have enough outside game. (Well, Bagley might). Michael Porter Jr. might play Greg Oden-type minutes in his career.
Guys I see as solid contributors – Mo Bamba because he can play defense as a center and Miles Bridges as an all-around starter. Mikal Bridges is another guy not getting enough love; he could end up the best player in the draft. He checks off all three boxes for me (3s, D and FTs).
Most experts out there believe on July 1, LeBron James will be donning the Purple and Gold of the L.A. Lakers. It would be an interesting place for him to land and you’d have to wonder who’s coming with him. Paul George is the first name that come to mind as he has been saying he’s wanted to play in LA since he was a Pacer.
Pencilled in starting five at Staples Center: PG Lonzo Ball, SG Paul George, SF Brandon Ingram, PF LeBron James and C Brook Lopez. My guess is the Lakers will focus on getting players that can fill out the depth of the roster as I am sure others will want to play with LeBron and Co. Kawhi Leonard was mentioned but it doesn’t sound like the Lakers are interested due to his health. Trades could always create more lineup fire.