San Antonio Spurs vs Oklahoma City Thunder Odds & Matchup

What series, if replayed several times, would have the losing team SURELY beat the winning team?

What series, if replayed several times, would have the losing team SURELY beat the winning team? Maybe you'd think this should be called "what series resulted in an upset" but the difference in this case is that there was something(s) extraordinary that happened that lend itself to an upset. Upsets can happen without anything extraordinary happening
First let's get started with my less controversial takes:
2019 Finals - Even with KD and Klay down, this series was still a competitive one. If this series was replayed several times and we're in a timeline where Klay or KD doesn't get injured or gets injured later that series, I think the Warriors would have won the vast majority of the time.
2018 WCF - In most timelines, you would probably not miss 27 three pointers in a game. And yes Iguodala was injured, but so was Chris Paul. Granted Iguodala did a great job guarding the perimeter that series and is close to being 2015 Finals tier important, but Chris Paul was injured and is vastly more important than Iguodala. The 2018 Rockets were just a better team.
2016 Finals - More often than not, you would not run into a timeline where Curry gets injured and Draymond gets a suspension. The Warriors were just a vastly better team, and I don't think it would be difficult to say that the Warriors would be winning this series a vast majority of the time if repeated.
2016 WCF - Believe it or not, the Thunder were an amazing matchup against the Warriors, and were lowkey the best team in the league that year. Klay Thompson shot 11 threes in game 6 and got hot when the Warriors needed it most. Before Klay's infamous game 6, here are his stats in that series: 41.4/30.2/88.9. Don't believe me? Here you go! https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/t/thompkl01/gamelog/2016#51-55-sum:pgl_basic_playoffs
In the vast majority of timelines, I think OKC would be winning this series.
2015 Finals - While the Warriors were the best team in the league that series, it was also their first time getting far in the playoffs. And with Kevin Love and Kyrie injured, the Cavaliers still managed to make it a 6 game series.
2007 R1 (Mavericks vs. Warriors) - Don Nelson, Dirk's former coach, then opposing coach this series, was the reason why the Mavericks lost this series despite being a massive favorite. However, I think if this series was repeated several times, I think the Mavericks would have found a way to adjust.
Now time for my more controversial takes:
2019 ECF - I think the Bucks would win this series a vast majority of the time. I will give a lot of credit to the Raptors adjustments (plus Budenholzer doesn't make them) but they got hot from 3 at the right moment, and the Bucks somehow got cold at the worst time. They would probably always get Giannis clamped, but his supporting cast should be able to make up for that, but they didn't. https://www.basketball-reference.com/playoffs/2019-nba-eastern-conference-finals-raptors-vs-bucks.html#MIL::9
This is similarly incredible to the Rockets 2018 freefall in 3pt %. 2 of the 5 top 3PA for Milwaukee that series shot under 20% (Mirotic and Bledsoe), and one shot 31%(Brook Lopez). Lopez shot 5% worse than his regular season everage, and Mirotic and Bledsoe shot 17% and 13% worse from 3. Yes, Vanvleet was a great defender that season and they have Kawhi + Lowry but Kawhi was mostly on Giannis that series.
Probably my spiciest take here.
2010 ECSF (Celtics vs. Cavaliers) - this was the series where Lebron started to get the “choker” label and looking back, everyone is saying that Lebron’s Cavs had no business winning the series. But the betting line on this was the same as the odds for the Spurs to win the series, which is a ridiculous margin. Maybe the tension in the locker room is what caused the lack of chemistry on the court after what happened to Delonte West? We may never know.
2009 ECF - Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu were incredible in the clutch that year, and they also showed up in the 2009 ECF. However, Lebron would more often than not get the best of them as he himself scored a game winning shot that series. Many people look at this in hindsight and say that the Magic were the better team, but I think they're wrong. The Cavaliers were actually heavily favored by most people to win the series, and the series was even for the most part. There weren't any blowouts that happened here, the Magic just got hot at the perfect time and won the clutch battle against LEBRON of all people in 3 out of 6 games.
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The Harry Pottee style Houses fight

Just like in the books, this would match up the three hotels were NBA teams will be staying. Each of them would have a 12 player roster. For the purpose of fun, this would involve evey player fully healthy, so dust up your KDs.
Grand Destino: Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, Clippers, Celtics, Nuggets, Jazz, Heat.
Players to keep in mind:
Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis, Middleton,
LA Lakers: AD, Lebron
Toronto Raptors: Siakam, Lowry
LA Clippers: Kawhi, PG
Boston Celtics: Tatum, Kemba
Denver Nuggets: Jokic
Utah Jazz: Mitchell, Gobert
Miami Heat: Butler, Bam
The cut:
Everyones team would have Giannis, Lebron, AD, Kawhi and Jokic, which could be a possible starting line up. After that, the growth into superstars of Tatum and Siakam, the steady hands of Lowry and Kemba and the best version of PG would make them locks IMO. So that leaves 2 spots up for grab, involving: Middleton, Mitchell, Gobert, Butler and Bam. Middleton has had his usual impact, but he isn't carrying a team like the other so he is out. Bam is having a better seasok than Gobert, but we know what the Stifle Tower is capable of, DPOY and such. Mitchell and Butler can carry the load, with Butler providing more in defense, maybe playmaking and for sure pettiness, while Mitchell is the flashier and more explosive scorer and more likely to kill Gobert in the process. So what does this team need? Nothing really, it could be Ryan Gomes and Scal and it wouldn t really make a difference. So let's be democratic and pick one big, one guard.
Final cut: Butler, Gobert.
It's literally a toss up and I am not going to explain myself lmao
Apologies to the best versions of Rondo and Dwight.
Grand Floridian: Thunder, 76ers, Rockets, Pacers, Mavericks, Nets, Grizzlies, Magic
Players to keep in mind:
OKC Thunder: CP3, Shai
Philadelphia 76ers: Embiid, Simmons, Harris, Horford
Houston Rockets: Harden, Russ
Pacers: Oladipo, Sabonis
Dallas Mavericks: Luka, KP
Brooklyn Nets: KD, Kyrie
Memphis Grizzlies: Ja
Orlando Magic: Vooch
The cut:
It hurt to leave some players out. Gallinari is a crafty scorer, Adams is still a brickwall, Turner provides so much but has somewhat stagnated contrary to Sabonis, JJJ and Jonas have helped get the Grizz in that 8 seed, and none of them have been as dissappointing as Horford. But I'm being idealistic and pretend that a non-washed up version of Horford is available.
So, obvious picks are: CP3, Embiid, Simmons, Harden, Russ, the healthy and round earth-destroying versions of Kyrie and KD, and Luka. Making a starting lineup out of that, is really anyone's guess. But a stupid post is a stupid post and I am doing it. Harden-KD-Embiid provides a robust core that would terrify us all, which leaves, CP3, Simmons, Russ, Luka and Kyrie. Again you could go either way, although picking Simmons and Russ is not something I would advise, unless you want to clutter the spacing to almost unfixable. Simmons is an amazing playmaker, and with shooting around him he can really flossom into a superstar, as well as being a versatile defender, but...you know what, I'm not gonna even say it. Get it together, Ben, you're not starting. CP3 is still an amazing point guard, leading OKC to a playoff appearence that barely anyone could have foreseen. But Russ is still a triple double threat and luka is already an almost unstoppabble superstar. Kyrie and CP3 is a toss up for many, but in 2020 Kyrie is more worthy of starting in an unprobable House(Hotel) Battle. So, picking 2 of Russ, Kyrie and Luka is not really a difficult choice because in reality you're not gonna go wrong. There's enough shooting for Westbrook to be a bulldozer and Luka to dance all over, but not enough defense to hide Kyrie.
So eight players, four to go. SGA, Tobi, a non washed Al, Oladipo, Sabonis, KP, Ja and Vooch. Again, democracy orders it to be two bigs and two guards, because Joel is going to need a breather. So Al, Saboner, Vooch and KP. Here, Al would actually be a back up and not the most expensive mistake in the league. This team is in need of someone who can anchor a defense and Horford has been the best at that. KP brings the shooting and rim protection, Saboner and Vooch the post play and rebounding. Again, anyone's guess so I'm keeping a wild card here. On to Guards. A healthy Oladipo is a Wade lite version that can rip your defense, and hopefully we get to see that again. Tobi brings size and consistent threat at the wings, SGA brings the maturity, versatility and playmaking, and Ja brings everyones jaws to the floor.
Final cuts: KP, Ja. Reasoning: none.
Yacht Club: Blazers, Kings, Pelicans, Spurs, Suns, Wizards
The underdogs! Fighting for pride but really hoping not to get slaughtered, this Yacht would be happy to not sink.
Portland Trail Blazers: Dame, CJ, Nurk
Sacramento Kings: De'Aaron Fox
NOLA: Zion, Jrue, BI
San Antonio Spurs: LMA, Demar
Phoenix Suns: Book, Ayton
Washington Wizards: Beal, Wall
Some players are going to have arguments to belong here. But I'm tired and this group leaves me at 13 to only pick one thing. So apologies to the best version so far of Zach Collins, Non-G7 Harrison Barnes, Bogi and Hield, the solid seasons of Oubre and Bertans and whatever Spurs player development i wasn't paying attention to this season.
From top to bottom, and assuming health for all, it could go like this: Dame, Beal, Book, Wall, BI, Zion, LMA, Demar, Jrue are, I hope, eveyone's locks. CJ, Nurk, Fox and Ayton are left in the bubble. Nurk was according to many the second best player until that nasty injury for the Blazers, CJ is a midrange master, and Fox and Ayton are really looking like the future for the SunKings. This team needs bigs, so Ayton and Nurk are in, leaving CJ vs Fox. Playmaking is not an issue here, defense is. But neither of these two are really going to fix that, so I'm picking CJ because of the playoff experience, since Fox playmaking abbilities aren't needed here.
Picking the starting lineup here is not easy, because most of these players are in the same echelon. Dame is the only surefire starter, and the lone big looks like a toss up, but I'm taking LMA's all stars here. I really wanted to pick a healthy Nurk, and Ayton brings the stats even tho he is still developing. Beal, Book, Wall, BI, CJ, Jrue, Zion. This team is not going to survive without size, and Ayton could even grab that four spot, but Zion and BI take it awarding Ingram for his improvement and including Zion for the show. The other guard spot is really tough. Beal is now a monster, but the healthy Wall we know is no joke. Book is scary, CJ is a baller and Jrue brings the versatilty and defense. Any choice makes sense, but the best of them all last season in my eyes was Beal
My starting 5s:
Jokic-AD-Giannis-Kawhi-Brom
Russ-Harden-Luka-KD-Embiid
Dame-Beal-BI-Zion-LMA
It would be fun if, for example, the Yacht Club vould have the right to trade for two non-starting players, one from esah rival, while Grand Floridian can do the same against Grand Destino, to even things out.
I'm going to do that because I'm too high to stop TLDr
Final teams:
Destino:
Jokic AD Giannis Kawhi Bron Siakam Lowry Tatum Kemba PG Butler Gobert
Floridian: Embiid KD Luka Harden Russ Kyrie CP3 Simmons Oladipo Horford KP Ja
Yacht: LMA Zion BI Beal Dame Wall Book CJ Jrue Demar Nurk Ayton
After weird trade: The most versatile player from Destino for the Club is PG13, and maybe Simmons likewise from the Floridian. Both are an improvement over Zion and BI. Could keeping one of them be worth improving at center? Gobert KP or Horford don't really seem worth it, and I'm betting on good defense scheme, LMA holding his own and swarming if needed. There's enough shooting for Simmons to flourish and partnering with PG13 actually gives them a chance to put up a fight at the wings. DeMar and CJ traded.
Meanwhile, Floridian makes their move. Does their starting lineup have a hole that can be covered with the reserves from Destino? Not really, Tatum or Siakam for Luka for size/matchup, and Lowry and Kemba to provide a steadier hand than Westbrook don't make me crazy. Their bench looks fine, and the moves that could make sense is stealing Gobert as the backup big, or one of Butler, Tatum or Siakam to provide depth at the wings. Im trading Horford because it was about time he stopped getting preferential treatment, and bringing Siakam slightly edging the other two
Destino: Jokic AD Giannis Kawhi Bron Horford Lowry Tatum Kemba Butler Gobert DeMar
Floridian: Embiid KD Luka Harden Russ Kyrie CP3 Oladipo KP Ja CJ Siakam
Yacht Club: LMA PG Simmons Beal Dame Wall Book Jrue Nurk Ayton BI Zion
The trade didn't make that much fairer really LMAO
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/r/nba 2015 flashback: ‘Who is going to be the better player in 5 years?'

Link: https://np.reddit.com/nba/comments/3goo39/lets_play_whos_is_going_to_be_the_better_playe?limit=500
As a 2015 thread asking who will be the better player in 2020, I thought it’s about time to revisit this thread. Let’s see who people thought would be the better player in 2020, and actually discuss who the better player is now.
This post from the 2015 offseason said:
Basically list two young players and people will respond with who they think will be better in 5 years.
The format for this thread will contain a context section so you can get a sense of what was going on at the time the OP was posted.
Afterwards, I’ll highlight certain comparisons that I thought were interesting, post their 2015 counting stats to give an idea of what they were producing at at the time and quote some of the more articulate responses from the thread below.
Context for August 2015:
Warriors won their first ring vs Lebron’s Cavs. Steph had an MVP. Kawhi won his first DPOY. Draymond was DPOY-runner-up. Wiggins was ROY
Russ had won the scoring title but wasn’t a serious MVP candidate due to team record and missing too many games.
Durant and PG had missed a lot of time during the 2015 season due to injury.
AD was in his third season, Gobert and Noel were sophomores while Nurkic was a rookie.
Kyrie had just finished his first year playing with Lebron. Lillard and Aldridge got knocked out in the first round by Memphis.
2015 draft happened recently. The top 4 picks were KAT, Russell, Okafor and Porzingis.

Comparisons

PG vs Kawhi
Player Age G TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Paul George 24 6 .492 3.7 1.0 0.8 0.2 8.8
Kawhi Leonard 23 64 .567 7.2 2.5 2.3 0.8 16.5
Someone said:
Before this past season I would have said George, but looking at the way Kawhi improved this past season, It's probably him now.
Look, I know people want to say that George is a better and more complete offensive player, but you're not looking at the context of PG's breakout season. Vogel gave him and Stephenson almost complete control of the offense. Put Kawhi in the same role, and I suspect his contribution on offense would be similar.
Look at Kawhi this past season. Pull up threes, turnaround jumpers, eurosteps, and a back-to-the-basket game. That's more than what I could say for PG. He's one of my favorite players, but his offense is literally straight line drives, pull-up jumpers, and transition buckets.
It's hard to compare the two on defense because PG just missed a season, and a big part of defense is experience, and maybe PG might have been a better defender if he played. All I'll say is that Leonard is a DPOY while only playing 64 games, and PG was 7th place in his best defensive season.
And sharksfanabroad said
They're not that hard to compare; similar experience (Kawhi has 252 regular season games to PG's 292) and similar position.
Kawhi has the better career TS% (.583 to PG's .545), but has benefited from the lower usage rate (18.3% to PG's 23.4%). Also, with Kawhi's increasing role, we're seeing a decline in his TS%; can't be as efficient when becoming more of an offensive focal point.
The win shares are even, but WS/48 favors Kawhi. Despite some counting stats benefiting PG (since his offensive output is high; usage rate), the advanced stats suggest that Kawhi is better defensively while PG gets more assists.
I guess my answer is "don't bet against the Spurs". They seem to know what they're doing with their talent; not exhausting them, and doing the best to prove that longevity as a top-tier player is better than a couple of seasons as a top-5 player.
AD vs KD
Player Age G TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Anthony Davis 21 68 .591 10.2 2.2 1.5 2.9 24.4
Kevin Durant 26 27 .633 6.6 4.1 0.9 0.9 25.4
Someone said
I think it will be AD. He is a better defender who can be a 28p/124a/3b/2s guy and dominate the league with his inside and developing outside game. If he really adds the corner 3 or spotup 3 to his game I think he won’t be much worse on O but will be much better on D because he can guard 1-5 for a possession and has DPOY potential. Also he is the man everybody thinks LeBron will pass the torch to as being the best player in the league.
Another said
Anthony Davis. Kevin Durant will be 32 and his athleticism will begin to decline, but still is a top 10, maybe top 5 player in the league. Davis will be the best player in the league (unless Wiggins is Kobe/Jordan 2.0, but we can't tell yet).
Anthony Davis to me will become Karl Malone who's an even better defender... god damn. Hope he gets a point guard to feed him like Stock fed the Mailman. I will be very disappointed if I have to watch Davis get mid 2000s Kobe'd and have a shit team around him.
ztejas rebutted that
Durant is a generational talent and 32 is not that old. Especially for a 6'10" player that is one of the best shooters in NBA history. Go look at any all-time-great's stats at 32. Jordan, Kobe, Bird, Hakeem, Magic, Malone. They were all still great and still top 5 players at 32. Some of them were the best player in the league. LeBron is going to be 31 next year, and he will still either be the best or 2nd best to KD. Davis is the only young gun that is probably a safe bet to be on the same level as Durant at some point in his career. Thinking that there will be 5 players that have surpassed KD in 5 years is pretty empty speculation.
Steph vs KD
Player Age G TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Stephen Curry 26 80 .638 4.3 7.7 2.0 0.2 23.8
Kevin Durant 26 27 .633 6.6 4.1 0.9 0.9 25.4
This is the season after Steph’s 1st MVP but before his 2016 MVP. Below is a quickfire of different one-liners from that comment thread.
Durant, younger (by a few months) and already better.
KD’s not much younger, but still, KD's already the better player by far. Shit man, people really have forgotten about him
Durant is the second best player in the NBA when he’s playing.
Curry won't improve anymore aside from perhaps better assist stats.
Curry. I don't think we've seen his final form yet.
Steph vs Russ
Player Age G TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Stephen Curry 26 80 .638 4.3 7.7 2.0 0.2 23.8
Russell Westbrook 26 67 .536 7.3 8.6 2.1 0.2 28.1
Someone said
In 5 years they will both be 32 (Westbrook will actually be 31 and 10 months). Westbrook won't be nearly as athletic as he is now which his game relies heavily on. Steph is at an advantage there as he relies on his athleticism much, much less.
Another person said
One player's game is meant for 32 years of age while the other's most definitely isn't. Lebron is the greatest athlete possibly ever in the NBA and even he looks like he lost a step this year. That's at 30, imagine two extra years on a player who isn't super durable like bron
And this person said.
In 5 years they will both be 32 (Westbrook will actually be 31 and 10 months). Westbrook won't be nearly as athletic as he is now which his game relies heavily on. Steph is at an advantage there as he relies on his athleticism much, much less.
Kyrie vs Dame
Player Age G TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Kyrie Irving 22 75 .583 3.2 5.2 1.5 0.3 21.7
Damian Lillard 24 82 .460 4.6 6.2 1.2 0.3 21.0
Someone said
In 5 years, they'll both be #1 options, but Kyrie will have 5 years of running a top-5 offense under his belt alongside great support and probably the best mentor anyone in the league right now could ask for. If I had to invest in one player to cash in 5 years from now, it would definitely be Kyrie.
Another said
Dame's two years older. He got to play with one of the best floor spacing bigs in Aldridge and had decent 3pt shooting on the wings.
Kyrie played with verajo, Thompson, Bennett and Tyler zeller as his bigs. He had dion waiters, Alonzo gee, Jarrett jack and cj miles as his wings. There is not much shooting there, Bennett never developed, zeller just started hitting mid range in Boston, Andy was always hurt, jack had a terrible year, and well dion...
Still they averaged similar ppg and FG %. Dames a good player, but Irving is just better. He has all the tools, sweet 3pt stroke, ability to score in the paint (he finishes near the top FG % inside 6 feet for PG's) and some say the best handles in the league. He has the size, 6'3, and the athleticism to become a good defensive player and showed improvement last year.
While irelli replied to the above with
Nope, Lillard definitely doesn't have a sweet 3pt stroke. No way he's led the league in deep 3s (30+ feet) since he came in the league.
Lillard finished better from inside 5 feet this year than Kyrie did, and on a higher volume too. Lillard: 59.9 % / Kyrie: 56.7 %. Lillard is six three too. We have set plays that end in a Lillard alley oop so I’d say Lillards a bit more athletic. Anyway, Kyries real advantage is that he's a much better ball handler and a more acrobatic finisher. I would just take all those other things over his handles.
Gobert vs Nurkic
Player Age G MP TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Rudy Gobert 22 82 26.3 .627 9.5 1.3 0.8 2.3 8.4
Jusuf Nurkic 20 62 17.8 .484 6.2 0.8 0.8 1.1 6.9
Someone said
It's like comparing Vlade Divac to Ben Wallace. One's a solid two way starter, but the other can completely anchor your defense. Got to go with the guy who is elite at something rather than good at two things.
Another said
Its Gobert. I will take elite defense, at an already young age, and still improving offense. Gobert is already maybe the best defensive center in the NBA, and he's still getting better. Nurkic is raw as hell, and could be a very good player, but give me Gobert 7 days a week, and twice on Sunday.
Finally, someone said
Nurkic may be more skilled but IMO Gobert is more effective because of his athleticism and length. But sure, I'll concede the offense to Nurkic. However Gobert's effect on the D side is just so great that it destroys Nurkic's advantage on O. The Jazz went from no. 21 defence to top 3 after they traded Kanter.
Gobert vs Noel
Player Age G TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Rudy Gobert 22 82 .627 9.5 1.3 0.8 2.3 8.4
Nerlens Noel 20 75 .493 8.1 1.7 1.8 1.9 9.9
A lot of people commented on how close they found this comparison at the time.
Someone said
This is the hardest one in here for me... Gobert's 9'9 standing reach is ridiculous and 7 inches higher than Noel's. Gobert has already proven that he can make a huge improvement from one year to another, which we have yet to see if Noel can. I think Noel has a higher ceiling but Gobert is more likely to be better of the two in 5 year
Another said
Noel. I think he's a actually a better defender, he was top 10 in both bpg and spg. Also, while he has not shown much improvement on the offensive side, it is something that he has said he is working hard at. I think Gobert will just be a slightly better Tyson Chandler
deknegt1990 replied to the above with
Chandler was a DPOTY candidate in most of his years, player with phenomenal heart, grit, and determination.
Remember that Chandler had the potential to be one of the best centers in the league barring DH, the only thing that derailed that was his injuries. Once he got to a team where he was healthy and happy, he was a beast. Mavs won a ring partly due to the ridiculous defensive load he carried.
I'd love to see Gobert reach Chandler levels, minus the injuries he'll be a beast.
Someone mentioned that
Numbers show that Gobert is the better defender. He allowed the lowest % at the rim as a starter and was third in blocks. He's faster, longer and now stronger than Noel. I have no doubt Noel with be the better Offense/Defensive combo
And finally someone said
Noel because Gobert pretty much reached his ceiling already. He was the best rim protector and overall defensive terror last year, he cannot improve on that. On offense and perimeter defense he is who he is. All in all pretty good package but looking forward five years Noel might be better. He has the potential for much more versatility on both sides.
KAT vs Okafor
Rk Player G GS MP TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
1 Jahlil Okafor 211 113 20.6 .561 5.1 1.0 0.3 0.9 11.1
2 Karl-Anthony Towns 346 346 34.4 .622 11.8 2.7 0.8 1.5 22.5
Towns and Okafor were the 1st and 3rd pick in the 2015 draft and haven’t played an NBA game yet so I thought it’d be more interesting if I posted their career statlines above.
Someone said
Towns. From watching them in college, I feel like KAT has more to grow. Something about Okafor just smells of "he's at his potential". I don't know why, maybe it's his stoic nature, but he just seems to be there already.
And another said
Towns. I think he will be a great second peice to a championship team and can play a lot of ways.
Okafor will be a player who gets 23ppg on a shitty team and cant be the go to guy on a 50 win team and has a playstyle that makes teams now want him
I see him as Al Jefferson reincarnated
Draymond vs Ibaka
Player Age G GS TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Draymond Green 24 79 79 .540 8.2 3.7 1.6 1.3 11.7
Serge Ibaka 25 64 64 .549 7.8 0.9 0.5 2.4 14.3
Ibaka, who is only 7 months older than Draymond, was still a year away from getting drafted to the Magic for Dipo, Ilyasova and Sabonis. Draymond was a DPOY runner-up and had just won his first ring.
Here are some one liners.
Anyone debating this just imagine Ibaka on the Warriors instead of Draymond. They are literally just as good and would likely be better.
Ibaka is way better
Ibaka is better right now than Dray could ever even hope to be
Wait... So like an elite player or near elite player vs. a a guy that fits well in a championship team? Hmmmmm. Hard one
Goddamn Dray is so overrated now
Someone replied to the above with
Well one of them was a DPOY runner up and integral cog in a finals winning offense and the other didn't make the playoffs
Someone said
Comparable defense yeah but Ibaka is nowhere near as useful offensively as Green. Ibaka is supposed to help carry the water for his team as a third option but I've seen many a Thunder game where he couldn't get that 20-10.
Draymond on the other hand was actively engaged in one of the best offenses and defenses of last season.
Ibaka is a better fit for the Thunder and Green is a better fit for the Warriors. Chemistry matters Another poster said
I'd take Draymond as a top-20 player in the league, and probably closer to top-15. I think his ability to defend centers and truly guard positions 2-5 makes him one of the most versatile and most useful players in the NBA. He completely changes your offense and defense and is the prototype for new the ideal NBA big. I think Ibaka is an excellent player, but Draymond's skillset is so much more rare that I'll take him any day of the week.

Bonus question: Pick an above comparison that you think is still close. Who do you think will be better in 5 years?

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/r/nba 2015 flashback: ‘Who is going to be the better player in 5 years?'

Link: https://np.reddit.com/nba/comments/3goo39/lets_play_whos_is_going_to_be_the_better_playe?limit=500
As a 2015 thread asking who will be the better player in 2020, I thought it’s about time to revisit this thread. Let’s see who people thought would be the better player in 2020, and actually discuss who the better player is now.
This post from the 2015 offseason said:
Basically list two young players and people will respond with who they think will be better in 5 years.
The format for this thread will contain a context section so you can get a sense of what was going on at the time the OP was posted.
Afterwards, I’ll highlight certain comparisons that I thought were interesting, post their 2015 counting stats to give an idea of what they were producing at at the time and quote some of the more articulate responses from the thread below.
Context for August 2015:
Warriors won their first ring vs Lebron’s Cavs. Steph had an MVP. Kawhi won his first DPOY. Draymond was DPOY-runner-up. Wiggins was ROY
Russ had won the scoring title but wasn’t a serious MVP candidate due to team record and missing too many games.
Durant and PG had missed a lot of time during the 2015 season due to injury.
AD was in his third season, Gobert and Noel were sophomores while Nurkic was a rookie.
Kyrie had just finished his first year playing with Lebron. Lillard and Aldridge got knocked out in the first round by Memphis.
2015 draft happened recently. The top 4 picks were KAT, Russell, Okafor and Porzingis.

Comparisons

PG vs Kawhi
Player Age G TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Paul George 24 6 .492 3.7 1.0 0.8 0.2 8.8
Kawhi Leonard 23 64 .567 7.2 2.5 2.3 0.8 16.5
Someone said:
Before this past season I would have said George, but looking at the way Kawhi improved this past season, It's probably him now.
Look, I know people want to say that George is a better and more complete offensive player, but you're not looking at the context of PG's breakout season. Vogel gave him and Stephenson almost complete control of the offense. Put Kawhi in the same role, and I suspect his contribution on offense would be similar.
Look at Kawhi this past season. Pull up threes, turnaround jumpers, eurosteps, and a back-to-the-basket game. That's more than what I could say for PG. He's one of my favorite players, but his offense is literally straight line drives, pull-up jumpers, and transition buckets.
It's hard to compare the two on defense because PG just missed a season, and a big part of defense is experience, and maybe PG might have been a better defender if he played. All I'll say is that Leonard is a DPOY while only playing 64 games, and PG was 7th place in his best defensive season.
And sharksfanabroad said
They're not that hard to compare; similar experience (Kawhi has 252 regular season games to PG's 292) and similar position.
Kawhi has the better career TS% (.583 to PG's .545), but has benefited from the lower usage rate (18.3% to PG's 23.4%). Also, with Kawhi's increasing role, we're seeing a decline in his TS%; can't be as efficient when becoming more of an offensive focal point.
The win shares are even, but WS/48 favors Kawhi. Despite some counting stats benefiting PG (since his offensive output is high; usage rate), the advanced stats suggest that Kawhi is better defensively while PG gets more assists.
I guess my answer is "don't bet against the Spurs". They seem to know what they're doing with their talent; not exhausting them, and doing the best to prove that longevity as a top-tier player is better than a couple of seasons as a top-5 player.
AD vs KD
Player Age G TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Anthony Davis 21 68 .591 10.2 2.2 1.5 2.9 24.4
Kevin Durant 26 27 .633 6.6 4.1 0.9 0.9 25.4
Someone said
I think it will be AD. He is a better defender who can be a 28p/124a/3b/2s guy and dominate the league with his inside and developing outside game. If he really adds the corner 3 or spotup 3 to his game I think he won’t be much worse on O but will be much better on D because he can guard 1-5 for a possession and has DPOY potential. Also he is the man everybody thinks LeBron will pass the torch to as being the best player in the league.
Another said
Anthony Davis. Kevin Durant will be 32 and his athleticism will begin to decline, but still is a top 10, maybe top 5 player in the league. Davis will be the best player in the league (unless Wiggins is Kobe/Jordan 2.0, but we can't tell yet).
Anthony Davis to me will become Karl Malone who's an even better defender... god damn. Hope he gets a point guard to feed him like Stock fed the Mailman. I will be very disappointed if I have to watch Davis get mid 2000s Kobe'd and have a shit team around him.
ztejas rebutted that
Durant is a generational talent and 32 is not that old. Especially for a 6'10" player that is one of the best shooters in NBA history. Go look at any all-time-great's stats at 32. Jordan, Kobe, Bird, Hakeem, Magic, Malone. They were all still great and still top 5 players at 32. Some of them were the best player in the league. LeBron is going to be 31 next year, and he will still either be the best or 2nd best to KD. Davis is the only young gun that is probably a safe bet to be on the same level as Durant at some point in his career. Thinking that there will be 5 players that have surpassed KD in 5 years is pretty empty speculation.
Steph vs KD
Player Age G TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Stephen Curry 26 80 .638 4.3 7.7 2.0 0.2 23.8
Kevin Durant 26 27 .633 6.6 4.1 0.9 0.9 25.4
This is the season after Steph’s 1st MVP but before his 2016 MVP. Below is a quickfire of different one-liners from that comment thread.
Durant, younger (by a few months) and already better.
KD’s not much younger, but still, KD's already the better player by far. Shit man, people really have forgotten about him
Durant is the second best player in the NBA when he’s playing.
Curry won't improve anymore aside from perhaps better assist stats.
Curry. I don't think we've seen his final form yet.
Steph vs Russ
Player Age G TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Stephen Curry 26 80 .638 4.3 7.7 2.0 0.2 23.8
Russell Westbrook 26 67 .536 7.3 8.6 2.1 0.2 28.1
Someone said
In 5 years they will both be 32 (Westbrook will actually be 31 and 10 months). Westbrook won't be nearly as athletic as he is now which his game relies heavily on. Steph is at an advantage there as he relies on his athleticism much, much less.
Another person said
One player's game is meant for 32 years of age while the other's most definitely isn't. Lebron is the greatest athlete possibly ever in the NBA and even he looks like he lost a step this year. That's at 30, imagine two extra years on a player who isn't super durable like bron
And this person said.
In 5 years they will both be 32 (Westbrook will actually be 31 and 10 months). Westbrook won't be nearly as athletic as he is now which his game relies heavily on. Steph is at an advantage there as he relies on his athleticism much, much less.
Kyrie vs Dame
Player Age G TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Kyrie Irving 22 75 .583 3.2 5.2 1.5 0.3 21.7
Damian Lillard 24 82 .460 4.6 6.2 1.2 0.3 21.0
Someone said
In 5 years, they'll both be #1 options, but Kyrie will have 5 years of running a top-5 offense under his belt alongside great support and probably the best mentor anyone in the league right now could ask for. If I had to invest in one player to cash in 5 years from now, it would definitely be Kyrie.
Another said
Dame's two years older. He got to play with one of the best floor spacing bigs in Aldridge and had decent 3pt shooting on the wings.
Kyrie played with verajo, Thompson, Bennett and Tyler zeller as his bigs. He had dion waiters, Alonzo gee, Jarrett jack and cj miles as his wings. There is not much shooting there, Bennett never developed, zeller just started hitting mid range in Boston, Andy was always hurt, jack had a terrible year, and well dion...
Still they averaged similar ppg and FG %. Dames a good player, but Irving is just better. He has all the tools, sweet 3pt stroke, ability to score in the paint (he finishes near the top FG % inside 6 feet for PG's) and some say the best handles in the league. He has the size, 6'3, and the athleticism to become a good defensive player and showed improvement last year.
While irelli replied to the above with
Nope, Lillard definitely doesn't have a sweet 3pt stroke. No way he's led the league in deep 3s (30+ feet) since he came in the league.
Lillard finished better from inside 5 feet this year than Kyrie did, and on a higher volume too. Lillard: 59.9 % / Kyrie: 56.7 %. Lillard is six three too. We have set plays that end in a Lillard alley oop so I’d say Lillards a bit more athletic. Anyway, Kyries real advantage is that he's a much better ball handler and a more acrobatic finisher. I would just take all those other things over his handles.
Gobert vs Nurkic
Player Age G MP TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Rudy Gobert 22 82 26.3 .627 9.5 1.3 0.8 2.3 8.4
Jusuf Nurkic 20 62 17.8 .484 6.2 0.8 0.8 1.1 6.9
Someone said
It's like comparing Vlade Divac to Ben Wallace. One's a solid two way starter, but the other can completely anchor your defense. Got to go with the guy who is elite at something rather than good at two things.
Another said
Its Gobert. I will take elite defense, at an already young age, and still improving offense. Gobert is already maybe the best defensive center in the NBA, and he's still getting better. Nurkic is raw as hell, and could be a very good player, but give me Gobert 7 days a week, and twice on Sunday.
Finally, someone said
Nurkic may be more skilled but IMO Gobert is more effective because of his athleticism and length. But sure, I'll concede the offense to Nurkic. However Gobert's effect on the D side is just so great that it destroys Nurkic's advantage on O. The Jazz went from no. 21 defence to top 3 after they traded Kanter.
Gobert vs Noel
Player Age G TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Rudy Gobert 22 82 .627 9.5 1.3 0.8 2.3 8.4
Nerlens Noel 20 75 .493 8.1 1.7 1.8 1.9 9.9
A lot of people commented on how close they found this comparison at the time.
Someone said
This is the hardest one in here for me... Gobert's 9'9 standing reach is ridiculous and 7 inches higher than Noel's. Gobert has already proven that he can make a huge improvement from one year to another, which we have yet to see if Noel can. I think Noel has a higher ceiling but Gobert is more likely to be better of the two in 5 year
Another said
Noel. I think he's a actually a better defender, he was top 10 in both bpg and spg. Also, while he has not shown much improvement on the offensive side, it is something that he has said he is working hard at. I think Gobert will just be a slightly better Tyson Chandler
deknegt1990 replied to the above with
Chandler was a DPOTY candidate in most of his years, player with phenomenal heart, grit, and determination.
Remember that Chandler had the potential to be one of the best centers in the league barring DH, the only thing that derailed that was his injuries. Once he got to a team where he was healthy and happy, he was a beast. Mavs won a ring partly due to the ridiculous defensive load he carried.
I'd love to see Gobert reach Chandler levels, minus the injuries he'll be a beast.
Someone mentioned that
Numbers show that Gobert is the better defender. He allowed the lowest % at the rim as a starter and was third in blocks. He's faster, longer and now stronger than Noel. I have no doubt Noel with be the better Offense/Defensive combo
And finally someone said
Noel because Gobert pretty much reached his ceiling already. He was the best rim protector and overall defensive terror last year, he cannot improve on that. On offense and perimeter defense he is who he is. All in all pretty good package but looking forward five years Noel might be better. He has the potential for much more versatility on both sides.
KAT vs Okafor
Rk Player G GS MP TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
1 Jahlil Okafor 211 113 20.6 .561 5.1 1.0 0.3 0.9 11.1
2 Karl-Anthony Towns 346 346 34.4 .622 11.8 2.7 0.8 1.5 22.5
Towns and Okafor were the 1st and 3rd pick in the 2015 draft and haven’t played an NBA game yet so I thought it’d be more interesting if I posted their career statlines above.
Someone said
Towns. From watching them in college, I feel like KAT has more to grow. Something about Okafor just smells of "he's at his potential". I don't know why, maybe it's his stoic nature, but he just seems to be there already.
And another said
Towns. I think he will be a great second peice to a championship team and can play a lot of ways.
Okafor will be a player who gets 23ppg on a shitty team and cant be the go to guy on a 50 win team and has a playstyle that makes teams now want him
I see him as Al Jefferson reincarnated
Draymond vs Ibaka
Player Age G GS TS% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
Draymond Green 24 79 79 .540 8.2 3.7 1.6 1.3 11.7
Serge Ibaka 25 64 64 .549 7.8 0.9 0.5 2.4 14.3
Ibaka, who is only 7 months older than Draymond, was still a year away from getting drafted to the Magic for Dipo, Ilyasova and Sabonis. Draymond was a DPOY runner-up and had just won his first ring.
Here are some one liners.
Anyone debating this just imagine Ibaka on the Warriors instead of Draymond. They are literally just as good and would likely be better.
Ibaka is way better
Ibaka is better right now than Dray could ever even hope to be
Wait... So like an elite player or near elite player vs. a a guy that fits well in a championship team? Hmmmmm. Hard one
Goddamn Dray is so overrated now
Someone replied to the above with
Well one of them was a DPOY runner up and integral cog in a finals winning offense and the other didn't make the playoffs
Someone said
Comparable defense yeah but Ibaka is nowhere near as useful offensively as Green. Ibaka is supposed to help carry the water for his team as a third option but I've seen many a Thunder game where he couldn't get that 20-10.
Draymond on the other hand was actively engaged in one of the best offenses and defenses of last season.
Ibaka is a better fit for the Thunder and Green is a better fit for the Warriors. Chemistry matters Another poster said
I'd take Draymond as a top-20 player in the league, and probably closer to top-15. I think his ability to defend centers and truly guard positions 2-5 makes him one of the most versatile and most useful players in the NBA. He completely changes your offense and defense and is the prototype for new the ideal NBA big. I think Ibaka is an excellent player, but Draymond's skillset is so much more rare that I'll take him any day of the week.

Bonus question: Pick an above comparison that you think is still close. Who do you think will be better in 5 years?

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NBA Sports Betting Picks & Stats (February 11th) from CheatSheetPros!

NBA Sports Betting Report (February 11, 2020) from CheatSheetPros!
QUICK NEWS AND NOTES:
I’m working on a new add on to the sports betting model on our NBA Cheatsheet. I’m making an ON/OFF database to sync in so if a big time player is OUT suddenly you can enter their name and change all the stats to match their on/off the court numbers. It is very time consuming but I’m going to get this done!
GAME BY GAME BREAKDOWN:
LA CLIPPERS (-1.5) OVER PHILLY
We have this game as 121-113 with LAC covering the small -1.5 spread. I’m going to agree with the sheet on this play and take the Clippers here. LAC is 7-3 in their L10 games while Philly has been struggling even though they have won 2 straight. Philly is a horrible 9-19 on the road but an amazing 24-2 at home. As for the total it opened at 225 and down to 224.5 and we have this game at 234 going over by 9 points. I do like the over here as both teams are playing at the same pace so we don’t have to worry about one team dragging the other down. The L3 average combined the teams are scoring 238 ppg and allowing 225 ppg so I think 224.5 is a good number.
NBA CheatSheet says: LAC -1.5 and over 224.5
KEY STATS THAT JUMP OUT: LAC is hitting 78% from the FT line the last 3 games while PHI is down to 66% for a 12% advantage to LAC. LAC has the edge on offensive efficiency at 1.19 vs. 1.07 for Philly.
CHICAGO (+3) vs. WASHINGTON
We have this game way to close to pick a side. We have WAS winning 114-112 and scoring 226 points total. With the Vegas spread opening at WAS -2.5 and moving to -3 and the total at 230 we are pretty in line with the Vegas numbers so I don’t think there is an edge here. My personal opinion says WAS -3 is the bet.
KEY STATS THAT JUMP OUT: WAS has a much better defensive efficiency over the L3 at allowing only a 1.09 vs. a whopping 1.21 for CHI. WAS also has 6.4 less turnovers per game over the L3 and 2.7 more blocks. CHI appears to be dominating the offensive boards with a couple more steals. Tight game but I like WAS here.
SPURS (+9) vs. THUNDER
I am off the sides for this game due to DeRozan being out. If I had more time this afternoon I’d dig into the on/off the court numbers for DeRozan and then the likely starting lineup but I don’t so I will pass. When there is a key injury in a game like this I don’t use the sheet (or at least until I have the on/off calculations built in!). So I’m watching the Vegas line and bet %. Right now we have OKC opened at -6.5 and moved out to -9. Total opened at 221.5 and moved down to 218.5 with 89% of the bets. I think the play here is on the under 218.5 if you want some action on this game. Both teams have a pace below 100. Spurs playing at 98.0 and Thunder playing at 97.6 and that results in less possessions and less points.
We like the UNDER 218.5 and don’t mine it parlayed with OKC moneyline.
KEY STATS THAT JUMP OUT: SAS are 8-19 on the road, 2-8 in their L10 games and lost 5 in a row. OKC is 17-11 at home and 8-2 in their last 10 games.
PORTLAND (+3) vs. PELICANS
What a game this should be with a 240 point Vegas total and a close -3 spread! We have this about as even as it gets with our models pegging this game at 119-118 Pelicans, 116-116, 118-118 and average out 118-118 for a 235-236 point total. I don’t think there is an edge here to be had. Pelicans are 10-16 at home and Portland is 10-18 on the road while both teams are 7-3 and 6-4 in their L10 games. Stats across the board are very close with the exception of POR having a 1.15 to 1.07 offensive efficiency advantage but then Pelicans take it back on the defensive said with a 1.06 vs. 1.11 advantage. NOR is taking down a ton more offensive boards per game but then they also have 6 more turnovers per game. 82% of the bets are on the under 240 total.
No opinion on this game and excited to see how it turns out!
BOSTON (+2) vs. HOUSTON
NBA cheat sheet has this as a BOS pick winning 114-109 with 223 total points scored. The stats say BOS has a 13% higher 3P% and an offensive efficiency advantage at 1.16 vs. 1.04 and a better defensive efficiency advantage allowing only a 1.08 vs. 1.13 number. BOS also has 9.6 more rebounds per game and 3.3 more offensive boards per game. BOS is also 9-1 in their L10 games and coming off of wins over OKC 112-111, ATL 112-107, ORL 116-100, ATL 123-115 and PHI 116-95. HOU is coming off two losses as UTAH squeaked by 114-113 and then PHO thumped Houston 127-91. However, HOU is also 18-8 at home. Sheet says take BOS on the money line. My opinion is that I can’t get HOU correct, when I’m on them they lose, when I’m against them they roll so I’m fading this game from a personal betting standpoint. For tracking I’m taking the sheet play of BOS +2.
RECAP OF OUR PLAYS I LIKE:
LAC -1.5
LAC over 224.5
WAS -3
OKC (money line) parlayed in with some other games you like.
REMEMBER! We still haven’t caught up with all the trades so some of the stats we are using are reflecting players that are not there anymore. Each team should have 3 new games under their belt before you really start using the stats!
NEW for 2020! – Follow Us on TWITTER: @ CheatSheetPros and get any last minutes plays we like!
Thank you for reading and good luck!
Haze
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MAC is going to get it done the way it's supposed to be done tonight, our NCAAB HUSH MONEY PLAY - (VMI +16 vs FURMAN -16)

MAC is going to get it done the way it's supposed to be done tonight, our NCAAB HUSH MONEY PLAY - (VMI +16 vs FURMAN -16)

https://preview.redd.it/u46an6cqlsd41.jpg?width=851&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=99a78e7c473af88b178d255f1ff630fbea7ad692
MAC is going to get it done the way it's supposed to be done tonight, our NCAAB HUSH MONEY PLAY - (VMI +16 vs FURMAN -16) will be another classic example of why they dub Roland MAC McGuillaman the most venerable betting source on the internet!
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submitted by OpenVisionZ to SportsReport [link] [comments]

[OC] (Mildly) Bold Predictions for Each Team in the West

On the heels off even less bold predictions for the East yesterday, we launch into the West today.
Remember, these rankings and records are for the regular season not the playoffs. However, if there's time before the games tip off tonight, I'll try to launch into my deep dive playoff predictions as well.
(15) Memphis Grizzlies
projected record: 24-58
Memphis fans are excited about their young core, especially the 1-2 punch with rookie PG Ja Morant and PF/C Jaren Jackson Jr. That said, that's an extremely YOUNG core, with both players still only 20 years old. Typically, that's a losing formula in the NBA. Morant may struggle with turnovers and his FG%, while JJJ still needs to learn to pick his spots defensively to avoid foul trouble. The future may be bright, but the present could be rocky. I'd project them to win well "under" their oveunder of 27 wins.
But let's stick to some positive here, as we did with Cleveland and Charlotte before them. With Zion Williamson banged up, Ja Morant has a very good chance to win Rookie of the Year. In fact, I'd project him as a league leader. Ja Morant will have the most turnovers in the league, but also finish in the top 3 in total assists. After all, consider the league leaders last year. Russell Westbrook (10.7) should have less responsibility in Houston. Kyle Lowry (8.7) and Chris Paul (8.2) will likely play less minutes as they age. Morant's biggest threat may be Trae Young (8.1 last year.) Both Young and Morant will have the ball in their hands a ton, and should finish in the 8-9 assist range.
(14) Minnesota Timberwolves
projected record: 30-52
Ugh. I don't want to spend much time here. I'm not mad; I'm just disappointed. I previously wrote a long entry about how these Minnesota Timberwolves may be sleeping giant with the right offseason moves given the phenomenal talent of Karl-Anthony Towns.
Instead, they had a flop of a summer with hardly any moves of note aside from a trade-up to draft Jarrett Culver, a questionable shooter to go alongside their other questionable shooter in Andrew Wiggins. Meh. No bold prediction here aside to say I won't be writing much about the team this year unless KAT gets more frustrated than I am and starts grumbling about a trade.
(13) Phoenix Suns
projected record: 31-51
It may feel like a lifetime ago, but the Phoenix Suns actually had a higher oveunder than the Sacramento Kings last year. As the thinking goes: they had the better young big man (Deandre Ayton vs. Marvin Bagley) and the more proven SG scorer in Devin Booker. Eventually, the abundance of young talent would tip over to W-Ls. As it turns out, that happened in Sacramento instead.
I'm not projecting a similar upswing for Monty Williams and Phoenix here, but some modest gains are reasonable. And more than anything, Deandre Ayton should prove that he's the real deal and much more than "not-Luka Doncic." In fact, I predict that Deandre Ayton (and Marvin Bagley) crack the 20-10 mark this season. It's an easier template for Ayton himself after he registered 16.3 PPG and 10.3 REB last year. With extended minutes (only 30.7 per game last season) and extended responsibility on offense, 20-10 is clearly within his sights. The guy simply has a polished offensive game far beyond his years. I'd even estimate that he can get up to the 24-25 PPG mark as soon as next year, with possibly some All-Star appearances to follow.
(12) New Orleans Pelicans
projected record: 33-49
Prior to the news about Zion Williams' extended absence (projected 6-8 weeks), the New Orleans Pelicans felt like a sleeper playoff pick. This is a talented team. In fact, it almost feels like TWO talented teams, squashed together. There's the young rebuilding team (Zion, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Nickel Alexander-Walker, Jaxson Hayes) and the solid veteran team (Jrue Holiday, J.J. Redick, E'Twaun Moore, Derrick Favors.)
If coach Alvin Gentry and assistant Chris Finch could have found the right mix, this team may have won 40+ games. However, that appears a tall task now that Williamson will be out for a while. To take it a step further, I'm going to project that the Pelicans have serious internal debates about not playing Zion Williamson at all this season. That may sound like a wild panic move, but it's not really. After all, you don't want to mess with the health of your franchise player. Moreover, this team may start slow (say 15-25) and put the playoffs out of the window anyway. And while we're not supposed to factor these things in, shelving Williamson would keep him eligible for Rookie of the Year honors next season (a la Blake Griffin and Ben Simmons before him.)
(11) Oklahoma City Thunder
projected record: 35-47
After trading Russell Westbrook and Paul George, Sam Presti and the organization were supposed to embrace a full-on tank. While their boatload of R1 picks is a nice start, those mid-to-late R1 picks tend to be the most overrated assets in the NBA. To launch a true superpower, you need super talent at the top of the draft. Given that, it makes sense for OKC to trade away their veterans and plummet all the way down to the bottom 5.
But the clock is ticking and ticking and nearly run out. And here the Thunder are, with Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, and Steven Adams still on the roster. This team is simply too good to lose 50+ games right now. In fact, I predict that the Thunder are above .500 over the first 40 games of the season. The "Ewing Theory" potential is off the charts. There's a real chance the Thunder follow the "rebuilding" Clippers template from last year and win 45 games despite themselves. However, the reason I said .500 for the first 40 games is because I'm not 100% sold on Chris Paul’s durability or his interest in staying here for the long haul. Gallo is also injury prone. If they go down, the team may sag, and the fire sale may begin.
(10) Dallas Mavericks
projected record: 39-43
The Dallas Mavericks are another trendy pick to make the playoffs. And there are some good reasons for that. While they only won 33 games last season, their expected W-L record was actually closer to a 38-44 team. If you add a healthy Kristaps Porzingis into that mix (along with solid additions like Delon Wright and Seth Curry), it's easy to imagine 43-44 wins.
That said, higher expectations usually come at a cost. If the team does not make a "leap," it may be seen as a disappointment. And if that happens, some heat may come the way of Rick Carlisle. Carlisle is clearly a great coach, but it's debatable whether he's the right coach for Doncic and Porzingis and company. These aren't your standard Spurs-Euros who are happy to be good soldiers; they're younger, hipper, and potentially more difficult to manage. And if Mark Cuban feels like there's a generational divide here, he has to side with the players over the coach. Sadly, I'm predicting that this will be Rick Carlisle's last season in Dallas.
(9) Sacramento Kings
projected record: 40-42
While advanced stats suggest that the Dallas Mavericks were actually better than their record last year, the Sacramento Kings were arguably worse. In fact, their point differential (-1.1) was nearly identical to Dallas (-1.2) despite a big difference in the standings. And that, despite some hot shooting that may regress. Buddy Hield is a good bet to stay above 40% from three, but I wouldn't count on a repeat performance of that from Harrison Barnes (40.8% for the Kings) or Nemanja Bjelica (40.1%).
While I do think the Kings will stagnate in the W-L column this season, their future is still bright as hell. I'm a big Marvin Bagley III fan, partly because I believe that he's capable of sliding over to the 5 and unlocking a potentially devastating offensive lineup (De'Aaron Fox, Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Barnes, Bagley.) However, if Vlade Divac and Luke Walton don't share the same fanciful vision that I do, then you'd have to expect the Kings to trade Bogdan Bogdanovic this season. Bogdanovic should get $15M+ on the open market, and that's hard to justify for a player that you don't see in the starting lineup. If the Kings get off to a slower-than-expected start, a deal like that may happen sooner than later.
(8) San Antonio Spurs
projected record: 44-38
Prior to Kawhi Leonard's infamous Zaza injury, Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs were on an incredible run where they won 50+ games for 18 straight seasons. Over the last two years, they've "only" won 47 and 48 games respectively. Can they get back to that 50 win mark? Maybe. Getting Dejounte Murray back should help the Spurs' defense, which surprisingly sagged down to # 15 last season. Still, I'm not sure that Murray changes their ceiling at the end of the day. This team looks ticketed for 45-ish wins and a R1 exit.
For most franchises and most coaches, that's a fine place to be. But is that enough for Popovich? Now at 70 years old? Will he keep the eye of the tiger for much longer? He recently signed a 3-year contract extension, but Adrian Wojnarowski also gave the caveat that he'll still take his future on a "year-to-year basis." Exiting after this season and after the 2020 Olympics in London feels like a fitting send-off for Pop.
Much speculation has been made about his eventual replacement, whenever that may be. Assistant Becky Hammon would certainly be the biggest storyline, but my money is on Will Hardy getting named as the eventual replacement for Pop. This is obviously total speculation, but it makes sense in my head. Hardy is barely 30, but he's a bright rising star who could potentially take the reins for the next 20+ years himself in an ideal world. The fact that top assistants (and potential rivals) Ime Udoka and Ettore Messina left for other jobs adds more fuel to that conspiracy theory fire. And since we're just speculating wildly, let's give an even wilder theory. My podcast co-host Tyler Laurie predicted that the Spurs 2020-21 coach will be Brett Brown (after an exit from Philly.)
(7) Portland Trail Blazers
projected record: 47-35
Once a team gets within sniffing distance of the Finals, it's hard to go back to the end of the line again. With their boogeyman Golden State depleted, Portland should at least feel like they have a puncher's chance of winning the title. After all, they beat everybody's darling Denver Nuggets in the playoffs last year.
While this team is very good, "greatness" may still be one piece away. Specifically, the PF spot. Zach Collins can give them some minutes, but he's more likely a backup PF/C at this stage. Anthony Tolliver is underrated, but he's 34 years old. This team may need a more dynamic presence at the 4, and they may need to take a wild swing to make it happen. Danilo Gallinari (on a 1 year deal) is a dream option, but even if they can't make that happen, I can see Portland gambling on a Kevin Love trade. Love's contract is scary, but he makes a lot of basketball sense as someone who can rotate between PF and C and add a third scorer to the mix. Is it risky? Sure. But Damian Lillard is 29 years old right now, so there's some sense logic to take your swing while you still can.
(6) Los Angeles Lakers
projected record 48-34
Remember L.A. fans, this is a prediction for the regular season records, not the best teams overall. The Lakers and Clippers will absolutely be title contenders (and I may pick one of the two to win it all), but I'm less bullish on their ability to rack up wins in the regular season for different reasons.
For the Lakers, there's a concern about the various new pieces and how well they'll fit together. At the end of the day, it shouldn't be too hard. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are top 5 talents. If you put solid 3+D wings around them, they can absolutely win the title. Danny Green can absolutely fulfill that role. Avery Bradley should do a decent job (provided he guards PGs.) After that? It's hard to say. The most notable name is Kyle Kuzma, but I'm less sold on his ability to fill that 3+D function. His defense is shaky, and his 3-point shooting is as well (30.3% last year, 33.5% career.) In theory, Kuzma would fulfill a nice role as a complementary scorer, but if the Lakers stagger LeBron and AD's minutes, that virtue becomes less important as well. In fact, I'm going to say that Kyle Kuzma becomes the scapegoat for a lethargic start and gets traded for a veteran. Despite what he may say to the press, patience is not LeBron James' strong suit.
(5) Los Angeles Clippers
projected record: 51-31
The mere fact that I'm predicting the title favorite Clippers to only win 51 games (barely more than their 48 last year) qualifies as bold enough, thank you.
So what's with the skepticism/ridiculousness? A few reasons. The Clippers are loaded this year, but I don't anticipate them unlocking all those bullets in the regular season. Doc Rivers can afford to give Paul George an extended rehab, and he can afford to manage Kawhi Leonard's game load. I imagine Leonard will play more than the 60 he did last year for Toronto, but not too many more than 70. Remember, this is a player who's only averaged 62 games / 82 over the course of his career. Getting Leonard and George to the playoffs at 100% will be the most important goal this regular season. As long as they do that, the team should be happy.
(4) Golden State Warriors
projected record: 52-30
52 wins and the # 4 seed may be too ambitious for this limited roster, but I need an ambitious record to justify my prediction here. That is: Stephen Curry wins MVP (again).
Consider this: the last time we saw peak Steph Curry (prior to Kevin Durant), he scored 30.1 points per game and launched 11.2 threes per game (making 45.4%). I wouldn't necessarily say that Curry took a backseat to Durant over the last three years, but he at least took turns driving the bus. With KD gone and Klay Thompson injured, Curry will be getting all the work that he can handle. If Curry ups his three-point bombs in the same fashion that James Harden has done in the last few years (remember, going from 8.0 to 13.2) then what will that look like? Will Curry launch 14-15 threes a game? If he does, the records and MVP buzz will surely follow. Game to game and shot to shot, he can be even more of a cheat code than James Harden himself.
That said, the most underrated element of James Harden's game is his durability; the dude is a steel robot who can play 35 minutes a game for 80 games a year. Can Steph Curry do the same? At this stage of his career? TBD. That's the biggest hurdle that Curry will need to overcome to win MVP again, now at age 31. If he misses time, this season and this prediction could get ugly.
(3) Denver Nuggets
projected record: 53-29
Veteran teams like the L.A. Lakers and L.A. Clippers usually coast through the regular season, figuring that they can turn on the gas in the playoffs. That's usually less true of young teams, who tend to go pedal to the medal (see: Milwaukee last season.) The Denver Nuggets have the luxury of making that type of effort, given all their young legs and all their depth. Given that, I'm expecting the, to push themselves in an effort to grab the # 1 seed, although I expect them to fall a little short of that goal.
However, the Nuggets should achieve some unique feats in the process. Among them, I'm predicting the Nuggets will have the most balanced scoring in the NBA, with EIGHT players averaging 10+ points. It's not as wild as it sounds. The Nuggets actually had 7 players achieve that mark last year, although PG Monte Morris barely made the cut with (10.4). Even if Morris slips under 10, we still may get up to 8. New addition Jerami Grant averaged 13.6 PPG for OKC last year, although his minutes should dip from 32.7 closer to the 25 range. Conversely, 25 minutes a night would be more than enough than Michael Porter Jr. would need to hit 10 PPG. He's such a natural scorer that he could go for 10+ PPG in 20 minutes in a reserve role.
(2) Houston Rockets
projected record: 56-26
The fact that the Houston Rockets get so little hype (compared to the L.A. teams) as a title contender is odd to me. After all, they have the most dominant offensive force in the game in James Harden (on a 3-year stretch where he's averaged 31.8 points and 9.2 assists a game.) And while their supporting cast isn't perfect, it's been good enough to average 57.7 wins in the regular season over those three years. Why shouldn't they be expected to win 55+ again?
I suppose some of the concern comes from Russell Westbrook and a perceived poor fit next to Harden. And to be honest, I'm as big of a Westbrook "hater" as anyone. That said, I recognize his talents. Among them: incredible effort and drive to succeed night in and night out. In fact, Westbrook has averaged 900 more minutes than Chris Paul over the past 3 regular season (average, not total.) That alone should buy James Harden a lot of rest. Although with that may come a decline in raw stats. To that end, I'm expecting James Harden to score 400 less points than last year. His scoring should sink down from 36.1 to the 31-32 range, partly due to reduced usage and partly due to increased rest. Harden may be an iron horse capable of playing 36 minutes a night, but hopefully he doesn't need to do that anymore.
(1) Utah Jazz
projected record: 57-25
Again, our bold prediction ties into the record, as Utah will grab the # 1 seed in the West.
How? Shooting. Spacing. Finally. Ricky Rubio: out. Mike Conley: in. Derrick Favors: out. Bojan Bogdanovic: in. It's hard to under-sell how major of an impact that may have on their offense this season. If you combine their averages, Rubio + Favors hit 1.4 of 4.7 threes per game last year (29.8%). Conley + Bogdanovic combined to average 4.2 of 10.9 (38.5%). Not only will those long bombers score on their own, but they should also create more space for Donovan Mitchell to work with inside.
If the Jazz can improve their offense (ranked 15th and 16th these last two seasons) closer to the top 10, Rudy Gobert and their defense should be able to do the rest. They've ranked in the top 3 in defense each of the last three years. The Jazz check all the boxes of a team that should roll through the regular season; they don't have many holes at all.
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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Oct. 30, 2000

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
PREVIOUS YEARS ARCHIVE:
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1-31-2000 2-7-2000 2-14-2000 2-21-2000
2-28-2000 3-6-2000 3-13-2000 3-20-2000
3-27-2000 4-3-2000 4-10-2000 4-17-2000
4-24-2000 5-1-2000 5-8-2000 5-15-2000
5-22-2000 5-29-2000 6-5-2000 6-12-2000
6-19-2000 6-26-2000 7-3-2000 7-10-2000
7-17-2000 7-24-2000 7-31-2000 8-7-2000
8-14-2000 8-21-2000 8-28-2000 9-4-2000
9-11-2000 9-18-2000 9-25-2000 10-01-2000
10-09-2000 10-15-2000 10-23-2000
  • We begin this week with a long obituary for Yokozuna, who passed away at age 34 at a hotel in Liverpool, England. Yoko was a member of the famous Anoa'i family of Samoans and held the WWF title twice in the early 90s. It's thought that he may have been the heaviest wrestler in the world at one point although that's difficult to prove. In late-96, he's believed to have weighed close to 800 pounds and he was definitely the heaviest in the history of WWF. Yokozuna was found by a tour bus driver in his hotel room when he didn't answer the door when he was supposed to be picked up for a show later that night. It's believed to have been a heart attack (turns out no, it was something to do with fluid in his lungs). He was said to be drinking heavily the night before and just a day earlier, it's known that he'd had a lengthy phone call with his cousin Rikishi. In recent years, Yokozuna hadn't wrestled in the U.S. because he couldn't get cleared by any state athletic commissions due to his size and the potential for heart problems. He was believed to weigh anywhere from 600-750 pounds and was practically immobile in the ring during his recent indie appearances. On Raw, they acknowledged his death with Vince McMahon calling him the greatest big man in the history of wrestling. On Nitro, the announcers mentioned him and basically gave him the same praise. WCW wasn't going to mention it since he never worked there, but Yoko was well-liked within the business and other wrestlers who knew him pressured them to give Yoko a shout out, so they did.
  • Dave runs down Yokozuna's life and career, all his connections and relationships with the Anoa'i family, his early Great Kokina gimmick, wrestling in USWA, Mexico, NJPW, and the dying days of AWA before making his way to WWF in 1993. He had a successful run there but eventually got so large that WWF sent him to the Duke University weight loss program but he failed at that so they took him off the road completely and he never returned. He had talks about returning plenty of times over the last few years, including just in the last few weeks, but because he could never get his weight under control, it didn't happen. His final appearance in WWF was the 1996 Survivor Series in a throw-away 8-man elimination match in which he did almost literally nothing but stand there. At that point, for all intents and purposes, his career was over. He made a couple of indie appearances and his last major appearance was in the main event of the embarrassing Heroes of Wrestling PPV in 1999.
WATCH: WWF's Yokozuna tribute video
  • Negotiations for WWF to buy WCW are continuing this week and are going slower than expected. There's issues on both sides that neither seems willing to budge on, reportedly over what happens to WCW front office workers as well as who gets the PPV money that WCW is still owed (naturally, Turner and WWF both want that money). There were allegations that Vince McMahon and WCW head Brad Siegel got into an argument during the negotiations, but people close to the situation denied that to Dave. WWF lawyers have also denied the rumors that they have a right-of-first-refusal deal as part of the lawsuit settlement a few months back. The big hold up appears to be over existing WCW contracts, not just with wrestlers but in all facets of the business (licensing and merchandising contracts that WCW has with other companies, for example). It's also believed that there is some hold up with Viacom, which is now paying WWF $28 million per year for exclusive WWF programming. But if you recall, one of the things Turner isn't willing to budge on is that they still want WCW programming on their channels. So if WWF buys WCW, they would be producing shows for TBS and TNT, which are rival networks to the Viacom-owned channels that WWF is currently on. So there's all sorts of legal red tape that has to be sorted through if this deal is actually going to happen and it's said to not be as much of a sure thing as everyone thought it was last week (spoiler: that Viacom stuff is what ends up killing this whole deal).
  • Bret Hart was officially fired by WCW this week. To say his 3 years in WCW was a disappointment would be the understatement of the century, Dave says. He came into WCW as arguably the hottest star in the business after the Screwjob and WCW pretty much fumbled him right from the start and never recovered. Throw in the death of his brother, several injuries, and countless heel/face turns, and it was just a bad 3 years, both personally and professionally for Hart. His contract ($2.5 mil per year) was the second highest in the company behind Hulk Hogan and it wasn't a surprise that they released him. WCW is deep in debt and there's huge pressure to cut costs. Hart hasn't wrestled since January and it's unknown if he'll ever be able to again. Per Hart's contract, if he was unable to wrestle for more than 90 days, they had the right to terminate the deal and so they finally did. It's very likely Hart's in-ring career is over, as he's still not recovered from the concussions he suffered in December and January, which started with an errant Goldberg kick at Starrcade and were worsened in the weeks after, most notably during a hardcore match with Terry Funk. Hart has been noticeably bitter following what happened in Montreal and lashed out not only at WWF, but often at WCW and all the changes in the wrestling business that he didn't like. Hart's criticisms of WCW led to a lot of heat and resentment from higher-ups in the company, even though most of the wrestlers usually agreed with him.
  • In the termination letter that Brad Siegel sent to Hart, he wrote, "At this point in time, we have been unable to utilize your wrestling services for over nine months and according to your doctor, you remain incapacitated. Based on your ongoing incapacity, WCW in exercising its right under paragraph 8 (e) to terminate your independent contractor agreement effective Friday, October 20, 2000. Your contributions to the wrestling business are highly regarded and we wish you only the best in the future." Hart responded in his weekly Calgary Sun column, writing, "Yeah right," and added that he'll be taking time to think over his options. Dave says those options are pretty limited. Even if he can wrestle again (which is doubtful), where? Dave says that even if Bret can't wrestle, there's obviously a big money angle waiting for him in WWF between him and McMahon, but there's so much hatred there that it's pretty clear neither side wants that. Most likely, Hart's short-term plan is to write a book about his life in the business.
  • WWF's No Mercy PPV is in the books and was a good show, built around the in-ring return of Steve Austin. It also saw Kurt Angle become only the 2nd Olympic gold medalist to win a major pro wrestling world title (the first being Henri DeGlane who won the world title from Strangler Lewis back in 1931, y'all remember that? Oh man, good times...). Dave says Angle has had one of the quickest rises to the top of any performer in history. Big Show won his first WCW title 6 months after his debut and Salman Hashimikov won the IWGP title only a month after his debut in 1989, but otherwise, that's it. Nobody has catapulted to the top the way Angle has. But of course, the big selling point of the show was Austin's return. Unfortunately, it wasn't much of a match and it left more questions than answers about Austin's health, since he didn't really take much in the way of bumps and mostly just brawled around with Rikishi for a bit before doing an angle to get arrested. The big focal point of the title match and whole show really was Stephanie McMahon and Dave basically compares her to a Von Erich daughter considering the way her father is building the company around her lately.
  • Other notes from No Mercy: during the opening tables match, Grandmaster Sexay accidentally broke a table with his feet, which should have eliminated them from the match but the referee just ignored it while the crowd chanted "You fucked up!" Dave mentions that Victoria, who is one of the Godfather's hos, will be going to Memphis to train and will become a wrestler. They did an angle backstage to write the Acolytes off the show and their scheduled match didn't happen. It was done because Bradshaw recently suffered a broken rib and Faarooq needs knee surgery. They made a point of showing Steve Austin chugging a beer while driving his truck away from the ring, which Dave finds pretty classless from the company's top star who so many teenagers think is cool. Edge/Christian (as the Conquistadores) vs. the Hardyz was a bad match, which Dave didn't think was possible for these 2 teams to have together. Christian suffered a stinger when doing a dive to the outside and half his body went numb but he's expected to be okay (I remember on an episode of their podcast, Christian talked about this and said it was the scariest moment of his career). Triple H vs. Chris Benoit was a great match and would have been a near-classic if the crowd wasn't so dead for it. And the Rock/Angle match was even better, with Angle winning the title and getting a big face pop for it.
WATCH: Kurt Angle wins the WWF Championship from The Rock
  • We have another obituary, this one even longer than Yokozuna, for the death of Leo Nomellini, a part-time wrestler and NFL player who died this week. Nomellini wrestled during the off-season in the San Francisco territory in the 1950s and Dave goes into a ton of detail about this dude, I guess because this is the region where Dave grew up and he knows a lot about the local wrestling history in the area. As a football player, Nomellini was pretty great and was even inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  • The vacant IWGP title will be decided on the Jan. 4th Tokyo Dome show with an 8-man one-night tournament featuring Toshiaki Kawada, Shinya Hashimoto, Keiji Muto, Manabu Nakanishi, Kensuke Sasaki, Masahiro Chono, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Genichiro Tenryu. For name value and star-power, it's probably the biggest one-night tournament in Japanese wrestling history and it's notable that Kawada and Tenryu, who are AJPW stars, will be involved. Apparently, NJPW reached out to NOAH as well, hoping to get Misawa and Kobashi in the tournament, but Misawa turned it down. (Holy shit, can you imagine this tournament if they had somehow managed to get Misawa and Kobashi also? My god...)
  • Nitro did a near record-low rating this week while Raw did its best numbers on TNN so far. The first hour of Nitro was the 2nd lowest rated unopposed hour ever, while the second hour was the lowest rated second hour in the history of the show. Raw's numbers were up, but still not to where they were before the move to TNN, but its inching that way.
  • Hiroshi Hase has avoided picking sides in the AJPW/NOAH split until now. This week he announced that he will work shows for AJPW in January. Hase is a member of the Japanese Diet (the equivalent of the U.S. Senate) and they will be on break in January, which will allow Hase the free time to wrestle again. So chalk up a much-needed win for AJPW on this one.
  • Scott Hall apparently reached out to NJPW about working some shows, since WCW fired him and WWF doesn't want him (yeah, Hall ends up spending a good bit of 2001 in NJPW).
  • XPW in California held a press conference to announce an Atsushi Onita vs. Sabu match taking place in December. Onita cut a promo saying Vince McMahon and Paul Heyman promised they'd do exploding ring matches with him but they backed out. Sabu then came out and it turned into a brawl between them. Onita and XPW promoter Rob Black then set an American flag on fire and tried to throw Sabu on it. Oh. Well then. Onita then went back to Japan and when he was interviewed by the media there, he challenged Terry Funk and Antonio Inoki, vowing to retire afterwards because he needs a knee replacement. Dave thinks Onita is trying to compete with Funk for how many times a guy can say he's retiring and then not do it.
WATCH: XPW Atsushi Onita press conference
  • Big Dick Dudley was involved in an accident when his motorcycle was hit by a truck and he reportedly spent 2 days in a coma.
  • Shawn Michaels is scheduled to appear at a Memphis Championship Wrestling show next week.
  • ECW's December PPV is already sold out, two months in advance. But it's only 2,500 tickets at Hammerstein Ballroom, so it's not like that's a huge financial boon for the company or anything.
  • Dan Severn was backstage at an ECW show recently, looking for work. Dave doesn't see it happening because for starters, Severn is all wrong for this company now. Back in the day, they tried to bring Severn in to get him to put over Taz when he was doing the shooter gimmick, but that didn't happen and nowadays, the style of the company has changed. Plus, ECW isn't in a position to be hiring anybody new right now.
  • Other ECW notes: they had a house show in Battle Creek, MI which seems like a no-brainer to have RVD there, but he wasn't. They offered free tickets to the PPV in Chicago next month to anyone who wanted them to make up for RVD not being there. Paul Heyman was in attendance at both weekend house shows, which is the first time he's been at those shows in awhile. Joe C, the little guy who raps with Kid Rock, worked the MI show and was in the corner of Sandman and Whipwreck for their match.
  • Notes from WCW Nitro: this continues to feel like a lame-duck company, with all the shows pretty much just in a holding pattern. Kevin Nash cut a promo talking about Scott Hall again and Dave is just flabbergasted. Hall was fired by WCW a couple of weeks ago, leading Dave to say "WCW is run by total chowderheads." Dave says if this was WWF and someone got on a live mic on Raw and started shooting and going off-script by putting over a guy that Vince McMahon had just fired in real life, that guy would probably be joining him in the unemployment line as soon as he got backstage. But there's pretty much no discipline or rules in WCW. Nash has been talking about Scott Hall in his promos for months now, and it was never part of an angle. It was just Nash politicking on live TV for them to bring his fuck-up buddy back. In fact, online, Mark Madden wrote about how Scott Hall gets bigger pops than most of the roster, because Nash has been working his own angle to bring him back and the fans are all excited and hyped up for something that's not going to happen. Meanwhile, the entire rest of the roster doesn't get half the build-up that Nash has been giving Hall on his own. And Nash realizes that nobody in WCW has the balls to discipline him, so he just goes into business for himself. Oh, and just in case you didn't get the message the first time, Nash had another interview segment later in the show and he once again made it all about Scott Hall. In other news, Goldberg is supposed to be building back up his winning streak. On Nitro, they announced him as 12-0. On Thunder last week, he was 7-0. WCW hasn't had any shows in between, so somehow Goldberg added another phantom 5 wins to his record over the previous 4 days. But putting all that stuff aside, it was kind of a solid show, with some good matches and one of the better Nitro main events they've had in awhile.
  • Also, this was the first of the new joint-tapings WCW is doing, so after Nitro, they taped Thunder for the same crowd. This is the plan going forward, so WCW will only be running 5 shows-per-month from now on (4 Nitro/Thunder tapings and 1 PPV, no house shows).
  • One final note from Nitro: Scott Steiner came to the ring with a live tiger. In case you're wondering, no one knows why they did this. Just some idea somebody came up with so they went out and got a tiger on the spur of the moment. Because WCW. Backstage before the show, Rey Mysterio was trying to take a photo with it and the tiger nearly took a bite out of him (can you imagine the liability issue of bringing a tiger to ringside, with only a little barricade standing between the fans and the tiger? If you watch it, the tiger is struggling to get away when they first bring him out. Obviously the handlers are there, but still, if that tiger decided to go full-tiger, all bets are off).
WATCH: Scott Steiner comes to the ring with a tiger
  • Various WCW notes: Terry Taylor, Bill Banks and Ed Ferrara are apparently the main guys writing television this week. No explanation given about why it wasn't Russo but he wasn't involved this week (never would be again, he's done). Goldberg's book "I'm Next" comes out next week. E! Network will air a Women of WCW special. In a Pittsburgh poll, Mark Madden finished 3rd in a poll for which local radio personality you'd most want to punch. Hulk Hogan has been telling people that he wants to end his career in the WWF.
  • WCW has changed the names of several of the 2001 PPVs. January's PPV will be called Sin (instead of Souled Out). February's PPV will be called SuperBrawl Revenge (instead of plain old SuperBrawl) and March's PPV will be called Greed (rather than Uncensored). And unbeknownst to anybody at the time, these will be the final WCW PPVs ever.
  • Time Warner's stockholder report estimated $10-15 million in losses by WCW over the last 3 months, which is actually a good thing. They were expected to lose more than that, but all the cost-cutting in recent months helped stem the tide somewhat. The company was on pace to lose $80 million this year, but it looks like now it'll be a little less than that (though it's still expected to total well over $50 million).
  • CNN ran a special on Goldberg last week. It talked about his parents divorcing 13 years ago, with Goldberg saying he's still angry about it. They also showed Vince Russo and Goldberg discussing an angle where Goldberg would attack Scott Steiner backstage and pour bleach down Steiner's throat. Dave notes that never actually happened, but here they are discussing it on the CNN special, so it was obviously a plan at some point that got scrapped. Russo also took a shot at Hogan during the show, saying it took Hogan 15 years to make a name for himself in wrestling while it only took Goldberg 3 months. Dave points out that Hogan started in late-1977, was a superstar in Japan in 1980, and by 1981, he was the biggest drawing star in the U.S. when working for the AWA. So, uh, the 15 years thing isn't exactly true. (I can't find video of this segment, but weirdly enough, CNN has a written transcript of the entire episode so scroll through this link and you can find it if you really want.)
READ: CNN transcript of Goldberg special
  • There's expected to be another settlement meeting this week between the McMahons and the Hart family and all the lawyers. The last meeting fell apart after Martha Hart snapped and began yelling at Vince.
  • Notes from Raw: Ivory debuted as the newest member of Right To Censor. The role was originally considered for Mona from WCW, but she'll apparently be doing something else. They showed Christian backstage laying in the remnants of a shattered table, implying that the Dudleys did it. This was a way to write Christian off the show after the stinger he suffered at the PPV. The ho's were also written off TV by a Chyna beat down and Dave says it's no coincidence that the pimp, the porn star, and the ho's are all gone from TV within the first month of moving to Viacom. Those were all central complaints of the PTC.
  • Various WWF notes: Austin is scheduled to wrestle on most upcoming house shows, even in smaller markets, which is something of a surprise considering he just came back and it's unknown how well his neck will hold up. On the WWF's website, they stated there was nothing to the story of McMahon attempting to buy the Boston Red Sox, as the Boston Globe reported last week.
  • A 14-year-old boy in Romulus, MI was charged with assault and battery after he attacked his mother because she wouldn't let him watch Sunday Night Heat. He pushed her, threatened to break windows in the apartment, and shattered a cinder block and began threatening her with it. The boy is awaiting trial on 2 previous assault charges also.
  • Lots of letters about the potential WWF/WCW sale and how WCW is such a dead company at this point that some people don't even know why Vince would want it. Lots of doom and gloom predictions for WWF too, with people thinking it's getting stale, Rock is stagnating, Austin is yesterday's news, etc. Predictions that if Vince buys WCW, he'll eventually just shut it down rather than run it as a separate promotion, things like that.
FRIDAY: Bret Hart announces his retirement, WWF/Owen Hart lawsuit settled out of court, Davey Boy Smith arrested twice in 2 days, WCW Halloween Havoc fallout, and more...
submitted by daprice82 to SquaredCircle [link] [comments]

top 25 albums of 2019

Top 25 Albums of 2019

25. Lightning Bolt - Sonic Citadel

I have a very on-again-off-again relationship with noise, one that was very much tested on this Lightning Bolt album. Still, any hesitance I have for noise rock is accompanied by a deep love of hardcore headbangers, and Sonic Citadel more than delivers on that front. For every noisy mess like Van Halen 2049 there’s a track like Blow To The Head to ram me in the face with focused intensity, and for every seemingly aimless track like Don Henley In The Park there’s an Air Conditioning. Oh geeeeez, Air Conditioning. This is surely hyperbole, but I feel like I could listen to the main riffs on Air Conditioning for the rest of my life. That’s the good shit right there.
Favorite Tracks: Blow To The Head, USA Is A Psycho, Air Conditioning, Big Banger, Halloween 3
Least Favorite Track: Van Halen 2049

24. Tyr - Hel

Tyr holds a unique space in the metal sphere for me, meshing the viking imagery of Amon Amarth with a war-ballad style better fitting a band like Turisas. Their singer in particular has a SUPER unique approach to vocals that evokes tribal imagery and the triumphant ballads of conquering warbands. That style is in full force on Hel, which sees the band putting out a few of my new favorite Tyr songs amidst a bunch of others that are varying levels of successful.
My biggest issue with Hel is that it feels quite a bit bloated in spots. Some songs feel a minute or two too long and drawn out, while others go in one ear and out the other and come off as filler. On tracks like Downhill Drunk the singer’s signature style just doesn’t land at all, messing up the vibe of the entire song and ruining it for me.
Still, these issues aren’t so numerous that they ruin the album, nor is the bloat an issue of much significance- it’s simply a 1:09 album that could have been closer to 50 or even 45 minutes with some time spent trimming fat here and there. It’s still easily one of the best metal releases of the year.
Favorite Tracks: All Heroes Fall, Garmr, Sunset Shore, Empire of the North, Fire & Flame
Least Favorite Track: Downhill Drunk

23. Bonobo - fabric presents Bonobo

Fantastic background music for sure. While Bonobo has put out more focused pieces, as a collection of tracks mixed to blend seamlessly into each other, this is still a very pleasant and upbeat experience for its hour-and-a-quarter runtime. It’s very easy to just zone out while listening to this mix, which in this case works as a compliment as the music just kind of washes over you with steady beats and ambient transitions. Every song has some kind of musical hook to latch onto, which more than helps to catch a groove and follow the song through its next transition, swapping tracks sometimes before you even notice it. While some beats here and there don’t quite land like others (especially in the back half), there are enough great tracks across this lengthy mix to make it more than worth the time.
Favorite Tracks: Flicker, Jacquot (Waters of Praslin), Hidden Tropics, Maia, Cold Harbour, Ibrik, Sacred, By Your Side, Buzzard Walk
Least Favorite Track: Perpetrator

22. Clear Soul Forces - Still

As far as down-to-earth rap goes, this is a really good album. Mellow beats and four skilled emcees that work well together. These guys have nerd cred too- listen to a couple songs and try to keep track of how many video game, comic book and pro wrestling references they drop, and watch as you rapidly lose track. Still, there’s something missing from these tracks, a memorability or charisma that, while present, isn’t present enough to make this album really special beyond just being a collection of good rap songs. Also, it’s not their fault but the Go ACH Go song has aged REALLY poorly.
Favorite Tracks: Blaow, Hit Me Now, Diamond Rhymin’, Kick It, Dinner Time, Don’t Stop
Least Favorite Track: Sword Play

21. Otoboke Beaver - ITEKOMA HITS

Man what the FUCK?
This album is fucking weird. It’s like they took a bunch of j-rock girls, gave them a mountain of coke, and waited for them to start freaking out before holding a gun to their head to force them to record an album. This album is bouncy, it’s energetic, and it’s also absolutely out of its mind and wild to the point of total disconnection with conventional songwriting. One second these girls will be jamming along to some groovy bassline, hitting you with a surf-rocky vibe that’s easy to headbang to, and the next second they’re trying to murder their instruments with punk-rock fury as they scream in demented unison. And the craziest part is the entire thing WORKS.
Once you listen through it a couple times you start to adapt to the band’s warped style and get less shaken up by sudden transitions into insanity, which lets you really appreciate just how talented and synchronized this band really is. They’re playing the most frantic and violent shit in complete lockstep, which gets more and more impressive with every sudden jump and switch back to the land of the living. I don’t know how it happened, but they made me fall in love with this crazy, wild, pants-on-head demented fucking album.
Favorite Tracks: Legit every song, somehow. What? I think my favorite favorites are probably S’il vous plait, Love Is Short, Bad Luck, Don’t light my fire, and I’m tired of your repeating story, but like… what?
Least Favorite Tracks: What the hell is this album?

20. Unprocessed - Artificial Void

I just baaaarely started getting into djent this year, but I’m glad I did because it got me to try this album from a band who (to me) was a total unknown. As it turns out, this album is a fantastic mix of prog metal and metalcore (though I’m unfamiliar with the latter so I might be wrong there), and it shines in its creative and catchy riff structure and in the layers the band works into each of their songs. Very few tracks on this album feel one-note, and often progress between multiple phases across their runtime, leading the whole album to have this cohesive depth to it that makes almost every song that much more enjoyable. When they want to go hard they do it really well on tracks like Abandoned and Prototype, but when they decide to go for a cleaner mellow sound for the majority of a song, it leads to standout tracks like Ruins with extremely catchy melodies that have been stuck in my head basically all year and keep me coming back for more.
While it does falter a bit in the second half, this is overall a really solid album that I’d recommend to just about anyone who isn’t afraid of a bit of out-there riffing and some screamed vocals. If more djent measures up to Artificial Void, I’m sure to enjoy my time exploring this genre.
Favorite Tracks: Prototype, Artificial Void, Ruins, Fear, Abandoned, House of Waters, Down the Spine, Another Sky
Least Favorite Track: Avatar

19. Soil & “Pimp” Sessions - OUTSIDE

Big thanks to GuyofEvil for turning me on to these guys. S&P are a creative and energetic jazz ensemble, and this album shows every bit of that creativity and energy. The upbeat tracks on this album are bouncy and fun, keeping a strong and consistent tempo so that the leading instrument for each song has space to really have some fun with their solo segments. The style of each song can vary, though, and scattered throughout the album are a number of very mellow, lowkey tracks, which are extremely pleasant in their own way. A few times they get a little too wild for my tastes (the trumpet solo on Tracking being the prime example of this), but more often than not I found myself captivated by either their smooth relaxing tracks or the frenetic energy of their faster tracks. Front to back just a really enjoyable jazz album.
Favorite Tracks: Blue Eyed Monster, The Light and The Shadowland, Shapeshifter, Wanna Be A Man, Out Of Control, In The Gloom of The Forest, Inside
Least Favorite Track: Tracking

18. Shredders - Great Hits

I’ve been a P.O.S stan for about a decade now, ever since getting into Audition and Never Better back in high school. The whole Doomtree clique pumps out creative alternative rap on the regular, and this combination of P.O.S and Sims with Paper Tiger and Lazerbeak on production is no exception. Their mix of rap styles work well together over these surprisingly danceable beats, coming together for a brief but entertaining album that does its best to get stuck in your head. The biggest downside of this album, I’d say, is there’s no real standout here- everything sits at a consistently “pretty good” level, never really sucking but never breaking out into something truly fantastic.
Favorite Tracks: Vanilla ISIS, Ayeyayaya, Shadap You Face Pt. II, Young Bros, Chips
Least Favorite Track: Suburban Base

17. Denzel Curry - ZUU

Not much needs to be said on this one. While I still prefer last year’s TA13OO for its fully-fleshed-out concept and huge sonic variety, ZUU is a great change of pace for Curry, going back to an old-school boom-bap Southern rap style and doing it really well. Every song on this album seems designed to sound at its very best when blasted from car speakers, and he leans well into this style, delivering BANGERS on BANGERS on BANGERS on this album.
Favorite Tracks: ZUU, RICKY, WISH, BIRDZ, YOO, SHAKE 88, P.A.T.
Least Favorite Track: SPEEDBOAT

16. JPEGMAFIA - All My Heroes Are Cornballs

Last year’s Veteran didn’t sit right with me, let’s start there. I like Peggy’s rapping style, all high energy with a fun mix of pop culture to pull from for references (and I especially appreciate all the wrestling references, too). In a way he kinda reminds me of a modern Ol’ Dirty Bastard, all energy and intensity but with less of a focus on dirt and more on being what almost amounts to a troll rapper. Like seriously, whether or not I liked his music, I’d appreciate the shit out of Peggy’s meme-savvy song titles any day.
My problem with Veteran that crops up on this album is Peggy’s experimental production style and unorthodox song structure, often breaking off into out-there tangents and side-noises that on Veteran took me out of the album entirely too much to enjoy it. On this album, however, it’s more of a back-and-forth, and more often than not the weirder segments are bookended by Peggy hitting a stride on a track where he matches his production perfectly, making for a fantastic song even if the more out-there parts don’t sit right with me. He also dips his toes more into mellow-but-glitchy production and a singsongy approach to hooks, both of which work pretty well for him. Cornballs, for me, is a much more enjoyable album than Veteran, because on Cornballs Peggy finds a pocket where his wild rapping style and his eclectic production style mesh perfectly without going completely off the reservation.
Favorite Tracks: Jesus Forgive Me I Am A Thot, Kenan Vs Kel, Beta Male Strategies, Grimy Waifu, PTSD, All My Heroes Are Cornballs, BBW, Thot Tactics, DOTS FREESTYLE REMIX, BUTTERMILK JESUS TYPE BEAT
Least Favorite Track: Lifes Hard, Here’s A Song About Sorrel

15. Rapsody - Eve

Ever since hearing Rapsody on TPAB a year or two ago, I wanted to see what her next big project would be like. Turns out, Rapsody has a ton to say, more than can be contained in one (very very good) guest verse on a Kendrick album.
It’s tough to fully describe Eve as an album, seeing as Rapsody’s every verse is about the struggles of and empowerment of black women, spurring them towards self-love and independence and giving them anthems for their own lives. Meanwhile, I’m a middle-class white dude with a pretty decent life and no real major struggles to overcome. So, uh, a lot of these themes don’t sit with me, as much as I appreciate them.
Still, from a purely musical standpoint, Eve is a great album. Rapsody comes in STRONG on just about every song, with socially and politically-charged verses delivered with absolute confidence that makes it really sound like she believes everything she’s saying and wants you to believe in it, too. The production is pretty good, often building a dramatic and intense atmosphere that further amplifies the impact of Rapsody’s words (although a couple songs like Cleo and Ibtihaj lean WAY too hard on their samples and influences for my taste).
As disconnected as I can feel from the topics Rapsody discovers, I can’t say much against how she delivers them. I’m glad she felt so strongly about these topics to make an album this focused on them, and I’m glad it turned out this great.
Favorite Tracks: Nina, Aaliyah, Serena, Iman, Sojourner
Least Favorite Track: Oprah

14. CZARFACE - Czarface Meets Ghostface

I’m a pretty big fan of CZARFACE generally, and for good reason. Inspectah Deck shines in these group projects, Esoteric has nerd bars and clever punchlines for the next 500 years already written down somewhere, and 7L’s production fits the two rappers perfectly with a unique mix of Wu-Tang-style mellow production that works well with battle bars and DOOM-style sample-heavy interludes and comic-book-inspired beats. Their recent collab album with DOOM grew on me over time, and as Ghostface is my favorite member of the Wu-Tang Clan, I was hype as fuck for this album.
Turns out, it was pretty good! I was consumed by hype at first, thinking it might be CZARFACE’s best project (it’s not, Every Hero Needs A Villain is still the best), but this is several steps above the lackluster Fistful of Peril and definitely a whole lot of fun in its own right. Nobody’s quite on their A game here, unfortunately, but their B game is still great and delivers a bunch of tracks that should be added to any rotation of brag rap. The biggest downside of this album is that very little really stands out in the way songs like Escape from Czarkham Asylum did or Bomb Thrown did. Ghostface is alright if not as present as the album title would make you think, Deck is alright but never really goes apeshit like he has in the past, Esoteric is generally pretty fantastic but doesn’t carry songs, and 7L’s beats are alright but sometimes a bit too mellow for the brag bars going over them. When it all clicks on tracks like Post Credits Scene it’s good shit, but it doesn’t click often enough to be a truly fantastic album like Every Hero Needs A Villain.
Still, there are no bad tracks at all on Czarface Meets Ghostface, and the consistently pretty good tracks lead to a pretty good album.
Favorite Tracks: Face Off, Iron Claw, Powers and Stuff, The King Heard Voices, (Post Credits Scene)
Least Favorite Track: Mongolian Beef

13. Malibu Ken - Malibu Ken

I had to come back to this one a couple times to decide what I really liked and didn’t like about this album. Honestly, there’s not a lot to dislike, though. Aesop Rock is in top form as he has been just about this whole decade, rapping with the buttery flows he’s developed that made me absolutely fall in love with Skelethon and The Impossible Kid. Standout tracks like Tuesday, Acid King and Churro show Aes’ knack for storytelling hasn’t faded at all, either. Tobacco’s production, throughout very mellow and almost chiptune in style without ever sounding much like a videogame soundtrack and accompanied by some really heavily processed but very interesting hooks, remains a super unique approach that I haven’t heard mirrored all year.
I guess my biggest problem with the album is that for how good Aesop’s rapping is and for how good Tobacco’s production is, I just don’t feel like the two work well together. Aes feels almost too dynamic for Tobacco’s lowkey production, and Tobacco’s beats feel too understated for Aesop’s very diverse and verbose rapping style. Moreover, no matter how well Aes can ride almost any beat, Tobacco’s really out-there hooks feel almost at odds with Aes’ very precise and calculated rapping. In this situation, the two excellent parts remain excellent, but their combination lacks the synergy to evolve 1+1 into something greater than 2.
Favorite Tracks: Corn Maze, Tuesday, Save Our Ship, Dog Years, Acid King, Churro
Least Favorite Track: Sword Box

12. Benny the Butcher - The Plugs I Met

Just about everything about Pusha T’s last album DAYTONA is also relevant here. Benny has a calculating approach to rapping mixed with an intensity that makes you hang on his words, and his coke raps, while nothing really new or exciting, are delivered with creativity and confidence that sells them despite their lack of novelty. Across the board, this brief album has few real flaws and lets Benny and his guests shine at what they do best (especially Black Thought, holy crap). As long as you’re not expecting some crazy experimental boundary pushing, this album definitely satisfies.
However, it’s not DAYTONA. While that album was my album of the year last year, Benny’s album isn’t quite up to the same caliber. Benny’s raps, while very competent and well put-together, lack Pusha’s charisma and fall slightly flatter as a result (especially when the two are directly comparable on 18 Wheeler). The production, while great at evoking this Tony-Montana-like drug lord vibe, can’t hope to compare to Kanye’s perfect production accompaniment on DAYTONA, which draws from a much more interesting group of influences. So while The Plugs I Met is definitely a nice little slice of coke rap and is by no means a bad album at all, I’ve still heard better and I know the potential that this album could live up to, but doesn’t.
Favorite Tracks: Crowns for Kings, Dirty Harry, 18 Wheeler
Least Favorite Track: Took The Money To The Plug’s House

11. Gloryhammer - Legends From Beyond The Galactic Terrorvortex

For those unfamiliar with Gloryhammer, they’re an Anglo-Swiss power metal band that uses aggressively catchy power metal to tell aggressively cheesy sci-fi/fantasy tales of a made-up world not unlike our own, except for the million ways it’s not even close to our own. To perfectly illustrate this, the rest of this review will just be a synopsis of this album’s plot. If that won’t sell you, you probably won’t like this album.
Angus McFife XIII, descendant of the original Angus McFife and Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Fife, is no stranger to the cruel machinations of the space wizard Zargothrax. After Zargothrax was released from his frozen prison by chaos wizards in the distant future of 1992, Angus McFife teamed up with the Hollywood Hootsman (he’s the king of California), the Questlords of Inverness, and many more noble allies to defend the land of Dundee from Zargothrax’s nefarious grasp. At the climax of their epic battle, Zargothrax and Angus McFife XIII were cast into an interdimensional portal that catapulted them through time and space to an alternate reality. Quick to take advantage of this situation, Zargothrax defeated the original Angus McFife, corrupted the Knights of Crail to serve under his new empire, and has all but taken over the galaxy! With all of his allies gone and his Astral Hammer depowered, Angus McFife must embark on a new quest, making allies from enemies and facing foes that were once friends as he searches for a way to defeat the dark wizard at his absolute strongest. Only with an army at his side could our intrepid hero hope to overcome Zargothrax’s evil once more.
I made none of that up. This album fucking rules. Space 1992 is better, but this album is still super good.
Favorite Tracks: Masters of the Galaxy, Power of the Laser Dragon Fire, Legendary Enchanted Jetpack, Gloryhammer, Hootsforce, Battle for Eternity, The Fires of Ancient Cosmic Destiny
Least Favorite Track: Into the Terrorvortex of Kor-Virliath

10. Brother Ali - Secrets & Escapes

Yo, where the hell did this come from? I would have completely slept on this album if I didn’t stumble on a DeadEndHipHop review of the record several weeks after its surprise release. Glad I did, too, because I really love Us and All The Beauty In This Whole Life, so I was gonna jump on this as soon as I found it.
Overall, I would say “this is more great Ali”, but it’s really not. Like, it’s more of the type of things Brother Ali discusses, and it’s more great Ali flows, but the dude deliberately went in a very different tonal direction this time around. Evidence’s production is part of it, washing away Ant’s warm and upbeat production in a wave of dusty, lo-fi, sample-heavy production that casts Ali’s verses in a whole new light, but Ali’s own delivery is different too. He’s more mellowed out here, more relaxed and less emphatic in his delivery across the board. It sounds less like he’s preaching (not that he ever came across as holier-than-thou or talking down to his audience, ‘cause he didn’t) and more like he’s having a conversation with the listener.
While this change of pace means the album lacks some of the grandiosity or the thematic focus of Ali’s past albums that I’ve loved, Secrets & Escapes is a fantastic exercise in change and another great addition to an already excellent veteran catalogue.
Favorite Tracks: Abu Enzo, Situated, Greatest That Never Lived, Father Figures, Secrets & Escapes, De La Kufi, Red Light Zone, They Shot Ricky
Least Favorite Track: Apple Tree Me

9. Alex Cameron - Miami Memory

I got turned on to Alex Cameron probably a year and a half ago, and while I’m not big into pop, his style in particular latched its hooks into my brain, and since then Forced Witness has remained one of my favorite albums of all time. The nostalgic production on the album mixing synthetic beats and soulful saxophone riffs are layered and engaging while still mellow and relaxing, and Alex works beautifully with each track. His biggest skill has to be his songwriting, crafting unbelievably catchy melodies and vivid lyrics that often err on the side of hilarity, effortlessly bouncing from lines like “In a neon boneyard, raised from the dead / We’ll bet on forever but we both know the spread” to “Me and Roy, we got a pretty mean posse / With the down-syndrome Jew from the real estate crew”. Forced Witness is hilarious without being a comedy album, it’s nostalgic without being a complete ripoff, and it’s endlessly replayable.
Miami Memory is… not Forced Witness 2. This bummed me out at first, given how much I loved that album, but that turned out to not be a bad thing, and Miami Memory in fact grew on me with repeat listens in its own way. It’s still every bit as catchy, with singable choruses like “I’m your STEP-DAAAAAAD!”, but other details about Miami Memory show that Alex has gone in a different direction this time, which has borne new fruit entirely. The production on this album is more varied than Forced Witness, using strong digital influences on tracks like Stepdad and Miami Memory but switching entirely to heartland rock ballads on tracks like Bad For The Boys and Far From Born Again, and it’s a sonic diversity that makes each song stand out in its own unique way. The hilarious lyrics are for the most part gone, excepting specific moments like the bitter chorus on Divorce and the line on End Is Nigh that goes “There’s a guy who thinks I’m fuckin’ his girlfriend, he says he’s gonna make me cry / But I couldn’t get it up if I wanted to, man, yeah, and I already wanna die”.
Like I said, I came in expecting a sequel to Forced Witness, and while I didn’t get that, I got a new direction from Alex Cameron that’s every bit as memorable and explores new avenues that he fits into very well. While I prefer his last album even now, Miami Memory is a fantastic album in its own way.
Favorite Tracks: Stepdad, Miami Memory, Far From Born Again, Bad For The Boys, PC With Me, Divorce
Least Favorite Track: Too Far

8. YBN Cordae - The Lost Boy

Bruh, Cordae put out a better Chance album than Chance.
Seriously, though. Out of the entire XXL Freshman class for this year, YBN Cordae stood out the most, and this album helps explain why. The Lost Boy is for the most part a laid-back album where Cordae skillfully raps about his life and the relationships he’s had and finds himself in. The production is mellow and often has a little bit of soul or RnB flavoring sprinkled into it, and Cordae rides these beats very nicely. As a rapper he’s not usually much of a standout, but he never really disappoints with an abominably bad bar or a trash flow, and when he really wants to flex he can be very impressive on the mic. Outside of a few tracks that just didn’t sit well with me personally, this is a solid hip-hop album and a great debut record for Cordae.
Favorite Tracks: Bad Idea, Thanksgiving, RNP, Thousand Words, Been Around, Nightmares Are Real
Least Favorite Track: Broke as Fuck

7. Opeth - In Cauda Venenum

So I have a limited experience with Opeth- I’ve heard Ghost Reveries and I know they started out in metal then transitioned fully into prog rock, and that’s about it. I also have a limited experience with prog, based mainly around albums my dad (a huge prog head) has had me try, including In The Court of the Crimson King, Brain Salad Surgery, and Days of Future Passed. So I’m kind of familiar with this style of music, but it and Opeth are very much not in my wheelhouse. All that is to say that after listening to In Cauda Venenum over and over, I really want to get into more classic prog rock now.
Opeth’s new album is best described as “cinematic” or “theatrical”, not necessarily in theme, but in style. The dynamic range on this album is fantastic, weaving mellow but melodic segments with bold, bombastic explosions of rock with near effortless ease. Though Opeth has become a prog band fully, I can still feel a little of the metal clinging to the band’s DNA, mainly in the way they feel completely fearless in exploring huge blasting walls of sound, especially on songs like Dignity and Universal Truth. Coming from metal the instrumental work is all top notch as well, and the lead singer’s voice, while not mind blowing in any real way, fits the instrumental work to a T and complements the overall sound super well.
I didn’t quite love this album at first, but it’s growing on me with each new listen. In Cauda Venenum is huge, it’s harrowing, it’s exciting, but at the same time it isn’t afraid to be gentle and delicate, often in the same song. That balance gives it a wonderfully creative duality, and makes just about every song a standout experience.
Favorite Tracks: Dignity, Heart In Hand, Universal Truth, The Garroter, Continuum
Least Favorite Track: Charlatan

6. Sabaton - The Great War

Okay look, Sabaton’s music has a good number of flaws, and this album is no exception. Many songs feel underwritten, given only the barest verses seemingly so that they’re not making a song entirely out of choruses, and as is the case with 82nd All The Way, their abridged retelling of history through music is often woefully incomplete. They virtually never deviate from their main aesthetic outside of very slight additional flavors, leading to songs like Attack of the Dead Men which don’t get the tone shift they could really use. Perhaps most damning of all, Sabaton’s music by and large feels extremely formulaic and samey, with similar musical phrases and melodies very often finding themselves reused or slightly tweaked between songs. The examples are everywhere: the very similar verse structure between Ghost in the Trenches and No Bullets Fly, literally almost the exact same verse melody on Red Baron and Night Witches, the constant reliance on “verse bridge chorus verse bridge chorus interlude solo chorus chorus” for almost every song’s structure, I could go on and on. And all of this SHOULD lead me to dislike this album. That said…
GOD, THIS ALBUM FUCKING RULES! IT’S SO EXPLOSIVE, SO TRIUMPHANT, IT MAKES ME WANT TO TEAR MY SHIRT OFF AND CLIMB THE NEAREST MOUNTAIN SO I CAN BELLOW THE LYRICS OF EVERY CHORUS TO THE MEWLING WEAKLINGS BELOW! Sabaton are power metal down to the bone marrow, and what they lack in intricate songwriting and stylistic versatility they more than make up for in thunderous energy and an enthusiastic overindulgence in the power and fury of power metal. While their songs are lacking a lot of the noodly speed you’d get from something like a Dragonforce album, every Sabaton song hits like a tank shell in part through the raw force of the instrumental backing but also through Joakim Broden’s charismatic voice that sounds like the echoing decrees of a metal-as-fuck Swedish god. EVERY SINGLE CHORUS IS FIRE! EVERY SINGLE RIFF IS A FUCKING BANGER!
Sabaton has a lot of flaws, yes, but they know what they’re good at and play to their strengths. The Great War isn’t the most creative or the most versatile album on this list, but goddamn if it isn’t one of the most exciting and adrenaline-pumping albums on this list by a mile.
Favorite Tracks: Seven Pillars of Wisdom, 82nd All The Way, The Red Baron, Ghost In The Trenches, Fields Of Verdun
Least Favorite Track: Attack of the Dead Men

5. Little Simz - GREY Area

I could probably count on one hand how many UK rappers I’d heard before 2019, but between Little Simz and Slowthai (who didn’t make this list but still put out a really solid album this year that I won’t be surprised at all to see on others’ lists), I’ve got a growing interest in the genre as long as the quality bar stays this high.
I don’t have a lot to say on this album given that I’m so unfamiliar with the genre, but man, Little Simz is a fucking excellent rapper. On Venom especially, she flexes a flow I wasn’t expecting at all, weaving buttery lines together in a catchy pace that easily gets my head bobbing. Other tracks like Selfish and Wounds showcase Simz’ flows but in a way that takes advantage of well-built, contemporary beats and catchy sampled or sung choruses that show her broader appeal as an artist beyond just being “a great rapper”.
Simz covers a good number of topics and delves deep into her personal life on this album, and between the killer flows and strong production, I’m definitely keeping an eye on her going forward.
Favorite Tracks: Selfish, Wounds, Venom, 101 FM, Pressure
Least Favorite Track: Therapy

4. Tyler, the Creator - IGOR

I’m not a gigantic Tyler fan, though since this album dropped I’ve relistened to Flower Boy and gained a new appreciation for it as a result. Still, IGOR is an almost undeniable album, breaking so many conventions of both hip-hop and RnB in ways that showcase both Tyler’s creativity and raw talent on the mic and on the beat. On first listen it sounds jank and unrefined and honestly feels like it shouldn’t work- Tyler’s pitch-shifted vocals are warbly and off, each beat just kind of feels like something’s wrong with it, and the combination is like nothing else. However, instead of collapsing under the weight of these miniature flaws adding up, Tyler manages the impossible and turns these flaws into quirks, making every imperfection into an endearing trait of the songwriting and execution. In the end, the strained falsetto chorus on Earfquake sticks in my head a whole hell of a lot more than most well-sung pop choruses this year. The culprit here is Tyler’s mastery of songwriting, knowing exactly how to craft a beat to accomplish what he wants as well as knowing exactly how to use his creations to their fullest with the vocals and rap verses he adds on top.
Front to back, this album is multilayered, it’s ever-evolving, it’s endlessly fascinating, and it sets the bar ever higher not just for Tyler, but for any of his peers who want to delve into this category of rap-RnB mashups. I’m definitely keeping an eye on whatever Tyler creates next.
Favorite Tracks: IGOR’S THEME, I THINK, RUNNING OUT OF TIME, A BOY IS A GUN, WHAT’S GOOD, ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?
Least Favorite Track: NEW MAGIC WAND

3. POLKADOT STINGRAY - Uchoten

I actually posted on the Polkadot Stingray subreddit a few months ago talking about why I love this album so much, and why it was my #1 album for about six months until King Gizzard showed up to dethrone it. Here’s the link.
To be clear, Uchoten didn’t get dropped two spots because the album soured on me or because I found any glaring flaws. It’s still every bit the summery ball of happy vibes that I absolutely adore it for, and I keep coming back to it every once in a while to brighten my spirits. The albums above it are just that good. My only real gripe is that a few of the songs are just alright and that the song 7 has a weird chorus that I’m just not a fan of.
Favorite Tracks: Ichidaiji, Denkousekka, Drama (track 3), City Life (track 5), Rhythmy (track 6), Love Call (track 8), Secret (track 11)
Least Favorite Track: 7 (track 9 lol)

2. clipping. - There Existed An Addiction To Blood

SPOOK WARNING.
Ever since getting into Clipping a couple years back (the moment I started Splendor & Misery and heard Daveed’s flow on The Breach, I was all in on this group), I’ve been eagerly awaiting the next album. Face was an EP masquerading as an album and that was a bummer, but Clipping came back with There Existed An Addiction To Blood, timed perfectly for the spookiest season of the year, and holy fuck, they delivered. Addiction to Blood is a gut-wrenchingly violent, disturbing album that evokes an urgent need to escape, but beneath its grindhouse horror aesthetic, the album is a technical masterpiece, with brilliant production throughout underscoring Daveed’s absolutely stellar rapping.
I could gush about this album literally for hours. There’s so much perfect about it- the tense piano on Nothing is Safe, the foreboding atmosphere of He Dead, the crushing intensity of Club Down (HOLY FUCK CLUB DOWN IS SO INTENSE), how fucked up it is that the catchiest song on the album (The Show) is about a live show that makes the torture scene from Law Abiding Citizen sound lowkey, the FUCKING AMBIENT CARS PASSING BY CONTRIBUTING TO THE BEAT ON RUN FOR YOUR LIFE OH MY GOD IT’S BRILLIANT, just everything about Blood of the Fang, the insane pace changes on Story 7 sucking you in, holy shit, this album is a masterpiece.
Addiction to Blood lives and breathes its horrorcore aesthetic too, never settling for a basic hip-hop beat and violent lyrics like the old-school horrorcore staples did. Similarly to the Daughters album last year, Clipping’s new album reeks of panic, unease, and an overwhelming desire to escape. You’re being hunted. You’re not safe. Run. GET OUT. Where Daughters’ album was an intense psychological thriller, though, Addiction to Blood comes off as a campy gorefest, reveling in the buckets and buckets of blood and viscera it showers over every song like it’s trying to audition to be a Mortal Kombat soundtrack.
The album is so technically solid, so expertly produced, and Daveed’s raps are so across-the-board phenomenal, that I honestly only have minor nitpicks at best for criticism against the album. The Prophecy interlude is boring, La Chat’s verse is a liiiiittle awkward but I’m cool with it, Daveed’s flow on All In Your Head is too bare-bones for me, and La Mala Ordina, despite its fantastic beat and Daveed’s downright evil lyrics about the difference between hip-hop gangstas and the gangsters of the real world, has two major flaws that threaten to ruin the song for me.
One, the straight minute of noise at the end of the song is just… nah, no thanks. It would be tolerable if it was maybe thirty seconds or twenty seconds, but at its length it’s just a sign for me to skip the rest of the song once Daveed’s lyrics are incomprehensible. Two, Elcamino’s verse coming in second on the album is the weakest rapping I’ve heard almost all year and I’m kind of surprised nobody brings it up. Like yeah, it fits the vibe of the song as he’s this random coke rapper gangsta with a romanticized view of a cutthroat industry that will chew him up and spit him out, but come on. Dude rhymes “wagon” with “status” and then spends the rest of his verse with a lethargic, weak flow that emphasizes exactly how run-of-the-mill and boring his dumbed-down lyrics are. This verse fucking sucks, dude. Full stop.
Rest of the album is perfect though.
Favorite Tracks: Nothing Is Safe, He Dead, Club Down, Run For Your Life, The Show, Blood of the Fang, Story 7
Least Favorite Track: La Mala Ordina

1. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Infest the Rat’s Nest

How? How the hell did these guys make an album this good? King Gizzard went from bluesy folk this year to suddenly unleashing a classic thrash behemoth of an album and I couldn’t be more pleased with it. Every single fucking song on this album is an absolute banger, with singable choruses and vivid imagery supporting a grim and apocalyptic story running throughout. Outside of the chuggy grinder Superbug (which more than grew on me over time), every song is either high-octane classic thrash metal or a headbanging stoner rock anthem and everything GOES SO FUCKING HARD. How the FUCK does this album GO SO FUCKING HARD?
The guitar riffs are almost universally catchy and sprinkled with these Megadethy showoff licks that showcase exactly how talented these Aussie boys really are, the drum beats are these machinegun affairs that don’t measure up to the blast beat intensity of more hardcore metal but are no less exhilarating for it, and the vocals, holy shit the vocals. My dude on the vocals (I’m awful with names) has these throaty growls that perfectly match the grimy, visceral tone of the instruments, and they’re extremely fun to imitate despite the throat pain that follows. PERI-PERIHELIOOOOOON!
But the most impressive part has to be that this is the band’s fifteenth album and their first foray into this genre, the second closest album being the garage rock banger Nonagon Infinity which I loved in the past. I’ve listened to a surprising number of new classic thrash albums this year (did you know there’s apparently a New Wave Of Traditional Thrash Metal?) and Infest The Rat’s Nest blows every single one of them out of the water. It’s not even close, and the same can be said for the vast majority of albums this year.
Favorite tracks: All of them, but the best of the best are Mars for the Rich, Perihelion, Organ Farmer, and Venusian 2.
Least favorite track: Self-Immolate, but that song still fucking slaps.
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NBA Picks Tonight Spurs vs Thunder Betting Prediction SPURS at THUNDER  FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS  February 23, 2020 Live Line - YouTube San Antonio Spurs vs Oklahoma City Thunder 02/11/20 Free NBA Picks, Predictions, Betting Odds & Tips Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs Free Picks and Predictions 11/7/19

Spurs vs Thunder Predictions, Picks, Betting Tips 2/11/2020. by Parlays Pundit - 2/10/2020. The line on this game has Oklahoma City as 6.5 point favorites. The over/under is set at 221. The San Antonio Spurs (22-31) visit the Chesapeake Energy Arena to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder (32-21) Tuesday.Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. E.T. We analyze the Spurs-Thunder sports betting odds and lines, with NBA betting advice and tips around the matchup. San Antonio Spurs (24-31 SU, 24-30-1 ATS) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (34-22 SU, 37-19 ATS). OKC . Sunday, February 23 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City Oklahoma. Find the best moneyline odds, spread, and total; also get odds history, betting percentages, SBD's predicted score, team betting trends, and stat comparisons. The over/under is 231 points and the Spurs are -190 on the moneyline after opening at -160. Against the spread, OKC is 33-13-15 and San Antonio is 33-19-11. Odds & Line Movement Links: San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, Vegas Odds (All NBA Games Today) Bet on Matchup. If you’re in Pennsylvania, you can bet on this matchup. Spurs vs. Thunder odds, line, spread: 2020 NBA picks, Feb. 23 predictions from advanced computer model The SportsLine projection model has a pick for the clash between the Spurs and Thunder.

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NBA Picks Tonight Spurs vs Thunder Betting Prediction

San Antonio Spurs vs Oklahoma City Thunder NBA Predictions, Picks, and Odds for their showdown on February 11, 2020 from Oklahoma City. Sports betting expert Vernon Croy gives his NBA picks and ... The Spurs lead the conference by a half game over the Thunder, but the Thunder has beaten the Spurs in both games the teams have played this season head-to-head. The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 131-103. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander recorded 22 PTS and 13 REB for the Thunder, while Chris Paul added 12 PTS, 9 REB, and 10 AST. Rudy Gay ... Celtics vs 76ers + Rockets vs Thunder In-Game Betting Picks & Odds Analysis Live Line ... Eagles vs. Giants & Redskins vs. Cowboys In-Game Betting Live Line ... Spurs vs Mavericks Live In-Game ... Bet On It - College Football Picks and Predictions, Line Moves, Barking Dogs and Best Bets (Week 11) - Duration: 50:09. WagerTalk TV: Sports Betting Picks and Tips 4,830 views New