Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Optimistic View of Tyreke Evans

Four years ago, Tyreke Evans had a pretty darn good rookie season; one in which he averaged over 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists (something done by only Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, and LeBron James).  Four years later, people are scoffing at the idea of him making $11 million per year and Kings fans seem to be perfectly fine that he left.  How'd we get here?  The "answer" is that his rookie year was his best year and that his numbers have declined every season.  But are they really as bad as everyone seems to think?

In three of his four seasons, Tyreke has averaged at least 16 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists.  How many players have averaged those numbers at least three different seasons?  44.  And of those 44, how many have been an All-Star?  41 (which includes 18 Hall-of-Famers and 6 guaranteed future HOFers).  That's a pretty impressive group to be a part of.  Not to mention the fact that Tyreke has done it in only his first four seasons.  Only 15 others accomplished the same thing in their first four years, with only one never becoming an All-Star (Ron Harper).

Of course, one of those years is Tyreke's rookie year.  If you want to assume his rookie year was an aberration, then let's pretend that he only has two years that qualify and expand the requirement from players who accomplished that for three seasons to players who accomplished it for a minimum of two.  That list would grow to 67 players.  Of those 23 additional players, only 6 were never an All-Star (which includes one that may become one - John Wall).  Exclude Evans and Wall (since they still may become All-Stars) and you have 65 players with those stats.  58 of them made an All-Star team (89%).  (It should also be noted that there have been 64 ROY award winners and, excluding Evans and Lillard, only 8 have never gone on to appear in an All-Star game.)

In other words, his statistical performance would seem to indicate that the odds are in his favor that he'll be an All-Star at some point in the future.  Now you may think that Tyreke is just a "good stats, bad team" guy.  That's certainly possible.  But it's also true that his bad team would be just as likely to negatively influence him than it would be to positively affect his stats.  The guy played for a completely dysfunctional organization that employed terrible coaching.  The guy has put up decent numbers, in spite of the poor roster construction, terrible coaching, position changes, and injuries.  Oh, and the guy is still only 23 years old.  Put him on a team that's not dysfunctional, with a coach who understands the value of a rotation, and it's not hard to envision him fulfilling his potential.

This isn't to say that Tyreke is "guaranteed" to be an All-Star or that his contract is completely reasonable.  Because even though he is only 23 years old, that also means that his contract will end while he's still in his prime (so if he does live up to his yearly salary, it may not be until the third or fourth year of the contract).  All I'm saying is that while New Orleans probably overpaid (by a least a little), don't be surprised if the move doesn't backfire.  Don't be surprised if Kings fans eventually regret losing him.  And don't be surprised if, at some point in the future, you see Tyreke Evans with "East" or "West" on his chest.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Hook: Silva out from one. Dana off of one.

The greatest title reign in UFC history has come to an end.  The frustrating part is that it's basically a footnote, because of the way it transpired.  Instead of being able to appreciate the run Silva put together, everyone's talking about the way it ended (and rightfully so, unfortunately).  There seems to be two camps of people: people who think Silva got caught, by being cocky, and people who think he wasn't that interested in winning the fight.  The truth is, no one really knows which one it was.  Me?  I'm in-between.  Originally, I thought it was the former.  After seeing Silva's post-fight interview, I started thinking it was the latter.  But after letting things settle a bit, I think that it may have been a little of both (if I had to guess).

Maybe he was a little tired or stressed and lacking proper motivation.  Maybe he was trying to win and did just make a mistake, and the things he expressed afterward were subconscious feelings that he was just realizing.  The reason I think it may be a little of both is because of his behavior.  He's no stranger to using provocation, but he did so more than usual in this fight.  He wasn't just dropping his hands, something he's done many times before, but he would also act like he was wobbly.  That behavior was even more egregious than what he did against Demian Maia.  And there's no way that he thought Chris Weidman's striking deserved the same lack of respect that he gave Maia's (and then some).

Regardless of whether or not his behavior during the fight was born of cockiness or some level of disinterest, it took away from Weidman's victory.  That wasn't a fight that proved Weidman was better.  It proved that Silva shouldn't behave that way ever again.  If they do a rematch, I hope it's because Silva wants to have one and not because Dana convinces him to do one ($).  Because if this fight happens again, Weidman needs to fight a clearly motivated Silva.  That way if he wins, we can all give him the proper respect he would indisputably deserve.  But unless that happens, it will be hard to take this victory without a grain of salt.  No one knows what was in Silva's head, but we may get some indication in the near future.  If he doesn't demand a rematch, doesn't that prove that he wasn't 100% dedicated to keeping the title?

Whatever happens next needs to be Silva's choosing.  If he fights Weidman again, it needs to be because he really wants the belt back.  If he wants a new challenge other than Middleweight?  Well then it sucks for Weidman that he wouldn't get to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he's better than Silva.  But at least if Silva were to vacate the division, we could actually be headed down a path that ends with him facing Jon Jones.  So something good should come of this.  We'll either get a Silva-Weidman rematch that puts all doubt to rest, or we could be starting down the path to an amazing Light Heavyweight title fight.  A fight that I would still be very interested in seeing, because - as crazy as it was against Weidman - would he really try that "gameplan" with Jones?  If there was ever going to be one non-Heavyweight in the world that Anderson Silva wouldn't drop his hands against, it would be Jon Jones.  It's the one fight that would (or at least should) guarantee a completely motivated Silva.  And now that he doesn't hold the title, he's technically free to move up.  So maybe Silva losing didn't end the prospect of a Jones fight.  Maybe it made it more likely.  Because, like I wrote on Saturday, I don't think a super fight would've ever happened (Silva-GSP or Silva-Jones).

If it was going to, it would've been done by now.  Back in the summer of 2009, right after Silva destroyed Forrest Griffin, I wanted to see a Silva-GSP super fight.  Obviously it never came together.  And why not?  Was it because their schedule's weren't lined up?  Nope.  They fought two weeks apart.  Was it because they both had deserving contenders waiting in the wings?  Not really.  GSP's next fight was against Dan Hardy and Silva's was against Demian Maia.  Does anyone really believe that the UFC would let Hardy and Maia stand in the way of what could have been one of the biggest fights of all-time, had they really wanted to make that fight happen? 

Even if the UFC believed Hardy and Maia were deserving contenders, it's not like they haven't bypassed deserving contenders - in order to set up big-money fights - before.  For example, Nick Diaz (coming off a loss) getting a title shot over Johny Hendricks.  Chael Sonnen was a Middleweight coming off a loss.  He got a title shot, because there were no better options, right?  Like say, Anderson Silva?  It's a super fight that Dana White supposedly wanted to happen.  So why didn't it happen?  That's right, Silva was taking time off and Jones had to film TUF with, and then fight, Sonnen.  The fight that Dana claims he wanted to happen didn't happen because Silva was taking time off and Jones was fighting Sonnen?  Yep.  Dana totally wanted this fight to happen.  And it was going to happen.  Unless of course vacation and an undeserving Middleweight got in the way.  But other than that, this fight was totally going to happen.

While it sucks to see the greatest title reign in UFC history come to an end, at least Dana White no longer has to pretend to want to set up super fights.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pipe Dream Fight

Months ago, I wrote about what I thought was the biggest dream fight the UFC could make: Anderson Silva versus Jon Jones.  Well, what was once a dream may soon be a reality.  According to Dana White, if Silva gets past Chris Weidman tonight, we could see him fight Jones.  There's only one problem; I think it's bs.  I don't think Dana has any true intention of setting up this fight.  Why?  Because I think setting up the fight could have negative repercussions that the UFC doesn't want to deal with.  For starters, I think it's possible that the fight would be too hyped.  I believe Silva-Jones is the biggest fight that the UFC could put on.  The problem becomes where do you go from there?  After Jones fights Silva, it's possible that it would be difficult to drum up interest in future Jones fights (at least the ones immediately following it).  Let's say Jones beat Silva, how then is the UFC supposed to successfully market Jones versus, say, Glover Teixeira or a rematch with Machida?  The problem with a super fight is that it makes everything else seem less special by comparison.  Maybe the UFC thinks that would be the case.

Even more so, I think the problem they don't want to deal with is that either Silva or Jones would have to lose.  If Silva were to lose, they'd now be faced with having a champion coming off a loss; and no longer being able to tout Silva being undefeated in the octagon.  If Jones were to lose, his drawing power would take a small hit.  And if it was for the title, does that mean Silva would hold two titles?  Or would he vacate the Middleweight title?  Right now the UFC has two dominant champions that they can market.  That goes away with a super fight.

This isn't to say that I think the fight shouldn't happen.  It's just the reasons I think the UFC doesn't want it to happen.  Just to be sure, I really hope Silva wins tonight.  Because if he loses, the UFC obviously has an out for not pairing him with Jones.  But if he wins, I'll be interested to see what "reason" Dana comes up with for why the fight won't come together.

Silva versus Jones may be the obvious dream fight.  Unfortunately, I think it's just a pipe dream.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On they Contrary: Hernandez case not an example for rookies

I haven't felt the need to write about the Aaron Hernandez situation, because I didn't think there was anything worth saying.  At least nothing that probably hasn't been said on talk radio, or written by columnists, that will be regurgitated ad nauseum.  That was until I came across Alex Marvez's piece "Hernandez an example for rookies."  Here's how he starts it:

"The NFL Rookie Symposium features guest speakers who try to help young players avoid the pitfalls that derailed their own pro careers.

This year the most powerful message was delivered from almost 700 miles away.

Aaron Hernandez attended the same symposium in 2010 after being drafted by the New England Patriots. Clearly, he didn’t take what was preached to heart."

That's absurd.  Hernandez is accused of first-degree murder.  This isn't a case of wrong place, wrong time.  It's not like he was hanging out at a club with a bad group of friends and things escalated, and now he's accused of assault or something.  He's accused of driving someone to an industrial park to kill him; which may or may not be associated to previous murders he possibly committed.  Does Alex Marvez really think a four-day symposium is the difference between upstanding citizen and murderer?

Apparently so, because he had this to say near the end:

"The NFL knows the symposium itself isn’t a cure-all for the off-field problems that some players can find themselves in. But if it can prevent another situation like the one Hernandez finds himself in, staging the event is well worth it for an image-conscious league."

It can't cure all of the off-field problems, but it can prevent murder?  How can something be impactful enough to prevent first-degree murder, but not enough to prevent less serious issues?

I'm sorry, but I don't agree with the notion that what Aaron Hernandez is accused of doing could have been prevented by him listening at a symposium.  I'm not going to pretend to know what events transpired that could lead to Hernandez (possibly) committing first-degree murder, but I'm guessing they were more serious, and would require more intervention, than a NFL rookie symposium could provide.

I don't know what makes less sense, that he thinks a symposium could've prevented Aaron Hernandez's situation or that he thinks a similar situation will need to be prevented in the future.