Also, I've abandoned the Top 50 NBA list, mostly because I was sure nobody except me was going to read it. There were no Pistons in the top 50 (none in the top 100 actually) and a long list of good players who have missed most of the season due to injury. The crammed schedule is really proving to be a mistake; too many injuries, too much sloppy play, too much fatigue.
It's a shame that the NBA is freefalling in popularity, because it hasn't been this good in 15 years. There are at least 6 likeable, young superstars - Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love - and those players alone make the NBA a better product than it was in the treacherous Iverson/McGrady days, when the thug reputation was well-deserved. But nowadays, it's chic to wear nerdy glasses and an expensive suit. The only thing Durant has in common with Iverson is scoring production.
Of course, I didn't even mention the league's three most popular players - LeBron, Kobe, and Jeremy Lin - or the winning-obsessed veterans like Duncan, Nash, Nowitzki and Garnett ... or the charming up-and-comers like John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio, Russell Westbrook... or the fringe-superstar group of Carmelo, Amare, Rondo, Pierce, Wade, Bosh, Gasol, Deron Williams.
Sure, there are a few bad apples in the bunch, but most of the me-first thugs who nearly ruined the NBA (fools like Stephon Marbury) are long gone. LeBron may be an incredibly selfish person, but he's an unselfish player. The NBA is in a better place than it's been since MJ retired, and hopefully it will stay that way.
All that being said, the current trend of superstars joining forces is really, really, REALLY lame, and makes me not want to watch a minute of the playoffs. When Dwight Howard and Deron Williams join together next year (on either the Mavs, Lakers or Nets), it's gonna be super uncool. The Miami Heat Effect is probably my second least favorite thing in sports right now, behind the BCS.
Speaking of college football, we're less than two months from the Draft and that means I'm gearing up for my annual mock draft. Last year I whiffed almost as badly as the Lions did with the Nick Fairley pick.
Seriously, I'm not a Fairley hater, I think he'll make a solid starter when we lose Corey Williams, but there were four guys that would have been far better picks: Mike Pouncey, Anthony Castonzo, Gabe Carimi, Prince Amukamara. All of those guys made more sense for Detroit, and all of those guys will have much better careers than Fairley. Pouncey might be the 2nd best center in football.
The top overall pick in this draft is locked in, and anybody who thinks the Colts are considering RG3 is crazy. Andrew Luck will be a Colt just as certainly as Peyton Manning won't be.
The 2nd pick is totally up for grabs: the Rams have announced their intentions to trade it, and whoever offers the most will attain Robert Griffin III. The top bidders are Miami, Cleveland and Washington, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone else slips their name in sneakily. Presumably, Cleveland has the most to offer (two 1st round picks), but with as many holes as they have on their roster, it might be wise to keep their picks and keep rebuilding around McCoy. Washington also has a myriad of needs, though Mike Shanahan wouldn't agree; Miami has the best roster of teams believed to be interested in Griffin, and thus might be willing to offer the most for the #2 pick. At least that's my presumption.
A huge factor might be Peyton Manning's whereabouts. If he signs with a team prior to the draft, it'll obviously take them out of the running. His most rumored destinations are Miami and Washington, with a dash of the Cardinals, Jets and Titans, and I wouldn't count out anybody else who isn't completely happy with their quarterback.
But my best guess is that Manning won't be healthy enough to get any guaranteed money from anybody in the next two months, and if I had to bet on it, I'd say his career is over. Who knows. It probably won't factor into the Draft, but it could.
After Luck and Griffin go off the board, the Vikings get the first pick among non-quarterbacks. The decision should be an easy one (Matt Kalil, LT), but I'm holding out hope that they stupidly pick WR Justin Blackmon or CB Morris Claiborne. Then at pick #4 is Cleveland (or St. Louis if they trade). This will probably be Blackmon either way.
The #5 pick is very enigmatic right now. Tampa and new head coach Greg Schiano (the unknown guy from Rutgers) have needs all over the field. Claiborne probably makes the most sense if he's available, but I wouldn't be shocked to see Schiano make a bold move and take RB Trent Richardson or even an offensive lineman, possibly Jonathan Martin or Riley Reiff.
At #6 is Washington, assuming they don't trade up to #2. Given Shanahan's stupidity, this pick is likely to be a disaster. Common sense would say to pick Blackmon or Claiborne if they are available, or Reiff/Martin if not. But something tells me Shanahan will try to be real sly and will take Shit McGritt who was supposed to go in the 3rd round. Who knows. Maybe Kirk Cousins.
I'll continue the rest of the mock draft at a later date ... it's really hard to figure out the Lions at pick #23. It's foreign territory picking so late. With LeShoure and Fairley coming back healthy, the Lions feel like they've already got 2 first round picks under contract, which is awesome. This pick should be a CB or offensive lineman, but we all know how logical Jim Schwartz is with draft picks. He'll probably continue his love affair with pass-rushers and take an OLB or DE, which isn't completely stupid considering how lousy VandenBosch was by the end of the year. But there are bigger needs. And there's no depth in the secondary or on the O-line. There's tons of depth at DE and LB.
We'll have to see what happens with Cliff Avril and Stephen Tulloch though. If one or both of them are gone, that changes things. My guess is still that we lose Avril but keep Tulloch. That's what I'm hoping for.
Go Ron Paul!