Dillon Brooks Is The NBA’s Lamest Villain

Dillon Brooks

We need to talk about Dillon “The Villain” Brooks.

The NBA has always been more fun when there are heels involved. Some heels are specific to just one city. For example, ask any Sacramento Kings fan how they feel about Big Shot Bob.

While some legendary NBA villains are heels toward every single team in the NBA. Sometimes, even their own team.

Just ask Jordan Poole about his teammate, Draymond Green.

There are rules to being an NBA villain. It’s not just about being hate-able. If it was, I might consider my fellow Oregon Duck, Dillon Brooks, a legitimate league outlaw.

But in order to be considered a league-wide heel, you have to be someone who puts butts in the seats for the sole purpose of being your hater. Say what you want about Patrick Beverly, but there are about 5 cities in America where a season ticket holder is making sure they hold on to their Chicago Bulls ticket just so they can shout Russell Westbrook’s now famous “Pat Bev tricked y’all” line at the more-often-than-not despised defensive specialist. 

Nobody is going to a Grizzlies game to see Dillon Brooks

If you want to be a legitimate NBA villain, you need to be good at something. Literally anything. It could be rebounding like Dennis Rodman. Or clutch three point shooting like Reggie Miller. 

What specifically is Dillon Brooks good at?

He can’t shoot. He scores in bunches sometimes, but it’s never efficient. He had the eighth-worst field goal percentage in the entire league this year among qualified players. 

He jacks up the second most threes per game on the Grizzlies, but isn’t in the top 10 on this year’s roster in three point percentage.

I’ve heard people call him a defensive specialist, but statistically he’s not top five on the Grizzlies in either steals, or blocks. And if you believe in advanced stats like Defensive Box Plus/Minus, or Victory Over Replacement, the stats say the Grizzlies are actually better when Brooks isn’t on the court.

So not only is no one paying to see Dillon Brooks, he’s not particularly special at anything.

In fact, you can make almost a million dollars betting the price of a Starbucks latte on Brooks to have a decent game tonight against the Lakers.

Maybe he can justify his villain status through the third criteria- can he hold your attention?

We know he can get attention. Anybody can be ridiculous enough to make you look. Dillon Brooks can do that by coming to the stadium dressed as Stone Cold Steve Austin, or by pushing a camera man down for no reason. Or by popping a second player this season in the groin. But a real villain is someone whose mere presence on the court has you distracted.

Bruce Bowen hardly ever said a word, but when he was with the Spurs, you always had to keep one eye on him at all times. Watching Ron Artest get ready to check in at the scorers table would be enough to make the hair on your arms stand up. 

But Dillon Brooks? He’ll goose you, but he’s not giving anyone goosebumps. The man’s just cringeworthy. He’s like if the Scott’s Tots episode of The Office made an NBA roster.

You might be listening to this and thinking, “what’s up with the Oregon on Oregon hate?”

First of all, I don’t hate Dillon Brooks. That’s actually the point of this rant- that Dillon Brooks isn’t even good at trying to get people to hate him. 

And second, Dillon Brooks was the 2017 Pac-12 Player of the Year. He had one of the greatest flops in basketball history. I wanted big things for Dillon Brooks. 

But he can’t shoot even though he never stops shooting. He doesn’t rebound. He doesn’t pass. He can’t defend. And he keeps aggressively touching men where no man needs to be aggressively touched… at least not during a basketball game. 

None of that is fun of good or even compelling. 

And now, all eyes are on Dillon Brooks because he decided that he wanted to measure his worth against LeBron James. Saying publicly that he doesn’t respect LeBron because LeBron has never dropped 40 on him

Well, Dillon Brooks has never dropped 40 on anyone. And maybe that’s why it seems like he doesn’t respect himself enough to play the game the right way, and instead has decided to cosplay as an NBA villain. 

You’re not the bad guy. You’re just bad.

Let that sink in.

No, Giannis Antetokounmpo Didn’t “Fail” This Season… But Mike Budenholzer Did.

Giannis Pro Sports postponement protests

We need to talk about Mr. Nice Guy, Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Last night, the Milwaukee Bucks became the first 1-seed to lose to a play-in team. 

It wasn’t Giannis’ fault. He was hurt. He still gave it his all. He always does. 

And blaming Giannis isn’t fair, and takes away from the place all the credit should go- to Jimmy Butler for dragging the Miami Heat to the second round without Tyler Herro. 

Sometimes a player elevates and gives you a David vs Goliath moment. Baron Davis did it to Dirk Nowitzki. For my oldheads, Dikembe Mutombo did it to Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp.

It happens. 

But what happens next is on Giannis.

Let me explain. 

Last night, a reporter named Eric Nehm from The Athletic asked Giannis if losing in the first round made this season a failure. Giannis seemed to get upset at the question, and explained that a career is a process- that you can build on a season and learn from it, even if the season is over. 

He then asked Eric Nehm if failing to get a promotion in a calendar year would be considered a failure for him, and asked if the nine years that Michael Jordan finished without a championship were all considered failures. 

I’ve seen literally thousands of people praising Giannis for this perspective, and I’m not going to say that Giannis is wrong. It is an interesting perspective worthy of consideration. 

But I want to make a few points.

First, in sports you compete for championships in a self-contained season. In paper pushing jobs you compete to not get fired. I appreciate the metaphor, but there’s not really anywhere for Eric Nehm to go besides maybe becoming a national columnist. And that could happen five years from now, or 20 years from now. Getting Giannis to react in a viral manner is like a reporter winning a title. You might as well have dropped the confetti on press row the moment Giannis got emotional.

Second, this could be about what failure means to Giannis as a person. Giannis used to sell handbags and sunglasses alongside his brother Thanasis on the streets of Greece to help his undocumented Nigerian parents make ends meet… and now he’s on an NBA team with Thanasis and making almost $50 million dollars a year. When you’ve got a story like that, it’s hard to imagine anything feeling like failure. The Bucks could have gone 0-82 this year, and as long as Giannis knew the sun was going to come up tomorrow, you’d have a hard time convincing him that he “failed.” 

But third, and most importantly, since Giannis brought Michael Jordan’s name into this… there’s a very good chance that Michael Jordan considers all nine of the seasons he didn’t win a championship a failure. 

And while I don’t expect Giannis to start doing things like punching Pat Cannaughton in the face at practice, or calling general manager Jon Horst a fatso, it wouldn’t hurt Giannis’ chances to do the one thing every kid with sneakers and a ball in the 90’s wanted to do-

Be “Like Mike.”

Michael Jordan put an insane amount of pressure on his own shoulders to be the best, and used that to justify putting pressure on the people around him. 

Giannis is a bully on the court. He’s both new school and old school. He’s got shades of Hakeem and David Robinson to his game, but is also uniquely suited to the modern style of play. 

If anyone in the NBA has earned the right to flex their own vision for what the Milwaukee Bucks should be, it’s Giannis. 

And maybe Giannis has a multi-season vision that isn’t contained by arbitrary starting and stopping points- but his front office sure doesn’t. That’s why they shipped five draft picks to Brooklyn for a malcontented Jae Crowder to function as their missing piece, only to have Mike Budenholzer switch up the rotations for the playoffs and stop playing Crowder altogether while Jimmy Butler shot SIXTY percent from the field. 

Maybe it’s OK for Giannis to still be learning lessons from his losses at age 28, but Mike Budenholzer is beyond his “losses are lessons” phase.

When there’s half a second left in a tie game, and you’re facing elimination, and you elect to not use one of your TWO TIMEOUTS?

Mike Budenholzer isn’t just failing, he’s tanking.

I hate to keep saying this, but even if Giannis is right about this year not being a failure, if nothing changes moving forward, what are we supposed to call the Greek Freak’s wasted potential?

Giannis needs to run over Budenholzer like he runs over defenders. 

And if the Bucks can get a coach in place that does what’s right in the right moments, then maybe this year isn’t really a failure after all.

Let that sink in.

George Wrighster’s Top 10 QBs Ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft

bryce young

Most years, at least 10 quarterbacks are selected in the NFL Draft. Last year was an exception, with nine QBs picked, and one of them (Brock Purdy) being the final selection in the draft. This year is all about upside, and there are 10 signal callers I believe have earned the right to have their names called this weekend. Here are my top 10 QBS ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft:

1) Bryce Young (Alabama)

This one is obvious, and I’ve written and talked about him plenty. Even though there was a moment where the Carolina Panthers seemed to be infatuated with C.J. Stroud, and were inexplicably rumored to be taking Will Levis, I believe the Panthers will make the right choice and go with Young first overall.

Young has a slight build, and I’m not usually a fan of that, but he understands his body, and keeps himself out of danger, and from taking unnecessary punishment. Bryce has been dominant at every level, and has a level of touch on his passes that sets him apart from the field. Plus, he’s as smart as they come.

2) CJ Stroud (Ohio State)

If it wasn’t for the leaked test result and the weird issue that Brady Quinn brought up about CJ Stroud not attending a Manning passing camp, CJ Stroud would be the closest thing to a sure bet as they come. He doesn’t have the size concerns that scouts have expressed about Bryce Young. The arm strength is there. He has the elite pedigree. He lived up to expectations at Ohio State. His performance against Georgia is something no one else on this list was able to accomplish.

And while he’s not a runner, he did use his legs to break the Buckeyes out of a funk against Northwestern this year. You have to respect someone who does what it takes to win.

The only criticism he’s consistently received (even from me) is that he was surrounded by the most receiving talent- but last time I checked, receivers don’t throw themselves the ball.

If Houston doesn’t grab Stroud at 2, you have to think someone is going to trade with the Cardinals to make him the third overall pick.

3) Anthony Richardson (Florida)

I wasn’t just wrong about Josh Allen. I was aggressively wrong. Because of Josh Allen’s success, we need to pay attention to the players that may not have produced at the highest level collegiately, but still possess every tool in the toolbox.

Anthony Richardson has the biggest arm, and the most dangerous scrambling ability. But can he manage an offense, read blitzes, handle checkdowns, and bring a team back from a deficit? All of that remains to be seen.

I’ve seen some Vince Young comparisons here, and while Young didn’t live up to being the 3rd overall pick in 2006, he did win 31 of his 50 NFL starts. To consider Richardson a success in the NFL, I’d set Young’s career statistics as his floor.

4) Hendon Hooker (Tennessee)

Injury concerns, age, and a good offensive system are all easy enough reasons to dismiss Hendon Hooker as a sure thing at the NFL level, but I simply don’t believe that some of these concerns have merit.

Hendon Hooker will never be asked to do at the NFL level what he was asked to do at Tennessee. He’s a talented pocket passer, and there’s no reason to have an NFL QB executing a dozen designed runs every single game. Plus, he got up from one of the biggest hits all year against LSU. The ACL was a fluke.

Also, 25 years old isn’t ancient. We’re not in Brandon Weeden territory here. If he proves his worth as an NFL starter, you’re talking about a contract extension while he’s still in his 20’s, in an age where QBs are playing at a high level well into their 30’s.

And even though Hooker wasn’t torching defenses at Virginia Tech the way he did at Tennessee, his yards per attempt stayed consistent throughout his college career.

Hooker has every intangible you could want, and as long as you’re not drafting him to be a franchise savior on day 1, he could have a respectable NFL career.

5) Will Levis (Kentucky)

Will Levis is the one that has me scratching my head a little bit. The hype coming out of his junior year was deserved- but when the spotlights that he helped turn onto himself and the Kentucky program with both his play (and his off-the-field persona) got bright, he was just average.

I look at a guy like Daniel Jones in the NFL who has plenty of talent, and produced some gritty wins, but hasn’t had those big-number explosive games, and it makes me think there could be an NFL future for Levis as a starter.

But it’s all going to depend on the situation he finds himself in.

6) Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA)

Dorian Thompson-Robinson is lightning in a bottle in multiple ways. He can dazzle you and spark the offense… or he can electrocute you to death.

DTR’s five years as a starter at UCLA showed continuous progress, plenty of highlights, and a tendency to shine when the lights were brightest.

It also saw him have moments of immaturity on and off the field.

DTR has first round talent. I wouldn’t be surprised if the right team or coach turns him into a ten year starter. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he turned the ball over seven times in a spot start. The ceiling and the floor could not be farther apart for a college prospect, but I’m rooting for him.

7) Jake Haener (Fresno State)

Jake Haener is gutsy, a good leader, and might be the surprise franchise QB of the 2023 NFL Draft.

I felt like his stock was higher after his junior year, but he still put together an impressive senior campaign and protected the ball incredibly well.

The biggest issue for NFL teams is that Haener is completely one-dimensional. If you don’t protect him, he isn’t going to pick up any unscheduled gains with his feet.

I’m just glad to have Jake Haener out of college football so he can’t terrorize any more Pac-12 teams in non-conference games.

8) Clayton Tune (Houston)

Yes, Clayton Tune played five seasons at Houston. No, Clayton Tune is not Case Keenum. But… they could have similar NFL careers. Clayton Tune is the perfect spot starting backup for a good team. He won’t cost you games, and he’s talented enough to make enough plays to keep a team afloat.

9) Jaren Hall (Brigham Young)

Jaren Hall’s draft stock not being as high as it should be is probably partially due to Zach Wilson coming out of BYU and not living up to his draft slot. Hall has wide receiver athletic ability, in a wide receiver body, but he throws on the run in a way that makes him worthy of avoiding any of that “would you consider switching positions” speculation that befalls many athletic black quarterbacks.

10) Tanner McKee (Stanford)

I never liked Tanner McKee as a college QB. He has the size, and throws a gorgeous ball, but he just wasn’t what Stanford needed to be competitive. At least at the NFL level he won’t be forced to run a slow mesh that has him getting blown up by opposing defensive line.

I’d put his ceiling, ironically, at the level of the QB he used to back up- Davis Mills. He’s certainly worth spending a late round pick on.

Deion Sanders Is Making An Extremely Risky Bet On the Transfer Portal To Make Colorado A Winner

Deion Colorado

We need to talk about Deion Sanders.

42,277 people attended Colorado’s Spring Game last weekend, and that’s about the same number of players that have asked to transfer or been cut in the last week. 

I hope Deion Sanders knows what he’s doing. Because I’m going to be honest- as a Pac-12 fan. As someone who has a podcast covering the Pac-12. As someone who played at a current Pac-12 school… I don’t know what he’s doing. 

Maybe I’m shortsighted. Maybe I don’t see the vision. 

But my lifelong understanding of the game of football has led me to believe that in order to play football, you need football players. 

As of this moment, with over 50 scholarship players hitting the exit since Deion’s arrival, they don’t have the ability to field a competitive team next year. 

Yes, I know players will transfer in. But Deion and Colorado aren’t going to be the only ones chasing available prospects. 

Deion Sanders told Pat MacAfee that one of the reasons he cut so many players was because in order to make room for new furniture, you have to get rid of old furniture. 

While I’m sure the players he got rid of will like being described as old furniture as much as they’ve enjoyed not being given access to their 2022 practice film in order to help themselves land a new spot, I understand his metaphor. 

But the difference between furniture shopping to fill a new house- something I’m literally in the middle of doing, and hunting the right prospects that have a higher pedigree and more potential to help you win, is that you don’t bid on a one-of-a-kind dining room table against 50 other shoppers.

Deion seems to be assuming that his cult of personality is going to lead him to be the primary option for the country’s elite displaced blue chip prospects. And maybe he’s right. Betting on himself is what got him in this position in the first place. 

But you don’t churn three-fourths of a roster unless you plan on winning now, and in the Pac-12, you just don’t win without depth. Is he really going to be able to re-stock, establish chemistry, and develop talent in time to be able to go head to head with Lincoln Riley and Dan Lanning?

And speaking of other Pac-12 coaches; you have master developers out here like Jonathan Smith at Oregon State, and Kyle Whittingham at Utah. They’ll take a JuCo DB or a two star skinny lineman from Texas and turn them into NFL draft picks. They are teachers, which up until recently, seemed to be one of the primary functions of coaching. 

What does it say about your own faith in your ability to develop if you spend a few weeks around someone and tell them they’re better off anywhere but in your presence?

Deion’s son, Deion Sanders Jr., responded to that exact criticism on Twitter, saying the game has changed because as a coach you only have 2-3 years to make a team competitive or you’ll be fired, so coaches are motivated to instead seek out ready-made ballers.

But this assumes the portal is full of exactly that. And it isn’t. Outside of a few select prospects testing a still-turbulent NIL market, it’s almost all leftover musical chairs. The only way to get ready-made ballers is to have the resources to entice them. Does Colorado have that cash? More than USC? More than Oregon? 

And even if you have the resources, you need to be careful the way you backdoor some of these transfers. You get a kid in trouble because you had a handler put a feeler out there to see if a backup SEC DB might be interested in a move to Boulder, is that kid, his family, or the handler going to fall on the grenade if the NCAA comes knocking?

Deion Sanders told a 247 Sports reporter who inquired about the cuts that he knows what he’s doing, and “it isn’t his first rodeo.” Where I’d push back on that is that it’s EVERYBODY’S FIRST RODEO. 

This is a brave new world of college football, and almost nobody knows what they’re doing. 

But sometimes, when the boundaries are undefined, it’s better to move fast, break things, and ask for forgiveness instead of permission. I hope for Colorado’s sake that this is one of those times. 

Let that sink in.

Even LeBron James’ Biggest Haters Should Be Rooting For Him In His Battle With Father Time

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers

We need to talk about what LeBron James is doing right now.

Because it won’t be long before we’re only talking about him in the past tense. 

LeBron James had 20 rebounds last night in the Lakers overtime victory over the 2-seed Memphis Grizzlies. In doing so, he became the oldest player in NBA history to have a 20-point, 20-rebound playoff game

Last time that happened, Wilt Chamberlain was on the court and Richard Nixon was president. 

We’re talking about the definition of a generational accomplishment. 

Of course the series isn’t over, but as the 2023 playoffs press on, LeBron is creeping up on Kareem Abdul Jabbar for 5th all-time in playoff rebounds, and once he passes Kareem, he’ll be top five in almost every playoff category in existence. 

He’s currently third all-time in three pointers made. Second in assists. Second in triple-doubles. First, by far, in steals. First in total wins. And he’s so far out in front in total points scored that the record may never be broken.

And at 38 years old, in his 20th NBA season, he’s averaging 24, 13 and 5. What are we supposed to even compare that to?

Only nine other players in NBA history ever made it to season 20. Only five of those ever played in the playoffs at or after age 38. The only player on that list that wasn’t in serious decline by 38-years old was Kareem, but even so, the Lakers had resorted to having Magic Johnson and Maurice Lucas crash the glass so that Kareem could focus his energy on the offensive end. 

I don’t care if you don’t like LeBron James. If you don’t like him now, for whatever reason, I’m not going to be the one to convince you after two decades that you’re wrong. 

But if you can’t appreciate what he’s doing right now, you *are* wrong. 

Even if you love LeBron, maybe you’ve come to take for granted the idea that he’s always just going to be around. He’s not! Don’t take it for granted. Everything ends. 

LeBron James is stealing time right now. He’s defying the laws of nature. The same laws that had the great Kobe Bryant playing in his last playoff series at 33. The same laws that saw Charles Barkley and Larry Bird win a combined 3 playoff series after age 31. 

Even Michael Jordan, after three years off, felt the effects of father time by age 38. He had 8 double doubles in 53 starts in his first year with the Wizards. 

LeBron started 54 regular season games at age 38, had 18 double doubles, and is averaging a double double in the playoffs. 

Do you mean to tell me that you hate LeBron James so much that you’ve resorted to rooting for the undefeated villain of all villains- father time, while he stands alone as the only basketball great to still be here after two decades, whooping father time’s ass?

Couldn’t be me. Has never been me. Will never be me. 

The window to enjoy something we’ve never seen, and may never see again, is rapidly closing. But it’s not closed yet. So enjoy the breeze while you still can. 

Let that sink in. 

The NBA Playoffs and Regular Season Are A Completely Different Sport- Can Your Team Handle That?

Giannis Pro Sports postponement protests

We need to talk about the brand new sports season that just tipped off this week.

I’m talking about the NBA Playoffs. 

Now you might be thinking to yourself, George, the NBA Playoffs aren’t a new sports season. Basketball has been going on since October. 

Not this kind of basketball. 

Now more than ever, the NBA’s regular season, and the NBA Playoffs are two completely different sports. 

Do you think Tyler Herro is diving for loose balls in the regular season? Hell no. And now he’s not diving for anything because he broke his damn hand.

Do you think Anthony Davis is putting his glass bones and spaghetti ligaments in harm’s way to take a charge from Ja Morant in the regular season? Absolutely not. And as a Lakers fan I’d appreciate it if he didn’t do that again. 

Ja Morant is lucky to only have a soft tissue bruise.

Do you think that Devin Booker and and Kawhi Leonard are rolling around on the floor trying to pick each other’s pockets in the third quarter of a game in November?

The playoffs are a different beast, but because of that, you have teams struggling to adjust to the differences in lineups, effort, physicality, and especially the way the games are officiated. 

I hate to always be the one bagging on James Harden, but he scored eight points in game 2 of the Sixers first round matchup with the Nets. EIGHT. And the reason is because he isn’t able to depend on the ticky tack fouls he draws in the regular season. 

Get this- James Harden has gone three consecutive playoff games without even attempting a free throw. James Harden is tied for twelfth IN THE HISTORY OF THE NBA in free throws attempted per game, and he hasn’t shot a free throw in his last three playoff games.

And it’s not just James Harden that is affected by the officiating changes. In the 2021-2022 regular season, Giannis Antetokounmpo was called for 48 offensive fouls in 67 games. In last years playoffs he was called for 21 in just 12 games. That’s more than double his regular season per game average!

The teams that win in the playoffs are the ones that aren’t having to shift their style to fit a completely different game. It’s the reason Kobe found success after Shaq. It’s the reason the San Antonio Spurs had over a decade of sustained success. It’s the reason Dwyane Wade’s physicality in the regular season resulted in three championships and five appearances. And it’s the reason that no matter how much of a headache he can be, the Warriors have never moved on from Draymond Green. 

The only way you’re winning an NBA championship in 2023 is if you have the versatility to be a two-sport star. Regular season basketball and playoff basketball. 

Let that sink in.

Jalen Hurts and Nicole Lynn Work Together to Prove Their Worth

We need to talk about that Jalen Hurts contract.

$179.3 million guaranteed. Highest annual salary in NFL history. And a no-trade clause. 

More specifically, we need to talk about his agent, Nicole Lynn

I’ve interviewed Nicole Lynn. I was impressed when she signed Quinnen Williams because *he* saw the vision to affect change and reached out to her. I loved her book, Agent You.

One of the things I enjoy most about Nicole is that in her book, she talks about her path from poverty to Wall Street, and the sacrifices she made to realize her dreams to become a high-level NFL agent, and the honesty she expresses about feeling called into this field, being blessed with opportunity after opportunity along the way, but still having regrets about some of the sacrifices it took to get where she is today.

To have someone that has faced adversity, persevered, but is still grounded enough to understand that the way in which they persevered carries as many lessons as the adversity they faced- it makes you wonder if I’m talking about Nicole Lynn or Jalen Hurts. 

Both are young, talented, black pioneers. Both tuned out the doubters to realize their dreams. And based on the conversation I had with Jalen Hurts’ father, Averion, leading up to last year’s Super Bowl, both are fully aware that they are still a work in progress. 

I’ve talked about Jalen Hurts before, but the fact that he left Alabama with the reputation of “game manager,” then left Oklahoma as a Heisman finalist is wild enough. But when people projected him as NFL receiver, and he fell to the 53rd pick in the draft and a third stringer behind Carson Wentz and Nate Sudfeld, who would have guessed that he’d be in this position today? 

Nicole Lynn, that’s who. 

I’ve said it before, but truth bears repeating- success isn’t always a straight line, but Nicole Lynn and Jalen Hurts prove that if your internal compass is pointed in the right direction, whether there are oceans, mountains or deep valleys in your way, you’ll find your way there. 

I’m not sure I’ve ever been happier for an agent/player combination. This is like the real life version of Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire.

I talked with Nicole two years ago about one of her dreams- to be a contributing expert on television when it comes to major athletes signing big contracts. 

I hope she’s enjoying the irony of people all over the sports media landscape discussing the record-setting contract she helped negotiate. The first of many, I’m sure.

Let that sink in.

Carson Palmer is Wrong About Joe Burrow Being Better than Patrick Mahomes, But the Argument is Good for Football

We need to talk about Carson Palmer putting Joe Burrow above Patrick Mahomes.

Look, this is what happens. There’s room at the top of the mountain for one player. Anyone that wants to be at the top of the mountain is going to have to challenge that player. Anyone that wants someone else to be at the top of the mountain is going to have to challenge that player. 

Sometimes that challenge is a grift. Sometimes it’s genuine. 

I’m going to give the usually quiet Carson Palmer and his $172 million in career earnings the benefit of the doubt that he has no reason to start grifting.

I mean, he was on his brother Jordan’s podcast, and Jordan has trained Joe Burrow in the past, but we’ll let that slide.

So assuming Carson Palmer earnestly challenged the legitimacy of Patrick Mahomes as the NFL’s top dog, let’s address what he said on its merits. 

This is Carson Palmer talking about Joe Burrow:

I think Joe is the best quarterback in the league. I know Patrick [Mahomes] is phenomenal, but I just think Joe’s more consistent. He’s more consistent. He’s more accountable to run the system and the play that’s called and not feel like, “Well, he didn’t win last time and get open for me, so I’m gonna do it with my feet,” and then before you know it, you’re sacked for a four-yard loss because you tried to make two or three guys miss. Joe is just… talk about not having a weakness. Mentally strong, physically tough, accurate, can throw it far enough, fast enough, gets the ball out quick, and then he can actually do a lot with his legs.

So Carson Palmer’s point is that Joe Burrow doesn’t do what Patrick Mahomes does because Cincinnati’s system doesn’t call for it? What, Patrick Mahomes just stumbled his way to being the only QB in NFL history to average over 300 yards passing per game, and the only QB to ever average over 8 yards per Adjusted Net Completion because of a lack of accountability to the offense?

Are we saying that Patrick Mahomes’ weakness is that he’s a better freelancer than all-time great football mind Andy Reid is as a playcaller?

And what are we talking about as far as consistency? Or taking off running too much? Patrick Mahomes has averaged about one rush for every ten dropbacks for the entirety of his career. The only difference between last year, and his first full year as a starter is that he’s much better picking up yardage when he does decide to pull it and run. 

If Patrick Mahomes was a liability in the pocket how is it that he’s 6th all-time in sack percentage? 120 spots ahead of Joe Burrow. 

Joe Burrow literally led the NFL in sacks taken in 2021. He “improved” to sixth most this year. Patrick Mahomes wasn’t even in the top 20.

Look, I don’t want to disparage Joe Burrow at all. He’s everything Carson Palmer said he was, outside of one thing- better than Mahomes. But these are the type of battle scars you accrue when someone holds you up as the best and there just aren’t any metrics out there that agree.

At the same time, I love this. It was great for football when Peyton Manning was Tom Brady’s perpetual challenger for QB supremacy, but at least in that case there were a dozen metrics you could have made that case upon. 

I hope this is an argument we get to have for the next decade- but the next time we have it, there better be some merit to it. 

Let that sink in.

Mavs Tanking and Scrubs Stat Padding- Easter Was a Disaster for the NBA

We went into Easter with several playoff seedings still up for grabs, and what should have been one of the most exciting days of the NBA season turned into a slop-fest of tanking, scrubs having career games, and literal physical infighting. 

Bones Hyland tried to fight Mason Plumlee.

Rudy Gobert tried to fight Kyle Anderson. 

And Jaden McDaniels lost a fight to a wall

Not exactly great vibes for the Clippers and the Timberwolves heading into the Western Conference playoffs.

Let’s get into some of these hilarious stat lines from game 82:

• Six point-per-game scorer Payton Pritchard having a 30-point triple-double

• 20-9-9 for Mac McClung, who struggled to even stay on a roster this year

• 46 for Cam Thomas, and yes I know he’s been going off since the Nets shipped Kyrie out, but FORTY SIX?

• 24 for Udonis Haslem, who broke Kareem’s 30+ year old record for oldest player to score 20

• 21 and 19 for Dominick Barlow. Who is Dominick Barlow?

• A triple-double for Theo Pinson, whose career averages are 2-1-1.

• 42 and 14 for Kenneth Lofton Jr, whose previous career high was 11.

• You had a Triple-double for Tre Mann, who has never had double figured in anything except points.

But none of those stats were as disgusting as the Dallas Mavericks being down to the Spurs  42-14 after one quarter, just two days after the order came down from on high for Jason Kidd to bench Luka and Kyrie and tank for a lottery pick when the team still had a shot at the Western Conference play-in. 

I don’t necessarily think the Mavs did the wrong thing by quitting. They were 10-18 after the Kyrie trade and clearly don’t have the defensive skill to compete. But I also don’t think quitters deserve a lottery pick, and the Mavs are putting all their eggs in the basket of their draft pick being in the top 10 so they don’t lose it to the Knicks

They aren’t guaranteed to get Kyrie back, and he skipped his exit interview with the team ahead of free agency. This draft pick is a Hail Mary at improving the team enough to keep Luka Doncic from forcing his way out.

But let’s talk about Luka, who has been marketed as the heir apparent to LeBron James when the King finally cedes his throne.

I know it wasn’t Luka’s choice to give up, but the Mavericks are only in a position to give up because two top-10 talents, Luka and Kyrie, weren’t enough to be mediocre, much less good.

If I’m Luka, and I care about my legacy and positioning as the man who will carry the NBA- why waste any time? If the Mavericks don’t luck into a top 3 pick, just force your way out now. You know next year’s Mavs are going to be fighting for a play-in spot all over again.

Especially when next year, all the NBA’s best players are going to put more emphasis on the regular season so they meet the 65-game minumum threshold to qualify for postseason awards. The unserious teams that floated around .500 this year are going to be next year’s trampolines- getting jumped allnover by everyone that’s actually any good.

And maybe that 65-game threshold is exaclty what’s needed to make sure that days like Aprile 9th, 2023 never happen again. When guys that typically struggle to get 40 minutes played in one month are getting 40 minutes in one game.

Let that sink in

Drafting a Running Back in the First Round Might Not Be Smart, But it’s Dumb to Pass on Bijan Robinson

bijan robinson

We need to talk about Texas running back Bijan Robinson and his place in the NFL.

Bijan Robinson might be the most talented prospect in the country. 

Yes, Jalen Carter and Anthony Richardson are athletic freaks. Yes, Bryce Young can spin the ball like a young Russell Wilson. And yes, there are likely several future pro bowl defensive backs available… but how many players in the 2023 NFL Draft are going to enter the league as a probable top-15 talent at their position on day 1? 

That’s what Bijan Robinson is. One of the top talents in the world at his position on day one. One of the fastest, strongest, quickest, most agile and durable running backs in the league is right there for the taking.

In end-of-February mock drafts Daniel Jeremiah had Bijan at 19th overall. Todd McShay had him at 22. Before he came out and said he believed the Lions would select Bijan at 18, Mel Kiper had him at 26. And believe it or not, those are the optimists. NBC Sports, CBS Sports and USA Today all had mock drafts showing Bijan Robinson to the Buffalo Bills at 27, and Pro Football Network had him at pick 30!

The role of an NFL General Manager should be to find the best fit for their team that makes them as competitive as possible right away, while respecting the trends and formulas of the league’s winningest franchises. 

The trend for some time now has been to avoid taking running backs in the top end of the first round. In fact, since 2010, only seven running backs have been taken in the top 16 picks, and despite six of those seven players having Pro Bowl seasons to their name, almost every single one of them is still viewed as not having lived up to the expectations of where they were selected. 

Trent Richardson and CJ Spiller really only had one decent season to their name, so I get the criticism there.

Ezekiel Elliot is 43rd in all-time rushing yards through just seven seasons, and he’s currently without a team.

Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon combined for five Pro Bowls, but Gurley was out of the league by age 26, and while Melvin Gordon just got a Super Bowl ring as a Chiefs practice squad player, he’s likely done in the NFL by age 29.

The two elite players in this category, Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley, still have their own detractors despite all their success. Even though McCaffrey is the best pass catching back we’ve had in the league since Marshall Faulk, and Saquon has three 1,000 yard season and owns four different NFL records, people point to the injury history of both of these guys as the reason you wouldn’t want to invest a top pick in a running back.

Odds are, if you’re a top end running back, you’ll find yourself in the mix for a few Pro Bowls, and potentially be out of the league by age 30. We’ve decided there’s no value in that, but fans will happily watch their team reach for a quarterback, a position that has proved to be far more of a crapshoot over the same time period.

I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but Bijan Robinson is definitely being set up to be a victim of the same mindset that saw zero running backs picked in last year’s first round, despite the top two running backs that were picked, Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker, both flashing Pro Bowl talent. 

Maybe it’s for the best. Maybe Bijan falling to Buffalo at 27 is the thing that finally puts Josh Allen and the Bills over the top. 

That’s great for the Bills if it happens, but the difference between going 27 to Buffalo, or 9th overall, where Buffalo took CJ Spiller back in 2010, is around 8 million dollars. 

That’s a lot of coin for a position that rarely reaches a second contract, much less a third. 

Whoever gets Bijan Robinson is going to get a special player. Someone who managed to become fourth on University of Texas’ all-time rushing list despite playing in just 31 games, and averaged more yards per carry than the three guys ahead of him on that list, including the great Ricky Williams. 

Any GM that has a need at running back, and passes on Bijan Robinson for the sake of modern roster building strategy, better hope they don’t come to regret it the same way that general managers do for the 43 times they passed on Heisman winner Derrick Henry.

Let that sink in.