King of the NBA Big Men

Besides being the obvious best player, the distinction of the best NBA big man has long been a very contentious argument. From Kareem, to Wilt, to Russell, to Duncan, to Shaq, and many more, being the best NBA big man carries a certain honor that being the best defensive player or point guard just doesn’t seem to carry. With all due apologies to some amazing players, there are a clear top 4 hierarchy in the NBA right now. Although some of these men buck the trend of parking your ass in the post and being big, we have to account that the NBA is just going in a new direction. While players like Marc Gasol and  Dwight Howard are still great players, they just do not bring the tangible value of the “Big 4.” Kevin Love, Lamarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, and Demarcus Cousins.

Marc Gasol

Sorry, Marc!

I have broken down this debate into 3 categories and will explore some subsets within these. Passing, rebounding, and shooting. We will examine some of the numbers involved in these categories and decide who does what best.

Passing

Passing can be an extremely valuable skill from the low post. Just ask Kobe how much he loved having Pau Gasol’s passing skills on display during their title runs. Ask Magic how nice it was to play a two-man passing game with Kareem. It just helps when you have a big man who can pass. He doesn’t need to be a Steve Nash, but having vision helps when trying to set up shooters for the best shot possible.

Topping this list we have Kevin Love. If you have ever seen Kevin play, one of the first things that pop out at you is his outlet passing. The best outlet passer in the league. His numbers are drug down a little by the fact his team mates had a rough time finishing at the rim, even on breaks. However, he still managed to average 0.8  passes per game that lead directly to free throws and 0.7 hockey assists a game (the pass that leads to a pass that became an assist). So, 1.5 times a game, Love was able create points from making the right pass. This was evidenced by his outlet passing. Love averaged 4.4 assists a game, add that to his ability to create shots from making the right pass and he accounted for 10.3 points per game from his passing alone.

On the flip side of this, we have Aldridge. Out of the 4, Aldridge had the fewest assists per game (2.6), the fewest passes leading to FTs per game (.2), the fewest point created by assists per game (6.5), and the fewest points created by assists per 48 minutes (8.6). In other words, Aldridge was a black hole. Some of the can be attributed to the fact that he had Damian Lilliard who was the main distributor for the team. Kevin Love was used as an offense initiator at time, so his numbers are a little higher. However, Love was used in this fashion because he is able to because he has the skills, and Love played with Rubio who was one of the 3 best pure point guards in the league last year. Cousins was nearly as big of a black hole as Aldridge, but held ever so slight edges over Aldridge in passing.

LaMarcus Aldridge autographed 8x10

The stats:

Kevin Love- 4.4 APG, 0.8 FT APG, .07 secondary APG, 10.3 points created per APG, 13.5 points created per assists per 48 minutes

Lamarcus Aldridge- 2.6 APG, 0.2 FT APG, 0.8 secondary APG, 6.5 points created per APG, 8,6 points created per assists per 48 minutes

Blake Griffin- 3.9 APG, 0.4 FT APG, 1.1 secondary APG, 9.1 pointes created per APG, 12.1 points created per assists per 48 minutes

Demarcus Cousins- 2.9 APG, 0.2 FT APG, 0.4 secondary APG, 6.8 points created per APG, 9.9 points created per assists per 48 minutes

Rankings- 1) Kevin Love, 2)Blake Griffin, 3) Demarcus Cousins, 4) Lamarcus Aldridge

Rebounding

It should be pretty self explanatory, but your big man should be able to rebound. This automatically excluded Andrea Bargnani from the list. Because he couldn’t rebound in a church league. For kids.

Andrea Bargnani

Andrea, probably not rebounding anything

This was an extremely tough category. I could honestly be talked into one of 2 players, however, one stat stood out to me more than anything. Contested rebounds. Before we get into stats, I have to admit that I gave Love and Griffin a little bit of an advantage to their superb numbers since both of them play next to good to great rebounders. Nikola Pekovic for Love and Deandre Jordan for Griffin. So good job rebounding next to those two big behemoths!

Lets look at some stats:

Kevin Love- 12.5 RPG, 66.1% of the rebounds he had a chance at (within 3 ft of a missed shot), he snagged

Lamarcus Aldridge- 11.1 RPG and he grabbed 66.4% of the rebounds he had a chance at

Blake Griffin- 9.5 RPG and 64.6% of rebounds he had a chance at

Demarcus Cousins- 11.8 RPG and a whopping 69.4% of rebounds he had a chance at, he swallowed up!

PlayersWorld

Looking at simply these stats, we can see that these 4 men are all good rebounders. Again, it was especially impressive for Griffin to put those numbers up next to Jordan, who is the best rebounder in the game. Same for Love, although Pekovic is not on the level of a Jordan. Demarcus was just a beast on the glass. Out of every rebound near him, he grabbed 70% of them. This is just fantastic, even if he never played next to a strong rebounder.

These next group of stats is what really made this group and separated who is a man on the boards:

Kevin Love- 4.9 contested RPG, 38.49% of his rebounds were contested

Lamarcus Aldridge- 3.0 contested RPG, 27.4% of rebounds contested

Blake Griffin- 3.8 contested RPG, 40.3% of rebounds contested

Demarcus Cousins- 4.1 contested RPG, 34.6% of rebounds contested.

Love obviously stands out most here. A whopping 5 rebounds a game tells me one thing, Love is down low and he bullying grown men around. The fact over a 3rd of his rebounds are contested are a good sign that he is down low fighting the good fight. Again, Blake Griffin shines here. For being such a fierce rebounder down low next to Jordan is a feat. The contested rebounding shows us who is really fighting in the trenches and who is opportunistic. Even more impressive to me is that Love and Griffin spend most time at PF. Cousins and Aldridge spend time at both positions, but each spend over 10 minutes a game at the center spot.

Blake Griffin

Sorry, Aldridge, you’re bringing up the rear again.

Rankings: 1) Love, 2) Griffin, 3) Cousins, 4) Aldridge

Scoring

Everyone’s favorite stats! While rebounding and passing are great skills to have, if you don’t score in this league, you are not a superstar. Luckily, all 4 of these men are elite scorers. Adding attributes like rebounding and passing to their scoring prowess is what makes these men truly super stars.

We are going to break down a few different areas of scoring, since these men score in a variety of ways.

There are three ways to score in this league. Close, mid-range, and 3 pt shooting. One does all of these things well, some do one at elite levels, some do a few great.

This Lamarcus Aldridge’s shot chart. Obviously, the strength of his offense lies in his ability to hit mid range shots, especially from the left mid range area. Basically, yellow is comparable to league average, green is above league average, and red is below. We can also see that Aldridge shoots fairly well from in close, and even has a sweet spot from the right block, although he doesn’t take near of advantage of it. Aldridge shoots well from in close, but only averages about 2.8 shots per game from in close. Probably the best part of his game is the catch and shoot. In catch and shoot situation, Aldridge took 6.2 shots per game and hit on an amazing 45.97. Nearly all of this was from the mid range, attesting to the fact he is a mid range sniper.

Aldridge is more like a Rip Hamilton that is 7 feet tall than a traditional big man. He can pound it down low at a good clip, but his game is all mid range. Lets also note his range absolutely does not extend out to the 3 point line.

This is young big man, Demarcus Cousins. As we can see from here, Cousins has a nice mid range from almost straight on. This is most likely from him not cutting hard to the rim off of pick and rolls and instead settling for the pick and pop. Which is not a bad thing, because he obviously can hit at a decent clip from out there. He shoots a fairly average percentage from in close, but you like that he is so aggressive down there. This probably accounts for the fact that Demarcus gets to the line at an elite rate. This is a great trait for a young big.

One note to make on Cousin’s shooting is his surprisingly great catch and shoot game. He only takes 2.5 a game, but he shoots it at a 47.1% clip. That is the highest of our four horsemen of big men. Maybe he should settle for the pick and pop a little more!

Basically, Cousins is a high volume scorer who seems to be getting better and better at shooting. He is not quite there yet, but he is getting there and should be deadly in a few years.

Come on down, Blake Griffin! One thing absolutely pops off of the chart, Griffin is an absolute elite finisher. His low post game is not very refined, but that is ok, because this shot shows that he is clearly just ahead of most of the league in scoring at the basket. This also translates into a high amount of free throws. When you combine those two things, there is no getting around it, Blake Griffin is unstoppable down low.

Sadly, Blake’s game doesn’t translate very far outside of the paint. Given how he scores inside, this isn’t the worst news. You can see a nice little left elbow jumper that he hits with nice consistency. If he learned that form both side, it could open up even more of an offensive game, which is a scary thought. He definitely needs to work on that part more, seeing as how he is catch and shoot happy. Griffin takes 3.3 of these a game for a low 36.89%. Give him credit for trying, but he needs to tighten that up.

Griffin is almost a one dimensional scorer, but it is at such an elite level you don’t even mind. He takes a healthy 5 shots a game in close and converts an amazing 61.2% of them. Wow.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what being unstoppable looks like. Kevin Love simply can just shoot from anywhere. Lets put this into a little perspective. Kevin Love is shooting with a few percentage points of Blake Griffin at the rim and shoots within percentage points of Aldridge at midrange, expect Love is doing it from 3.

Love can simply punish you anywhere. He is a bully down low and shoots almost 59% from down there. He is basically Kevin Durant from the 3 point line. So how do you guard him? And if you take those away, he can step in and hit the mid range with at least a league average clip. Almost as dangerous, is that Love can hit from the corner as well. There just isn’t a place he can’t score from. It is not that Love is elite from every area, it is that he is good from everywhere. This is a chart you would expect from Curry or Durant. Instead, it is a monster big man who also happens to be a top 3 rebounder in the league and easily the best passing big man in the league.

Some key stats about this. Love knows his bread and better. Taking the two highest yield shots in the NBA with ferocity, the close range and the 3 point. He takes 5.7 close range shots a game at a 53% clip. Catch and shoot? Yeah, well has some practice with that. It is not that he takes 7.1 catch and shoot shots a game at 41.1%, it is that he takes 5 3 point shots a game at a 39.8% clip. Holy shit. He is basically emulating Aldridge’s catch and shoot game from 3 point range, a much higher yield.

Simply put, Love does not have an offensive equal in this group. You would have to search the Lebron, Durant, and Curry’s of the world to find a Love offensive equal.

Rank: 1) Love, 2) Griffin, 3) Aldridge, 4) Cousins

Anything Else?

If you have stuck around this long, we all know who the winner is going to be. However, what about some of the advanced metrics? Lets look at Win Shares, since we haven’t touched on defense, we will look at defensive win shares (win shares are how many wins a person is worth on that end).

I didn’t go much into defense, because all of these guys are basically equal on defense, despite some myths.

Kevin Love- 3.7 DWS

Lamarcus Aldridge- 3.5 DWS

Blake Griffin- 4.1 DWS

Demarcus Cousins- 3.8 DWS

Griffin is the best here, but the difference is negligible. However, Griffin deserves recognition for being the best defensive player on the list.

Offensive win shares seem to back up the shot charts and the conclusions I drew above.

Love- 10.6 OWS

Aldridge- 4.0 OWS

Griffin- 8.1 OWS

Cousins- 4.1 OWS

Cousins grades out a little but higher than Aldridge than I concluded, much likely a result of Cousins getting to the line more. However, Aldridge’s floor spreading brings slightly more value to an offense.

Conclusion

Kevin Love is undoubtedly the best big man in the game right now. And it is not even really close. His ability at every spectrum of the game is just unmatched. Griffin is a distant second, but Griffin is still a head above three and four.

  1. Kevin Love
  2. Blake Griffin
  3. Demarcus Cousins
  4. Lamarcus Aldridge

Lamarcus is a great player, but he just isn’t as impactful in as many areas as Cousins. Cousins is a black hole like Aldridge, but Cousins is a much better rebounder.

It doesn’t really matter about them at the moment, because Kevin Love is entering his prime and is already much better than his colleagues. It is quite staggering just how good Kevin Love is at every aspect. Kevin Love is an elite once in a generation player. I think the numbers bare this out. But to the extent of his domination over other players, is really astonishing. We should enjoy all of these men while we can, but it is time to give Love the credit he is due. He is a superstar and maybe only Lebron and Durant are his equals.

Kevin Love

One Last Thing

As I noted, Cousins has a lot of room to get better. Love and Griffin can get better, but there is probably not too much room for them to grow. If they did, it would be scary anyways. Aldridge is already at his peak and this is what he is. Cousins, however, still has a few years to learn the game. If he can refine his jump shot and be more aggressive on the boards, he has a chance to be as dominant of a force as Love. He is not there yet, but lets hope he reaches that potential.

Also, Anthony Davis belongs here. He just does. However, this is his third year. If he continues this, he is on here next year probably over Aldridge and Cousins.

I also wanted to put Noah on here, but I just couldn’t justify it. He is easily number 5, but it is hard when your offensive game is a little lacking. Individual offense wins more games than individual defense.

This was a tough list to make, and I think outside of Love and Griffin, you can make an argument for the next spot for about 5 players.

 

Natural Awakenings… and Stupidity

A friend of mine recently turned me on to a magazine, Natural Awakenings. It is basically a magazine that promotes healthy living through natural products, green living, and naturopathy.

My friend did not turn me on to this magazine because he thought it was insightful or meaningful, he turned me on to this magazine because he saw the dangers in promoting the pseudoscience that this magazine pushes. To be fair, there are a number of pseudosciences pushed within this magazine, from editorials to advertisements. But a few, namely essential oils and naturopathy, stand out above the others. While we are on advertisements, here is an actual quote from Natural Awakenings:

“We do not necessarily endorse the views expressed in the articles and advertisements, nor are we responsible for the products and services advertised. We welcome your ideas, articles and feedback.”

Well, then. Here is some feedback. Also, please check out some informative links that I have included. I am merely trying to provide an introduction and basic overview. Arm yourself with knowledge.

What is Naturopathy?

From the opening of Wikipedia: “Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, is a form of alternative medicine based on a belief in vitalism, which posits that a special energy called “vital energy” or “vital force” guides bodily processes such as metabolismreproduction, growth, and adaptation. Naturopathy favors a holistic approach with non-invasive treatment and generally avoids the use of surgery and drugs.”

Such treatments include essential oils, color treatment, brainwave entrainment, homeopathy, and acupuncture, to name a few.

Straight from the Association of Naturopathic Practitioners, here are the principles and foundation of Naturopathic treatment:

  • The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.
  • Identify and Treat the Causes (ToIle Causam): The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
  • First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere):Naturopathic physicians follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:
    • Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;
    • Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms; and
    • Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ self-healing process.
  • Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
  • Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic physicians treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.
  • Prevention: Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.”

This is a basic overview of Naturopathy, but I think we all can see what is the goal of Naturopathic medicine. It is to treat the body with the body’s own immune system by enriching it naturally with the nutrients and energy it needs. A noble task.

Where Naturopathy Falls Short

Probably the first and largest glaring issue with Naturopathy is the very foundation it is built upon, life force and vital force.  Vital force is a non-material force that appears to defy the laws of chemistry and physics. There is absolutely no scientific proof for anything that can be labeled as a vital force. Despite the many claims, life force cannot, and has never been measured. Especially by any credible scientific source.

Furthermore, a vital force is subjective. We do not know what optimal health is, it is a vitalistic concept with no real scientific or empirical measurement. Also, these “optimal health” levels and “vital forces” cannot be scientifically tested.

This isn’t just a new concept either. Medical doctors and scientists have been debunking Naturopathy for quite some time now. An early skeptic of the Naturopath, named Morris Fishbein, M.D., debunked the following Naturopath treatments and theories:

  • Aeropathy: baking the patient in a hot oven ( a personal favorite)
  • Alereos system: spinal manipulation plus heat and mechanical vibration
  • Astral healing: diagnosis and advice based on reading the patient’s horoscope (I hope I do not have to explain why a horoscope is a bad thing)
  • Autotherapy: treating infections with potions made from the patient’s infected tissues
  • Biodynamochromic diagnosis and therapy: administering colored lights while thumping on the patient’s abdomen (color therapy, which I mentioned above, is still in high use)
  • Bloodwashing with herbs
  • Chromopathy: healing with colored lights (more color therapy,s till used)
  • Electrotherapy
  • Geotherapy: treating disease with little pads of earth
  • Irido-diagnosis: diagnosis based on eye markings—now called iridology
  • Pathiatry: self-administration of spinal adjustment, massage, and traction
  • Porotherapy: treatment through pores, used to treat internal and intestinal problems
  • Practotherapy
  • Sanatology, based on the theory that acidosis and toxicosis are the two basic causes of all disease
  • Somapathy: spinal adjustment followed by applications of cold or extreme heat
  • Tropo-therapy with special nutrition based diets
  • Vit-O-Pathy, a combination of 36 other systems
  • Zodiac therapy, combining astrology and herbs
  • Zonotherapy (now called reflexology): pressing on various parts of the body to heal disease in designated body “zones.”

Most of these occurred in the 1930-1960’s. Many, if not all of these are still practiced. Despite all of modern medical science disputing the efficacy of these treatments.

The Education Needed to be A Naturopath

In the United States, there are 5 full time schools dedicated to students become a Doctor of Naturopathy. Most programs are 4 years long. These 4 years include 2 years of basic sciences and then another 2 years of rounds and outpatient clinicals. This may sound very similar to the tract of an MD program, but there are some key differences.

One difference is the sheer scope of an M.D. program. A M.D. program encompasses literally every aspect of disease, infection, treatment, surgery, and other medical practice. An M.D. program will send a prospecting doctor through every discipline of medicine before they are out of the program. Medical schools also are larger staffed, better trained, and have access to all of the current technology and theories surrounding the medical curriculum.

The rounds of a N.D. includes that of homeopathy, which has long been proven to be nothing more than a placebo affect. And in some cases, homeopathy has additives that can cause serious harm to a patient. If a person is doing rounds in disciplines that fall outside of scientific validity, one can not expect a full education that is robust with current curriculum is being obtained.

Upon completion of medical school, most doctors spend another 3-6 years specializing in a certain field, and will spend most of their time dedicated to that one part of specialization. A N.D. may start practice upon completion of school, and will practice amongst many parts of medicine, or their brand of medicine. No specialization, no extra training.

A statement from the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare:

Naturopathic theory and practice are not based upon the body of basic knowledge related to health, disease, and health care which has been widely accepted by the scientific community. Moreover, irrespective of its theory, the scope and quality of naturopathic education do not prepare the practitioner to make an adequate diagnosis and provide appropriate treatment.”

Back to the Magazine

On page 10 of the April 2014 magazine, there is an advertisement for Medical Aromatherapy Certification Classes. The Middle Earth Healing and Learning Center offers a Level One class on medical aromatherapy (essential oils). For the cost of $475, you may learn all about essential oils and their medical uses. It even encompass the dangers of using modern medicine over essential oils. Not surprisingly, you may also buy essential oils directly from them after the class.

I was honestly going to try and debunk why this is a waste of money and a bad idea. But I quickly realized I did not have to. There are almost zero credible studies championing the use of aromatherapy and essential oils as a legitimate medical use. It is snake oil. We are dealing with literal snake oil. If you are using essential oils as a legitimate form of medicine, you are going to hurt yourself or someone you know. A great little website has even more detail here: https://skeptoid.com/blog/2014/04/05/essential-oil-claims-the-dangers-keep-on-coming/

Dr. Emu’s Rx for Pain

On page 28 of the April 2014 edition, we see a lovely little add for Dr. Emu’s Rx for pain. A naturopathic medicine. A list of uses includes:

  • Diabetic neuropathy foot pain
  • arthritis pain
  • stiff joints
  • knee, neck and back pain
  • sore muscles
  • inflammation and swelling
  • clear brain fog
  • restore positive a mood
  • regenerate energy levels
  • and increase circulation

Oh my! That is quite the topical solution! From the WebMD website, it does state that Emu Oil does have some uses in relieving some inflammation pain. However, it states that it works better (if at all) for sudden acute inflammation and not long term. As a matter of fact, the very things WebMD says Emu Oil may be used for also fall under the category of insufficient evidence. So, does Emu Oil even really work? At this time, we have not done enough scientific research on emu oil to know if it is truly the miracle drug it says it is. It does have some slight positive affects on rodents done in a lab setting, but not much is known outside of that. The truth is, emu oil probably has slight very short term inflammation reducing properties, but nothing to suggest it does anything more than that.

Conclusion

Naturopathy, essential oils, emu oils, and all of these new age medicine have absolutely no basis in science. Anecdotal evidence and testimonials are not a substitute for science. Naturopathy and magazines such as Natural Awakenings make countless claims that what they offer is better than modern medicine. My thoughts? Prove it. The science community should not waste countless hours debunking your…well, bunk. If you can get in a lab and show with consensus that what you sell works, we will listen. Until, then, we want none of what you are selling.

Informative Links

http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/altbelief.html

http://skepdic.com/acupuncture.html

http://www.skepdic.com/aroma.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aromatherapy

http://www.chelationwatch.org

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/134385.php

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/reference/naturopathy/

Atl Medicine

Can the Lakers Not Suck? Should I be GM?

How to Rebuild the Lakers

MagicShaqKobe

I am a rabid NBA fan. I may be even more rabid of a Lakers fan. I constantly like to make up fake trades and directions that teams may take. So, naturally, I like to do this exercise with my favorite team. I don’t want my team to suck, but I also don’t want to mortgage our possible future on free agents like Luol Deng (old and has played a million minutes) or Lance Stephenson (may very well kill someone on the court).   The goal of this is to create a legitimate and creative way to be good right now and to be even better in the future. If anyone of importance in the NBA is reading this, yes, I will come work for your team. I can turn any team around! Here we go.

The Current State of Affairs

Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Ryan Kelly, Julius Randle, Robert Sacre, and Jordan Clarkson. This is what the Lakers roster looks like. Steve Nash is a walking corpse, Kobe is coming off of a major injury, Ryan Kelly looks like an 8th man in your rotation, Julius Randle may actually be a gem, Robert Sacre should never step onto a court, and Jordan Clarkson could be Kelly Clarkson’s brother for all I know.   The team isn’t very good right now. So, how do you turn this team into something? Luckily, Lakers do have pieces and cap room. The key is not signing any long term players at this point unless he is absolutely going to be a major part of your future.

140308-UKMBB-Florida-MattPendleton-120

First Move

Trade Pau Gasol in a sign and trade. The Bulls are wanting Pau Gasol in a bad way. So lets give him to them! However, the big Spaniard comes with a price. The Bulls cannot sign Pau outright and are too cheap of a franchise to amnesty Boozer to sign Pau. So lets just spark a deal that makes everyone happy. Sign Pau to something like 3 years/$30 million or 4 years/$36 million, then trade him to the Bulls for Boozer. Obviously, the Lakers can’t (and shouldn’t) do this without something make it worth their while. The Bulls need Pau. He would make a stagnant offense go and him and Noah would simply put on passing clinics and create almost endless open looks for other players, so they need him. They want to get rid of Boozer, and clearing him to get Pau in a sign and trade is a kind gesture by the Lakers. So in order to make this happen, the Bulls would either throw in a 1st rounder this year or Mirotic, the best player in Europe. A 1st rounder is more likely, so lets just go with that.

Carlos Boozer

Next Move

The starting line up now looks like this:   Nash Bryant FA SF Randle Boozer   This still isn’t that great, but we are getting somewhere. The Lakers now have 3 things with the Pau trade: 1)Boozer and Nash will come off the books for a combined $26 million for 2015-16. That is a max contract. 2) Randle is allowed to be featured even more, since he will be the most skilled big man, allowing the Lakers to show him off for a potential trade or keep him to be an anchor. 3) A 1st rounder in an even more loaded draft than this years.   So, what do we do now? Sign your next piece going forward. That piece is Gordon Hayward. I know that unless you are a basketball purist, you probably don’t know how good he is. Hayward is not a 1st or 2nd banana, but he would absolutely be the best 3rd banana in the league. He can score off ball, he rebounds great for his position, he is a great defender, and most importantly he is someone who can pass at an elite level for his position. Put is this way, if Hayward played for the Spurs and not the Jazz, people would be talking about him as the best young player in the game.   Throw the full max at Hayward (starts at $17 million) and dare the Jazz to match. They most likely won’t because Hayward doesn’t deserve the max. He is more a 10-12 million dollar player. Giving him a contract at almost 33% higher than his market value seems foolish, but this is what must happen.

Gordon Hayward #utahjazz

What Now?

Things are starting to look a little better. The Lakers should re-sign Jordan Hill on a one year deal with a good chunk of remaining salary (around $13 before luxury tax, so lets say 1 year/$9 million). The line up SHOULD look something like this:   Nash Bryant Hayward Randle HIll   6th man: Boozer   This team could absolutely contend for the playoffs. Lets assume Kobe can be 85% of what he was. That is still a 21/5/5 player. This starting line up could be very dangerous, due to the fact that 4 out of the 5 positions contain elite level passing. The Kobe/Hill pick and roll was an especially dangerous play a few years ago when Kobe became the main point guard. Another great thing about the starting line up is that Randle, Hill, and Hayward are all going to be great rebounders for their positions. The Lakers would have 2 elite team skills, rebounding and passing. It also does not hurt that Kobe is an all time great shot creator, something so many teams lack. Boozer coming off of the bench is an especially good thing. Boozer is productive, but is a black hole. Having him being the sole scorer off of the bench would allow him to get his touches and produce without holding the skills of the starting 5 back.

2015-16

The 2014-15 Lakers could make the playoffs as an 8th seed, even 5th, but they won’t win a championship. But this is ok. It is about contending and allowing yourself room to get better. 2015-16 is where all of this could really turn around. With Nash and Boozer off of the books, the Lakers should be flush with cash again. The Lakers SHOULD only have Bryant, Hayward, and Randle on the books. That would set them at roughly $50 with a projected $71 million dollar cap. This is where it could get fun. The Lakers should have their eyes on two main targets, and I will describe what the route would be for each.

Goran Dragic

Guys, Goran Dragic is secretly a top 5 point guard and will surely opt out of his contract that will only pay him 7.5 million. He is in line for a big payday. With $21 million in cap space, the Lakers could absolutely offer something to the tune of 4 years/$55 million. This would leave around $7 million more dollars to sign an extra very good role player, or divvy that up to strengthen the bench. This scenario could potentially be amazing. And best of all, Lakers can sign him outright without giving up talent.   Dragic Bryant Hayward Randle Hill (resign at a lower rate because of the previous inflated 1 year deal)   That is the best back court in the league with a high rebounding front court. With the 3 or 4 solid role players the Lakers could grab via the leftover salary, this could be a lethal team that could absolutely contend for a championship if the role players are chosen correctly. And lets not forget, the Lakers could flip that 1st round pick from the Bulls (The Lakers 1st round pick is jettisoned to Phoenix thanks to the Steve Nash trade) to dangle in a trade for a player of note.   Probably the most flexible option because it allows you to address to point guard position and upgrade the bench. However, the next is the superstar option:

Goran Dragic carries big balls

Kevin Love

Kevin Love does not want to come to the Lakers as currently constructed. But with Bryant, Hayward, and a trade chip in Randle? Yes. Yes he does. Again, the Lakers could outright sign him and not need to give up talent, but the Lakers will and should.   Here is how it will go: the hope is that Randle is clearly showing signs of progress. If nothing else, Randle will rebound in the NBA at a good to great level. However, Love plays the same position and Randle cannot play with Love. Trade time! The Lakers can offer up Randle to acquire a rim protecting big man. A prime target I am looking at is Omer Asik. Omer Asik is one of the 3 best defensive centers in the league and also happens to be a very good passer. By this time, Asik will be 30 and making something like $10 million. This fits in a trade because the Lakers will be under the luxury line, allowing them to go over the cap in trades. So, you can sign love to a contract starting at $20 million, and then flip Randle for Asik (no matter where he is, team love young scoring and rebounding big men). At this point, you are capped out, with nothing but minimum contracts to hand out, but it is ok because here is the starting 5:   FA point guard (honestly doesn’t even matter) Bryant Hayward Love Asik   That, ladies and gentleman, is a team that is going to give you nightmares. The passing on the floor would be ungaurdable, and you now have 2 elite shot creators. This is what gives coaches gray hairs. Asik and Hayward would be an amazing front and back line defensive wall, allowing Kobe to gamble and Love to gamble passing lanes (which they both do well).   What is probably even better about this scenario is that Kobe comes off the books for 2016-17 season. $25 million coming off of the books just in time for Durant to hit free agency. A Durant, Hayward, Love combo would absolutely contend for years, but that is an article for another time.

Kevin Love

Your Decision

If it were up to me, I would lean for the Love option. Top 3 player in the league and someone who is just going to make your ceiling higher. Although the Dragic route allows more options for the bench and role players, it doesn’t give you quite the superstar power that Love has.   So, will this happen? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t run the team (I probably should). But if the Lakers have any sense and want to keep the winning culture going, they must absolutely consider these moves. These are both realistic options but require a little luck (Jazz not matching, Love not being traded and signing long term, Randle realizing his potential), but everything in the NBA requires luck. It is now up to the Lakers to put themselves in a position to make their own luck.

8 Dangerous Acts People Do Despite Knowing Better

In wake of the Georgia Toddler Carseat trial, there have been millions of people coming out of the woodwork as perfect human beings similar to Jesus Christ, Chuck Norris, and USA Goalkeeper Tim Howard.  But as someone who recognizes his own fallibility, I wanted to help bring reality back into the forefront.  So without further ado, here is the 8 Dangerous Acts People Do Despite Knowing Better.

1. Not Buckling Themselves or Their Children – Sure I could easily start a debate on the misguided love of rushing to put a baby into a forward-facing carseat, but I wanted to focus on something even more mind-blowingly crazy.

  • According to the CDC, 33% of children who died in a crash in 2011 were NOT BUCKLED UP at all! But I cannot blame the children…
  • Restraint use among young children often depends upon the driver’s seat belt use. Almost 40% of children riding with unbelted drivers were themselves unrestrained.

2. Driving While InTEXTicated – Did you know that texting while driving makes crashes 23 times more likely than if you were driving undistracted? But did you also know this?

  • 77% of young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving.  And 55% say that it is easy to text while driving.  But they come by it honest…
  • 48% of CHILDREN have been in a car while the ADULT DRIVER WAS TEXTING.

3. Self-Inflicted Workplace Accidents – Research shows that over 99% of all accidents are preventable.  Most accidents are because of hubris, impatience, and negligence.  I could not sum it better than this quote from Brad Miles:

  • “We don’t work in a dangerous environment. We work in a hazardous environment that we make dangerous by not following safe work procedures and wearing our PPE.”

4. Pre-marital Sex,  STIs, and Pregnancy – It is no secret that pre-marital sex is the overwhelming cause for sharing harmful Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea, herpes, and HIV.  It is also the leading cause of out-of-wedlock pregnancies (“virgin births” is the other cause).

  • According to the CDC, there are 20 MILLION new cases of STIs in the United States each year, costing the American healthcare system nearly $16 BILLION in unnecessary preventable direct medical costs.  But we cannot blame this on current young adults, they come by it honest…
  • Among women born between 1950 and 1978, at least 91% had had premarital sex by age 30.  Currently, 95% of men and women have had pre-marital sex by age 30.  This isn’t surprising as the median age of first marriage has risen to approximately 30 years old.
  • CDC data indicates that 40.7% of all 2012 births were out-of-wedlock.  This prevalency is much higher in people groups that are struggling economically, educationally, and criminally.  Common knowledge also says these unwanted pregnancies lead to abo…

5. Illegal Drug Use  – Almost 10% of individuals 12 years old or older are using illegal drugs (CDC 2012).  This is done despite the high health risks and despite the lowered chances of receiving/maintaining employment.

6. Consumer Debt “Playing with Fire” – The majority of Americans are weighed down by consumer debt (i.e. student loans, credit cards, car loans, etc).  Yet laughably, people will walk right into a lion’s den and believe they can outsmart the world-class businesses  and lending institutions trained to prey on consumers.  For example, you WILL spend more if you use credit cards.  Businesses know this.  As a result, even by paying the debt bills on time, you ARE NOT beating the system!  The system is beating you!

7.  Ignoring Infant Sleep Safety – Despite the existence of compelling research and statistics about the importance of safe sleep in reducing our nation’s high rate of infant mortality, the number of babies who die in adult beds and other unsafe sleep environments is on the rise.

  • There are 4500 sudden, unexpected infant deaths each year.  Statistics show that as many as 80-90% are the result of unsafe sleep practices. These are preventable deaths.
  • For example, bumpers pads and pillows should not be used in cribs. There is no evidence that these extra items prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.

8.  Dropping Out of High School – Dropping out of high school is a choice.  A choice that anyone with half a brain knows is negative and dangerous.  Want proof? In the United States, high school dropouts commit about 75% of crimes.  Using deductive reasoning, you can probably guess that this means that the majority of men and women actually in prison are high school dropouts too.  But these aren’t the only bad things…

  • A high school dropout will earn $200,000 less than a high school graduate over his lifetime.
  • The death rate for those with fewer than 12 years of education is 2.5 times higher than the rate of those with 13 or more years of education.

What do you think? Can you name other boneheaded acts that could be added to this list?

Safety

What NOT to do on Independence Day: A Transformers 4 Review

Ahh Independence Day, that great American Holiday sponsored by Bud Light and Kingsford charcoal is upon us once more. Between barbecuing, swimming at the lake, and drinking, a lot of us will often find ourselves at our local movie theatre to see our favorite actor save the world from whatever supernatural species is hot this year. 2014 is no different and we have been blessed (burdened) with yet another Transformers movie from the orange-filter, low angle king himself, Michael Bay.

Michael Bay and the gang have decided to reboot within the currently established timeline and swaps out the screaming, panting Shia Labeouf for the angry, panting Mark Wahlberg as inventor, Cade Yeager in “Transfomers 4: Age of Extinction.” After three movies of Autobot victories and what appears to be a vanquished Decepticon threat, Bay and writer Ehren Kruger have created a villain out of Frasier—ahem—Kelsey Grammer as he tries his best to do a Ron Perlman as Hellboy sans makeup impression throughout the movie. Grammer’s character, Harold Attinger, runs a black-ops mission under the umbrella of the CIA known as “Cemetery Wind” and is charged with eliminating the Autobots as America no longer needs aliens to fight its battles. But wait, Bay has obviously grown tired of only one villain and has Attinger using an interstellar bounty hunter with similar Autobot physiology to help kill the Autobots. You read that right, America hates alien robots and enlists alien robots to eliminate other alien robots. ‘Merricuh. The double villain strategy works in “Transformers 4” about as well as it did in Sam Raimi’s “Spiderman 3”… or Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spiderman 2.” (Hollywood, just look at any Spiderman film to see if more than one villain per movie is overkill) Grammer’s Attinger is in business with Stanley Tucci portraying Michael Bay’s version of Steve Jobs as CEO Joshua Joyce, whose company is making its own Transformers for the government. Nonsense ensues after Wahlberg finds Optimus Prime, blah blah blah… explosions…corny jokes…crazy angles. Then the movie ends. No it doesn’t. After sitting there for what feels like two days and what should be a movie reaching its conclusion, Bay decides to take the rest of the movie to Hong Kong to appease the future juggernaut of world cinema, China.

I left out plot twists and cliffhangers for those who still want to see the movie, but I assure you that “Transformers 4” is the loudest, and most exhausting movie that I have ever seen. I walked into the theatre with my large Frostee and small popcorn, confident that I could handle the 2 hour and 45 minute run time. Nope, I was out of my league, I felt like the boy in this YouTube clip on the Sling Shot Ride when the film crossed the 2 hour mark.

Like that little boy I was sure I could handle it but after two hours of explosions, screams, terrible plot and character development, I found myself slipping in my movie seat softly whispering Janice, Janice…

A summer blockbuster with a 2 hour and 45 minute run time should be full of awesome explosions, special effects and characters you can love and look forward to seeing again in two years, yet as the film crossed the 2 hour mark I didn’t care if Marky Mark and his teenage daughter lived or died at the end. I know that statement comes off as harsh, but there is nothing in the way of character development that will make an audience member like or care about the plight of Mark Wahlberg’s family. The action sequences have become the glue that holds this franchise together and even they have begun to lose their luster as robotic aliens can only do so much to excite after three movies. There is nothing that can save this movie, the subtitle “Extinction” is appropriate as this movie killed off any fun leftover from the previous three.

It’s a sad day when playing with Hasbro’s new line of movie tie-in Transformers actions figures sounds more exciting than watching this and any future installments of Optimus and the gang on the big screen. Michael Bay is a director who plays chicken with himself, lining up his red and blue semi-trailer truck from 2011 against 2014, seeing just how much he can best himself in explosions, crashes, and deciding if he wants a blue or orange filter this time around.Michael Bay has sadly become the poor man’s James Cameron. His films make tons of money, but unlike Cameron, Michael Bay’s movies beat you to death with action sequences and crazy angles and then beat your mother for good measure too. Summer blockbusters are supposed to be fun and exciting, unfortunately Michael Bay didn’t get the memo and I won’t get three hours of my life back.

Even with all of the warnings I’ve given you about the movie, some of you will inevitably still want to see it either tomorrow or in the coming weeks, so let me suggest an alternative if you truly desire the “Transformers 4” experience.

1) Buy 20 bags of Laffy Taffy candy.

2) Buy 10 packs of firecrackers.

3) Get a blender and a friend and go sit in your living room.

4) Turn on the blender.

5) Get your friend to read the jokes for the next three hours while occasionally setting off firecrackers.

There, you’ve just seen “Transformers 4: Age of Extinction”. Here’s to hoping the next film will be called Transfomers 5: Dead.

MJ’s Ruling: Macbeth’s words on life are perfect for summing up “Transformers 4,” “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” 

T4

 

Ditch Your Honeymoon?

Recently, College Humor made an hilarious video about the mythical tradition of engagement rings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5kWu1ifBGU).  Similarly, since this is the height wedding season, I wanted to focus on the necessity of honeymoons.

As the median student loan balance for a recent graduate approaches $30,000, it really does make you wonder if newly married couples can even afford to go on an expensive honeymoon.  Although weddings are very expensive as well, parents on average still do take on a vast load of that monetary workload; however, the honeymoon is usually left up to the couple (usually the groom).

Given the large student loan debt (or other accrued debts like car loans), should couples still go on expensive honeymoons right after they get married?  Or should there be a grace period for the honeymoon?

And if you are married, what did you do in this situation?

cheap-honeymoon1

Hobby Lobby Rumors

There have been a lot of rumors in the blogosphere and on television about how the recent controversial Hobby Lobby court case will affect society as a whole.  But are any of these rumors warranted? What is your take on the situation?

If you know anyone that actually works for Hobby Lobby, please forward them here.  Their opinion in the matter is most welcomed.

hobby-lobby