Tom Brady Might be Wrong, But He Also Might Be Wrong

I love Tom Brady as much as the next guy/girl/miniature schnauzer, but come on mannn!!

originally posted on deadspin.com


Tom Brady Thinks Drinking A Lot Of Water Prevents Sunburns

Tom Brady, the Gwyneth Paltrow of sports, has a book out now that features approximately four million words about water, and water consumption, and different types of water, and how water can protect you from the sun.

Brady says he drinks up to 300 ounces of water in a day, which is around 2.5 gallons of water. His piss must be as clear as the sparkling depths of Lake Tahoe, but really, a bunch of water consumption for an athlete isn’t all that weird.

What is weird is that Brady 1) differentiates between a bunch of different types of water, 2) wants you to add his quack-ish TB12 electrolyte drops into your drinks, and 3) thinks he gets fewer sunburns because of all the water he drinks.

Here’s what Tommy says about water and sunburns, as noted by SB Nation’s Matt Ufford:

When I was growing up, and playing outside in the sun, I got sunburned a lot. I was a fair-skinned Irish boy, after all. These days, even if I get an adequate amount of sun, I won’t get a sunburn, which I credit to the amount of water I drink. I always hydrate afterward, too, to keep my skin from peeling. When I once told that to my sister, she said, “You mean I don’t have to use all those moisturizers and facial products to keep my skin looking good? I should just drink as much water as you do? I think you should market your [stupid water drop things] as a beauty product.” I just laughed.

Okay, maybe Brady uses SPF as well, but this quote (which is highlighted as a block-quote in the book) sure makes it seem like ol’ TB thinks all he needs for sun protection is water, water, and water. Please, please, do not follow this advice! Use sun protection of some sort. Especially if you spend as much time outside as a professional athlete does.

Brady goes on to provide a detailed explanation of mineral water vs. spring water:

Aside from the quackery, Brady’s book contains some walk-throughs of stretches and exercises and a handful of recipes, some of which look fairly edible. I’d maybe keep it on my bookshelf if I ever felt like fitness was something I might care about, but more likely than not, most people will align themselves with Bill Belichick’s general philosophy:

Will Bill Belichick buy Tom Brady’s new book? “We see Tom every day. I don’t really feel like I need to read a book.”

— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 20, 2017

Please, please, please use real sun protection. Thanks.

Advertisements

NFL Off-Season: What People Do In Venice Beach For Fun

With the NFL season upon us like a plague of ice-breathing, zombie-dragons; I give you the greatest compilation of NFL-Offseason “bored to death” videos on youtube: “Stuck In Traffic”.

Proving once again that NO MATTER where you live: Venice Beach, California….Manhattan, New York….Richmond, Virginia….or Fort Collins, Colorado, drinking alcohol while filming traffic will always be the most interesting thing you do today.

Thank god it’s football season.

Cleveland Browns Players Kneel For National Anthem

originally on http://www.deadspin.com


I’m Proud of My Husband for Kneeling During the Anthem, but Don’t Make Him a White Savior

A group of Cleveland Browns players kneel in a circle in protest during the national anthem prior to a preseason game against the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on Aug. 21, 2017. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

On Monday night, I walked into FirstEnergy Stadium having absolutely no clue what was going to happen during the national anthem. When it began, I saw a group of Browns players kneeling and was proud. A few moments later, I noticed that No. 87—my husband, Seth—was among them, and I was even prouder.

That moment reconfirmed a few things that I knew: that the many in-depth conversations about race that Seth and I had—that every interracial couple must have had—resonated and took root with him; that he knew this was bigger than just one-on-one chatting with me over dinner or coffee; and that he gets it, beyond a simple desire to be protective of me as his wife.

While I understand (and am deeply proud) that Seth is the first white NFL player to kneel during a demonstration like this (on Sept. 4, 2016, Megan Rapinoe, a U.S. women’s soccer player, was the first white professional athlete to do so), I would like to push back against some of the attention he’s been getting that portrays him as some sort of white savior to a movement that was started and has been carried on by black football players for about a year now.

I am grateful for the widespread support and praise that Seth is getting for his actions, but I would like to offer a humble reminder that a man—a black man—literally lost his job for taking a knee, week after week, on his own. Colin Kaepernick bravely took a step and began a movement throughout the NFL, and he suffered a ridiculous amount of hate and threats and ultimately lost his life’s work in the sport he loves.

We should not see Seth’s participation as legitimizing this movement. Rather, he chose to be an ally of his black teammates. To center the focus of Monday’s demonstration solely on Seth is to distract from what our real focus should be: listening to the experiences and the voices of the black people who are using their platforms to continue to bring the issue of racism in the U.S. to the forefront. Seth, as a white individual, never has and never will truly have to feel the weight and burden of racial discrimination and racial oppression. No white person does or will. But all white people should care and take a stand against its prevalence in this country.

What I hope to see from this is a shift in the conversation to Seth’s black teammates, who realistically have to carry that burden all the time. I am discouraged by this idea that acknowledging and fighting against racism is a distraction that must be stored away in order to be a good football player. I wholeheartedly reject that narrative.

Black players in the NFL cannot just turn their concern on and off in order to be able to focus more on football. White players shouldn’t, either. Racism is a day-to-day reality, and I hope that, instead of holding Seth up on a pedestal, the response will be to do what he did: listen to the voices of the black people in your life, and choose to support them as they seek to make their voices heard.

To the people who are looking at pictures of us and saying, “Oh, well, that makes sense,” I offer a dramatic eye roll. People on Twitter have insinuated that it’s simply my appearance that inspired Seth to kneel with his teammates, or that I must’ve threatened Seth with leaving him or refusing to have sex with him if he didn’t join the demonstration. To even joke in this way is gross. Seth didn’t do what he did simply to obtain a gold star from his wife. His actions on Monday night were not the equivalent of him bringing home a bouquet of flowers after I’ve had a rough day.

In his interview after Monday night’s game, Seth said, “I myself will be raising children that don’t look like me, and I want to do my part as well to do everything I can to raise them in a better environment than we have right now.” I don’t think either of us foresaw that this choice to share about his personal life would become the go-to narrative to explain Seth’s actions in their entirety.

Seth understands how racism systematically oppresses people across this entire nation. He understands that to be complacent about it is not just unacceptable as a “black wife’s” husband; Seth supported his teammates because it was the right thing to do, it was the godly thing to do and it was the responsible thing to do. If I were white, he should have done the same, and I am confident that he would have.

In the last few days, we have seen a lot of the same comments that have been expressed since Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem: people imploring players to stand up because it is disrespectful to the flag, to the country, and to active military and veterans. But what Kaepernick did (and what various NFL players are continuing this season) is something we should see as real patriotism. They are engaging critically with the national anthem and this country’s articulated ideals; they are consciously observing the reality of our country’s current state; and they are using their platforms to publicly hold the country in which they live accountable to the ideals it is supposed to be upholding.

To be complacent that the U.S. strives to be “the land of the free” while so many of its citizens of color are being oppressed for their race is unpatriotic and irresponsible. I applaud those who realize that and do something about it rather than ignore it.

ESPN’s NFL Fantasy Football TOP 15 Overall Projections

PROJECTED 2017 SEASON STATS
1. Le’Veon Bell, Pit RB YEAR RUSH YDS AVG TD REC YDS TD PTS
2016 Statistics 261 1268 4.9 7 75 616 2 317.4
2017 Projections 303.6 1398.6 4.6 9.8 81.3 669.4 3.8 368.6
2017 Outlook: Bell was suspended for four games to start the 2016 season but still managed to finish fifth at the position in rushing yards, as well as second in targets, receptions and receiving yards. Bell has been on the field for at least 86 percent of the team’s offensive snaps during 25 consecutive games in which he wasn’t injured or limited (25 of his past 28 total). During those 25 games, he was on the field for 95 percent of the snaps and handled 22.2 carries and 6.7 targets per game. The heavy usage allowed him a top-14 fantasy week during all 12 of his outings last season. There’s little reason to expect the 25-year-old to play a reduced role in 2017. His off-field antics are a concern, but Bell is too good to pass on early in the first round of your draft.
2. David Johnson, Ari RB YEAR RUSH YDS AVG TD REC YDS TD PTS
2016 Statistics 293 1239 4.2 16 80 879 4 407.8
2017 Projections 307.1 1229.7 4.0 11.6 77.8 782.2 4.1 368.5
2017 Outlook: Johnson’s breakout 2016 campaign was the highlight of a comeback year at the running back position. Fantasy’s top-scoring running back accrued 2,118 yards and 20 touchdowns on 373 touches. Johnson paced all backs in targets, receptions, receiving yards and end-zone targets (four). He carried the ball inside the opponent’s 5-yard line 22 times (second most). Johnson’s pedestrian rushing efficiency (4.2 YPC, including 1.6 after contact) is far from ideal, but he more than made up for it with volume; Johnson registered a top-10 fantasy week during a position-best 75 percent of his outings. Johnson is in his prime at age 25 and positioned well to again see 22-24 touches every week.
3. Antonio Brown, Pit WR YEAR TAR REC YDS AVG TD RUSH YDS TD PTS
2016 Statistics 155 106 1284 12.1 12 3 9 0 307.3
2017 Projections 159.3 107.7 1420.1 13.2 7.6 4 22.3 0.1 302.2
2017 Outlook: How high were expectations for Brown last season? His 106-catch, 1,284-yard, 12-touchdown season was widely regarded as a letdown. Brown missed a game, but still topped wide receivers in fantasy points for the third consecutive season. He finished top-five in targets, receptions and receiving yards for the fourth straight year. Brown turns 29 this year, so he still figures to have a few years of top-end production left in the tank. Ben Roethlisberger’s top target and fantasy’s most consistently dominant wide receiver should be off the board early in the first round of your draft.
4. Julio Jones, Atl WR YEAR TAR REC YDS AVG TD RUSH YDS TD PTS
2016 Statistics 129 83 1409 17.0 6 0 0 0 259.9
2017 Projections 142.2 95.7 1434.4 15.0 7.4 0 0 0 284.1
2017 Outlook: Jones missed two games with a toe injury, but still managed to finish sixth among wide receivers in fantasy points last season. Jones’ target share dipped a bit, but Matt Ryan’s top target thrived in the breakout offense of the year. Despite eclipsing eight touchdowns in a season just once in his career, Jones has finished as a top-11 fantasy receiver during four of the past five seasons. Durability continues to be an issue for Jones, as he’s missed at least one game during four of his six NFL seasons. The Atlanta offense will surely come back to earth a bit this season, but 28-year-old Jones is arguably the game’s best talent at the position. Select him in the middle of the first round.
5. Odell Beckham Jr., NYG WR YEAR TAR REC YDS AVG TD RUSH YDS TD PTS
2016 Statistics 169 101 1367 13.5 10 1 9 0 296.6
2017 Projections 159.8 97.4 1312.4 13.5 8.1 0 0 0 276.5
2017 Outlook: Beckham’s 2016 season started slowly, but he ended up posting career bests in both targets (167) and receptions (101). Beckham has now managed at least 91 receptions, 1,305 yards and 10 touchdowns during each of his first three pro seasons. He’s finished as a top-seven fantasy wide receiver each of those years. Beckham is known more for his highlight reel catches, but he also ranked seventh in the NFL with 15 end zone targets last season (up from 11 in 2015). The 24-year-old superstar is just getting started and should only benefit from New York’s offseason addition of Brandon Marshall and first-round pick Evan Engram. Beckham is a low-risk, high-ceiling pick early in the first round of fantasy drafts.
6. Mike Evans, TB WR YEAR TAR REC YDS AVG TD RUSH YDS TD PTS
2016 Statistics 175 96 1321 13.8 12 0 0 0 304.1
2017 Projections 159.5 86.8 1202.1 13.8 8.7 0 0 0 260.2
2017 Outlook: Evans was terrific during his first two years in the NFL, but he took his game to a new level in 2016. Evans paced the NFL with 170 targets, a league-high 20 of which came in the end zone, and ranked top-six in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. A 6-foot-5 downfield weapon, Evans has ranked top-10 at the position in average depth of target each of his first three seasons in the NFL, which justifies his substandard 54 percent catch rate. Fantasy’s No. 4-scoring wideout was consistent but not dominant, posting only four top-10 fantasy weeks, which tied for ninth. The additions of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard will take some heat off of Evans and won’t cost him many targets and scoring opportunities. Evans is a solid WR1.
7. LeSean McCoy, Buf RB YEAR RUSH YDS AVG TD REC YDS TD PTS
2016 Statistics 234 1267 5.4 13 50 356 1 298.3
2017 Projections 240.8 1191.6 4.9 7.4 51.7 416.5 1.7 264.4
2017 Outlook: McCoy turns 29 this summer, but his age and hefty career volume of work didn’t seem to slow him in 2016. Far from it, in fact. McCoy ranked in the top six in rushing yards for the fourth time in six years and, thanks in part to elite run blocking, his 5.4 YPC ranked fifth among backs. McCoy posted a top-10 fantasy week during 53 percent of his 15 outings (sixth best) and finished fourth at the position in fantasy points. McCoy also caught an incredible 50 of 55 targets (91 percent). Buffalo won’t be quite as run heavy with Rex Ryan gone, but McCoy is an explosive lead back in an offense that ranked seventh in touchdowns per game last year. He’s a quality RB1 option.
8. A.J. Green, Cin WR YEAR TAR REC YDS AVG TD RUSH YDS TD PTS
2016 Statistics 100 66 964 14.6 4 0 0 0 186.4
2017 Projections 151.6 96.1 1312.7 13.7 7.6 0 0 0 273.1
2017 Outlook: The Bengals’ 2016 season was marred by injuries and Green was caught up in the onslaught. After posting at least 1,000 receiving yards during his first six seasons, Green caught 66 passes for 964 yards and four scores in 10 games in 2016. He finished an NFL-best 70 percent of his 10 starts as a top-30 non-PPR fantasy receiver. He’s finished top-nine at the position in PPR during three of the past five seasons, but has missed a total of nine games due to injury over the past three seasons. Green turns 29 years old this year and remains one of the best and most heavily targeted wideouts in the league.
9. Jordy Nelson, GB WR YEAR TAR REC YDS AVG TD RUSH YDS TD PTS
2016 Statistics 152 97 1257 13.0 14 0 0 0 304.7
2017 Projections 140.5 92.2 1276.5 13.8 9.9 0 0 0 279.4
2017 Outlook: Considering that he missed his entire age-30 season with a torn ACL, it was fair to wonder just how effective Nelson would be in 2016. It turns out the answer was ‘very,’ as Nelson caught 97 passes for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns en route to finishing second among wide receivers in fantasy points. Nelson’s seven top-10 fantasy weeks were second-most at the position and he finished 35th or better during all but two of his 16 outings. Nelson has finished second, third, 13th and fourth during the past four seasons in which he’s appeared in all 16 games. He scored 13-plus touchdowns during three of those campaigns. Nelson’s age (32) is enough to knock him down a few spots, but he’s still a quality target near the first/second-round turn.
10. Devonta Freeman, Atl RB YEAR RUSH YDS AVG TD REC YDS TD PTS
2016 Statistics 227 1079 4.8 11 54 462 2 284.1
2017 Projections 202.3 858.9 4.2 9.5 52.2 446.9 3.3 259.6
2017 Outlook: Freeman registered 57 fewer touches in 2016 than he did when he led all running backs in fantasy points in 2015, but the dynamic young back produced only 32 fewer fantasy points. Freeman posted a healthy 4.8 YPC, thanks, in part, to terrific blocking (3.2 yards before contact per attempt ranked seventh) and high-value carries (his 16 carries inside the opponent’s 5-yard line ranked fifth). Freeman ranked ninth in rushing yards and fifth in receiving yards at the position. He posted seven top-10 fantasy weeks. The presence of Tevin Coleman, departure of Kyle Shanahan and some offensive regression to the mean will lead to a statistical step back for Freeman, but he’s still a back-end RB1 option in all formats.
11. T.Y. Hilton, Ind WR YEAR TAR REC YDS AVG TD RUSH YDS TD PTS
2016 Statistics 156 91 1448 15.9 6 0 0 0 273.8
2017 Projections 146.8 84.1 1292.6 15.4 7.4 0 0 0 258.2
2017 Outlook: Following four years as essentially a solid No. 2 fantasy receiver, Hilton took his game to a new level in 2016. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound playmaker caught 91 of 153 targets for 1,448 yards, all of which were career highs. Hilton averaged 9.5 yards per target (10th best) and finished as a top-10 fantasy receiver during 38 percent of his outings (sixth best). Hilton isn’t a great source of touchdowns, averaging exactly six per season since entering the league, but he makes up for it with heavy volume and high-end efficiency in the Colts’ pass-heavy, Andrew Luck-led offense.
12. Melvin Gordon, LAC RB YEAR RUSH YDS AVG TD REC YDS TD PTS
2016 Statistics 254 997 3.9 10 41 419 2 250.6
2017 Projections 295.7 1196.6 4.0 6.9 42.6 341.3 1.9 245.9
2017 Outlook: Gordon enjoyed a breakout 2016 season, but it would’ve been even better if not for a season-ending hip injury suffered in Week 14. Gordon entered that game with 12 touchdowns and third at the position in fantasy points. Gordon was limited to 3.9 YPC on the season but was good after contact (his 2.0 YAC ranked 16th). Gordon registered 17 carries inside the opponent’s 5-yard line (third most) and his 419 receiving yards ranked ninth. Gordon is entering his prime years at age 24 and will again be the clear feature back for an emerging Los Angeles franchise. Select him in the second round of your draft.
13. Michael Thomas, NO WR YEAR TAR REC YDS AVG TD RUSH YDS TD PTS
2016 Statistics 122 92 1137 12.4 9 0 0 0 255.7
2017 Projections 131.9 94.2 1171.6 12.4 8 0 0 0 258.7
2017 Outlook: Thomas was fantasy’s No. 7 wide receiver despite missing one game as a rookie. The Ohio State product caught 77 percent of his targets (third best among wideouts) and averaged 9.5 yards per target (ninth). He posted an impressive nine top-30 fantasy weeks during his final 13 games of the season. New Orleans’ second-round pick from 2016 is obviously in the WR1 mix, especially with Brandin Cooks gone, but keep in mind that a Saints wide receiver has exceeded a 20 percent target share only once during the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era (Thomas averaged a 20 percent share as a rookie). Nonetheless, Brees will back under center in 2017, so the 24-year-old Thomas is a great bet for a huge second season.
14. Jordan Howard, Chi RB YEAR RUSH YDS AVG TD REC YDS TD PTS
2016 Statistics 252 1313 5.2 6 29 298 1 230.1
2017 Projections 273.4 1245.5 4.6 8 31.8 258.8 1.4 236.7
2017 Outlook: Howard opened his rookie season third on Chicago’s depth chart, but it didn’t take the intriguing fifth-round pick long to work his way into workhorse duties. The big man ranked 11th in the league in carries, but his terrific effectiveness (5.2 YPC, 2.2 YAC) allowed him the second-most rushing yards. Howard’s hands (position-high eight drops) are a concern, but he still managed 48 targets and averaged a healthy 10.3 yards per reception. Touchdowns may elude Howard in Chicago’s underwhelming offense, but the 22-year-old emerging star will push for 20 touches every week. Upgrade him slightly in non-PPR.
15. DeMarco Murray, Ten RB YEAR RUSH YDS AVG TD REC YDS TD PTS
2016 Statistics 293 1287 4.4 9 53 377 3 293.8
2017 Projections 248.4 1088.6 4.4 8 43.5 310 1.8 239.7
2017 Outlook: Following a rough year in Philadelphia, Murray reassumed his spot as one of the game’s top tailbacks with 1,664 yards from scrimmage in Tennessee last year. Murray averaged a healthy 4.4 yards per carry despite facing an average of 8.1 in-box defenders (fourth highest). Murray ranked third at the position in carries and sixth in receptions, which helped him to his third top-six fantasy season in four years. Once labeled as injury prone, Murray has missed one game in the past three seasons. Murray is now 29, and Derrick Henry’s role only figures to expand, but the veteran remains the lead back and a three-down contributor in one of the game’s most run-heavy offenses.

August 2017 – MUST READ

(I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I won’t try):


Maybe Now Isn’t the Time, Guys

If you’re tempted to point out that you’re one of the good ones right now . . . please don’t.

If you are upset that people of color are upset that their lives and beliefs are under assault by a resurgent, resilient, citronella candle-filled white supremacist movement, empowered by a White House that can’t call a racist a racist because #notallwhitepeople . . . please be quiet.

If you’re wondering why people of color don’t want to hold your hand through this process, teach you, understand you, cater to your feelings when it is people of color being beaten, misunderstood and whose feelings are treated indifferently. Stop wondering why because I’m going to tell you why:

It’s not about you.

Or your feelings.

A woman died Saturday during a Neo-Nazi, Neo-Confederate, Ku Klux Klan-filled racist protest. In 2017. Dozens of others were injured. Two others also died in a police helicopter crash, working the racist protest. These racists have assembled to threaten us, to silence us, to hurt us and anyone else who defends our right to be human. If the biggest conclusion you drew from black people online being upset at violent, deadly racism was that they didn’t point out that some white people aren’t bad, that most white people are good, that you didn’t own slaves, that some of your best friends are black, that you just want to understand so why won’t these black people explain our history of oppression at the hands of white people to you, you are not helping. You are part of the problem.

If you hear black people and other people of color voicing their pain about racism, racists, systemic racism, racist protests and other injustices and interpret that as “But, but, but what about me? I’m good!” Are you really good? You just made a person’s murder by terrorism about you. You just made a man getting beaten by actual racists about you. You just made Trump’s refusal to say “White supremacists” about you. You hear someone shouting “OMG, these white racists and the assholes who voted them into power are terrible” and you wonder if they meant you. You think we should prioritize your delicate feelings over our loss, our pain and the actual death of a person.

You are so vain you think this movement is about you.

Seriously. What is wrong with you right now?

Check your privilege.

The NBA Off-Season Fraternity Battle

ESPN’s corporate stronghold on the sports reporting business is growing stronger and stronger by the second, even with massive budget cuts, overall revenues taking a dive recently and lay-offs of SEVERAL high ranking “analysits”.  ESPN as a brand is still going strong, replacing the popular and (occassionally overly) well-paid talking heads with younger unknown talking hairdos almost regularly.

One of the NBA mainstayers is Tom Haberstroh, an extremely knowledgable NBA beat-writer who I would guess has a lot of phone numbers in his cell’s contact list.  He’s probably so cool.

But even the greats can falter at times, like Tyson against Buster Douglas or Lebron James against Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan again, Tony Parker again, Kawhi Leonard, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Steph Curry again, Klay Thompson again, Kevin Durant and of course Javale McGee.

The NBA preseason jibberish writing is of the fullest abundance currently, Mr. Haberstroh has briefly lost his way in an article posing the question of “Who’s the next Super Team?”.  After discussing the obvious (although not-probable) possibilitites: Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers (big “IF” on this one) and San Antonio Spurs, the list became hilarious, ficticious and even more fleeting than Anthony Scaramucci.

Haberstroh writes:

Darkhorse: Chicago Bulls

The Bulls have essentially cleared the decks for the future. By trading Jimmy Butler and officially hitting the reset button on the Tom Thibodeau era, Chicago has only about $23 million in guaranteed contracts in 2018 and another $16.4 million in non-guaranteed money. Zach LaVine has a free agent cap hold at nearly $10 million, but the expectation here is they’ll wait on extension talks until they see his recovery from a torn ACL. That would be the smart move.

The Bulls should have $52 million in cap space next summer and a big-time market to lure free agents, but unlike L.A. and San Antonio, Chicago lacks a magnetic star like Kawhi or Lonzo. Maybe Kris DunnLauri Markkanen or LaVine can prove us wrong, but we’re not betting on a star rising in Chicago anytime soon.

Runner-up: Phoenix Suns

Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough knows what it takes to get this done. The 36-year-old was an assistant GM under Danny Ainge when they brought in Garnett and Allen in 2007. The chest is full of assets in Phoenix. The Suns have four top-10 picks on the roster who aren’t even of drinking age yet: Devin Booker (20 years old), Josh Jackson (20), Dragan Bender (19) and Marquese Chriss (20).

Not only that, the Suns have the Heat’s 2018 first-rounder (protected Nos. 1-7) and their unprotected 2021 first-rounder to toss in a deal, in addition to their own first-round picks going forward. Assuming the Suns don’t attach any of those long-term prizes in a deal for Kyrie Irving, the Suns are set to be prime candidates for a superteam via trade.

There’s no doubt that the Suns will be lurking in case a disgruntled star makes noise next season. Like Boston, the Suns figure to keep a close eye on New Orleans, but Kristaps PorzingisBlake Griffin and Klay Thompson are all names to watch down the line.

Dark horse: Philadelphia 76ers

The process is starting to turn into results. By signing JJ Redick and Amir Johnson to big one-year deals, Bryan Colangelo sent a clear message: overspend now but retain flexibility later. Philadelphia is set up for the future with $48 million in cap space to spend in 2018 while retaining a core of Markelle FultzBen SimmonsDario SaricJoel Embiid and Robert Covington (the latter two’s free-agent cap holds are factored in here).

Even with a max contract for Embiid, the 76ers would have $50 million in cap space for 2019 to go after Klay Thompson or Kevin Love. Of course, with all the young talent, they could flip their bundle of assets for ready-made stars, a la the 2008 Celtics. Colangelo isn’t shy about fast-tracking a contender. Remember, in Phoenix, Colangelo in 2004 signed a 30-year-old Steve Nash to pair with a 21-year-old Amar’e Stoudemire and a 23-year-old Joe Johnson. And the rest is history.

The next ’14 Warriors: Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets have quietly built an offensive machine in Denver. Fact: After Nikola Jokic joined the starting lineup in Dec. 15, the Nuggets — not the KD edition of the Warriors, nor the LeBron-led Cavs — owned the NBA’s best offensive rating for the rest of the season (113.3 points pre 100 possessions). Yeah, that caught the rest of the NBA by surprise too.

And just like the Warriors, the Nuggets built an offensive juggernaut largely through the draft without needing a top-five pick. Like Draymond Green, Jokic was a gem found in the second round back in 2014. Talented guard Jamal Murray was the No. 7 selection in 2016, and Gary Harris was a sweet-shooting steal at No. 19 in 2014. Kenneth Faried was the No. 22 pick in 2011 during the Masai Ujiri regime.

Under the leadership of president Tim Connelly and Arturas Karnisovas, the Nuggets have nailed their draft picks lately. And like Golden State a few years ago, they’ve begun adding from the outside. This summer, the Nuggets acquired their version of Andre Iguodala in Paul Millsap, a star team-first veteran who can anchor both sides of the floor.

And they may not be done. With some cap creativity, the Nuggets could have up to $45 million in cap space (good enough for a max player) to add to an already strong core of Millsap, Jokic, Murray and Harris. If Denver declines Jokic’s team option, he would join Harris in next summer’s restricted free-agent class, giving Denver more flexibility next summer.

So who would be the Nuggets’ KD? Don’t overlook Chris Paul as a target. Denver’s head honcho, Connelly, was the assistant GM in New Orleans in 2010 while Paul was there. And the Los Angeles Times reported that Denver was on Paul’s short list of planned free agency meetings this summer before Houston pried him away. No team may ever replicate the Warriors’ success through the draft, but Denver could have the best shot of anyone.

Runner-up: Milwaukee Bucks

This is another stud core built through the draft. Giannis AntetokounmpoJabari ParkerMalcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker were all Bucks’ selections, and only one (Parker) was a top-nine pick. (Milwaukee also traded for Khris Middleton after his rookie season in Detroit.) The Bucks have indeed hit the jackpot in the draft, but the Bucks’ “own the future” slogan could be soon running on fumes.

Look at the cap sheet and you’ll see that the Bucks in 2018 have $100 million in salary, just $2 million below the cap, thanks to some questionable long-term free agent signings in Mirza TeletovicMatthew Dellavedova and John Henson(an extension, technically). A tough question for the retooled front office will be whether to pay up for Parker after two ACL tears when he becomes a restricted free agent.

As of now, it seems as if the only way to build a superteam is from within. The Bucks could be a tax team next summer if Parker’s new contract commands a salary north of $20 million, limiting their options in free agency.

Still, if the core continues to develop like its has, the Bucks will be in prime position to take over the Eastern Conference when (if?) LeBron James heads West or begins to decline.

Dark horse: Sacramento Kings

Look, we can’t believe we’re mentioning Sacramento and Golden State in the same breath either. But the young core in Sacramento is tantalizing. Youngsters De’Aaron FoxBuddy HieldWillie Cauley-SteinSkal LabissiereJustin Jackson and Harry Giles represent a sky-high ceiling in Sacramento. With George HillZach Randolph and Vince Carter presenting some much-needed veteran infrastructure, the kids could bring trouble to the rest of the NBA in a few years.

We’re a long ways away from seeing if the Kings have something that resembles a playoff team, but the seeds have been planted. Look for the Kings to pounce in 2019 free agency with as much as $55 million in cap space with nine players under contract (all first- or second-round picks).

If they hit a couple home runs in the draft and manage the cap shrewdly, could they steal Klay Thompson in 2019? We like what’s brewing up the coast in Sacramento.

Even in Trump’s America, where an appointed communications director doesn’t last 10 days, I STILL never thought I’d see the words “Super Team” combined with Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets and the real kicker: the Sacramento DAMNIT, NO Kings!

First to address the obvious:  No star worth his weight in gummy bears is purposefully going to Sacramento.  Sorry, it’s not happening.  In a league that’s built around multi-top tier players in order to compete, there’s just no shot at Sacramento luring a Golden God.  They’d have to build from within by drafting young talent, which I’ll admit openly: they’ve ve done well so far, on paper.  BUT in order to dethrone the Warriors, Spurs or future Lebron-Lakers 100% of the players drafted would have to come to fruition and contribute almost immediately.

Next up:  Ok, Chicago and Philly make a little more sense in a perfect, utopian basketball world where everything goes according to plan.  Chicago has a destination-pull for young talent as a city in general and now that they’ve parted ways with Jimmy Butler there is an opening for the alpha-dog position.  It makes sense that through a trade or free agency they could make a move in the next 2 years.  The same can be said for Philly, in addition to the amount of “potential” talent they already possess, not to mention the amount of cap space available.  Although, does anyone else get a Greg Oden-vibe about Joel Embiid?  Just sayin…

 

And lastly:  The Nuggets and Suns are both respectable mid-level franchises with pros and cons to playing in both locations.  Denver offers a great city life and a strong fanbase, as does Phoenix.  Both franchises have had mid-level success over the last 10 years, playoff appearances, some young talent, good moves and BAD moves by the front offices respecitvely.

From an objective viewpoint, all of these mentioned franchises (except Chicago and Philly) have relatively the same issues:  mid-level market, mid-level franchise with very little lure for big names and very little room for a strong playoff run due to road-blocks; The Spurs, The Warriors, The eventual Lebron to the Western Conference scenario, and not to mention The OKC Thunder.  Franchises like Denver, Phoenix and Sacramento are AT BEST a 5-seed in the West and more than likely eliminated in the first round.  Today’s NBA is the most robust version of AAU basketball we’ve ever seen, the top 10 players in the league have 99% of the pull when it comes to player movement and franchise-changing transactions.  This generation of superstar wants to be on the court with their high-level talented friends, and it takes 3 stars on a roster to even compete for the top spot in either conference.

Sidenote:  The Kyrie Irving situation in Cleveland.  I understand Kyrie’s desire to be “The Man”, but where and how is there any scenario that will be better than what he already has?  ANY team he goes to will have a lesser chance of making the NBA Finals!  Go ask Russell Westbrook how many “The Man” moments will make up for consistent first or second round exits in the playoffs for the next 5 years?  Winning is what matters, winning solves all problems.  And the major problem is that the NBA may as well be fraternity row right now, the biggest, richest house on campus (Golden State) has all the best parties, the most recognition and the most pledges knocking down the door to join.  Until Delta Delta Delta can figure out how to beat Alpha Beta at their own game, no one else stands a chance.

Annonymous NBA Front Office Executive:

When lovable nerds (name retracted) and (name retracted) embark on their freshman year at Adams College, little do they realize the dangers that await them. They are beset by taunting from the jocks of Alpha Beta fraternity, which only worsens when the jocks accidentally burn down their house and toss the freshmen out of the freshmen dorm. To make matters more problematic, (name retracted) develops a crush on pretty Betty Childs, popular sorority sister and quarterback’s girlfriend. Joined by the aptly named Booger and the violin-playing Poindexter, the nerds soon realize they must form their own fraternity in self-defense. Soon the tables are turned as the nerds employ high-tech warfare against the jocks…. but can they really succeed and make a difference?