Flowers For Football Part 2

High school students are getting together for their first official practices all over the country as this lovely study by Jesse Medz and other leading researchers in neurology and published in the Journal for the American Medical Association was released, which contained this horrifying reality check:

Among the 202 deceased brain donors (median age at death, 66 years [interquartile range [IQR], 47-76 years]), CTE was neuropathologically diagnosed in 177 (87%; median age at death, 67 years [IQR, 52-77 years]; mean years of football participation, 15.1 [SD, 5.2]; 140 [79%] self-identified as white and 35 [19%] self-identified as black), including 0 of 2 pre–high school, 3 of 14 high school (21%), 48 of 53 college (91%), 9 of 14 semiprofessional (64%), 7 of 8 Canadian Football League (88%), and 110 of 111 NFL (99%) players.

`Let's break this out a bit, in a sample size of 14, 3 individuals who simply played high school football were diagnosed with CTE, the debilitating disorder first recognized as "Punch Drunk" syndrome in the late 1920s. While a small sample size makes it so one kid in either direction will swing the percentage wildly, if someone told you you had somewhere around a 20% chance of dying when you left the house that day, I'm guessing you're staying in.

Can Our Butler Serve Up a Ring?

As promised, here is my extensive breakdown of the Jimmy Butler trade from the Timberwolves perspective. Hard not to be extremely excited about this team, and no fan base is more deserving than Minnesota after the past 30 years. Check it out!

Certainty for Potential: The Jimmy Trade

A deep dive into the Jimmy Butler trade and it's implications for the 2017 Chicago Bulls. I will be posting another article soon looking at the same deal from the Timberwolves perspective. Keep your eyes peeled!

Bring Back the Celebrations

The NFL is considering relaxing its stranglehold on celebrations.

Nothing is worse than someone going 80 yards for a touchdown, and then we're trying to figure out does that warrant a flag for what he's doing in the end zone," Scott Green, executive director of the NFL Referees Association, said Sunday on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
"We don't really enjoy that. If we could get to a point where it would simply be fines by the league, that would be great. The issue we'll still have is that guys can get pretty creative out there. The question of whether it's a foul or not a foul, hopefully we'll get closer to more of a black-and-white situation."

There's no question that these celebrations improve the entertainment factor of watching the sport. Beyond that, its totally dehumanizing for these players to be unable to show any emotion as the perform truly inspiring feats of athleticism and effort. As for where to draw the line, I feel like as long as what the players are doing is inherently family friendly, then there's no foul. The other team should be mature enough to handle these types of celebrations without feeling upstaged if a five year old wouldn't be offended by the gestures.

Hold My Gatorade

I've mentioned a few times the NBA is in a very good place, and tonight was a terrific example as to what I mean.

Nikola Jokic put up 17 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists in his first 14 minutes. He is 22.

Sounds amazing? Well he got outdone by Giannis Antentokuonmpo who managed to put up 17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and a block in the first quarter. He is also 22.

But these were just appetizers, when Devin Booker hit his and one free throw for his 50th point today it set an NBA record as the ninth player in a single season to hit the half century mark. Only there was still 6 minutes and 40 seconds left in the game. He managed to drop another 20 points in that time, bringing him up to 28 points in the 4th quarter alone.

Can I Get a Ride?

This is just an adorable story about one of the NY Knick's rotation players Marshall Plumlee. Living outside of Manhattan, he's taken to bumming rides from teammates to and from the games in Madison Square Garden.

"Not wanting to deal with driving in the city was a factor, but that wasn't the only factor," Plumlee told Bleacher Report. "I realized early on the train was really convenient, and that I could save on gas, and also that my teammates didn't mind taking me."

He goes on to parallel some of the comments shared by Mike Jones from the part 2 portion of our podcast which hasn't yet aired.

The Best Show On Earth

While every basketball lover is distracted by the most overwhelming weekend of the year, the pros are still just doing their thing. The NBA is really in the midst of a golden era. People talk a lot about the 3 point shooting, and they should, but the passing and ball handling skills are just as out of control. Russel Westbrook is just on a different plane of existence these days.

Whither the Mid Range Game

One of the new theories in basketball is that mid range jumpers are far and away the least efficient shots in the game as you only get 2 points and they are lower percentage shots than ones taken in the lane. The Houston Rockets have gone all in on this philosophy attempting an average of 40 three pointers a game, out of a total of 87 shots a game. The next closest team is at 33 a game. Last year the GS Warriors lead the league with 31 attempted per game, which was already a huge jump from all previous years that the leading team would be in the mid 20s.

A reddit user noticed today that DeMar DeRozan has attempted more mid range shots (571) as an individual than the Rockets (468) have as a team. This is even more impressive when you consider that the Rockets have played 61 games this season and DeRozan has only played in 53 games so far. The site is weird and wont let me link specifically to the shot charts for DeRozan and Houston, but if you do look at Houston’s shot chart, they’ve attempted so few midrange shots (468 out of 5305) that the graph straight up doesn’t even bother to show a heat map for any shots attempted between the paint and the three point line.

Booing a Hero

Nice deep dive into why Oklahomans got so attached to Kevin Durant.

Disaster strikes the state again in May 2013. A massive EF5 tornado ravages the town of Moore, a suburb of OKC, killing 24, injuring 377 and destroying entire neighborhoods.
Durant’s foundation announces a $1 million donation to aid the relief effort. The Thunder organization matches. So does Nike. Two days later, Durant tours the wreckage. One of the iconic photos from the tragedy is of a blue Durant jersey hanging from a tree branch, above the wreckage, as citizens emerge to begin the recovery.

Johnny Football Is Sober

I need some good news after today, and its hard to find. Fortunately, Johnny Manziel has resurfaced and is apparently clean and excited to try and get his life back on track playing football. Truly fantastic news to hear that he is alive and doing well, things couldn't have sounded much bleaker last year. I've never felt his skill set would translate well to the pros, but a) he is white, and b) the Cleveland Browns exist, so it seems quite possible he'll get his opportunity if he can stay clean.

E Sports as an Extracurricular

The Big 10 conference today decided to embrace the virtual world a little bit more today, officially joining the world of e-sports.

"In the Big Ten Network’s League of Legends season, teams in the Big Ten’s East and West divisions will play each other in best-of-three, round-robin competitions, and the top four from each division will then enter a single-elimination bracket. (The two Big Ten universities not participating this year, Nebraska and Penn State, are in different divisions. The Big Ten has 14 members.)

Faux-Physicist of the Day Award

This article is an example of something I’ve seen slowly becoming more common which is a little frustrating: acting like you are using science to explain something by just throwing out random measurements and misunderstanding the formulas they’d be used in. Here Rhett Allain writing for Wired clearly is very frustrated that Lebron is once again being called a flop artist after this lovely play in last weeks evisceration of the Cavaliers by Durant and his Warriors. Lets walk through this.

So we start off with a brief writeup of the most basic principle in physics, a description of force between two objects colliding. We get a quick humble brag and then him showing a lovely little graph which he’s created based on knowing the frame rate of clip and using the known dimensions of an NBA court as reference points. He gives no explanation of what we’re seeing, or even what the units are. The axes are helpfully labeled x and t so at least we can guess it’s a position versus time graph if he’s following conventions.

Approaching Perfection

What Aaron Rogers has been doing to the NFL this season is truly magical. Over his last 7 games he’s thrown for an astonishing 19 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. In the last two post seasons, 4 passes have been completed which have travelled at least 40 years in the air, 3 of which belong to Rogers. He threw for an astonishing hail mary yesterday, and all anyone could say is it was just more of the same. Guess practice does make perfect.

Pursuit Of A Champion

This past summer Kevin Durant shocked the basketball world announcing he would leave Oklahoma City and sign with the team that had knocked him out of the playoffs. This prompted a torrent of opinions about what this said about Kevin Durant as a ball player and what it meant for the league in general. Most seemed to agree that while this wasn’t a bad decision for basketball, it did call into question how much Kevin Durant is a true champion. Its been awhile and we've had a chance to see how some of this is going to shake out, so it seems like a perfect opportunity for some Old News.

A Refresher

    Last season the Golden State Warriors put on possibly the best show the NBA has ever seen. The Showtime Laker fans probably have something to say about that, but its hard to deny that the drama of the 73-9 season was insane. It wasn't just the record, it was the fact that it was coming on a completely unprecedented barrage of three pointers in situations where no one else would even have attempted the shot. Curry was the first unanimous MVP in a league where Lebron, Durant, Paul and Leonard were all in their primes and quite simply its because in 2015-2016 SC Top 10 probably should've just stood for Stephen Curry

Flowers for Football

Last week, Leonard Fournette decided to skip his team’s bowl game to avoid risking injury prior to starting his highly anticipated NFL career. From the perspective of his future, this is an absolute no brainer. Fournette has been a top NFL prospect well before he even began playing for LSU. Fournette has also already had his entire junior year derailed by a lingering high ankle sprain he sustained in the first game of the year so injury risks are acutely real.

Fournette right now is ESPNs highest rated NFL prospect for 2017. Almost assuredly a top ten pick in the upcoming draft, Fournette will probably bring in somewhere between 15 and 25 million with his rookie contract. Nothing he could do in the final game against Lousiville was going to dramatically improve his draft position. At this point, his performance in the combine would be much more likely place for him to put a final stamp on his draft status. Playing in this bowl game he only stood to lose money with a potential injury, and in a worst case scenario could completely negate a lifetime of hard work.

QBs Never Make Highlights

How on earth do you even make a highlight video of your season and not include the starting quarterback? If it wasn’t so incredibly disrespectful, I feel like this would be an interesting challenge for an aspiring videographer to show off their chops.

     Sounds like the Bills are wanting to avoid risking being forced into paying Taylor next season. The Bills have already fired their head coach, which makes Anthony Lynn their 6th head coach since the start of the 2009 season. Taylor has played two seasons for the Bills, only missing 1 game so far. He’s thrown for over 3,000 yards both seasons, with 37 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. He’s also rushed for over 1100 yards during his time with the Bills. He’s certainly been a middling quarterback, but having been sacked an NFL leading 42 times this year combined with the 6 coaches in 7 seasons something tells me he is not the root of their issues.

Then again, he is black. The NFL doesn’t take too kindly to black quarterbacks.

The Collaps-a-Bulls

The Chicago Bulls are at it again. As many predicted before the season, the team is an incomplete mess, shooting just 43.8% from the field and a league worst 30.8% from behind the three point line. All summer popular opinion held that the team didn’t have any shooting and would hang around .500 and struggle to get a playoff spot, so a record of 14-15 and currently 9th in the conference standings is really exactly what was expected

Is Something Wrong?

This doesn’t feel like a team performing as expected. It feels like a team is drastically underperforming. Losing 9 of their last 12 games, this looks like a good team collapsing, not a bad team performing to their ability. In the first three games of the season, the Bulls shattered any notion that they wouldn’t be able to fit together with three consecutive blowouts. It wasn’t just the score, it was the aggressive defense leading to 17 fast break points a game, helping earn them 20 free throws per game. This all opened up the floor allowing them to hit 43.5% of their threes which when combined with some decent defense lead to a point differential of +11.5 per game.