So I have thought long and hard about this (oh by the way...hey, what's up?), and I have come to this conclusion: The Masters was...ok. Yeah, just ok. I mean I have to say that, because, basically, I watched the entire thing unfold on TV, and at times, I was sitting there like "this is the greatest tournament every single year, and this year is no different," and other times wondering "so they're playing at Augusta right? They didn't decide to play at Carnoustie this year did they?" The first round went fairly well. Scores were kind of high (I believe only four or five were in red figures...correct me if I'm wrong on that), but for the most part, the quality of play was still there. And then, the wind hit, the cold weather hit, and with those came the high scores...and I mean high scores. Think about it like this: Retief Goosen, who ended up finishing in a tie for second, just made the cut at +8 due to the "10 shot rule," meaning that because there were more than 44 players, including ties, that were within 10 shots of the lead, all of those at +8 or better would make the cut. So anyway, Friday and Saturday were horrendous. I mean I like to see a challenge, but were those really the best players in the world out there? It kind of reminded me of high school. And what was with all the complaints about weather? As I mentioned earlier, the conditons were kind of British Open-esque, but still, these are professional golfers. These guys do not have day jobs outside of this (at least for the most part), so why is it acceptable that they get to complain about the conditions? I mean, so sorry that Augusta wasn't its usual 80 degrees and sunny, but seriously, get over it! So it was in the mid 50s...oh boo-hoo. I saw Vijay Singh use an umbrella to try and "shield" the wind (this further cemented my stance that I hate Vijay Singh...oh it's complete hate now; at first I really didn't like him because he showed no emotion, no fire, was lathargeic as all get up, and did his stupid little neck bend after every single freggin shot...it went straight!...why are you cocking your head!?...but now I have the ammunition to put it to full-on hatred). Tiger inexplicably choked when he had the outright lead. First of all, after some of the shots he had this weekend (and not all of them can be blamed on the weather...I mean he had some terrible swings), I'm shocked he even finished in a tie for second. Two balls in the water in the final round? The only reason I can come up with is that, seemingly, every time Tiger is even close to being in contention, other golfers will start making huge mistakes like it was their job. This is especially true if you're playing with him, as witnessed by Stuart Appleby, who had the lead for both Friday and Saturday, shot 75 in the final round (which when you consider everything really isn't that bad) to finish four shots back. It was getting real ugly though, especially on Saturday, when I wondered aloud "does anybody really want to win this?" I think there were about nine different leaders on Saturday, and then Sunday rolled around, and again, it seemed as though no one could stay on top for more than two or three holes. Zach Johnson ended up with the low total for the week (289, tied for highest winning score ever) and won his second tournament on the PGA Tour. Not a bad place for a second win. The funny thing is that Johnson is a relative unknown to those who don't follow the PGA Tour every weekend. Johnson is actually a real good player, and has been for quite some time. He finished 24th on last year's money list. In the 99 events he's played in, he has recorded a top 25 finish 39 times (39.4%). Johnson showed a lot of poise on the final day, especially in the last couple holes, where he drained two crucial birdie putts that made it almost impossible for anyone to catch him. Although it was good to see someone new win at Augusta, I really hope that next year, the actual golf itself is not as hard to watch as it was this year. Seriously, it just seemed as though no one had an answer for anything, and that they were not applying anything that may have happened to them in previous rounds, opting instead to be over-aggressive on a course that rewarded players being careful and using finesse rather than power (on two instances on Sunday where Johnson could have easily reached a par 5 in two, he opted instead to lay-up, and posted -1 for those two holes). Johnson deserved the win because, frankly, he was the best golfer on that course that day. Everyone else, with the exception of Goosen, was either in reverse or neutral.
So, the word is that Kevin Durant has made up his mind, and he, in fact, will declare himself eligible for the NBA. Now, as long as Greg Oden also declares, and the ping pong balls fall the right way, the Celts could be looking at a franchise guy for the next ten years (A little bit of a sidetrack on the ping pong ball scenario, and this is actually quite interesting: There has been quite a road to get to what the system currently is (I'm not going to bore you with this, rather, I'll let NBA.com do the honors). What's interesting is that only the top three picks are determined by the lottery, and the picks after that are determined by inverse order of their record. Anyway, here's my point: Just because a team has the worst record, it is definitely not a sure thing they will be picking #1. You know, let me just make a whole new paragraph for this, because this is important stuff.
Ok, so, just as a refresher, here are the combinations and odds for the lottery teams, and I have inserted the teams that, as of right now, would be receiving these combinations:
1. Memphis, 250 combinations 25% chance of receiving the #1 pick
2. Boston, 199 combinations 19.9% chance
3. Milwaukee, 156 combinations 15.6% chance
4. Phoenix (from Atlanta), 119 combinations 11.9% chance
5. Charlotte, 88 combinations 8.8% chance
6. Seattle, 63 combinations 6.3% chance
7. Philadelphia, 43 combinations 4.3% chance
8. Portland, 28 combinations 2.8% chance
9. Sacramento, 17 combinations 1.7% chance
10. Minnesota, 11 combinations 1.1% chance
11. Chicago (from New York), 8 combinations 0.8% chance
12. Atlanta (from Indiana), 7 combinations 0.7% chance
13. New Orleans, 6 combinations 0.6% chance
14. Golden State, 5 combinations 0.5% chance
(info provided by http://www.collegehoopsnet.com/history/draft/lottery.htm)
Ok, now I'm going to show you who has won the lottery in the modern era, followed by the rank of their probability going into the draft:
2006: Toronto (5th)
2005: Milwaukee (6th)
2004: Orlando (1st)
2003: Cleveland (1st)
2002: Houston (5th)
2001: Washington (3rd)
2000: New Jersey (7th)
1999: Chicago (3rd)
1998: L.A. Clippers (3rd)
1997: San Antonio (2nd...Vancouver had worst record, but could not pick first, so guess who was in line for #1?...AHHHH!!!)
1996: Philadelphia (1st, again, Vancouver had the worst record, but between '96-'98, could not pick first)
1995: Golden State (5th)
1994: Milwaukee (4th)
(info provide by http://www.nba.com/history/lottery_probabilities.html)
So, as you may notice, only three times, since the lottery has been determined by ping pong balls, has the team with the worst record picked first. I mean how insane is that? The thing that I noticed was that only one team (Milwaukee) has won the lottery more than once. There have been many conspiracy theories dealing with how the picks are ordered (none more so than in 2003, when it was clear that LeBron James would resurrect Cleveland's franchise because he was the hometown boy and would be an instant smash for the Cavs). However, I kind of like how completely and utterly random this entire process is. This sort of counter-acts the whole "fan-tanking" that Celtics Nation and I have been participating in for most of the season. However, in this draft, picking second is not really all that bad. Getting Oden or Durant would mean an instant revenue bump for the winning two teams in terms of ticket sales and merchandise (I have already budgeted money in advance so that on May 23, the day after the lottery, if we get Oden or Durant, I'm all over getting the jersey for the Summer). So, with all of that being said, here's a bit of a sneak peak into the 2007 NBA Draft. Now, although not everyone has declared yet, here's a list of who I think are the top 50 prospects going into the Draft (this list will balloon after I know who's in and who's not):
- Kevin Durant, F, Texas
- Greg Oden, C, Ohio St.
- Brandan Wright, F, North Carolina
- Roy Hibbert, C, Georgetown
- Al Horford, F/C, Florida
- Julian Wright, F, Kansas
- Joakim Noah, F, Florida
- Yi Jianlian, C, China
- Corey Brewer, F, Florida
- Jeff Green, F, Georgetown
- Mike Conley, G, Ohio St.
- Aaron Gray, C, Pittsburgh
- Al Thornton, F, Florida St.
- Acie Law, G, Texas A&M
- Nick Fazekas, F, Nevada
- Alando Tucker, F, Wisconsin
- Jared Dudley, F, Boston College
- Chris Lofton, G, Tennessee
- Brandon Rush, G, Kansas
- Spencer Hawes, C, Washington
- Chase Buddinger, F, Arizona
- Josh McRoberts, F/C, Duke
- D.J. Augustin, G, Texas
- Aaron Afflalo, G, UCLA
- Aaron Brooks, G, Oregon
- Glen Davis, C, LSU
- Nick Young, F, Southern Cal
- Jarrius Jackson, G, Texas Tech
- Rodney Stuckey, G, Eastern Washington
- Taurean Green, G, Florida
- Ronald Steele, G, Alabama
- D.J. White, F, Indiana
- Daequan Cook, F, Ohio St.
- Sean Williams, F/C, Boston College
- Scottie Renyolds, G, Villanova
- Sean Singletary, F, Virginia
- Mario Chalmers, G, Kansas
- Darren Collison, G, UCLA
- Drew Neitzel, G, Michigan St.
- Marcus Williams, G, Arizona
- Curtis Sumpter, F, Villanova
- Mario Boggan, F, Oklahoma St.
- Tyrese Rice, G, Boston College
- Adam Haluska, G/F, Iowa
- Brandon Heath, G, San Diego St.
- Dominic James, G, Marquette
- Tre Kelley, G, USC
- Zabian Dowdell, G, Virginia Tech
- Randolph Morris, C, Kentucky
- Derrick Byars, F/C, Vanderbilt
One final note has to do with the suspensions of Pac-Man Jones (one year) and Chris Henry (eight games). While I respect what the NFL is trying to do, if they really believe that this is going to stop anyone from getting into trouble, they are completely naive. Sure, these are some heavy suspensions being handed down, but really, what choice did they have? You want to talk about bad boys? Pac Man has been involved in 10 off-the field incidents, including an on-going investigation about a triple-shooting in Las Vegas during the NBA's All-Star Weekend, and Henry seemed to be linked to any sort of felony being related to the city of Cinicinnati and its surrounding areas (note to NFL teams thinking about drafting Pat White or Steve Slaton in the future: STAY AWAY!!!...these West Virginia boys are trouble!). Again, I understand that the NFL is trying to clean up their act, but still, there is plenty of room for improvement. First of all, Roger Goodell is finally stepping up to the plate, which is a good sign for times to come. Paul Tagliabue was a good commissioner on a whole, but it seemed like he needed a literal public outcry before he took any action. Goodell was able to recognize that if he didn't do anything, this kind of conduct was going to continue, with little to no repercussions. So good job for right now. Hopefully, Goodell will continue to take initiative and stop all these acts before they happen. I know that would be kind of a "utopian" world, but still, there are measures he can take to make sure it really hurts these guys if they screw up. The drug policy must be more stringent, and players should receive eight, not four games for a first-time offense. Off-the-field incidents should be governed by the teams themselves, but if they are unable, or unwilling to do anything about the situation, the NFL should immediately step in and investigate the situation, then levy down whatever kind of punishment they deem to be acceptable. I think the two suspensions are a step in the right direction for the NFL, but still, the boys will play on and off the field, and I don't see an end in sight in terms of off-the-field instances being ceased anytime soon.
Well, that's all for now. Take care. Peace.