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Monday's WWE Raw Ratings Up 16 Percent After Vince McMahon's Return
The viewership for Raw on Monday night climbed 16 percent from last week, Wrestling Inc's Marc Middleton reported Tuesday. According to Middleton, the show drew 2.547 million viewers, up from 2...
bleacherreport.com
Man City beat Leicester on penalties to reach semi-final
Holders Manchester City edge through to the Carabao Cup semi-finals by beating Leicester City 3-1 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
BBC Sport - Sport
Penny Hardaway: Rick Barnes 'Get the F--k out of Here' After Altercation
Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway and Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes aren't about to become buddies anytime soon...
bleacherreport.com
Inter Milan Sporting Director Says Mauro Icardi 'Won't Join Juventus'
Mauro Icardi "won't join Juventus," according to Inter Milan sporting director Piero Ausilio, despite the striker stalling on signing a new contract with the Nerazzurri...
bleacherreport.com
Aberdeen near Premiership summit after Dundee rout
Sam Cosgrove and Andrew Considine both score twice as Aberdeen moved within a point of the Scottish Premiership summit after obliterating Dundee.
BBC Sport - Sport
Ex-Marlins President David Samson to Booing Crowd in Miami: 'F--k You!'
Former Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is not a popular figure amongst the team's fans, given that he regularly used his cut of the MLB 's shared revenue as personal profit ...
bleacherreport.com
Packers Place Aaron Jones on IR with Knee Injury; Sign WR Allen Lazard
The Green Bay Packers announced they placed running back Aaron Jones on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday because of a knee injury suffered in Sunday's Week 15 loss to the Chicago Bears ...
bleacherreport.com
What’s next for Manchester United and Jose Mourinho?
Manchester United have to find an immediate caretaker and a long term solution with Jose Mourinho no longer at the helm. History suggests they won’t get it right. Yesterday, Jose Mourinho was manager of Manchester United. Today, he is not. And now that football’s latest high-profile divorce is almost a day old, it’s probably time to take stock of just where everybody involved goes from here. Who next for Manchester United? Manchester United are the biggest club in the world, at least according to Manchester United, and so where other clubs look for one manager, they look for two. The first is a caretaker to, err, take care of the team for the rest of the season. Michael Carrick doesn’t fancy it, apparently. This caretaker must, apparently, be somebody that is a part of United’s history, somebody who gets it, somebody who can bring back a bit of ambition, good feeling, and on-field elan. The problem is, none of the ex-United managers knocking around have particularly persuasive records. The favourite is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was excellent in his first spell at Molde, but flopped entirely in his brief time with Cardiff City. He — along with a couple of wiser, older heads — could even be in place before the end of the week, unless the UK press pack have completely lost the run of their sources. He’s probably the best of the options, given the criteria. Among those who are out of work, there are the likes of Jaap Stam, Roy Keane, Steve Bruce, Mark Hughes, and Mike Phelan ... none of which are names that really scream out for appointment. Carlos Queiroz is about to lead Iran to the Asian Cup. And then there’s Laurent Blanc, who has been hanging around looking for another gig for some time now. It’d be a surprise if he fancies being a stopgap. While Solskjaer (or whoever) gets the next six months, the club will be scurrying around in the background trying to find somebody for the next six years. Within the Premier League, the obvious candidate is Mauricio Pochettino, who satisfies every single criteria for becoming United manager. He plays attractive, ambitious, attacking football, he makes young players better, he wins ... well, okay, he hasn’t actually won anything yet. That’s a sticking point. Another sticking point: Would he want to leave Spurs for United? His current club sit 13 points above United, and while Spurs may not have anywhere near as much money, they certainly spend it a hell of a lot better. He’d be jumping from one of the best-run clubs in the country to one of the strangest. And he’d miss out on a shiny new stadium, too. Spurs, already far better than when they arrived, might just about be in position to afford him a real crack at things. Would he want to miss that? And even if he does decide to leave Spurs, would he choose United? We can assume he’d be highly popular, and Florentino Perez is usually looking for a future ex-manager of Real Madrid. In any case, whether United conceive of their next manager in terms of attributes (Pochettino the favourite here) or look for trophies (Zinedine Zidane, maybe? Antonio Conte?), whether they look to a relative veteran (Max Allegri?) or an up-and-comer (Leonardo Jardim?), there is the broader state of the club to consider. Great managers are rare. Great managers that can succeed without a well-organised club behind them might not exist at all. Alex Ferguson used to advise his players, on their move into management, to choose a club on the basis of its chairperson. Nowadays, managers might take a broader view, but the principle is the same: make sure the structure is sound. Is there a director of football? What does the scouting department look like? Who is signing off on signings? And so on and so forth. There is much that is still attractive about the United job — the name, the history, the whopping wage packet — but they don’t look like a well-run club, and they haven’t for a while. According to Sky Sports News, United are moving towards appointing a technical director for the first time, which means that anybody who comes in won’t be entirely dependent on the whims and wishes of Ed Woodward. That ought to help, but the job is still a risk for whoever takes it. What next for Jose Mourinho? The last time Jose Mourinho was sacked midway through a season, by Chelsea, he was wildly underperforming with a strong squad that he had almost totally alienated, and he looked, frankly, knackered to the point of irrelevance. All very familiar. But then just a few months later, he was offered the Manchester United job. Something similar seems unlikely this time, and not just because almost every other big club in the world is run by more sensible people than United. Indeed, we can probably say that Mourinho is done as an elite manager in the Premier League: his style has been found out, and his substance has almost entirely gone. Elsewhere, he perhaps commands more clout. There were stories earlier in the season linking him to a return to Real Madrid, on the basis that Florentino Perez felt Real Madrid’s current squad could do with a little of Mourinho’s tough love. That came to little, but at least one of the UK papers is reporting that the interest remains. Perhaps there’s a new kind of managerial consultancy role for him. Something that plays to Mourinho’s strengths, with a pitch like: Have your expensively assembled squad of pampered prima donnas been slacking off? Have they forced you to sack a decent manager? Why not give them a few months of The Mourinho Treatment — wide-ranging misery guaranteed! Wages are not refundable. You may be liable for severance pay. The performance of your team may go down as well as up. Trophies not guaranteed. Working on the principle that he probably quite fancies proving the universe wrong, I’d predict another tilt at club management somewhere. Presumably, Mourinho still has friends at Internazionale, and Mourinho vs. Juventus sounds like a fun adventure for all the family in an Alien vs. Predator kind of way. Alternatively, there’s international football. Rather neatly, the international game solves many of the problems that Late Mourinho has run into. No fights over transfers, no constant agitation on the training ground. A slower, more meditative role. And then the chance to win the World Cup. That truly would show everybody. But whatever he does, we can all hope that he takes his time, and that he takes a long holiday before any of it. Over the last season and a half, it’s been exhausting to even look at Mourinho. There never has been a man so obviously in need of a break.
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Cubs Co-Owner Todd Ricketts Suggested Moving Cubs out of Chicago in 2013
Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts suggested moving the MLB organization from the Windy City during contentious negotiations with Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel about Wrigley Field renovations in 2013...
bleacherreport.com
Qatar World Cup: What will it be like for fans in 2022?
It is four years until the 2022 World Cup final takes place in Qatar - Richard Conway finds out what a winter tournament could be like for fans.
1 h
BBC Sport - Sport
Giants Rumors: SF Had 'Most Impressive Presence' at Troy Tulowitzki Open Workout
The San Francisco Giants had " the most impressive presence" during Troy Tulowitzki's open workout Tuesday, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reported...
1 h
bleacherreport.com
Can Drew Brees and the Saints offense get back on track for the playoffs?
New Orleans is going to the playoffs, but will they be taking the high-scoring offense we got used to seeing earlier in the year with them? Drew Brees was rewriting the record books, the Saints looked like the hottest team in football, and Brees was storming towards his first ever MVP award. But he and the Saints offense might’ve put that award in danger with a mediocre three game stretch. Over the last three weeks, Brees is averaging 5.7 yards per attempt and just 177 yards per game — that’s far away from the 285 yards per game and 8.8 yards per attempt he averaged in the 11 games prior. Brees has also thrown an interception in four straight games after through one interception in the first 10 games of the season. He had a passer rating of 127.3 after Thanksgiving, which would’ve broken Aaron Rodgers’ season record of 122.5, but now it sits at 116.8. His passer rating over the last three weeks is 77.0. The Saints are only scoring 14.3 points per game over their last three games compared to 37.2 points up to that point. Interestingly enough, the Saints’ offensive output hasn’t really hurt them as far as playoff seeding goes. They’ve gone 2-1 through the three games that Brees and the offense have been in a slump, only losing to the Cowboys 13-10 on the road. They’re still in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 spot in the NFC. It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong with the Saints’ offense. Their offensive line has only given up five sacks during this rut. Brees is still completing 69.2 percent of his passes. There doesn’t seem to be a singular culprit, but a few things have gone wrong for them during their offensive funk. Michael Thomas is good, but the rest of the Saints receivers are just OK Saints receivers, outside of Michael Thomas, don’t really scare anyone. Thomas is having an All-Pro caliber season, but the rest of the receiving options after him have struggled recently. New Orleans’ game against the Panthers was a perfect showcase for the problem with the passing game. Thomas caught seven of his nine targets for 49 yards — the Panthers sent a lot of attention his way in coverage. Here’s an example of safety Eric Reid undercutting Thomas’ route while cornerback James Bradberry plays over the top. The rest of the Saints receivers caught 16 passes for just 154 yards. It wasn’t like the Panthers were locking down the receiving options; New Orleans just wasn’t making plays on the ball. Dan Arnold failed to make a reception on the ball and it led to an interception by Bradberry. And Ben Watson dropped a dime up the seam from Drew Brees. Saints head coach Sean Payton also yelled at Tre’Quan Smith at one point during the game. #SundaySean has shown up on Monday night. Payton just gave Tre’Quan Smith an earful after he dropped that last play.— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) December 18, 2018 New Orleans has struggled through a host of injuries at wide receiver and tight end. They have 11 players on injured reserve and five of those players are either a wide receiver or a tight end — including Ted Ginn who had who 787 yards and four touchdowns with the team last season. A lot of guys that they have catching passes from Brees aren’t exactly big names. Michael Thomas has been a star since he stepped on the field as a rookie in 2016, but the rest of the receiving options are rookies, undrafted free agents, or older players like Ben Watson. Even Alvin Kamara’s receiving production has gone down the last three games. He’s averaging just 5.4 yards per reception over the past three games and hasn’t scored a touchdown. Worse, when the Saints have been able to get their hands on the ball, they haven’t made much with their completions. New Orleans is only averaging 8.2 yards per completion over the last three games — the Vikings’ offense is currently in last place in the NFL averaging 10.2 yards per completion. The passing offense has lost its juice. The Saints are turning the ball over at a higher rate than normal Turning the ball over is going to make any offense look bad, even one that’s as explosive as the Saints. The Saints have turned the ball over five times in the last three games. They only turned the ball over nine times in the 11 games prior to that. Not all of that is on Brees. His aforementioned interception against the Panthers wasn’t his fault. The interception he threw against Atlanta probably should have been called back due to a missed pass interference penalty. New Orleans had two more fluky turnovers during the three-game skid. Tommylee Lewis fumbled the ball out of bounds into the end zone for a touchback against the Panthers, and the Buccaneers intercepted a screen pass in Week 14. Brees also had a pick-2, which isn’t quite a turnover, but still an uncharacteristically sloppy play for New Orleans. Donte Jackson, y’all. What a play by the former #LSU DB. pic.twitter.com/noZhf6DWFk— Billy Embody (@BillyEmbody) December 18, 2018 Four of their five turnovers in the past three games have come on unlucky plays. That might not be something to worry about too much moving forward — just have to wait and see if the bad luck continues. The Saints’ overall offensive performance is down The Saints’ bogged down passing game has affected the rest of their offense. Over the past three games the Saints are averaging just 4.6 yards per play — that’s on par with what the Buffalo Bills have done this entire season. The Saints offense is averaging 6 yards per play now on the season — they averaged 6.4 on the season before this three game streak. Their third down performance has fallen off a cliff too. In their first 11 games, they converted 47 percent of their third down plays. That’s dropped to 36 percent in this little slump. New Orleans has also struggled without stud left tackle Terron Armstead in the lineup. He’s missed the last five games. The Saints have only given up six sacks over those five games, but they’ve given up a lot of pressure without him. Look at the amount of ground that Jermon Bushrod gives up off the left side. The guy he was blocking might not have made the strip sack, but he was definitely in position to do it. Plays like this, where Brees’ blindside isn’t secure, have become common with Armstead out of the lineup. Even through all this, it’s not time to completely hit the panic button on the 2018 Saints. Will they rebound in the nick of time? Drew Brees has thrown 25 touchdowns in nine home games this year, that bodes well for them if they can get a win next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers and lock up home field advantage for the playoffs. Brees has only thrown six touchdowns in five outdoor games this season, but they likely won’t play outside again this year unless the Rams snatch the top seed from their grasp. The Saints offense has been too good to completely throw away faith in them. They ranked third in open play success rate heading into Monday night’s game against the Panthers. The defense has stepped up as well — especially the defensive line. The Saints have 28 sacks since Week 10. It’s been a big support as the team battles through its offensive slide. Win Probability Added rankingsSaints O Wk1-10: 3rdSaints D Wk1-10: 28thSaints O Wk11-15: 23rdSaints D Wk11-15: 2nd— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) December 18, 2018 The defense was a big reason the Saints were able to pull out a win over the Panthers this week to stay a step ahead of the Rams in the NFC race. The 12 points that the offense scored was the fewest amount of points they’ve put up in a win since 1998. The Saints' win over the Panthers is their first victory while scoring 12 or fewer points since 1998.Since Week 10, New Orleans is allowing 12.3 PPG, the fewest in the NFL over that span. pic.twitter.com/xwgtfYSJs9— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 18, 2018 The Saints offense hasn’t played up to it’s normal standard over the past three weeks, but it’s impossible to completely count them out. They’ll lock up the top spot in the NFC playoffs with a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and don’t have to go on the road again over their final two games ... and maybe not until the Super Bowl. New Orleans is in a bit of a hole right now, but their postseason hopes aren’t sunk yet.
1 h
Sports News, Scores and Fan Opinion Powered by 320 Sports Blogs
76ers, Hawks Among Teams Practicing with 4-Point Line in Latest NBA Trend
It's not uncommon for Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry to pull up from the logo, but he's not the only one around the league trying to stretch the court...
2 h
bleacherreport.com
Details Revealed on How Mike Piazza, Wife Bankrupted an Italian Soccer Club
Mike Piazza had a Hall of Fame baseball career and is one of the best offensive catchers in MLB history. However, he was less successful as the owner of a soccer club. The Athletic's Robert Andrew Powell provided the details behind how A...
2 h
bleacherreport.com
Kyrie Irving Responds to Outcry over Stephen Curry's Moon Landing Comments
Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry said last week on the Winging It podcast with Andre Iguodala , Vince Carter, Kent Bazemore and Annie Finberg that he believed the moon landing was staged—comments he later apologized for making...
2 h
bleacherreport.com
Gianfranco Zola Admits Callum Wilson Is 'Of Interest' to Chelsea
Callum Wilson is "of interest" to Chelsea, according to assistant manager Gianfranco Zola, who also admitted the Bournemouth striker is likely to have drawn attention from "many" other clubs...
2 h
bleacherreport.com
Bayern Munich Boss Niko Kovac Gives Ambiguous Response to Timo Werner Rumours
Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac has suggested the door could be open for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner in future but refused to discuss speculation at present...
2 h
bleacherreport.com
Raptors' Nick Nurse Fined $15K for Ripping Officiating of Kawhi Leonard
Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse received a $15,000 fine from the NBA on Tuesday for his comments Sunday about the lack of calls made in favor of star forward Kawhi Leonard ...
2 h
bleacherreport.com
Club World Cup: River Plate 2-2 Al Ain (4-5 pens)
Hosts Al Ain cause a huge shock by beating Copa Libertadores winners River Plate on penalties to reach the Club World Cup final.
2 h
BBC Sport - Sport
Report: Austin Rivers, Grizzlies Expected to Agree on Contract After Suns Buyout
Guard Austin Rivers is reportedly expected to sign with the Memphis Grizzlies once he is officially bought out by the Phoenix Suns, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium...
3 h
bleacherreport.com
13-Year-Old Triple Threat Athlete Can Deadlift 2x Her Bodyweight
13-year-old Elle Hatamiya can lift nearly twice her body weight. She is a triple threat and crushes it in weightlifting, gymnastics and a martial art called Cuong Nhu...
3 h
bleacherreport.com
Montae Nicholson Arrested on Assault, Drunk in Public Charges; Mugshot Released
Washington safety Montae Nicholson was arrested on Tuesday and charged with assault and battery as well as being drunk in public, according to NBC4 Washington ...
3 h
bleacherreport.com
Bill Slater: Wolverhampton Wanderers legend dies aged 91
Former Wolves captain and club legend Bill Slater dies at the age of 91, after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease and illness.
3 h
BBC Sport - Sport
Report: Dan Quinn's Job Is Safe, Falcons Might Fire OC Sarkisian and DC Manuel
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is reportedly expected to return for the 2019 NFL season, but there could be "significant changes" to his staff...
3 h
bleacherreport.com
Real Madrid Outcast Isco Has Most Talent of Any Player at Club, Says Marcelo
Real Madrid midfielder Isco "has the most ability" of any player at the club, according to left-back Marcelo, who has highly praised his club team-mate despite recent absences from the team under Santiago Solari...
3 h
bleacherreport.com
Eric Reid sure does get ‘randomly’ drug tested a lot
The odds of any one player being “randomly” tested six times in 11 weeks are incredibly low, much the one active player who has been most critical of the NFL. Eric Reid was given a notice that he had been randomly selected for a drug test on Monday. That should be innocuous news except that, for some reason, Reid seems to be randomly selected a lot. Number 7... ”Random” pic.twitter.com/6HkxXCZhQP— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) December 18, 2018 That’s Reid’s seventh purportedly random drug test since signing with the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 27. One of those drug tests was a perfunctory part of signing a contract, but still, that’s a lot of drug tests for a player who has been on a roster for 11 weeks. Yahoo Sports worked out the math: There are 72 drug test-eligible players on the Panthers’ roster and NFL policy dictates that 10 will be drug tested every week. For Reid to have been randomly selected six times works out to a 0.17 percent or 1-in-588 chance. Statistical anomalies happen, but it’s notable when they happen to a player that the NFL might like to see fail. Reid filed a collusion grievance against the NFL in May after going through much of the offseason without any offers to play, alleging that the league and NFL team owners had been influenced to keep him in free agency by president Donald Trump’s comments against NFL players last year. He was the first player to kneel alongside Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem when both players were on the 49ers, and he has continued to kneel in protest against racial injustice. Kaepernick remains unsigned and continues to fight his own collusion case against the league. Also note: The NFL Players Association had already been investigating the actual randomness of Reid’s drug test notices after he received his fifth one at the end of November. Reid has received two more in three games since then. Reid, meanwhile, isn’t keeping quiet. He directly drew the link himself between his collusion case and the drug tests himself, telling ESPN’s David Newton: “I have a collusion case against the NFL. This is something that doesn’t surprise me from them. It’s supposed to be random. It’s obviously not.” He also continues to outwardly show his support for his former quarterback. On Monday night, he wore cleats celebrating the history of protest that depicted a kneeling Kaepernick: My cleats for tonight. Much thanks and appreciation to the artist @2cent_bmike. Here’s his take on the inspiration behind his design, “It’s a tribute to the history of protest , centered around the quote “if not us , who? If not now, when? “ meaning we all benefit and stand on... pic.twitter.com/x9PNkmwTK0— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) December 17, 2018 Technically speaking, there should be no way for the NFL to influence drug testing. An independent laboratory supposedly handles the job, away from the NFL or NFLPA’s influence. However, suspiciously timed drug tests are not uncommon. Former NFL punter Pat McAfee noted that “random” drug test notices often showed up after he had just done something that might warrant it — like lay a big hit, boom a huge punt, or make a not-subtle-enough 4/20 joke. Last year, a pair of Steelers players noted that they were selected for drug testing after working out with James Harrison, a man with comically large muscles who also seemed to be singled out particularly often by the drug testing system. Odell Beckham Jr. has also complained about being a target for random tests. Even those cases don’t quite stack up to Reid’s, however — both in terms of how frequently he’s being tested, and the motive the league might have to target him. If the NFL hasn’t been colluding against him, it sure is unfortunate for them that it’s Reid, of all people — arguably the thorniest player for the NFL actively playing — receiving these notices week after week, and not one of hundreds of others.
3 h
Sports News, Scores and Fan Opinion Powered by 320 Sports Blogs
Alan Shearer: Q&A on Jose Mourinho's sacking by Manchester United
BBC Sport pundit Alan Shearer answers questions about Jose Mourinho's sacking as Manchester United manager on Tuesday.
4 h
BBC Sport - Sport
Bill Belichick on Tom Brady: 'I Would Certainly Not Second-Guess His Judgment'
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick supported quarterback Tom Brady 's decision-making when asked Tuesday about the final drive of Sunday's 17-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers ...
4 h
bleacherreport.com
The Astros are perfectly placed in baseball’s success cycle
Signing Michael Brantley is something that baseball teams do when the porridge is just right. The Houston Astros agreed to sign outfielder Michael Brantley to a two-year, $32 million contract on Monday, giving them yet another potent bat in an already stacked lineup. Brantley hits for average, runs well, controls the strike zone, and can be an absolute doubles machine. He unquestionably makes his new team better, which is why he’ll be making $16 million a year, a salary that seems like an old-market wage. This is what the talented veterans used to get, by gum. Maybe there won’t be a strike after all. It shouldn’t be surprising that it’s the Astros handing out a spendy win-now contract like this. They shouldn’t be worried about their window closing just yet, but every team that’s good now should definitely have some urgency. The future of baseball is pain. It’s always pain. Winning now is always a great idea, because you never know when you’ll be unable to win later. This is why everyone hates the Yankees so much; they don’t follow the rules. What the Astros are, then, is a team that is firmly in the third stage of baseball utopia. We talked about how everyone wants to be the Atlanta Braves, but I’m not sure if they’re entirely in the third stage. They’re transitioning to the third stage now that they’re spending money on win-now players like Josh Donaldson, surely, but they’re still new to this whole contending thing. They still have one foot firmly planted in their young-team incarnation, in which they’re almost still more focused on good they can be, not how good they actually are. The Astros know this is probably as good as they’ll get for a while. It’s not hyperbole to suggest that this could be the best team they’ll see for a century. The White Sox have been around for 118 seasons, for example, and they’ve never won more than 100 games. It’s more likely that the Astros, like every team, will have cyclical periods of success and failure, but the Church of Joaquín Andújar has but one lesson, verily: You never know. Looking at you, Indians. The stages of baseball team-building go something like this: Stage one is where the team is absolutely abominable ... but abominable and cheap. The 2013 Astros lost 111 games, and their highest-paid player was Carlos Peña, who made $2.9 million. The next-highest were Erik Bedard and Ronny Cedeño, who tied with $1.15 million. After that, Philip Humber made $800,000, and Jose Altuve was fifth on the team with a $505,700 salary. Again, Altuve was the fifth-highest paid player on the 2013 Astros, even though he made just $15,700 more than the major-league minimum. But while this is going on, the team is sucking and saving, sucking and saving, weathering the dreadful attendance and miserable television ratings so that they can accumulate high draft picks and stash money under their mattress for a sunny day. Stage two is where the team says, “Saaaaay, we might have something here.” The high draft picks and accumulated prospects start to take the form of something resembling a contending team. There’s usually a breakthrough season that catches pundits off guard, just like what the Astros did in 2015. This is the stage where the team is suddenly trading some of their prospect cache for veterans at the deadline, a concept that some teams will always struggle with. For what is the point of baseball, if not to hoard the stockpile prospects forever and ever? They might form the basis of a good team one day, you know, which means it’s silly to trade them to supplement a good team now. Most teams, though, go ahead and move ahead with their plan to make their team relevant again. In the offseason, a stage-two team will spend some money and make some waves. They’re the nouveau riche trying to fit in at the country club, rubbing elbows with the people who fascinated them from a distance just a short while ago. Stage three is the current state of the Astros, and it’s probably the best possible place for a franchise to be. Characteristics include: An established pattern of success, such as a championship, pennant, or several years of postseason appearances Young players who aren’t all that cheap anymore A willingness to trade for big contracts A willingness to spend more than in the past But the biggest sign of a stage-three team is a signing like Brantley. This is the move that a team makes when they’re absolutely uninterested in screwing around and looking for angles. This is not a transaction cooked up in the comments of a particularly creative blog post. This is not, “If you look at the second-half exit velocity of Darmon Schenectady with the Grizzlies, you’ll see a progression that hints at immediate major-league success. If I’m the Astros, I’m rolling the dice.” This is obvious and brainless. This is the Astros mashing the Good Player Now button, over and over again, because they can. Stage three is all about mashing the Good Player Now button. Sure, there might be a creative way to approximate Brantley’s production if you’re clever and maybe a little lucky, using two underappreciated players to form a platoon and reallocating the savings to improve the bullpen, say. Or you could mash that button repeatedly with sweaty hands. Go on, baby, give it a whirl. You’ve earned it. Stage four is overpaying familiar veterans and billionaire owners deciding that they need to stop mashing that button so much. Stage five is the Giants, and you shouldn’t watch it while eating. But the cycle of life takes it right back to stage one, eventually. Though for the rich teams, there’s never really a super-pure stage one. It’s more of a stage twone, with the occasional veteran or fan favorite kept around, but that’s not the point. The point is that the Astros are where every team wants to be, even more so than a super-young team like the Braves. However, like the Braves, we run into the numbers game where not every team is going to get to the top of this pyramid scheme. Some of them will fall right into stage one, over and over again, alienating their fans and turning a seemingly sound strategy into a brutal decade of irrelevance. It could have happened to the Astros, but it didn’t. Now they’re, yet again, on the very short list of the best team in baseball, and they should stay there for a while. If there’s any consolation, just be glad that they aren’t the ‘00s Yankees mashing the Great Player Now button.
4 h
Sports News, Scores and Fan Opinion Powered by 320 Sports Blogs
Jose Mourinho Speculation Not a Worry, Says Real Madrid Manager Santiago Solari
Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari has said he's not worried by speculation linking freshly sacked Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho with his role at the Santiago Bernabeu...
4 h
bleacherreport.com
Lakers News: Latest on Rajon Rondo's Recovery, LeBron Praises Moe Wagner, More
Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo has been assigned to the South Bay Lakers, the team announced on Monday. Rondo's move to the G-League affiliate is a rehab assignment aimed at getting him ready to return to the Lakers...
4 h
bleacherreport.com
What the hell happened to Jared Goff and the Rams?
Jared Goff has one touchdown and seven interceptions in the last three weeks, and it’s dragging down the Rams. For the first time in Sean McVay’s career as the coach of the Los Angeles Rams, he has to snap a losing streak. The Rams’ back-to-back losses to the Bears and Eagles don’t threaten to knock the team out of the playoffs — the NFC West is already clinched — but it does have the Rams on the verge of losing a first-round bye. More importantly, Los Angeles no longer looks like the juggernaut that bulldozed through its schedule to an 11-1 start to the year. At the center of the Rams’ recent downfall is quarterback Jared Goff. When the Rams reached the bye week in Week 12, Goff had 26 touchdowns and six interceptions. His 113.5 passer rating was among the best in the NFL, and there was still a chance he could challenge for the NFL MVP award. In his last three games, Goff has one touchdown and seven interceptions. His 51.3 passer rating is the worst in the NFL among players who started Weeks 13, 14, and 15. Even the Cardinals’ Josh Rosen — who hasn’t thrown a touchdown since November and was benched in Week 15 — has a 59.2 rating in the last three weeks. Goff is in a tailspin and the Rams have quickly turned from a Super Bowl favorite into a team that looks like it’s in danger of getting bounced in the Wild Card round for the second consecutive season. Sean McVay doesn’t take all the blame for the loss and the performance of his players as he did the last two weeks. He needed to hold players accountable after that lackluster effort. pic.twitter.com/Vllqu5D2c0— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) December 17, 2018 “We’ve got to be able to figure this out and figure it out fast,” McVay said “These last few weeks we’ve been doing things that are totally uncharacteristic of what good football teams do, of what we’ve done through the first handful of games this season. The only thing we know how to do is go back to work, look at ourselves. Everybody’s got a hand in this and we’ve got to get it figured out fast.” Getting things back on track begins with Goff turning back into the player who started the season with elite numbers. So how do they get him there again? It starts up front with the Rams offensive line The Los Angeles offensive line didn’t have a perfect start to the year — it still allowed five sacks each against the Broncos and Packers — but there’s been a noticeable uptick in pressures since the middle of November: The Rams offensive line has played a big part in the offense's recent struggles:First 10 weeks:78 pressures allowed (6th fewest)Pass blocking efficiency: 83.7 (t-4th best)Last 4 weeks (just 3 games):51 pressures allowed (4th most)Pass blocking efficiency: 71.4 (3rd worst)— Zoltán Buday (@PFF_Zoltan) December 10, 2018 Those problems continued in Week 15 when Goff was pressured 17 times by the Eagles, even if he was only sacked once. Injuries haven’t been the issue, the Rams are one of the only teams fortunate enough to have had the same five offensive linemen start all 14 games this season. But Goff also deserves some of the blame for the recent difficulties with pressure. In the first 10 weeks, Goff had an average of 2.69 seconds per pass attempt and 3.69 seconds until he was sacked. Since Week 11, he’s had an average of 2.76 seconds per pass attempt and he’s getting sacked in an average of 3.54 seconds. Yes, the offensive line is allowing pressure to come a tick faster, but Goff is getting the ball out a tiny bit slower too. The combination is creating havoc in the backfield. Shot 2 - Off the run game, the #Rams are the best play-action team in the NFL. Goff drops back off play-action as much as anyone & it results in a lot of deep shots. Those plays take time to develop, however, and the #Bears did a great job of attacking and impacting Goff off PA pic.twitter.com/HlZbuDwUe7— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 13, 2018 It hasn’t helped that Goff has completely lost his mind at times when things got chaotic: Jared Goff showing everyone how not to quarterback pic.twitter.com/aVmodEtpkS— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) December 17, 2018 Todd Gurley’s numbers have tailed off too, which is both a consequence of, and a reason for the dropoff in Goff’s play and the offensive line. Through the first 10 games, Gurley had 98.8 yards per game and averaged 4.99 yards per carry. In his last four, he has 65.8 yards per game and is averaging 4.53 yards per carry. Those small statistical differences are manifesting in big ways in Goff’s play. Defenses are throwing new looks at Goff After the Week 15 loss to the Eagles, Goff gave reporters one reason for his recent struggles. “Teams are doing different things to us,” Goff said. “Teams are trying out different things, and we just need to find a way to respond.” USA Today’s Doug Farrar detailed some of the ways teams are scheming Goff into getting frustrated. But what teams are doing most is taking away the deep passing from the Rams. In his last three games, Goff has attempted 13 passes at least 20 yards downfield. Only two were completed and three were intercepted. In the first 11 weeks, he attempted 45 passes downfield and completed 24 with seven touchdowns and only two interceptions. Pressure up front is part of the reason for the struggles with deep passing, but teams are also forcing Goff to settle underneath. When he does take shots down field they’re well covered. #Eagles-#Rams: Deep Quarters technique. LB matches to Gurley with the FS pushing to No.3 vertical vs. a 3x1 set. Force Goff to throw underneath — and tackle. @NFLMatchup pic.twitter.com/pawFC5Ko1C— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) December 17, 2018 The loss of Cooper Kupp — one of the NFL’s best receivers on deep balls — to an ACL tear is part of the problem. But the combination of Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods should still be yielding more than two deep receptions over a three-week span. Can Goff get back on track? Those are a lot of red flags for the Rams to overcome, but the season isn’t lost. The team is still 11-3 and even in the loss to the Eagles, the Rams still had 413 yards of offense and a chance to score a game-tying touchdown as time expired. It’s not Goff’s fault that Jojo Natson fumbled completely untouched on a punt return, and it’s not Goff’s fault that neither Gerald Everett nor Todd Gurley thought it would be smart to get out of bounds and save some clock in the final minute. The Rams have been one of the best teams in the NFL at situational football since the arrival of McVay, but those brainfarts cost Goff a couple chances to save the day. And if he had, the Rams would be 12-2 and there would probably be much less hand-wringing about his recent difficulties. But here we are. The Rams desperately need both a win and for Goff to look more like the player who ripped teams to shreds in the first two months of the season. The good news is that LA finishes the season with the Cardinals and 49ers — teams that lost to the Rams, 34-0 and 39-10, respectively, earlier in the year. They’re the perfect pair of opponents for Goff to get things straightened out, because if he doesn’t — the Rams are toast.
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The Eagles have replaced last season’s dog mask with the ski mask
And now, it’s a T-shirt for Philly fans to pick up for the late-season run. On the road to the Super Bowl last season, the Eagles embraced its underdog status with the now-famous dog mask. As as the first No. 1 seed to be a home betting underdog in its first home playoff game, the Eagles rode the dog mask persona all the way to the Super Bowl. So with two weeks left in the regular season and a shot to win the NFC East still within reach, Philly has has once again embraced an alter ego, but with a slight twist this time. This year, the Eagles are turning to ski masks The ski mask is Philly’s 2018 motivation symbol, which according to the Philly Voice, was first caught on TV when safety Malcolm Jenkins was wearing the mask against the Dallas Cowboys two weeks ago. But after the Eagles lost Carson Wentz to injury again and were forced to throw Nick Foles back into the starting lineup, then came up with a huge 30-23 win over the Los Angeles Rams, the ski mask has officially become a thing in Philly. When asked about wearing the ski mask, Eagles safety Rodney McLeod said it best: “It’s robbing season. It’s thievery. Hopefully the fans come out next week and wear the masks with us in the stands.” So with “robbing season” in full force, here’s a new T-shirt for Eagles fans to jump on the #RobbinSZN. BreakingT Philadelphia Ski Mask T-shirt for $26 According to FiveThirtyEight, the Eagles’ playoff odds rose to 39 percent with their win over the Rams. With a win against the Houston Texans in Week 16, those odds will rise to 53 percent. And if Philly wins out and takes care of business against Washington in Week 17, its chances at earning a playoff spot will go up to 74 percent. If you don’t already have a ski mask and need one for the Eagles’ stretch run Going all out with the rest of Philly? We can help you out with this ski mask. Amazon Full Face Cover Thermal Ski Mask for $7.99 Need some more Eagles gear to stay warm during December? An on-field Balaclava will do the trick, especially if you’ll be attending any winter tailgates. eBay Philadelphia Eagles New Era On-Field Balaclava for $28 And here’s a few more ways to stay warm. Tis’ the season! Looking for more product reviews, shopping guides, and good deals on sports merchandise and apparel? Check out our new Buy Stuff section.
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The Rose Bowl will be a window into the future of football
Ohio State’s offense forces defenses to prioritize athleticism in different ways. Washington’s defense is built to deal with just that approach. In a spread era, the Rose Bowl could be a roadmap. In New Year’s Day’s Rose Bowl between Ohio State and Washington, there’s a lot going on. It’s Urban Meyer’s last game leading the Buckeyes, and it might be Dwayne Haskins’ last one at quarterback, too. The Huskies are sending off senior QB Jake Browning and RB Myles Gaskin, four-year starters who have defined the Chris Petersen era. Apart from those sendoffs and the spectacle of the Rose Bowl is the crucial matchup of this game: the one between Ohio State’s increasingly pass-oriented offense under head coach-to-be Ryan Day and the Washington defense that’s carried the Huskies to two of the last three Pac-12 championships while building a case as the new DBU. The last year has shown that more pass-heavy attacking is the wave of the future at the biggest programs. The seven-on-seven era that’s come to define recruiting has now taken hold in the rest of college football. Ohio State’s gone hard in that direction, as have Alabama and Oklahoma. USC’s about to do the same. Washington’s success in the Pac-12 has largely been the result of limiting spread passing attacks with a great secondary. Both Ohio State’s O and Washington’s D put their faith in their athletes being better than the other team’s athletes. Michigan was exposed in its rivalry game against Ohio State for its inability to match up on the outside with the Buckeyes’ corps of burners. The top four targets for Ohio State all follow a similar profile. They’re not big, all coming in around 6-foot flat. They were all SPARQ superstars as recruits. Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin each ran 4.41-second 40-yard dashes. K.J. Hill and Johnnie Dixon were just under 4.6 while also showing explosive numbers in the shuttle and vertical tests. What has made Ohio State so lethal is Haskins utilizing his accuracy and arm strength to lead these WRs as they run by defenders on deep routes or crossers: There’s a lot speed on the field, and opponents can’t stay with everyone. Washington has a similar philosophy guiding its defense. An opposing team’s top three receivers — everyone on the field when Ohio State wants to play with a TE — are going to be the particular focus of cornerbacks Byron Murphy and Jordan Miller and nickel Myles Bryant. The Huskies predominantly play single-high safety coverages like matchup cover 3. They accept that receivers will get one-one-one looks outside the hashes against those three DBs: Murphy is the left cornerback and the star of the show for the Huskies and had four INTs and 13 pass break-ups this season. Bryant added another four break-ups along with 3.5 sacks occasionally coming off the edge. Miller picked off two and broke up five, sometimes avoiding much attention as the right cornerback. As much as Ohio State leans on being able to torch teams that try to match up outside on its speed, Washington leans on winning that exact matchup, so something has to give here. One of the things that sets these units apart is how they move this same speed contest inside the hashmarks. Ohio State doesn’t want to let opponents cover Campbell with cornerbacks. Where’s the fun and easy yardage in that? Instead the Buckeyes like to move him around inside and let him run circles around linebackers and safeties: There, Michigan is playing a single-high coverage comparable to what Washington likes. The Wolverines have a safety over Campbell, but he trades him off inside in zone and then their “viper” (a safety/OLB hybrid) gets matched up on the tight end. That leaves Campbell running a crosser, unencumbered and at high speed, against middle linebacker Devin Bush. Bush is good, but he’s not a space player and certainly not as fast as Campbell. The Huskies’ solution for teams that want to spread them out and attack the box defenders is to use smaller, faster box defenders. Their leading tackler is middle linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, a 6’0, 221-pound senior who’s created all kinds of chaos, from fumbles to break-ups to picks. Burr-Kirven (No. 25) is ultra-quick and tends to patrol between the tackles. They line Burr-Kirven up to the wide side of the field, freeing up Tevis Bartlett (No. 17) to play in the less spacey confines of the shorter side. While their single-high coverages often drop a safety down to help bracket tricky assignments (like a Campbell in the middle of the field), they don’t use that as an excuse to play a bigger, more blitz-oriented middle linebacker. That’s a calculation more defenses will have to make: you can’t hold up against spread attacks like Ohio State’s with traditional inside linebackers who can’t run like safeties. You need at least one who can play in space and cover, in addition to diagnosing the run and filling interior gaps. That ability in space is becoming more important than the jobs middle backers used to do. Teams still tried to target the middle of the field against Washington this season, ignoring UW’s recognition of spread offensive tricks and ability to counter with more modern personnel — hence Burr-Kirven’s absurd 165 tackles. When Ohio State sees that Washington will hold a safety (like the 200-pound Taylor Rapp) near the box to prevent easy numbers in the run game, the Buckeyes will spread the field. Then they’ll push the ball deep on those three Washington corners, or they’ll make the safeties and middle linebacker trade and cover crossers over the middle. If the Huskies can hold up defensively, the big-picture outcome won’t just be who wins or loses. It’ll be that the Huskies gave a blueprint for dealing with highly skilled and speed-based spread passing attacks from blue-blood programs.
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Molde Offer 'No Comment' on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United Links
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Giannis Antetokounmpo is the NBA’s Dunk Lord
Nobody has ever dunked as frequently in NBA history. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the NBA’s most unconscionable superstar. A quick, ball-handling 6’11 guard/forward with legs that stretch the length of the court in three dribbles, Giannis was coined “The Greek Freak” for good reason. Every superstar in the league has that something that stands out. Anthony Davis is a lethal diver in the pick-and-roll. LeBron James can muscle through anyone to the rim. Kyrie Irving has unpredictable shiftiness off the dribble; James Harden can step back (and back) and launch from anywhere. Steph Curry doesn’t even have to step back to do that. But Giannis has the greatest singular superstar skill of all. Among starting ball-handlers, Antetokounmpo scores the third-most points per shot behind Curry and Harden, at 1.28. (Harden’s a fraction better, and Curry is comfortably ahead at 1.37.) When factoring in that Antetokounmpo shoots 12 percent from three-point range — you read that right, he’s in the 0th percentile among bigs, per Cleaning the Glass — and 70 percent from the free throw line, that sounds impossible. How does he do it? He has one skill that carries him to the top tier of the world’s greatest scorers. Giannis is the Dunk Lord A layup or a dunk is the best shot in basketball. ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry proved this using points per shot numbers from each region of the floor. It’s really hard to miss when you’re large enough to simply put the ball in the hoop. But that’s also why it’s the most difficult shot in the game to get. Teams employ giant monsters to stand in the path to the rim and long-armed, athletic wings to stop dribbles in that direction. But nobody can stop Giannis. Antetokounmpo leads the league in dunks at 123, per Basketball Reference. That’s 4.6 per game so far. Rudy Gobert, the next-most prolific dunker, has 114 in 31 games (3.7 per.) Clint Capela is next at 110 (3.9 per.), and then there’s a 34-dunk gap before we get to JaVale McGee. Giannis is on pace to shatter the dunk record since that stat has been tracked, as the Wall Street Journal noted. Dwight Howard had the all-time most at 266, but Giannis, if he plays the rest of the schedule (80 games in total), is on pace to finish with 364. It isn’t simply the quantity of dunks that’s so impressive, either. There’s something very different about the way Giannis is dunking compared to the rest of the field: he’s doing it on his own. Eighty percent of Gobert’s dunks are assisted, and the same rings true for 91 percent of Capela’s. By contrast, just 55 percent of Anteteokounmpo’s dunks come off lobs or passes. On the list of the league’s most frequent dunkers, it takes until No. 12 (Joel Embiid, at 62 percent), to find another player even in the vicinity of that 55-percent mark. Antetokounmpo takes flight at an unreal rate, and he’s able to do so without anyone actively helping. Some of that has to do with the Bucks’ excellent spacing, but most of the credit goes on Antetokounmpo’s own shoulders for being able to take defenders off the bounce and shake the next lines of defense. This is a wildly valuable skill, and why he could still win MVP with a heinously broken jumper. It’s all the more improbable in the modern NBA, which values deep-range and highly accurate shooters, that someone with Giannis’ signature skill thrives. But the Bucks star doesn’t need finesse or a shooter’s roll. He can dribble through traffic and power the ball home. It’s his superpower.
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As DeMarcus Cousins Nears Return, Warriors Will See If Summer Gamble Pays off
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You may not know John Collins’ name now, but you will soon
Trae Young gets most of the attention when talking about the rebuilding Hawks, but don’t forget their 21-year-old double-double machine. The Atlanta Hawks are not a good basketball team. This is by design. They are one of the youngest teams in the league, and their young players have a position of prominence. This is the difference between tanking and rebuilding, and the Hawks are very much in the early stages of the latter. The results have not been pretty, although, again, that’s expected. The Hawks began the week with the worst record in the Eastern Conference, which is good because a high lottery pick would be the ideal outcome this spring. That’s a tough way to get through 82 games, so first-year coach Lloyd Pierce is focusing on the small steps. “It’s about discovery, it’s about growth, and then it’s about development,” Pierce says before a game against the Celtics. “All of those words that we have to keep throwing out there with those guys.” As a high lottery pick, rookie point guard Trae Young has received most of the attention and scrutiny, but the Hawks’ roster is full of 20-somethings trying to find their way in the league. From rookie Kevin Huerter to third-year wing DeAndre’ Bembry, there’s opportunity for players to make a name for themselves. The best of that bunch, though, is second-year forward John Collins. Who is John Collins? He’s a double-double machine quietly tearing up the league. After missing the first 15 games with an ankle injury, Collins is averaging better than 18 points and nine rebounds this season. That makes him one of only a dozen players putting up those kind of numbers. That’s heady company. But Collins has been even better in his last seven games, averaging 23 points and 12 boards on 60 percent shooting from the floor. Even at the warpspeed pace the Hawks play, those numbers get your attention. “You just see him becoming more comfortable as a lead scorer and he’s doing it in a variety of ways,” Pierce says. “Everyone knows he can score in the pick-and-roll. To see him on the glass, to see him put it on the floor, and then to see him stretch the floor, you’re just seeing his growth all at once right now.” .@jcollins20_ had himself another night, going for 29 points and 8 rebounds last night against the @BrooklynNets #TrueToAtlanta pic.twitter.com/Zrjn8R3Gyk— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) December 17, 2018 It’s not like Collins came out of nowhere. He was an All-ACC performer at Wake Forest as a sophomore and he averaged 10.4 points and 7.3 rebounds last season while earning rotation minutes as a rookie. That was good enough to be a second-team All-Rookie selection. Still, guys who get drafted in the latter part of the first round (Collins went 19th) don’t tend to be this good, this fast. For comparison sake, he was drafted after Justin Patton, D.J. Wilson, and T.J. Leaf, and one spot ahead of Harry Giles. Patton and Giles have battled injuries, Wilson is struggling to stay in the league, and Leaf is barely a rotation player. Getting Collins at 19 was quite a coup by general manager Travis Schlenk in his first draft with the club. What’s remarkable is that Collins is the only 20-point scorer in the league without a signature move. Or any moves, really. Collins gets most of his points off dunks, lobs, offensive boards, and other manner of fast-twitch explosions. Seventy-five percent of his field goals come via assists, per Cleaning the Glass. His is not a game of shot creation. It’s a game of activity. “If he’s able to jump in the air with no one underneath him, and I throw it anywhere in the vicinity, I know he’s going to be able to go get it,” Young says. “He scores a lot off plays we don’t even run for him. He can create for himself off energy.” Welcome back, @jcollins20_@ATLHawks pic.twitter.com/QX4szcUrYm— #RingerNBA (@ringernba) November 18, 2018 There have been many players who experienced initial NBA success on little more than energy and athleticism. What makes Collins unique are his exceptional hands and timing. He’s a huge soccer fan and he credits his experiences growing up as a goalie for sharpening his awareness. “It helps my reaction times,” he says. “I’ve always had good hands, but my reaction time is something goaltending helped me with, being able to track the ball at such a fast speed.” His teammates know that they can zip passes to him that other big men might fumble, or bounce passes off the break that don’t break his stride. Anything near the rim is automatic. “You can throw it anywhere,” Pierce says. “You can throw it low, you can throw it high, you can throw him lobs, and he can do whatever he wants with them.” That’s good because the Hawks don’t run any plays for Collins. As Pierce put it: “I don’t call shit for John.” “He’s like, ‘Oh right, I forgot we called a play. What is it again?’ And then he just goes BAM.” -Lloyd Pierce “He doesn’t remember any plays, that’s our running joke, and it’s not a knock on him,” Pierce says. “He’s an energy, bouncy guy. He’s already running something and he’s like, ‘Oh right, I forgot we called a play. What is it again?’ And then he just goes BAM.” Collins goes BAM quite a bit. Get him in a pick and roll heading downhill with a smaller player on him and he’ll punish them. Get him on the run in the fast break and he’ll finish with a dunk. But set plays, no. “For all our guys, to call a play means to slow down,” Pierce said. “That’s not his strength. Movement is his strength, activity is his strength. Side to side is where John’s hard to guard.” Collins, who turned 21 in September, is getting a little tired of hearing that the Hawks don’t call any plays for him. At the same time, Collins is a mature 21 and he understands his role. “When (Pierce) says that he means offensively there’s no set play where you go, ‘Hey John, here’s the ball and you go ISO,’” Collins said. “There’s none of that in the offense. I’m an option. I play my role at an elite level within the offense and the guys do a good job of finding me.” In its way, this is a massive compliment. That Collins can be this effective without the benefit of specific offensive attention, makes him unique. “He’s not a static player,” Pierce continued. “You don’t just give him the ball and say go make a play. That’s not a benefit for us. You just have to let him play and that’s why we don’t call plays for him.” Can I pour you a John Collins? pic.twitter.com/Mlg56uksNL— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 9, 2018 Pierce, by the way, is still trying to figure out how Collins could have spent two years in college and just turn 21 before his second season in the pros. “I’m trying to do the math of two years in college, and then in the NBA,” Pierce said, laughing. “It still doesn’t make sense.” On this team, Collins is practically a seasoned vet. The Hawks have started three rookies — Young, Huerter, and Omari Spellman — while seven of the top 10 rotation players are under the age of 25. Collins hasn’t been through much, but he’s been through some things. “I put in a lot of work over the summer, “ he said. “It’s that work over the summer and from learning the game in my second year, being able to slow down. I’m comfortable being around the NBA lifestyle, the travel, the hotels, the pregame, everything. I’ve seen it, so it’s easier to get me into my zone.” There are is one more obvious step for Collins to make. He has to learn how to shoot within the flow of the game. Collins can shoot. He made a respectable 34 percent of his 3-point shots as a rookie in limited attempts, which was a good sign. This year, he’s shooting more from behind the arc, but making only 23 percent. Everyone is convinced that it’s going to come around in time. “The next layer for him is to consistently be able to stretch where you can call a pick and pop play for him,” Pierce says. “He can shoot it, but he’s learning how to shoot it. He’s learning when to say, ‘Oh if you’re going to play me way down here, I’m not rolling down the floor.’” Pierce takes a step back in the hallway outside the locker room to demonstrate his point. “Now you’re going to come up here,” he continues, taking a step forward. “I can attack you and I can also shoot. That’s the next wave where his game will completely take off.” For the Hawks, these are the steps that matter this season. Collins is already making a name for himself. Just imagine how good he’ll be when it all falls into place.
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Houston Texans vs. Philadelphia Eagles Odds, Analysis, NFL Betting Pick
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Jan Vertonghen, Tottenham Agree to Contract Extension Through 2020
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Kashima Antlers v Real Madrid
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Ray Rice 'Done with Football,' Discusses Domestic Violence and Kareem Hunt
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