NBA Draft Guide 2019

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Folks,,, it’s draft night. I love both the NFL and NBA drafts, but the NBA draft is probably the higher quality entertainment. Whereas the NFL draft is a war of attrition against the weak minded “fans” who can’t last all seven rounds over three days, the NBA draft is an efficient sprint to the finish line. I take pride in my NFL draft commitment, but yeah. Give me one three- or four-hour block of drafting. NFL draft is more conducive to eating way too much food, but don’t underestimate the satisfaction of some good pizza (we call it za in the biz) or wings while watching some roundball highlight packages. Everyone’s scrambling over themselves to declare this draft worthless after the first three picks, but the lack of sure things only opens the door for crazy reaches and funny second round foreign guys who even Fran Fraschilla has never heard of with preposterous workout videos. The various injuries and Anthony Davis trade have taken some steam out of the extracurricular aspects of tonight’s draft, but I think we’re still in store for something good. If only everyone still wore XXXXXXXXL suits. Let’s break down everything you need to know about the 2019 NBA draft class.

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Reasons Why I WOULDN’T Take Zion Williamson Number One…

  • None

Do You Say Zi-ON or Zi-EN

  • I’m becoming a Zi-EN guy. Think it just kind of sounds funny.

Good Players in This Draft

  • Zion Williamson
  • Ja Morant
  • Bol Bol, but only in 2K

Bad Players in This Draft

  • Pretty much everyone else?
  • Maybe not De’Andre Hunter?

Guys I Want the Celtics to Draft

  • One of the Good Players
  • Anyone not named Kyrie Irving

Biggest Storylines

  • Does Zion get put in the Hall of Fame tonight?
  • Is anyone else any good?
  • Will Cam Reddish bother showing up? Because he didn’t at Duke.
  • Will anyone break from the monopoly of blue/black/gray tailored suits?
  • How many highlight videos will include warm-ups/empty gyms?
  • Are we positive anyone besides Zion’s getting drafted tonight?

Zion?

  • Zion

I Just Said This Was Going to be a Fun Draft, But It’s Going to be Pretty Boring, Huh?

  • Yeah
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Raptors Win the Title?

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The Toronto Raptors are NBA champions. Doesn’t quite sound right, does it?

It’s kind of funny how we frame unexpected champions, particularly in basketball. It felt so bizarre that the Mavericks won the title off of LeBron and the Heat in 2011, but they won 57 games and were top ten in every offensive and defensive metric. The 2006 Heat felt weird as it was happening because Dwyane Wade, not Shaq, was leading them. The 2004 Pistons weren’t as good as the 04 Lakers on paper, but the Pistons allowed a comical 84.3 points per game that season (much, much different league, but still). It seems odd and random that the Raptors would win the championship this year, but it’s only because they’re the Raptors and they beat the Warriors. Other than that, this was likely the second or third best team in the NBA during the regular season and only got better in the playoffs. 58 wins, top five in offensive and defensive rating, and lead by one of the premier singular talents in basketball. A worthy champion and a deserved Larry O.B.

A couple things that merit discussion in the wake of these Finals, so let’s just get the Warriors talk out of the way first. Brutal, brutal loss. Last game at Oracle, lose KD and Klay, got roasted online. Regardless of what Durant and Klay do, the Warriors will look different next season, and their role as the league’s goalpost will likely at least take a yearlong hiatus. Klay and the Warriors’ collective championship spirt availed themselves well last night, but there’s only so much a limited roster can do against a team as talented as Toronto, particularly when Steph (online debates have shredded any chance of having perspective on things currently happening, but Steph is still a top-25 player all time, even if you don’t like him. Took Brady six rings before everyone got the poop out of their diapers and begrudgingly admitted his greatness) struggled like he did. Not trying to make excuses for him, but Steve Kerr didn’t do him any favors in the fourth quarter. Still, even if Steph did make the last shot, they would have just lost on Sunday. Attrition comes for everyone, and honestly, better to lose valiantly in front of your own fans than lose by 40 in front of Drake.

But enough about them. This should be about the Raptors, and, as is the case with every dynastic team that loses, I fear it likely won’t be. So many players are talked about differently now: Kyle Lowry, the human embodiment of lackluster playoff performances, is now an NBA champion who had an awesome closeout game, and now we can finally appreciate his five All-Star games and All-NBA selection. He was really good on both sides these playoffs! Gonna be someone we value more the longer he’s away from the game. Danny Green is now a two-time champion and no one cares he threw the ball out of bounds with the series on the line. Patrick McCaw has literally never not won the title. Fred VanVleet, even if it was just a random hot streak, put his name among all the other role players who unexpectedly swung series and championships and finally gave the college purists a win. Jeremy Lin has a ring now and Carmelo doesn’t. Serge Ibaka gets one before Harden and Westbrook, and honestly, they don’t even make the Finals without him. And Marc Gasol, my sweet, sweet Spanish son. He’s been one of my favorite players for years, ever since Grit ‘N’ Grind burst onto the scene. So smart, so skilled, so unselfish. His ring is for ZBo, for Tony Allen, for Mike Conley, for every fat guy who can’t jump more than 10 inches off the ground and has to rely on positioning and guile. He had a glorious two- or three-year stretch as the best passing big man ever before Jokic redefined what that even meant. I’m just so happy he finally got to taste the air at the top of the mountain, a long-overdue cap to a fabulous career. And what about Nick Nurse? Rookie head coach winning the title by pressing all the right buttons and (mostly) avoiding mistakes. Is he the next great coach or did he get lucky by having a great roster? Only time will tell. Having no context of what GMs make, the Wizards offering Masai Ujiri $10 mil a year seems like a steal.

The main focus, however, is on the Raptors’ two best players- Pascal Siakam and Kawhi Leonard. Siakam, despite having been a far more anonymous college player, is suddenly on a similar career track to Leonard: non-lottery pick, rapid development predicated on extreme length and athleticism, and now the title in the third season. He’s a little older than Kawhi was at this stage, but after what we saw all year you kind of have to wonder what his ceiling is. All-Star, for sure, but could he make it to first- or second-team All-NBA level? I won’t rule it out. It wasn’t perfect these playoffs; there were times where he seemed a little in over his head. But he always recovered, and I’m excited to see what he can do next year as the Raps’ top dog (sorry, guys).

Kawhi now has to be talked about a little differently. Two Finals MVPs is nothing to shake a stick at; only twelve players have ever done it, and only he, LeBron, and Kareem have gotten one for two different teams. He averaged 30 a game these playoffs and, ever since the first championship with San Antonio, has established himself as one of the best playoff performers in NBA history. He’s got the clutch moments, he’s got the huge games, he’s got the consistency and quiet leadership, he’s got the all-time defense. Once he adds longevity it’ll be clear that this is one of the best players ever and it came out of nowhere. He’s probably going to the Clippers in the offseason and, with the Warriors down…. maybe? If he’s got enough juice to overcome the Raptors’ Loser DNA and then the Clippers’ Ultimate Loser DNA he should be put in the Hall of Fame on the spot. I can’t wait for his induction speech, man. Maybe he just won’t show up. Not sure I’d blame him one bit.

No league is ever really over these days, so the Raptors only have a week before the Pelicans capture everyone’s imagination and then whichever team makes the biggest splash in free agency. But for now, at least, the North is king. Insert Drake lyric here.

Who’s to Blame for the Kevin Durant Injury?

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Who’s to blame for a non-contact injury? Anyone? No one? Well, according to Twitter (just a warning, this is going to be extremely “according to Twitter” and if you’re not like me and don’t spend all day on the worst website ever created I’d suggest you kind of move on because this whole thing is going to seem like a gigantic strawman argument against myself), one of two entities is solely responsible for Kevin Durant likely tearing his Achilles and completely changing the course of his career: Kevin Durant himself or the Warriors franchise.

Saying there’s a crowd of people blaming KD is a stretch; it’s more of a “the Warriors aren’t at fault.” That KD knew the risks, he’s a grown man who can make his own decisions, he’s a competitor who chose to be out there, etc. Did toxic masculinity injure Kevin Durant? All of which is 100% true, by the way. Kevin Durant chose to play. Saying this on Twitter has become an explosive take because the echo chamber known as NBA Twitter has decided that every ounce of “blame” for an injury falls at the feet of the Warriors. Why? Well, on NBA Twitter, every faceless, generic media member with a blue check mark has decided that every NBA player is their friend, so they have to take the players’ side no matter what, that the teams and owners are evil, and that the only valid opinion is whatever gets you the most Agreement Points from your fellow NBA Twitter members, save for the one annoyingly stupid opinion you have about some non-basketball, probably food-related topic you throw out on the timeline during the offseason to try and convince everyone you have a personality and weren’t just created in a factory that churns out media passes. Anyway. The argument is that the Warriors shouldn’t have cleared him and that they pressured him to play. Both of these can also be true. Of course they pressured him to play, they were down 3-1 and he’s Kevin Durant. Should he have been allowed to play? I don’t know, and no online doctor knows, either. Hearing Bob Myers and Steve Kerr say that they felt the initial calf injury was unrelated seems dubious. But maybe it was? Maybe this was just a freak injury. Or maybe it was a result of playing 12 of the first 14 minutes of an NBA Finals game on a tendon that may or may not have been iffy in the first place.

It’s easy to sit here the day after and say he shouldn’t have played. No, duh. But try and put yourself in KD’s shoes, for a second. Since he got hurt, every talking head has debated whether the Warriors are better without him or if they need him. It then morphed into KD is being selfish in a bizarre series of stories where unnamed sources in the Warriors were supposedly wondering why he wasn’t playing yet. Not to mention the millions of Twitter users who, before defending him against the evils of a corporation who wanted to succeed, called him a snake for joining the Warriors, constantly downplay and discount his greatness, and have questioned his heart and achievements for the last three years. Of course he wanted to play, how could he not? Maybe we should be blaming the online mob for this, but we all know that will never happen. That would require a level of introspection and nuance that doesn’t exist in 2019.

My thoughts? My thoughts are that it was a non-contact injury so blaming someone seems stupid? Injuries happen. It sucks, but it’s the nature of sports. He shouldn’t have played, but try telling Durant that. I bet you wouldn’t like his response.

The McDonald’s Worldwide Menu Might Cause World War III

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Our American customers will have their pick of four craveable and delicious menu items from several of our international menus including:

Stroopwafel McFlurry (The Netherlands): Our creamy vanilla soft serve, mixed with a rich caramel swirl, featuring authentic chopped Dutch Daelmans Stroopwafel caramel waffle cookie pieces. Cookies and soft serve? Yes please.

Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger (Spain): A quarter pound* of 100 percent fresh beef** topped with thick cut Applewood smoked bacon, smoky McBacon Sauce, real Gouda cheese and slivered onions served on a freshly toasted sesame seed bun.

Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich (Canada): Made with a grilled or crispy all white meat, juicy and tender chicken, the Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich is topped with tomato & herb sauce, creamy mozzarella cheese, slivered onions, fresh lettuce and sliced Roma tomatoes served on a freshly toasted artisan roll.

Cheesy Bacon Fries (Australia): Look familiar? That’s right, Cheesy Bacon Fries are back! After such a positive customer reaction to Australia’s Cheesy Bacon Fries in the U.S., they’re taking a victory lap. Don’t miss our World Famous Fries topped with real cheddar cheese sauce and chopped Applewood Smoked bacon.

Folks, you all know I’m not one for hyperbole. I keep things “one-hundred,” as the kids like to say. So when I make big proclamations, they come from a level-headed, rational place. McDonald’s just doomed us all by introducing this new Worldwide Favorites menu.

It’s not the menu itself I’m worried about; it’s innocuous enough. A burger with a preposterous name, a pretty standard chicken sandwich, and a new McFlurry aren’t cause for concern (how about McDonald’s trying to pass off cheesy bacon fries as a new international item when they were on the mainline menu like two months ago? Come on, guys). Its what the menu represents. This is likely the end of international trade as we know it.

Let me ask you a question: why do you travel? To experience other cultures, see the sights, escape your current crappy life/weather, yadda yadda. But the real reason is food. You want to go somewhere that has food you can’t get at home. You want new dining experiences that make you rethink how you viewed the world around you. You want to taste the weird menu items McDonald’s has in different countries. You want to go to Spain and get a Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger. You want to go to the Netherlands and get a Stroopwafel McFlurry. But now that McDonald’s has foolishly decided to bring these foreign agents to our shores? Why leave the house again?

The negative effects of this are far-reaching. First, it’s going to murder international McDonald’s sales. Without looking at the actual data, I’d wager that 95% of McDonald’s international profit comes from American tourists. Why would any of them go now that they can get the funky signature item at home? Soon the margins will get so tight that non-American locations will start closing left and right. And once the McDonald’s start closing, the tourism dries up. Why go anywhere without a McDonald’s? There’s no reason to, really. And once the tourism dries up, the other countries get mad that they don’t have any money anymore. What happens then? They band together and create a league of evil bent on getting revenge on the entity that precipitated their downfall: McDonald’s. They start attacking the only locations left standing, all of which are now in America. And, due to the influx of tourists coming to get their erstwhile comfort food, the domestic McDonald’s will have only grown more powerful and expanded to even more locations than there already were. So now there’s a massive army invading America and attacking every town in every state, most of which completely revolve around the local McDonald’s. Our very way of life will cease to exist, all because McDonald’s decided to put a limited time novelty item on the menu. And when the dust settles and only the strong are left in the new apocalypse state? Well, that’s the plot of John Wick 5, friends.

So, in short, McDonald’s has made another shortsighted decision that torpedoes their own exclusivity to appeal to a market that won’t appreciate it. And we’re gonna be the ones paying the bill. A real shame, if you ask me.

Final Thoughts on Game of Thrones

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So, Game of Thrones. Ever heard of it? Just ended, I’m sure you have thoughts. I have some, as well. I went back an forth on whether or not to even post this, because, as I said, everyone in the world has their opinions and everyone in the world has already written their think pieces and everyone in the world has already told everyone else in the world how much they hated this season. There’s really nothing original or thought-provoking or worthwhile I can add to the discussion surrounding season 8 and the end to the saga, but I feel like I have to try, anyway. It’s Website Law, after all. I found the final two seasons relatively disappointing and didn’t love the ending, but it was far from the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Anyone saying as such is likely just a prisoner of the moment and got caught up in the hype and theorizing, has never watched a TV show from start to finish before, or is just looking for affirmation online.

In the grand scheme of the fandom, I’m an early GOT adapter: the first season is the only one I didn’t watch live. I’ve read the books and the companion books. I know more about Westeros and Essos than any one man should know. If there’s anyone who should be personally offended by the ending to all of this, it’s me. And I just….don’t really care that much. It was a crappy ending. That doesn’t erase the hours upon hours of amazing television or the pages upon pages of amazing storytelling. Just because you found the ending underwhelming doesn’t mean the show itself is now worthless or can’t be appreciated. It’s completely absurd that a TV show had the kind of production value Game of Thrones did. Set mistakes aside, this season was mind-blowing visually. The acting, as usual, was top-notch. Yet another dominant season from Peter Dinklage, whose work as Tyrion, even though the writing let his character down, has to be put into the all-time great TV performance pantheon. TV is only getting bigger and more expensive and drawing bigger directors and actors and producers, so maybe this becomes the norm. But it probably won’t, so even if you didn’t love the pacing or the writing or the characterizations or whatever (I didn’t, either), there’s still so much to appreciate. It wasn’t a perfect ending, it’s not the end of the world.

When they look back on this ten or twenty years from now, I think the showrunners (if they even care) will be kicking themselves over the truncation of seasons 7 and 8 and the two-year gap between them. Granted, I’m sure they didn’t have much control over the delay, but it only increased the fervor and the theorizing and the hand-wringing and allowed more and more people to catch up and get hyped up for the finale. It would have been nearly impossible to come up with an ending the majority of people liked, but shortening the seasons like that tied one hand behind their backs. They kept saying it was only a 73-hour story. What? You knew that specific number when you made the pilot? That seems fake and lazy. But you know what? In a way I don’t really blame them. They signed up to adapt George R.R. Martin’s brilliant world into a television show, and, before they knew it, they ran out of world. Guys who aren’t fantasy authors had to now finish a master’s story. That would be like if Gordon Ramsey did the first 80% of an extravagant meal and then told me to finish the dish I’d never even heard of previously. It was always going to be rocky. It’s so hard to finish any massive story like this. It’s even harder when it’s not yours and you’ve been thrown into a stormy ocean with no life vest. I can see pretty clearly why those two just wanted out. They’ll always have the first six seasons.

So now we just hope and pray that Geroge can finish the books. To be honest, they’re so long and deep and there are so many different threads and plots that I don’t even know if it’s humanly possible to wrap it up in a satisfying way. His meandering style doesn’t exactly lend itself to speedy completion, but I’m sure everyone would rather wait to have as good a version as possible than some rush job. I’m worried for his health, and the amount of pressure he’s now facing is incomprehensible. I’m rooting for him, mostly because this has become one of the most formative stories in my life. As someone currently writing my own books, his world building and narrative style are inspirational. So take your time, George, but uhh, yeah. It’s kind of up to you, now.

Those are pretty much my thoughts on the ending of the show. It sucks there’s no more episodes to look forward to, but there’ll be something new eventually. There always is, and that’ll be what’s kindest to the show moving forward. People will eventually forget how much they hated this, because they’ll hate something else even more. Now, let’s rank some stuff.

Book Power Ranking

  1. Storm of Swords
  2. Game of Thrones
  3. Dance with Dragons
  4. Clash of Kings
  5. Feast for Crows

Best Characters (show only)

  1. Jaime Lannister
  2. Tyrion Lannister
  3. Bronn
  4. Arya Stark
  5. Brienne of Tarth

Best Acting Performances (have to go top 11 because there are just too many)

  1. Dinklage- Tyrion
  2. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau- Jaime
  3. Lena Headey- Cersei Lannister
  4. Charles Dance- Tywin Lannister
  5. Alfie Allen- Theon Greyjoy
  6. Jack Gleason- Joffrey Baratheon
  7. Jerome Flynn- Bronn
  8. Liam Cunningham- Davos Seaworth
  9. Maisie Williams- Arya
  10. Gwendoline Christie- Brienne
  11. Carice van Houten- Melisandre

Best House to be in (before events of show)

  1. Tyrell
  2. Martell
  3. Dayne (need to get my hands on Dawn)
  4. Lannister
  5. Hightower (imagine being king of Chicago)

Best place to live

  1. Sunspear
  2. Anywhere in the Reach
  3. Qarth
  4. Everywhere else

Season Ranking

  1. 4
  2. 2
  3. 1
  4. 6
  5. 3
  6. 5
  7. 7
  8. 8

Biggest unanswered questions

  1. What was the point of the Night King?
  2. What can Bran actually do?
  3. What about the Faceless Men?
  4. What does Varys want/what’s his origin?
  5. What happened to Tyrek Lannister? (shoutout to the book readers)

Best Moments

  1. Hot Pie browning the butter
  2. Cersei destroys sept
  3. Tower of Joy
  4. Wildfire ships in the Blackwater
  5. Jaime-Brienne bath

Is John Wick Now the Number One Action Hero of All Time?

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Variety

Obviously includes spoilers for John Wick 3, so don’t read if you haven’t watched.

When John Wick 2 came out, I released my definitive, unassailable list of best action movie characters. It was released prior to my viewing of John Wick 2, and the Baba Yaga ranked third. Two amazing displays later, it’s time to reconsider John’s placement amongst the greatest action heroes in cinematic history. After getting 128 kills in 2 and, by my initial count 76 kills in 3 (yes, I counted during the movie. Just like I counted during 2) (I’m disappointed in myself for losing track of the headshots by the end, but I think it was in the 40 range), I’m comfortable putting John ahead of John Matrix and 1a to John McClane’s 1.

The battle between Johns Wick and McClane hinges on how influential to the genre you find John McClane. To me, he’s the most important action movie character ever because he blended the swaggering one-liners of Stallone and Arnold with the reluctant everyman persona that would become a dominant force during the 90s. He’s what every action hero since Die Hard is based off, just like Die Hard itself serves as inspiration for 95% of all action movies released since. However, don’t look now, but the industry is shifting. To what, you may ask? To a post-Wick world where the fighting is realistic, heavily choreographed, and gun-centric and the heroes are stoic and out for revenge. Don’t believe me? Go watch Atomic Blonde, Polar, Peppermint, Hotel Artemis, The Foreigner, or like, any action movie released since 2014. In ten years, we might look back on the two Johns as the major signposts on the road to action movie nirvana, both taking the greatness of the previous generation and molding it into a new one that tries, but never fully succeeds, in living up to the original character’s highs.

McClane remains the true number one for one reason and one reason alone: he didn’t have any help. Before the third installment, John Wick was a one-man army. After seeing Halle Berry put up a Jamal Crawford 50 point game off the bench and Lance Riddick trade his coat for a shotgun I’m looking back at the McClane sidekicks and realizing they only ever hindered him. Samuel L. was just a store owner. Justin Long was Justin Long. Jai Courtney? Yikes. John McClane has been 2007 LeBron his whole career, only he hasn’t made the Finals in 20 years. Wick’s supporting cast is only getting better. Had Zero survived, he would have been the perfect running mate to challenge Winston and the High Table in the fourth one (I need to go to that sushi stand, even if the chef is dead). The various High Table members always bring it (I’ll have some thoughts later, but let’s just say that when I saw it on Sunday morning, I was convinced Berrada was the only Jerome Flynn character I’d be seeing that day). Fishburne and the adjudicator somehow survived. The Wick-verse is deeper than the Pacific Ocean. The Die Hard universe is not. No character in action history has had to completely carry a franchise quite like McClane has. Atlas himself thinks McClane had to carry a lot of weight in the last, like, four Die Hards. That’s too much to overlook. I’m not saying Wick can never be number one, he can. But in order to dethrone the king? That’ll take something special.