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And Then There Was One..

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It all comes down to this. The final day of the regular season is here and still the Oakland Athletics have not clinched a postseason berth.

2 months ago if I had told you that on the last day of the season that Oakland would still not have clinched a spot, you would think I was crazy. But in what could be on of the most catastrophic collapses in baseball history, I sit here and wonder, what went wrong?

Oakland jumped out of the gates this season, coming off back to back American League West titles. Largely under the radar during both those campaigns, the A’s came in this season with a little bit more star power. Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes were now stars, and the American League was starting to take notice. But when both Jarrod Parker and AJ Griffin went down in spring training with Tommy John surgery, there was speculation about this team whether or not they could compete in an improved AL West division. With Mike Trout a bona-fide superstar and the Mariners landing a whale in free agency in the form of Robinson Cano, the A’s would have their work cut out.

But the A’s jumped out the gate. Posting the best record in all of baseball at the break at 59-36. All was well in Oakland. The pitching was clicking despite the losses of Parker and Griffin. Once again Billy Beane was looked at as a genius for piecing together a lineup of low priced players and Bob Melvin was up to his usual, mixing and matching players in platoon roles.

Then, in what. Any would consider a controversial move, Beane started to mess with his winning formula. He decided to move his top prospect Addison Russell (No. 3 in all of MLB) and a couple others to the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to solidify the rotation. At the time of the trade both pitchers had been having solid seasons. Samardzija was 2-7 with a 2.83 ERA and Hammel was 7-5 with a 2.98 ERA. So you can’t fault Beane for this move, only that he may have given up too much for a pitcher having his best season yet and another who has been a journeyman. But one thing was for certain, Beane was all in. His next move really shocked Oakland and all of MLB.

The morning of the trade deadline, Oakland traded Yoenis Cespedes away to Boston for Jon Lester and Johnny Gomes. Many casual fans looked at this trade as stupid. Why trade away your cleanup hitter for a pitcher when you already have one of the best rotations in baseball. Cespedes may not have had as glamourous numbers as he did his first year, but he was a presence in the lineup and since the trade Oakland’s offense has declined. But Billy Beane was at his wits end. He was tired of watching his team lose playoff series because they lacked the big game pitcher. With Parker out for the season, they lacked a serious number 1. Lester is that guy. Justin Verlander is that guy, the same guy who pitched the A’s out consecutive playoff series. Since the trade, Lester has been as good as advertised. Posting a quality start almost everytime he takes the mind in green and gold, he has been what Oakland needed.

But the offense has sputtered. The A’s have been on this tailspin and now, on the last day of the season, are on the verge of potentially missing the playoffs. Which would not only be one of the worst collapses in baseball history (would be first team in history with best record at All-Star break to miss the playoffs in Division era). Although they have played terrible baseball, they have sat in the playoff hunt through it all, never relinquishing a position at the top of the division or wild card. As it stands, they can clinch a wild card game to play either the Royals or Tigers. Most likely they will be on the road. But they need to get there. It’s not complex, Oakland just needs a win or a Seattle loss. The magic number sits at just 1. But as we have seen, nothing has been easy for the swinging A’s this second half of the season. It’s enough to drive anyone crazy, especially those who bleed green and gold.

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MLB Trade Deadline Updates

In the past 48 hours, many prominent names in Major League Baseball have been in the headlines. Cole Hamels signed a $144 million extension, Ichiro was traded to the Evil Empire that is the New York Yankees, Hanley was traded to Hollywood, and Wandy Rodriguez was traded to the surprising NL Central division leading Pirates. 

By resigning Cole Hamels, the Phillies have assured themselves of having their core of pitchers together for another 3 seasons, along with the fact that they wanted to show they are committed to winning in the years upcoming. While the price tag may seem steep, Hamels has been one of the main integral parts of the Phillies current run of playoff teams, he won the World Series MVP in 2008, and has been consistent starter for the Phillies ever since.

In the same division, Hanley Ramirez aka El Niño, was traded out west to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Randy Choate for Nathan Eovaldi and a minor league pitcher. Which is surprising to many is that Ramirez, when healthy and has his head all the way there, is an elite hitter and can change the dynamic of any lineup. Ramirez may come with a hefty contract and some baggage, but he no doubt will improve the Dodgers immediately, and will be under team control for another 2 seasons.

Over to the NL Central, the Houston Astros traded Wandy Rodriguez, in the division to the surprisingly contending Pittsburgh Pirates. (When was the last time you said that this late in July). Rodriguez had been rumored to be on the move this trading deadline, just a little shocking that he went to the Pittsburgh Pirates. This bolsters and already impressive staff led by the resurgent A.J. Burnett, Jason McDonald and Erik Bedard. I’m not sure if the PIrates are done shopping but this gives them a legitimate chance to contend down the stretch with 4 quality starters.

Lastly Ichiro Suzuki, who had been with the Seattle Mariners since coming to the U.S. in 2001, was traded to the New York Yankees on Monday for 2 minor league pitchers. To me this trade is ridiculous, Danny Farquhar is on his 4th organization this season and D.J. Mitchell has been struggling all season. The Yankees are able to fill the void left by Brett Gardner, who is out of the season due to elbow surgery, with a great hitter who is sure to fit in the lineup great.

Now for the final 7 days left until the trade deadline it should be interesting to see who is moved and who stays put. Teams like the Dodgers, Athletics, Angels, Rangers, and Nationals are teams who for sure will be buyers, but at what expense. Will they be willing to part with top prospects? Only time will tell and it should be a wild week!

What is Going On in Oakland?

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Yesterday the Oakland Athletics pulled off a 4 game sweep of the New York Yankees at the Coliseum, as usual by a walk-off hit and another 1 run victory. Especially worth noting that this was the first time a team had swept a 4 game set by winning all 4 games by the minimum margin.

How many people believed this was even possible. The last time the Yankees were in Oakland, they swept this Oakland A’s team who was currently in the midst of a 9 game losing streak.

How 2 months can change perception. Most people believed this Oakland team would play the season out just like that team which lost 9 straight in back in late May. Many picked them to lose 100 games, even one ESPN analyst even said he wouldn’t be surprised if they lost 120 games. Who wouldn’t agree with them? They traded away Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, two-thirds of this most recent Big 3, along with their closer Andrew Bailey and another consistent hitter in Ryan Sweeney away all for prospects.

But somehow this band of misfits, prospects and hold overs from last seasons team have jelled together in a surprising manner and have the A’s in a position many thought the A’s wouldn’t be in this time in the season. A 14-2 record in July along with a 5-1 record against the class of the American League, the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees, during the most recent homestand leaves them sitting atop the Wild Card standings.

For A’s fans, they deserve this kind of run. Considering how far the franchise fell off after the 2006 playoff run, the years and players lost to injuries and trades, the fans deserve this reward. Even if it last for a few more weeks, months or even into October, this is a franchise that deserves it.

During the recent homestand against the Yankees, it brought back memories of those great A’s teams from 10 years ago. The same team that had Eric Chavez, who now is a utility player for the Yankees, and went to the playoffs 4 out of 6 years from 2000-2006. “It’s kind of the same ingredients, you know, when we were here,” said Chavez. “It’s good, young pitching, got some pretty good stars, it looks like. They’re kind of mixing in some pieces. Looks like they’re jelling right now.”

It’s something I think only Bob Melvin and his squad thought possible. Since taking over midseason after the abrupt but long overdue firing of Bob Geren, Melvin came in an instilled a new culture with this Athletics team.
It was evident after this homestand, the atmosphere at the coliseum, the confidence the players had against the giants of the AL. Despite ranking 27th in the league in runs, last in batting average, 28th in On-Base Percentage, and 25th in slugging percentage, they were able to win 5 straight games, all by 1 run, including 3 walk-off wins.
Despite those poor offensive statistics, the A’s are still one of the American League’s most exciting teams. They have allowed the least runs in the AL, 38 fewer than any club. Many skeptics believe that they are too young and cannot sustain this success the whole season.
It seems many experts just are waiting for midnight to strike for this cinderella. Something like the 1969 New York Mets, who now we all know as the Amazin’ Mets who won their first World Series title that summer or the 1991 Atlanta Braves, who had finished in last place the last 3 years before their magical run. Even in 2008, many believed the Rays who had never made the playoffs in their franchises’ young history believed they would fall apart down the stretch or the San Francisco Giants of 2010, many thought they were not strong enough offensively or their pitching would not hold up.
And now we look at these 2012 Athletics, who are playing through this summer with such confidence, swagger and the must-win scrappiness that all of the previous teams possessed.
“I don’t think there was anybody in the dugout or in the stands who didn’t think we were going to win,” said outfielder Seth Smith, whose 9th inning homerun tied the game and gave the A’s hope.
This kind of confidence reminds me of a similar A’s team from 10 years ago, which made a incredible streak of their own and won 20 straight games. That team, made famous by the Moneyball movie, had just lost their 2 best hitters in Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon, and their closer in Jason Isringhausen the offseason before, yet was able to go on a magical run of their own.
While this team may not be as talented as that team that one 20 straight, this team has the same fire, passion and confidence. Something that will help this team down the road and could even lead them to an unlikely playoff berth.

A’s most exciting team in baseball this season?

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After yet ANOTHER walk-off victory for the A’s this afternoon, their 9th of the season, the A’s salvaged a split against the AL West leading Texas Rangers. Watching this team comeback again against one of the AL’s elite teams, it brings up the question ‘Are the A’s the most exciting team in baseball to watch?

Not only is this team great in late game situations, but they are the type of team that many people are overlooking because they lack the typical ‘superstar’ that most teams possess. Yes, they signed Yoenis Cespedes who was on many teams radar in the off season, but other than that no player on this team is a real household name. Which makes their run even more impressive. A team many thought back in February would lose 100 games is now bashing home runs, leading the league in ERA and winning games on walk-off home runs (the A’s lead the majors with 9 walk-off wins). Even more impressive is many different pieces to this team are contributing a walk-off of their own. Brandon Inge, 7 games after being acquired after the A’s, hit a walk-off grand slam to beat the Blue Jays. Cespedes, who has been off and on injured this season, hit a walk-off against the then NL West leading Los Angeles Dodgers to complete a sweep. Not to be outdone, that Sunday against the A’s cross bay rivals, rookie Derek Norris who had been called up earlier that week, saved the A’s with a walk-off home run against the San Francisco Giants to avoid the sweep at home. See the recurring theme here? There’s more. On July 6th Chris Carter was able to join the club and hit a walk-off home run of his own for the win against the Seattle Mariners. Two days later, despite being snubbed for an All-Star pick, Josh Reddick’s walk-off double sent the A’s into the All-Star at .500, a place many fans and experts had not expected from this team.

Is this baseball’s most exciting team to watch? No true superstar, a lineup full of misfits and guys who have been undervalued by their old clubs, along with a manager who just took over the rains midway through last season. This is the glimmer of hope this ball club has been looking for, especially with the franchise in limbo due to the stadium issue. They are giving guys a second chance and opportunity to play. Brandon Inge who had been released early in the season by the Tigers, immediately came in and provided a spark for the team with a hot start. Even though he has cooled down as of late, its something that many of the newest influx of players have given. Brandon Moss, a former Red Sox prospect, who then flamed out with the Pittsburgh Pirates most recently, came in and has sparked the A’s to a 21-9 run since being called up. Mix-in a bunch of prospects who were acquired for stars, and you have a young, exciting team of players with nothing to lose. 

Now the boring, $200 million dollar payroll, old school New York Yankees come to town. While this is a team that can hit the long ball and even pitch pretty well, they are a team full of veterans and salary, a team who no doubt will be in the playoffs this season but does not possess the chemistry and youthful exuberance that this squad has. It wasn’t until the Yankees acquired former Athletic Nick Swisher that they seemed to loosen up a bit. 

When was the last time you saw the Yankees or anyone celebrate a homerun like this? 

Or like this one? I keep tuning into games over and over again just to see if they are going to get another walk-off just so I can see someone get a pie to the face and a gatorade shower. Can this team withstand this success the last 2 months of the season and steal the 2nd wild-card spot? I sure hope so. America needs to see the excitement this team brings to the field.

Resurgence in Oakland?

First off, the title you are reading is correct, the Oakland Athletics are playing some of their best baseball since 2006. After trading away their superstars for prospects this offseason, they have hit their stride midway through the season, and thus find themselves half a game out of the wild card as of today.

A’s win 9-4 in Minnesota

Before we get into the A’s upcoming schedule, we have to look at how the A’s have gone from the cellar to some contention. Since June 12, which coincides with the day the A’s called up Brandon Moss, they have been an impressive 20-8. What is more impressive is that they have been ‘Bash Brothers’ like hitting homeruns at a rate we haven’t seen in some time. Even more impressive is the fact that this is the same team that lost 9 straight games in late May and early June of this season.

Over the past weekend in a sweep of the Minnesota Twins, the first since 2000, they bashed 9 homeruns and 8 of which came in the last 2 games. Brandon Moss’ June 12th call-up is the same day the A’s won the first game of this impressive 20-8 run. Along with Moss being called up, Chris Carter was called up June 29th and that platoon has been doing wonders for the A’s. Moss has hit .273 with a .333 OBP (On Base Percentage) and is slugging .714. Carter on the other hand hasn’t been any slouch either, mashing 5 homeruns in 9 games, all while sporting an impressive .346/.452/.962 line in just 26 at-bats. While this may not seem like much because it is such a taste of the big leagues, it is crucial to Carter’s success that he get off to a hot start. The last few times he has been called up have been rough, thus hurting his confidence and affecting his play. Now that he has come confidence and success at the big league level. This platoon has done wonders for a team which has struggled with the likes of Daric Barton, Kila Ka’aihue, and others at first this year. Along with a healthy Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick’s consistency, this team has been cranking out some hefty power numbers and could do some damage over the next 2 months. Along with the statistically the league’s best pitching staff, the Oakland A’s have put themselves in a position to succeed.

The moves that they made this offseason; trading away Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, Andrew Bailey, and Ryan Sweeney have brought back a hefty return. While not the big marquee superstar names we had maybe hoped for, they have replaced Cahill and Gonzalez with Milone and Parker. Cahill and Gonzalez, while pitching for Arizona and Washington respectively, have combined for 19 wins, and a 3.33 ERA in 221.2 innings. This is very impressive, especially when you look at the fact that Gonzalez has done more than Cahill, sporting a 12-4 record with a 2.93 ERA. But to me which is more impressive is the fact is that the A’s have gotten production out of Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone, 2 of the pitchers acquired in each deal, and out of the 2 of them, have gotten 15 wins, a 3.38 ERA in 205 innings, along with a few other players who have sported key fill in roles for the Athletics this year and many more waiting in the wings in the minors. A few of those names, Colin Cowgill and Derek Norris have seen success with the big league club after starting the season in the minors, just like Jarrod Parker. The future for this club is bright, and maybe just maybe they might not have sell off all their assets for prospects and can field a playoff contender. And as Jonah Keri wrote on Grantland yesterday,  “Keep playing this well, and it’ll become nearly impossible for Oakland to trade veterans for prospects as they eye a new ballpark years down the road. If anything, they might have to (gasp) … go for it.”

Here is the biggest issue that lies with this club in the near future. Starting today, the A’s endure a 25 game stretch, which is sure to test the resolve and drive of this club. They will eventually play every contender in the American League before it is over on August 12th and if this team can make it through above .500, then we will know this team is for real. This grueling stretch includes 2 against the Texas Rangers and 4 against the New York Yankees at home this week. Next they go on the road for 3 and 3 against the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles respectively. Next the A’s return home for a 10 game home stand which includes 3 against the Tampa Bay Rays who are sure to have Evan Longoria back by then, 4 against the Toronto Blue Jays and then 3 against their rivals to the south the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They then end this tough stretch with 3 games in Chicago against the White Sox.

For any team fighting for a playoff spot, a rough stretch against the league’s playoff contenders would be tough to overcome, but for a young team like the A’s, this will no doubt test their resolve. I have faith in Bob Melvin as the manager of this squad that he will have this team ready for the challenge. Can this team win 13 of the 25 games coming up? This will be an important time for the team and will determine whether or not they become sellers at the deadline or not. Who knows what will happen, but I can tell you that I am excited for the stretch run and what lies ahead for this youthful team. My expectations for this season were about 70-75 wins, now I can say that if they get to 80 this season, things could be looking up in Oakland!

The Calm Before the Storm that is NBA Free Agency

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It’s been 2 year since Lebron took his talents to South Beach, and around a week before that free agency period began there were a flurry of deals rumored, which all came to fruition a week later. Well 2 years later, just as much madness is going down. While no player is planning a free agency announcement special, some big names are bouncing around and even one huge superstar is rumored to be on his way out of town, but where will he go?

With the NBA Draft in the rear view mirror and the beginning of the NBA Free Agency period set to begin, let’s re-visit some of the rumblings and bumblings that have taken place so far. What is more interesting is the NBA’s free agency period isn’t supposed to start until July 11th, but many big name stars are already rumored to be changing uniforms through new deals or through trades.

In what so far is the biggest move of the offseason, Joe Johnson (who might I add recently signed a max deal for $126 million) was traded to the Brooklyn Nets for Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow and Jordan Williams along with DeShawn Stevenson (via sign-and-trade) and a future first first-round pick (lottery-protected in 2013 via Houston) to Atlanta. This trade is the beginning of the revamping of the team formerly known as the New Jersey Nets who already seem to be using their New York influence to pull off trades and entice free agents to come to Brooklyn. Even though Johnson is owed $90 million left on his contract, this helps turn Brooklyn into a bonafide contender, adding a scorer to Deron Williams, who recently stated he would be resigning with the Nets as well. The Nets were somehow able to even resign Gerald Wallace who had opted out of his contract at the end of the season. Now the tables are set for the Nets to make one more big splash and try and acquire Superman. But do they have the remaining pieces to pull off a deal for Dwight Howard? He has said he would sign an extension in Brooklyn, but will this deal happen remains to be seen. But like 2 years ago, will we now see a new flurry of Brooklyn bandwagon fans like we saw with the Heat 2 summers ago?

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Speaking of Dwight Howard, it seems Hollywood might still be in the cards for him. The Lakers, via sign and trade with the Phoenix Suns, acquired Steve Nash for 2 future first round picks and 2 future second round picks. The picks alternate each of the next 4 years, first rounder in 2013, second round in 2014, and so on. A first glance you say Nash? To LA? He’s 38 years old! But he also averaged a double double last season and led the NBA in assists, oldest man to do it 3 years running. He instantly makes that team much better since they haven’t had a point guard this good since, EVER. Now that they have a point guard, could the Lakers re-engage the Magic in talks for a Andrew Bynum for Howard swap? We know the Lakers are in a win now situation by acquiring Nash, and acquiring a big man like Howard is a once ina  generational thing. Plus he would fall in the line of the next great Laker centers behind Shaq, Wilt, Kareem. But do the Lakers really want to give up on Bynum? It’s all about a long term standpoint. Once Kobe retires, who would they rather have as the face of the team? And there is deinfinite specualtion that Howard wants to go to Hollywood, which would make him a true celebrity and give him the best chance at winning a title. Who knows. It could definitely happen.

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It other smaller, but still noteworthy moves. It appears Lin-sanity is headed to Houston. He is rumored to be signing a huge offer sheet with the Houston Rockets. A back-loaded deal which should pay him around $28 million over the life of the contract. Huge for this kid who this time last year barely had a position on an NBA team. Shows you what a month of balling in the NBA gets you along with hard-work and perseverance. Good luck to the kid in the future! Lin’s former team, the Knicks meanwhile added Jason Kidd. Great idea, love where their head is at, but Kidd is aging fast and yes they need a point guard to dish to Chandler and Carmelo, but couldn’t they find a better option. I just have a hard time figuring out how they have such a hard time attracting free agents. Its NEW YORK CITY! Maybe just the fact they are cursed and haven’t won a title in so long or the fact that management is so wishy-washy over the years. Who knows but the appeal of that arena is one of a kind. Jason Terry, one of Kidd’s former teammates is headed to Boston on a 3 year pact, looking to add some shooting firepower to the Celtics who look to be losing Ray Allen. But the Celtics should be fine, considering they are getting back Garnett for a few years along with the return of Jeff Green who is recovering from heart surgery.

Free agency begins next Wednesday July 11th, will there be more madness? Dwight Howard is rumored to go many places but will it actually happen or is it all talk. Who knows. All I know is I will be ready when it happens, however it happens, just to enjoy the entertainment that is NBA Free Agency.

Draft Rewind

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Last night was the NBA Draft, and for anyone who does not pay attention to college basketball, the nba draft preview or whatever the case may be, we all knew that Anthony “The Uni-Blocker” Davis, out of the University of Kentucky was selected first in the draft. It’s been a crazy week for the kid, especially after he came out and TRADEMARKED his Uni-brow. Yes you heard it here, the kid trademarked his uni-brow. Smart business deal or is this just over blown? His next order of business is to definitely get some braces, with all the money he is about to make, I’m sure he can afford to. Like Dwight Howard, Davis will be a star at the next level and I think some people would be a little hard-pressed to plaster this look everywhere.

Okay Okay, got off topic for a bit. With the 2nd pick in the draft, His airness’ Bobcats team selected Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from Kentucky as well. Making him and Davis the first pair of teammates to go 1-2 in the draft ever. Also these two were freshman! What is even more suprising is the fact that Jordan actually made a great pick! MKG as I will call him, is probably the hardest working player in the draft, someone who plays every game like it is Game 7 of the Finals. He is the type of player anyone would like to build a franchise around. Especially more suprising with Jordan’s history of picks, Kwame Brown comes to mind, Adam Morrison, and the countless trades he made which doomed the franchise. When I heard MKG’s name called, I almost fell out of my chair because this kid is a stud. Yes he only played one season at UK, but he will definitely be a perennial all-star for years in the league, assuming the Bobcats can build a team around him. Wait is that an oxymoron?

Washington drafted Florida’s Bradley Beal next, a great shooter with “high-character” and is a “complete basketball player” as dubbed by the trillest man in America, Jay Bilas. Cleveland had the 4th pick and decided to take Syracuse 6th Man Dion Waiters. Wait, you pass up on Thomas Robinson? Oh yeah, they selected Tristan Thompson last year, a poor man’s Robinson, who doesn’t had nearly the same drive. Not a knock on Thompson, but Robinson has the potential to be a very special player. Lucky for the Kings, he dropped to the 5th spot and they were able to swoop him up. Looks like him and Boogie Cousins are going to average 25 boards a game. Things look promising in Sacramento, assuming they actually stay there. Portland, by virtue of the Nets plain and simple getting shafted in the Gerald Wallace trade, because he opted out recently, and gave the Blazers a gift of a lottery pick. With this pick, they decided to draft Damian Lillard out of Weber State, who hails from Oakland. Not a big name player, but someone who developed later and improved every year, eventually becoming a leader of some sorts on a little known Weber State team. I think Lillard is a sleeper, well as much as you can be at that spot. Not many people saw him play College ball, but he put up the stats and should benefit from the years he spent in college (Very rare these days). At 7, my hometown Warriors took Harrison Barnes from UNC. I for one was very very suprised he fell this far and that the Warriors actually took him! Good player who will definitely improve at the next level. Should be exciting to see him develop in the NBA.

The rest of the draft after that point wasn’t too crazy, other than the fact that Austin Rivers was selected 10th by the Hornets. So wait, they are banking on Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers leading that team into the future? WOW. Or even the fact the Rockets were able to draft an all-star team of selections. They first got Jeremy Lamb out of UConn at 12, then picked up Royce White from Iowa St at 16, and then swooped up Terrence Jones at 18. Seriously? All these guys were studs in college, obviously not lottery picks this year but Lamb and Jones both won a National title in their 2 years in college and Royce White is a point forward with a lot of upside. I’m not sure if the Rockets are trying to package together a Dwight Howard deal but their team looks nice moving forward, as long as they can develop the talent. In another suprising move, Boston swooped up Jared Sullinger of Ohio St. and Fab Melo of Syracuse at 21 and 22 respectively. I guess Boston wasn’t scared of the “bulging dicks discs” which Andy Katz misspoke on live TV.

All in all, 6 players from Kentucky and 4 from UNC were drafted in the first 46 picks. Seriously?!?! In a great story, Robbie Hummel, who tore his ACL twice in college was swooped up with the 58th pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The kid has a great work ethic and obviously a hell of a lot of determination to come back from 2 devastating knee injuries and subsequently get drafted. Hats off to him. Also, I would like to tip my hat to Bernard James from Florida State. He was drafted in the second round by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who actually traded him to Dallas. But he spent 6 years in the Air Force from 2003-2008. He went through 3 tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Qatar before returning to Florida State. He was welcomed to a standing ovation, in the 2nd round, and chants of USA-USA-USA. What a moment for the NBA, especially with David Stern basically getting boo’ed off the stage every time he came up to announce a pick.

It should be interesting to see in the future how these picks develop and to see if and who turns into All-Stars and Superstars. Is it better than the drafts of ’85 or of 2003? Only time will tell, but I can sure say this will be an exciting NBA season coming up and I for one, cannot wait!