Posted on: June 15, 2010 5:20 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2010 5:21 pm

New Big Ten Divisions

With the forthcoming addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten as its 12th member, divisions must be established in order to determine who will play for the Conference Championship Game.  This is no easy feat, as you want to do everything you can to avoid splitting fierce rivals into separate divisions where they no longer play every year, ala Nebraska-Oklahoma once the Big 12 formed.  Geography, according to Big Ten Commisioner Jim Delaney, will take a back seat to competitive fairness and preservation of rivalries.

To be as objective as possible, I will refer to ESPN's prestige rankings for the edge on competitive fairness.

3.  Ohio State, 1655 points
5.  Nebraska, 1553 points
8.  Michigan, 1332
11.  Penn State, 1088
26.  Michigan State, 454
30.  Iowa, 368
33.  Minnesota, 341
34.  Wisconsin, 317
49.  Illinois, 219
50.  Purdue, 210
80.  Northwestern, 60
102.  Indiana, -8

Using these points, I broke down the conference into rivalry "blocks", or groups of teams that need to stay in the same division to preserve traditional rivalries.  As a Nebraska fan who is admittedly not overly familiar with Big Ten rivalries outside of the obvious, I used Adam Rittenberg's Big Ten blog as a guide .

Hands Off!
-Michigan/Ohio State, Michigan/Michigan State, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Indiana/Purdue, Minnesota/Iowa, Wisconsin/Iowa

Handle With Care:
-Ohio State/Penn State, Illinois/Ohio State, Michigan/Minnesota, Iowa/Penn State

-Michigan State/Penn State, Illinois/Northwestern, Indiana/Illinois, Penn State/Michigan, Minnesota/Penn State, Wisconsin/Michigan, Purdue/Illinois, Northwestern/Iowa, Purdue/Northwestern, Michigan State/Indiana

Thus, the blocks I created, with corresponding prestige points following, were:

Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State - 3441 (Illinois preferable for total of 3660)
Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin - 1026
Purdue, Indiana - 202
Penn State - 1088 (left out of a block as existing rivalries with Iowa and Ohio State cannot BOTH be maintained in the same division)
Northwestern - 60
Nebraska - 1553

Using these blocks, it is fairly easy to see what needs to be done.  The Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Illinois block, at 3660, is almost the size of the other eight school combined, so the smallest block of two schools, Purdue and Indiana, is added, while the other six schools form the second division.  Or, to make it more explicit:

Division A:  Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Purdue, Indiana
Division B:  Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State, Northwestern, Nebraska

Division A totals 3862 prestige points, while Division B totals 3727, a difference of only 3.5%, which is pretty good.  It preserves 13 out of 20 official rivalries, and of the 7 not saved, 3 are Penn State rivalries which are still relatively young in the scope of the rest of the Big Ten.

One solution to these "lost" rivalries is to have a designated rival in the opposite division who you maintan play with every year.  That way, rivalries such as Ohio State/Penn State, Michigan/Minnesota, and Illinois/Northwestern are preserved, making it 16 out of 20 official rivalries that are continued on an annual basis.

Official rivalries which will lose their annual basis with these division plus the one week "other division rivalry" plan:  Penn State/Michigan, Penn State/Michigan State, Wisconsin/Michigan, Purdue/Northwestern.

Geographically, these divisions are classic East/West with the exception of Penn State.  To which I say, "Sorry you have such a high prestige rating, Penn State, or I could have swapped you out with Illinois.  In the end, you are too big of a school to stay in the east division with Michigan and Ohio State."

As far as scheduling goes, 6 of the 8 "in-conference" games are already decided, as each team plays the other 5 within their division every year, as well as their one designated rival from the other division every year.  For the remaining 2 games, assuming that league competitiveness is truly the ultimate goal (as it should be since money is what is behind all of this, and rivalries and highly ranked teams playing each other every week will keep the TV cash a-flowing), the best option is the schedule them based on team record from the previous year.

The top teams in Division A and B from the previous year would face each other in the current year.  There would have to be some sort of a tie-breaker in case a teams designated rival finished in a spot where the teams would ahve to play again based on their record.  Or in simpler terms:  if Penn State and Ohio State won their divisions the previous year, they would only play once, despite the fact that they are "out of division rivals" and finished in the same spot in their respective divisions the previous year.  In that case, each first place team (Penn State and Ohio State) would play the second and third place teams from the other division, instead of the first and second place teams.

With the top teams in the conference playing the top teams in the other division, it all but guarantees a superior strength of schedule, which increases the odds of the Big Ten champion playing for the National Championship Game year in and year out.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: June 7, 2010 4:30 pm

MLB All Star Voting- Ballot Based on Actual Stats

Year in and year out, All Star Balloting is based primarily on name recognition via fan voting, with a significant bias towards big market teams (your Yankees, Red Sox, etc.).  Not much can be done to change this, and this certainly isn't an article complaining about it.  Fan voting is simply the way the balloting process works, and the most famous players are the ones who tend to recieve the most votes.

Anyways, the purpose of this article is to compare the statistics of all viable candidates and determine who SHOULD be voted as the starting lineup for the 2010 All-Star Game.  While all recomendations on my part are based in stats, they are ultimately my opinion, especially as to which stats are more important/impressive, and so on.  As always, if you disagree, that's cool.  Feel free to completely berate me in the comments section!

American League:

1B - The top vote getter, no surprise, is the Yankees Mark Teixiera.  However, with his .211 AVG, 8 HR, and 34 RBI, he doesn't have the stats the measure up to the other candidates.  The top 5 candidates, based on current stats, are:

Miguel Cabrera, DET:   .351   17   52
Justin Morneau, MIN:   .370   13   40
Kevin Youkilis, BOS:    .320   12   38
Kendry Morales, LAA:   .290   11   39
Paul Konerko, CWS:    .272   17   41

While, Youkilis, Morales, and Konerko are all having great years, the discussion really boils down to Cabrera and Morneau, the former having the superior HR's and RBI's, the later with the higher batting average.  Despite being a giant Twins fan, 4 HR's and 12 RBI's are more impressive then .019 in AVG, so the nod here goes to Miguel Cabrera .

2B - By far the easiest category, Robinson Cano is and should be winning here, with a .363 AVG, 12 HR's, and 45 RBI's.  Kendrick, Pedroia, and Zobrist are the next closest, but are still miles away from Cano.

3B - Arguably the closest race, this category is currently led by Evan Longoria, with Alex Rodriguez a distant second.  Upon looking at the stats, however, Adrian Beltre should also be in the conversation (currently 4th in voting behind Michael Young of the Rangers, who is having a good year but has a lower HR and RBI total than any of the other 3 and a lower AVG than Beltre)

Adrian Beltre, BOS:      .332    7   40
Evan Longoria, TB:      .312   11   44
Alex Rodriguez, NYY:   .294    8    43

As A-Rod is clearly below Longoria in terms of stats, the conversation should be between Beltre and Longoria.  Again, the superior HR's and RBI's of Longoria trump the AVG advantage of Beltre, and the nod goes to Evan Longoria .

SS - This category is being led widely by Derek Jeter, who has more than double the total of second place Elvis AndrusAlex Gonzalez ranks a distant 5th, however, when the stats are examined:

Derek Jeter, NYY:       .300     6   34
Elvis Andrus, TEX:       .304     0   16
Alex Gonzalez, TOR:   .262   12   33

Her it is clearly between Jeter and Gonzalez, although unlike before, the RBI's are a wash.  So which is more deserving, 6 extra HR's or .38 in AVG.  In my opinion, AVG wins, and even as an admited Yankee hater, Derek Jeter gets the nod, although I think we can all agree that Gonzalez should have more than a quarter of the amount of votes Jeter currently has.

C - Most people would think this category is a slam dunk for Joe Mauer, but this year, that is not necessarily the case (although he has the most votes of any player).

Joe Mauer, MIN:          .311   2   24
Victor Martinez, BOS:   .294   8   29
John Buck, TOR:         .255   9   30

Buck is out of the consideration as his HR and RBI are basically a wash with Martinez and his AVG is significantly lower.  The balancing act between AVG and HR comes into play again this time, and to me they look pretty even.  Therefore, due to vastly superior defense, Joe Mauer gets the nod (scream "homer pick" if you like)

- I won't spend much time here other than to say that Vladimir Guerrero is the only player worthy of consideration, and is appropriately leading the votes.

OF - Current vote leaders are Ichiro Suzuki, Nelson Cruz, and Carl Crawford.

Ichiro Suzuki, SEA:       .358    1   15   17 (SB)
Nelson Cruz, TEX:        .327   10   34   7
Carl Crawford, TB:        .299    5   32   18
Vernon Wells, TOR:     .306   15   40   2
Jose Bautista, TOR:     .250   18   45   3
Josh Hamilton, TEX:     .301   11   33   3
Maglio Ordonez, DET:   .312    8   41   1

Picking 3 makes this are much more subjective than other's, but to my eyes at least, Bautista is eliminated because of his poor AVG, and Ichiro's RBI total is too low for consideration.  Maglio Ordonez and Nelson Cruz trump Josh Hamilton's similar stats, leaving Ordonez, Cruz, Crawford, and Wells in the discussion.

The tricky part is trying to eliminate one from this mix.  Crawford is vastly superior in stolen bases while holding his own in RBI's, although admitedly on the low end, and trailing significantly in HR's and AVG.  Cruz has the best AVG of the group, but the second lowest RBI's.  Wells is second lowest in AVG but highest in HR's and 1 RBI from the top, and Ordonez is second in AVG, tops in RBI while being second lowest in HR.  Ultimately, Crawford's SB are too much to keep him out, and Nelson Cruz's AVG trumps the HR and RBI of Wells and Ordonez.  Wells's 7 additional HR's are enough to overcome Ordonez's slightly higher AVG, and the top 3 spots go to Nelson Cruz , Vernon Wells , and Carl Crawford .

National League:

1B - The discussion here is between perenial All Star Albert Pujols and Cincinatti's Joey Votto

Pujols:  .317   14   44
Votto:   .318   11   36

Albert Pujols takes every category, but the fact that Votto isn't in the top 5 for votes is shameful.

2B - Chase Utley leads this category, but is .265 AVG, 10 HR's and 25 RBI's are notably behind:

Ricky Weeks, MIL:     .251   10   33
Dan Uggla, FLA:        .268   13   34
Martin Prado, ATL:     .328    5   28

Uggla trumps the similar Weeks, but the vastly superior AVG of Martin Prado gives him the nod.

3B - Placido Polanco leads the votes currently...

Placido Polanco, PHI:         .316    5   23
Jose Cantu, FLA:               .289    8   43
Scott Rolen, CIN:              .288   14   40
Ryan Zimmerman, WSH:   .306   11   32

Zimmerman tops Polanco, while Rolen tops Cantu.  In balancing Zimmerman and Rolen, RBI's are the biggest factor, giving the edge to Scott Rolen .  (Rolen is not in the top 5 for votes either)

- This one is easy to call.  It is a two man race between Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki (even though Jimmy Rollins and his all-of-41-at-bats is in the lead, still...somehow).  Ramirez and Tulowitzki each have 8 HR's and 29 RBI's, but Tulowitzki has the higher AVG (.304 vs .284).  Plus, Troy Tulowitzki seems to actually care on defense.

C - A definate case of RBI/HR vs. AVG here:

Rod Barajas, NYM:        .267   11   30
Miguel Olivo, COL:        .309    8   25

Overall, Olivo's HR and RBI totals are close enough to Barajas' that his higher AVG wins out.  Nod goes to Miguel Olivo (neither of these are in the top 5).

OF - First off, Andre Ethier is a shoe-in at this point, leading AVG, HR, and RBI categories.  The best of the rest:

Andre Ethier, LAD:          .353   11  40    1 (SB)
Ryan Braun, MIL:           .314    8   34   11
Carlos Gonzalez, COL:    .308    8   36   7
Jayson Werth, PHI:        .284   10   37   2
Jason Heyward, ATL:      .272   10   39   4

Note:  This is a very crowded field of many worth candidates.  This list is far too simply to accomodate all players with similar stats, and a case can be made for many other players.

Ryan Braun looks to be the clear second choice at this point in time, and third place goes to Gonzalez due to his higher AVG with similar RBI/HR numbers.  The 3 OF's are Andre Ethier , Ryan Braun , and Carlos Gonzalez (who is not in the top 15 currently).
Category: MLB
Posted on: May 5, 2010 1:38 pm

Big 10 becoming the Big 16? Big Deal!

There's been a lot of talk about the Big 10 (with 11 teams currently) expanding itself to a larger conference.  The driving force behind this, like anything, is money, specifically for the Big Ten Network.  Notre Dame is the first and obvious target, followed by a school (or group of schools) who can tap into the New York City Market.  As Dennis Dodd suggests, this could be accomplished with the trio of Rutgers, Syracuse, and Conneticuit.  If these four teams are added, that would put the total number of Big 10 teams to 15, leaving a need for one more team to round out the conference to 16.  A lot of other names have been thrown around, like Missouri, Pittsburgh, and Iowa State.  There are geographic considerations like Cincinatti, Ohio, Ball State, Lousiville, or Kentucky.  However, the biggest get for the Big 10's final team would undoubedly be Nebraska.

The percieved weakness in adding Nebraska to the conference is that they don't bring a top market with them, but this is hardly true.  Sure, the state of Nebraska isn't the strongest of markets.  That much can't really be argued.  But what people fail to realise is how much more competitive the Big 10 would be if a team of the quality and with the history of Nebraska.  It would stretch the reach of the Big 10 westward, while also locking up states like the Dakota's, whos loyalties are currently split between Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Iowa State.  Mostly, however, when you add a group of teams that includes Nebraska AND Notre Dame, it increases the NATIONAL appeal of the conference.

So how would a 16 team conference play a football schedule that demands 12 games?  If you divide the conference in half, that leaves each team playing 7 subdivision games, which leaves 5 remaining games each year to be split between out of conference teams and teams in the other subdivision...not necessarily ideal, especially when you consider that, at least in the Big 12, teams have 4 out of conference games a year.  If you divide the conference into thirds (which, fyi, is impossible with 16 teams anyways, you'd have to leave it at 15), you would be left with the issue of having three subdivision winner, so who would you crown as the Big 10 champ?  Who gets that Rose Bowl birth?  The solution is to divide the conference into 4 subdivisions with 4 teams each.  You would do it along geography clusters, and do everything you can to keep existing rivalries intact.

West:  Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska
North:  Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame
South:  Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern
East:  Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse, Conneticuit

Each team in the subdivision plays the other 3 teams every year, along with one team from each of the other subdivisions.  For instance, Nebraska would play Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin every year, and would also play one team from the North, South, and East.  This gives each team 6 conference games per year, leaving 6 extra games.

With four subdivision winners, not only will there be a conference title game, but there will be a conference PLAYOFF.  The division winner with the best record will play the division winner with the worst record, and the other two will also play each other, with the winner advancing to the title game.  This extra week of playoffs takes away one of the 6 remaining games, leaving each team with 5 games to fill.  4 are allocated as out of conference games, with the final remaining game as a "wildcard" matchup.

This wildcard matchup is based off of the teams record of the previous year.  The two Big 10 teams with the best record last year play each other, the third and fourth best records play each other, and so on.  This increases the conferences competition amongst its best teams, which will keep the overall best team competitive for the National Championship Game every year.

For clarification, the schedule breakdown would look like this:

First four games:  Out of conference play
Next 7 games:  Conference Play.  3 games vs. own subdivision.  1 game vs. 1 team from each other subdivision (on a rotating basis) for a total of 3 other games.  1 "wildcard" game based off of last years performance.
12th game:  Playoff week.  Seeds 1 and 4 play each other, 2 and 3 play each other.
13th game:  Conference Championship Game
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: April 15, 2010 6:30 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2010 7:04 pm

Irish Dawg's Collob Mock Draft: Colts Selections

Going into the draft, my prime concern was to find a franchise LT, followed by improving out special teams play, pass rushing depth, and short yardage offense.  The Colts draft selections are as follows:

1 (31):  Charles Brown, LT, USC - I was surprised and overjoyed to see Brown fall to me here, as LT is clearly the biggest need for the Colts this offseason.  My decision was made much more difficult by the fact that Jason Pierre-Paul had somehow fallen to me as well, so there was really an internal tug of war between these two.  In the end, I decided that LT is the bigger team need, and Brown better fit the team than Pierre-Paul, a boom or bust player who could end up providing little to no depth behind Freeney and Mathis.  Plus, perhaps the biggest reason Brown won out is that his selection upgrades TWO positions once you shift incumbent LT Charlie Johnson to OG, his more natural position.

2 (63):  Javier Arenas, CB/KR, Alabama - Lets face it:  the Colts special teams unit has been below par for a long, long time.  T.J. Rushing and Chad Simpson are not up to snuff as return specialists, and Rushing himself offers no value as a backup CB.  Arenas, the most explosive return specialist in college football, will add a third dimension to the Colts next season, that of great special teams play.  Plus (and this is where the second round value comes in) he excels in zone coverage, projecting as a nickel CB in the NFL, which is perfect with Kelvin Hayden, Jerraud Powers, and Jacob Lacey in front of him.  In this passing leauge, you can never have too many DB's, especially with the way our secondary likes to get hurt.

3 (94):  Toby Gerhart, RB/FB, Stanford - Oh the outcries upon making this pick.  Most bemoaned it as a horrible choice at a position we have recently spent two first round picks on.  This is true I suppose, but Gerhart is really being looked upon here as a short yardage specialist, but let's face it:  Gerhart is the best between the tackles rusher in this draft.  End of story.  The Colts really don't have a runner who can really pick up those tough yards between the tackles.  Gerhart is the player in this draft for that, and his attitude and temperment fit the Colts beautifully.  He also provides outstanding depth behind Joseph Addai and Donald Brown, which should crate an explosive platoon of RB's.  Plus, with about 8 third round rated DE's still available, it makes much more sense to wait until the 4th round to address DE depth.

4 (129):  C.J. Wilson, DE, East Carolina - Wilson was second or third on my list when I looked at DE in the third round, and luckily he fell into my lap here at the end of the 4th round.  Wilson fills the role left open by Raheem Brock's departure, a strong, relentless DE who can play outside on running downs and inside on passing downs, which, when paired with Freeney and Mathis on the edge, will be very scary.  He has enough pass rushing skills to fill in for either Freeney or Mathis if one is injured.

5 (162):  Rennie Curran, OLB, Georgia - Curran has the look of a prototypical Colts LB, but with more talent.  The knock on Curran is his size, which the Colts don't mind in their LB's as long as you have the speed to make up for it.  Curran has a knack for being able to slip under would-be blockers to hit his man in the backfield, which will translate well to the NFL game, and will be a big boost on our dreadful special teams unti as well.

7 (238):  Shelley Smith, OG, Colorado State - A strong and quick guard who fits our blocking scheme like a glove.  Has the potential to wind up starting on our OLine next season.

7 (241):  Cody Grimm, S, Virginia Tech - Drafted primarily as a special teams superstar, Grimm is looked at by some scouts as too slow for a safety and too small for a LB.  With 3 or 4 safeties above him on the depth chart, however, Grimm will only need to concentrate on using his elite reaction skills for what he excels at:  special teams coverage, at which there are very few better players in this draft.

7 (247):  Rahim Alem, DE, LSU - Alem provides the explosive pass rushing depth behind Freeney and Mathis.  Wilson, drafted earlier, also provides depth at DE, but is more of a hybrid DE/DT in the Colts defense.  Alem is a pure pass rusher who can be used to spell Freeney and Mathis.  Willie Young was also considered here, as he is a great value pick, although his poor attitude ultimately wouldn't fit with the Colts whatsoever.
Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Colts
Posted on: January 28, 2010 5:32 pm

IF minnesota wins the lotery...

First off, this entire post is based off of assuming the Timberwolves win the lottery, with the Nets finishing second.  Who knows what happens, but hey, it's fun to pretend, right?

The first matter of business is for the Wolves to trade the draft rights to Ricky Rubio, along with their lowest first round pick (or a future first round pick) to New Jersey in exchange for the number 2 overall pick.  With the top 2 picks, the Wolves select John Wall and Evan Turner.

Wolves 2010-11 Lineup:

PG - John Wall, Jonny Flynn
SG - Evan Turner, Wayne Ellington
SF - Ryan Gomes, Corey Brewer
PF - Kevin Love
C - Al Jefferson, Nikola Pekovic

The Nets, now with Ricky Rubio in hand, look to trade Devin Harris.  Here is where things might get a little sticky.  Rubio may or may not come over to the NBA next year.  If he is still with the TWolves, I think he stays in Spain.  But in Brooklyn...?  Whether or not he stays in Europe, the Nets are clearly going to be big players in the 2010 free agent bonanza, having about $32 million in salary coming off the books in addition to the $15 million or so they are under the luxury tax threshold.  With the allure of Brook Lopez and Ricky Rubio, New Jersey will be an interesting destination for the NBA superstars.  The Nets certainly have the possibility to get at least 1 max contract player and one near max contract player this summer.  What people don't hear much about is the $7 million they have expiring the summer of 2011-2012.  This trade is based on the assumption that they Nets would like to add to that future cap space, allowing them BACK into the free agent market the summer after they are sure to make a big splash.

Nets trade Devin Harris, Keyon Dooling, and the Timberwolves late round pick to the Pacers for Troy Murphy and Indiana's mid to high lottery pick.

The Nets set their core with Rubio, Lopez, and whatever player they draft (Derrick Favors perhaps?) and go about luring the league's superstars to join this young team and revitalize the franchise.  Troy Murphy is there not only as an expiring contract, but as the starter for the year while Favors grows into the NBA.  The summer of 2011, his massive contract expires, giving the Nets around $15million in cap space once again.

The Pacers get the young PG they desperately need, but are still stuck with another few years of mediocrity due to poor management.  Still, a young core of Danny Granger, Harris, and Roy Hibbert is a pretty solid start.  They just need to wait for their bad contracts to run out in 2011.

Let's the name calling begin.
Category: NBA
Posted on: December 16, 2009 3:53 pm

Mountain West Realignment and BCS bandaid

One of the biggest issues with the BCS right now is the lack of an automatic bid for the Mountain West Conference, partially due to the perception that the conference is not strong enough (despite undefeated seasons the past two years by Utah and TCU).  One way to counteract this is to transform the Mountain West into an even stronger, more legitimate conference, and give it an automatic bid.  Currently, the conference has strong atheletic departments in TCU, BYU, and Utah, along with weaker members in San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming, Colorado State, Air Force, and New Mexico, for a total of 9 members.  The simplest soluion would be for the Mountain West to add the 3 strongest teams willing to join (lets say, for the sake of argument, Boise State, Hawaii, and Fresno State (fresh off their baseball national championship, and also based on geographic considerations)), bumping both the quality of competition and the number of teams to 12.  Split the conference into two divisions, "Mountain" and "West", and model the conference play after the Big 12 (every year, a team in the "Mountain" division plays the rest of the "Mountain" division, as well as half of the "West" division).  Division breakdowns would look something like this:

TCU, New Mexico, Air Force, Colorado State, Wyoming, Boise State

Hawaii, San Diego State, Fresno State, Utah, BYU, UNLV
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 23, 2009 6:04 pm

Pacer Rants: Troy Murphy and the PG of tomorrow

Hopefully Coach Jim O'Brien was simply trying to keep Troy Murphy's trade value alive when he offered the following quote to Indianapolis Star reporter MiKe Wells:  "I know this: We need Troy Murphy on the basketball court. That's the bottom line."

Through 11 games, Murphy has missed 6 games.  Notice the difference in team performance:

With Murphy:  0-5 Record, 93.6 points scored per game, 107.2 points allowed per game
Without Murphy:  5-1 Record, 103 points scored per game, 94.33 points allowed per game

As you can see, the Pacers have faired far better without Murphy on the court.  This is NOT a coincidence.  Despite playing in the NBA for 8 years, Murphy has never been on a team that has gone to the playoffs, and his style of play is the reason.  Although he considered a double-double machine, his defense is so abhorant that his offensive is far more than offset.

The Pacers are in a financial bind currently, and Troy Murphy is one of the biggest reasons why.  He has 2 years and $23 million left on his contract, which is a pretty steep price for that 14 points, 9 rebounds, and terrible defense.  The Pacers books (
) become very open in the summer of 2011, a year AFTER the blitzkrieg of 2010 free agency (a la LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and virtually every other superstar athelete in the NBA today).  The issue with this is that the free agent class of 2011 is relatively weak, especially at PG, the Pacers biggest issue (
).  Most notable players like Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan, Mo Williams, and David West have Early Termination Options, which means they may or may not be free agents this summer.  Players like Leandro Barbosa, Rasheed Wallace, and Boris Diaw have Player Options.  Restricted Free Agents include future studs like Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Al Horford, Aaron Brooks, Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol, and Greg Oden, but RFA's are extremely hard to sign and their current teams would likely match any offer they recieve.

Of the pure free agents in 2011, most are wing players, where the Pacers already have 3 who will be under contract past that summer (Danny Granger, Dahntay Jones, and Brandon Rush).  Jamal Crawford, Kendrick Perkins, Tayshaun Prince, Shane Battier, Pau Gasol, Zach Randolph, Samuel Dalembert, Tony Parker, Andrei Kirilenko, and Caron Butler are notables.  Of those, Prince, Battier, Crawford, Kirilenko and Butler don't make much sense as we will likely have enough depth at the wings already, which leaves big men Perkins, Gasol, Randolph and Dalembert, and point guard Tony Parker (and I doubt San Antonio will ever just let him sign elsewhere).

My point, if you are still with me, is that the outlook for landing a PG who is an upgrade over T.J. Ford is bleak.  Unless you believe the Pacers will get lucky in 2011 and be able to sign a Barbosa, Brooks, or Parker, it is clear that the Pacers should be doing everything they can to search for a trade to pick one up.  The draft is certainly a possibility, but unless we get lucky and win the lottery (like the Bulls 2 years ago), we won't be a bad enough team to land John Wall, PG extrordinaire.  The Billups-Iverson trade last year confirmed one thing:  beyond superstars, PG's are the engine that makes a team click.  The Pacers have their superstar in the making in Danny Granger, and a promising big man in Roy Hibbert.  They are surrounded by young supporting players like Dahntay Jones, Tyler Hansbrough, and Brandon Rush.  The only void left to fill, however, is the biggest of them all:  PG.
Category: NBA
Posted on: September 22, 2009 2:47 pm

Cirknick's Week 2 Power Rankings

1.  New York Giants (2-0) - The Giants big question mark going into the season was at WR.  Who was Eli Manning going to throw to without Plaxico Burress?  All Manning's has done to silence his critics is throw for 586 yards and 3 TD's in his first two games, and find two WR's averaging over 100 yards per game in Steve Smith and Mario Manningham.  Add that to the best offensive and defensive lines in the game and you have your clear cut number 1 team, simple as that.

2.  Baltimore Ravens (2-0) - All the talk about San Diego handing the ball to Darren Sproles with the game on the line overlooks one simple fact:  Ray Lewis is just that good.  The defense denied the Chargers a TD on each of their 5 red-zone visits...that is championship football.  Joe Flacco is proving more and more with each game that he is the real thing at QB.

3.  Atlanta Falcons (2-0) - New TE Tony Gonzalez is, in case you missed it when I said it last week, the single best offseason pickup any team had this year.  In his first two games, he already has 12 catches for 144 yards, 2 TD's, but most importantly, 9 first downs.  And, oh ya, that Matt Ryan guy?  Passer rating of 108.5 thus far into the season.

4.  New Orleans Saints (2-0) - 93 points of offense in two games.  That's intense.  Drew Brees might be the best free agent signing of all time.  This team could be even higher than this, as their defense has also been impressive, including a league leading 3 INT's by Darren Sharper, but the teams they've played are holding me back from giving the defense too much props.  Beating up on a team like Detroit and a team with a backup QB makes it hard to judge how good that defense really is.  Still, this is easily the best offense in the NFL.

5.  New York Jets (2-0) - Both victories have been very impressive.  This might be a little high, a little fast for them, but the defense has been phenomenal and Mark Sanchez has been incredibly efficient.  They dominated a Houston team that most people thought could be a surprise playoff team this year, and then backed up their big talk by upsetting a perennial AFC favorite New England Team.  They are showing that last season's success (until the final few games) was not simply Brett Favre carrying them on his shoulders.  This is a very good team, and Rex Ryan has them focused.

6.  Minnesota Vikings (2-0) - Speaking of Brett Favre, he's showing that he doesn't need to make his signature risky throws to be effective.  He is third in the league with a passer rating of 110.2 (only 0.1 out of a tie for second).  Admittedly, this team was a little low in last week’s rankings.  My apologies to the state of Minnesota.  Still, it will be hard to move up much farther until they start playing some real teams.

7.  Indianapolis Colts (2-0) - Overrated?  Or are they just rated so highly because they do just what they can to squeak by and pull out close wins against teams like Jacksonville and Miami?  The defense is very, very concerning.  The running game needs to be much better to keep the defense off the field, seeing as they can't get off the field on their own.  You have to wonder if Indy is playing the right defensive scheme for their personnel.  Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are pure speed pass rushers, and the majority of their DT's are hybrid DE's...did someone say 3-4?

8.  Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) - The defending champs fall to a Chicago team that looked simply poor last week.  Not good.  The Steelers have yet to show they are able to run the ball.  Not good.  Still, the defense and QB are among the top in the league.  This team just needs to start doing what they do best:  pound the ball!

9.  San Francisco 49ers (2-0) - Frank Gore is a beast.  246 total yards is going to win a lot of games when you have a defense that is playing great and a QB who isn't making mistakes.  This is not an explosive offense aside from Gore's huge runs, but they are the type of team that can grind you down and simply out-physical you.

10.  Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) - This team looked great in Week 1, and not so great in Week 2.  The difference:  Donovan McNabb.  They need him back as soon as possible.  It's honestly as simple as that.  With him, they are a top 5 team in the NFL.  Without him, they are on the fringe of the playoffs, likely out.

11.  Arizona Cardinals (1-1) - Bounce back week against a weak Jacksonville team.  The defense held the Jags to 3 points for the first 43.5 minutes.  Kurt Warner and the offense are looking more in sync than the San Francisco game.

12.  Green Bay Packers (1-1) - On the flip side of my statement about the Vikings, this team was admittedly a bit too low last week.  How does the O-Line let Aaron Rodgers get sacked 6 times in one game?  Pathetic.  Greg Jennings, after my high praise last week, goes without a catch.  Don't expect that to happen again anytime soon.

13.  San Diego Chargers (1-1) - Lost to a fantastic Baltimore team, but last week almost lost to a not fantastic Oakland team.  I'm sure you've all heard the "why wouldn't you put the ball in Philip Rivers' hands when the game is on the line" argument circulating the media this weekend.  Maybe it’s the 150 combined rushing a receiving yards that Darren Sproles had all game.  Still proved to be the wrong move, however.

14.  Dallas Cowboys (1-1) - Solid Running game, but Tony Romo takes a big step back from his big day in Tampa by throwing 3 interceptions.  This is the first team I have moving up despite losing.  This is simply because they played very tough against the Giants, so I'll give them a little pat on the back.  Plus, I believe they are better than every team listed below them, which makes it the right ranking anyways.

15.  New England Patriots (1-1) - If not for Leodis McKelvin, this team is 0-2.  I'm sure they'll bounce back, but right now they simply don't look like themselves.

16.  Buffalo Bills (1-1) - If not for Leodis McKelvin, this team is 2-0.  Trent Edwards has started out nicely, fifth in the league in passer rating.  Fred Jackson is making everyone in Buffalo ask "Marshawn Who?"  He's showing no signs of letting up, which is good news for the Bills.

17.  Denver Broncos (2-0) - An undefeated team ranked in the bottom half of the league.  Fair?  Probably not.  Still, this team needed a miracle to win their first game, and the beat up on a terrible Cleveland team.  The bright spot?  Kyle Orton's 90.9 passer rating, compared to Jay Cutler's 71.5.

18.  Chicago Bears (1-1) - Yes, they beat the defending champs.  Yes, that should put them higher on the list than 18.  But they just can't run the ball all of the sudden, and when winter hits in Chicago, passing isn't going to be much of an option for this team.  Matt Forte needs to step it up if this team is going to be successful.

19.  Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) - Maybe Pete Prisco wants to take his mulligan back now.  Overshadowed by Antwan Odom's 5 sack performance is rookie Rey Maualuga, with a sack and two forced fumbles himself.  Carson Palmer has more interceptions than touchdowns on the year...

20.  Oakland Raiders (1-1) - This team could be 2-0 had they been able to pull it off against the Chargers last Monday night.  Still, winning by 3 points against Kansas City isn't my idea of impressive.

21.  Tennessee Titans (0-2) - I eat my words.  There IS a way the Titans start the season 0-2.  Chris Johnson does his best to save the day with 285 total yards and 3 TD's, but it's not enough.  The WR's were invisible.

22.  Houston Texans (1-1) - They shocked the team above them, meaning they should be ranked above them, right?  No.  This was a close game, but last week Tennessee held tough against the defending champs and Houston got spanked by the Jets.  Matt Schaub looked like most expected him to this season, with over 350 yards, 4 TD's, and no interceptions.  Keep that up and Steve Slaton might not even have to start rushing the ball, which he hasn't done yet this season.

23.  Seattle Seahawks (1-1) - Last week they beat up on a very bad St. Louis team.  This week they lose their starting QB, have a virtually nonexistent running game, and lose to a 49ers team that looks pretty good thus far in the young season.  They need Matt Hasselbeck healthy to be successful.  Without him, they'll be drafting in the top 5 for the second straight year.

24.  Washington Redskins (1-1) - How do you not score a TD against St. Louis?  The Redskins are lucky to escape with a win.  Not a good sign.

25.  Miami Dolphins (0-2) - I'd love to have this team ranked higher, especially after they looked pretty good against the Colts.  But they still just aren't able to find a way to win.  The schedule doesn't get any easier next week, travelling across the country to play the Chargers in San Diego.

26.  Carolina Panthers (0-2) - You hung tough with a very good Falcons team.  Great.  You still haven't won yet.  At least your QB only threw one interception this week.  Seriously though, the offense did look pretty good with Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams topping 100 total yards each.

27.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) - 13 penalties and a running game that simply didn't show up.  The defense has given up 583 passing yards and 5 passing TD's.  Fantasy Owners take note:  Eli Manning is next week's "Start of the Week."

28.  Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) - After pushing the Colts up to the end of the game, they got walked on by Arizona.  The offense played decent, the defense did not.

29.  Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) - These last 4 teams are really pathetic.  Just not good at all.  Let's try to point out the positives...They hung tough with Oakland I guess.  They got their supposed franchise QB back, although he threw a pair of interceptions.  Larry Johnson rushed for 78 yards...on 24 carries.

30.  Cleveland Browns (0-2) - 6 points against Denver's defense.  6.  0 TD's.  They only had one last week and that was in garbage minutes.  This team is going nowhere fast.

31.  St. Louis Rams (0-2) - Steven Jackson tops 100 yards, and the defense holds Washington to 9 points.  Any other team in the league would have won that game.

32.  Detroit Lions (0-2) - 19 straight and counting.  If they would just win a game they would jump up this list, as I think they are talent-wise a much better team than the Chiefs, Browns, or Rams by a long shot.  Still...19 straight regular season losses.  Can't move you up from the bottom knowing that.

Category: NFL
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