You know the drill, here’s what we got for our second edition of our weekly takes around the world of sports.
As much as I would love to talk about all the things that happened across the NFL this week like Daniel Jones, or Melvin Gordon, or how I lost in fantasy this week by .34 points, I cannot. This is because something so blasphemous happened that I can’t not comment on it. In the span of five days, what I’m about to say somehow went from common knowledge to an extremely bold take:
LaMelo Ball is not a top 5 pick in the NBA draft.
Look, don’t get me wrong, the dude can play. I’m not on the train that hates the Ball family because of LaVar. I am actually a huge fan of Lonzo and think he is top 5 in the league in basketball IQ; but that’s for another day. Givony, whom I really like, recently came out with his mock draft for next year and has LaMelo going third. He is behind James Wiseman who many, not me, consider to be the best player in the class and Anthony Edwards, who is probably the best or second best player in the class. But here’s the thing that was the driving force behind me making the take this week: LaMelo is ranked AHEAD of Cole Anthony. In no world is LaMelo Ball better than/should be drafted ahead of Cole Anthony. Coming from a guy who watches a lot of ACC basketball, Cole Anthony will be the best guard in the conference in the past 5 years, and maybe even the whole decade. The dude averaged 18 points, 9.8 rebounds, 9.5 assists, and 2.3 steals…. while playing ONLY 22 minutes a game and playing against the top competition in the country. Wow. Seriously, if you haven’t watched this kid play in a full game you better because this dude is going to be an undoubted All-American in the ACC this year.
I think LaMelo is going to be a good NBA player, don’t get me wrong. But the guys who were ranked ahead of him before were there for a reason. After just a few games in Australia, this man jumped double digit spots in mock drafts to number 3. Just because he can dance around these Australian big guys because they come over the screen every time doesn’t mean he should be drafted ahead of the best high school guard I’ve ever seen in my life (that could be a take in and of itself).
Side note: an NBA scout, who somehow still has a job after this, said that LaMelo… wait I don’t want to get this wrong… “reminds me of Luka Doncic”. The best rookie we’ve seen this decade? Maybe ever? I don’t think so. Luka won the MVP as a teenager in the second best basketball league in the world. LaMelo just started playing last week in Australia. Australia’s professional league isn’t even top 5 in the world. Heck, I don’t even know if it cracks the top 10! Am I missing something? Help me out fellas.
Dula’s Reaction: I do believe that out of all of the Ball brothers, LaMelo is the best and will probably be the most successful in the NBA. Although don’t quote me on that yet because I think Lonzo transitioning to a small market team will benefit his career tremendously. Currently the question about LaMelo isn’t if he will be a top 5 pick but the question is does he deserve to be a top 5 pick? Looking at it from a business standpoint, it makes a whole lot of sense to draft this kid in the top 5. He will sell tickets. The Ball family, (mostly LaVar) really know how to market themselves and we have been talking about LaMelo since 2016 when Lonzo began his freshman season at UCLA. One of many reasons Zion Williamson was selected first overall this year was because of his marketability. He will provide increased ticket sales and jersey sales for the New Orleans Pelicans. LaMelo will absolutely help a team bring in more revenue.
From a basketball standpoint, it’s hard to say that LaMelo deserves to land in the top 5 of the 2020 NBA Draft. It’s not that he’s not good, it’s just that the players ahead of him are better. Also, he is nowhere near Luka Doncic. Luka had a better rookie season than LeBron James and I don’t expect to see a rookie season like his again in quite some time. That being said, LaMelo Ball will likely land in the top 10 of the NBA Draft if not the top 5. Cole Anthony will probably jump LaMelo in the mock drafts a month or two into the season which would drop LaMelo to either 4 or 5. So I do truly believe he will land inside the top 5 because he will continue his production in the NBL giving analysts and scouts no reason to believe he is not worthy of a top 5 pick. I’ll have to separate my stances on this one.
LaMelo Ball is not a top 5 pick in the NBA Draft: Cold
LaMelo Ball does not deserve to be a top 5 pick in the NBA Draft: As bold as taking a bar exam without studying.
Bryce’s Reaction: LaMelo is definetly a good basketball player- probably one of the higher level scorers at the guard position in this upcoming draft class. However, there is NO WAY he should ever be ranked or drafted over Cole Anthony. In just about every aspect, Cole is a better player. Aside from talent- have we really seen LaMelo play high level opponents? Has he played anyone in his Lithuanian, NBL, and JBA stints that is at an NBA level? Not really. Sure, NBA GMs will sometimes look to draft players based on talent AND business profits, and sure LaMelo will definitely sell jerseys and tickets. But is he really going to succeed in the NBA? How long will the business profits last? And, most important, is it worth taking the risk on a kid who has bounced around different teams as a high schooler and “professional” overseas TOP FIVE? I know I wouldn’t take that sort of risk.
LaMelo in the Top 3/5: COLD COLD COLD
Two of my favorite words in all of sports is, “October Baseball.” After waiting a long 162 games we will be presented with the great gift of the MLB playoffs. Will we see a rematch of the 2017 World Series between the Astros and Dodgers? Will the Yankees win their 28th ring? Will a talented small market team like the Atlanta Braves ride their hot streak to their first title in 23 years? So many questions will be answered very soon. But back to my first question about the Astros and Dodgers. Will we see a rematch? My answer is no. Because this is my take:
The Dodgers will be eliminated in the NLDS.
“Dula, you can’t be serious. The Dodgers have dominated the National League all year. Surely they will represent the National League in the World Series.” That is where you’re wrong, my friends. Sure, the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw and Cy Young candidate Hyun-Jin Ryu. Of course they have the likely NL MVP in Cody Bellinger. This team is stacked. How could they possibly lose? Insert: The Washington Nationals. If the Washington Nationals can win the Wild Card game then it is bad news for Los Angeles.
The Dodgers and the Nationals faced each other six times this season with the Dodgers winning the season series 4-2. The pitchers for the nationals in their four losses were; Anibal Sanchez in May, Stephen Strasburg in May (who only surrendered 2 earned runs that game), Anibal Sanchez again in July (who only gave up 1 earned run in a 4-2 loss), and Joe Ross in July. The Dodgers have yet to face Patrick Corbin and they have yet to beat Max Scherzer. Anibal Sanchez in May is completely different than Anibal Sanchez in September. He is 7-2 in his last 15 starts after beginning the season 4-6. So although the Dodgers won that series back in May, they beat a struggling Nationals team that was nowhere near as red hot as they are now. It is unlikely Sanchez will be a scheduled starter in the NLDS but that’s because with Scherzer likely starting the Wild Card game, the Dodgers will probably face Strasburg in Game 1, Corbin in Game 2, and Scherzer in Game 3. There is no team in baseball that will want to face that rotation in the postseason. Also, consider Scherzer at home for Game 3 a lock for the Nationals.
The Nationals also have their very own MVP candidate in Anthony Rendon who leads all of baseball with 124 RBI and is 3rd in the National League in batting average with a solid .322. To add on the that, he is 4th in on base percentage, 5th in slugging, 6th in OPS, and 7th in runs scored in the entire MLB. While Cody Bellinger has been getting all the attention out in LA, Rendon has quietly been one of the best players in baseball this year.
If the Nationals beat the Brewers in the NL Wild Card game then my prediction for a Dodgers vs. Nationals series is the Nationals advancing after they win the series 3 games to 1.
Keehn’s Reaction: October baseball. What an amazing time to be alive. Except for “Game 7”, I think it’s the best phrase in all of sports. I’m going to right ahead here and already say this take is piping hot. I think Juan Soto is among the best young talent in all of baseball and Rendon has been an absolute phenom at the plate. The Dodgers could be getting complacent with where they are. On top of that, we’d probably get two games of Strasburg if the series were to five (assuming Scherzer throws the wild card game and comes back for game 3). Although I think we’re both ready to ride the Braves this year, I would highly consider taking these nationals over the Dodgers. This could be one of the most wild postseasons in recent memory, and the nationals could not only sneak the Dodgers, but potentially win the NL. Look for Soto to have a monster playoff run. Side note, shout out Sean Doolittle. Family friend of mine and he’s a stud. Scalding hot take.
Bryce’s Reaction: As a baseball illiterate guy, I’m gonna have to stay neutral here and stick to football/basketball. LOL.
Today I received a VERY interesting Adam Schefter scoop on my phone.. Patrick Mahomes is projected to get paid at least 40 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. Let’s discuss.
Listen, this is NOT a knock on Mahomes- he is superbly talented and deserves a nice paycheck for his performance last season and again so far this year. However, 40 million a year is absolutely absurd. That sort of cap hit limits the Chiefs tremendously. How do they plan to extend Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce? Or how are they supposed to build up their defense (which is currently ranked 24th in the NFL overall)? To put it lightly, THEY COULDN’T.
If they want to put all of their money into him, then so be it- I’m sure all the other AFC contenders would love it. However, look at all the other greats at QB who won super bowls. Brady & Manning both took pay cuts, year after year, in order for the GM to be in a spot to build the team around them. So why would KC spend that much money on just one player out of the entire 53 man roster?
Mahomes, without a question, is a generational talent. He had an incredible first season- winning MVP and leading the Chiefs to the AFC championship game. However, this sort of pay day would hinder their chances at building and maintaining their contention in the AFC.
Keehn’s Reaction: I think Mahomes really has surpassed Donald as the best player in the league. This dude is the real deal. They did just recently extend Hill for 3 more years. But seeing this model of a good quarterback taking pay cuts to better the team, I’m gonna agree on this one. 40 million a year would be a lot of money and I know he’s already making a ton with endorsements. He seems like the kind of guy who’d take a cut… right? If the Chiefs start putting up some money for the defense, it could be their turn to take the throne once Bill and Brady retire. I love Mahomes (who doesn’t), but 40 million a year is too much. Stance: Hot
Dula’s Reaction: Patrick Mahomes is probably the best quarterback in the NFL and he is showing no signs of slowing down. He could be the best quarterback in the league for years to come. So I can understand why Kansas City would want to pay him $40 million a year. He’s a generational talent that will have the team in Super Bowl discussions year in and year out. Recently in the NFL, we’ve seen multiple players break the record for highest paid player at their position. There are many different factors that go into how or why these players have become the highest paid players but if you look at the teams paying these players, not many of them have won championships. Therefore, Mahomes should follow the footsteps of Brady and Manning by taking a pay cut.
Mahomes is already making money from endorsements and they are just going to keep coming. The reason these players are the some of the best athletes in the world is their competitive edge, not their greediness. Paying Mahomes this absurd amount of money will tie Kansas City’s hands together and they will not be able to extend their key players or sign any notable free agents in the coming years. Now, that does not mean Mahomes does not deserve to be the highest paid quarterback but we all know he does not need the price tag to prove that he is the best.
My Stance: As bold as asking your hot boss out to dinner.
P.S. I will have to respectfully disagree with Keehn’s take that Mahomes is better than Aaron Donald. That is a cold take to be discussed at a later date.