Baker Mayfield NFL Draft

Why teams should think twice about drafting Baker Mayfield

The NFL playoffs begin this weekend. However, the majority of NFL fans are now focused on the NFL draft.

This draft is loaded with quarterback prospects. Some of the top talent includes Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen.

There has also been a lot of NFL talk about Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Some people think he can be successful in the NFL. Others see him as a bust.

There are plenty of reasons to avoid drafting Mayfield, at least early on. Here is a list reasons why NFL teams should think twice before taking a chance on the former Oklahoma Sooner quarterback.

The Big 12 Conference

NFL quarterbacks come from all over the country. Case Keenum went to Houston. Carson Wentz went to North Dakota State. Ben Roethlisberger went to Miami, OH.

Don’t forget about the big schools either. Tom Brady went to Michigan. Aaron Rodgers went to California. Matthew Stafford went to Georgia.

Mayfield joins a nice list of dominating Oklahoma quarterbacks. Jason White and Sam Bradford also won Heismans during their time with the Sooners. But there is something disturbing about the quarterbacks the Big 12 has been putting in the NFL.

Mayfield joins the list of dominant Big 12 quarterbacks. (Photo by Associated Press)

Since 2000, 22 Big 12 quarterbacks have been drafted. None of them have panned out as dependable starting quarterbacks. The most notable names to come from the Big 12 include Chris Simms, Vince Young, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradord, Colt McCoy, Blaine Gabbert, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Geno Smith.

Some of these guys showed promise early on, but none of them panned out. Simms never started more than 10 games in a season and only played five seasons in the NFL. Young started off nice by bringing the Titans to the postseason a couple times, but ended up busting as well. The Dolphins have only finished over .500 once under Tannehill. Griffin’s knees didn’t survive. Bradford has also spent plenty of time on the sidelines due to injury. Yes, a few of these guys started off nice, but didn’t end well.

Some of these guys put up big numbers in college and even stayed healthy in the NFL. They just were ineffective in the pros. Smith, Weeden, Freeman, McCoy and Gabbert all failed to deliver.

There was no primary starting quarterback from the Big 12 this season. Why does the conference struggle to put out big-time NFL quarterbacks?

The Big 12 style of play is all run and gun. The Big 12 is known for their high scoring games with almost no defense. Oklahoma has had conference wins that ended with scores like 49-41 over Baylor, 42-35 over Kansas State, 62-52 over Oklahoma State and 59-31 over West Virginia.

Oklahoma State was the Big 12’s second best offense and put up scores like 41-34 over Texas Tech, 50-39 over West Virginia and 49-42 over Iowa State. They are scoring a lot of points, but they are also giving up a bunch.

The Big 12’s quarterbacks have inflated stats. You can’t take them seriously because they aren’t playing against any defenses. It may not be fair to say an NFL quarterback can never come from the Big 12, but it’s not that ridiculous of a statement. Times change and quarterbacks can come from even the smallest of conferences. With the Big 12’s current style of play, don’t expect any star quarterback coming from the conference anytime soon.

Size and attitude

One of the bigger knocks on Mayfield is his size. ESPN lists him at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds. Scouts and fans always like a big quarterback.

Yes, there are smaller quarterbacks that start in the NFL. That list includes Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Tyrod Taylor. There have been smaller quarterbacks in the past that have also succeeded. Don’t rule out a guy just because of size.

Baker Mayfield NFL Draft

Mayfield has issued a few apologies this season after receiving criticism for his antics on the field. (Photo by Getty Images)

The thing about Mayfield is that he reminds people more of Johnny Manziel than Drew Brees. Both Manziel and Mayfield won Heisman Trophies, completed around 70 percent of their passes, were athletic and mobile and made fans hate them with their antics on the field.

Mayfield has already received criticism for talking trash with his opponents, grabbing his crotch and planting an Oklahoma flag on Ohio State’s logo. Manziel received criticism for things mostly off the field like partying, gambling and not working hard.

Do NFL teams want a quarterback that has been labeled as a punk by some? If you look at the NFL’s current starting quarterbacks, none of them have an attitude like Mayfield. The closest guys you could argue would be Cam Newton and Jay Cutler.

Newton has been criticized for a poor attitude before, but not many would call him a punk. The same goes for Cutler. He is known more for whining than anything else.

Mayfield’s personality does not fit the NFL quarterback mold. It is something teams should consider before drafting him.

Final verdict

Former Heisman Trophy winner and Oklahoma Sooner Jason White, along with Chase Daniel from Missouri and Graham Harrell from Texas Tech are notable Big 12 quarterbacks this century to go undrafted. Mayfield probably won’t go undrafted, but teams should proceed with caution.

Taking Mayfield in the first round is risky. Teams interested in Mayfield should wait until the middle rounds to take him. No team should sweat over another team taking Mayfield in the first round. Waiting gives teams more of a low risk high reward.

 

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NFL Wild Card Weekend

What are the odds of a Wild Card winning the Super Bowl?

NFL postseason action kicks off Saturday with Wild Card weekend. The Tennessee Titans will be taking on the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Atlanta Falcons will face off against the Los Angeles Rams.

On Sunday, fans will get to see two more matchups between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars and the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints.

There are plenty of storylines for each game. Will Alex Smith be focused after being benched for Patrick Mahomes last week? Will the Rams’ high-powered offense continue to do damage? How will the Bills perform in their first postseason appearance since 1999? Will the Panthers finally get a win against the Saints this season?

It is definitely going to be an exciting weekend. Maybe the Wild Card teams will pull out a win or two.

A bigger question to ask is what are the odds of one of the Wild Card teams winning the Super Bowl? Or even making it?

The history

Not to disappoint fans of the Wild Cards, but the odds of one of them getting in or even winning it all aren’t great.

Overall, 10 Wild Card teams have played in a Super Bowl since the Wild Card was born in 1970. The first Wild Card team to make a Super Bowl was the Dallas Cowboys in 1975. They ended up losing 21-17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl X.

 

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Wild Cards in the Super Bowl

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TEAM YEAR/SUPER BOWL RESULT
Dallas Cowboys 1975 (Super Bowl X) Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers 21-17
Oakland Raiders 1980 (Super Bowl XV) Defeated Philadelphia Eagles 27-10
New England Patriots 1985 (Super Bowl XX) Lost to Chicago Bears 46-10)
Buffalo Bills 1992 (Super Bowl XXVII) Lost to Dallas Cowboys 52-17
Denver Broncos 1997 (Super Bowl XXXII) Defeated Green Bay Packers 31-24
Tennessee Titans 1999 (Super Bowl XXXIV) Lost to St. Louis Rams 23-16
Baltimore Ravens 2000 (Super Bowl XXXV) Defeated New York Giants 34-7
Pittsburgh Steelers 2005 (Super Bowl XL) Defeated Seattle Seahawks 21-10
New York Giants 2007 (Super Bowl XLII) Defeated New England Patriots 17-14
Green Bay Packers 2010 (Super Bowl XLV) Defeated Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25

It is also noteworthy to include the Kansas City Chiefs in this talk. In 1969, they won the AFL as a Wild Card and then defeated the NFL champion Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.

It is not impossible for a Wild Card to make the Super Bowl, or even win it. However, the chances are slim. There has been a Wild Card in 20.8 percent of Super Bowls since the Wild Card entered the postseason. They have also won just 12.5 percent of Super Bowls. When a Wild Card makes it, they have won 60 percent of the time, including the last four times.

What it takes to win

Is there much correlation between all the Wild Card Super Bowl winners? It is tough to find much.

NFL Wild Card Weekend

Can Cam Newton bring the Panthers back to the Super Bowl? (Photo by Winslow Townson/Associated Press)

One thing all Wild Card Super Bowl teams have in common is that they all won at least 10 games during the regular season. Four of them won 11 games, two of them won 12 games, and one of them even won 13.

Based on that, most of the Wild Cards that make the Super Bowl are pretty dominant teams. There are division winners that win 10 games. Teams are rarely going to be a Wild Card if they have 12 wins.

If fans are confident enough to bet on a Wild Card winning it all, they should look to the NFC. Only the Panthers and Falcons have double-digit wins. Sorry Bills and Titans fans, history is just not on your side.

Defense is something else that almost all the Wild Cards had in common. Seven out of the 10 ranked in the top 10 in yards allowed per game. Seven out of the 10 also ranked in the top 10 in points allowed per game.

Once again, the Panthers and Falcons are the only two Wild Cards that rank in the top 10 in yards allowed per game, and the Falcons are the only one that ranks in the top 10 in points allowed per game.

Will we see a Wild Card this year?

Let’s look at some history again. There was one Wild Card in the Super Bowl in the 1970s, two in the 1980s, three in the 1990s, three in the 2000s and one so far in the 2010s. Does that mean a Wild Card is due to appear soon since there has only been one so far this decade?

NFL Wild Card Weekend

The Falcons are looking for redemption from last year’s epic Super Bowl collapse. (Photo by Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)

Actually, any team with a road playoff game is due to win soon. Since 2012, no team that has played a road playoff game has made it to the Super Bowl. The last time it happened was when the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens faced each other, with both winning games on the road.

It is very tough to say. The NFL is always unpredictable. Nobody picked the Jaguars or Rams would make the playoffs this year.

Going on history, it appears the Falcons have the best chance out of all the Wild Cards to make it. However, they just played in the big game last year and making back-to-back Super Bowls is very difficult. Also, each matchup and season is different. Comparing to the past is not always the best way to predict winners, but it does give us an idea of how difficult it is for a Wild Card to win on the big stage.

Either way, get ready. The postseason should be just as exciting as always.

 

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Cleveland Cavaliers NBA draft

Cleveland needs to keep the Brooklyn pick

It is safe to say that the Cleveland Cavaliers have silenced all their haters after tying a franchise record with 13 straight wins. That puts the Cavs at 18-7 and second place in the Eastern Conference.

It definitely took a while for the Cavs to get things figured out. Their struggles early in the season were linked to poor defense and chemistry. This should have been expected considering the Cavs are the oldest team in the NBA and have so many new faces.

Through the first 12 games of the season, Cleveland was allowing an atrocious 114.2 points per game. During this winning streak, they have allowed 101.5. Overall, the team is averaging 107.6 per game, which ranks 21st in the league. It is not the best, but it is an improvement from where they started.

Oh, and the Cavs have accomplished all this without Isaiah Thomas and Tristan Thompson. Imagine how good this team will be once they return to the court.

There is not much doubt that the Cavs will be back in the Finals for their fourth straight season. However, there is also not much doubt that they will be facing the Golden State Warriors for the fourth straight time, and losing to them once again.

The Cavs aren’t getting any younger either. There have also been trade talks about the Cavs bringing in DeMarcus Cousins or DeAndre Jordan. But in order to do that, the Cavs would most definitely have to part ways with their first round pick they acquired from the Brooklyn Nets. Cousins and Jordan also are both free agents next season with Cousins being unrestricted and Jordan with a player option.

Sending off a potential No. 1 pick and possibly players like Thompson and Iman Shumpert for a player they might not be able to keep is not a smart move for a team like the Cavs. They need to start preparing for the future. Players like Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Channing Frye, Jeff Green, Derrick Rose, Jose Calderon and Iman Shumpert all could be gone next season.

Now not all of those players are really considered losses, but this team needs to add some young talent for the future. That is why instead of using the Brooklyn pick as a trade asset, the Cavs need to actually use it.

NBA Draft lottery

The NBA will have a new lottery system in place for the 2018 NBA draft. The new system has leveled the playing field for the league’s worst teams.

Cleveland Cavaliers NBA draft

The Cavs are not getting any younger. (Photo by STACY REVERE/GETTY)

Previously, the worst team had the greatest odds at the first overall pick. Now the worst three teams have the same odds at receiving the first pick.

As it stands right now, there are nine teams worse than the Brooklyn Nets. However, a handful of those teams should finish ahead of the Nets by the end of the season. Even if the Nets don’t finish as one of the three worst teams, the Nets could still end up with a high pick. Even with the previous lottery system, there were always teams winning higher picks than teams that were worse than them. The new system makes it even easier for those teams to get higher picks.

This class of rookies is stacked with talent with names like Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Lauri Markkanen and Dennis Smith Jr. already looking great. This next class of rookies is going to be pretty good as well.

Top prospects

If you have not heard, Marvin Bagley is very good. The Duke freshman is the undisputed first overall pick for the 2018 NBA draft, and rightfully so. Bagley is averaging 21.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. He is first in the NCAA in total points, second in total rebounds, second in double-doubles and is showing range with a 3-point percentage of 35. Bagley is going to be a beast in the NBA.

Even if the Cavs cannot get Bagley, there is still plenty of other talent. Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. was going to be battling Bagley as the NCAA’s top player, but an injury in his first game this season has sidelined him for the season. We all know how good Porter can be based on his film. His injury has not hurt him much in the latest mock drafts either.

Arizona freshman big Deandre Ayton is also looking like a stud early on. Ayton is averaging 19.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. He has size at 7-foot-1 and 250 pounds and freakish offensive ability.

There is also Mohamed Bamba from Texas. He is not known for his offense yet, but his defense is amazing. The 7-footer has a 7-foot-9 wingspan and is averaging four blocks per game. He game is much like Tristan Thompson, also a former defensive stud at Texas.

Don’t forget about Miles Bridges either. Many expected the Michigan State sophomore to be in this year’s draft, but he returned to the Spartans instead for another big season. Bridges has been picking up where he left off so far. His season averages are not as high, but it is still early and from watching him you know he can be an NBA stud.

Keep the pick

The the current age of the Cavs, some may argue they should focus on winning now. However, with some of the team’s top players like Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, Jae Crowder, Tristan Thompson and most likely LeBron James returning to the team next season, why would they need to plan a massive rebuild?

The fact is, most of the Cavs’ stars are not that old. They can make the Finals in the next two seasons at least with their current roster. But if they don’t want to be left behind once all these players are finished, they need to start preparing for the future.

Yes, there is no guarantee Cleveland gets the top pick, or even a top three pick. But there is also no guarantee DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan would stay either. What you can guarantee is that this next draft class is going to be loaded with talent, and the Cavs will have a top 10 pick to get one of those players.

This offseason, the Cavs need to focus on getting younger and keeping Isaiah Thomas on the roster. They can start by getting him anther great teammate to work with.

 

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Joey Votto

Joey Votto is baseball’s least-recognized star

With baseball’s sudden burst in power, some of the game’s best performers have seemed to slip through the cracks.

Yes, Giancarlo Stanton’s season was impressive. His 59 home runs are the most in baseball since Barry Bonds’ record-breaking 73 back in 2001. The MLB also broke the record for most total home runs in a season this year previously set in 2000.

41 players hit at least 30 home runs this season, which was the most since the 2000 season when 47 reached the mark. The Astros and Dodgers set the record for most total home runs in a World Series as well.

The MLB seems to have gained its power back after only 11 players reached 30 home runs back in 2014. It has captured fans’ attention and made baseball that much more entertaining.

The players this year have done something that hasn’t been done since the start of the century. It makes it easy to forget about players like Joey Votto, who quietly remains consistent.

The numbers

Joey Votto might be the most underrated superstar of the day. When you look at Votto’s numbers, it is hard to believe he has only won one MVP, one Gold Glove and been named an All-Star just five times. He still has not won a Silver Slugger either.

Votto is a career .313 hitter with 257 home runs and 830 RBIs. He also has an incredible .428 on-base percentage.

At .428, Votto ranks 10th all time in that category. The only player ahead of him that is not already in the Hall of Fame is Barry Bonds. Also, the next highest active player on the list is Miguel Cabrera at 68th with a .395 percentage. Votto is getting on base just as often as many all-time greats and more often than any of his peers. 

Perhaps the most impressive performance by Votto this season was when he reached base safely at least twice in 20 straight games, coming up just one game short of the record set by Ted Williams in 1948. Only two other players have done so in 20 straight games. That would be Barry Bonds in 2004 and Pete Rose in 1979.

Unappreciated and underrated

Votto is proving himself to be a future Hall of Famer. However, it is doubtful that many fans outside Cincinnati are aware of this.

Votto turned 34 this year and may have played his best season yet, or at least he believes so.

Joey Votto

Votto with his 2010 MVP award, one of the few honors he has received. (Photo by HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)

“I wanted this to be my work of art,” Votto told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I felt like shrinking strikeouts, keeping the walks, competing on a daily basis, playing every day, improving my defense. I felt this was definitely the best year of my career.”

One common knock on Votto is his “lack of aggression at the plate” because he gets so many walks. But isn’t the point of baseball to score runs? And you score runs by getting men on base. This is about as silly as people bashing James Harden because of how many points he gets from shooting free throws. In basketball, you need to score points to win, and that is what Harden does.

Votto got those runs, finishing 10th in the MLB with 106. Also, here are some numbers to show Votto is a disciplined batter, rather than unaggressive.

Votto may be the disciplined hitter in the game. He swung at the fewest pitches outside the zone at 15.8 percent. Talk about patience. He waits for his pitch and then capitalizes off it. This also works the pitch count and makes pitchers work to get him out. In contrast, Votto swung at 71.4 percent of pitches in the zone, which was the 32nd highest.

Those numbers average out to a 41.9 swing percentage, which was one of the lowest in the league. Don’t question his aggressiveness based on this stat though. Aaron Judge’s swing percentage was even lower at 41.1 percent. Nobody questions Judge’s aggressiveness as he led the American League in home runs and the MLB in strikeouts.

What else is crazy is that Votto received the 14th most pitches in the strike zone, but still led the league in walks. Votto isn’t going to just swing at anythiing. He is going to wait on a pitch he can drive, and if not he will take that free pass to first base.

Accolades

How has a future Hall of Famer like Votto won so few awards? He has just one MVP that he won in 2010 over Albert Pujols and Carlos Gonzalez. He finished third in 2015 behind Bryce Harper and Paul Goldschmidt and second this season.

He has been voted an All-Star just five times.

Votto also has zero silver sluggers. Albert Pujols won during Votto’s first three full seasons in the league, but Pujols was the best player in the league at the time, making it understandable. But it is the players who have finished on top of Votto that are more questionable. Prince Fielder, Adam LaRoche, Paul Goldschmidt, Adrian Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo have all won the award over Votto.

Who is supposed to win the Silver Slugger? The Louisville Slugger website explains who is supposed to win the award.

“Coaches and managers of Major League teams vote for the players they feel are the best offensive producers at each position in the field in both the American and National Leagues. They base their selections on a combination of offensive statistics including batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, as well as the coaches’ and managers’ general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value.”

This season, Votto led National League first basemen in batting average and on-base percentage and was third in slugging percentage, tied for second in home runs and fourth in RBIs. Paul Goldschmidt finished behind Votto in all of those stats except RBIs. Anthony Rizzo won last year, but only topped Votto in home runs and RBIs.

Of course Votto missed a lot of time during the 2014 season due to injury, so it makes sense he did not win that season. But on what planet is Adam LaRoche a better hitter than Votto? And how does Votto finish ahead of Goldschmidt in MVP voting, but behind in Silver Slugger?

As for the MVP award this season, Stanton did have a monster season as he led the league in home runs (59) and RBIs (132) while also batting .281. Votto finished just two points behind Stanton, making it the closest vote since 1979 and the fourth-closest of all time. Both received 10 first-place votes, but Stanton finished with one more second and third-place vote.

Both had tremendous seasons. Stanton showed what he is fully capable of when healthy and Votto continued to show his consistency and ability to get on base.

Maybe some day Votto will get the league’s respect the past Reds’ greats like Barry Larkin and Johnny Bench. Maybe Votto will earn another award or two. Even if he does not, Votto probably won’t be too upset when he is sitting in Cooperstown someday.

 

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Josh Gordon

What the Browns can expect from Josh Gordon

Browns fans got something to be thankful for yesterday as wide receiver Josh Gordon returned to practice. It’s not much, but with the season the Browns have had, this may call for a celebration.

With all of Gordon’s struggles with substance abuse, some fans may have forgotten just how good Gordon was as he has not played a game since 2014. In 2013, his last full season in the NFL, Gordon led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,646 while catching 87 passes and scoring nine touchdowns.

The following season, Gordon only played in five games and caught 24 passes for 303 yards. Nothing special, but it was probably hard for Gordon to get in rhythm after missing the team’s first 10 games of the season. He just didn’t seem like himself that season.

Gordon was originally suspended for the entire 2014 season, but his suspension was reduced to 10 games due to the NFL’s new drug policy. He was later suspended for the final game of the season by the Browns for violating team rules.

Gordon was later suspended for the entire 2015 season and the first four games of the 2016 season. Just before the end of his 2016 suspension, Gordon entered a rehabilitation center and now appears to have his life together after struggling with drug and alcohol abuse for so long. An interview with Uninterrupted has fans believing Gordon is past his struggles with addiction for real this time.

But what can fans honestly expect to get from Gordon? He hasn’t played in an NFL game in almost three years. Sure, he may be in shape, but playing in a game and working out are not the same.

Let’s look into where Gordon is right now and see if he can provide some spark and hope for the Cleveland Browns.

First practice

It was Gordon’s first time practicing with the team since training camp in 2016. It was also his first regular season team practice since Dec. 26, 2014. He worked on some drills with the receivers and also did some work with the team despite not playing this week.

How did he look? According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, he looked trim, fit and agile. He caught short and deep balls and the only one he misses was when he slipped. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport said on NFL Network that he looks like Josh Gordon again.

There aren’t too many players on the team that really know him since he has been out so long, but that hasn’t hindered their excitement in any way.

“It’s like Christmas,” Hue Jackson told the Akron Beacon Journal on Monday. “I get to open a new toy. I know what’s in that box, but I just want to see how good it is. It’s exciting that he’ll be back out there.”

After watching Gordon in practice, Jackson’s thoughts are still the same.

“He’s something. It was a good first day,” he said according to the Cleveland Browns Twitter. “He’s what I thought he was.”

Gordon’s shape

Nobody is going to debate whether Gordon ever had it in him or not. He led the league in receiving yards with Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer throwing to him. We have only seen production like that with poor quarterback play come from DeAndre Hopkins as of lately.

Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon hasn’t lost a step based on looks. (Photo from Josh Gordon’s Instagram account @flash)

However, three years is a long time to be out of the league. Marshawn Lynch at 31 years old is struggling after only being removed from the league for a year. Plaxico Burress also struggled in a comeback attempt after missing two seasons. He was older at age 34 when he returned, but he was not the same player he was with the New York Giants.

Luckily for Gordon, he is still just 26 years old. It is also important to note that he is completely sober now. Gordon said in his interview that he was probably on something in every game he has played.

If he can do that while high or drunk, imagine what he can do sober and in the prime of his career. Gordon has been training with former Olympic gold medalist Tim Montgomery. Montgomery said Gordon has come a long way from when they first started working together according to Cleveland.com. He also told Uninterrupted that Gordon could be an olympic champion in the 400 meters if he trained for it.

You can look at Gordon and know he is in shape. He didn’t let himself go in rehab. He has still been working out and doing what he can to make his return to the NFL the best it can possibly be.

Can he help the Browns?

It is tough to blame head coach Hue Jackson or rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer for all the offensive problems. The Browns might have the lowest amount of talent on offense in the NFL right now. Backup running back Duke Johnson Jr. currently leads the team in receiving yards with 414. That says it all right there.

Other offensive “talent” includes Isaiah Crowell, Ricardo Louis, Kenny Britt, Rashard Higgins, Seth DeValve and David Njoku. Former first-round pick Corey Coleman is finally healthy now as well.

Gordon will no doubt be the top target on this team, which isn’t very hard to do. However, it is hard for receivers to make an impact on a team. Of course Gordon has succeeded with poor quarterback play before, but bringing wins to a bad team is another story. Even the great Randy Moss couldn’t make the Raiders a winner in his short stint in Oakland.

We have seen quarterbacks like Tom Brady make stars out of receivers like Julian Edelman and Wes Welker. You just don’t see it too much the other way around. Receivers only get so many targets a game, and under 10 plays a game to make an impact. The Browns went 4-12 despite Gordon’s great play

It is going to be a process in Cleveland. Even if Gordon ends up playing like he did, it is going to take a lot more to fix this team than a wide receiver. Fans who are worried about the Browns losing the first overall pick in the draft can rest easy.

 

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Miami Hurricanes

It’s time to respect the Miami Hurricanes

It’s all about The U. The Miami Hurricanes are taking the NCAA by storm with their swagger and stellar defense.

The Hurricanes began the season ranked 18th in the AP poll, and now find themselves ranked third in the latest CFP poll, moving up four spots after several of the top ranked teams lost on Saturday.

Notre Dame, who was previously ranked No. 3, was the latest victim of The U. The matchup was one of the most anticipated of the week as the Catholics and Convicts were both ranked in the top 10 with a lot to prove.

If you tuned in Saturday night, it was a rather boring game. Miami blew out Notre Dame 41-8. Miami’s prized turnover chain also made four appearances throughout the night.

This was a statement win for Miami. As of late, nobody has been giving them much respect since they have had a few close calls against unranked opponents and supposedly have a weak strength of schedule. However, they kept moving up in the polls due to their undefeated record.

Now that they have blown out a top-10 team on national television, it is time to start respecting the Miami Hurricanes.

Strength of record

Some fans just can’t get around the fact that the Hurricanes haven’t played big-time competition like Clemson or Notre Dame. The Hurricanes currently rank 21st in strength of schedule, which is the fifth toughest amongst the top 10 teams in the CFP poll. The best teams they have played include Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Toledo.

Mark Richt knows what it’s all about. (Photo by Erum Kidwai // The Miami Hurricane)

However, their strength of record is first in the nation. Strength of record is a little more foreign to some fans, but it is not simply saying a 9-0 record is better than 8-1.

Strength of record reflects the chance of an average top 25 team having the same record or better as said team based on their schedule. Strength of record incorporates some strength of schedule in it. Basically what it is getting at is would the average top 25 team have an undefeated record like Miami if they played the same teams.

As far as strength of record goes, Miami is first followed by Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, Georgia and Wisconsin. Despite Clemson having the third hardest strength of schedule, it is still more impressive that Miami has gone undefeated given their schedule than Clemson going 9-1 with theirs.

If fans still want to complain about Miami’s “weak” schedule, they better really complain about Alabama, who ranks 38th and is the No. 1 team in the nation. Or maybe No. 5 Wisconsin, who currently ranks 67th in strength of schedule.

Hurricane Irma and injuries

It has been a while, but remember that Miami had a lot of conflict to deal with early on in the season due to Hurricane Irma.

Miami had to cancel their game against Arkansas State and also had to reschedule matchups against Florida State and Georgia Tech. Miami also struggled in those two games, winning at Florida State 24-20 and beating Georgia Tech at home 25-24 in back-to-back weeks. These two games are a big part of why Miami has not gained the respect of all college football fans.

After having five games scheduled for the month of September, Miami only played three.

Playing those early season games are important for a team to get into rhythm and get ready for conference play down the stretch. Sure, having a week off to rest later in the season is nice to give players a break, but how do you expect to get in shape when you don’t play a game for 21 days? That is what the Hurricanes were dealing with and explains why they were having struggles in the month of October.

Miami also lost their star running back Mark Walton for the rest of the season due to an ankle injury in the Florida State game. In the four games Walton played this season, he had 428 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 7.6 yards per carry. He was already dealing with problems with his other ankle to begin with and still put up numbers like that. Imagine what Miami could be doing with a healthy Walton, who was a possible ACC player of the year candidate.

Along with Walton, one of the team’s top receivers, Ahmmon Richards, has also missed time due to injury, including the Georgia Tech game. Richards has been dealing with a hamstring problem and missed time due to an ankle injury. After being an All-American freshman last season, expectations for Richards were through the roof this year.

All of this can really put pressure on a quarterback to perform, but Malik Rosier doesn’t seem to be letting it bother him too much. After star quarterback Brad Kaaya took off for the NFL, fans weren’t really sure what to expect from Rosier. Throw in all the missed time due to Hurricane Irma and injuries to some of your star players and it makes it that much more difficult.

Despite his circumstances, Rosier has 2,410 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also has 339 rushing yards and four more scores.

Defense wins championships

While the offense has struggled at times this season, the defense has been keeping Miami competitive.

Miami Hurricanes

Trajan Bandy knows a thing or two about the turnover chain. (Photo by Associated Press)

Miami’s defense will wreck you. They rank second in tackles for loss per game (8.8), second in turnover margin (1.67), fourth in forced turnovers (24), fourth in interceptions (16), fifth in sacks (33) and 10th in points allowed per game (16.6). Keep in mind that Miami has had to cancel a game, making their season totals that much more impressive.

This defense held Notre Dame, who ranks 14th in points scored per game at 38, to just eight points. They held Virginia Tech, who is averaging 31.5 points per game, to just 10 points.

Everybody knows about Miami’s turnover chain by now. It’s pretty hard to miss if you have watched any Miami football games or any weekend highlights of any kind.

Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz came up with the idea and has his defense hungry for the football with it. It gives his players that much more reason to force turnovers and look like a boss on the sidelines wearing the prized possession.

Respect The U

It is time to give the Miami Hurricanes the respect they deserve. With the top ranked strength of record, hungry defense and the issues caused by Hurricane Irma and injuries, this Miami team is something special. After those struggles in October, they are playing their best football against their toughest competition.

The U will be facing off against Clemson for the ACC Championship game when the season is all said and done. With Clemson currently ranked No. 2 and Miami No. 3, the stage is set for a historic showdown. Miami is out to prove they are legit and Clemson is seeking their third straight championship game appearance. Get ready.

 

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Lauri Markkanen

Why is nobody talking about Lauri Markkanen?

We all knew there was something special about this draft class. This group was just loaded with talent, so much so that Malik Monk fell to No. 11. A player of his caliber is almost always a top five selection.

Throw in Ben Simmons playing his first NBA season and the “rookie” class gets that much better. Simmons is the frontrunner for rookie of the year now, but there are so many other rookies having exciting seasons.

Jayson Tatum has stepped up in Boston to fill the hole left by Gordon Hayward. The third overall pick is averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 rebounds a game and been a key part of why the Celtics have the best record in the NBA.

De’Aaron Fox is also looking impressive so far this season. The fact he is on the Kings has not kept fans from seeing his production. With averages of 12.3 points and 5.5 assists per game, it is a wonder he has only started two games. He also just hit a game-winning shot to beat Simmons and the 76ers.

Fox’s former teammate, Malik Monk is also looking nice. He started off slow, but is now averaging almost 10 points per game with the Hornets. He has had some explosive performances like his 25 points in 23 minutes against the Bucks and 21 points in 27 minutes against the Knicks.

The most talked about rookie in this class has definitely been Lonzo Ball, but not because he has been one of the top rookies in this class. Sure, the No. 2 overall pick has had some nice games like his almost triple-double in his second game, but he only has topped 10 points once since then.

Ball’s fellow rookie teammate, Kyle Kuzma, is also looking good. Kuzma is third amongst rookies in scoring at 14.8 points per game and is also grabbing 6.5 rebounds.

Dennis Smith Jr., Donovan Mitchell, Mike James, John Collins, Josh Jackson and Bogdan Bogdanovic are also averaging double figures in points per game. This class has been truly amazing.

I purposely left a name out of that list though, and you may not have noticed because of how little he has been talked about. That name would be Lauri Markkanen.

Quietly dominating

If you remember the draft, Markkanen was picked seventh overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves, but then was traded along with Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn for Jimmy Butler.

Lauri Markkanen

Markkanen has quietyly been the most successful player from this year’s draft. (Photo by Getty Images)

In his one season at Arizona, Markkanen averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from behind the arc.

He has put up similar stats in his 10 games with the Bulls, as he is averaging 15.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Those numbers are both good for second amongst rookies behind, you guessed it, Ben Simmons.

With all the hype surrounding Simmons, the struggles by Ball and Markelle Fultz and Tatum and Boston being so successful, Markkanen’s production has seemed to go unnoticed.

It more than likely has something to do with the fact that he is playing with the Bulls. With so little star power in Chicago, why would anyone talk about them? They also are second to last in the Eastern Conference. It is hard enough to get talked about in the East with all the stars playing in the West and getting all the attention.

Scouting report

Let’s take a look at what Markkanen’s draft profile said about him. According to Draft Express, Markkanen’s biggest strengths were his shooting ability and size.

He’s definitely a good shooter. Known as a stretch big at 7-feet, 230 pounds, Markkanen’s field goal percentage is 42.6 and his 3-point percentage is 36.1. Not bad numbers for a rookie big.

For comparison, Kristaps Porzingis had a 39.8 field goal percentage and 21.4 3-point percentage through his first 10 NBA games. Porzingis has obviously improved since then. But in today’s game, you have to be able to shoot around 40 percent from deep, and that percentage should only improve for Markkanen as his career progresses.

Markkanen’s size puts him right up there with guys Porzingis, Kevin Love and Dirk Nowitzki. Obviously they aren’t exact in height and weight, but they are all big men that can stretch the floor and open lanes for their teammates. You have to respect their shot because they all can hit 3-pointers.

One of the bigger weaknesses in his draft profile was his defense. His lack of weight and length prevents him from being physical inside and blocking shots. Guys like Porzingis and Anthony Davis got a whole foot of length more than him with their 8-foot wingspans.

This is not as big of a concern to me though. A lot of the rookies coming in had question marks about their defensive abilities. This is also something that can be improved over time.

I’m also not going to let something like length determine if a guy can be good in this league or not because Love and Nowitzki also don’t have significant length.

Of course you can’t make assumptions this early on in a rookie’s career. Fans love to declare guys future Hall of Famers or busts early on in the season. But you cannot judge a guy that early. Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged less than seven points per game in his rookie season. Now he is the leading candidate for MVP in his fifth season.

Maybe Markkanen peaks at his rookie season. Maybe he continues to improve. Maybe we will see him in the 2020 All-Star game playing in front of his home crowd in Chicago. What we know for sure is he has exploded onto the NBA scene faster than his fellow members of this draft class.

So why is no one talking about Lauri Markkanen? I have no clue, but the numbers speak for themselves. This guy is ballin.

 

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J.T. Barrett Heisman

A look into J.T. Barrett’s comeback season

Last year on New Year’s Eve, Ohio State got embarrassed in the postseason by the eventual National Champion Clemson Tigers. Embarrassed might be an understatement, as the Buckeyes were shutout 31-0.

The offense could get absolutely nothing going offensively. They had 215 total yards, three turnovers, just nine first downs and had the ball for about 12 less minutes than Clemson.

A big part of the struggle was quarterback J.T. Barrett. Barrett had been inconsistent all season long and laid an egg in one of the most important games of the season. Barrett finished the night with 127 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions.

Barrett finished the season with 2,555 yards, 24 touchdowns, seven interceptions, a 135.3 rating and a 61.5 completion rate. Barrett also had five games where he completed less than 60 percent of his passes, including three where he didn’t even complete half of them. It was definitely nothing like his freshman year when he helped lead the Buckeyes to the playoffs.

This season

It appeared that some of that inconsistency came into this season as well when Barrett and the Buckeyes struggled early in their season opener against Indiana and then in their loss to Oklahoma in the following week. Fans and analysts were writing off Ohio State already, mostly due to Barrett’s play.

Whatever the reason was for Barrett’s forgettable junior season or his slow start to this season, all of those bad memories have been erased from his brain apparently. Barrett has been performing like his old self this season.

In his next five games after the Oklahoma loss, Barrett began to take off. Yes, those games were against Army, UNLV, Rutgers, Maryland and Nebraska, who all have a combined record of 20-20. But Ohio State took advantage of the opportunity, winning all five games by a combined score of 266-56.

J.T. Barrett heisman

J.T. Barrett played one of his best games ever against Penn State last week. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Then came a test for the Buckeyes with their matchup against Penn State. It was also a test for the Nittany Lions, as the only rated team they had played all season up to that point was Michigan, who is not even ranked in the AP Poll anymore. Penn State got off to a great lead and appeared to have another win over the Buckeyes like they did last season.

Ohio State wasn’t finished though. They scored 19 points in the fourth quarter to beat Penn State 39-38. Barrett played arguably his best game ever. He finished with 328 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions, completed 84.6 percent of his passes and also ran for another 95 yards. This game put Barrett in talks for the Heisman Trophy by some analysts.

Is this an overreaction to one good game? Think again.

Barrett’s numbers on the season have been spectacular. He has completed 69.5 percent of his passes, which is seventh in the NCAA. He has thrown for 2,166 yards, 25 touchdown passes (third), one interception (lowest for players with at least 70 attempts), and a 176.2 rating (third).

He also leads the Big Ten Conference in all of those categories, which is arguably the best conference in college football. Not too much of an overreaction after all.

Barrett now finds himself in the Heisman race with Penn State running back and Heisman frontrunner Saquon Barkley, Stanford running back Bryce Love, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph.

Barrett’s case for the Heisman

It seems that it is Barkley’s award to lose. The guy has been doing it all for the Nittany Lions all season long.

Love has also had an amazing year, but has played a bunch of average teams. However, he is averaging over 10 yards per carry and has 1,387 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. That is impressive regardless of which power five conference you play in. But let me explain Barrett’s case.

J.T. Barrett Heisman

Could Barrett actually win the Heisman this season? (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

First off, the numbers don’t lie. Don’t let the yards by Rudolph and Mayfield fool you. Yes, they may have more passing yards than Barrett, but look at their strength of schedule.

Rudolph has played just two teams with records over .500. They beat West Virginia, but lost to TCU. Mayfield has played just two as well, losing to Iowa State, but beating Ohio State. Barrett’s yards would probably be through the roof too if he was playing teams like Baylor and UTEP.

Barrett has played three teams over .500, including Oklahoma, Army and Penn State. The worst team he has played has a 3-5 record. Rudolph has played four teams with losing records, including 0-8 Baylor and 2-7 Tulsa. Mayfield has also 0-8 UTEP and 0-8 Baylor.

Despite Barrett’s schedule, he still has more touchdowns and less interceptions than both Rudolph and Mayfield. Not to mention he has more rushing yards than them and also a higher completion rate and rating than Rudolph.

The rest of the season

Barrett is going to have a few more tests before the season is all said and done. They will play at Iowa this week, who has always been a competitor in the Big Ten. Then they will host No. 24 Michigan State, who have been surprisingly successful so far this season. They will also end the season against their big rival Michigan at The Big House.

Barrett will get the chance to prove himself worthy of the Heisman against some of the best competition in the Big Ten. If you ask me, I think he can handle it and will prove to the doubters that he is legit.

If Ohio State wins out, they will be back in the playoffs, looking for redemption after their loss last season. You can bet these Buckeyes want nothing more than a shot at the National Title to make everybody forget about last season. It is going to be an exciting finish.

 

 

Featured image by USA TODAY Sports

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Devin Booker records

How good can Devin Booker be?

Devin Booker has accomplished quite a bit in his young NBA career. On Monday, the Suns’ guard turned 21. It is incredible what Booker has done in his young NBA career already.

The numbers

In his rookie season, Booker scored his 1,000th career point at the fourth youngest age behind just Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Booker also became the second teen to record back-to-back 30-point games along with James. He also became the sixth teenager to top 1,000 career points along with Bryant, James, Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard. Booker finished his rookie campaign with 1,048 points.

Booker continued to dominate in his second season. He had a stretch of 16 straight games where he scored at least 20 points. He became the youngest player in NBA history to accomplish that, passing James.

Devin Booker records

Devin Booker joins elite company with his accomplishments in his young career. (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE)

Who could forget his 70-point performance against the Celtics? Booker set the franchise record for points in a game while shooting 52.5 percent from the field. He also became the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 70 points in a game. It also made him the third youngest player to score at least 50 points in a game behind just James and Brandon Jennings.

How about the 28 points he scored in the fourth quarter against the Mavericks? Booker finished the night with 39 points and set the franchise-record for most points in the fourth quarter.

By the end of the season, Booker finished with three quarters of at least 27 points, while the rest of the NBA only came up with two. That made him the first player since Bryant in 2005-06 to do so.

Booker is continuing his record-setting play this season as well. In his last game Saturday before turning 21, he scored 34 points. That was his 21st career 30-point game, which is the third most in NBA history before turning 21, behind just James and Durant.

Another impressive accomplishment by Booker is that his 2,897 career points are the fourth most for a player before turning 21. Only James, Durant and Anthony had more. Bryant comes in fifth with 2,755. Mind you Bryant came into the league out of high school and played 40 more games than Booker before turning 21.

Now don’t think I’m saying Devin Booker is going to be better than Kobe Bryant. Bryant is an all-time great, but that is what makes Booker’s accomplishment so incredible.

This guy is a star in the making. He is in good company with all of his records and accomplishments so far.

Why doesn’t Booker get more credit?

There is one thing about some of these records though that puts a knock on Booker. The 70-point game, the 28-point fourth quarter and the 21st career 30-point game were all in losing efforts.

In case you haven’t noticed, the Suns are one of the NBA’s biggest laughing stocks. They reinforced this reputation by firing their head coach Earl Watson after just three games this season. Watson was the team’s interim coach last year, and Phoenix decided to keep him on and sign him to a three-year deal. After losing the first three games this season, the Suns decided to give up on Watson.

Besides the coaching situation, the Suns also lack experience. The Suns are the youngest team in the NBA with an average age of 24.5, including six players 21 or younger. Even Watson, at the time of his promotion to head coach, was the second youngest head coach in the NBA.

There is also the Eric Bledsoe drama. The team’s starting point guard apparently tweeted that he doesn’t want to be with the team anymore. Since the Tweet, Bledsoe has not played in a game since.

Defense is also one of Phoenix’s struggles, as they have ranked 28th, 30th and 29th in all three of Booker’s seasons. You aren’t going to win too many games with numbers like that.

The Suns currently sit at 2-4. These losing ways are a big reason Booker is overlooked. One of the games most dominant scorers is on one of the worst teams. The situation the Suns are in would be difficult for even LeBron James to fix, much less Booker.

Playing in the Western Conference also doesn’t help. With so many great teams like the Warriors, Rockets and Spurs and star players like James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry and Durant, players like Booker tend to get less attention.

Why talk about a 21-year-old kid from one of the league’s worst teams when Harden and Westbrook were putting up triple-doubles almost every night last season? If Booker was in the East, he’d definitely get more recognition and would be one of the conferences top players along with James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving and John Wall.

How good will Booker be?

Devin Booker records

Stay tuned for what is still to come from this record-breaking young gun. (Photo by Anthony Gruppuso – USA TODAY Sports)

What can we expect from Booker in the future? You can bet he is going to continue dominating on the offensive end of the floor. According to the numbers, Booker should end up being on the same level as James, Durant, Anthony and Bryant.

The Suns offense only will help Booker, as the Suns have a reputation for lighting up the scoreboard that goes back to when Steve Nash was running the team. If Bledsoe ends up getting traded, that will only give Booker more opportunities to put up points as the clear go-to guy on the team.

This kid has a bright future, and I can’t wait to see how his career plays out. Keep an eye on him, and don’t let the Suns atrociousness distract you from his performance and success.

This team is still young. Maybe things will begin to turnaround for Phoenix once players like Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender spend a few more seasons in the NBA.

Could this be “The Process” 2.0? Only time will tell, but for now, Booker is one of the league’s premiere players whose limit is higher than the sky.

 

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Biggest overreactions in the NBA so far

The NBA has now been in full swing for just over a week now, and there are already plenty of storylines. Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome injury in Boston’s first game against Cleveland. Ben Simmons is looking like a No. 1 overall pick. The Suns are already a mess. Then there is the Lonzo Ball talk, mostly from his dad.

A lot of the main headlines and early performances have caused major overreactions in the league after most teams have played just four games. Let’s break down some of the major overreactions that have occured after the NBA’s first full week.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is MVP

Fans and analysts were predicting LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and James Harden to be in the MVP race this season. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo is suddenly the frontrunner for MVP.

NBA overreactions

Giannis Antetokounmpo has received a lot of love so far this season. (Photo by Tom Lynn, AP)

Kevin Durant said in a YouTube video that Antetokounmpo could be the best player ever if he really wanted to. That is quite a prediction from the NBA Finals MVP.

The Greek Freak through four games is averaging 36.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game. He is definitely a top 10 player in this league, but let’s slow down on those MVP talks.

Anthony Davis also had a hot start like this last season. After the first four games, Davis was averaging 37 points, 13 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.5 steals and three blocks per game.

The MVP talks came then too. But remember, the NBA is a long season. Players go through hot and cold stretches. By the end of the season, Davis’ season averages were 28 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. Those are impressive numbers, but they aren’t like the ones he started off with. When it was all said and done, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard were the MVP finalists.

This is not made to be a knock on Davis or Antetokounmpo, but a lot can change through a season. DeMar DeRozan scored at least 30 points in his first 12 games last year with an average of 33 points per game during that stretch. He ended the season averaging 27.3. Lets see how the other 95 percent of the season goes for the Greek Freak, or just half of it.

Any Lonzo Ball reaction

Lonzo Ball went from being a Rookie of the Year favorite before the season started, to a bust after his first game, to owning the Phoenix Suns, to whatever his dad recently said about him.

It is crazy how much of a roller coaster the comments have been towards the Lakers’ point guard. He is currently averaging 11.5 points, nine rebounds and nine assists per game.

I’m going to stick with my prediction of Ball for now. We all know he isn’t going to lead the Lakers to 50 wins, a playoff appearance and make a run at MVP like his dad predicted for this season, but it is reasonable to believe the No. 2 overall pick can average 13 points and six assists and help the Lake Show to maybe 30 wins.

That was my prediction at the beginning of the season and I’m not changing my mind after three games. You shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions about Ball’s career either.

Kyrie Irving is overrated

Irving made headlines with his trade to the Celtics this offseason and all the drama that followed it. Irving also will be taking on a bigger burden than he may have realized now that Gordon Hayward is out.

NBA overreactions

Kyrie Irving’s Celtics career is not starting off like he hoped. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

It definitely hasn’t been a pretty first couple games for the new Celtic. His 20 points, six assists and 2.3 steals per game may seem nice, but he is shooting an atrocious 37.5 percent from the floor. In other words, he is shooting a lot for a little, but don’t give up on him yet.

Remember that Irving is learning to play with a new team in a new system. The fact that he is the point guard makes it that much more difficult. As mentioned before, he does not have Hayward to help him out either.

He is working with Al Horford and young guys like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. He is also still learning to be a main guy after working alongside LeBron James for the last several years.

We all know Irving can play. We have seen his performances in the NBA Finals the past two seasons. Irving is dealing with nothing more than a rocky start.

The Memphis Grizzlies are for real

After a 3-1 start with wins over the Warriors, Rockets and Pelicans, it appears that the Grizzlies were overlooked in the preseason.

A roster that features only two stars with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley has beaten some of the NBA’s best teams so far. The Warriors of course are favored to win the title again, the Rockets made noise with the Chris Paul trade and the Pelicans are expected to do damage with the duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.

Forward James Ennis III and second-round pick Dillon Brooks have both had nice starts to the season as well. The Grizzlies expect their hot start to continue with games against below-average opponents like the Mavericks, Hornets and Magic in their upcoming schedule.

Should we expect the Grizzlies to stay at the top of the might Western Conference? Probably not.

The Warriors, Rockets, Pelicans, Thunder and Nuggets are all off to cold starts this season. Those are all teams we expect to be in the playoffs this season. Those cold starts are definitely a fluke, just like the Grizzlies’ hot start is most likely one. Their lack of star power is going to make it difficult for them to compete with these kinds of teams down the stretch.

 

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