Thursday, October 10, 2013

BSN's NBA Preview Teaser

Eastern Conference bottom 3

by Sam Persanyi (@SamPersanyi)

15.  Orlando Magic
        Last season: 20-62
2013 projection: 20-62

The Magic are in full rebuilding mode as this team lacks any star talent and with that comes a lack of depth.  A lineup that headlines Aaron Afflalo as its number one option led the Magic to one of the worst records in the NBA.  They made their first move by drafting the athletically talented guard Victor Oladipo with the second pick in the draft as they look to build this lineup.  Unfortunately for them, their struggles seem as though they will continue through this season.  The bright point for them is that the 2014 draft class looks to be one of the most talented draft classes in a while.  A rebuilding team such as Orlando can make big moves in the rebuilding process in a draft like this next year’s one.  However, for this season, the Magic’s outlook is bleak.

Player to Watch: Victor Oladipo – This kid was a human highlight reel while at Indiana.  His game improved with every year that passed; his work ethic and athletic ability make some believe that his ceiling is as high as he makes it.  While the Magic struggle, look for him to be all over the highlight reels everywhere.

     14.  Charlotte Bobcats
Last season: 21-61
2013 projection: 35-47

Among the worst teams in the league the Bobcats have made some additions this offseason to start to build a contender.  If you take away the fact that their owner, Michael Jordan, could come on and be one of the Bobcats best players, their outlook can only go up from where they have been in the last few seasons.  This team is headlined by new addition, center Al Jefferson.  In an effort to sure up the front court, the Bobcats selected athletic big man Cody Zeller.  While their starting lineup on paper looks to be serviceable, they lack depth at almost every position.  This team is starting to make moves in the right direction, but are still a few years of being where they want to be.  Jefferson along with Kemba Walker are the main proven scoring options on this team, while Kidd-Gilchrist is defensive minded. He needs to improve as a scorer to give this team options on that end of the floor. While they will improve from one of the league’s worst records, the improvement won’t be as great as many fans are hoping for.

Player to Watch: Cody Zeller – One of the rookies who impressed in the summer league, look for Zeller to be in talks of rookie of the year.  Due to his size, versatile talent, and athleticism, he will be hard for opposing teams to match up with. 

  13.  Philadelphia 76ers
Last season: 34-48
2013 projection: 26-56

The 76ers have had a busy offseason as they look to start new and build a contender.  One of their biggest offseason moves was on draft night when they traded point guard Jrue Holiday to the newly-named New Orleans Pelicans for their first round draft pick, which they used on former Kentucky center Nerlens Noel.  The move for Noel was thought by some to be a reach due to his knee problems.  However, the Sixers must love his upside as there is no time table for his return.  Noel will not likely make a huge impact this season as he rehabs his knee.  On draft night they also drafted Holiday’s replacement and who they hope to be their floor general for years to come in former Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams.  This team is a few years out of being relevant as they are one of the front runners for the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes that will be next year’s draft.  They do have a new head coach in Brett Brown and return some of their starters in Turner, Young, and Hawes.  I doesn’t look like it will matter much as most of this roster is unproven.

Player to Watch: Evan Turner – Evan Turner has been quiet in the NBA for his first few years.  His production has gradually gotten better each year.  With Jrue Holiday gone, not only will Turner be asked to take over some of the ball handling responsibilities as he played point forward in college, but he will also likely be the number one option in terms of offense.  Look for Turner to have a better year as his team struggles.

Western Conference bottom 3

by Sean O'Brien (@SeanNeutron)

     15. Phoenix Suns  
Last season: 25-57
2013 projection: 22-62

If the Kings have hope, the Suns have “nope”. As in a chance at a respectable season? Nope. They lost Scola to the Pacers, but even before that this team was floundering without any plan or direction. Goran Dragic always plays well and got a hefty contract out of it and the team did acquire Eric Bledsoe- but after that there is not a whole lot to be “sunny” about in Phoenix. The arrival of Terps product Alex Len may be a cause for some cheeriness, but he is a project and at least a year away from being a factor for the franchise. The Suns post-Nash have been full of good, serviceable players- but good and serviceable does not get you to the playoffs, much less a Larry O’Brien trophy. 

Player(s) to watch: Eric Bledsoe and Alex Len- If only because outside of Dragic, there won’t be any others to invest interest in. Bledsoe is a very dynamic player with speed and finesse and the ability to create his own shot while Len is a project with only one year at Maryland. They won’t make Phoenix a contender anytime soon, but they will have some fun moments in the meantime. 

14. Sacramento Kings
Last season: 28-54
2013 projection: 30-52

A few things Kings fans can be happy about: not being owned by the Maloofs, a deeper team (in comparison to recent seasons) and Ben McLemore. When you look back on the 2013 NBA Draft, McLemore will be seen as an absolute steal as the seventh pick, and with Evans gone- Sacramento is McLemore’s for the taking. Along with Demarcus Cousins and Greivis Vasquez, the Kings are now finally headed in a positive direction. Carl Landry has returned to add veteran leadership to a team with John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Marcus Thornton. While they once again will fail to come anywhere remotely close to the top eight spots, fans can once again have hope.

Player(s) to watch: The dynamic of Cousins/McLemore- Cousins as the incumbent star will be looked at to help guide the Kansas rookie. While it has been noted that Cousins has had maturity issues in the past, he will have to get past those and make the transition as smooth as possible if he wants to ever play in a meaningful basketball game.

13. Los Angeles Lakers
Last season: 45-37
2013 projection: 34-48

Since the inception of the Lakers franchise in 1948, the team has only missed the playoffs five times (1957-58, 1974-76, 1993-94 and 2004-05. 2004 was also the last time the team failed to crack 40 wins). Call it sacrilege, but 2013-14 will mark the sixth time. I’m no prophet, but assisted by the fact that an already aging team lost their best player (Bryant), second-best (Howard) and leave their last best options (Gasol and Nash) with a group of inexperienced, inconsistent options. Gone is Metta World Peace and Antawn Jamison. Enter Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Wes Johnson, and returning Jordan Farmar. Coming back from last year is Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Robert Sacre and Jordan Hill. The team drafted Ryan Kelly from Duke. In any other year, it would be a great draft pick- but in a season that will see them struggle even worse than last, it is a piece of gum plugging a leak in a dam.

Player (s) to watch: Nick Young and Jodie Meeks- In the absence of Kobe Bryant, these two will be logging big minutes to try and replace his production. While at times it will be admirable, would you trust leaving a pair of your Ferraris to one kid who just got his license and the other with a bad driving record? Neither would I- but desperate times call for desperate measures. Bryant will likely push himself to come back before the new year, but he should “do the Derrick Rose” and rest up for a more productive 2014. 

BSN's full NBA preview will be available Tuesday, October 15th at

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Contact me on Twitter @SeanNeutron

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Top 5 WWE Returns I Most Want to See

5. World's Greatest Tag Team: Benjamin and Haas could always wrestle, but in the years since they have been gone, they have seasoned their characters as well. They could be face or heel and just about business all the time. Not much needs to be said- just let them loose on your tag division and have 30 min tag matches (Shield/WGTT?!) Sorry Matadors- no room for you, but let's keep the lil bull.

4. John Morrison- The dude probably still cannot talk a lick, but his moveset was fun and did allow him to get over massively with the audience. He'd be great for MITB/ladder/TLC matches, and maybe he could feud with Miz and rejuvenate his stale run in the WWE.

3. MVP- His character had plenty of mileage on it back in 2007. So to see him get released was a surprise. The man had the IT factor, and while no true mat technician, he could still go and put on fun, worthwhile matches. His character gets over with all ages and the merchandise market for him was never really tapped into. Plus, his entrance was pretty awesome along with his music. Have him help the midcard and renew the belts' prestige, and if he gets over enough to warrant a WWE or heavyweight title shot- why not?

2. Hulk Hogan- Hogan needs to come back. Forget the last four years, and bring back the WWE Hogan. He doesn't even need to wrestle (just the occasional leg drop), but seeing him on a WWE show or PPV would definitely be a fun thing to watch after all these years.

1. Kurt Angle- This is a no-brainer. Yes he is up there in age, but Angle was always the real deal- it's true, it's true. While he is not in his prime, he could still give WWE a few more classics, feud again with Rock, Brock, give the rub to Ziggler, Punk and Bryan. Plus Cena/Angle renewing their "ruthless aggression" match? Sign me up. Also, Angle needs a proper DVD set, and he never got one before leaving for TNA.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Contact me on Twitter @SeanNeutron.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Getting the Edge: Maintaining Your Fantasy Football Team

Before the season started, I came up with a list of rules to abide by in putting together your fantasy team. But the road to fantasy greatness doesn't stop there. The most successful fantasy players do not just rest on the laurels of a great draft or even a great first few weeks. The constant tweaking and tinkering to your roster is what can separate you from the rest of the pack. The balance between knowing when to fix your team and when to leave it alone can determine how often you win or lose. Here is a guide after the first four weeks on how to keep your roster primed for success.

1. The Wire- No, I am not talking about the popular hit show. But ignoring your league's waiver wire is dangerous for your team's potential success. Stay on top of it. While leagues have different rules here, being proactive is paramount regardless. Most have an order depending on the records of the league; others are first come, first served. The old saying, "the early bird gets the worm" can be replaced by "the early fantasy player gets the free agent." This is very basic, but when a  player goes down or is in a slump- the wire is crucial to maximizing success. Speaking of which...

2. Injuries/slumps happen- Before the season, optimisim reigns supreme for your paper champions- then games happen and reality sets in. Even the best (Peterson) can be vulnerable to slumps whether it be because of their own play (Kaepernick) or because of someone elses' (AJ Green/Andy Dalton). Don't be afraid to bench big names who are in a rut or injured in favor of lesser players who have a better chance to thrive based off recent weeks' performances.

 3. Match-ups make all the difference- Most of the time your best players are guaranteed starts outside of byes or injuries, but don't be afraid to sit them in favor of a bench player whose opposing team is likely to give up big points. For instance, sitting a quarterback like Andrew Luck against Seattle and playing a less popular player like Alex Smith against Tennessee in week 5 could pay off. 

4. Bye, bye, bye- Don't be the person who constantly forgets to bench a player on bye and suffers because of it. Having the name there might look good, but not next to a goose egg while a player on the bench has 12 points.

5. Don't fix what is not broken- If you are in the minority whose key players are not hurt, slumping or on a bye...don't bench players who are on a roll.

6. Let's make a deal- The first thought that crosses all fantasy players' minds when offered a trade is a lot like when a grocery shopper sees a marked-down item: "What's the catch?" A majority of trades is players trying to hoodwink the other side, trying to see if an unsuspecting team will fall victim. But every now and then someone is offering a trade that benefits both parties. Do your research and look at patterns of all players in the trade, while assessing current roster needs. Have too many recievers? Two great defenses? Two kickers? Unload some of that capital to spread the wealth amongst you team and better position yourself for that week's win. (Also, if you have two kickers- you should probably retire from fantasy football.)

If you are trying to move a player, don't bother if it is because they are in a slump. For instance, offering David Wilson or Stevan Ridley for anyone is fruitless and a waste of time. No one is biting on those until they prove some sort of worth.

7.  Light at the end of the tunnel- Started 1-3? 0-4? While a quarter of the season is gone, all is not lost. Do not panic and make unecessary adds or trades to convince yourself you are better off. Once fully healthy or on all cylinders, your team may bounce back. There may be a race to waiver wires, and sixteen weeks may go by fast for lots of football fans- but having patience and a little perspective can do wonders for turning a bad start into a potential playoff spot. (In the reverse situation, do not think you have the league won if you are 4-0. There are still 12 weeks to ruin your dreams

8. Indecisions make Johnny a dull boy- Wondering if you should start a returning player or a slumping one?  Always go for the player who has more potential and opportunities to score more points. For example, start Tavon Austin this week over Justin Blackmon. While a quarterback like Bradford is in the pits, starting a talented Blackmon after his four game suspension with an even worse QB option in Gabbert is incredibly risky and likely to lead to few points.

9. Breathe in, breathe out- Losing big early? Gave up a lead and worried about getting upset by your league's worst team? Best player get injured? When it comes right down to it, it's all just a game. Take a deep breath, stretch your legs. Unplug from your TV, laptop, tablet, phone, etc. Don't sweat the small things and realize sometimes things are out of your control and there was nothing else that could have been done.

10. This is the sound of me not listening- People who are not involved with your team/league still do NOT care about them. If your wife or girlfriend even acts the slightest bit interested, it's because she doesn't want to hurt your feelings. You know- just like how you tell her how much you appreciate her analysis of Real Housewives, or her complete review of Fifty Shades of Grey

No one is an absolute fantasy genius. We like to think we are, but winning comes down to a certain amount of common sense, skill and an inate ability to make occasional gambles that can pay off big. If you are already winning, great. If you are losing more often than not, bummer. Either way- being aware and making educated decisions will give you a better chance to finish on top of your fantasy league.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Contact me on Twitter @SeanNeutron

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"What's Best for Business" is....what's best for business

  Randy Orton and HHH have had the upper hand on Daniel Bryan a majority of the time- and that's not a bad thing.

If you have been watching WWE television for the last few months, one recurring line that stands out is, "What's best for business." HHH started it when referring to why he cost Daniel Bryan his title at Summerslam. HHH's real-life wife Stephanie McMahon continued it. Their former corporate champion Randy Orton began uttering it. This line is not just a quote uttered by WWE personalities- it's a philosophy used to actually enhance their current product.

Years ago most of those in the internet wrestling community (and still a good chunk to this day) believed HHH had married into success by wedding the boss' daughter, Stephanie McMahon. Wrestlers cried foul, believing HHH had cut corners to get his spot while rarely, if ever, putting others over. In the mid-nineties, HHH was part of The Klique, then soon after a part of D-Generation X- one of wrestling's most famous stables of all time. After DX disbanded (I don't count the money-grabbing, watered-down 2006-2010 version) in the late 90's, HHH was in the main event picture and had the WWE title more often than not. He was known for coming out each and every week on RAW to give long, drawn-out promos and became synonomous with the term "bury". (This means to prevent another star from gaining fame, usually by beating them over and over again, or other times verbally during promos.)

In 2006, HHH seemed to turn the corner. He lost by submission cleanly to John Cena. Cena would go on to be the company's golden boy, and still is to this day. HHH would remain a face (good guy) up until WWE's most recent turn of events. Daniel Bryan beat Cena at Summerslam, and HHH wasted no time in Pedigree'ing Bryan for Orton to pin him with his Money in the Bank contract. (The contract inside allows that superstar to "challenge" for the belt at the drop of a hat...or in this case  a skull.) I put the term challenge in quotations because most of the time, the MITB holder waits for a moment of weakness and uses it to capitalize and gain the WWE title.

Coming into Summerslam, three things were very apparent: Bryan was the hottest superstar in a very longtime, Orton was a stagnant bore on the mic and in the ring, and special guest referee HHH would become involved in the WWE title switching hands at some point. While a lot of IWC'ers (myself included) bemoaned the third moment, it worked with the first two moments to produce one hell of a storyline.

When reflecting on it and not in the moment, all the stars (in this case WWE ones) aligned for a storyline with plenty of legs to it. Orton had purpose again. He wasn't a pandering, bland babyface. He was a dirty, self-serving heel who was sick of caring what others thought. Bryan's star did not fade out like some feared. It brightened by the day. "YES!" was not just a rallying cry anymore; it was a lifestyle to get past any obstacle put forth. Sold-out arenas around the country were full of fans who continued to chant it loudly. It had been a long time since fans had become disgusted and revolted at the hands of a title change. While those in disagreement were not aware, HHH and company were looking at the big picture.

What  I had expected after HHH cost Bryan the title was him to come out and be the Game of 1999-2000. That character consisted of a heel who was bent on his own agenda and cared for no one else. What I was surprised is the evolution (no pun intended) of his heel character. It's a tongue-in-cheek nod to the IWC's perception of the Game. He knows he is thought of as a seflish, scheming, politicking star- and he's using it to his advantage. Stephanie herself acts as his righthand woman, complimenting her powerful husband perfectly. They are on the same page and using their collective starpower for better.(But please, Stephanie- enough of belittling Divas champion AJ Lee. It serves no purpose, not even in storylines.)

This was set to be their big storyline, set to not only make Bryan into a star, but a host of other wrestlers as well.

Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler and the Shield have been given plenty of time to show off their characters and abilities as well. (This is also in due large part to the absence of John Cena, who had surgery on his elbow.) The Shield continue to look strong and are out  of their brief slump in the early to mid summer. They are the unofficial bodyguards/henchment of the "Corporation 2.0" as some call it. They don't just win matches- they win cleanly and convincingly. Roman Reigns' spear continues to captivate, while the brash nature of Dean Ambrose and the versatile ability of Seth Rollins only add to make the triumvirate of champions (US/WWE tag) a major threat. Dolph Ziggler had been muted and held back at first, but in recent weeks has shown progress and determination to rally against the heels. Rhodes is embroiled in a heated rivalry with HHH and Stephanie as well, "fighting" for his job back as well as respect not only for himself, but also his family. 

"What's best for business" has not only served to help make new stars, but like Randy Orton, it gave another longtime main-eventer another chance to shine: the Big Show.

Big Show has gone in and out of the main event scene, from good to bad and bad to good more times than one can count. He has been World Heavyweight champion, WWE champion, WWE tag champion, U.S. champion and Intercontinental champion. He has had sabbaticals, but is a company man and has put up with a lot. But he must be thankful for this chance, because it shows in his most recent efforts. He isn't just a big oaf meant to be shown off like a giant freak. He is a performer capable of not only various in-ring storytelling, but also a wide range of emotion. His character has depth than just "guy who wants to beat people up". He, like Rhodes, is fighting for respect- and in storyline, money. HHH and Stephanie have exploited Show and degraded him many times over, to the point where fans are dying to see Show knock the Game's head off with his massive fist. In a time where we want things NOW NOW NOW, watching a storyline build over time makes the comeuppance far more gratifying than if it were to happen after one week. Viewers are legitimately angry about a fake sport- but that's the point. They become emotionally invested in on-screen characters; just like a movie. The difference is that these guys (and gals)  travel on the road 250+ days a year and battle through many various injuries- all for the sake of entertainment.

While some may argue that Bryan and Show getting "punked" over and over again is tiresome and that they should get over on HHH and his goons, I believe this big-picture thinking is quite refreshing. But speaking of punk, where is C.M in all of this? Of course he is battling Ryback and Paul Heyman (and Curtis Axel- sort of), but that storyline has yet to intersect with that of the new regime's power trip. Quite a few times, HHH has had the roster stand on stage to watch matches,  berate them or have them voice opinions. None of those times CM Punk was on stage. I believe that at some point, Punk, Ryback and Heyman have to be inserted in some fashion into this angle. They are too useful not to be utilized here.

A good heel always believes they are right and can sometimes convince fans they are, and in this case...HHH's reasoning really does make sense, even if you don't want to admit it. HHH (in-character) really believes what he and Stephanie are doing is what is best for business. Daniel Bryan, Big Show and the rest of the wrestlers  trying to buck the system believe they are doing what's right. This back-and-forth struggle for power and respect is not only fun to watch and try and foresee- it's what is best for business.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Contact me on Twitter @SeanNeutron.