[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="560"] My BALL![/caption]
Is it really October already? Wow, where did September go? Not sure, but it went fast and now it has almost been a month since the last Mailbag installment. Remember when I said that I'd post a new Mailbag every week? Yeah that was a good one. There is a reason that my posts have been down this month; I've been busy with weddings, trips to the lake, an upcoming hunting trip (look for a possible recap post on this soon), a bachelor party, NFL Redzone comas on Sundays, trying to make my fantasy team good (currently 1-3), working with Ken to set up some exciting new podcasts (look for more info on this in October), making fun of people on Twitter (follow me and join 12 fake accounts and one real person to read my tweets...@BenMac_STOB), doing quality checks on Founding Father's Lager (it checks out just fine), oh and finally, countering a hack on STOB's server that sent everything into a fray for a good long while...possibly because I made fun of the hacker that took down GoDaddy.com (note to self: don't make fun of computer hackers).
That is the reason it's been a while for the mailbag and the other posts have been spotty. Unfortunately the business continues for a little bit longer, but then we'll be back to normal-ishness.
Ok, the cobwebs have been cleaned of the inbox, let's see what is in the Mailbag -
Seth via email -
The Lakers get everything, this year it is Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison and Dwight Howard. I hate them, just when it looks like Kobe is dying of old age and the Lakers would soon be without a go to guy, they get Dwight and oh just to make sure they are title contenders still they add Nash and Jamison all while not getting rid of Pau Gasol!!! No clue what to say their starting line up will be, but for fun (even though I hate them) what do you predict will be the scoring averages for their starting 5/best 5 players?
First we have to decide who is going to be the "starting 5" for LA. Antawn is a nice pick up, but to me he looks like a guy who will come off the bench behind Pau at the PF spot and give the Lakers a new look as Antawn is a much different player than Pau. Point guard is pretty easy, it goes to Nash. Shooting guard...hmm...let's see. Power forward is Pau's. Center is some guy from Orlando. That leaves us with the small forward spot.
The men vying for the spot are Metta World Peace, Devin Ebanks, Chris Douglas-Roberts, and something called Reeves Nelson. Not great options to be honest, and when the opposing team's roster allows for it, I'd assume that Jamison will get his shot to play some small forward. For lack of a better option though, they will go with World Peace to start the season off. Any team looking to dump a SF during the season may see the Mitch Kupchak's incoming call.
For the sake of answering your question, I'll take a guess on season scoring averages for Nash, Bryant, Peace, Gasol, Howard and Jamison off the bench.
Steve Nash -
Career average of 14.5 ppg for Nash. Last year he was down to 12.5, his lowest production since 1999-2000. Pretty safe to say his teammates talent level has taken a bit of a jump now that he is on the Lakers this year. Nash is going to be even more of a distributor than he already has been in his career with Kobe/Howard/Gasol playing with him. He will likely lead the league in assists, as he's done five times in his career, dishing it off to his new teammates. With all of that said I need to set a number on his scoring average, as that is your question. I find it tough to believe that Nash will average less than double digits, I think on many drives defenses will stay home on Kobe and Dwight and leave Nash some easy buckets quite a few times throughout games. On the other side though, I think a lot of 1-1 for Kobe and clear out post ups for Pau and Dwight will get the ball out of Nash's hands and keep him from improving on last year's ppg total.
Predicted ppg - 11.2
Kobe Bryant -
Kobe hasn't finished outside of the top 5 in scoring in the NBA since the 2001-2002 season...when he finished sixth. The Mamba likes to shoot, he likes to score, and he has made it clear that this new version of the Lakers is "his" team. To me, that means he will still shoot a lot. There is a good possibility that Kobe will get a lot more EASY opportunities to score, something he hasn't always had. Dwight is going to take some of the points that go around on the Lakers, but not much more if any more than what a more offensively gifted Andrew Bynum took. To me though, I don't see Kobe giving him any of his points, he is like a 4-year-old with candy...he doesn't share well. So his point prediction is decreased some from last year's 27.9, but that is more due to age and being on the decline of his career than his new teammates. Remember, Bynum averaged 18.7 ppg last year, just under what Dwight Howard averaged with Orlando. Also Ramon Sessions averaged 14.9 ppg in his 23 games with the Lakers last year, so Nash may not take too much away points wise from Kobe either.
Predicted ppg - 26.5
Metta World Peace -
He is horrible.
Predicted ppg - 6.3
Pau Gasol -
Pau to me is a guy who will not mind giving up some shots to the new guys if needed. At the same time, he also is a guy that doesn't need the ball fed to him in order to get his numbers. He is coming off a year in which he averaged 17.4 ppg, a career low. I think that trend continues for Pau.
Predicted ppg - 16.8
Dwight Howard -
For as much talk of Dwight being like Shaq, he has never averaged the ppg that Shaq averaged in his ROOKIE year (23.4). Dwight isn't Shaq, he isn't really all that offensively gifted still and really after this long in the league (8 years) I am not sure he will ever develop into a great offensive go-to guy. Now on a team with Kobe rather than Turkoglu, I don't see Dwight's numbers getting better, in fact I think they go down and that Bynum (although more often injured) was the better offensive player hands down. Dwight will help the Lakers more defensively and on the boards. His ppg will be nothing to drool over I predict.
Predicted ppg - 17.9
Antawn Jamison -
Finally the sixth man on the squad. Jamison signed for the veterans minimum. Quite the deal for a guy who averaged 17.2 ppg last year. Jamison's number is going to drop this year, but I think if any injuries were to happen to Pau or Dwight his numbers may resemble last year's total.
Predicted ppg - 12.2
There you have it. Rather off the cuff guesses, but don't doubt me, I predicted last year's NBA season pretty darn well. If you don't remember, click here.
Paul via email -
The Vikes are 3-1 and leading the NFC North with the Bears. I am still not buying in. Ponder has thrown at least 5 passes that should have been intercepted this year and just by pure luck have been dropped. Half of those actually get picked and we are looking at a different record for this team. Any chance the Vikes are still atop the division by the first snow fall in Minnesota?
If health is on the Vikings side I think they can make a run at the division lead once the snow falls and really throughout the whole season. Obviously the Jacksonville game was close, the Colts game was a disaster, there was some luck to the 49ers win and minus two special teams touchdowns the Detroit game wasn't special, but they are 3-1. Luck is needed to win the NFL, it's the way it is. At the same time a lot of good things are happening here and our schedule is pretty darn easy, especially compared to the Packers who are likely going to be the biggest challenger for the division title. If the Vikings, unlike the Colts game, take care of teams they SHOULD beat, they can stick in this fight a long ways into the season. Then if lady luck stays on their side, they may just win the division. Stranger things have happened.
Davis via email -
Will Tiger Woods ever win another major? Or for that matter ever actually help the US win a Ryder Cup? Dude sucks...
I like the name left by this emailer, made me laugh coming off a disastrous weekend for Davis Love III as the USA Ryder Cup team captain and with Tiger knocking people out with wild drives. I think Tiger will win another major, the issue is that his strangle hold as golf's top player is over. Rory has taken the crown and looks like he isn't interested in giving it back for a while. That leaves Tiger needing to jump on the few opportunities he has left and hope that when he has a major he is playing his best, Rory isn't playing his best as well...cause Rory's best is now better than Tiger's.
I say he wins another one, but after predicting the ppg for six Lakers already in this post, I am not predicting how many....ah what the hell...2 more.
Ken via text -
You afraid of throwing up your Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing when the Gophers upset Duke on Thanksgiving Day in the Bahamas? LET'S GO GOPHERS! M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A....SOTA...SOTA...EEEEEEAHHHH GOPHERS!!!
Yes. To be honest I am deathly afraid, just because even though I know many of the Duke players that are coming back, I am unsure about how they will handle their new roles. None of the returning Duke players have had to be "The Man" and now with Austin Rivers gone (a positive in my mind) it will be an adjustment. I think by the end of the year Duke is the better team over Minnesota, but with them meeting early in the season I worry that a Minnesota team that got rolling late last year and really found itself may have it more together for this early match up and therefore sneak out a victory or at least make me sweat it out all Thanksgiving afternoon.
Either way it will be interesting and I feel for Ken or I cause one of us is going to be mocked and ridiculed for a while after this game is over.
Bud via email -
Has the extra wild card spot been good for the pennant stretch in MLB? Also, if two teams tie for a playoff spot should I just end the entire season and call it a 32 team tie?
Another funny nod with the name signed to this email question. I can't help you Bud, I stopped caring about baseball a long time ago and the fact that the Twins suck so bad doesn't help. One tie all tie sounds like a good idea. Better idea for you, if you really want the All Star game to mean something you should award the winning league the World Series title. Home field is nice and all, but just give the entire league the title, I bet interest would go up even more!
Metta World Peace sucks and his name is stupid...The All Star game is a title game...Ben fears the Gophers...Tiger is doing the hooking now instead of paying the hooker...lady luck may for the first time ever be on the Vikings side of things...Dwight Howard can't hold Shaq's jock strap, but who can? The thing is probably massive...Don't make fun of hackers on Twitter or you will be pwned.