The Portland Trail Blazers have had a major makeover during the offseason. They traded Nic Batum away and LaMarcus Aldridge bolted for the Spurs. Also gone are Wes Matthews (Mavs), Arron Afflalo (Knicks), Robin Lopez (Knicks), and Steve Blake (Detroit). For the most part, the Blazers FO has done a good job assembling a ragtag crew, with a projected starting five of main man Damian Lillard, Gerald Henderson, Al-Farouq Aminu, Mason Plumlee, and Meyers Leonard.
McCollum was picked 10th overall two draft classes ago, after showing he was a solid scorer and distributor for Lehigh. Injuries and lack of playing time had mostly relegated McCollum as an afterthought, but he showcased his talents late last season. He had a mini breakout at the end of the Blazers’ disappointing playoff run, and he is poised to get major minutes this year–Henderson or no. He’s set to get SG minutes while Dame is on the floor, and he is already slated to run the point when Lillard is resting.
In the last 7 regular-season games he played in last season (he sat out the final game), McCollum averaged 17.9 ppg. He scored 2 points and 6 points, respectively, in Games 1 and 2 of the playoffs before blowing up. He dropped 26, 18, and 33 points in the final 3 games as the Blazers were eliminated by the Grizzlies. During that run, he also had 11 total threes, including 7 in that Game 5 explosion.
Of course, he only had two assists total during the entire series. He also averaged just one assist per game during the season. But as he’s now going to get more time at the point, expect those assist numbers to improve considerably. That 69.9% clip from the charity stripe also needs to improve.
Clearly, McCollum is capable of scoring in bunches. With the ball in his hands more this season, he has a chance to really make a big impact on Fantasy NBA rosters. At the moment, his ADP in Y! leagues is around the 120th pick, but as the hype builds up, expect managers to pick him up somewhere in the 90s.
By the way, I have already drafted him in five out of five public leagues.
It seems all is right in the world of Fantasy NBA again as Kevin Durant is back in a big way (44 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists with 6 threes to usher in the new year). In contrast, LeBron James owners are dealing with a two-week lull as the Cavs’ main man deals with knee soreness. The biggest fantasy hoops story in my opinion so far, however, is Pau Gasol.
I got Pau in my public auction league for $4 (out of a $200 budget for 13 players). Pretty sure his average rate at the time was $5 to $7. I bid $53 to get Serge Ibaka. Compared to the bids for other bigs, Brook Lopez went for $19 in my league, David Lee went for $12, and Jonas Valanciunas went for $10. I wanted to get Pau in at least one league because he just can’t lose in Chicago fantasy-wise even if his stats dip a bit.
What he’s done so far is unprecedented. He’s found the fountain of youth in Chicago. A couple of games ago, he set a career-high with 9 blocks (at 35 years old). He is currently fifth in the NBA in rebounds per game (11.2), second in blocks (2.35 bpg), and is tied for fifth with a bunch of other guys at 17 double-doubles so far this season. Check out Pau’s averages over 31 games below:
Not bad at all for $4. His average draft position in pre-season drafts was around the 60th pick in Yahoo! leagues, if I remember correctly. Not bad if you got him in the late fifth to early sixth rounds. Just sheer genius if you copped him even later on.
It was easy to see how people could have had misgivings about Pau. Who knew how many minutes he’d get, or how durable he’d be especially in such a demanding environment (at least on the defensive end) as Chicago. Plus, he would be sharing floor space and playing time with Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.
But then, observers noted that Pau would be a perfect fit on the Bulls. He’d have more touches than he got with the Lakers, and having Noah and Gibson meant he won’t have to extend himself too much covering for other people’s lapses on D. Regardless, he’s still getting his defensive stats.
Over the past two weeks, Gasol is playing top-5 fantasy ball on a per-game basis. The rebounding is a bit down, with both Noah and Gibson healthy, but you still get great percentages with a well-rounded line. There’s even 0.4 threes in there, SMH.
The last game, Gasol had 29 points, 16 boards, and 5 blocks on a night Jimmy Butler (another Bulls player who’s having a great season) was out. I really should have targeted him in more drafts, especially seeing how Ibaka hasn’t panned out for me so far (mostly due to inefficiency established during the period where KD and Russ were out). For sure, Pau Gasol owners are hoping that he stays healthy while keeping up this incredible pace.
Darko Milicic will always be one of the biggest enigmas to have played in the NBA. Drafted ahead of the likes of Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade, behind only LeBron? That’s tough.
Now we get word, via Rivals.ph, that the Serbian 7-footer is set to leave the sport of basketball and enter… kickboxing.
Darko had his moments, especially when he was given some chances in Minnesota, but it looks like we won’t see the big man on the hardcourt for the time being. We haven’t seen him in the NBA for a while, anyway.
Best of luck to him on this new endeavour. We’ll be waiting for the YouTube clips.
UPDATE: Eric Bledsoe is returning to the Suns for 5 years and $70 million. Not a bad compromise at all for him; he originally wanted 5 years and $80 million.
Woj has tweeted that Eric Bledsoe and agent Rich Paul are set to meet with Phoenix officials to discuss a new deal. We’ve heard over the past day or so that the free-agent guard is softening his stance on terms of a new deal, and that there could be a compromise between the mini-max deal Bledsoe desires and the 4-year, $48M deal initially put on the table by the Suns.
Good for Bledsoe. At this point, playing just 43 games of an 82-game season isn’t really going to fetch you a mini-max contract, as evidenced by the lack of offers from other teams (apart from that Minnesota S&T rumor floating around).
Don’t forget to catch Gilas Pilipinas take on Iran later at 1PM (broadcast via TV5) as Asian Games action resumes in South Korea. Laban, Pilipinas!
The OKC Thunder’s D-League team is set to be called ‘Blue’, and its logo is a slight variation on the Thunder’s OKC shield logo. This organization needs a serious redesign.
The Atlanta Hawks have officially signed FA guard Kent Bazemore (deal was verbally agreed upon back in July).
After all the frenzy of first-round action in the 2014 NBA Playoffs, we’ve finally reached the Conference Semis, and we expect the match-ups to be nothing less than electrifying. Let’s break down the four series with some quick previews and predictions, shall we?
Eastern Conference: (1) Indiana Pacers vs. (5) Washington Wizards
Reg. season: Pacers 2, Wizards 1
Round 1: Pacers def. Hawks in 7; Wizards def. Bulls in 5
Have the Indiana Pacers really found their groove again? They did just overcome a 2-3 series deficit to survive the first round against a team that it matched up poorly against, so kudos to Pacers head coach Frank Vogel for making the necessary adjustments.
Unlike the Hawks, though, Washington has a more formidable frontcourt while still having the wing firepower and range (Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster) needed to disrupt the Pacers’ defense. Paul George has been playing at a high level and has really put the Pacers on his shoulders, while others have stepped up for Indiana to overcome Roy Hibbert’s bad showing so far.
My pick: Fearless forecast alert! Wizards in 6
Western Conference: (1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (5) Portland Trail Blazers
Reg. season record: Split 2-2
Round 1: Spurs def. Mavericks in 7; Blazers def. Rockets in 6
Damian Lillard was the darling of the first round. If you haven’t hopped onto the bandwagon yet after his stellar rookie season or after his exposure last All-Star Weekend, you probably did after he led the Blazers to the second round in spectacular fashion. The Spurs battled a competitive Mavericks squad, and while San Antonio looked vulnerable at times, the game 7 blowout should be enough to show everyone that this team is still every bit a contender.
Tim Duncan notes that Portland is a bad matchup for the Spurs, but San Antonio’s defense also poses a huge roadblock for the high-octane offense of the Blazers. This series could go either way given how Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and company have been playing so far, but I’ll play it safe here.
My pick: Spurs in 6
Eastern Conference: (2) Miami Heat vs. (6) Brooklyn Nets
Reg. season record: Nets swept Heat 4-0
Round 1: Heat def. Bobcats in 4; Nets def. Raptors in 7
The Nets swept the Heat in the regular season (with three of the games decided by a single point), but we all know better than to count on that mattering in the Playoffs. The games will certainly be close, as the Nets have the mental toughness and veteran smarts, not to mention Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce’s ability to deliver in the clutch, to keep things interesting.
While the Nets have the better-rounded team overall, it’s hard to see a team that struggled against Toronto upset the well-rested Miami Heat over a seven-game series.
My pick: Heat in 6
Western Conference: (2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (3) Los Angeles Clippers
Reg. season: Split 2-2
Round 1: Thunder def. Grizzlies in 7; Clippers def. Warriors in 7
This series should feature tons of holding, scratching, and flopping. It’s probably going to be more of the same for OKC, meaning plenty of slow starts and coming back from double-digit deficits. After all, the Clippers offense is on a whole ‘nother level compared to Memphis, so unless the Thunder can get its act together from the opening tip, the Clippers will definitely be able to run.
Kevin Durant’s playoff PER should recover a bit in this matchup, even as Matt Barnes sticks close each game. I think the Thunder can operate more freely against the Clippers, although rotating against all those deadly shooters (JJ Redick, Jamal Crawford) and Chris Paul’s passing, could allow LAC to break down the Thunder’s unimpressive defense in the Playoffs.
My (slightly biased) pick: Thunder in 7 (but really, this could go either way)
Two games are on schedule later, with Washington @ Indiana at 7PM ET and Los Angeles @ Oklahoma City at 9:30PM ET. That’s that for my picks; overall, I can only hope that this round is as exciting as the first.
The Indiana Pacers and the Houston Rockets are in Manila to play in the first ever official NBA preseason game in the Philippines tomorrow night!
Here are some photos from the players’ activities around Manila yesterday.
Photos from: Anthony Santos
Being a basketball fan who studied in the University of the Philippines, every minute, every quarter, every game, every season of the UAAP is utter torture. Five last-place finishes in six seasons, no Final Four appearance that I can remember. On the one season where you’re actually optimistic about the core group and the recruits the team managed to get, the team is dealt a blow right after the first game.
Mikee Reyes, the starting point guard, was no longer with the team.
“I was really excited for this season,” goes a quote from Reyes from a GMA online article written by Mico Halili (great read. Go for it). So were many die-hard, hard-luck Fighting Maroons fans that were so desperate for this team to live up to its name.
That article has clarified many things. There was no bench altercation. No shouts from the spitfire point guard. No forced exit imposed by the coach. The escalation, however, remains disturbing and disappointing.
Anyone who’s watched a UP MBT game since coach Manny Dandan took over knows all about those fiery conversations during timeouts. It’s intense, and you sometimes wonder if that’s a proper way to talk to college students. The coach is tough on his kids, in a way that makes Coach Carter look like a petiks coach.
I was a row behind the bench during one game in the Filoil tournament, and Reyes was the one bearing the brunt of the coach’s ire. My heart sunk, imagining what it must have felt. Someone rubbed Reyes’ head to console him, but the guard looked intent to do right in the next possession. He’ll be fine, I thought.
It should be especially frustrating for Reyes, who was back after three years of waiting because of injuries. You’re back for the first time, you’re starting, you want to win, and you get yanked in the middle of a run. You’re told you’re not needed, after the coach professed you’d be handed the reins of the offense. I can sort of understand why he decided to leave the team.
On the other hand, what makes me wonder about this whole situation is what’s at stake for the individuals involved.
Dandan—and by extension, the team and the university—needs to win badly. UP is the Charlotte Bobcats of the UAAP, but even that’s not an accurate analogy because the Bobcats at least made the playoffs within the last decade. Why sabotage it by taking out of the equation the guard with most probably the best handles and best slashing ability on your team? What message are you sending by showing the kids that they’re expendable, that they will lose their spot at a moment’s notice? The environment at UP practices can’t be all that motivating, especially when the losses mount up year after year. Sometimes tough love isn’t the answer, and based on what we’ve seen in other leagues, it’s even a worse answer for young teams that constantly suck.
On Reyes’ side, while we understand how it feels to not be wanted, it’s still difficult to understand the decision to leave. As my girlfriend would probably say, “agad-agad?!” So you got benched. Isn’t that all the more reason to prove your worth? Lead that third team to complete wipeouts of the first and second teams during practice. Kick their asses, show them how it’s done. You say you’re not a quitter? Prove it by sticking it to the coach—not with any shakes of the head, but with the kind of play that got you the starting PG spot in the first place. Fall seven times, stand up eight, as the former Gatorade spiel went.
This whole thing reminds me of the Larry Brown-Allen Iverson relationship with the Philadelphia 76ers before. The thing with those two, though, was that they eventually learned to compromise and trust each other along the way. They still ended up having conflicts sometimes, but the coach needs to learn to reach out, while the player needs to take the coaching in stride.
I know these opinions have no benefit of being an insider; I never played any organized ball in this level, and I sure as hell ain’t no coach. I’m not present during team practices, and I can only watch from my lower-box seat at the MoA arena or on my couch, in front of the TV, when watching at home. This is all speaking from a curious Maroons fan’s perspective. It’s one that should ask some tough questions, regardless of what either party says, because I don’t see the logic in lowering your chances of winning when you’ve suffered through multiple 0-win and 1-win seasons.
Ultimately, it’s also a perspective that wants both parties to reconcile, preferably soon. Who knows, one practice down the road at the CHK Gym (or wherever practices are held these days), we’ll see a Coach Carter moment where Reyes asks for his spot back. Or maybe the player will just get a text to suit up and he’ll be on hand the next day. I don’t know. These all seem unlikely scenarios, especially given how much the coach has stressed the need to move on.
What’s done is done, and at the moment, Reyes is indeed no longer playing for the green and maroon of UP. The team is currently tied with Katipunan neighbor Ateneo at 0-2, but I don’t believe anyone thinks we’ll leapfrog the Blue Eagles sooner than they’ll leave us in the dust. At this stage, UP needs Reyes more than Reyes needs UP, but the outlook is still fairly bright for these Maroons. Alumni will still chant “UP Fight” whenever the boys step onto the hardwood, yearning for that ever-elusive victory.
“Pugad Baboy,” the popular comic strip from artist and author, Pol Medina Jr., first appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) way back in 1988. For over 2 decades, the comic strip has poked fun on virtually everything under the sun but with particularly biting insights on Philippine politics, media, and the Filipino culture. Pol Medina has been such a veritable fountain of creativity, intellect, and humor that his body of work has managed to grow robustly over the years–spawning multiple collected editions, merchandise, even a live-action TV series–and, moreover, has continued to stay relevant and as sharp as ever while winning new, younger fans and keeping old ones. It’s not even a stretch to say some people buy PDI just because it carries Pugad Baboy, and Carlos Celdran (the flamboyant tour guide and social gadfly) made the same remark on his Twitter account.
But in a shocking twist of events, Medina and PDI’s mutually beneficial and longstanding relationship suddenly cracked and split open this week. Medina was suspended by PDI because–after 25 years–Pugad Baboy somehow finally crossed a line. It had apparently made a joke so grave and offensive, that the national broadsheet, which trumpets the slogan “Balanced News, Fearless Views,” simply had no choice but to temporarily cancel the strip, essentially forget about freedom of speech, and suspend the brilliant author.
The joke? Pugad Baboy said pretty girls and possibly some nuns in St. Scholastica’s College were lesbians.
PDI Can Burn in Hell
To put it quite bluntly, PDI can burn in hell. Or in that green, nasty wildfire from Game of Thrones, which scorches through metal, bone and flesh. Whatever piece of paper escapes from this fiery extermination must then be gently crumpled up and used to wipe the asses of more intelligent people who are clearly not part of the moronic bunch who suspended Pol Medina.
To put it quite bluntly.
Because why the fuck would you suspend somebody who wrote a freakin’ joke in a freakin’ fictional piece of work (suspiciously named a COMIC STRIP) composed of freakin’ fictional characters?
Why the fuck would a newspaper, which prides itself as a champion of press freedom and free speech, do such a thing if not for the fact that whoever’s running it is as dumb as a bag of doorknobs?
Apologies. Let me pull myself together for a second before I spam this article, (which started out quite professionally) with more fucks and fuckity-fuck-fucks.
(Breathes in, breathes out). Ok. Maybe the reason for this travesty is not really a tragic depletion of intelligence. According to reports, St. Scholastica’s College administrators had an “emergency President’s Council Meeting” in the aftermath of the devastating comic strip, and “The Sisters’ community” also had to convene lest somebody failed to understand the seriousness of the matter, which was appropriately described by the letter from the Office of the School President as a “crisis situation.” After the 11th hour deliberations, the administrators reached the conclusion that they must sue PDI if they did not hear from the newspaper about their protest.
And so PDI, upon receiving St. Scholastica’s threatening letter, and being the epitome of press valor that it is, FLEE WITH ITS FUCKING TAIL BETWEEN ITS FUCKING LEGS AND FUCKING SUSPENDED THE FUCK OUT OF POL MEDINA.
SWEET JESUS! BY ALL THAT IS HOLY I SWEAR TO G–HOW SPINELESS DO YOU HAVE TO BE TO GIVE IN SO EASILY TO SUCH A THREAT?
I mean, as a national broadSHIT–sorry–broadsheet, wouldn’t you expect every single day that some people and organizations would find something disagreeable in your paper? It is, after all, a newspaper–a bunch of paper filled with news, half-news, speculations, sometimes downright bullcrap, some views, and, yes, comic strips that are all subject to discussion and interpretation, and by extension, subject to possible lawsuits, too, if some entities really deem them THAT wrong.
But doesn’t that come with the profession? Isn’t that part of the trade? It makes me wonder what’s so terrifying about St. Scholastica’s letter that PDI had to turn its back on its own principles and its longtime profitable contributor. Surely, countless other people and groups have threatened to sue the paper throughout its publication and it stood its ground like any normal, sensible newspaper would do?
And here is where my rational investigation of PDI’s motives end because I can’t really think of any other reason why they resorted to go full retard aside from utter stupidity or cowardice.
Of course, there are other possible explanations. Pol Medina himself says he smells a consPIGracy that has something to do with his anti-Marcos strips. I’ll just let you guys chew on that while I reach deep under, feel my nuts and happily appreciate the fact that I still have them unlike PDI.
The Joke’s on PDI and St. Scholastica’s Administrators
It was inevitable that some people online discovered their knack for original thinking again and ended up comparing Pol Medina’s fate to Vice Ganda’s. After all, they’re both jokesters and they both made offensive jokes that roused the gravity of some long-dormant issues and the righteous anger of some Filipinos.
In the same vein, it was inevitable, too, that these people were going to be tagged by me as giant boneheads with an IQ of a toenail.
First of all, Pol’s joke was totally different from Vice Ganda’s. Pol’s joke was about some girls being lesbians and possibly some nuns, too. Vice Ganda’s joke was about gang-raping Jessica Soho while she looked for an apple because supposedly she looked like a lechon.
Can you see the difference? If you can’t, then I suggest you set an appointment with a psychiatrist right away because your moral compass is hopelessly broken and it is very likely you’re currently developing into a remorseless serial killer and you’re not even aware of the silent transformation.
There’s simply no excuse for joking about rape the same way there’s no excuse for joking about genocide. You notice I said genocide, not murder. Because it’s easy enough to justify the murder of a single, twisted man but there’s no way an ethnic or racial group deserves genocide. Likewise, nobody deserves rape. After all, there’s a reason it’s called a crime against humanity. And that is why, no matter how big a fan of Vice Ganda you are, if you’re a level-headed person with at least a passable moral compass, you’d understand how the comedian’s joke was unacceptable.
That is simply not the case with Pol’s joke.
In fact, an open-minded person shouldn’t even find anything remotely offensive in Pol’s comic strip–certainly not something offensive enough to warrant suspension. Let’s get to the crux of this: what is offensive about saying some pretty girls and possibly some nuns in St. Scholastica’s College are homosexuals?
I must be a complete tool as I fail to grasp what’s so contemptible about the statement. Isn’t being a lesbian just another gender category like being a boy or a girl? Let me put it this way: in an alternate universe where people are mostly homosexuals and straight folks are the minority, that comic strip would say some pretty girls and possibly some nuns in St. Scholastica’s College are straight. See the absurdity in that? Isn’t the statement totally normal and harmless? And it should be totally normal and harmless because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a homosexual just as there’s nothing wrong with being straight.
But alas! We still live in a society where backward-thinking witch hunters can throw their weight around without getting kicked in the arse even if they royally deserve it. We live in a society where it’s so goddamn difficult to pass legislation for population control, safer sex, and the protection of women amidst all the hysterical wailing from the sidelines that we sinful lot are going to hell. Separation of State and Church be damned. We live in a society where surviving Australopithecus robustus curiously called “bishops” urge us to not judge Charice Pempengco while saying she’s undergoing an identity crisis and that she needs guidance (One can never be too careful. After all, young lesbians grow into EVIL adult lesbians who are proven to be extremely horrifying). A society that makes clowns out of a group of people who are, by all measure, normal and unremarkable except for the fact that they’re not restricted by socially constructed notions of what are expected from males and females.
Sometimes, I just find myself feeling sorry for the rest of us straight people–us, stone-age idiots who will surely be the laughing stock of the genderless, classless future. But don’t you worry. PDI and St. Scholastica’s administrators are still going to be the centerpiece of the hilarious freakshow. I’ll be laughing my bones off in my grave.