Will Zion’s Shoe Bring An End To The ‘One And Done’ Era?

How much impact will Zion Williamson’s injury have on the NCAA’s ‘One and Done’ rule?

Imagine if LeBron James had went to college instead of the NBA. Probably Ohio State, maybe Duke…it’s safe to say he would have went to a big-time program. Now imagine that midway through his one and only college season, LeBron suffers a gruesome knee injury. The injury is caused by a Nike shoe blowing out. LeBron is wearing a Nike shoe because that’s who Ohio State has a multi-million dollar equipment deal with. In this alternate universe LeBron recovers from his injury and still goes first in the NBA draft, but it’s now 2004 instead of 2003, because of his year at Ohio State, and he goes to the Orlando Magic instead of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He his still an amazing player, but not ‘LeBron James’, not the one that we know anyway. James plays 54 games in his rookie season for the Magic and misses time due to knee soreness. He spends the next several years battling various injuries, while always struggling with his knee, the one he injured in college. The Magic reach the Eastern Conference semi-finals in LeBron’s third year, but never advance past that. After his seventh season in the NBA, Orlando decides to blow things up and rebuild. James gets traded to the Knicks and after three losing years in New York, he ring chases for two seasons with two different teams and retires after an All-Star caliber 12-year career. No titles, no MVPs, no greatness.

Ok, now we’re back in present-day 2019. The above scenario seems eerily possible for this generation’s LeBron James. Duke’s superstar freshman Zion Williamson suffered a knee injury last night against hated rival North Carolina due to his shoe blowing out. We don’t yet know the severity of the injury or if there will be any lingering effects, but the thing is there could be…and for what? So Duke and Nike can get richer? So the NCAA can become more powerful? So Mike Krzyzewski can pad his resume with another championship?

Listen, I’m a huge supporter of college athletics. I’ve been a UT Vol fan since I could walk, but let’s call the NCAA’s ‘One and Done’ basketball rule what it is: a farce. It’s a totally absurd exercise that is designed to: keep the institution of the NCAA popular and powerful, allow powerhouse programs and high-profile coaches to keep winning, and enable companies like Nike to continue to sell products. As I said, I’m not anti-college athletics, but can any reasonable person make a legitimate argument about why Zion Williamson is required to be in college right now? I know, I know…there’s the NBA’s G-League, there’s Europe, China, etc. I said legitimate argument.

Here’s a crazy notion…let kids that are able to get rich playing in the NBA actually play in the NBA. Let kids that need a few years of college to grow and improve play in college for a couple of years before jumping to the pros. And let kids that are just happy to have a scholarship play their four years and graduate with a college degree. It’s really not that complicated. Should school’s pay athletes? I honestly don’t know that there is a simple answer to that question…but I do know that the Chicago Bulls, or the Dallas Mavericks, or the Atlanta Hawks and every other NBA team would be more than happy to currently be paying Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish, and R.J. Barrett. Is it fair to force these kids to gamble their future careers and fortunes just so March Madness is a little more fun to watch? In the age of social media, growing unrest among players, and ‘woke’ student-athletes, Zion’s shoe malfunction and resulting injury might be the shoe that breaks the ‘One and Done’ rule’s back.

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Fear The Deer: The Acquisition of Nikola Mirotic Has The Milwaukee Bucks Primed For A Championship Run

While everyone was focused on where Anthony Davis might land at the NBA’s trade deadline, it was a different New Orleans Pelican that may prove to be the best acquisition of them all. Milwaukee’s move to nab Nikola Mirotic from the Pelicans was a microcosm of how this Bucks team operates: under-the-radar and extremely efficient.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is finally getting the hype that he so richly deserves as an MVP candidate, but despite owning the best record in the NBA (yes, better than the Warriors), his team still seems to be somewhat of an afterthought.

The Bucks sit atop the standings, but lag behind their Eastern Conference foes in media buzz. Philadelphia’s star-studded roster and flashy trades are certainly entertaining. The legendary Celtics franchise always demands attention, and between Kyrie Irving’s seemingly constant media sound bites and Boston’s obsession with acquiring Anthony Davis, there is tons of focus on the preseason East favorites. Toronto has become something of a media darling and a splashy move to acquire Marc Gasol from Memphis at the deadline has been well received.

With the majority of the Western Conference standing pat and appearing to accept their inevitable playoff fate of ‘death by Golden State’, the newly Lebron James-less East entered into a bona fide arms race at the trade deadline in an attempt to win a conference that is more wide open than it has been in years. Milwaukee wasn’t expected to be a big player at the trade deadline, and on the surface the Mirotic deal doesn’t scream ‘blockbuster’, but the move makes the team that is already the best squad in the East even more dangerous.

Mirotic is perhaps best known for getting his face wrecked by his then-Chicago Bulls teammate Bobby Portis. Chicago moved Mirotic to New Orleans and the 27-year-old has paired surprisingly well with Anthony Davis over the last season-and-a-half. That part is important, because it signals that he should fit in seamlessly with Giannis in Milwaukee. Mirotic averaged just a shade under 16 points and eight rebounds per game in New Orleans, but the Bucks are bringing Mirotic in to space the floor. He is shooting nearly 37% from the three-point line this season, good enough to force opposing defenses to respect him from deep. This ability to stretch the floor will give the Greek Freak plenty of room to drive and create.

While he’s not known for his defensive prowess, Mirotic will be able to help the Bucks in that regard as well. Brook Lopez is having an amazing season for Milwaukee (even adding a three-point shot to his arsenal), but he is more of a traditional center (big and slow) at the defensive end. Mirotic’s ability to play the five-spot defensively will allow the Bucks to handle pretty much any lineup an opposing team throws at them (think Golden State’s ‘Lineup of Death’), while also creating mismatches in Milwaukee’s favor.

The Bucks are already one of the most flexible teams in the league and Mirotic only adds to their shape-shifting abilities. There aren’t many matchups that Milwaukee has to fear now. They can handle the quickness of the Celtics going small or the size of Joel Embiid and the Sixers. While it’s a bit presumptuous to discuss a matchup with the Warriors, Milwaukee did log a 134-111 win over Golden St. at Oracle Arena earlier this season. Golden State has superior talent to almost every team in the league, as well as the roster to create mismatches and disadvantages on both ends of the floor. However, what Milwaukee has in Giannis a great talent equalizer and the addition of Mirotic rounds out a sneaky-good and surprisingly deep Bucks roster.

First-year Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer’s impact also can’t go overlooked. He has brought an offensive breath of fresh air with him to Milwaukee and his schemes have allowed the spacing that Giannis needs to flourish. Mirotic is the perfect player to throw into Budenholzer’s bombs-away philosophy and gives Milwaukee another shooter on the floor to help unlock Giannis’ seemingly limitless ceiling.

All we can ever do with sports trades is speculate as to the outcome. While Nikola Mirotic isn’t the same caliber of individual player as Marc Gasol or Tobias Harris, he has the opportunity to make a championship-level impact in Milwaukee.

Where Does Markelle Fultz Go From Here?

The Philadelphia 76ers have officially moved on from their former number-one pick and it might be exactly what Markelle Fultz needed.

When the Philadelphia 76ers traded Markelle Fultz Thursday afternoon it didn’t come as a surprise. Philly’s moves to acquire Jimmy Butler earlier in the season and Tobias Harris at the trade deadline signify that they are all-in on the present. Fultz, the player the Sixers traded up to draft at number one less than two years ago, was supposed to be a huge part of Philly’s future, but as of Thursday the organization’s future plans no longer include the former number-one pick. After a tenure with the 76ers that was borderline bizarre, sometimes heartbreaking, and always frustrating…where does Markelle Fultz go from here?

It’s easy to forget now, but Philly’s aggressive pursuit to move up in the 2017 draft in order to select Markelle Fultz out of the University of Washington was almost universally applauded at the time. This was a Sixers team that was knee deep in “The Process” and Fultz was viewed as a great fit with Philly’s young duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Ironically, one of the main reasons the Sixers felt comfortable pairing Fultz with the jump shot-less Simmons in their backcourt of the future was Fultz’s ability to shoot from outside. He shot just over 41% from behind the 3-point line in college…add in great size for a point guard (6’4″) with lightning-fast speed and it’s easy to see why Fultz was the consensus top pick of the 2017 NBA draft.

The future looked bright for Fultz and the Sixers, but then the unfathomable happened…at some point between the 2017 NBA summer league and the start of training camp, THE NUMBER ONE PICK OF THE DRAFT FORGOT HOW TO SHOOT. ‘Forgot’ might not be the right word to use here, because no one really knows what the right word is. There have been tons of draft busts over the years, but that label doesn’t quite fit Fultz, as his saga is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. There have been thousands of words already typed on this subject, so I’ll spare you a deep dive, but whether due to injury, psychology, or a combination of both…Fultz was no longer able to shoot a jump shot when his rookie campaign kicked off. Numerous doctor visits and sessions with shooting coaches followed. This is the point where it becomes really easy to sympathize with Markelle Fultz, a then 19-year-old kid with the expectations of an entire city and organization on his shoulders, who is suddenly unable to do the one thing he’s been great at his whole life.

While Fultz toiled on the Philly bench during the 2017-18 season, teammates Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons proved themselves to be the real deal. The duo was much better, much faster than anyone truly anticipated, leading the Sixers to 52 wins in the regular season. Philly then knocked out Miami in the first-round of the NBA Playoffs and the team that was all about “The Process” was suddenly about “The Present”. This was all accomplished without Fultz, who appeared in just 14 games as a rookie. After an offseason filled with glimmers of hope and shaky iPhone videos of Fultz’s jumpshot, the Sixers tried to work him into the rotation at the beginning of this season, but it quickly became clear that Fultz still wasn’t the player that the Sixers drafted.

So, after just 20 months and 33 games played, the former no. 1 pick is now a former Philadelphia 76er. Just before this past Thanksgiving, Fultz played his last game for the Sixers and received a new medical diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome shortly thereafter. The acquisition of Jimmy Butler earlier this season signaled that Philly was accelerating their championship timetable and the Tobias Harris trade earlier this week kicked it into hyper drive. Fultz and his issues were no longer a luxury the organization could afford and the Sixers sent him to Orlando for Jonathon Simmons and two draft picks. The move killed two birds with one stone for Philly, creating the financial room to attempt to retain both Harris and Butler after this season, while also washing their hands of the scrutiny the Fultz situation brought.

Orlando is a beautiful city, but it’s the closest thing the NBA has to Siberia. It also might be exactly what Markelle Fultz needs right now. He can rehab and work on his game with little media scrutiny in Orlando. He also won’t be carrying the hopes and dreams of a franchise on his shoulders. The Magic are in perma-rebuild mode and it’s the perfect situation for Fulz. It’s easy to forget that this kid is still just 20-years-old. His short time in Philly wasn’t without brief glimpses of his elite talent. In his rookie season he became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double at just 19-years-old and he did it without being able to shoot a jumper! Things might never improve for him in Orlando, the place where talent goes to be forgotten about, but maybe being forgotten about for a little while is just what Markelle Fultz needs.

 

 

 

 

FanDuel NBA DFS 2/1/19 Value Plays

@TheCombineJosh gives his best value plays for the day

There are 5 games on the NBA DFS main slate for Friday, February 1st and here are The Combine Presidente’s value picks for the day.  I typically play one or two lineups per night on FanDuel for fun and you can check my results from the previous night at the bottom of the article.  Follow @TheCombineSports and @TheCombineJosh on Twitter for updated information.

Value Plays:

PG Kadeem Allen ($3500)

  • Who? … the only PG really on the roster for NYK tonight. Follow me on twitter for where I’m putting those extra dollars tonight.
  • Bonus Pick : Jeremy Lin ($3900)

SG Allonzo Trier ($4000)

  • This is a lock for most people tonight with the trade going through and none of the new players suiting up tonight.  It should be an easy 6-7x tonight.

SF Kevin Knox ($5000)

  • Knox should have a heavy workload offensively tonight with no Burke and Courtney Lee on the roster.
  • Bonus Pick : Mario Hezonja ($4400)

PF John Collins ($7200)

  • The guy hasn’t been under $8k since early December… at $7200, he is a MUST START in my opinion.

C Nikola Jokic ($11,500)

  • Weird to have the most expensive C as my “value”, but I think he wrecks the boards vs an undersized C in Faried.
  • Bonus Pick : If you want to spend elsewhere, go Aron Baynes tonight ($3500)

 

Presidente’s Lock of the Night:

PF John Collins ($7200)

 

Previous Night’s Results:

PG Darren Collison ($6600)

  • 36.8 FD Points (5.6x)

SG Klay Thompson ($6900)

  • DNP – Scratch

SF DeMarre Carroll ($4600)

  • 26 FD Points (5.7x)

PF Aaron Gordon ($7200) * My lock of the night

  • 15.1 FD Points (2.1x)

C DeMarcus Cousins ($7500)

  • 32.2 FD Points (4.3x)

Bonus pick: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($4600)

  • 22.9 FD Points (5x)

Bonus pick: Wilson Chandler ($4000)

  • 15.9 FD Points (4x)

Bonus pick: Martin Gortat tonight ($3500)

  • 13.8 FD Points (3.9x)

FanDuel NBA DFS 1/31/19 Value Plays

@TheCombineJosh gives his best value plays for the day

There are 6 games on the NBA DFS main slate for Thursday, January 31st and here are The Combine Presidente’s value picks for the day.  I typically play one or two lineups per night on FanDuel for fun and you can check my results from the previous night at the bottom of the article.  Follow @TheCombineSports and @TheCombineJosh on Twitter for updated information.

Value Plays:

PG Darren Collison ($6600)

  • Collison fucked over me last night, so I will let him try and redeem himself tonight
  • Bonus Pick : Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($4600)

SG Klay Thompson ($6900)

  • It is going to be a very high scoring game tonight and I think Klay could pop off for 40-50 FD points tonight.

SF DeMarre Carroll ($4600)

  • Carroll has quietly been putting up a solid 5x/night lately and should continue to see minutes with the injuries to BKN. Follow me on twitter for where I’m putting those extra dollars tonight.
  • Bonus Pick : Wilson Chandler ($4000)

PF Aaron Gordon ($7200)

  • The guy has been over 5.5x/game over his last 3 and I don’t see that stopping vs IND tonight.  Not the cheapest, but a safe play for standard games.

C DeMarcus Cousins ($7500)

  • Not a ton of value tonight at C, but Cousins got 25 mins last game and will be on 3 days rest.  Embiid isn’t 100% and Cousins should score well in a game with a 240 O/U.
  • Bonus Pick : If you want to spend elsewhere, go Martin Gortat tonight ($3500)

 

Presidente’s Lock of the Night:

PF Aaron Gordon ($7200)

 

Previous Night’s Results:

PG Darren Collison ($6500)

  • 9.4 FD Points (1.4x)

SG Jaylen Brown ($4700)

  • 40 FD Points (8.5x)

SF Jabari Parker ($4000)

  • 1.4 FD Points (0.3x)

PF Paul Millsap ($5000) * My lock of the night

  • 30.6 FD Points (6.1x)

C Myles Turner ($7300)

  • 21.7 FD Points (3x)

Bonus pick: De’Aaron Fox ($7800) *I suggested on twitter 

  • 24.3 FD Points (3.1x)

Bonus pick: Dewayne Dedmon ($6300)

  • 21.3 FD Points (3.4x)

FanDuel NBA DFS 1/30/19 Value Plays

@TheCombineJosh gives his best value plays for the day

There are 8 games on the NBA DFS main slate for Wednesday, January 30th and here are The Combine Presidente’s value picks for the day.  I typically play one or two lineups per night on FanDuel for fun and you can check my results from the previous night at the bottom of the article.  Follow @TheCombineSports and @TheCombineJosh on Twitter for updated information.

Value Plays:

PG Darren Collison ($6500)

  • Collison is seeing extra minutes due to injuries and he has been a 5x+ player in 7 of his last 10 contests.
  • Bonus Pick : I’m all in on De’Aaron Fox tonight ($7800)

SG Jaylen Brown ($4700)

  • I see him getting solid minutes vs CHA tonight and the potential is always there for a big game.  I like him for 6x tonight.

SF Jabari Parker ($4000)

  • With the injuries to Carter and Hutchinson, he will see some extra minutes and hopefully contribute a solid 6x+ tonight for cheap. Follow me on twitter for where I’m putting those extra dollars tonight.

PF Paul Millsap ($5000)

  • I have to imagine Milsap vs a depleted NO frontcourt results in a solid 6x night at minimum.

C Myles Turner ($7300)

  • Turner has been hovering around an average of 5x over his last 4 games and WAS is a weak team right now.  Not a ton of value tonight at C.
  • Bonus Pick : If you want to spend elsewhere, go Dewayne Dedmon tonight ($6300)

 

Presidente’s Lock of the Night:

PF Paul Millsap ($5000)

 

Previous Night’s Results:

PG Shabazz Napier ($5100)

  • 41.6 FD Points (8.2x)

SG Luke Kennard ($3700) 

  • 27.4 FD Points (7.4x)

SF Michael Beasley ($4200) * My lock of the night

  • 12 FD Points (2.9x)

PF Richaun Holmes ($5000)

  • 24.3 FD Points (4.9x)

C Jahlil Okafor ($7200)

  • 46.4 FD Points (6.4x)

Bonus pick: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($4400) *I suggested on twitter 

  • 22.8 FD Points (5.2x)

FanDuel NBA DFS 1/29/19 Value Plays

@TheCombineJosh gives his best value plays for the day

There are 7 games on the NBA DFS main slate for Tuesday, January 29th and here are The Combine Presidente’s value picks for the day.  I typically play one or two lineups per night on FanDuel for fun and you can check my results from the previous night at the bottom of the article.  Follow @TheCombineSports and @TheCombineJosh on Twitter for updated information.

Value Plays:

PG Shabazz Napier ($5100)

  • Chicago is a bad team and Napier is a starter thanks to injuries.  Let’s hope for the best and see what we can get from him.

SG Luke Kennard ($3700)

  • Lots of injuries should get Kennard close to 30 minutes tonight.  Cheap enough to take the risk IMO. Follow me on twitter for where I’m putting those extra dollars tonight.

SF Michael Beasley ($4200)

  • B-Easy is looking at some quality minutes with Kuzma out.  Let’s see if he can give us 6-7x tonight.

PF Richaun Holmes ($5000)

  • I’m hoping his return and Ayton likely missing another game, results in a solid 6x night at minimum.

C Jahlil Okafor ($7200)

  • No Randle or Davis = big minutes for Okafor and he should do very well on the boards.

 

Presidente’s Lock of the Night:

SF Michael Beasley ($4200)

 

Previous Night’s Results:

PG Patrick Beverley ($4600)

  • 43 FD Points

SG Andre Iguodala ($4300) * My lock of the night

  • 36.2 FD Points

SF Gary Harris ($4800)

  • 18.3 FD Points

PF Rodions Kurucs ($4100)

  • 10.4 FD Points

C Al Horford ($6900)

  • 53.7 FD Points

Bonus pick: Trey Burke ($4500)

  • 17.9 FD Points