2018 NBA Mock Draft

QMS 2018 NBA Mock Draft

Because of conflicting schedules, the QuarterMasters were unable to do a podcast for the 2018 NBA Draft, so we’re rocking it old school in the blog. The picks were handed out snake draft style and will be color-coded. (TreBabs, The Cannon, Rongy, TyGuy) Trades are accepted and will be explained when necessary.

1. Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

This seems like an easy choice. Ayton has the potential to be an elite offensive big in this league. Pair him with Devin Booker and the Suns will have a 1-2 punch reminiscent of Shaq & Kobe.

2. Sacramento Kings – Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan St.

The Kings out-King themselves once again. While Jackson Jr. has obvious talent and upside, leaving Marvin Bagley III, Luka Doncic, and Mo Bamba on the table at two seems like a very Kings move. However, Jackson would be a good fit along Willie Cauley-Stein in the Sac-Town frontcourt.

3. Atlanta Hawks – Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

A reach but the Hawks get their superstar of the future. Young is the only player in NCAA history to lead Division I in scoring and assists in the same season. While ultimately I believe the Hawks will trade out of this pick to stockpile more draft chips, the Hawks could view Young as the next Steph Curry and take a risk here.

4. Memphis Grizzlies – Mo Bamba, C, Texas

The Griz get the fire to Marc Gasol’s ice. Good luck matching up with two seven-footers, one who can step out and make you pay from behind the arc and one that will punish you with athleticism inside. Even if Gasol bounces town when his contract expires, Memphis gets its big man of the future.

5. Dallas Mavericks – Wendell Carter Jr., PF, Duke

Carter is perhaps the biggest project among the top five picks; however, his intangibles are off the charts. A core of Carter with Dennis Smith Jr. will anchor the Mavs for years to come.

6. Denver Nuggets (via Magic) – Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri

With Trae Young getting nabbed at three and Mo Bamba at four, the Magic begin to field trade offers for the six. Enter the Nuggets, who part with the fourteenth and forty-third picks in the years draft along with the contract of Kenneth Faried to the Magic for the sixth pick. With the pick, the Nuggets get who they believe is the best shooting big man talent in the entire draft. Many questions surround the health of Porter’s back, but his upside makes it worth the risk for the Nuggets who are a star piece away from contending in the West.

7. Chicago Bulls – Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

Getting a player that many consider a top-3 talent in the draft at 7 would be a steal for the Bulls. Bagley might not be an ideal fit, but if he could work alongside Markkanen, they would make a tantalizing front court duo.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers – Luka Doncic, PG/SG, Slovenia

It’s likely Doncic will not fall this far on Thursday night, but if you’re the Cavaliers this is a dream situation. With or without LeBron, the Cavaliers get a guy who fits their biggest need, a legitimate primary ball handler with insane court vision.

9. New York Knicks – Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova

In a very un-Knicks move, New York goes with a safe pick here. Mikal Bridges fills a big need at small forward and adds some much-needed wing defense.

10. Philadelphia 76ers – Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

Though Ben Simmons is a great point-forward, the Sixers add a young true point guard to the mix picking Sexton at ten. The freshman from Alabama has the ability to be a good scorer in the NBA and would be a solid piece to continue the “process.”

11. Charlotte Hornets – Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky

Michael Jordan, new GM Mitch Kupchak, and the Hornets have three options here; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander if they want to grom Kemba’s replacement, Miles Bridges if they’re looking for an MKG replacement or Kevin Knox. They end up opting for a little offense to give Kemba some help on the wing.

12. Los Angeles Clippers – Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Miles Bridges isn’t going to be able to replace Blake Griffin, but he’ll damn sure try. Bridges is too short to exclusively play power forward in the NBA, but his explosiveness and strength will allow him to hold his own when asked to handle such duties. In today’s NBA, players like Bridges can play a significant role on a championship team.

13. Los Angeles Clippers – Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Walker may be the best shooter in this draft, something the Clips desperately need. The “other team” in LA could also benefit from Walker’s South Beach flair. If the Lakers do indeed add 1-2 superstars to their young squad, the Clippers will need an exciting player to fill the stands.

14. Orlando Magic (via Nuggets) – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

After trading away the sixth pick in the draft, the strategy pays off for Orlando and they get their point guard of the future. SGA is a freakishly long point guard with the ability get into the lane and finish in traffic. If the Magic can retain Aaron Gordon this offseason, the tandem would be a highlight machine.

15. Washington Wizards – Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV

McCoy is the best center still available. A big presence inside will go nicely with their current guard combo. McCoy’s free throw shooting upside could benefit the Wizards greatly, especially playing alongside an elite slasher in John Wall.

16. Phoenix Suns – Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

With their second pick in the first round, the Suns select one of the smartest players in the draft to pair with Devin Booker. While his offensive game is still a work in progress, Smith is already an NBA-level defender. His shot isn’t broken and has the potential to develop into a solid scorer in the league. His high basketball IQ will help overcome some of the growing pains as his game formulates.

17. Milwaukee Bucks – Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

Milwaukee picks up a guard that can be an on-ball PG or help space the floor when Giannis has the ball in his hands. As one of the few first round upperclassmen, Holiday will be capable addition to the Bucks playoff caliber squad.

18. San Antonio Spurs – Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

With the Kwahi Leonard saga still churning, the Spurs find themselves in a bit of a purgatory. Regardless, shooting is crucial in the NBA and DiVincenzo can fill it up. A safe, yet solid pick for Greg Popovich.

19. Atlanta Hawks – Robert Williams, PF, Texas A&M

The Hawks pair last year’s first-round pick, John Collins, with a stout rebounder and rim protector.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves– Moritz Wagner, C, Michigan

Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, Moritz Wagner. Enough said.

21. Utah Jazz – Omari Spellman, PF, Villanova

The Jazz select Spellman to pair with their current big man, Rudy Gobert. The forward out of Villanova is a strong defender and can all step out and shoot the ball when needed.

22. Chicago Bulls – Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

Bates-Diop is the wing the Bulls need to complete a solid young core of Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, Lauri Markennen, and Marvin Bagley. Look for him to be a Khris Middleton type player in the NBA.

23. Indiana Pacers – Elie Okobo, PG, France

There’s no way the Pacers pass on the explosive point guard from France. Okobo’s length and ability to play within a system make him a perfect option to pair with Victor Oladipo in the Indy backcourt.

24. Portland Trail Blazers – Chandler Hutchinson, SF, Boise State

Hutchinson offers a playmaking wing to link up with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. He’s not the greatest defender or shooter, but his ability to cut off-ball and take the load off the top two options make him a perfect fit in Portland.

25. Brooklyn Nets (via Lakers) – Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky

*The Nets trade the 29th pick to the Lakers for the 25th pick & Luo Deng.* The Nets take on Luol Deng’s contract to come up and get a solid shooter who can play both ends of the floor.

26. Philadelphia 76ers – Gary Trent Jr., SG, Duke

Philly is filling their bench with this pick. Trent is a good young shooter who could be the answer to replacing JJ Reddick whenever he departs.

27. Boston Celtics – Jacob Evans, SG, Cincinnati

The Celtics take one of the toughest defenders in the draft that can guard multiple positions. If Evans develops a shot, he could end up being a steal for Boston.

28. Golden State Warriors – Mitchell Robinson, C, NONE.

If there is any team that can take a chance on a major unknown, it’s Golden State. Robinson is the ultimate unknown. He is the center that could open up Steve Kerr’s playbook. The only issue is he didn’t play anywhere competitively last season.

29. Los Angeles Lakers (via Nets) – Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

*The Lakers trade the 25th pick & Luol Deng to the Nets for the 29th pick* In a draft that’s all about attracting superstars to LA, the Lakers do two important things there; get rid of Deng’s contract and bring in a lethal shooter off the bench.

30. Atlanta Hawks – Khyri Thomas, PG, Creighton

By drafting Thomas, the Hawks get their Klay to Trae Young’s Steph. Thomas is highly-composed with a pure shooting stroke that should assimilate well with the current NBA.

Loose, But Fast Blog: Monster Energy All-Star Race Review

2018 Monster Energy All-Star Race Review

Experimental Aero Package/Restrictor Plate Thoughts

What a night. 38 lead exchanges, three-wide racing, and everyone had a shot at the $1 Million Dollar prize. The Monster Energy All-Star Race was without a doubt a hit. Kudos to NASCAR for trying something new and experimenting with a new aero package on one of their marquee evenings. While there will always be pushback from the “we want the old-NASCAR” crowd, Saturday Night’s race was definitely a step in the right direction for a sport some consider to be “dying.” NASCAR isn’t dying and isn’t going anywhere in the near future. However, a major reform of the sport could be on the table soon. Saturday’s All-Star Race could be the foot that opens the door on that conversation. 

For those who didn’t consider the 2018 All-Star Race a success, just look back a season ago. The 2017 All-Star Race was as boring of a race as any of the past few years. There were four lap-leaders in total and only three cautions (all for stage breaks). This year’s race provided twelve changes for lap-lead and the tighter racing produced eight cautions. Furthermore, Kevin Harvick’s margin of victory (0.325 seconds) was the closest in the All-Star Race since Harvick edged Jimmie Johnson by 0.141 seconds in the 2007 version of the event. The experimental aero package worked.

Make no mistakes about it. I don’t think that the success of the aero package on Saturday Night means that NASCAR should try and implement a similar aero package at other tracks a mile and a half or greater this season. They should absolutely look into it for select tracks in 2019 though. Prime targets include California, Michigan, Texas, and Kentucky, but that’s another discussion for another day.

Moments of the All-Star Race

My first moment of the race came at the end of Stage 3. During the first lap of a Green-White-Checkered finish, four-wide racing didn’t sort itself out resulting in Martin Truex Jr. pinching Ricky Stenhouse Jr. going into turn three. Truex Jr. went spinning and collected several others including both Busch brothers and Brad Keselowski. On the ensuing restart, Kevin Harvick slung himself around the outside of three cars between the start-finish line and the end of turn two. Then he overtook leader Daniel Suarez on the outside in turns three and four to take the stage victory.

The second moment of the race was Harvick’s pass for the win. After Joey Logano and Kyle Larson tangled through the tri-oval to bring out the caution with two to go, the field was back double-file for a Green-White-Checkered. On the restart, Suarez received a big push from teammate Denny Hamlin in turns one and two. By FS1’s aerial coverage the #19 looks like he’s clear of Harvick who restarted on the outside. However, instead of going up and blocking Harvick’s momentum, Suarez elected to not get run over by Harvick, who was being pushed by third-place Logano. Harvick clears Suarez and has smooth sailing to the checkered flag. 

All-Star Race Results Thoughts

Happy Harvick

Experimental aero package or not, Kevin Harvick and the #4 Stewart-Hass Racing Ford Team are ridiculously good this season. They’re taking Martin Truex Jr.’s dominance from a season ago to a whole new level. Five points race wins and an All-Star trophy within the first thirteen events of the season. We haven’t seen this type of dominance since Jeff Gordon set the series on fire in 1998. That season Gordon went on to win thirteen points races on his way to his third career Cup title. While the playoffs are the great equalizer in today’s NASCAR, I see no indication of why Harvick won’t be racing for the title at Homestead. 

Open Advancers

Aside from Harvick,  all the drivers who advanced from the Monster Energy Open were impressive. Alex Bowman and AJ Allmendinger used their experience from the earlier race to make hellacious runs through the pack in the first stage. Though Bowman’s night ended early after getting loose and hitting the outside wall, it was good to see the #88 continue to get better every week. Allmendinger hung around the 5-9 range most of the night and brought home a solid eighth-place finish for the #47 JTG Racing Team. Chase Elliott, who advanced to the All-Star Race via fan-vote, took his #9 Chevy home fifth.

Out of the four, I was most impressed with YOUNG Daniel Suarez and the #19 Joe Gibbs Racing Team. YDS ran up front all evening and was a legit contender for the victory. Personally, I wanted YDS to take the victory after my $$$ pick (Larson) was taken out. He finished second in three of the four stages and had Harvick cleared on the final restart. Had he slid up and thrown the block, the outcome may have been different. As Jeff Gordon put it in the FS1 booth, “It would’ve been risky, but I think he could’ve done it.” After Saturday Night’s run, I’m expecting a confidence boost for Suarez and his team heading into the next couple of weeks and wouldn’t be surprised if he is in contention during this weekend’s 600. 

Other Impressions

After both were caught up in wrecks throughout the race, I was by the resilience of Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne’s teams both bringing home top ten finishes. Yes, it may have everything to do with having restrictor plates on the race cars, but damn, they still had to overcome major adversity to do it. 

My one disappointment from the All-Star race was Matt Kenseth and the whole #6 Roush Racing Team. After sitting on the pole, I was convinced Kenseth was going to at least be in contention at the end. Instead, they immediately fell back and were never a threat. Kenseth finished fourteenth in a field that had sixteen cars running at the end.

All in all, this was an excellent event. I certainly hope NASCAR uses this package for future All-Star Races. 

Loose, But Fast Blog: Monster Energy All-Star Race

2018 World Cup Groups Drawn

2018 World Cup: Analysis & Predictions

The 2018 World Cup groups were drawn today and I AM HYPE. Like so many other US Soccer fans out there, I’m also pretty bummed that we aren’t going to be participating, but it’s still the World Cup. Don’t give me the “Well, we’re not in it, so I’m just not going to watch it.” You sound like a child and honestly you can get over yourself. Italy, who has been a soccer powerhouse forever, didn’t make it. Netherlands, who made some noise in the last World Cup and is downright scary to face, didn’t make it. So, like I said, get over yourself…we aren’t the only one left out. Yes, I’m going to miss going crazy at bars on match days wearing Red, White, & Blue too, but it’s going to be okay. This is a beautiful event. Root for your favorite league team’s players or pick a dark horse. Just watch the event, okay? Okay.

Now, let’s get down to it. I’m sure if you’re a true soccer fan, then you’ve been watching TV all day and listening to those bozo analyst’s picks and breakdowns, but they’re predictable. Here’s my knee-jerk picks and analysis.

 

Group A: Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia

First Reaction:

Is anyone going to say it or am I going to have to? COLLUSION. The average FIFA Ranking in this group is 45, and that’s with Russia’s own 65. In the US, we know a little something about Russia colluding in the things, but seriously? I don’t think that they’ll make it out of the group anyways, but they definitely have a shot. All it takes is one slip up by Uruguay or Egypt and they could squeak by into the Round of 16.

Projected Finishes:

1. Egypt – I think that the top two or even three in this group is a bit of a toss-up, but I’m going with Egypt to win the group for one simple reason; Mohamed Salah. If you haven’t had the chance to tune into a Liverpool game this season, check this cat out. He can play anywhere up front and chances are, he’s putting one in the back of the net EVERY SINGLE GAME.
2. Uruguay – They’ve been here before and I just don’t think they let an opportunity like this slip by. They are favorites to win this group, but I think they finish 2nd.
3. Russia – I want to pick them to advance so badly, but I just can’t do it. I’m absolutely certain that something crazy is going to happen in one of their matches though.
4. Saudi Arabia – They’re lucky to be here.

Bold Prediction:

Mohamed Salah is the leading goal scorer of all groups at the conclusion of group play.

 

Group B: Portugal, Spain, Iran, Morocco

First Reaction:

We have a neighbor battle! I love when things like this happen, because this tournament is more about countries going at it than individual players. That game is going to be crazy to watch.

Projected Finishes:

1. Portugal – Portugal was unfortunately drawn into the “Group of Death” last world cup and didn’t make it to the Round of 16. I think that Ronaldo realizes that this is his last chance to make a World Cup run and handles his business.
2. Spain – Don’t get me wrong, Spain is still a powerhouse, but they’re days of dominance are numbered. If I were them, I would give younger players a shot in this World Cup.
3. Iran – I don’t see Iran moving to the Round of 16, but I also don’t think they’ll go down without a fight.
4. Morocco – They’ll be lucky to scrape out a point in group play.

Bold Prediction:

Cristiano Ronaldo nets a late winner against Spain to secure the group.

 

Group C: France, Peru, Denmark, Australia

First Reaction:

If France doesn’t win this group then it’s going to be an all-time low for that country, and they have had some lows. Besides them obliterating everyone, I think this is going to be a very entertaining group to watch.

Projected Finishes:

1. France – Like I said, France should win this group…easily. They have some firepower up front with Pogba, Martial, Lacazette, and even more. I foresee them winning the group with a solid 9 points.
2. Peru – It’s going to be tight between Peru and Denmark, but I see Peru scrapping by on goal differential. Peru has been held out of this tournament for a long time so I think the country will rally behind the squad and push them through.
3. Denmark – They’ll score 4 points in the group and lose on goal differential.
4. Australia – The game against France is going to be a BLOODBATH.

Bold Prediction:

France finishes the group with 9 points and a +9 goal differential.

 

Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria

First Reaction:

You have to root for a country that has the same population as Corpus Christi, TX, right? I’m all in…LET’S GO ICELAND.

Projected Finishes:

1. Argentina – This one is easy. They have the best player in the world as their captain. They’re winning this group.
2. Iceland – Can I get a Viking Clap? Listen, I know that this is a dark horse pick, but Iceland has heart. They’ll get by the stringiest hair in their Viking beard.
3. Croatia – I think they’re a better team than Iceland, but I’m all in on the Viking train. They barely miss out on the Round of 16.
4. Nigeria – A lot of times in group play, it counts just as much on how you play against the fourth place finishers. Nigeria is a fiery squad and I think they’ll take a point away from either Iceland or Croatia.

Bold Prediction:

Iceland makes it to the Round of 16.

 

Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

First Reaction:

Switzerland is a very consistent team, but I think their FIFA Rank of 8 is a little too high. Look for them to get upset.

Projected Finishes:

1. Brazil – With Neymar Jr., Coutinho, and Firmino this Brazil team is as talented as any up front. They’ll be fun to watch going forward.
2. Costa Rica – This Costa Rican team is solid on defense, which will be very important when goal differential comes into play. It’s all about how they hold up against Brazil.
3. Switzerland – Switzerland will miss out on the Round of 16 because they’ll lose worse to Brazil than Costa Rica.
4. Serbia – I don’t see them getting any points in this group.

Bold Prediction:

2nd place comes down to goal differential with Costa Rica squeaking by.

 

Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea

First Reaction:

If I was Mexico, I would be PISSED right now. I don’t think that this qualifies as a “Group of Death,” because of South Korea’s presence, but it’s certainly top heavy.

Projected Finishes:

1. Germany – The defending champs get the job done and win the group.
2. Sweden – This all comes down to Zlatan Ibrahimovic playing. If he plays they’ll ride him to the Round of 16, and I think he’ll play. Why? Because “Lions don’t compare themselves to humans.”
3. Mexico – Mexico lets the unfavorable group get to their head and don’t make it through.
4. South Korea – Poor South Korea.

Bold Prediction:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic plays and is the leading goal scorer in Group F.

 

Group G: Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama

First Reaction:

This is the draw that England needed. They missed out on the Round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup, but with this draw, they’ll make it easily this time around.

Projected Finishes:

1. Belgium – Belgium may be the best-rounded team in the whole tournament. They’ll get a tough match from England but ultimately win the group.
2. England – England will focus on getting through rather than trying to win the group. With their fans, they NEED to get through more than anything.
3. Tunisia – I admittedly don’t know much about this Tunisian squad, but I’m always excited to see African teams play.
4. Panama – They’re overmatched in this group, especially at the top.

Bold Prediction:

The top spot comes down to goal differential between Belgium and England.

 

Group H: Poland, Colombia, Senegal, Japan

First Reaction:

Sadio Mane and Senegal are going to ruin someone’s first place finish.

Projected Finishes:

1. Colombia – James Rodriguez and Colombia get right back on track and win the group
2. Poland – Plays solid against all three teams, but ultimately finishes second.
3. Senegal – Sadio Mane shows out against Poland and steals a point, but the African team won’t finish higher than third.
4. Japan – No points for Japan

Bold Prediction:

Sadio Mane edges James Rodriguez as top goal scorer of the group.

 

Round of 16

 

Quarter Finals

 

Semi Finals

 

Final

 

Winner

 

After many years of trying to get back to winning way, 2018 will be the one that brings it all together for this talented French squad. It’s a bold pick, I know. Usually the smart move is to go with the solid team, such as Germany, but I believe this is the year that the youngsters prevail. Any which way this tournament shakes out, I’m sure it’ll be packed with entertainment.

 

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