Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, June 21, 2019 at 12:00 AM
NBA DRAFT RE-CAPS - ZION GETS ALL THE LOVE AND WHO CAN KEEP UP WITH ALL THOSE TRADES? ...
THE BASEBALL REPORT
Folks, if you didn't know any better than you might have thought last night's NBA Draft was a paid informercial for #1 pick Zion Williamson:
Okay, so the one-and-done Duke megastar surely captivated the country this past 2018-19 campaign - even though he missed a batch of games after "blowing out" his Nike shoe against North Carolina - but the lovefest ESPN displayed toward Williamson was way over the top. Geez, the all-sports network practically followed his every move and we were afraid the cameras would greet 'em at the men's room door!
Also "over the top" were all those "human interest stories" that seemingly went hand-in-hand with just about every single pick made as all the tug-of-the-heart themes had one thing in common ... ESPN wasn't gonna be happy unless the player or his mom / dad were crying by the time they left the interview stage with Maria Taylor. Yikes!
Meanwhile, the bottom line of this 2019 Draft was that Williamson quickly reshaped the look of the New Orleans Pelicans who sported multiple picks on this night while the Cleveland Cavaliers - with new head coach John Beilein - and the Atlanta Hawks also turned into major movers-and-shakers with their multiple selections. Hey, the Hawks this season could start five players who are 21-and-under with Virginia's De'Andre Hunter (at #4) and Duke's Cam Reddish (at #10) a couple of Philly kids who now bring the ACC brand of ball to Hot-lanta.
The Cavaliers, on the other hand, went deep into the goody bag for top-flight shooters and thus came away with three premium picks in Round I including Vanderbilt's Darius Garland - labeled the best pure shooter in this draft, we'll see - along with Belmont's Dylan Windler and USC's Kevin Porter, Jr. Gut feeling is Cleveland will lead the NBA in three-point shooting (even over Golden State) next year.
If you happened to get involved with any of the prop plays out there, then you know ACC players selected in Round I went "over" with 10 players tabbed including those three Dookies in the top 10 as #3 RJ Barrett (New York) joined the aforementioned Williamson and Reddish but the Pac-12 went "under" in terms of first-round picks and only University of Washington's Matisse Thybulle (headed to Philadelphia) and the above-mentioned Porter, Jr (from USC) were tabbed in the opening round from this left-coast league.
Finally, not sure what your over / under was here but we did see one prop involving how many teams from "power conferences" were selected in Round I and the final head count was 22 out of the 30 picks. The power conferences made a mad rush late with the opening round's final four selections hailing from the land of the big boys.
Ask us right now who made the "best" Round I pick outside the big three of Williamson, Murray State's Ja Morant (to Memphis) and NYK's Barrett? We'll say Charlotte's PJ Washington (Kentucky / pick #12) was our "favorite" selection 'cause he greatly improved his mid-range jumper last year as a sophomore and could be an NBA All-Star within two years' time, so stay tuned.
The first-round pick we disliked the most? Try Washington's college teammate Tyler Herro who went to the Miami Heat with pick #13. Funny thing is we had Herro going to the Heat with a late teens selection - so we though player and team was a definite match - but there's a couple of guys we would have grabbed at #13 before Herro (including Virginia Tech's versatile Nickeil Alexander-Walker).
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THE BASEBALL REPORT
Okay, so what's gonna be the most competitive divisional race out there in 2019?
We're closing in on the halfway point of this here-and-now season and right now the only "race" in which the leader sports an advantage of fewer than 4.5 games over the second-place team is in the National League Central where - heading into Friday's action - the Chicago Cubs (41-33) have a 1.5-game lead over Milwaukee (40-35) and a 3-game led over St. Louis (38-36).
But check this one out: According to the up-to-date money lines, if you've wagered on the Cubs every game this year than you are up a measly $63 (and that's following last night's 7-4 win against the wobbly New York Mets); you're up $66 if you've played on the Brewers in each of their 75 games; and you're down $229 with a $100 per-play wager on the Cardinals.
In other words, it may be a tight race for NL Central divisional honors these days but this trio is costing you some pocket change and this weekend the Cubs will be laying a couple of more mighty-high prices against the Mets, the Brewers will be constant home favs against the Cincinnati Reds; and the Cardinals should be favored in Saturday / Sunday games against the visiting Los Angeles Angels.
In other words, Cubs / Brewers / Cardinals may well provide the most drama in terms of a divisional race this summer but these teams don't necessarily guarantee making you folks a profit.
NOTE: More MLB News / Notes in the next Jim Sez.