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Three Offseason Moves for Each Team
Undertaking a fairly large project here. The aim is to give each team a plausible trade, signing, and draft pick over the 2020 NBA offseason in order to boost each team's prospects in the upcoming 2020-2021 season. While I can't promise they all will be, I'll try and keep the trades as player-specific, rather than something like "Knicks trading up to draft Ball" or something like that. I will also try (no promises) to do the trade in conjunction with one another. So it would ideally be proposed as 3-moves to make together, not 3 separate moves to make. Again, no promises, and I'll clarify if I'm suggest one as an alternative, but that will be the aim if I can find a pattern I like. Also, some players listed in free agency signings do have player options, so we'll treat them all as possibilities to a certain degree. And also, just because your team's player is listed as a trade move for one team doesn't mean they are moving them, just that there either have been rumors they'd be available, or simply that the listed team would be interested in acquiring them.
Draft Pick: G/F Isaac Okoro, Auburn With plenty of promising scorers, the Hawks should target Okoro to add to their defensive capacity on the wing. Okoro is a very selfless player, and would fit well into a lineup with Trae Young, John Collins and Clint Capela, amongst other promising young players. While ultimately, the Hawks may actually be best suited packaging this pick in a trade, if they stick at #6 overall, Okoro sure would be a good addition for Atlanta. Signing: F JaMychal Green, Los Angeles Clippers The Hawks have a few players who can fill minutes behind John Collins at the 4, such as De'Andre Hunter. But adding a clear backup for Collins would round the depth a bit cleaner. Insert JaMychal Green, a quality shooter (39% last season), who still be able to keep the post clear for Clint Capela, will giving Atlanta an excellent depth addition should he decline his player option in LAC and seek out a new opportunity. Trade: G Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers Oladipo would be interesting backcourt partner with Trae Young. In addition to being a high-caliber defender, Oladipo also has the ability to handle the ball when Young isn't on the court. While Indiana risks losing Oladipo down the road for nothing, shipping him off to the rising Hawks, who will be angling for a playoff run next season. Oladipo could be a big piece of that run, and perhaps even help them contend for more if returns to his All-Star form.
Draft Pick: F Patrick Williams, Florida State The Celtics have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA, and selecting back at #13 overall means they'll really just be able to target the best player available. If Patrick Williams is available at 13 however, he should definitely be considered, as his versatility would help continue loading up the Celtics bench. And with Williams being a bit raw offensively, the Celtics can afford to take a chance on his upside and develop him under Brad Stevens further. Signing: F Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets A 6'6 sharpshooter, Harris would be a fun add to the Celtics rotation. It may take some small moves to create the space for him, but adding the career 3-point marksman would fit in well with the versatile athletes around him like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and help the second unit stretch the floor when he comes off the bench. Trade: C Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers Turner seems like he has been connected to the Celtics for a little while now, and it makes plenty of sense. The Pacers will likely be looking for players who fit better around Domantas Sabonis, and that could give an opportunity for the Celtics to move for Turner. Turner would fit well in the Celtics lineup at the center position, where right now the Celtics have some quality role players, but no star. By adding Turner, the Celtics would have one of the best all-around starting 5's in the entire league (Kemba-Smart-Brown-Tatum-Turner).
Draft Pick: G Josh Green, Arizona Finding players who can work alongside Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant will be key, and Green's defense and off-ball ability make him well suited to this role. Picking #19 overall will make it difficult to add an instant impact rotation, but Green would have a good chance to find minutes with his skill set. Signing: C Aron Baynes, Phoenix Suns Should the Nets see themselves dishing out C Jarrett Allen in a blockbuster trade for a third star (see below), then a backup center becomes a big priority for the Nets. The solution here is Baynes, a hard-working center who had a career season shooting the ball. He'd fit nicely behind DeAndre Jordan. Trade: G Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards If Beal is available, the Nets should be keen to add him to the mix. Able to offer the most enticing players to any blockbuster package (Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen), the Nets could find their third star to pair with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant when the two return next season. Adding Beal to the mix would immediately vault the Nets all the way to Finals contenders, if the return of Durant and Irving themselves don't already accomplish that.
Draft Pick: PG LaMelo Ball, Australia If he's on the board at the #4 overall pick, the Bulls should be keen on bringing LaMelo in to the Windy City. Perhaps the Draft's best playmaker, he could fit well with scoring guards like Coby White and Zach LaVine, while operating a dangerous pick and pop with big guys like Markkanen. With the size and athleticism to match up well defensively, LaMelo's playmaking ability would help turn the Bulls into a legitimate playoff threat in 2020-2021. If LaMelo is off the board, the Bulls could go in several direction, perhaps even trading the pick if they find a suitable offer. Signing: C Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers The Bulls could use some depth in the frontcourt, and Leonard's range and 3-point ability make him a great player to add into a rotation that ranked in the bottom third of the league in their percentage from deep, and could potentially lose F Otto Porter if he opts out, one of their better marksmen. The question will likely be centered on how much money Leonard is aiming for, but if the numbers work, Leonard should be a serious target for Chicago. Trade: C Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers Embiid may or may not be available, there have been reports going both ways. But if the former Jayhawk is on the block after the 76ers quick exit from the playoffs, then Chicago should be very interested in acquiring him, even if means shipping out Wendell Carter and some other assets. With Markkanen capable of spacing the floor (34.5% shooter from deep), an Embiid addition would give Chicago two versatile bigs, given Embiid's proficiency from deep as well (34.8%). But most importantly, he'd be a scoring machine that would be the focal point of a fun, versatile Bulls roster that could push into playoff contention quickly with him leading the way.
Draft Pick: F Obi Toppin, Dayton With it almost assured that neither LaMelo Ball nor Anthony Edwards reaches Cleveland at #5, their hope should be in Toppin making his way past the Hornets and Bulls. A dynamic forward who excels in multiple facets of the game, he'd represent the best player available at this point in the draft, and an ideal addition for a talent-needy Cavaliers team. Whether replacing Kevin Love, or playing alongside him in looks, Toppin should stay in Ohio if at all possible. Signing: F Derrick Jones Jr., Miami Heat The Heat need cap space for upcoming extensions, so it's likely that Jones Jr, a versatile role player, will hit free agency. Cleveland is already reportedly interested, and it makes sense why. Providing quality defense on the wing, he's 23 years old, which fits Cleveland's rebuilding timeline, and should have time to round out and improve his offensive game (8.5 ppg, 28% from 3). The name of the game for the Cavs is to acquire talent, and Jones Jr. provides them with an intriguing piece with room to grow. Trade: Moving Kevin Love for Assets After landing a dynamic replacement for him, the Cavaliers are a team that doesn't necessarily have a specific player to target, but rather figure out what they could get for someone like Love, who shot 37% from deep last year. His salary could be problematic here, but even adding second round selections has proven useful for Cleveland (Kevin Porter Jr.).
Draft Pick: G Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky Maxey may not be a lethal shooter by any means, but his defense should make him a desired player for a Mavericks team that could use a defensive stopper to pair with Luka Doncic down the role. Maxey brings athleticism, ability to finish at the rim, and a decent mid-range game to the table, which should be enough, along with his defense, to make a desirable player for Mark Cuban's Mavericks. Signing: SF Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings Limited to what they can make happen with the Mid Level Exception or in a sign-and-trade, the Mavericks should get creative and add Bogdan Bogdanovic to the roster. The 27-year old wing would fit right at home with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, a high caliber shooter, especially on catch and shoot situations. If Sacramento doesn't believe they can fit Bogdanovic in with upcoming deals for Fox and Bagley, along with Hield potentially, landing some assets in a sign-and-trade would make sense. If no sign-and-trade, perhaps a 3&D wing like James Ennis (Orlando) could be an easier fit financially. Trade: PF Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic Whether Kristaps Porzingis fills more time at the four or the five, finding a way to pair him and Gordon together in a frontcourt would be fun to watch. Gordon's resurgence for the Magic this past season was a large reason they managed to make it into the playoffs. His defensive versatility and 3-point ability would make him an ideal third star to pair with Luka and Kristaps.
Draft Pick: F Jaden McDaniels, Washington The Nuggets were patient in bringing along Michael Porter Jr., who has stepped up big time during the Bubble. And with several Nuggets wings likely to depart in free agency (Millsap, Torrey Craig), adding a high potential piece like McDaniels to develop and even rotate in behind Grant and Porter Jr. would give Denver the opportunity to take a chance on someone like McDaniels. Signing: C Thon Maker, Detroit Pistons If Plumlee is in fact priced out of a return to Denver, finding a suitable replacement at center will be important. While Bol Bol could claim that spot, it's not a certainty, and thus, adding a three-level scorer at the 5 would be a wise insurance policy for the Nuggets. Trade: G Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans A high caliber veteran on a rebuilding roster, Holiday could be a great partner to pair with Jamal Murray in the backcourt. Less costly than someone like Bradley Beal, Holiday would be a much more realistic third star to bring in. A lineup with Holiday-Murray-Porter Jr.-Nokic and whoever else you want in that fifth spot seems deadly. With Gary Harris and plenty of other assets available, the Nuggets could offer an intriguing package for Holiday.
Draft Pick: G/F Devin Vassell, Florida State This may break from the mock drafts a bit, which usually have the Pistons adding a point guard. However, Vassell could be an interesting piece for Detroit to select, especially considering that the top point guard in the draft (LaMelo Ball) will not likely be available for Detroit at #7 overall. Instead, Detroit adds a long 3&D piece that could fit nicely in between Luke Kennard and Sekou Doumbouya long-term. And as for a point guard. . . Signing: PG Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors Reuniting Dwane Casey and VanVleet seems like an ideal pairing, especially the major need Detroit has at point guard. With Blake Griffin still a high caliber player when healthy, adding a win-now veteran like VanVleet could perhaps boost Detroit all the way to the playoffs next season if Griffin is playing. And at 26-years old, he's both an instant impact veteran as well as a possible long-term solution at the position. Trade:C Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic The Pistons may have found themself something with C Christian Wood, who emerged as a quality option for them in the wake of the Drummond trade. However, Wood's emergence was a very small sample size, raising some questions over how much stock Detroit would put into it. Acquiring Bamba would give them another starting caliber option, who has proven himself as a decent player off the bench behind Vucevic if Wood does manage to build on his promising play.
Golden State Warriors:
Draft Pick: C James Wiseman, Memphis (kinda) Should the Warriors not move this pick, Wiseman makes more sense than LaMelo Ball in terms of fit and need. Though both have questions of maturity and consistency, Wiseman's size and length would offer the Warriors a weapon they haven't really had alongside Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. If Wiseman can fit in the frontcourt with forward Draymond Green, and Golden State makes the pick, it should be Wiseman. Signing: PG D.J. Augustin, Orland Magic At 32-years old, Augustin likely won't command more than any of the exceptions that Golden State would be able to muster up. However, he still can make an impact, running the Warriors second unit when Curry and Thompson (both returning from injury) need a breather. A quality shooter as well (35%), Augustin to the Warriors makes plenty of sense as they attempt to return to their place at the top of the Western Conference. Trade: PF John Collins, Atlanta Hawks While the Warriors seem to be another team interested in acquiring All-Star G Bradley Beal, perhaps a move for John Collins would be more feasible. The beauty for Golden State is that they would likely be able to orchestrate this trade more along the lines of a pick swap than an outright deal using their #2 selection. If the Hawks are interested in pairing Trae Young and perhaps LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards, this could the way to get there. Collins' 3-point shooting and athleticism would make him a quality fit in Golden State.
Draft Pick: - - - No Selection in Upcoming Draft - - - The Rockets could always try buying a second round pick to add someone like C Nick Richards (Kentucky) or F Paul Eboua (Italy), but for now, they do not possess a pick. Signing: C DeMarcus Cousins, Los Angeles Lakers The Rockets have found success operating without a center, but should look to find a big man or two who fits alongside Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Cousins' season was derailed by injuries, but his ability to stretch the floor as well as battle big men like Davis or Jokic in the West make him an appealing option for the Rockets. Trade: F/C Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers Likely dependent on whether or not they made the signing above, the Rockets could also choose to trade for a big man to help stretch the floor. A decorated veteran, Love has plenty of experience playing with ball-handling stars, and so long as he continues to shoot a good clip from deep and rebound the ball, he'd be an invaluable piece for Houston as they attempt to win a title.
Draft Pick: F Killian Tillie, Gonzaga The Pacers do not posses a first round pick this year, so finding a useful rotational piece at #44 overall will be the challenge here. For the Pacers, finding a clean backup for Sabonis would be a welcome add. Tillie is a floor-stretcher at the four, hitting over 40% from deep every season at Gonzaga. Mixing him into the second unit with Doug McDermott on the wing and Gaga Bitadze at center should give the Pacers the depth they need to make a run. Signing: G/F Kent Bazemore, Sacramento Kings Should the Pacers decide to move Victor Oladipo before he departs in 2021 free agency, then adding a wing like Bazemore should help fill in the depth after Jeremy Lamb steps into Oladipo's spot. Bazemore saw his 3-point percentage climb after moving to Sacramento (38%), and if he's able to continue hitting at a quality rate like that, he'd be a valuable two-way wing that would be helpful for a hopeful contender like the Pacers. Trade: G Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards The Pacers have several very intriguing pieces that they could potentially move, notably G Victor Oladipo and C Myles Turner. Should they move Oladipo, perhaps using him as the centerpiece to a Bradley Beal piece would give Indiana a shot at the player who would most likely elevate their team beyond first-round playoff exits. Swapping Oladipo for Beal should be discussed if the Wizards find themselves willing to move Beal.
Los Angeles Clippers
Draft Pick: F/C Kaleb Wesson, Ohio State If JaMychal Green departs, finding another power forward would make sense for the Clippers to look for. Picking so late in the draft, #57 overall, limits their options in terms of finding an immediate contributor. Rather, targeting someone more developed like Wesson would be their best bet of finding a contributor, though they could easily opt for someone with more raw potential. Either way, Wesson's 3-point ability makes him an interesting option to develop into a rotational piece. Signing: F/C Marvin Williams, Milwaukee Bucks While the most likely signings for the Clippers will revolve around internal free agents, notably Marcus Morris and Montrezl Harrell, they still will have a bit of room for a smaller addition like Williams. If Harrell does depart, the Clippers could use another big to add to the rotation, and Marvin Williams would be a quality small ball center option for any teams looking to contend for a title, like the Clippers. Trade:G J.J. Redick, New Orleans Pelicans The Clippers have a very deep roster already, but Redick is exactly what you'd want to bring in to bolster your chances of winning it all. An elite, established marksmen, his shooting off the bench would be a big plus, and the defensive-minded Clippers already can compensate for him on that end of the floor. If they can make the money work, reuniting Redick and LAC would make sense as they chase a title.
Los Angeles Lakers
Draft Pick: G/F Desmond Bane, TCU Picking at #28 overall, the Lakers would be wise to target Bane here, as his crazy 3-point rate (43%) would make him an energizing option off of the bench. The Lakers have a handful of wings as well on expiring deals, and should they lose someone like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, bringing in Bane to boost their mediocre 3-point numbers could help LeBron win another title. Signing: C Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Hornets The Lakers have had DeMarcus Cousins, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard all on the roster in 2019-2020. McGee has an option for 2021, so the Lakers could see some turnover at the center position if any of the aforementioned don't want to run it back with LeBron and AD. If they need a new center, Biyombo's defensive chops would make him a good fit as a backup or rotational center to help the Lakers win a title. Trade:PG Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons Ensuring that the Lakers can generate offense with their stars getting a breather is crucial for any contender. Derrick Rose may no longer be the star he was, but he's still a valuable piece off the bench, and would fit quite well leading the Lakers second unit, should Rajon Rondo decline his player option.
Draft Pick: C Jalen Smith, Maryland The Heat have found tons of success with Bam Adebayo at the five, but for a team as deep as Miami, bringing in a high potential big man like Jalen Smith could give them a fun piece to develop. A quality three point shooter already, ironing out his defensive inconsistencies would give the Heat a quality contributor with the #20 overall pick. Signing: F Dario Saric, Phoenix Suns With Adebayo more of a playmaking Energizer Bunny, bringing in another big who can play alongside Adebayo, or relieve him, would be wise. The Heat will likely focus on bringing back players from their current roster, which would likely take them out of the running for Danilo Gallinari, for example. Instead, Saric could provide the same style of play at a more affordable cost. And that's important because.... Trade: Nothing Big...for now Miami has a claim to one of the deepest rosters in the league. Their system works and they have the financial flexibility and assets to go big game hunting. With a poor free agency market this year though, the Heat should hold tight for another season and take a shot at a superstar like Giannis Antetokounmpo, and then pair him (or whoever) with one of the stacked free agents on the docket (Kawhi, LeBron, Beal, Gobert, Paul, etc). Adding DeMar DeRozan right now may be tempting, but don't do it, hold tight...for now.
Draft Pick: PG Devon Dotson, Kansas With multiple guards on expiring contracts, the Bucks should aim for a guard capable of providing them minutes in the Draft. An absolute blur, Dotson is one of the most physically impressive prospects in the Draft, though he'll need to work on deep range shooting before pairing up with Giannis. For now, he'd be a fun piece to add off the bench, able to push the ball in transition opportunities. Signing: F Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets With a physical freak like Giannis leading the charge, surrounding him with shooters is the best course of action, and Harris shoots incredibly well. The Bucks may need to get create to afford Harris, but if they can make the money work, they likely won't find anyone as impactful as Harris in their pursuit of an NBA title. Trade: F Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings Bjelica had a quality season for the Kings, and while they'd likely want to hang onto him, the Bucks should consider making a call and working something. A 6'10 big with fantastic floor stretching ability (42% from 3), he'd represent a significant upgrade from the older Ersan Ilyasova. All about adding shooters, and even relative upgrades should be considered if the Bucks can afford it.
Draft Pick: SG Anthony Edwards, Georgia This is a fairly easy one, as the Timberwolves hold the top pick and will have their choice of player here. The most likely, and most logical, is Edwards, who would pair with D'Angelo Russell in a high upside backcourt in Minnesota. While not an elite shooter, Edwards finds plenty of ways to score, and should continue to do so in the NBA, as Russell and Karl Anthony Towns take up the most attention from opponents. Signing: F/C Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers The Timberwolves could give themselves a defensive boost by bringing in Harrell, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year. Whether playing the four or five, Harrell would give the Timberwolves a high intensity option that can play alongside Karl-Anthony Towns or relieving him when he's off the floor. Trade: G/F Josh Richardson, Philadelphia 76ers If the 76ers do enter a fire-sale, the Timberwolves should put in a call for two-way wing Josh Richardson. Still only 26-years old, Richardson has plenty of upside for a relatively young team like the Timberwolves. Adding him to the mix would give them another capable weapon around their stars.
New Orleans Pelicans
Draft Pick: F Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt A 3-point marksman to fill in on the wings would be the exactly the type of player to put around a playmaker like Zion Williamson. Nesmith's large wingspan (6'10) would be an asset as he develops into a top two-way wing, and doing so in New Orleans would be an excellent move for the Pelicans to pursue with the #13 overall selection. Signing: PG Austin Rivers, Houston Rockets If the Pelicans look to accumulate assets by moving Lonzo Ball or Jrue Holiday, than bringing a quality shooting point guard makes a lot of sense. Rivers shot 36% on 4 attempts per game in Houston, and showed the ability to play with more ball-dominant players in Russell Westbrook and James Harden, which would suit him well in a lineup featuring Zion Williamson. And at 28 years old, Rivers still has plenty of good years left in him as the Pelicans work towards contending status. Trade: Whatever Assets They Can Get From Redick or Holiday The Pelicans don't bring a specific target to mind, but rather as a team who should aim to accumulate assets. Gathering picks or promising young players would position them well to make a move for a bigger superstar down the road, one who, paired with Zion Williamson, would propel them into championship contention. And with both Redick and Jrue Holiday in town, the Pelicans have some intriguing pieces to dangle for teams looking to win now.
New York Knicks
Draft Pick: PG Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State Unless the Knicks trade up to acquire PG LaMelo Ball (which they are reportedly looking at), the Knicks should feel comfortable picking the best guard on the board at #8 overall, as there are several quality options. Haliburton, however, is the ideal target here, as he's a high IQ player with a good 3-point shot and excellent defense, he would fit Thibodeau's style pretty well, and presents less of a risk than Cole Anthony or Killian Hayes for example. Signing: F Danilo Gallinari, Oklahoma City Thunder With Mitchell Robinson not a shooting threat in the slightest, the Knicks should target someone who can stretch the floor from the four position. The best name available there is OKC's Danilo Gallinari, who nearly went to the Heat, but now is a free agent. Whoever the Knicks end up with at point guard will be well-aided by the floor stretching capacity of Gallinari, a 40% shooter the past two seasons. Trade: PG Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder Another name out of OKC, the Knicks should feel no issues drafting a point guard and trading for Chris Paul. First and foremost, the Knicks need to rebuild a winning culture, and bringing in Paul and Tom Thibodeau are good first steps towards that end. Likewise, even if the Knicks do select a point guard in the draft, Paul has shown himself quite adept at sharing the floor with other ball-handlers, like he did in Houston with James Harden, and as he did this past year in OKC with Shai-Gilgeous Alexander and Dennis Schroeder. A great leader, player and mentor, Paul would help the Knicks build the right environment to end their playoff drought.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Draft Pick: C Isaiah Stewart, Washington If the Thunder move Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari walks, they could be in for a rebuild. Stewart may be raw and underdeveloped offensively, but at 19-years old, he has time to develop his offensive game. Meanwhile, his wingspan, strength and motor give him major upside as a defensive stopper in the post. With Nerlens Noel potentially departing OKC, there could even be minutes for Stewart to step into as a rookie and get his feet wet. Signing: F Otto Porter, Chicago Bulls The Thunder could possibly be losing their best shooter (Gallinari) and their best defender (Roberson). Finding someone who can provide a little bit of both could work for them, with Porter shooting 38% last year in Chicago. An easy fit in between OKC's high powered guard duo and center Steven Adams, Porter could serve as either a reinforcement for another playoff run, or a piece with some long-term upside. Trade: F Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings If the Thunder aren't able to retain Danilo Gallinari, perhaps bringing in Bjelica could give them a similar styled replacement. As mentioned already, Bjelica is a floor stretching forward (42% clip) that would put another dangerous shooter around Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous Alexander.
Draft Pick: G Theo Maledon, France The Magic need someone to boost their struggling offense, and Maledon's craftiness as a ball-handler and off-ball shooting ability (37% from deep) should peak the Magic's interest. While Markelle Fultz has rebuilt himself into a potential long-term point guard, Maledon should seamlessly fit in next to him, and even provide minutes backing him up when Fultz heads to the bench. Signing: G Wesley Matthews, Milwaukee Bucks If Evan Fournier opts in, the Magic won't have the money to add bigger names, but Matthews would fit in well after finding a role as a rotational two-way guard. And even if the Magic do see Fournier depart elsewhere, Matthews' veteran experience could help their young core figure things out. Trade: G/F Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets If the Nets have interest in bringing in Aaron Gordon to add to the Irving-Durant duo, the Magic should be intent on getting Caris LeVert shipped to them as part of the deal. Only 26 years old, Levert averaged 19 points per game while fueling a KD-less Nets team to the playoffs. A young core of Fultz, Levert, Isaac, and Bamba is a group that you can build around.
Draft Pick: G Cassius Stanley, Duke The 76ers could use guards and shooting, and with limited financial flexibility, may need to find it in the NBA Draft. Thus, Stanley to Philly, where his elite athleticism and quality range (36%), would be a welcome addition to the 76ers. If he's still on the board at #21 overall, Stanley would make plenty of sense for the 76ers. Signing: PG Goran Dragic, Miami Heat The 76ers management has said they intend to keep Simmons and Embiid together, but if they don't keep that intention, bringing in Dragic to run the offense could be the move to make. Still productive for the Heat at 33-years old, Dragic would likely pair with Embiid better than Simmons did, as indicated by his shooting ability (37%). Trade: PG Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder Breaking the mold here, should the 76ers decide to move Simmons, but not bring in Dragic, perhaps a bigger move would solve the question better. While the Knicks are the one most often linked to a move for Paul, the 76ers may want to consider adding the veteran PG to the mix, especially if they decide to breakup the Simmons-Embiid duo, and ship Ben Simmons out. Paul's veteran experience and versatile game should make him a much better sidekick for Embiid than Simmons managed to be.
Draft Pick: PG Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama The Suns needs someone in the backcourt, preferably someone who can work with Devin Booker, and run the offense when he's off the floor. That someone could be Lewis Jr., who averaged 19 points per game at Alabama and was able to knock down over 36% of his threes over two seasons. Finding a quality playmaker to carry the load could give them the breakthrough they need. Sigining: F Moe Harkless, Los Angeles Clippers Current starting wing Mikal Bridges was a solid compliment to Booker and Ayton this past season, but adding some more depth, especially a defensive geared piece, would give the Suns some switchy wings who can help them slow opponents down in the playoffs next year. Harkless will be a fairly cheap way of doing so. Trade: F Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls Putting Markkanen in an offense led by Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton could give him the space he needs to regain some of the production he had earlier in Chicago. Able to shoot off the pick-and-pop, Markkanen won't need to crowd in on Ayton to be an effective piece to the Suns offense.
Portland Trail Blazers
Draft Pick: F Saddiq Bey, Villanova With two picks in the first round (16 and 29), the Blazers will have the flexibility to fill multiple needs with the most talented players on the board. For that first selection, Bey would be a quality addition, giving the Blazers wing defense and reliable shooting. A second team unit featuring Trent, Little and Bey would be very versatile. Then, with that second first rounder, targeting a big man like Jalen Smith would be a quality Draft for the Blazers. Signing: C Mason Plumlee, Denver Nuggets With Hassan Whiteside hitting free agency, it's likely the Blazers could find themselves in need of a backup center if Whiteside is unwilling to accept a role as a backup. Thus, Mason Plumlee could be an option, as a veteran big with a quality motor who has been a serviceable option for Denver. Plumlee may not fill up the stat sheet, but in Game 6 of the Playoffs, made a direct impact for Denver with a handful of offensive rebounds and high energy. That kind of team player who work well for the Blazers rotation. Trade: PG Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs. The Blazers have a quality starting lineup with Lillard-McCollum-Ariza-Collins/Melo-Nurkic. What they still could use is a backup point guard to help generate some points when Lillard takes a breather. Perhaps swinging a deal to bring in Patty Mills to an actual contender would be a good match. Mills currently backups Dejounte Murray in San Antonio, but his quality production and veteran leadership could be a boost for the Blazers.
Draft Pick: G/F Devin Vassell, Florida State With De'Aaron Fox running the point, the Kings need to surround him with shooters like Vassell. A 6'10 wingspan and 42% clip from deep, Vassell would be an ideal fit on the wing, and could help the Kings make the push into the playoffs by bolstering their offense and defense. Signing: F Jerami Grant, Denver Nuggets If Grant opts out of his deal in Denver, he'd give the Kings a two-way option at the 3 or 4, an excellent depth addition to add in rotation with Jabari Parker, Bjelica, and Harrison Barnes. And of course, important to note when playing with De'Aaron Fox, Grant has a quality shot from deep, hitting 39% for the Nuggets this season. Trade: F Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers If the Kings are moving G Buddy Hield, then perhaps he could interest the Lakers, who would likely want to acquire a more high profile guard to compliment LeBron and Davis. Thus, a move for Kuzma could be in play, as he'd give the Kings a versatile wing to pair with Harrison Barnes. Kuzma would also compromise a promising young trio along with De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III.
San Antonio Spurs
Draft Pick: F Deni Avdija, Israel If there's any team that should be angling to move up should Avdija slide, the Spurs would likely be one of them. An excellent distributing big wing, capable of giving the Spurs minutes at the 4, Avdija seems like a tailor made fit for a Gregg Popovich offensive system. Between his schematic fit and his upside, he'd be the ideal player for the Spurs to come away with on Draft day. Signing: F/C Bobby Portis, New York Knicks Portis has plenty of upside if he can get straightened out, and if anyone is going to get the most out of Portis and teach him to play in a system, it's Gregg Popovich. If he succeeds, the Spurs find themselves with an offensive forward who can score in multiple ways, or even another trade piece if they want to sell high. Either way, taking a gamble on Portis could pay off for a program needing a new direction. Trade: As Many Picks as They Can Get The Spurs run is over for now. They did well to bring in some fun pieces in the Kawhi trade, but the Spurs need to enter a rebuild or risk an extended play in no man's land. Selling on DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Patrick Mills, and Marco Belinelli should be the aim. Get picks, get promising young players, and set yourself up to rebuild quickly. If one of these guys can even help you move up and select Avdija, do it.
Draft Pick: F Robert Woodard II, Mississippi State An athletic forward with a good build, Woodard could be a steal if Toronto is able to land him at #29 overall. After taking a major leap in between his freshman year and sophomore year, Woodard developed an outside shot (43%). For a team that may not be able to retain Serge Ibaka, finding another big to provide some range on the outside would give them a quality replacement. Signing: PG Austin Rivers, Houston Rockets Should Toronto be unable to retain Fred VanVleet, finding a guard capable of picking up minutes at point guard and shooting guard would serve them well. Rivers may not the same caliber of VanVleet, but can provide the versatility needed, along with a quality enough shot from deep (36% in 2019-2020). Trade: SG Luke Kennard, Detroit Pistons Thinking outside the box here, if the Raptors aren't comfortable paying VanVleet the rate it'd take to retain him, perhaps a sign-and-trade for a team like Detroit could send them back something useful, rather than letting VanVleet walk entirely. A sharp shooting guard (40% over his career, Kennard could fit well in Toronto, either as a long-term solution, or a piece to flip as part of a package at the deadline for a bigger star post-Kawhi.
Draft Pick: C Aleksej Pokusevski, Serbia A unicorn big-man, Pokusevski is a mobile center with fantastic height (7'0) and the ability to knock down shots beyond the arc (32% shooter). While he'll need to get bigger (only 205 lbs and lanky), he's still very young and should be able to develop into a starting caliber player down the road. And selecting at #23 overall, that's really what you're looking for. Signing: G Langston Galloway, Detroit Pistons While the main signing priorities for Utah will be re-signing Jordan Clarkson and extending Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz could also look to add another guard into the rotation, and Galloway's versatility and shooting make him an easy player to fit into any rotation. Trade: PG Dennis Smith Jr., New York Knicks The Jazz would have some quality offers if they did move C Rudy Gobert. But assuming they keep Gobert, the Jazz target someone to give their second unit a boost, especially as an aging Mike Conley drops off from the All-Star player he was. Smith looked much better earlier in his career, averaging around 15 points per game through his first three seasons. If he can recapture that, he could even play his way into the direct replacement for Conley.
Draft Pick: F Isaac Okoro, Auburn This one makes more sense than a lot of these other picks, in my opinion. The Wizards are horrendous on the defensive end, and Okoro is the best wing defender in this year's Draft. Being able to lock up opposing team's top scorer will allow Beal and Wall to go to work on the offensive end, lightening their load a good deal. Signing: F Moe Harkless, Los Angeles Clippers Bringing in one defensive minded rookie won't solve the defensive woes of the Wizards. With not a ton of cap flexibility, the Wizards should aim for someone relatively cheap, who can fill a clear role, and help develop young players like Rui Hachimura. That someone would likely be Moe Harkless. Trade: The Biggest Haul They Can Get for Beal I know the Wizards have said they want to see what Beal and Wall can do next season, rather than moving Beal now. But I personally think that's a mistake, and that cashing in on Beal, and getting a jump start on the rebuild is the way to go. The Wall-Beal duo didn't accomplish anything before Wall tore his Achilles, and the longer they wait, the more likely they get screwed over. If they can land two of Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, or Jarrett Allen from the Nets, I think that would be the best package, but the aim is less so a specific target than just hoard what they can get. Anyways, this took a little while to put together, so I hope you don't totally hate it. Let me know if you agree, disagree, think someone would fit better!
After tonight's lottery, I figured I would post a two-round mock draft. I didn't make any trades. I tried to go based on what I thing teams will do, not necessarily what I think they should do, though my opinions obviously impact the decisions as well. I also included my personal grades and some undrafted fits that I liked. Let me know what you think!
MIN - LaMelo Ball PG (NBL) - LaMelo is the best player in the draft and is worth the gamble for the Timberwolves. It is reasonable to be concerned about his fit with their roster on both ends, but that concern would be fair regardless of who the Timberwolves select. Their defense would probably struggle with either LaMelo or Edwards. The fit with D'Lo would be clunky with either LaMelo or Edwards. LaMelo is a great passer and an underrated off-ball player. He played off-ball in high school and is a high IQ player on that end of the court. I expect him to be able to adjust to sharing time on ball with Russell. The offensive potential, particularly the two-man game with Towns, is far too enticing to pass up on at this spot.
GS - Anthony Edwards SG (UGA) - Edwards adds depth to their backcourt that is lacking in talent outside of Steph and Klay. He can also gives them another ball handler to take some pressure off Draymond. The Warriors’ closing lineup has Draymond at the 5, so having Edwards on the roster could allow for him to play important minutes in a lower-usage role where he plays next to both Steph and Klay. The Warriors are a well-run organization and I expect them to get him to buy in on the defensive end and be more of a team player on offense, where they can take advantage of his underrated cutting abilities.
CHA - James Wiseman C (MEM) - Wiseman will help anchor the Hornets’ defense for the foreseeable future. He fits well with Washington, who is big enough to provide weakside rim protection but also quick enough to guard the 4 and space the floor on offense. Wiseman can be a quality roll-man for Rozier and Graham and can help those guys get open by setting screens with his 7’1” frame.
CHI - Deni Avdija SF (BSL) - Deni is a great fit for a Chicago team that needs a wing who can help their pieces fit together. He is a competent defender who plays hard on every possession, though his lack of length may limit his upside on that end of the floor. Offensively, he is a very good cutter and a capable ball handler. Even though he is not a good shooter, he is an intelligent floor spacer and knows where to be on the court. He can do a little bit of everything, and if his skills coalesce, he should be able to provide the Bulls with their wing of the future.
CLE - Isaac Okoro SF (AUB) - Okoro is a great pick for the Cavaliers here at 5. They get one of the best defensive players in the class and fill a very substantial need in their roster, that being wing depth. Okoro is a good ball-handler and passer, which could help take some of the pressure off of Sexton and Garland, both of whom are probably undersized shooting guards, not true point guards. If Okoro is developed properly, he could turn into one of the best players in the class and could be an important building block for the Cavs in the future.
ATL - Tyrese Haliburton PG/SG (ISU) - Haliburton can be the secondary ball-handler the Hawks desperately need. He is a smart defender and can help make up for some of Trae’s shortcomings, particularly if he is able to add strength. He will keep the ball moving and help make their pieces fit together better. He can play both on and off the ball thanks to his shooting ability, which is a plus for his fit next to Trae offensively.
DET - Obi Toppin PF (DAY) - At the 7th pick, Obi will probably be viewed as the best available player. The fit with both Blake and Wood is less than ideal, but Obi has a bunch of avenues to being an effective offensive player. This is probably not a draft where you can get high level talent, particularly at pick 7, so it makes sense to go with a high floor player who can be an important piece of their multi-year rebuild. They can grab a star in next year's draft, and Obi will hopefully fit in with that player.
NY - Killian Hayes PG/SG (BBL) - Though the Knicks unfortunately fell, they will still have the ability to acquire a good player for their future. I view Hayes as a tier 1 prospect, and although the consensus is lower on him than I am, I expect Hayes to be the pick for New York as they continue with their rebuild. He can run their offense and create for himself and others in the PnR. He is a good defender both on and off the ball. Surrounding Hayes with shooters will be crucial to the success of the Knicks in the future. The two-man game with Robinson looks like it could be a great way for the Knicks to reliably generate offense.
WAS - Onyeka Okongwu PF/C (USC) - Okongwu is a great addition to the Wizards frontcourt and can be an anchor for the defense in the short and long term. Thomas Bryant has been relatively inconsistent and they lack depth outside of Bryant at the center position. Okongwu will be a good PnR partner with Wall and should be a solid paint presence for the Wizards.
PHX - Devin Vassell SG/SF (FSU) - Vassell and Mikal Bridges on the court at the same time will be hell for opposing wings. Both are such instinctual and smart defenders who can get in passing lanes and disrupt the flow of the offense. Vassell is a capable offensive player, particularly on the perimeter, and if his off-the-dribble shot-making flashes are real, he could be a valuable secondary creator for a team lacking in creation outside of Booker.
SA - Patrick Williams SF/PF (FSU) - I trust the Spurs development staff to mold Williams into the incredible player on both ends that he has the potential to become. They needed to improve their front court and Williams can provide value at the 4 spot with his elite weak-side rim protection. He has shown some ability to create off the dribble and his shot profile looks solid enough for me to believe in him as a capable floor spacer. Williams could turn into one of the better players in this class and his youth and athleticism would be great for a Spurs team in need of both.
SAC - Aaron Nesmith SG/SF (VAN) - Nesmith would add much needed wing depth for the Kings. He has a 6’10” wingspan and may be able to guard some bigger players because of it, particularly if he is able to add strength. His off-ball movement coupled with Fox’s ability to create advantages off the dribble would be a lethal combination. Nesmith will be able to find a nice role on the Kings and be productive from day 1 as a lethal shooter and valuable floor spacer.
NO - Cole Anthony PG (UNC) - Cole can provide a scoring punch off the bench for the Pelicans and give some clarity to their backcourt situation, as he can play both on and off the ball and should be successful with either Lonzo or Jrue as his backcourt partner. He would not be expected to be a big decision-maker for the Pelicans, which should help him integrate into the NBA more seamlessly and allow him to focus on his high-level shotmaking that should take the Pelicans’ offense to the next level.
BOS (via MEM) - Tyrese Maxey PG/SG (UK) - The Celtics need bench scoring (they finished 29th this year). Maxey isn't a point guard in the NBA, but he wouldn't have to be one in Boston. His 3-level scoring will be a great addition to their bench and his defensive abilities would bolster one of the best defenses in the league. He can play off of Smart, Hayward, and Tatum on the offensive end and benefit from the advantages that Tatum can create. Watching he and Smart terrorize the other team on the perimeter would be amazing.
ORL - Kira Lewis Jr. PG (ALA) - For a team that doesn’t have a ton of young offensive talent, Kira could be a very welcome addition and he fits reasonably well next to Fultz. His rim pressure could certainly help break defenses down and create open looks for shooters or dump-offs to their forwards. His small frame isn’t a huge concern when placing him on a team with such a deep and defensively versatile frontcourt.
POR - Saddiq Bey SF/PF (VILL) - The Blazers have needed wing depth for the entire season, but the bubble certainly helped bring his issue to light. Bey is a great fit with the Blazers as he should be able to play either the 3 or the 4 and he can knock down perimeter shots. He may not be the wing stopper that the Blazers desperately need to compete in the West due to his limited lateral mobility, but he is still a better option than most of the players they have on their roster currently. He is a polished player who will be ready to help the Blazers compete from day 1.
MIN (via BKN) - Precious Achiuwa PF/C (MEM) - Precious is a pretty good fit next to Towns if he can be a solid interior defender. He had a lot of moments where he was a good rim protector this season. He is also ostensibly switchable and should be able to bolster the Timberwolves’ defense. On offense, he fits well with Towns as well because Precious can play on the interior and Towns can space the floor.
DAL - Jalen Smith PF/C (MD) - After losing Dwight Powell to an Achilles injury that could keep him from being 100% for a good portion of next season, it makes sense to invest in the frontcourt. Smith will be able to space the floor and should be able to provide rim protection as well. It may be difficult to play Smith and Porzingis simultaneously because Smith doesn’t move particularly well, but Smith should be able to provide floor spacing with Porzingis off the court. A frontcourt of Kleber and Smith might be among the better shooting frontcourts in the league and will help open up the floor for Luka and the rest of their perimeter players.
BKN (via PHI) - Josh Green SG (ARIZ) - Brooklyn could definitely benefit from some wing depth, and with a backcourt of Kyrie and Dinwiddie, they are going to need some guys who can defend the other team’s guards. Green is very athletic and has great hips, making him one of the best on-ball wing defender in the class. If his shot comes around, Green will be a contributor for the Nets for a long time.
MIA - Théo Maledon PG (LNB) - Though Kendrick Nunn had a productive rookie year, he struggled in the bubble and it might make sense for the Heat to invest in a better long-term option at point guard, as Maledon is about 6 years younger. Maledon is a good fit for Miami to strengthen their backcourt, which could be pretty thin if they don’t hold onto Goran Dragic. If they can develop him, Maledon could turn into a very effective guard for the Heat with his potential to dribble, pass, and shoot at a high level.
PHI (via OKC) - Tyrell Terry PG (STAN) - Though I have soured a bit on Terry’s fit with the Sixers, particularly because I think he might be too weak to contribute in the short term, this is still a good pick for Philadelphia. Terry is one of the better shooters in the class and someone who can score from the outside both off the catch and off the dribble. Has some playmaking ability and fits very well next to Simmons. The Sixers’ size should be able to make up for his poor frame in the short term; as he develops physically, he should be able to be a competent finisher around the basket due to his high-level shooting touch.
DEN (via HOU) - Jaden McDaniels SF/PF (WASH) - McDaniels is a great addition to a Nuggets team that is deep enough to take a risk on a high-upside prospect. Though there may be some overlap between McDaniels and MPJ in terms of role, McDaniels is not the shot-creator that Porter is and would likely end up playing a more complementary role, without the ball in his hands. He has shown potential as a weakside rim protector, which is helpful next to Jokic, especially as Millsap ages. McDaniels could be a fantastic 4th option for the Nuggets in the future if he is able to develop properly.
UTAH - Aleksej Pokuševski PF (GBL A2) - Poku probably doesn’t fit the timeline that the Jazz are currently operating under, but he is worth the swing anyway. They desperately need athleticism in their frontcourt and although Poku isn’t a ridiculous athlete, he is still a very fluid mover and is highly coordinated for his size. If he is able to hit a high-end outcome, the Jazz should be a dangerous defensive team moving forward with Gobert in the middle and Poku providing weak-side rim protection. His floor-spacing potential should also open things up for Mitchell even more.
MIL (via IND) - RJ Hampton PG/SG (NBL) - Milwaukee can take a swing here because of how well their roster is already built. RJ can develop his shot and decision-making in the G-League as a rookie and can then slide into a bigger and bigger role as Bledsoe gets older and he gives them the option to move on from George Hill at the end of next season if RJ can develop as I think that he can.
OKC (via DEN) - Desmond Bane SG/SF (TCU) - With Gallinari potentially walking this summer and the Thunder being near the bottom of the league in terms of 3PT attempts, Bane makes a lot of sense as a 3&D player who may end up being the best shooter in the draft. Couple that with the playmaking flashes he has shown and you’re left with a really solid player who fills a clear need for the Thunder.
BOS - Xavier Tillman PF/C (MSU) - Tillman is the smartest player in the class and would greatly bolster the Celtics interior defense. He is very strong and had a lot of success against bigger centers in the Big 10 this year like Garza and Oturu. I expect him to be able to carve out a similarly valuable role in the NBA. He will be able to do a lot of the little things that Theis does well, such as helping to give Tatum cleaner driving looks by sealing off in the paint. He's also a good passer and ball-handler for a big and may be able to fill some of the void left by Horford's departure. The Celtics have done a good job teaching big men to shoot (Olynyk, Baynes, Horford), and if Tillman can be a respectable shooter, he should be an incredibly valuable role player.
NY (via LAC) - Robert Woodard II SF (MSST) - The Knicks could absolutely use a 3&D wing, and Woodard is one of the better ones available at this spot in the draft. He is a capable off-ball defender and is fairly athletic. Woodard shot 43% from three this year and has shown flashes of passing and ball-handling. He is exactly what the Knicks need and can be a valuable piece as they move forward.
LAL - Grant Riller PG (COFC) - The Lakers lack self-creation from any of their perimeter players outside of LeBron. Adding Riller, who can get to the basket and finish better than any player in the class, would be a great addition to their offense. Riller could take some of the creation load off LeBron as he ages and he will provide them with an entirely new avenue of offensive opportunities, particularly with LeBron on the bench. Riller is an older prospect and is ready to contribute right away for a team that will be competing for the title next year. He has been good on spot-ups (albeit on limited volume), and continued success in that regard will be crucial to his fit with the Lakers.
TOR - Zeke Nnaji C (ARIZ) - It is unlikely that the Raptors will be able to retain both Gasol and Ibaka barring one of them taking a massive pay cut. Adding Nnaji to their frontcourt would be a great move. He is mobile, can play on the interior on offense, and has shown some signs of being able to develop as a floor spacer, though there are better bets at this point in the draft if that is the desire. He is a smart big who can play a meaningful role for the Raptors long into the future.
BOS (via MIL) - Leandro Bolmaro PG/SG (ACB) - Bolmaro is another draft-and-stash prospect (possibly for multiple years, if he wants) and could end up as one of the best players in the class. He's a high level passer already and as he matures, he should only get better in that regard. He's a phenomenal on-ball defender and that skill should be able to translate to the NBA, especially as he gets older and stronger. If he is able to hone his scoring craft overseas, he would be a great addition to this team in a year or two to take care of some of the ball-handling duties, especially as Kemba ages.
DAL (via GS) - Jahmi'us Ramsey SG (TTU) - Ramsey can provide the Mavs with his perimeter shotmaking, particularly off the catch, and is a fairly dynamic athlete, which would be a great boost for a Mavs team that lacks traditional athleticism in their backcourt. Ramsey struggles to get to the basket, but Luka is good enough to create advantages and open looks for Ramsey. He still has a fair amount of room to grow as an off-the-dribble shotmaker, but he should be a valuable scorer for the Mavs. There are question-marks about his defensive awareness, but he is a good enough athlete to where he should be able to improve on that end of the floor.
CHA (via CLE) - Elijah Hughes SG/SF (CUSE) - Hughes outside shot-making will be great for the Hornets. He can operate effectively as a catch-and-shoot player, but he may be given an opportunity to show off his off-the-dribble shotmaking as well. He probably needs to improve as a movement shooter and show that he can consistently defend outside of a zone in order to be a meaningful contributor on the Hornets, but Hughes is a great selection to add some wing depth in Charlotte.
MIN - Tyler Bey SF/PF (COLO) - Tyler Bey is a smart and athletic forward who can complement Towns very well. He consistently makes great rotations and has a 40-inch vertical, making him a guy who can be a solid weakside rim protector next to Towns. The fit with Achiuwa is sub-optimal, but with a core of LaMelo, D'Lo, & Towns, the Timberwolves have to find impactful defenders wherever they can get them.
PHI (via ATL) - Malachi Flynn PG (SDSU) - Though it may look strange to double dip at PG, especially when the two guards are broadly similar players, Flynn is too good of a fit with the Sixers to pass up. He is one of the best PnR players in the class and provides a lot of abilities that the Sixers are otherwise lacking. Flynn can be the Sixers answer at PG in the short term while Terry takes the time to develop his body and decision-making.
SAC (via DET) - Daniel Oturu C (MINN) - With Harry Giles hitting free agency, Dwayne Dedmond getting traded earlier this year, and some reasons to be concerned about the durability of Richaun Holmes/Marvin Bagley, it makes sense for the Kings to invest in a big man who can grab rebounds, potentially space the floor, and add some depth. Though I am skeptical of Oturu’s defensive IQ and his offensive projection at the next level, he can slide into a fairly comfortable role with Sacramento where he doesn’t have a ton of responsibility.
PHI (via NY) - Paul Reed PF/C (DEP) - Reed is among the better 2nd round bigs for the Sixers to select. This might be a bit of a reach considering his draft stock at the moment, but Reed is athletic and fairly coordinated. He should be able to hold things down on the defensive end when Embiid is not on the floor and has shown some ball-handling ability that makes me cautiously optimistic about his ability to develop some sort of perimeter game that would allow him to play some minutes with Embiid.
WAS (via CHI) - Tre Jones PG (DUKE) - Though the Wizards might opt for a wing at this point in the draft, Jones is a borderline first round talent and a guy who can provide value for the Wizards as a backup point guard right away. He can defend on the ball and has improved greatly as a shooter. He also provides some assurance should John Wall be less that 100% after his injury. This is good value at this point in the draft.
NY (via CHA) - Devon Dotson PG (KU) - Grabbing Dotson at 38 is a steal for the Knicks. With a bevy of point guards and relatively small number of teams in need of one, it makes sense that some might fall. Dotson can provide rim pressure that the Knicks do not have on their roster outside of Barrett and can be a menacing defender despite his small size. The fit next to Hayes is probably better than one would think at first glance because they add value in different ways; Hayes will succeed in a PnR-heavy offense, while Dotson will probably be maximized being able to drive to the basket and finish, which Hayes can struggle with at times.
NO (via WAS) - Cassius Stanley SG/SF (DUKE) - The Pelicans could use added wing depth and Stanley has the ability to provide that for them. There are reasons to be concerned about how he adapts to the pros given how raw he is for his age, but he is at least a decent 3PT shooter and is a ridiculous vertical athlete. If he can put his tools together, he and Zion would make for an incredibly athletically impressive frontcourt.
MEM (via PHX) - Isaiah Stewart PF/C (WASH) - Stewart may be viewed as one of the best players available at this spot and he fits reasonably well into the Grizzlies’ long-term plans. He is a solid rebounder, which they need next to Jaren Jackson, and has flashed some ability to space the floor, which could create space for Ja to drive. It may be hard to get him minutes in the short term with Valanciunas and Dieng ahead of him, but it is reasonable to assume they will move on from Dieng when his contract is up and Stewart can then get more minutes. JJJ and Clarke should be able to cover for some of his mobility issues, and Stewart should be able to provide a hard-nosed edge to their frontcourt that has defined Memphis basketball for a long time.
SA - Vernon Carey Jr. C (DUKE) - Carey may be viewed as one of the best players available at this spot, and although his playstyle does not fit seamlessly within the modern NBA, he is certainly talented enough to carve out a role for himself. Compared to other bigs such as Stewart & Oturu, Carey is a much more willing passer and may be able to conduct some offense out of the post if his awareness improves. There are reasons to be concerned about his defensive IQ, but he is fairly nimble for someone his size and may have more success than one might think on the defensive end after the Spurs coach him up.
NO - Abdoulaye N’Doye PG/SG (LNB) - N’Doye is among the better 2nd round stash prospects, and although he is relatively old, he has many avenues to becoming an impactful NBA player in the future because of his combination of size, length, and ball-handling. Because the have 3 2nd round picks, adding a stash prospect makes sense for the Pelicans, even if he is only stashed for one year. If N’Doye’s jumper can improve, he may end up as a steal for the Pelicans.
SAC - Nico Mannion PG (ARIZ) - Mannion is a very capable decision-maker and will benefit from being in NBA offenses with more spacing. Yogi Ferrell’s contract expires after this year and Cory Joseph’s contract isn’t guaranteed after next year. Nico could easily slide into the backup point guard role and fill that role perfectly. If his shooting can develop, he may be able to play off-ball next to Fox due to his ability to move without the ball.
CHI (via MEM) - Isaiah Joe SG (ARK) - The Bulls struggled to make 3s last year, but Joe should help to solve that problem off their bench. He will probably have fewer opportunities to create with the ball in his hands, which he was pretty good at in college, but he is a very good off-ball player as well, which should be great for the Bulls offense. Defensively, Joe can hold his own with his 6’5” frame and plus wingspan, though he may have to take fewer gambles in order to be successful on that end of the floor. The Bulls get a first round talent in the second round and begin to shape up their roster nicely.
ORL - Cassius Winston PG (MSU) - Double dipping at PG might not look like the best decision, but Winston and Lewis fill different roles. Winston’s outside shooting is something the Magic are in need of, particularly if Fournier doesn’t re-sign. Winston also proved to be a great PnR playmaker with Tillman this year, and I expect him to have similar levels of success at the NBA level off the bench with Gordon, Vucevic, or even Bamba. Though they probably won’t ever play together, Winston and Lewis could be a very interesting contrast of offensive styles.
POR - Skylar Mays SG/SF (LSU) - Mays is another solid addition to the Blazers roster to add to their wing depth. While Bey is ostensibly a 3/4 tweener, Mays should be able to play the 2 or the 3. He is another mature, smart player who produce in a relatively small role. He can hit open 3s, defend both on and off the ball, and take advantage of his craftiness to make a play with the ball in his hands. He is not a high ceiling player, but he is what the Blazers need for their roster.
BOS (via BKN) - Udoka Azubuike C (KU) - The Celtics tend to struggle against big men who dominate in the paint (as we have seen with Embiid this week). Azubuike is not a high-minutes player, but he can play a necessary role in the NBA and fills a void on the Celtics roster as a rim protector, post defender, and lob catcher. He's much better than Tacko and could easily be given a 2-way and contribute meaningfully in small minutes.
GS (via DAL) - Killian Tillie PF/C (GONZ) - If Tillie is fully healthy, he is a first-round talent. He can provide floor spacing, is a capable passer, particularly in the post, and is one of the more mobile bigs in the class. I really like the fit next to Draymond and if he is able to be the passer that I think he can be, Steph and Klay should be able to use their off-ball movement abilities to get open, where Tillie will easily find them. This pick has the potential to be a steal for the Warriors.
PHI - Jordan Nwora SF (LOU) - Nwora is 6’7” and will probably shoot 40% from 3 in the NBA. That alone makes him worth taking a look at, though his ancillary skills are lacking. The Sixers could use a sharpshooter, and Nwora could be that player for them. He is not the best defender, but the Sixers have a number of high-level defenders who could make up for some of his deficiencies.
SAC (via MIA) - Boriša Simanić PF (KLS) - With their 4th pick in the draft, the Kings will probably take a draft-and-stash candidate. Simanić is a solid stretch big with really high level shotmaking instincts. He could potentially fill a role similar to Bjelica should the Kings move on from him in the future, and if Simanić can be more aggressive offensively and improve defensively, he could be a welcome addition to their frontcourt.
GS (via UTAH) - Yam Madar PG/SG (BSL) - Looking forward, the Warriors could greatly benefit from adding another ball-handler. Madar is one of the better 2nd round stash prospects and should be able to be a capable 3rd guard once he comes over. If the Warriors can improve upon his shot, he would have the potential to be a very productive player as a solid 3-level scorer and aggressive defender at the NBA level.
OKC - Reggie Perry PF (MSST) - Perry could add depth to OKC’s frontcourt and give them another dimension on offense. Perry showed some ball-handling and passing abilities with team USA and if those abilities can translate, he should be a valuable piece for the Thunder moving forward, particularly because their frontcourt depth is lacking. Perry should also be able to bang in the post a bit and provide value off the bench.
ATL (via HOU) - Payton Pritchard PG (ORE) - The Hawks are very thin at PG after Trae, particularly because there are concerns about whether or not Haliburton can be a full-time point guard and because Teague is unlikely to be in their long-term plans. Adding Pritchard, who can dribble, pass, and shoot at a high level will be a good addition to their backcourt. He doesn’t defend all that well, but the Hawks are accustomed to having a poor defender at the PG position.
IND - Immanuel Quickley SG (UK) - Quickley may be viewed as one of the better players available at this spot due to his shooting ability and the defensive upside he showcases thanks to his wingspan. The Pacers could use another guard/wing, particularly if Oladipo continues to have injury issues, and Quickley may be able to be that player. He can find a role on the team as a sharpshooter and floor spacer.
BKN (via DEN) - Mamadi Diakite PF/C (UVA) - Diakite is one of the better shot-blockers in the class and should be able to provide value for the Nets in that regard. Though he lacks the size to play full time center, the Nets already have Allen & Jordan, and Diakite's mobility is pretty good for a big, making me think he could play a bit at the 4. He showed some ability to stretch the floor this season and knows what it takes to win a championship, meaning he should be able to be a valuable role player for the Nets as they aspire towards a championship.
CHA (via BOS) - Mason Jones SF (ARK) - Rozier and Graham had FTr’s of .202 and .242 respectively, which are not good. Enter Mason Jones, who, although limited athletically, was an exceptional off-the-dribble creator at Arkansas, leading him to an absurd .668 FTr. He can provide another avenue for offensive creation for the Hornets and is a great pick at the end of the 2nd round, despite the obvious defensive concerns.
LAC - Nick Richards C (UK) - The Clippers could greatly benefit from a rim protector and paint presence, and Richards should be able to provide that for them in a low-minutes role. I have some concerns about how his game translates to the NBA, but he posted relatively good block rates during his time at Kentucky. Richards should be able to be a solid role player for the Clippers when they need to guard 7 footers.
PHI (via LAL) - Georgios Kalaitzakis SF (LKL) - With a total of 5 picks in the draft, it makes sense for the Sixers to go with a draft-and-stash. Kalaitzakis doesn’t shoot the ball very well, which is particularly concerning with this Sixers team, but he is good ball handler and defender. If he can learn to shoot, he should be a solid bench contributor.
TOR - Ty-Shon Alexander SG (CREI) - Ty-Shon is a great fit for the Raptors, regardless of whether or not VanVleet leaves in free agency. Ty-Shon has shown some ball handling ability but can also play off ball and spot up on the perimeter. He is a good 3&D prospect and will add another quality perimeter defender to a team that is already loaded with them.
NO (via MIL) - Naji Marshall SF (XAV) - The Pelicans struggled defensively this year, so adding a versatile defensive wing in Marshall should help them in that regard. He will probably have to improve as a shooter in order to get real minutes in their rotation, but if he can, he will be a great addition. Given the success they have had with Ingram as a ball-handler, it may make sense for the Pelicans to take one of the better wing ball-handlers in the draft in Marshall, as he can slide into that role with Ingram on the bench or if he misses time due to injury.
Mock Draft Results by team (& my personal grades) Atlantic Celtics - Tyrese Maxey (14), Xavier Tillman (26), Leandro Bolmaro (30), Udoka Azubuike (47); GRADE: A Nets - Josh Green (19), Mamadi Diakite (55); GRADE: B Knicks - Killian Hayes (8), Robert Woodard II (27), Devon Dotson (38); GRADE: B+ 76ers - Tyrell Terry (22), Malachi Flynn (34), Paul Reed (36), Jordan Nwora (49), Georgios Kalaitzakis (58); GRADE: B+ Raptors - Zeke Nnaji (29), Ty-Shon Alexander (59); GRADE: A- Central Bulls - Deni Avdjia (4), Isaiah Joe (44); GRADE: B+ Cavaliers - Isaac Okoro (5); GRADE: B Pistons - Obi Toppin (7); GRADE: B- Pacers - Immanuel Quickley (54); GRADE: B Bucks - RJ Hampton (24); GRADE: A Southeast Hawks - Tyrese Haliburton (7), Payton Pritchard (53); GRADE: B- Hornets - James Wiseman (3), Elijah Hughes (32), Mason Jones (56); GRADE: B- Heat - Théo Maledon (20); GRADE: B+ Magic - Kira Lewis Jr. (15), Cassius Winston (45); GRADE: B+ Wizards - Onyeka Okongwu (9), Tre Jones (37); GRADE: B Northwest Nuggets - Jaden McDaniels (21); GRADE: B Timberwolves - LaMelo Ball (1), Precious Achiuwa (17), Tyler Bey (33); GRADE: B Thunder - Desmond Bane (25), Reggie Perry (52); GRADE: B TrailBlazers - Saddiq Bey (16), Skylar Mays (46); GRADE: B+ Jazz - Aleksej Pokuševski (23); GRADE: A Southwest Mavericks - Jalen Smith (18), Jahmi’us Ramsey (31); GRADE: B- Rockets - N/A; GRADE: N/A Grizzlies - Isaiah Stewart (40); GRADE: C+ Pelicans - Cole Anthony (13), Cassius Stanley (39), Abdoulaye N’Doye (42), Naji Marshall (60); GRADE: A- Spurs - Patrick Williams (11), Vernon Carey Jr. (41); GRADE: B+ Pacific Warriors - Anthony Edwards (2), Killian Tillie (48), Yam Madar (51); GRADE: A- Clippers - Nick Richards (57); GRADE: C- Lakers - Grant Riller (28); GRADE: A- Suns - Devin Vassell (10); GRADE: A- Kings - Aaron Nesmith (12), Daniel Oturu (35), Nico Mannion (43), Boriša Simanić (50); GRADE: B- Undrafted fits that I like (Only NCAA players were counted for the undrafted pool; no international players were counted; I assumed every player who has declared but was not drafted was eligible): Bucks: Anthony Lamb; Bulls: Lamar Stevens; Cavaliers: Kaleb Wesson, Kristian Doolittle; Celtics: Justinian Jessup; Clippers: Jordan Ford; Grizzlies: Nate Hinton; Hawks: Ashton Hagans; Heat: Caleb Homesley; Hornets: Kahlil Whitney, Nathan Knight; Jazz: Yoeli Childs; Kings: Jay Scrubb; Knicks: Jalen Harris, Jake Toolson; Lakers: Malik Fitts; Magic: CJ Elleby, Nate Darling; Mavericks: Trent Forrest; Nets: Rayshaun Hammonds; Nuggets: Trevelin Queen; Pacers: Dwayne Sutton; Pelicans: TJ Holyfield; Pistons: Markus Howard, KJ Martin; Raptors: Lamine Diane; Rockets: Emmitt Williams; 76ers: Jon Teske; Spurs: Tres Tinkle; Suns: Saben Lee, Freddie Gillespie; Thunder: Myles Powell; Timberwolves: Josh Hall; TrailBlazers: Sam Merrill; Warriors: De’Riante Jenkins; Wizards: Christian Vital
MAME 0.223 has finally arrived, and what a release it is – there’s definitely something for everyone! Starting with some of the more esoteric additions, Linus Åkesson’s AVR-based hardware chiptune project and Power Ninja Action Challenge demos are now supported. These demos use minimal hardware to generate sound and/or video, relying on precise CPU timings to work. With this release, every hand-held LCD game from Nintendo’s Game & Watch and related lines is supported in MAME, with Donkey Kong Hockey bringing up the rear. Also of note is the Bassmate Computer fishing aid, made by Nintendo and marketed by Telko and other companies, which is clearly based on the dual-screen Game & Watch design. The steady stream of TV games hasn’t stopped, with a number of French releases from Conny/VideoJet among this month’s batch. For the first time ever, games running on the Barcrest MPU4 video system are emulated well enough to be playable. Titles that are now working include several games based on the popular British TV game show The Crystal Maze, Adders and Ladders, The Mating Game, and Prize Tetris. In a clear win for MAME’s modular architecture, the breakthrough came through the discovery of a significant flaw in our Motorola MC6840 Programmable Timer Module emulation that was causing issues for the Fairlight CMI IIx synthesiser. In the same manner, the Busicom 141-PF desk calculator is now working, thanks to improvements made to Intel 4004 CPU emulation that came out of emulating the INTELLEC 4 development system and the prototype 4004-based controller board for Flicker pinball. The Busicom 141-PF is historically significant, being the first application of Intel’s first microprocessor. Fans of classic vector arcade games are in for a treat this month. Former project coordinator Aaron Giles has contributed netlist-based sound emulation for thirteen Cinematronics vector games: Space War, Barrier, Star Hawk, Speed Freak, Star Castle, War of the Worlds, Sundance, Tail Gunner, Rip Off, Armor Attack, Warrior, Solar Quest and Boxing Bugs. This resolves long-standing issues with the previous simulation based on playing recorded samples. Colin Howell has also refined the sound emulation for Midway’s 280-ZZZAP and Gun Fight. V.Smile joystick inputs are now working for all dumped cartridges, and with fixes for ROM bank selection the V.Smile Motion software is also usable. The accelerometer-based V.Smile Motion controller is not emulated, but the software can all be used with the standard V.Smile joystick controller. Another pair of systems with inputs that now work is the original Macintosh (128K/512K/512Ke) and Macintosh Plus. These systems’ keyboards are now fully emulated, including the separate numeric keypad available for the original Macintosh, the Macintosh Plus keyboard with integrated numeric keypad, and a few European ISO layout keyboards for the original Macintosh. There are still some emulation issues, but you can play Beyond Dark Castle with MAME’s Macintosh Plus emulation again. In other home computer emulation news, MAME’s SAM Coupé driver now supports a number of peripherals that connect to the rear expansion port, a software list containing IRIX hard disk installations for SGI MIPS workstations has been added, and tape loading now works for the Specialist system (a DIY computer designed in the USSR). Of course, there’s far more to enjoy, and you can read all about it in the whatsnew.txt file, or get the source and 64-bit Windows binary packages from the download page. (For brevity, promoted V.Smile software list entries and new Barcrest MPU4 clones made up from existing dumps have been omitted here.)
MAME Testers Bugs Fixed
02603: [Sound] (cinemat.cpp) tailg: Phasor sample plays incorrectly. (Aaron Giles)
Toy Story 3 (Lexibook) [Sean Riddle, Kamaal Brown, David Haywood]
unknown 'TE06' [TeamEurope, Roberto Fresca]
Unknown Compumatic ProSPDP based darts machine [jordigahan, ClawGrip]
VideoJet Kiu Games [Sean Riddle, David Haywood]
Virtual TV Ping Pong [TeamEurope, David Haywood]
Yataimura Kingyosukui (4-player, China, Ver 1.000) [Darksoft]
New clones marked as NOT_WORKING
Funhouse (L-2) [PinMAME]
Funhouse (L-2, prototype PA-1 System 11 sound) [PinMAME]
Laser Ball (L-2, PROM sound) [PinMAME]
Last Action Hero (1.04 France) [PinMAME]
Last Action Hero (1.07) [José Renato Castro Milanez, Sergio Munemori]
Magic Card - Wien (Sicherheitsversion 1.2) [TeamEurope, Roberto Fresca]
Nove Diamante (bootleg) [Ioannis Bampoulas]
New working software list additions
fmtowns_cd: Akiko - Premium Version, Cal III - Kanketsu-hen, Chiemi & Naomi, Curse, Eikan wa Kimi ni 2 - Koukou Yakyuu Zenkoku Taikai, FM Towns Application Catalog CD-ROM - Original Soft-hen, G5 (HMA-206), Gambler - Queen's Cup, Gokuraku Mandala, Hyper Fetishism, Illust Hyakka - Yamashita Hideki no Ikiiki Cut-shuu, Iris-tei Serenade, Jouhou Club - Card Processor Ver. 1.1, Mahjong Musashi, Manami no Doko made Iku no? 2 - Return of the Kuro Pack, The Manhole (1990-08-01), Marionette Mind, Mirage 2 - Torry, Neat & Roan Fairladies in MagicLand, Noushuku Angel 120%, Shamhat - The Holy Circlet (FM Towns Marty version), Tenshin Ranma, Two Shot Diary, Viper-V12 RS, Viper-V8 Turbo RS, YES! HG - Erotic Voice Version [redump.org, r09]
Rayman IV (Rayman - Sunshine of Trip) (unlicensed) (protection hacked) [RibShark]
Crash Advance IV (unlicensed) (protection hacked), Digimon - Ruby and Sapphire (unlicensed) (protection hacked), The Lord of the Rings IV - The Fellowship of the Ring (unlicensed) (protection hacked), Pokemon - Sapphire Version (unlicensed) (protection hacked), Rayman IV (Rayman - Puteshestviye Solnechnogo Sveta) (unlicensed) (Russian) (protection hacked), Sonic 3 - Fighter Sonic (unlicensed) (protection hacked), Super Mario DX (unlicensed) (protection hacked), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (unlicensed) (protection hacked), Ultraman - Confrontation Between Justice And Evil (Ul'traman - Konfrontatsiya mezhdu spravedlivost'yu i zlom) (unlicensed) (Russian) (protection hacked), X-Man - Armour of Might (X-men) (unlicensed) (Russian) (protection hacked) [taizou]
Bloodwych (Quest & Glory Compilation) (Euro), Bloodwych (USA), Budokan - The Martial Spirit (5.25"), The Colonel's Bequest (3.5"), The Colonel's Bequest (5.25"), Dragon's Lair (5.25"), F29 Retaliator, Lakers vs Celtics and the NBA Playoffs (3.5"), Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (in Several Wrong Places) (5.25"), Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, Mario Andretti's Racing Challenge, Speedball 2 - Brutal Deluxe (Euro, 3.5"), TV Sports Basketball (3.5", USA, EGA/TANDY version), TV Sports Basketball (3.5", USA, VGA version), TV Sports Basketball (5.25", UK, EGA/TANDY version), TV Sports Basketball (5.25", UK, VGA version), Xenon 2: Megablast [ArcadeShadow]
SCO XENIX System V Development System version 2.1.3 [archive.org, Davide Cavalca]
IBM Personal Computer Interactive Executive (PC/IX) 1.00 [WinWorld, Davide Cavalca]
ibm5170: B-17 Flying Fortress (5.25"), Corridor 7: Alien Invasion (demo), Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle (France), Out of this World (USA, 3.5" DD), Out of this World (USA, 5.25" HD), Sam & Max Hit the Road (Germany) [ArcadeShadow]
pc98_cd: F15 Strike Eagle III, if 2 - Invitations from Fantastic Stories, Manami no Doko made Iku no? 2 - Return of the Kuro Pack, Phobos, Pro Student G (ALS-0010), YES! HG - Erotic Voice Version, Yuurou - Transient Sands [redump.org, r09]
Desktop Special Edition 1.0, European Language Module 1.1, European Language Module 1.3.1, Hot Mix 5, Hot Mix 7, IndiZone 1.0, IRIX 5.2 for Indy R4600PC and Challenge SX, IRIX Patch 184.108.40.206, ONC3/NFS for IRIX 6.2 Version 1, ONC3/NFS for IRIX 6.2 with Indigo2 IMPACT 10000 Version 1, Support Advantage 10/94, Support Advantage 6/95, SupportFolio 2/97, SupportFolio 4/97 [darkstar]
Disney/Pixar Wall-E (China) [tenyuhuang, Ryan Holtz]
Les Bisounours - Le monde merveilleux des Bisounours (France), Nickelodeon Bob L'éponge - Une journée dans la vie d'une éponge (France) [DisizDream]
Disney/Pixar Cars 2 (France), Disney/Pixar Toy Story 3 (France), DreamWorks Kung Fu Panda - La mission de Po (France), Football Challenge (France), Martin Le Dauphin (France), Nickelodeon Dora L'Exploratrice - Les adventures de Dora Apprentie Mécano (France), Sporti'Folies (France) [DisizDream, Ryan Holtz]
Action Mania (USA), Disney/Pixar Toy Story 3 (USA), Marvel Spider-Man & Friends - Secret Missions (USA), Soccer Challenge (USA) [Sean Riddle, TeamEurope, Ryan Holtz]
mobigo_cart: Disney Jake and the Neverland Pirates (USA, alt), Disney Princess (USA, alt), Disney/Pixar Brave (USA), Dreamworks Shrek - Forever After (US), NAND User Cartridge (unknown data, set 1), NAND User Cartridge (unknown data, set 2), Sesame Street - Elmo and Abby - Nature Explorers (USA) [TeamEurope]
novag_ssensor4: Quartz Chess Clock [Berger]
pc98_cd: DOR Special Edition '93, DOR Special Edition '93 (alt), Kanji Land 3-nen, Kyrandia II - The Hand of Fate, Lemon Cocktail Collection, Lip 3 - Lipstick Adventure 3, Mirage 2 - Torry, Neat & Roan Fairladies in MagicLand [redump.org, r09]
pi_storyreader_cart: Disney Blanca Nieves y los siete enanos (Spain), Disney El Rey León (Spain), Walt Disney Peter Pan (Spain) [TeamEurope, ClawGrip]
Basketball (EU) [ClawGrip, TeamEurope]
Basketball (US) [Sean Riddle, David Haywood]
vsmileb_cart: Teletubbies (France) [DisizDream]
Merged pull requests
6825: docs: Improved analog joystick mapping documentation, and added health warnings. [Firehawke]
6837: debugger: Added loadr and saver commands for loading or saving data to/from a memory region. [bombzj]
6838: fmtowns_cd.xml: Added 28 new entries, and replaced 22 entries with improved dumps. [redump.org, r09]
6844: gigatron: Hooked up CPU output callback, fixed program counter wrapping, and added CPU input callback. [Sterophonick]
https://preview.redd.it/ulhht7w4cfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=8160adeefa53ee8d6b739f06be3dcbc6cae0c0df Every year NFL Network puts out a list of the Top 100 Players for the upcoming season, as voted by their peers. I have talked about the flaws of that whole process a few times already – the players only write down their top 20 players, which is understandable, but also doesn’t result in the proper results, since everybody is somewhat to put their guys on, not all players actually get to watch a lot of games, if they don’t include teams they actually face or are limited to watching highlights, and the voting concludes before the playoff are even here, which can be the only somewhat logical reason, Patrick Mahomes was only number four on the official list – even though that would still be wrong. For the purpose of this list, I first put together my rankings of the top players at every single position, but then somewhat went off script by just writing down names in the order that they shot into my head, before comparing it with the positional rankings and trying to weigh guys against each other. And just to make this clear – these rankings are based on players regardless of their position, since otherwise would have almost half the starting quarterbacks in the league within the top 20 or so. And of course this is a bit of a projection and not solely built on what these players did this previous season, but also not about where they will be at the end of 2020. Here is my list: https://preview.redd.it/6lv7eu5ecfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=7e060476b8bbdf264b77e46aa6eccaff6e78c91d
What is there still to say about Mahomes? In just two years as a starter, he has been a league MVP and just led his team to three consecutive double-digit comebacks to get that Lombardi trophy. He is the most talented player I have ever seen and will now have the Chiefs as contenders in the AFC for the next decade, after signing that blockbuster deal. You can not tell me there are three humans on earth that are better at football than this guy. If we lived in a world without Mahomes, Donald would be the obvious pick here for the best player regardless of position. You can easily argue that the gap between the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and the next-closest players is even bigger (since I have a QB at three), since Donald doesn’t just have the numbers despite facing constant attention, but does so much more that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, in terms of blowing up plays before they can even get going. Wilson to me has earned his way up to being the second-best quarterback in the league. He throws those unbelievable rainbow deep balls, is elusive as it gets at extending plays as a passer and seems to always come through when his team needs him most. He has covered up a lot of issues for the Seahawks – leading his team to a winning record every single season of his career – and the only thing that can hold him back is his own conservative coaching staff. I “only” have the league’s reigning MVP at number four, because I think there are two more proven quarterbacks and there are definitely things he can still improve upon, but holy crap, was this guy exciting last season. Lamar led the league with 43 total touchdowns and a ridiculous 9.0 touchdown percentage. His QB-record 1206 yards on the ground helped the Ravens break the all-time rushing mark for a team, but as spectacular as he was in the open field, the stats say he was also elite from within the pocket. The reigning DPOY shows up at number five here for me and while there were other worthy candidates, Gilmore was on a different level as the other corners in the league last season. He was tied for the lead-league in interceptions and scored more touchdowns (2) than he was responsible for in coverage (1), while allowing a league-best completion percentage of 44.6 and 41.8 passer rating. Outside of a week 17 blunder, he shut down every top receiver he faced. Julio to me is still the best receiver in the game and it’s not that close to be honest. His freakish combination of size, speed, leaping ability and hands set him apart from most guys, but it is the way he has continued to advance as a route-runner and technician that have paved his way to being an all-time great. Over the last six seasons, he has averaged 1565 receiving yards per season and his 96.2 yards per game is almost ten yards more than any player in NFL history. The best and most complete tight-end today is Kittle. There are only five players in the entire league with more receiving yards over the last two seasons, despite seeing about 60 targets less than the five guys ahead of him, and his 1507 yards after the catch over that stretch is second only to Christian McCaffrey. As impressive as all that is, he is equally valuable as a run-blocker, being a huge factor in setting things up for the 49ers’ second-ranked rushing attack. I know he has only been in the league for two years, but I would already take Nelson over any other interior offensive lineman in football without a doubt. When I evaluated his college tape, I thought he was a generational prospect and he has come nothing short of his expectations. Nelson has only been responsible for one sack in those two seasons combined and been named a First-Team All-Pro in both of them. If you want to know how great Adams is, just check out the kind of compensation Seattle gave up to acquire a disgruntled player at a position that is deemed undervalued by most people. The Jets are probably happy to still get as much back as they did, but Adams was their best run-defender, coverage player and pass-rusher. He is a chess piece, that improves every area of a defense and gives them an attitude and tremendous versatility. The one guy who can challenge Stephon Gilmore for the title as best corner in the league is Ramsey. While the numbers in coverage didn’t look quite as impressive last season, switching teams mid-season and missing four games, he still only allowed 45.6 yards per game and one total touchdown in coverage. Ramsey is one of only two or three guys at the position, who can match up with the opposing’s top receiver every single play. https://preview.redd.it/hd5k3rzfcfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=44027dfe6dcc5ecee7f8499e0b14b5387ddae6eb
It was a very close race for the top back in the game, but I just had to go with the unbelievable talent of Saquon here. He is so explosive, elusive and powerful. Barkley was banged up for pretty much half of last season, but still averaged 5.4 yards per touch and 60 percent of his rushing yards came after contact, with bad offensive line play in front of him, that had him avoiding defenders as soon as he got the handoff at times. His 279 scrimmage yards against Washington in week 16 was the most since Julio Jones’ 300-yard performance in 2016. McCaffrey comes in right behind Barkley, coming off a highly impressive season. CMac became just the third player in NFL history to put up 1000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season and also easily leading the league with 2392 scrimmage yards. Maybe even more impressive – he had eight yards more after the catch (1013) than total receiving yards. Nobody is a bigger asset running routes out of the backfield, but he has also become a much more efficient in-between-the-tackler runner. Thomas set a new all-time record with 149 receptions last season and led the league with 1725 receiving yards. The crazy thing about that is the fact he lead all receiver in catch percentage last season at 80.5, despite being really the only guy the Saints could rely upon at that position on a weekly basis. He’s not nearly as dangerous after the catch or on vertical patterns as guys like Julio Jones or Tyreek Hill, but he is so physical and constantly comes through on third downs. When you look at what Mack had done in the five years since his rookie season (49 sacks and 76 TFLs over four seasons), he didn’t quite live up to his lofty standards last season. With that being said, he is still the most impactful guy coming off the edge when totally healthy. He is an elite run-defender, routinely puts offensive tackles on skates and has a knack for getting the ball out (11 forced fumbles since 2018). Similar to Mack – and as it has been like for several years now when these two have been right next to each other in any rankings – Miller had a down-year in 2019. He did not reach double-digit sacks for the first time since 2013, when he was put on IR mid-season, but I expect that to go back to normal with more help around him. His burst, ability to bend and smarts for the position will create issue for offenses once again this season. Deshaun is just an absolute baller. Like his former college head coach Dabo Swinney said, he is Michael Jordan-like in the big moments. Over the last two seasons, he has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for just over 4000 yards on average and 52 touchdowns compared to 21 INTs over that stretch. More importantly, he gets the Texans out of the toughest situations and has led five game-winning drives in both years. I don’t think anybody else could have led this team back in that Wildcard game, other than maybe Mahomes. After coming over from Miami via trade early last season, Fitzpatrick completely turned around this Steelers defense by bringing the secondary together and became one of the premiere play-makers in the entire league. He came up with eight takeaways and scored two touchdowns himself, with both of them completely shifting the momentum those respective games. Minkah is most valuable patrolling the deep middle of the field, but offers the versatility to play just about everywhere. I know this may be a little bit of a controversial pick, with other guys at the receiver position deserving consideration, but to me Adams right now is the third-best receiver in the game. He came up with three yards short of cracking the 1000-yard mark due to missing four games and dealing with a banged up toe, but he came up big in two playoff games, with 300 combined yards and two TDs. Adams offers the best releases in the game, as well as beautifully setting up routes with head-nods and body language, to go with tremendous body-control. Now that Luke Kuechly has retired, B-Wagz to me is the clear choice as the top middle linebacker in football. He displays great range and has to cover a lot of ground with how much base personnel the Hawks run. Wagner is also a very secure tackler, who led the league in take-downs for the second time in his career last season, after missing just one of his attempts the year before. What doesn’t get enough attention is his football IQ and the process of getting to the ball in the first place. If I told you the next player has caught 200 passes for 2565 yards and 15 touchdowns over the last two seasons, you would say that’s a great receiver – since that ranks behind only Julio, Mike Thomas, D-Hop and Mike Evans. What is even more impressive about those numbers is that Kelce has averaged 9.0 yards despite that high target share. He is the premiere flex receiving tight-end, who can be moved all over the formation and create problems. https://preview.redd.it/r5uajc1c7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=2a39e3d399818439538f76d064580220b18ed765
In a world without Aaron Donald, Cox would be known as the best defensive tackle over the last decade. He has only reached double-digit sacks once in his career and to be fair, dipped a little last season, but the numbers will never tell the whole story as what kind of player he is. He has that quickness to shoot through gaps and show up in the backfield, but he can also bench-press 330-pounders and toss them to the side when he needs to. Just watch him destroy the interior O-line of the Seahawks and almost singlehandedly keep them in that Wildcard Round game without Carson Wentz. Nipping at the heels of Cox is another game-wrecker on the inside of the defense for the reigning Super Bowl champs. Jones may not nearly be the same run-stopper at the point of attack, but his length and burst off the ball allow him to impact plays in a penetrating role and he is an elite pass-rusher at his position. 24.5 sacks and 49 QB hits in his last 29 games is highly impressive, but in the biggest game, he only logged on tackle and still made a huge impact, with a couple of batted passes and directly forcing a pick. The most overlooked edge rusher and maybe overall player in the league over the last several years has been Chandler Jones. Since coming over to Arizona in 2016, he has led the league with 60 sacks and 17 forced fumbles, while also being near the top in total pressure numbers every single season. That is despite playing on one the worst defensive units over the last couple of years and having no legitimate threat up front with pretty much the entire time. Cam Jordan is a very unique player. He has more of a 3-4 defensive end body type, rather than your typical edge rusher. He has great power and strings his hands and feet together really well, but what makes him special is the way he can read pass-sets and take advantage of weight-distribution and how far tackles open up their hips. Not only did Jordan set a personal high with 15.5 sacks last season, but he is also an excellent run-defender (15 TFLs). Even though his trade to Arizona is still confusing for most people, when you see how little his new team had to give up, don’t let that make you think D-Hop isn’t a top-tier receiver anymore. If you take out the 2016 season, when Brock Osweiler could not have gotten the ball to his superstar receiver, even if he were just inches away, he has averaged 1369 receiving yards and 9.6 touchdowns since his rookie season. He may not as homerun-hitter, but he might be the most physical receiver off the ball and at the catch point, plus he has the best hands in the game. Did I just say homerun hitter? Outside of Julio, I think there is an argument to be made that Tyreek is the next-best receiver in the league. He breaks the game open with his next-level speed and changes how defensive coordinators have to call coverages. However, he is much more than just a deep threat, with quick feet to stop and start on his routes, he shows great concentration when the ball is in the air and he does now shy away from the physical aspect of football. We have not seen Rodgers play at that elite level since 2016, when he led the league in touchdown passes (40), but he is still one of the best in the game. He has lost just a little bit of his elusiveness to extend plays and does not take as many chances down the field as we are used to from him, but his quick release, ability to see the field and the arm talent to throw off platform are all still special. Just watch what he does in his second year in Matt LaFleur’s system, with added motivation. The younger T.J. Watt stepped out of the shadow of his older brother last season, when he finished top five in sacks (14.5) and quarterback hits (36), while also leading the league with eight fumbles forced and recovering another four, to go with a couple of picks. He finished behind only Stephon Gilmore and Chandler Jones in the hunt for his first DPOY trophy and will be a terror on Pittsburgh’s ferocious defense for years to come. At 29 is the player that shamefully didn’t even make the official top 100 list. Maybe it is people still saying Nick Foles won the Eagles their Super Bowl or they call him injury-prone, but let’s not forget Wentz set this team up with home-field advantage through the playoffs back in 2017 in an MVP-level season and he has actually missed only eight of 64 career regular season games. Last year he put the team on his back, with practice squad players catching passes and both his tackles missing multiple weeks, and led them to a home playoff game. Closing is the top 30 is the older Watt brother. I gave the slightest edge to the Pittsburgh outside backer. He certainly the track record as one of only two guys to be named Defensive Player of the Year three times in his career, but injuries have started taking a toll on him and over the last four years, he has missed the equivalent of two full seasons. However, when he played all 16 games in 2018, he still topped his little bro with 16 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. He played at a very high level when healthy last season and miraculously returned in the playoffs to make a big impact against Buffalo. https://preview.redd.it/68e2613kcfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=3f99e76d5524ab4aeff016746711b1012ae62130
One of the most underrated guys on the player’s countdown is Humphrey. To me there are no five corners in the game that you can tell me are better than this guy – and I actually have him at number three. He is long and physical in press-coverage, he can move into the slot, he is a hard hitter from that position and he is like a magnet for the ball, with three interceptions, two fumbles forced and three recovered. Humphrey is only 24 years old and already near the top of football. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently said something pretty interesting, when he tweeted that “if you put all players in a league-wide draft, Derwin James would be the top safety on every board”. To me Jamal Adams has done enough to earn the title as best player at that position and Derwin only played five games, but the Chargers superstar can do pretty much everything Jamal does, in terms of defending the run as a box-defender, blitzing off multiple spots and just being a position-less player, while also having the range to basically play free safety. Big Mike has now become only the second receiver in NFL history alongside Randy Moss to start his career with six consecutive 1000-yard receiving seasons. He gets in and out his breaks better than you would ever think of a 6’5”, 230-pound guy, he is much more of a vertical threat than people label him as, averaging 1.5 yards more per catch than Tyreek Hill (17.5), and he obviously dominates at the catch point, while also bullying DBs as a blocker. At 34 I have another defensive back, who has become a highly underrated player in my opinion. Somehow Eddie Jackson didn’t make the official list, which is still mind-blowing to me, because just a year ago, he was right up there among the premiere defensive play-makers in the game. His takeaways went way down on a Bears defense that took a step back, after coming up with eight of those in 2018 and scoring a league-high three defensive TDs, but he is still one of the smartest and rangiest player on the back-end we have in the game. That third running back behind Saquon and McCaffrey was a tough choice, which is indicated by four players at that position over the next six spots, but I went with Kamara here. He recently that he basically played on one leg last season, which may be a little exaggerated, but when healthy, his explosiveness and contact balance are second to none, plus he is an elite weapon out of the backfield, who is basically un-coverable on option routes. The next guy here is the reigning rushing leader Derrick Henry. This may seem a little low for him and he is the only one of this group to get that second contract so far, but since he is only a factor on screen plays in the passing game, I could not put him any higher. Still, what King Henry did down the stretch was unbelievable. He put the team on his back, rushing for 896 yards over his final six games in the regular season and 374 yards combined in wins over the then-reigning Super Bowl champs and the team with the best record in the league, on the way to the AFC title game. Another corner that I just love to watch is the Bills’ Tre’Davious White. While he plays in a zone-heavy system, that doesn’t leave him on an island as much as a Stephon Gilmore or a Jalen Ramsey, he is tremendous in that role and can match up against some top receivers one-on-one. What makes him special is the ability to anticipate routes and read the receiver and the quarterback at the same time. He was tied for the lead-league with six INTs, while deflecting another 17 passes and forcing a couple of fumbles. Martin has been as consistent as it gets. He has started all but two of his 96 career games at right guard and been named First-Team All-Pro in four of six NFL season. Over the course of his career, he has allowed just eight total sacks and he was flagged for holding just once last season and four times in the last four seasons. He is a road-grader on gap and zone schemes, while having a tremendous anchor and clamps in protection. Did you know Dalvin Cook finished second behind only Christian McCaffrey in scrimmage yards per game? He was tremendous for Minnesota last season in that zone-based rushing attack and a real weapon out of the backfield, catching 53 of 63 targets for over 500 yards. Dalvin is so good at pressing the front-side and then transitioning in one step to cut off the backside, while also having the burst to threaten the edges of a defense, and he has become a very tough runner. My final RB here is Nick Chubb. There were a lot of stars on this underperforming Browns team last season, but this guy was the best player for them pretty much every single week. Similar to Henry, Chubb is not the most valuable receiver, but his physical running style was the best part about Cleveland’s offense. He can run inside and outside zone, does a great job setting up power plays and not only is he patient with letting plays develop, he has great acceleration once he puts on the gas and consistently falls forward. https://preview.redd.it/3zr305de7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=f52704036f55e8bf1e5ae2c9396d45338dc07c39
Odell Beckham Jr.
What happened in that week 11 Steelers game was not pretty and I’m sure people will bring it no matter what this kid continues to accomplish, but he just got a mega contract and to me is ready put his name among the elite defensive players in football. Garrett has only played 37 career games so far, but he has already put together 30.5 sacks and 32 tackles for loss, with one QB take-down per game last season. He is obviously an athletic freak, but his pass-rush arsenal has come a long way already. DeFo is one of the most talented defensive linemen in all of football, but his technique has improved every single season and among all that talent on the NFC champions’ roster, he was named team MVP. As great as he was all the way throughout the regular season, he terrorized the interior O-line of the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. The 49ers had to move on from him this offseason due to cap reasons, but he immediately a key piece for that Colts D. He might be the GOAT, but Brady lands at number 43 for me heading into 2020. Contrary to popular belief, his arm isn’t far off from what it was when he entered the league at the start of the millennium and his pocket movement is impeccable, but what bothered me when watching him play last season, was that reluctancy to stand tall in the pocket and take the punishment in order to deliver big plays, which will be an interesting mesh with Bruce Arians’ vertical passing attack. While there about five guys in that conversation for me right now, Ryan Ramczyk earned the top spot here. More of a luxury pick three years ago, he ended up sliding right in at right tackle and has been absolute stalwart for them ever. Ramczyk has started 47 of 48 games and improved every single season, earning first-team All-Pro honors last season, when he did not allow a single sack and had did not have a holding call accepted against him past week two. This is the lowest I have had Odell in my rankings since his rookie season. I have never been a huge fan of the antics with him, but the media constantly bashing on him has turned me into a fan, and I believe he will make all the haters shut up in 2020. OBJ was dealing with a foot injury all of last year and the amount of miscues between him and Baker Mayfield was countless, when it comes to break off or adjusting routes on the fly. He is still one of the all-time talents. New to the list is a guy, who was quietly getting the job done as a rotational piece in Baltimore’s defensive front for a few years, before getting a big contract by the Packers. Smith instantly went from a nice player to one the premiere edge rushers in the entire league. While he “only” finished sixth with 13.5 sacks, he led all players with 93 total pressures and also had the fourth-most TFLs (17). I love the way Mike Pettine moves him around all over the formation in Green Bay. The one thing I actually learned from the official top 100 is the fact Tyrann Mathieu was actually named team MVP, despite playing with the best player in the entire league. As explosive as that Chiefs offense is, the difference for this team was how the Honeybadger helped turn around this defensive unit and the energy he brought to the table. Mathieu can line up in the box, cover the slot, drop into deep coverage, blitz from multiple spots and tackle in the open field. Another guy in that tackle conversation is maybe the most athletic one of the bunch. Johnson only played in 12 games last season, but he was tremendous in those, allowing just one sack and being called for holding once, despite facing some great pass-rushers in the NFC East and the conference overall. He has the feet to seal the edges in the run game and works up to the second level as well as anybody in the league. The top rookie on the list this year is Nick Bosa. Making the top 20 on the official list seems a little rich, but this guy was dominant from the moment he stepped onto the field. Bosa finished one sack short or cracking double-digits, but he easily blew away the rookie record for total pressures (80) and finished tied for fifth overall in the regular season, plus another crazy 22 in the playoffs. He was also tied for fifth in tackles for loss (16) and got a pick, whilst constantly playing with all-out effort. One of the biggest breakout players last season was Godwin. I predicted this already the year prior and wasn’t wrong necessarily, when he finished with 842 yards and seven touchdowns, but he took it to another level in 2019, when he finished third in receiving yards (1333) and tied for fourth in touchdowns (9) despite missing two games. He is so tough going over the middle to get those hard-earned yards, is incredibly hard to bring down after the catch (577 YAC) and led the league in 20+ yard receptions (25). https://preview.redd.it/8chiv76ogih51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=2687f4fbab6202fb4312d6aef3704f605c66186a
The title for best center in the league has been in Philadelphia for at least the last three years and to me also for the decade. He may not as powerful as a few other guys, but the mobility to beat linebackers to the spot or can put hands on people as a puller or on screen plays allows the Eagles to do pretty much anything, while also doing a great job of recovering in pass-pro and transitioning assignments. Kelce has allowed multiple sacks just once since 2015. There is a pretty significant drop-off between the first and second linebacker, but right now I would take Leonard behind only Bobby Wagner. Over his two years in the league (28 games), he has put together 284 tackles (including leading the league as a rookie), intercepted seven passes, forced six fumbles, recorded 12 sacks and deflected another 15 passes. “The Maniac” shows up all over the field and truly has a knack for the ball. My top left tackle in the league is Ronnie Stanley. He took his game to another level last season, when he was named a first-team All-Pro. On 515 pass-blocking snaps, he did not allow a single sack and didn’t surrender any pressures in nine games. He also was a huge piece to the Ravens breaking the NFL’s all-time rushing yardage record (3296 yards) that had stood for over 40 years, as Stanley had the lowest percentage of negatively-graded run blocking snaps according to PFF. Joey comes in five spots below his younger brother for me. While I believe Nick Bosa is a little more athletically gifted, Joey came into the league slightly more technically refined in his hand-usage. He may not quite have the burst off the ball like a Danielle Hunter or the ability to bend like a Von Miller, but Bosa is as complete a defensive end as we have in the game. He does a great job setting the edge in the run game and when he gets after the passer, he is so smooth with his hand-combos and finds the weakness of the tackle’s pass-sets. Another one of those enormous snubs from the actual list is Byard, who has become one of the premiere safeties in the game. Over the last three seasons, he leads the league with 17(!) interceptions and broke up another 33 passes. The range he presents as a deep-middle safety and the confidence he has in his game, combined with extremely dependable tackling in space (just two of 86 attempts missed last season), definitely earn him a spot. Since I just talked about Hunter, this is where he comes in. The Vikings D-end is another one of those guys, who has improved pretty much every year, since coming in as a pretty raw product from LSU. Hunter has put up 14.5 sacks in each of the last two seasons, but he massively improved his total pressure number of 97 (including the playoffs) and he actually got the ball out of the quarterbacks as well (three forced fumbles). He is an athletic phenom, who has learned to string moves together incredibly well. We have started a bit of a run on offensive tackles here, with Schwartz coming in slightly outside the top 50. There is a good argument to be made for this guy being the best at his position, especially if you base it off that incredibly postseason run he just had, when he allowed no sacks and just one total pressure on 142 pass-blocking snaps against some of the baddest dudes on the planet. Schwartz wasn’t responsible for any sacks through the regular season either and the Chiefs averaged an NFL-best 5.93 yards per carry through the gaps to either side of him. If you just base the list on this past season, you could argue Kendricks was the best linebacker in all of football. He has been a beast against the run pretty much since coming into the league, but what put him on a different level last season was his play in coverage. Kendricks allowed only 53.3 percent of the passes his way to be completed (very low for a LB) and broke up 12 passes, leading to a forced incompletion rate of 21.9 percent, which is more than four percent better than Luke Kuechly in his best season (who had been the previous record-holder). Let’s get this out of the way – Clowney can be an absolute game-wrecker. However, I really struggled with his ranking, because he is such a disruptive player when on the field – which the stats simply don’t tell you – but injuries have just been too much of an issue for him. That is also a big reason why he is still signed. Yet, you can not overlook how incredibly gifted Clowney is and how much better he has gotten with his hands. That week ten game at San Francisco was the best performance from a defensive player all season long. It’s always great when you predict a player to break out and he actually does. Jones already was on all my fantasy teams two years ago, but I said he would take another step forward in 2019 and he surprised even me. His 1558 scrimmage yards were the eight-most in entire league and he was tied for the most touchdowns at 19, while touching the ball almost 60 times less than the backs ahead of him (285 touches). He is so explosive and can just slither through defenses, while also being a true downfield threat as a receiver. https://preview.redd.it/imk396cc7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=7a468004843b4c94a11ceb2890e4b2415daf5aac
I always thought Barrett was a good player as part of that rotation in Denver, but when he finally got a chance to shine, that’s exactly what he did. After posting 14 combined sacks over his four season with the Broncos, he led the league with 19.5 in his first year with Tampa Bay. He also finished second in tackles for loss (19) and forced six fumbles. Watching him rush the passer, his game is built on the bull rush and long-arm, off which he can covert power-to-speed, in terms giving a little hesitation and then winning on a quick burst to the outside. Talking about the top backs in the game, Elliott’s name doesn’t come up too often for me anymore. He still finished fourth in the league with 1357 rushing yards, but that was running behind a top-five offensive line and he just looked a step slow to what we have seen from him, without that explosion through the hole and turning those good runs into big gains. With that being said, he might still be the most complete back in the game and could return to glory in 2020. It almost feels bad to put Bakhtiari this low, but he is still one of those five elite offensive tackles. I think what puts him as last of that group is the fact he is closer to the average in terms of his run-blocking than the other guys. Still, he has been the best pass-protector over the last four years at least, when he did not allow more than three sacks once and the lowest amount of total pressures, despite his QB finishing in the top six of time to throw in all but one of them. While he did allow two sacks through the first half of last season, from week ten all the way through the NFC Championship game, he did not surrender a single one. If you asked me who the best route-runner in the game today was, I would probably say Keenan Allen. He is so elusive off the line, deceptive with how he sets up his breaks and he has that quick-twitch to create separation on the short and intermediate level. He does lack some vertical speed and his YACability isn’t among the best at the position, which is why he isn’t even higher, but if you need somebody to get open on third downs, this is your guy. He terrorized Darius Slay last season. Hicks did miss missed 11 games last season, but unlike the players around the league apparently – I did not forget about him. With just one sack and five TFLs in the five games he did play, it’s understandable that he would drop in the rankings, but let’s forget that in 2018 he rivaled Fletcher Cox and Chris Jones for the league’s best D-tackle not named Aaron Donald. Hicks was a frequent visitor in the backfield, with both ten marks in QB pressures and defensive stops. His impact was felt most when he wasn’t on the field for the Bears last season and they were closer to average than number one. While Kittle and Kelce to me are clearly in a tier of their own, Ertz is still that third guy at the tight-end position. He has been one of the most productive pass-catchers in the entire league for several years now. After setting a new record for most receptions in a season for a TE (118) in 2018, he took a little step back last year. Ertz is by far Carson Wentz’s favorite target, having lead the Eagles in both receptions and receiving yards in all four seasons the QB has been there for. Since he isn’t as much of a downfield or YAC threat as the other two guys at his position – as well as only being an okay blocker – this is where he falls for me. Somehow I think the player just don’t respect safeties, since this is the third guy now that should have clearly made the list at that position. I have always been a fan of Simmons and called for him getting more playing time, after mostly being a backup his rookie season, when the Broncos last won the Super Bowl. His range, instincts and smarts as a single-high free safety have allowed him to become a true difference-maker. And he certainly had the stats to back it up last season, with four picks and 15 more plays on the ball. Matty Ice has never gotten the love he deserves on this list or from people covering the league as a whole. People seem to still think about the 28-3 game and while his MVP season was more of an outlier due to playing with the game’s best offensive mind in Kyle Shanahan, he has thrown for 4000+ yards in nine straight seasons, completing exactly two-thirds of his passes for a TD-to-INT ratio of 2.26 and a passer rating of 97 over that stretch. He has pretty much always been second tier for me, but he has had to deal with some bad O-line play and a couple of questionable years of play-calling under Steve Sarkisian. 2019 was not a good season for Juju by any means. He missed four games and had less than half the production of the year prior. However, a lot of that had to do with the worst quarterback situation in the league and you don’t put over 2300 yards and 14 TDs before you even turn 23, if you aren’t a special player. With Big Ben under center in ’18, Juju finished top five in the NFL with 1426 yards and was named team MVP over Antonio Brown – which the latter let us know later on. I know this is what will get me the most hate, but whenever people want to give me all the stats on Drew Brees, they forget to mention that he is playing behind an elite offensive line, a record-setting receiver, one of the premiere pass-catching backs and one of the all-time great play-callers. I have called him a well-oiled machine in that Sean Payton offense several times and his command of that group is impeccable, but the raw arm talent simply isn’t quite there anymore. https://preview.redd.it/ngz596km7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=91b89cf581eefed34fbf6bced8d7170d18de00ed
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