Selecting Deandre Ayton

FiveThirtyEight.com’s CARMELO model can again serve as a reality check, projecting Deandre Ayton to earn just minus-0.3 WAR during his first go-round with the Phoenix Suns. But those numbers are based on comparisons to other players with similar physical and statistical profiles; they don’t account for improvement that can come when he’s fully focused and playing in a system that maximizes his talents far better than the Arizona Wildcats ever could. nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Summer league has already allowed him to showcase these tools. Through three games, the big man is playing only 25.8 minutes per contest but averaging 16.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 0.3 assists and 1.0 blocks while shooting 66.7 percent from the field, per china nike nfl jerseys cheap  Turnovers haven’t been an issue, and his defense has already been better than expected—especially in a marquee matchup against Mohamed Bamba.

“That’s a talent. That’s a talent at 7’1″ or whatever,” first-year Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov said after the battle with the Orlando Magic, per Justin Spears of the Arizona Daily Star. “He blocks the shot, is a rim protector and runs the floor. That’s a talent. That’s why we have him, that’s why we love him.”

Ayton isn’t going to require much adjustment time before going to work as a featured member of the Suns’ attack. He should immediately slot in as the starting 5 and be handed plentiful touches to alleviate some of the offensive responsibility shouldered by Devin Booker. cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

He’ll struggle at times; even the best rookies do. But this big man has the skills necessary to become an offensive prototype in today’s NBA, buoying Phoenix with his combination of interior touch and shooting acumen on the perimeter. Moreover, his team has no reason to hold him back as he attempts to lead the charge out of the Western Conference basement. cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Ayton alone won’t get the Suns back into the playoff mix. The combined product of their offseason adventures probably won’t, either.

But respectability is the first step, and he’s ready to help them achieve that part of the rebuilding journey. nfl cheap jerseys nike

Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 29-26, 4th in NL Central

The Pittsburgh Pirates were in first place in the NL Central as recently as May 17. To that point, they seemed to be a classic case of a team that’s better than the sum of its parts.

Or maybe not, as they’ve since lost nine of their last 12.authentic cheap nfl jerseys

Their offense generally has more of a high floor than a high ceiling. It remains competitive by way of its ability to put the ball in play with an NL-low 19.4 strikeout percentage, but it doesn’t up the pressure on teams with either walks or home runs.

The Pirates also suffer from a lack of stability in their starting rotation. Things may change depending on how Joe Musgrove’s return pans out, but to this point it’s lacked a true stopper. A bullpen with a 4.18 ERA has picked up only so much slack.

Grade: C+

Record: 24-33, 5th in NL West

Given the excitement generated by Eric Hosmer, Christian Villanueva, Franchy Cordero and, most recently, Franmil Reyes, one might think the San Diego Padres at least have a competent lineup.

Not really.

Nobody strikes out more frequently than they do, and their .659 OPS is better than only the Marlins’. Throw in the team’s NL-worst defensive efficiency, and their lineup is actually their biggest flaw.

The team’s pitching hasn’t been much good either, but it did emerge as a silver lining in May. Led by Tyson Ross and Brad Hand, Padres pitchers managed a 3.95 ERA for the month. The latter is part of a bullpen that’s quietly been among the best with a 3.23 ERA.nfl jersey cheap china

On the off chance that San Diego’s lineup can live up to its potential, the NL West could be in for a surprise.nfl jerseys authentic cheap

Grade: D+

Record: 26-30, 4th in NL West

If nothing else, the San Francisco Giants are getting the extra offense they needed.cheap nfl jersey sell

They’ve gone from 3.9 runs per game in 2017 up to 4.1 runs per game. Brandon Belt is finally realizing his slugging potential, and Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen have provided solid support around him.

There’s also something to be said of the quality of the back end of San Francisco’s bullpen. Hunter Strickland, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson and Reyes Moronta have combined for a 2.27 ERA in 99 appearances.

What the Giants have been sorely lacking is good starting pitching. Take out Johnny Cueto and the 0.84 ERA he posted when healthy, and Giants starters have just a 5.36 ERA. That’s the pits.

Thus, time to state the obvious: Madison Bumgarner’s looming return can’t come soon enough.nfl team jerseys cheap

Grade: C

John Ross Is Feeling Good

While Hooker’s first NFL season ended in a disappointing fashion, wide receiver John Ross’ was much more consistent.

Consistently bad. Awful, even.cheap nfl nike jersey

Ross, who was selected ninth overall by the Cincinnati Bengals, played in just three games. The Bengals placed him on second-ending reserve in December with a shoulder injury. And head coach Marvin Lewis called him out for his play in November, telling reporters Ross “let his teammates down” after he came up short on a route.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Ross touched the ball once as a rookie—a 12-yard carry. He had no catches. Not one.

Per Geoff Hobson of the team’s official website, Ross acknowledged that his rookie season was a mess:

“Last year I let everything get to me. I let my injury get to me. I was trying to do more than I could. I was out of shape. I’m not trying to make excuses, but it’s real-life things. You can’t just come in the NFL and be that guy. You have to come in and prepare. I’ve learned that. It’s growth and progression from here on.”

Ross also said he’s 100 percent healthy and looking to bounce back.

“I couldn’t ask to feel any better than I do now,” Ross said. “It’s the best I’ve felt since I went into my last year of college.”

Quarterback Andy Dalton told Hobson he’s seen a difference: “He looks good. Completely different than he did last year. You can tell he worked hard. It looks like he’s getting back to where he was. He looks smooth. Everyone knew he was fast, but he’s not just a straight-line guy. He can stop and go. He’s got some shiftiness to him.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Hopefully, that improvement will carry through to training camp and the preseason—cheap nfl jerseys china nike possibly enough so that Lewis says something nice about the 23-year-old speedster who set the combine 40 record at 4.22 a year ago.

Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore and the Analytics of Playmaking

Successful NFL receivers almost always start out as successful college receivers. They catch a high percentage of their college team’s passes, score a lot of touchdowns, rack up high yards-per-catch rates and run fast and jump high in their predraft workouts.
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Boy, Moneyball sounds more like plain-old common sense with every new header, doesn’t it? But college production can be tricky to interpret because of all of the different systems, levels, calibers of quarterback and other variables.4b3677cadc41934f836633fb4ff59fc3_crop_exact

Calvin Ridley’s raw stats look pretty good—224 career catches, 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns in three seasons—especially factoring in Alabama’s run-heavy offense and option-style quarterbacking. But for someone touted as a DeSean Jackson-level deep threat, Ridley caught a relatively low percentage of his team’s touchdown passes, cheap custom nfl jerseys and his vertical leap at the combine (just 31″) suggests that he may not be as explosive or capable of hauling in a contested pass as the NFL’s elite receivers.

By contrast, D.J. Moore’s raw numbers in three seasons at Maryland are less impressive than Ridley’s (146-2,027-17), cheap customized nfl jerseys but his career yards-per-catch rate is higher (13.9 to 12.4) and his production came in a Maryland scheme that’s even more run-oriented than the Alabama offense. Throw in a 39.5-inch vertical leap, and there are many reasons to believe Moore will outperform Ridley at the start of his NFL career.

Football Outsiders’ Playmaker Score takes the variables mentioned above, and others, and turns them into projection cheap nfl custom jerseys ratings for all of the top wide receiver prospects. You can read more about the method and find this year’s ratings here.

Keep in mind that variables like the vertical jump weren’t chosen randomly or picked by some Alabama hater who wants to see Ridley fail. They were selected based on years of analysis to determine what variables were true indicators of future success.

That’s analytics in a nutshell: finding useful variables and eliminating meaningless or misleading ones. Often, the results end up sounding a lot like common sense.

Wayne Rooney should be getting into the box more, says Sam Allardyce

Sam Allardyce has told Wayne Rooney to increase his presence in the opposition penalty area following clear-the-air talks this week with the former England captain.
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Rooney did not disguise his anger at being substituted during the goalless draw with Liverpool last Saturday, when 32-year-old was withdrawn in the 57th minute by Allardyce for the second game in succession. The Everton manager, who insists he has no problem with Rooney’s reaction, explained that he wanted “more legs” in midfield but believes the striker remains better suited to a deeper role. Allardyce, however, also wants Rooney to attack more, with the team’s leading goalscorer having failed to find the target since the defeat of Swansea City on 18 December.
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“With his experience he should be dropping deeper and providing goals but I do think he should get into the box more,” said the Everton manager, whose team travel to Swansea on Saturday. “He hasn’t scored since Swansea and not scored from open play since Newcastle [13 December] and I would like him to get forward a little bit more. Certainly in the games we are controlling more and attacking more I would like him further up the pitch but he is also one of our best passers. I would like that combination to get bigger, certainly from a goalscoring point of view.”cheap customized nfl jerseys

Rooney has scored 11 goals this season – three from the penalty spot – with Oumar Niasse Everton’s second highest scorer with eight.

Allardyce added: “We’ve only got Wayne in double figures and that’s because of penalties.cheap nfl custom jerseys  If you’re going to get into Europe you can’t get there without two players getting into double figures – minimum – so that’s been a massive struggle this year. We haven’t got anyone who has come close to scoring the amount of goals that [Romelu] Lukaku got last year and that’s why our defending has to be so much better. It doesn’t need an experienced manager like me to work that one out.”

Mauricio Pochettino believes tough games bring out the best in Dele Alli

When addressing the subject of Saturday’s fixture with Manchester City, the word most commonly used by Mauricio Pochettino was massive. A massive gap to the top, a massive three points and a massive opportunity. It is also these massive matches, according to the Tottenham manager, that bring out the best in Dele Alli.custom nfl jerseys

The England international turned 22 on Wednesday and celebrated by performing the Floss, a viral dance, on Instagram and attending a Peaky Blinders-themed party. Of greater interest to his coach, and his upcoming opponents, will be the statistics that show Alli has made a greater attacking contribution to his team than Cristiano Ronaldo did at the same age.
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During a season when Alli has been under constant scrutiny, Pochettino called the midfielder “the best 21-year-old in the world”. Now, as a 22-year-old, his manager explained why Alli’s talent was “not something you can buy at the market”.

“For me it’s a massive challenge to play Manchester City,” he said. “[For Alli] he needs a strong opposition to give his best. It’s his character. He is so competitive that when it’s easy he’s not interested. In training sessions, when you do finishing practice without any opposition, sometimes you have to say: ‘Dele, come on.’ But if you put opposition there, he will score an unbelievable goal.

“He is a bit special. Not just a special talent but a special character. That is why we are talking a lot during the whole season about Dele Alli because he is a special talent with special energy. He needs to feel the competition.”
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Alli elaborated on his manager’s thoughts, explaining why he benefits from playing against the top teams. Alli has scored nine of his 36 league goals for Spurs against the other top-six clubs, five of those in matches with Chelsea, including two at Stamford Bridge last month. His current tally against Manchester City is two.cheap custom nfl jerseys

“When you play in the Premier League against the top six, as opposed to bottom-half teams, the game is always a lot different,” Alli said after last Saturday’s fixture with Stoke. “The top six really go at it with you. Both teams want to win and there’s a lot more space. Both teams are looking to attack.cheap customized nfl jerseys

Golden State Warriors: Health, Health, Health

Stephen Curry suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his first game back from nursing an ankle injury that will sideline him through at least the first round of the playoffs. And head coach Steve Kerr doesn’t seem too concerned about it. custom nfl jerseys cheap

“Regular season or playoffs,” he said, per the Bay Area News Group’s Melissa Rohlin, “we can beat anybody in the league without Steph.”

Good point. Probably. Maybe. But what about beating a first-round opponent without Curry and another All-Star? Or two?customized nfl jerseys cheap

Golden State’s daily injury reports have recently read like a nightmare scenario come to life. Kevin Durant is recovering from a rib cartilage fracture. Draymond Green is on the shelf with a hip injury and illness; he’s now unlocked the “variety of issues” truancy designation.hi-res-b8be81f7296c754469718a0271334bc5_crop_exact

Klay Thompson is expected to return from a broken right thumb at the beginning of April, but any sort of fracture on the shooting hand can hardly be considered an afterthought. Omri Casspi is coping with a sprained ankle. On the semi-bright side: Patrick McCaw is back from his broken wrist. Woo-hoo!

Maybe everyone not named Wardell will be ready to rock by the start of the postseason. That doesn’t entirely immunize the Warriors against concern. Their first-round opponent won’t be a pushover, and as Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey pointed out, they’re a net minus when playing without Curry against the Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves.custom nfl jerseys

Potentially telltale still: Since Jan. 1, the Warriors are getting outscored by nearly two points per 100 possessions when Durant, Green and Thompson wage battle minus their megastar floor general.

That tide can easily turn. These three were a plus-6.5 per 100 possessions on their own beforehand, and Golden State’s playoff switch is real. Plus, this isn’t 2016. The Warriors have a workaround if Curry is less than himself upon return. His name is Kevin Durant.customized nfl jerseys

Except, what happens if he’s not right? What if Thompson’s form and accuracy is impacted ever so slightly by his thumb? What if Green’s hip problems flare up later on, or if his annual postseason shooting uptick breaks tradition?

The Warriors already face a genuine threat to their throne at full strength. nfl custom jerseys cheap The Rockets have earned that much respect. Facing off against them in the Western Conference Finals with their own nucleus compromised in any capacity opens the door for disaster. And that’s assuming a could-be shorthanded or could-be underperforming Warriors squad doesn’t get thrown by the surging Blazers, Kawhi-clad Spurs or forever-feisty Jazz before then.

Jordy Nelson Cut by Packers After Team Signs Jimmy Graham

Longtime Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson will be released, the team announced Tuesday.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the Packers were cutting customized nfl jerseys cheap Nelson after nine seasons. Schefter also added Nelson would like to continue playing. Jason Wilde of ESPN reported the Packers wanted Nelson back, but offered him a significantly reduced deal, not much better than the veteran minimum.
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The move comes after Schefter noted Green Bay plans to sign tight end Jimmy Graham to a three-year deal after free agency begins Wednesday at 4 p.m custom nfl jerseys . ET.

Nelson is coming off his least productive season on a per-game basis since 2010. He tallied 53 receptions for 482 yards and six touchdowns across 15 games with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers limited to seven appearances because of a broken collarbone.

He posted career-high totals in catches (98) and receiving yards (1,519) to go along with 13 touchdowns during a 2014 campaign in which he made the Pro Bowl. After missing 2015 with a torn ACL, he bounced back in 2016 with 97 grabs for 1,257 yards and 14 scores.

In August, Nelson told former Packers teammate A.J. Hawk on customized nfl jerseys the HawkCast podcast he could see the end of his playing career on the horizon.

“I would say anywhere between two to four more years.nfl custom jerseys cheap  I think four more—so this one and three more—would be my max,” he said. “That would put me at 13 years. I’d be happy with that, obviously. At some point, I feel I got to get my family back to Kansas.”

Nelson, who had one season left on his deal, cheap custom nfl jerseys became expendable with Davante Adams and Randall Cobb on the roster and Graham reportedly joining the group. Adams inked a four-year, $58 million extension with the organization in late December.