The Villain's Pu-Pu Platter - 4/15/21
What's Next for the Nuggets After The Jamal Murray Injury
The Denver Nuggets were dealt a massive blow to this past week when star guard Jamal Murray unfortunately tore his ACL and is likely done for the season. The Nuggets were a year removed from a surprising playoff run where they defeated the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Clippers and took the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers to 6 games. They made some impressive additions at the trade deadline to add JaVale McGee and Aaron Gordon to position themselves for the playoff stretch. Now this injury means the load is heavily on regular season MVP favorite Nikola Jokic to get them to the promised land. Joker is becoming the runaway favorite for MVP as his 26.0 PTS / 10.9 RBS / 8.9 AST per game averages are just outstanding. But he plays his best basketball when Murray is on the court. Murray is the closer on this team, the engine that get them going and digs them out of holes. Can Joker assume that roll? With Murray out, there's more shots available for Michael Porter Jr and Aaron Gordon. Gordon was brought in to be a boost to a lethal duo, now he has to step into that # 2 spot. Porter Jr. can score on anyone, but he does this as the 3rd or 4th option, how will he fare when defenses will look to remove him from the offense? I think Denver would have to collapse to miss the playoffs, and that's not happening. But this team could be a dangerous wounded animal in the playoffs if the normal role players setup up.
LaMarcus Aldridge Retires from the NBA
While we complained that the Brooklyn Nets had all but one star on the court against the Philadelphia Sixers on primetime, LaMarcus Aldridge was in the process of making a critical decision. Aldridge decided to retire due to health issues stemming from an irregular heartbeat. "For 15 years I've put basketball first," Aldridge wrote on his social media page. "And now, it is time to put my health and family first." Aldridge first complained of chest pains during the Los Angeles Lakers game last Saturday, and according to him his discomfort got worse. "The next morning, I told the team what was going on and they were great getting me to the hospital," Aldridge wrote. "Though I'm better now, what I felt with my heart that night was still one of the scariest things I've experienced." I want to tip my cap to Aldridge for speaking up and not letting this issue linger. Too many times we try to tough it out or just not complain about our health until it's too late. I'm glad he caught this early and is able to walk away from the game before the game pushed back. The 7-time All-Star had a great career, likely played in the wrong era as a back-to-the-basket player is going the way of the dinosaur in favor of the shooter's league ushered in by Curry/Klay/KD. But he was a brilliant talent that if he would've remained healthy, might have got that elusive championship ring.
MLB Moves the All-Star Game to Denver
The MLB season has kicked off and is off to a nice start, but the headlines has come in the form of it's annual mid-summer classic. The league has made the decision to relocate the game from Atlanta to Denver in an unprecedented move. Games have moved mid-season before, but this is in protest to the recent Georgia Voting Rights Act that was pass and universally seen as blatant voting rights discrimination. The new Georgia law has civil rights groups in the state up in arms about the potential to restrict voting access for people of color. After the Georgia Senate run-off that saw two Democratic Senators win in a historically Republican state, this ne law seems to spit right in the face in the shift of voting power. MLB was faced with concerns from player and managers alike who did not agree with this law. So instead of debating, MLB took action and pulled the game out of Atlanta. "Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views," said Commissioner Rob Manfred in a statement. "I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year's All-Star Game and MLB Draft." Wow! The Atlanta Braves said they were "deeply disappointed" by the decision to pull the game from their new ballpark. But the swift actions of MLB and speaking out against this law would have made Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, and others proud. Agree with MLB's choice to move the game or not, it's the sign of the times where it's time to take a stand against what you feel is wrong and stand up for those who need help!
Mac Jones vs Justin Fields
The NFL Draft is fast approaching and it's clear that there are teams looking for that next star quarterback. There has been trades with the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins to move in or out of the top 10. The 49ers traded a few picks to drop back and then back into the top 5 to sit at the No. 3 spot. They have Jimmy Garoppolo at QB, but the field believes they will be picking a QB with this pick. However the debate is which QB will they choose, Mac Jones from Alabama or Justin Fields from Ohio State? Justin Fields to me is the better talent who put up great numbers in the Big Ten and will be a star in this league. Mac Jones is the steady QB that can make all the throws, played big time football in the SEC and can run head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense. Most experts have Jones going to the 49ers, but why would you trade up to get the QB that everyone thinks is the 5th or 6th best QB in the draft and would have fallen to them? My real question is why is Fields consistently dropping in this draft. We've seen it happen way to often, with DeShaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson, etc. I feel teams will regret passing on Justin Fields and he will make a team like the New England Patriots very happy if he's sitting on the board after the 10th pick.
New York Yankees Early Season Struggles
The New York Yankees are scuffling and getting off to a slow start to start the 2021 baseball season. While it's early, a 5-7 start to the season doesn't inspire much hope for Yankee fans starving for a championship run, their first since 2009. The issues staring the Yankees in the face right now are two that are troubling but hopefully will change as the year progresses. Starting pitching is one of the biggest issues that has stood out to me so far. They're just not getting length from their starting pitchers. It was a high risk high reward bringing in Jameson Taillon and Corey Kluber to start this season. While Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery have pitched relatively well as a whole the starters are not giving them length. They're averaging about four to five innings per start sometimes less. That puts the bullpen in a very taxing situation. While it's early in the season, bullpens are typically asked to pitch more innings. Teams also do get extra off days to compensate for overuse as pitchers start to build up their arm strength. Pitcher will start to give you more length, but the amount of innings that they're not eating up so far has to be troubling. Also the Yankee bats are struggling to score runs. They've hit into over 15 double plays to start the season that have killed rallies early or late in ball games. Also their offense is averaging 4 runs per game (tied for 22nd in the league) whereas last year they they averaged over five runs per game. The Yankees are sitting at 17th in team batting average and 22nd in team slugging percentage. They aren't hitting as many home runs either as last year either, as the big hit is eluding them so far. You would think this will change with time as it is a long season, but the scuffling of Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu who cannot be ignored. While Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are hitting so far this season, the offense is stuck in neutral. Like I said it's early but as a Yankee fan... it's kind of annoying.