MIKEDROP DAILY – Happy All Star Announcement Day

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Prediction NBA All Star Reserves

Today is the day the NBA announces the 14 players who made the 2019 All Star game as reserves. The 10 starters were announced last week. The voting is still divided by East and West, though the game will not be. The 2019 game will be Team Lebron vs Team Giannis, as a result of both players receiving the most fan votes.

Next Thursday February 7th is the second annual, and first ever televised, All Star draft.

Eastern Conference

Starters – Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Giannis Antetokounmpo , Kawhi Leonard, Joel Embiid

This actually makes sense and I have zero complaints about the East starters. You probably could have made a case for Oladipo to start over Kemba, before the injury, but that’s not disrespect to Walker, who is averaging 24 ppg this year.

Here are my best guesses at the 7 reserves

Bradley Beal, Blake Griffin, Kris Middleton, D’Angelo Russell, Victor Oladipo*, Ben Simmons, Nikola Vucevic

Oladipo still gets rewarded as being an all star but due to his injury will be immediately replacement. My pick for his replacement is Pascal Siakam.

Yes, Siakam! He is averaging 15 ppg and 7 rpg in 50 starts. Those numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page, but his value to the Raptors, who have the second best record in the league is obvious. And I chose Siakam for the honor over Kyle Lowry. The other guard you could make a case for is Eric Bledsoe, but decided to give the nod to Kris Middleton.

The two key names here are Nikola Vucevic and D’Angelo Russell. Vucevic is averaging 20 ppg and 12 rpg and is quietly dominating for the Magic. Russell has emerged as the Nets star player, averaging 19.5 ppg.

The other three – Beal, Griffin, Simmons are self explanatory.

Western Conference

Starters – Steph Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Lebron James

How do you even begin picking starters out West? These are no doubt the five best but you can make MVP cases for several of the reserves.

Here are my best guesses at the 7 reserves

Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert, Tobias Harris, Luka Doncic

The first four are quite obvious. Westbrook has 17 triple doubles. Jokic is averaging 20/10/7 and is a legit MVP candidate for the Nuggets. Davis is averaging 29 ppg and 13 rpg and Lillard averaging 26 ppg and 6 apg.

For the record, this is about way more than just stats. Watch these four and you would know they are among the best players in the league.

After that, it gets messy. Maybe I’m going more with my heart than my head, but Tobias Harris deserves this spot. Just like Lou Williams deserved to be an All Star for the Clippers in 2018 and was snubbed. Harris’ 21 ppg is a career high and he has helped keep the Clippers relevant and in the playoff hunt.

The presence of Gobert, Harris, and Doncic means I am snubbing Karl Anthony Towns, Jrue Holiday, Demar Derozan. Yikes. That’s hard.

Gobert and Towns is probably the most debatable and the one that I will regret the most. But the one thing Gobert does than almost anything in the league is his defense, and that’s why I choose him over Towns. Luka Doncic is a 19 year old rookie sensation averaging 20 ppg, 7 rpg, 5 apg and his playmaker ability and the way he’s been playing is why he should make it over Holiday and Derozan. All of these guys are well-deserving of the bid.

Rams vs Patriots All-Time Series History

Patriots lead the all-time series vs St Louis/Los Angeles Rams 8-5, including a win in Super Bowl XXXVI. Patriots have outscored the Rams in those 13 games, 294-232. Patriots have won the last 5 games vs the Rams, beginning with that 2002 victory.

In that 2002 Super Bowl, Brady threw 1 touchdown pass to Troy Brown and RB Antowain Smith ran for another. Legendary kicker Adam Vinatieri nailed the game winning field goal. Kurt Warner was 28-44, 365 yards but threw 2 INTs to go with his 1 TD (to Ricky Proehl). Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk ran for 76 yards.

In his career, Tom Brady is 4-1 vs Rams, with the one loss coming during his debut 2001 season. He would obviously avenge that loss months later. Bill Belichick is 5-1 vs Rams with Patriots, as they won is 2008 when Matt Cassel was the QB during Brady’s injury season.

The last meeting between them was n 2016. Patriots won 26-10 and one week later, the Rams would fire coach Jeff Fisher after falling to 4-9. In that game, Brady was 33-46, 269 yards and a TD. Julian Edelman caught 8 balls for 101 yards. Chris Higan had Brady’s lone TD pass. Jared Goff was a measley 14-32, 161 yards, TD, 2 INT. Todd Gurley had just 38 yards on 11 carries. All you need to know about the Rams back than is their top 2 WRs were Brian Quick and Kenny Britt. Gross

The last time the Patriots played In St. Louis was 2012, a 45-10 victory.
Brady threw 4 TD and Steven Ridley ran for 127 yards. Rob Gronkowski had 146 yds and 2 TD.

In Brady’s 4 wins vs Rams, Brady has 8 TDs and 0 INT and in the 5 games total, he has 9 TDs, 2 INTs. Not bad.

Those 2 INTs came in the Patriots last loss to the Rams back in 2001. Rams won 24-17, led by Kurt Warner’s 3 TD passes. Notably, Torry Holt and Marshall Faulk each caught a touchdown.

For more on the history of the Patriots in the Super Bowl, check out yesterday’s DAILY column.

Throwback Thursday – Rams Super Bowl Win

Baseball’s (NOT) Hot Stove

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than a month and two of the best players in baseball have yet to sign contracts – Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. According to CBS Sports, Harper and Machado were ranked 1-2 on their free agency tracker.

The funny thing about MLB “hot stove” is that I don’t even know when the first day of the new year is in baseball. NBA is very heavily publicized July 1 and every year news trickles down immediately what guys are doing. For example, last summer Lebron James announcement of moving to LA came on the night of the 1st, just 18 hours after free agency officially began.

In the NFL, if you aren’t signed within the first 3 days, you might as well sit out the next year. NFL free agency moves FAST!

But baseball – how is it possible that guys like Harper, Machado, Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, Mike Moustakas, Gio Gonzalez, Josh Harrison among MANY more are STILL free agents?!

To put this free agency into perspective, former Mets pitcher Jenrry Meijia, who was not-too-long ago given a lifetime ban for abusing banned substances, has signed a contract with the Red Sox. Think about that – a guy BANNED FROM BASEBALL signed before one of the top 5 players in baseball.

Tweet of the Day

Completely unrelated to sports, but totally relevant given the weather around the country . It’s also hilarious and true

For more sports takes, follow me on twitter @msschneid or instagram @mikedropsports

Mike is an alum of the University of Cincinnati and the ultimate sports nerd.

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