Monday, 25 February 2013

Ranking the Top 30 Point Guards: Part I

When I first thought of writing a blog, I wanted to write knowledgeably about the NBA, while at the same time hopefully not being too crusty and stat-filled – there’s plenty of better websites if you want that intellectual number-crunching. I also wanted to create debate, easily done amongst friends, strangely harder on the blog. While I do have a surprisingly high number of readers (thanks to all of you who are reading this), comments are far and few between – either my analysis is so solid that there’s nothing to argue with, or it’s so mindless/uncontroversial that it’s just nice to read and then move on (most likely the latter).

This premise got hijacked slightly with my decision to start posting tips, a great move in hindsight, thanks to my superb NFL season, but less of a journalistic adventure, more a fun way to pass the time and hopefully make you slightly richer along the way. With the NFL season gone, it’s time to get serious on the NBA. Kinda. What follows is in-depth knowledge, spiteful grudges, and lots and lots of words. Only, in From The Carpark tradition, I’m going to go to my tried and true rankings – ranking the generals who run the show in the association. We’re going thirty deep, split into two posts, the top thirty point guards in the NBA. Injured players are included, as leaving the opinion-dividing Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo would just be a cop-out. Let’s get this show on the road.

Honourable mentions:

Because some franchises are fortunate enough to have two high calibre point guards, some starters couldn’t crack the top thirty. Apologies to Isaiah Thomas, Mario Chalmers, Nate Robinson and the Jamaal Tinsley/Mo Williams bullfighter-like combo in Utah, you came up short – as did you Jason Kidd and Luke Ridnour.

Toughest Omission:

Ramon Sessions

Did you know – Ramon Sessions averages more points than Jameer Nelson, Raymond Felton, John Wall, Kyle Lowry and Steve Nash. I sure didn’t. But I guess the Bobcats are terrible, and definitely have to be the shocker in managing to get two point guards in the top 30. People may forget, but Sessions used to be a dynamic back-up in Milwaukee and Cleveland, before he got tossed into the Lakers pressure-cooker (currently devouring Steve Nash and Dwight Howard) and was forced to play alongside the anti-point guard Kobe Bryant. It’s laughable how bad the Lakers were that the Bobcats’ sixth man was a Laker starter last season. 

However, Sessions is included partly due to the complete atrocity that is the Bobcat frontcourt, meaning he can shoot whatever shot he likes, especially when coming in with the bench unit. His shooting percentages are below-par, but he rebounds well per minute for his position, and drops four assists per game.

I just had to include him for my obligatory barb at the Lakers. Onto the top 30!

30: Eric Bledsoe

One of the freakiest athletes in the league and possibly the point guard involved in the most trade rumours, Bledsoe will definitely be higher if I attempt a similar list next season. Being mentored by Chris Paul has done wonders for his game, and while a recent stretch proved he wasn’t quite the top-20 commodity many were suggesting, the lightning-quick dunk contest participant will be getting quite a hefty contract come free agency.  While most people are aware of his abilities as basically a younger, taller, more consistent Nate Rob, his three-point percentage really surprised me, shooting at a terrific 43% clip. Keep that up and we are probably seeing him getting 35 minutes a game on a new team sometime soon.

29: Andre Miller

Or, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe aptly puts it: Professor Andre Miller, PHD: Basketball. The best lob thrower in the league, Miller is getting old, but still gets in done off the bench, averaging six dimes a game. Although his defence is stagnant (common for most point guards), and his three point shooting as awful as ever, he remains one of the league’s best passers and is a perfect fit for the league’s most high-flying offence. How he scored 50 points in a game back in the day is a mystery to me, but old man Miller could still throw lobs in the rest home, and I love him for it.

28: Ricky Rubio

I sense you are confused to see Rubio so low on this list, right? One of the best, flashiest passers in the game, a player who makes the Timberwolves infinitely more exciting to watch, and supposedly key to the Timberwolves’ now invisible playoff chances. The truth is, if we were doing this list on numbers, and you’ll find out soon enough that this is not the case, Rubio probably wouldn’t even crack the top 45. Here’s the ugly truth: eight points per game, six assists, shooting absolutely awful percentages (34% from the field, 13% from three). Sure, he has had a minutes limitation, plays above-average defence and has had to come back from injury, but this is basically what he did last year as well. So while you’ll see him on all the highlight reels, in reality, he’s the fourth best player on the Timberwolves at the moment, and my 28th ranked point guard. In a season or two? He’ll be much improved.

27: Darren Collison

Darren Collison is the epitome of “okay”. Given a starting point guard’s role in Dallas (after being dumped in Indiana), Collison averages an okay 13 points per game, an okay five and half assists per game and plays okay defence. With the Mavs trying out everyone in an attempt to find someone better, including two near-fourty year olds in Derek Fisher and Mike James, Collison could be one of those guys who ends up playing for seven or so teams during his NBA career. On the plus side, he’s a good shooter (49/39/90) and loves playing the Thunder. So yeah, it’ll be fun watching him earn a ring on the Heat next season.

26: Jameer Nelson

If Darren Collison is the epitome of “okay”, then Jameer Nelson has to be cast as “forgotten”. Once a high-volume scorer, Nelson has struggled with injuries on this mess of a Magic team, and as a result is shooting 39% from the field, by far the worst of his career. With JJ Redick shoved out the door on trade deadline day, Nelson might see more opportunity to take over like he did a few years ago, but this former All-Star will be wanting to get out of this horrid Magic situation. What pushes him into 26th spot on this list however is his solid passing, with 7.4 assists per game putting him eighth in the league despite being forced to play with a bunch of ragtags. Expect more from him next season.

25: George Hill

A virtual unknown out of college, Hill is another Spur product who has far exceeded expectations from draft day. An above-average defender, Hill received a slightly-excessive contract handed to him by Indiana, but has performed decently in his time there, being roughly league-average in all of his statistical categories while rebounding exceptionally well for a point guard. With the Pacers looking like a big contender come playoff time, Hill’s contract could pay itself if he comes up big defensively on some of the big-name Eastern Conference guards.

24: Kemba Walker

I'm not his biggest fan, but Kemba Walker has been the one shining light during this dark Bobcats season. Hugely improved on his rookie season, Walker is averaging 17 a game while also getting his teammates involved, with five and a half assists. The biggest improvement in his game has come via his shooting, going from 37% on 12 shots per game last season to now shooting a respectable 43% on 15 shots. His deep shooting has also improved, going from 30% to 35%. For that, Kemba gets respect from me, and the 24th spot on this ranking.

23: Jeremy Lin

Yep, Linsanity isn’t so Linsane anymore. While he’s not the terrible player some thought he would be, he’s not the superstar every Asian fan thinks he is either. As you should well know, he can get hot, really hot, but when looking at the full picture, his shooting stats are below-average, and his defence is always risky, jumping the passing lane for steals and continually losing his man. Still, he can pass – six assists a game, and although New York probably made the right decision in not matching Houston’s offer sheet, the amount of Asian money coming into Houston must be massive. One thing is for sure, Lin will never be at the end of the bench and sleeping on a couch for the rest of his life.

22: Goran Dragic

The next man up is the player Lin replaced in Houston. Poor Goran has lost some of the “Nash Replacement” momentum this season, and part of it isn’t his fault as he’s stuck on an absolutely atrocious Suns team with very few offensive options. Unfortunately for the Slovenian, he isn’t even performing that well individually after a superb run with the Rockets, shooting 44% from the field and 31% from deep, which perhaps showcases his struggles in being forced to carry this team. A good basket attacker, Dragic isn’t shooting well from the line either, but his seven dimes per game show that he’s still a competent starter in the NBA, and sadly - possibly the Suns best player.

21: Raymond Felton

There are two reasons why Felton has been overrated by NBA fans this season. Firstly, he’s in much better shape than last season’s horror show in Portland, meaning the good things that he’s done are much more pleasant for Knicks fans. Secondly, the Knicks point guard woes were well-documented last season, until Linsanity came along, and Felton is a huge upgrade over the Baron Davis/Mike Bibby combo. So while those factors are true, Felton is shooting a Jameer Nelson-like 40% from the floor, and a strangely decent 36% from three. 6.3 assists per game is handy, and he would accumulate a lot more if it wasn’t for Iso-Melo.

Can the Knicks win the title with Ray Felton as their second option on offence? Probably not. But it’s nice to see him back contributing.

20: Jarrett Jack

Your 2012-2013 Sixth Man of the Year. If Jack doesn’t get this award, I will be angry and stunned. Let’s just look at his resume for the award.
  • Averages 13 a game off the bench, being the first player to put up 30 points and 10 assists off the bench since Magic Johnson.
  • Shoots a terrific 48% from the field and an even more terrific 41% from three.
  • Pulls down three ballboards a game along with six dimes, plays crunch-time minutes and is the go-to man when the game gets close.
  • Is incredibly clutch, and one of the best mid-range games in the league.
  • Isn’t a complete ball-hog and volume shooter like JR Smith or Jamal Crawford.

Expect a 12,000 word angst-filled post when Jamal Crawford beats him out for the title.

19: Brandon Jennings

You don’t know how tempted I was to put Jack (and many others) ahead of Jennings. A petulant gunner, Jennings is self-centred and delusional, believing he is much better than the likes of Ty Lawson and Stephen Curry, while also claiming he would be an All-Star if not in Milwaukee.
If you’ve been reading the blog from the beginning, you probably know that I hate inefficient ball-hogs more than anyone, and Jennings fits right into that category. Casual NBA fans see some of the shots he hits and look at his points per game (19) and think he’s superb, without really noticing the shots he misses (60% of them), his god-awful defence, and the way he shoots his team out of many winnable games alongside Monta Ellis in one of the most overrated backcourts of all time.

Put simply, there’s hundreds of basketball players out there who could score 19 points per game if they shot 17 times a game like Jennings. Unfortunately, I reluctantly admit Jennings a decent creator when he wants to be, getting six assists per game, and is a competent three-point shooter. All-Star material? He’s not even close.

18: Jose Calderon

Damn straight Jose Calderon is a better point guard than Brandon Jennings! Jose has become underrated of late, with the Raptors ditching him due to his hefty contract, but he is one of the most efficient offensive players, let alone point guards, in the game. The strangest member of the 50/40/90 club, Calderon is threatening that elite status again, shooting a remarkable 48/45/90 despite being on teams without a big scorer who can take attention away from him. That also hasn’t stopped him from averaging 7.3 assists per game (remember he was a back-up for half the year), and only Rajon Rondo has more triple-doubles than him. Holder of the best free-throw shooting season ever, he’s going to be highly sought-after in free agency this offseason.

17: Kyle Lowry

Lowry bounced up and down on original drafts of this list before I decided to place him here, as he’s a bit of an enigma. Ditched from Houston after playing high-level ball, it’s clear that he’s not exactly a coach’s favourite, but he’s a three-point threat who rebounds superbly and passes well too. In the end, I had to agree with Dwyane Casey, and place him slightly ahead of my man Calderon, as Lowry beat him out for the starter’s role. A player capable of taking over quarters, I still see untapped potential, if Lowry can stop taking some low-percentage shots then he could be a real force in this league.

16: Jeff Teague

Now known as “The Guy Who Missed The Lay-Up in the Skills Challenge”, Teague is one of the more underrated players in the league, at least by people who love his game (probably just me). With Joe Johnson being shipped out of Atlanta and Lou Williams getting injured, Teague has been forced to take on a bigger scoring role, and has performed pretty admirably, shooting good percentages and upping his assist numbers to seven a game. A decent defensive guard as well, Teague is only going to get better, and could be a bargain buy when he becomes a free agent.

15: Steve Nash

I originally was sad to find myself putting one of the greats of the game at 15th on this list. Then I reminded myself he plays for the Lakers, and was completely fine with it.

In all honesty, playing for the Lakers is a definite reason for why Steve finds himself in this lowly position. With Kobe being such a massive ball hog, Steve continually finds himself giving Kobe the ball as he crosses halfcourt, then retreating to the corner and shooting it when he gets open. Nice way to utilise one of the best passers of all time, Mike D’Antoni. Nash’s numbers, along with his defence (at least he tries, unlike several Lakers…) are very average, but he’s still one of the best shooters in the game (52/42/92) and stills pulls out some sublime passes, it’s just his role on the team is very limited – either give the ball to Kobe, or throw it into Dwight.

Unfortunately, it seems like Steve is washed up, and if not, the Lakers are quickly making him become washed up. Let’s hope he can see out his two remains years in a place that respects his talents.

So, that's 30-15 done in under 3,000 words, hopefully it's not too rambly, come back in a few days time for the final fourteen elite point guards who make the league so entertaining.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Skinny Dynamite's Golf Takeover

It's World Accenture Matchplay Golf time, which means it's time for me to exit stage left and for Skinny D to take over with his yearly matchplay tips. I usually find very little value in these events whatsoever, preferring to stick to the European Tour, but it's always a bit of fun, so here are some quick-fire tips for this week's matchplay.

Skinny Dynamite's Round 1 Matchups:

Alex Noren $2.50 over Dustin Johnson
Padraig Harrington $1.97 over Graeme McDowell
Ryan Moore $1.96 over Jim Furyk
Fredrick Jacobson $1.86 over Ernie Els
Nicolas Colsaerts $2.12 over Bill Haas
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano $2.08 over Francisco Molinari
George Coetzee $2.29 over Martin Kaymer
Paul Lawrie $2.15 over Scott Piercy (I second this pick)
Thorbjorn Olesen $1.89 over Jaime Donaldson (I like this one too)

And some outrights:

Luke Donald $19
Justin Rose $26
Keegan Bradley $36
Thorbjorn Olesen (of course) $76

And after a quick look, my pick of the day is.... :

Branden Grace $2.25 over Robert Garrigus

Hopefully we'll be able to post picks for each round as they come along, if not, get along to the Football 365 Forums, and normal service will resume on the blog soon with some excellent NBA content.

Good luck everyone.

Friday, 15 February 2013

From the Carpark! Celebrating Three-Point Gunners

As I was pondering a post about an All-Overrated NBA side (hint: Brandon Jennings, it's you!), I came across a pertinent observation: Nearly all of the players I deemed to be overrated were guards. And it's pretty simple to figure out why - your average NBA fan loves points being scored, and doesn't care how they are racked up. That's why you find a basketball society where players like JR Smith (40% FG and terrible defence) are drooled over.

So, intrigued by this development, I scoured the stat book to find the biggest gunners in the NBA three-point era. In honour of the blog's name, I'm going to restrict this to three-point shooting only, to see who really likes to tee off from the carpark. First, let's see which players have shot the most threes per game in NBA history.

There have been seven players who have shot eight or more threes per game in a NBA season, which is pretty remarkable when you think about it. Shamefully, four of these guys couldn't crack 36% from three. How well did these teams fare? Here are the shot-firing culprits:

Antoine Walker

Really no surprise to find Antoine here, although somehow he managed to average five assists per game whilst jacking up his daily eight threes. Shooting them at 34%, he wasn't awful, but certainly not justified to shoot as much as he did. Thanks to Antoine, Paul Pierce, and nobody else (third highest scorer - Rodney Rogers with 10 points per game), the Celtics ended up 49-33 and making the Eastern Conference Finals despite shooting a terrible 42% as a team. So while Antoine shot a ton, probably better him than key rotation members Erick Strickland or Eric Williams.

Quentin Richardson

A man who bounced around the NBA, getting numerous starters roles despite being a 39% career shooter, I was kinda surprised to see that he shot eight threes a game without being benched. Then I realised he was playing for the Suns and everything made sense. In the crazy Suns offence, Q-Rich shot 10 threes in a game 26 times, including a game against Minnesota where he went 4-17 from three. I'd love to laugh at this some more, but the Suns went 62-20, thanks to the quartet of Nash, Stoudemire, Johnson and Marion. Wait, I can. Q-Rich was the ninth-best three point shooter on the team. Good job by you Quentin!

Michael Adams

This has to be one of the goofiest, and most frustrating seasons of all time. Adams shot 21 times per game, including 8.5 per game from deep, while also getting to the line on average eight times per game. So he must have been a colossal black hole right? Apparently not. Adams averaged 10.5 assists per game. At this stage in my research, I was stupefied. Then I saw the team, and the era, and it all clicked. He was on the infamous Paul Westhead Nuggets! Let me explain with some numbers.

Westhead's side averaged a phenomenal 120 points per game playing at a ridiculously high pace. The problem? They gave up 131.

The first game they played that season, they scored 158 points. And lost.

Westhead's plan resulted in journeyman point guard Scott Skiles dropping 33 assists in an encounter, while Phoenix racked up 173 against them. The Nuggets shot nearly 9,000 shots that season, while jacking more than 1,000 threes. Needless to say, they ended 20-62.

So yeah, Michael Adams shooting 29% from his 8.5 threes per game was one of the least strangest events that happened that season.

Baron Davis

Congratulations Baron, you are the biggest three-point gunner of all time! 

This was probably Baron's most unhinged season, with shooting splits of 39-32-67, while shooting an absolute ton. Baron shot 8.7 threes per game, despite not being in a crazy system like Adams or Richardson, and hitting 32% is just terrible. 

Baron is 13th on the all-time threes attempted in a season list, despite missing 15 games through injury (Interesting note: Ryan Anderson is on track to finish 7th all time in threes attempted, and he's a bench player). Much like former team-mate Richardson, Baron attempted 10 threes in a game 29 times, needless to say the results weren't pretty. Let's just say that nobody ever wonders why Baron has played for six different NBA teams.

Unsurprisingly, Baron was traded after this terrible season, but found a good home on the entertaining "We Believe" Warriors. The coach who was killed by Baron's selfishness? Not as lucky. 

Hornets coach Tim Floyd was fired after the team went 41-41, one would suspect Baron and his 582 attempted threes have a lot to do with it. 

Can fellow Hornet Ryan Anderson catch Baron Davis and be the lone white guy to make it into the highly prestigious 600 3PA club? His attempts from the carpark could make for an interesting sub-plot for a team mired in the lottery. 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Celebrating Atrocity in the NBA

The NBA is heating up.

All over the internet you see cases for the NBA MVP, arguments for which team is going to win the title and so forth. At From the Carpark we do things differently, remember the article on the worst bench units? So today the script is again flipped; which teams and individuals are the worst at particular aspects of the game? And who will win the first ever FTC Least Valuable Player Award? Let's start with terrible teams.

The "Ole!" Award for Worst Team Defence:

Despite tough opposition from the Charlotte Bobcats (lots more coming from them), this award goes to the one-man band that is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Opposing teams shoot 47.5% against the whiffy Cavs defence, while also shooting a fifth-best 38% from three. Not having Anderson Varejao for the rest of the season means it'll only get worse for the Cavs, they are a league worst in blocks per game (averaging nearly less the half of what the Bucks do), and create the least turnovers of any side in the league. And unsurprisingly enough, they are terrible foulers too, sending opponents to the line at the second highest rate in the league. 

Unless Cavs management somehow manage to fix this over the offseason, it might be a while before we see Kyrie in the postseason.

The "Bizzaro D'Antoni" Award for Most Boring Offensive Team:

Washington get a let-off from being award winners here due to the fact they had AJ Price and Garrett Temple running their offence for two-thirds of their season, so this award goes to the incredibly dull Indiana Pacers. The third-slowest team in the league, the only teams less efficient on offence than them are the Wizards and Bobcats (lofty company). 

With shooting splits of 43-35-74, their team is well below average in all shooting categories, led by the awesome inefficiencies of DJ Augustin (34% FG) and centre Roy Hibbert (42%). To make things worse, only two players shoot above 46% - the impressive Lance Stephenson and the underrated David West. To put that in perspective, Miami as a TEAM shoot better than the best Pacer. 

To make things even less watchable, no Pacer averages five assists, as Frank Vogel's iso-ball system gets utilised to its full extent. Would it surprise you if I told you Indiana were top five in the league for turnovers also? And scored their main amount of buckets on put-backs? Let's just move on.

The "We Have No Shooters!!" Award For One-Dimensional Offence:

Tied between the two most front-court dominated teams in the league: The Memphis Grizzlies and the Chicago Bulls. With both teams devoid of three-point shooters, they are very reliant on their big man duo's - Boozer and Noah for the Bulls, and Gasol and Randolph for the Grizz. But just how one-dimensional are they? Here are some numbers:

  • The Grizzlies and Bulls shoot a combined 27 threes per game. New York shoots 29.
  • Only Dallas shoot more from 3-15 feet than the Grizzlies.
  • Memphis had two players shooting over 40% from three, and they traded both of them away.
  • Chicago's best three-point shooter (Nate Robinson, believe it or not) is going to lose all his minutes now that Derrick Rose's return is imminent, meaning it's probable that even less threes will be shot in Chicago.
If you love big men, then you love watching these teams, but if recent title teams tell you anything it's that you have to have some level of deep shooting to challenge for the championship.

The "Charlotte Bobcat" Award for Number One Pick Likelihood:

Given to... the Charlotte Bobcats!! Looking back, not enough was said about the ridiculous start the Bobcats got off too, now sitting at 11-37 they are far and away the worst team in the league, and may struggle to get to 20 wins. Almost unbelievably, they lost 18 straight games, and staggeringly have only won once at home in their last eighteen contests. And that's why there are thousands of tickets available to their home games at ludicrously low prices. Thanks to the lottery, they might end up with the dreaded no.2 pick one again. The Charlotte Bobcats, we salute you! 

Now let's move to the players who are proving to be the worst in the NBA so far this season.

The "Golden Brick" Award for Worst Shooter:

Surprise, surprise, this recipient plays for the Charlotte Bobcats! While this player doesn't quite shoot as badly as the atrocious Ishmael Smith (17%) or even Eric Maynor or Jannero Pargo, this player shoots many more shots than all three, while also playing power forward. A former number 2 pick, he is probably worse than Darko or Thabeet - Tyrus Thomas!

Thomas is shooting five times a game, a reasonable amount in his rapidly diminishing 15 minutes per game, and is at a horrific clip of 29%. He's shooting an utterly atrocious 30% at the rim, while shooting 0% (0%!!!!) from 3-9 feet. It's almost as if he's scared of contact, as he can hit free throws yet barely ever goes to the line, shooting a ton of mid-range jumpers. There's nothing more funny than seeing Thomas play alongside DeSagana Diop (26% from the field). I'll enjoy watching him play in the New Zealand Basketball League in three years time.

The Allen Iverson Memorial Trophy for Anti-Passing Point Guards:

This award goes to a player I'm sad to say I thought would be good in this league - Tyshawn Taylor. First off, he hates passing, yet shoots 35% on field goals and 45% at the line. That might be a problem. Anyways, in his 24 games played this season, Taylor averages 0.3 assists per game. That is turrrrible! His assist rate is an incredibly low 9.7 (for comparison, Earl Watson's is 51.62) while he also turns the ball over far more than the league average. Which all up, gives him an assist to turnover ratio of 0.55, meaning he has more turnovers than assists. We might not be seeing much more of Tyshawn Taylor in the NBA.

The First Inaugural "Fluffy Pillow" for the Softest Big Man:

Are there really any other candidates for this award now that Brook Lopez has hardened up? Andrea Bargnani wins this award for what should be the first of many successive victories, for his utter incompetence at doing his job this season. Let me show you why he's regarded as the softest player in the league.

Bargnani plays 32 minutes per game. In that time he averages four rebounds per game, grabbing a ludicrously low 8% of all possible rebounds when he is on the court. Did I mention that he's 7 foot tall?!?! A relateable comparison for Bargnani is his polar opposite, Reggie Evans, who in 22 minutes averages nine rebounds per game, despite being 6 foot 8. Bargnani also averages under 1 block per game, and draws a charge once every twenty games. I just love the thought of someone going up to Barg and giving him the first ever "Fluffy Pillow".

Despite this awful awful play, neither Bargnani, nor Thomas, nor Taylor, or even Austin Rivers, are the winner of From The Carpark's first ever Least Valuable Player Award 

The LVP takes into account many factors - terrible play, terrible contracts, the submarining of the whole team around him, and in the end there could only be one winner, so the first annual Least Valuable Player is.....


Corey Maggette!!!

Maggette is currently earning a yearly salary of 10 million dollars to sit on the bench for one of the worst teams in the NBA. Given playing time by naive coach Lawrence Frank, Maggette repaid his misplaced faith by averaging a stunning five points per game, while having more fouls than rebounds and assists. Shooting 35% from the field and 24% from three, Maggette's play was a joy to behold, with his shining moment being a nine-point, six-foul, four-turnover masterpiece against the 76ers. When his team traded away two small forwards, everybody thought it'd be time for Corey to step back into the fold, but no!, Frank decided he'd rather play mediocre power forwards out of position rather than play Corey.

For earning 10 million dollars to sit down for 48 minutes, Corey Maggette - you are the From the Carpark's first ever Least Valuable Player!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Scottish Success = Golfing Profit: Week 4 of our Golf Tips

Victory!!!! After a superb spell of play put them way out in front, they managed to hold on despite some shakes when trying to close it out, for what was an immensely satisfying win.

No, No, I'm not talking about the Baltimore Ravens, although that was one of the sporting highlights of my lifetime, I'm talking about the legend of golf - Stephen Gallacher. 

The Great Scotsman gave our golf tipping followers their first winner of the year, and lo and behold, it was me, not Skinny, who tipped him out at 75-1. The money making didn't stop there either, with Skinny nailing a place for Thorbjorn Olesen at 23-1 (2 units), while my longshot strategy came up huge when 150-1 play Felipe Aguilar ended up in a tie for third.

So after a rough start we've rebounded strongly in the past two weeks, tipping out five players who returned a profit, and combined sitting at a positive balance overall (I'm somehow +50 units). Let's try keep this good run going for a third consecutive week.

The first tournament on the radar is in South Africa, the Joburg Open. Played on two distinctly different courses, scoring can vary hugely round to round, and with the weather forecast looking dodgy there could be the possibility of delays, making it even less attractive to back guys like Charl Schartwzel (a crazy 3-1) or Branden Grace and George Coetzee (8-1). It's a tournament devoid of big names, so the longshots aren't as favourable this week.

Joburg Open Tips:


Thomas Aiken $33
Garth Mulroy $35
Robert Rock $35
Andy Sullivan $70

1 ew

Tano Gayo $125
Andreas Harto $125
Soren Hansen $150

1/2 ew

Aiken and Rock also stood out for me, but instead I went for...


Jamie Elson $110
David Drysdale $66
Marc Warren $66
Jbe Kruger $45
Danny Willett $30

All 1 ew

Elson has prior form in this tournament, as does Drysdale and Willett (both with three top 20's). Marc Warren is added for more Scots, while Jbe Kruger is a quality player who I included at the expense of Jaco Van Zyl.

The other tournament is the famous AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach, with last week's winner Phil Mickelson as the defending champ. It's pretty much the opposite of the South African tournament, with a stacked line-up of players, so there are some very enticing prices. A real horses for courses tournament, here's who we like:

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Tips:


Padraig Harrington $25
Hunter Mahan $25
Ryan Palmer $40
Tim Clark $40
Brian Gay $50

1 ew

Matt Every $80
James Hahn $135
William McGirt $250

1/2 ew


DJ Trahan $300

1/4 ew

Bob Estes $150
DA Points $125

1/2 ew

Charlie Wi $80
Kevin Na $80
Bryce Molder $70

1 ew

Best of luck to all you followers, lets hope there's more to celebrate come next week!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Super Bowl Plays: Prop Style

You may not have noticed, but the Super Bowl is tomorrow. And while I desperately search for a way to watch my Ravens play, neutrals sometimes need a way to stay entertained. 

The solution? Props 

With lines on anything from the coin toss to the colour of the Gatorade shower, there's something for everyone, and since I'm too emotionally biased to make an actual play on the spread for this game, props are the way to go. Below are some of the plays I like, none of which I'll care about if the Ravens manage to triumph.

Will the game be decided by exactly three points?

No: $1.23

$1.23 seems pretty decent value here, even though a three point margin is the most likely outcome in a NFL game it only happens very rarely, and as my next prop shows I could see a blowout on the cards.

49ers to win by more than 10.5

Yes: $3.30

I think that if the 49ers win, it could turn into a rout, so the $3.30 odds are enticing. While the Ravens have successfully negated the power of Brady and Manning, Kaepernick offers something entirely different, and there will be no-half measures - either the Ravens D handles him like they did the other two, or they won't be able to contain him.

Toal number of 49ers to score

Over 3.5: $1.77

This includes the kicker, so one is a lock already, the 49ers will definitely score at least one rushing touchdown also, so this comes down to whether two different receivers will get across the line. Also, a defensive touchdown makes this one a near-lock. Not my favourite play on the board but still a distinct possibility.

How many players will attempt a pass?

Under 2.5: $1.27

This one is basically under the guise of "Will there be a quarterback injury?". Flacco never comes out of the game, and offensive co-ordinator Jim Caldwell is famously risk averse, so there won't be any Torrey Smith throwing or the like. If Kaepernick was still a back-up, over 2.5 would be a lock, but as a starter, it's highly unlikely we see Alex Smith come off the bench for a snap or two.

Which team will score first?

Ravens: $2.10

These odds are kinda silly when you consider that the team who wins the toss and receives would suddenly zoom in to about $1.70 in the live odds. Or conversely, the 49ers get stuck on their own 20 and have to punt, and the Ravens need just one pass to get into field goal range. These odds should really be closer to even money.

Will the Ravens score in all four quarters?

No: $1.33

Tough to do against a stingy 49er defence.

Which will Colin Kaepernick throw first - TD or Int?

Touchdown Pass: $1.42

I hope this isn't the case, but I feel it will be. Finally, the plays I like the most - basketball ones!

Who will have more?

Kobe Bryant points v Pistons -4.0
49ers points +4.0: $1.90

Since we are in a new Kobe trend where he's looking to pass first, I can't see him scoring too many more than 25 points against the Pistons. Conversely, I see the 49ers scoring roughly 20 points, more if they win. And given that Kobe can score 7 more points than the 49ers and still lose, I really do like this play.

Who will have more?

Steve Nash assists v Pistons +3.5
Distance of first TD pass -3.5 yards: $1.90

Steve Nash's last five games: 2 assists, 5 assists, 5 assists, 2 assists, 7 assists. So realistically, the distance of the first TD pass will need to be over about 13 yards. Given that there are two good red zones defences playing, as well as two good deep-ball teams, while Nash could easily sit if the game is a blowout, I think this play is my favourite Super Bowl prop. 

Go Ravens!