Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers won nine more games than last year, defended well enough in some especially committed stretches to finish 12th overall on that end and got positive performances from just about every young player with a future on the roster.

And before you go burying Lonzo Ball for his busted shot, note that he posted the second-best DRPM among point guards, per ESPN.com, while also producing the highest on-court net rating of any Laker to log at least 1,000 minutes.

A pivotal summer awaits, but the 2017-18 regular season went about as well as could have been expected.

19. Detroit Pistons (19)

“Philadelphia is good, and everyone is praising the process, how great it was, but the process is based on being as bad as you can be, historically bad for as long as you can,” Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy lamented after his team finished four games out of a playoff spot with a 39-43 record. “If that’s the process and the accepted way to build a team in the NBA, then something needs to change.”
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Van Gundy isn’t the only coach to think this way, but he’s uniquely positioned as the leader of one of the teams stuck in the middle because it refuses to use the incentive structure the Sixers exploited.

With Detroit spinning its wheels over the next several seasons, locked into crippling deals for Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, its unwillingness to embrace a real rebuild will look awfully misguided.

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18. Washington Wizards (18)

The Washington Wizards must hope John Wall’s 29 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds against Boston on Tuesday are a harbinger of what’s to come. Because if they’re not, that means the blown leads, lazy defense and selfish offensive play that produced a 3-9 mark over their final dozen games will be.

It’s hard to find a playoff team that looks shakier than Washington.

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17. Los Angeles Clippers (17)

The Los Angeles Clippers lost six of seven to close out a transitional year but managed to stay alive in the playoff race until the season’s final week. Forty-two wins and a top-10 offense are nothing to be ashamed of for a team that used a league-high 34 starting lineups and gave nearly 2,000 minutes to players either called up on two-way deals from the G League or inked to 10-day contracts, per ESPN.com’s Kevin Arnovitz.
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This was a big year for resiliency in L.A.

Villanova Tops Kansas in Final Four to Set Up 2018 Championship vs. Michigan

The No. 1 Villanova Wildcats own the most efficient offense in men’s college basketball by a wide margin, and the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks learned that the hard way on Saturday.

With a spot in the national title game on the line, the Wildcats throttled authentic nfl jerseys cheap  the Jayhawks 95-79 behind a three-point shooting barrage of historic proportions at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

Villanova, in a performance reminiscent of its dominant 2016 Final Four win over Oklahoma, set a new Final Four record by drilling 18 threes, including 13 in the first half to tie the previous high mark. hi-res-dae80802fd93665754dec375ca49b2dc_crop_northnfl jerseys for cheap

The junior, who didn’t make a three in the Elite Eight against Texas Tech, finished with a season-high 24 points on 10-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-5 from three.

Jalen Brunson (18 points, six assists), Omari Spellman (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Donte DiVincenzo (15 points) also easily worked their way into double figures.

With the Wildcats firing on all cylinders, Kansas alum and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid—who’s recovering from surgery for a fractured orbital bone—expressed his dismay in a series of predictably hysterical tweets:
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The Jayhawks did their best to keep pace, shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 7-of-21 from three, but a 15-point halftime deficit proved too steep to overcome despite Kansas’ 16-5 scoring edge at the free-throw line.

Devonte’ Graham led Kansas with 23 points and Malik Newman, fresh off a 32-point eruption against Duke in the Elite Eight, managed 21 points as his breakout campaign ended with a whimper.

The Jayhawks will now make a short trip back to Kansas, while the Wildcats will extend their stay in cheap nfl jersey San Antonio for a few more days as they prepare for their second national title game appearance in three years.

Next up for Villanova: A meeting with the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines and their third-ranked defense nfl jersey cheap  following a 69-57 win over No. 11 Loyola-Chicago in the evening’s first semifinal.

LiAngelo Ball Declares for 2018 NBA Draft; Played with LaMelo Overseas

LiAngelo Ball declared for the 2018 NBA draft Tuesday, according to Ball’s agent, Harrison Gaines, per Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.

Charania noted Ball has already submitted early-entry paperwork with the NBA.authentic nfl jerseys cheap

After leaving UCLA in December, Ball played alongside his younger brother, LaMelo Ball, for Vytautas Prienu this season in the Lithuanian Basketball League.

After UCLA suspended him because of a shoplifting incident in China, nfl jerseys for cheap Ball signed with Vytautas in January.hi-res-2b08517000d1647d8121cb57c5a92a5a_crop_north

His stay in Lithuania has been productive, as Ball is averaging a league-leading 15.7 points per game while shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc, according to Charania.

The 19-year-old Ball reportedly plans to take part in May’s Pro Basketball Combine at IMG Academy in Bradenton, cheap nfl jerseys Florida, in an effort to impress NBA talent evaluators.

The 6’5″ Ball was rated by 247Sports as a 3-star prospect coming out of high school, and he was ranked as the No. 226 overall player and No. 50 shooting guard in the 2017 class.

Ball will look to follow in the NBA footsteps of his older brother, Lonzo Ball, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.nfl jersey cheap

In December, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported LiAngelo had “no chance” at being selected in the 2018 NBA draft.cheap nfl jersey

Metrics 101: NBA Rookie of the Year Watch

Last year’s NBA rookies combined to earn 54.2 win shares, paced by Malcolm Brogdon’s 4.1 for the Milwaukee Bucks and Willy Hernangomez’s 3.4 with the New York Knicks. Even though we’re not yet to the end of the 2017-18 season, this campaign’s superior crop has totaled 75.6. authentic nfl jerseys cheap

That’s a world of difference, and the individual excellence is even more impressive. Ben Simmons (7.5), Jayson Tatum (6.4), John Collins (4.9) and Donovan Mitchell (4.3) have already topped the mark earned by the reigning Rookie of the Year, and Bam Adebayo (4.0), Kyle Kuzma (3.7) and Jarrett Allen (3.6) still have a chance to get cheap nfl jerseys there. 3165f8498d0c46e6ecfcf0c7653e189c_crop_exact

But that’s only one metric. Win shares alone won’t tell us how nfl jerseys for cheap the standout members of this remarkable class stack up.

To objectively determine how this year’s premier first-year players measure against one another, we’re turning to a modified version of the formula for Player Score used in previous articles.

For every player in the NBA who’s logged even a single minute, we pulled scores in five different overarching metrics: NBA Math’s total points added (TPA), ESPN.com’s real plus/minus wins (RPM Wins), player efficiency rating (PER), win shares (WS) and minutes per game. The first two look at volume/efficiency combinations, while the third focuses on per-possession effectiveness and favors offensive production. The fourth element rewards those whose individual merits lead to more victories.cheap nfl jersey

The last—a new addition for this particular countdown—is intended to reward the rookies who have earned larger roles during their inaugural campaigns. Volume and time on the court matter more than they might in other evaluations.

To standardize between five metrics that operate on drastically different scales, we found the z-scores in each category and summed them to find a player’s total nfl jersey cheap  score for each of the 55 rookies with at least 200 minutes recorded. Those cumulative z-scores are all that matter for these selections, which focus entirely and exclusively on work in 2017-18.

Bullied Growing Up, NFL Draft Prospect Connor Williams Now Is an Inspiration

This is what it’s like to be bullied for being bigger than everyone else. You’re called a tub of goo. Fat boy. Stupid. Lazy. You’re ignored and shunned.

This was life for Texas All-American tackle and NFL prospect Connor Williams growing up.nfl jerseys for cheap

As he recounts those memories, Williams runs his fingers through his jet black hair, still glistening from the sweat of a 90-minute workout while training for the upcoming NFL draft. He breathes deep and hesitates because this is where the conversation becomes intense.

“I never hurt myself,” he begins slowly, “and I never really heard about kids cutting themselves and things like that until about my senior year in high school. I didn’t even know it was out there. If I knew it was out there, I might have resorted to that. I can see how kids get to that point.”7d8cf7e2f9882c7eb8eb8563adcdb919_crop_north

Today, Williams, who is 20 years old, is a mere six years removed from staring in the mirror, mentally replaying the bullying and wondering if things would ever get better.

This 6’5”, 305-pound mountain of a man is in the best shape of his career. In the first two weeks here at XPE Sports, where college players train for the NFL combine, he lost 20 pounds and gained 18 pounds of muscle.

He is in peak professional shape, and an NFL scout told Bleacher Report that Williams “has the highest ceiling of any lineman in the draft. …nfl jersey cheap  He has 15 years ahead of him and a body built for the game.”

A body built for the game. The irony of that statement is not lost on Williams.

“I was so self-conscious of my body. I was bigger than everyone and heavier than everyone,” Williams continues. “Not only was I being bullied, but I was internally bullying myself.”

How intense did that bullying become? he is asked. Did he ever think of taking his own life?

“No, never. Because once I got home to my family, I could lean on them,” Williams says.

What if you didn’t have that? he’s asked. “It would be a completely different story.”

Long before their three children were born, Jimmy and Debbie Williams agreed to one unshakable rule:cheap nfl jersey  If you hide the world from your kids, one day they’re going to hide their world from you.

So instead of fighting Connor’s battles, Jimmy and Debbie had to tactfully decide when to engage in what they felt was inappropriate bullying and when to let Connor handle the situation himself.

When he was nearly twice the size of kids his age in elementary school, it wasn’t easy intervening. Other parents wouldn’t understand.cheap authentic nfl jerseys

When Connor was in fifth grade, when he had cheap nfl authentic jerseys  and weighed 160 pounds, they allowed his brother, Dalton, who was in 12th grade, to take him to wrestling practice to release some aggression.

NFL Free Agency 2018: Winners, Losers and Ripple Effects of Thursday’s Moves

The first full non-tampering day of NFL free agency is basically in the books.

And while Thursday was rather quiet compared to the bonkers authentic nfl jerseys cheap legal tampering period that preceded it, a few teams made several key moves that could impact the market as well as the dynamics of the 2018 season.

Who won and lost on Thursday? cheap nfl jerseys And how did the day’s developments impact the market? Answers ahead…1f0d4c9cae7a673bc0cc213829cfca8b_crop_exact

Dontari Poe

The two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle didn’t get a lot of nfl jerseys for cheap love on the open market last year. Whether it was intentional or not, he bet on himself with a one-year, $8 million deal in Atlanta.

It worked. Poe put together a superb season for the Falcons, recording 37 quarterback pressures on 473 pass-rushing snaps while also picking up 23 defensive stops and three passes batted down in 16 starts, per Pro Football Focus. He also had 2.5 sacks.

According to Kimberley A. Martin of the Washington Post, the 27-year-old is replacing Star Lotulelei on the Carolina Panthers with a three-year, $27 million deal.

Daniel Kilgore

The veteran center was traded to the Miami Dolphins on Thursday only a few weeks nfl jersey cheap after signing a contract extension with the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco’s interior offensive line had become crowded, whereas Miami has a crystal-clear vacancy at center following Mike Pouncey’s release—a move ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.

Oh, and as Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio points out, Kilgore will save more than $300,000 by moving from California, which has a state income tax of 13.3 percent, to Florida, which has no state income tax at all. cheap nfl jersey

AJ McCarron to the Buffalo Bills

We’ve seen what Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum and Sam Bradford can do, and Teddy Bridgewater’s knee might prevent him from becoming the quarterback many expected. With that in mind, AJ McCarron just might have had the highest potential ceiling among all of the signal-callers on this year’s free-agent market. authentic nfl jerseys cheap

The Bills landed McCarron—healthy, 27 years old and with nearly all the tread on his tires—for only a two-year, $10 million commitment.

Yes, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reports that number could increase to $16.5 million if McCarron hits a slew of incentives, but that would be a good thing for Buffalo. It would probably mean the McCarron experiment has been a success. nfl jerseys for cheap And don’t be surprised if that happens, because the former Alabama star has been one of the best backups in football the last four years, and he put up impressive numbers in relief of Andy Dalton in Cincinnati.   c3881145b2c990c99a8a3469c0c570e6_crop_exact

All we know right now is the Cleveland Browns are expected to sign running back Carlos Hyde to a three-year, $15 million contract, per Rapoport. That could be a reasonable deal or a terrible one, depending on the guaranteed money. But until we have that number we’ll give the Browns the benefit of the doubt and suppose that they’re only committing to the 27-year-old for a year or two.

So long as that’s the case, this isn’t a bad move for a cap-rich team that could use help in the offensive backfield.cheap nfl jerseys

Hyde is not going to single-handedly turn this downtrodden franchise around. He’s never had a 1,000-yard season, and he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry in 2017. Per Renner, the 27-year-old “allowed more pressures (13) and dropped more balls (nine) than any other running back” last season.

So don’t expect this to stop Cleveland from pursuing a hot running back prospect like Saquon Barkley in nfl jersey cheap  the draft.

There’s always a chance Hyde could bloom late a la Mark Ingram in New Orleans, in which case this would look like a genius move. Right now, though, it’s at least a low-risk signing.