English Premier League 2017 Preview: Part 1

In the coming weeks, the 2017-2018 Premier League will kick off its campaign. Considering we are in such a dead sports period, I welcome the regular season with open arms.

Quick explanation of the basics for those who are not soccer regulars before we get started —  the league has a total of 20 teams competing for the title.  At the end of the season the team in first place wins the title.  Each win is worth 3 points in the standings, while a tie is worth 1.  The top 4 teams earn a spot in the UEFA Champions League, which is a tournament that the top teams in each of  Europe’s professional leagues compete for the title of European Champion.  The team who finish in the 5th position competes in the UEFA Europa League, which is a European runner up competition.

The bottom three teams are sent down to a league below the Premier League.  The top teams in the lesser league are then promoted to the Premier League. Often times the matches towards the end of the season that have survival, or relegation, on the line are the best.

In terms of off-season acquisitions, the main transactions that occur are transfers.  In North American sports, teams exchange players through trades or sign players via Free Agency.  In European soccer, the teams exchange money for player rights.  As an example, Brazilian superstar Neymar was purchased by French team Paris Saint Germaine from Barcelona for $228 million. After the fee is agreed, the player negotiates a contract with his new team.

I’m going to start Part 1 with a look at the teams that will be competing in the Premier League this year.


AFC Bournemouth:

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2017: 9th-46 points

Bournemouth are coming into this season having survived their first two years in the premier league.  They are a solid side for a team of their financial capabilities.  This summer they made a few signings to bolster the squad — striker Jermaine Defoe, goalie Asmir Begovic, and ex Chelsea youngster Nathan Ake.

The Cherries won’t be competing for the league title this year that is for damn sure, but they have a solid side.  They can beat the best teams on any given day, and should not be taken lighly.

Predicted Finish: 11th

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Arsenal FC:

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2017: 5th-75 points

Arsenal are one of the big boys when it comes to English soccer.  They are one of about five teams that are in contention going into each season, and have one of soccer’s most tenured coaches in Arsene Wenger. Last year was one of turmoil for the Gunners; they finished in 5th place, which is one position outside of qualifying for the Champions League.

The Gunners made a major move this off-season to make sure last season’s disappointment is behind them.   Wenger brought in french international Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon for £55m. Lacazette is a forward attacking player who looks to fill the gaping hole that has plagued Arsenal for years.  The Gunners have also held on to Chilean superstar winger Alexis Sanchez this summer when it looked like he was sure to be leaving for another club.

Arsenal are always going to be a competitive side who will be in title contention for the first quarter of the season.  They seem to teeter off as the season goes along — I look for similar this season but they will finish within the top 4.

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Predicted Finish: 4th


Brighton Hove Albion:

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I’ve got very little to say about Brighton Hove Albion.  They earned promotion from the second division this season.  2017-2018 will be their first season in the Premier League since their founding in 1901.

I wouldn’t expect too much from a team like Brighton.  It is going to be an up-hill battle for them to survive relegation.

 

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Predicted finish: 18th-Relegation


Burnley FC

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2017: 16th-40 Points

2016-2017 was an up and down year for Burnley.  For a team that was newly promoted, they got as high as 10th place mid-way through the campaign.  However, they came crashing down and finished in 16th just barely above relegation.

They lost a few key players in the transfer window –none bigger than their center back Michael Keane.  Keane moved to Everton FC this summer for around £30m. Losing young key players is always going to be a struggle for smaller clubs — I look for Burnley to struggle mightily in 2017.

Predicted Finish: 19th-Relegation

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Chelsea FC:

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2017: 1st-93 points

2016-2017 was a resurgent year for Chelsea.  After finishing in 10th in 2016, the Blues brought in Italian manager Antonio Conte.  They got off to a bit of a slow start, but in late October they took off.   A mid-season streak of 13 straight wins propelled Chelsea into the top position for the remainder of the campaign. Their streak was able to tie the most consecutive wins in the Premier League of all time.

2017-2018 will look to be a bit tougher for the Blues.  Last year, Chelsea played fewer games than most of the top teams because they did not qualify for the Champions League in 2016.  This year, they will have to compete in the Champions League while defending their domestic title.

Chelsea have made a few summer signings, but most important being Alvaro Morata for £58m from Real Madrid.  Morata is a pure goal scorer who looks to replace Chelsea mainstay Diego Costa.  Not many changes are needed for the defending champs as they are stacked in almost every position.  Look for Chelsea to defend their title until the very end.

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Predicted Finish: 3rd


Crystal Palace FC:

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2017: 14th-41 points

Crystal Palace survived 2017 to live to fight another day in the Premier League.   They were staring at relegation for about half of the campaign.  After firing manager Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce was able to bring the team back to life in February.

Look for Palace to rebound in 2018 — they are a team that has some solid pieces. Striker Christian Benteke, midfielder Yohan Cabaye, and defender Mamadou Sakho are all quality pieces to build a team around.  In addition to these three, they have an emerging winger in Wilfried Zaha who has been linked to move to bigger clubs in the summer (Manchester United).  Palace have the depth to finish in the upper half of the Premier League table — new manager Frank de Boer will look to build off the momentum gained at the end of the 2017  season.

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Predicted finish: 8th


Everton FC:

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2017 Position: 7th-61 Points

 

The transformation of Everton FC has nearly been as drastic as a NY Jets rebuild.  The club’s first year under new Dutch manager Ronald Koeman was successful in some ways. The club started out unbeaten in their first 6 Premier League games, but plateaued as the season wore on.

It’s been a wild summer on the Blue side of Merseyside.  Everton brought in 22 year old goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, 22 year old defender Michael Keane, 22 year old striker Sandro Ramirez, 24 year old midfielder Davey Klassen,17 year old striker Henry Onyekuru, and Manchester United all time goal scorer Wayne Rooney.  Wayne Rooney is making his return to where his storied career started nearly 13 years ago.

Many players have been brought in to forge a new identity for the club since most of the players from the old Roberto Martinez regime have moved on.  There may be some growing pains with so many new faces being brought in, but in time this squad will be competing for Champions League.  They will be playing in the Europa League this fall to get their feet wet in continental play.

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Predicted Finish: 7th


Huddersfield Town FC:

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Look, I am not going to pretend I have a fucking clue about Huddersfield Town.  I just know a team of this size will struggle in the Premier.  Huddersfield earned promotion through Playoffs in the league below.  The top 2 teams are automatically promoted, and the next 4 compete in a 4 team tournament to see who earns the last promotion spot.

Look for these guys to struggle mightily through the year.  Survival would mean massive success.

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Predicted Finish: 20th-Relegation

 

Leicester City FC:

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2017: 12th- 44 points

The fairy tale is over for the Foxes.  After one of the most mesmerizing title runs in sports history in 2015-16, 2016-17 was an equally as hard of a come down.  Leicester were in the relegation zone as late as February.  The club fired its championship winning manager Claudio Ranieri, and brought in Craig Shakespeare.

2018 will be another tough campaign for Leicester as they look to survive in the Premier League yet again.  Striker Jamie Vardy returns a year older and star winger Riyad Mahrez looks to be staying for the time being.  On a positive note, this year they will have a less crowded schedule as they did not qualify for either the Europa League or Champions League.

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Predicted Finish: 17th

 

Liverpool FC: 

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2017: 4th-76 Points

Fuck these guys.  Liverpool are coming off a successful 2017 campaign in which they qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 2013-2014.

Liverpool are a solid team offensively with the likes of midfielder Phillppe Coutinho, attacking midfielder Sadio Mane, and striker Roberto Firmino.  Liverpool continues to struggle on the back end.  Both goalies (Loris Karius, and Simon Mignolet) are average at best.  The outside defenders (Alberto Moreno and James Milner) are average to below average.  This leads to a side that can give a lot of goals to a good attacking team.  They do have solid central defenders in Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip.  It is going to be tough for Liverpool to maintain Champions League status with one of the weaker back-ends in the top 6.

Predicted Finish: 5th

 

OC NFL Season Preview: AFC North

We conclude the AFC portion of our season preview with the AFC North. Often a closely fought division, we’ve seen every team except for Cleveland win twice in the last six years. Pittsburgh looks to repeat as division winners once again this year amidst a contract holdout from Le’Veon Bell. These disputes always seem to work themselves out in time so it would be a shock to see the Steelers start the season without him on the field. Let’s take a look at the predictions:

AFC NorthImage result for afc north

AFCN

Quick Hits:

  • The Steelers join the Patriots as the only unanimous division winners among the staff for the AFC.
  • This also was the first division that everyone agreed on the placement of teams.
    • All four put the Ravens at 9-7 despite the uncertainty behind Joe Flacco to start the season.
  • Cleveland looks to be one of the biggest come-back teams of the year according to our writers — improving upon their franchise worst 1-15 season last year.
  • Looks like this is the end of the road for Marvin Lewis, who has avoided being fired despite not being able to get one win in the playoffs since he was hired in 2003.

OC NFL Season Preview: AFC West

Day 3 of the Season Preview series brings us to the AFC West. Dominated by the Broncos between 2011-2015, the AFC West was snatched by the Kansas City Chiefs last year for only the second time in 13 years. The Raiders made a strong push to take the division but sputtered down the stretch when their star QB went down with an injury. Let’s take a look at the outlook for the upcoming season:

AFC West
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AFCW


Quick Hits

  • Split in half here: Allen and Tyler seem to think the Chiefs will repeat, while Kevin and Danny are pushing for the Raiders to bring Oakland a division championship before moving.
  • Everyone agrees that the AFC West will produce two double-digit win teams, likely meaning one of the wild-card spots will be snatched up in this division.
    • Kevin is the only one who believes there will be 3 double-digit win teams.
  • Looks like the Chargers move to LA will not be an exciting one to watch — the highest prediction for them here is 6 wins.

OC NFL Season Preview: AFC South

Day 2 of the season predictions kicks off with the worst division in football lately — the AFC South. The Texans and Colts have been the only winners of this division since 2008, when the Titans went 13-3 to take first place. The Titans seemed poised to snatch the throne from two time defending champion Houston, with their young core starting with QB Marcus Mariota. Let’s take a look at the picks:

AFC South

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AFCS

“Put the Browns in the AFC South and you have a 10 win team.” – Danny


Quick Hits:

  • Only Danny has the Texans repeating as division champs — everyone else is betting on the Titans to finally reach their potential and snatch the division crown.
  • Everyone agrees the Texans remain an above .500 team even with the question mark at QB after shuffling through 3 last year.
  • Kevin likes the Colts to finish above .500 while the other three are looking at a grim 6-10 finish and likely firing of Chuck Pagano.
  • Everyone likes the Jaguars to improve upon their 3-13 record in 2017. Blake Bortles faces a ton of uncertainty in what will be a huge year for determining the future of the Jaguars.

OC NFL Season Preview: AFC East

Since this is the first week with football back, we figured it’d be best to start our predictions for the 2017-2018 NFL Season.We’re going to break it down by division daily but here is our not-so expert prediction for the AFC East.

 

 


AFC East 

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AFCE

    • “16-0 — never been more sure of anything in my life” – Kevin

 

Quick Hits:

  • No surprise that the Patriots fell on top of everyone’s list — seems to be a consensus that the reigning SB champs have bolstered their lineup and are ready to take the AFC East for the 14th time in the last 15 years.
  • Kevin is the only one who thinks first year coach Sean McDermott leads the Bills to a second place finish — bold prediction there.
  • Seems that nobody thinks a second AFC East team will make an appearance to the playoffs — only Kevin & Tyler have another team above .500.
  • Looks like it’ll be a tough year for the dumpster fire known as the Jets organization.

Celtics Summer League Action

 

The first leg of the 2017 NBA summer league has concluded; there were a lot of expectations and excitement surrounding three Celtic first rounders. Of course I’m referring to last year’s number three pick Jaylen Brown,  last year’s number 23 pick Ante Zizic and this year’s third pick Jason Tatum.  For the most part, all three did not disappoint — two players excelled and the other looked average.

Jaylen Brown truly looks like a man amongst boys. You could tell he has made significant strides since last year and that shot that everybody was worried about now looks like a thing of the past. His ball handling skills look like they have improved — although he was stripped a few times driving to the lane but for the most part he was able to blow by his defender and finish strong at the rim. We must remember that he is going up against lesser talent but it’s important that he showed he’s taken the next step. After setting the world on fire in game 1 against the 76ers scoring 29 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, he had a sub par game 2 against the Spurs with 6 points and 8 rebounds. He was held out game three which was a back to back.

Jayson Tatum has Celtics fans the most excited. For the most part, Danny Ainge was scrutinized when the Celtics selected Jayson over Josh Jackson. Now it appears that was the right decision. Tatum out played Markelle Fultz in game 1 putting up 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Even more impressive than that stat line is the fact that with 11 seconds to go in the game, down 1 they put the ball in his hands. With 5.9 seconds left, he drained a step back jumper for the game winner. His mid range game looks fantastic — mostly getting the ball in isolation but he settled for too many off balance fadeaway jumpers. Personally, I’d like to see him attack the rim more. Offensively it looks like he can step in for the Celtics and help  but in Brad Stevens system where you have to earn your minutes, his defensive inconsistency might hold him back at first.

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Ante Zizic, the 6’11” Croatian who split time playing in Croatia and Israel, did not look all that impressive. For a player who can’t shoot the three and doesn’t have a consistent 15 foot shot ,you would like to see him fly around the court blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. On a few occasions, he did take the ball from the 3 point line and drive to the rim. Although he could get to the rim — his shot looked ugly. He did average 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game. Although those numbers seem decent watching him play, he didn’t necessarily look impressive. I worry that he won’t have the quickness you need to play in the NBA, but maybe after a few years he can turn into a Marcin Gortat type of player.

The Celtics future looks bright. They’ve signed Gordon Haywood and traded for Marcus Morris — two players that will help the team win now. However, for sustained success we will need these three players to continue to improve if we want to be good for years to come.

Office Lock of the Day 6/23

Cleveland definitely made it a close one but hit in their sixth run in the top of the ninth inning to give us a perfect start to the lock of the day. The bonus pick hit as well, with the Celtics staying put to draft Jayson Tatum to round out the top 3. Onto the next.

Record: 1-0-0             Streak: 1W          Last 10: W

Ireland Premier League – Cork City FC vs Derry City (2:45 EST)

Not the most popular league in the world, the Ireland Premier League is in its mid-season stride. Let’s take a look at the table:

IPL

As you can see, Cork City being dominant is an understatement. With an 18 point lead on second place, Cork travels to Derry in an attempt to raise the gap between the rest of the table. Derry, no slouch at home at 5-2-2, will not be a pushover. Cork City took the win in the teams’ first match of the season on April 7th by a score of 3-0. Cork will be without their captain Dunleavy due to a possible season-ending injury but look to continue their run of brilliance and take the win here.

Pick: Cork City ML (-155)   WIN

 

BONUS PICK (1-0-0)

New England Revolution @ Toronto FC (ML, -139)  WIN

 

 

Office Lock of the Day 6/22

MLB – Cleveland Indians vs Baltimore Orioles

The Indians are hot right now, winning 7 of their last 10 games. In those games, they have driven in an average of 7.1 runs per game. Baltimore however has been reeling in the month of June and finds themselves giving up 7.3 per game.

Wade Miley, who hasn’t been exceptional with a 4.29 ERA, is on the bump for the Orioles tonight. The Indians tend to have some success against lefties (first in hits against LHP with 222), so this one should be over quickly as Cleveland looks to finish the series.

Pick: Cleveland OVER 5.5 Team Total RUNS (-110)

Result: WIN

Office Locks: 0-0-0 (Win-Loss-Push) — Streak: N/A

 

BONUS PICK

NBA Draft: Josh Jackson OVER 3.5 (-125)

Of course if the Celtics trade their pick, all hell can break loose but I’m going to bet on Danny Ainge keeping the pick. There’s not enough value for the Celtics to give up this pick and Jackson hasn’t even worked out for Boston. The Celtics seem to love Tatum so I’m going to take the risk on Jackson falling to the Suns.

Result: WIN

NBA 2017 Mock Draft

It’s finally here my fellow hoop heads, draft night. After crazy trades this past week, one thing is certain — anything can happen! Will your favorite team draft this years superstar or will they be a bust like whoever the Knicks pick?

Here is a preview of how the first round of the NBA draft will shake out.

#1 Philadelphia 76ers (from BOS via BKN)

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Markelle Fultz  PG | Washington
6’5″, 185 lbs
Freshman , 19 yrs
23.2 PTS 5.7 REB 5.9 AST 1.2 BLK 1.6 STL

 # 2 Los Angeles Lakers

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Lonzo Ball  PG | UCLA
6’6″ , 190 lbs
Freshman , 19 yrs
14.6 PTS 6.0 REB 7.6 AST 0.8 BLK 1.8 STL

#3 Boston Celtics (from PHI)

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Jayson Tatum SF | Duke
6’8″ , 205 lbs
Freshman , 19 yrs
16.8 PTS 7.3 REB 2.1 AST 1.1 BLK 1.3 STL

 #4 Phoenix Suns

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Josh Jackson SF | Kansas
6’8″, 205 lbs
Freshman , 20 yrs
16.3 PTS 7.4 REB 3.0 AST 1.1 BLK 1.7 STL

#5 Sacramento Kings (from PHI)
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De’Aaron Fox  PG | Kentucky
6’3″ , 170 lbs
Freshman , 19 yrs
16.7 PTS 4.0 REB 4.6 AST 0.2 BLK 1.5 STL

 #6 Orlando Magic

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Jonathan Isaac SF | Florida State
6’11” , 205 lbs
Freshman , 19 yrs
12.0 PTS 7.8 REB 1.2 AST 1.5 BLK 1.2 STL

#7 Minnesota Timberwolves

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Malik Monk  SG/PG | Kentucky
6’3″ , 190 lbs
Freshman , 19 yrs
19.8 PTS 2.5 REB 2.3 AST 0.5 BLK 0.9 STL

#8 New York Knicks

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Lauri Markkanen PF | Arizona
7’0″, 225 lbs
Freshman , 20 yrs
15.6 PTS 7.2 REB 0.9 AST 0.5 BLK 0.4 STL

#9 Dallas Mavericks

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Dennis Smith Jr. PG | NC State
6’2″ , 180 lbs
Freshman , 19 yrs
18.1 PTS 4.6 REB 6.2 AST 0.4 BLK 1.9 STL

#10 Sacramento Kings (from NO)

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Zach Collins PF/C | Gonzaga
7’0″ , 232 lbs
Freshman , 19 yrs
10.0 PTS 5.9 REB 0.4 AST 1.8 BLK 0.5 STL

#11 Charlotte Hornets

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Frank Ntilikina PG | Strasbourg IG
6’5″, 175 lbs
International , 18 yrs

#12  Detroit Pistons

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Luke Kennard  SG | Duke
6’6″ , 196 lbs
Sophomore , 20 yrs
19.5 PTS 5.1 REB 2.5 AST 0.4 BLK 0.8 STL

#13 Denver Nuggets

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Donovan Mitchell SG | Louisville
6’3″, 211 lbs
Sophomore , 20 yrs
15.6 PTS 4.9 REB 2.7 AST 0.5 BLK 2.1 STL

#14 Miami Heat

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John Collins PF | Wake Forest
6’10”, 225 lbs
Sophomore , 19 yrs
19.2 PTS 9.8 REB 0.5 AST 1.6 BLK 0.6 STL

#15 Portland Trailblazers

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Harry Giles PF | Duke
6’11” , 232 lbs
Freshman , 19 yrs
3.9 PTS 3.8 REB 0.3 AST 0.7 BLK 0.3 STL

#16 Chicago Bulls

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Justin Patton C | Creighton
6’11”, 229 lbs
Freshman , 20 yrs
12.9 PTS 6.2 REB 1.2 AST 1.4 BLK 0.9 STL

#17 Milwaukee Bucks

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Jarrett Allen C | Texas
6’10”, 234 lbs
Freshman, 19 yrs
13.4 PTS 8.4 REB 0.8 AST 1.5 BLK 0.6 STL

#18 Indiana Pacers

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O.G. Anunoby SF | Indiana
6’8″, 232 lbs
Sophomore, 19 yrs
11.1 PTS 5.4 REB 1.4 AST 1.3 BLK 1.3

#19 Atlanta Hawks

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Ike Anigbogu C | UCLA
6’10”, 252 lbs
Freshman, 18 yrs
4.7 PTS 4.0 REB 0.2 AST 1.2 BLK 0.2 STL

#20 Portland Trailblazers (from MEM via DEN and CLE)

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Justin Jackson SF | North Carolina
6’8″, 201 lbs
Junior , 22 yrs
18.3 PTS 4.7 REB 2.8 AST 0.2 BLK 0.8 STL

#21 Oklahoma City Thunder

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TJ Leaf PF | UCLA
6’10”, 222 lbs
Freshman, 20 yrs
16.3 PTS 8.2 REB 2.4 AST 1.1 BLK 0.6 STL

#22 Brooklyn Nets (from WSH)

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Isaiah Hartenstein PF/C | Žalgiris
7’1″, 250 lbs
International, 19 yrs

#23 Toronto Raptors (from LA via MIL)

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Terrance Ferguson
SG | Adelaide
6’7″, 184 lbs
International. 19 yrs

#24 Utah Jazz

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Ivan Rabb
PF | California
6’10”, 220 lbs
Sophomore, 20 yrs
14.0 PTS 10.5 REB 1.5 AST 1.0 BLK 0.7 STL

#25 Orlando Magic (from TOR)

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Bam Adebayo PF/C | Kentucky
6’10”, 243 lbs
Freshman, 19 yrs
13.0 PTS 8.0 REB 0.8 AST 1.5 BLK 0.7 STL

#26 Portland Trailblazers (from CLE)

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Jawun Evans PG | Oklahoma State
6’0″, 185 lbs
Sophomore, 20 yrs
19.2 PTS 3.4 REB 6.4 AST 0.1 BLK 1.8 STL

#27 Los Angeles Lakers (from BKN via BOS)

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Tony Bradley C | North Carolina
6’11”, 249 lbs
Freshman, 19 yrs
7.1 PTS 5.1 REB 0.6 AST 0.6 BLK 0.3 STL

#28 Los Angeles Lakers (from HOU)

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Josh Hart SG | Villanova
6’5″, 209 lbs
Senior, 22 yrs
18.7 PTS 6.4 REB 2.9 AST 0.3 BLK 1.6 S

#29 San Antonio Spurs

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Anžejs Pasečņiks C | Gran Canaria
7’2″, 230 lbs
International, 21 yrs

#30 Utah Jazz (via GSW)

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Tyler Lydon
SF/PF | Syracuse
6’10”, 215 lbs
Sophomore, 21 yrs
13.2 PTS 8.6 REB 2.1 AST 1.4 BLK 1.0 STL

3 Potential Celtics Draft Picks

The Boston Celtics own the number one draft pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and there has been a lot of speculation as to what they will do with it. One option is to trade the pick and a few other pieces to acquire a star player like Paul George or Jimmy Butler . Each player would make the Celtics instant contenders and give them a real shot at reaching the NBA finals for the first time in seven years. By trading the pick the Celtics would immediately go into a win now mode which could potentially last 4-5 years.

However, if they choose to keep the pick and add another young player to join Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, we would be looking at a team that could be competitive for the next ten years. In this years draft, there are three players that could make GM Danny Ainge think long and hard about trading this pick — Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum and Josh Jackson.

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Markelle Fultz

  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 195 lbs
  • Wingspan: 6’10”
  • College: Washington
  • Age: 19

The consensus number 1 pick has to be Fultz. He is a fantastic athlete and widely considered the most athletic in the draft. Fultz is a shoot first guard that can play on and off the ball which is key if you want to play him with Isaiah Thomas. He has the ability to score on all three levels — he can drain the three ball but his mid range shot and ability to finish at the rim is what makes him special. He is such a smooth player — he has the ability to change speeds much like all star James Harden, where he can lull you to sleep and then burst by you in and take it to the rim. It looks so effortless.

What impressed me the most is the fact that in high school he didn’t make his varsity team until his junior year. He faced this adversity like a champ, he put in the work and eventually became the number 1 ranked high school player in America. He’s also still growing — in college he grew 1/2 an inch and since he’s so young, odds are he could continue to grow and would make him more versatile on the defensive end.

One criticism of Fultz is that he played for a terrible Washington team that finished the season at a dismal 9-22. Does Fultz have the ability to make his team better? Can he be a great passer and generate open looks for his teammates?

Although he is an elite scorer, one area of concern is in college almost all the threes he shot were right up against the line — does he ultimately have the range to step back and drill an NBA three win consistency?

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Jayson Tatum

  • Height: 6’8″
  • Weight: 204 lbs
  • Wingspan: 7’0″
  • College: Duke
  • Age: 19

Tatum is an option for the Celtics but not at number 1. He should only be considered if the Celtics were to drop to 3 or 4. With that being said, he is an exciting player to consider. Playing at an elite school, we were able to see him play on a consistent basis.

He is a player that has great size, who can defend multiple positions. Although he mainly played power forward/center at Duke, he has the speed and athleticism to defend small forwards in the NBA. Not only is he a versatile defender, but he’s also versatile on the offensive end. He possesses the ability to knock down the mid range shot but also has proven to be an excellent scorer with his back to the basket. One area of his game that shouldn’t be overlooked is his ability to knock down free throws, last year he shot 85% from the line. This is an issue for most big men, but the fact that he shoots well from the line shows he has a shooters touch — which means with time he’ll become a more consistent scorer.

Although Tatum is a versatile scorer he is not as consistent on the offensive end as some would like. Despite having great size, he has a slow first step off the dribble and is an eratic ball handler. In college he took a ton of difficult shots that went in, but you would have to imagine that once he’s in the NBA, going up against elite defenders — those shots wouldn’t fall at the same rate. With that being said, he did improve his ball handling over the year and I expect that to continue to improve. Defensively he had issues down low against bigger players —  he was pushed around and often wouldn’t pickup his defender until it was too late. He will need to add muscle over the next few years if he wants to become a better defender.

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Josh Jackson

  • Height: 6’8″
  • Weight: 203 lbs
  • Wingspan: 7’0″
  • College: Kansas
  • Age: 20

The player whose name is buzzing around twitter is Josh Jackson. He is a Danny Ainge type of player — mean, tough, versatile, and one heck of an athlete. He is easily the best defender in this years draft. Being an explosive athlete with fantastic foot speed, he can guard any where from the shooting guard to the power forward. If the Celtics were to draft him, you can just picture him playing the power forward position — not backing down and battling with LeBron James for 48 minutes. A good comparison for him would be Kawhi Leonard. Although he doesn’t possess the same shot making ability like Leonard, he is a brilliant slasher who can get to the rim and dunk it home.

He doesn’t have he best looking shot and the numbers back that up. He only shot 37% from three and a dismal 56% from the line. At times it looked like he gave up and wanted no part in playing offense — he will need to focus this offseason on the offensive end. That means free throws, mid range three pointers and ball handling. Just like Jaylen Brown, a shot can get corrected as long as you put in the work.

The big area of concern is his temper. According to Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, “Jackson was charged with one count of misdemeanor criminal damage to property after allegedly kicking the door and tail-light of a car belonging to a Kansas women’s basketball player outside a bar Dec. 9. An affidavit released the day before the NCAA tournament began said Jackson threatened to “beat” the woman.” He was suspended last year for 1 game and had to attend anger management meetings as part of his punishment. Most fans and teams would not want a guy like this on this so it will be interesting to see where he goes.

Ultimately in the end,  I believe the Celtics will select Markelle Fultz.

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He is exactly what they need, someone that can create there own shot and score on a regular basis. In the end let’s hope we can raise his number 20 into the rafters.