BOZICH | Monday Muse: Grading local NBA rookies; Did Cubs' mishandle IU's Schwarber?
Which former local player had the best NBA rookie season? Where did a former U of L hoops recruit land? Did the Cubs mishandle former IU catcher Kyle Schwarber? Time for the Monday Muse.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Enough writers have figured out what went wrong with Jordan Spieth at The Masters Sunday. No need to go there.
There's still plenty of basketball, baseball, football and horse racing to fuss about in the Monday Muse. Thanks for playing.
1. NBA ROOKIE REPORT CARDS
Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky, Minnesota: A-plus: The Timberwolves' victory total will improve from 16 to at least 28 this season and you can credit Towns. He scores. He rebounds. He defends. And he attacks. Check his free throw totals. He's made 221, 14 more than any other rookie. I like him more than Anthony Davis. Really.
Devin Booker, UK, Phoenix, A: The Suns grabbed him with the 13th pick and Booker rewarded Phoenix by playing like a top six selection during the second half of the season. He's averaged better than 21 points over his last 10 games and has made 97 three-point shots this season. Building block for that struggling franchise.
D'Angelo Russell, Central High School, L.A. Lakers: C-plus: Shaky assist/turnover ratio, shaky field goal percentage (41.1) and shaky behavior as a teammate (ask Nick Young). Many expect the Lakers to trade him ASAP.
Willie Cauley-Stein, UK, Sacramento: B-minus: It can't be easy playing in a dysfunctional spot like Sacramento, but Cauley-Stein showed he could rebound (5.3 per game) and block shots while averaging 21 minutes.
Trey Lyles, UK, Utah, C-plus: Earned about 17 minutes per game but made only 43.6 percent of his shots and didn't help the Jazz improve.
Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, Houston, C-minus: Averaged 3.6 points during the 38 games he made it on the floor with the Rockets, but earning a five-game suspension for shoving an official in a Developmental League game will be his final snapshot from the season. (The NBA Players Association is appealing the ruling.)
Terry Rozier, U of L, Boston, C-minus: Shuttled between the Developmental League and Boston but never could find his jump shot. Made only 28 percent of his 104 field goal attempts in 38 games, ranking 41st in scoring average (1.8 ppg) among 42 rookies. Rozier was not drafted 41st. He was taken with the 16th pick last June. Work to do.
Aaron Harrison, UK, Charlotte, D-plus: Made three field goal in 19 games. Lots of work to do.
Andrew Harrison, UK, Memphis, D: Did not play in NBA. Averaged 18.5 points for Iowa Energy in D-League.
Dakari Johnson, UK, Oklahoma City, D: Did not play in NBA. Averaged 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds for Oklahoma City Blue in D-League.
2. WHO ARE KENTUCKY'S NOT-SO FAB FOUR?
John Calipari worked a coaching clinic in New Jersey over the weekend. Adam Zagoria of SNY.TV was there to listen and take notes. As expected, Calipari talked about his track record of players leaving Kentucky early for the NBA Draft, a trend that will continue with at least three guys this season.
Although Calipari said he does not try to dissuade his guys from leaving college early, he did say that he had four players who left when they should have stayed.
"I'm not holding these kids back," he said at one point. "I tell kids that shouldn't go, 'You shouldn't go.' Well, what if that kid says, 'But, I'm going anyway." How would you deal with it? Would you go bury the kid to the NBA, say none of you should pick him, he stinks? Or would you go lie and say he's unbelievable, he's the greatest kid? What would you do if he were your kid? I've had probably four kids absolutely should not have left and left."
That, naturally, ignited debate about the identity of the four guys because Calipari did not name names.
My likely choices (in order):
1. Marquis Teague; 2. Dakari Johnson; 3. James Young; 4. Andrew Harrison; 5. Archie Goodwin; 6. Aaron Harrison; 7. Doron Lamb; 8. Daniel Orton.
3. WHO IS JOSH JACKSON'S FAB ONE?
It's a big day for recruiting addicts. Josh Jackson, a player some consider the top prospect in the class of 2016, will announce his college choice Monday. Jackson is 6 feet 7 and 202 pounds. He can play multiple spots on the perimeter and is considered nearly NBA ready.
His final three choices are Michigan State, Kansas and Arizona.
Multiple coaches have told me that he will pick Kansas.
4. FRANKIE, WE HARDLY KNEW YA
It didn't take former University of Louisville commitment Frankie Hughes long to secure another scholarship. Hughes committed to Missouri over the weekend, several weeks after he and U of L decided that Hughes was no longer going to play for the Cardinals next season.
Missouri sounds like a reasonable choice.
The Tigers will lose three guards from the miserable 10-21 team that finished last in the Southeastern Conference this season. His teammate at Garfield Heights High School in suburban Cleveland, Willie Jackson, signed with Mizzou last fall.
But Missouri is trying to navigate its way through NCAA probation issues that call for the Tigers to give up one scholarship in either 2017 or 2018.
According to the composite rankings for the 2016 class by 247Sports, Hughes is ranked the 206th best prospect for next season.
How is that different from the 176th best or 209th best recruit?
Don't ask me.
5. BARRY BONDS BEING BARRY BONDS
Barry Bonds has returned to major league baseball this season as a coach with the Miami Marlins. Not much has changed. Barry Bonds still loves Barry Bonds.
How do I know?
Read this quote. Bonds was asked for his opinion on Washington Nationals' slugger Bryce Harper. Bonds loves Harper. But not as much as Bonds loves Bonds, according to this story at NBC Sportstalk.
"He is a beast," Bonds said. "(But) he doesn't compare to me yet. He has a long way to go (in order to be compared) to me. He is not even close to me. But he is one hell of a player. I watch him. I admire and I look at him and I am in awe. You don't see that often."
Thanks, Barry. Always good to reminded how much Barry loves Barry.
6. DID CUBS MISHANDLE SCHWARBER?
Former Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber has not only been a good hitter for the Chicago Cubs. He's been a good soldier.
Schwarber made his name at Indiana as the catcher of the team that advanced to the 2013 College World Series. He wasn't Johnny Bench. But he had enough skills and experience to get a serious look at that position in the pros.
The problem is that Schwarber's bat was so good that the Cubs decided not to wait for Schwarber's defense to catch up to his offense. They promoted him to the big leagues last summer and gave him a long look in left field, even though that was well outside Schwarber's comfort zone.
It worked -- mostly -- last fall as the Cubs advanced to the National League Championship Series before losing to the Mets. Schwarber's bat was thunderous He misplayed several balls in the outfield and dedicated his off-season to improving his flexibility and fielding skills.
Today is a reasonable time to second-guess the Cubs' force feeding their talented young hitter because Schwarber will miss the rest of the season after tearing two ligaments in his left knee after colliding with center fielder Dexter Fowler while chasing a fly ball in Arizona last week.
Did Schwarber's inexperience as left fielder contribute to the collision? Have the Cubs' mishandled Schwarber's career?
Fair questions, both of them.
7. DABO CROSSED THE LINE
It's good to be Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney these days.
Your team finished second to Alabama in the college football national playoff last season. Nobody would be shocked if your team returned to the playoff this season. Recruiting is off the charts. Nobody talks about "Clemson-ing," any more.
Swinney is so relaxed and comfortable that he attended the Masters over the weekend and shared this story about the last time he went to Augusta National.
It didn't turn out so well. In fact, it ended with a security guard chasing Swinney and asking him what he was doing on the grounds of the most loved golf course in America.
I'm not surprised. I've always pegged Dabo as a Go For It kind of guy.
8. DERBY FORECAST
The search for the next American Pharoah continues, although the forecast continues to suggest we're more likely to be rewarded with another Animal Kingdom or I'll Have Another.
I leaned on my guy Lane Gold, who studies this stuff 53 weeks a year, to assist me with my Top Five. After picking Dortmund last year, I think you'll agree that I could use assistance. Here goes:
1. Nyquist; 2. Mor Spirit; 3. Cupid; 4. Exaggerator; 5. Mohaymen
"Nyquist is the one to beat," Gold said. "Although he's unbeaten, he's the best of a slow bunch this year."
9. BASEBALL FORECAST
I have fined myself $500 and awarded myself an E-6 for forgetting to include my major-league picks in the basketball-dominated Tuesday edition of the Monday Muse last week.
So here is the make-up call. (Clip and save. Send your picks to email@example.com). We'll compare notes at the end of the season.
AL: Blue Jays (East); Royals (Central); Astros (West); Red Sox, Yankees (wild cards).
NL: Nationals (East); Cubs (Central); Giants (West); Mets, Pirates (wild cards).
AL Champ: Red Sox.
NL Champ: Giants
AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels
NL MVP: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
AL Cy Young: Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays.
NL Cy Young: Jake Arietta, Cubs
AL Rookie of the Year: Byron Buxton, Twins
NL Rookie of the Year: Trevor Story, Rockies.
10. Poll Results
If they played the 2016 NCAA Tournament 10 times, how many would Villanova win?
Six or more: 33.3 percent
You saw it last Monday Night: 23.4 percent
Three or four: 23
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