Author Archives: Thomas Waind

Where do the Red Sox stack up against recent 100 win teams?

Last night the Boston Red Sox won their 100th game of the season. This is Boston’s fourth 100 win season in franchise history. The next best team in the MLB this year is the Astros with 92 wins (who also will likely eclipse 100 wins). Boston is tearing up the league and they still have 16 games to play. We are witnessing one of the best regular seasons of all time. That’s why I’ve decided to take a look at where the Sox place in among the last ten teams to win 100 games in the regular season.

10. 2008 Los Angeles Angels (100-62)

This team benefited immensely from playing the bulk of their schedule against a weak AL West division where the 79-83 Texas Rangers were the next best team. Of the last ten 100 game winning squads, the 2008 Angels had the worst run differential of +68 and only made it to the AL Divisional series in the 2008 playoffs. Read more

Ujiri swings for the fences in Kawhi for Derozan swap

 

It’s been quite some time when the Toronto Raptors were the talk of an NBA offseason. This has been an absolute whirlwind so I’m just going to try and unpack my thoughts on here and see how I feel about the trade.

Why trade for 1 year of Kawhi Leonard?

The last NBA team to win the championship without having a top 10 player on their roster was the 2004 Detroit Pistons. The Pistons were not only an anomaly for that little piece of trivia, but they are one of the few modern NBA champions to build a starting unit consisting of five All-Star calibre players (Tayshaun Prince is the only one of the five to not make an All-Star team but his four all defensive second-team nods should give him a pass). You know… until this year’s Warriors…

When talking of Raptors championship aspirations these Pistons teams were kind of held up as a blueprint for how they could eventually topple the Warriors in the Finals (I think?). Well as constructed yesterday, the Raptors had two All-Stars in Lowry and Derozan, the ghost of Serge Ibaka, dinosaur center Jonas Valancunias and budding 3-and-D weapon OG Anonoby. While they supported that starting 5 with a very young and productive bench, this team clearly had a ceiling. A ceiling which was well below NBA champions and if that isn’t the end-goal then what the hell are we doing.

At his best Kawhi is a top-five player in the league that can dominate on both sides of the court. In my mind nobody in the league is as great of an option as the number 1 one shutdown defender on one side of the court while being a reliable scoring option on the other side of the court. Pairing Kawhi with Lowry and whichever young players remain when the dust settles raises the team’s ceiling immensely. The Raptors had one of the best benches in the NBA last year but if you can flip some depth for a legitimate star then you have to do it.

That being said trading for Kawhi Leonard is clearly a risk.

Kawhi has his warts

Now he could bounce for Los Angeles or New York in a year. Kawhi could be a diva from day one and refuse to listen to the Raptors brass. Some are suggesting that he might not be the same player as he was pre-injury. The doubters have a point in saying that the asking price is very hefty considering all of these red flags. But at a certain point you have to stop treading water and start to swim. Let’s just hope this trade doesn’t sink the Raptors.

 

It’s well worth the risk

At the end of the day I’m all in on this trade. Sometimes you have to give up Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez to get Roberto Alomar. Without Lebron in the East it looked to be an arms race versus the up-and-coming Sixers and Celtics. But now the forever comfortable regular season Raptors of old have a legitimate claim at the NBA Finals.

While Kawhi might be a tough re-sign, keep in mind that a year ago people were already fitting Paul George for his Lakers jersey and when all was said and done George re-upped with the Thunder. Toronto is a hell of alot better of a city than Oklahoma.

Next year there’s no question that the Raptors will be better than last year. Kawhi for Demar is a huge upgrade and that’s not even a slight on DeRozan. Peak Kawhi is just that good. What is kind of lost in the trade is the fact that the Raps also picked up Danny Green who has shot a lifetime .395 from 3 and has suited up for 100 playoff games with the Spurs. With the additions of Green and Kawhi and the subtraction of Poeltl, the Raptors have an unbelievably versatile group who could see a bunch of their athletic wingers and forwards slide across three positions. This is a fun looking team who should now be the favourites in the East.

And if all else fails this move helps to kick start a rebuild that some people were calling for a year ago. If Kawhi walks then Toronto could finally just blow the entire thing up to get a shot at drafting lottery calibre players. I can’t stress enough that you can’t win without a superstar and this move more than anything else shows that the Raptors are going to make it happen whether it is now or down the road. A core of Lowry and DeRozan could clearly only take you so far.

Demar Derozan: The Quintessential Toronto Raptor

Now what shouldn’t be lost in this is that Demar Derozan has been a star both on and off the court for the city of Toronto. While at their peaks you can argue that Carter and Bosh were more effective players, Demar has worked his ass off since day one to be–in my mind–the face of this Raptors franchise.

Vince and Bosh each forced their way out of Toronto in situations that just were not handled well, but as time has worn on the nostalgia goggles have made the duo out to be champions for the city of Toronto.

When Derozan’s free agency hit in the summer of 2016, many thought he would bolt to his hometown LA Lakers. But he had built a home here in Canada and felt that the Raptors had some unfinished business (the money also didn’t hurt).

When all is said and done Derozan is Toronto’s franchise leader in games played, minutes played and points while making four all-star game appearances and two all-league teams. In my mind he is the best the franchise has had and it’ll be tough to see him go.

Bonus: THE BOYS ARE BACK

Image result for rudy gay demar derozan

Just watch. Pop is going to have this Gay-Derozan tandem popping like nobody ever knew was possible. Giddy up

 

For Leafs fans: A look at the last ten 25th Overall picks

This is Kyle Dubas’ first draft at the helm of the Toronto Maple Leafs warship. Toronto has the 25th overall pick, and as the following list will show you, this range of the draft is incredibly hit or miss. If the Leafs are going to make the jump from first round playoff fodder to full-blown contender, they will have to hit on these picks in order to give their core of Matthews, Marner and Nylander a solid and affordable supporting cast.

2017 Ryan Poehling, Montreal

Poehling was the youngest player in the NCAA when the Habs took him in last year’s draft. It seemed like a weird pick at the time, but the center from St. Cloud State had an excellent 2017-18 that saw him score 31 points in 36 college games as well as center the US’s top line at the World Juniors. April’s Hockey News “Future Watch” has him ranked as  the 37th best prospect in hockey and Montreal’s top prospect.  Read more

Breaking down the 2018 Hart Trophy Finalists

Tonight is the NHL Awards ceremony in Las Vegas and, while I’m sure people are itching for some Lady Byng talk, the Hart Trophy for the league’s MVP usually garners the most interest. This year you will be shocked to not see a Crosby, Malkin or McDavid (actually I’m really surprised to not see a McDavid) on the finalist list for the award. All three of the 2018 candidates have never been a finalist for the award before and all three have an equally legitimate claim to win the thing. In what should be the most open race for the MVP in years, here’s the case for Taylor Hall, Anze Kopitar and Nathan MacKinnon to each win the Hart.

Screen Shot 2018-06-19 at 11.53.55 PM Read more

Throwback Thursday: 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers AKA the Last Team to get Swept in the Finals

Let’s remember a few names. In honour of the Cavaliers getting pushed to the brink of Finals Sweep at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, I thought I’d take a look back at the last team to get swept in the Finals… Lebron’s 2007 Cavaliers. This by no means is a shot at the present or past Cavs. The 2018 Cavs can still win a couple of games to avoid the sweep and when all is said and done and the 2007 Cavs were not supposed to make it that far. Nonetheless it is an interesting practice to reminisce on some of the guys Lebron dragged to the Finals a decade ago.

Ira Newble

Image result for ira newble

Who? A quick glance at Newble’s Basketball Reference page shows that Ira was a veteran of eight NBA seasons split between San Antonio, Atlanta, Cleveland, Seattle and the Lakers. 380 career regular season games is nothing to turn your nose up at… But this guy was as big of a non-factor imaginable on an NBA Finals team. In the 2007 playoffs Newble only got in 6 games and averaged 1.7 minutes per game and didn’t score once. Lebron had his work cut out for him. Read more

Rolling Rock (Unofficially) Presents: The Second Annual 2018 Bench Life Stanley Cup Prediction Battle

Another year another pick battle. Quite honestly I forgot to post the results of last year’s. To recap, Brendan won a case of Rolling Rock and Cam is a coward who never did a punishment for losing.

This time around, Ray has entered the fold and I’m going to put a punishment in writing. Winner will still win a case of Rolling Rock, otherwise known as the King’s spoils of war. The loser will have to change their Twitter profile pic to a picture of them wearing the jersey of their least favourite team and must not change the picture for a whole year. For Ballantyne and I we would have to wear one of Cam’s Bruins jerseys, Ray would have to wear a Blackhawks jersey and Cam would have to wear a Leafs jersey. The stakes have never been higher(?)

Before I break down our picks, I thought I would give an update on the podcast situation. We have been off of the air waves for a couple of weeks due to school ending and us having to figure out how to format over Skype. Expect a victorious return to the podcast game within the next week or so.

Without further ado, here’s our official Stanley Cup picks:

Pick the Winner (5 points for team, 3 points for amount of games, 10 points if both are right)
Thomas: Washington in 6
Cameron: Vegas in 7
Brendan: Washington in 7
Ray: Washington in 6

Conn Smythe (10 points)
Thomas:   Alex Ovechkin
Cameron: Marc-Andre Fleury
Brendan: Alex Ovechkin
Ray: Evgeny Kuznetsov (although realistically it’ll probably be Ovie)

Select 3 Forwards and 2 Defensemen. You get points for where they finish series in top 10 scorers (1st=10 pts, 10th=1 pt, 14th= 0)
Thomas: Marchessault, Ovechkin, Oshie, Carlson, Orlov
Brendan: Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Smith, Carlson, Schmidt
Cameron: Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Karlsson, Theodore, Carlson
Ray: Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Marchessault, Carlson, Theodore (sorry Tatar and Nosek)

1st Player to be Handed the Cup after the captain (5 points)
Thomas: Vegas–Fleury  Washington–Carlson
Brendan: Vegas–James Neal Washington–Backstrom
Cameron: Vegas – Fleury, Washington – Backstrom
Ray: Vegas – assuming Engelland is the pseudo-captain, Fleury. Washington – Backstrom.  

For Every OT Tweet a VGK and WSH player for who will score the OT Goal. 10 points per correct pick.

Over Unders (2 pts for every pick)

Ovechkin Goals Set at 4.5
Thomas: Over
Brendan: Under
Cameron: Over
Ray: Over

Back-Up Goalie Starts Set at 0.5
Thomas: Over
Brendan: Under
Cameron: Under
Ray: Under

Total Overtime Games Set at 1.5
Thomas: Over
Brendan: Under
Cameron: Under
Ray: Under

Total Shutouts in Series Set at 0.5
Thomas: Under
Brendan: Over
Cameron: Over
Ray: Over

Total Goals in Series Set at 24.5
Thomas: Under
Brendan: Over
Cameron: Over
Ray: Under

Bench Life Sports

Throwback Thursday: the 2003-04 Washington Capitals

Let’s remember a few names. In honour of the Capitals finally making the Stanley Cup final, I thought I would look back at the roster that netted them the first overall pick in the 2004 draft and the right to draft Ovie. This team of studs went 23-46-10-3 (59 points) and set the foundation for one of the best regular season teams of the past decade.

Steve Konowalchuk

Konowalchuk was captain of this juggernaut Capitals squad… for 6 games. He was traded to the Colorado Avalanche with Washington’s third round pick in the 2004 draft (Casey Borer) to Colorado Avalanche for Bates Battaglia and Jonas Johansson. Since retiring in 2006 Konowalchuk became an assistant coach from 2009-2011 and served as the head coach for the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds from 2011-2017. The grit grinder is now an assistant coach for the Anaheim Ducks. Read more

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