Overlooked Wrestling Superstar Paul Orndorff Gone At 71

Mr. Wonderful may be gone. His accomplishments will not be forgotten. Rest in peace. 

Even people who were not big wrestling fans in the 1980s can probably name a number of popular wrestlers from that era. Hulk Hogan usually tops the list. Guys like “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Andre The Giant. Rowdy Roddy Piper. Ultimate Warrior. Jake “The Snake” Roberts. George “The Animal” Steele. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. I could go on for quite some time. One name that seems to slip through the cracks too often is Paul Orndorff. Monday he passed away at 71 years old. It is safe to say that “Mr. Wonderful” had an extremely underrated WWF run. Although Orndorff’s wrestling career was much more than just his time in WWF, Paul was absolutely one of the company’s top stars between his arrival in late 1983 and his final WWF rivalry in 1987 (against Ravishing Rick Rude). Records indicate that Orndorff battled Rude one final time in early 1988 before departing the company. 

There were so many epic moments featuring Orndorff. Let’s start with 1984. Hogan won the title in January at Madison Square Garden. That ushered in what many people consider to be the golden age of wrestling. Hulk’s first challenger at MSG a month later? You guessed it. None other than Orndorff. He challenged Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Title in March. Basically whoever held that belt was considered second in the company. April held a special place in my heart. Orndorff was part of a card held approximately one block from my house at a high school gym. In fact, he participated in the main event and was on the winning team. There were more clashes with Hogan and Santana throughout 1984, and Tito squared off against Orndorff at MSG again in May. Orndorff prevailed. Since Santana was counted out, the title did not change hands. He also claimed wins against Hogan, but with Hulk getting counted out or disqualified. 

By 1985, Orndorff had really taken off. Perhaps people forget that he competed in the main event at WrestleMania. Back when it didn’t have a number, as Roddy Piper once said. The original. Eventually he would become a good guy. Fans were cheering him. Orndorff became wildly popular. His action figure was one of the early ones made by LJN. Orndorff began taking on former manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. He also tangled with Piper, who was a former manager of Orndorff himself. They had also teamed up in the big WrestleMania main event. 

1986 was the peak of Orndorff’s WWF career. He was teamed up with Hogan in a match against King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd. Following the bout, Orndorff turned on Hogan. He surprised him with a clothesline before delivering a piledriver that left the Hulkster in a heap. This generated incredible heat, and resulted in an epic feud. Orndorff even stole Hogan’s music and tried to claim it as his own. The two battled across North America, including an outdoor show at Toronto’s CNE Stadium. Approximately 70,000 fans gathered to see the event, which set a new World Wrestling Federation record at the time. With 1986 coming to a close, Orndorff and Hogan would collide in steel cage matches throughout the United States. Their cage match in Hartford was aired on NBC’s Saturday Night’s Main Event. Despite being taped in December, that air date was January 3, 1987. It actually aired hours after one of the worst playoff losses ever suffered by my New York Jets. This memorable clash was billed as the first steel cage match in network television history, and helped ease my pain.

A huge crowd saw Hogan battle Andre The Giant at WrestleMania III in March of 1987. About 90,000 fans were in attendance. Another record. Orndorff was suspiciously left off the card. There was talk of Orndorff being held out as a possible substitute because Andre’s health was a serious question mark. However, Paul had his own issues to deal with. He had injured his arm during a weightlifting accident. Instead of taking time off, Orndorff continued to wrestle Hogan in front of large crowds. Finally, he stepped away after the profitable program had concluded. Shortly after his return, Paul once again fired Bobby Heenan. He turned face, or good, once more. The first annual Survivor Series took place in November of 1987. Yet again, Orndorff found himself in the main event. He was part of Hulk’s team in the big showdown on Thanksgiving night. 

Another legend has left us. Maybe you hadn’t heard of him, or perhaps this terrific career was somehow lost among the greats. It truly is amazing that he was somehow overshadowed by the other giants of 1980s wrestling. He deserves his flowers. The guy stacked up with everybody. He had the look. A body of work. Put fannies in seats. Had memorable interviews. He did everything you could have possibly imagined. Mr. Wonderful may be gone. His accomplishments will not be forgotten. Rest in peace. 

2021 NFL Mock Draft Featuring Coach T and Fitness Guru Brian Trainor

LordTreeSap, Brian Trainor and Coach T break down the NFL Draft with our official 2021 first round mock.

It’s April again, so you know it’s draft time. LordTreeSap is here along with his fellow NFL gurus Coach T and Brian Trainor to help you guys out with an official first round mock draft.

While Coach is preparing the gameplan of a lifetime this week, it’s not for the State Championship, our boy — a member of the historic 1,000 yard rusher club — is getting married on Saturday and he took some time out of ordering his Yorktown Football-themed wedding cake to give us a mock so shouts to the best offensive coordinator in the tri-state.

Trainor’s spent so much time in the gym this year, you’d think he was one of the NFL prospects preparing for the combine. With a torn labrum ruining that dream, F-45’s own skipped a couple sets of burpees and box jumps this week to give us his Mock 5.0 and he does not disappoint.

As for me, I’m just waiting for the fucking Portland Trail Blazers to win a game so I can keep a roof over my head.

Without further ado, the mock draft of a lifetime.

Here We Go – 1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Coach T: Trevor Lawrence QB, Clemson

Genius pick, right? Lawrence is going to be a stud. Doesn’t take a perfect IQ to figure that out. This is the last time I’ll ever say it, why couldn’t the Jets tank properly for my boy @lordtreesap #JetsHorrorStories.

Trainor: Trevor Lawrence QB, Clemson

LordTreeSap: Trevor Lawrence QB, Clemson

2. New York Jets

Coach: Zach Wilson QB, BYU

Chill with the Patrick Mahomes comparisons. Zach Wilson looks like the little brother of one of my players playing youth football. He happens to also have some really impressive tape. Let’s see what happens…at least Gase isn’t developing him.

Trainor: Zach Wilson QB, BYU

The kid is a winner on and off the field.

LTS: Zach Wilson QB, BYU

When the Trevor Lawrence dream died in Los Angeles, (Thanks again Sean McVay) my attention immediately turned to our new king Z-Dub. His stock has soared since the season ended and the Hawaiian-Mormon surfer bro has become one of the draft’s darlings. Now, the Jets screwed over Sam Darnold in every possible way, so I’m just praying we learned from our mistakes and give this kid the best environment possible to learn and grow. He’s already off to a good start with Saleh’s offensive staff led by Mike LaFleur replacing the GOAT Adam Gase.

Called it on the first day of the year.

3. San Francisco 49ers

Coach: Mac Jones QB, Alabama

This is where the world has him going, so I guess I do too. Now based on what I know about Kyle Shanahan, (best play-caller in the NFL) and what I’ve heard Trey Lance’s strengths are, I’m surprised there’s not more traction there. I think Shanahan wants a QB that he can connect intellectually somewhat with, and Mac provides that. Insane #’s this year, competitor, should come in and be able to run that offense right away. Jimmy G, you have some competition bud.

Trainor: Mac Jones QB, Alabama

LTS: Mac Jones QB, Alabama

4. Atlanta Falcons

Coach: Kyle Pitts TE, Florida

Chill with the HOF talk, but this dude is an absolute freak. A QB’s best friend is a TE, and new Coach Arthur Smith sure love’s TE’s. Atlanta can draft Pitts and have a huge big 3 with Jones, Ridley, and Pitts. OR can draft Pitts, trade Jones for capital, and go forward with their young weapons.

Trainor: Kyle Pitts TE, Florida

LTS: Kyle Pitts TE, Florida

5. Cincinnati Bengals

Coach: Ja’Marr Chase WR, LSU

I’ve seen all of this Chase and Pitts talk to the Bengals and I’m sorry, for their own sake, IT SHOULDN’T HAPPEN. You saw what a putrid O-line did to their FRANCHISE STUD QB. Go protect that man. Get the best OT in this draft and lock stud to protect your investment. Joe Burrow is a DUDE and if he’s protected, he’ll give the Bengals a shot year in, year out. Oh and Higgins/Boyd ain’t to shabby. However, Joe wants his stud WR. The Bengals went out and got 2 tackles (none of which can do what Penei can do). At this point, all signs pointing to Chase.

Trainor: Ja’Marr Chase WR, LSU

LTS: Penei Sewell OT, Oregon

6. Miami Dolphins

Coach: Jaylen Waddle WR, Alabama

The more tape I watch on Waddle, the moreI like him. He’s dynamic in so many ways, and I think the Dolphins pair Tua with  a deep threat that can make a huge impact right away.

Trainor: Jaylen Waddle WR, Alabama

LTS: Ja’Marr Chase WR, LSU

7. Detroit Lions

Coach: *Trade* New England Patriots – Trey Lance QB, ND St.

WOW!!! This is probably crazy, but Bill has realized in order to win in this league, you need a QB. Plain and simple. There are no QBs next year. Yes Jimmy G may be available. But c’mon, you’re not winning with him. Bill may not have many years left, and if he strikes gold, ya never know. Trey Lance to the Pats. Sap, thoughts?

Trainor: *Trade* Los Angeles Chargers – Penei Sewell OT, Oregon

LTS: Rashawn Slater OT, Northwestern

8. Carolina Panthers

Coach: Penei Sewell OT, Oregon

Penei Sewell is a beast. The Panthers go out and get an absolute savage in this draft.

*Trade* New England Patriots – Trainor: Justin Fields QB, Ohio St.

LTS: Trey Lance QB, ND St.

9. Denver Broncos

Coach: Justin Fields QB, Ohio St.

The Broncos have Drew Lock and DumpDownTeddy, and well they both stink. Justin fields was 1B with Trevor Lawrence at one point, and John Elway goes up and gets his guy (we’ve heard that one before).

Trainor: Micah Parsons LB, Penn St.

LTS: Justin Fields QB, Ohio St.

10. Dallas Cowboys

Coach:  Jaycee Horn – CB, South Carolina 

Jerry loves the “sexy” pick, and Horn provides that on the defensive side of the ball for the Cowgirls. Son of a former pro, he should be a plug & play week 1 starter.

Trainor: Patrick Surtain CB, Alabama

LTS: Patrick Surtain CB, Alabama

11. New York Giants

Coach: Micah Parsons LB, Penn St.

F the Giants. Okay, I’m done. Parsons is an absolute freak, plain and simple. Rushes the passer, plays sideline to sideline, can do it all for a team that goes with the best player on the board here.

Trainor: DeVonta Smith WR, Alabama

LTS: DeVonta Smith WR, Alabama

12. Philadelphia Eagles

Coach: Patrick Surtain Jr. CB, Alabama

I struggle with what the Eagles should do here and my mock has changed a lot (although 15 less times than Trainor to be exact). The Eagles have MANY needs, but I’d say Corner, WR, and LB are most important. If Parsons is there, TAKE HIM. If not, I’m good with Waddle/Smith or Horn/Surtain. I’m very confident it will be one of these 5 guys. As it pertains to this Mock, let’s go with Patrick Surtain, son of a former NFL corner who is ready to play and contribute right now. Any Nick Saban DB is NFL ready, and this kid could be special.

Trainor: Jaycee Horn CB, South Carolina

LTS: Jaylen Waddle WR, Alabama

13. Los Angeles Chargers

Coach: Rashawn Slater OT, Northwestern

Trainor: *Trade* Detroit Lions – Rashawn Slater OT, Northwestern

LTS: Jaycee Horn CB, South Carolina

14. Minnesota Vikings

Coach: Christian Darrisaw OT, Virginia Tech

Trainor: Alijah Vera-Tucker OG, USC

LTS: Micah Parsons LB, Penn State

15. New England Patriots

Coach: *Trade* Detroit Lions – DeVonta Smith WR, Alabama

Trainor: *Trade* Carolina Panthers – Christina Darrisaw OT, Virginia Tech

LTS: Alijah Vera-Tucker OL, USC

16. Arizona Cardinals

Coach: Jaelen Phillips Edge, Miami

Trainor: *Trade* Chicago Bears – Trey Lance QB, ND St.

LTS: Caleb Farley CB, Virginia Tech

17. Las Vegas Raiders

Coach: Alijah Vera-Tucker OG, USC

Trainor: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah LB, Notre Dame

LTS: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah LB, Notre Dame

18. Miami Dolphins

Coach: Teven Jenkins OT, Oklahoma St.

Trainor: Teven Jenkins OT, Oklahoma St.

LTS: Kwity Paye DL, Michigan

19. Washington Football Team

Coach: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah LB, Notre Dame

Trainor: Zaven Collins LB, Tulsa

LTS: Christian Darrisaw OT, Virginia Tech

20. Chicago Bears

Coach: Caleb Farley CB, Virginia Tech

Trainor: *Trade* Arizona Cardinals – Caleb Farley CB, Virginia Tech

LTS: Teven Jenkins OT, Oklahoma St. 

21. Indianapolis Colts

Coach: Kwity Paye Edge, Michigan

Trainor: Kwity Paye Edge, Michigan

LTS: K’Darius Toney WR, Florida

22. Tennessee Titans

Coach: Greg Newsome II CB, Northwestern

Trainor: Greg Newsome II CB, Northwestern

LTS: Gregory Rousseau Edge, Miami

23. New York Jets

Coach: Elijah Moore WR, Ole Miss

Trainor: Asante Samuel Jr. CB, FSU

LTS: Greg Newsome II CB, Northwestern

Philadelphia Eagles: Greg Newsome II's game is too sweet to ignore

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Coach: Najee Harris RB, Alabama

Trainor: Najee Harris RB, Alabama

LTS: Travis Etienne RB, Clemson

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

Coach: Trevon Moehrig S, TCU

Trainor: Trevon Moehrig S, TCU

LTS: Christian Barmore DT, Alabama

26. Cleveland Browns

Coach: Zaven Collins Edge, Tulsa

Trainor: Azeez Olujari Edge, Georgia

LTS: Jamin Davis LB, Kentucky

27. Baltimore Ravens

Coach: Terrace Marshall Jr. WR, LSU

Trainor: Rashod Bateman WR, Minnesota

LTS: Rashod Bateman WR, Minnesota

28. New Orleans Saints

Coach: Jamin Davis LB, Kentucky

Trainor: Elijah Moore WR, Ole Miss

LTS: Terrace Marshall Jr WR, LSU

29. Green Bay Packers

Coach: Rashod Bateman WR, Minnesota

Trainor: Christian Barmore DT, Alabama

LTS: Elijah Moore WR, Ole Miss

30. Buffalo Bills

Coach: Travis Etienne RB, Clemson

Trainor: Travis Etienne RB, Clemson

LTS: Najee Harris RB, Alabama

31. Baltimore Ravens

Coach: Azeez Olujari Edge, Georgia

Trainor: *Trade* New York Giants – Jaelen Phillips Edge, Miami

LTS: Jaylen Mayfield OT, Michigan

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Coach: Jayson Oweh Edge, Penn St.

Trainor: Landon Dickerson Center, Alabama

LTS: Asante Samuel Jr. CB, FSU

Joey From Yonkers’ Worst Gambling Beats of 2020, Part 2

Finally time to wrap up 2020 and my bad beats from it. Here is the conclusion:

10. Notre Dame-Georgia Tech:

The Irish had a 31-7 lead. They won it by 18. I bought a point down to 19.5, but needed to buy a couple more. Notre Dame was stopped a yard short in the final seconds. They actually ran one last play in an apparent attempt to cover, but it didn’t get the job done.

9. Cincinnati-UCF:

After deciding not to score a touchdown that would have covered, the Bearcats then tried to score and didn’t quite get there. This is one of many games on my list that made Bad Beats. The video and Scott Van Pelt can do a better job telling the story. This game happened to be on the same day as Boise-Hawaii, so it is in the same Bad Beats segment.

8. Boise State-Hawaii:

Two fourth quarter touchdowns by Hawaii blew Boise’s cover. There were penalties. Again, easier to let SVP describe it and show you the video. I could have teased it with the over. Two of my favorite teams were playing against each other, and I was on the wrong side. At least in terms of a point spread.

7. Nevada-Hawaii:

I had the second half over 30. It was 14-14 after halftime. Hawaii had a 24-21 lead in the game, and faced a third down deep in Nevada territory with 90 seconds remaining. Pass interference was called. Hawaii then had a first down at the 2, and took knees to end it. A completion for touchdown would have been good for me. Getting stopped likely would have resulted in a short field goal. Even turning the ball over on an interception or getting stopped on downs would have kept me alive. Somehow the one thing that could hurt me ended up happening. Second straight week that Hawaii got me.

6. Florida-Tennessee:

My Gators -16.5 was looking good. I had bought it down from 17.5. Florida was up by 18. I got in before the spread went that high. Tennessee drove 96 yards to backdoor it. The touchdown was scored on fourth down, and Tennessee also converted a fourth down earlier in that last drive. Another game featured on Bad Beats.

5. Mets-Yankees:

It was the first game of a doubleheader. In 2020, each game of a doubleheader was scheduled for 7 innings. The Mets were winning 7-2, and an out away from victory. In fact, a leadoff error was followed by two outs. Theoretically, the game should have already been over. A pitcher often referred to as Edlose blew the save. He even stayed in for the next inning and was hit with the loss. Game 2 was just icing on the cake. Another extra-inning loss. Even if it was also just 8 innings.

4. Washington Football Team-49ers:

Although they did next to nothing on offense, Washington won by 8. I had Niners +3.5 in a teaser. Washington scored one touchdown on a fumble return, and another touchdown on an interception return. One of Washington’s field goals was set up by a fumble. San Fran had an opportunity to tie late. Or, they could have pulled within two and missed the conversion but won me my teaser. A big play that would have put the Niners inside Washington’s 25 was called back by penalty. It ended 23-15. This game was also a big reason why the Giants didn’t win their division. Common sense would have told me to tease Washington, but a rooting interest overruled my brain.

3. Seahawks-Washington Football Team:

If I labeled this game Seattle-Washington it would have seemed like a northwest location. Seattle was up 20-3 in the fourth quarter. Washington scored a touchdown but missed the extra point. Their drive started from inside the Washington 5. Seattle then drove down inside Washington’s 40. Wilson was picked off on first down. Seattle seemed destined to go up by at least 14. I had bought it down to 5.5. Washington scored another touchdown but went for two and missed.

Seattle punted it back to Washington. The Seahawks forced a fumble. It was recovered at Washington’s 27. Announcer Kenny Albert stated that Seattle had recovered. They didn’t. Just a tease and false hope. Seattle would have been in field goal range. Washington eventually failed on fourth down. Wilson took knees to end it. The game finished 20-15. I needed to buy another point or go ML. This was the week after Washington burned me with that San Fran game.

2. San Diego State-BYU:

Yet another contest that SVP featured. Three second half San Diego State possessions inside BYU’s 10 produced zero points. Long drives that resulted in nothing but time off the clock. This over should have hit easily. One ridiculous play after another. Even a slight tease on what could have been ruled a fumble but was not. I also lost on BYU giving points, so it was a double whammy. At least one seemed like a lock with so many first half points. In retrospect, teasing this game would have been profitable. Do yourself a favor and watch the video.

1. Warriors-Kings:

Yes, this was a preseason NBA game. I don’t care. The money counts equally, and this was a brutal loss. Golden State actually took the game seriously. At least part of it. The Warriors stormed back from 19 down. Golden State was really too emotional. The Warriors were hit with a technical foul late in the fourth quarter when leading 110-106. Golden State was then up 113-109 with less than a minute remaining. The Warriors could have gone up by five but missed the second of two free throws. Sacramento scored with about 30 seconds left and trailed 113-111.

You could see it coming. Golden State missed. Sacramento had just enough time to win it. The Kings were obviously not playing for overtime. Kyle Guy hit the game winning shot from downtown as time expired. I had Golden State -125. The Warriors were a slight favorite, but I found out that Sacramento went off as the favorite.

I could have won with a better line if my bet was placed later. Salt in the wound. I still can’t believe that they probably lost this game because of a taunting technical due to being overly thrilled about a preseason comeback. Sacramento hosted Golden State again two days later. I was disgusted and wanted no part of the rematch. This time, Golden State won. 

Joey Backdoor’s Worst Gambling Beats of 2020, Part 1

Narrowing my list to 20 wasn’t easy. It has been a brutal year. Here is the first 10 of my top 20 bad beats from 2020.

1. LSU-Clemson:

In a battle of the Tigers, LSU prevailed to become champions. I should have loaded up on LSU after riding them all year. A guest on WFAN talked me into betting the total early in case it went up. 67 points were scored. Not over 69. Somehow, the total was bet down and closed at 66. I also could have gone for insurance by popping an LB on the under. Bet more on the lower number. Done a teaser. Total debacle. Literally, since it involved the total. Great way to end the season and start my year. 

2. Kings-Bucks:

Getting in early burned me again. Milwaukee beat Sacramento by 12. The line went down to 10, but that was after my bet went in. Giannis skipped the game. Apparently becoming a father is somewhat important to people. 

3. San Francisco-Gonzaga:

A late three by the Zags gave them a 71-54 victory. Some people won on -16.5, but I had 17.5. Bet it too soon. The line went down. This story seems familiar. Another problem with early wagers is I’m not able to buy points. I am great at finding ways to lose. 

4. Iowa-Michigan State:

MSU defeated Iowa 78-70. I had the Spartans -8.5, and Cassius Winston missed a late free throw to cover. Teasing with the over would have worked. It especially hurt because Winston was shooting free throws at an 87 percent clip.

5. Braves-Mets:

Edwin Diaz blew a save, and the Mets fell to 1-1. They were one out away from starting 2-0 against Atlanta in the shortened 2020 campaign. This set the tone for their entire season, and mine.

6. Mets-Braves:

I could not leave out the Mets losing 11-10 to Atlanta. It was 8-2 Mets. They also were ahead 10-5. Atlanta scored once in the sixth inning, but still trailed 10-6 in the eighth. Travis d’Arnaud doubled in three runs against his former team. That capped Atlanta’s five-run eighth, and the comeback was complete. Or, choke job. Depends on your point of view. 

7. Rockets-Mavericks:

Dallas squandered a 138-131 lead with under 50 seconds remaining. Seth Curry’s late miss at the free throw line gave Houston hope, but James Harden was shooting two free throws with less than 4 seconds left and the Rockets still trailing 139-136. Harden made his first. The second was missed, and Robert Covington’s tip forced overtime. Dallas went up by four in the extra session, but Houston went on to win. Could have loaded up on the over. Even at halftime.

8. Jazz-Nuggets:

The NBA postseason kicked off in fine fashion. Denver covered the game in overtime despite 57 from Donovan Mitchell. Another example of me not jumping in on the over and turning it into a profitable game. This was also another example of overtime not being a friend of the underdog bettor.

9. Mavericks-Clippers:

Hours after Denver and Utah’s overtime game, Dallas took on the Clippers. Kristaps Porzingis was ejected, and things turned. Dallas scored 13 points in the third quarter. 135 combined points were scored in the first half. It ended 118-110. Not over 229. Tim Hardaway missed the game’s final shot. Could have covered and put it over. I didn’t tease the two. Lost them both individually. Two bad losses, but I’m going to combine them. Not getting over 229 had to be the real bad beat.

10. Indiana-Rutgers:

It appeared the Scarlet Knights had scored on a wild play to cover that featured a number of laterals. Replay overturned the touchdown. A Halloween disappointment. That’s what I get for letting Joe Benigno and others talk me into liking Rutgers. 

2020 Official NBA Mock Draft Featuring Coach Trager and LordTreeSap

The Lakers hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy less than six weeks ago, the NBA Draft is less than 48 hours away and its November, the season is getting ready to tip off in just over a month, but at this point it is par for the course when it comes to 2020.

The 2020 draft class has garnered a middling reputation, but will be stronger as the round goes on with solid depth. With a ton of unpredictability at the top, there’s still no consensus No. 1 overall pick as the time continues to tick on Minnesota. We’ve already seen a ton of wheeling and dealing in the league, which doubles as an Academy Award-winning drama when the off-season rolls around.

Luckily for you, Brandon “Coach T” Trager and LordTreeSap are here to walk you through the entire lottery for Wednesday’s NBA Draft. Take a look at our predictions and keep it locked on the Daily Mix Report for draft coverage from LTS, while Trager lives the life of luxury in the green room with Obi Toppin.

1. Minnesota Timberwolves

Coach T: LaMelo Ball, Australia

The most mysterious, yes unmysterious, tantalizing prospect of the draft. If you’re a hoops fan, we all remember what seems like yesterday a young freshman LaMelo pullin’ up from half court in video clips gone viral. Fast forward a few years, LaMelo is a 6’7″ do-it-all PG. I am beyond happy LaVar has shut his mouth and just let his boys have a normal professional career. It was funny at first, but it got old pretty quick.

However, I will give him credit, he said LaMelo would go No. 1, and be the best of the three Ball brothers. He’s made a lot of promises that have yet to come true, but it’s amazing that some of them have. In a draft with no certain No. 1 pick, LaMelo may have the best upside with his size and playmaking ability. Just like big bro Lonzo, he looks to make everyone around him better. I’m not sure how the Ball – Russell Dynamic will look, but if he pans out, a two-guard backcourt alongside KAT doesn’t sound too shabby. I see the Wolves going Ball here.

LordTreeSap: Anthony Edwards, Georgia

Anthony Edwards has been billed as the top prospect for months now, so I don’t think the Wolves will ultimately pass up on the opportunity to pair him with D’Angelo Russell for an explosive back court and potential big three forming with Karl-Anthony Towns. During his best moments, AE looks like a young James Harden without the elite court vision, but a bulldog going to the rim just like the school he reps.

NBA Draft 2020: Anthony Edwards Opens Up on His Surreal Experience With  Michael Jordan and Golden State Warriors - EssentiallySports

2. Golden State Warriors

Coach T: James Wiseman, Memphis

Let me rant quick then I’ll stop, WHY DO THE WARRIORS NEED TO GET REWARDED AT 2!? Yeah, it stinks their two studs were essentially out for the season, but the NBA Gods hand them the No. 2 pick, when the Knicks can’t catch a break. Ok I’m done. The Warriors need a big, and Wiseman offers the best upside. 7+ footer, incredibly athletic, and will eventually step out and shoot, he may be the gem of this draft. Steph, Klay, Wiggins, Green, Wiseman, yeah, the Western Conference forgot about the Warriors. Here we go…

LordTreeSap: James Wiseman, Memphis

This is the layup of the draft. GSW has played it coy as a contender picking at the top of the draft who would probably prefer to flip the pick and assets for a third star alongside the Splash Brothers. If that doesn’t come to fruition, the athletic rim-running Wiseman gives the Dubs another weapon at their disposal and an inside presence they’ve lacked.

James Wiseman Says He Would Be A Great Fit With The Golden State Warriors –  Fadeaway World

3. Charlotte Hornets

Coach T: Anthony Edwards, Georgia

If Edwards slips to three, there’s no way the Hornets can pass up on him. If you look at this dude in a uniform, you may think he’s been in the NBA for 3-4 years. Explosive wing who can get to the rim and shoot the ball. He has that slasher wing in him looking like a young D-Wade at times. MJ may make up for all of his failed drafts with this pick here. Look for the Hornets to go with my favorite player in this year’s draft, Anthony Edwards.

LordTreeSap: Onyeka Okongwu, USC

We never know what Michael Jordan and the Hornets are going to pull when it comes to drafting, we just usually know it’s going to be the wrong decision. Onyeka has soared up draft boards as a versatile big in the mold of Bam Adebayo and everyone saw how valuable he was inside the bubble on Miami’s Finals run.

4. Chicago Bulls

Coach T: Deni Avdija, Israel

These European dudes are so hit and miss, but I feel like these have been more hits than misses of late. Basketball has really stepped up its game overseas, and you’re seeing the product translate to the NBA. Avdija is a strong 2-way player who is very experienced and has played against supreme talent.

The Bulls have a young roster, and he should fit in nicely next to Lavine, Markkanen, Carter, and some of the other Bulls young talent. I think anyone who passed up on (or traded) some guy named Luka would tell you they regret not honoring his dominance overseas. Look for the Bulls to continue to grow their young roster under new coach Billy Donovan with Deni Avdija.

LordTreeSap: LaMelo Ball, Australia

LaMelo Ball, the most polarizing prospect in this draft. You ask five different “experts” about his career trajectory and you’ll probably get five different answers. The final Ball brother has a good chance to be the best of the bunch with the way Lonzo has stumbled out of the gate. Chicago didn’t extend a qualifying offer to Kris Dunn, so a ball handler spot opens up alongside sniper Coby White to form the backcourt of the future. I’m still trying to figure out why Billy Donovan took this job though.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers

Coach T: Obi Toppin, Dayton

This next player is special because I had the opportunity to be a part of his path to the NBA coaching both him and his younger brother Jacob (University of Kentucky). Obi has grown from a 6’1″ high school senior, to a 6’9″ rim-running monster. The reigning National Player of the Year may be the most “NBA ready” prospect. He is incredibly athletic, savvy in the post, and can step out and shoot the 3. He is a prototypical NBA Big.

He needs to improve his perimeter defense/lateral quickness and continue to get stronger. However, he is going to be a consistent NBA player with a long career. From knowing Obi personally, he’s one of the most likable, humble people you’ll ever meet, and everyone who comes across him loves him. Being he played for Dayton in Ohio, I don’t see him slipping past six. I don’t love this spot for him, because this is probably my least favorite team picking in the top 10. However, look for Obi to make an immediate impact wherever he goes.

LordTreeSap: Deni Avdija, Israel

I’m not going to act like I’ve watched Deni Avdija play a full game of basketball, but he’s been on the NBA’s radar for some time. Checking out his skillset, I could easily see a Danilo Gallinari type of career coming his way, which would be a win for Cleveland.

6. Atlanta Hawks

Coach T: Isaac Okoro, Auburn

Full disclosure, I hope Okoro doesn’t get picked here, because I want the Knicks to draft him. Anyway, let’s pair up the talented young hawks with an athletic versatile 2-way wing. Okoro plays hard and will be an elite NBA defender. If he can develop a jump shot, he’ll end up being the highly coveted “3 and D” stud that every NBA team is looking for. Young, Okoro, Collins and co. sounds like a nice young core to me.

NBA Draft news: Auburn star Isaac Okoro to declare for draft

LordTreeSap: Obi Toppin, Dayton

Coach T put Obi on my radar a couple years ago and he’s played his way into a bona fide top 10 pick in that time. Although he’s already 22-years-old, Toppin is a sure-fire fit at the four in the NBA with great athleticism and a capable jumper.

I still feel bad for his Dayton Flyers season being cut short; who knows when they’ll be a potential one-seed again? Atlanta could use Toppin if rumors flying are true that they plan to test the market on John Collins if the two sides can’t agree on a fair extension.

7. Detroit Pistons

Coach T: Patrick Williams, Florida State

Williams seems to be fling up draft boards as a modern NBA big. 6’8″, versatile defender who can shoot the three. The Pistons are in the midst of a rebuild and Williams may be able to learn a thing or two from Blake Griffin, who has had trouble staying on the court.

LordTreeSap: Isaac Okoro, Auburn

Okoro will be a great fit and culture changer for Detroit on the wing for a barren roster that needs a lot of help. A tenacious defender, and if his jumper comes along, he’ll be the type of versatile defense-first wing that just about every team is starving for. We just saw the Trail Blazers pay two firsts for Robert Covington this week. This pick might finally right the wrong of selecting Stanley Johnson in 2015, who I really liked coming out of Arizona.

8. New York Knicks

Coach T: Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State

I can’t invest myself emotionally into the Knicks. It’s a yearly heartbreak that I can’t handle. We kill ourselves, and seemingly find no luck on our side. Mini-rant over. Let’s go with Tyrese Haliburton here, a nice combo guard who is a nice playmaker and can shoot the basketball. He plays hard and I think would be a great fit next to RJ Barrett, and in NY in general.

The Knicks have DESPERATELY needed someone to step in and man the PG position. They have a solid foundational core, and a point guard to help accelerate the rebuild would be huge. Pair Tyrese with RJ Barrett, and Mitchell Robinson, the Knicks two best prospects, and we may be headed in the right direction (at least I have to say that). 

LordTreeSap: Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State

Coach T and I are on the same page here. The Knicks have been searching for a point guard to power the offense since Stephon Marbury ate Vaseline on a live stream. Haliburton has won me over as a sound decision maker, explosive enough to get to and finish at the rim, and still nail his funky jumper. Sign me up to see if Tyrese can finally fill the lead guard void that has plagued us for eons.

9. Wizards

Coach T: Onyeka Okungwu, USC

Considered by some to be the best true “big man” in this draft, he is already an excellent defender and rim protector. With a healthy John Wall and Bradley Beal this year, the wizards should be an improved team. Look for them to improve their front court with Onyeka.

LordTreeSap: Patrick Williams, Florida State

When early mocks were coming out, I kept seeing Vassell as the top FSU prospect, but P-Will has shot up draft boards in recent months to become the top Seminole available. Williams is oozing with potential as a gritty, do-it-all forward on the floor who makes the right play. Boasting a nearly seven-foot wingspan and still being 18-years-old always helps as well.

10. Phoenix Suns

Coach T: Devin Vassell, Florida State

Okay Suns, no pressure. You have one of the best young talents in the league in Devin Booker who reportedly wants out. Don’t screw this up. Vassell is another one of those potential 3 and D players you can surround Booker with in order to help the Suns be successful. They have some nice young talent with Ayton. Add Vassell to the fold and see what happens.

LordTreeSap: Killian Hayes, France

Another very intriguing prospect who opted for the professional overseas route. My good friend at The Ringer Kevin O’Connor has Hayes as the top player on his big board and he should be in consideration for the Knicks as well. The push in his jump shot does scare me a bit, but he can create and has good size. What a situation this would be to walk into and learn behind Chris Paul as Phoenix makes a push for the post-season.

Why Killian Hayes Is the Best Prospect in the 2020 NBA Draft | The Restart  | The Ringer - YouTube

11. San Antonio Spurs

Coach T: Saddiq Bey, Villanova

Who knows who the Spurs will pick, but whoever they pick, will make an impact at some point, like they ALWAYS do. Bey comes from a great program in Villanova and is a nice complimentary player. He’s 6’8″ and is highly versatile on the floor. I’m sure Pop will find a creative way to make the most out of him.

LordTreeSap: Devin Vassell, Florida State

I’m always looking for 3-and-D players in the draft. Just inject them into my veins — every good team needs them to surround stars with shot making and doing the dirty work defensively. Vassell fits that mold and should be a nice fit with the Spurs. Two FSU Seminoles in the top 11 gives me a chance to just remind the people coach Lenny Hamilton has never made a Final Four.

12. Sacramento Kings

Coach T: R.J. Hampton, New Zealand

In my opinion, this is one of the most interesting players in the draft. One of the most highly rated prospects coming out of high school, Hampton took the Ball route playing overseas this past year. Hampton didn’t get to showcase much of his talent, but he sure has a lot of it. He’s raw, but if he develops, he won’t have many flaws in his game. He’d be a nice piece next to Fox as a 1-2 punch.

LordTreeSap: Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt

With the Kings moving on from Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield wanting out, Sacramento needs to find another two-guard/wing to supplement their losses and give Fox some help. Enter Vanderbilt’s Nesmith, who is the best shooter in the draft and should be a sniper in the NBA.

13. New Orleans Pelicans

Coach T: Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt

SVG! Great young core that should start to make waves soon. Let’s go with Nesmith here, who is one of the best shooters in the draft and would fit nicely next to Ball, Ingram, and Zion. Pelicans like to push the pace (whether SVG will want to or not) and this would be a great spot for him stretching the floor for Ingram and Zion to operate inside.

LordTreeSap: Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama

Goodbye Jrue Holiday, hello Kira Lewis Jr. I debated Kentucky’s Maxey here as well, but the speedster out of ‘Bama heads to the NOP. The Pelicans are in a great spot and add their potential point guard of the future here, who plays with reckless abandon when attacking the cup, if they decide to move on from Lonzo Ball.

14. Boston Celtics

Coach T: Killian Hayes, France

There’s a good chance he won’t be available here, but it’d be a nice pick here for the Celtics. He could play behind the likes of Kemba Walker, develop, and potentially be a long-term replacement down the road for Boston.

LordTreeSap: Jalen Smith, Maryland

Anyone that watched Boston knows they need help down low. Jalen Smith was a beast at Maryland. Anytime I watched him play Michigan he seemed to be a lock for a double-double and addicted to cleaning the glass. He could get away with being a smaller five if he bulks up a bit because he’s already a strong defender with a nonstop motor.

Joe Benigno’s WFAN Departure Leaves Huge Void: A Tribute to One of My Radio Heroes

After 25 years on the airwaves of WFAN, Joe Benigno calls it a career on Friday with his final show.

I will never be able to properly describe the impact that Joe Benigno has had on my life, but I’ll do my best. He has been a major part of my routine for many years. Joe became the WFAN overnight host in 1995. I was an avid listener, but rarely called the station.

That changed in 1998. I started calling Monday-Friday. Most of the callers were regulars. You could name them, and even predict when they would call. We were a family. You know how that goes. Think of a holiday gathering. There are some people that occasionally get on your nerves. Perhaps you make up with them and move past disagreements. Other people annoy you to no end. It was like wrestling. One feud would eventually fizzle out, and another would develop.

I was pretty shy before becoming a regular caller. It was big for my confidence. I felt comfortable. People were often given several minutes. Especially if they could contribute something interesting. I would talk about betting. Maybe antagonize one of the callers. Joke around. Get into basketball and football or baseball. Some people would say I was their favorite caller. Others hated me. You might think getting through was easy at about 2:45 in the morning. Far from it. You could spend an hour or two trying to get through, and then wait a long time on hold. The wait was worth it.

Many people either stayed up to catch the start or woke up early for work. There were also a lot of older people who had retired and would wake up during the show. Having just left my job, I was able to stay up through the overnight and hear Joe’s entire program. He even inspired me to attend CSB (Connecticut School of Broadcasting) so I could land a job in the sports world like he did. Older folks were impressed with somebody who was decades younger than them but knew his sports.

WFAN's DraftKings pitchman Joe Benigno on fantasy football: "I want nothing  to do with it..." | Bob's Blitz

Yes, I was actually a youngster back then. Just 20 years old. I had a great memory, but could look up things on a computer as well. This wasn’t true for everybody before 2000. It also wasn’t that easy to find things back then. There were far fewer sites. Information was pretty limited compared to today, so I mostly went off my general knowledge and memories. 

Lots of people enjoy reality TV. Well, Joe’s show was reality radio. Kind of like a show where different people are crammed together in a house. Like I said, some of us went after each other. People from Canada even listen and call WFAN. Joe tried to fix me up with somebody from Nova Scotia. She talked about betting on sports. We never ended up meeting, but there were times when callers seemed more interested in discussing us than the games and teams.

Joe watched Lennox Lewis fight Mike Tyson with me at my Sportsphone job in 2002. I think my boss was jealous when I eventually told him about it. My former boss and I rarely keep in touch these days. He recently sent a text about Joe. It was the first time he sent me a text in years, with the last one also pertaining to Benigno. 

After nearly a decade of hosting overnights, Joe was promoted to middays in 2004. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Life would not be the same. He now had a partner. There were more guests. Shorter show. Additional commercials. Phone calls from callers were measured in seconds instead of minutes. Overnights were also not the same. Some hosts were better than others, but nobody was Joe. Even today you can hear fans fondly remember his overnight days. Not just the epic rants. It was a show for the callers.

Although the number of times I called Benigno had been drastically reduced, we remained close. Even before leaving overnights, Joe had started to host a Monday night football show with Tony Siragusa at Tiff’s in Pine Brook, NJ. Meeting up with him before the show gave us time to chat off the air. I ended up making it my hangout spot for the next 15 years. Joe’s last time there was probably 2005 or 2006, but his shows there had an indirect impact on me for many years to come.

His popularity continued to grow with the daytime shift, and he made numerous appearances. Some were in Yonkers, but he popped up in various locations. New Jersey. Long Island. I followed him around. A number of callers would show up, but I was his most loyal follower. John from Glen Cove was one of the callers I met. We often joined Joe at Buffalo Wild Wings or Dave and Buster’s. Again, Joe helped me without knowing it. I was getting out and enjoying myself. Meeting new people. Changing and growing as a person. 

Joe And Evan Appear On 'Good Morning Football'

There is talk that Joe might do some part-time work on WFAN in the future. One can only hope. Joe will never understand the impact he has had on people. Especially me. We will treasure whatever time remains. Oh yeah…thanks for including me in your book!

Is the NBA Luka Doncic’s League Already?

He has arrived. The first chapter in Luka Doncic’s legacy was written Sunday afternoon, as he rose up over Reggie Jackson with his signature stepback move to sink a game-winner at the OT buzzer to even the series at 2-2. Oh, and that 43pts-17rebs-13asts stat line was without Kristaps Porzingis on the floor and less than 48 hours after badly spraining his ankle.

Doncic powered the Mavs to erase a 21-point 2nd quarter deficit with some help from an unlikely supporting cast that included a combined 46 points from Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. One point Kenny “The Jet” Smith has made on TNT I agree with: Look at this restart with a clean slate like it’s Luka’s third season, rather than thinking of it being a continuation of his sophomore campaign.

How often do we see the superior team win that type of game? I’d argue about 90%. But Luka, being the transcendent talent he is, just wouldn’t let that happen. The 21-year-old is coming along far quicker than anyone expected, and my jaw drops just thinking about what his game is going to look like in just another 3 or 4 years.

A few nuggets on how special that performance was from Luka yesterday: He became the youngest player to drill a buzzer-beater in the playoffs. He joined Oscar Robertson and Charles Barkley to record 40-10-15+ in a playoff game. Doncic is now in the same breath as basketball royalty with Magic Johnson and LeBron James as the only players to put up multiple triple-doubles in the post-season at 21 or younger.

His vision and feel for the game are LeBron-esque. No matter the situation, Luka is totally in control at all times. What’s impressed me most has been his emotional makeup and moxie, as the Clippers have tried to intimidate Doncic on multiple occasions throughout the first four games. This isn’t 2007 anymore; you’re not going to bully the Europeans coming over who have played professionally since they were 16.

Game 1 saw Marcus Morris try to rough up Doncic, which unfortunately led to the ejection of Kristaps Porzingis. We’ve seen Montrezl Harrell call Luka a “Bitchass white boy,” which he’s also apologized to him for (please relax right wing Twitter), and it’s only made Doncic raise his game to another level. He’s even engaged in the trash talk a bit himself, as Luka hasn’t been afraid to scream “And 1” in Morris’s ear or call out Harrell for his flopping.

I don’t know if the Mavs can actually pull this thing off and eliminate the title favorite Clips (shoutout Pandemic P), but Dallas has to be giddy about the future with Doncic and Porzingis at the helm. If I was starting a franchise today, Luka would undoubtedly be my number one pick, and that’s something I don’t know I would’ve said in January.

Game 5 should be fun Tuesday night.

 

 

 

Previewing Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs Inside the Bubble

Take a look at our predictions for every first-round matchup in the playoffs.

The NBA returned inside the Orlando bubble at the end of July and things couldn’t have gone much smoother. Gameplay’s been intense, presentation for the fans feels like real games, and most importantly, ZERO players have tested positive for COVID-19 since August 5th.

The regular-season games have given us plenty of storylines, as the Blazers have been carried by Damian Lillard’s heroics playing as a man possessed, the undefeated Suns became basketball’s darlings, Russell Westbrook’s thigh injury has thrown a wrench into the Rockets championship dreams, and title favorites Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks don’t seem to be as much of Finals locks as we once thought back in March.

With the Blazers clinching the right to take their shot at the one-seeded Lakers on Saturday to fill out the playoff picture, check out our predictions for the entire first round below. Tip-off is slated for Monday at 1:30 pm ET with game 1 of the Nuggets-Jazz series.

NBA-playoff-bracket-2020-Updated-standings-Round-1-projections

Eastern Conference:

(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (8) Orlando Magic

The bubble hasn’t been too kind to the hometeam Magic. Orlando, who went 3-5 in the restart, lost the promising Jonathan Isaac to a torn ACL, which should sideline him through next season. Milwaukee hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders since the restart, but cruised to the one-seed and now the real pressure is on for the favorite Bucks to roll through the Eastern Conference. Giannis has been on a mission this season (he’s the favorite for MVP and DPOY) and the Magic should be a light tune-up for him as Milwaukee sweeps.

Bucks in 4

(2) Toronto Raptors vs. (7) Brooklyn Nets

The 2019 champs are a bonafide threat to defend their throne and possibly repeat. I, for one, didn’t believe the Raptors would be this good (finished with the best winning percentage in franchise history) with Leonard heading to the West Coast, which should be a credit to my COTY Nick Nurse and the supporting cast taking their games to the next level.

As for the Nets, nobody could’ve seen a 5-3 bubble trip with a makeshift roster possible. Fans have to be thrilled with the team’s effort, but we know this is all about next year for them. Toronto’s size and depth should give the Nets fits all series, who shouldn’t leave Orlando with their heads hanging low.

Raptors in 4

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(3) Boston Celtics vs. (6) Philadelphia 76ers

I want to throw up every time I think back to my pre-season prediction of having the 76ers coming out of the East, as Philly couldn’t be further from contenders right now. A logjam in the frontcourt and a coach that doesn’t know how to deploy his talent, and now minus Ben Simmons combined with a banged-up Embiid, this is the recipe for disaster in Philly. Tatum and Brown have evolved into a dynamic duo on the wing to lead the C’s. As long as Kemba and Hayward stay healthy, this team has a shot to make some noise in the East.

Celtics in 5

(4) Indiana Pacers vs. (5) Miami Heat

This will be the most competitive series in the East. A pair of teams that overperformed this year. Most people will be drawn to the theatrics of Jimmy Butler vs. Bubble MVP T.J. Warren, but my focus is on MIP candidate Bam Adebayo’s ability to control both ends and sharpshooters Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson pushing the Heat over the top to take a hard-fought 7-game series. Miami also has the coaching advantage with Spo > Nate McMillan.

Heat in 7

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Western Conference:

(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (8) Portland Trail Blazers

This isn’t your typical 1-8 matchup. Every Blazer game has felt like a playoff game, as they roll into the post-season on a four-game winning streak. At times, their defense has been dreadful against lesser competition, so I fully expect LeBron to dominate this series and get whatever he pleases when exploiting Portland’s forwards. On the flip side, the Lakers don’t have anyone to answer for Dame, who should be able to steal a game or two by himself with his Bubble MVP heroics. Let’s just hope his tank doesn’t run out of gas (Blazers were a -13 on Saturday against the Grizzlies during his THREE MINUTES on the bench).

Lakers in 6

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(2) Los Angeles Clippers vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks

A lot has been made of this juicy series with the dazzling future MVP Luka Doncic writing the first chapter in his playoff journal. In his way stands the title favorite Clippers, who have yet to be at full strength inside the bubble, as Sixth Man of the Year candidate Montrezl Harrell is expected to make his debut.

Even with a historically good offense (highest offensive efficiency rating ever), Dallas has been atrocious in late-game execution, as they rank in the bottom of the league in games decided by five points or less. This should be a great learning experience for Luka, Porzingis, and co. but the Clips dispose of Dallas in five.

Clippers in 5

(3) Denver Nuggets vs. (6) Utah Jazz

If this series is anything like their earlier double-OT thriller in the bubble, it should be a classic. Two-man chess matches between Donovan Mitchell and Gobert clashing with the Joker and Jamal Murray are going to be the focus for both coaches, but look for the emergence of Michael Porter Jr. to lift the Nuggets. Injuries to both teams make for a bit of uncertainty, as the returns of Gary Harris Jr. and Will Barton are still up in the air, while Mike Conley just left the bubble to see the birth of his child and will miss at least the first three games most likely.

Nuggets in 6

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(4) Houston Rockets vs. (5) Oklahoma City Thunder

It’s pretty simple; how long is Russell Westbrook out with his thigh injury? If he’s back by early next week, Houston is in good shape. If he’s out for the entire series, the Rockets are in deep trouble. We all know how much Chris Paul wants to stick it to Houston for trading him and how ironic would it be for the Thunder to finally get out of the first round now instead of the Russell Westbrook-PG era.

James Harden is going to put up astronomical numbers, but will he get enough help? Mike D’Antoni is fully committed to the small-ball experiment, so my x-factor for the Thunder will be Steven Adams. Does he get exposed and need to spend a lot of the series on the bench, or does he wreak havoc as a bully on the offensive glass?

Rockets in 7

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