Welcome to Thursday’s Thoughts. This week, I go over my Weekly Wagers, discuss my Top 5 of the Week, and have a bit of fun with things I like and dislike. If you’re not a fan of sports, gambling, politics, pop culture, or fun, then you probably won’t enjoy many (any) of my blog posts, but oh well read them anyway and you might be surprised.
To all my
thousands hundreds dozens of weekly readers, welcome back to yet another Sunday edition of Thursday’s Thoughts. I’m late this week and missed last week due to some unforeseen circumstances… Namely, I ruptured my Achilles tendon and had to get surgery to repair it.
Quick story time about the injury before we get into my standard sections. *Trigger Warning* skip this section if you don’t want to don’t want to hear graphic details about the injury.
So I was playing basketball and there was about 2 minutes left in a close game. I came hard off a screen and heard a loud snap – almost a clap – and it felt like I was kicked from behind. I stood up and turned around (ready to yell at the trailing defender who kicked me), but he wasn’t close enough to have tripped me. I immediately recognized that I tore my Achilles tendon. See, my brother tore his Achilles tendon about 5 years ago (one month before his wedding instead of a month after it like me – you’re welcome Cortney!) so it instantly clicked for me that this is what he had said happened to him as well.
The good news is that it wasn’t painful. It felt like a bit like a sprained ankle but all of the pressure was on the back of the foot/ankle. I hobbled to the sideline and sat down, more scared than in pain – could walk/limp around (if I would have been fouled I’d have shot the FTs) but it was clear something wasn’t right. When I sat down, I felt the back of my ankle and where the normal tendon would be firm/tight from calf to heel, there was about an inch gap of just skin/fat with no structure. I knew I was fucked. A few days later I had my surgery booked, and last Wednesday I got fixed up – the top of the tendon was stitched to the bottom piece and then pinned to the heel bone.
The surgery went well, but still looking at a recovery of 9-12 months. Maybe 8 months before I play basketball if I can channel my inner Mamba mentality. Wish me luck.
Top 5 of the Week
The NBA is finally (almost) here! As a good way to kick off the week, the Top 5 of the Week this week is the top 5 NBA players most likely to be first-time all-stars. As the name suggests, this will be a ranking of players who I think are most likely to be named to the All-Star Game this season among all players who have never been an all-star before.
Honorable Mention: CJ McCollum
I’ve long said that Mike Conley is the best player I’ve ever seen who never made the All-Star Game, but I think CJ McCollum is giving him a run for his money. He’s still a long-shot to be an all-star this year, as Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram will be the leaders of the Pelicans, so I’m not sure McCollum can maintain his scoring output (24.3 points per game since being traded to New Orleans). Still, he deserves mention as one of the best players in the league who hasn’t been an all-star. Maybe one day.
5. Evan Mobley
I was hesitant to put Mobley here, mostly because he’s now playing alongside 2 young all-stars in Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell, who both seem likely to represent the Cavs in the All-Star Game. Usually a team who isn’t at the top of the conference (and I don’t think the Cavs will be in the top 4) wouldn’t warrant 3 all-stars. Still, I think Garland – or at least his stats – might suffer playing alongside Mitchell, and his spot is far from guaranteed. Mobley, who will anchor the defense and be the main PnR partner with Mitchell, is more likely to see individual benefit from the new roster construction.
4. Jamal Murray
This is probably too high of a placement for Murray in a stacked Western Conference, but I’m a fan. He was an all-star candidate in 2021, but didn’t the nod, and now he’s coming off injury that has held him out for more than a year. It’s a big assumption that he’ll be as good as before the injury, and he’ll need to be even better to make the all-star game. Still, I expect the Nuggets to be very good, and teams near the top of the league usually get multiple all-stars. Perhaps Michael Porter Jr. comes back strong enough to make a case, but my money is on Murray.
3. Cade Cunningham
The biggest obstacle to Cunningham being an all-star this season is that the Pistons figure to be one of the worst teams in the league. He’s got all the tools needed to be an elite two-way player in the league, and he started to realize his potential over the last two months of the season, averaging 21.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game after the All-Star Break. Importantly the Pistons also went 8-12 (.400) during that stretch compared to 15-47 the rest of the season (.242). Even if Cunningham doesn’t make a big leap, but just stays on his current trajectory, he’s got a good shot at being an all-star. If he makes the leap I’m expecting, he’s a shoe-in.
2. Anthony Edwards
If last year’s postseason was any indication, Edwards is on the cusp of being a perennial all-star, if not All-NBA guy. Still, he suffers from the same problem Evan Mobley is looking at, playing alongside 2 all-stars in Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert. The good news for Ant is that although he’s the 3rd best player on the Wolves, he’s by far their most exciting player, if not the most exciting young player in the league. Even if he’s a borderline all-star, or not quite as good as the next man up, he’s likely to get the nod.
1. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
I was really looking forward to watching SGA play alongside a competent big, but with the injury to Chet Holmgren, it looks like that will be delayed yet another season. I was surprised last season when they selected Dejounte Murray (a worthy inclusion) over Gilgeous-Alexander for the replacement spot in the West. If he played on a better team, SGA would already have been an all-star the past 2 seasons. This year, I’m not sure voters will be able to ignore him and leave him off again.
2022 Record 5-6
Lost the Lions/Seahawks game, but my rationale (that Amon-Ra St. Brown is amazing and you should bet his over) was thrown out the window with his injury. Still, no excuses – bet like a champion.
(Note that the spreads come from PaddyPower.com or Bovada.lv, depending on which site I’m gambling on a given week).
TB -7.5 @ PIT
This one is as simple as it gets: the Steelers are not a good team, and the Bucs are a good team. I don’t love to bet road favorites, but this line doesn’t make any sense to me. Tampa should be a 13-point favorite here, and I think I’d still bet on them. Buccaneers 27-10.
MIN -3.5 @ MIA
I know I just said I don’t like betting road favorites, and yet my first two picks are road favorites. The Vikings are not a great team. In fact, they might be the worst 4-1 team in the league. Still, they’re 4-1 and absolutely competent enough to handle their business against a third string rookie quarterback (Skylar Thompson) in his first career start. The Jets completely dominated the Dolphins last week and Thompson looked out of his depth. I expect a similar game this week. Minnesota rolls 31-17.
PHI -6.5 vs. DAL
The Eagles at home are a dangerous team. Aside from the Bills/Chiefs showdown, this is supposed to be the biggest game of the week, but I’m expecting a blowout. The Eagles are better than the Cowboys up and down the lineup, and the betting line is treating Dallas like they’re as good as their record suggests. I need to clarify my prior position. The Vikings would be the worst 4-1 team in the league if Dallas didn’t exist. They have an above average defense and a strong offensive line and running game… But as much as the jokes about Cooper Rush never losing a start are fun, they’re still jokes. He’s not a good quarterback, and this week it should show against one of the best teams in the league. Eagles dominate Cowboys 38-12.
BAL -5 vs. NYG
I initially was going to bet the Giants here, but all of my instincts tell me to bet Baltimore. I just think they’re a better team. Sure it’s on the road (my third road favorite of the week – maybe I don’t hate betting them?), but the Giants haven’t been great at home, losing to the Cowboys, and beating the Bears & Panthers by a combined 11 points. The Ravens have also been excellent on the road, beating the Jets and Patriots each by double digits. I don’t think it’s a blowout, but I expect the Ravens to win by a touchdown. 31-24 Baltimore.
ATL +5 vs. SF
The 49ers are a complete team, and I don’t love betting against them. Still, I believe in this Falcons team, and I expect them to keep it close. Every Atlanta game this season has been a 1 possession game, and all but one of them were decided by 4 points or less. Getting 5 at home is too good to pass up, even with how good San Francisco has been over the past few weeks. 49ers win in a close one 27-24.
Framley Teaser League
In addition to my regular picks, I’ll also be giving my weekly teaser selections here. For those unfamiliar with teaser leagues, I’ll give a simplified version: Each person (or team) selects 4 teams each week, and the betting line is adjusted by 10 points in favor of the team you select (e.g. if you choose a team with a -3 line, their new line would be +7). Each team that goes 4/4 gets paid by all those who had at least 1 missed pick (and paid extra for more misses). I’m currently on a team with a friend – Nicholas – where we select our picks together, so he has 50% say in these picks, and our conversations will be a recurring theme here.
2022 Weekly Record: 2-3
The lines for this league finalize on Wednesdays, these are our Week 6 options:
It’s starting to become a trend where I blame Nicholas for bad picks, but another week, and another loss that was completely on Nicholas.
Week 5 went a bit like this:
Nicholas: Who should we pick this week?
Me: My leg hurts. I don’t care. You take care of this week.
Nicholas: BAL, DET, CHI, MIA. Submitted.
We went 2/4 for a double loss. Incredible stuff.
Week 6 went this way:
Me: I submitted our picks.
Me: SF, CIN, TB, KC. I’m taking this week.
Nicholas: Definitely dodged a bullet last week with what a shitshow it was across the league.
Kind of true Nicholas, but that shitshow also means higher returns on a win. COME ON MAN.
Final picks: SF+5, CIN+8.5, TB+2.5, KC+13
Things I Like and Things I Don’t Like
I don’t like
These new jerseys.
Look, I don’t think they’re as bad as most people seem to think. They’re designed based on the Cedar-Riverside stacks in Minneapolis, and I think they actually evoke the aesthetic they’re going for. But why are we re-inventing the wheel? There are so many good throwback jerseys the Wolves could use, and we seem determined to mess up such an easy decision. Which brings us to…
Wolves Throwback Jerseys. Look at all of these options!
I get that they do a new jersey each season, but there have been quite a few misses over the past decade, and I just want to see them get an easy win!
I don’t like
NBA Tanking. This season looks like we might have the most blatant tanking we’ve seen in at least a decade, probably ever. Every year we hit a point that teams who aren’t likely to make a playoff push start considering tanking. This year, it’s started before the first game has been played, and is likely to be more egregious than ever, too. I’d expect that the bottom 6-7 teams have some of the lowest win totals of the past decade. As much as I hate to see a lack of competitiveness across the league, it’s for a pretty good reason.
Victor Wembayama. I’m not saying that Wembayama is going to be the best rookie we’ve seen, but he’s certainly the highest rated prospect since at least Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Watching his team (the Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92) play against presumptive 2nd overall pick Scoot Henderson and the G League Ignite was one of those games that we’ll be reminiscing about for years. Wembanyama scored 37 to Henderson’s 28 in an instant classic – it reminded me of the famous Carmelo vs. LeBron high school game. If these prospects live up to the hype, the NBA is in good hands.