The Detroit Pistons 2019 draft outlook

Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Pistons are taking a new approach to the NBA draft. In years past the Pistons took the player who best fit the system they ran. Now using a much smarter approach, the Detroit Pistons are going with the best player available.

There is no exact science to any sports team drafts. Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said of the draft “It’s like throwing darts at a board and hoping you get as close to the bulls-eye as possible.”

The Detroit Pistons currently hold the 15th pick in the first round of this years draft. Detroit has two areas of need. Small forward and point guard. One thing there is only three elite point guards in this years draft who will be gone lone before Detroit picks.

So who is the best player who could be there? Here are some names Detroit Pistons fans should begin to memorize:

KZ Okpala, Stanford, The Pistons lack size at the forward position. At 6; 8″ Okpala would make Detroit bigger. KZ showed good improvement in his 3 point shooting. As a freshman he shot 23% from beyond the arch. Last season he shot 37%. For as big as Okpala is he needs to put on weight.

Romeo Langford, Indiana, In nearly every mock draft Langford has been linked to Detroit. One drawback is Romeo has lacked desire at times and is not always mentally engaged for entire games. shooting 27% from 3-point land makes L:angford a bit of a project. Perhaps not worth a first round pick.

Cameron Johnson, North Carolina, A player with a lot of positives has one rather large drawback, Johnson is 23 years old which lowers his ceiling. Age aside, Cameron shot 46% from 3 point land, while averaging 5.8 rebounds per game. If he can add some muscle, Johnson could be the best option for the Detroit Pistons.

Detroit’s senior adviser Ed Stefanski and director of player personnel, Gregg Polinsky are working on crafting the Pistons draft strategy. Best fit is in the past. Best player? We shall see.

Could the Detroit Red Wings trade a young forward for a defenseman?

Embed from Getty Images At the World Championships, Detroit Red Wings forward  Anthony Mantha is generating a lot of buzz. With 3 goals, 4 assists and 7 points in three games. Anthony Mantha could have possibly  increased … his trade value.

No Red Wings fan should read too much into that. Steve Yzerman pointed out Mantha as being a “core player.” Odds are slight he would get moved. Not to mention Mantha, Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi’s line absolutely exploded the final weeks of the regular season.

Andreas Athanasiou, and Michael Rasmussen, Taro Hirose, Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno, Evgeny Svechnikov and Jonatan Berggren not to mention whoever the Detroit Red Wings  draft next month gives them some great talent at forward.

One problem, outside of Dennis Cholowski and Filip Hronek there is no good defensive talent in the Wings pipeline. Defense is the single most need the Red Wings have.

Tyler Bertuzzi is not going anywhere. He simply brings too much to the table night in and night out for the Red Wings. Which means in a league where you have to give talent to get talent the two names that would bring in a young top line defensive player is Mantha and Athanasiou.

For that to happen it would have to be a trade that makes sense, especially for a general manager like Steve Yzerman. Yzerman, is known as a very aggressive general manager. He will want to get the Wings closer to the playoffs sooner than later.

The Colorado Avalanche, are said to be looking to add scoring. Defensemen Tyson Barrie could be moved for that to happen. That could be an option for Detroit. Also, Carolina, or Anaheim or Nashville all have deep defensive players who could be moved to add scoring.

Players like Mantha and Athanasiou have become valuable bargaining chips if the Wings choose to go the trade route. Both players will become restricted free agents in the summer of 2020, with Mantha currently making $3.3 million per season and Athanasiou $3 million. Both players will be in line for big raises.

Factor in Veleno and Zadina and it is probable a trade is made.

Cornerback Jeffrey Okudah is the key to Ohio State’s secondary

Embed from Getty Images Projected to be Ohio State’s next great cornerback from the time he arrived in Columbus, Ohio in 2017,  Jeffrey Okudah  has seen steady increase in playing time over the course of his first two seasons as a Buckeye. This season Okudah will be the focal point of the secondary.

Out of Texas, Okudah was ranked as the No. 8 overall prospect and the No. 1 cornerback prospect in the recruiting class of 2017. Okudah earned playing time in Ohio State’s cornerback rotation as a true freshman in 2017. The then freshman appeared in all 14 of the Buckeyes games and played on defensive snaps in 10 of them, all the while also being a regular on the special teams units.

Jeffrey Okudah made one start in the secondary in 2018, but gained more playing time as the season went on. Okudah had 32 total tackles with 8 pass breakups. Jeffery battled through inconsistent play and issues with penalties to become a solid dependable player.

Jeffery Okudah will enter the 2019 season as the starting outside cornerback.  At 6′ 1″ he is blessed with excellent length and speed, making steady improvement should make Jeffrey one of the Big Ten’s best defensive backs.

Last season the Buckeyes defense was plagued by mistakes. The secondary drew the second most penalties in the Big Ten.  That will need to be cleaned up this season. It would greatly help Ohio State if Jeffrey Okudah were  to blossom into the consistent shutdown cornerback they believe he can be.


The Detroit Pistons’ G-League team moving to Detroit

Embed from Getty Images Although it is still in the early planning stages, the Detroit Pistons are planning on moving the Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons’ current affiliate to Wayne State University.  The Wayne State Board of Governors have looked at a proposal and have approved building a new basketball facility project, it is projected to cost $25 million.

The Grand Rapids Drive is currently owned by Steve Jbara, so Pistons owner Tom Gores or another Detroit group could purchase the Grand Rapids franchise or attempt to land an expansion team.

The news is another  in the Pistons’ opportunity to impact  downtown Detroit development since the announcement in November 2016 that the Pistons were leaving northern Oakland County after nearly 30 years. The Pistons have played the last two seasons at Little Caesars Arena.

The $90 million Henry Ford and Detroit Pistons Performance Center is under construction in the New Center area south of Grand Boulevard and is scheduled to open this September. With  the Drive set to play starting in 2021.

The Grand Rapids Drive ownership offered a statement: “We are deeply committed to our fans and love being part of the sports landscape in the community that we’ve called home since 2014,” the Drive said in a team statement. “This team has been community-built and supported for five seasons, and we are looking forward to continuing the growth of the franchise here in West Michigan. We have no plans on relocating to Detroit but (will) continue to have great communication and a positive relationship with the Pistons organization. We are solely focused on our sixth season this upcoming fall, in partnership with the Detroit Pistons and the NBA.”

All that will not matter if the Billionaire Gores buys the team outright and moves them. Which would be a savvy move for the franchise. To have minor league players in case of injury or just to have them practice with the parent team make much more sense.

Currently it is a  2.5 hour trek, from West Michigan to Detroit. The agreement between the Detroit Pistons and Wayne State promises to bring around 20 G League games to the new arena per year as well as serve as a place to host Pistons summer camps.

Mother’s Day 2019

Embed from Getty Images “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.” Isaiah 66:13

It is Mother’s Day, a day to reflect on the goodness, teachings, punishments, kindness the mom’s everywhere have passed out and down in our lives. Mother’s are God’s way of making us all part of the team.

Let us take a closer look, mom’s goodness is better than any championship that can be won. It takes us to a place that no matter the words that have been spoken against us, meet us and cheer us up. What a great cheer-leader mom’s can be.

Thank God my mom taught me that sometimes, life can hit hard. You can either get up or get a 10 count. My mom taught me it is better to stand and fight and come against things that hamper myself, family or someone else. Mom’s generally have a big picture view of all aspects of life.

Sometimes, the worse punishment was getting “the mom look.” You know the one I am talking about. You have done or said something that probably sides on the side of stupid or inappropriate. Then harder than any linebacker can hit she shoots you this death glare that you hope is directed at someone else, until you realize there is no one in the room but you and her. But, I am grateful for the punishment I was handed out. It helped me refocus, so mom’s can be great coaches.

Above all, a mom’s kindness is greater than any post-game handshake. Her kindness is part love, forgiveness and teaching. Without that the game is lost.

The mom’s in my life are all extraordinary ladies. They all let the light of God flow into the lives of their families, weather they know it or not. On Mother’s Day, it is important to give mom breathing space, after all she has earned it. Maybe take in a baseball game and reflect how mom’s teach us how to be good sports and good teammates.

The Detroit Lions have one really big need to fill

Embed from Getty Images T.J. Land, Detroit Lions right guard retired. Leaving a rather big hole to fill on the offensive line. Kenny Wiggins is the assumed starter. One problem, Wiggins has struggled when he has been on the field.

If the Detroit Lions kicked of the 2019 season today Kenny Wiggins would be the right guard by default. Even as poorly as he played last season. Right guard is a dire need for the Detroit Lions at this time.

It seems it would be a total disaster to put Wiggins in a starters role. Last season the Detroit Lions ranked 18th in adjusted line yards up the middle and an awful 30th at right tackle last season.

Lions general manager Bob Quinn did sign free agents Oday Aboushi and Andrew Donnal. They were both not much betterthan Wiggins last season. In the 2019 NFL draft the Detroit Lions did not draft a single offensive lineman.

Leaving two thoughts. Either the Lions believe in Kenny Wiggins more than any media member or fan, or the team has simply chosen to take a loss at right guard this season. What ever is the case, Detroit will struggle again on the right side of the offensive line once again this upcoming season.

It will hurt the Lions in terms of play-calling. To have true balance in any offense. Plays must be run to the left, middle and right side regularly throughout the course of a game. With one side of the line weakened it severely hamper the offense from reaching their full potential.

Right guard needs to be addressed by the Detroit Lions during offseason workouts and fall training camp. To head into the season as is would not end well.

A few players who could make an impact for Michigan State football

Embed from Getty Images Some players have been in the program, some players have not even  taken a class yet.  Michigan State football has a few players who could make an impact at key positions of need this fall. That is good news for the Spartans.

Strong Safety, Xavier Henderson: as a freshman Henderson  played all 13 games. He was the third down nickelback, Xavier will be the most significant new starter on the Spartans’ top-10 defense that returns nearly intact. Henderson will need to show early on he can improve his tackling and coverage. Something Spartan coaches full expect from the second year player.

Running Back, Anthony Williams: an  early enrollee on the Michigan State campus, Williams really stood out during spring practices and is coming for  LJ Scott’s starting job.

Tight End, Trenton Gillison: last seasons tight ends Matt Sokol and Chase Gianacakos have graduated leaving a spot up for grabs.  Gillison played 14 snaps in two 2018 games against Penn State and Maryland.  Choosing to focus on football and a chance to become a contributor in the revamped passing game, the Spartans need Gillison to take the next step.

Offensive lineman, Devontae Dobbs:  he is a  sturdy 6′ 3″, 295-pound and very aggressive play at the point of attack could force immediate playing time. Dobbs can help the offensive line  group that struggled in run blocking the past two seasons.

The Michigan State Spartans are looking to get back to their run first roots. Use the run to set up the pass. It worked once. The question is with the elite teams that use speed in space can the clunky semi-outdated run first-ball control offense do enough in today’s college football landscape to produce more wins?

Michigan State is willing to find out.

The Columbus Blue Jackets ousted from the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Embed from Getty Images It was a dream come true for long suffering fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team swept the might Tampa Bay Lightning in round one of the playoffs. Round two saw the Jackets matched up against the Boston Bruins. The Blue Jackets lost the series.

There is a lot to unpack here. Let’s start with the goalies, Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Blue Jackets  Sergei Bobrovsky two heavyweight goal tenders going head to head. Bobrovksy finished the series with a .921 save percentage and should not be catching too much blame, even if he recorded a .901 save percentage over the final three games. Meanwhile, Rask had a vary strong finish to the series, compiling a .948 save percentage over the six games. He had a shutout performance in Game 6 and it should be noted that he deserved a shutout in Game 4 as well .

Boston kept firing the puck at the Columbus until they broke through. Columbus looked lost at times in the offensive end of the ice leading to bad shots and not grabbing enough rebounds to keep pace with the Bruins.

The Columbus Blue Jackets did an excellent job of shutting down Boston’s stars through the first half of the series and it was the biggest reason why Columbus was able to jump out to a 2-1 lead.  The series started to shift when Pastrnak scored two huge goals in a pivotal Game 5. Boston’s stars heated up. Columbus’ stars cooled off.

Over the final three games, the Blue Jackets managed just one goal from the collection of Artemi PanarinMatt DucheneCam AtkinsonPierre-Luc Dubois and Nick Folignoup front. The lone goal came from Panarin in Game 4. The three previous games saw a handful of guys who accounted for five goals and were a big reason why Columbus claimed a series lead.

Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella guaranteed the series was going to go seven games. Boston seemed driven to make the coach eat crow. So once again, Columbus Blue Jackets fans stood and cheered their team after the game six loss.

Perhaps, when fans stop cheering losses, the team will respond with more wins.

Tarik Skubal, maybe the steal of 2018 draft for the Detroit Tigers

Embed from Getty Images For the Detroit Tigers the 2018 MLB draft, most of the focus has been on Casey Mize, the first-overall selection. For good reason. Other players from the draft class have generated headlines and buzz: outfielder Parker Meadows (second round), second baseman Kody Clemens (third round) and outfielder Brock Deatherage (10th round).

It is starting to look like the Tigers found a gem in the ninth round.  A pitcher who keeps turning heads: Tarik Skubal, a left-handed pitcher, whose fastball touches 95 m.p.h.

Skubal has 41 strikeouts for Single-A Lakeland, that not only leads the Florida State League but ranks 10th in all of minor league baseball. Skubal was a 2015 College Baseball Freshman All American at Seattle University. Skubal redshirted in 2017 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He came back and regained his velocity, recording 106 strikeouts in 80 innings but fought and struggled with his command, walking 56. Those walks might have scared off other teams, but the Detroit Tigers scouts saw enough in the left handed pitcher and took him in the ninth round.

Since  joining the Tigers,Tarik Skubal  has had no control issues. He bounced through three levels of the minor leagues last year, dominating along the way. If Tarik continues to develop, at his current rate it will be an all out draft pick steal for the Tigers organization.

It is not often players selected ninth round turn out in the major leagues. This is different. Tarik Skubal is starting to look like the Tigers found a gem.

Steve Yzerman has hired Pat Verbeek as an assistant general manager for the Detroit Red Wings

Embed from Getty Images In  latest in what has been a series of front office shakeups that include Ken Holland accepting the general manager position in Edmonton, Detroit Red Wings executive vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman has brought his right hand man from Tampa Bay with him. In what is a very good move for the Red Wings organization.

Pat Verbeek arrives in Detroit as assistant general manager. Verbeek, 54, brings 13 years of experience to the Red Wings’ front office, he returns to Detroit after starting his post playing days as a professional scout for the Red Wings, working four seasons in the position from 2006-10.

Pat Verbeek joined the Lightning shortly after Yzerman was hired in Tampa Bay. During his time with the Lightning organization Pat was in charge of player recruiting and contract negotiations and overall support to Tampa Bay’s hockey operations department and general manager.

“Pat Verbeek is one of the brightest minds and hardest workers in the game and has been a trusted and valued resource to me throughout my management career,” said Steve Yzerman. “He played a pivotal role in helping build the Lightning into a Stanley Cup contender throughout his tenure with the organization. I’m very excited to have Pat on board in Detroit and look forward to continuing to work alongside him.”

Upon his Detroit Red Wings general manager press conference Yzerman said he like to surround himself with good strong people. This is an absolute home run hire for both Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings. Verbeek has made a name for himself and should get a general managers job for himself very soon.

“I’m very excited to return to the Red Wings,” said Verbeek. “I want to thank the Ilitch family.” Pat said in a statement.  “I believe there is an exciting young core here in Detroit, and I’m looking forward to working with the rest of the hockey operations staff to get this team back into contention.” The statment concluded.

Pat Verbeek played 1,424 games in his NHL career, totaling 1,063 points (521 goals, 541 assists), and 2,095 penalty minutes, helping him earn the nickname “Little Ball of Hate.” His playing career included two seasons with the Red Wings, where he collected 78 points (37 goals) from 1999-2001.