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The Knicks’ Rookie Center Is A Statistical Enigma

Mitchell Robinson is a unicorn. His forte is shot-blocking in an era when offenses are designed to attempt field goals 25 feet from the rim. On offense, the almost-21-year-old rookie shoots mostly at the iron — and “shooting” is probably not the right word to describe what he does with the ball on offense, since nearly half of his field-goal attempts are dunks. Robinson stands 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-4-inch wingspan, so it’s hardly a surprise that he is virtually unstoppable around the rim, explaining his 68.2 field-goal percentage that would lead the league if he had enough attempts.

Robinson’s skills run counter to today’s game. And the various performance-rating systems disagree radically on how to assess his value. Maybe he’s one of the best rookie players in NBA history, as is indicated by win shares per 48 minutes (WS/48) and Box Plus/Minus (BPM). Or perhaps he’s just a bottom-rung NBA center, as ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus (RPM) system says. On the one hand, Robinson is a player who can go a long way in helping pull the Knicks up from the pit in which they’re currently mired as the NBA’s worst team. But on the other hand, he is a mere statistical mirage to Knicks fans so thirsty for hope.nfl nike jerseys for cheap6

There’s not even broad agreement on Robinson’s defensive prowess, despite his historic rate of blocking shots. While rejections are not required to be a great defender, it’s the most obvious manifestation of stopping an opponent from scoring. And in this area, Robinson is unquestionably a generational talent. Forget about being tied for 12th since the 1983-84 season1 with his (current) streak of two or more blocks in 22 straight games. Sure, only three other rookies have topped that. But even more impressive is that he’s blocking an all-time best 10.9 percent of 2-pointers, a stratosphere that no NBA player has approached since the heyday of 7-foot-7 Manute Bol three decades ago.

And Robinson is blocking 3-pointers, too — though that might remind Knicks fans of the team’s best chance for its only championship since the Nixon era, which was snuffed out by an athletic center who ventured out beyond the arc.

ESPN’s RPM doesn’t even rate Robinson’s defensive performance highly. He’s just the 46th best defensive center this season — likely because, according to RPM, his shot blocking doesn’t do much to help his teammates stop opponents from scoring.2

In BPM, however, Robinson’s on-court performance is placed in the context of an average player on an average team, according to Basketball-Reference.com. This metric says Robinson is the best defender in basketball, at 5.7 points better than average per 100 possessions.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

If BPM is accurately assessing Robinson, he’s on pace to become one of the better second-round draft picks of all-time — and certainly the best, value-wise, in recent Knicks history. Robinson is having the fourth-best rookie season ever by this metric,3 at 6.3 points over average on an average team. But the rookies ahead of him — 1984-85 Michael Jordan (8.2), 1975-76 Alvan Adams (6.7) and 1989-90 David Robinson (6.5) — were all Top 4 picks. Mitchell Robinson was picked 36th overall.

Agent: Ex-Seahawk McDowell medically cleared

Former Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Malik McDowell has been medically cleared by independent doctors and is expected to play in 2019, says his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

McDowell was drafted in the second round by Seattle in 2017 but never played for the team after suffering a head injury in an ATV accident that summer. The Seahawks waived McDowell with an injury designation earlier this month. He has since visited the Dallas Cowboys.
“His doctors believe he is ready to go,” Rosenhaus said. “So we’ve got experts that are saying he will be cleared. So hopefully he will be able to continue his career, possibly with [Dallas]. In any event, he has been cleared independently. But the Seahawks, they tried their best to work with him, and unfortunately they didn’t feel that he could continue to play.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Seahawks general manager John Schneider declined to comment on McDowell at the scouting combine. That was in keeping with the team’s refusal to publicly discuss any specifics of McDowell’s situation, which is in part due to privacy laws, as McDowell was injured in a non-football activity.6

Coach Pete Carroll has also been mum on McDowell’s situation but at one point described the injury as a “really bad concussion.”

“Unfortunately, Malik got injured and [it] was a brain injury, a head injury,” Rosenhaus said. “And the Seahawks, they did a wonderful job of exhaustively checking to see if they could get him cleared to play. Ultimately, their doctors were not comfortable clearing him. He has since been cleared by independent doctors.”

Asked if the Seahawks considered keeping McDowell until he could be cleared, Rosenhaus said: “I don’t think they were comfortable with the medical side of it. I think he is going to have to play for somebody else. … He has doctors who have cleared him independently, so we are in the process of meeting with teams. He went to visit the Cowboys last week. We are trying to get that done.”

It’s not clear whether the Seahawks are attempting to recoup a portion or the entirety of the $3.2 million signing bonus they gave McDowell after drafting him 35th overall out of Michigan State. The Seahawks paid McDowell only $5,000 while he spent his rookie season on the non-football injury list. That dropped his salary from $465,000 to $85,000. The team did not pay McDowell while he was on NFI in 2018.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

McDowell’s injury had a significant ripple effect on the Seahawks. Once it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to play in 2017, the Seahawks acquired Sheldon Richardson from the New York Jets in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick and receiver Jermaine Kearse (the teams also swapped seventh-rounders). Richardson left in free agency after an underwhelming 2017 season in Seattle.

Playing two upfront becoming a viable approach again in the Premier League

The Premier League remains Europe’s most international, multicultural top-flight league in terms of players and managers, and yet somehow there often seems to be a distinctly old-school feel to the football. For instance, Pep Guardiola has spoken of the importance of coping with winning second balls, while Jurgen Klopp has spoken about the need to deal with the inclement weather.

Tactically, things are somewhat different: We’re in the age of false nines and gegenpressing, rather than long balls and the use of 4-4-2 formations. But the past couple of weeks have felt like something of a throwback, with various sides using two centre-forwards upfront together, often with great success.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The most interesting example came the weekend before last, in the contest between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates. This fixture always stirs up memories of the 1990s, and tactically both sides started the contest with two forwards, albeit in very different formats. Arsenal started with a 3-4-1-2, featuring Mesut Ozil behind Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, while Manchester United began with a 4-4-2 featuring Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford, numbers 9 and 10 respectively.6

These remain the principle two ways to deploy a two-man strike force, especially because the midfield diamond — as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has occasionally used this season — now largely means the two forwards are starting from the flanks, too far apart to combine regularly. The difference, of course, was that Arsenal had a designated playmaker conducting things from behind the lines, while Manchester United’s duo needed to cope by themselves.

Arsenal’s back three, in theory, should have been capable of coping with two strikers, but Rashford and Lukaku appeared to be on the same wavelength. They may not be quite at the level of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole yet, although the familiar sight of Solskjaer on the bench offers a link between the two that the manager will surely mention.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Lacazette and Aubameyang have a curious relationship. Off the pitch they’re extremely close; on the pitch they can function together in the same side, although their combination play isn’t particularly notable, and there are questions about whether the 3-4-1-2 suits Arsenal’s other players. Ozil hasn’t particularly thrived in his No. 10 role, despite that being his best position on paper.

Who gets Golden State in Round 1? OKC’s worst-case scenario looms

It was supposed to be the kind of night that could jump-start the Oklahoma City Thunder. For a moment, it even appeared poetic.

On a night when the organization retired the jersey of Nick Collison, a prototypical glue-guy role player known for his charge-taking and backdoor bounce passing, the Thunder roared back in the fourth quarter to tie the Toronto Raptors on Russell Westbrook’s streaking layup with 4.8 seconds left. The Raptors cleared out for Pascal Siakam on their final possession. He drove hard at the basket, but Dennis Schroder stepped in and took a charge.

The Thunder’s first possession of overtime was a scrappy grind, but eventually Steven Adams connected with Westbrook on a backcut near the baseline. Westbrook didn’t quite handle the pass and dropped it off to Jerami Grant, who couldn’t finish at the rim. With Paul George fouled out, the Raptors eventually scored the first nine points of overtime, with the Thunder’s first basket coming with just 31 seconds left as Toronto handed OKC a fourth straight loss, 123-114.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Once viewed among the elite in the Western Conference only a month ago, a couple injuries and a few other setbacks sent the Thunder sliding to eighth in the conference based on tiebreakers. If the playoffs were to start today — OKC does have 10 games remaining — the Thunder would draw the first-place Warriors in the opening round.6

George has said he checks the standings and watches the scoreboard some. After the game, he looked up and saw the Thunder were now eighth. At the All-Star break, they were 17 games over .500, third in the West. They’re 5-10 since the break, with two separate four-game losing streaks.

There’s some context there, like George’s shoulder injury that left OKC without its MVP candidate for three games and has obviously affected him some since coming back. Or Westbrook’s one-game suspension served against the Miami Heat on Monday, a game during which the Thunder clearly missed his explosive energy and playmaking.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

But that’s a self-inflicted wound, a compromised position Westbrook created himself after accumulating 16 technical fouls this season. After avoiding the topic following the game on Monday with only “next question” responses, he skirted past taking any responsibility for it again on Wednesday morning.

It’s somewhat indicative of what ails the Thunder: There’s an understanding of what’s going wrong — such as going 15-of-29 as a team from the free throw line against the Raptors — but an inability to course correct. In spurts, they’re very good. But it comes out of desperation, such as the frantic comeback that forced overtime with a 32-18 fourth quarter.

Westbrook was brilliant with 42 points on 16-of-29 shooting (5-of-10 from 3-point territory). But with teams loading up on George, the Thunder’s auxiliary players, much like over the past month, didn’t produce.

Dolphins’ plan to find a franchise QB: 2019 or 2020 NFL draft?

Get ready for FitzMagic in Miami next season — a high-risk, high-reward offense that could create excitement for a rebuilding team unlikely to contend for the playoffs or even reach .500.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Miami Dolphins know their recent pairing is just a mutually beneficial, shotgun marriage with a quick expiration date. They seem accepting of their roles in each other’s lives and eager to maximize their time together.

Fitzpatrick’s signing this week doesn’t fill the gaping hole at quarterback. It has been an NFL-record 23 seasons since a Dolphins quarterback, Dan Marino in 1995, was selected to the Pro Bowl. Fitzpatrick is set to become the 20th starting quarterback in Miami since Marino retired in 1999.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Fitzpatrick is satisfied with the chance to start, and he isn’t worried about the rest — a good sign that Miami picked the right veteran to handle its fluid situation.6

“I’m going to come in from day one and act like and be the starting quarterback for this organization until they tell me that I’m not,” Fitzpatrick said. “I know that this is the NFL, which means that nothing is promised.”

The Dolphins will almost certainly try to select their future franchise quarterback in the 2019 or 2020 draft. The lingering questions are which year and which player.

By the conclusion of next month’s draft, in which Miami has the 13th overall pick and enough assets to trade up if needed, we should have clarity.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The “tank for Tua” train is already moving full-steam, with many fans expecting Miami to pursue a historically bad 2019 season in hopes of drafting Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa in 2020.

The idea of tanking seems shaky because the NFL isn’t the NBA. But the Dolphins are doing things differently — essentially buying draft picks by eating money on their players’ deals before trading them. We saw this with quarterback Ryan Tannehill last week, and it will likely be the template if defensive end Robert Quinn is traded.

“We’re not trying to tank or lose every game,” general manager Chris Grier said at the NFL scouting combine. “We’re trying to build it right and see how it plays out.

“I don’t make any judgments on any [draft] classes until we really sit down and get to know the players first.”

Carson Wentz’s deep-ball stats might explode with DeSean Jackson’s addition

When speaking about his new quarterback, Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson was quick to highlight his arm strength.

“Obviously he has an arm out of this world, he can throw the deep ball,” Jackson said during his (re)introductory media conference last week following a trade that sent him from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back to the Eagles. “Very smart, very agile. He’s a good quarterback and I just can’t wait to get with him and work out with him in the offseason.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Wentz’s deep-ball production hasn’t been otherworldly, even if his cannon of an arm is. He ranks 23rd in completion percentage (34 percent) and is tied for 26th in touchdown-to-interception ratio (1.0) on passes of 20-plus yards since 2016 when he came into the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

History shows Wentz’s numbers are in for a significant spike, however, now that Jackson is in the fold.5

On average, the quarterbacks experienced a completion rate increase of 7 percent, an additional 3 yards per attempt and an improvement of .65 to their touchdown-to-interception ratios when playing alongside Jackson.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The outlier is Jameis Winston, whose numbers fell just about across the board. The fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick experienced a solid bump when teamed up with Jackson during the same time period pokes a hole in the theory that Jackson’s impact is diminishing. Jackson, 32, remains one of the fastest players in the game, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. He reached 20-plus mph on eight of his 52 touches (15.4 percent) last season, the highest rate in the league, and had the highest average target depth in 2018 at 19.1 yards, according to ESPN Stats & Info research. For whatever reason, he and Winston were just oil and water on the field.

Odds are the chemistry will be better between Jackson and Wentz, who is ripe for an uptick in deep-ball production.

According to Pro Football Focus, Wentz ranks seventh in deep accuracy percentage (45 percent) over the past two years, while Winston rates fifth-worst (35 percent). So, Wentz is more accurate on his deep throws than his completion rate suggests.

Cardinals RHP Martinez to start season on IL

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez will begin the season on the injured list as the two-time All-Star tries to work his way back from shoulder weakness.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Martinez will not appear in exhibition games. He is to throw on flat ground for the next week before moving to a mound.

St. Louis has not announced a timetable for Martinez’s arm-strengthening program. The pitcher received a platelet-rich plasma injection two weeks ago, and manager Mike Shildt said treatment improved Martinez’s condition.5

A 27-year-old right-hander, Martinez was the Cardinals’ Opening Day starter last year but did not pitch for St. Louis from May 8 until June 5 because of a strained right lat muscle, then was out between July 19 and 30 because of a strained right oblique and between July 30 and Aug. 21 because of a strained right shoulder.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

When he returned, he pitched out of the bullpen and had five saves. He finished 8-6 with a 3.11 ERA in 18 starts and 15 relief appearances.

Joel Embiid is back to make everything work for the Sixers

As the Philadelphia 76ers have navigated major roster turnover and accelerated playoff goals, coach Brett Brown has returned to his mantra: “It all comes down to how the plane lands on April 15.”

The health of Joel Embiid will dictate what Philadelphia’s playoff path will be.

Less ubiquitous than “all is well that ends well,” Brown has used this saying as an anchor. The ups and downs of individual regular-season games are trivial, the saying goes, so long as the Sixers are a healthy, well-oiled machine come the postseason.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“You’re going to hear this a lot,” Brown said. “It’s all about landing the plane. Healthy, spirit, me figuring out the best way to substitute, the group playing for each other. It is still and always will be about a team. I mean this sincerely: That rules my world.”6

The Sixers have had their fair share of trials over the course of the season. Brown has worked to integrate fiery Jimmy Butler and sharpshooter Tobias Harris — both new to the team this season — into Philadelphia’s system. The team just had to fight through eight games without their dominant and emotional franchise center in Embiid, who was sidelined with a sore left knee.

The Sixers looked one step closer to playoff form on Sunday afternoon. Embiid returned for his first game since the All-Star break and the Sixers defeated the Indiana Pacers 106-89. The 76ers moved into third place in the Eastern Conference with the win over the Pacers, who dropped to fourth place.

Philadelphia now has 15 regular-season games remaining the get fully healthy, iron out their chemistry kinks and find a rhythm.

“There is enough time, I believe, to figure out proper rotations and how to integrate Joel back into this mix,” Brown said. “There are many pieces that equal we are ready to go play in the NBA playoffs. And right now we are cramming.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Before Sunday’s game, Brown said he expected to play Embiid in four-minute spurts because the big man’s conditioning level was a “C”. In the first half, Embiid was on the floor for short stints, but as the game went on and Embiid found his footing, Brown left him in for longer and longer stretches.

NBA suspends Ibaka three games, Chriss one

The NBA has suspended Toronto Raptors center Serge Ibaka for three games for his role in a fight with Marquese Chriss of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, the league announced.

Chriss has been suspended one game by the league.

Both bans are without pay. Ibaka will lose $448,276 in total salary; Chriss will forfeit $22,111.

Ibaka went to the floor after the two were battling for position under Cleveland’s basket as the Raptors attempted a full-court pass that sailed out of bounds.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Ibaka shoved Chriss from behind and grabbed near his neck before throwing a punch. Chriss responded with a punch before players from both teams separated the two. Ibaka immediately headed for the locker room, and both players were kicked out after the officials conferred.5

In announcing the suspension, the league said that Ibaka’s discipline was “based on his instigation of the physical altercation, throwing a punch at Chriss, and his prior history of fighting during NBA games” and that Chriss’ punishment “was based on throwing a punch at Ibaka.”

Ibaka will begin serving his suspension Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers. Chriss served his suspension Tuesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Cleveland was ahead 91-77 at the time of the incident and went on to win 126-101.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Earlier in the game, Ibaka hit the court hard in the second quarter after being fouled by Chriss after a rebound.

Monday’s game marked the eighth ejection of Ibaka’s 10-year career and the third for Chriss in three seasons.

The NBA previously suspended Ibaka after altercations with Robin Lopez in 2017 and with James Johnson last season. He was suspended one game after both of those cases.

Agents: RT James to sign $51M deal with Denver

James, 26, was arguably the top right tackle on the free-agent market after starting 62 games for the Dolphins the past five seasons.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

The 2014 first-round pick (19th overall) out of Tennessee is coming off his best season as a pro. James, who was the highest-paid right tackle in the NFL last season while playing out his fifth-year option for $9.341 million, helped form one of the best offensive tackle duos in the NFL opposite Laremy Tunsil.6

One of James’ showcase performances came against the Chicago Bears in Week 5, when he held Khalil Mack to zero sacks and just one tackle as he was matched up with him for much of the game.

The 6-foot-6, 312-pound James is a strong athlete, which allowed him to pull effectively throughout the season, a task not many tackles willingly and successfully accept.

The previous Dolphins staff had a lukewarm relationship with James, but the new staff was vocal about a desire to re-sign him.

“We sure hope he does [stay],” new offensive line coach Pat Flaherty said Feb. 14. “He’s a good football player.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

But Miami is undergoing a rebuild, and the price to re-sign James exceeded what it wanted to spend. The Dolphins plan to rebuild their offensive line through the draft.