Monday, October 24, 2016

2016-17 Atlanta Hawks Season Preview

The Atlanta Hawks had a great year in 2015-2016 culminating in an ugly sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.  In the playoffs their lack of depth showed as did the fact they were moving away from Jeff Teague at point guard.  In the offseason Teague was traded, Al Horford signed with the Boston Celtics and the Hawks signed hometown hero Dwight Howard to a $23M a year contract. 
Losing Horford hurts.  An undersized center he was more to the team than the 15 and 7 he put in the stat sheet each night last year.  While most Hawks fans would echo that sentiment it may or not be overstated.  Enter Dwight Howard.  While there have been rumors in past Howard free agent years of the Hawks making a run at him I didn’t see this coming.  Howard is now 30 and while very efficient shooting he only put up 13 points and 11 boards last year while continuing to “struggle” in Houston.  He is a defensive upgrade but definitely one dimensional on offense which might clog up the middle.  My hope is that this is the right system for him and that he can be better than what we’ve seen in the recent past. Paul Milsap will once again be counted on for big things on both ends of the floor.  In his free agent year I’m hoping he can mesh with the new look offense and maybe want to stick around longer.  I was slow getting on his band wagon but he is good and been a key to the Hawks’ success.  If the Howard acquisition doesn’t work or other players don’t step up he could be looking to move on come this next offseason.  

Running the team now at the point is up and comer Dennis Shroder.  He showed last year in the playoffs he has more to offer.  Can he do it consistently is the question.  I can’t wait to find out.  He must shoot consistently and be able to control turnovers with the extended minutes he’ll get.  Kent Bazemore signed a big deal in the offseason totaling $70M over 4 years.  That shows Atlanta believes he can be more of a scorer than the 11 points a game he put up last year – the only time he has scored double digits for a season in his career.  Small forward is his and with the need for scoring I’m hoping he can put up 15+ every night but that is a lot to ask for.  Shooting guard is still Kyle Korver’s.  I’ve said it over and over - he isn’t a scorer.  That said, he can shoot from three like nobody’s business.  I think he is better suited coming off the bench sharing time with both units.

Newly drafted wings Taurean Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry will be expected to help with scoring which is the big need for the Hawks.  Thabo Safolosha is back from injury as is Tiago Splitter.  Mike Scott and Kris Humphries will be depth at power forward.  This all gives Atlanta much more depth than they had last year.  How good they are coming off the bench will go a long way in deciding how good this team really is. 

Atlanta is very good.  Not great but very good in the Eastern Conference.  With the changes made, players back from injuries, and new young blood it is easy to think Atlanta will be better than their 48 wins last year.  It can also be thought there are too many new moving parts and something in the machine is bound to fail.  I’m in the middle thinking they can win 45-48 games and will again be in the middle of the pack.  It just seems like way too many things have to go just right for this team to be much better.  I’ve got my fingers crossed but something in the back of my head just isn’t sold yet. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Battle for the 1985-1986 NBA Scoring Title As Only I'll Remember It

Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta Hawks)
The 1985-1986 NBA season saw one of the best battles for a scoring title.  Dominique Wilkins, in his fourth year in the league, beat out fellow hall of famers Adrian Dantley and AlexEnglish for the only scoring title of his career.  This is something that stands out in my fandom for two reasons.  First, Nique is my all-time favorite basketball player.  Second I was a junior in high school and in my English class I had to write in a journal every morning.  The instructor, a basketball coach, wasn’t picky about what we wrote about but we had to write something in coherent English.  I wrote every day for two weeks about the battle for the scoring title.  My teacher liked what I wrote and said he could tell I was a big fan.  

To the battle itself.  During the last week of the season the players were within a point of each other.  It was definitely something that could go one way or another depending on an injury or particularly bad or good game.  Dominique stepped up and average 39 points per game over his last six games while Dantley and English averaged 32 and 29 over the same timeframe respectively.   This included a 57 point effort against the New Jersey Nets.  While this is a blip in NBA history, it was huge to me.  I was at my peak of NBA fandom as was the NBA itself.  Boston won the championship that year while Larry Bird won MVP.  I was 17 and had started watching in 1979 at the pivotal time in league history that ushered in Magic Johnson  and then Larry Bird.  Basketball was it to me in the eighties. 

For some reason this memory has always stuck with me.  I lived in a small town in New Mexico and I can’t remember exactly how I got all my information.  It would have had to have been via ESPN or maybe the USA Today.  The other option was reading the local paper the next day but I don’t remember them running box scores though they might have had small write-ups of each game.  No matter, it was exciting to me.  I have always loved Dantley and English as well and to have three great scorers battling it out in such a manner was fun.  You just never know what memories will stick out when you think back to different times in your life of fandom.   
Adrian Dantley (Utah Jazz)

Alex English (Denver Nuggets)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Final Girls Movie

It is that time of the year for horror and scary movies.  This weekend we saw The Final Girls movie.  I really, really enjoyed this movie as did the rest of the family.  It is a comedy but with all the horror elements you are used to while not being an actual slasher flick.  The twist is a group of teens are transported into the 1980's cult movie "Camp Bloodbath".  Now these characters must deal with being in a movie in which they know what happens next.  The interactions with the movie characters is funny and fun.  If you are at all a fan of the genre or want a good comedy I think you'll like this movie.  It is different from the typical movies out there and also has some serious tones that help make this film so likable. Just watch it.  I'd love to hear what others think.  (2015 - Rated PG-13)      

Monday, October 10, 2016

2016 Panini Absolute Football Cards

2016 Panini Absolute Football Cards - Grabbed a pack of these cards.  They were $4.99 for 20 cards.  I little on the expensive side for me but I was pleasantly surprised.  I always prefer the cards with regular photos and backgrounds but I like these.  Just something about them draws me in. 
The backs are nice too.  Nothing spectacular but they are colorful and have a nice design to me. 
The two inserts I grabbed were a Red Zone and Unsung Heroes card.  All the rest were base cards.  Still the base cards had plenty of stars so I walked away happy.  Again nice cards and I will search out singles from this set. 

20 - Total Cards
18 - Base Cards
1 - Red Zone
1 - Unsung Heroes

Flea Market Sports Card Finds

Can't say no to Dr. J and the fro nor could I to a Seth Curry card. 
Visited a local flea market a few months back.  It isn't near a large city so it is mostly small town stuff but I was pleasantly surprised to find a guy selling cards.  I only picked up a few and didn't pay much of anything for the lot but found some players I like. 

Don't pass up LeBron cards when I get the chance.
All-time Fave Yaz and Paul Molitor

1994 Coca-Cola Monsters of the Gridiron

The 1994 Coca-Cola Monsters of the Gridiron cards came in card packs inside twelve packs of soda in 1994.  The cards had NFL stars dressed in costumes for Halloween which is the timeframe I believe these were released.  I've always liked the set though I get it is a niche set. I knew someone who worked at a convenience store back in the day who would give me the packs when they'd empty packs of cans that went in their cooler and was able to assemble a full set.  Not the easiest thing back to do back then.  
There is one star from each team and the costumes vary from very elaborate to "I'l put grass on my head" - see the Bengals' Dan Wilkerson.
Considering the way some of these guys are dressed I'm surprised they were able to get big stars such as Emmitt Smith, Marshall Faulk, Junior Seau, etc. 
The Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars were new to the league and didn't have actual players so those teams ended up with art cards.  Again I really like this set for it's uniqueness and fun which we don't see enough of in cards anymore.  I also think about these every October and never get around to posting.  I remembered this year - enjoy. 
 1   Eric The Red (Eric Swann - Ari)
  2   Tarantula (Jesse Tuggle - Atl)
  3   Big Bear (Cornelious Bennett - Buf)
  4   Panthers (Carolina Panthers)
  5   Zorro (Chris Zorich - Chi)
  6   Big Daddy (Dan Wilkinson - Cin)
  7   Bad Bone (Eric Turner)
  8   Lone Star Sheriff (Emmitt Smith)
  9   The Bandit (Steve Atwater - Den)
10   Chillin (Pat Swilling - Det)
11   Ghost (Sean Jones - GB)
12   Scarecrow (Ray Childress - Hou)
13   The Missile (Marshall Faulk - Ind)
14   Jaguars (Jacksonville Jaguars)
15   Attack Cat (Derrick Thomas - KC)
16   Renegade Raider (Chester McGlockton - LA Raiders)
17   The Barbarian (Shane Conlan - LA Rams)
18   Cobra (Marco Coleman - Mia)
19   Runaway Train (John Randle - Min)
20   The Piledriver (Bruce Armstrong - NE)
21   Raging (Renaldo Turnbull - NO)
22   Jumbo (John Elliot - NYG)
23   The Rattler (Ronnie Lott - NYJ)
24   Rocket Man (Randall Cunningham - Phi)
25   Knight Raider (Neil O'Donnell - Pit)
26   Stealth (Junior Seau - SD)
27   Psycho (Tom Rathman - SF)
28   Tez Rex (Cortez Kennedy - Sea)
29   Hyena (Hardy Nickerson - TB)
30   Jackhammer (Hen Harvey - Was)
--   Checklist Card

Sunday, October 2, 2016

2016 Panini Prestige Football Cards

I didn't realize I had already reviewed this way back in June.  So here is a second look at this set.  I liked it then and still do which is good.  The front is borderless with the player's name and team logo at the bottom and the Prestige logo at the top.  This left plenty of room for the photos which is always a good thing.  I do think they have plenty of room to add the player's position at the bottom which would have been nice.  The backs have some color with a good sized team logo over a duplicate of the front side player photo in black and white.  Player info, a short write-up and 2015/career stat lines are also included on the backs.  Not bad at all.  Pretty good pull with the highlight being Peyton Manning.  Could do without the parallel Green Xtra Points cards.  They really don't do anything for me.  I received the base and the Xtra Point Devonta Freeman cards and show them below.  The Alma Maters card of Troy Aikman is a nice looking card.  Also grabbed a Hardwear, Blue Chip Recruits, and Passport insert.  Would have liked a few more retired player cards but I still liked what pulled.  Again I like the set and wouldn't be averse to picking up more especially at the price point.
40 - Total Cards
35 - Base Cards (4 - RC, 4 - Xtra Point Green)
1 - Alma Maters
1 - Hardwear
1 - Blue Chip Recruits
1 - Passport