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In fairness Scott, the vast majority of season previews I’ve seen had Manly in the bottom 3…I went to Brookie for the first game of the season and the sense from the fans around me was definitely that Manly were in for a long season. I’m stunned they’re still alive at this stage of the season…

Five talking points from Manly Sea Eagles vs Cronulla Sharks NRL elimination final

Agree that the MRC is ‘wildly inconsistent’ and needs a lot more transparency…but…I think Sam Burgess of all people, should be quite on this one, and let other people fight this battle for him.

It wasn’t that long ago Sam somehow escaped a suspension for knocking Matt Moylan out cold with a high shot. He is a regular re-offender when it comes to foul play. Maybe instead of complaining about the system and drawing even more attention to himself, he should spend more time learning to control his aggression and not come under the eye of the MRC in the first place.

Big Sam should be applauded for standing his ground with the NRL

Five talking points from Manly Sea Eagles vs Cronulla Sharks NRL elimination final

I don’t know if anyone has already talked/written about this, but Manly’s performance this year, has to be one of the best in NRL history.

At the start of this year, betting agencies had them 2nd behind the Bulldogs to ‘win’ the wooden spoon. They had 9 players leave the club and 7 new faces come in, with a ‘new but old’ coach. They had tough draw playing three of the top 4 teams in the comp, Melbourne, Canberra and Souths, twice. They only played back-to-back home games once this year and two of their ‘home’ games were in Brisbane and NZ.

During the year, they had off-field issues with Dylan Walker, who didn’t play early in the season, injuries to key players throughout the year (they had 5 players missing from this last game against the Sharks), lost key players to Origin duties, blooded a number of new players in 1st grade and had to make changes to team week-in and week-out.

And yet, they’re one win away from a semi-final…Its remarkable. Does anyone know of other teams in NRL history who have over-achieved to such an extent?

Five talking points from Manly Sea Eagles vs Cronulla Sharks NRL elimination final

Aussie ‘bowlers’ with a better test average than M Marsh include: Marcus North, Mark Waugh, Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke, Alan Border…in other words, part-timers do a better job at taking wickets for less runs than Marsh, yet he’s being selected specifically for his bowling…amazing.

Dropping Head for Marsh was a mistake

A 4 for Jack Leach is a tough…He was better than Archer and Buttler who were given 5s.

He bowled really well in the 1st innings, and held out for as long as he could with the bat. Showed a lot more courage and grit than most of the England team.

England fourth Ashes Test player ratings: No standouts for the hosts as the series goes begging

I cant see how his bowling can be considered “poor to average” in this test. In the second innings, he bowled 39 overs and kept the run rate under 3, under immense pressure. He was accurate and should have had more than the two wickets, on a pitch which didn’t turn a lot.

Australia third Ashes Test player ratings: Labuschagne and Hazlewood the best performers in stunning loss

Giving Lyon a 3 seems a little harsh…

Australia third Ashes Test player ratings: Labuschagne and Hazlewood the best performers in stunning loss

Yep, Wade has to go. Khawaja’s form is not good, but the guy averages 41 in test matches and has gotten starts in the last two tests which he failed to convert.

Wade to me, is mentally fragile. When Australia is under pressure, he folds immediately. His average is now at 28, which just isn’t good enough for a test batsmen. I realise he’s scored heaps of SS runs, but unfortunately, its been more or less proven that SS runs does not equal test runs. They’re two completely different contexts.

Warner's ugly but crucial Ashes innings

Some pretty harsh comments on what I thought was a perfectly fine article about an unfortunately situation…Even without the stars, the game will be fun to watch and there’s enough talent on both sides to make it worth watching.

I think the real shame though, is not that Harden, Curry and Lebron aren’t here…FIBA teams are always weaker than the Olympic Team USA rosters and the big stars will always take the rest during the offseason.

To me, its that the best young players arent taking this opportunity to grow and develop their game. In 2010, Team USA was weak on paper. The guys who played the most minutes were vets like Billups, Iggy, Odom and Rudy Gay, alongside a 22yr old Durant and a young Derrick Rose. The tournament helped put Durant on the radar as a potential great. He was amazing.

This year though, the best young players have largely snubbed Team USA. Guys like Towns, Booker, Fox, Bagely, Trey Young, McCollum…These should be the guys playing. And if they were, I dont think people would be complaining as much.

Fact is, this is not a “second string Team USA”…its like a 15th string Team USA. Assuming Walker, Middleton and Lopez make it, they’ll have a total of 5 All Star appearances on the roster…Last Team USA had 33. I don’t expect casual NBA fans to know who Joe Harris is, or Derrick White, or even someone like Myles Turner.

Anyway, its a shame more big names arent here, but either way, am looking forward to the game!

Boomers vs USA fiasco an insult to Aussie basketball

Yeah, its easier said than done….Both Gasol and Ibaka are owed $25 and $23 mil next year, so any team taking them on would have to be really keen to make a championship run, or looking to dump a bad contract and open to adding some picks for the Raps to taken them on. This is even more true for Lowry…

Cant see how a trade to Houston would work. It would have to involve Capela, and the Raps wouldn’t want that contract. Same for the Bucks…they just signed Lopez to a longer deal, and are in cap hell, so cant see why the Raps would want outside of guys they wouldn’t want to trade.

There are Wiggins for Ibaka rumours, but surely the Raps wouldn’t want the Wiggins contract. Could the Celtics work out something for Gasol built around Marcus Smart and other guys? He’d be great for them.

The other interesting team could be OKC…If they can’t dump Paul and want to get Adams off the books, could they do a blockbuster and send Paul and Adams (plus a pick or two) for Lowry and Gasol? OKC would quickly free up their cap space for next year (something they desperately need to do as a non-contending team) and rebuild, and the Raps could eat the Adams and Paul contracts for next year, score some extra picks, be a playoff team and then decide what to do. Only problem is the final year of that Paul contract…$44mil is brutal!

Anyway, Ujiri is a smart guy…am sure he’ll work it out. But Raps to miss the playoffs this year for me…

Predicting the 2019-20 Eastern Conference standings

Mentioned this on another article, but the Raps will not be making a playoff run…They’ll be in tank-mode for sure.

If you check their salaries for next year, Gasol, Ibaka and Lowry all come off. None make much sense to re-sign longer term, especially if (as expected) Siakim and FVV are given extended contracts. They’ll look to trade Gasol and Ibaka, if possible, as soon as they can, and for picks and to free up cap space. They should do the same with Lowry…he’s 33 and plays the same position as FVV.

So, I think the Raps drop out, and the Pistons (desperate to make the playoffs) get in.

Predicting the 2019-20 Eastern Conference standings

I don’t think the Raps make the playoffs this year…I actually think they’ll tank.

Take a look at their salary for next year and who’s on the books. Its basically no one! Powell and OG are about it.

So they’ll likely re-sign/extend Siakim and VanVleet, but the rest of their roster will be on the trade market. The Raps wont want Gasol, Ibaka and Lowry to walk for nothing at the end of the year, and I’m not sure any of them make sense for the Raps in longer term/high cost deals.

The Raps aren’t in a position to contend in the short term future, so re-upping Lowry at 33yrs old, when he plays the same position as FVV, makes little sense to me. Gasol and Ibaka would likely want to leave anyway, so it makes sense to trade all three at some stage and get at least something back for them.

My 2019-20 Eastern Conference predictions

Beverley will be great, but the Clips roster has some question marks…

Their bigs are a worry. Its Harrell, and no one else (I’m not sold on Zubac as anything more than a good backup). And can Harrell really handle guys like Davis, Jokic, Gobert, Aldridge etc night in and night out by himself? He’ll need help…

Lou Williams is great as a bench guy, but he’s limited to that role. Can he be effective if he isn’t the primary ball-handler running pick-and-rolls, alongside George and Kawhi? Lou Will is a passenger on defense, and if he’s not scoring because Kawhi and George are on the court with him, he might be less effective as he was last year.

And the rest of their roster isn’t great either. Shamet is ok, but guys like Harkless and Green are limited. Of course, Kawhi and George will makeup for a lot of the inadequacies of this team! It helps having 2 of the best players in the league…Will be very interesting to see what happens with them.

NBA: Predicting the 2019-20 Western Conference standings

I’m not game enough to predict a top 8…Its too difficult! The Rockets are a prime example…Their starting 5 looks fantastic. But as you say can they actually all play together? Will be great to watch…

NBA: Predicting the 2019-20 Western Conference standings

Sorry mate…didn’t mean the comment to be a nasty one! Happy for the Kings to play well this year and make the playoffs.

But I actually think Denver will finish with the best record (again) in the West. They have the same team as last year (which won the West), but added Jerami Grant, who I like. I also wonder if Porter Jnr can get healthy and develop into a handy role player.

I also think the Warriors will be much better than many anticipate. I’m kind of shocked at how many people seem to be writing this season off for them, or thinking their “time has been and gone” as you say. They played amazingly well in the finals when most teams would have rolled over with the injuries they had. Klay will be back. And I like parts of their roster beyond Curry, Green and Russell. Looney, Cauley-Stein and Burks are all reliable contributors. I just think the GSW have a winning culture which brings out the best in role players.

NBA: Predicting the 2019-20 Western Conference standings

I’d say putting the Kings above Denver and GSW requires more than “a bit” of optimism…ha!

NBA: Predicting the 2019-20 Western Conference standings

Brave effort to take on the West standings…So many teams still feel ‘incomplete’ or likely to make more trades (ie. Clips, GSW, Rox, OKC, Mavs), and I still cant figure out if the Clips and Lakers will be great because of Kawhi/George and LBJ/Davis, or not as good as we thought because of the rest of their rosters which look worryingly shallow to me, and questions about some key positions (eg. Are Shamet and Zubac really starters on a championship team? Are the Lakers really thinking LBJ can play PG for the year?)

For my 2 cents, I don’t think the Clips or Lakers win the west…both will be focused on the playoffs and ensuring their stars get rest during the season. And I think they both make more trades which disrupt their regular season.

Denver, Utah or Portland will likely get the most regular season wins…They’re all strong on paper, have consistent and deep rosters (which they wont play around with), good coaches, and will be trying to win every game. Home court will be important for them…

And…not trying to be mean here…but the sentence: “The Lakers also managed to keep Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope” did make me lol a little…I’m not sure any team, if any, was chasing Rondo, McGee and KCP!

NBA: Predicting the 2019-20 Western Conference standings

Its still Aldo…

Holloway could beat out Aldo one day, but for now this line from Aldo’s wikipedia page says it all: “Aldo has both the most wins and knockouts in UFC and WEC featherweight history, has landed a total of 691 significant strikes in the UFC and the WEC, and holds the record for the longest winning streak in UFC, WEC, Strikeforce and Pride featherweight history, with fifteen consecutive victories”

Is Max Holloway really the greatest UFC featherweight of all time?

really bizarre comment, Cari…

Tied and tied again: How the greatest-ever World Cup final was won

I think anyone who follows the league must have known there was a very good chance the Team USA coming to Oz wouldn’t be Lebron, Davis, Leonard, Curry etc…This happens every World Cup year…the top-line players take the rest, the younger players step in.

As a great example of what you’re talking about in this article, look at Team USA in 2010. None of the players in the 2008 Olympics elected to play in 2010 World Cup. Some of the players who did? A few 21yr olds named Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose and Kevin Love. And Steph Curry at 22ys old.

Boomers vs USA is a chance to see the next LeBron in action

Yep…although I’d swap Kaufusi for McGuire, and wouldn’t take Saifiti. And I’d probably find a place for Morgan on the bench.

Five talking points from State of Origin Game 3

Yep, I remember the exact play. He just hit the ball up like a prop would…

NSW Blues player ratings: Origin 3

That AND he rushed up in the defensive line to take Pearce (who passed over his head) , which created the overlap for the Blues to score…Nightmare final 2mins for Mybe.

Queensland Maroons player ratings: Origin 3

Agreed…why not just give Morgan a non-rating?

Queensland Maroons player ratings: Origin 3