Image Credit: NFL.com
Hello, all. In last week’s edition of Footenotes, we continued our weekly talk about the NBA Playoffs, listed some Chiefs draft needs and assessed whether or not Alex Gordon is back to his All-Star form or not. This week, we’ll take a look at the 2019 NFL Draft and the new faces coming to Kansas City, talk some more NBA playoffs, do a comparison of some of the league’s best scorers in history, along with answering a question that jumped out at me on Twitter. Without further ado…
Chiefs draft review
The Kansas City Chiefs opened the 2019 NFL Draft without a first-round pick after sending it to the Seattle Seahawks for DE Frank Clark. Although some were bummed about the team not having that first-of-32 selection for the second-straight year, it’s important to keep in mind the odds of that 29th pick becoming an elite player (such as Clark) are low. For a team in win-now mode while quarterback Patrick Mahomes is on his rookie contract, acquiring a talent of Clark’s caliber will help bolster the other side of the ball.
Anyways, back to the draft itself. Here’s who general manager Brett Veach selected this year:
- Round 2: Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia
- Round 2: Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia
- Round 3: Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois
- Round 6: Rashad Fenton, CB, South Carolina
- Round 6: Darwin Thompson, RB, Utah State
- Round 7: Nick Allegretti, OL, Illinois
Overall, the Chiefs ended up with six new players at the conclusion of the draft. Let’s go pick-by-pick with analysis.
Mecole Hardman: Brett Veach received some criticism for trading up and selecting the speedy Hardman, but this pick appears to be an insurance/replacement policy for Tyreek Hill. Running a 4.33 40-yard dash and possessing some of the best return skills in recent drafts, Hardman will step in and play a huge role on special teams immediately. On offense, he needs to work on just about every aspect of his game. A converted cornerback, he is a raw prospect as a receiver but with Andy Reid coaching him up, there should be some packages he can play in from the get-go.
Juan Thornhill: This is my favorite pick of the draft. A do-it-all, athletic specimen from Virginia, Thornhill could very well start alongside Tyrann Mathieu for the next few seasons. A former CB, he reminds me of the aforementioned Honey Badger quite a bit. This is a huge boost to a secondary that was one of the worst in the league last year. This may be Brett Veach’s best selection as GM.
Khalen Saunders: This was a very fun pick and one that could pay huge dividends in the future. Instead of addressing the cornerback position, Veach took what was one of the best players available in the backflipping, former high school running back in Saunders. No, I’m not kidding:
Yeah, I was being serious. Saunders will likely play as a rotational piece in his rookie season but with a little bit of experience, could become an integral part of the defense within a couple years.
Rashad Fenton: Of all the picks in this draft for the Chiefs, Fenton is probably going to have the most difficult time making the 53-man roster. When taking into account how thin the CB group is for KC, that isn’t extremely promising for Fenton’s prospects as a corner. He doesn’t possess an elite trait but with some time honing his craft, perhaps he can become a contributor a few years down the road.
Darwin Thompson: This is a similar pick to Saunders in my eyes. A guy from a lesser-known school that was overlooked by many teams, but fell to the Chiefs and brings a very useful skillset to the table while the rest of his game develops in the meantime. A shifty, change-of-pace back, Thompson reminds me a little bit of Kareem Hunt. I didn’t want to be that guy, but… he does. Thompson brings great value as a receiver and adds depth in the Chiefs’ RB room.
Nick Allegretti: Great value pick for the Chiefs here. Another body to compete along the offensive line never hurts. With center Mitch Morse departing via free agency, some players along the line could shift and leave other spots a bit thin. Solid acquisition for Brett Veach and company.
Overall, I give this Chiefs draft a solid B. A solid mix of immediate impact players with potential and guys who could have some major roles in the near future once the cap situation gets a bit murky. This was a huge draft for Brett Veach for a couple of reasons. First, he needed to bounce back after what was an underwhelming 2018 NFL Draft. Secondly, with so many players up for contract extensions soon, nailing the draft in terms of not wasting picks is very important. Not a bad job.
Philadelphia vs. Toronto (1-1)
This is shaping up to be just as good a series as advertised. After Kawhi Leonard’s playoff career-high 45 points in Game 1, I thought perhaps I underestimated the Raptors. In a G2 that saw Joel Embiid, JJ Redick, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris combine for 38 points (less than 10 points per player on average), I’m back in the middle. Oh yeah, Philadelphia won that game, by the way. This series has all the makings of an instant classic between two of the most talented teams the league has to offer.
Boston vs. Milwaukee (1-0)
Speaking of two of the most talented teams in the league, look no further than the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics. My favorite to come out of the East, Milwaukee looked lost against Boston on Sunday. Kyrie Irving conducted the Celtics’ offense to perfection, recording a career-high 11 assists and nearly dropping a 30 ball in the process. Al Horford and Jaylen Brown added 20 and 19, respectively. It was a team effort for the C’s. Speaking of a team effort, Sunday was a prime example of what that doesn’t look like for the Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo was the closest thing to a player on that team who showed up. Look to see that change in Game 2.
Golden State vs. Houston (1-0)
Houston kept things close in Game 1 despite being on the wrong end of some questionable calls. Naturally, the team is taking things personally and has even gone as far as to send a report to league authorities describing why lackluster officiating cost them a trip to the Finals a year ago. Complaining isn’t exactly going to make the referees more likely to listen to you. Often times, that will work against you. As long as Golden State can have a hot night from either Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson, it will be hard to beat them.
Denver vs. Portland (1-0)
I’m a firm believer that if Jusuf Nurkic is healthy for the Portland Trail Blazers, they win Game 1. Because he wasn’t, Enes Kanter’s lack of defensive capability on the interior was put on full display and the Nuggets took the first game of the series. Damian Lillard’s 39 points weren’t quite enough, as Denver’s Nikola Jokic continued his spectacular play this postseason. Dropping 37/9/6/3/2 on 11/18 shooting from the field, Mike Malone’s squad is going to be tough to beat moving forward as long as its star is playing at a high level.
KD’s place among the greatest scorers ever
On my radio show last night, a friend and I talked about how to rank the following players as scorers: Kevin Durant, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. The conversation was prompted by a list of the four, centered around KD. He brought up a great point “If you need someone to get me 60 points in a game…” I hadn’t have even thought of it like that. If I were ranking based on the ability of the player to score a lot of points, regardless of efficiency, I’d rank Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James. In that order, of course.
Because that’s not how I interpreted the question, I did a statistical analysis of the four. Breaking down two time periods, career and “prime,” I was able to paint a clearer picture of each player. For Michael Jordan, I removed his final two seasons. For Kobe, I took out his first four and last three seasons. Because Durant and LeBron have been great for so long, I only removed their rookie campaigns. Let’s see how things shook out:
Jordan took more shots, thus scoring more points. Removing the non-prime seasons for Bryant seemed to help him the most. James and Durant have both been fantastic offensive weapons throughout the course of their respective careers, with more efficiency than Bryant by a long shot. If I had to rank these four by ability to score with efficiency factored in, Jordan would still be at the top. Durant would be second, James would be third and Bryant would bring up the rear.
This is no slight against Kobe Bryant. One of the 10 best players to ever set foot on an NBA court, he had to carry the offensive load for the Lakers for much of his career and wasn’t gifted the size of a Durant or James. Taking a lot of non-quality looks in bunches, his percentages are naturally going to be lower. Regardless, you’re in pretty darn good shape if you have one of these four players on your team shouldering the scoring load.
Bonus: Is Pascal Siakam underrated?
This tweet lists every player drafted before Toronto’s Pascal Siakam in the 2016 NBA Draft. I think only SImmons, Ingram and (maybe) Brown are better than Siakam at the moment. Hield and Murray are close, but Siakam’s versatility on the defensive end sets him apart from the others.
One of the best defensive players in the league, along with being a remarkably efficient offensive presence (~17 PPG on 54.9% FG, 36.9% 3P), Siakam’s ceiling may not be as high as a few guys on this list. With that said, he’s a perfect #2 option for a contending team and could grow tremendously alongside Kawhi Leonard should the perennial All-Star decide to stay with the Raptors.
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