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LeBron James makes All-NBA team for record 16th time

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LeBron James makes All-NBA team for record 16th time

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — LeBron James now stands alone in All-NBA recognition history, getting there unanimously.

James was revealed Wednesday as an All-NBA player for a record 16th time, breaking the mark he shared with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. He was a first-team pick on all 100 ballots, joining Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo as the only unanimous first-team selections this season.

Joining them on the first team: Houston guard James Harden, Lakers forward Anthony Davis and Dallas guard Luka Doncic, who got the nod in just his second season in the NBA – becoming the first player to get there in either his first or second season since Duncan did for San Antonio. Duncan was first-team in each of his first eight NBA seasons, starting in 1997-98 and going through 2004-05.

The 21-year-old Doncic is the sixth player to make All-NBA at that age or younger, joining Kevin Durant, James, Duncan, Rick Barry and Max Zaslofsky.

James is a first-team pick for the 13th time in his career, extending his record there. Bryant and Karl Malone were 11-time first-teamers. Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP and the frontrunner to win the award again this season, was picked unanimously for the second consecutive year.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, Denver center Nikola Jokic, Portland guard Damian Lillard, Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul and Toronto forward Pascal Siakam were on the second team.

The third-team picks were Boston forward Jayson Tatum, Miami forward Jimmy Butler, Utah center Rudy Gobert, Philadelphia guard Ben Simmons and Houston guard Russell Westbrook.

Paul and Westbrook are now nine-time All-NBA players, Harden a six-time choice, Lillard is a five-timer and Antetokounmpo, Leonard and Davis are four-time selections. Butler and Gobert are three-time selections, Jokic a two-time choice and Siakam, Tatum and Simmons all joined Doncic as being on the team for the first time.

Harden and Doncic appeared on all 100 ballots – though only James and Antetokounmpo were unanimous as first-team choices on every ballot. Davis and Jokic were on 99 ballots, and Leonard appeared on 98.

The voting was conducted based on regular-season games played through March 11, and voters had to choose two guards, two forwards and one center for each team. Milwaukee forward Khris Middleton did not make All-NBA even though he appeared on more ballots (60) than Simmons (43) and Westbrook (38); they made the team as guards. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid got 39 votes and did not make the team either, after finishing fourth among centers.

Middleton led forwards who didn’t make the team in votes, Embiid did the same for centers and Washington’s Bradley Beal (26 votes) did the same for guards. Beal posted the 24th season in NBA history where someone finished with averages of at least 30 points and six assists – and became the first of those 24 to not make an All-NBA team.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Why Angels, Phillies miss playoffs despite star power

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Why Angels, Phillies miss playoffs despite star power

Mike Trout is not going to play in the postseason this year, barring a miracle. Even in a 2020 season where MLB expanded the field from 10 teams to 16, the Los Angeles Angels have not been able to ride the best baseball player in the world into playoff position.

At the helm for five seasons now, Angels GM Billy Eppler has never fielded a team with a winning record despite adding Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton, Andrelton Simmons and, just this year, Anthony Rendon. The 16-team format seemed like an open invitation to the Angels specifically. And yet, their playoff odds sit at 1.4 percent entering Thursday — requiring a complete meltdown by the Houston Astros — and realistic hopes faded a while ago.

A similar, if less dire, predicament is playing out in Philadelphia, where the Phillies are clawing for a postseason berth. A cavalcade of splashy acquisitions led by Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto is on the outside looking in with three games to play — with interlopers like the San Francisco Giants and Miami Marlins riding in the catbird’s seat.

GM Matt Klentak took over the same year Eppler arrived in L.A., prior to 2016, overseeing a rebuilding effort that soon kicked into win-now mode, luring Harper, Realmuto, Jake Arrieta and Zack Wheeler. That raised expectations, and a coin flip’s chance at being one of the NL’s eight best teams isn’t cutting it.

For better or worse, we are accustomed to baseball operations leaders being pushed out over large investments gone wrong. If 2020 disappointment claims Eppler or Klentak’s jobs, though, that won’t be the logic. 

In his new Angels uniform, Rendon remains a perpetual force. Harper’s fame outstrips his production, but he’s been one of the game’s best 25 or so hitters. Wheeler is posting a career-best 2.67 ERA in his first season in Philly, and there is literal clamoring in the streets to keep Realmuto. As for Trout, he of the historic early career and $426.5 million extension, he’s probably only being kept from his perch atop the WAR leaderboard by time limitations.

Instead, the questions hovering over the Phillies and Angels arise from confusion. There are stars. They are performing more or less as expected. There are, as usual, a handful of teams that aren’t even trying right now. How could it be that these star-studded rosters can’t win?

Three-time MVP Mike Trout is having another stellar season, but will likely miss the postseason for the sixth straight year. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Pitch and catch

The problems holding back the 2020 Angels and Phillies are not confusing, in a vacuum: They can’t pitch and they can’t field. 

Los Angeles has two reliable if unspectacular starters and another rounding into form, followed by a spin cycle of horror outings. The Phillies have two starters who will get Cy Young votes, a reasonable back of the rotation, and one of the worst bullpens anyone has ever seen.

Both are bottom five defensive teams by every major metric. The Angels allow the fifth-most runs per game, and the Phillies the seventh-most.

It is possible that in a 162-game season, either team could get over a bout with giving up literally all the runs and storm into contention. The 2019 Nationals, you may recall, were 19-31 after 50 games thanks to a disastrous bullpen. And all those pitchers who make for difficult Sporcle quizzes, they keep coming up when you try to answer the quandary of how stars miss out on October.

Chasms in the win column start out as chasms in dealing with moments. Baseball teams, of course, only get to choose their fighter when they are pitching.

High-leverage situations — at-bats where games have the most potential to shift — offer a revealing if chaotic glimpse into what happens when teams are making their biggest choices. And across baseball, these moments are increasingly handled by relief pitchers. In 2015, the year before Eppler and Klentak took their current posts, starting pitchers still faced 40 percent of high-leverage batters. By 2019, that number was down to 28.5 percent. And this season so far, it’s at 27.5 percent.

So the seemingly fungible, here-today-gone-tomorrow arms who couldn’t possibly be as important as Trout or Harper or Realmuto, they are largely responsible for a huge portion of a team’s season-defining performances. This year, the Phillies are allowing a league-worst .318/.397/.529 slash line in those crucial spots — that’s 43⅔ innings worth. The Angels aren’t doing a whole lot better, .285/.354/.492 in 50 innings. Meanwhile, the nameless Tampa Bay Rays have suffocated opponents with a .171/.256/.257 line.

The difference in Mike Trout making the playoffs and not? It’s in there somewhere, built from an unsatisfying pile of broken bullpen innings.

Phillies stars Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto are producing as expected, but there is not much they can do to aid a flailing bullpen. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The anonymous difference-makers

An MLB franchise’s competence just cannot be gleaned from a snapshot of its best players.

This has always been true in baseball, where there are 25 or more players on each team and fundamental rules that spread impact relatively evenly across those players. But even that truth has been exacerbated in recent years, perhaps to the detriment of the game’s narrative potential. And certainly to the disdain of front offices and fans hoping a shiny new star would instantly usher in an era of prosperity.

The Angels and Phillies? Exhibits A and B of how a star’s influence over wins and losses has been dimmed even further by shifts in baseball orthodoxy.

Variance and injury luck shape every baseball season, but the Angels’ continued mediocrity, in particular, seems to highlight a less-than-invigorating truth about what makes winning baseball teams: Having Trout be personally worth one or two more wins than any other individual player is maybe only equally as important as having workable backup plans spring from the woodwork a la the Dodgers and Yankees. Or learning to summon go-to arms from the ether like the Rays or Indians.

Moneyball and fantasy sports and the deluge of publicly available statistics have made it far more common for fans to identify with, root for and discuss GMs. But the successes and failures that swing seasons are descending further below the surface. Even as a state of play that does reward strategy and real talent, it could reasonably be called a concern for MLB. (The league’s proposed or implemented rule changes certainly nod in that direction.)

It makes the standings confounding to casual fans, and the thrust of a team’s fortunes impenetrable to even the most attuned observers.

Why can’t Mike Trout make the playoffs if you say he’s so good? Well, you see …

The Angels and Phillies, in other words, would be infuriating as TV shows. 

The main characters are providing their usual heroics, yet their sides suffer grisly defeats. Because, turns out, the faceless army behind them is 15 percent less effective than the other faceless armies, and that is very important.

With new GMs and revamped personnel and practices behind the scenes, beyond what the eye can see during a game, Trout and Harper may well lead teams to October, and soon. The wins and losses might start to feel like they make sense again.

The changes, should they come to fruition, may even somehow be attributed to the stars. In reality, the supporting cast was the problem and the solution all along.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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PFT’s Week Three picks

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PFT’s Week Three picks

MDS is building an early-season lead. As he seems to always do.

Last week, MDS nailed 14 of 16 games straight up, and 11 of 16 against the spread. I did well but not well enough, with a 13-3 record straight up and 9-7 ATS.

For the year, MDS has a record of 24-8 straight up, and 21-11 against the spread. I’m 21-11 and 16-16, respectively.

For this week’s picks, scroll away.

Dolphins (+3) at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The NFL is not exactly putting its best foot forward with the early slate of Thursday night games, but the Jaguars have at least looked like a more competitive team than most were expecting. Gardner Minshew will continue making the case that Jacksonville doesn’t need to find its franchise quarterback, because he’s already there.

MDS’s pick: Jaguars 27, Dolphins 20.

Florio’s take: The Jaguars have become a pleasant surprise, even if not many have noticed. On Thursday night, they’ll have a chance to get the nation’s attention.

Florio’s pick: Jaguars 27, Dolphins 20.

Titans (-2.5) at Vikings

MDS’s take: The Vikings may be the NFL’s most disappointing team so far this season. Ryan Tannehill will continue his strong early-season showing as Minnesota falls to 0-3.

MDS’s pick: Titans 30, Vikings 20.

Florio’s take: The Titans have played too well to barely win two games. This week, they’re getting a team that suddenly have plummeted from contender to pretender to pathetic.

Florio’s pick: Titans 24, Vikings 10.

Bears (+4) at Falcons

MDS’s take: The Bears are 2-0 and the Falcons are 0-2, but that may say more about the quality of the team’s they’ve played than anything else. The Falcons will get their first win on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 23, Bears 20.

Florio’s take: The Bears have been living on the edge. The Falcons have been dying on the edge. A correction is in order.

Florio’s pick: Falcon 31, Bears 27.

Bengals (+5.5) at Eagles

MDS’s take: Carson Wentz has looked like a mess so far this season. I’m not expecting him to look great, but he should be better against a suspect Bengals Defense.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 24, Bengals 21.

Florio’s take: I’m buying Joe Burrow, and I’m selling the Eagles. Until they lose enough games to finally wake up.

Florio’s pick: Bengals 24, Eagles 21.

Washington (+7) at Browns

MDS’s take: Washington’s defensive front has talent, but I see the Browns running on them in a low-scoring and fairly unexciting game.

MDS’s pick: Browns 20, Washington 7.

Florio’s take: Baker Mayfield struggled against a great defense, and he picked apart a less-than-great one. To avoid a repeat of Week One, the Browns need to run to set up the run, and then run some more.

Florio’s pick: Browns 20, Washington 17.

49ers (-4) at Giants

MDS’s take: Both teams are struggling with injuries right now, but the 49ers have a roster that can overcome those injuries. The Giants do not.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 31, Giants 14.

Florio’s take: Both teams have endured major injuries, with the 49ers taking even more of a pounding. 

Florio’s pick: 49ers 24, Giants 13.

Texans (+4) at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Texans aren’t as bad as they look, but they’ve been handed a brutal early schedule. They’ll fall to 0-3 on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 20, Texans 17.

Florio’s take: The Steelers took too long to put the Giants away, and the Steelers allowed the Broncos to hang around too long. The offense should be better this week as Ben Roethlisberger gets more comfortable, and the Texans continue to navigate a who-did-they-piss-off? early-season schedule.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 23, Texans 17.

Rams (+2.5) at Bills

MDS’s take: Josh Allen is going to keep throwing downfield, and if he can use his feet to get away from Aaron Donald, the Rams are going to have a hard time stopping him.

MDS’s pick: Bills 31, Rams 28.

Florio’s take: The Rams have rebuilt on the fly, and they’re better than many expected them to be. The Bills are too good, however, and the L.A. to Philly to L.A. to Buffalo travel demand won’t help. 

Florio’s pick: Bills 27, Rams 23.

Raiders (+6) at Patriots

MDS’s take: Las Vegas is 2-0, but a long road trip on a short work week is going to make this a tough one.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Raiders 24.

Florio’s take: The Patriots are for real. The Raiders eventually could be. For now, though, winning at New England is too much to expect from the most unlikely 2-0 team in the AFC.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 30, Raiders 20.

Jets (+11) at Colts

MDS’s take: I’m not sure I’d pick the Jets to beat anyone right now. Sam Darnold is playing better than people think, but he’s not getting much help.

MDS’s pick: Colts 20, Jets 10.

Florio’s take: The Jets’ roster still needs more pieces before it can compete, much less contend. And the Colts have picked up plenty of confidence after last week’s shredding of the Vikings.

Florio’s pick: Colts 27, Jets 13.

Panthers (+6.5) at Chargers

MDS’s take: This Panthers team is playing hard for first-year coach Matt Rhule, but right now the roster just isn’t good enough. The Chargers will cruise to an easy win.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 28, Panthers 14.

Florio’s take: Justin Herbert in, Christian McCaffrey out. Chargers on their way.

Florio’s pick: Chargers 24, Panthers 13.

Buccaneers (-6) at Broncos

MDS’s take: If the Broncos were at full strength I’d probably pick them to win this one, but they have so many injuries I just can’t see them winning.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 17, Broncos 14.

Florio’s take: Mile High Stadium has been a house of horrors for Tom Brady. He’s never faced a Broncos team with so little punch, however, given the home team’s rash of injuries.

Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 20, Broncos 13.

Cowboys (+5) at Seahawks

MDS’s take: Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson will both have big games, but Wilson will do just a little more, in a matchup that I have a funny feeling we’ll see again in January.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 31, Cowboys 27.

Florio’s take: This one could be a shootout, given that both teams have great offenses and work-in-progress defenses. The Seahawks currently have made more progress on both sides of the ball.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 30, Cowboys 21.

Lions (+5.5) at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The Cardinals’ offense looks fresh and exciting, and the Lions’ defense looks stale. It’s hard for me to believe Kyler Murray won’t have a very big game.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 35, Lions 21.

Florio’s take: The Lions won’t have to worry about blowing another double-digit lead this week.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 31, Lions 21.

Packers (+3) at Saints

MDS’s take: If I were a Saints fan I’d be worried about Drew Brees‘s arm, as he’s throwing short passes almost exclusively. And yet I think the Saints’ defense matches up pretty well with Aaron Rodgers, and so I think the Saints can pull out a close win here.

MDS’s pick: Saints 17, Packers 16.

Florio’s take: The warning signs are blinking quickly as to the potential decline of the Saints. Throw in a short week and a trip back from Vegas and a Packers team firing on each and every cylinder, and this one has a chance to get ugly.

Florio’s pick: Packers 31, Saints 23.

Chiefs (+3.5) at Ravens

MDS’s take: These look like the two best teams in the league right now, in a monster of a prime time game. I’ll pick Lamar Jackson to make one more big play than Patrick Mahomes.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 28, Chiefs 21.

Florio’s take: If the Kansas City defense was shredded by a rookie in his first start, it could be facing even more problems against the defending MVP, whose passing keeps getting better and better.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 27, Chiefs 24.

PFT’s Week Three picks originally appeared on Pro Football Talk

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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5 sleepers to start, 5 starters to sit in Week 3

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5 sleepers to start, 5 starters to sit in Week 3

We’re two weeks into fantasy football this year and we’ve had some massive injury concerns already pop up. Perhaps unlike anything ever during a single weekend… Week 2 might have hit your team hard.

But because of that, setting your lineup correctly has some increased importance in Week 3. If you lost a consistent starter, that replacement must preform, and we’re here to help.

Here are five sleepers to start and five starters you’ve got to sit in Week 3 of fantasy football:

49ers running back Jerick McKinnon. Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Sleepers to start

at Vikings

After having to really prove his worth early this season, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has done that. He has six touchdowns and 488 passing yards. Not a ton of yardage, however, his lack of any interceptions makes up for that. Previously thought of as a good secondary, the Vikings are not so far this year, allowing the fifth-most yards per game (283.5) and 10th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

at Jaguars

There’s not a lot of other options in the Dolphins offense, that’s a good start to the discussion for Myles Gaskin. Add that into the Dolphins backfield. Gaskin through two games is leading in snaps by a large margin and while Jordan Howard is getting goal line touches, it’s Gaskin in South Beach. The Jaguars are also allowing the ninth-most fantasy football points to running backs this year.

at Giants

Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman are going to miss the 49ers’ Week 3 contest versus the New York Giants. That could mean a two-back system with Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson. But the 49ers have consistently targeted their running backs a lot in the passing game anyway and that’s where McKinnon thrives. Plus, Jimmy Garoppolo is likely to miss the game. The 49ers lean on their running backs when their starter does play, let alone when a backup QB is in.

vs. 49ers

No defense, specifically has taken more of a beating on the field via injuries than the 49ers. No Nick Bosa or Soloman Thomas the rest of this season. That could’ve bode well for Sterling Shepard, but the Giants’ No. 1 receiver is sidelined himself. This lines up for a good outing en route for Golden Tate, who stepped up in 2019 when Shepard was out.

at Bills

Fresh off a three touchdown outing, it’s unlikely that Tyler Higbee would do that again against any given team. But the Bills allowed a huge game to the Dolphins’ Mike Gesicki last week without their starting linebackers on the field, and both are still limited in practice this week and will unlikely be 100 percent. Higbee is a safe bet.

Texans running back David Johnson. Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Starter to sit

at Broncos

The Broncos have suffered a rash of injuries, which could play a part in sitting Tom Brady this week in a way. That, and Brady just isn’t good this season… yet. It’s hard to say he won’t thrive at some point with all the weapons around him, but in Week 3, the Broncos could eat up time of possession by running the clock and riding the likes of Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay in a low-scoring affair, minimalizing Brady’s’ output once again. The QB also has four picks in two games, so.

at Steelers

One can feel that David Johnson is the focal point of the Texans offense, but until their offensive line improves, that’s not going to change his impact, and the same can be said about quarterback Deshaun Watson to a lesser extent. But the biggest point to make is their opponent: the Steelers. The NFL’s No. 1 run defense so far this season.

vs. Chiefs

A big-time quarterback matchup here in the Raven’s Lamar Jackson and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes. It’s not that the Chiefs have a great run defense. In fact, they’ve allowed 150.5 yards per game on the ground which is awful. But if you have a viable No. 3 option behind Ingram, go with that option. Shootout in the making here with a lot of passing beyond the first quarter.

vs. Packers

Without Michael Thomas in the lineup, the Saints offense, quarterback Drew Brees included, hasn’t been up to the fantasy football standards we’re used to. In Week 2, even in a game where they were passing late against the Raiders, Emmanuel Sanders got nothing going. One catch. That same situation could ensue vs. the Packers this week.

vs. Cardinals 

There’s a couple of things going against Marvin Jones this week. No. 1 receiver Kenny Golladay is still banged up and even if he plays, he might not be 100 percent so Jones will attract a decent amount of attention from the Cardinals. Arizona has allowed the least amount of point to opposing receivers this season in fantasy football thus far.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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