So, here's the thing about the NBA Draft: It's tonight. I can't blame you if you didn't realize that because, well, it's November 18th and this isn't exactly our usual timeline. In fact, still not totally sure if time truly exists at all anymore. It got dark at noon yesterday. I hate it here.
But don't fret, because I've got you covered. For our chat this morning, I've come equipped with all your last-minute draft cheat sheet material so that you can be ready to go for tonight. Because what fun is a draft if you can't act like you know everything and immediately praise/criticize your favorite team for their pick?
You know you can always count on me to get you out of a jam.
📰 What you need to know
1. Last-minute prep for the NBA Draft 🏀
It's been a tough year for some of the NBA's top incoming prospects. They missed out on their final NCAA Tournament when it was canceled in March, and they've had to spend the last several months enduring uncertainty as they've waited to begin their pro careers. The NBA Draft was supposed to happen in June but, like everything else, COVID-19 threw a wrench in those plans.
But for many, the next chapter begins tonight with the draft -- and it could be the start of a new era for your favorite team, too. This seems like it could be an unpredictable draft. LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards seem to be the most popular choices for the Timberwolves at No. 1, but they could go with someone else ... or trade the selection. Everything is seemingly on the table right now.
With that in mind, here's some study material heading into the big night:
- Our experts have finalized their consensus big board of the top 100 NBA Draft prospect rankings
- Gary Parrish has put together his final mock draft (the full two rounds!) and he's got Ball, James Wiseman and Edwards going 1-2-3 at the top, respectively
- If player comps are more your speed, our crew has put together best-case, worst-case and realistic NBA comparables for the top prospects in this year's class. These are great because you can bust out a "I think he could be the next ____" to your friends after a guy gets picked
It's been a bit of a chaotic lead-up to the draft this week (and this year, honestly) so don't be too surprised if things get weird today, too. Plenty of trade rumors are still swirling and a big trade or two could change the outlook of the draft pretty drastically. Let's have some fun, shall we?
2. What is next for Theo Epstein? ⚾
We got some big unexpected baseball news on Tuesday when Theo Epstein announced he is stepping down from his post as Cubs' president of baseball operations. After nine years in Chicago and ending a second historic World Series drought, his last day with the team will be Friday. General manager Jed Hoyer will take over the job.
This was always the succession plan but it is a bit surprising that it's coming now, as Epstein still had a year left on his current five-year contract. So, what's next for one of the most respected and accomplished baseball minds in the business? That remains the big question, and it's one that may not be answered for a while as Epstein says he plans on taking a year off.
But that hasn't stopped our R.J. Anderson from thinking of what the future might hold. He's gone ahead and outlined some possibilities for Epstein's next gig, and not all of them are tied to baseball.
- Phillies/Mets: Epstein did say in a letter to friends that he plans on "having a third chapter leading a baseball organization someday." The two leading candidates are likely the Phillies and Mets. Philadelphia just had their GM resign earlier this offseason and they may not replace him until next year, while the Mets are in the process of undergoing a full overhaul under new ownership
- Expansion team: MLB has plans to expand in the near future and Epstein, who tends to love a challenge, could be tempted to help build a team from the ground up, perhaps with an ownership stake involved
- Commissioner's office: There are rumblings that Epstein could make a push for the commissioner's chair and take over for Rob Manfred, who has had a pretty tough couple of years leading MLB. Epstein could offer a more well-liked and widely trusted face, but there's reason to believe he wouldn't want the headaches that came with the gig
- Political office: If Epstein wants to take a break from baseball, there's the possibility that he could run for political office or take a cabinet position in Washington D.C. It's a bold idea, but Epstein said yesterday that he has no current plans to enter politics
There's also the possibility that Epstein has no idea what his next role will be, and I have to imagine he's going to take some time to enjoy himself, be with family and experience a lower-stress lifestyle for a bit before he jumps into the next job. If I had to guess, the guy will probably spend the next few months kicking his feet up, listening to Pearl Jam and not giving a damn what anyone thinks. I'm not jealous at all...
3. Why Jim Harbaugh is nearing the end of the road at Michigan 🏈
This shouldn't come as much of a shock but it appears the clock might be running out on Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. The Wolverines are 1-3 at the moment -- the program's worst start since 1967 -- and frustrations continue to mount both on and off the field.
Since arriving in Ann Arbor with much fanfare in 2015, Harbaugh has largely failed to deliver on his promises of greatness. He's won plenty of games (MIchigan entered this season with a .723 winning percentage under him) but not many of great importance. They've struggled to win bowl games (1-4) and they can't beat Ohio State. He's trending toward his worst season as a head coach (pro or college) and he has struggled to recruit, especially at the quarterback position.
With all that in mind, there's plenty of reason to believe that the two sides may have to part ways soon. Our Dennis Dodd penned a column about the difficult but "necessary" split:
- Dodd: "Ohio State has seldom been so far ahead of not only Michigan but just about all of college football. That may be where the exit strategy starts. Michigan State is proving to be one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. The Spartans' only win is over Michigan. Harbaugh is now 1-6 against the school's two biggest rivals. (Winless against the Buckeyes.) His contract is among the six shortest in FBS, all of which expire January 2022. An extension -- even impacted by COVID-19 -- has not been forthcoming."
Dodd also threw down this incredible stat regarding the Ohio State rivalry: Michigan has won 12 games just one time since 1905 and it came in 1997 when they last won a national championship. Ohio State has won at least 12 games seven times since 2012.
The seemingly inevitable breakup will sting especially hard because Harbaugh is a Michigan legend and this was his dream destination job, but hype and lofty promises can only get a guy so far. Five years into his tenure, the results aren't there, the team seems lost and even the most proud Michigan fans are running out of reasons to back the coach.
4. NFL Week 11 Power Rankings 🏈
We've still got another day to go before NFL Week 11 takes flight with a very enticing Thursday Night Football matchup (Cardinals-Seahawks!) but that means we've got some time to take a look at where we standing heading into a new slate of games. That sounds like a perfect opportunity to consult the latest installment of Pete Prisco's weekly power rankings.
Here are some takeaways from his latest batch of rankings:
- The Steelers and Chiefs remain at the top while the Ravens (last week's No. 3 squad) have been leapfrogged by the Saints, Packers and Buccaneers
- The biggest risers are the Giants, who climbed six spots to No. 23 (Prisco says "the defense is getting better by the week")
- Tennessee suffered the steepest fall, as they tumbled six spots to No. 15 because of their struggles on defense lately
You can find Prisco's full rankings and analysis right here.
I was very surprised to see that my Patriots didn't move at all after a very impressive win over the Ravens on Sunday night, but I wouldn't say I'm up in arms about it. They're still a few weeks removed from nearly losing to the Jets and I'm not going to blame anyone for still having their doubts. That being said, a win over the Texans this weekend and you better believe that I'll be applying the pressure on Prisco to show them some respect. You've been warned, Pete.
📝 Odds & Ends
- The latest and craziest NBA trade rumor on the menu? The Rockets and Wizards have reportedly discussed a Russell Westbrook-for-John Wall swap
- Cody Bellinger underwent surgery to repair the shoulder he hurt while celebrating a home run in Game 7 of the NLCS. He's expected to be ready for Spring Training
- In case you were curious, Pete Rose says he still bets on MLB games
📺 What to watch tonight
🏀 NBA Draft, 7:00 p.m. | TV: ESPN
📝 Top scores from last night
Kent State QB Dustin Crum threw for 348 yards and picked up 104 yards on the ground while scoring five total touchdowns.
💵 Winning wagers: KENT -26, Over (60)