Sports has turned into this alternate universe where fantasy meets reality and you are not really watching an event without having something on the line. Fantasy leagues, betting on games, and other variations of creating high stakes gives someone the opportunity to feel more apart of a team. Their successes and their failures are attached at the hip... Emotionally.
Right about now millions of people have already (or are) creating a fantasy team for the upcoming football season.
Most of those people will do the same for basketball.
Last year the Phoenix Suns made history by tying the 2007-2008 Golden State Warriors for the most wins by a non-playoff team with 48 and the Arizona Cardinals nearly did the same. History making seasons for all the wrong reasons when you look at it from that perspective.They each had fanfare, were better than advertised, and flirted all season with the playoffs before eventually fizzling out at the end.
For the Suns they could be incrementally better or worse depending on who you are conversing with, but for the most part they had a very vanilla off-season.They added rookies, signed free-agents, and lost some pieces. Vanilla.
The Cardinals made strides to improving their weaknesses, adding depth, and a combination of veterans and youth to try to vault them over the hump.
Off-season grades are stupid. They are prognosticators prognosticating about things with very little value because after all games have to be played. At this point reading another off-season grade would be too akin to stalking so it is time to flip that script and have some fun. It is one thing to make real bets (if you are into that thing) with a Sports Book (I do not condone gambling) for over/under general run of the mill things. Prop Bets are more fun. Like at the Super Bowl.
Top Five Prop Bets:
Goran Dragic Win Shares vs. Cardinals total wins
Last season Dragic was amazing for the Suns leading to 10.3 Win Shares, which was good enough for 15th overall in the NBA overall. Only 14 other players had contributed 10+ wins to their teams. Amazing. The Cardinals as a team finished with 10 wins on the nose so this one has the chance to be as close as it comes to a dead heat.
Who will have more when all is said and done?
(I'm leaning Dragic here. Teams regress in the NFL consistently and Dragic is in his prime)
More 30 Point Games: Markieff Morris vs. The Cardinals Offense
It is a tough comparison because last year Morris had zero such games as a reserve, but will start this year and the Cardinals offense is like a Tom Cruise movie. There are flashes and moments, but more often times than not it is a thud. There were three of those 30+ point moments for the Cardinals last year.
Who will be the more dynamic scorer?
(Kief will certainly have the opportunity and the team will lean on him at times for this, all in on Kief)
Alex Len Offensive Rating vs. Carson Palmer QB Rating
In a league defined by the play of the quarterback more so than any other position the Cardinals were mighty successful with an average QB by most metrics. He was 20th in QB Rating, sacked a ton, and picked off just as frequent. Len had a disappointing year as well with a poor rating, sacked up in the trainers room, and rarely getting picked off the bench to play. Last year Len had a very humble offensive rating (92) and Palmer had a ho-hum QB Rating (83.9) so this could be a tight race!
Who will have a higher offensive rating?
(Len cannot get worse than last year and Palmer probably ain't better than last year. Len by default?)
Down And Dirty: Miles Plumlee Double-Doubles vs. Total Cardinals Team 100+ Yard Rushing Games
Rebounding wins championships in basketball and a steady running game leads to success in football. Last year Plumlee had only 11 double-doubles, which is low for a starting center (T-19th among starting centers), and the Cardinals had 9 games of at least 90+ rushing yards total. The race is on.
Who does the grunt work the best?
(Leaning Cardinals here with the way the perimeter players rebound for the Suns)
ROOKIES:MPG vs. starts
While Warren was not drafted to be a mainstay from day one on the foundation of the starting line-up like Cooper was they are both going to be fairly relied upon rookies. Cooper missed last year with injuries so he is a wildcard with potential future injuries and DNP's from them. Warren fills a need as a scorer who can play multiple positions giving the team a lot of versatility offensively. If Cooper stays healthy all season it would not shock anyone if Warren logged 12-15 minutes a night based on his readiness to contribute.
Who makes more of an impact on their team?
(Leaning Cooper, because, well, you never hope for injuries no matter what)
Some other fun prop bets:
- Three Point Field Goals: Markieff Morris vs. The Cardinals Kickers
- Suns Total Team Turnovers vs. Cardinals Total Team Penalty Yards
- Miles Plumlee BPG vs. Total field goals/extra points blocked
- Gerald Green True Shooting % vs. Carson Palmer Quarterback Completion %
- Eric Bledsoe Points Per Game vs. Cardinals Points Per Game
...And, because, why not:
Future Games Played After This Season: Eric Bledsoe vs. Daryl Washington