Friday, January 25, 2013

1/25: Upton, All-Star Rosters Announced, etc.

Greetings! Let's get it going... First with big news!
  • Justin Upton is an Atlanta Brave. Frank Wren and company shipped the beloved Martin Prado, along with Randall Delgado, Zeke Spruill, Nick Ahmed, and Brandon Drury to the D-Backs for Justin Upton and 3B Chris Johnson. I won't write an extensive recap of this one because it's been done everywhere else (here's an insider-only gem from Keith Law) but I love the deal. It's tough to give up Prado's versatility, but with his pending free agency, you're only giving up one year of control in exchange for three of Upton. There's an argument that Prado was as good or better than Upton last year, but it was a really, really down season from Upton coupled with the best of Prado's career. I think it's reasonable to suggest that Upton is better, and even significantly better, than Prado overall and when you add in the extra contract years, it's a steal. Wren also managed to hold on to both Julio Teheran and JR Graham in the deal (which is crazy), and while Delgado had been solid for Atlanta, he's a low-ceiling guy that probably won't haunt the Braves. Also in the deal, Atlanta acquires another option for 3B in Chris Johnson. He's a solid hitter from a statistical perspective, but his glove is awful so it's going to be ugly on defense between him and Francisco. That said, he's a valuable piece and shouldn't be forgotten in the deal. All hail Frank Wren. And oh, did I mention that the Braves have BJ Upton, Justin Upton and Jason Heyward for at least 3 more years?!?
  • The NBA All-Star reserves were announced last night on TNT. For my extended thoughts you can click here (my full roster selections) or here (for my thoughts on "snubs" over at Soaring Down South), but I'll say this. They did a reasonable job. The Western selections were perfectly reasonable, and there was only one really egregious choice in the East. That was Luol Deng. I'm actually a big Deng fan in general, and I've always felt that his contributions are underrated, but he didn't deserve to be there based on any statistical measure. His 15.25 PER is basically league average (and good for a whopping 63rd in the Eastern Conference) and while he's 32nd in both EWA (estimated wins added) and VA (value added), that is basically a result of solid play over a league-leading 40 minutes per game. At 17 points and 6 boards a game with good defense, I'm not crapping on Deng at all, but I can't see an argument for him over Brook Lopez, Paul Pierce, or Al Horford. Forgive me, Chicago.
  • Speaking of the NBA, there were 3 games on the agenda last night. The Knicks went into Boston and stole a 89-86 win in the TNT opener. Melo led the way with 28 points and 9 boards, but it was the Knicks D that won the game, holding Boston to 41% FG and 17% from the three on the night. Rajon Rondo had a 23/10/11 triple-double for Boston, but it wasn't enough. Later, Phoenix upset the Clippers 93-88 behind 24/8/5 from Goran Dragic. The Clips finally seemed to miss Chris Paul as they shot just 40% against a bad defensive opponent, and just couldn't generate offense outside of Jamal Crawford's gunning. No reason to panic though. In the non-TV game, Toronto went on the road and beat Orlando 97-95. Amir Johnson (21 and 10) and Demar Derozan (21 points) were the studs for the Raptors.
  • On the college hardwood, #6 Arizona was upset by UCLA at home 84-73. The Bruins blitzed them early and then managed to keep their distance down the stretch. Lottery pick Shabazz Muhammed had 23 points for UCLA and David Wear added 15/8 off the bench. In the other upset of the night, VCU lost on the road at Richmond 86-74 in overtime. You don't see too many 12-point losses in OT, but VCU just couldn't execute in the extra period. Kendall Anthony scored 26 points including 5 triples off the bench for the Spiders in the upset win. 
  • Name changes in the NBA! New Orleans formally announced their name change to the Pelicans effective next season, and with that... Charlotte petitioned for the possibility of acquiring back the Hornets! Everybody wins!
What to watch for on Friday...
  • 7:30 - NBA - Celtics @ Hawks (SportSouth) - It's always fun when these two get together. Boston is coming off of a back-to-back and traveling in so that's an advantage for Atlanta.
  • 8:00 - NBA - Spurs @ Mavs (ESPN) - The battle of Texas. It's a shame that Dallas is scuffling, but they could rise up and win here.

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