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lethalweapon3 last won the day on February 21

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About lethalweapon3

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    Seeing the ball swing from side to side...

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  1. Chicago is going to want to see a lot of "Isogunbowale", with Arike creating mostly for herself instead of her Dallas Wingmates, early and often. That will make it easier for Chicago to coast behind three-point markswoman Allie Quigley, dish-master Courtney Vandersloot, and interior defender and post scorer Candace Parker. The Sky have been subpar at home, though, while the Wings have the same record in away games as they had at home. New York's only real chance at victory is to keep the turnovers down, Betnijah Laney in particular having a big night in all the other columns of the boxscore sheet to take pressure off of Sabrina Ionescu in her postseason debut. That, and the Mercury's Diana Taurasi being perhaps a bit slow in her return to action. ~lw3
  2. "wtf" is also shorthand for, "whither the finch?" ~lw3
  3. This is merely shorthand for his pal Ben: "want to fortnite?..." ~lw3
  4. FWIW I tallied the "SUM-MELOS" (explained on page 81 in the back of the below Dynasty Draft thread -- Please excuse Miss Ashley, she's fresh from the shower! Don't be so Juddmental!)... ... for 2016-17 through 2020-21 and will summarize the results either this week or next depending on when I get freed up. Some early items gleaned from the assessment... * SUM-MELO, back in 2016, correctly predicted four of the top five 2020-21 finishers, albeit not in order. * Jokic and Embiid were drafted WHERE??? * Most everyone drafted between two and five players who are long gone from the NBA by 2020-21. @Diesel, @h4wkfan, JayBirdHawk, and @ViewsFromTheSquawk fared the best in drafting players still active. * 12 of 16 teams finished Top-5 in at least one season. * 2 teams finished 2020-21 better than in 2016-17 * 6 teams finished 2020-21 better than in 2019-20 * The top nine 2020-21 finishers all exceeded 2016 predictions of SUM-MELO for that fifth season, by a range of 17 to 37 percent. * "Champs" (Top spots in SUM-MELO) for each season... @Alex (2016-17), @capstone21 (2017-18), @JayBirdHawk (2018-19, best single season over five years), and two-time reigning champ @AHF (2019-20, 2020-21) * 2020-21's top five finishers drafted at the top (1st), early-middle (7th and 8th), and bottom (15th and 16th) of the Dynasty Draft. Top-5 in 2020-21... AHF, @Buzzard, capstone21, JayBirdHawk, and @HopefulHawksFan. ~lw3
  5. Regular-Season-Ending WNBA Power Poll time! Connecticut Sun (26-6) – The Commissioner’s Cup loss is but the only blemish for coach Curt Miller’s crew since Independence Day. Miller’s looking like Coach of the Year, while Jonquel Jones seized what was a multifaceted MVP conversation for just herself. Four others, including DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones, played in every game. Need we mention their glue-gal, Alyssa Thomas, is ready to go? Hey, who said this season was just Seattle and Vegas, and that this team wasn’t deep? Las Vegas Aces (24-8) – On a team with two otherworldly interior stars in A’ja Wilson and Liz Cambage holding it down, the most eye-opening development has been September’s Player of the Month, Kelsey Plum, and fellow former #1-overall pick Jackie Young, coming into their own as reliable stars. Coach Bill Laimbeer’s collective has only lost two in a row once all season, just before the Break, and they’ve gone 10-2 since. Can you say, tough out? Minnesota Lynx (22-10) – Having won nine of their last ten to close the regular season, with the sole loss coming in Vegas, one can only imagine how terrifying the prospect of facing a Cheryl Reeve-coached club hitting their stride would be, if not for the season-ending foot injury for Damiris Dantas, and a fibula injury for her recovering fellow ex-Dream player, Layshia Clarendon. As magnificent as Sylvia Fowles has been, she’s not the team’s most anticipated returnee for 2022. Seattle Storm (21-11) – They fell off after winning the Commissioner’s Cup, and the nagging foot that caused Breanna Stewart to miss the final four games didn’t necessarily help matters. On the bright side, they did win three of those final games without Stewart, propelled by All-Star co-star Jewell Loyd’s amazing season-ending flourish. Once a near-lock for The Finals, coach Noelle Quinn will need to rely on supporting casts every game to seal the deal, with or without Stewie at 100%. Phoenix Mercury (19-13) – The anticipation that we could witness the grooming of the definitive, most dominant big in basketball has waned, and long ago at that. But we’re also well past the point of seeing any reason to nitpick at Brittney Griner’s stellar play. Yes, the Merc eked past Atlanta, then dropped their final three games after rattling off ten post-Break wins. But for coach Sandy Brondello, it was about preserving Griner and Diana Taurasi, in hopes of knocking off a title contender. Chicago Sky (16-16) – Half-full, half-empty. Lose seven in a row, win seven in a row, finish out the season dead-even. Half-empty? Diamond Deshields and Azura Stevens haven’t made the big leaps once anticipated. Half-full? 2021 All-Star Kahleah Copper has. 15-8 with Candace Parker, 1-8 without. The half-baked run under coach James Wade should be seen as no more than half-bad. That is, unless it concludes with a half-hearted elimination game this week at home. Dallas Wings (14-18) – They drafted All-Star Arike Ogunbowale in 2019, and then came three Top-7 picks in 2020, Then, three Top-5 picks in 2021. All are still there, getting a taste of playoff experience for the first time under coach Vickie Johnson this week. Next spring? Two more top-7 picks are on the docket. All of the vets are comfortably in their 20’s, and everyone’s under contract. Atlanta, if you’re building a team, organically and through fine maneuvering, take copious notes. New York Liberty (12-20) – Akin to her 2020 award-winning campaign in Atlanta, Betnijah Laney took matters into her own hands for a team that was missing a key contributor (Natasha Howard) for long spells. Laney was MVP-level out of the gates but grew wild and sloppy as the Libs slumped in the back half of the season. Sami Whitcomb and ROY-by-default Michaela Onyenwere are emerging. But Sabrina Ionescu’s team will ascend once Laney accepts an efficient lesser role. Washington Mystics (12-20) – Best case scenario? Elena Delle Donne and Alysha Clark return with cleaner bills of health in 2022, as does coach Mike Thibault. Emma Meesseman chooses to re-sign, while Tina Charles and Myisha Hines-Allen get retained. Oh, and throw in a Lottery pick, for good measure. Just like the prior season, an awful lot has to go right to get 2019’s champs back in the thick of things. But if they do… watch out! Los Angeles Sparks (12-20) – Despite the effervescent energy of defensive wing Brittney Sykes, this club managed to grow stale around Nneka Ogwumike and the aging Kristi Toliver. LA is missing the playoffs for the first time in eons, and there’s no 2022 first-rounder to show for the trouble. Virtually every veteran on the current roster comes off the books after next season, raising the possibility that next year’s Trade Deadline could be a fire sale. Indiana Fever (6-26) – Ownership has to look at this languishing outfit and assess whether it’s time to move on from the Mitchells, to ride with center Teaira McCowan from the jump, to kick coach Marianne Stanley to the curb, to proclaim Julie Allemand and Kysre Gondrezick as the future. Before any of that, they’ll need to decide whether Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings, the GM, should continue pulling the strings on all of it. ATLANTA DREAM (8-24) – Is anybody out there? Is anybody in here? ~lw3
  6. I don't suspect we'll be filling up the WNBA 50 at 50 team with the first-rounders of this incoming class. But it has no choice but to be better than the inert rookie class of 2021. The league will strain to fill out an All-Rookie team this year, although, to be fair, players like 2019 second-rounder Marina Mabrey (now shining in Dallas) show that it may take a few years for the real impacts to show. The PF/C talent in this draft seems promising (Lines.com just moved Italian power forward Loreia Cubaj of Georgia Tech into its first-round mock), and impact bigs are exactly what Atlanta needs to replenish. ~lw3
  7. We can hope, especially if they can leapfrog Indiana in the Lottery, and either Rhyne Howard or any of the projected top post players turn out to be a real deal. I'm partial to Jessika Carter, although the Georgia native and Miss State center has a fresh new legal issue to sort through first. The likely path forward is similar to that of New York, who got to double-dip with Lottery wins in 2020 (Sabrina) and 2021 (traded out from the top spot for recent Player of the Week Natasha Howard) and will continue leveraging draft capital to build around Sabrina. Whether we already have our Sabrina depends, first, on what the as-yet unknown future GM thinks of Chennedy and, second, what Chennedy thinks of this team. ~lw3
  8. Just vibes! As the curtain has closed on a tumultuous 2021 WNBA regular season, the Atlanta Dream Basketball Club has precious little to hang their hats on, a trifling amount of substance to pique interest among current and future fans of the sport. The new, New England-based ownership regime and their mission remains nebulous, at best. There is reason to hope their new Chief Operations Officer, experienced from her years with Nike, the NFL and Arthur Blank’s sports-and-entertainment arm, can sort out this franchise’s sordid recent history and rebuild from the ground up. But reason to hope is not quite the same as hope. Investment partner and PR face Renee Montgomery can light up any room, but is not enough of a fan draw, by her notoriously busy lonesome, to keep the lights on in College Park’s Gateway Center. Montgomery can sell you “vibes”, that is for certain. Yet Renee was never enough of an attendance attraction, frankly, when she was wrapping up her playing career here. A team needs routinely active flagship performers, at least one, that can entice casual sports fans and bend game outcomes to their will. For eight, nine and perhaps ten of the league’s 12 current franchises, you can rattle off the first or last names of those show-stopping, scene-stealing superstars, without taking in as much as a full breath to ponder. In turn, those players need a management regime that can craft a competitive supporting collective around them, and a coaching and player development faction that commits to nurturing the core into something resembling championship quality. After many fits and starts, the gentlemen hooping downtown this fall, led onto the court by sorcerer Trae Young, bolstered by competent oversight in the coaching box and sage shepherding in the front office, are only now demonstrating they’re figuring all this out. As for the Dream, moving on from WNBA all-timer Angel McCoughtry, or vice versa, was the proper decision for both parties, although 2020 may have been at least a year too long. But after having followed up a 7-15 campaign with an 8-24 one, there is no one in this WNBA town who is worthy of seizing and sustaining the spotlight. With all respect due to Courtney Williams. 2021 was an opportunity for Atlanta to show they’ve got at least one of those players in tow. Chennedy Carter looked the part during her promising 2020 All-Rookie season. Sadly, she has gained more popularity, at least online, by her aggrieved absence and suspension from the team, a circumstance that, it appears, shall extend deep into the offseason amid all the transition, in the locker room and behind the scenes. Should Carter (14.2 PPG, 3.3 APG, 48.0 2FG%, 1.1 3FGAs/game through 11 games this season, down from 17.5, 3.4, 49.0%, and 2.0 in 2020, respectively) return with a new lease on professional life in the ATL, there’s a good chance “Hollywood” will get the chance she craves to be The Show. Beyond the new GM and head coach that assuredly will arrive by next winter, the veteran teammates that Carter opposed, specifically All-Star mid-range killer “C-Will” and franchise anchorwoman Tiffany Hayes, will be in high demand as free agent targets by title contenders. Of Atlanta’s nine pending free agents, only improved role players Monique Billings and Crystal Bradford will be restricted, pending the team’s submittal of qualifying offers to these sparkplug reserves. 2021 first-round pick Aari McDonald is a cinch to be named to the All-Rookie team soon, a product of a dreadfully underutilized rookie class around the league. McDonald (13.8 points per-36, 32.2 FG%, 4 starts in 30 games) bided her time patiently behind veteran guard Odyssey Sims for much of this season, and it is not beyond the realm of possibility she subs for Carter in 2022. Chennedy may find her surroundings more amenable with a significantly different cast. Cheyenne Parker, likely to return after short-circuiting 2021 for maternity leave, and frontcourt mate Tianna Hawkins (unguaranteed deal for 2022) are the only other Dreamettes under contract for next season, assuming overseas guard and 2019 second-rounder Maite Cazorla never bothers to set sail. On second thought, vets like the Georgia-raised Williams and Hayes, with family and/or business interests situated close to their current WNBA venue, may have satisficed with the option of extending their pro careers in Atlanta, and will await offers to re-up. If so, the incoming GM faces crucial decisions – whether the individual to build this team around is Carter, McDonald, or some future upstart, one that won’t be drafted until at least next April. If it’s not Carter, the time to maneuver a deal that recoups positive value for her arrives early, not later, in the new GM’s tenure. Putting a lid on Atlanta’s trashcan of a season, interim coach Darius Taylor may be brought back, but almost certainly not in a lead capacity. The club played more cohesively after the Olympic Break, with the Carter situation shoved into a cupboard, Hayes returning after departing due to injury in June, and players like Elizabeth Williams contributing in more conventional ways. The sense of improvement under the auspices of Coach Taylor was not McMillan-esque (thankfully, for the sake of draft capital), but more in the context of blowout defeats coming fewer and farther between. Including the season finale versus blazing hot Connecticut, three of the Dream’s 11 defeats after the Break came by double-digit deficits, compared to 8 of the 13 under former interim Mike Petersen’s watch. The combined product of an above-average pace, C-Will’s and Mo Billings’ assertive nature on the offensive boards, and a dogged determination to produce stops via turnovers, Atlanta produced a league-record 73.5 field goal attempts per game, 2.8 more than second-place Dallas. That eclipsed a WNBA record for shot attempts that Diana Taurasi’s and Cappie Pondexter’s Phoenix Mercury (73.1) established in 2008. Unfortunately, shot opportunities alone does not a functional offense make. The Dream extended their long-running proficiency at dwelling at or around the league basement in perimeter accuracy (31.0 team 3FG%, 11th in WNBA). In twelve of Atlanta’s 14 seasons of existence as a franchise, they’ve finished regular seasons among the bottom-4 teams for 3FG%, including dead-last in seven seasons, and next-to-last in, now, three others. The late-season re-addition of guard Blake Dietrick to the squad, by whosoever is running the team, was too little, too late. Interior scoring (45.6 team 2FG%, 10th in WNBA) was grossly inefficient as well. As improper as it is to blame Courtney individually, dogged with extra defenders coming her way in Hayes’ and Carter’s absences, the All-Star’s 42.6 2FG% represented a career-low, her elbow-heavy volume of 13.9 two-point shots surpassing the career-high from 2020 (46.2 2FG% that year), her first season in a Dream uniform. Sealing the deal on Atlanta’s league-low shot efficiency (48.9 team TS%) was a league-worst 72.0 FT%. For perspective, nine of the other WNBA clubs shot 80 percent or better from the charity stripe, and none of those eleven teams shot anywhere nearly as poor as 75 percent. The free-throw (in)accuracy was the lowest for Atlanta since a league-low 69.4 percent in 2011, and only two other WNBA teams from the prior nine seasons – C-Will’s and Shekinna Stricklen’s Connecticut teams of 2016 and 2019 – clanked free throws more profusely. It’s indicative of a club, and a franchise, that treks uphill, as best they can, with feet riddled by bullets of their own shooting. In a similar vein as the high-chance-creation, low-result offense, one can see a defense that finished second in the league with 15.1 turnovers forced per game – their minus-4.0 turnover margin tied for the league high with Derek Fisher’s Sparks – plus, tied for second with 4.6 blocks per contest, and for first with Las Vegas with just 13.1 points allowed per-40 off turnovers. Thank goodness for those values, given it kept the team that finished fourth-worst in defensive efficiency from threatening to claim the bottom spot. With perimeter defenders non-existent either in deed, or indeed, Atlanta foes found their open spots and fired away at ease from outside (WNBA-high 38.6 opponent 3FG%, incl. 46.8% on corner shots). Before ebbing in recent weeks, that three-point proficiency came perilously close to making Atlanta the first club ever to allow opponents to swish 40 percent of their perimeter attempts. Only Washington matched Atlanta’s 52.0 opponent eFG%, while only Los Angeles fared worse than the Dream’s 29.7% opponent free throw attempt rate and 31.1 opponent O-Reb%. In the other teams’ cases, one can see the detrimental effect of absent frontcourt stars impacting performances, a status for which Cheyenne has yet to qualify. Atlanta’s extended unwillingness to develop E-Will, over the years, into a floor-spacing, or at least back-to-basket, power forward, and its disinclination to pair her with a starter bearing size and skill more worthy of starting at the five-spot, contributed to, arguably, the most overmatched values of her six-season Dream tenure. Career-lows of 8.8 points, including 2.5 FTAs, per-36, plus a hellacious 50.9 FT% tell just part of the story. Struggles to be a threat to roll to the basket, or to pick-and-pop, rendered her ineffective as an offensive contributor after setting screens. Among traditional bigs logging over 20 minutes per contest, only last-place Indiana’s Jantel Lavender (12.0 D-Reb%) registered a lower defensive rebounding rate than Elizabeth Williams’ paltry 12.7. Defensive rebounding was left largely to the wiry yet willing wing Courtney Williams, whose 135 pounds checks in about 20 below the next lightest Dream player. C-Will supplementing a beast of a pivot, as in likely league MVP Jonquel Jones, can work to devastating effect, as she showed in 2019’s playoff run with Connecticut. As the top option in Atlanta, with E-Will and the Dream bigs settling for second-banana glass-crashing roles, in a league defined by nimble and crafty giants patrolling the paint, not so much. This is all way more of an epitaph than the Dream, as constructed by season’s end, deserves. But the questions of this club’s seaworthiness will persist until a different configuration arrives to replace the incumbents. Even then, given the likelihood of new participants unfamiliar with competing together, acclimating to a new coach and a transforming philosophy, the waves will probably remain rough for quite some time. There remains a glimmer of hope for the future of WNBA hoops in Atlanta. Barring trades, they’ll have their third consecutive lottery pick to join the team next spring, presumably, someone who will complement the guards (Carter, and/or McDonald). Further, there’s a pair of veterans, in Parker and probably Hawkins, who will have a better sense of preparedness than they did entering their first seasons in this topsy-turvy WNBA town. This remains a progressive sports market that would be receptive to exciting growth under competent, competitive stewardship. Fans will gravitate to a club that finds its Sue, its Diana, its Candace or Elena or A'ja or Jonquel or Maya or Brittney or Arike or Skylar or Sabrina or Breanna, and has a cogent understanding of how to foster and grow around that All-League talent. It's not the fault of the new regime that its many predecessors could not craft and sustain a cohesive and steady cohort, around an increasingly unsteady Angel, through her prime years. But she's long gone, and as it stands, it is not obvious as to what this team, and its organization, has going for it. At this stage of Atlanta's WNBA history, approaching 15 seasons in existence, the team needs to be selling an emerging fortress with a clear flagship, not sandcastles at risk of being washed away with the next wave of displeasing news. No one anticipates any magical carpet rides in the season to come. But 2022 will feel like a relative success for the Dream, no matter the record, if its supporters can cease experiencing the concussive effect of rugs getting repeatedly pulled out from under them. Beyond that, and until then, what does Atlanta Dream, Inc., have to offer its small regional legion of WNBA fans? Vibes! Just vibes. Let’s Go Dream! ~lw3
  9. Dream lose the finale, predictably and decisively, against the stunning steamroller that's Connecticut (winners of 14 in a row, plus the Sun's Alyssa Thomas is back right on time for the WNBA Playoffs). Yet Atlanta might still "win" today, if an L.A. Sparks loss in Dallas (game nearing halftime on NBATV) backs the New York Liberty into the final 8-spot. For reasons you understand by now. Let's Go Wings! ~lw3
  10. Can Atlanta United keep the playoff push rolling? They kick things off at The Benz shortly versus visiting D.C. United (3:30 PM Eastern, Univision and 92.9 FM in English, TUDN en Espanol). DCU (10-10-4 W-L-D, 5th in MLS East) suffered their last home defeat in a 2-1 loss to the Five Stripes (8-7-9, just behind Philadelphia in PPG for the final playoff spot) back on August 21. That was the close to a three-game losing streak for coach Hernán Losada's side, who had been outscored at that point by 10-5 in those games. They've tightened back up defensively (2-0-1 W-L-D with a 7-2 scoring advantage), and they'll be more formidable along the backline, and with keeper Bill Hamid, than the FC Cincy crew that gave up 4 goals to Atlanta in mid-week. At the other end, MLS Player of the Week Ola Kamara scored a hat trick as D.C. trounced visiting Chicago on Wednesday. Can he and ex-Five Striper Julian Gressel create enough chances on offense, as Atlanta defender Miles Robinson gets some worthy rest, and convert on those chances, to keep Atlanta's ship from passing them before the night? Let's Go United! ~lw3
  11. It's the right answer, but we had a good little run with it!


  12. One could say of this defensive centerback, "He's Deferential A.F.!" ~lw3
  13. Atlanta Sports fans know better than to apply this logic, but it's mighty tempting! The Five Stripes paste (what was) the second-best team on the MLS East table, Orlando City SC, by a 3-0 score here at Mercedes Benz Stadium. And they managed to secure Gonzalo Pineda his first W as an MLS head coach without the services of either Josef Martinez or Miles Robinson. So, what if both fellas are back tonight (7 PM Eastern, Bally Sports Southeast) and suiting up at The Benz for some midweek action, seeking to avenge a tough July road draw versus an FC Cincinnati side (4-10-8 W-L-D) that's next-to-last in the East, and outscored 10 to 3 in their last four road contests? If Pineda can keep some of Ezequiel Barco's recent brilliance to continue to grace the pitch alongside Josef, and the defense solidifies... I mean, it all makes sense what the outcome ought to be, if you're not at all a follower of Atlanta Sports. But, let's all see how it shakes out! Let's Go United! ~lw3