Without waiting any further, let’s crack the Top 10!
10. Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers
It’s difficult to imagine an NHL in the coming years in which Taylor Hall is not one of the league’s premier superstars. Honestly, the toughest part about writing this piece on Hall is the fact that he’s younger than me – talk about feeling insignificant. At age 21, Hall has been leaving experienced NHL defenders in the dust for three years now, and he shows no signs of ever slowing down.
Drafted by the Oilers in 2010, the first overall pick jumped onto the NHL scene immediately, scoring 22 goals and totaling 42 points in just 65 games of NHL action as a rookie. He followed that year with a splendid sophomore campaign, posting 27 goals and 26 assists in 62 games. This season, Hall saw his stat sheet fall to just 16 goals on the year, but he did post a career-high 34 assists en route to 50 points in 45 games. The Oilers are an extremely young team (top-9 point-getters for 2012-13 are under age 30), and Hall will be a crucial part of Edmonton’s success for years to come.
After a long absence (thank you, finals), #TheList returns to the hockey scene as we continue on with the NHL’s best left wingers, numbers 11 through 15. In case you missed any prior posts, you can find them here: #21-25; #16-20. Ready, set, go!
15. James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leafs
Over his four NHL seasons, James van Riemsdyk has shown that he can be a consistent producer at the NHL level. Drafted 2nd overall in 2007 by the Philadelphia Flyers, van Riemsdyk became a fan-favorite in Philly very quickly, playing 75+ games in his first two NHL seasons. Not afraid to thrown his body around, van Riemsdyk also found some success finding the back of the net, averaging a point every two games through his NHL career.
Just this past offseason, JVR was traded to Toronto for Luke Schenn; the trade worked out quite well for van Riemsdyk, who posted 32 points in 48 games as the Maple Leafs reached the playoffs for the first time since 2004, while his former team in Philadelphia missed out on the postseason. As he begins to build chemistry in Toronto, watch for the 24-year old van Riemsdyk to continue his physical play and produce more points for the Maple Leafs.
A few days ago, I recently highlighted five teams that I think can turn heads this season. I mentioned I’d be going over five teams that I think can disappoint given expectations. I’m not saying these teams will go 0-16, but I think there is a good chance they underperform.
Today is the NBA’s first day off since the playoffs began. So, in the spirit of an off day, let’s regroup and discuss the winners and losers of the playoffs so far.
Golden State’s backcourt: Stephen Curry is playing out of his mind and is capturing the attention of the nation’s basketball fans. He set records this season, but his coming out party is currently in session. Curry is averaging 26.5 points in the playoffs to go along with 8.9 assists and 2.0 steals. He is knocking down 46.3 percent of his shots and 43.1 percent of his three pointers. Curry has owned the third quarter, and not to mention, he led the sixth-seeded Warriors to a first round series victory over the Nuggets and has stolen home court advantage from the Spurs.
Klay Thompson’s value to the Warriors has been on display in the first two games of the second round. In game one, he fouled out, and then the Warriors collapsed. In game two, he notched 34 points including 29 in the first half. Thompson is averaging 17.6 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 47.9 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from downtown. His effectiveness allows Mark Jackson to play him at small forward late in the game, so Jarrett Jack and Curry can pair in the backcourt. This creates a much quicker lineup, which is much more difficult for San Antonio to contain.
Don’t forget Jack. He is shooting an even 50.0 percent from the floor in the playoffs, averaging 17.0 points, 6.0 assists and 4.6 rebounds. His veteran leadership and knowledge of when to slow down the offense has benefitted the Warriors all playoffs, especially Wednesday night when they almost collapsed again.
The NFL season is still four long months away, but as far as I’m concerned, everyday is a good day to discuss football. With the majority of the offseason over with, OTA’s and training camps are the only activities left. As rosters are beginning to shape into place, I’ve thought about which teams can surprise, and which teams can disappoint.
Look at the past few seasons. The 2007 Browns, the 2012 Colts and Redskins, the 2008 Dolphins, and the 2010 Seahawks all emerged as teams that came out of nowhere to make waves. On the flip side of that, we’ve seen teams completely fail such as the 2011 Cowboys and Colts, the 2012 Eagles, and the 2010 Chargers.
The Knicks and Grizzlies head into tonight’s matchups facing a 1-0 series deficit. New York lost home court advantage when it laid an egg in game one against Indiana. Memphis lost on a Kevin Durant mid-range jumper with 11 seconds left, and put up much harder of a fight than did the Knicks. If either team wants to even the series up before traveling to a new venue, here is what they must do:
Major League Baseball went through a dark time clouded by steroid use in the mid 1990s until the early 2000s. Players came out of nowhere to have huge years and short bursts of ridiculous success, only to fade faster than they came onto the scene.
By now, most of these guys are just an afterthought. I’ll bring them back into your memory for a little, give them another 15 seconds of fame.
1. Shawn Green
A Rookie of the Year Candidate with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1995, Shawn Green came into the big leagues with a high upside. Through his first three full seasons in the league, Green topped out at 16 home runs and a .288 average. In 1998, Green exploded and seemingly out of nowhere hit 35 homeruns, drove in 100 runs and stole a whopping 35 bases.