Raptors Opening Night Brings Optimism, Old Friends, and the King

August 26, 2009

by Dannie Haynes… While opening night is still two months away, Raptors fans can’t help but look ahead in anticipation at what could be one of the finest Raptors squads assembled. On October 28, 2009, we shall see if all of Bryan Colangelo’s roster changes can mesh together to create a winning basketball team.

The ACC will no doubt be packed for the arrival of the King, LeBron James, and his new bodyguard, uille O’Neal.

The Cavaliers were the best team in the NBA last year, but choked in the playoffs. They will be out to prove that last season was no fluke, and will be on their quest to “win a ring for the King” as Shaq puts it.

This game will also mark the return of some old friends, as Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker are now sporting a different kind of red in Cleveland. Both bring a defensive presence that the Cavs were missing last year, and should help to limit the damage newly acquired Raptor Hedo Turkoglu should bring.

The Raptors starting five of Bargnani, Bosh, Turkoglu, Wright, and Calderon, should match up nicely with the Cavs, who counter with Shaq, Varejao, James, Parker, and Williams.

While the Cavs should have the advantage, Shaq and Bargs will have trouble guarding each other, as will Williams and Calderon.

Turkoglu will have different defenders thrown at him throughout the night, as will James.

Parker and Wright will be looked at to provide tough defence, and hit the occasional open jumper.

The Bosh/Varejao matchup is completely one-sided, but Varejao should put up a fight defensively.

This game should come down to the production of the bench, something that Raptors fans have questioned in recent years. That is where Colangelo’s offseason acquisitions really come into play, as the bench is composed of entirely new players.

Rasho Nesterovic, Jarrett Jack, Reggie Evans, Demar DeRozan, and Marco Belinelli will be the main players off the bench for the Raps, and provide much of the defence the starters’ lack.

DeRozan will be expected to come off the bench at first, and ease his way into the starting line-up.

Belinelli is a great three-point shooter who will provide instant offense, as well as the occasional careless mistake.

Evans, Jack, and Rasho will be in there for toughness, defence, and experience, and should help guide the second unit.

Cleveland’s bench is much thinner, with Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Daniel Gibson, Jamario Moon, and Delonte West being the only legitimate options coming in.

All four of these players were starters in the past, however, and all have the experience and knowledge to be a factor in this game.

In the end, for Raptors fans this game is not about a win or a loss. This game is a testament to the Raptor faithful, as well as franchise player Chris Bosh, that things have changed in Toronto.

The Raptors will no longer be looked over, and should have a very successful year this upcoming season.

Will they win the Championship? Very unlikely, but they will return to the playoffs in April, and that will make Raptors fans very happy.

The Five NBA Rookies Who Will Battle For Rookie Of The Year

August 10, 2009

by Dannie Haynes… In a weak NBA draft, it appears there is a distinct difference between the caliber of players.

There’s Blake Griffin, and then there’s everyone else.

Summer league may have changed some people’s minds, however, as some rookies looked mighty impressive and threw their name in the hat to be called the best in their first season.

Looking at the teams these players were drafted to, as well as summer league, here are the five players most likely to be battling for the Rookie of the Year title.

Blake Griffin - Forward - L.A. Clippers-Drafted First Overall

Without a doubt, Blake Griffin will be in the top five when the end of the year comes and they’re tallying up the ballots for Rookie of the Year. The Clippers have made the moves necessary to allow Griffin a great deal of playing time while also shedding cap space.

Playing with an elite point guard in Baron Davis, who will be coming off a subpar year and looking to prove himself, can only help his cause. He will also be paired with Al Thornton and Eric Gordon, two promising youngsters who have already proven they are NBA caliber players.

Joining him in the backcourt will be Marcus Camby, a former NBA defensive player of the year, so any mistakes on the Griffin’s part defensively should be minimal, with Camby sure to cover his blunders.

Some people are considering Griffin a future hall of famer and possibly the greatest No. 1 overall pick. This seems ridiculous to me as I see him as only a very good player, who should make a few All-Star Games. He doesn’t seem to have that “franchise player” feel to him though, and should be a No. 2 option at best.

Regardless, Griffin averaged a double-double in the summer league, and look for that to carry over to the regular season. He has a great motor and his offense is fairly polished considering his age. He is an amazing athlete with a warrior’s heart, something that will hopefully rub off on the rest of the Clippers.

Jonny Flynn- Point Guard- Minnesota Timberwolves- Drafted Sixth Overall

While Ricky Rubio’s holdout should no doubt discourage the Timberwolves, they have a solid backup plan in Jonny Flynn, who should leave Wolves fans saying “Ricky Who-bio?” Flynn has all the tools to be a very effective point guard in the NBA, and is in a franchise desperate for a strong floor general.

The Wolves have been in rebuilding mode ever since KG left town, and they seem to have finally pieced together a team that could compete four years down the road.
They already have a future all-star in Al Jefferson, as well as Kevin Love, who had a great second half to his rookie season in Al Jefferson’s absence.

If Corey Brewer becomes the player they thought they drafted two years ago, he and Ryan Gomes could make for a young but athletic starting five.

Flynn is the perfect man to manage this team. He is a passionate leader, who plays every game like it’s his last. He is capable of playing long minutes, something he will have to do with Rubio nowhere near signing. His jump shot has improved dramatically, and he can get anywhere on the floor at will.

His biggest strength is his athleticism, as he has the ability to get to the rim at will, and can throw it down despite being listed at 6’0”, but falling about two inches short of that.

What he will have to work on is his man-to-man defense, because he is used to Syracuse’s zone principles. He has the speed and strength to overcome that, so this shouldn’t be a yearlong issue.

His height will allow taller guards to shoot over him however, and that is something he cannot overcome. It is something he has dealt with his whole life, and he has the athleticism to minimize the damage that will be done.

Tyreke Evans- Point Guard- Sacramento Kings- Drafted Fourth Overall

Tyreke is a physical specimen at the point guard position. At 6’6”, some question whether he would be better suited to the shooting guard position, but with Kevin Martin manning that spot, it appears Evans will be the Kings point guard of the future.

He will be battling for that spot with Beno Udrih, but the Kings have lost faith in him and he is better suited as a backup. An Evans and Martin backcourt gives the Kings a very potent offensive threat, although defensively they will give up a lot of points.

Joining them in the starting lineup are big men Spencer Hawes and Jason Thomson, both still young in their careers and have promising upside. Rounding out the starters should be Andres Nocioni, a proven scorer.

Evans will be given a ton of playing time, and he has the ability to fill a stat sheet. Expect near triple-doubles on any night due to his size and athleticism. He still needs work on his decision making, so there could be nights where he has more rebounds than assists.

His defense will also need work, which is to be expected from any rookie, although he performed well in the summer league. His size will help him in that category.

Evans will get most of his ballots from voters looking at his stats, not his team wins. The Kings are far away from making the playoffs, so Evans will be allowed to go through the rookie growing pains and establish himself as their future point guard.

Based on the summer league, Evans looked the most NBA ready, and showed he can score in bunches.

James Harden - Shooting Guard- Oklahoma City Thunder - Drafted Third Overall

The Oklahoma City Thunder are showing the league the right way to rebuild a team, and are poised to have a great future if everything goes according to plan. Every year they have addressed another roster spot, and Harden may just have been the last piece of the puzzle.

Widely considered the best NBA ready player in the draft, Harden fits in with the Thunder perfectly. He is an unselfish player, so he won’t be taking shots away from Kevin Durant, and he has the ability to finish the fast break, adding to the continued growth of Russell Westbrook.

Jeff Green should be helped out by Harden’s ability to spread the floor, and Nenad Krsticshould also gain from Harden’s addition.

Defense will be an issue with Harden, as he is not as athletic as the rest of the starters. He will also be battling taller shooting guards, so he must get better on D.

He also may be battling for minutes against Thabo Sefolosha, but should beat him out. Improving his shot is also a must.

Harden is a hard worker who should fit in wonderfully with the Thunder’s youth movement. With Harden and Westbrook alongside Durrant, the Thunder are in a good position to reach the post season, or fall just short.

If they do manage to play deep into April, expect Harden to garner more ballots, as he will be a big reason for their success.

Brandon Jennings - Point Guard- Milwaukee Bucks - Drafted Tenth Overall

Jennings is the dark horse of the group, and the only thing that will keep him out of the top five is his mouth. Already considered an “attitude” guy, Jennings has proven that he has the ability to play in the NBA. Now we will have to see if Coach Scott Skiles will let him.

The Bucks seemed to have committed to Jennings as their point guard of the future, as it seems Ramon Sessions is on his way out, and Luke Ridnour is no longer a starting caliber player. Milwaukee is another team in penny pinching mode, and has unloaded many of their top players from last year.

Jennings will have ample opportunity to score, due to the lack of scoring potential on this team. Luckily the Bucks still have all-star Michael Redd to carry to offensive load, as well as former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Bogut to man the middle. This comes as good news for the pass-first Jennings, and should help ease his way into the league.

Outside of Redd and Bogut, there are few clear cut options, but this team is full of hungry young talent wanting to prove themselves, and someone will surely step up.

Jennings will need to work on defense due to his slender build, so hitting the gym could do wonders for him. He will get pushed around by bigger point guards otherwise. His shooting is also spotty, so he should consider taking pointers from Redd.

Jennings led all players in the summer league with 8.2 assists per game, so regardless of his selfish attitude he seems interested in getting everyone involved. Only problem is he also likes the flash and the glamour, so he gambles a lot.

Coach Skiles is not one to be messed with though, so look for him to set him straight or Jennings could see the bench.


As it stands, with all the praise Griffin has received, it seems as though this award is his to lose. I’m not yet ready to jump on the Griffin bandwagon, and feel these worthy players will challenge for ROY honors.

Considering that this was an overall weak draft, there is a good chance for some players to come from out of no where and surprise people, and with all the point guards in this draft, picking an all NBA rookie team should be very difficult.

Look for an interesting year for rookie players, because in this economy, many of them are going to get playing time because of their cheap guaranteed contracts. Expect a better show then advertised during the NBA Draft.

Looking At The 10 Key Moments In The Toronto Raptors Schedule

August 7, 2009

by Dannie Haynes… The Toronto Raptors have undergone a complete transformation in order to once again contend in the NBA. After a lackluster season last year, the Raptors are hoping the addition of some new faces can lead them back into the playoffs, and hopefully contend for a championship. Recently, the NBA schedule was released, and based on that, I have compiled the 10 key moments for the upcoming season for the Raptors.

1. October 28- Opening Night with LeBron And Shaq- Cleveland @ Toronto

It’s time to see if all those offseason moves provide Toronto with a winning team. Same can be said with Cleveland’s big acquisition. This will be an immediate test to see where the Raptors sit. A win would give them a huge confidence boost, but this is not a must win game.

As long as the Raptors put on a good showing, and prove that they are a team to be reckoned with, they can escape this game unscathed. If they get blown out however, look for critics to jump all over them.

My prediction- Cleveland 102 Raptors 95

The Raptors should keep this close, but I think it’s too much to ask that a team with seven new players beat the team with the league’s best record last year. Regardless, it will be a high scoring game, as many of Toronto’s games will be, but their ultimate lack of D will cost them the game.

2. November 1- Carter Returns Home With Hedo’s Old Team- Orlando @ Toronto

Another early test for the Raptors, featuring the matchup of Air Canada, Vince Carter, vs. Heir Canada, Demar DeRozan. Will Carter face the endless boos that have plagued him with every return to Toronto? Of course he will!

As for the other subplot to this game, this will be Hedo Turkoglu’s first game against his former team. Look for him to be highly motivated to show that it was he, and not Dwight, that was the difference maker in the Magic’s run to the Finals.

My prediction- Orlando 106 Raptors 110

Yes, I am picking the Raptors to win a close game against the defending Eastern Conference Champions. This could be one of the better games of the year for the Raptors, and will be facing the Magic at a perfect time.

The Magic, like the Raptors, have undergone a tremendous overhaul of their roster, so they will be going through the same growing pains as the Raptors as the players learn their roles on the team. Dwight vs. Bosh will be interesting, but mainly a wash.

The X factors in the game will be Carter and Hedo, both playing against their former teams. Carter usually plays well against the Raps, but look for Hedo to be the ultimate difference maker.

3. November 13, 15, 17, 18- Four Road Games That Could Be Disastrous- Toronto @ LA Clippers, Phoenix, Denver, and Utah

This four game road trip could go one of two ways. It could either be a great measuring stick to see how the Raptors fair against quality teams, and see what kind of character this team has, or it could be a total disaster.

The Clippers are a team that greatly underachieved, and I expect them to be much better regardless of the addition of Blake Griffin. Phoenix is in a downward spiral, and can’t decide whether to rebuild or attempt to contend. With the resigning of Nash, it appears they will attempt to contend. Denver is a top three team in the west, and Utah is always a challenge, especially at home.

My Prediction- Raptors go 1-3

The Raptors will get their one and only win against the Clippers, who will still be trying to work Blake Griffin into NBA form. He should struggle against Bosh. The Clippers don’t have the fire power to outscore the Raps, but it should still be close.

Phoenix, however, does have the fire power to outscore the Raps, so look for a high scoring, no defense game between the two teams. 150 points is possible in this game.

Denver should easily beat the Raptors, with a dominant starting 5 compared to that of the Raptors. The bench could be a difference maker though.

Utah should outmuscle and out work the Raptors, as their starting 5 are also superior to the Raptors. They also have skill on the bench, so don’t expect a close game. The X factor in this game is whether Boozer is still around, but Paul Millsap is a great second option, plus they will have someone traded back for Boozer, and I would assume a good player at that.

4. December- Schedule Provides Raptors With Early Christmas Present- Washington @ Toronto/ Toronto @ Atlanta, Washington, Chicago/ Minnesota @ Toronto/ Toronto @ Milwaukee/ Atlanta, Huston @ Toronto/ Toronto @ Miami, Orlando/ New Jersey, New Orleans @ Toronto/ Toronto @ Detroit/ Detroit, Charlotte @ Toronto

December should look like a cake walk compared to a very tough November, and look for the Raptors to take full advantage. In their 15 December games, they only face one legitimate NBA contender, the Orlando Magic. They still face a could playoff teams, but no one vastly superior, so look for a manageable December that could lead to a pile of wins.

My Prediction- Raps go 10-5 for the month

Washington has yet to prove anything, and agent zero won’t be the same player he was three years ago. Foye and Miller are nice pieces to add, but they aren’t difference makers.

Atlanta could pose a problem, as could Chicago and Miami. They should all finish the year with relatively similar records.

Minnesota and Milwaukee should be easy wins, as they will be fighting for worst team in the league this year. Injury riddled Houston will still put up great D and will battle, but the Raps should win.

Orlando will be the toughest game for the Raps in December, and I imagine they will have worked out their early personal problems and be gearing ahead to a productive postseason.

New Jersey got younger, but should be headed in the right direction with Lee, Harris and Lopez. Their overall depth will be what holds them back this year. New Orleans is in trouble financially, but should still see post season action and should provide a challenge for the Raptors.

A double header with Detroit around Christmas should be a gift, considering it’s not the same Detroit as before, so any worries about tough D are out the window. This should be a shootout.

They end the calendar year with a game at home against Charlotte, who have shown life and will be trying to finally making the post season, but seem just one step away.

In conclusion, the 10 wins will come from Washington (twice), Atlanta, Miami, Minnesota, Milwaukee, Houston, New Jersey, Detroit, and Charlotte.

The Losses will be to Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, New Orleans, and Detroit.

5. January 11- Rasho and Jack Return Home- Toronto @ Indiana

When Toronto visits Indiana early in the new year, both teams will be seeing plenty of former faces, but this game will not be all fun and games. Rasho and Jack will be returning to Indiana for the first time, and look for the fans to give them an interesting welcome back.

Jarrett Jack will be looking to impress his old team, and leave them wishing they kept him. On the other side of the ball will be T.J. Ford, the former Raptor, who will be trying to lead the Pacers back into the playoffs.

My Prediction- Toronto 94 Indiana 84

This will be a tough, grid-it-out game, so the Raptors potent offence will not be in full force. Look for a big Game from Danny Granger, as well as Turkoglu. T.J. should have a good game as well, with Calderon guarding him, but if they put Jack on him, look for sparks to fly. These two will be in each other’s faces all game.

The Pacers don’t have the talent to match up with the Raptors, so expect a double digit win for the Raps. Also expect a solid game from Reggie Evans to keep the Pacers in check and not let it get too rough.

6. January 19- A Visit To LeBron and Last Year’s Best Home Team -Toronto @ Cleveland

Visiting the Cavs last year proved to be a tough test for any team not featuring Kobe, and expect nothing less this year. Cleveland should again boast one of the league’s top home records, making this a very difficult game for the Raptors.

Around this time the Raptors should be gearing into playoff form, so this game should show how they might fair in a playoff matchup. Expect a post season game plan from the coaching staff, who will no doubt be taking this game into consideration when looking at their team.

Factor in playing against LeBron, who Toronto has no one to guard with, and this game should be one of the hardest for the Raptors this season.

My Prediction- Toronto 92 Cleveland 105

This will be a game that the Raptors will be missing a player like Jamario Moon, who is now with the Cavs. Moon would no doubt be the player who would be guarding LeBron, and at least be able to keep up with the defending MVP. Turkoglu just won’t cut it against the King. If DeRozan is a starter by now, which he should be, he might be fed to the wolves and asked to cover LeBron.

Expect a tough game for the Raps, who will have trouble showing the offensive flare against the defensive minded Cavs. LeBron should have a field day, as should Mo Williams. Bosh should have trouble defensively against Shaq, but should also put up great numbers offensively as long as he stays out of foul trouble. This should be a good game for the bigs, but bad for the guards.

7. February 3, 7, 10, 17- Four Home Games Against Beatable Teams- New Jersey, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Memphis @ Toronto

Another gift from the scheduling Gods, and something the fans will be able to see. In early February, the Raptors should open the month with a four game home winning streak, playing against teams they are superior to. Look for some Raps to be making a statement as we approach all-star weekend.

My Prediction- Raps go 4-0

I have really high hopes for this, their longest home stand of the year.

New Jersey is a young team that will put up points, so expect Devin Harris to have a good showing. What they lost however is Carter, the player responsible for every Nets win over Toronto in recent memory. Without Carter, the Raps should win.

Courtney Lee has to prove his rookie season was no fluke, but it remains to be seen if he can consistently score 15 points a game. I don’t think he can just yet. Brook Lopez should be solid, but Bosh should keep him from having a great game.

Sacramento will be battling for worst team in the league, with Kevin Martin as the only threat to put up many points. Tyreke Evans should do well in this league considering his height, but there will be many growing pains for him this season. Raps should win easily.

Philly is the only team of the four who could give the Raptors problems, but after losing their starting point guard, Andre Miller, their fast break style of play will take a hit. A healthy Elton Brand should help mend the loss, but this will not be the same Sixers team as last year. Should be a closer game then the others, but a Raps win nonetheless.

Memphis still has a ways to go till they can properly compete in the NBA. They have a bright future, but it will be three years minimum until they reach that future, so expect another subpar year. Thabeet will create problems for the Raptors offense, and O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay are all-stars to be, but right now the Raps should win now problem.

8. February 24- Blazers Come To See What Turkoglu Chose Instead Of Portland -Portland @ Toronto

The Blazers will be coming into this game hoping to show Turkoglu what he missed out on by signing with the Raptors instead of Portland. This will also be a battle of the two top picks in the 2006 draft when LeMarcus Alderidge battles Andrea Bargnani.

The key to this game will be intensity, as these are both young teams with bright futures. If DeRozan is in good playing shape and doesn’t hit the rookie wall, his matchup with Roy could be the X factor.

My Prediction- Toronto 102 Portland 110

These are two teams with tremendous fire power, as well as youth and athleticism to put on a show. Expect Roy to have a great game, and LeMarcus to battle Bosh to a standstill. Greg Oden covering Andrea could be costly as Oden will have to step out further then he would like, which should allow Bosh some room to breathe.

Andre Miller will be the deciding force to this game, as he brings a veteran presence to a young Blazers team. His ability to manage a game will be on full display and should lead to a Blazers victory. If DeRozan is in full form, expect a good showing by him. Turkoglu should turn out a fine game, but nothing special.

9. March 9, 10, 13, 14- Another Tough Trip Out West (Minus Sacramento) - Toronto @ LA Lakers, Sacramento, Golden State, Portland

Going out West is never easy, but this one is better than usual. What really worries me is the situation of the games, as they are back-to-back games, which could hurt a young Raptors team.

Following a tough game against the Lakers with what should be a cake walk in Sacramento is exactly the type of attitude the Raptors can’t afford to have. In order to come out ahead in this road trip, the veterans will have to step up and guide this young team so they don’t lose their composer.

My Prediction- 1-3

I could live with a split here, but unfortunately the Raptors are still too young to handle the west coast trip. The Lakers should dominate the Raptors, as they will many teams this year, with a strong starting lineup and equally potent bench. The Raptors would need a miracle to escape L.A. with a win.

Sacramento, however, is a different story. The Raps will get the win, but it will not be as easy as before. Expect a low scoring, grind-it-out game with the veterans of Bosh and Turkoglu leading the way. This will be a much closer game then it should be.

This is where the winning ends on the trip though, as Golden States all offense, no defense will wear out the Raptors. Look for 120 points minimum from the Warriors as the Raps hope to keep close. Fatigue will be the reason for the loss, not talent.

They finish with Portland, and get blown out. Portland boasts a great home record, so going in fresh would be hard enough, but at the end of a four game road trip is just asking for trouble. Not nearly as close as their earlier meeting, and expect tempers to flare during this one. The veterans will need to step up to keep this from getting out of hand.

10. April 14- If Raptors Need A Win, Could There Be A Better Team To Face? - New York @ Toronto

On closing night, the Raptors will be a playoff team, and in the hunt for the fourth seed in the east. They will most likely be battling Atlanta, Miami, and Washington for that spot, and I feel it will come down to last day. What better time to be facing the Knicks.

This game should be a great confidence booster for the Raptors, and have them enter the post season on a winning note.

My Prediction- Raptors 105 Knicks 92

The Knicks will be too busy looking ahead to the free agent fiasco of 2010 to put a strong finish to the season, and look for the Raptors to take full advantage. The Knicks will be looking to push the tempo, but the Raps should be able to keep them in check.

Nate Robinson, if he’s there, will put on a show, and David Lee, if he’s there, will be solid for the Knicks. Expect rookie Jordan Hill to get lots of playing time, as well as be outclassed by Bosh.

This will be a win if the Raptors have anything to play for on the last day of the year. If not, then it really doesn’t matter too much.


Overall, look for a rough November, and a strong December as the Raps look to avenge last season and reach the playoffs once again. The front office has done a tremendous job at putting the best team possible on the court, and now it is up to the players to deliver.

If nothing else, the Raptors should be more explosive, high scoring, and fun to watch, so long as you don’t crave a good defensive game.

5 Quarterbacks Who Should Bounce Back Next Year

July 24, 2009

by Dannie Haynes… The Quarterbacks on this list all had obstacles last year that kept them from achieving the success they are capable of.

They are all household names, but players that either underachieved due to injuries, both to themselves or to their team, or just the obstacles that get in the way of many athletes, such as nerves and immaturity.

Overall, you shouldn’t be too surprised with the man that tops this list.

#5 David Garrard Jacksonville Jaguars

While David Garrard was healthy last year, his team was not.

He went the entire campaign without a legitimate #1 reciever, as well as a reasonable offensive line. This caused him to be sacked 42 times, 3rd most in the NFL. The Jags addressed this issue in the draft, taking Eugene Monroe with the #8 pick.

Health will be the main factor that Garrard will have a better 2009, as well as the help of wide reciever Terry Holt, who will be the #1 option. With Fred Taylor gone, Maurice Jones-Drew will be carrying the ball, and his recieving skills will also help Garrard’s stats.

Look for improvements across the board.

#4 Tony Romo Dallas Cowboys

This one has nothing to do with stats, regualar season, who’s out, who’s in. This is simply Tony Romo stepping up and proving all the doubters wrong.

He has put together some great seasons as of late, but always chokes when the Cowboys are playing for thier season in the playoffs. I see this finally changing this year.

While they lost their #1 wide reciever in T.O., this allows Romo no excuse but to deliver. This is his time to truly shine, now that he is out of T.O.s shadow.

Expect another great season and a playoff victory or two.

#3 Matt Hasselback Seattle Seahawks

Matt Hasselback had an injury riddled year. He had back problems, knee problems, head problems, etc etc. With all these injuries he barely saw the field and his team suffered.

This year though should be different. Assuming he fully recovers, he not only is one of the top quarterbacks in the league, he know has T.J. Houshmandzadeh to throw to. T.J. is one of the best in the league, and is able to carry a team with his consistancy.

This should help Hasselback regroup after last year and maybe get the Seahawks back into contention.

#2 Carson Palmer Cincinnati Bengals

Last year Carson Palmer only played in 4 games, and as you might expect the Bengals played terribly without him.

He had a sore elbow for all of the year, and elected not to undergo Tommy John surgery, instead choosing rehab. In March he declared he was again healthy.

Carson Palmer is arguably a top 5 quarterback in this league, so his return will no doubt lead to some success for the Bengals. While he is losing his best reciever in T.J, he still has Chad Ochocinco (I still cant believed he changed his name).

Hopefully they will both bounce back with productive seasons.

#1 Tom Brady New England Patriots

Was there really any doubt? Tom Brady had a heart breaking year last year, with his season ending in the first quarter of the first game. It appeared the Pats were going to avenge their Superbowl humiliation, and instead were written off before halftime.

As it turns out the Pats rallied behind their new QB and still had a productive year. This can only be good news for Brady, who will instill the calmness and leadership this team lacked last year at the QB position. They still have great wide recievers, and a dominate line. Now they have thier leader again.

As always, watch for New England, and Brady, to have an outstanding year.

Toronto Blue Jays Best (And Worst) Trade Deadline Moves

July 23, 2009

by Dannie Haynes… The Toronto Blue Jays have had an interesting season this year. While trying to contend in the ultra competitive AL East, for the first time, the Jays have come to terms with the fact that they may have to deal franchise cornerstone Roy Halladay.

He will no doubt give a contending team another ace to add to their rotation for the playoffs, and the Jays hope Halladay can garner enough young talent to help them compete in the years to come.

Lets take a look back at other Blue Jays trade deadline acquisitions, some that were steals, and others that left us shaking our heads.

July 31, 1993- Blue Jays Gain Rickey Henderson

Rickey Henderson was traded by the Oakland Athletics to the Toronto Blue Jays for a player to be named later and Steve Karsay. The Toronto Blue Jays sent Jose Herrera (Aug. 6, 1993) to the Oakland Athletics to complete the trade.

Henderson was a former MVP, and ALCS MVP and a 10 time all-star. He was involved in the final play of the World Series that year, as he and Paul Molitor scored on Joe Carter’s Series-ending walk-off home run. For his career, he held records for 1,406 career stolen bases, 2,295 career runs, and 81 career lead-off home runs, and is considered possibly the greatest leadoff batter of all time.

Karsay would begin his career with the A’s originally as a starter, but later moved to the bullpen. His career was marred by injuries, and he compiled a record of 32-39 and an ERA of 4.01.

Herrena only played one year in the majors.

July 28, 1995- Blue Jays Lose David Cone

David Cone was traded by the Blue Jays to the New York Yankees for Marty Janzen, Jason Jarvis (minors), and Mike Gordon (minors).

Cone was known as a player who was strong late in the season, and a great pitcher for contenders to have come post season. He ended with a record of 194-126, with an ERA of 3.46. Cone was traded because the Jays were no longer contenders, and had hoped the minor leaguers they got in return would pan out.

Unfortunately, Janzen only pitched one year with the Jays, with a record of 6-7, with an ERA of 6.39.

Jarvis and Gordon were career minor leaguers.

July 31, 1997- Blue Jays Gain Jose Cruz Jr

Paul Spoljaric was traded by the Toronto Blue Jays with Mike Timlin to the Seattle Mariners for Jose Cruz.

Cruz played from 1997 till 2002 with the jays, and twice hit at least 30 home runs. In 2001 he had at least 30 hrs and 32 stolen bases, joining Bobby Abreu and Vladimir Guerrero as the three players to have at least 30 hrs and steals that season.

Spolijaric never amounted to much, with a record of 8-17 and an ERA of 5.52.

Timlin, however, has appeared in over 1000 career games, and has four championship rings, although two are from his time with the blue jays. He has a career record of 75-73 and an ERA of 3.63. He turned out to be a veteran relieve pitcher that helped anchor the Red Sox bullpen to two World Series championships.

July 31, 1998- Blue Jays Lose Juan Guzman

Blue Jays trade RHP Juan Guzman to Baltimore for RHP Nerio Rodriguez and OF Shannon Carter.

Guzman’s first three seasons with the Blue Jays were excellent, as he went a combined 40-11 with a 3.28 ERA, and the team made the playoffs in all three years, including World Series wins in 1992 and 1993.

Guzman won two games in both the 1992 and 1993 ALCS but was not able to secure a win in either World Series. His playoff record was 5-1 in 8 starts with a 2.44 ERA. His career unfolded after his trade from the jays, last appearing in the majors in 2000.

Rodriguez never did anything, with a career record of 4-6 and an ERA of 6.32. Carter never made it to the majors.

July 31, 2003- Blue Jays Recieve No Offers For Kelvim Escobar

Kelvim Escobar was on the trading block for any team that wanted to pay a steep price to the Toronto Blue Jays for his services. None did, and both parties are glad about that.

In his first start since the no-waiver trade deadline, Escobar came within two outs of his fourth career shutout as the Blue Jays beat the Anaheim Angels 4-0 Sunday. He had an 8-3 record in 14 starts after the All-Star break, and for the season, he posted a 12-8 record with 159 strikeouts and a 3.92 ERA in 26 outings. He left for the Angels after this season, however, and boasts a record of 101-91 and an ERA of 4.15.

July 31, 2006- Blue Jays stay quiet

Teams inquired about starter Dustin McGowan, along with relievers Brandon League and Jeremy Accardo.

The Blue Jays fielded many trade scenarios involving McGowan, League, and Accardo, but GM J. P. Ricciardi didn’t pull the trigger on any of them. It was in the team’s best interest, as these three players have become players to build around.

McGowan had a breakout year in 2007, ending with a respectable 12-10 record, and in 2008 was at 6-7 when he went down with an injury that he is still rehabbing.

League has been one of the Jays best set up men. He has a record of 5-7, and an ERA of 4.24.

Accardo struggled with injuries, but has been an option for the Jays at closer and is a great set up man.