Month: October 2013

Let’s Go Warriors: Analyzing Klay Thompson’s Development Into a Complete Player

klayMPX

The Golden State Warriors have one of the deepest, most talented rosters in the NBA. There’s a good mix between veterans and younger players, and they all have a wide range of skillsets. One of the most intriguing players on the roster this year is Klay Thompson.

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San Francisco 49ers: Should We Lower Expectations for Colin Kaepernick?

Sep 8, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) calls a play against the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The San Francisco 49ers had a rocky start to their season, but, since then, they’ve won three games in a row. Colin Kaepernick has also had a rocky start to his season so far. He hasn’t been his dominant self recently, so should 49ers fans lower their expectations for Kaepernick? Let’s first look at his season so far.

In the first game of the season against the Packers, Kaepernick dominated and played at an elite level. He showed off his strong, accurate arm and threw for a career-high 412 yards and had three touchdowns. He had an 89.8 QBR for that game. He also started to show off his chemistry with Anquan Boldin. He completed 13 passes to Boldin, and Boldin capped off his incredible 49er debut with 208 yards.

After this memorable performance, Kaepernick hasn’t showed off his dominance in quite the same way. Over the next five games of the 49ers season, he’s had some flashes of brilliance on a well-executed run play or a few long completed passes, but he hasn’t had quite that spark that he had against the Packers or last season in his many breakout performances.

First of all, he hasn’t had as much success running the ball as he had last season. In 13 games last season, Kaepernick ran for 415 yards on 63 attempts and had five touchdowns. In six games so far this season, he’s run for 172 yards on 31 attempts.

Part of the reason why he hasn’t been as successful with the run is because the read-option has been ineffective for the 49ers so far. Ever since the recent emergence of several freakishly athletic quarterbacks, every NFL team has been finding ways to stop it or at least limit the damage that the read-option can create. The Packers prepared for the read-option by forcing Kaepernick to pass, which ultimately ended up hurting them.

The 49ers, as a team, utilized more running plays this past Sunday against the Cardinals, but Kaepernick only ran it four times for 18 yards. As expected, teams now know and have more footage on Kaepernick’s ability to use his legs and run for large gains. In preparing for this, they have temporarily slowed Kaepernick’s running game, but Kaepernick will find a way to rebound and adjust. He has immense drive and determination, and he has great instincts on the field.

In addition to his struggles running the ball, Kaepernick hasn’t put up flashy numbers in terms of his passing. As mentioned before, he has developed some chemistry with Boldin and has also further developed his chemistry with Vernon Davis. However, he’s still having trouble finding open receivers.

Sep 8, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) celebrates with tight end Vernon Davis (85) after a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kaepernick’s completion percentage this season is 55.9 percent, which is down from 62.4 percent from last season. His QBR this season is 56.04, which is also down from 72.2 from last season. Kaepernick’s current QBR ranks 12th in the NFL, and his QBR last season ranked sixth in the NFL.

Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree’s absence have surely been felt, especially by Kaepernick. Not only did Crabtree have a breakout season last year, but his presence alongside other beasts such as Davis and Boldin would give Kaepernick more of a chance to find one of them open. It would also allow him the room to run it himself and take advantage of a more open field. Once Manningham and Crabtree come back, Kaepernick will certainly put up much more impressive passing numbers.

Kaepernick and the 49ers are only six games into the season, so no serious judgements or statements can be made for the whole season. However, since his numbers aren’t as flashy this year, should we lower expectations for Kaepernick?

On one side, it might make sense to lower expectations for Kaepernick, because he’s had to become more of a game manager. Instead of being a serious threat on offense with his arm and his legs, he’s had to adjust to managing the game more and ensuring the team follows the game plan.

In a way, over these first six games, he’s looked like Alex Smith, who was always called more of a game manager than an elite, authoritative quarterback. Kaepernick has adapted his game to more of that type of role, because he hasn’t had the receivers to support him being more of a passer or to give him more room to run.

However, Kaepernick still only has 13 total starts under his belt, from this season and last season. He hasn’t even started a full NFL season yet, so it wouldn’t be fair to change any expectations or goals for him. Kaepernick still has an immense amount of potential, and fans will have to be patient with him. He’s on a learning curve, but he still has the potential to become an elite quarterback in the NFL.

Let’s Go Warriors: Warriors Aim to Improve Team Chemistry on Trip to China

(Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

The Golden State Warriors experienced much success last season, partly due to their impressive team chemistry. Last season, almost every single Warriors player came to the Bay Area a couple weeks before training camp to get to know their teammates and start to build that chemistry. This season, the same thing happened.

Read the rest of the article on Let’s Go Warriors.

Let’s Go Warriors: Analyzing the Warriors’ Defensive Struggles in the Preseason

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The Golden State Warriors have played three preseason games so far, and they have a record of 1-2. In their first game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Warriors looked weak defensively. They allowed a lot of easy jumpshots, and they also allowed Xavier Henry, Nick Young, and Jordan Farmar to score easily. Besides the third quarter, they allowed too many points in each quarter, including a 34-point fourth quarter.

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Should the San Francisco Giants Sign Jose Abreu?

Jose Abreu # 79 of Cuba hits a solo home run in the fourth inning during the World Baseball Classic Second Round Pool 1 game between Cuba and the Netherlands at Tokyo Dome on March 11, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. (March 10, 2013 - Source: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Jose Abreu # 79 of Cuba hits a solo home run in the fourth inning during the World Baseball Classic Second Round Pool 1 game between Cuba and the Netherlands at Tokyo Dome on March 11, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. (March 10, 2013 – Source: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images AsiaPac)

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu is considered one of the top international talents in baseball right now, and his power-hitting has drawn interest from many MLB teams. Abreu has officially been cleared to sign with a MLB team, and, apparently, the San Francisco Giants are the favorites to sign him.

Giants GM Brian Sabean and special assistant Felipe Alou scouted him in Dominican Republic, so they’re clearly interested in Abreu. The Giants are certainly intrigued by his power-hitting. In the Cuban National Series league, Abreu established himself as a 30-homer hitter, and he even flirted with a couple Triple Crowns.

During the World Baseball Classic in March, Abreu hit .360 with three homers and nine RBI’s in six games. The Giants could use his power bat in the middle of their lineup, especially since they finished second-to-last in the NL with total home runs in the 2013 season with 107.

Abreu’s strongest asset is his power. Defensively, he’s a little below average, he doesn’t have much speed, and he’s not known to be very patient at the plate. Abreu has also shown weaknesses in hitting inside pitches and hitting breaking balls.

He’s 6-foot-2 and 258 pounds and not super athletic. Scouts have said he’s trimmed down recently and has started to condition more though. However, since he’s not very athletic naturally, it’s unlike that he could be moved to third base or a corner outfield spot. This is especially troubling since that’s most likely the move the Giants would want to make if they signed him.

Brandon Belt had a breakout year this past season. He hit .289, and he had 17 home runs, 67 RBI’s, a .360 OBP, .481 slugging percentage, and a .841 OPS (ranked fourth among NL first basemen behind Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, and Freddie Freeman). After making some adjustments to his swing, Belt started to live up to his immense potential.

Defensively, Belt is one of the best first basemen in the NL. He will win many Gold Gloves in his career…if he stays at first base. If the Giants signed Abreu, that would mean Belt would have to move to left field.

Belt is smart on defense and has great instincts, so he could play left field adequately but maybe not as effortlessly as he does at first base. It’s unclear if he could effectively play left field over the course of a whole season, and, as mentioned before, Abreu can pretty much only play at first base.

Abreu is just adequate defensively, so it would make more sense for the Giants to keep Belt at first base. Unfortunately, this means that the Giants probably can’t find a place for Abreu on their roster.

It might make the most sense for the Giants to stay away from Abreu for a few reasons. First of all, even though the Giants could use more power, they don’t necessarily need another right-handed, middle-of-the-order bat, especially after re-signing Hunter Pence.

Second, signing Abreu is going to require a hefty contract. Abreu will most likely command a larger deal than Yasiel Puig’s seven-year $42 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Some scouts have said that he could even land a $60 million deal, and he could possibly make $10 million per year. The Giants don’t need to add any more large contracts to their payroll, especially one for a player who might not fit in, defensively, with this team.

“I like him fine, but I wouldn’t sell the ranch to get him,” a scout with international expertise said. “The problem is, Cespedes and Puig can go 0-for-4 and they can still win you a game because they can run and throw. Abreu isn’t that guy. He’s more an Edgar Martinez-type. He has to hit or you’ve got nothing. He’s all bat.”

Third, although his power-hitting is intriguing, he still has plenty to work on, as mentioned before. He could become more diligent with his work habits and conditioning. Thankfully, he doesn’t have the same diva personality that Puig does. In fact, scouts say Abreu is more grounded and genuine.

There are many pros and cons to trying to sign Abreu. The Giants have to decide whether or not they’re comfortable with Belt moving to left field, and that will help clarify if they should sign Abreu or not. Abreu has an extremely high ceiling, but it could cost the Giants defensively if they decide to sign him.

Let’s Go Warriors: Would Klay Thompson Be a Better Sixth Man Than Harrison Barnes?

KlayHBvsLakers

Mark Jackson has a problem. A good problem. He has six proven starters on his Golden State Warriors team, and he hasn’t decided yet which five are going to be in his starting lineup for the season. Jackson will certainly start Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, David Lee, and Andrew Bogut, but Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson are going to have to prove why they deserve the last spot in the starting lineup.

Read the rest of the article on Let’s Go Warriors.