THE ODDS ON RYAN NASSIB TO THE BILLS
IS RYAN MILLER HISTORY WITH THE SABRES?
KNICKS PROVE THEY’RE THE REAL DEAL
KOBE BRYANT A CREDIT TO THE NBA
GRINER, TAURASI A SUPER 1-2 PUNCH
WHY ATLANTA’S 11-1 START IS SO IMPRESSIVE
The Answer Man makes a visit as he celebrates the arrival of spring – we hope:
QUESTION: Do you think former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib will be drafted by the Buffalo Bills?
ANSWER: I make the odds slightly about 60-40. His draft stock has been rising in recent weeks. Many of the talent gurus rank him as a first-round pick. One rates him the No. 1 QB prospect. A few have him in the top 5. A few others believe he’s a second rounder. A very few think he is overrated.
I don’t believe Nassib is Buffalo’s “quarterback of the future,” but coach Doug Marrone and GM-for-now Buddy Nix might think so – and they’re the ones who count.
My dream scenario for the Bills, assuming they’re sold on Nassib: Trade down in the first round to add an early pick in the second round and give Buffalo 3 of the top 41 picks...Nassib would still be on the board for the Bills to select him in the No. 20 to No. 32 range...Buffalo’s two picks in the second round (from No. 33 through No. 41) would be used on immediate starters at linebacker and a wide receiver or a second linebacker.
Unfortunately, Buffalo enters the draft with only six picks (8, 41, 71, 105, 143 and 177). That means the Bills really couldn’t afford to take a flyer on a second QB after Nassib. If Buffalo’s interest in Nassib is a ruse. or if the Bills trade down and hope to get him later in the first round but another team beats them to the punch, I’d use the first three picks on – in order of preference – a pass-rushing linebacker, a wide receiver and another linebacker or quarterback or tight end or offensive guard.
How does that sound?
QUESTION: Will goalie Ryan Miller be traded by the Buffalo Sabres this offseason?
ANSWER: Probably. Here are several reasons why...Miller would be an unrestricted free agent after next season. The rebuilding Sabres could get something decent in return this offseason from a Stanley Cup contender as they continue to stockpile draft picks...Miller could use a change of scenery. He’s been a warrior but his frustration appears obvious...He’s 32 years old. I still rate him among the top- dozen-or-so goalies in the NHL but he probably won’t be by the time Buffalo is a genuine Stanley Cup threat. ..It is significant that Sabres coach Ron Rolston used backup goalie Jhonas Enroth in the last two games as the team continues to battle for an improbable playoff berth. .The recent trade for 23-year-old prospect Matt Hackett is another strong clue that Miller will be leaving. Enroth, Hackett and David Leggio would be left to battle for the two goaltending spots in Buffalo.
QUESTION: Can the New York Knicks win the NBA championship this season?
No way, mainly because they rely too much on three-point shooting to upset the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals – if the Knicks get that far.
But the Knicks are much better than I thought they could be. I figured they were too old and Carmelo Anthony wasn’t a team player.
After storming out of the starting gate with a 19-6 record on Dec. 19, the Knicks went into a 19-20 funk. Anthony’s critics were making themselves heard. Amar’e Stoudemire and Anthony had no court chemistry. Some of the oldtimers were running out of steam.
Then Stoudemire was lost to injury. J.R. Smith supplied instant offense and became the NBA’s best sixth man. The team worked harder on defense. Anthony began playing like a league MVP.
The Knicks were 38-26 on March 17. They’re 15-1 since.
The Knicks are a hot ticket at Madison Square Garden again. They’re more fun than the circus.
The Knicks vs. Boston would be a super first-round series. I think the Knicks would win a maximum of six games over the savvy Celtics. I know most observers disagree.
QUESTION: Do you think Kobe Bryant can return after tearing his Achilles tendon last Friday night?
ANSWER: I hope so – but I doubt it. No star in NBA history has played through more painful injuries than he has. No pro team athlete has a more burning desire to win.
He has carried the flawed Los Angeles Lakers all season. The goal: to make the playoffs -- and probably lose in the first round to Oklahoma City or San Antonio.
I believe Kobe is too proud to return at much less than 100 percent. Considering his age (34) and the severity of the injury, that seems unlikely. Even for him.
If he has played his final game, where does he rank among the all-time NBA players? Not quite in my top five but in my top 8 for sure.
If every superstar in every sport gave as much of himself as Bryant has for his teammates, his fans and the franchise and city he represents, pro sports would be better off.
What do you think?
QUESTION: Will Brittney Griner be the No. 1 pick in Monday night’s WNBA college draft?
ANSWER: Of course, unless the league changes the height of the basket to 11 feet before 8 p.m. Monday. ..Griner (Baylor) is 6-foot-8, That’s sort of like 7-foot-2 in the NBA. She’ll be a WNBA star immediately. Who’s needs experience when you’re by far the tallest player on the court and highly skilled besides. She’s not exceptionally strong but she doesn’t need to be.
The Phoenix Mercury have the first pick. They say they’ll pick Griner or Delaware 6-foot-5 forward Elena Delle Donne or Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins (could be the biggest draw among the rookies). After posting a 7-27 record in 2012, there is no way Phoenix will pass on Griner. The Mercury will be rising with a 1-2 punch of Griner and Diana Taurasi.
QUESTION: Should Tiger Woods have been disqualified from the Masters? Should he have withdrawn?
ANSWER: I believe Woods should have been disqualified for his improper ball drop and subsequent inaccurate scorecard. I believe most of the other players in the field – maybe all of them – would’ve been disqualified. But Tiger was by far the golfer the spectators at Augusta and coast-to-coast TV viewers coast-to-coast and all the ships at sea most wanted to watch play over the weekend.
Woods would’ve gained much respect had he withdrawn after his errant drop was detected and the penalty issued. But once Woods was cleared to play, I was rooting for him to overcome the two-stroke penalty and win his 15th major. I think most of you were, too.
Finally, I have no respect for TV snitchers in golf or any other sport.
QUESTION: Jackie Robinson obviously deserves to be a baseball Hall of Fame as a contributor. But does he merit his plaque based strictly on performance as a Major League Baseball player?
ANSWER: Most definitely. He was a .311 career batter (1,578x4,877), with 947 runs, 273 doubles, 54 triples, 137 HRs, 734 RBI and 197 stolen bases. He energized the Brooklyn Dodgers with his speed, daring and work ethic. He was National League Rookie of the Year in 1947 and league MVP in 1949.
Robinson played 10 seasons in Major League Baseball, the bare minimum to qualify for the Hall of Fame. Of course that wasn’t his fault.
Segregation kept him out of Major League Baseball until he was 28 years old. Had he not been robbed of several prime years, he would’ve ranked in the upper echelon of MLB second basemen.
QUESTION: Are the Atlanta Braves – off to an 11-1 start – the team to beat in the National League East?
ANSWER: The Braves swept a three-game series in Washington and outscored the Nationals 10-5 in the process, but I still believe Washington (7-5 record) is the National League’s best team, but Atlanta is very good and should be in the race for the NL West title all the way.
The Braves lead the NL in pitching (1.82 ERA) and the offense is getting by on the long ball (outhomering opponents 20-6) until three slumping sluggers wake up: Dan Uggla, B.J. Upton and Jason Hayward are batting a combined .146 (18x123) with 4 HRs and 9 RBI.
QUESTION: Are you worried about the International League-worst 2-8 record of the Rochester Red Wings.
ANSWER: In terms of making the playoffs, not yet. I like the team’s offensive potential. It will be even better when Minnesota sees the light and assigns overmatched rookie center fielder Aaron Hicks to Rochester. He’s batting .047 (2x43 with no extras-base hits, no stolen bases and 20 strikeouts) with the Twins.
But the pitching Is a major concern. Rochester’s 6.39 ERA ranks 13th in the 14-team IL. With 10 pitchers on the disabled list and currently on rehab in Florida,, that’s no surprise. The return of Liam Hendricks will be an immediate boost.