Thursday, June 25, 2015

2015 NBA Draft Preview

I'm running out of time to do my NBA Draft Preview, so this is going to be short. Here are my thoughts:

  • I know it makes sense from an advanced metrics perspective and from a skill standpoint (better outside shooting and better defense), but it still is crazy to me that Karl-Anthony Towns is likely going over Okafor. Okafor was truly outstanding all year long and while Towns might have more potential it does worry me that he was a good but not critical player for Kentucky. I think it might be easier to be produce better advanced numbers when you are less of a top option (Towns played 21.1 minutes per game) than it is for someone who was constantly double-teamed like Okafor.
  • All this hype about the "new-NBA" after the Finals is a little bit overblown. Yes, this year was more about small ball and less about the traditional center position. However, just last year the Spurs won the title thanks in no small part to Tim Duncan. There are big advantages to having a dominant post player. 
  • D'Angelo Russell seems to be universally loved, but I never was that impressed the few times I watched Ohio State. I know his numbers are pretty good and that the highlights of some of his passes were truly impressive, but he didn't seem too athletic, that great of a shooter or someone who can take over a game. I could see him as a starter, but never a star. 
  • This is a homer take, but Justise Winslow is amazing. I would be shocked if he wasn't a productive starter. He could be the best player in the draft.
  • For the Jazz I want them to take Tyus Jones. I could see him challenging Exum for the starting point guard position, complimenting Exum like Trey Burke was supposed to do and worst case scenario being a good backup point guard. I haven't completely given up on Burke, but I wouldn't pass on Jones.
  • It's hard to have an opinion on the players I haven't seen - that seems obvious.
  • Jerian Grant is worth a shot in the middle to late first round. He was just so good at Notre Dame last year. Same thing about Delon Wright. I saw him play a couple times and he just seemed to have complete control of his team.

We will see what happens starting in one minute.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

2015 Duke National Champions

College basketball is probably my favorite sport, which makes the Monday of the National Title game almost like a holiday for me. And considering most holidays mean a day off from work, I normally aren't able to concentrate that well on that specific day. That is especially true on the rare days that Duke makes the national title game. One would think this might even be more the case this past Monday, since not only was it a title game, and Duke was playing, but also I was attending the game.  However, for this past Monday I actually had a very productive day. I think part of that had to do with wanting to leave early in order to drive to Indianapolis to go see the title game, and the other part had to do with getting ready to on a work trip to Texas. Up until I got in the car to leave work it was just a normal day, but everything after that was beyond surreal. I had invited one of my friends (who happens to live down the street) to go to the game in Indy after finding tickets on Sunday. I was fortunate enough to be able to buy tickets that were more than 50% less than previous prices because all of the fans of Kentucky were selling the tickets for a very reduced rate. However, despite the *discount it didn't feel like any hype was lessened when we arrived in Indianapolis. There was literally music in the streets as countless waves of people walked by with smiles on their faces. I have been to many sporting events, but the feeling walking around Indy before the basketball title game was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. 

*The prices were still high

We walked around for a little bit, picked up our tickets from Stubhub and then went into Lucas Oil Stadium to watch warmups. At this point I was getting a little bit nervous. I had invested a ton of time, money and emotions into this one game, and it was being projected (by Vegas and many commentators) to be a close Wisconsin victory. Also, there was the little issue of having a 6:30am flight leaving from Columbus the next morning. The one really good sign was that in a stadium made up of about 85% Wisconsin fans, the people in section 153 were more of a 50/50 mix. That included this one diehard Duke fan who had flown in from Orlando to see the game by herself. A new friend that (spoiler alert) I found myself hugging during some of the game's more dramatic moments. 

The game itself was absolutely transcendent, and that isn't hyperbole. It was 70k people whose emotions were tied to every single play, and were standing the vast majority of the game. I have never been to a Super Bowl, but I heard that was more of a corporate crowd, and that the game wasn't for the common fan. This game seemed completely different from that because the people in the stadium just seemed normal - if you define normal as people who act like me when watching basketball games.

The game followed a familiar pattern for anyone who had watched Duke all year. This game was almost exactly like the St. John's game or the UVA game or either UNC game. Unlike last year's team this year's team almost seemed to offended when teams would take seemingly overwhelming 2nd half leads against them. This game was no different, but the one thing that was different was that the 8th man (on a team with 8 scholarship players) was the one that closed the game by hitting a 3, creating a turnover and then having a 3 point play. Grayson Allen (the 8th man) took a 9 point Wisconsin lead and cut it to 3, and this year's Duke team had a new hero.

After that it was time for Tyus Jones and somewhat surprisingly considering his struggles all game Jahlil Okafor to step up. Jones hit what seemed to be truly impossible shots (from my viewpoint they looked like really poor, low percentage decisions) and Okafor had two extremely important field goals with 3 minutes to. And before I knew it, it went from making excuses (it's ok they are about to lose....Wisconsin is just a really good team....and this has been a fun experience) to really thinking Duke was going to win it all. It is hard to describe, but it all seemed to happen in the matter of seconds. I nervously watched the final few plays (the Tyus Jones missed layup and then the free throws) before celebrating the final few seconds counting down till Duke's 5th National Title.

This might all seem a little bit silly, but for those of who know me it isn't. I watched 97% of the minutes played by Duke this year in basketball, and actually attended three games. I normally like Duke, but this year's Duke team just seemed different. I loved watching how they played, and will likely be complaining in future's years about how future Duke teams don't have the post player of Okafor, the defense of Winslow or the leadership of Cook or the overall brilliance in the biggest moment of Tyus Jones. Regardless of what happens after this (and almost definitely all four of those players will gone from next year's team) it was an amazing team, and I am beyond thrilled to have been in attendance when they won the title. 

After attending the game, I finally got on twitter to see what people were saying as we drove back from Indy. I didn't get to sleep until around 4am, which gave me a whole 1.5 hours of sleep before waking up and rushing to the airport. I have probably never been more happy/tired (most of the times for me tired does not equal anything close to happy) in my life. I was actually able to make it till 10pm on Tuesday, which put my awake hours at 30 out 32 hours. It was worth it. The whole thing was worth it. Monday night was one of the reasons why I became a sports fan.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Things I've Learned Being a Parent

L is now rapidly approaching her 2nd birthday and I feel like I have learned so much about how M and I parent. A lot of what I thought would be true has been true, but there certainly have been surprises along the way. Now in know particular order is a list
  1. Coherent, long-form thoughts can be very difficult in a world of constant interruptions. Thus the list....
  2. I can't do the "cry it out method" and I realize now how foolish I was in passing judgement on anyone who cosleeps. L is a light sleeper and it works best for our family to have her in our bed. Articles like this one make me more justified in our decision: Screaming to Sleep.
  3. Being a parent is the toughest and best thing one will ever do. I know that sounds somewhat obvious, but it is somewhat crazy how true it is. My career, Duke over UVA, the stock market, etc all fall a distant 2nd.
  4. Being a parent can and often does mean being selfish. I've heard more people talk about how "selfless" being a parent makes you, but I have found it to be the complete opposite. There are often times I have to miss things I would like to do or be a poor friend or a poor coworker because I have to take care of L. For example it is snowing right now and L might miss school tomorrow. At that point we have to decide if M's parents watch her, we take off work or if we hire a babysitter.
  5. I am a lot more productive at work when we do get a babysitter since I know how expensive it is ($10/hour) to be at work. 
  6. Our country's attitude to being a parent is so backwards that just writing this makes me upset. It makes no rational sense why there is a mortgage interest tax deduction, but childcare isn't subsidized. (Note - I am not saying our childcare should be subsidized or that we don't take advantage of the mortgage interest tax deduction. My main point is there should be a national discussion on our antiquated tax code.) The mortgage interest tax deduction incentivizes people to take on debt. A child care tax deduction would incentivize people to have children, go to work and have high quality day care. All three of those points is a net benefit to society. One of my favorite books of all time was Pamela Drunkerman's Bringing Up Bebe. I am so jealous of the French's attitude towards affordable, high quality daycare. 
  7. Over the past few months, L and I go to Block's Bagels and read the NY Times on Sunday. I have found myself more and more looking forward to this time. The people at Block's are friendly, there is a normal Sunday morning crew of customers and L absolutely loves the food there. I feel like we are building a little tradition, while also giving M some time to sleep in, clean the house or do whatever she wants without a toddler interrupting her.
  8. Dishes, laundry, cleaning up, etc - they never end. One wouldn't think that the addition of one small person would make such a difference, but I feel like the amount of housework has grown at exponential levels. 
  9. If Greek Methodology was written using modern day examples, Sisyphus would be cleaning up children's books and toys for eternity.
  10. Time is finite. I think that is the main lesson I have learned from being a parent and growing up in general. It has really sunk in for me with L because as a teenager or even someone in your 20s everything is possible. Now I realize that is no longer the case. Often times I would like to play basketball, catch up on The Americans, write a blog post, etc. That isn't possible when you have only a two hour window due to L's nap. Time seems incredibly short with L around. Part of that is because as a parent you are a lot busier than you were pre-children. The other part is that especially at this age they change so rapidly. L went from just learning to walk to saying a few small words to saying small sentences to counting to 10 in what seems like no time at all. And the way at which she learns is just fascinating and makes me realize that this very moment right now is going to pass so quickly. This is common advice from parents, but still it is something I didn't expect from being  a parent.
My Dad has often talked about how he wasn't someone that thought for a fact that he would be a parent. He said that for my Mom it was her destiny, but he needed to be coaxed a little bit. However, he would always end this speech with the line that "now that I am a parent, I can't imagine it any other way." That is how I feel about having L. I have learned so much from being her parent, and I am so thankful that our family is a family of three.