The DraftDay $5 Challenge

We’ve teamed up with DraftDay, a fantasy sports website that offers one-day fantasy games, to give our readers a chance to play a FREE 1 on 1 fantasy game where the winner gets $5! DraftDay is different from other fantasy sports sites in that its games last for only one day. You don’t need to manage a team for an entire season, deal with unlucky injuries, or play everyday if you don’t feel like it.

Here’s how the challenge works:

All you need to do is click on this link and follow the instructions at DraftDay. You’ll be asked to choose your sport and then will get to choose 5 players to add to your roster for that evening. After setting up your account (which only takes 30 seconds), you’re ready to go! If your team of players scores more fantasy points than your opponents team, you’ll win $5!

Here’s how the drafting page looks:

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When your game starts, you’ll get to watch your live scoring update automatically. Here’s how it looks:

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After you win your $5, you can use it in a variety of games that DraftDay offers. They pay out thousands of dollars per day in real cash prizes.

Click here to take the DraftDay $5 Challenge!

in from the editor

Giving out awards for the 2012 season

The 2011-12 Houston Rockets season ended with a healthy mix of crashing and burning. They held the playoff key in their hands for most of the last month, but instead of using it for their own gain, they decided to neatly present it as a generous gift for the Utah Jazz. Super cool.

But the season wasn’t a total waste of time, just as no year before it ever is. Since Christmas we learned so much about this cast of characters—one of the league’s most eclectic collection of cultural backgrounds and differing personalities. When the season began, first year coach Kevin McHale was given a roster that featured a pouting, highly paid one dimensional player who’d eventually find himself in a mini-power struggle with the All-Star caliber point guard, and a wild pack of young, underachieving athletes trying to make Houston their place of self-resuscitation. Over half the roster had either been left for dead by a past employer or had yet to find their niche in the league. To make matters worse, all of them were too young to know the first thing about  correcting a problem they didn’t know how to identify. It wasn’t a good situation, but as the year wore on they played less like a group of individuals trying to change a personal reputation, and more like a cohesive team that trusted one another, played unselfishly on every possession, and ended up being pretty good at winning basketball games.

For whatever reason, the wheels unhinged from the wagon three quarters of its way over the season’s rickety bridge, and everybody fell off the side. The playoffs just weren’t meant to be. Here are my individual awards for a memorable season.  [read more…]

in essays

Howard, PR, Paul…

First, I want to apologize.  My finals begin next week, thus the lack of activity on the front page.  Having said that, we’ve had some riveting discussion in the forums, much of it pertaining to Dwight Howard.  Join us.

I started a post last night with the intent of dissecting the ‘Scola at the 5’ lineups in comparison to the other frontcourt options the team had. has production breakdowns of every lineup combination for every team’s roster so I was looking into Scola-Patterson.  I got overwhelmed and gave up.  There was just simply too much information available.  Lazy of me, I know, but I didn’t feel like spending an hour dissecting that stuff.  But it’s all out there, and statistically at least, the Rockets know if that lineup decision McHale made so often actually hurt the team.  From a visual observation standpoint, at least, it seemed to me–and I would think the majority of you–that it killed them.

[read more…]

in essays

The Rockets won, improving their playoff odds to higher than the 2.3% it stood at this afternoon.  We’ll need to keep an eye on the development with Phoenix and Utah, but for tonight, in my eyes, the big story was the benching of Kyle Lowry. The team’s former MVP did not see a single minute in the second half.  We asked McHale about this and, as you just heard, he responded, he was “just trying to win a game.”  We did not get a chance to talk to Kyle.

Also interesting were McHale’s comments on Marcus Morris.  They provide a little bit of insight into why Morris may not have gotten much time this season. If you joined me on Twitter, I raved about Morris’ offensive arsenal after the forward scored six points in the second quarter including a beautiful turnaround from the corner.  I asked McHale about Morris’ stint tonight, expecting a positive response, but instead, he pointed out the mental errors the rookie forward made on the defensive end.

I see offense.  But McHale, needing to win, can’t afford defensive miscues. Mental lapses might be the one thing coaches tolerate least.  That’s why guys like Shane Battier and Patrick Patterson (this year) are still held in such high esteem despite their apparent offensive inabilities.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Lowry.  Tonight, combined with the shouting match during the Denver game, combined with the Dragic free agency situation makes me think it’s a safe bet Kyle will be dealt in the offseason.

in game coverage

Breaking down Houston’s collapse

Dry salt lies fresh in Houston’s open wound, and what I’d like to do right now— place the NBA’s postseason on its rightful pedestal—could sting a bit. The playoffs are an accomplishment and should be treated as such. This is about advancing to a second season, solidifying yourself among the league’s top half, and guaranteeing a chance at winning a championship. Opening yourself up to a different level of good will, competition, and public exposure, both on an individual level as players, and as a franchise, in my opinion, outweighs everything.

For just a second, try to ignore the connection between merit and losing that exists in today’s NBA. Ignore any good that comes by virtue of tanking. Ignore draft picks, renovation, and hope. What I want to do is forget about the future, and analyze what just happened. Before their loss in New Orleans on Thursday night, I said on Twitter all week that I believed the Rockets were mortal locks to make the postseason. The idea was unpopular, but after watching almost every game this team played all year, it seemed more than likely. These guys weren’t a typical annual feel good story line; pawns straggling along in some hopeless underdog narrative. Yes, they faced tons of adversity, and defied almost every conceivable odd in doing so, but regardless this team was good. They played hard, they played together, and they played with more talent than they’ll probably ever be recognized for.  [read more…]

in essays