Basketball

MID-WEEK MAILBAG: THT and the Draft, talking some baseball, and Iowa State in the B1G?

Feb 16, 2019; Manhattan, KS, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Talen Horton-Tucker (11) shoots against Kansas State Wildcats forward Dean Wade (32) during the first half at Bramlage Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Hello and welcome to NBA Draft week, where everything’s made up and the Knicks don’t matter. *turns to smile and wink at the camera*

We kick off this week’s edition of the Mid-Week Mailbag with a couple questions regarding Talen Horton-Tucker now that we’re a day away from hearing him get his name called. The question, of course, is when and where THT will go? Additionally, are we sure he made the right decision to leave for the draft after only one season in college?

Those answers and more, coming right up!

Dandy (forums) asks: If THT falls into the second round of the Draft, where NBA contracts potentially carry no guaranteed money, did he make a mistake leaving early?

I typically tend to lean toward the “not going to stop a kid from going and making himself a living” camp, but if THT does slip to the second round, then I do believe he would have benefited heavily from coming back and playing one more season in college.

The things that make Horton-Tucker such an interesting prospect in the eyes of NBA decision-makers include his measurements and his age. The measurements wouldn’t regress over the course of a year and he would still be only 19 years old next year if he’d returned to Iowa State. The biggest marks keeping THT from being a guaranteed 1st round pick this year are questions about his athleticism, shooting ability, and defense – all things that he could work on this off-season and prove he’s better at with one more season at ISU. In my eyes, outside of getting injured, there would have been no substantial downside to one more year developing the consistency of THT’s game and if he would have made marked improvements in each of the areas scouts are currently holding against him, then he could have vaulted himself into the upper half of next year’s 1st round pretty easily.

And that’s not even factoring in that he would pretty easily be “the guy” at Iowa State this coming season with Marial Shayok, Lindell Wigginton, and Nick Weiler-Babb out of the picture. It’d be the perfect opportunity for him to shine and make a name for himself.

So, unfortunately, yes, if THT falls into the 2nd round of this year’s draft then I think he made the wrong decision. I understand he’ll be collecting a paycheck this year and can still make improvements in his game no matter where he ends up this season – I just think he could have gotten himself a much bigger initial contract with one more year in a Cyclone uniform.

Mar 15, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Talen Horton-Tucker (11) brings the ball up court against the Kansas State Wildcats during a semifinal game in the Big 12 conference tournament at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

cyclones500 (forums) asks: Speculation of THT’s draft position is all over the place. Let’s get the official Fitzy Forecast: What number is he selected, and by which team?

33rd overall (2nd round, pick 3) to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Jkclone15 (forums) asks: In the event that a bomb cyclone comes through in July and obliterates all the Big 12 schools south of Iowa as well as Nebraska (#WeWillRebuild) and the Big 10 asks ISU to sub in their place, how do you foresee us doing in sports in the B10 west this year?

In this scenario, I can only assume that we take on Nebraska’s schedule in full as well. So let’s take a quick peek at that for football.

Non-conference games vs. South Alabama, @ Colorado, and vs. Northern Illinois. South Alabama should be a pretty easy win. A game in Boulder would be a bit scary, but Colorado has gone 5-7 in a weak Pac-12 over the past two seasons and lost 31-7 at home to the Washington State team ISU played close in the Alamo Bowl, so that should be a win too. Northern Illinois can be salty for a MAC team, but that’s likely a win as well.

The conference slate is @ Illinois, vs. Ohio State, vs. Northwestern, @ Minnesota, vs. Indiana, @ Purdue, vs. Wisconsin, @ Maryland, vs. Iowa. No matter what the B1G blowhards might say, I’m taking the Illinois, Minnesota, and Indiana games as definite wins right off the bat. Ohio State is likely a loss even though they’ve had a clunker game or two in recent memory against average teams.

So we’re sitting at 6-1 (3-1) currently with games left against Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Iowa. Maryland is probably the weakest of those teams, but their scheme can be tricky and that game is on the road. I’d still take Iowa State to beat them currently though. Northwestern had a good season last year and is perennially underrated, but we’d get them at home and I’d like to think if we can pummel West Virginia at home then we could also take down the Wildcats. So that takes us to 8-1 (5-1) with @ Purdue, Wisconsin, and Iowa remaining.

Essentially, the Iowa game ends up being the same as it would in our regular schedule this season except pushed back a couple of months. I’m probably taking Iowa State this year despite four straight Hawkeye wins, simply because I think the teams are pretty even and this one would be at Jack Trice Stadium, which provides the edge.

To round it out, I’ll predict losses @ Purdue and vs. Wisconsin. Purdue has a lot of speed and that’s a deceptively tough road game. Wisconsin always has great offensive and defensive lines and I just have a feeling they’d be able to grind out a win against Iowa State even though the Cyclones’ lines should be improved this year.

Final record: 9-3 (6-3). That’s probably good for 2nd or 3rd place in the Big Ten West.

I won’t bother going through Nebrasketball’s schedule (apparently the Big Ten hasn’t released their conference slate yet?) but I’d predict Iowa State to be right in the middle of the standings at year’s end and likely win 1-2 games in the Big Ten Tournament, which should be enough to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

NWICY (forums) asks: So to shamelessly steal from the other thread would you take a shot in the thigh for a national championship and for which sports?

Knowing it’s non-lethal is nice; however, that still means my leg still might need to be amputated. And I can think of a whole lot of other non-lethal complications resulting from a gunshot wound outside of amputation too.

Thus, my answer is no. I’d rather Iowa State win the national championship the old fashioned way without making a deal with the devil. Because that’s the other thing you’d have to consider… Would a guaranteed voodoo magic national title feel as good as a completely organic natural one? I don’t think so. I’d rather feel the pure euphoria of the stars aligning on their own rather than Satan dragging them into place because I agreed to blast a hole through my thigh.

Sigmapolis (forums) asks: You are the Pelicans at #4. The Hawks offer you #8 and #10 like they did the Knicks for #3. What do you do?

We covered this question a bit on this week’s episode of Stanz & Fitz… Jared and I both agreed that we’d take #8 and #10 if we were the Pelicans.

The projected top three prospects in this year’s draft (Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, R.J. Barrett) are the guys with pretty obvious All-Star potential. After they’re off the board, the question marks start to arise. The Pelicans got a nice haul of players and picks in their trade with the Lakers that shipped Anthony Davis to LA, but they’d be foolish to think their title contention starts this season. In reality, they should be aiming to start gunning for the trophy in 3-4 years, and getting two lottery guys in this year’s draft is a nice value as opposed to one (since that one isn’t guaranteed to be a star).

bsaltyman (forums) asks: How far do you think the Minnesota Twins will go in the postseason this year? What teams would you pick going to the World Series?

The Twins are finally putting it all together in a season and it’s been entertaining to follow. They currently lead all MLB teams with 138 home runs on the season and also lead the league with 421 runs scored. It seems the “score more points than the other team” strategy has been paying off for them and as long as they stick to that, they could make a run in the postseason.

The main concerns for the Twins lie with their pitchers. Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi are having arguably the best seasons of their careers so far – can they keep it up? Is the back-end of the rotation (Michael Pineda, Martin Perez) going to be good enough for the post-season? The bullpen is an area of concern as well. Jose Berrios is the only hurler that I personally have complete confidence in.

For those reasons, I’m picking the Twins to make the ALCS on the back of their offense, but think they will succumb to a team with better pitchers from top-to-bottom like the Astros over the course of a seven-game series.

Astros-Dodgers is my most likely World Series pick at this point. Both of those teams are loaded across the board.

Gunnerclone (forums) asks: How much better and more popular would the MLB be if they cut the games down to 7 innings?

Cutting games to seven innings would be a popular move with current MLB fans in my opinion. Players would probably like it as well from a workload standpoint. I’m not sure it’d help reel in new fans though – other changes to get the game to speed up (like a pitch clock) are probably better in that regard.

This question kinda ignited a discussion in the questions thread for this mailbag and I like the idea my buddy cyfanatic13 proposed about the MLB schedule. He suggested keeping games at nine innings but having fewer games over the course of a season. I’ll copy/paste his full post below:

I’ve thought about this a lot and I know this isn’t perfect but it seems stupid to me that with a 162 game schedule, MLB teams don’t play everybody. I think if they did something like:

12 (6 home 6 away) games against every team in your division= 48 games
6 (3 home 3 away) games against every team in your league= 60 games
3 (rotate every year home or away) games against every team in the other league= 45 games

That’s 153 games and I’d be fine with taking a game or two away from the top 2 categories. Even taking away 9 games from the schedule would take 1.5-2 weeks off

Sounds great to me. Start the season at the same time but end it a month or so earlier so baseball doesn’t bleed into football season near as much.

mdk2isu (forums) asks: If you could have any vanity plate you wanted, what would it say (8 Characters max)?

I’d probably just do something around my nickname…

But if you forced me to come up with something creative that references Iowa State, how about…

srjclone (forums) asks: Is being called “Baby (someone else)” the worst type of nickname in sports? What is the worst nickname you have ever heard for an athlete? What is the best nickname you can remember?

Yes. Outlaw “Baby _____”. It makes you feel bad for the player deemed Baby _____.

Worst nickname? Doug “Muscle Hamster” Martin. What the heck does that even mean?

I’m partial to 3sus of Nazareth as best sports nickname. Guy named Nazareth who shoots 3-pointers and saved his team from losing on multiple occasions is about as perfect as I could imagine.

Cyched (forums) asks: Some people say shampoo is better because it goes on first and cleans the hair. Others argue conditioner is better because it leaves the hair silky and smooth. Where do you stand?

The answer to this question is simple. If you’ve been wandering through the desert for a week and come to an oasis on the edge of a cliff with a waterfall perfect for bathing nearby, and you glance up to see a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of conditioner rolling slowly toward the edge of the cliff (you only have time to save one for your upcoming desert cleanse), which one would you save? You’d save the shampoo, of course.

Conditioner alone doesn’t get your hair clean. Conditioner without shampoo is like eating whipped cream without a slice of pie. Whipped cream may enhance the pie eating experience, but you need the pie first. And pie is still worthy of eating on its own.

Don’t overthink this. Shampoo is the answer.

Kevin Fitzpatrick

administrator

Kevin graduated from the Iowa State Greenlee School of Journalism in 2015 and spent two years as the managing editor of ISU's SB Nation blog, Wide Right & Natty Lite. He enjoys golfing and spending time with his beautiful wife Kimmy in his free time.