Curry Lifts Warriors to Game 7 Win; NFL Draft Recap--Stanford Surprises
"Reports of our death," the Golden State Warriors might say, paraphrasing Mark Twain, "were greatly exaggerated."
The defending NBA champs ousted a talented, young Sacramento team with a 120-100 thrashing on the Kings' home court orchestrated by the incomparable Steph Curry.
The highly-entertaining series had storylines that changed literally with every game. To wit:
* Kings take the first two at home. Narrative: Kings' offensive rebounding is burying the Warriors, who need to box out and board more aggressively to have a chance. * Warriors win game 3 at home. Narrative: Looney takes over the glass. Phew! * Warriors take game 4 at home and 5 in Sacramento. Narrative: Dubs are back! Experience pays off, Green excels coming off the bench. They'll probably close it out in game 6 at Chase Center. * Kings take game 6 in San Francisco. Narrative: Warriors are too old, too slow. Fox and Monk are too fast. Poole is drowning on both ends of the court. * Warriors cruise in game 7 in Sacto to win the Series. Narrative: Curry is magnificent, setting an NBA Game 7 record with 50 points. Looney is relentless. Kings are maybe not quite ready for prime time. I have to admit, I was worried about Game 7, particularly with only 38 hours between games. Would the Warriors be able to stay with the younger Kings or would they be run out of the gym? If I was the coach, I told a few comrades, I'd be tempted to start youngsters Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga. Fortunately, I'm not the coach. Steve Kerr went the other direction, preaching patience, good shot selection, and taking care of the ball. His team listened...only seven turnovers. I did have one shining moment, however. My wife asked me Sunday morning if I thought the Warriors would win. "If Curry scores 50," I replied. NFL Draft Extravaganza: The NFL's marketing gurus do a great job of embellishing and promoting everything from the release of the schedule, to the NFL Combine, to the Draft. Given the extensive TV coverage of the three-day extravaganza and the number of talking heads, you'd think it was the election of the Pope or the coronation of King Charles. Here are some stats and observations about this year's draft: Conference Picks: Not surprisingly, the SEC had more draft picks than any other conference, with 62 players selected. The Big Ten was next with 55, followed by the ACC (33), Big 12 (29), Pac-12 (27), American (10), Sun Belt (9), Mid-American (7), Mountain West (5), conference USA (3) and Division II (2). Team Picks: On the team level--again, no surprise here--Alabama and Georgia led the way with 10 picks each, followed by Michigan (9), TCU (8) and Ohio State, Clemson, Penn State, Oregon, LSU, Florida and Pitt with 6 apiece. First Round Breakdown: For the first time ever, all 31 picks in the first round came from Power Five Conferences. The breakdown was SEC 9, Big Ten 9, Big 12 6, ACC 4 and Pac-12 3.
It wasn't that long ago that USC alone would have 3 players drafted in the first round. Why only 31 picks when there are 32 teams? The Miami Dolphins forfeited their picks in the first and second round for conduct detrimental to the league. They "tampered" with Tom Brady and Sean Payton while both were still under contract to other teams. Shame on them. Five Stanford Players Picked: For a team with two straight 3-9 records, Stanford got some respect from NFL teams. Five Cardinal players were selected: wide receiver Michael Wilson was taken in the 3rd round by the Arizona Cardinals (94th pick); corner Kyu Blu Kelly went in the 5th round (#157) to the Baltimore Ravens; quarterback Tanner McKee went in the 6th round (188) to the Philadelphia Eagles; wide receiver Elijah Higgins also went in the 6th (197) to Miami; and defensive back Kendall Williamson was chosen in the 7th round (258) by the Bears. Wilson went higher than many expected, given his rather modest accomplishments at Stanford. Over five injury-plagued seasons, he had 134 receptions for 1662 yards and 11 TDs. But he was always considered a strong player and a quality guy.
Kelly at one time was projected to be a much higher pick, but his stock dropped the last couple of years when he gave up a number of big plays. When Higgins was picked, the Dolphins referred to him as a tight end, rather than a wide receiver. Higgins is 6-3, 220 and Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel, the former 49ers assistant, envisions him as a pass catching tight end. He had 59 receptions for Stanford last year and has 4.5 speed. Williamson was the next to last pick in the draft. One pick later would've made him "Mr. Irrelevant," the same as 49ers QB Brock Purdy a year ago. McKee will battle former Notre Dame signal-caller Ian Book for the No. 3 quarterback role in Philly. The Eagles recently gave Jalen Hurts the biggest contract in NFL history and then acquired Marcus Mariota, the former Oregon Heisman Trophy winner, to back him up. Another local quarterback, Jake Haener, was taken in the fourth round by the Saints. Haener starred at Monte Vista HS in Danville and then at Fresno State (after transferring from Washington). He's a gamer and I wouldn't bet against him making some noise in the NFL.
Note: The Inside Track will be on vacation next week. We'll return May 15.