YI! SPORTS STAFF
The premise is simple. Four teams of eight. Each team must consist of a professional athlete in each of the following sports: football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf and tennis. Each team also gets two “wild cards,” which can consist of an athlete in any of those six sports. The goal is to select a team of athletes that will win the most total MVP awards, team championships, Majors and Grand Slam titles during the next five years (May 1, 2012 to May 1, 2017). All achievements are considered equal.
This is how the draft shook out.
Round 1, Pick 1 (Byrnes)– Novak Djokovic – Byrnes keeps it simple with the most sensible first overall pick. The world’s No. 1 tennis player has won four of the last five Grand Slam events. It’s unlikely he will still be dominant in five years, but his likelihood of success in the short-term cannot currently be matched by any other individual athlete in the world.
Round 1, Pick 2 (The Sin) – LeBron James – Hate it or love it, LeBron James has been nothing short of great this season and is the odds-on favorite to be named the MVP for 2011-2012. Additionally, the Miami Heat are a legitimate threat to win the NBA title this season and for the next handful of years. Though the second overall pick is a high price to pay, King James gives The Sin a rock-solid athlete to build his squad around.
Round 1, Pick 3 ($hu) – Rory McIlroy – Golf is notoriously difficult to predict, but if you have to invest in one guy, you may as well take the world’s top-ranked player. $hu is thrilled the Northern Irishman and 2011 U.S. Open winner falls to him at No. 3, as McIlroy will be a favorite to win Majors for the next several years.
Round 1, Pick 4 (JOD) – Kevin Durant – With Lebron off the board, the Durantula is the most valuable NBA star left on the board. The potential 2011-2012 scoring champ has an outside chance to win this year’s MVP award and his Oklahoma City Thunder are probably the favorites to represent the Western Conference in the Finals. The media loves him, meaning MVPs are sure to come, and the Thunder’s young nucleus should translate to at least a few shots at the championship.
Round 2, Pick 1 – Rafael Nadal – The Spaniard is Djokovic’s main competition for the foreseeable future, so JOD pairs Durant with a safe and valuable pick. Nadal has won 10 Grand Slams and should threaten for more, so he offers potential and fills a shallow position.
Round 2, Pick 2 – Derrick Rose – The first semi-surprise of the draft, $hu fills his NBA slot with the reigning MVP. Much like Durant, Rose has a decent-sized window during which his relatively young Chicago Bulls should contend for a title. If he stays healthier than this year, another MVP award could be in his future. He’ll have an uphill battle though, having to knock off Lebron’s Heat in the East just to have the chance to challenge Durant’s Thunder (or whatever Western club can stop them) in the Finals.
Round 2, Pick 3 – Matt Kemp – The Sin, a baseball legend in his own right, takes the first MLB player off the board by nabbing the Los Angeles Dodgers’ stud centerfielder. Kemp nearly won last year’s National League MVP and is off to a torrid start to 2012. Though individual honors are more likely in the short-term, the Dodgers’ core of talent combined with new front office management could translate into realistic championship chances a few years down the road.
Round 2, Pick 4 – Aaron Rodgers – Though Byrnes was hoping for Kemp, he discount double-checks himself and settles for the 2011 NFL MVP. The amount of parody in the league is well-documented, but Rodgers represents as close as there is to safe pick for both personal and team accomplishments. Green Bay won the 2010 Super Bowl before winning 14 games in 2011, and given the QB-friendly environment in today’s game, Rodgers should have no problem producing statistically during the next few seasons.
Round 3, Pick 1 – Miguel Cabrera – Byrnes surprised himself with this pick to kick off Round 3, but later decided it made sense. Cabrera has finished in the top five in American League MVP voting for the past three seasons and, at age 29, should have many productive years left (he’s also not a New York Yankee, which bolsters his chance to win the award). There’s also a sizeable talent gap between the Detroit Tigers and anyone else in their division. That should give them a decent shot to at least advance to a World Series or two.
Round 3, Pick 2 – Keegan Bradley – The first “reach” of the draft, The Sin invests in potential and fills his golfer slot with the young American stud. Bradley won the 2011 PGA Championship during a phenomenal rookie season, so Sin will be hoping for more of that to come.
Round 3, Pick 3 – Alexander Ovechkin – $hu takes the first hockey player in a group that knows nothing about hockey. The sensation still has an outside chance at this year’s Stanley Cup (Washington has to win one eventually, right?), and remains one of the league’s elite talents.
Round 3, Pick 4 – Robinson Cano – Somebody had to take the hometown favorite, and JOD fills his MLB slot with the New York Yankee second baseman. The Bronx Bombers are regular postseason visitors, so it’s reasonable to count on at least one World Series title during the next five years. Cano’s talent (3rd in A.L. MVP voting in 2010) will keep him in the MVP discussion, though it would take an overwhelming season by the Yankee (and an underwhelming season by the rest of the league) for Cano to win. There’s slight risk here: Cano is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2013 season. But even if he leaves New York – which he probably won’t – he could sign with the Dodgers or another team ready to compete.
Round 4, Pick 1 – Tom Brady – JOD grabs the second quarterback by reluctantly taking the Boston hero. It’s easy to think Brady is past his prime, but he’s coming off of another phenomenal season and was a few plays away from yet another Super Bowl title. He (probably) won’t be too much of a threat four years from now, but outside of Rodgers, Brady has the best combination of individual talent and team capability to compete in the short-term.
Round 4, Pick 2 – Ryan Braun – The reigning National League MVP had a tumultuous off-season, but that doesn’t stop $hu from making him the fourth slugger off the board. Braun’s locked into a contract well past 2017 and Milwaukee’s best chance to win the World Series probably passed them by last October (Prince Fielder left, Zach Greinke probably will too). Titles will be hard to come by. Braun’s talent should keep him among the league’s elite, but it’s somewhat risky to expect the media to award him anymore unless and until the dark shadow over his reputation disappears.
Round 4, Pick 3 – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – The Sin makes everyone reach for their spell-checkers when he takes the French tennis star. It’s a long-term pick, and he probably could have waited another round two for him, but when you want some Tsonga, you take some Tsonga.
Round 4, Pick 4 – Dwayne Wade – Byrnes is the last one to fill his NBA slot, but still fills it with elite talent. It’d probably take a significant Lebron injury for Wade to ever win an MVP award, but if King James is going to win a ring, Wade will almost definitely be standing on the champion’s podium next to him. His unlikelihood to win any individual honors to made up for by his legitimate shot at multiple titles.
Round 5, Pick 1 – Evgeni Malkin – Sources tell Byrnes that the Pittsburgh Penguins are no longer in contention for the 2012 Stanley Cup, but Malkin is the favorite to win the 2012 Hart Trophy. If Sidney Crosby ever returns to elite status, the Penguins could win another Cup. If he doesn’t, Malkin could still rack up individual awards.
Round 5, Pick 2 – Henrik Sedin – Lots of goals for this 2010 MVP. That’s a good start.
Round 5, Pick 3 – Andy Murray – He’s good at tennis, even if he’s not as good as Djokovic or Nadal. And Murray is a lot easier to spell than Tsonga. The three-time Grand Slam runner-up has to break through eventually.
Round 5, Pick 4 – Luke Donald – He’s currently the best golfer not named McIlroy. Though the Englishman has yet to win a Major, he’s seemingly always in contention. JOD figures to cash in when he finally does.
Round 6, Pick 1 – Claude Giroux – Dude is a beast.
Round 6, Pick 2 – Tiger Woods – $hu pairs McIlroy with Tiger by filling one of his wild card slots with the golfing legend. If Tiger is going to make one last run at Jack Nicklaus’ record, he will need to start soon.
Round 6, Pick 3 – Drew Brees – As recently as a few months ago, this pick would look like a steal. Brees and his New Orleans Saints had the most explosive offense in the NFL and seemed primed to contend for another Super Bowl. But you may have heard about this whole “bounty” and “eavesdropping” thing, which could dismantle the coaching and defensive units around Brees. However, Brees still does not have a contract beyond 2012, so if things really go south in the Big Easy, Brees could take his talents elsewhere and take one last shot at a title with another franchise.
Round 6, Pick 4 – Russell Westbrook – Byrnes takes a slight risk with his first wildcard spot, taking Durant’s Thunder sidekick. Westbrook probably won’t win any MVP awards, but if he is content being the Robin to Durant’s Batman, the Thunder could win multiple championships. He is under contract through the 2016-2017 season, so the group should have a number of chances to win it all.
Round 7, Pick 1 – Bubba Watson – The lack of deep golf knowledge in the Byrnes war room shows as he desperately takes Watson to fill his golf slot. The law of averages suggests the Masters winner won’t win another Major anytime soon, but…whatever. America.
Round 7, Pick 2 – Lee Westwood – The world’s No. 3 player has also yet to win a Major, but, like Donald, seems to be knocking on the door. His tee-to-green game is elite, but he will need to improve his putting to take the next step.
Round 7, Pick 3 – Cam Newton – With Rodgers, Brady and Brees off the board, $hu looks a little farther down the road and grabs the 2011 Rookie of the Year. It’s nearly impossible to determine whether the Carolina Panthers will be Super Bowl contenders three years from now, but the sensation out of Auburn shows that they have the most important position taken care of. At the very least, Newton has a chance to be an eventual MVP.
Round 7, Pick 4 – Dwight Howard – A wild card in the truest sense. Howard has made a mess of things in Orlando and will be coming off of back surgery next season, but the best center in the game is always in MVP contention. More significantly, whether he eventually becomes a Net or a Maverick or a Laker, Dwight would have a strong chance to win a title.
Round 8, Pick 1 – Sidney Crosby – Another wild card for JOD. His team will give him a chance to win more titles. His health could give him a chance to do even more.
Round 8, Pick 2- Josh Hamilton – More risk in the final rounds.Hamilton’s hot start makes him the early (albeit extremely early) favorite for another MVP award and the Texas Rangers are set to compete for the next few seasons. But the risks forHamilton are well-documented – he is often injured, and relapses are a concern. He’s also a free agent after this season, which really makes this pick a wild card.
Round 8, Pick 3 – Prince Fielder – The recently paid Fielder will be in Detroit for more than five years, and Cabrera and Justin Verlander should give him his best chance at some titles. He’d probably have to crush 50 or so homers in a season to win any MVPs, since he will struggle to be even the most valuable player on his own team.
Round 8, Pick 4 – Hunter Mahan – Byrnes attempts to make up for Watson-gate with this last minute golf grab. But he really, really wanted to take Eli Manning.
Here’s a recap of how the teams shook out:
NFL: Aaron Rodgers
NBA: Dwayne Wade
MLB: Miguel Cabrera
NHL: Evegeni Malkin
Golf: Bubba Watson
Tennis: Novak Djokovic
Wild Card: Russell Westbrook
Wild Card: Hunter Mahan
NFL: Drew Brees
NBA: Lebron James
MLB: Matt Kemp
NHL: Henrik Sedin
Golf: Keegan Bradley
Tennis: Jo-Wilfried Songa
Wild Card: Lee Westwood
Wild Card: Prince Fielder
NFL: Cam Newton
NBA: Derrick Rose
MLB: Ryan Braun
NHL: Alexander Ovechkin
Golf: Rory McIlroy
Tennis: Andy Murray
Wild Card: Tiger Woods
Wild Card: Josh Hamilton
NFL: Tom Brady
NBA: Kevin Durant
MLB: Robinson Cano
NHL: Claude Giroux
Golf: Luke Donald
Tennis: Rafael Nadal
Wild Card: Sidney Crosby
Wild Card: Dwight Howard