The Buzz: Monta, Niemi, Lincecum

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The Buzz: Monta, Niemi, Lincecum

1. Pitchers and Catchers.
The Giants P&Cs report tomorrow which means the two biggest names on the team will be arriving in Scottsdale. Buster Poseys recovery from his ankle injury will be the story of the spring. But, as always, Tim Lincecum will be the biggest star. And were not the only ones who have noticed that he has something in common with the globes No. 1 sports story

2. Monta Ellis.
Is it time to trade him? Wait, wait werent we complaining that Monta didnt make the All-Star game just a few days ago? That Bay Area whiplash stems from two factors. One Ellis was on the bench as the Warriors collapsed against Portland and there seems to be some question about how seriously ill he was. The general consensus? Man up. Two and more importantly it all comes back to Jeremy Lin. If Ellis and Curry arent the answers, couldnt Jeremy Lin have been? Were never going to get over this one. Really. Never. Ever.

3. Antti Niemi.
He wasnt any good. I protect him a lot and I talk about the team but he has to be better. He flat out has to be better. Those were as harsh words as Todd McLellan has ever spoken since hes been in San Jose, which is why Niemi is trending higher than Dominic Moore - the forward the Sharks traded for on Thursday. Niemis problems in the 6-5 loss to Tampa and McLellans strong reaction prompts two questions. If McLellan says good things about Niemi in the future, can we believe him? And is McLellan reaching the breaking point with this inconsistent team?

4. Gary Carter
It was weird to see Carter in a Giants uniform, that one season he played at Candlestick in 1990. He was an iconic member of the 86 Mets, the leader of that band of misfits. Yet there he was at 36 ancient back in those days backing up Terry Kennedy on a lousy Giants team. Just one more old guy on an aging team that finished third in the N.L. West that year. That Earthquake World Series hangover lasted a long, long time.

5. John Herrera
The Raiders odd p.r. manenforcerbutler loyalist is out of a job, but he leaves us with one of the all-time great moments in Raiders history, when he lashed out at Tim Kawakami during a Lane Young Lance Kiffin press conference in 2008. Herrera coined the term smoke-pot buddy which truly never gets old. My favorite part? When he says Im not embarrassing myself. Yes, a new day has dawned in Raiders nation (so dont even fantasize about a Randy Moss comeback, people).

THE DAILY BUZZ...NFLMario Williams outlines what he is looking for in his contractA list of 10 defendersunder 30 building Hall of Fame resumes thoughts onPatrick Willis being 1 on the list?Do you agree that VincentJackson would be a perfect fit in SF?Shawntae Spencer has switched agentsWhy did the Raiders bring in a player with so many issues?CBS Sports takes a lookat the ideal free agent for every team in theleaguePro Football Focus ranks the top inside linebackers available infree agencyNBAA nice, clean look at how the NBA is thriving out of the lockout(ratings, social media, ticket sales, merchandise)Well, Seattle announced its arena plans. So what now?Ex-Warrior StephenJackson is a given to be shopped by the Bucks any interest?Allen Iverson in the D-League? Sad more thananything, right?Mark Jackson thinks KlayThompson could be the next Ray Allen or Reggie Miller do you?This columnist thinks Jeremy Lin should be in the All-Star Game anyone agree?Kevin Durants scoring average against the Warriors matcheshis highest against any opponentThe Thunder lead theleague in turnovers is that a key for GS tonight against Westbrook andcompany?Is David Lee starting to turn his season around?
NHLDominic Moore has beentraded 3 straight years for a second-round pickMore than anything, Mooreshould help the Sharks penalty killDo you know about HockeyWeekend Across America this weekend?
If the NHL ends up withan amnesty clause, which player are the Sharks most likely to use it on?Sharks are the focus of The Hockey NewsrumorsPlayoff matchups if the season ended todayThe Hurricanes wont have their leading scorer for tonightsgame vs. San JoseCould the Kings land RickNash? They seem to have all the piecesA pretty solid FAQfor the NHL trade deadline likely a talking point or two in hereWhy does the NHL rarely produce an overnight sensation, alaJeremy Lin?Did McLellan go too far in his ripping ofNiemi yesterday?MLBHardball Talk examines the San Francisco Giants rosterThe 10 best things about being an As fanYour fans can buy a house previously owned by Matt Cainor Pat Burrell, among others?Curt Schilling on Conan:Sosa, Bonds arent Hall of FamersFox Sports: 12 players under heavy scrutiny this season(includes Posey)Fernando Valenzeulas take on Linsanity (he can relate, for sure)MLB.com has the top 10 defensive teams in baseball thoughtson where the Giants ranked?Also, the Giants only got honorable mention in MLB.comsrankings of the top 10 teams in baseballGary Carter playedexactly 162 games against the Giants in his career how did he fare?Ex-GiantAthletic BrettTomko has signed with Cincinnati on a minor league dealBrandon Webb is throwing pain free any interest from yourteam?

Fultz a perfect fit, but do Kings have assets required to trade up?

Fultz a perfect fit, but do Kings have assets required to trade up?

It’s lonely at the top, which is where Markelle Fultz sits on almost every 2017 NBA Draft board. The Brooklyn Nets should be set for the next decade with a big time scoring point guard. Instead, it’s the Boston Celtics who have no choice but to take Fultz with the No. 1 overall selection after a savvy trade that sent veterans Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets for a stack of picks and players back in 2013.

Fultz can do it all. He’s deadly from the outside, he can take you off the bounce and he has elite passing skills to boot. In a draft packed with star potential, specifically at the point guard position, the freshman from Washington stands out well above the rest.  

It would take a major shake up at the top for Fultz not to have his name called first on draft night, but there are plenty of very talented players sitting on the board behind him. Here is a deeper look at the potential top overall selection.

The Positives:
Fultz has tremendous size, length and athleticism for an NBA point guard. He measured in at 6-foot-5, 195-pounds with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and has a frame built to take on muscle. At just 19-years-old, he is already well defined physically and has plenty of room to grow and get stronger.

A crafty, high-end scorer, Fultz changes speed and direction well and has an advanced Euro-step for a young player. He averaged 23.2 points in 35.7 minutes a night for the Huskies while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from three. He can score from all three levels, finish well above the rim and play through contact.

In his lone season in college, Fultz showed that he is not only a legitimate scoring threat, but he is a willing passer and an unselfish teammate. While Lonzo Ball is considered the true pass first point guard of the draft, Fultz had a higher assist rate (35.5 to 31.5) and lower turnover rate (13.4 to 18.2) than the star guard from UCLA.

Fultz rebounds well for his position, averaging 5.7 rebounds per game at Washington. He also has potential as a defender, posting 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks, although he is a work in progress on that end of the floor.

Known as a high-character kid and tireless worker off the court, Fultz has the entire package. He can also play the lead or shooting guard spot, which will come in handy if the Celtics decide to pair him with All-Star Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt.

The Negatives:
9-16 is a concern. Great college players should be able to will their team to victory, even if the talent around them is suspect. Washington was certainly worse off without Fultz down the stretch, losing their last six while he sat with a knee injury.

Shot selection and sloppy ball handling was also an issue this season. In Fultz’ defense, he played with a group that lacked overall talent and those issues might eventually disappear when he’s added to a roster that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.  

Fultz is a quality chase down defender, but he fell asleep on plenty of plays or didn’t show a consistent fight on the defensive end. Lack of focus allowed for plenty of back cuts. He also showed an inconsistent effort fighting through screens.

He’s a work in progress on the defensive end, like most young players coming into the league. Most of these issues can easily be coached out of him at the next level.

Projection:
Fultz has an advanced feel and tons of room to expand his game. On the court, he resembles another former Husky in Brandon Roy. Fultz is much further along than Roy was at the same age, but possesses both the ability to score from anywhere on the court, as well as rebound and set up his teammates.  

It’s hard to imagine the Celtics passing on Fultz with the top overall selection, but if they do, teams will scramble trying to move up to select him. He would fit perfectly in the Kings starting backcourt alongside sophomore Buddy Hield, but Sacramento lacks the assets to move from five to one, Fultz’ likely landing spot.

 

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The blisters on Johnny Cueto's middle and index fingers that limited his effectiveness in his last few starts haven't yet completely healed.

But the two-time All-Star is learning to pitch with them.

Cueto threw six strong innings and Brandon Crawford drove in three runs as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Sunday.

Cueto (5-4) bounced back from his roughest stretch as a Giant. He was 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his previous four starts.

"They're not bothering me like they were before," Cueto said through a translator. "I'm just getting used to it but I have to continue pitching until they get better."

The Giants won their third straight home series and posted their 11th victory in 18 games overall.

Crawford's two-run single highlighted a four-run second against R.A. Dickey (3-4) that made it 6-0.

Matt Kemp had three hits for Atlanta. But the Braves couldn't get much going against Cueto, who allowed one run on six hits and a walk. Cueto struck out eight, including five in a row at one point.

"He did what he needed to do to get us out," Kemp said. "We had chances to score runs and we didn't. I think in this series we really didn't do a good score of scoring runs."

Dickey allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on six hits and five walks in six innings.

"This can be a challenging place to throw because of the wind because it swirls so much," Dickey said.

Eduardo Nunez and Gorkys Hernandez each had two hits for the Giants. Joe Panik tripled to start the second-inning burst.

Cueto had two productive at-bats, bunting a runner to second in the second inning and driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third.

"It's always nice to have a lead and I thought Johnny was the sharpest he'd been this year," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "Hopefully it's something he can build on. The changeup was working really well and his command of the fastball was really good."

Posey was 0 for 2 with two walks. He hasn't struck out in 55 consecutive plate appearances.

FUN FACTOR:
The Giants scored the game's first run when Nunez came around from third when a knuckleball glanced off catcher Kurt Suzuki glove in the bottom of the first. The play was ruled a passed ball. Asked if he had any empathy for the plight of his counterpart, Posey said "Yes, no question. It's not fun to hit, it doesn't look fun to catch, either."

FANCY FIELDING:
Hernandez made a diving catch in the gap in left-center robbing Emilio Bonifacio of an extra-base hit with one out in the seventh inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips left in the fifth for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson. Phillips fouled a ball off his foot in his last at-bat in the third.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner will start his throwing program on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Bumgarner will start out playing catch and make five rehab starts. The 2014 World Series MVP suffered a separated left shoulder in a dirt biking accident. "The progress is happening," Bochy said. "I think he sees light at the end of the tunnel." ... Slumping rookie INF Christian Arroyo was out of the lineup on Sunday and his playing status appears uncertain. Arroyo, who turns 22 on Tuesday, is 0 for 19 in his last five games. "I'll talk to him, about what his situation is," Bochy said. "I'm definitely planning on giving him a couple of days" off.

UP NEXT:
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will make his first career start against the Angels in Anaheim on Monday. He is 3-9 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 career interleague starts.

Giants: LHP Matt Moore will face the Nationals for the second time in his career. He was with Tampa Bay when he gave up two runs in five innings against Washington in 2012.