A worker helps erect a red carpet and stage in front of the Bellagio hotel-casino during setup for the NFL football draft, Tuesday, April 26, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Draft Day 3

Happy Draft Eve everyone. I love the draft. You know this.

And before we get to the Titans — we did overall draft thoughts Monday and Falcons draft thoughts Tuesday — let's review the betting angles of the draft, which will only get bigger with the infusion of interest from the online betting folks.

Man, you can bet on almost anything with the draft these days. Just on here are some of the options for Thursday's first round:

> The No. 1 overall pick, where Georgia's Travon Walker is the runaway favorite at minus-225 (bet $225 to win $100);

> The No. 10 overall pick, where recovered Jaemson Williams and Garrett Wilson are the favorites at plus-250;

> Which position the Jets will draft first, where defensive lineman is a plus-125 favorite;

> Over/under 7.5 offensive linemen picked linemen picked in round one at plus-200;

> A 'first-to-be-picked' parlay in with Travon Walker as the first overall pick and Malik Willis as the first QB selected at plus-120 .

(Side note: I love that last option people.)

As for the Titans, well, the DraftKings odds have them leaning heavily toward an offensive lineman. I can see that, especially in a draft in which there are a bevy of big bodies ready to make an impact.

If a Kenyon Green from Texas A&M or a Bernhard Raimann from Michigan is still on the board, that's smart. And sensible.

But it also would be wise to target a legitimate defensive difference maker, and a guy like Devin Lloyd comes to mind. Lloyd is the linebacker from Utah who may be the best true linebacker in the draft. And if last year's draft showed us anything, the impact Micah Parsons had on a Dallas defense was almost immeasurable.

And if the Titans are truly about to part ways with AJ Brown, wide receiver makes a lot of sense as well.

NBA playoffs

I watch more NBA than I let on. The athleticism is amazing, even if the state of the game is deteriorating before our eyes because of ambiguous rules, mediocre-at-best-officiating, 'rest' days, questionable effort highlighted by a bona fide tanking problem, well you get the idea.

But the basketball skill sets and gifts of these guys are at an all-time high.

Side rant: Yes, the nostalgic folks among us will talk about the greatness of the 1980s with Bird and Magic and Dr. J, and that was undeniably great, but that was the greatest in large part because the previous eras of the game were so bad. And the physicality of the '80s game would have been a rude awakening for today's elite players rather.

But no matter how much Chuck Barkley wants to call Kevin Durant a bus-rider, gang, the level of play of today's greats is mind-blowingly great and every bit as good when compared to the level of play from those all-timers.

Check the comps:

Luka > Magic, because he's every bit as big, a better rebounder, and 10-times the shooter.

Who's handling Giannis or Durant, who is a 7-foot 2-guard who would drop 40 on Larry Legend, and I say that with admitting that I loved Larry Bird growing up? Want to see the all-time numbers, OK, one averages 27.2 points while shooting 49.6/38.4/88.4 from the field/3/line. The other averaged 24.3 and shot 49.6/37.6/88.6, and yes KD's numbers are listed first.

We've covered the LeBron-MJ chatter, and knows this, for all the deserved angst the Lakers received for missing the playoffs, LeBron just  averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game at the age of 3-bleepin-7 people.

Yes titles matter and those 1980s dudes were the cutthroat competitors that truly seems to be lacking in today's NBA.

But don't even get me started on the super-team chatter?

The only difference between then and now in regards to super teams is that the players are the ones engineering the construction of these super teams on their terms. The 1980s saved the NBA but they also were the most predictable decade in the modern history of organized team sports in terms of championship winners.

So that's another edge for the current game, because while the league will watch as the TV numbers decline this postseason, the uncertainty is exciting. At least for me. OK rant over.

But the thing we know that is for certain is that this version of the Hawks has zero shot at winning it all. It was not that long ago that I shared a couple of rather — what I felt at least — relatively harmless Tweets about the Hawks and star Trae Young. And somehow it circled to his fan base and they crucified me for it. Even with some harsh stuff I may share on Friday.

It's no secret that I believe the Young-for-Luka trade will go down in ATL history as one of the worst ever. But I also admit Young is a star, you don't score that much and hand out that many assists by accident.

But his style — and conversely the Hawks' style — is made for a regular season grind that features half the games against disinterested opponents and another third against overmatched ones.

Now add in Trae's noticeable defensive limitations — both size and defensive interest — and it will be Villanova-over-Georgetown level shocking to me if Trae Young is ever the best player on an NBA championship team.

So that leaves the now-finished Hawks with some serious questions.Let Young be Dominique 2.0, and let these Hawks be like the 1980s crew that consistently won 50 or so games and never really sniffed a title. (And truth be told, that team was deeper and more balanced than this one.)

Blow it up and rebuild, which would waste the biggest chunk of Young's prime?

Or what?

But can we all at least agree at this point that the future for the Hawks would look way, Way, WAY better if Luka was in the 404 rather than leading Dallas to the second round?

The King is dead

I was fully prepared to blast Mark Emmert, the clown prince who has led the NCAA into one bad move or wrong decision after another, but Weeds handled that with great deftness this morning.

Read his assessment of Emmert, who has said his last day will be no later than the end of June 2023, here, and if anything, Weeds was too kind to Emmert's disgusting, dishonest, disingenuous tenure.  

In truth, Emmert should have worn a mask when he cashed that annual $3 million salary, because he stole that money. What a disgrace. But that leaves the conversation about what will happen moving forward, and who if anyone wants that job, and maybe most importantly, without a back-slapping, power-program

Weeds throws Jay Wright's name out there, and while Wright is the picture of class in a college basketball profession that is so starved for decency, that, well, Tom Izzo and Coach K are considered dignified.

But Wright would be like the now-dated policy of hiring the football coach at State U to be the AD. This is more a CEO job than an athletics job these days, regardless of the nature, and whomever is charged with it must be extremely well-versed in the marketing and media aspects of the  current and future climate.
It also should be a real chance of self-evaluation for the college sports structure as well as the conferences themselves. The current model is beyond fractured, and worse than that, it's dated to a point of trying to treat COVID with leeches and hot matches.

And with that many chefs in the kitchen — chefs from various conferences of all size, various sports of all sizes, various networks and corporate partners of all sizes — finding a leader to handle that will be difficult.

Hey no one ever said Emmert had an easy job, we just all knew he was lousy at his difficult job.

Some suggestions: Big time football needs to break away. Do it and write different rules. And do it with a 25-year deal that the Power Five conferences will stay in college hoops, because that's the NCAA money maker.

Let the power conferences do what they are going to do in football, but you have a better chance to save the rest of college sports as we know it — and want it — with that concession.

As for the other, the three biggest issues that must be addressed in order are NIL, the transfer portal, and Title IX. And I offer the last one as a dad of a female athlete with all gratitude to the opportunities Title IX has offered female athletes.

And yes, it's a federal law that will require lobbying and legislation, but without question the intents of providing more female opportunities was not ever intended to limit male opportunities.But that's where we are and it's a path that will continue to be followed the money of more and more mid-major and low-major programs becomes tighter and tighter in coming years.

Hey, what's Barack Obama doing these days, maybe he wants the job.

It's not like he could do any worse than the previous guy.

This and that

— More Mickelson melodrama? Yes please. So reports have Mickelson scheduled to be not only in the first LIV event, but in the full eight tournaments on the LIV schedule. (Side note: That first tournament should be dubbed the "Scary Mother" Invitational if you ask me.) Mickelson also reportedly got $30 million in appearance fees to play the full slate, and considering the hole in his annual bottom line with the various sponsors splits, well, hmmmmmm.

— Also in that report about the LIV league, it appears that two names we offered yesterday — Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, two aging big names with less than PGA Tour-ready games — are in the LIV debut event. So too, reportedly are Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen. This whole Titliest of wax is going to end up in a circuit court near you at some point.

— Here's today's A2 column from a generally cheery round-face fella talking with the local owner of the Comedy Catch and the dangerous time for stand-up comedians.  

— You know the rules, and in advance of the draft — I love the draft, but we've covered that — of course TFP college football ace David Paschall will have some news knowledge. Here's a rundown of Travon Walker, the Georgia defensive end who has zoomed up draft boards and is the odds-on pick to go No. 1 overall, and if he is the first name called, it will break a tie between the Bulldogs and Auburn for the most No. 1 overall selections in the the SEC.

— Braves played, Braves won. For all the Freddie Freeman-Matt Olson drama of the offseason, I believe Alex Anthopoulos and his crew of crafty cast mates in the SS Front Office deserve a lot of credit for assembling a nasty 7-8-9 bullpen collection with Will Smith — no the other one who did not slap Chris Rock — Tyler Matzek and Kenley Jansen. That trio dropped a perfect nine-up, nine-down final three frames in Tuesday's 3-1 win.

— For the most part my NASCAR knowledge these days comes from trading emails with 5-at-10 regular J-Mac or when the Earnhardt name pops up on my social media feed. So it goes. Now comes this that Denny Hamlin is being forced to take sensitivity training after posting a racially 'offensive' thing on social media about Asian drivers and comparing it to another NASCAR driver of Asian descent. The target? Kyle Larson of course, and yes that's the same Kyle Larson who dropped the N-bomb on the hot mic during the early days of the pandemic. Here's betting Kyle has plenty of room for forgiveness and second chances in his heart. 

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way: Which position will the Titans take with their first pick?

Which position will the Falcons go with?Which word comes to mind to describe Mark Emmert's career?
Which draft prop do you like the best? (If I'm going to answer that, I almost assuredly have to go over 2.5 QBs because some team is going to trade back into round one and take a flyer on Desmond Ridder or Matt Corral after Willis and Kenny Pickett are off the board.)

As for today, April 27, let's review.So George Gervin — the Iceman, great nickname too — is 70 today. That man could finger roll.
Chuck Knox would have been 90 today.
Rushmore of Chuck, and this one may be tough. (And no, Chuck Barkley and other casually nicknamed Charleses do not count. Bona fide Chucks only please.)