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ESPN The Magazine 04.27.15

ESPN The Magazine is for the NEXT generation of sports fans who want to stay on top of the athletes, teams, topics and upcoming events in their own sports world. The Magazine celebrates not only sports, but the cultures and lifestyles that are an integral part of them - all with ESPN's unique personality and authority.

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nba draft ’ s top 4 imports

EMMANUEL MUDIAY CHINA The 6-5 point guard, 19, who moved from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the U.S. in 2001, is seen as an international player even though he went to Prime Prep in Dallas. Eligibility doubts after he committed to SMU led him to go pro in Guangdong, China. He didn’t up his stock much, but scouts like his work ethic and maturity, pegging him a long shot for No. 1. KRISTAPS PORZINGIS LATVIA The power forward has the size (6-11, 220) and athleticism to stretch the floor and protect the rim. Several international GMs and scouts say the 19-year-old could be the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki. More cautious personnel think he projects as a more athletic version of the Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic. Either way, he should be a top-five…

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[ hidden from justice ]

Jameis Winston is going to be drafted by an NFL team on April 30, probably with the No. 1 pick. But instead of sharing a bear hug with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the quarterback likely will stay home. He says it’s because he wants to be around his family. And Goodell won’t force him to appear; he undoubtedly understands that the optics of welcoming Winston—who was accused of but not charged with raping a Florida State classmate—are complicated at best. As this issue’s cover story on Winston details, he and Erica Kinsman tell different stories about what happened on Dec. 7, 2012. Kinsman says Winston raped her; Winston says they had consensual sex. But while #FSUTwitter and survivors’ advocates may forever argue the facts, what’s indisputable is the shocking ineptitude of…

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[ the bucks start here ]

ESPN’s Giant Killers project has been using analytics to hunt for Cinderellas during March Madness since 2006. And let me tell you, that task is nowhere near as difficult as trying to forecast upsets in the NBA playoffs. In the pros, lower seeds have won just 22 of 96 first-round matchups, and only three No. 1 seeds have lost since the league went to a best-of-seven format in 2003. Still, it’s not totally impossible to find someone to fit the glass sneaker at the NBA ball. As a general principle, Cinderellas don’t succeed by suddenly improving their overall play. Rather, they often go high risk/high reward, widening the variability of their scoring. It’s true that in the pros, the talent gaps between first-round opponents are much narrower and the giant-killing characteristics…

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For many major leaguers, there’s only one guy who can get away with brushing them back: Jose “Jordan” Lopez. The owner of two barbershops in New York City, Lopez started building a big baseball clientele after he met Luis Castillo in 2001 at spring training; Castillo then told his friend Edgar Renteria … and so on and so on. Lopez’s roster now includes regulars like Hernandez, Jose Reyes, Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Gomez and walk-ins, like Mike Trout, who stop by when Lopez is in town. King Felix met Lopez in 2005, and the two have been close ever since; Hernandez even takes him on the road. “I like how he cuts my hair, so I’ll fly him in every time. I have to look good,” says Hernandez. Lopez also…

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blackhawks, up

Hockey fans brag that their playoffs are the best in sports. They’re fluid! Exciting! Unpredictable! Hard to disagree—except now, thanks to our new Stanley Cup forecasting model, they just got a little more predictable. We began by studying recent Cup winners for common denominators, finding four consistent traits: elite puck control, top-tier goaltending, deep playoff experience and the ability to neutralize power plays. Then we calculated the average, per trait, for each champ since the 2004-05 lockout. Surprisingly enough, the only team to surpass each benchmark this year? The Blackhawks. Don’t argue with us. It’s math! 1 FOR PUCK’S SAKE When the score is close—tied or a one-goal game—and a lucky bounce can change the outcome of a season, puck possession is key. With four players in the top 35 in Corsi-for…

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yes, they cav! (maybe)

WHY THEY WON’T WIN… THEY’RE NOT EXACTLY BEST FRIENDS There’s no doubt the Cavs are long on talent, but they’re woefully short on male bonding. Says one East exec, “Their lack of continuity affects their ball movement and defense.” But the issue runs deeper than inconsistent help D or the challenges of integrating Love into the offense. Champions tend to emerge over time. Over the past 10 years, NBA champs have, on average, entered the playoffs with fewer than one new starter from the previous year; the average time those teams’ longest-paired duos had played together: 6.8 seasons. By contrast, Kyrie Irving is the Cavs’only returning starter, and he and Tristan Thompson are their longest-teamed duo, with all of three years together. And neither has any playoff experience. Team-building retreat, anyone? THEY’RE TOO…