PAYING THE TROLLS

Lance Zierlein: Every spring, people on Twitter hate me

Titans adding help for Marcus Mariota? Nope. Fuel for trolls. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The term “troll” has become an infamous addition into our country’s lexicon thanks to the anonymity of social media - most notably Twitter. By now, we know that the world is filled with miserable people who use Twitter as a method of intentionally attacking others in an attempt to elicit a response.

Since being hired by NFL.com in the fall of 2014, I’ve been lucky enough to handle draft analysis for the website which includes draft profiles, team needs for all 32 teams, and television and digital broadcast duties at the Combine and during the NFL Draft.  It also includes mock drafts.

Mock anger

Nothing, and I mean nothing can prepare you for the angry hordes and Twitter trolls that you will be faced with when you release a mock draft on a national scale. For starters, you have to develop a feel for which prospects are really first-round worthy. Figuring that bit of information takes studying draft history, learning positional value and then understanding player evaluations in that particular draft.

Secondly, you have to have a feel for team needs and you have to understand that teams often pass on drafting what the fanbase considers to be the “top need” in order to draft a good player at another position. There is no way for any normal mock drafter to know the narrative of what a team needs most and who they are most likely to draft like a hardcore member of the fanbase. So when you make a selection that doesn’t match the narrative of need or player, get ready.

The NFL’s twitter account has 24.6 million followers. When the NFL tweets my mock drafts out to that many followers, I ready myself for a barrage of angry fans and hopeful trolls looking to assail me with gifs of trash cans on fire, people dying of laughter, and little children vomiting. I typically take four to five hours to finish a mock draft. I put an excessive amount of time and effort into my mock drafts and get vomiting children for my hard work.

When the initial deluge of gifs finishes, I’m left with at least one angry fan base. After my mock 3.0 was released, the Tennessee Titans fans were the offended party because I gave them tight end Hayden Hurst from South Carolina. Apparently many mock drafts are pushing tight end to the Titans and the fans are beyond fatigued with it.

I gave them tight end because Delanie Walker’s contract is up and the Titans will need to find another tight end who can help as a run blocker and pass-catcher for Marcus Mariota. This didn’t align with Titans fans and they’ve spent the last 20 hours telling me how lazy and stupid I am and that I’ve lost my credibility. Sometimes I wonder if they even realize that this isn’t their actual pick.

Show recommendation

Catastrophe - When  my wife and I were in Chicago visiting friends last summer, one of our friends suggested we watch Catastrophe on Amazon Prime Video. For starters, he said that the combination of Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan was absolutely hilarious as couple who has a one-weekend stand and are forced to make life decisions after she gets pregnant. They decide to marry and give it a shot and the show revolves around their relationship (abroad in England) and her pregnancy.

The show moves forward with different story-lines over the next two seasons, but if you are married you will probably recognize many of the conversations and situations they find themselves in. The show is written and acted by Delaney and Horgan and they capture real conversations and real issues in a unique and effective way.

 

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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