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MLBPET 2011 Baseball Forecast

By Bradford Doolittle | Filed in Uncategorized

For a number of years now, I've prepared for the Major League Baseball season by running projections for players and rolling them up into team forecasts. The system is a counterpart to and actually predates my basketball system, NBAPET, and as such bears a similar name: MLBPET. Since I've sought to de-emphasis sabermetrics in my baseball work, I didn't really have a place to publish MLBPET's forecasts this season, so I thought I'd throw them up here, just to get them on record. I don't really feel like re-writing the overview of my methodology that I come up with every season, but here's what I wrote last year, for a site for which I used a Royals angle:

"My process (see, I have a process, too) for projecting the baseball season is really pretty simple, though it requires an encyclopedia of data and a spreadsheet that currently takes 31 minutes to open on my laptop. First, I generate projections for several thousand players, dipping deep into the minor-league organizations for each team. The projections are based on recent performance, with the most recent seasons given the most weight. I also apply aging adjustments to player forecasts, based on historical patterns.

"Once I have all those raw projections in the hopper, I then build each team's anticipated depth chart and divide up the playing time. This is an inexact science, but in general, players with a history of being injured or platooned are going to receive the more pessimistic projections for playing time. Once the depth charts are built, the system adds up the runs created and allowed for each team. The data is fitted to a predicted run-scoring environment which is based on league data from the last five years. At the end of this step, I have an initial projection of each team's record, which always turns out to be really close the the official projection.

"At this point, I input each team's predicted runs scored and allowed totals into a simulation engine, in which I've also entered the 2010 schedule. Then the fun begins: I run the simulation 100,000 times to see what happens. What I'm left with are average win totals for each team's run of simulations, as well as their percentage chances for playing on in October. In 100,000 simulations, it would be very unlikely for a team to project to a ZERO percent chance of making the playoffs. So it is for the Royals. So I say again, the Royals can make the postseason in 2010."

There you go. Let's start with the baseline won-loss projections with runs scored and runs allowed. No commentary--the projections are what they are.

NL East        W   L   Pct   RS   RA
Philadelphia  89  73  .549  767  684
Atlanta       88  74  .543  785  706
Florida       84  78  .519  762  731
New York      83  79  .512  759  739
Washington    71  91  .438  708  800
NL Central     W   L   Pct   RS   RA
St. Louis     86  76  .531  799  745
Cincinnati    83  79  .512  778  753
Chicago       78  84  .481  756  780
Milwaukee     78  84  .481  708  735
Pittsburgh    72  90  .444  737  824
Houston       69  93  .426  667  784
NL West        W   L   Pct   RS   RA
San Francisco 89  73  .549  759  681
Los Angeles   85  77  .525  717  672
Colorado      84  78  .519  835  797
San Diego     78  84  .481  682  703
Arizona       72  90  .444  735  822
AL East        W   L   Pct   RS   RA
Boston        94  68  .580  896  750
New York      90  72  .556  879  774
Tampa Bay     85  77  .525  811  766
Baltimore     80  82  .494  831  838
Toronto       68  94  .420  684  812
AL Central     W   L   Pct   RS   RA
Minnesota     83  79  .512  823  791
Detroit       83  79  .512  803  776
Chicago       81  81  .500  798  797
Cleveland     74  88  .457  772  839
Kansas City   67  95  .414  732  875
AL West        W   L   Pct   RS   RA
Texas         88  74  .543  847  763
Oakland       83  79  .512  742  716
Los Angeles   79  83  .488  719  736
Seattle       70  92  .432  656  757

Here are the results of using those baseline projections and simulating the season 100,000 times. List are each team's adjusted average win total, an their percentage chances of winning a division, a wild card berth and just making the playoffs.

NL East         aW     Div      WC      PL
Philadelphia  89.3  43.64%  14.26%  57.90%
Atlanta       88.1  34.55%  14.88%  49.43%
Florida       83.2  12.83%   9.01%  21.84%
New York      81.6   8.71%   6.76%  15.47%
Washington    70.2   0.27%   0.23%   0.50%
NL Central      aW     Div      WC      PL
St. Louis     88.0  50.04%   6.83%  56.88%
Cincinnati    85.3  31.14%   7.52%  38.66%
Chicago       79.7   9.42%   3.12%  12.54%
Milwaukee     78.7   7.37%   2.48%   9.85%
Pittsburgh    73.4   1.64%   0.52%   2.16%
Houston       69.1   0.39%   0.10%   0.49%
NL West         aW     Div      WC      PL
San Francisco 89.2  48.51%  10.52%  59.03%
Los Angeles   85.9  26.53%  11.08%  37.61%
Colorado      84.5  19.64%   9.46%  29.11%
San Diego     78.3   4.60%   2.81%   7.41%
Arizona       72.1   0.72%   0.39%   1.11%
AL East         aW     Div      WC      PL
Boston        94.0  57.78%  21.59%  79.37%
New York      90.2  30.23%  29.05%  59.28%
Tampa Bay     84.8   9.45%  15.35%  24.80%
Baltimore     79.6   2.52%   5.27%   7.78%
Toronto       66.1   0.02%   0.04%   0.05%
AL Central      aW     Div      WC      PL
Minnesota     85.7  39.12%   5.07%  44.19%
Detroit       85.2  35.91%   5.02%  40.93%
Chicago       82.4  20.70%   3.95%  24.65%
Cleveland     75.4   3.86%   0.82%   4.68%
Kansas City   68.1   0.40%   0.06%   0.46%
AL West         aW     Div      WC      PL
Texas         89.8  67.48%   4.43%  71.91%
Oakland       83.5  22.82%   6.51%  29.33%
Los Angeles   79.2   9.11%   2.74%  11.85%
Seattle       69.7   0.59%   0.13%   0.72%

Finally, here is a forecast for each team by unit: hitting, overall pitching, fielding and bullpen. Listed are the club's predicted league rank for each unit.

NL East      HIT  PIT  FLD  PEN
Philadelphia   5    3    5   16
Atlanta        3    4   12    6
Florida        6    5   15   13
New York       7    9    6   11
Washington    14   12   14    7
NL Central   HIT  PIT  FLD  PEN
St. Louis      2   10    8   14
Cincinnati     4   11    2   10
Chicago        9   15   11    4
Milwaukee     13    7   10   15
Pittsburgh    10   14    4    8
Houston       16   13   13   12
NL West      HIT  PIT  FLD  PEN
San Francisco  8    1    3    3
Los Angeles   12    2    1    2
Colorado       1    8   16    5
San Diego     15    6    7    1
Arizona       11   16    9    9
AL East      HIT  PIT  FLD  PEN
Boston         1    1    9    4
New York       2    8    5    1
Tampa Bay      6    9    3    9
Baltimore      4   14    8   14
Toronto       13   11   12    8
AL Central   HIT  PIT  FLD  PEN
Minnesota      5    5   13    5
Detroit        7    4   10   10
Chicago        8   10    7    3
Cleveland      9   12   11   12
Kansas City   11   13   14    2
AL West      HIT  PIT  FLD  PEN
Texas          3    7    2    6
Oakland       10    2    1    7
Los Angeles   12    3    6   13
Seattle       14    6    4   11
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At The Buzzer: Reviews of Episodes 27, 28 and 29

By Brian Doolittle | Filed in NBA, NBA Radio Show

These past three weeks have been a lot of fun, but have also involved abundant change revolving around how I handle producing the very first NBA radio program in the history of the St. Louis market. I certainly remain committed to this show, and look forward to doing it for many, many years - as long as I have an available, viable outlet.

I started a new, full-time sports editing position two weeks ago and now have to deal with planning this show with more limited hours in which to deal with the various tasks involved in putting this together each week. But, I’ll just keep offering the best I have, and hopefully I will have more feedback to look forward to in the near future.

I have been working with producers Jon Parker and David Cline, and each is a joy to work with. It is great to be able to have fun and relax in the Sports Radio 1380 studio, and put on the show with such agreeable and mellow personalities. Stress and tension can easily ruin the flow of a radio show, and when I look back at my radio career as a webmaster, this explains much of what I saw go awry behind the scenes.

So .... here is the latest:

Episode 27
-- Opening commentary, including perspectives on Rajon Rondo, LeBron James, David Lee and our NBA week in review.
-- Segment 2: An interview with ex-Missouri star Keyon Dooling. We re-visited his time at Missouri and the transition from Norm Stewart to Quin Snyder. Also, we talked about his Mizzou teammates, his 11-year NBA career and the memorable players that he’s played with in the NBA.
-- An interview with Denver Nuggets writer Jeremy Wagner. We discuss the latest news regarding Carmelo Anthony and break down the dynamics involving team president and ex-Missouri player, Josh Kroenke.

Episode 28
-- Opening commentary: Includes a preview of the show, my NBA week in review and commentary regarding the Miami Heat’s collapse vs. Utah, Kevin’s Love 31-31 game, Michael Beasley’s hot streak and the Pacers’ 54-point quarter.
-- An interview with New Orleans writer Ryan Schwan. We discussed the Hornets being the NBA’s final undefeated team, and exactly why they are much improved from last season. We also discussed Chris Paul, and New Orleans’ long-term outlook.
-- An interview with Lakers writer Darius Soriano, as we discuss LA’s hot start and outlook for the 2010-11 NBA season. We discuss LA’s top challengers, Kobe Bryant’s career and what to look for in the Western Conference.

Episode 29
-- Opening commentary: Includes discussion about the rare NBA perfect game from Matt Barnes, the amazing performance by Darko Milicic, the disappointing atmosphere at Miami Heat games, the underhanded method of FT shooting, a major David Lee update, Tim Duncan’s milestone and our NBA week in review.
-- An interview with Miami Heat writer Surya Fernandez. We discuss Heat fan’s reaction to early season losses, expectations concerning this team, how LeBron James is fitting in and the poor game atmosphere in Miami.
-- An interview with Orlando Magic writer Eddy Rivera. We discuss the burgeoning rivalry between the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat, the new arena in Orlando, and break down the play of Dwight Howard, Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis. We also examine what may lie ahead in the Eastern Conference this season.

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At The Buzzer: Episode No. 26 Review

By Brian Doolittle | Filed in NBA, NBA Radio Show

It was a relatively smooth morning last Saturday, as I entered the studio excited about the show, the amazing Saturday that lay ahead and the illusion that Missouri football would be enjoying a monumental triumph later in the day. Well, the show and the weather remained enjoyable. As for the MU debacle, at least I had an abundance of my favorite beverages to get through that unfortunate experience.

I worked with producer Dave Cline again, and he did a great job of keeping the show's timing on schedule and working with me to stay on track. Plus, we had a pretty good time talking sports - and weight loss - during the lengthy pre-recorded interviews.

My opening commentary included a look at the new Miami Heat experience, LeBron James’ incredibly miserable turnover rate and very boring performance, and our NBA week in review. This allowed me to touch on why it’s really fun to watch the Golden State Warriors.

The second segment featured an interview with NBA writer Rob Mahoney, who covers the Dallas Mavericks and also writes for several well-known NBA outlets. We talked about the Mavericks and previewed the Southwest Division.

The show's third segment showcased my interview with NBA writer Royce Young, who covers the Oklahoma City Thunder and the NBA in general. We discussed my new favorite team, the Thunder, and Kevin Durant. We also spent a lot of time previewing the Northwest Division. For more information about this radio show, please click here.

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At The Buzzer: Episode No. 25 Review

By Brian Doolittle | Filed in NBA, NBA Radio Show

This was a landmark episode, in the extreme relative sense of my radio show’s importance. I remember thinking after last week’s show that, regardless of the show’s future success, I have been on the air now for over six months and for 25 shows. These are achievements that may have little impact on the world outside of my scope, yet is exceedingly significant to my own lifelong goals.

The studio show that airs before mine on Sports Radio 1380 in St. Louis has been running close to 11am, so the transition to get on the air in a timely manner is very challenging. It’s kind of like radio’s version of a “double-switch”; a new host and a new producer have to switch places while staying focused on what needs to be done, both technically and regarding immediate audio content.

Once we got going, it was our usual routine as I was working with producer Jon Parker again. The Grateful Dead’s Shakedown Street segued into my opening commentary, which included a look at the strange final night of the preseason, random musings and NBA news. This included a Darius Miles update; Miles is, once again, a free agent.

The show’s second segment featured my quick-hit Pacific Division preview, and our interview with Phoenix Suns writer and NBA expert Seth Pollack. We broke down the new-look Suns, Amare Stoudemire’s departure, and the rest of Pacific Division.

The final segment showcased my interview with NBA writer Kevin Pelton, co-author of the “Bible of Basketball”, the Basketball Prospectus. We discussed the book, and the huge impact that advanced statistical analysis is having in the NBA community and with NBA management. Also, we completed our Pacific Division preview. The show wrapped up with my closing commentary, sign off and NBA Finals prediction. For complete information about this show, please click here.

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At The Buzzer: Episode No. 24 Review

By Brian Doolittle | Filed in NBA, NBA Radio Show

After working with yet another new producer the previous week - which actually worked out well – I was teamed up again with Jon Parker for No. 24. This was my second show at the 11am time slot, and I am really enjoying the increased exposure and better time slot.

Sure, I cannot sleep late on Saturdays but it is nice to get up and just take care of business, and be able to spend my afternoon outdoors and on the basketball court. My opening commentary included a show preview, including my Atlantic Division preview and some news updates regarding David Lee and Michael Jordan.

The show’s second segment featured an Atlantic Division preview with New York Knicks and well-known NBA writer Mike Kurylo from Knickerblogger.net, a popular web site among the online and NBA writer community.

In the final show segment, we presented our Central Division preview with Cleveland Cavaliers and NBA writer Mark Cameron. We examined what does the Cleveland Cavaliers look like post-LBJ, and discussed whether the Milwaukee Bucks can give the Chicago Bulls a run in the Central Division. Boo-yah.

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At The Buzzer: Episode No. 23 Review

By Brian Doolittle | Filed in NBA, NBA Radio Show

I worked with my seventh producer in 23 shows last week, but things went very well. It was an entirely new experience to wake up and just get right to it. Kind of nice; I walked out of the radio station at 12:10pm with the entire day still ahead of me.

The new show time of 11am is quite a thrill for me, as it should expand the audience and exposure. Since I am fulfilling a lifelong dream, every little bit of advancement has an exponential impact on my spirit and outlook.

The first segment featured my opening commentary, including the preseason game in Kansas City at the Sprint Center between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder. I felt that KC rose to the occasion very well with support and game presentation. I also provided my quick-hit preview of the Southeast Division.

The second segment featured an interview with Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers, who was a star player (and hero) at Kansas and led them to the 2008 national championship. We discussed LeBron James as a teammate, what lies ahead for Miami this season, and his time at Kansas.

The show wrapped up with the Southeast Division preview with NBA and Orlando Magic writer Evan Dunlap. We examined what the Orlando Magic are facing now that the Heat have loaded up their roster, and talked about the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Bobcats and Washington Wizards. Also, the show’s final news segment and current struggles of the Lakers … and show sign off.

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At The Buzzer: Episode No. 22 Review

By Brian Doolittle | Filed in Uncategorized

This particular episode was unique in that it was entirely pre-recorded from my home office. My family left the previous evening to visit my mom and to attend the annual Apple Festival in Versailles, MO. This is the second consecutive year we’ve attended the event, and given that we have a two-year-old little girl it will remain a yearly tradition for a very long time.

It was interesting to put the show together. It took longer than anticipated, like what occurs with most worthwhile pursuits. Those of you who have created podcasts can likely relate. Having a quality USB microphone really made it possible to complete and produce the opening segment, and then I used Audacity as my audio editing software program, including editing my two interviews. I streamed the show from afar, and producer John Parker did an excellent job of flowing the show as intended on air. It’s not as easy as some may think.

My opening commentary included a preview of the show's guests and the latest NBA news; this included Carmelo Anthony and a Denver Nuggets update, Greg Oden news, the rookie class of 2007 and more.

Segment 2 featured an interview with Chaminade College Prep High School head basketball coach Kelvin Lee. Kelvin has been at Chaminade for 14 years, and coached NBA star David Lee for his four seasons there. We re-visited those days with coach Lee, got his thoughts on David Lee now being in Golden State, and what Lee’s high school recruiting madness was like - and why he went to Florida.

The final interview segment showcased NBA and Sacramento Kings writer Zach Harper. We discussed whether the Kings can remain in Sacramento now that their proposed arena deal has fallen through. Of course, we attempt to see if the Kings may move to STL, and what lies ahead in the Kings’ future.

The show wrapped up with a final news segment and my sign off. We touched on North Carolina freshman Harrison Barnes, the story of USC superstar Harold Miner, Nate Robinson wearing Shaquille O’Neal’s size 22 shoes and signed off with a big thanks to show sponsors RG Plumbing Services, The Post Sports Bar & Grill and producer Jon Parker.

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At The Buzzer: Episode 19, 20 and 21 Reviews

By Brian Doolittle | Filed in NBA, NBA Radio Show

One of the most relevant aspects to this radio show for me is that as I create new experiences and fulfill a nearly lifelong vision, I am enjoying something that cannot ever be taken away. The discoveries, conversations and related fulfillment keep growing and I’ll never look back at this venture into uncharted personal territory with any level of regret.

So there.

My primary highlight from Episode 21 is my interview with basketball legend Rob Boone, who played for STL's ABA team in '75-76. He also played with Moses Malone, Adrian Dantley, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, among many others. My opening commentary included a full breakdown of the Carmelo Anthony trade possibilities, Don Nelson’s unfortunate pending retirement and a look back at the ABA and Spirits of St. Louis.

ABA and NBA legend Ron Boone has been an announcer for the past 22 years for the Utah Jazz. Boone played in St. Louis, alongside Marvin Barnes, Ron Boone, ML Carr, Don Chaney, Maurice Lucas, Moses Malone, Freddie Lewis, Caldwell Jones … even current New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni was on that team. The show’s final segment was an interview with Brandon Coleman, part of a group promoting the NBA in St. Louis. I added my perspective on any new city acquiring an NBA team, then discussed if Mo Williams really thought about retiring and how the Cavs are a big mess.

Episode No. 20 featured my opening commentary regarding Team USA winning the gold medal at the FIBA World Championships in Turkey. I also talked about how DVR is a life-saver now that I'm a father and set the proverbial stage for the show's interviews with LeBron James' high school coach and also lifelong friend and St. Vincent/St. Mary teammate Dru Joyce. University of Akron head coach Keith Dambrot coached LeBron James as a freshman and sophomore at St. Vincent/St. Mary, before leaving for Akron where he has been very successful.

Dru Joyce III, who played with James at St. Vincent/St. Mary, went to on to become the all-time assists leader at the University of Akron. His father (Dru Joyce II) coached St. V during James' junior and senior seasons.

Episode 19 focused heavily on the FIBA World Championships semifinals. Kevin Durant was dominating, Russell Westbrook played well and Team USA shut down ex-Missouri star Linas Kleiza, who had been scorching for Lithuania. We started ATB’s “Will Carmelo Anthony be traded?” talks, and how Darius Miles is getting a chance in Charlotte.

This show featured a strong interview with NBA writer Rob Mahoney, as we discussed the Worlds, why the USA does not care much about it compared to other nations, and the role of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on Team USA. We also talked about the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks.

The final segment featured a breakdown of a potential Carmelo Anthony trade to the Chicago Bulls with an interview with blogabull.com, SB Nation's official Chicago Bulls NBA affiliate blog. Also, we discussed what Derrick Rose needs to improve on to become an elite guard and had a Bulls overview.

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At The Buzzer: Episode 18 Review

By Brian Doolittle | Filed in NBA, NBA Radio Show

I am still thoroughly enjoying the 10-minute commute to the Grand Slam Sports studios in Webster Groves, compared to the back-and-forth trek to Laclede’s Landing that involved single-handedly setting up a live sports bar remote that included numerous obstacles.

My main concern for episode No. 18 was that the Notre Dame-Purdue game on Sports Radio 1380 would end in time for my 6pm show. How the heck was I to handle that deal? If it was close to the end, maybe I’d get a few more listeners. But … if the game encroached into my hour, that would entail a lot of concerns.

The Irish rocked the Boilermakers in timely fashion. No problem. I began my opening commentary right at 6pm. I even touched on my extreme passion for college football, and favorite announcer Brent Musburger and his signature phrase, “You are looking live!”

I quickly tried to sell the “Blaine Gabbert for Heisman” campaign, then adeptly moved into Team USA and World Championships analysis. Our second segment was an interview with Saint Louis University head coach Rick Majerus, who was an assistant coach under Don Nelson the last time Team USA won the World Championships in 1994 – 16 years ago.

We re-visited coach Majerus’ experiences with those NBA players, and touched on numerous other topics with one of the great basketball minds out there.

In our final segment, we talked with NBA writer Royce Young, who is covering the World Championships for CBSsports.com and who also covers the Oklahoma City Thunder on a daily basis. We discussed Kevin Durant’s impact on Team USA, and also how Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is a budding superstar and defensive stud. There is no more exciting team than the OKC Thunder!

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At the Buzzer: Episode No. 17 Review

By Brian Doolittle | Filed in Uncategorized

Most people tend to agree that spending a lot of time listening to yourself can be rather unpleasant. Not sure if this may be different with singers, professional speakers and the narcissistic. But, for me, it can be very painful ... but sometimes not as much.

I am relatively pleased with the radio show over the past two months, but am slighted irritated at last week's opening commentary. It's not awful. No major errors. But there are a few moments where I don't sound natural.

It is such a freaky thing to be on the radio for someone like myself. I love it, and look forward to the show each week because I genuinely enjoy the content and the fact no one else is doing what I am doing. If I found out that, say, only 37 people in the St. Louis metro area were actually tuned in and listening it would have no impact on my experience. Regardless of of how this turns out, whether it be six months from now, or 16 years from now, I will always be pleased that I pursued one of my life's dreams: to bring my love of the NBA to St. Louis radio. So, there you go.

The show seems pretty well entrenched, so I don't mean to imply otherwise. Just recently I have ran into a struggle to cover my costs for doing this show, but hopefully that will work itself out very soon. I'm sure when basketball season returns, that will help quite a bit!

But, as for my performance, I think I do a decent job of just talking like I usually do  to other sports fans. There is a certain necessity to speaking in a radio-friendly manner and to move outside of yourself at times, but, for me, the primary thing is to never "act." No reason to be artificial, inflammatory and just act like someone you are not. Well, that is my approach anyway. If you listen to a lot of sports radio shows, they tend to be light on content, feather light on substance and heavy on  being antagonistic, sensationalistic and controversial - or, at best, they just talk about TV, movies and sex in an attempt to pass that off as a radio show.

The challenge for me is to not be boring. But if you like basketball and sports, then you'll like the show. I may not be a fake, an asshole or an actor - but I love hoops and will bring that passion to the air as long as the opportunity is in front of me.

As for episode No. 17, I could have paced myself better and been more jovial in the opening segment but my headphones volume was off (my fault)  and I thought I was louder than I was. I broke down the plight of Team USA in the World Championships, and set the stage for the show's theme:  the historical impact that the University of Kentucky had in the 2010 NBA Draft.

I was very pleased with the good interview we had with Washington Wizards writer Zach Weidie, as we analyzed John Wall, Gilbert Arenas and the state of that franchise.  I was equally happy with the interview we had with Sacramento Kings writer Zach Harper. as we taked in-depth about DeMarcus Cousins, and also Tyreke Evans and what to look for from the Kings in the 2010-'11 season. Each is an NBA expert who happens to specialize in a single team's coverage. But you'll find their work all over the NBA landscape.

I also discussed the wild story of ex-Missouri player Josh Kroenke gaining control over the Denver Nuggets ... at the age of 30. Damn that kid! For more info and to listen to any of At The Buzzer's interviews, please click here.

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