☕️ Good morning! Let's sports.
☕️ Good morning! Let's sports.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Likely No. 1 pick Zion Williamson is expected to sign a lucrative sneaker endorsement deal prior to this year's May 14 draft lottery, with sneaker companies confident he'll be a marketing superstar no matter where he lands.
Why it matters: Many in the sneaker industry believe Williamson's deal will make him one of the three highest-paid rookie sneaker endorses ever, rivaling LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
"In my lifetime, I think it's going to be the biggest bidding war ever done. ... He is going to have an opportunity to be the face of every company and every major corporation. He is the most marketable person I've seen, for a lot of different reasons."— Famed sneaker exec Sonny Vaccaro (via ESPN)
Details: Zion will almost certainly get his own signature shoe, which is something only nine rookies in league history have ever gotten.
The brands: Nike (which he has some explosive history with, of course) and Adidas (which he grew up wearing) are the two biggest players, but let's be honest — every brand is going to at least take a run at this.
The good news for Zion: The NBA is expected to allow players to enter the league directly out of high school as soon as the 2022 draft, meaning Williamson could be one of the last "lightning-in-a-bottle NCAA superstars entering the NBA with a global social media profile," writes ESPN's Nick DePaula.
The bad news: Speaking of shoe sales-related risk ... one could argue that Zion is entering the league at precisely the wrong time, with basketball shoes accounting for just 4% of the shoe market in 2018, down from a high of 13% just a few years earlier.
FanGraphs' Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is an attempt to measure a player's contribution to their team in a single number.
By the numbers: In the above chart, we've plotted all 30 MLB teams based on their total projected WAR, which tells us how good they're expected to be.
With just three weeks left until the 2019 NFL draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have released their head-to-head pick predictions for the first two rounds (subscription).
Picks 1-7: The two draft "experts" agree on the top seven picks:
Photo: Courtesy Dos Equis 3X3U National Championship
The rosters for this weekend's second annual Dos Equis 3X3U National Championship have been announced.
How it works: The 3-on-3 style tournament is comprised of 128 seniors who have exhausted their collegiate eligibility (four from each of the 32 D-I conferences).
The NWHL might be on thin ice. Photo: Andy Marlin/Getty Images
From Mike Sykes: The Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) is shutting down effective May 1st after 12 seasons of play thanks to a failed economic model.
Why it matters: The National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) is now the last women's pro hockey league in North America.
The big picture: The Minnesota Whitecaps just became the NWHL's first profitable team, so there's hope that the league can achieve economic stability if other franchises can follow their lead.
The Frankfurt Galaxy. Photo: Ruediger Fessel/Borngarts via Getty Images
21 years ago today, NFL Europe, formerly known as the World League of American Football, kicked off its inaugural season post-rebrand.
Details: The league was used as a developmental pipeline for the NFL until its demise in 2007. During its final season, the name was changed once again, from NFL Europe to NFL Europa.
Go deeper: Oral history of the league
Answer at the bottom.
"After a mysterious freestyle ski run in last year's Winter Olympics, people called Elizabeth Swaney a scam artist and the worst athlete in the history of the games. They're wrong," writes Davy Rothbart for The California Sunday Magazine.
Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images
Pro-tip: Download The Action Network app to become a master at all this stuff.
1. Will the Canadiens and Capitals combine for Over/Under 9.5 goals?
2. Will Joel Embiid put up Over/Under 50.5 points + rebounds + assists + blocks against the Bucks?
3. Who will cover the spread in the NIT Championship between Lipscomb and Texas (-1.5)?
🎰 Play now: Make your picks (cutoff time: 7pm ET)
Yesterday's results: 40.6% correctly predicted that Jon Lester would allow under 2.5 runs. He allowed 2 … 57.7% correctly predicted that South Florida (+5.5) would cover the spread against DePaul. They lost 100-96 … 72% correctly predicted that the Rockets (+1.5) would cover the spread against the Clippers. They blew them out 135-103.
Kendall "How much does Kiper get paid" Baker
Trivia answer: Florida beat Ohio State 41-14 in the BCS National Championship Game and 84-75 in the Men's Basketball National Championship