With lot of attention surrounding the NBA's 75 Greatest Players, I've decided to play around with the selections by making three All NBA Teams. They will solely be constructed of the players who were honored at halftime of the All Star Game.
All NBA First Team
All NBA Second Team
All NBA Third Team
Coach: Pat Riley
I know Phil Jackson has six more championships (11) than Riley (5), but Riley won with different teams while using different styles. I'd take him over some Triangle nonsense.
It wasn't one the greatest Super Bowls of all time, but it was certainly a entertaining contest that was close until the final play from scrimmage. In the end, the Los Angeles Rams emerged as Super Bowl champions for the second time in franchise history, and the first time in L.A. Among the many notable storylines such as the amazing halftime show, the one I found most fascinating was how both teams managed to get to this point.
For the Rams, they've been going all in since 2018, albeit their first taste of playoff football came in 2017 thanks to the hiring of Sean McVay. He took over a talented but underachieving roster and won 11 games in his rookie season, clinched the NFC West, and was awarded Coach of the Year. The Rams would then spend the next offseason making a flurry of trades, free agent signings, and contract extensions. While not all of the players they acquired or extended (Todd Gurley, Marcus Peters, Brandin Cooks, etc.) remain on the team it set a blueprint for their approach toward reaching the promise land. None of their transactions were more integral to their championship than these following moves: extending Cooper Kupp for three years, Jalen Ramsey for $105 million, trading a second and third round pick for Von Miller, giving up Jared Goff and two first round picks for Matthew Stafford, and extending Aaron Donald for six years and $135 million. With the exception of Andrew Whitworth who always gets resigned at a cheap price, these players almost make up the entire core.
When the Rams started to become a powerhouse, the Cincinnati Bengals were realizing that they would likely have to rebuild their roster. Their core which had helped them make the playoffs throughout the early 2010s was getting old and their best days were behind them. Pretty soon, they ushered in a new wave of offensive talent through the draft. Among these draft picks were Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Tee Higgins, Jamar Chase, and Tyler Boyd. In their first full season together, the Bengals had one of the most potent offenses in the league. They rebuilt the defense through many low profile free agent signings such as Trey Hendrickson and Von Bell who formed a devastating safety duo with Jessie Bates during the playoffs. Although no one in this core outside of Bell and Hendrickson had playoff experience, the entire team played as if they'd been there before, winning one tight game after another before ultimately meeting their match in the Super Bowl. There are still areas the Bengals need to address such as their pass protection, but their rebuild is well ahead of schedule.
As for a future matchup between these two teams, don't count out that possibility from happening. Both teams having young rosters who know what it takes to reach the big dance. The Rams have arguably the best coach not named Bill Belichick, the best cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the best QB-WR tandem, and one of the best defensive players this game has ever seen in Aaron Donald. They also might have an easier path with Tom Brady retiring and questions surrounding Aaron Rodgers' future in Green Bay.
The Bengals on the other hand play in a much tougher conference, but they already have a dangerous offense that looks destined to win championships in the future, and the leader of that offense is Joe Burrow. He cemented himself as a top 10 quarterback in his full season after missing the final six games from 2020 with a torn ACL. Burrow did injure that same knee during the Super Bowl but it won't require surgery and given that he was able to make a full recovery last offseason, the same should be expected.
Just as it looked like the Knicks were finally turning the page, the last three weeks have significantly hurt the Knicks playoff hopes. They have won just two games in that span and are sitting 1.5 games out of the play-in tournament. Even the least optimistic fan could not have expected the season to be this disappointing. If there's anything significant about this recent stretch, it's the likelihood that there will certainly be a trade at the deadline. The question is who should they pursue?
1. DeJountae Murray
In his fifth season, point guard Dejounte Murray has truly blossomed into one of the best draft steals in recent memory. Drafted at 29th overall by the 67 win San Antonio Spurs, Murray's production has gradually increased over the years. He's currently averaging career highs all across the board with averages of 19 points, nine assists, eight rebounds, and two steals. With Murray becoming a free agent in two seasons, they will likely extend him considering he's only 26 years old. However, the Knicks have plenty of draft capital for the next two NBA drafts, including three first round picks. They can certainly use their abundance of picks in order to finally get a young point guard capable of running an offense. Something that has held them back this year.
2. Myles Turner
Since December, Mitchell Robinson has certainly been playing as if he wants to stay in New York. However, his inability to stretch the floor and handle the ball has hurt the Knicks' offense at times and trading for Myles Turner would fix that. Whether they keep Robinson or not, Turner would provide an upgrade. He can put the ball on the floor and has shot a respectable 35% from three throughout his career. Lots of teams were interested in him before he had a stress reaction in his foot. Since then teams have been less active in pursuing him. If the Knicks can offer at least one draft pick, they should pounce on that opportunity.
3. Jalen Brunson
Although he hasn't started much during his career, Jalen Brunson of the Dallas Mavericks is an intriguing option for the Knicks. He's averaging career highs in points (17) and assists (5), and is well on his way toward setting a new personal best for games started. Additionally, Brunson is the most realistic player the Knicks can pursue. He will become an unrestricted free agent after the season and it will be hard to imagine the Mavericks meeting his contract demands. One main contributor toward this possibility is the fact that Luka Doncic has took the pressure of him. However, that should not stop the Knicks from trying to land him. Especially if they want to make a playoff push like last year.