Last Wednesday, the Knicks' dream season came to an unfortunate end against the Hawks in game 5 of the first round in the NBA playoffs. As tough as it was, the team gave fans a reason to smile for the first time in years. They went from being one of the worst teams in the league over the last five years, to winning more games this season than the last two combined. Let's look at how successful their season has been.
Despite the praise the Knicks received for hiring head coach Tom Thibodeau, expectations were low to begin the season. It looked like the losing would continue when the Knicks lost their first two games. But then they showed signs of what was to come with a stunning blowout over the Milwaukee Buck, which set the tone the season. Every game, the Knicks looked like they might've peaked, only to prove fans wrong and go on another winning stretch. In early April however, it seemed as though their magic was out after losing five out of six games. But like earlier in the season, New York wasn't done yet and proceeded to go on an amazing nine game winning streak. Even after their streak ended, they ended the season on an impressive note, winning three straight games to clinch the fourth seed before Atlanta ended the dream.
There are many people who deserve a ton of credit for the Knicks' success, starting with president Leon Rose. He made some smart, low-profile free agent signings, such as Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel, that significantly helped the team. Trading draft bust Dennis Smith Jr. as well as a second round pick for Derrick Rose was another fantastic move that brought more scoring and leadership to the team. His best move however, was hiring this season's Coach of the Year, Tom Thibodeau, the primary reason for New York's success. Night in and night out, Thibodeau always got the Knicks to play hard through working together on offense and defense. Their defensive in particular was amazing all season because all five players worked together to stop their opponents rather than one guy making a defense better. It's why they were the number one defense in points allowed. Thibodeau also got the best out of his players, most notably Julius Randle. After a rocky first season with the Knicks, Randle responded by leading the team in points, rebounds, and assists. He was rewarded with his first career all star appearance and the Most Improved Player award. RJ Barrett became a more polished player in his sophomore season, upping his scoring average from 14 to 17, while improving his shooting percentage from 32 to 40. Derrick Rose was a great midseason acquisition who gelled immediately and added more scoring. Other players were key contributors such as Noel, Burks, Immanuel Quickly, and Reggie Bullock.
As for the team's future, they don't have to rely on the draft lottery anymore. They have two first round draft picks, and with Quickley looking like a reliable scorer, fans can trust management to draft wisely. In addition they have lots of cap room to sign free agents. While most upcoming free agents have been extended by their teams, there are still some available free agents such as Kawhi Leonard, Mike Conley, and Demar Derozan who could make a difference.. They should especially be interested in signing with the Knicks after the Garden crowd was rocking in every home playoff game. The Knicks can also use the money they have to bring back Rose, Noel, Burks, and Bullock among others. Giving Julius Randle an extension is another important priority. While they don't have to rush it, and his play fell off in the playoffs, he deserves the money for getting the Knicks in that position to begin with. The only exception might be giving him the max, but any other deal would work for both sides. Randle has previously said that he wants to stay in New York so there seems to be little obstacles in the way.
Although the Knicks season came to an end, this teams has a lot to be proud of. They finally look like a competitive team with players who play for one another, and got more out of this season than anyone could've thought. Fans have also taken notice and are excited to watch a good team for the first time in awhile, with celebrities such as Spike Lee. Fat Joe, Tracy Morgan, and Chris Rock filling the front rows. Although the Knicks didn't win a playoff series, the fact that some people predicted they'd win says a lot about their season. This team was fun to watch and more importantly, they have the foundation to be a great team.
This NBA season has seen a drastic change in the standings compared to last year. Teams who have missed the playoffs for years, but are back in the mix include the Knicks, Suns, and Hawks. The return of fans after last year's hiatus, also adds to the excitement of this postseason.
Eastern Conference: Western Conference:
#1 76ers 4 #1 Jazz 4
#8 Wizards 1 #8 Grizzlies 1
#1 76ers 4 #1 Jazz 4
#4 Knicks 2 #4 Clippers 3
#4 Knicks 4 #4 Clippers 4
#5 Hawks 1 #5 Mavericks 1
#1 76ers 2 #3 Bucks 4 #1 Jazz 4
#3 Bucks 4. #1 Jazz 2 #6 Lakers 2
#3 Bucks 4 #3 Nuggets 2
#6 Heat 2 #6 Blazers 4
#2 Nets 3 #6 Blazers 4
#3 Bucks 4 #7 Lakers 3
#2 Nets 4 #2 Suns 2
#7 Celtics 0 #7 Lakers 4
This year has been a exciting surprise for Knicks fans, as the team finally holds a strong spot in the standings. One of the main contributors toward their success is Immanuel Quickley who should be mentioned among league's top rookies. Despite being drafted at 25, he is a big reason why the Knicks are in this stellar position, and here's how he got them there.
Quickley is already good at running the floor in the early stages of his career. He knows how to set his teammates up for assists or make the pass toward an assist. Perhaps the most impressive skill he has, is his ability to get in front of his man. He usually puts some kind of move on his opponent and once Quickey gets a step, he getting back in front of him by putting putting his on his hip pocket. By doing that, Quickley has the option to kick it out, which he's not bad at doing, but he's better at drawing the foul or shooting his floater. In addition, Quickley runs the pick and roll better than most guards. That's when his passing is at its best. https://www.instagram.com/p/CKKLt3PHHly/ utm_source=ig_web_copy_link. His kind of play style has been a major reason why he's one of the top rookies.
When it comes to scoring, Quickley can get the job done in numerous ways. His floater game is his bread and butter. As previously mentioned, Quickley will usually rely on his floater once he gets in front of his man, which is something he has practically perfected only four months into his career. https://twitter.com/sny_knicks/status/1355951688159526913?s=20. He also knows how to get to the foul line. When it comes to shooting free throws, he's money foul line, demonstrated by his 89% free throw shooting. Quickley's outside shooting is also a strong aspect of his game thanks to his respectable three-point shooting. He can shoot off the catch or create for himself as shown below. https://twitter.com/MikeVorkunov/status/1374516153544962060?s=20.
On top of that Quickley sometimes gets the defender jumping and then drive where to the basket where he can use his floater.
Quickley's game is resulted in a significant amount of production on the offensive end for a team that mainly wins through defense. He averages 12 points in only 20 minutes. His three point shooting is respectable and hovers just under 40%. Per 36 minutes, his stats jump up to 23 points and 4 assists, which is really impressive for a rookie drafted late in the first round. His play has earned the respect of peers such as Lou Williams and Paul George following a 26 point performance against one of the league's toughest defenses. Perhaps the greatest thing to come out of Quickley's season, is the fact that the Knicks are in the fifth seed as one of the league's most surprising teams.
Whether or not the Knicks will be able to persevere through the second half of the season, Quickley has established himself as a fan favorite through his positive energy. He has already had a terrific start to his career and should only go up from here.
This year was filled with uncertainty that extended to the world of sports. It started during March, when all of sports shut down due to concerns over COVID-19. Then, social unrest began to erupt prompting many athletes to stand up not just for themselves, but in support of others. Sports eventually resumed but that didn't stop notable sports figures from meeting these challenges head on. Here are some notable people who made a big influence in the sports world.
1. LeBron James
On the court, LeBron James made his mark. After being derailed by injuries last year, he put up MVP numbers, led the Los Angeles Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference, and won his fourth NBA championship as well as Finals MVP. When James retires, this will be remembered as one of his most impressive seasons. To maintain the same skills and still have a winning effect on his team in his mid 30s is really amazing. James has almost made as big an impact off the court as he has on the court. He spoke out on police brutality through social media and during press conferences in the bubble. This included a video in which he concludes, "This is why we can't just stick to sports. Do you understand now?" In addition, he launched a website More Than a Vote, which focuses on giving Black people access to voting. By the time of the election, James had successfully prevented many people from having their voices suppressed, Last month, James's efforts of social activism were rewarded with the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, and the Time's Magazine Athlete of the Year.
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Throughout his career, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar established himself as one of the most dominant big men in NBA history. His accolades include a record six MVP awards, the most career points at 38,387, and six championships. Along with his success, he is one of the first basketball players to speak out against social issues. Last July, he delivered a powerful message on the fight for social justice in an edition of the NBA on TNT. He reflected on the turning point toward using his voice when he, along with other athletes, supported Muhammed Ali's refusal to fight in Vietnam. During the video, he stated "To witness Ali's unwavering integrity even as the government spent years trying to destroy him was a turning point for me. How could I do any less? How can any American do any less? How can any American athlete do any less?" That same month, Kareem also cited the importance of fighting against other forms of discrimination amid the Black Lives Matter movement such as anti-Semitism. Although his playing days are long passed, his voice is still as important as it was over 50 years ago.
3. Patrick Mahomes
Despite only having three full seasons under his belt, with two as a starter, Patrick Mahomes is already on top of the football world. He has already become the fastest quarterback to reach over 10,000 career passing yards, as well as over 100 touchdown passes which took him only 44 games to surpass that milestone. Earlier in February, Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl championship in 50 years, in a game where he led what turned out to be the game winning drive. After the game, he was announced as the Super Bowl MVP, the youngest to ever win the award. When it has come to social justice, Mahomes has put his accolades to the side and has been an advocate. In June, he participated in a Black Lives Matter video with fellow athletes, pushing the NFL to publicly condemn racism. He was also one of the high-profile athletes to join James' More than a Vote campaign. A month later, Mahomes signed the richest contract extension of any athlete at over $500 million. With the Chiefs currently aiming toward another Super Bowl, Mahomes is slowly becoming an icon.
4. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
For his first six seasons, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was a regular starter for the Kansas City Chiefs. Like Mahomes, he won his first Super Bowl with the Chiefs in February. However, it was off the field where Duvernay-Tardif wanted to make an impact. During July, he became the first NFL player to opt out of the season because of COVID-19. Duvernay-Tardif wanted to join the front lines in the fight against the virus. He did this by working long term at a healthcare facility in his native hometown of Montreal. Weeks ago, Duvernay-Tardif's impact was recognized by Sports Illustrated who named him as one of their Sportspeople of the Year. In addition, he was awarded the Lou Marsh trophy, which is given to the top Canadian athlete every year. This is well deserved for Duvernay-Tardif, who decided to give up football for a year to help prevent COVID-19 off the field.
This was a year that presented different challenges beyond sports. From COVID-19, to the fight for social justice for Blacks, there has been a lot of uncertainty and unrest in the world. Everyone has taken on these challenges in their respective ways. These current and former athletes not only faced these problems, but have done so in a way that should continue to inspire people into the new year.
On December 3rd, the Washington Wizards traded star point guard John Wall to the Houston Rockets for another star point guard in Russell Westbrook along with a couple of draft picks. While both teams got really good players, there's still a winner yet to be determined based on the large salaries each player carries to their teams. However one thing for sure: that Wall's impact in the nation's capital on and off the court won't be forgotten.
In 2010, the Washington Wizards used the number one overall pick in the NBA draft to recruit John Wall out of Kentucky. Wall was tasked with reviving a team that had spent the last two seasons in the basement of the NBA. It didn't take long for him to live up to the hype, and soon the Wizards slowly began building around him with players such as all star Bradley Beal who complimented Wall perfectly in the backcourt during their tenure. By Wall's fourth season (2013-14), he blossomed into an all-star putting up averages of around 20 points, 10 assists, and two steals. In addition, he was able to turn the team from a laughingstock to a yearly playoff team in four of those next five seasons,. Washington went to the second round in three of those four seasons, but none of those seasons were more memorable than 2017. Wall played arguably the best basketball of his career and led them to their first division title in almost four decades. After defeating the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, the Wizards faced the Boston Celtics in the second round. Although the Wizards lost the series in seven games, Wall had his signature moment, hitting a game winning shot to force a game 7. Over the following two seasons, injuries have limited Wall's play. That only doubled down on the pressure Wall was facing after receiving a supertax contract extension dating back to the 2017 offseason. Eventually, he was traded to Houston, ending one of the best stretches of Wizards basketball.
When Wall was off the court, he still found ways to make assists - but rather than to his teammates, those assists were to the community of Washington D.C. Wall's most meaningful actions was a special bond he developed with a six year local girl who was ill with cancer. In the morning of December 8, 2014, she passed away. Wall, who learned of the heartbreaking news, dedicated his 26 point, 17 assist performance in a double overtime victory to her. After the game, he was overcome with emotion while describing how much she meant to him. His contributions are also found through the charitable work he's done with Beal, whether it's donating to local charities, helping feed hospital workers, or providing meals during the holidays. Wall's efforts toward reaching to the community were recognized in 2016 when he won the NBA Cares Community Award. Even despite missing all of last season, Wall started a website designated to help provide rent relief for Ward 8 residents who were affected by COVID-19. So far, over $550,000 has been raised for the website. About a month after launching the website, Wall and his teammates led a "Together We Stand" march across the National Mall all the way to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. The march specifically took place on June 19th as a commemoration of the day Juneteenth.
December 3rd, might mark the end of an era, but John Wall's impact on Washington D.C. will always be remembered. On the court, he turned the Wizards, into a successful playoff team. Off the court, he gave back to the community he loved in so many ways. These kinds of players don't come around often. John Wall is one of them.
On Tuesday, NBA will begin its 2020-21 season. Last year was an eventful year for the NBA from the loss of Kobe Bryant, to a postponement that lasted five months, all the way to its restart at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex down in Florida. But just like a decade ago, the Los Angeles Lakers will be entering the season as the defending NBA champions. However, there are many teams entering the season with championship aspirations who will certainly challenge the Lakers. Here are my predictions for this season's awards and its champion awaiting.
MVP: Anthony Davis
Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony Davis
Rookie of the Year: LaMelo Ball
Sixth Man of the Year: Caris LeVert
Most Improved Player: Gary Trent Jr.
Coach of the Year: Monty Williams
Eastern Conference: Western Conference:
#1 Bucks 4 #1 Lakers 4
#8 Pacers 0 #8 Pelicans 1
#1 Bucks 4 #1 Lakers 4
#4 Heat 2 #5 Trail Blazers 2
#4 Heat 4 #4 Jazz 2
#5 Celtics 2 #5 Trail Blazers 4
#1 Bucks 4 #1 Lakers 4 4 Lakers #1
#2 Nets 2. #1 Bucks 2 2 Clippers #2
#3 Raptors 4 #3 Nuggets 4
#6 76ers 2 #6 Suns 2
#2 Nets 4 #2 Clippers 4
#3 Raptors 3 #7 Nuggets 3
#2 Nets 4 #2 Clippers 4
#7 Wizards 1 #7 Mavericks 2
This year, the NBA will be starting its 2020-21 season during Christmas week, on December 22 specifically. The late start is a result of the last year's unusual stretch known as the NBA bubble, dating back from July to October with the L.A. Lakers winning the championship. While the NBA on Christmas has always been one of the most popular events of the season, it might not be the best idea to start basketball during that week.
In the past, the NBA on Christmas is one of the season's most popular events. Usually, the matchups consist of the top teams and players with high expectations coming into the season. These games are highly anticipated with both teams battling for a statement win. Most of the time, they live up to the hype with highlight plays and fantastic endings. Additionally, this wouldn't be the first time the NBA began on Christmas, as they began following the conclusion of the 2011 lockout.
However, this doesn't change the fact that the NBA shouldn't start during this time of year. For one, the resting period for the teams who weren't in the bubble will be significantly longer than teams who did. To be specific, teams not in the bubble will have over 200 days of rest by the time the season begins, whereas the Finals participants - the Lakers and Miami Heat - will have under 70 days of rest. Even teams that bowed out of the playoffs early will have less than 100 days of rest compared to teams who weren't invited to the bubble. Players such as LeBron James used social media as a source to show their unhappiness when the schedule announcement was made. In particular, he pointed out this offseason, consisting of 71 days, will be the shortest in any sport.
Another reason why the season shouldn't start around Christmas is that it will be occurring shortly after the offseason. NBA trades along with the draft occurred just about a week ago, and free agency is still going on even though most teams have probably moved past it at this point. This will make it difficult for teams to prepare for the season following their recent offseason moves. As for the players, they probably have to adjust to their new teams, along with their life off the court. Currently, this schedule will consist of a 72 game season, with the finals concluding in August. Its announcement coming three weeks before the season is a far cry from other years, where teams had a lot more notice.
One way to solve the flaws within this year's schedule would be to have all offseason transactions occur earlier than their actual time. That would usually be about two to three weeks after the Finals, which should've been the case for this year, rather than over a month following the season's conclusion. This could've allowed players who were drafted, or have signed with a new team, to get comfortable in their new situation. Another possible way of fixing the schedule would be to start the season one or two weeks later. That method can satisfy the players who stayed in the bubble until late September or October, giving them more time to rest. Both solutions could have been options for the NBA to smoothly move forward into next season.
The NBA bubble was a period that we won't forget. It was a cool experience to watch, but the NBA should have done its best to get back on schedule where all players can have an adequate amount of rest before the season starts. Starting the season only two months after the Finals isn't the way to go.
While this year has been unusual in many ways, it isn't an excuse for another abysmal year of New York Sports. With basketball not starting until December, the Jets and Giants - both at the bottom of the standings - are the only option for fans to watch. Here are all the teams we'll be looking at: the Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets Yankees, and Mets.
New York Jets - The Jets have been so bad this season that fans are just hoping for the team to tank for a higher draft pick. Head coach Adam Gase is at the center of this storm, not only for how terribly the team is playing, but for Sam Darnold's regression. In addition, Gase's lack of adjustments during halftime and failure to take responsibility after losses hasn't sat well with players. The team is currently in line to select Clemson's phenom quarterback Trevor Lawrence, but they have many more improvements to make, starting with a new coaching staff.
New York Giants - Despite Head Coach Joe Judge making a solid impression, it hasn't translated to wins, as the Giants are in the midst of another rough year at 2-7. Their franchise cornerstone Saquon Barkley is out for the season with a torn ACL, which hasn't helped Daniel Jones in what has been a disappointing sophomore season. General Manager Dave Gettleman will likely get axed at the end of the year, leading the Giants to find a new GM to pair with their rookie coach.
New York Knicks - This upcoming season will likely be another rebuilding year, as the Knicks are still far away from contention. They do have some bright spots such as R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, who are both building blocks for this franchise. To become a playoff team, they must trade for a proven leader such as Chris Paul to really give some of their young players a boost of confidence. However, their owner James Dolan, who's responsible for the team's dysfunction over the years, has most recently been blamed for his refusal to condemn systematic racism which could make players reluctant to join.
Brooklyn Nets - This team and its fans have many reasons to be excited for next season. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving poised to share the court for the first time following injuries, hopes for a possible championship are high. They also have a new coach in Hall of Fame point guard (and Durant's friend) Steve Nash, who knows a thing or two about winning dating back to his playing career. Brooklyn's only issues, are Durant's sensitivity and Irving's occasional criticism towards teammates, which could lead to a tumultuous season.
New York Yankees - As of now, there is still a sour taste of disappointment stemming from the team's loss against the Rays in the divisional series. In what was another season filled with injuries, they weren't able to adapt this time compared to last year, leading to a roller coaster season. There's no question that it would've helped if the team adjusted better to baseball's new environment this season, like other teams with high expectations such as the Dodgers. Fortunately with the strong possibility of MVP candidate DJ Lemahieu resigning, they will likely have a chance to run it back next season.
New York Mets - For the Mets, this season was very disappointing. With optimism heading into the season, they never came close to sniffing the playoffs. They do have talented players such as Jacob DeGrom, Pete Alonso, and a couple of impressive rookies in David Peterson and Andres Gimenez, who could have important future roles. Their biggest and most recent change is Steve Cohen's purchase of the team, which may be the fresh start this team needs.
Although there are some reasons for fans to be positive, most New York sports teams still have ways to go before a championship is on the horizon. When the Yankees, who are the city's best team, exit early in the playoffs, that just doesn't add up to a good year. Whether these teams are losing because of their ownership, coaching, or players, disappointment is the perfect term to sum up New York sports.
Another NBA season is in the books, and the Los Angeles Lakers are championships for the 17th time in their storied history. Despite facing adversity during numerous parts of the season, the Lakers lived up to their high expectations, clinching the no. 1 seed, breezing through the playoffs, and fighting off a scrappy Miami Heat team in six games for the title. For the Heat, while their season is over, they have a lot to be proud of this season. Here are the three takeaways from this year's Finals.
After this Finals performance, LeBron James has officially established himself among the greatest Lakers. His Lakers' tenure didn't start off well, as injuries resulted in a disappointing non-playoff season. But a rejuvenated James came back to put up one of the best seasons of his career averaging 25 points, 7 rebounds, and a career high 10 assists. In the playoffs, James was on a mission. On offense, he finished around and above the rim at will, while also showing off his outside touch from everywhere. In close games, most notably game 5 against the Denver Nuggets, he displayed that killer instinct people have questioned, hitting big shots down the stretch. He closed out the Finals in style with a triple double, putting up 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists. Michael Jordan may have six championships, but winning four times with three different teams should put LeBron over Jordan in my opinion.
LeBron wasn't the only one performing at a high level. Last year in June, the Lakers acquired Anthony Davis in a blockbuster deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, for a several players and draft picks. As of now, it's safe to say that L.A. got what they wanted from this deal. Davis had his own dominant season, putting up 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game. More importantly, Davis served as the perfect compliment to James, finishing his alley oops on offense, and improving the team's defense. Despite only two previous trips to the playoffs, experience wasn't an issue for Davis, as his dominance continued. His signature moment came in game 2 vs the Nuggets where he broke the series open with a game-winning, buzzer beater from three. In the Finals, he continued to show out and even earned consideration for Finals MVP.
For the Miami Heat, they might've lost, but they should be really proud of this season. Despite the signing of Jimmy Butler, expectations weren't high for the Heat entering the season. But this team immediately clicked from the beginning. Butler not only performed at a high level, but he served as a mentor for young players such as Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. Miami finished as the fifth seed. They swept the Indiana Pacers but it was the second round where they emerged as a contender, defeating Giannis Antetokounmpo's top seeded Milwaukee Bucks. A 4-2 victory over the Boston Celtics earned them a spot in the Finals for the first time in six seasons, where despite Butler's heroic efforts, the Lakers were too good for them. However, this team has lots to look forward to. Most of the roster will be coming back and as long as coach Erik Spolstra and president of operations Pat Riley are here, this team will be good in the years to come.
It's unlikely that we'll ever see an NBA Finals like this one. The mental challenge of staying in the same place for four months without family, and playing without any fans might have made this the toughest NBA season yet. It might've been a long wait for basketball to come back, but this outcome made the wait totally worth it.
This year, the National Basketball Association has a lot to be proud of. One of the most competitive seasons in recent memory was put on hold for over four months because of COVID-19, but the league handled the pandemic so well. Their plan to use a large Orlando campus, or “bubble,” inviting 22 teams has been highly praised. With no home court advantage, this year’s championship will be one of most difficult ones to win.
Eastern Conference: Western Conference:
#1 Bucks 4 4 Lakers #1
#8 Magic 0 2 Trail Blazers #8
#1 Bucks 4 4 Lakers #1
#4 Heat 2 3 Rockets #4
#4 Heat 4 4 Rockets #4
#5 Pacers 2 3 Thunder #5
#1 Bucks 4 #1 Lakers 4 4 Lakers #1
#2 Raptors 3 #1 Bucks 3 3 Clippers #2
#3 Celtics 4 4 Nuggets #3
#6 76ers 3 1 Jazz #6
#2 Raptors 4 4 Clippers #2
#3 Celtics 3 2 Nuggets #3
#2 Raptors 4 4 Clippers #2
#7 Nets 1 1 Mavericks #7