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 MLB season has already been one of the craziest seasons in recent memory. One week after the season started, there were so many COVID cases that commissioner Rob Manfred threatened to end the season. But the game went on, and with this year's format of 16 playoff teams because of the shortened 60 game season, this postseason will probably be even more wild.
1. Tampa Bay Rays 2 ALDS
8. Toronto Blue Jays 0
1. Tampa Bay Rays 3
5. New York Yankees 2
4. Cleveland Indians 1
5. New York Yankees 2 ALCS
1. Tampa Bay Rays 4
2. Oakland A's 2
3. Minnesota Twins 2
6. Houston Astros 0
2. Oakland A's 3
3. Minnesota Twins 1
2. Oakland A's 2
7. Chicago White Sox 1
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 4
1. Tampa Bay Rays 2
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 2 NLDS
8. Milwaukee Brewers 0
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 3
4. San Diego Padres 0
4. San Diego Padres 2 NLCS
5. St. Louis Cardinals 1
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 4
2. Atlanta Braves 1
3. Chicago Cubs 2
6. Miami Marlins 0
2. Atlanta Braves 3
3. Chicago Cubs 2
2. Atlanta Braves 2
7. Cincinnati Reds 0
The New York Jets have been abysmal in their first two games. They look unprepared, make no adjustments, and should be embarrassed at this point. At the center of this atrocity, is head coach Adam Gase. Dubbed a "brilliant offensive mind", he hasn't lived up to that title and should be fired at some point between now or the end of the season.
1. Development of Sam Darnold
Gase was hired in the 2019 offseason to groom Sam Darnold into a franchise quarterback. It was an odd move at the time given his back to back non-playoff seasons with the Miami Dolphins. But after he was recommended by Peyton Manning and approved by Sam Darnold, there was hope that this was the coaching change the Jets needed. The team also added pieces around Darnold such as Le'Veon Bell, and there was lots of optimism for next season. Instead, Darnold got mono, which affected him in the first game and sidelined him for the next three games. The Jets got off to an 0-4 start, which had some people calling for Gase to be fired. But with a healthy Darnold, he showed promise, going 6-2 in the second half of the season while throwing for 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. There was still room for Darnold to improve, but Gase hasn't been using Darnold to his strengths. He never has him throw to reliable targets or roll outside of the pocket which is something that Darnold is good at. For us to see how Darnold really is, Gase has to go.
2. Doing things his way
In addition, Gase only tries to win games his way. He's never willing to make adjustments on offense even if his game plan is failing. He also doesn't like to use his weapons. Bell came to the Jets as one of the league's best all-purpose running backs, but Gase always does basic and predictable run plays with Bell. He's also a good receiver out of the backfield, but Gase never has Darnold throw to him. When Bell does get targets, the Jets offense is clearly better, but that's very rare. Other notable weapons for Darnold are tight ends Chris Herndon IV and Ryan Griffin. Both players have established chemistry with Darnold during his first two seasons and there was optimism that Gase would call the offensive plays with both of them on the field. They've instead had limited action with both of them not even combining for 10 receptions yet. The worst thing is that Gase has boasted about these players during training camp.
3. Lack of preparation
There have only been two games of the regular season so far, but there are times where Jets haven't looked prepared before games. Even though last year was promising, their lack of preparation was sometimes apparent dating back to last season when they gave the Dolphins and Bengals their first wins. This year, their unpreparedness is evident. In their opening game against the Buffalo Bills, the offense's first five possessions went nowhere, which included three straight 3 and outs along with an interception. Against the San Fransisco 49ers, they let Raheem Mostert score a touchdown on the opening play. At halftime in both games, they were down 21-3: not a good trend. Gase's own players are starting to note the team's lack of preparation in practices.
4. No accountability
After games in press conferences, Gase never holds himself accountable. He never regrets his horrible play calling, which has usually featured a bunch of dive plays on the ground and screen passes to backup wide receivers in the air. During halftime of the 49ers game, he blamed the entire first half on the defense. They didn't play a good first half without question, but Gase also should've held his play calling accountable as well. His press conferences were no different, stating "That s--t is no fun getting your ass beat." Shortly after he said, "If we execute the play called we'll be fine." That is simply not a good recipe for winning. Head coaches have to take responsibility just like the players, and Gase hasn't done that nor is there a reason to believe he will hold himself accountable at some point.
Last year, Gase showed a little promise going 6-2 in the second half of the season despite injuries to players such as C.J. Mosley and Darnold. This year's team has also been plagued with injuries as well as the departure of their best player Jamal Adams, but there are still no excuses. The 49ers didn't have any of their core players either, but they didn't use that as an excuse last Sunday. Gase on the other hand calls a soft game plan every week and then doesn't hold himself accountable. That's not a way to win games and for that, Gase has to go.
Football is in a weird spot. Without a bubble for players and coaches to quarantine, there are expected to be a lot of bumps in this upcoming season. Teams have to be trusted by the NFL to follow the health and safety guidelines to avoid COVID related setbacks.
Given these unprecedented times, the playoffs will be more difficult to predict than ever. Especially with one of the notable changes during the offseason being the addition of one more playoff team to each conference. This not only leaves the door open for teams that have playoff ambitions, but only one team from each conference will get a first round bye among other ripple effects. Here are my playoff predictions, which will hopefully be more accurate than last year.
#2 Ravens over #7 Texans
#3 Titans over #6 Colts
#5 Steelers over #4 Bills
#1 Chiefs over #4 Steelers
#2 Ravens over #3 Titans
#1 Chiefs over #2 Ravens
#2 49ers over #7 Falcons
#3 Eagles over #6 Seahawks
#4 Packers over #5 Buccaneers
#1 Saints over #4 Packers
#2 49ers over #3 Eagles
#1 Saints over #2 49ers
Super Bowl: Saints over Chiefs
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
With baseball finally back in action after a messy hiatus, the New York Yankees have wasted no time proving why this year is their year. Despite averaging 98 wins over the last three seasons, they haven't been able to break through in the playoffs, losing to the eventual American League champion each year. But as of now the Yankees look World Series bound, as their 9-4 start is currently one of baseball's best records. Here's a look inside their hot start and expectations moving forward.
As I mentioned, the Yankees have been one of the best teams with their 9-4 start, and there's no luck to it. Their hot start includes a seven game win streak, featuring a sweep over the rival Boston Red Sox. At the center of this early season surge is none other than their 6'7" slugger Aaron Judge. He's been playing like an MVP, hitting .302/.362/.837, along with an amazing seven home runs. Six of those have come in five games with two game winners. Members who were injured last year like Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton are now healthy and making a difference again. It's particularly a good sight for the Yankees to see Stanton, who was out for the majority of last season, re emerge as one of the team's reliable hitters. But that doesn't mean last year's unexpected heroes have been a no-show. First baseman DJ LeMahieu is still one of the best contact hitters in baseball, leading the team with a .429 batting average. Third baseman Gio Urshela hasn't stopped making impossible throws while falling away, and also produces timely hits. The pitching unit improved thanks to Gerrit Cole's nine year, $324 million contract. So far, he's upped his 16 game win streak last season to 19 this year, and has shown no signs of stopping. The Yankees have also enjoyed the return of Masahiro Tanaka last week, and are awaiting the return of Aroldis Chapman to the bullpen.
There's no reason why the Yankees shouldn't be able to continue their success. Their A.L. foes, the Houston Astros and Red Sox, are still in disarray after the sign stealing scandals. This leaves the door wide open for the Yankees to finally appear in the World Series. There are some challenges, as they will have to play more playoff games due to this year's format of adding three teams into the playoff picture. But with the way they're playing right now, they don't have a lot of reason to be concerned about increased competition. Threats in the A.L. are scarce, as the Yankees swept the 10-4 Minnesota Twins in last year's divisional series. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are likely to be their World Series opponent, could be their biggest postseason challenge. Other than that, the Yankees are in a great position to become more than a contender to win a championship.
It's a very good time to be a Yankees fan. Their successful start brings a lot of hope toward a World Series and possibly a championship. The season could get cancelled if more COVID-19 outbreaks come from players on other teams, but cases were expected to occur even before the season started. All the Yankees can do, is focus on being safe, testing negative and play good baseball. So far, so good!
As a Jets fan, it's hard to see another likable player leave. I was disappointed in Jamal Adams for wanting out just so he could get paid, despite two years remaining on his contract. However, I can't pretend that the Jets front office doesn't deserve some blame for not communicating with him. During his time in green and white, Adams gave the Jets an impressive three seasons, and general manager Joe Douglas wanted to keep him as a long term piece. That was until the Seattle Seahawks gave them an offer that was too good to pass up. Let's go over what each team is getting.
From day one, it was clear Adams was going to be a star. After a strong rookie season, Adams broke out in his second year recording 115 tackles, one pick, and three forced fumbles. He was awarded a pro bowl selection, where he won defensive MVP, and second team all pro. Last season was his best, as he recorded 75 tackles, two touchdowns, and an amazing 6.5 sacks. He was a big reason why the Jets went 6-2 in the second half of the season, which granted him another pro bowl selection and a first team all pro nod. He went into the offseason confident he'd get a contract extension, but when that wasn't gonna happen immediately, he started to criticize the front office for lying to him. Eventually he wanted out in June, but the Jets wanted to keep him unless they received a big offer. That came from the Seahawks, who offered them two first round picks in 2021 and 2022, a third round pick in 2021, and a fourth round pick in 2022. Safety Bradley McDougald was also included in the trade. While the Jets did give up their best player, this trade gives them the chance to fill in other position needs.
As for the Seahawks, they have been one of the best teams since drafting Russell Wilson, and trading for Adams gives them a chance to make another Super Bowl run. Adams could be the missing piece to a secondary that's slowly re-emerging as one of the Seahawk's best units. In addition, he can also help their pass rush production, as the closest player on the Seahawks behind his 6.5 sacks is Quinton Jefferson with 3.5. Seattle also invested a lot for guy who doesn't play a valuable position, so they must have a plan to give him a long term extension, especially with a possible salary cap drop looming in 2021.
Personally, I think that the Seahawks are in a good position to win now, but they are under pressure to make a deep playoff run having given up a lot for Adams. For the Jets to get two first round picks and Bradley McDougald, for a guy who doesn't play a valued position, is a win for the Jets. There have been three other recent trades involving two first round picks for a player. Those guys were edge rusher Khalil Mack to the Bears, offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil to the Texans, and cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Rams, all guys that play important positions. It is true that even with a possible change in the salary cap, the Seahawks will still be able to sign Adams. But as I mentioned before, the Jets will be able to use their draft picks to fill in position needs. The picks will probably be late in the first round, but lots of good players in today's game such as MVP Lamar Jackson, have been selected late in the first round. For Joe Douglas to prove himself to this franchise, it will be by making the right drafting decisions with those picks, which previous general managers haven't done well in the past.
This was definitely late timing for a trade to happen. Whether it was to get paid or not, Adams definitely tried to force Douglas to extend or trade him. While Douglas traded him, he did it on his own terms, which isn't easy for a general manager who is not even through his first full offseason. Both teams invested a lot, and while it's not the kind of trade you typically see for a strong safety, time will tell who won.