Based on advanced data & analytics – here is our favorite picks of the day. After every pick, there is a Confidence ranking out of 10. The higher the number the more confident we are in the pick.
James Harden o6.5 Rebs (-104)
Confidence Ranking: 8/10
I actually love everything Harden today, but this Clippers team is in need of Front-court help. Harden last three games vs LAC, he’s accumulated 38 rebounds. In his last five games, he reached 6 rebounds every game. In a matchup that is negative for Embiid, this should be enough signs pointed at another big performance for the Beard.
Also of note, Clippers ranks 8th vs rebounds/assists — the Beard is currently averaging 20.8 R/A – his line tonight is 16.5, this has a 100% hit rate over the last five games and a 100% hit rate vs the Clippers.
The last few Guards vs Clippers have surpass their lines including – Jamal Murray (12 R/A) & Luka (11 rebs).
Dame Lillard o38.5 P/A (points & assists) (-120)
Confidence Ranking: 9/10
Dame has been playing fantastic over the last 2 weeks, including a 50 pts against the Cavs. He shows good value vs a Nuggets team who struggles vs ball dominate guards. In the past we’ve seen Aaron Gordon be a primary defender but with the addition of J. Grant there should be no worry.
Denver ranks 29th and that’s all you need for one of the best guards in basketball. Over his last five games he’s averaging 44 P/A. He’s more than capable of getting this spot with points alone. Last four games vs Nuggets he averages 32.5 ppg. If he continues this hot steak (avg 38 ppg) you can feel real comfortable that he can generate 2 assists. (By the way he’s had over 5 assists in those games)
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Based on advanced data & analytics – here is our favorite picks of the day. After every pick, there is a Confidence ranking out of 10. The higher the number the more confident we are in the pick.
Steph Curry o26.5 pts (-108) vs Spurs
Confidence Ranking: 8/10
The value is there and the atmosphere should be bonkers playing in front of a record crowd. This spot is impeccable and Curry on the season has a hit rate of 63% at this line. Everything points to a special night and Curry to do his best to entertain this Spurs crowd.
The L6 games vs the Spurs, Steph is avg. 28 ppg hitting the line 67%
The last few PGs vs Spurs have surpass their lines including – Ja Morant (38 pts), Malcolm Brogdon (23 pts) , Jaden Ivey (20 pts) & Jalen Brunson (38 pts)
Nikola Vucevic o12.5 Rebs (-130) vs Thunder
Confidence Ranking: 7.5/10
Vucevic has been balling as of late. His line has a hit rate of 80% over the last nine games, including 18 rebounds vs the 76ers. OKC will be playing off a back to back and gives up the most Total Rebounds per game (55.5).
Earlier this year in November, he posted his 6th straight double-double vs OKC, grabbing 13 rebounds. As a Bull, he has a total of 43 Rebs in three games. With limited players on the roster capable of helping securing boards, look for Big Vuc to get this number again.
On Fanduel: Vucevic 12 rebs/Win +132
CJ Mccollum o3.5 3s (-136) vs Pistons
Confidence Ranking: 7/10
CJ comes into this matchup pretty hot without his all-star counterparts, Zion and Brandon Ingram over the last few weeks. This matchup isn’t too great with the Pistons ranking top 10 vs guards on the perimeter. However, CJ has hit this line six out of seven games, including franchise setting 11 3s vs the 76ers.
As a Blazer, CJ went over 3.5 threes 75% in four games. With the offense running through the veteran guard and with his current volume at 11 threes (over last seven games), look for him to continue his hot streak.
Last couple of 3pt specialist to play DET.
Simons (POR): 4/10
Thompson (GSW): 3/10
Lavine (CHI): 4/10
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Miami Heat had a forgettable and quite frankly disappointing offseason. Momentum was not continued from a season that ended being one game away from the NBA Finals. The Heat only managed to resign Dedmon, Haslem, Oladipo (in a great deal) and give Herro a 4 year $130 extension while losing PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris. A summer where so many big names were available such as; Donovan Mitchell, Kevin Durant, John Wall, Collin Sexton, Malik Monk and so many more names the Heat struck empty on them all.
Some may look at the situation as if big changes were not needed to the roster seeing that they were only one game away from NBA Finals that even included some injuries for the Miami Heat. In a summer when almost every team in the eastern conference managed to improve their roster, the Heat only managed to lose PJ tucker and Markieff Morris while not replacing either set the team back quite a bit. Heat even had some questionable priorities when resigning Dwayne Dedmon during a time that much more productive players in his position signed for similar or even cheaper contracts. It’s understood by real basketball fans the importance of having Udonis Haslem apart of this team, however, Miami Heat going all out to recruit in earlier in free agency instead of putting that time and effort into bringing in new faces was something that made many people feel like Miami Heat felt like they are closer to being champions than they actually are. Not to overlook the good thing(s), Miami Heat was able to bring Oladipo back on two year deal worth $18 million.
After not getting any new additions during free agency the Heat made a decision that they might go on to regret sooner than later. Miami offered Tyler Herro an 4 year $130 extension to the reigning 6th man of the year. Does Tyler Herro deserve this contract? Absolutely! Miami just should not have been the team to give it to him if they have championship aspirations. Miami is in tough spot at this point, paying all three of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Lowry leaves them paying a combined $96 million next season and that is on top of having Duncan Robinson’s contract that has him earning nearly $17 million. If the truth is not being sugar coated, Miami Heat cannot afford to pay Duncan Robinson, Lowry and Herro that much and expect to be the last team standing. Do not get it wrong, those are three very good players and can contribute to a championship team but the amount of liabilities you have with those three on the court at the same time is too big of a burden for the Heat to overcome, and if you are not playing one of those players at the end or at all then you essentially wasted your money. Lowry still has flashes of being the allstar point guard that helped the Raptors secure their first franchise championship, however, his durability is unpredictable and quite frankly his consistency while on the court has not been up to par. Again, Kyle Lowry is a great player but as a point guard it does not seem like he elevates Bam’s game enough. A big factor is because he is not a huge threat in a pick & roll set as the ball handler and the P&R is where Bam thrives. In no way are Duncan, Kyle and Herro the players solely to blame for the Heat not being championship caliber.
Bam Adebayo is one of the more skilled players in the league, this is a 6’9 center/forward that occasionally brings the ball down for the Miami Heat and has the skillset to play either roles in a pick and roll set. Bam has increased his scoring average every year since coming into the league, however, his mentality on offense is not where the Heat needs it to be. Bam needs to consistently look to be an offensive force for the Miami Heat because an aggressive Bam is when the Heat are most dangerous. The Heat need a way to get Bam in the PF position more. He’s exerting too much energy on these bigger players defensively and does not have enough to be a consistent reliable offensive player on these bigger players. But in order to do this, Bam has to find a consistent jumper to maintain spacing for Jimmy Butler and teammates. In a perfect world Miami Heat would acquire Myles Turner, Richaun Holmes, Drummond, or Jakob Poeltl to start along center of Bam. However, If the Miami Heat are not willing to trade for a big then NBA free agents have some big time names available that could be essential role players for many teams. However, one thing Miami Heat does better than any team in the league is scouting and developing players they decide to roll the dice. With that being said, 6’11 rookie Nikola Jovic and 7’0 2nd year player Omer Yurtseven are two extremely talented bigs that have both shown the mobility, skill and mindset to find spot on the Miami Heat. In recent years the Heat’s achilles heel was their lack of size alongside occasional scoring problems.
Dejounte Murray, Collin Sexton, Monte Morris, John Wall, are a few guard names that were available this summer that Miami did not land but could really have benefited from acquiring. Between Lowry, Herro and Robinson the Miami Heat can truly afford to only keep one or two of their contracts if they want to add the missing pieces to win that championship they have been so close to in recent years. Miami Heat seem to pride themselves on being a loyal franchise and bringing back returning faces to figure it out together and get over the hump. However, I do not believe that is a reasonable option here. Miami Heat’s championship window is still open and if they truly want to bring a championship to South Beach, it is time for them for some big roster moves & for Bam to take the next step.
Below is a realistic list 50 players the Miami Heat should target via trade or consider bringing in from FA to address their size, scoring and/or star power issues.
Gary Trent Jr.
Marcus Morris Sr.
Derrick Jones Jr
Kelly Oubre Jr.
Tim Hardaway JR
* Miami Heat should keep an eye out for Jamal Murray, Kyrie Irving, Zach Lavine or Siakam becoming available
While it may come off as a bold prediction, but if any player can make a bold prediction come true then Dame is the guy. Blazers did not have the best offseason but certainly added some pieces that will fit in well with Dame; Jerami Grant, Drew Eubanks, Josh Hart, Gary Payton ll, Justise Winslow and rookie wildcard Shaedon Sharpe are amongst those names along with familiar faces like Jusef Nurkic, Nassir Little and Anfernee Simons who is on the rise to the level of an all-star level player. This blazers team has 3&D players that will create great floor spacing for Dame to work but are also the same players that can slash to the basket to finish strong at the rim. If the Blazers are serious about improving and being a contender I expect them to make a trade or hit free agency pool to add more key pieces. I expect Dame Lillard to have some rust to knock off and when he does knock that rust off, the league will be in trouble. Dame will be returning with a vengeance and will lead the Blazers to the playoffs while locking in his first MVP.
Luka & Embiid are two others that should be heavy favorites for MVP. Embiid who many feel who should have won MVP last year could right that wrong this year by securing MVP. However, Luka is the player I feel the league wants to win the most while Giannis name will always be in the mix and KD’s play will force the league to consider him as an MVP candidate.
DPOY: Bam Adebayo
Someone who should already have an DPOY award under their belt, Adebayo who is one of the very few players who can sit down and legitimately guard 1-5 . Bam has the defensive consistency, athleticism, versatility and IQ needed for a player who has a DPOY award on their career checklist. With the Heat losing Markieff Morris and PJ Tucker, Bam will have to take on an even bigger role on the defensive end which essentially will lead to him finally conquering DPOY award.
Other top DPOY contenders to watch out for are Anthony Davis and Ben Simmons. However, you are guaranteed to hear Giannis & Gobert’s name in the mix every year.
Most Improved Player: PJ Washington
Truthfully, I don’t believe PJ Washington will win it but I think he will be the player most deserving. The NBA has weirdly been giving the MIP to players like Ja Morant who had all-star like numbers the season before, however I think PJ Washington will be the “should have won” player. With the unfortunate loss of Miles Brides who was coming off a breakout season, Hornets will be looking to replace the production of Bridges and the player to do that will be PJ Washington. Washington career thus far could have been perceived as underwhelming, however that is not a result of lack of talent and PJ will have the perfect opportunity to prove that this year.
Two other players that I have just as likely to win MIP for the year are Anfernee Simons & Keldon Johnson. With the departure of Dejounte Murray and CJ McCollum, Simons and Keldon Johnson have shown more than ready to fulfill those allstar level roles. These two players rank amongst the highest in my list of young studs waiting to blossom at any point.
Rookie of the Year: Jaden Ivey
While their are a ton of players in this rookie class that could be the one to take home the ROY award, the name that sicks out is Jaden Ivey. Jaden Ivey finished his impressive NBA debt with 19 Points, 3 Rebounds, 4 Assists and 3 Steals. Ivey’s outstanding scoring ability could be a huge factor in his ROY chances after Detroit parted ways with Jerami Grant this offseason. Pistons could arguably be the team with the most young talent, therefore it could be become a usage rate problem for Ivey compared to other ROY contenders which could lessen his chances to win ROY. However, the vast amount of young talent could also work in Ivey’s favor helping him secure ROY on an improved Pistons roster. I would not be surprised if another stud rookie took home ROY, but nor should fans be surprised for Ivey to secure that award.
Keegan Murray, Benedict Mathurin, Banchero, and Jabari Smith are the other rookie names I expect to hear in the conversation at the end of the year during the tight race for ROY.
Shaedon Sharpe will be a standout rookie that will really solidify his spot in the league but still will not be considered for ROY.
Coach of The Year: Ty Lue
Ty Lue has consistently been one of the best coaches throughout the league in his first 6 season as head coach with a record of 209–140. No matter what roster Ty Lue has been presented with, he has overachieved. Coach of the Year has much to do with the success of your team and on paper no team has a better roster than the LA Clippers. If Paul George & Kawhi, John Wall can stay healthy, it is difficult to imagine Ty Lue will not coach his team to a top three seed.
However, if Miami Heat can figure out a way to be a top 3 seed with their constructed roster then we may see Erik Spolestra secure his long overdue COY award but it may also be an unexpected new face to win this award. Joe Mazzulla, Interim head coach of the Boston Celtics was thrown in the water after the unfortunate situation with Ime Udoka which resulted in him being suspended for the year. The Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led Boston Celtics have an opportunity to be a special team after bringing everyone back while having additions of Malcolm Brogdon, Blake Griffin and Derrick White.
6MOY: Christian Wood
With the uncertainty if reigning 6MOTY, Tyler Herro will remain coming off the bench after expressing his urge to start then I expect Christian Wood to take home this award. Christian Wood is easily a starter on almost any team in the league, however, his new team Dallas Mavericks decided to bring Wood off the bench which seems questionable initially but also makes sense. Wood ended his Dallas Mavericks debut with a stat line of 25 points & 8 rebounds off the bench in 23 minutes of play. While being the 6th man, Wood will likely be getting starter minutes and ending most if not every game on the floor. Wood playing alongside an MVP Caliber player such as Luka Donic will be a dangerous combination league wide and will assistance Wood in securing 6MOTY
Two other heavy favorites to win this award: Malcolm Brogdon, and Jordan Poole who seems like the fan/media favorite at this point.
Most Improved Team: LA Clippers
From top to bottom, LA Clippers undoubtedly have the most stacked roster in the league which is why I have them as most improved team and also my championship favorites. Yeah, Clippers were without the duo Paul George and Kawhi but even if they were healthy I do not think they would have taken home the championship last year. Bringing their whole rotation back from the past two years while adding the late additions of Norman Powell, Robert Covington before last season’s trade deadline already have the Clippers as favorites coming into this year. However, acquiring John Wall who is coming off a year of healthy rest and who is willing to split the minutes with Reggie Jackson if that means results in winning was the icing on the cake for me. Another move that I think the Clippers will eventually be praised for is the pickup of 7’0 Center Moses Brown as a rotational player who has shown glimpses of his high potential. If anybody can handle having a roster this stacked, I believe Ty Lue can and all these are why the Clippers will be the most improved team and championship winners at the year’s end. Including even the years of Lob City, this is the best roster the LA Clippers have ever had and anything less than a winning a championship this season should be viewed as a huge disappointment.
However, it is expected for the Pelicans to make a major jump in improvement from recent past years. After acquiring CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr from Portland via trade and the emergence of two-way role player Herb Jones and lead by Brandon Ingram the Pelicans showed they were on the verge of taking that next step. The excitement for these young team grew as Zion Williamson returned for the Pelicans opener and finished with 25 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists in a win over the Brooklyn Nets. If CJ, Zion and Brandon Ingram and double-double machine Jonas Valanciunas can stay healthy while continuing to improve role players like Herb Jones, Devonte Graham, Larry Nance, and Trey Murphy lll then the Pelicans will be a dangerous opponent league-wide
Other teams I have for most improved: Timberwolves, Cavs and Kings
The all Association Most Valuable Player Award is an annual NBA award given since the 1955-56 to the best performing player of the regular season.It cannot be denied that the determining factors of who is the MVP and why this person should be MVP often changes. Unfortunately, MVP is usually given to the most outstanding player or the most exciting superstar of the year. While that should be included in the determination, it should not be the stand only reason. MVP determining factors should also include; the player most valuable to his team, impact, consistency, availability, circumstances, along with availability. If you took away that individual’s contributions and production, would the squad be in the same position? For many of these reasons and more is why Damian Lillard should have won his first MVP in the 2020-21 season or at least have came neck-to-neck with the winner.
Damian Lillard led the Portland Trailblazers to a 42-30 season and sixth in the west. This was pretty impressive considering his co-stars CJ McCollum and Jusef Nurkic jointly missed a huge portion of the season, CJ McCollum playing 47 games and Jusef Nurkic playing 37 games. Portland made a move before the deadline of 10 game less shortened season which brought in Norman Powell for the final 27 games of the regular season. Which left Lillard and Blazers 27 crucial games to make Norman Powell feel acclimated and help find his role with the team and making sure CJ McCollum and Nurkic find their rhythms after returning from injuries. Lillard finished the season averaging 28.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game, leading Portland to finish second in offensive efficiency rating with an elite 117.1. When Lillard was not on the floor the Blazers scored 18.4 fewer points per 100 possessions which is historic-like stats. In February, due to injuries the Blazers were missing CJ, Nurkic and Zach Collins which would ideally seem like a recipe for a disaster month for the Blazers but Damian Lillard make sure that was not the case. During this 14+ game stretch Lillard played out of his mind, averaging a 31.6 points, 8.8 assists, and 4.4 rebounds on a 45.7/39.3/91.2 shooting split. Lillard had consecutive games of 30+ points/10+ assists games, making 38.4% of his 12 3PA and 92.8% from the free throw line while obtaining his highest usage rate and assist rate of his career. Imagine when the game was within five points in the last five minutes a player had a true shooting percentage of 82.7%. Damian Lillard did that. Lillard became the 18th player in NBA History to record at least 40+ points and 15+ assists in a game and tied his career-high in assists with 16 in a must-win game against a Pelicans team.
It can be said that Nikola Jokic was the more consistent player throughout the season but before we say that, can we talk about the circumstances? Damian Lillard’s availability has always been great and that did not change with Lillard missing only 5 games for the season. However, this came during time of Jokic having his best month and Lillard dealing with a list of nagging injuries hindering his play before missing his handful of games. When you look back at the season of LeBron, Steph, Giannis, Jokic and Embiid you have to take into account the availability of and the seasons their co-stars were having. Even consider the complete roster of these teams. Understanding that a player like Lillard who plays PG in a season with highest usage rate of the season is going to have a harder time to score because of opponents ability to trap, double or triple team Damian Lillard. Which is opposed to bigs like Embiid, Jokic and even Giannis who frequently catch the ball in positions for them to score quickly and avoid double teams.
All in all, Damian Lillard’s may just not fit the leagues narrative for MVP winner. They have already had their undersized mid-major MVP winner with Steph Curry, the quiet assassin with Derrick Rose, and the undersized loyal hooper leading his team to an overachieving season with Allen Iverson. Despite of who you think the MVP winner was, we have to question whether or not these voters are taking the time to watch the games and do their homework instead of the player the media is pushing for MVP. Lillard finished seventh in MVP tallying this season, garnering 38 total voting points. 4 point behind Luka and only 18 points ahead of Julius Randle. Regardless of what metric the MVP voters go by, Damian Lillard should have undoubtedly been a top 3 finisher in the MVP race and arguably is the MVP of the 2020-21 season.
Insane that the NY Jets 4-13 season could be looked at as a successful season, right? Well, that is not the craziest thing in the world to say when you look past the record. Coach Robert Saleh, was one of six first year coaches in the league won over his higher-ups and locker-room in a timely-manner. After being selected to coach the National team during the Senior Bowl, the NY Jets coaching staff not only picked up a win but was also praised for excellent management of Senior Bowl practices. Saleh spoke on how the advantages of coaching the senior bowl, especially for a team with 9 picks in this years draft and 4 in the first 38 picks. Coach Saleh is well-respected throughout the league and more importantly the locker rooms. Jets Linebacker and defensive leader, CJ Mosley was one of many to praise Coach Saleh by describing coach as “a person you want to be around”. Mosley went on to elaborate on the feelings towards Coach Saleh, saying that “He has that energy that brings people closer, that makes you want to go the extra mile for him, for your teammates and for your families.” Managing to keep a high player morale, get positive player feedback about the future of the team while showing improvements throughout a season that is not going how you planned is a testament to the job Saleh has done thus far.
The Jets finished last in the AFC East with the worst overall defense in the NFL. The average age for the Jets week 1 defense was 25 years old. Seven of the 11 week 1 starters were 25-or-under. None of the remaining 4 being older than 30. In true Jets fashion the team was plagued with injuries throughout the season making an already historically young defense more vulnerable. The Jets lost Carl Lawson to a ruptured achilles tendon who was having an outstanding training camp with the team. Lawson have being arguably the best pure pass rusher to hit free agency this past offseason was predicted for a breakout season in his new-look Jets uniform. It was a huge hit to lose him right before the season while a fews weeks later going on to lose Safety Marcus Maye for the season as well. At one point the Jets top six linebackers were inactive on IR or doubtful causing them to sign B.J. Goodson who played one game with the Jets before deciding to retire. In the midst of injury central, the NY Jets were able to develop and discover pieces that will be vital to the Jets future success. However, it will be exhilarating for the Jets to have Carl Lawson lining up on the opposing side of John-Franklin-Myers. Franklin-Myers is an elite pass-rusher on the interior and elite run defender on the edge. Franklin-Myers tied for 18th among edge defenders with 53 pressures, the most ever recorded by a Jets edge defender in a single season since 2006. Although, this was a step down to the impact Franklin-Myers had in 2020 lining up in the interior where he ranked eighth among IDL with 51 pressures and did it on a astounding pressure rate of 14.4%, which ranked third-best among qualified IDL trailing only Stephon Tuitt and Aaron Donald which is pretty talented company. It will be interesting to see where Saleh & the Jets decide to place Franklin-Myer but do not be surprised to see him lining up both as an edge-rusher and IDL next season considering Jets still have consistently developing Quinnen Williams. Williams tied with outside DL John Franklin-Myers for the team lead with 6.0 sacks and was second with 12 QB hits to JFM’s 14. Starting off the season with a foot injury followed by a shoulder injury and COVID Williams was stopped from having the season he hoped to have, ending the season with only 6 sacks. In his end-of-year conference Williams showed self-awareness that should make staff and fans feel good. Williams stated that, “I have games where I make big plays and I have games where I just do my job and I’m an above-average defensive tackle in the league” . Quinnen believes he has the ability to “dominate and take over games like Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox and those guys on the elite level” if he can work on his consistency. It may sound crazy for Quinnen Williams to compare himself to the likes of those players but it’s not and here’s why. In a healthy 2020 season Williams recorded 13 sacks and 26 QBHs, which may not be Aaron Donald numbers but still is game-changing numbers. Quinnen was not the only Williams to be in a Jets uniform this season and honestly he was not the best Williams in a Jets uniform this year. Quincy Williams, older brother of Quinnen Williams was acquired off waiver wire and took full advantage to the point the NY Jets front office have began to see Pro-Bowl potential in Quincy. He responded to his opportunity by recording 107 tackles, making big plays and having highlight worthy hits. Quincy had the second most tackles on the team while playing the 3rd most snaps on the team during his time playing beside his LB running mate CJ Mosley. CJ & Quincy were the first Jets to surpass 100 tackles each in the same season since LB Avery Williamson (120) and S Jamal Adams (115) in 2018. Jets are nothing less than thrilled of this breakout, but also because they finally got to see what they paid for with CJ Mosley.
Pro-bowl Linebacker CJ Mosley being active for a majority of the season after missing two seasons meant enormous amount to not only the Jets fans but the organization as a whole. To the standards of CJ Mosley, some fans were disappointed in his season saying he looked ‘washed’ and some fans were pleased with his performance. Between not being able to build chemistry with the defense because of the injuries and returning from a two-year hiatus CJ Mosley showed disappointing lows such as 17 missed tackles and unusual bad pass coverage. However, the Jets defensive captain CJ Mosley was no slouch and showed he still has plenty left to give the Jets defense tallying 168 tackles for the season, which placed 3rd in the league. Between filling the gaps, making open field tackles or just making clutch stops for the Jets, Mosley was his vintage pro-bowl self. It will be interesting to see a healthy CJ Mosley, Carl Lawson, Franklin-Myers, Quincy Williams and Quinnen Williams lead this Jets defense next year. Potential breakout talent does not stop there for the Jets while have high hopes for 23 year old edge rusher Bryce Huff who missed half the season with injuries. Huff, a 2020 UDFA went on to play 14 games registering two sacks, 16 tackles, four tackles for loss, and four QB hits in his rookie season while playing around 26 percent of defensive snaps and becoming a regular in the front-seven rotation. Huff was named potential breakout player for the 2021-22 season seeing that Saleh’s 4-3 scheme was more fitting for Huff opposed to the 3-4 scheme the Jets ran prior to Saleh. Other than Quincy Williams the Jets breakout player turned out to be the emergence of second-year cornerback Bryce Hall. Jets made a big get with Hall making him CB1 and it paid off. Hall finished with 79 tackles (66 solo), 16 passes defensed which tied Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard at 6th for passes defended. Although needing to work on his ball-hawking skills, Bryce Hall has exceeded expectations and is well on his way to becoming a top flight cornerback in this league. Hall was not the only bright spot in the cornerback room, rookie corner Brandon Echols had an outstanding year. Echols who started all 14 games for the Jets certainly had his lows with the occasional tendency to give up big plays. Otherwise Echols more than held his own, even recording a pick six against Tom Brady in one of the best games from any Jets corner which resulted to winning rookie of the week. Echols showed that he deserved a spot in NYJ cornerback room next year.
Unfortunately someone who will more than likely not be in the DB room is Marcus Maye. Marcus Maye’s season and possibly time as a Jet came to an halt after he suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in an October game versus the Colts. He is set to hit the free agent market this summer unless Saleh and the Jets organization decide to bring him back, which will not be an easy task. Negotiations did not go well between Maye and the Jets last summer and Maye’s injury could make things more difficult or end up a blessing in disguise for the Jets. Jets may be able to get Maye back on a discounted price seeing that he is coming off of his achilles injury depending on whether or not Maye is in the Jets future plans. Jets have four picks within the first 38 picks, that is huge. It is difficult to put together many scenarios that don’t end in the Jets going defense for the one of the first two picks if not both picks.
Some defensive names that have been tied to the Jets draft board include; DT Demarvin Leal, CB Andrew Booth Jr, CB Derek Stingley Jr., Safety Kyle Hamilton, LB Nakobe Dean or pass rushers Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux. The Jets landing any of those names will be great additions to the returning Jets defenders along with the names they can attract throughout the offseason and it will be intriguing to see how the Jets capatlize on this opportunity of a franchise shifting offseason. The real question that people want the answer is about Zach Wilson. Is he the one to turn this Jets offense into a consistent threat? Unfortunately the jury is still out on that because of Wilson’s rollercoaster season. Wilson finished the year completing 55.6% of his passes for 2,334 yards, 13 total TDS and 11 INTS w/ a 69.7 quarterback rating. Clearly these numbers will not change a teams season for the better. Wilson, needing to improve on his decision making, consistency and accuracy managed to do that on the backend of the Jets season. Wilson’s connection started strongest with WR Corey Davis. Former Titans WR, Corey Davis had a rough season with uncharacteristic drops and ultimately spending the final month on IR with a core muscle injury. Davis will be back in a Jets uniform again next year and looking to re-establish himself as a pro-bowl WR. Alongside him will be the 2nd year WR Elijah Moore, who in his rookie season let everyone know the player he has the potential to become after a slow start the season. In 11 games Moore had 43 catches for team-leading totals of 538 receiving yards and five receiving TDs and 1 rushing TD. Twenty-five of his catches went for first downs, also the best on the team. It will be very exciting for the Jets to see if a Moore can be a emerge as a superstar WR. With the disappointing output from Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims and Keelan Cole the Jets decided to the increase the usage of Braxton Berrios. He became the Jets lead returner, while holding on to punt return duties and becoming an high usage WR because of injuries. Braxton Barrios took full advantage of his opportunity, Berrios was announced as 1st Team All-Pro as a Kick Returner and Pro bowl reserve. Berrios became the first Jets player to make the first-team AP All-Pro since S Jamal Adams in 2019. Unfortunately for the Jets, Berrios days with the Jets are likely coming to an end after reported that he is expecting a multi-year contract averaging $9M per season. While Berrios had a fantastic season, the Jets would be insane to give Berrios $9Mil when the chances are high of finding another player who offers the same production for much cheaper. It would be surprising to see any of Keelan Cole, Denzel Mims or Jamison Crowder back in a Jets uniform next year. It can be argued that the Jets are more likely to trade for or pursue an established WR rather than bringing players back. It is important that Davis and Moore stay healthy considering those will be the players Zach Wilson has the most chemistry with. It is much expected for the Jets to spend a draft capital creating depth with another playmaker at that WR or TE position. The Tight end position was a place that the Jets struggled in a major way. Which will make the Jets followers feel good that the Jets have been tied to some of the top TE names such as Trey McBridge, Jeremy Ruckert and Jake Ferigson.
The Jets are still celebrating the amazing 2021 draft they were able to have, especially the potential steal of the night. The Jets drafted Michael Carter, the former UNC running back late in the fourth round. In 14 games Michael Carter finished by leading the Jets with 639 rushing yards on 137 carries (at 4.3 yards/carry) and 964 scrimmage yards . He also topped the team in both rushing (29) and total first downs (46). Michael Carter can well be on his way to consistent 1,000+ yard seasons. Which speaks volume to the terrific job by the Jets OL . The NyJets’ offensive line ranked just outside the top-10, which is amazing considering Mehki Becton played only week 1 before sitting out rest of the year. During the absence of Mehki, George Fant not only replaced Becton but managed to have a breakout year while doing it. Fant gave up just one sack in 889 snaps at left tackle. You can very much expect to see George Fant and Becton starting at the tackle positions. Jets left guard, Alijah Vera-Tucker was named to the PFWA’s All-Rookie team. AVT led the Jets offense in total snaps in 2021 with 1,026. Missing only game during his rookie season to COVID-19. Vera-Tucker was charged with only two sacks on the season which includes a 14-game streak with no sacks allowed, being that his only two came in Weeks 1 and 18. All in all, the New York Jets are trending in the right direction with so many bright spots from this previous season. How many teams can say they received solid production from eight out of 10 draft picks in 2021 draft? The Jets can and has the ability repeat that with the position Jets have been put in to have a great offseason. If the Bengals have taught us anything, it is that a strong off-season under strong leadership followed by a healthy roster can completely change your season. New York Jets are so close yet so far.
When asked his 5-Year plan in terms of being in the league Anthony Edwards responded, “I want to go deep in the playoffs, definitely past the first round. In five years, I want to be the face of the league and have a couple of MVPs by then and have a ring. In five years, I would expect to go to the Finals for sure,” Edwards says. Whether or not he lives us to his personal goals it up to him, it is certainly not a far-fetched goal for a player of his caliber. However, we are here to talk about the player that could help him and the Timberwolves achieve their team goals in this 5-year window.
Dejounte Murray is everything T-Wolves need to start making consistent playoff pushes. A 6’4 two-way player who can be the true point guard to create for his co-stars but can also create a bucket for himself when needed. Murray shoots just good enough from three to play off the ball, with an 32% career average. It benefits tremendously having a player like Murray that can be your threat on the offensive end but still manage to make an All-Defensive team. Murray is currently averaging an career high 8.4 RPG which 7.1 comes from on defensive end and tacking on 2.0 SPG which is a testament to his 6’10 wingspan. 25 year old Dejounte Murray is having a career year, so good that he could arguably be an Allstar reserve this year. The key here is that Dejounte undoubtedly improves every year. Within the next three years, Anthony Edwards will likely be a top 10 player, KAT will continue to be one of the consistent top bigs in the league. It is unclear what Dejounte’s game will develop into but if they trend of the next three years match the previous three year trend then Dejounte will be one heck of a player. With all three players being under 26, ANT & Dejounte running the floor with KAT in the paint or spreading the court with his nice jumper in addition to them all being able to hold their own on the defensive end could mean for a scary trio for the league.
The Quarterfinals matchups start Monday night into Tuesday morning. I am so excited yet also sad that it is coming to an end. Iran, Nigeria, Czech Republic and the host country Japan are out of the tournament. A disappointing run from Nigeria, losing all 3 games after defeating USA & Argentina in exhibition play, plus a tough draw from Czech Republic having France and USA in their group play & Japan simply not having enough to defeat Argentina.
The stage is set. Here are the games for the Quarterfinals. Starting Monday Night (9 PM EST), Slovenia, led by Luka Doncic takes on Mo Wagner and the Deutschland squad. Spain’s last ride gets a bad draw with the United States. Italy vs France, then Boomers playing Argentina to end Tokyo’s night. As a prophet, this is how I think it will play out.
Slovenia(3-0) (-14) vs Germany (1-2) o/u 182.5
Luka Doncic (who is averaging 28.3 ppg, 10.7 rpg and 7 apg) is now 16-0 in the Slovenia jersey in his career. At this rate why wouldn’t they win Gold? Slovenia scored the most points in the 3 games so far totaling 329 points (109.7 ppg). With other talent like Mike Tobey and Vlatko Cancar look for Slovenia to take advantage of this opporutnity. Germany lone win came against Nigeria but they still made the quaterfinals. Mo Wager & Maodo Lo has been the bright spots for Germany, who are missing key pieces such as Dennis Schroder and Max Kleber. Averaging 86 points per game & allowing 91 points per game, all points to the over in this game. Slovenia is the best rebounding team and has the best player in the Olympics.
Pick: Slovenia by 14, Over 182.5
USA (2-1) (-12) vs Spain (2-1) o/u 179.5
The #2 Team in the world, according to FIBA arrives to the quarterfinals with their last chance to medal. Spain’s core is old and most likely we will see a different starting lineup in 2024 Olympics in Paris. I have Ricky Rubio as a Top 5 player in the Olympics and he hasn’t disappointed. The newly acquired Cavalier is averaging 21 ppg, 3 rpg, 7 apg and leads his team in efficiency. Rubio, The Gasol Brothers and company will give it one last shot but got the bad end of the stick after losing to Slovenia in their final group play. Consolation prize? The United States. After losing to France, the United States handed out 2 big blowouts: Iran by 54 and Czech Republic by 34. Averaging 119.5 points the last two games look for USA to build on the embarrassing lost to France. Kevin Durant has now surpassed Carmelo Anthony for most USA Olympic points of All-time, look for him to add to his legacy. We should see 3 more games of USA basketball, hopefully. Spains will show pride & USA will show dominance.
Pick: USA -12, over 179.5
Italy (2-1) vs France (3-0) (-8.5) o/u 168.5
Italy is well balance team that has numerous ways to put the ball in the hoop. Their strength is turnovers, meaning they are the best Olympic team in terms of NOT handing over the rock. That will be the key if they have success going forward. With 5 guys who can fill the ‘Pts” category, including Nico Mannion from the Warriors, look for them to bring a “Team” effort across the board. France, has been impressive the entire time. The game is all about matchups, they give me the most worry of advancing to the Final Four. Evan Fournier and Rudy Gobert are my 7th and 8th player coming into the Olympics, they will need both stars to bring their A-game if they want any shot at winning gold. France is a great rebounding team and one of the most efficient, look for them to pull out a close victory vs Italy. Note: 2 games of France has hit the under (USA & Iran)
Pick: France ML, Under 168.5
Australia (3-0) (-8.5) vs Argentina (1-2) o/u 170.5
Argentina made the quarterfinals after knocking out the host country Japan with a 20 point win. Luis Scola and Facundo Campazzo of the Nuggets, lead the squad to perhaps their last run together as a duo. Argentina ranks 3rd in points but doesn’t stand out anywhere else. This team isn’t the team that won gold in 2004, actually nowhere near. They’re clearly the worse team left in the field. Australia is the perhaps the deepest team outside of the US. With NBA talent such as Joe Ingles, Matisse Thybulle and Aron Baynes they provide key roles alongside their superstar Patty Mills. Perhaps the most important piece is Nick Kay (14ppg & 6 rpg) who filled in for the injured Aron Baynes. Here are the Boomers ranks so far: 4th in scoring, 2nd in steals, 1st in Free Throw %, 3rd in rebounding, and 2nd in team defense. The Boomers were my pre-Olympic gold medal pick. Every game has hit the under for Australia, even Germany couldn’t push over the 170.5 mark. Will Argentina?
Pick: Australia -8.5, under 170.5
FINAL FOUR TEAMS
This will be my Final Four here: Slovenia vs France & USA vs Australia. Hard to see any of them lose, even having Boomers to win gold, I know it will be very difficult to beat USA again. The odds for winning gold has USA 1st at -210, Slovenia 2nd at +550, France & Australia tied for 3rd place at +900.
Bronze Medal Game
Australia vs France
This matchup saddens me deeply because I believe both teams have what it takes to win Gold. The loser coming in 4th place just doesn’t sit right with me. However, if USA stays on this hot scoring pace & Slovenia finds ways to put up points, the “defense win championship” theory comes into question. The winner will find themselves on the podium but for Bronze.
Gold Medal Game
Slovenia vs USA
The most anticipating matchup in Olympic sport history, the dominance of Team USA, winner of the last 3 Olympics vs Slovenia led by the arguably the best player in the world, Luka The Don. For all reasons above in this article, the world do not want to miss this no matter the time. USA has the talent but will it outweigh the chemistry of Slovenia? This game will clearly be high scoring and one, I believe will come down to the wire.
The Draft Lottery was surprising, for one it was done virtually and secondly, we seen two teams rise up — the Charlotte Hornets (picking 3rd) and the Chicago Bulls (picking 4th) and of course watching the Knick fans be disappointed yet again (falling from 6th to 8th). It’s weird that the first mock draft is in August but Covid-19 had other plans. See where these young tantalizing prospects are headed in the Prophet Mock Draft ⬇️
1. Minnesota Timberwolves
SG – Anthony Edwards, UGA
Edwards is the perfect fit for the T’wolves. With KAT and DLo, a tough-nosed player would help them toward making the playoffs. At 6’5 225 he already has a man body at such a young age. This trio could grow together and make some noise in a tough Western Conference.
2. Golden State Warriors
C – James Wiseman, Memphis
Wiseman had to be dismissed from school but that won’t dismiss him from being a top pick. Warriors have duct tape the Center position with the likes of Mcgee and Chriss, imagine if they can get an elite Paint Patroller. He’ll get easy baskets in this system as he continues to work on his game.
3. Charlotte Hornets
PG – Lamelo Ball, Australia
The Last Ball brother is here, LaMelo. We watched him grow up before our eyes and I believe he’s ready to take the league by storm. At 6’8 he can score from anywhere. The move to Australia was the best thing for him and it allowed him to mature. We seen the OKC Thunder pull off a 3 Guard set and be successful. Ball-Graham-Rozier could give teams hell.
4. Chicago Bulls
SF – Deni Avdija, Israel
THE player in the draft — Yes Deni is my #1 player on the board. I believe the top 3 teams could regret passing on the Israel Star just like teams did with Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Deni is an all around talented wing with great size, elite versatility and he can play from shooting guard to power forward. The Bulls luck up here to put him along side scoring machine Zach Lavine and Finland Star Lauri Markkanen.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
SG/SF – Devin Vassell, FSU
Too much in the front court to get a big like Toppin or Big O and they spent high draft capital on the backcourt the last few drafts (Sexton in 2018, Garland in 2019). A defensive wing is necessary— enters Vassell. A 2-way player that can help the Cavs in so many ways. At 6’7 he has the length to be your prototypical ‘3 and D’ and can relieve some pressure of the backcourt of the Cavs.
6. Atlanta Hawks
SF – Isaac Okoro, Auburn
I love Okoro’s game, he also preaches versatility and he fits the prototype of an NBA small forward. Being 6’6 220 lb. with great athletic ability, the sky is the limit. For the Hawks, they didn’t get the wing spot right last year. Okoro has the ability to be 2-Way and can even help a small ball role by sliding Hunter to the 4. Hawks need to hit and not waste Trae Young’s talent.
7. Detroit Pistons
PG – Killian Hayes, France
Rebuild is key for Detroit. Killian Hayes could be the best PG in the class while being able to play either guard position. Has great IQ and I believe he has the tools to run a NBA high powered offense. Derrick Rose is the starting PG but not only can Killian learn from him but they can play together seamlessly.
8. New York Knicks
PG – Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State
Narrow frame but he’s fierce. The Knicks will continue to draft a Point Guard until they get it right. Tyrese is a 6’5 long-armed PG with a great assists to turnover ratio. I know they have plenty of guards but the jig is up for Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina.
9. Washington Wizards
PF/C Obi Toppin Dayton
The National Player of they Year has found himself in a good situation. Bradley Beal and John Wall throwing you alley-oops? The Wizards would allow Obi to play his natural position at the 4. Yea he can be a tweener but in a positionless NBA, it won’t matter. Can Obi be a 20-10 guy like John Collins? The Eye test says yes.
10. Phoenix Suns
G – Jahmi’us Ramsey, Texas Tech
All I know is defense when I see Ramsey. I wonder if he’s related to Jalen Ramsey because he’s bringing the clamps just like his big cousin. The Texas Tech Freshman is a combo guard that can play either position and has the length to play small ball 3. Any chance I can help Devin Booker I will. Yea he can play defense, but the offense is just as impressive, he shot 43% from 3pt last season, he’ll look to improve.
11. San Antiono Spurs
C – Onyeka ‘Big O’ Okongwu, USC
Big O, the 2nd Chino Hill Star in the Draft. The Spurs have a lot of guards right now and Jakob Poeltl may be something but Onyeka can be a elite rim protector right now. He’s slightly undersize but plays big like John Collins and Montrez Harrell. These young guards like Murray and White would love to have him as the defensive anchor and the Spurs organization should feel the same.
12. Sacramento Kings
F – Saddiq Bey, Villanova
Not going to lie, Saddiq Bey is my favorite player in this class. He can do it all, a Jack of all trades, the only thing is, he doesn’t do anything at an elite level, but that’s alright. For the Kings, getting a front court scorer who can play both positions will help out Bagley, Fox, Buddy and Boggie. His high energy can maybe upstart and propel Kings to the next level.
13. New Orleans Pelicans
SG/SF Aaron Nesmith Vanderbilt
Pelicans will lose wing players in free agency. They can make it easy on themselves if they surround the star players with shooters. Nesmith was one of the best in the country. I mean 52% from 3pt is unheard of. Maybe we can’t expect that but shooters like Nesmith will always be valued and always find a home.
14. Boston Celtics
C – Vernon Carey, Duke
REBOUNDING AND SIZE!!! Come on Boston it’s finally time, that’s been the weakness for years. For Carey, he’s just the opposite of weak. With his strength for both ends of the floor, he can also put the ball in the basket. 6’10 270 says it all. Come on Boston, beef up the front line for once.