It’s time to put Siakam in the MVP conversation

Pascal Siakam
Game 2 of 2019 NBA Finals” by Chensiyuan is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Earlier this week, the NBA put out their KIA MVP Ladder, ranking players based on their production so far this season. Below are the top five MVP candidates so far.

Current NBA MVP rankings

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

2. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

3. Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers

4. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

5. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

With all of these guys having some of the best teams in the league and them all being some of the most popular names in basketball, it’s no surprise these guys are atop the list.

 

The next five

6. James Harden, Houston Rockets

7. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets

8. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

9. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

10. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

As the list moves into the next five, it’s no surprise the guys listed above are there either. They’re just as popular as the guys above, it’s just their teams haven’t had as much early success.

 

And five more

11. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

12. Kendrick Nunn, Miami Heat

13. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz

14. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

15. Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics

Then there’s these guys, who are having successful seasons early on and are still popular names, but aren’t as popular as the top tier guys.

 

The guy who should be in the conversation

With most of this list I agree, but there’s one huge disagreement. That’s the absence of the name Pascal Siakam. I get Siakam isn’t a super popular name. Last year was the first year most people knew who he was! Instead of being a star player, he won Most Improved Player. While that is an accomplishment, winning Most Improved doesn’t make you a star.

I understand that Siakam has yet to play an entire season as the main guy for his team, but based on what he’s done so far this season, he absolutely should be in the MVP conversation.

Through the Raptors’ first eight games, Siakam has led them to a 6-2 record, which currently puts them second in the Eastern Conference. In those eight games, Siakam has averaged 27.9 points (7th in the NBA), 9.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He’s doing all that while shooting 51.9% from the field and 41.3% from three-point range.

First of all, why is the NBA’s seventh leading scorer not in the top 15 in the MVP race? Guys like AD, LeBron, KAT and Booker are all on the list, and they’re all currently averaging less points than Siakam!

Second, how in the world is Kendrick Nunn, an undrafted rookie, ahead of Siakam? Nunn is averaging 16.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game and ranks 12th on the list, yet Siakam is left off? Makes perfect sense!

 

Where should Siakam rank?

If you ask me, Siakam should at the very least be ranked in the top 10. Let’s take a look at the guys in the top 10 and briefly compare them to Siakam.

Jokic currently has his team at the same record as the Raptors and in the same playoff spot, only in the Western Conference. However, he averages 16.3 points, which is 11.6 less than Siakam. Jokic averages 0.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists more than Siakam, but there’s no way that’s enough to overtake him.

Booker has his team off to a worse start (5-3), and is also averaging less points and significantly less rebounds. Lillard currently has the Blazers at 3-6 and not in a playoff spot, so I’m not sure why he’s even on the MVP list. He may be the league’s second leading scorer, but MVP’s don’t play for losing teams. Irving is kind of in the same boat as Lillard. He’s the league’s third leading scorer, but his team is just 4-4 and seems to be struggling to finish games. If anyone ranked six through 10 has a legit case, it’s Harden, who has his team at 6-3 and is the league’s leading scorer right now.

Now let’s move to the guys ranked in the top five. Embiid currently averages less points and assists, while shooting worse percentages from the field than Siakam. I’d easily take Siakam over Embiid for MVP right now.

This is where it starts to get interesting. AD and James are both averaging less points than Siakam, but they do have the best record in the Western Conference right now. You could make the argument here that Siakam has less help, because he’s not playing with a top five NBA player, while these two guys are.

That leaves us with Kawhi and the Greek Freak. Both guys are averaging more points than Siakam. With both of their teams sitting right where the Raptors are, I think I’d have to put these guys above Siakam at this moment.

I don’t know if I can pinpoint a specific place for Siakam to rank right now, but I’d say he’s at least in the top five. At the very, very least, he should be in the top 15! Again, how on earth is Kendrick Nunn ranked over him, or even in the top 15 at all?

Pascal Siakam may be last year’s Most Improved Player, but he’s this year’s star for the Toronto Raptors. Siakam is a star, yet most people don’t see it. It’s time to start recognizing Siakam as more than the guy who helped Kawhi a year ago. It’s time to recognize him as a legit MVP candidate. Let’s give him the recognition he deserves.

 

Way too early bold Eastern Conference predictions

Pascal.jpg
Pascal Siakam going for a jump ball at Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals” by Chensiyuan is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Half the teams in the NBA have yet to play their fourth game of the season, but there are already budding tendencies we see continuing throughout the season. Using these tendencies, we’re making way too early bold predictions for the Eastern Conference!

Is it too early to be making these predictions? Probably. With such a small sample size, it’s hard to know how accurate our findings truly are. We won’t know for sure until much later in the season. However, we believe there are three predictions about the Eastern Conference we have right. Here we’ll break them down one by one, showing you why we believe we’ll see these results by the end of the NBA season.

 

1. Trae Young will be an MVP finalist

Trae Young has played just three games so far this season, but it’s already clear he’s taken his game to the next level. In his rookie year, Young averaged 19.1 points, 8.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds, with a field goal percentage of 41.8% and a three-point percentage of 32.4%.

In the first three games of his second season, Young is averaging 34.0 points, 9.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds, with a field goal percentage of 51.5% and a three-point percentage of 52.0%. His points per game have risen by 14.9, assists by 0.9, and rebounds by 2.3. Perhaps what’s more impressive, is the fact that his field goal percentage has risen by 9.7% and his three-point percentage by 19.6%.

Through three games this season, there’s been a clear difference in the way Young is playing. I know three games isn’t much to go off of, but let’s take a closer look into his numbers. During his rookie season, Young scored 30 or more points nine times in 81 games. In three games this season, Young has already done it twice. I foresee his number of 30 point games this season making a big increase, jumping from eight to somewhere between 20 and 30 times.

It’s obvious Young’s shooting has been better, as evidenced by his 9.7% increase on field goals and 19.6% increase on three-pointers. With the way he’s shooting and scoring right now, he honestly looks like MVP Steph Curry. I know that’s a big claim, but through his first three games, Young is averaging more points, assists and rebounds than Curry did in his unanimous MVP season (15-16), all while shooting 1.1% better from the field and 6.6% better from three-point range.

Young currently has his team sitting at 2-1, with their one loss coming to the 3-0 76ers by two points. There are still many games to be played, but if Young can keep up this play, he’ll surely have his team in the top half of the Eastern Conference by the end of the season. If he can do that, he’ll have my vote for MVP.

 

2. The Toronto Raptors will still make the Eastern Conference Finals

The moment Kawhi Leonard left Toronto to join the Clippers, was the moment every fan in the NBA counted out the Raptors this season. Yes, the Raptors are a much better team with Leonard. However, I don’t think it’s fair to completely count them out as Eastern Conference contenders.

We have to remember, Kawhi wasn’t the only player on this team. This roster still holds names like Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. As much as we liked to think he was, Leonard wasn’t a one man show. This Raptors roster was, and still is deep. Through their first four games, the Raptors have five players averaging 12.3 points or more. Those five players are Siakam, Lowry, VanVleet, Ibaka and OG Anunoby. This is evidence this Raptors roster is still built to win, even without Kawhi.

You could easily argue that teams without a star don’t go far, but I’d counter that by saying this team does have a star. Last season we saw Siakam have a breakout year, but he was always in the passenger seat because of Kawhi. Now he’s taking over as the driver.

Through the Raptors’ first four games, Siakam is averaging 27.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He’s also shooting 48.1% from the field and 42.9% from three-point range. Guess what Kawhi averaged for the Raptors last season. 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists on 49.6% shooting from the field and 37.1% shooting from three-point range. Overall, Siakam’s numbers are better. I’m not saying Siakam is Kawhi, but I am saying he has taken over the star role for this Raptors team.

With a star player, another all-star (Kyle Lowry) and a roster full of great role players, there aren’t many teams in the Eastern Conference I’d take over the Raptors in a four game series right now. They may not have Kawhi, but they’ll still be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

 

3. The Kyrie Irving led Nets will miss the playoffs

The Kyrie Irving era has officially begun in Brooklyn, but it hasn’t gone as planned to this point. Irving has been putting up massive numbers, averaging 37.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.7 steals on 45.6% shooting from the field and 41.2% shooting from three-point range. Irving’s numbers are awesome, but that unfortunately hasn’t translated to wins for the Nets, as they currently hold a 1-2 record.

To be quite honest, this Nets team led by Irving reminds me a lot of the Cavaliers teams Irving led before LeBron decided to come back to Cleveland. I know Irving was a lot younger back then, but he was the star player for the Cavaliers. He was their best player, and he put up good stats, but he could never lead them to a winning season.

Since then, Irving has won an NBA title and made the playoffs a bunch of times, including a couple times with a Celtics team he led. Irving is better than he was when he was a young star leading the Cavaliers, but his tendencies are still the same. Irving can make a lot of great plays and score a lot of points, but none of that really matters if you don’t win. He’s never been the type of player to take a team far when he’s the only star. That’s what he is on this Nets team right now.

Brooklyn has an exciting future, as Kevin Durant will be returning from injury next season. Nets fans should be excited, but they may have to put that excitement on hold for one more season. I’m not so sure Irving can get it done with this team. If the Nets do make the playoffs, I don’t see them being anything above the No. 7 seed. Maybe Irving can squeeze them in, but right now I’m not confident in that.

 

How the Lakers signing Dwight Howard will be different this time around

Dwight Howard’s first stop with the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t go as planned, but his second stop with the team will be much different.

Back in 2012, Dwight Howard became a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. The then 27 year old Howard joined a 34 year old Kobe Bryant and 38 year old Steve Nash. At the time, Howard was a star in the league. Prior to joining the Lakers, Howard had been a six time All-Star after leading the Orlando Magic to the playoffs six straight times, including one NBA Finals appearance.

Coming off a season in which he averaged 20.6 points, 14.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks, Howard was expected to be a star for his new team. It was at this same time that Howard’s career would never be the same. From there on out, Howard has bounced around the league, spending time with the Rockets, Hawks, Hornets and Wizards.

Howard with the Lakers in February 2013” by scott mecum is licensed under CC BY 2.0

2012 to 2016

In his first season with the Lakers, Howard’s stats didn’t look as bad as things actually were. Howard averaged 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds (led the league) and 2.4 blocks. The Lakers finished that season with a record of 45-37, making the playoffs, but went on to lose in the first round.

The very next season, Howard moved on to the Houston Rockets, where he spent the next three seasons of his career. Why did Howard move on so quickly? There were several factors that likely went into Howard moving on, but to put it simply, Howard wasn’t the star he was with the Orlando Magic any longer. Howard wasn’t able to take a team of aging stars deep into the playoffs, as he hoped to do when he joined the team. Sure, his stats were still good, but individual stats and team wins are two very different things.

Howard’s short time as the star player for the Lakers seemed to take a toll on him. That’s why he split to join James Harden in Houston. Unfortunately for Howard, he was still expected to perform at a superstar level. Again, his stats looked good, but the team had another early out in the playoffs. The longer Howard played in Houston, the worse he got. Clearly, he still couldn’t handle having to perform at such a high level.

I’ll just go ahead and skip over the next few years of his career, as the story is the same.

Lakers Round Two

Howard’s first stop with the Lakers didn’t work out, but now he has a second chance. This time around, Howard will be a much more effective player for the Lakers than he was back in 2012. His stats won’t be as high, but his impact on the team will be much greater.

How so?

Well, this time around, Howard isn’t expected to be a star. This time the Lakers are bringing him in to protect the rim and grab rebounds in the absence of Boogie Cousins.

Instead of having to be a star with a rapidly declining Kobe Byrant and a Steve Nash who was about to walk away from the game, Howard will now be asked to play a specific role next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. LeBron may be getting up there in age, but he can still perform at a very high level. We all know Anthony Davis is a star.

With LeBron and Davis, Howard will not be required to carry the team. He won’t be expected to be a star like he was the first time around. Instead of averaging 17+ points per game, we should look for Howard to average 10 points per game or less.

While Howard’s points will be way down, he still has the talent to be a good rebounder and shot blocker for this Lakers team. That’s what the Lakers expect from Howard, and that’s exactly what they’re going to get. He won’t have the ball in his hands nearly as often, just when LeBron or Davis pass it to him down low or he grabs a board.

I believe the Lakers made the right move by giving Howard a second chance with them, but they’re making an even better move by making the expectations for him very clear before he even steps foot in the building.

Buy or Sell: Toronto Blue Jays, Daniel Jones and Golden State Warriors

Welcome to the future!

675px-Vladimir_Guerrero_Jr
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.” by DR. Buddie is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

In this version of the “Buy or Sell,” we will take a look at the future and where it could take three teams. Join Aman, Dan, and I as we look into the future championship hopes of the Toronto Blue Jays, Daniel Jones, and Golden State Warriors.

Can any of us be right in our buys or sells? Find out what we think about them here.

Dan: With their elite young core, the Blue Jay’s can win a World Series within the next 5-6 years?

Aman: If I’m going based off of the Toronto Blue Jays’ current competition, then no, of course not, but down the road, as the Blue Jays get stronger and the good players of the likes of the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, or the Los Angeles Dodgers age, the Blue Jays winning is actually a probable reality.
But this will only work if the Blue Jays’ key players remains with the team. Unfortunately, what I see happening is another team offering more money and a better deal to the likes of, how Rahim says, Guerrero Jr., leaving the Blue Jays behind. So, I’m going to end up selling this.
Rahim: I buy this! I’ve been saying it all season that this was the last year the Golden State Warriors were going to win an NBA title. I didn’t think they would have gotten D’Angelo Russell the way they did. But regardless of that addition, it will be hard for them to repeat what they did over the past five seasons.
There is also that fact that Dan said about the Los Angeles teams. Whether it’s Kawhi Leonard’s Clippers team or LeBron James’ Lakers, I think the Warriors will finish third best in their division. It’s going to be a hard road back to the Finals for the Warriors and I don’t think their time will come again. So yes, I buy the idea that they will fail to win an NBA title for the next three years, especially with Clippers and Lakers now standing in their way.

Rahim: Daniel Jones will win two Super Bowl titles in his career and silence all critics?

What you may have missed this weekend: 08/08-08/11

If you thought the NFL was teasing us about their return, you were wrong! We are less than a month away from the Thursday night kickoff between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers on September 5th.

Rafael Nadal
“Rafael Nadal” by mirsasha is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

But we’ll have to take it a week at a time before we can see the big games. This past Thursday was the official start of Week 1 of the NFL preseason and we got to see some of the rookies show us what they got. We’ll take a deeper look into some of the games.

And this week’s article will be a little different as we are trying something new. That new thing is for none of you to miss a thing from the weekend. We typically focus on the more important news like NFL, NBA, Soccer and any major tournaments from the other sports like Golf, NASCAR, or Tennis. But we will give you the news you need to know.

Let’s start with the NFL preseason and then work our way around to all the news. This week we have MLB, Golf, Tennis, NASCAR, UFC, and Soccer.

NFL:

NFL Week 1 Preseason Highlights:

The rookies put on a show during week one. We saw a lot of rookies getting comfortable earlier on in their first preseason game. Kansas City Chiefs rookie Mecole Hardman made two catches from 31 yards and a touchdown in his debut.

The No. 6 overall pick, QB Daniel Jones, was drafted by the New York Giants and head coach Pat Shurmur was pleased in Jones touchdown drive in debut.

The No. 1 overall pick, QB Kyler Murray had a sharp debut with the Arizona Cardinals as he went 6 for 7 with 44 yards in his one drive, let’s pay attention to how this will play out with Murray and all the young receivers that they drafted to pair with him.

How about WRs Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry impressing us all with their debuts as part of the New England Patriots. They along with QB Jarrett Stidham are proving to be the bright spots in the Patriots future plans.

NFL Injuries:

Along with the highlights of some of the rookies, there is also some injuries that we should know of.

Players like Chicago Bears WR Anthony Miller and Houston Texans Keekee Coutee. But the biggest one of the weekend is Philadelphia Eagles backup QB Sudfeld. This comes as no surprise for Eagles QB, but they are hoping that Carson Wentz can stay healthy this year too.

Other NFL News:

  • Antonio Brown set to retire over a Helmet issue: let him keep his helmet that he’s worn for every season.
  • Colin Kapernick says he’s ready to play again: President Trump said he should if he’s good enough.
  • The Cleveland Browns trade RB Duke Johnson Jr. to the Houston Texans for ’20 pick: Johnson will work alongside Lamar Miller.

MLB:

Toronto’s rookie found himself in an epic battle:

In a 1-0 game against the New York Yankees, the Toronto Blue Jays rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr came up to bat with a runner on base looking to take the lead. He quickly found himself in an epic 13-pitch battle in his first meeting with Yankees closer, Aroldis Chapman. Guerrero was called upon to close the game with a win and he fouled off seven of the 13, got a full count while swinging and missing twice. Guerrero’s last swing was a ground ball that led to a double-play and another save foe Chapman.

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Ryan Yarbrough had a career day:

He was one out shy of a complete game as he pitched a career-high 8 2/3 innings getting 26 outs of 99 pitches in a shutout win against the Seattle Mariners. Had Yarbrough had the chance to get the complete game, he would’ve been the Rays’ first since Matt Andriese did it in 2016. The Rays won the 1-0 and got a series sweep.

In a divisional battle, the Indians survived to tie it up:

This wasn’t just a normal series, but the chance to take control of the AL Central was in the line. The Cleveland Indians had everything in their favor until they blew a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings at 3 a piece.

The Indians came right back out in the 10th and loaded the bases in the top of the 10th without having an out yet. That’s when Carlos Santana came up and delivered a go-ahead grand slam that propelled the Indians to a 7-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

Tennis:

Rogers Cup:

Although it is not one of the major tournaments in the World of Tennis, the Rogers Cup had some big names in it. One of the biggest names was Spain’s Rafael Nadal who advances to the Finals with a walkover as his semifinal opponent Gael Monfils. Monfils was injured late in quarterfinals early Saturday and was not ready for the Semifinals hours late which lead to Nadal’s automatically going to the finals. In the finals, Nadal faced Daniil Medvedev and won in straight sets (6-3, 6-0).

Golf:

The Northern Trust:

In the Liberty National Golf Club, we saw Tiger Woods withdraw (+4) in the 1st round due to injury and he’s likely sitting out of the next tournament too. But in his absences, we still got to see some great golfers compete. Patrick Reed came out on top as he finished with a -16 par. Abraham Ancer (-15), Harold Varner III (-14), John Rahm (-14), and Adam Scott (-13) all had their chances late, but Reed held them off.

NASCAR:

Consumers Energy 400:

In the Michigan International Speedway, we saw Kevin Harvick win another race. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Kr., and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top five. In the 183rd lap, Harvick passed Joey Logano and never looked back. He finished just 1.595-seconds ahead, and recorded his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season and the 47th of his career.

UFC:

Women’s Flyweight Title Fight:

Valentina Shevchenko tries to revenge first loss of career (September 2010) against Liz Carmouche. Shevchenko also puts the title on the line 61 days off last defending it which tied for 3rd-fewest in UFC history. After a long-hard fight, Shevchenko won on decisions and it was rightful so. She recorded the matches only takedown as Carmouche failed on three attempts. With the win Shevchenko became the 5th woman to win at least 3 UFC titles. It was also the 8th time that Carmouche has gone to decision (4-4).

Soccer:

Liverpool beat Norwich in the first half:

In the first match of the Premier League on Friday, runners’ up Liverpool scored four in the first half against promoted side Norwich City. Grant Hanley’s seventh-minute own goal was the first goal of the season before Mohamed Salah, Virgil Van Dijk and Divock Origi scored. Teemu Pukki did pull one back in the 64th minute for Norwich, but Liverpool started off with a comfortable win.

West Ham no match for Manchester City:

Manchester City’s success seems to continue over into their third season. Although West Ham was playing at home, they couldn’t hold their ground and City won 0-5. The first half ended 0-1 thanks to Gabriel Jesús’s goal, but the star was Raheem Sterling who scored a hat-trick in the second half. Sergio Aguero, of course, made an impact as a substitute, scoring a penalty, which was City’s fourth goal.

Chelsea faces a devastating start:

Chelsea without Eden Hazard proved ineffective at Old Trafford as Manchester United beat Chelsea 4-0. Marcus Rashford scored in the 18th minute with a penalty before getting a second goal in the 67th minute. Anthony Martial scored just two minutes prior to Rashford’s second and Daniel James closed the scoring account in the 81st minute off of a deflection from a Chelsea defender.

What you may have missed this weekend: 08/01 -08/04

Before we get into what all we missed this weekend, I just want to say welcome back football. It’s been too long and yet still too far.

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-Atlanta Falcons Tony Gonzalez” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed for Public Domain

This weekend had a lot of cheerful moments like the Hall of Fame game between the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos. It was the start of the Hall of Fame weekend that welcomed in the Class of 2019. But let’s see what else we missed this weekend with more NFL news. There’s even news about the NBA and MLB along with a big weekend in Soccer and Cricket by Aman.

NFL:

Hall of Fame Game:

This is an extra preseason game for the two teams involved and it’s all about the Hall of Famers that get inducted the Saturday after. On Thursday, we got our first look at the 2019 NFL season as the Atlanta Falcons give up a touchdown to the Denver Broncos and loss 14-10. Of course, all the big name players weren’t playing in the game, but it was still a pretty good watch.

Hall of Fame Ceremony:

The Hall of Fame Ceremony was the better watch for the NFL. We got to see some of the best players and contributors become Hall of Famers in Canton, Ohio. Players like Chiefs’ safety Johnny Robinson, tight end Tony Gonzalez, Broncos’ corner back Champ Bailey and owner Pat Bowlen, Ravens’ safety Ed Reed, Patriots’ corner back Ty Law, Jets’ center Kevin Mawae, and Cowboys’ contributor Gil Brandt.

Chargers’ Gordon wants out:

In other NFL news, Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon likely wants out. With him currently holding out, there’s been a lot of rumors of a possible trade for Gordon. No team has emerged in talks yet, but let’s keep our eyes and ears open as we get closer to the opening weekend.

Brady gets Extension:

The six time Super Bowl winning champion doesn’t plan on going anywhere any time soon as he and the New England Patriots finalize a contract extension. It’s a two-year extension that will keep Brady under contract through the 2021 season and will get paid $23 million this year, a $8 million increase which makes Brady the sixth-highest-paid QB in the league. It looks like 2019 Draft pick, Jarrett Stidham, will have a few more years to learn behind the “G.O.A.T.”

NBA:

“Melo” times in the NBA:

There hasn’t been much news on the NBA now that the free agency period has been “melo” lately. The only real question is if Carmelo Anthony will play for an NBA team this season? He opens up about his few games with Houston, but says that he is ready for the bigger task at hand. Melo has been a great shooter all throughout his career, but still no defense. But can he stay on a team’s bench?

Christmas schedule released:

We have also been given the five Christmas Day games that we’ll be watching while we eat some of Mama’s delicious pies.

These are the games, but the times are not given yet.

  1. Zion Williamson’s takes his chance at guarding Nikola Jokic as the New Orleans Pelicans face the Denver Nuggets.
  2. There’s also the classic Eastern Conference showdowns between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks. How will Giannis Antetokounmpo do against both Al Horford and Joel Embiid?
  3. The other Eastern Conference game is the reigning champions, Toronto Raptors against the new look Boston Celtics with the likes of Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter.
  4. Then there’s the two guys that haven’t been able to beat the Warriors in the playoffs in the past five years teaming up with hopes of doing it again. Those two guys are James Harden and Russell Westbrook as they look to carry the Houston Rockets to a nice win over Steph Curry and the Warriors.
  5. Then there’s the game everyone wants to see: Lakers-Clippers 2.0. After their opening night game, we’ll have to wait until Christmas to see it again and seeing how each roster is, this will be a great game to watch.

Opening Day roster:

We will also see the battle of Los Angeles on Oct. 22 as LeBron James and the Lakers take on Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers. That will be the second of a back-to-back as we get our first real look at the No. 1 overall pick. Zion Williamson (No. 1) will take his New Orleans Pelicans north to take on the defending NBA champions, Toronto Raptors.

MLB:

The biggest news in the MLB this weekend was the Trade deadline. Of course, most of these were done before the weekend, but all of them are taking place and being finalized. So let’s see some of the players who got trade and where.
  • Houston Astros traded five minor leagues players to the Arizona Diamondbacks for P Zack Greinke
  • Astros also traded OF Derek Fisher (NOT the Basketball star) to the Toronto Blue Jays for P Joe Biagini, P Aaron Sanchez, and minor league OF Cal Stevenson
  • The Milwaukee Brewers traded minor league infielder to the San Francisco Giants for a pair of pitchers, Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black.
  • The Minnesota Twins continue to surprise us with a good season and they trade minor leagues to San Francisco for P Sam Dyson.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers look to add insurance with the asquistion of infielder Jedd Gyorko from the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals get P Tony Cingrani and minor league P Jeffry Abreu
  • The Philadelphia Phillies get OF Corey Dickerson from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • The Cincinnati Reds received a minor league OF from the Oakland Athletics in the Tanner Roark. Roark was the top starting pitcher traded on deadline day.
  • Chicago Cubs receive OF Nicholas Castellanos and cash from the Detroit Tigers who get a pair of minor league pitchers.
  • The Atlanta Braves boosted their bullpen in two different trades. They get pitcher Shane Greene from Detroit and Mark Melancon from San Francisco. They traded a pair of minor leaguers and and P Dan Winkler.
  • The biggest trade was between the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds that included the San Diego Padres. The trade was big for the Indians who traded P Trevor Bauer to the Reds. The Indians received OF Yasiel Puig and minor league pitcher from the Reds. They also received OF Franmil Reyes, P Logan Allen, and minor league infielder from the Padres. The Padres would receive minor league outfielder from the Reds.

Soccer: (Aman)

MLS All-Stars unable to stand up to Atlético Madrid:

Atlético Madrid are famed for their defensive strength and it was exactly that which won them their preseason match against the MLS All-Stars in Orlando. Along with keeping a clean sheet, Atlético Madrid also managed to score thrice, all with just 41 percent possession.
However, in that 41 percent, Atlético Madrid outshot the MLS All-Stars 8-19, with the three goals coming from Marcos Llorente towards the end of the first half, new signing João Félix in the 85th minute and Diego Costa adding salt to the wounds in the 93rd minute.

Bad day for LA Galaxy:

After a bad loss to LAFC, most did not expect Atlanta United to even be able to compete with LA Galaxy. But things did not necessarily go to plan. Atlanta went up 2-0 in the first half but they didn’t score either of the two goals.
An unfortunate occurrence of two own goals from David Romney and Giancarlo González 20 minutes apart set the win for the home side. Atlanta then made it 3-0 in the 72nd minute when Josef Martínez converted yet another penalty.

Dortmund shock Bayern Munich to win DFL Supercup:

Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund usually play in the DFL Supercup and Bayern Munich usually win. But this time, Jadon Sancho had a show to put on. Dortmund shockingly beat the giants 2-0 thanks to goals from Paco Alcácer in the 48th minute and Sancho in the 69th. Sancho had put on such a performance, Alex Witself said later on that “Even Bayern were scared of Sancho!”

Messi handed three-month international football ban by CONMEBOL:

After Argentina controversially lost to Brazil in the Copa América Semi-finals, Lionel Messi didn’t hesitate and claiming CONMEBOL officials were guilty of corruption after a crucial referee decision against Argentina wasn’t reviewed.
CONMEBOL have since responded by banning Messi for playing for Argentina for three months, but this, amongst other things prove Messi was not wrong. Along with the corruption cases against FIFA, the President of the Argentina Fútbol Asociación Luis Segura was charged with fraud.

Philadelphia regains No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference:

To wrap up a weekend full of Soccer news, we have to take a look at the Eastern Conference standings in MLS. Going into their match on Sunday, Philadelphia Union was tied for 1st with Atlanta United FC at 39 points. The Unions opponents, DC United, were sitting at 4th with 36 and were looking for their chance to be the top team. With a win, DC United would’ve been in a three-way tie for 1st. However, Philadelphia Union didn’t let that happen as they cruised to a 4-1 victory over Wayne Rooney and DC United. There’s still plenty of games left and we could see more movement amongst the top four teams in the East.

Cricket:

Steve Smith silences England:

The first Ashes test at the Edgbaston, Birmingham has been highlighted by one player: Steve Smith. In his first test for Australia in 16 months, Smith scored 144(219), helping Australia from 122-8 to a respectable total of 284.
He first had an 88-run partnership with Peter Siddle, who scored 44(85) himself, and then the 10th-wicket partnership lasted 74 runs with Nathan Lyon, who scored 12(26)*. The loss of Jimmy Anderson due to injury made bowling difficult for England, but Stuart Broad passed the 450 mark in his five-for by bowling Smith.
In the next innings, England found a hero as well in the name of the opener Rory Burns. When Jason Roy’s dismissal reinstated doubts around England’s opening batsmen, Burns batted till Day 3, scoring 133(312), being dismissed caught behind. The skipper Joe Root and in-form Ben Stokes also provided half-centuries, but the biggest frustration for Australia was the ninth-wicket partnership between Stuart Broad, 29(67), and Chris Woakes, 37(95)*, which lasted 65 runs and 24.1 overs.

In the next innings, England found a hero as well in the name of the opener Rory Burns. When Jason Roy’s dismissal reinstated doubts around England’s opening batsmen, Burns batted till Day 3, scoring 133(312), being dismissed caught behind. The skipper Joe Root and in-form Ben Stokes also provided half-centuries, but the biggest frustration for Australia was the ninth-wicket partnership between Stuart Broad, 29(67), and Chris Woakes, 37(95)*, which lasted 65 runs and 24.1 overs.

England had a considerable lead of 90 runs, but Smith wasn’t done talking. Smith completed a rare Ashes twin century, scoring 142(207) this time. Multiple, lengthy partnerships seemed to kill England’s spirit as Australia batted on. First, a 48-run stand with Usman Khawaja, in which Khawaja scored 40 off just 48. Then, the Vice Captain, Travis Head got to his fifty from 116 deliveries as his partnership with Smith was worth 130 runs.
Things got even worse for England when Matthew Wade stepped up to the crease as Smith wasn’t the only one to score a century. Smith and Wade batted together for 126 runs and Wade went on to score 110(143), before being caught at fine leg by Joe Denly.
Some lower order power proved deadly for England as quick runs came from the skipper Tim Paine 34(44), James Pattinson 47(48) and Pat Cummins 26(33), setting England a target of 398.

Buy or Sell: Cleveland Indians, NBA’s USA team, and Bears next Walter Payton (MVP)

We are once again covering different topics from the NFL, NBA and MLB, as Aman, Dan, and I discuss some more interesting topics.

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4. Walter Payton” by Korye Logan is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

With the MLB trade deadline approaching, we look at a team and might be ready to give up one of their pitchers for more assets. We’ll also look at how the USA Men’s basketball team will look without a lot of big names. And the biggest question of the week is who will be the next MVP for the Chicago Bears? The one and only time the Bears had an MVP was Walter Payton in 1977. Do they have an MVP on the team this season?

Aman: The Cleveland Indians will back-track and decide not to trade Trevor Bauer?

Dan: I sell that the Indians won’t end up trading Trevor Bauer. It’s really just a relationship that needs to end. Doing one-year deals and going to arbitration every year for like 4-5 straight seasons and screwing this guy out of the money he actually deserves to get is burning bridges.

They don’t want to pay him and if he doesn’t get traded he’ll just end up in arbitration again this offseason. Why keep doing that to a top pitcher especially when you can probably get a couple really good prospects back for him.

Currently the Philadelphia Phillies are the top team for him and are said to be in ‘Deep’ discussion about acquiring Bauer. This is a team that has so much young talent and a lot of money. Why not go out and add another starting pitcher to help out guys like Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola. He’s 28, so if he was to go to a team like the Phillies, it would boost their chances to win and he would be right in the middle of that while finally getting the money he should be getting. I think he is definitely gone by the deadline.

Rahim: This is a hard sell because of where the Indians have been over the past three years. The Indians have won their division each of the last three years and had it to the World Series in 2016 where they blew a 3-1 lead against the Chicago Cubs and ended their curse.

But the reason I am selling this is because the Indians need a change of pace in their roster and they have managed to keep themselves in the hunt for both the Wild Card spot and another division title. If the postseason were to start today the Indians wouldn’t been division championships (Minnesota Twins led by three games). The Indians would be battling the Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card game.

Unfortunately, there still roughly 60 games left in the season and the Indians are looking for something to help them move ahead in their division. Trevor Bauer has been the only pitcher for the Indians this season with the other guys like Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber, and Carlos Carrasco all missing a handful of games. Bauer is the only one with trade value right now and it would be smart to move him while he is playing well.

I don’t think a trade like this will effect the Indians chances of making the playoffs and if they get good value for him, it might actually benefit them more in the playoffs once everyone else returns from injury.

Rahim: Is USA Basketball now a joke with all superstars opting out of playing this summer?

Aman: I sell this! I think that it is quite a dismay that the country’s greatest stars won’t be representing their country at the upcoming World Cup, but I still wouldn’t take this team lightly.

The US has the best domestic league in the world, so there is a myriad of talent from the NBA to fill up the team. This is a good chance for young players to perform at their best and bring pride to their country.

Another point is that there couldn’t be a better coach then Greg Popovich to lead this team and I would keep faith in his coaching ability in forming a solid, unified US national team.

Dan: I sell that the NBA USA team is now a joke. I don’t think it’s that players don’t want to play for the team I think it’s more the fact that’s this tournament is so close to the NBA season.

The tournament starts August 31st and the finals of that tournament would be September 15th. The NBA preseason starts on October 4th. Those dates are very close together especially when a lot of the guys asked to be on that are Western Conference guys fighting for a championship spot and really even a playoff spot after what has happened this offseason.

Also to throw this in, their all-team USA has do is finish 1st or 2nd out of seven teams and if they fail to do that they still have another opportunity to qualify for the Olympics in the FIBA tournament next year. So this really isn’t as big of a deal as people are making it out to be.

I think you’ll see a lot of these bigger name players next year for FIBA if need be and certainly the Olympics. The roster for this year’s tournament still has Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton, Kyle Lowry, Andre Drummond, Kyle Kuzma, and Harrison Barnes. There’s some all stars in there and guys that people know can get the job done. Team USA will be okay this year.

Dan: The Chicago Bears last MVP was Walter Payton (1977). But with the MVP-caliber players they have on their roster, this will be the year the franchise gets their second MVP

Aman: Although it’s a long shot, I buy for two reasons:

A. This is the best chance the Bears have to put up an MVP worthy performance. Someone like the QB Mitch Trubisky or defender Khalil Mack. Sure, there might be more profound QBs in the league than Trubisky, but if the Bears make a Super Bowl run, Trubisky could be worthy of the award.

B. The other reason responds to Mack. Obviously, a defender hasn’t had his hands on the MVP trophy in a while, but as defenders are becoming more valued, Mack might be on the top of that list. Therefore, although a long shot, I buy this being possible.

Rahim: I’m definitely selling this. I know the Bears won their division for the first time since 2010, but I don’t think they have the next MVP on their team. I do think the Bears win likely win the division again in 2019 and maybe make it further than a missed kick in a Wild Card game.

When I look at the Bears roster I see two potential MVPs (QB Mitchell Trubisky and EDGE Khalil Mack), but looking at the players in front of them, it will be a tough task to accomplish.

Trubisky isn’t even a top 10 quarterback in the league and for him to get to the MVP status, the Bears will have to have the best record in the league with the no. 1 offense. Trubisky will need more than just one game of 6+ touchdowns to get him there.

Mack, on the other hand, has a harder road to the MVP award simply because it’s rarely ever reward to a defensive player. The last and only defensive player to win MVP was Lawrence Taylor in 1988, and though we have seen what kind of impact Mack has on a team like the Bears, I don’t think he’ll get the looks for this award.

I mean honestly speaking the MVP award is mostly an offensive player award rewarded to the best QB of the season. It honestly surprises me how New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees has yet to win one. I think his time should’ve been last year. But I’ll be selling any Bears player winning the MVP in 2019. Sorry Dan and Aman, it won’t happen!

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There you have it! Now, what do you think?

  • Will the Cleveland Indians back track and not trade SP Trevor Bauer?
  • Is USA basketball team a joke without the superstar players we are use to seeing?
  • Can a Chicago Bears play win MVP like former RB Walter Payton did in 1977?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment!

What you missed this weekend: 7/18 – 7/21

It’s that time of the week already? Man the world moves fast! And the world of sports never sleeps. I hope you found time to get yours while you go on vacations with your family as the kids will be back to school shortly.

But before the vacation time ends, let’s make sure we are all caught up on what we missed this weekend.

Manny
Pacquiao in a combat.” by Sunil Grover is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

There aren’t much matchups or games going on with that much importance, but we do have a lot of news to cover about some of the bigger sports. We also have a pair of UFC and Boxing bouts to tell you about.

And don’t forget about the British Open for all you Golf fans. We will also recap some of the biggest MLS games of the weekend with a few FIFA games as well.

This week was quiet for the NBA and NFL for the most part. In the NFL, the biggest news was the decision on Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill’s suspension or not. Joel talked about it here.

In the NBA, there hasn’t been much happening besides shooting guard Kyle Korver reuniting with former head coach Mike Budenholzer as he agrees to sign with the Milwaukee Bucks. James Harden and Anthony Davis both not playing for USA basketball and Kawhi Leonard filing a lawsuit against Nike over the “Klaw” image.

In MLB, all the teams are looking for a great second half and finding trades that could help them make the push for the playoffs. Let’s keep an eye on the trade deadline and see if players like San Francisco Giants’ pitcher Madison Bumgarner get moved.

We also might have missed Atlanta Braves’ outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. become the second player in MLB history to get 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season before the age of 22 (Angels’ Mike Trout was the first).

And there were six players inducted into the 2019 MLB Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon. Players like Harold Baines, Lee Smith, Mike Mussina,  Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, and Roy Halladay.

Rivera became the first player to ever receive a vote on 100 percent of the ballots. Rivera finished his 19-year career with a record 652 saves and a 205 ERA+.  As great as Rivera was, Edgar Martinez had his number. During Martinez career against Rivera, he went 11 for 19 with two homers, six runs batted in, and a .579/.652/1.053 line.

Mussina spent his 18-year major-league career in the American League pitching for the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees. Mussina won 270 games with an average ERA of 3.71 and appeared in the playoffs nine times. But Mussina will not have a logo on his plague.

Let’s not forget about the late Roy Halladay. Halladay died in a plane crash in 2017, but he served as one of the best pitchers in the Majors. He played eight seasons with two Cy Young Awards. Halladay became the sixth player to be voted in by the BBWAA after his death.

Boxing:

Manny Pacquiao defeats Keith Thurman

Pacquiao hands Thurman his 1st career loss
Manny Pacquiao, the all-time boxing legend, aimed to prove he could still take care of business against an elite opponent at age 40.
He did just that, adding yet another enormous victory to his storied, 24-year career by defeating Keith Thurman, a man 10 years his junior, by split decision to take his undefeated record and welterweight world title before 14,356 on Saturday night at the raucous MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Pacquiao, who knocked down Thurman in the first round, won 115-112 on the scorecards from judges Dave Moretti and Tim Cheatham, while judge Glenn Feldman had it 114-113 for Thurman. ESPN also had it for Pacquiao, 117-110.

“It was fun. My opponent is a good fighter and boxer. He was strong,” Pacquiao said. “Even though Thurman lost, he did his best. He’s not an easy opponent. He’s a good boxer, and he’s strong. I was just blessed tonight.”

Pacquiao first arrived from the Philippines to fight in the United States as a relative unknown former flyweight titleholder and, in this same arena, knocked out Lehlo Ledwaba in the sixth round in a big upset to win a junior featherweight world title as a late replacement on an Oscar De La Hoya undercard in 2001. Eighteen years later and 25 pounds heavier, Pacquiao continued to thrill fans in an arena that has become something of a second home to him, as he took down Thurman in an action-packed fight.

Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs), 30, of Clearwater, Florida, who was making his sixth defense against the secondary titleholder Pacquiao, had promised to send Pacquiao into retirement. Thurman, who predicted he would knock Pacquiao out inside of six rounds, said he would make PacMan “disappear.”

Final Punch Stats

FIGHTERTOTALJABSPOWERPacquiao195 of 686 (28%)82 of 346(24%)113 of 340 (33%)Thurman210 of 571 (37%)18 of 128 (14%)192 of 443 (43%)– Courtesy of CompuBox

Thurman mocked Pacquiao’s smaller size by saying he had “little T-rex arms” and claimed that his in-and-out style made him look like a bunny. Thurman said he would do to Pacquiao what Pacquiao had done a decade ago to the aging De La Hoya: give him a savage beating and send him into retirement.

Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs), 40, the iconic senator from the Philippines and the only fighter in boxing history to win world titles in eight weight classes, claimed the trash talk motivated him to work even harder than usual in training camp. True or not, Pacquiao looked sharp. His speed and reflexes were there, as were his stinging power and ability to move in and out and side to side as he hurt “One Time” Thurman several times.

“I’m not that kind of boxer who talks a lot. We were just promoting the fight,” Pacquiao said. “I think he did his best, and I did my best. I think we made the fans happy tonight because it was a good fight.”

According to CompuBox punch statistics, Pacquiao landed 195 of 686 punches (28%) and Thurman connected with 210 of 571 (37%). Thurman’s 192 power shots (anything other than a jab) were the most-landed on Pacquiao in the 43 fights of his that CompuBox has tracked. But Pacquiao had a massive edge in jabs landed, 82-18.

“I knew it was too close,” Thurman said. “He got the knockdown, so he had momentum in Round 1. I wish I had a little bit more output to go toe-to-toe. I felt like he was getting a little bit tired, but he did have experience in the ring. My conditioning and my output was just behind Manny Pacquiao’s. I would love the rematch.”

They went right at each other with heavy punches from the outset. Each landed solid shots in the first round, but it was Pacquiao with a clean straight hand that connected flush and knocked Thurman down in the waning seconds of the round to elicit a massive cheer from the crowd.

Thurman quickly beat referee Kenny Bayless’ count, and the round ended.

Pacquiao rocked Thurman with another straight right hand in the second round, followed by a burst of punches from all angles. Thurman tried to fight back but didn’t land much and could not get away from Pacquiao, who chased him down.

When Thurman forced Pacquiao to the ropes in the third round with a flurry of punches, Pacquiao immediately responded to blunt his success as the crowd began to chant, “Manny! Manny!”

Thurman tried to get his jab going and land to Pacquiao’s body in the fifth round. He has some success, but Pacquiao eventually forced him back and fired combinations. By the end of the round, Thurman looked a bit shaky and was bleeding from his nose.

Thurman bounced back in the sixth round as the pace slowed. He got in a few solid shots and appeared to shade the round.

Thurman continued to come on strong in the seventh round, whacking Pacquiao with right hands and leaving him with swelling by his right temple.

Pacquiao rocked Thurman with a left hand in the eighth round, and Thurman’s nose began to spout blood again.

There was a fierce, toe-to-toe exchange in the ninth round when Thurman forced Pacquiao to the ropes and unloaded, but Pacquiao quickly turned the tables.

Pacquiao had a big 10th round, when he visibly hurt Thurman with a left hand to the body. Thurman winced and was on the run trying to get away as Pacquiao swarmed him and belted him with shots.

Thurman, who missed 22 months because of elbow and hand injuries before returning for a January win, connected with a left-right combination in the 11th round as Pacquiao’s temple area continued to swell, but it appeared like he would need something dramatic in the final round.

Pacquiao did not look to cruise in the final round, however. He cracked Thurman with heavy punches and stood toe-to-toe with him to close out the exciting fight.

Pacquiao drank in the cheers while standing on one of the ring posts with the black belt slung over his shoulder. He bowed the fans and blew them kisses.

Teddy Atlas breaks down how Manny Pacquiao claimed a split-decision victory over Keith Thurman.

“I really love the fans. Thank you so much for coming here and witnessing the fight,” Pacquiao said. “I’m sure they were happy tonight because they saw a good fight.”

Pacquiao said he likely will return to the ring next year. He will return to the Philippines to be in the Senate when it goes back into session and will make his decision in the coming months. But the obvious fight for him would be a title unification match against the winner of the Errol Spence Jr.-Shawn Porter bout, which was announced at a news conference on Saturday hours before the card began.

“I hope to be at that fight on Sept. 28,” Pacquiao said.

The winner surely will want to fight Pacquiao because of the pay-per-view riches he can still bring to the table. Thurman embraced facing Pacquiao. He had never backed down from a top opponent. He has taken on and defeated Danny Garcia and Porter and made this his mantra: “I have an ‘O’ and I’m not afraid to let it go. If you can beat me, beat me.”

When Pacquiao did exactly that, Thurman did not complain about the decision, showing the all-time great the utmost respect.

“You get blessings and lessons. Tonight was a blessing and a lesson,” Thurman said. “Thank you everybody, and thank you Manny Pacquiao.”

Maxim Dadashev had surgery after loss:

Before this loss, Dadashev was undefeated, but this fight was something else for him. After lossing in the 11th-round to Subriel Matias on Friday night, he underwent surgery because of brain swelling. The way Dadashev lost was by his trainer throwing in the towel of International Boxing Federation 140-pound eliminator. Dadashev was having a difficult time leaving the ring and threw up before reaching the dressing room.

But he was tough and grinded out the rounds as they became harder and harder for him. He did take a lot of body shots throughout the fight as Matias had 112 of his 319 punches were body, but this brain swelling had to be from something else. We wish Dadashev a speedy recovery and hopefully we’ll see him in the ring again.

UFC:

Edwards outclasses dos Anjos, calls out Masvidal

UFC welterweight Leon Edwards has had a tough time getting the top fighters in his division to fight him. They might not have a choice in the matter after this weekend.

Edwards (18-3) extended his win streak to eight Saturday night, as he defeated former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos (29-12) by unanimous decision. The 170-pound bout headlined UFC Fight Night at San Antonio’s AT&T Center.

It was an impressive showing by the English welterweight, who has not lost a fight since December 2015 — to current UFC champion Kamaru Usman. All three judges scored it a blowout victory for Edwards, awarding official scores of 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46.

Immediately after the win, Edwards called for a fight against ranked contender Jorge Masvidal, with whom he got into a brief, backstage altercation at a UFC event in March in London.

“I’m on an eight-fight win streak, in one of the hardest divisions in the sport,” Edwards said. “There’s a little weasel called Jorge Masvidal. Accept the fight. Let’s do it. You’re not on my level. Let’s make the fight happen.”

Edwards, who was born in Jamaica and fights out of Birmingham, England, has certainly done enough to start making demands. His win streak is the second-longest active run in the division, trailing only Usman’s 10 in a row. His eight wins since the start of 2016 is tied for the most in that time frame with Usman and Vicente Luque.

He proved better than dos Anjos in every area of the fight Saturday night. He outstruck the former champion 106 to 88 overall, according to ESPN’s FightCenter data, and stuffed all five of his takedown attempts. He opened a deep cut over dos Anjos’ left eye with an elbow in the second round, which threatened to stop the fight.

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Edwards satisfied with win vs. dos Anjos, calls out Masvidal

Leon Edwards summarizes his execution vs. Rafael dos Anjos as perfect, while calling out Jorge Masvidal for a future fight.

Dos Anjos tried everything he could to turn the tide, but there was simply no doing so. He had some success early on with leg kicks, but Edwards’ range and ability to mix things up dictated the standup. Dos Anjos tried hard in the third round to take the fight to the ground, but Edwards used his size and defensive grappling to calmly remain on his feet.

Masvidal hit Edwards at UFC Fight Night in March, after Edwards said something to him as Masvidal was being interviewed backstage. Masvidal’s management has said he does not want to fight anyone other than Usman or Conor McGregor at the moment.

Dos Anjos has now lost three of his past four bouts. His only win during that time came in May, when he defeated Kevin Leefourth-round submission.

Greg Hardy:

Greg Hardy KO’s Juan Adams in 45 seconds

UFC heavyweight Juan Adams spent more than a year calling out Greg Hardy — and it took Hardy less than one minute to silence him.

Hardy (5-1) made quick work of Adams (5-2) at UFC Fight Night on Saturday inside AT&T Center in San Antonio. A former Division I collegiate wrestler, Adams tried to take Hardy down in the opening minute, but Hardy defended the initial shot and landed a string of hammerfists to the side of Adams’ head.

The heavyweight bout was waved off just 45 seconds in, when it became apparent Adams was not responding to the shots. Hardy, 30, improved to 2-1 in the UFC. His only loss came via disqualification for an illegal blow against Allen Crowder in January.

“I want to thank Juan Adams, no matter what he said about me,” Hardy said. “He was a great opponent, but it’s always ‘The Prince of War,’ baby.

“Everybody wants to get me on the ground. I want everybody to know that calling out my name comes with consequences. And taking me down comes with consequences.”

Adams, 27, had repeatedly said he did not think Hardy was UFC-caliber. He also claimed to “hate” the former NFL defensive lineman, and started a hashtag online titled “#F—GregHardy.”

Hardy has been a controversial figure for the UFC, ever since the promotion signed him to a developmental deal last year. Off-field issues including convictions for domestic violence (later expunged from his record) and drug possession contributed to the end of his NFL career.

The former Pro Bowler began training mixed martial arts full-time in 2016, and the results have been good so far. All five of his professional wins have come via first-round knockout. He trains out of American Top Team in South Florida, one of the top MMA camps in the world.

Adams fell to 1-2 in the UFC.

Soccer:

MLS:

International Champions Cup:

In a friendly, Tottenham Spurs’ Harry Kane outlasted Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus in an International friendly with a goal from halfway. The goal came injury-time as Kane lead the Spurs to a 3-2 win. Kane was a second-half substitute who lifted the Spurs and this was the second time in three months that the Spurs had beaten Juventus, previously Champions League semifinal.