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

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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.

 

NBA Free Agency: Top 10 small forwards

After spending the last few days looking at the other positions, it’s time to take a look at the most important position in the NBA. The small forward position includes big names like Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard.

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“”1 kawhi leonard 2019 nba finals” by Chensiyuan is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

As we quickly approach the free agent period, everyone has their eyes set on these two guys. Let’s be honest, they might all be disappointed, but let’s see where they might actually go.

 

Top 10 small forwards

1. Kevin Durant

Current Team: Golden State Warriors

New Team: Los Angeles Clippers

Yes, you are seeing this right! Kevin Durant will leave the Warriors and join their division rival, Los Angeles Clippers. By doing so, he’ll team up with DeMarcus Cousins again. Durant is expected to be a part of one of the New York teams, but he’s also expected to meet with the Clippers. He could also opt into his deal with the Warriors. The injury will play a huge part in where he plays, and I think the Clippers would still be a playoff team if they sign him and still have to wait the year.

 

2. Kawhi Leonard

Current Team: Toronto Raptors

New Team: Toronto Raptors

Despite having meetings with both the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, the Raptors get the last laugh. Leonard hears them out, and stays with Toronto for the biggest contract in NBA history. Look at what he was able to do in just one year. With not many changes happening with the team, they could be right back there again. Pascal Siakam won most improved player and he’ll continue to improve with Leonard playing along side him.

 

3. Bojan Bogdanovic

Current Team: Indiana Pacers

New Team: Philadelphia 76ers

This is a match made in heaven for both sides, as the Sixers clearly need shooters with both Reddick and Butler leaving. Bogdanovic has been known for his lights out threes, which played a major part in the success of the Indiana Pacers when Victor Oladipo went down. With Bogdanovic and the addition of P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon, the Sixers can have the offense they had last season. The problem will still be the injury prone Joel Embiid and the no jump shot Ben Simmons.

 

4. Khris Middleton

Current Team: Milwaukee Bucks

New Team: Milwaukee Bucks

Although Middleton opted out of his contract, I think he’ll stay with the Bucks. They were as close to the NBA Finals as they’ve been for a long time. If they can keep him, they have a better chance of getting there next season and in the future. They could also look to add more shooters to the bench to help take pressure off MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

 

5. Harrison Barnes

Current Team: Sacramento Kings

New Team: Indiana Pacers

Barnes is one of those forwards who’s underrated. He really grew into a nice star during his time with the Dallas Mavericks. The only reason why they moved him was to create space for the Porzingis trade. Having Luka Doncic playing well as a rookie was also a plus. I think Barnes could be a star in Indiana with all the other new pieces they have. Of course, the money will have to be figured out if they’re really going to have all the players they want.

 

6. Wilson Chandler

Current Team: Philadelphia 76ers

New Team: Sacramento Kings

Chandler has been a player who’s moved around so much over his career, and he’ll continue to do so. I hope he can find a big deal and be settled with one team again. With the Kings, it could be it. They’re on the rise and hoping to make the playoffs this year, if not the next. With the young team they’ve assembled, a playoff appearance could be in the near future, and it will be a good thing to see from this franchise.

 

7. Rudy Gay

Current Team: San Antonio Spurs

New Team: San Antonio Spurs

Gay has found a way to remain relevant in the NBA, and the Spurs seem to fit him well. He may visit other teams to see what they can offer, but he fits the Spurs well and I can see him adding a few more years with them.

 

8. Trevor Ariza

Current Team: Washington Wizards

New Team: Denver Nuggets

Since he came into the league, Ariza has always been known as one of the better three and D guys. He made several big plays as a member of the Lakers in their 2008-09 season. He’s helped several other teams, such as the Wizards and Houston Rockets, make the playoffs and be better defensively. I think him being added to the Nuggets will be a good spot for him. He can come in and set the tone for what the Nuggets want to do on defense. We already know they can score, but the addition to Ariza could help slow down their opponents.

 

9. Jabari Parker

Current Team: Washington Wizards

New Team: Washington Wizards

Parker hasn’t really been able to fit into the NBA like he’s wanted to. He had too many injuries in Milwaukee, which led to them letting him go. He got traded again from Chicago to the Washington Wizards. I think the Wizards are a better fit for him, because he’s not having to be be a star there. He was also able to learn behind Trevor Ariza, so if Parker can stay healthy, he could be a better player for the Wizards this year.

 

10. Kelly Oubre

Current Team: Phoenix Suns

New Team: Phoenix Suns

Speaking of the Wizards and Ariza, they traded Kelly Oubre to Phoenix for him. It made sense for the Wizards, because Oubre was costing them too much. That’s why they also shopped Otto Porter Jr. It was good for both Oubre and the Suns, who’ll likely stay together one more year on the player option and see where that takes them. I like this for both sides.

 

I hope you enjoyed the list of players who’ll hit free agency on July 1st. Don’t forget to share and comment what you think about each player and where they’ll be playing next season.

Check out our other position predictions:

Point Guards

Centers

Power Forwards

Shooting Guards

Did the Warriors have the most disappointing arena farewell of all-time?

Being down 3-2 in the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors had a golden opportunity to extend the series to a Game 7. Game 6 was played at Oracle Arena, but it wasn’t just any Game 6. This Game 6 was the last game the Warriors would ever play here. Warriors players and fans alike were hoping that would spark their team to a Game 6 victory and another championship. Instead, their farewell to Oracle may have turned out to be the most disappointing farewell of all-time.

Warriors

It was win or go home for the Golden State Warriors in Game 6. After all, they would never play another game at Oracle. They had the home crowd. They had the momentum after coming off a Game 5 victory in Toronto. On top of that, they had motivation to win this one for KD, who ruptured his achilles in the previous game.

Everything was on their side. Everything was set up for the Warriors to give their fans one last show at Oracle before moving to a new arena. However, instead of giving Warriors fans something to cheer about one more time, what could have gone wrong, did go wrong.

 

Crowning new NBA Champs

The result of Game 6 was a Raptors win, which meant they were now the NBA Champs. The last game to ever be played at Oracle Arena resulted in the Toronto Raptors raising the trophy. What kind of farewell memory is that? It’s a memory many Warriors fans will want to forget, but I doubt it’ll be easy. How do you forget the last game to ever be played in this historic stadium? The memory of the Toronto Raptors winning a title in this building will last forever.

 

Losing Klay Thompson

If it wasn’t already bad enough to see another team win the NBA title in their building, Warriors fans had to see one of their stars, Klay Thompson, leave the game with what we now know is a torn ACL. What does this mean for their future?

Well, Klay Thompson is set to become a free agent, and it’s possible the Warriors could have seen the last of him as a Warrior. In what could have been his last game as a Warrior, Warriors fans had to see Thompson leave the game early with a serious injury.

What kind of last memory of Klay Thompson as a Warrior would that be?

 

Losing KD in Game 5

Technically, losing KD had nothing to do with the final game played at Oracle Arena. However, Warriors fans likely will never see Durant play another game for the Warriors.

Despite questions about how valuable KD was to the Warriors, Durant made his presence felt when he scored 11 points in 12 minutes during Game 5, which ultimately boosted the Warriors to extending the series. Shortly after dominating the first quarter, Kevin Durant went down with a devastating injury, an injury that could potentially never allow fans to see Durant in a Warriors jersey again.

It’s pretty likely Warriors fans were expecting Durant to be gone after this season anyway, but I doubt they thought they’d see Durant go out like that. They didn’t even get to see Durant play the final game at Oracle Arena. Just another disappointment.

 

Most disappointing farewell of all-time? 

It’s not every day we see an NBA team move from one arena to another. For that reason, I have to admit I haven’t seen a whole lot of them. Regardless of that, I don’t think there’s ever been a more disappointing final game in an arena than Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

KD didn’t play, and may never be a Warrior again. Klay Thompson got hurt, and may never be a Warrior again. If either of them are, they’re likely not playing next season. one didn’t get to play the final game at Oracle, and the other didn’t get to finish it. On top of that, the Toronto Raptors won a championship in the arena on its final night. How could you be more disappointed?

Unfortunately, the farewell to Oracle Arena could be a painful, long lasting memory in the hearts and minds of Warriors fans everywhere.

 

Kawhi Leonard: The. Greatest. Raptor. Ever.

Vince Carter. Chris Bosh. DeMar DeRozan. Those are the names of some of the greatest Raptors players of all-time, but there’s one name who tops them all. That name is Kawhi Leonard. 

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Kawhi Leonard shooting a free throw at Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals” by Chensiyuan is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Toronto Raptors are NBA Champions! The Toronto Raptors have won their first championship ever!

Who led them there? Kawhi Leonard.

In his first season with the team, Kawhi Leonard accomplished something no other Raptors star has ever done. No, I’m not talking about regular season records. I’m not talking about setting a playoff record for most 30 point games. I’m talking about winning a championship. 

Kawhi Leonard brought the first ever NBA Championship to the city of Toronto, and he did it in just one season. In just one season as a Raptor, Kawhi Leonard established himself as the greatest Raptor ever!

I know it’s bold to claim a player who’s only played for the franchise for one season as the greatest ever, but I can’t see how anyone else can top him after what he’s accomplished.

Many consider Vince Carter to be the greatest player in Raptors history. If you do, I don’t blame you. He was one of the most exciting players the Raptors have ever seen. However, I don’t believe he was ever the same caliber player Kawhi Leonard is. This is also how I feel about a player like DeMar DeRozan.

DeRozan is a good player, but by no means is he on the same level as Kawhi Leonard. For the record, I think Vince Carter was a better player than DeRozan in his prime, but my point is that neither of them are on the same level as Kawhi. No Raptor has been on his level, and I don’t think any other Raptor ever will.

It only took Kawhi one season to accomplish what no other Raptors star could EVER do! Regardless of if Kawhi Leonard stays or goes, he will go down as the greatest Raptor of all-time because of this season alone. The name Kawhi Leonard will never be forgotten in the city of Toronto.

Congrats to the Toronto Raptors and Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard!

Warriors key to beating Raptors lies in Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals

In Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals, the San Antonio Spurs held a 23 point lead on the Golden State Warriors in the third quarter. Everything looked as though the Spurs were going up 1-0 in the series. That was until Zaza Pachulia made one of the dirtiest plays in recent NBA history, landing directly under Kawhi Leonard after “contesting” a shot. We all know what happened next…… the Warriors went on to win the series, and eventually another NBA championship. 

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Players from the 2011-12 Golden State Warriors warming up prior to the tip-off of their exhibition opener at Oracle Arena against the Sacramento Kings.” by Amin Eshaiker is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

2017 Western Conference Finals Game 1

As soon as the then Spurs superstar, Kawhi Leonard, left the game due to injury, the Warriors went on an 18-0 run. Shortly after that run, the Warriors took the lead, and eventually went on to win Game 1 113-111.

The moment Kawhi Leonard left that series, was the moment the Warriors won it. As the Warriors are now facing a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals to another Kawhi Leonard team, there remains hope. Unfortunately, the hope they have to win another championship this season would come with a lack of sportsmanship, professionalism, and any sort of human decency.

What is that hope? “Accidentally” hurting Kawhi Leonard.

It pains me to say this, but if the Warriors want to win another championship, taking Kawhi Leonard out of the series may be their only shot. Being down 3-1, there has to be some sort of memory coming back to the Warriors of the last time they took down a Kawhi led team who was badly beating them. With Kevin Durant hurt, Klay Thompson not at full strength, and a team that’s just not performing as they’re expected to, hurting Kawhi Leonard may be their only hope.

 

How do they make it look like an accident?

How could the Warriors make hurting Kawhi Leonard look like an accident? With Durant already out and Thompson still not 100%, we know they can’t afford to lose another key player. If they’re going to do this, they won’t be doing it with a player like Steph Curry of Draymond Green.

If the Warriors did go this direction, they’ll use a player they don’t care about, just like they did when Zaza took down Kawhi in 2017. It could be a player like Andrew Bogut or Jonas Jerebko, to name a couple guys.

 

Why this would work

If Kawhi Leonard just happened to get hurt and leave the game, or series, who’s going to elevate the Raptors over the Warriors? Kyle Lowry is a good player. Pascal Siakam is a good player. Marc Gasol is a good player. Toronto has a lot of good players, but they don’t have another player on the same level as Kawhi Leonard.

As we’ve seen in every game so far this series, Kawhi Leonard can make a huge impact for the Raptors even if he’s not putting up 30+ points. With Kawhi in the game, it forces the Warriors to focus on him. That automatically opens things up for guys like Lowry, Siakam and Gasol.

Take out their superstar, win the series.

Just look at what happened in 2017. Kawhi leaves the series, leaving LaMarcus Aldridge as their main guy. Aldridge is a good player, but he was nowhere near good enough to take down the Warriors.

 

Should they do this?

The answer to this question is a hard no. If the Warriors were to do this, it would be the most disgraceful thing I’ve ever seen in sports. It’s just wrong to do something like this. I feel bad just thinking about the possibility of this even happening!

If the Warriors want to play the game the right way, they can’t do this. I’m not saying I think they will do this, but I’m also putting everyone on alert. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised if a Warriors player “accidentally” hurts Kawhi Leonard in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

I still have no doubt that the Spurs would have won the 2017 Western Conference Finals had Kawhi played that entire series. If Kawhi plays the rest of the NBA Finals this year, I have no doubt the Raptors will be the NBA champs. However, if Kawhi goes down, the fate of his team will be the same as the Spurs team who made the 2017 WCFs.

What you missed this weekend: 5/17-5/19

Although most leagues around the world are coming to a close, What you missed this weekend won’t. This weekend, things continue to become more exciting in the NBA and NHL playoffs, the Braves and Cardinals find success in the MLB, an anticipated boxing match ended rather quickly, and as England get their World Cup preparations underway. Also, we have to say good-bye to a few names from the world of sports, which we’ll cover. 

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Stanford vs. Washington State by Daniel Hartwig is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Bob Schloredt passes away at 79

College Football Hall of Famer Bob Schloredt has passed away on Thursday. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989 after leading the University of Washington to consecutive Rose Bowl titles in 1959 and 1960. He received MVP Honors in both Bowl games. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Schloredt and football fans from Fourth Quarter Sports.

 

NBA Playoffs

Warriors’ Curry drops 37 in game 2 comeback to take a 2-0:

Stephen Curry was just too much to handle for Portland Trail Blazers. In game 2 of the conference finals, the 2016 NBA MVP put 37 points passed Trail Blazers in Warriors’ 111-114 victory over them to establish a 2-0 lead for Golden State. Although the scoreline reads a tight encounter between the two, Trail Blazers could’ve squared the series as they had a 15 point lead at half-time. As this game was on the road for Golden State, Kevin Durant didn’t join the team, but that didn’t seem to make much of a difference for as of Sunday night, Warriors currently have a 3-0 lead.

Kwahi Leonard “The Klaw” led his team to a win in double overtime:

Just as Toronto was starting to lose hope, Kwahi Leonard lead his team to victory as Toronto beat Milwaukee 112-118. In the NBA’s first double-overtime game since 2007, The Klaw’s 36 points helped Toronto come back in the series 2-1. Leonard ended up scoring 11 shots and 12 free throws and played for a new personal record 52 minutes.

Tyreke Evans dismissed from NBA:

Pacers’ guard Tyreke Evans has to pack his bags after violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy. This is the third time he’s been suspended, first for anything related to drugs, with the first suspension being in 2010.

 

NHL Playoffs

Boston sweep Carolina:

A few weeks back, in a special NHL edition of Buy or Sell, with Joel Deering, RahimAli Merchant and I, I backed the Boston Bruins to lift the Stanley Cup. On Thursday, Boston knocked Carolina out, beating them and winning the series 4-0, to advance to the Stanley Cup. In game 4, both teams were tied at 0-0 for the first 25 minutes until the Bruins scored back-to-back goals in the powerplay. Boston’s goaltender, Tuukka Rask , also came to the occasion, stopping a whopping 109 of the 114 shots he faced in the four games.

 

NFL

Le’Veon Bell to leave Jets?:

After New Jersey Jets manager Todd Bowles was fired at the end of the 2018-19 season, it seems that interim manager Adam Gase doesn’t think Le’Veon Bell fits in his plans. Gase stated that the Jets spend too much money on Bell, which points towards the possibility of Bell being traded away. Although he could find himself at Seattle or San Francisco, it seems difficult to do so at this stage, and Bell may just have to wait through this upcoming season.

Chris Long retires from Philadelphia:

After winning the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year last season, the defensive end Chris Long has announced the end of this eleven-year career with the Philadelphia Eagles. Retiring at the age of 34, Long won two consecutive Super Bowls, 2016 with the New England Patriots and 2017 with the Eagles. His father, Howie Long, also played in the NFL and combined with Chris Long, both have a total of 154 sacks. This last season, Chris Long held 6.5 sacks to his name, his most since 2013.

 

MLB

Cardinals beat Rangers for the first time since 2011:

Since the World Series eight years ago, the Arizona Cardinals have failed to beat the Texas Rangers until Friday. It was a big win as well, with the Cardinals winning 8-2. The fifth innings seemed to be the breakthrough which saw six runs being scored by Arizona. The Cardinals also pitched well as Dakota Hudson pitched six innings, striking out five batsmen and allowing only two runs.

Ryan Pressly goes 39 games without giving up a run:

In 2011, Craig Kimbrel went 38 games without giving away a single run. In 2019, Ryan Pressly has gone 39 games and counting. He broke the record Friday night in the Houston Astros’ 3-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox. Since August 10, 2018, Pressley has struck out 47 batsmen and allowed only 17 hits and three walks. It was a special night for Pressly as teammate Gerrit Cole remarked: “We were all aware of what he was going for, and wow, what a special moment for him.”

Braves beat Brewers in dramatic series:

On Friday, 20 runs were scored as the Atlanta Braves beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-12. On Saturday, the Braves won, but just barely as Freddie Freeman’s homer in the tenth innings was the difference, handing Atlanta a 4-3 win and the series. This made Atlanta the first NL East team to beat Milwaukee in a series this season. However, the drama wasn’t over just yet. The Brewers found solace in another overtime game as this time, the Brewers won 3-2, thanks to Ben Gamel.

 

Boxing

Wilder quiets Breazeale in the first round:

The rivalry between heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder and challenger Dominic Breazeale had reached such a high point that Wilder threatened to kill Brezeale in the ring. Such didn’t happen, but Breazeale’s will was killed within seconds. Wilder’s right-hand punch to Breazeale’s jaw was the difference as Breazeale was knocked out in the first round. Wilder has now tied Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson, and Lennox Lewis for nine consecutive titles.

 

Soccer:

Manchester City hero announces retirement:

Another athlete hung up the boots this weekend, this time, in England. Manchester City and Belgium captain and defender Vincent Kompany announced he’s played his last game for City after City won their fourth Premier League title, the last two being back-to-back. Despite facing an injury-filled career, Kompany’s long-range goal against Leicester City in the 70th minute ensured City were favorites going into the final week and prevented Liverpool from winning the title. Kompany’s leaving City after winning the domestic treble this season after winning the PL, Domestic Cup and the FA Cup, and will start managing for Anderlecht in Belgium.

 

Cricket:

England stumbles to victory at Trent Bridge:

Pakistan’s poor bowling continued to cost them as England chased down Pakistan’s 340-7 with three wickets and balls to spare. In the first innings, after Imam Ul-Haq was retired hurt, Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Hafeez both made half-centuries while Babar Azam found a century. England opener Jason Roy replied with a century as well before Mohammad Hasnain took his wicket. Spin made the difference as Imad Wasim and Shoaib Malik found wickets, but Ben Stokes’ 71(64)* and Tom Curran’s 31(30) lead England to victory.

Chris Woakes bowls well in Leeds:

England wrapped up the series with a 4-0 win over Pakistan as England won the final ODI at Headingley in Leeds by 54 runs. England achieved a score of 340-7; half-centuries from Joe Root and captain Eoin Morgan and Shaheen Shah Afridi and Imad Wasim shared seven wickets. In the second innings, Pakistan was exposed to a poor start by losing three wickets in the first six runs. Babar Azam and wicketkeeper/captain Sarfaraz Ahmed steading the ship with a partnership worth 146 runs. However, Pakistan collapsed after Sarfaraz was stumped out on 97(80). Afridi and Hasnain had a comical partnership of 47 runs at the end of the innings, but the game was already lost for Pakistan by then.

Amir, Asif, Wahab in for World Cup:

Right after the England series, Pakistan announced their final World Cup squad. After an excellent performance in the England series with two half-centuries, Asif Ali was included over opener Abid Ali. From the need of serious pace in England, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz have been recalled, replacing Faheem Ashraf and Junaid Khan.

Asif Ali mourns daughter’s passing:

After a long battle with cancer, Ali’s daughter has passed away at the age of 19 months after receiving treatment in the U.S. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, teammates and friends of Asif Ali from us here at Fourth Quarter Sports.

USA Women find light in T20I series against Canada:

As the men’s team finds success in ODI cricket, the women are roaring through the T20 format. The US beat Canada 3-0 in a T20 series, the first by ten wickets after restricting Canada to 66-6, the second by 37 runs after bowling Canada out for 76 and the final one by 35 runs after the Canadians could only score 81-6. In the first T20I, medium-pacer Lisa Ramjit broke records after bowling 2-5 in her four overs.

Buy or Sell: Toronto Raptors, NL MVP and Kevin Durant

This week we are back to the traditional “Buy or Sell,” where we focus on more than one sport at a time. Over the past several weeks, we’ve taken three topics from a sport and given you our thoughts.

Whether it’s been NFL, NHL, MLB or NBA, we’ve given you the best thoughts we can. This week is no different. This week we’ll be focusing on an NBA team in pursuit of an NBA title, two likely candidates for MVP honors in MLB, and one of the biggest NBA free agents.

Cody Bellinger” by Ian D’Andrea is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
  • After his unreal four bounce buzzer beating game-winner in game seven against the Philadelphia 76ers on Mother’s day, Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors are looking to make it to the NBA Finals, but can they win an NBA title this year?
  • How about the National League MVP race? Of course it’s still way to early, but can Christain Yelich or Cody Bellinger win NL MVP?
  • What will the next chapter in Kevin Durant’s career be?

Let’s find out what Dan, Joel and I think about these topics!

Rahim: Kawhi and the Raptors win the NBA title this year

Joel: I’m going to sell Kawhi and the Raptors winning the title this year. Kawhi is a great player, but I’m not sure his team has enough to overcome what the Bucks and Warriors bring. Yes, I’m already plugging the Warriors into the Finals. Kawhi was able to overcome poor play by his teammates against the 76ers, but I don’t see it happening against either the Bucks or Warriors. The Bucks were the best team in the league this season, and the Warriors are the Warriors. You can’t have bad play from key players against these two teams.

If the Raptors get by the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals, I seriously doubt Kawhi can carry the Raptors over the Warriors if he’s not getting the help he needs. The Warriors are dominating right now, and they don’t even have Kevin Durant playing. In the Finals with Kevin Durant, I can’t buy the Raptors winning the title.

Dan: I’m going to sell Kawhi and the Raptors winning the title this year. The Bucks are better than the Raptors, and the Warriors are certainly better than the Raptors. They didn’t play that great in the series against a tough Philadelphia team. Unfortunately for Kawhi, it’s just not his year this year.

Dan: Either Christian Yelich or Cody Bellinger will win NL MVP

Rahim: As A Dodgers fan, I would love to see Bellinger win the National League MVP, but Christian Yelich is making a real case to repeat. There are also many other players in the mix right now, so I’ll have to sell this! It’s also still early in the season, as most teams have only played a quarter of the season. Some players could get hotter later down the road and over take both these guys.

Guys like Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, and Bryce Harper. I know none of these guys are playing at the level that we are use to seeing them play, but they could likely start to heat up. And both the Brewers and Dodgers have so much talent on their teams that the production of Bellinger and Yelich may fall as well. And it’s also tough to repeat as MVP in back-to-back seasons, so it will a tough task to do so. I mean the last player to win back-to-back MVPs was Miguel Cabera in 2012 and 2013. Although I sell this idea right now, I do see that this could happen.

Joel: I agree with Rahim that it’s still early in the season, so giving a firm buy or sell is hard here. For sake of the question, I’ll buy this. If I had to choose one, I’d go with Cody Bellinger. His stats are slightly better than those of Yelich at the moment, but Yelich is still having a great season.

Cody Bellinger ranks first in the NL in runs, hits, RBIs and batting average. He also ranks second in home runs right now. Yelich ranks first in home runs, fourth in runs, 13th in hits, third in RBIs and sixth in batting average. Yelich has played three less games than Bellinger to this point, but overall, Bellinger has the better numbers.

Again, it’s still too early to say for sure on this, but based on their numbers right now, I’ll buy it.

Joel: Kevin Durant will leave if the Warriors win another title, but if they don’t, he’ll stay.

Dan: I sell Kevin Durant staying with the Warriors. Pretty much everyone has said Kevin Durant is leaving, and I believe it. Could you blame him?

If the Knicks offer him a max contract, they could potentially team him up with Kyrie Irving and R.J. Barrett, or whoever else they might draft with the No. 3 pick. Or maybe it’ll be Anthony Davis, depending on if New York wants to trade their third pick and if the New Orleans Pelicans are willing to do that trade. It just makes so much sense, and would turn the Knicks into an instant title contender.

Rahim: I agree with Dan in the sense that Kevin Durant will not return. In the question, Joel has asked that he’ll leave if the Warriors win, but stay if they lose. I buy him leaving in both cases. Not sure it’ll be the Knicks anymore, but it will be somewhere that makes him the highest paid player in the league.

What I am more interested in is who else will join him? Like Dan said, there is a potential that Kyrie Irving can join him. But there are several other names that could be in the picture. Names like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, and even LeBron James. I say these names because this could be the biggest summer of all for the NBA and it’s free agency period.

I mean putting your feelings aside about how you feel about now the draft lottery went on Tuesday night, this is going to be one heck of a summer despite whether Zion Williamson goes to the Pelicans at one in the draft or Kevin Durant decides to join an already super team in place again like he did when he first joined the Golden State Warriors.

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And there you have it! Now, what do you think?

  • Can Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors win the NBA title this year?
  • Will Christian Yelich or Cody Bellinger win the National League MVP?
  • Will Kevin Durant stay or leave Golden State depending on if they win the title or not?
Let us know your thoughts in the comment!