Mo’ Money Mo’ Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

Fresh off his pretty new deal with Oklahoma City, it’s Westbrook’s time to take the reigns and shine with KD gone.

Westbrook has already established himself as a definite top five player in the NBA, and arguably surpassing Steph Curry as the number one point guard. Westbrook is everything you want in not just a basketball player, but an athlete in general. From his vicious attacks to the rim, to his lock-up defense, to his reliable jump shot, to his animalistic attitude on the court. He has it all. And now with Durant gone, he has the spotlight on him as well.

Losing Durant was obviously a huge blow to this team. They immediately go from a perennial contender to a team fighting to even make a playoff spot. Yes, they still have some nice players like Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, and Enes Kanter, plus they added some nice weapons such as up-and-coming shooting guard Victor Oladipo and promising prospect Domatas Sabonis, but they still have a massive hole left by Durant that is going to be extremely hard to fill.

Even with the loss of KD, you still can never, and I mean never, count the Thunder out of anything. That’s why Thunder fans shouldn’t be worried about if their team will be good anymore. As long as they have a healthy number 0 in the back court, opposing teams should have a serious game plan for OKC. Westbrook is just that good. NBA experts have even ranked the Thunder in the top 10 for power rankings solely because of Westbrook. The one-and-only Stephen A. Smith of ESPN First Take said the Thunder are the only team that can challenge the Warriors in the west despite the talent-filled teams like the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs. All because of Russell Westbrook.

That’s why re-signing Westbrook despite the expected overflow of people saying he should get traded and OKC should start from scratch was so crucial and brilliant by Thunder general manager Sam Presti. Who cares if Kevin Durant decided to be a jerk and leave. Yeah it hurts, but you still have a superstar who some would say is even better than Durant. I know I would. Now, as the general manager, you must do whatever it takes to hold onto him and make sure he doesn’t leave you too. Kudos to Presti for doing just that. I gotta be honest, I wasn’t sure what would happen with Westbrook. But aside from joining the Knicks in free agency, Westbrook staying in OKC is what I had hoped would happen and I’m glad it did.

Now is the time for Westbrook to prove his money’s worth even more than he already has since he is the pure leader of this Thunder team. There is absolutely nothing holding him back. He’s already been off to a blazing fast start in his first two games, racking up 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists in game one, and then showing complete domination in game two with a triple-double of 51 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists. That was the first 50 point triple-double since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975. Talk about a hot start.

The crazy thing is, though, that we shouldn’t be surprised about this hot start. I’m definitely not. In fact, we should be expecting this kind of play all year long from Westbrook. He single-handedly makes the Thunder still a legitimate team feared by opponents. He possesses all the physical and mental tools to carry this team as far as he wants to. Besides winning a championship, this has been the moment in his career Westbrook has been waiting for.

So this right here is the golden opportunity for Westbrook. Even if he hasn’t said it publicly, this is a situation where him and almost every other athlete in general have dreamed about. The moment where you get to be the lead dog on your team and prove to the world just how great you really are. It is the ultimate test for Westbrook, but he is ready to attack it.

So to all you Thunder fans reading this, first off thank you. Second, don’t be worried about your team. They will be fine as long as they have Westbrook. It’s Westbrooks time to shine, and every other team in the NBA needs to watch out because that is one scary thing to think about, let alone go up against on the court.

 

 

 

 

The Odell Crisis

NFL: New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings

Alright, this is getting out of hand.

This past couple of weeks have been complete hell for Odell Beckham, the Giants, and Giants fan. To go along with the teams 2-game losing streak after starting the season 2-0, they’re in a really tough position with their best player. Odell is a very emotional and passionate player, we all know that. A lot of athletes are. What holds Odell back is the inability to control those emotions, and lately it’s really been hurting both him and his team. Look I love Odell, and as we’ve seen when he isn’t emotionally distracted, he is the best receiver in the game. But Odell needs to stop the constant crying and fighting with kicking nets, period. What also needs to stop, though, is the unfair treatment Odell is receiving from the officials and the NFL as a whole.

Odell is his own worst enemy, and if he doesn’t do his part to control his emotions and not get distracted by opposing players, then this problem will forever prevent Odell from reaching his peak. But the NFL needs to do their part too. It seems as if any official in a Giants game has now just become somebody who watches Odell Beckham’s every move and gets ready to throw a flag after every play. The most recent proof is Monday night’s game against Minnesota. There was no reason why Odell deserved to get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. No reason at all. Yes, Odell was complaining, but he had every right to in that situation. Anybody would have done the same exact thing if they got hit like that. Beckham was obviously hit late out of bounds by Xavier Rhodes. Anybody with fairly good eyesight could see that. Then a couple of plays later he gets hit late AGAIN, and no flag on Rhodes.

Then, going back two weeks ago against the Redskins, Odell squared up against Josh Norman for the second time. Odell clearly won the battle when it came to who the better player was, as he flat-out exposed Norman time and time again. But Norman overall got the advantage because of the fact that he got into Odell’s head once again. This is where Beckham has dug himself into a big hole.

If he hadn’t gotten into so many temper tantrums and hadn’t put himself in such a bad position, then he wouldn’t be such a targeted player around the NFL. He wouldn’t have to worry about saying something and then seeing a yellow flag hit the ground seconds later. He wouldn’t have to worry about every corner defending him taking cheap shots at him to try and get him off his game. He would still be having fun playing the game he loves and would be able to go out and dominate without any other distractions.

But, Odell isn’t in that position. He has some crucial fixing to do to repair his image. If he is serious about his team and his career, he will do whatever it takes to fix this situation. After coming out with recent comments this past week where he apologized for his actions and said how he is tired of setting bad examples for young children who look up to him, I think Odell has finally received the wake-up call he needed. I hope from this point on Odell can re-ignite his fun-loving ways where he wasn’t constantly bothered and just played the game. We all do.

This will prove to be a crucial learning point for Odell. Maybe the biggest of his career. He now hopefully realizes that he can have all the talent in the world, but that won’t mean anything if he can’t control his emotions and keep himself in-check. Now that this has apparently appeared to click for Beckham, watch out. Let’s see if he proves true to his words and matures, moving on from his previous antics. If he won’t let opposing players or the media get to him anymore, he has the opportunity to unleash his full potential since there’s nothing holding him back anymore. Once he reaches that full potential, it can be something we haven’t seen since Jerry Rice or Randy Moss.

Now, even with his eye-rolling antics, Beckham hasn’t been the reason the Giants are losing in recent weeks. He definitely hasn’t helped, but he isn’t the lone reason that’s holding his team back from winning games. The whole Giants team is a mess right now. From the, dare I say it, awful play of Eli Manning, to the struggling development of Ereck Flowers, to the banged up secondary, there are a bunch of reasons why this team isn’t producing like they did the first two weeks. Their revamped defensive line hasn’t proven to be much help at all, as they’ve only managed 4 sacks and seem to let quarterbacks have day and night to throw the ball. It is really painful and frustrating to watch, but Odell isn’t the reason. That doesn’t mean he can keep doing what he’s been doing, but don’t think if he fixes himself the Giants will miraculously start winning games. It would certainly help, but this team is too damaged for that to happen.

Despite all this, Odell needs to just chill out. I love the guy, but he is only making things worse with his antics. Odell, if you’re reading this, first of all thank you so much. Second, can I have an autograph? Third, please do not think I am bashing you or hating on you, that isn’t the case at all. I just want to see the Odell Beckham Jr. that makes fools out of opposing defensive backs on a weekly basis and has fun playing the game of football, not the one who destroys innocent kicking nets on the sidelines. I want to see the Odell that lights up the stat sheet every Sunday and shows off his Dancing With the Stars-worthy moves in the end zone, not the one who gets flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. We all just want to see the real Odell Beckham Jr., cause when your on your game you are the most dominant receiver in the league. Fact.

 

Predicting 2016 NBA Awards

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With the 2016-2017 NBA season rapidly approaching, I thought I would make my predictions as to who will win each award after the season is finished.

MVP: Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

Ever since Kevin Durant inexplicably left the Thunder early this summer, Russell Westbrook has emerged as the heavy favorite to win MVP this year despite not having as good of a team around him. Now that he is running the show by himself and signed a fresh new contract a couple months ago, there is nothing holding Westbrook back from absolutely destroying the league. There is no reason why Westbrook can’t and shouldn’t have the best season of his career where he wins the MVP. Even if he takes the Thunder into the playoffs and they lose in the first round, that right there should be enough for him to win the award.

It’s Westbrooks team now. No more distractions. He has a good enough supporting cast around him with young guys like Victor Oladipo, Steven Adams, and Cameron Payne, to do some damage this season. Expect Westbrook to unleash the monster inside of him like you’ve never seen it before. He will not only average a triple-double but will also be holding up the Maurice Podoloff Trophy to cement himself as not only the best point guard in the league, but also a top three player in the league.

Most Improved Player: D’Angelo Russell, PG, Los Angeles Lakers

While there are a large number of candidates I could choose from, I ended up going with the Lakers extremely talented second year floor general. After an up-and-down rookie season, Russell definitely showed signs of the star potential that made him the second overall draft pick in 2015.

Now, having a full year under his belt I fully expect Russell to play like the All-Star caliber player he is. With some new faces around him like 2016 second overall pick Brandon Ingram and free agent acquisitions Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov, lots more talent has been added around Russell to help him thrive. The pieces are in place for the Lakers to have a much better season than last year, and Russell will be leading the way.

Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs

The reigning DPOY will hold the crown for the third year in a row. Once again there are a number of strong candidates like Draymond Green, Anthony Davis, and Karl Anthony-Towns. But it’s easy to see who the top defensive player in the league is. Kawhi Leonard has gotten better every year and solidified himself as a top five player in the league last season. He has become a great all-around star, but he’s been a fantastic defender since the beginning.

As long as Kawhi’s there the Spurs are contenders. He should have another superb season and take his team deep into the playoffs at the very least. This superstar will continue his top defense and complete the three-peat of the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Sixth Man of the Year: Andre Iguodala, SF, Golden State Warriors

With the Warriors on paper possessing possibly the most lethal starting lineup in league history, there just isn’t enough room for Iggy in the starting lineup. They could put him in and go small ball, but they will likely prefer a big man like Zaza Pachulia to put alongside Draymond Green. And besides, with so much of their bench now gone to make room for Kevin Durant, they desperately need a guy like Iggy to provide that spark off of it.

Iggy will be a phenomenal sixth man for Golden State. He provides so much energy off the bench to give opposing teams even more of a hard time. He is an electrifying athlete and is a strong two-way player. By having a guy like Iggy leading the second team, the Warriors will complement their insane starting five with a lethal bench attack to provide the best roster in recent memory.

Rookie of the Year: Ben Simmons, SF, Philadelphia 76ers

As of now most people believe that the Rookie of the Year race will be between the top two picks, Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram. Of course there are other promising rookies who can snatch that award like Kris Dunn, Buddy Hield, or Dragan Bender, but the favorite is clearly Simmons.

Since being tagged as the next Lebron James and being selected first overall in June, Simmons has expectations as sky-high as they come. He will step into a young but troubled Sixers team and try to carry the franchise to at the very least a respectful season. He should hit the ground running and prove to everyone why he was the number one overall pick. I expect this to be the beginning of a great career for Simmons, showing off his top-level skill and freakish athleticism.

Comeback Player of the Year: Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers

It was a pretty rough season for the Clippers’ super star. After having very high expectations for last season to possibly be the best of his career, it was probably the worst of his career. It started off with a torn quad injury that kept Griffin out for a while. Then he made everyone scratch their heads in confusion and punch a hole in their walls out of frustration when he got into a fight with one of the assistant equipment managers and broke his hand. If those two weren’t bad enough, when Griffin finally was healthy again, he injured his quad a second time towards the end of the season. Even when Griffin was healthy, he was constantly involved in trade rumors and it felt like he wasn’t taking his career seriously.

Despite only playing 35 games Griffin still put up some pretty good numbers, averaging 21.4 points per game and 8.4 rebounds. Nevertheless, this year is obviously going to be a huge year for Griffin. He needs to not only stay healthy and stop putting himself in stupid positions, but he needs to show everyone that he is serious about his career. He needs to re-ignite that passion and determination that made him the player we all love and focus on basketball, not getting distracted by anything else. I expect Griffin to come out this season hungry and vicious. He will be healthy and back to his old self where he destroys any opponent in his path.

Coach of the Year: Tom Thibodeau, Minnesota Timberwolves

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of seeing Steve Kerr win this award. Even though he will probably win it yet again this season, he’s an overrated coach on a superstar team. Anybody could be the coach of the Warriors and win this award. All Kerr did was make a smart decision by going to the Warriors in the first place because he knew they would make him look like the best coach in the league. He isn’t. And he shouldn’t even win this award. Tom Thibodeau will be the man who should win this award when the season comes to an end.

He is in the perfect situation in Minnesota. He’s got all the young foundational pieces he needs from Karl-Anthony Towns to Andrew Wiggins to rookie Kris Dunn. This guy was the missing piece needed to take this team to the playoffs. Thibodeau is the kind of tough, no-nonsense coach who can help these players and this team thrive as a whole. Barring any injuries, definitely expect Thibodeau to take this team to playoffs this season and have a very successful tenure in Minnesota.

Executive of the Year: Bob Myers, Golden State Warriors

This one is pretty obvious. I mean anybody who signs Kevin Durant in free agency automatically puts up a good argument for this title. If you’re team already has three superstars and then adds a fourth in Kevin Durant, you should basically receive the award right then and there. What Myers has accomplished to do this offseason is make the Warriors better. Yeah, you heard me. He has managed to make the 73-9 Warriors, who made it to the Finals last season after winning it all the year before, significantly better. That’s pretty crazy to think about.

Myers’ warriors were already heavy title favorites before the acquisition of Durant, but now its not even a competition anymore. Unless some of their super star players suffer serious injuries or Durant doesn’t fit into the system as well as they thought, it will be a very annoying season for every other team in the league. I hope they don’t, and I’m still mad at KD for chickening out and joining the enemy, but they will probably win the title. Next offseason I wouldn’t be surprised if they find a way to re-sign Durant and Curry while inking Lebron or Blake Griffin. They seem to have all the money in the world, right?