There is Nobody Better than Le’Veon Bell

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers

I hope everybody has had a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays. After watching the Steelers-Ravens nail-biter Sunday, there was one thing that pointed itself out time and time again. That is that Le’Veon Bell is the best running back in the NFL. He may be the most electrifying running back in the past decade not named Adrian Peterson. He’s that good.

The Steelers possess the most dangerous offensive triple threat in the NFL. With Bell, a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, and arguably the best receiver in the league in Antonio Brown, this unit is feared by everyone. But yesterday Bell proved to be the most important piece out of the three. He ultimately makes or breaks the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he will serve as a crucial piece to their postseason success.

Bell has a well-rounded game, we all know that. He can run, catch, and block as well as anyone. But the main thing that pops out at you right away when watching Bell is the patience he has with the ball in his hands. It’s what makes Bell so lethal and unique. He has this unreal ability to process what the defense is giving him and wait for holes to open up in a matter of seconds. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s the main reason why nobody can make something out of nothing as often and effortlessly as Bell, and it’s beautiful to watch.

Another thing that’s impressive about Bell is his ability to overcome injuries. Bell has had a lengthy injury history throughout his career, but has come back from each one of them with determination and confidence. As a result, Bell’s injuries haven’t negatively affected his play one bit, and he’s had some serious ones too. Bell’s past two injuries were both to his right knee, with the most recent one being the most severe. In 2014 Bell hyper-extended his knee, causing him to miss the playoffs. The Steelers realtncould have used him, as they got eliminated in the Wild Card round. Then in week 9 of 2015 Bell suffered a torn MCL, which requires serious surgery, placing him on injured reserve. Bell has come back this season better than ever, proving that the past injuries he’s suffered have given his ability on the field no problems at all.

It’s this season where Bell has emerged as the best at his position. He’s proven that there is nobody better in the game right now. Not the legendary Adrian Peterson. Not rookie phenom Ezekiel Elliott. Not sophomore superstar David Johnson. Nobody. Bell has all the tools that a team looks for in a running back and continued to prove that this past Christmas Day. He has had arguably the best season of his young career considering the numbers he’s produced despite missing the first 3 games of the season due to suspension. He’s put up 1,268 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns, with 616 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.

Bell has been the main reason why the  Steelers have a 10-5 record and are AFC North champions. Big Ben has had a subpar year compared to his other seasons, and when he’s not producing  Antonio Brown doesn’t either. Bell is the heart and soul of the Steelers offense and their team as a whole. He further proved that this past Sunday, as he was animal. He put up 137 all-purpose yards and scored two crucial touchdowns in a game that came down to the final possession. He’s performed so well that I think you can even go the distance and say that he is a legitimate MVP candidate.

When talking about the complete package Bell is just that. He does everything asked of him and more, and the Steelers wouldn’t be anywhere close to where they are now without him.

Expect the Steelers to make a nice run in the postseason at the very least, and expect Le’Veon Bell to be leading the charge. He will continue to light up defenses and dance all over the football field. And nobody does it better.

KP: Revolutionizing the Game

NBA: Orlando Magic at New York Knicks

Looks like unicorns do exist after all.

Kristaps Porzingis, otherwise known as a “Unicorn” for his amazing abilities despite his 7’3″ frame, is taking the NBA by storm. He is something the game has never seen before, and he’s been a beautiful player to watch. Since having an unpleasant welcome into the league, Porzingis has silenced all of the haters and doubters completely, while shortly become one of the bright young faces in the NBA.

During the 2015 NBA Draft, I was pretty excited mainly due to the fact that the Knicks actually had a draft pick that year. As a die-hard Knicks fan, the fact that we had a top four pick added extra excitement and hope that somebody like D’Angelo Russell or Jahlil Okafor would slide down. When Adam Silver announced the name “Kristaps Porzingis,” it was definitely surprising at first to say the least. Even though Karl-Anthony Towns, Russell, and Okafor were all gone, it was confusing as to why they took such a raw prospect who never played in the United States before, especially with guys like Emmanuel Mudiay and Devin Booker still available. To be honest with you I didn’t know much about Porzingis. But what I saw in the immediate aftermath of his selection was just cruel. I felt genuinely sorry for Porzingis. Seeing this young man, who’s dream that he’s been working for his whole life finally came true, getting booed by millions of people across the country was terrible. From that random 6-year-old crying about it to Stephen A. Smith going on a rant about it to all the millions of miserable Knicks fans who downgraded the pick, you should be ashamed. I mean come on. Give the guy a chance to prove himself.

I get that it was New York, the toughest fan base in sports, but that doesn’t make it okay to completely bash a player before they even get the chance to prove themselves. Unfortunately sports today have become filled with this kind of thing. Anyway, after seeing all this chaos I made a promise to never judge a pick before I see them play. After doing more research on Porzingis, it was puzzling to see why so many people were down on him. He was 7’3″ and still growing, could shoot threes like a shooting guard and run the floor like a point guard. If he were coming from a program like Kentucky or Duke he would be the number one pick. No question about it. Yes he was raw, but he had by far the most potential out of anyone in the draft. Desperately wanting Porzingis to prove everyone wrong, I’m happy to say that he has definitely done that and then some.

Porzingis’ rookie season was nothing short of spectacular. Not just because of his play on the court, which was fantastic by the way, but also because of how he was able to completely turn around millions of people’s opinions of him in a matter of weeks. He was electric on both sides of the floor, blocking shots and displaying some entertaining put-back dunks. He also put up some historic numbers, most notably becoming the only NBA rookie ever to score more than 1,000 points, grab 500-plus rebounds, make 75-plus three pointers, and block more than 100 shots. And oh yeah he’s only 21. That’s crazy.

So far in his second season, Porzingis has picked up right where he left off. He looks stronger, more comfortable, and more improved. But the scariest part is that he hasn’t even touched his prime yet. He will continue to improve and get better each season, and that is going to be an absolute nightmare for the other 31 NBA teams.

Porzingis is the face of a new breed of basketball. He is the definition of a unique, physical athlete. If somebody were to put together the perfect player in terms of attributes and abilities, Porzingis would be pretty darn close to it at the very least. He’s like a glitch in NBA 2k. There is nobody else in the league who you could compare to Porzingis. Not Lebron, not KAT, not the Greek Freak. Nobody. Not even Dirk because Porzingis is both taller and has more ability than him. Dirk has even said that Porzingis is much better than he was at 20 years old.

If it isn’t his physical skill that seals the deal for you, his attitude should do the trick. Not only is Porzingis unphased on the court, not letting anybody or anything steer him off track, he is extremely humble as well. He isn’t the kind of cocky, annoying player who lets his talent make him feel superior to everyone else. In fact he’s the complete opposite. There is honestly no reason as to why someone could dislike Kristaps Porzingis, no matter what team you root for.

The point I’ve been trying to make all along is that Porzingis is revolutionary. His rare blend of size and skill is unmatched compared to anybody else in the NBA. On his way to an All-Star birth in only his second season, Porzingis’ future may be the brightest of anyone in basketball. He’s that special. This should be the first of many All-Star seasons for Porzingis and the beginning of a legendary career barring any major setbacks.

Hopefully this will be the ultimate lesson for everyone to never judge a book by its cover. Porzingis is making you all look like fools, and it’s pretty great to watch.

 

 

Dak & Zeke: The Ultimate Dynamic Duo

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns

Seems like Giants fan just can’t catch a break eh?

At the mid-way point of yet another very entertaining NFL season, as always there have been many surprises. Some are good, some are bad. There are many to choose from, like the Panthers 3-5 record, the amazing play of guys like Matt Ryan and Derek Carr that are thrusting them into the MVP conversation, and the smooth transition of Terrelle Pryor Sr. from quarterback to wide receiver. The most surprising of them all, though, has been the Dallas Cowboys and the phenomenal football they’ve been playing. Even more surprising is the fact that the reason the Cowboys have been playing so well isn’t due to the usual suspects like Tony Romo or Dez Bryant. It’s because of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott; two rookies who have been playing some of the best football we’ve seen in a while.

Looking at the two of them, it is much easier to see why Elliott is so successful. This guy was the top running back in last year’s draft and the fourth overall pick, for good reason too. After rushing for nearly 4,000 yards and 43 touchdowns in 3 seasons at Ohio State to go along with about 450 receiving yards, this guy had every NFL team drooling at his tape. He’s also living every running backs dream situation in Dallas, where he gets to play behind the best offensive line in football every week. But even with all the hype surrounding Elliott, I think it’s safe to say that he has surpassed expectations by a longshot.

When it comes to Dak, it’s not as easy to see that he has been playing as well as he has. After having an up-and-down draft process, Dak fell all the way to the fourth round and was taken by Dallas with the 135th pick overall back in May. Through 4 seasons at Mississippi State, Dak put up some impressive numbers. He threw for 9,376 yards and 70 touchdowns, earning a total passer rating of 146.0. He also proved to be productive with his feet, rushing for 2,521 yards and 41 touchdowns. Many people will forget that this is the same guy who led Mississippi State to a 9-0 start (10-3 overall) in 2014 where they were ranked the best team in the country for five consecutive weeks. After seeing all this you may be asking yourself why Dak wasn’t the first quarterback taken in the draft. The main reason is because in the 2015 season, Dak’s production dipped a bit, but that was mainly due to the fact that he was constantly getting beat up every play since the Bulldogs had poor protection. Going into the draft I personally was very high on Dak even though lots of people had doubts and weren’t sure about how he would fit into the game’s highest level of competition. I always enjoyed watching him play in college and I thought he would be a good NFL quarterback at the very least. So far through his first 8 weeks in the NFL, he’s proven that he isn’t just a good quarterback, he’s an excellent quarterback.

For those of you who don’t know, let’s take a look at just how well these two are playing. Elliott has been lighting up the football field on a weekly basis, totaling up about 900 yards and 7 touchdowns so far. If he keeps up this pace, he should be nearing 1800 yards and 14 touchdowns by the end of the season, but it’s not likely that will happen. Nevertheless, this guy has been the best back in the league and leads the NFL in rushing. He’s averaging 5.0 yards per carry and putting up a strong MVP case, even though I would cool down the hype on him actually winning it this year.

Dak, proving draft scouts are very overrated, has been near-perfect so far in the beginning of his NFL career. He’s thrown for 2,020 yards and 12 touchdowns, with a passer rating of 104.2 and completion percentage of 66.45%. He’s also done a nice job rushing the football with 125 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. The most impressive stat, though, has been the tremendous job he’s been doing in regards to taking care of the football. Not only has he only thrown 2 interceptions on 248 passing attempts, which is remarkable for anybody let alone a rookie, but he didn’t throw his first interception until Week 6. Dak has already broken Tom Brady’s 162 passes without an interception to start a career, an NFL record, with 163 passes. If he keeps up this kind of play this will be the beginning of a long list of records Dak can break throughout his career, barring any major setbacks.

These two have been angels sent from above for this Cowboys team. With a below-average defense where promising players like Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence are suffering suspensions for violating the NFL’s drug policies, Dez still dealing with some lingering injuries, and the ever-so-fragile Tony Romo suffering yet another injury after messing up his back in the preseason, this team was expected to their second disappointing season in a row. But thanks to Dak and Zeke, they have been arguably the best team in football. As a Giants fan I’m very scared as long as these two are healthy. Thankfully were doing pretty well too *knocks on wood*, but the Cowboys have cushioned themselves a nice lead in the NFC East. How about the NFC East by the way, going from the worst division in football to the best in just one season. Dak and Zeke are two big reasons for that. But anyway, I’m getting off topic.

The sky is the limit for these two. They’ve been really fun to watch and show no signs of slowing down their red-hot play. The fact that they’re rookies makes it all the more exciting not just for the Cowboys, but the NFL as a whole. They are prime examples of the fact that more players have recently seemed to be seeing smoother transitions into the NFL from college, and that colleges are doing a fine job of preparing their players for life in the pros. They represent the future of football and they’re making it look pretty darn great.

The 31 other NFL teams better watch out because Dak and Zeke aren’t some phonies or pleasant surprises that will eventually burn out. They are the real deal.

 

 

108 Years in the Making

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The Chicago Cubs have won the World Series! Wait, what? No that’s impossible. Well you better believe it, cause it happened. It finally happened. As unusual as it sounds, the Cubs have finally done it. They have broken the curse. The 108-year curse. The curse that has made generations of Cubs fans hopeless and depressed. The curse that has led to superstition, heartbreak, and endless headaches. It’s all over. The longest curse in sports history is now over. And it was one hell of a way to end it too.

It wasn’t just the fact that the Cubs came back from a 3-1 deficit (looks like Cleveland suffered a little deja-vu), it was also how magical Game 7 was. It was literally a movie script, with the Cubs tying the series up, the Cubs being on a mission to end the dreadful curse, the Cubs leading 6-3 heading into the 8th, the Indians tying it up, the rain delay, the game going into extra innings, and the Cubs getting it done in extras to seal the World Series. It was simply phenomenal. There aren’t any other words to describe it. This was definitely the best baseball game I have ever seen, and its most likely a top 10 baseball game all-time.

Going into the season you knew the Cubs were the team to beat across the MLB. After losing to the Mets in the NLCS last season, the Cubs were more determined than ever to win it all this season. With a lethal core of skill position players in Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, and Javier Baez, to go along with a superb ace in Jake Arrieta and some other quality pitchers in the rotation (Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester), this team was going to pick up right where they left off. Then after adding some a few quality ball players in free agency like second baseman Ben Zobrist and outfielders Jason Hayward and Dexter Fowler, you knew the Cubs weren’t messing around one bit. Even after all this, they trade for arguably the best closer in the league, one that I desperately hope the Yankees bring back this offseason; Aroldis Chapman. Yeah they gave up some of their best young prospects to the Yankees, and as a Yankees fan that makes me smile, but Chapman was exactly what the Cubs needed to put the finishing touches on this insane lineup and show everybody that they were all-in this year.

It wasn’t all magic for the Cubs this season, though. Even though that seems like ancient times now, disaster stuck early when Kyle Schwarber collided with Dexter Fowler in the outfield during the third game of the season, resulting in Schwarber tearing ACL, LCL, and his season along with it. One of the bright young stars in the MLB going down with a serious injury is usually such a fatal blow that the team he’s on wouldn’t be able to fully recover from. But, the Cube were prepared for something like this. The Schwarber injury definitely a hard pill to swallow, no question about it, but it didn’t effect their play at all. The Cubs went on to have the best record in the league, finishing 103-58. The games they won almost doubled the amount they lost. Pretty impressive.

In the playoffs, the Cubs picked up right where they left off in the regular season. The divisional round was led by the steady bats from Bryant and Baez as the Cubs routed the Giants in a 3-1 series. Then in the NLCS, guys like Rizzo and Russell started finding their groove after suffering through a postseason hitting slump. Zobrist and Fowler were reliable batters too and started to pick up their hitting as well, which proved to be crucial in winning the series. After putting the Dodgers away in six, the time finally came. Their first trip to the big stage since 1945. They had the opportunity to make sports history, and lets be honest, we all wanted to see them do it. Schwarber was able to be activated as a DH during the World Series, which was huge. This was yet another powerful bat that helped significantly against the Indians. The quality bats from the star players, and the reliable pitching propelled this team even when they were down 3-1.

Lets take a moment now to realize just how good of a general manager Theo Epstein is. Not only did he manage to break the longest curse in sports history with the Cubs, but lets not forget he also broke the Red Sox 86-year championship drought as their general manager in 2004. And he’s still only 42 years old! That means when he broke the Red Sox curse he was only 30 years old. I don’t know about you but I find that amazing. I would think that if anybody could break two of the biggest droughts in sports history, it would be a well-experienced, seasoned manager who has been around for a long time. But no, this new guy steps onto the major league stage in 2002 as the youngest general manager in MLB history at only 28 years old. Two years later he ends the Curse of the Bambino and delivers to the Red Sox their first World Series title since 1918. Now that’s a guy who’s good at what he does.

If I were the Indians, who now have the longest championship drought in the MLB, I would be trying everything I can to find a way to land Epstein somehow, even though you guys didn’t have such a bad season yourselves. But good luck with that Cleveland, cause Epstein is going to be in Chicago for at least another five years after signing a massive extension earlier this season. Besides, you have yourselves a pretty good general manager in Mike Chernoff. You’ll be fine.

The Cubs are at the top of the league, and they aren’t coming down anytime soon. This team has all the signs of a dynasty waiting to happen. This team is so loaded with amazing, young, quality players that its hard to believe sometimes. As long as the majority of their key guys stay healthy and with the team, this is an incredibly special group that should be in title contention for the better part of the next decade at least, probably longer since their farm system isn’t too shabby either.

I wish every World Series could be as exciting and nail-biting as this one. This series was one of those moments in sports that people dream of getting to witness. Not very often do you have two teams with the two of the biggest championship droughts in sports squaring up against each other. It was one of those very rare instances where it was already guaranteed that this was going to be a historic series no matter the outcome. We, as sports fans, need to cherish moments like these and feel grateful that we got to be a part of history because it doesn’t happen a whole lot, especially a moment like this in particular. I can say for a fact that this World Series was the greatest I have ever seen, and game 7 was arguably the greatest game I have ever seen.

Congratulations Chicago, well deserved. Looking forward to next season.

 

 

 

 

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?