The Cleveland Browns Continue To Mismanage The Baker Mayfield Situation

Baker Mayfield

Love him or hate him, Baker Mayfield moves the needle. Win or lose, the Browns’ quarterback will be a topic of discussion on every sports talk show come Monday morning.

Entering the 2021 season, the Browns picked up Mayfield’s 5th-year option for 2022, but could not reach a long-term extension. Due to his subpar performance this year, deciding not to extend Mayfield may have been the smart decision in the long run.

Mayfield has done nothing this season to convince the Browns to give him an extension. Mayfield deserves a lot of the criticism thrown his way. The 6-6 Browns boast a roster that could make a Super Bowl, but a quarterback with 2400 yards, 11 TDs, and 6 INTs won’t lead to a Lombardi Trophy.

Coming out of Oklahoma, Baker’s biggest strength was his accuracy, compiling a completion percentage of 70.0 or better in his final two seasons. 70% would be hard to replicate in the NFL, but in his four years with the Browns, Mayfield has a 61.9 completion percentage. This year, Mayfield ranks 27th in completion percentage for quarterbacks who have started at least four games.

No quarterback other than Lamar Jackson receives more criticism than Mayfield. If players don’t get the ball, it’s always Baker’s fault. Just look at the Odell Beckham Jr. saga as an example. At least Lamar is criticized by personalities that cover the sport. Mayfield has to deal with the parents of his teammates making Facebook statuses and IG videos. If you thought helicopter parents disappeared in professional sports, just ask the fathers of OBJ and Kareem Hunt what they think of Mayfield.

Baker Mayfield is a problem on the field, but the Browns did him no favors whatsoever. The majority of the blame should be pointed at Kevin Stefanski, Andrew Berry, and the Cleveland Browns front office.

Mayfield is not fully healthy. The Browns’ quarterback has a torn labrum and fractured humerus bone in his non-throwing shoulder. It will require surgery at the end of the season with a recovery period of 4-6 months. On top of these injuries, Mayfield also has dealt with a knee contusion and a bruised heel.

As a fierce competitor, no one can question Baker’s toughness. He’s playing through a lot of pain, and you can see his grimaces during the games these past couple of weeks.

Despite these injuries, the Browns decided to still trot Mayfield out at less than 100% health. Baker might say he’s good to go, but he continued to limp after every big hit or scramble this past Sunday night. Why was he playing in the first place?

The Browns had a chance to rest their quarterback after suffering a knee contusion in a blowout loss against the Patriots. Instead, Baker hobbled his way to a 16-13 victory over the winless Lions and a 16-10 loss to the Ravens. Ask yourself this question: If Case Keenum started the past two games, what would the results be?

I’m a gambling man, and I bet 90% of people would say the team would go 1-1 with Keenum, which is exactly what Baker did. Had the Browns elected to sit Baker the last two weeks with a bye this week, he would’ve had three full weeks of rest. Instead, he has one week to deal with his lingering issues before facing the Ravens at home on Dec. 12.

Here’s the bigger problem with what the Browns have done to Mayfield. With extension talks expected to restart in the offseason, how can they fairly evaluate their injured quarterback for the rest of the season? If Mayfield struggles the remaining five games, he will blame his injured left shoulder for his poor play, which is a valid reason. The Browns had a chance to sit Mayfield for three weeks and give him the best chance at a fair evaluation for five games. Instead, Baker will have one week of rest before facing the same Ravens team that held the Browns to a season-low 40 yards rushing.

The Browns had a chance to get Baker as healthy as he’ll be all season with multiple weeks of rest. By skipping over this opportunity, it could cost them not only their quarterback’s trust in the organization but more importantly, a playoff berth.

Do you agree with the Browns’ handling of Baker Mayfield? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Thanksgiving: Things I’m Thankful For In Sports

Happy Thanksgiving! Before we all sit down to enjoy a great meal, I wanted to take a few moments to discuss what I’m thankful for in the world of sports.

Things I’m Thankful For In Sports

– The Giants fired Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator. I’m happy that Garrett will not be calling plays for a bottom-10 offense.

– The Giants firing Dave Gettleman. (Calling my shot.)

– The Giants moving on from Daniel Jones. (Calling my shot. Sorry kid. It’s not entirely your fault, but you’re still making rookie mistakes in Year 3 as the starter.)

– The Knicks are relevant again.

– March Madness, the best tournament in sports. Specifically, the first two days of the tournament are on Mount Rushmore for Best Days in Sports.

– The DH. If you like when pitchers go up to bat and strike out on three pitches, then you need to get your head checked.

– The Chargers powder blue jerseys.

– Eli Manning and the New York Giants defeated the Patriots in two Super Bowls.

– Jon Rothstein’s Twitter Account.

– Madison Square Garden, the best arena in the world.

NBA Christmas Day Unders.

– Football. That’s self-explanatory.

– Gambling (even though I lose most of my bets).

– Playoff games at Yankee Stadium.

– NFL Redzone.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

2021-2022 NBA Week 5: Fair Reaction Or Overreaction?

Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors / NBA

Welcome to the second edition of “Fair Reaction or Overreaction.” We’re about five weeks through the NBA season, and some teams are starting to rise to the top. For every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and that reaction is known as the Houston Rockets.

Sorry, Houston. Let’s get into the article.

Are these fair reactions or overreactions?

Fair Reaction: The Wizards Are A Playoff Team

I have a working theory called “The Island of Misfit Toys That Come Together.” There’s value in a group of unwanted or undervalued NBA players coming together to play basketball. They remind me of last year’s Knicks. For the first time in half a decade, the Wizards have a roster full of legitimate NBA players. Bradley Beal finally has help.

Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are playing like guys who don’t have the pressure of playing for LeBron. Spencer Dinwiddie has been a nice addition, averaging just under 16 points. The Wizards stand atop the Eastern Conference at 10-4, and Bradley Beal has been average compared to his standards (23 PPG this year). I don’t think the Wizards are the best team in the East, but I’m convinced they could be a playoff team. Once they get Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant back, this team could be a darkhorse top 6 team.

Overreaction: The Lakers Are Not A Top 4 Team

Stop this nonsense. The Lakers are only 8-8 and yet you would think hell froze over with the hot takes being thrown around by fans and the media. “Russell Westbrook sucks,” “Anthony Davis will get hurt,” and “Frank Vogel doesn’t know how to coach” are some of the insults being thrown around in La La Land. Are some of those true? The AD one is a stone-cold lock. Westbrook doesn’t suck, but he’s flawed. Vogel can coach, but he needs one man.

LeBron James.

If there’s anything we know about the King, it’s that he can right the ship when he’s healthy. Health is the Lakers’ biggest advisory. If LeBron and AD are healthy, the Lakers are at worst the fourth-best team in the best.

Fair Reaction: The Warriors Are The Best Team In The NBA

After destroying the Nets, 117-99, the Golden State Warriors are the best team in the NBA. At 12-2, this team is ahead of schedule. The plan was to hover around .500 until Klay Thompson comes back, and then try to sneak into the top 4. Expectations have changed as the Warriors should have title aspirations

Steph Curry doesn’t miss shots anymore. He’s averaging 28.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 6.6 APG on 45/40/95 shooting splits. Jordan Poole has been a revelation, averaging 17.1 ppg. The most underrated part about the Warriors is the ability to come out of halftime and blitz teams. They are the best offensive team in the third quarter with a +13.6 scoring margin. That’s a testament to Steve Kerr and his ability to adjust.

If Klay can be 75% of the player he once was, the Warriors should cruise to the Western Conference Finals.

What are your reactions towards the NBA season so far? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.com

Spider-Man: No Way Home Trailer Shows Just Enough To Keep Us Guessing

Spider Man: No Way Home

So that Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer looks pretty awesome, huh.

It’s hard to put into words how much of grip No Way Home has on pop culture. It’s easily the most anticipated film of the year, and not since Avengers: Endgame have we seen a film dominate the conversation on the Internet to this extent. Between spoilers, leaks, predictions, you can’t go a few hours without another writer or publication posting an article about No Way Home.

The film’s first trailer smashed the record for the most viewed trailer in 24 hours with 355.5 million views. That record will be hard to beat, but the second trailer served more as a preview of what’s to come.

“We started getting visitors… from every universe.”

The big reveal for this trailer revolved around the return of previous villains from multiple movies in different universes. Doctor Octopus, Sandman, and the Green Goblin returned from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films while the Lizard and Electro arrived from Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man films. These five supervillains could form the Sinister Six, but that begs the question about the sixth and final member. Will there be a sixth villain?

*A working title.

More importantly, who is the true villain of No Way Home? Perhaps it’s Ned, who arrives from another universe as the Hobgoblin. Maybe, Kang, the Conquerer, shows up to wreak havoc on the timeline once again as he did in Loki. It’s crazy to say this, but could Doctor Strange be the “bad guy” since he’ll do anything to shut the door on the multiverse even if that means taking out Peter Parker?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Here’s what I do know. The trailer revealed just enough to satisfy the audience without giving away too much. Most of the villains appeared, but not every villain. The main idea of the plot is known, and yet there’s still so much on its way.

If No Way Home is a game of Texas Hold ’em, then we just saw the flop. The river, or the fifth and final card, is the end of the movie and how it sets up the future of the MCU. Every fan including myself is focused on the fourth card known as “the turn.” That’s the moment went Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield show up to give us our three Spider-MEN.

Look, it’s going to happen. Do not believe anything that Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield are saying. They are paid to deny this earth-shattering reveal. It’s going to be an awesome moment in the theaters that might rival the moment when Doctor Strange opened the portals to form the Avengers Army in Endgame.

For those still skeptical, the moment when Doctor Octopus pins Spider-Man to the wall and says, “You’re not Peter Parker” is a dead giveaway that Maguire and Garfield will appear at some point. He’s looking for “his” Peter. Marvel will make sure to pay off this moment. Would it have been cool to see the reunion in the trailer? Of course, but this special moment will fucking rule on the big screen.

I can’t wait for December 17. Say your prayer that no leaks or spoilers hit the Internet. I’m looking at you, critics.

Leave your predictions for Spider-Man: No Way Home in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Taste Is His Best Quality

Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the best actors of his generation and one of the most desirable men in Hollywood. In other news, the sky is blue and the grass is green.

We know Leo is great at what he does. With six Oscar nominations including one win for Best Actor, the proof is in the pudding. Countless actors who have worked with Leo have praised his talent, with Carey Mulligan calling him “the most incredible actor on the planet.

It also helps to be one of the most attractive men ever, but that’s neither here, nor there.

On November 11, Leo turned 47. First of all, happy birthday to one of my acting heroes. Second, I started to reflect on Leo’s career, and one thing stood above the rest.

It wasn’t his acting ability or good looks or legendary paparazzi photos. All of those things are important, but it’s not his best quality.

Leo’s taste is his best quality.

No, I’m not referring to the time he ate raw bison liver in The Revenant.

I’m referring to his taste in projects. Leo arguably has the best taste in all of Hollywood. He consistently chooses great project after great project with very little misses on his filmography. In a time where superhero movies dominate the box office and streamers churn out new movies every week, DiCaprio continues to play by his rules and only participates in movies that he wants to make.

Leo is one of the last true movie stars in Hollywood. Leo hasn’t made the jump to prestige television just yet and up until this year, never headlined a movie for a streamer. (This will change with Netflix’s Don’t Look Up.) Every Leo movie feels like an event, which is rare. The days of actors being able to generate high box office returns based on their name alone is a thing of the past, and yet DiCaprio still has that power.

I view Leo’s career in two phases. B.S. and A.S. – Before Scorsese and After Scorsese. Leo rarely misses, meaning the film is either received negative reviews or flopped at the box office. Most of his “misses” came before his first collaboration with Martin Scorsese, which occurred in 2002 with Gangs of New York.

Below are Leo’s movies B.S.

Is The Man in the Iron Mask or Celebrity going to be shown on DiCaprio’s highlight tape? Probably not. I haven’t even seen Total Eclipse, but I’d imagine it won’t be on the tape, either. However, most actors would kill for an 11-year span that includes a supporting acting nomination at age 19, a leading role in the highest-grossing movie ever at the time, and a starring role beside Tom Hanks in a Steven Spielberg movie.

Leo had a lot of juice in 2002 and can headline any movie he wants. But he does the smart thing and pairs himself with one of the greatest directors ever, Martin Scorsese. Aligning himself with Scorsese was the smartest thing Leo could have ever done.

Below are Leo’s movies A.S.

Look at this success rate. Time and time again, DiCaprio chose movies that succeeded both critically and financially. The run of Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, and Blood Diamond is better than Murderers’ Row. There are no bad misses on this list. I’m not a fan of J. Edgar, but that movie was still named as one of the top ten films in 2011 by the National Board of Review.

The man doesn’t miss, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

Long live Leo.

2022 Oscars Discussion, Vol. 1: The Race For Best Picture

Belfast / Focus Features

Gentlemen, start your engines. We’re on a one-way trip to the 2022 Oscars.

Right now, we’re about five months away from the 2022 Oscars, which airs on March 27, 2022. That may seem like a long time away, but the races are starting to take off in each major category. “Oscar movies” will be released every single week until the end of the year. which means it’s time to start up the “2022 Oscars Discussion” column.

The first and (probably) last column in this discussion will cover the ceremony’s top prize, Best Picture. Will this year’s winner be the next Parasite or The Artist?

Early Breakdown Of The Race For Best Picture

As of November 5, there is no clear-cut Best Picture frontrunner, which is a change from last year after many experts predicted Nomadland would win the top prize after its victory at the Venice Film Festival in Sept. 2021. Having no true frontrunner isn’t a bad thing. I’m all for a competitive race with a variety of films trading wins at major guilds and festivals throughout awards season. Those tight races lead to wonderful surprises like Parasite‘s win back in 2019.

As of Nov. 5, the favorites to win Best Picture are Belfast and The Power of the Dog. Belfast is a black-and-white period piece from Kenneth Branagh about a working-class family from Northern Ireland in the 1960s. I haven’t seen the film yet, but it’s giving me major “Roma in Northern Ireland” vibes.

Some critics have cited the film as Branagh’s most personal film ever, a personal love letter to his childhood. Belfast features performances from Caitríona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds, and great child performance from Jude Hill, the latter campaigning for Best Actor. It’s currently tied with The Power of the Dog for the best odds (15/2) to win Best Picture via Goldderby.

Belfast has history on its side thanks to its People’s Choice Award win at TIFF. Since 2012, every film that won this award received a Best Picture nomination and three of those films went on to win at the Oscars. In other words, Belfast is guaranteed to be in contention for Best Picture.

Belfast premieres in the U.S on November 17.

Speaking of The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion’s western starring Benedict Cumberbatch is the other frontrunner for Best Picture. Without giving too much away, Cumberbatch plays a domineering rancher who torments his brother’s new wife and son, until a secret may tear him apart.

Campion has a good history with the Academy as she was the second woman ever to be nominated for Best Director for 1993’s The Piano. She’ll probably become the first two-time female nominee at this year’s ceremony. Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst are shoe-ins for nominations in Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Plus, The Power of the Dog was second-runner up at TIFF.

Just like Belfast, The Power of the Dog will be a Best Picture nominee come March.

The Power of the Dog streams on Netflix starting Dec. 1.

The Contenders

After those two films, there’s a bit of a drop-off. Some of that has to do with the fact that no one has seen the film yet. I haven’t seen one word from a critic about Licorice Pizza, West Side Story, Nightmare Alley, House of Gucci, and Don’t Look Up. Seriously, not one single word about five films from Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning directors.

King Richard and Dune should make the final list of Best Picture nominees. The Tragedy of Macbeth from Oscar-winner Joel Coen has six Academy Awards between the two stars, Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, so expect the film to be in the mix. Other than that, a few smaller films like The Lost Daughter and CODA will try to claw their way into the contention.

My prediction for Best Picture nominees as of 11/5.

  • Belfast
  • The Power of the Dog
  • Nightmare Alley
  • House of Gucci
  • King Richard
  • Dune
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • Licorice Pizza
  • West Side Story
  • Don’t Look Up

Let the games begin.

Tell us your predictions for Best Picture in the comments below or tweet us, @danny_giro.

The Joe Judge Experiment Has Gone Haywire

Joe Judge New York Giants

When Joe Judge was hired by the New York Giants in 2020 to be their next head coach, he said all the right things at the opening press conference. Discipline, work ethic, and accountability were three characteristics that Judge prided himself on. Even though he lacked experience as a head coach or offensive/defensive coordinator, Judge appeared to bring a sense of hard work and energy that the Giants desperately lacked under Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur.

I wrote this last year after the Judge’s hire.

“From an introductory standpoint, (Joe) Judge hit a home run. It’s clear he wants to turn things around by focusing on the fundamentals, finding well-disciplined players, and playing hard on both sides of the ball.”

Throughout last season, I believed in and defended Judge from a coaching perspective. Although the NFC East was atrocious, the Giants still had a chance to somehow sneak into the playoffs at 6-10. That’s nothing to brag home about, but the team was playing hard especially on the defensive side of the ball.

The bar is extremely low to give credit to a professional team for “playing hard,” but this is the Giants, a team with the 27-54 record since 2016.

The “Ra-Ra, win one for the Gipper” act only works if you win games. Guess what? Not only are the Giants failing to win, but they’re devastatingly losing close games. Saying the right things matters, but actions speak louder than words. I started to sour on Judge after the brutal loss to the Washington Football Team after a mistake on special teams cost the Giants the game.

The Giants followed up that game with three losses in their next four games. The Giants faltered down the stretch to the Falcons, never stood a chance against the Cowboys, and embarrassed themselves against the Rams.

Did I expect the Giants to win all three of those games? No, but the product on the field doesn’t match what Judge is preaching. There seems to be no accountability or discipline as the Giants have the 10th most penalties in the NFL. But hey, at least the team had to run laps after a game as punishment.

If you couldn’t tell, I’ve lost patience with Judge and his shtick. If you have to challenge players six weeks into the season to “join in the fight,” then you’re losing the locker room.

Is Judge the driving force behind the Giants decline? John Mara deserves most of the blame because he continues to trust Dave Gettleman to build a competitive roster.

I would also cut Judge more slack if Jason Garrett wasn’t calling plays for the offense, and Daniel Jones wasn’t playing quarterback. To be honest, Garrett and Jones haven’t been terrible this season, and I’m sure many will say that Jones is not the root of all problems. To be fair, Jones has been good in spots, especially against the WFT and Saints. But anyone who has watched every game with Jones under center knows he’s not “the guy.”

This past Monday night, the Chiefs wanted to give that game away so badly, but the Giants refused to take it. Patrick Graham called a perfect game on the defensive side of the ball, and the defensive line and secondary gave the offense every chance to take the lead. But Judge, Garrett, and Jones did everything they could to make sure the Giants would lose.

One sequence at the end of the first half showed why Judge should not be the head coach next year. The Giants are trailing 14-7 late in the first half, but they’re in the red zone and face a third-and-four from the 7-yard line. Judge calls a timeout, which is fine if they’re discussing a third-down play and a fourth-down play. On the Manningcast, Michael Strahan asked why teams run plays a yard or two short of the first down marker.

We all know how this story goes.

In conservative Giants fashion, the offense ran a passing play two yards short of the first down. Did the Giants go for it on fourth-and-two from the 5-yard-line?

Nope.

There is a time and place to go for it on fourth down, and that was the situation to roll the dice. However, the Giants kicked a field goal, content with going into the half down four points.

The mistakes kept piling up. In the second half, the “Disciplined Giants” were flagged for taunting, which negated a big play, offsides, which took away an interception, and a facemask, which put the Chiefs into Giants’ territory.

To make matters worse, Joe Judge’s clock management makes Andy Reid look like Doctor Strange. Refusing to call the timeout before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter and letting precious seconds go to waste is inexcusable.

After all of this, the Giants STILL had a chance to tie or even win the game, down three points with 1:07 left in the fourth quarter. The four plays went like this:

  • Checkdown for a 3-yard gain
  • Sack
  • Incomplete pass
  • Sack

Game over.

With a pedestrian offense and a hit-or-miss defense, what does Judge exactly do for the Giants? Coach a decent special teams unit? Throw away timeouts like it’s expired Halloween candy? Blame the headsets for his coaching miscues? Post World War II quotes on the locker room wall to inspire the guys to play for him?

The Giants are a mess, and Judge is a big reason why. It’s time for Mara to move on from Judge (and Gettleman and Garrett and Jones).

(But we all know Judge is coming back next season.)

Update: COVID outbreak!

What are your thoughts on Joe Judge as the coach of the New York Giants? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @danny_giro.

2021-2022 NBA Week 1: Fair Reaction or Overreaction?

DeMar DeRozan of the Chicago Bulls / NBA

After the first week of the NBA season, the Lakers are missing the playoffs, the Warriors are winning the title, and the Timberwolves have the best version of the Big Three.

Are these fair reactions or overreactions?

Fair Reaction: The Bulls And Knicks Can Both Crack The Top 6 In The East

The Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks both have good, competitive teams at the same time. Is this the 1990s? After last night’s 104-103 win, the Knicks moved into a tie for first place in the conference along with the Bulls, Hornets, and Wizards.

Both the Knicks and Bulls have vastly improved on both sides of the ball. The Knicks are now shooting more 3s than last year and it’s paying off as the team is fourth in three point %. For Chicago, Zach LaVine finally has a good supporting cast in Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vučević.

It’s still a long shot for both teams to avoid the NBA Play-In Tournament, but it’s not out of the question. If the Bulls and Knicks continue to stay competitive all year, they have a legitimate shot to kick a team out of the Top 6. The two likely candidates to fall out of the Top 6 are the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics.

For the Sixers, the status of Ben Simmons puts the Sixers in no man’s land. Simmons needs to play, or the organization needs to trade him because Embiid desperately needs help. Sitting on the sidelines helps no one. For Boston, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are studs, but they lack a true point guard. Have fun taking turns with Marcus Smart and Dennis Schröder running the point. If the Celtics do not trade for a PG, they are in danger of making the Play-In tournament.

Overreaction: The Nets And Lakers Should Panic

We are just over one week into the season, and things could not be any worse for the two finals’ favorites. Brooklyn is still missing Kyrie Irving due to the vaccine mandate, and James Harden can’t get to the free throw line if his life depended on it. In Los Angeles, LeBron has already begun his load management, and the team blew a 26-point lead to the Oklahoma City Thunder in an overtime loss to the fighting Josh Giddeys.

Both teams sit at 2-3 with clear roster problems that need to be fixed. The Nets need another scorer while the Lakers cannot figure out their rotations. (Why does DeAndre Jordan start?) Luckily for both teams, their stars will help right the ship on their way to the playoffs. There’s no need to overreact, but let’s revisit this at the end of November.

Fair Reaction: The Utah Jazz Are A Good Regular Season Team

The fact that the Jazz are undefeated should surprise no one. Utah has all the pieces to be a good NBA regular season. It’s why I picked Utah to be the #1 seed in the West going into the playoffs. Utah is Top 10 in scoring and second in defensive rating. Say what you want about Rudy Gobert, he’s a monster on the glass and defensive end. Gobert is grabbing 17.8 (!!!) rebounds per game. The Jazz will have to conquer their playoff demons in the Spring, but for now, this team should continue to roll.

Fair Reaction: The Golden State Warriors Can Be A Top 3 Team In The West

I predicted the Warriors would hover around .500 until Klay Thompson’s return, and they would end up with an 8-seed. Hand up, I think I’m going to be wrong. The Warriors are 4-1 and look like a completely different team from a year ago. Steph is, well, doing Steph things (43/40/96 % splits), but unlike last year, his teammates are shouldering the offensive load. Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and Damion Lee are all averaging over 14 ppg. If the Warriors can stay in the top 3 by the time Klay returns, then championship expectations return to the Bay area.

Overreaction: The Minnesota Timberwolves Are A Playoff Team

Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and D’Angelo Russell are accounting for two-thirds of the team’s points per game. It’s great to see their version of the Big Three healthy. I don’t want to rain on Minnesota’s parade, but can we pump the brakes just a bit? Towns and Russell have played less than 30 games together. Edwards, who is an amazing player and personality, is only in his second year. The Wolves have had one winning record since 2005. Let’s see if all three guys can stay healthy before talking about the playoffs.

Fair Reaction: The Mavericks Should Trade Kristaps Porzingis

I’m a firm believer in players needing a “fresh coat of paint” to revitalize their careers. Kristaps Porzingis looks lost in Dallas. He’s far removed from his “unicorn” days pre-ACL injury in New York. Porzingis is averaging 12.7 ppg, 6.0 RPG, and 0.7 apg. Those are good numbers for a backup, not a top player in the third year of a $158 million contract. The sooner the Mavericks can find an offer for Porzingis, the better.

What are your thoughts on the opening week in the NBA? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.com.

Dune: Reaction, Comments, And Looking Ahead To Part II

Dune / Legendary Pictures

I went to Arrakis, sniffed some spice, and rode a giant sandworm across the desert. In other words, I finally saw Dune. One of the most anticipated films of 2021 finally arrived in theaters and on HBO Max, and opinions are being thrown all over Twitter.

As the responsible man that I am, I waited a few days to gather my thoughts. Here they are.

Dune
Dune / Warner Bros.

Dune Reaction And Comments

Dune ruled.

– Denis Villeneuve is in his bag. I’ve said it a hundred times before, and I’ll say it again. Villeneuve is one of the five best working directors in Hollywood. He’s in my personal top three. No one besides Christopher Nolan understands the importance of scope and scale more than Villeneuve. The wide shots of Arrakis and Caladan are a wet dream for those who love cinematography. Every single frame is carefully crafted and executed at the highest level. Simply, it was a privilege to watch a master execute his vision.

– This cast might have the highest approval rating ever for an ensemble. Ocean’s Eleven and Knives Out both have an A-list cast, but Dune wears the crown for cast right now.

– Why didn’t Legendary and Warner Bros. market the film as “Dune Part I?” I read an interview where Denis Villeneuve explained how he secured a two-movie deal and he wouldn’t agree to the project unless it was multiple movies. Why not market the film as the first film in a two-part saga? After Warner Bros. upset Villeneuve with the decision to stream the film on HBO Max simultaneously with a theatrical release, you would think they would have greenlit the sequel immediately. But no, the sequel wasn’t guaranteed because of the unknown box office returns and subscriber numbers due to the pandemic.

– Furthermore, had this film been marketed as Part I from the very beginning, it would have cleared up a lot of confusion in terms of the story. There’s A LOT of world-building and exposition in the 156-minute film so much so that it would have been impossible to tell a complete story in one film. This is just a hunch, but critical reception would have improved if it was “Dune Part I” from the start. Many critics would have seen it as the franchise’s version of The Fellowship of the Ring, knowing another film was coming to complete the story.

– The movie is kind of plotless? Now that I wrote it out, plotless is the wrong word. As I said, Dune is a lot of exposition as Villeneuve attempts to explain this complex world throughout the movie. Let me rephrase “plotless.” The inciting incident to the story – the Harkonnen betrayal and invasion – begins more than an hour into the movie. Then, Jessica and Paul wander in the desert for the rest of the film, attempting to survive the sandworms, the Harokonnens, and the Freemans. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, but it’s a lot of set-up for very little payoff.

– The sandworms were AWESOME. Super effective.

– The action sequences were incredible. Between the Harkonnen invasion, Duncan Idaho vs. an entire army, and the sandworm attacks, Dune perfectly balanced political thriller to an edge-of-your-seat action-adventure.

– Don’t move your hand!

Timothée Chalamet in Dune / Legendary Pictures

– Best performances:
1. Jason Momoa
2. Rebecca Ferguson
3. Oscar Isaac

– Jason Momoa is the coolest man on the planet. He stole the damn show as Duncan Idaho.

Jason Mamoa in Dune / Legendary Pictures

– Thankfully, our wish was granted when Legendary greenlit Dune Part II.

– I have a confession. I watched this movie on HBO Max. I want to apologize to my Lord and Savior Denis Villeneuve for seeing his work of art on a small screen. Have no fear, I’m headed to a movie theater this weekend to watch the sandworms.

My Letterboxd Score: 4/5.

I can’t wait to spend more time with Zendaya and Javier Bardem as we all watch Timothée Chalamet ride a sandworm in Dune Part II.

Did you enjoy Dune? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

2021-2022 NBA Season Preview: Are The New York Knicks Back?

Julius Randle of the New York Knicks

Are the New York Knicks back? Let’s ask Amar’e Stoudemire.

Amar’e might have been 10 years too early on his declaration. But after a 41-31 record that resulted in the team’s first playoff appearance since 2013, the Knicks very well might be back.

In 2020, the Knicks were the scrappy underdogs under first-year coach Tom Thibodeau. The Knicks clawed and battled their way to the fourth-seed in the Eastern Conference through the defense (top 5 in defensive ratings) and rebounding (top 10 in rebounds per game).

On the offensive side of the ball, Julius Randle shattered expectations by becoming a dynamic playmaker on his way to a stat line of 24/10/6 and a trophy for Most Improved Player. Derrick Rose was a godsend at point guard, RJ Barrett improved in almost every statistical category including 3P% (32% to 40%), and Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, and Reggie Bullock all became solid contributed.

Last year was full of surprises. After a successful year, those surprises have now turned into expectations. The days of praying for a 30-win team are over, or at least fans including myself believe those days have passed. Now is the time to build on the momentum from last year and grow into a consistent playoff team.

Things That Must Happen For The Knicks To Take The Next Step

– The Knicks must make the playoffs: I can’t stress this point enough. If the Knicks don’t make the playoffs, then last year was a fluke. All of the building blocks put into place last year mean nothing if this team can’t play meaningful basketball in April. I don’t expect the Knicks to be the four-seed again, but if they don’t make the Play-In Tournament, then the season will be a failure.

– RJ Barrett must become a playmaker: If RJ Barrett wants to become a star in this league, then he must become a playmaker on offense. What do I mean by playmaker? Throughout last season, the go-to play for the Knicks was a Randle isolation. That either lead to a tough make, a missed shot, or a pass for a three. While Jules was amazing for most of the year, his playmaking was nowhere to be found in the Atlanta series. This is where RJ comes in. RJ needs to be able to take his man off the dribble and either get to the rim, pass for an open three or hit a pullup jumper. His 2020 game averages of 3 assists and 3.8 free throws are not going to cut it. Those need to get to 4.5 and 5 at the very least.

– Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier must ease the offensive load for Randle: It sounds obvious, but Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier were paid to play offense. They were brought in for their ability to create offense, especially off the dribble. As I stated above, the go-to play was a Jules-iso. Kemba is the best opening day point guard for the Knicks in over a decade. If he stays healthy, the Knicks have a true starting point guard. With Fournier, he must shake off his preseason shooting woes and become a threat from behind the arc. Anything less than 40% is a failure and I’m being generous with that number.

The Bottomline

Superstars win championships, and right now, the Knicks don’t have any superstars. That’s ok for now. The Knicks must return to the first round of the playoffs and play a competitive series. If the team ends up playing the Nets or Bucks in the postseason, then their season will most likely come to an end. However, if they run into a team like the Hawks, Heat, or Sixers, then the Knicks must last more than 5 games. If the Knicks win a playoff series, I’m doing cartwheels outside of MSG. I’m expecting 42-45 wins.

It’s time to take the next step towards becoming a winning franchise once again.

Playoffs or bust.

What are your predictions for the Knicks? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.