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

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.

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.

2021-2022 NBA Season Predictions

Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets / NBA

In my best Daniel Craig voice, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re back.” The 2021-2022 NBA Season begins tonight when the Nets take on the Bucks and the Warriors face the Lakers. After an offseason full of vaccine questions, trade requests, and unhappy stars, I’m glad to put that all behind us and watch some good basketball.

Oh, wait. All of that stuff is still happening because the NBA continues to be dramatic!

Sigh.

Last week, I described all 30 teams in one sentence. This week, it’s time for my predictions.

Key Storylines

The Ben Simmons saga is on a highway to hell: Seriously, what the hell is going on in Philly?

Countless NBA players have demanded a trade, but have we ever seen a player deliberately sabotage a team? I typically favor player empowerment, but this is where I draw the line. I applaud the Sixers for fining and suspending Simmons because what he did was bullshit. However, Daryl Morey had a chance to trade Simmons for James Harden. There have been conflicting reports as to who, Morey or the Rockets, sunk the trade. I look at it this way: if Morey truly wanted to give up Simmons and trade for Harden, he could’ve pulled it off. That’s on Morey.

Now, it’s a waiting game. Morey has to realize that he won’t get a star in return for Simmons. That doesn’t mean a Simmons trade can’t happen. Would the Blazers be willing to part with McCollum? Would the Kings give up De’Aaron Fox (probably not) or Buddy Hield (probably yes)? Could the Spurs package multiple young players like Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson? Trade Simmons now or play hardball and wait. It’s time to shit or get off the pot.

Will Kyrie Irving Play: While the Sixers must make a decision on Simmons sooner rather than later, the Nets can show a little more patience in their approach due to the fact that the team can get by with Kevin Durant and James Harden. Whether or not you agree with the vaccine mandate in New York City is irrelevant. It’s the rule and it’s not changing anytime soon. It’s possible things change when a new mayor takes office, but are the Nets willing to wait until the end of winter/early spring to welcome back Irving? If the Nets are at the top of the East during Irving’s absence, then they’ll continue to wait until the mandate changes. If Durant or Harden get hurt and the team stumbles, then Sean Marks will have to consider trading Irving.

Will The Two Storylines Listed Above End So We Can Talk About The Other 28 NBA Teams: We need something else to discuss.

Eastern Conference

  1. Milwaukee Bucks
  2. Brooklyn Nets
  3. Atlanta Hawks
  4. Miami Heat
  5. Philadelphia 76ers
  6. Boston Celtics
  7. New York Knicks
  8. Chicago Bulls
  9. Indiana Pacers
  10. Charlotte Hornets

Eastern Conference Finals: Bucks over Nets

I would pick the Nets to win the East if the Big Three were guaranteed to play together in the playoffs. However, it’s far from a lock. I’m picking the Bucks over the Nets simply because I can’t trust Brooklyn’s Big Three to play every game. I will believe it when I see it.

Western Conference

  1. Utah Jazz
  2. Phoenix Suns
  3. Los Angeles Lakers
  4. Denver Nuggets
  5. Dallas Mavericks
  6. Portland Trail Blazers
  7. Los Angeles Clippers
  8. Golden State Warriors
  9. Memphis Grizzlies
  10. San Antonio Spurs

Western Conference Finals: Lakers over Jazz

I realize I’m a hypocrite for not trusting Brooklyn’s Big Three to stay healthy, but then believing LeBron and Anthony Davis will play every game in the NBA playoffs. LeBron only gets hurt via freak accident so as long as that doesn’t happen, he’ll play every game in the postseason. AD is a HUGE question mark, but if Frank Vogel load manages Davis throughout the season, there’s a chance he doesn’t get hurt come next Spring. It’s a huge “if,” but I’ll bet on that over Brooklyn finishing the season with their three stars.

NBA Finals: Lakers over Bucks

I truly believe LeBron has one more title in him. Year 19 is when he wins his fifth and final championship.

NBA Awards

MVP: Kevin Durant

Rookie of the Year: Cade Cunningham

Coach of the Year: Quin Snyder

Defensive Player of the Year: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Most Improved Player: Ja Morant

Sixth Man of the Year: Jordan Clarkson

Here’s to a successful (and healthy) NBA Season.

Leave your NBA predictions in the comments or tweet us, @danny_giro

2021-2022 NBA Season Preview: Describing Each Team In One Sentence

Luka Doncic NBA

The 2021-2022 NBA Season is set to kick off Tuesday, Oct. 19.

This is not a drill.

Within the last 12 months, the NBA finished two seasons, crowned two different champions, and will start its newest season next week. Ever since the pandemic started in March 2020, I’ve lost my sense of date and time. The picture of Jimmy Butler on the scorer’s table after Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals was going around on Twitter the other day. Had I not seen the date, I would have guessed the picture was from 2018.

Regardless, I’m happy to have basketball back especially after an exciting NBA Finals. The league is in a good spot thanks to so many young budding superstars. Giannis Antetokounmpo sits on the throne as the best player in the league, but Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and LeBron James could easily take back the crown by the end of the year.

In this exercise, I previewed each team in one sentence. Some are funny, others are brutally honest, and a few might hit home. Let’s dive right in.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the best duo under 25, but do they have enough surrounding talent to become a top-4 team in the East?

Brooklyn Nets: James Harden and Kevin Durant can win a title as a duo, but will Kyrie join them to form the trio?

New York Knicks: Was last year an anomaly, or have things changed at MSG?

Philadelphia 76ers: Is the Ben Simmons relationship salvageable?

Toronto Raptors: If you know the full truth behind the Pascal Siakim injury and his projected return date, I’m all ears.

Central Division

Chicago Bulls: I like Zach LaVine more than most people, and the team is good on paper (Lonzo Ball, Nikola Vučević, DeMar DeRozan), but the Bulls have a date with the play-in game whether they like it or not.

Cleveland Cavaliers: This roster does not make sense especially in the frontcourt, but they are going to be exciting to watch because of Sexland.

Detroit Pistons: Let Cade do whatever he wants.

Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner is somehow still on this team.

Milwaukee Bucks: If Giannis gets a mid-range jump shot, then the Bucks can repeat.

Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks: After getting a taste of what it’s like to win big games, Trae Young and co. should be back in the mix for a top-4 seed in the East.

Charlotte Hornets: If LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward stay healthy, the Hornets should once again battle for a play-in spot.

Miami Heat: After getting embarrassed by the Bucks, the addition of Kyle Lowry means the Heat will try to channel their 2020 success.

Orlando Magic: This could be the worst team in the NBA.

Washington Wizards: The countdown to a Bradley Beal trade continues.

Western Conference

Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets: If Joker is the Joker and Michael Porter Jr. becomes a 20+ ppg scorer, the Nuggets are a healthy Jamal Murray away from truly becoming a contender in the West.

Minnesota Timberwolves: It might be time to pull the plug on the Karl-Anthony Towns-D’Angelo Russell pairing.

Oklahoma City Thunder: If the Thunder decide to try, then they could win 25 games, but that won’t happen.

Portland Trail Blazers: If the Blazers get bounced from the first round again, Dame is good as gone.

Utah Jazz: If the Jazz went 82-0, would anyone seriously believe they could win the title?

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors: If Golden State can stay around .500 by the time Klay Thompson returns, the Warriors could be the dark horse to win the West.

Los Angeles Clippers: Until Kawhi returns, keep dreaming, LA.

Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers are the best team in the NBA if and only if their stars are healthy and that’s a huge “if.”

Phoenix Suns: With the entire core returning, the Suns should battle for the top seed once again.

Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks: Luka must win a playoff series this year if he truly wants to become “the guy.”

Houston Rockets: The Rockets could be the first team to score 100 points per game and give up 200 points per game.

Memphis Grizzlies: If the Grizzlies make the playoffs once again, we might have to change the trajectory on Ja’s ceiling.

New Orleans Pelicans: If the Pelicans are secretly trying to get rid of Zion, then they’re passing with flying colors.

San Antonio Spurs: With all due respect to Pop, is it time for a new voice?

How would you describe your favorite team? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

NBA Christmas Schedule Takeaways: League Believes In Trae Young

Trae Young / NBA

Christmas Day calls for presents, eggnog, and basketball. As much as the NFL has tried to hijack Christmas Day in recent years, Santa Claus belongs to the NBA. December 25 is the most important day of the regular season.

Yesterday, the NBA revealed its Christmas Day slate. It will feature 5 games that include the faces of the league.

  • Hawks vs. Knicks
  • Celtics vs. Bucks
  • Warrios vs. Suns
  • Nets vs. Lakers
  • Mavs vs. Jazz

Some of these games feature blockbuster matchups and budding rivalries. Others leave me with more questions than answers. Here are my biggest takeaways.

The NBA Believes In Trae Young

Trae Young is a budding superstar. Yes, I said superstar. Before this season, Young was considered a “good stats, bad teams” player who elected to shoot 35-foot contested jumpers instead of getting his teammates more involved. An in-season fight with John Collins, the firing of Lloyd Pierce, and the addition of Bogdan Bogdanović made Young a completely different player in the second half of the season, catapulting the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals. Young averaged 28 ppg and 9 apg in his first three playoff series. Pretty good for a “chucker.”

Putting Young against the New York Knicks in MSG to kick off the Christmas Day slate is a strong statement from the NBA. The league (and I) believe Young can take his game to further heights and become one of the fifteen best players in the NBA. Young is now eleventh in jersey sales as of July, which is his highest ranking since he’s been in the league. Young became a true heel in the first round against the Knicks. I went to Games 1 and 2 against the Hawks, and Young was the most hated man in the Garden. The Mecca hasn’t generated heat like that since the days of Reggie Miller in the 90s. Don’t expect Knicks’ fans to show Young some Christmas compassion.

Nets vs. Lakers Is The Biggest Matchup Since 2016

As Stephen A. Smith likes to say, “This game is box office.” The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers were supposed to be on a collision course to meet in the Finals last season. Injuries and Giannis got in the way from those two juggernauts facing off. The Nets and Lakers are the heavy favorites to win the championship so their showdown is the most anticipated matchup of the season. For Christmas, I’m wishing for good health so KD, Harden, Kyrie, LeBron, AD, and Russ can play in the game.

The Mavericks Vs. Jazz Is A Head-Scratcher

Luka Doncic playing on Christmas makes sense. He’s a future MVP and arguably one of the five best players in the game today. So why is Luka playing the Jazz? This doesn’t make sense. Christmas should be reserved for star power and rivalries. The Mavs bring the star power, and the Jazz bring the… what do they bring? I really like Donovan Mitchell. I respect Rudy Gobert more than most fans. However, the Jazz do not move the needle. The Mavs should be playing the Clippers because of their recent playoff history or the Nuggets because of Nikola Jokić. There’s still time to change the schedule, Mr. Silver!

Fantasy Booking Christmas Day

It’s time for me to be Vince McMahon and become a matchmaker. If I’m being honest, most of these games are solid matchups. I would make a few minor tweaks.

  • 12:00 PM – Hawks at Knicks – Keep this game. It’s a rilvary with a villain. That’s great television.
  • 2:30 PM – Mavs at Celtics – Luka has to play on Christmas. Luka vs. Tatum is a battle for the future face of the league.
  • 5:00 PM – Suns at Bucks -The two teams who meet in the Finals should run it back on Christmas.
  • 8:00 PM – Nets at Lakers – Box Office. Enough Said.
  • 10:30 PM – Clippers at Nuggets – This has some history with the Nuggets coming back from a 3-1 defecit to defeat the Clippers in the Bubble. Kawhi and PG vs. Joker is a fun, enjoyable matchup.

See you all on Christmas.

Do you like the Christmas Day matchups? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Yes, it’s Hilarious, but Patrick Beverley Deserves Better

Is it funny to me, as a Suns fan, that Patrick Beverley keeps getting traded to teams with a worse and worse chance to compete for a 2022 NBA Championship? Absolutely. Does Patrick Beverley deserve better? Probably.

Just days after the Los Angeles Clippers decided that Eric Bledsoe would be better for furthering their championship hopes than backcourt defensive pest Patrick Beverley, the Memphis Grizzlies shipped Patrick Beverley to basketball Siberia (Minnesota) for Jarrett Culver, the so-far disappointing 6th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Just over six weeks after throwing a giant tantrum and shoving Chris Paul from behind (for which he still has a one-game suspension to serve), Patrick Beverley has gone from a key cog on a legitimate contender, to stuck in a locker room led by the collegiate teammates and off-court best friends of his now-crooked-nosed basketball nemesis, Devin Booker.

Undoubtedly there must exist a Karl Anthony-Towns and DeAngelo Russell groupchat with Booker that contains several of the following memes:

I have to reiterate that there’s not a lot of sympathy on my end for a guy who mocked Chris Paul while he laid on the ground with a busted wrist, or who was so triggered that the same guy, busted wrist and all, gave him a 40-piece that ended his season, that he went full toddler and shoved Paul from behind.

HOWEVER- I can’t say with a straight face that I don’t enjoy watching Patrick Beverley pretend to be an NBA legend after every half-decent defensive stop, while ultimately getting destroyed on the biggest stage as he contributes a career average of two points per playoff quarter. America has joyously watched Bevereley get knocked out of the playoffs seven different times now, and you’re telling us that we don’t get that privilege any more?

It’s not fair.

Sure, as Russell Westbrook pointed out, those of us that think Pat Bev is actually affecting the outcome of games have been tricked… but some of us like magicians, Russell. We don’t actually believe the rabbit existed in some other dimension before the magician reached into his hat, but it’s fun to see nonetheless.

I’ll put it bluntly, I don’t want Patrick Beverley on some 20-62 roster as the elder statesmen for a bunch of Zoomer-generation players more interested in their pregame fits making on some hypebeast fashion blog than they are winning games. I want to see Patrick Beverley give up seven buckets in a row on an ABC broadcast, and then wildly pound his chest after deflecting a pass out of bounds.

Patrick Beverley deserves better than exile in Minnesota, and as fans, we deserve better as well. Until then, let’s laugh at the tweets:

Have a take you’d like us to read and address in a future article or on a future show? Email us at immad@unafraidshow.com and we’ll address your take.

NBA Free Agency: Lakers And Nets Improve While Pelicans Take Step Back

Lonzo Ball

The NBA has the best offseason out of all the major sports. The draft and free agency are full of trades, surprises, and WTF moments. It’s the only sport where a simple emoji could spark free agency and trade rumors. The offseason is a reality show that belongs on Bravo.

We’re a few days into free agency and some teams have totally reshaped their roster in both good and bad ways. Here are my biggest takeaways.

Lakers And Nets Somehow Get Better

The rich truly get richer. The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets have the two highest odds to win the championship, and rightfully so. The Lakers have LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the Nets have Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. Superstars can win you championships. This ain’t rocket science. That being said, the Lakers and Nets both improved their roster over the past week.

Let’s start in Los Angeles, where the Lakers traded Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and a first-round pick for the most polarizing player in the game, Russell Westbrook. With LeBron and AD choosing to load manage throughout the regular season, Westbrook and his insane motor will be able to carry the load on nights where the top stars sit out. LeBron might need to talk with Russ about how he needs to perform in the playoffs, but Westbrook’s talent will be necessary if the Lakers want to reach the NBA Finals.

Being a championship contender means attracting ring chasers or guys who want short-term “prove it” deals to cash in next offseason somewhere else. The Lakers added Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk, Kendrick Nunn, and Kent Bazemore. How they were able to sign Monk to a minimum is beyond me.

Across the country, the Nets added crucial pieces of their own. First, they drafted Cam Thomas from LSU, a walking bucket to serve as “Kyrie Insurance.” Despite losing Jeff Green and Spencer Dinwiddie, the Nets re-signed Blake Griffin and Bruce Brown to one-year deals. Brooklyn also signed Paddy Mills, who can still light it up in big moments. Expect the Nets to add more pieces through trades and the buyout market this season.

The Pelicans Failed Zion Williamson Once Again

The Pelicans front office is in the middle of writing a novel titled “How to Lose Your Franchise Superstar.” Seriously, what in the world is going on in New Orleans? I applauded the David Griffin hire. Truth be told, I wanted the New York Knicks to hire Griffin to run the team. I’m glad that never came to fruition.

The Pelicans entered this offseason with two major decisions looming: finding a new coach and re-signing Lonzo Ball. Firing Stan Van Gundy was the right decision, but Griffin should have never hired him in the first place. I like Stan as a commentator, but hiring him to coach was basketball malpractice.

Then, the Pelicans completed a sign-and-trade with Ball that sent the 23-year-old to the Bulls in exchange for Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple, and a second-round pick. This comes a week after trading Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, and two firsts (one top-10 protected pick via the Lakers in 2022) for Jonas Valanciunas and the 17th and 51st pick in last week’s draft. To top it all off, the Pelicans acquired Devonte Graham in a sign-and-trade for a 2022 lottery-protected first-round pick. Graham signed a four-year, $47 million contract. Was any other team willing to pay $47 million for Graham?

How do any of these moves help Zion? Spoiler alert – they don’t. It’s not an overreaction to say that Zion could pass on signing the rookie extension with the Pelicans and leave in free agency. That’s how badly the Pelicans have botched his first two years in the NBA.

Knicks Offseason Starting To Make Sense

It wouldn’t be an NBA article if I didn’t talk about my team, the Knicks. As usual, the Knicks offseason has been a roller coaster of emotions. Let’s start with Day 1, where many fans including myself were puzzled with their first four moves. On Day 1, the Knicks signed:

  • Nerlens Noel – 3 years, $32 million
  • Alec Burks – 3 years, $30 million
  • Derrick Rose – 3 years, $43 million
  • Evan Fournier – 4 years, $78 million

Without knowing any of the guarantees and options, all of these moves left me confused.

This was not about the players. I love Noel, Rose, and Burks. I can defend overpaying for Fournier in today’s NBA. However, who were the Knicks bidding against for these players? Who was going to pay Noel over $30 million? The same goes for Burks and Rose. It reminded me of the time the Knicks outbid themselves by almost $20 million for Tim Hardaway Jr. Why not sign these guys to 1-and-1 deals or even 2-year deals to keep flexibility for the future? I like Noel and Burks, but it’s fairly easy to find defensive-minded big men and microwave scorers off the bench.

After a day, details started to come out about the contracts. The Knicks were only on the hook for 2 or 3 years because the last years of each deal are a team option. I still wasn’t thrilled with the contracts, but my outlook started to become more positive.

Then, the Knicks signed Kemba Walker, who was bought out by the Thunder. The number is 2 years, $8-9 million. This is a great flyer for a point guard that’s averaged over 19 ppg since 2015. Is he an injury risk? Sure. But Kemba and Rose are the two best point guards the Knicks have had in over 15 years. Kemba is a low-risk, high-reward point guard. It’s a huge upgrade, and that can’t be overstated.

Finally, Julius Randle signed a team-friendly 4 year, $117 million extension. Randle could have bet on himself, played out his option, and signed a max extension worth more than $200 million next year. However, Randle wanted to give the Knicks flexibility to bring in another star.

The Knicks weren’t going to get the franchise-altering superstar this offseason. However, the culture continues to improve. The team now has young assets, draft picks, and tradeable contracts that could bring in a superstar within the next two years. That’s a win. I feel much better about the Knicks offseason this morning than I did on Monday night.

Quick Hitters

  • The Chicago Bulls are trying to become a playoff team. So far, they’ve added Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and DeMar Derozan in addition to Nikola Vucevic, who they aquired at last season’s trade dealine. With Zach Lavine as the centerpiece, the Bulls should make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
  • The Miami Heat might have soldified themselves as the third best team in the East. The Heat traded for Kyle Lowry, re-signed Duncan Robinson and Victor Oladipo, and signed PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris. The Heat are going to be insufferable with the refs, but they’ll also fight the other team on any given night.
  • Do the Celtics know free agency started this past Monday night?

What is your biggest takeaway from the start of NBA free agency? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

NBA Draft: League Needs To Stop Reporters From Tipping Picks

NBA Draft 2021

There are two instances in the NBA where I become irrationally angry and channel my inner “old man yells at cloud.” The first occurs when the home team doesn’t wear white uniforms. The second occurs on draft night when reporters tip picks before they’re announced on stage.

I love the NBA Draft. Seeing teams potentially draft their next superstar is great television. The first few picks are usually predictable, but the first “oh shit” moment at pick 4 or 5 can make my jaw drop. Despite reading countless mock drafts in preparation for tonight, the suspense and “what if” questions keep me on the edge of my seat.

However, the NBA Draft has a massive problem with tipping picks on the Internet before they’re announced on television.

Woj, I’m sorry brother, but this is my least favorite day of the year to follow you. I just finished lunch earlier today and Woj decided to tweet out the first three picks of the draft.

People will say “But Dan, we already knew Cade, Green, and Mobley were going 1-2-3.” I agree with you, but to tweet it out seven hours before the telecast ruins the draft experience.

Once the draft starts, Woj and Shams will be tweeting out picks as soon as they receive them from their sources. Sometimes, these two reporters will be two, sometimes even three picks ahead of the telecast. It drives me insane. How can people support this practice?

I’m fully aware that Woj and Shams are only doing their jobs. If they receive information, they report it. That’s what good reporters do. Now part of the reason why these two race to tweet out picks is to see the other one looking silly when they’re late to the news. The rivalry between Woj and Shams becomes personal on draft night. At times, it’s entertaining to watch, but my draft viewing experience worsens because of the rivalry.

The NFL Draft is the best in sports partly because of its league mandate to discourage tipping picks. Reporters from ESPN and the NFL Network agree to not tip picks during the NFL Draft. The result is a television product that’s filled with more excitement and drama than most procedurals.

The NBA tried to follow suit with a mandate for ESPN reporters to refrain from tipping picks. However, once Shams, Marc Stein, and other reporters started to spoil the draft, Woj turned to his thesaurus and rattled off adverbs on adverbs on adverbs.

In Woj’s defense, it’s not fair that other reporters can tip picks while he’s forced to sit on these scoops. This problem stems from the fact that ESPN is the only network that holds the right to broadcast the draft. Many basketball reporters work for outlets like Yahoo, Stadium, or the NY Times, where there is no mandate to withhold spoiling picks on Twitter.

For the crowd telling me to just stay off Twitter, it’s gonna be a no from me, dog. I love NBA Twitter on draft night. I love reacting to the big moments of the night especially from my team, the New York Knicks. I’m a social media manager and blogger so, therefore, I’m not logging off for the night. I have unfollowed and blocked Woj and Shams during the draft, but if they tweet out a pick, someone on NBA Twitter will tweet about it and I’ll inevitably see it.

I’m not naive. Reporters aren’t going to have a meeting and decide to not tip picks during the draft. A mandate has to come directly from Adam Silver. One way to solve this problem is to give other media outlets the right to broadcast at the draft. If the league is worried about the ratings going down with more broadcasts, think again. The draft ratings continue to decline. People don’t have to watch the draft if it’s spoiled on Twitter. Allowing more outlets to do their own broadcast at the draft means a league mandate could prevent reporters from spoiling picks, which means the draft becomes appointment television again.

Obviously, giving rights to other outlets is not cut and dry since money will always be an issue. But the league has to get more creative to stop reporters from tipping picks.

Make The Draft Great Again. Print the hats.

P.S. Feel free to tip all of the trades. That I will allow.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: It’s Your League Now

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Behind a legendary performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks overcame a 2-0 series deficit to defeat the Phoenix Suns and win the NBA Championship. After scoring 50 points in the series-clinching game, Giannis could not hold back tears when describing his journey to the top of the NBA.

We’re running out of adjectives to describe Giannis and his journey to the NBA. Inspiring stands above the rest. From selling purses in the streets of Greece to picking up a basketball for the first time at age 12, Giannis is the culmination of how a dream and a strong work ethic can lead to great things. My favorite Giannis story is the time he wired all of his money back to his family in Greece, which meant he had to run to the arena in the cold since he couldn’t afford a cab.

Giannis’s journey off the court should not overshadow what he did on the court to win the championship. Giannis has been knocking on the door of greatness since the 2019 season, where he won his first MVP. After losing to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals despite having a 2-0 series lead, doubt started to creep in as many felt Giannis would need to join up with other superstars to win a title. Kawhi shut down Giannis in those last four games, and Giannis’s offensive limitations started to stand out.

The next season, Giannis went scorched earth, averaging 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.0 blocks on his way to his second-straight MVP. Oh, by the way, the Greek Freak also won Defensive Player of the Year in that same season. Giannis ascended into the top 5 for player rankings, but his team came up short again, losing embarrassingly to the Miami Heat in the Conference Semifinals.

Let’s be honest. There are a lot of players who would’ve left Milwaukee if they were in Giannis’s shoes. At the very least, most players would have entertained free agency instead of signing an extension before the season. The possibility of teaming up with another superstar like Luka Doncic would entice many players to consider their options.

To steal a quote from LeBron James, Giannis is “built different.”

Giannis signed the supermax before this past season, lead the Bucks to the NBA Finals, and won the whole damn thing. Not bad for a guy who shot 18% from behind-the-arc in the playoffs.

It cannot be understated how good Giannis was during the Finals. These numbers are staggering, considering it came on the biggest stage in the most important spot of the season.

  • Game 1 – 20 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 block
  • Game 2 – 42 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 3 blocks
  • Game 3 – 41 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 steal
  • Game 4 – 26 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, and an iconic block
  • Game 5 – 32 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists, and an iconic alley-oop
  • Game 6 – 50 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 blocks, and 17/19 from the line

Going into the playoffs, Giannis solidified his spot in the top 5 for player rankings. Before the Finals, the Greek Freak was in the top 3, no questions asked, alongside LeBron and Kevin Durant.

After last night, Giannis became the best player in the NBA. Giannis crowned himself a year too early, but he earned that crown last night. LeBron and KD are talented enough to take back the title of best in the league next season, but for now, it’s Giannis’s league.

When you look at Giannis’s resume, it’s arguably the best resume of all time through age 26.

Only two players have multiple MVPs, DPOY, and a Finals MVP. It’s Michael Jordan and Giannis.

The NBA has been searching for someone to take the torch from LeBron as the face of the league. An athletic, humble, and likable superstar from Greece might be the perfect option.

Do you think Giannis is the new face of the league? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.