The best comedy act in the country occurs when the New York Knicks step on a basketball court. Seriously, I urge you to find something that provides more laughs to the US of A than the Knicks, especially when the team begins the second half of every game.
Just look at tonight when the Knicks faced their crosstown rival, the Brooklyn Nets. In the first half, the Knicks held a TWENTY-EIGHT (28) point lead against a team without its three best players – Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons.
Every single Knicks fan knew it was too good to be true. The fans know this team finds new ways to emotionally devastate us on a nightly basis. A case in point is my tweet below.
As Ramsay Bolton said, you haven’t been paying attention if you thought the Knicks would win this game.
Tom Thibodeau refuses to change his rotations. Without a point guard, the team can’t run any sets late in games. The offense forgets how to score in the fourth quarter. Julius Randle is the only one who wants the ball at the end of games, but he settles for too many tough jump shots. Stupid double teams on defense lead to wide-open threes for the opposition.
In other words, business as usual for the Knicks down the stretch.
Embarrassing, disgraceful, pathetic, sad – we’re running out of words to describe the Knicks. New York invents a new way to lose every single night. This was (in my best LeBron James voice) not the first, not the second, but the third time in 11 days that the Knicks have blown a 20+ point lead.
I believe that only one loss per season can truly break a fan. For me, that loss came against Portland last Saturday. That game broke my spirit and hope in humanity. Because of the loss to the Blazers, I found myself laughing through the pain against the Nets. You can’t “re-break” me, Knicks. As MJ said in Spider-Man: No Way Home, “If you expect disappointment, then you can never really be disappointed.”
At least I can hang my hat on the fact that Thibs continues to play the young guys like Quickley, Obi, Deuce, and Cam Reddish substantial minutes in order to further their development.
HA, good one, Dan.
Thibs even said that “everything is on the table now” in the postgame press conference. Hopefully, playing starters like RJ Barrett in the final minute of a game with the team down double-digits is removed from Thibs’s playbook. But hey, I’ll believe it when I see it.
Enjoy the all-star break. I know I will because the Knicks won’t have a chance to break my heart.
Comment below with your thoughts on the Knicks or tweet me at, @danny_giro.
Crank up the hot stove and fire up the NBA Trade machine because the deadline is coming. With the NBA Trade Deadline set for Feb. 10, each team will need to decide whether to buy, sell, or hold. As of Jan. 27, here are the current standings in each conference.
For teams at the top and bottom of each conference, the decision to buy or sell is quite easy. The worst place to be in the NBA is the 8-13 range. It’s the heart of mediocrity. It’s here where teams typically made mistakes in free agency and must decide on how to amend those decisions. For some organizations, buying or selling isn’t an option. Because of roster construction and salary cap limitations, the only thing a team can do is hold and play out the season.
Below is a breakdown of which teams should buy, sell, or hold. Playing The Clash while reading the article is optional, but highly suggested.
If a team sits at the top of either respective conference, then it’s an obvious “go.” Last year proved that anything can happen. The Lakers and Nets were the betting favorites at the beginning of the year, but injuries derailed their seasons as both failed to make the Conference Finals. Teams with superstars like the Bucks or a healthy mix of young talent and veterans like the Suns took advantage of last year to the fullest and expedited their season trajectories.
As a “go,” these teams will need to bring in another player or two via trade or buyout to gear up for the postseason run. Here are the “Go” teams by conference, and suggestions on what each team should seek to acquire.
Miami Heat: The Heat need another big man who can rebound (Heat rank 16th in rpg in NBA) to back up Bam Adebayo. Keep in mind that Victor Oladapio could return before the playoffs. Player to consider – Robin Lopez.
Chicago Bulls: The Bulls should pursue size, but injuries to Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball could force them to get a guard. Players to consider – Jerami Grant or Thaddeus Young.
Brooklyn Nets: Two words: Kyrie insurance. Player to consider – Goran Dragic.
Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks need another center especially if Brook Lopez doesn’t return. Player to consider – Brook’s brother, Robin Lopez.
Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs have been such a great surprise. They should not trade away any young pieces, and should only make a move if they can do it at a discount. They are still a year to two away, but it’s a promising start. Players to consider – Caris LeVert or Harrison Barnes.
Phoenix Suns: The Suns should add a forward that can guard multiple positions and shoot a three. Players to consider – Robert Covington or Thaddeus Young.
Golden State Warriors: This is a James Wiseman question. If you believe in him, stay put. If you don’t make a big trade to the Indiana Pacers. Players to consider – Domantas Sabonis or Myles Turner.
Memphis Grizzlies: Shooting, shooting, and more shooting. Grizzlies rank 24th in 3PA and 23rd in 3P%. Players to consider – Terrence Ross or Eric Gordon.
Utah Jazz: The Jazz need a veteran who knows how to handle the pressure in the playoffs. I’m being serious, by the way. Player to consider – Harrison Barnes.
Dallas Mavericks: With the injury to Tim Hardaway Jr., the Mavs desperately need another guard. Players to consider – Goran Dragic.
Los Angeles Lakers: If your team has LeBron James, there is no next year. If the Lakers can’t trade Russell Westbrook, then they will need to somehow bring in a “3 and D” guy with a huge emphasis on the defense. Players to consider – Marcus Smart or Goran Dragic.
Most of these teams sit at the bottom of each conference, but there are a few teams in that 8-13 range that should consider selling as well. I’m looking at you, Portland.
Indiana Pacers: The Myles Turner-Domantis Sabonis pairing hasn’t worked. The spacing is off. The team should build around one or the other, and sell the other to a contender.
Detroit Pistons: Go with the complete rebuild around Cade Cunningham and trade Grant.
Orlando Magic: Ross, Lopez, and Gary Harris should all be off this team in February.
Washington Wizards: The Wizards are fading fast. Blowing a 35-point lead to the Clippers should make them sellers. Start preliminary discussions with Bradley Beal about a trade in the offseason.
Sacramento Kings: The Kings are such an enigma. On paper, a lineup of De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes should be good enough to make the NBA Play-In Tournament. But, the Kings aren’t going anywhere. Do me a favor and trade Fox to the Knicks.
Oklahoma City Thunder: I don’t need to tell Sam Presti about who or how to trade.
Houston Rockets: Do whatever it takes to get Eric Gordon off the roster. Then, turn your attention to John Wall.
New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans have a huge Zion Williamson problem. Because of that, moving Brandon Ingram for picks and young players would be in their best interest.
Portland Trail Blazers: Every player including Damian Lillard should be on the trading block. It’s time to start over.
Depending on how the next few weeks will determine how these teams will operate.
Philadelphia 76ers: Before the Sixers can do anything, they need to figure out what to do with Ben Simmons. If a deal for Simmons can’t be completed by the deadline, expect the Sixers to go with what they have in the playoffs.
Charlotte Hornets: The Hornets are a Play-In team so there aren’t a lot of moves they can make that will improve their chances. Although Terry Rozier has played well as of late, the Hornets should consider trading him as an expiring contract for assets if he’s not part of their plans.
Toronto Raptors: The Raptors aren’t going anywhere, but they’re building something. I was wrong about Fred VanVleet when I said the Knicks should not overpay him. That looks stupid as the Knicks are down 30 to the Miami Heat.
Boston Celtics: Brad Stevens and the rest of the management team must finally answer the question they’ve been dreading for two years. Are Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown the right duo of the future?
New York Knicks: I’ll keep this short. If the Knicks are around 10th or 11th place at the trade deadline, they should make a deal for a player like Fox, Sabonis, or LeVert. If they continue to slide, they should trade all of their veterans and try again next year.
Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks just need to get healthy. The talent is there. If the Hawks make the NBA Play-In tournament, I would not want to see Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs.
Denver Nuggets: The best move thing the Nuggets can do is pray that Jamal Murray comes back healthy.
Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves should do whatever it takes to make the playoffs. Not sure what move there is to make, but they should consider a D’Angelo Russell for Ben Simmons package.
Los Angeles Clippers: Like the Nuggets, the best moves the Clippers can make are non-moves aka hope Paul George and Kawhi Leonard come back.
San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs will have to build in the draft and free agency per usual. However, Dejounte Murray is playing like an all-star.
What should your NBA team do at the deadline? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.
If you’ve ever rented a beach house, then you’re bound to see what I call “white suburban mom quotes” scattered throughout the house. Quotes like “Live Laugh Love,” “Life is better at the beach,” or “Salt life” might hang from the walls. If Madison Square Garden is the beach house and the New York Knicks are the residents, then the picture on the locker room wall might read “Things will get worse before they get better.”
The Knicks lost to the New Orleans Pelicans (17-28 record) last night, 102-91. That’s three straight losses for the Knicks, all at MSG, and all against teams with a similar talent level.
So I bring in (my friend) Zac Efron to ask the all-important question. With a 22-24 record, are we [the knicks] ever going to be better than this?
The loss against the Pelicans followed the same script we’ve seen when the Knicks play poorly. Slow start, comeback in the second quarter, atrocious third quarter, and a tiny run to make it a respectable loss in the fourth. Julius Randle had 4 points on 1-9 shooting with a +/- of -26. That’s simply unacceptable from Randle. Bad games happen, but what’s even more disappointing is the team’s refusal to let him speak after games.
Many fans are at a crossroads with Randle. The MOP from 2021 is one of the three biggest reasons (Leon Rose and Tom Thibodeau as the other two) as to why the team made the playoffs as a four-seed a season ago. However, Randle has struggled to live up to last season’s greatness as his points and shooting percentage have significantly decreased. That deserves criticism.
The thumbs-down controversy and inability to step in front of the mic especially after losses is a bad look for the supposed leader of the team. I have no defense for those decisions. However, the Knicks would not be two games under .500 if Randle was out of the lineup. I’d venture to say they’d be seven to eight games under .500. As long as Randle is a Knick, the team needs him to play and produce. His production does not grow on trees.
Once again, Randle deserves criticism, but fans have to keep that same energy when criticizing other aspects of the team. The Knicks’ struggles do not fall solely on Randle’s back. Most fans including myself believe Randle would be a good second player or great third-best player on a team. He needs help. The Knicks brought in Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier to help bolster the offense, which ranks 27th in the NBA. Both players have been extremely inconsistent (Fournier and Kemba combined for 11 points against the Pelicans), and neither guy has shown they can stay in front of another player on defense.
Upon arrival, Thibs installed a toughness that the Knicks so desperately needed. With his style comes concessions especially in the rotation. If you’re not “his guy,” then Thibs won’t give you big minutes. Younger players get shorter leashes. Just ask Obi Toppin, who has the third-highest PER (17.25) on the roster, but plays less than 16 minutes a game.
Take it with a grain of salt. Younger players like Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, and Cameron Grimes deserve more minutes. But let’s not forget when Randle missed two games because of Covid in Dec. The Knicks lost two-straight games and scored 80 points against the Thunder and 105 points against the Raptors. Benching Randle is not necessarily the answer when the team fumbled two opportunities to win games without their star player.
Leon Rose is not free of blame as well. Rose has won almost every trade he’s made including the most recent acquisition of Cam Reddish. However, Rose signed:
Fournier – 4 years, $73m
Derrick Rose – 3 years, $43m
Alec Burks – 3 years, $30m
Nerlens Noel – 3 years, $27m
Kemba Walker – 2 years, $17m
All of these contracts have team options in the final year of the deals so it’s not a total disaster. However, Rose, who was the most deserving of a contract, and Noel are both injury-prone players who are hurt once again. Kemba is a limited asset. Fournier is allergic to defense. Burks is a nice, not great, player. The Knicks were blown out by the Hawks because of their lack of talent. Are any of those signings better than the Hawks starting five? How about their top 7? Rose can say he is, but the others can’t.
I once again return to Mr. Efron and ask if things will get better. With nine out of the next ten games coming against teams that currently sit in playoff contention, the season might get a lot worse.
The Knicks are a Play-In team at best this year, which means every single player besides Reddish (since he was just acquired) should be on the block with the trade deadline three weeks away. Yes, that means Randle and RJ Barrett, who has improved dramatically over the last month, can be traded. This team needs star players, and Leon Rose knows that. The Knicks should be calling teams like the Kings and the Sixers to check on the availability of De’Aaron Fox and Ben Simmons. If upgrading the roster isn’t possible before the trade deadline, at least call teams to set up future relationships for the off-season.
Technically, the season is not over. A trade could spark a winning streak as it did with D-Rose in 2021. But if this 10-game stretch turns into a 10-game losing streak, then the Knicks are in for a long offseason.
If you have thoughts about the Knicks, leave them in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.
The New York Knicks are 25 games into the 2021-2022 NBA season, which is a little less than one-third of the NBA season. With a record of 12-13, it’s a large enough sample size to evaluate the team’s performance and determine the strengths and weaknesses of the roster.
There are a lot of weaknesses. Spoiler alert!
Time to break out my red pen because it might get messy.
Julius Randle – C+
The Most Improved Player from 2020-2021 put up career highs in almost every statistical category during last year’s magical season. Regression was bound to happen, but some of the numbers are alarming. Randle still leads the team in points/rebounds/assists with averages of 19.8/9.8/5.2. Those numbers would be stellar if Randle were the second option on the team. However, he remains the team’s best player, and anything less than 22 and 10 is unacceptable. What’s alarming is the dip in three-point percentage and free-throw percentage. Last year, Randle shot 41% from 3 and 81% at the line. This season, it’s 33% and 75%, respectively. Randle will be the first to tell you that he needs to elevate his game because if his play doesn’t improve, the Knicks will miss the Play-In game.
Kemba Walker – D+
This hurts, man. I wholeheartedly agreed with signing Kemba Walker after he took a buyout with the Oklahoma City Thunder. 2 years, 18m was a good flyer for a player that averaged 19 points a game since 2016. Besides a few scoring outbursts in the first quarters of multiple games, Kemba’s tenure with the Knicks has been a disaster. All of the defensive metrics with Kemba on the court are atrocious. Now, Kemba is out of the rotation, and will probably be traded or bought out at some point aka “The Austin Rivers.” I wish Kemba nothing but the best.
Evan Fournier – C-
Let’s get this one out of the way. I stand by my “Fournier is a solid player” take. His play will never live up to the contract, but I believed he could be the second-best player on this team. As of Dec. 10, I’m wrong. Fournier is Murphy’s Law. For every 20-point performance, there has to be a <10-point performance where he sits on the bench during the fourth quarter. Plus, Fournier is a liability on defense. If Fournier can’t make shots, he’s unplayable at the end of games.
RJ Barrett – C+
It’s been a roller-coaster season for RJ Barrett. He started the season with a bang, averaging 19 points per game with the highlight being a 35-point performance in New Orleans. Then, he forgot how to shoot especially from behind the arc. It’s actually painful to watch at times. I’m convinced he’s the best guy in the NBA at hitting the front end of the rim. However, Barrett has been more aggressive over his last two games including a 32-point performance in San Antonio. I like RJ a lot, but he’s been way too inconsistent for a guy that many believe should be the second-best player on the team.
Alec Burks and Derrick Rose – A-
The two most consistent players on the Knicks are Alec Burks and Derrick Rose. That is a real sentence I just typed. Both of these guys can create their own shot on the offensive side of the ball, which can’t be said about 80% of the roster. I hate to bring up “manalytics,” but as someone that’s watched every game, Burks and Rose never hide from the moment. They continuously want the ball in their hands at the end of games. Without these two, the Knicks would have less than 10 wins.
Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin – B
Bench mob, stand TF up! Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin have been godsends off the bench all season long. The duo are plus/minus standouts with IQ at +97 and Obi at +88 (second and third on the team). These young guys are both gym rats, and both improved on both ends of the floor especially Obi, who doubled his points per game from 4 to 8. Thibs has to consider giving more minutes to both IQ and Obi going forward.
Tom Thibodeau – B-
It’s unfair to put the team’s disappointing start solely on Thibs. This is a severely limited roster with no true closers at the end of games. However, the rotations to start the season did the team no favors. The defense is nowhere to be found at times. After ranking third in defensive efficacy last season, the Knicks are 23rd. The Knicks still play hard on a nightly basis, but the team has gotten exposed in the third quarter and at the end of games especially in close losses. That’s on Thibs.
Team Grade – C
Did I expect the Knicks to be the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference again? No. Did I expect the record to be over .500 at the one-third mark of the season? Absolutely. It’s been a disappointing start to the season so 12 wins feels like a blessing with how poorly they’ve played at times. The Knicks will need to make a few trades to compete for a playoff spot. I still think this is a Play-In team, but the idea of returning to the playoffs will evoparate quickly if this doesn’t change over the next month. I believe in the Knicks, but I’m worried.
What are your grades for the Knicks? Leave them in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
On paper, Team USA is the most talented basketball team in the world. After two exhibition games, their superior talent hasn’t translated to victories.
Team USA lost their second exhibition game on Monday night, falling to Australia, 92-83, in Las Vegas, NV. This comes off the heels of their historic 90-87 loss to Nigeria this past Saturday night, where Team USA was a 29.5 point favorite going into the game. For context, the United States defeated Nigeria, 156-73, at the 2012 Olympics.
Team USA has been the most dominant international basketball team for the past 30 years. Since 1992, Team USA is 53-3 in the Olympics with all three losses coming in 2004. Furthermore, the United States had been 54-2 in major exhibitions since the 1992 Dream Team before dropping two straight games over the last three days.
Exhibitions are unofficial games but don’t tell that to the rest of the world. Playing against the USA is the equivalent of playing for a championship. Because almost every top International team has NBA players, the days of fearing Team USA may be of the past. Just ask Joe Ingles, who said that his Australian team expected to beat Team USA.
Losing two exhibition games is not the end of the world for Team USA, but it’s a cause for concern. The offensive chemistry will most likely improve considering the team has some of the most talented scorers in the world like Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, and Jayson Tatum.
The problem with Team USA is rooted in its roster construction. On paper, 11 of the 12 players on the roster have made an all-star team. The team is constructed of combo guards and versatile wings that can guard multiple positions on defense.
This roster would thrive in the NBA, but the International game is much different. Teams are more traditionally structured, where multiple big men play at once, defenses pack the paint (no defensive three seconds), and teams consistently run offensive sets. It’s not the “3 and D” style that the NBA has morphed into over the past few seasons.
Plus, there is more physicality, and the US team lacks a dominant big man. Small ball will work against the inferior teams, but the United States could run into problems with bigger opponents due to their lack of size. It’s important to note that Australia outrebounded Team USA, 23-20.
The international game is officiated much differently. The refs are not as inclined to call touch fouls like they do in today’s NBA. To be honest, it’s refreshing, but so far, the Americans have failed to adjust to the officiating.
Team USA’s late-game execution has been horrendous. Australia ended the game on an 11-1 run to seal the victory. The Americans are looking to players like Lillard and Durant to bail them out on offense by playing iso-ball. That hasn’t worked in two exhibition games. Although Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday will join the squad after the NBA Finals, this team desperately needs a traditional, playmaking point guard like Chris Paul to get into their sets and generate easy buckets.
Why did Team USA select Kevin Love? In two exhibition games, Love has 0 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist. In other words, Love has been nonexistent. Instead of selecting an aging veteran who could be bought out of his contract, the United States would have been better off filling this spot with a young point guard like De’aaron Fox, LaMelo Ball, Ja Morant, or Trae Young. If they elected to go with a rim protector instead, then Jarrett Allen or even Evan Mobley come to mind.
Team USA may still go undefeated at the Tokyo Olympics and frankly, they shouldn’t lose a game with their talent. If they do lose, then roster construction will be the reason for their downfall.
Do you think the United States men’s basketball team will win the gold medal? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.