NBA Playoffs: 3 Biggest Questions Right Now

Luka Doncic flexing in a game for the Dallas Mavericks.

I don’t want to brag, but I’m locked into these NBA Playoffs. My wallet may beg to differ, but I haven’t missed a game. The league is so damn talented right now. There are emerging stars left and right. On any night, so many guys can give you 20 points a game. 

Here are the three biggest questions I have right now. Two of them are fair while one is out of leftfield. That’s baseball, Suzyn.

3. What Happens To Duncan Robinson This Offseason?

I’m fully aware that I’m the only person outside of Miami who cares about this question considering the Heat are going to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, and have a good shot of returning to the NBA Finals. That being said, what happened to Duncan Robinson? Two years ago, the sharpshooting Robinson was the Heat’s starting shooting guard, averaging 13.5 ppg and 44.6% from three. Now, Robinson is glued to the bench as Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, and Victor Oladipo receive Duncan’s minutes.

Every team would love to have a 6’7″ shooting guard who shoots over 40% from three. However, do teams want Robinson in year two of a 5 year, 90-million-dollar contract? If he’s getting healthy DNP’s in the playoffs, the Heat have to explore trade options for Robinson this offseason.

2. Will Hunting Become The New Normal?

If you’re a bad defender in the NBA, then there’s nowhere to hide especially in the NBA Playoffs. If the opposing team is smart, they will run pick and roll with whomever the worst defender is guarding, get the switch, and attack at will. It’s like a shark that smells blood in the water. Look no further than Game 2 between the Suns and Mavericks. Despite just under three minutes of matchup time, Chris Paul scored 9 points against Luka and the Suns scored 18 points. He’s also put Dwight Powell through the wringer, scoring 14 points against the Mavericks’ big man in just under two minutes of matchup time.

No one, and I mean no one, on the Suns can guard Luka. He will score over 30 points again in Game 3. However, Kidd is right when saying Doncic will have to participate more on defense. That can only happen if he’s not exhausted from the offensive burden he carries the entire game. Will the real Jalen Brunson please stand up and help Luka out? If that doesn’t happen, get the broomsticks.

1. Will Giannis Antetokounmpo Become A God And Enter The Top 15?

Giannis Antetokunmpo put on a godlike performance in last year’s NBA Finals, rallying the Bucks from an 0-2 deficit to win the series, 4-2, behind series averages of 35.2 ppg, 13.2 rpb, and 5.0 assists. The cherry on top of a historic run had to be his 50-point performance in the series-clinching victory.

Giannis is already one of the 75 greatest players to play in the NBA. He also happens to be the best player in the NBA. Furthermore, The Athletic had Giannis as the 24th greatest player in NBA history. At this time, top-25 is where the Greek Freak belongs. However, if Giannis can go back-to-back, where will he stand with the all-time greats?

If Giannis wins the title this year, it will be without the Bucks’s second-best player. Khris Middleton, for a portion of the playoffs. I’m also assuming he will win Finals MVP if the Bucks win a title. There will be no Igudola over Curry if the Bucks win. So if those two things happen, here are what Giannis’s accomplishments would look like:

  • 2x NBA Championships and 2x Finals MVPs
  • 2x regular-season MVPs
  • 3x All-NBA First Team (will be four after this season)
  • 2x All-NBA Second Team
  • 1x DPOY
  • 3x All-NBA Defensive First Team (will be four after this season)
  • 1x All-NBA Defensive Second Team
  • 1x NBA MIP
  • Member of the 75th Anniversary team

Giannis will have accomplished all of this by the young age of 27. That is an insane resume. Giannis easily slides into the Top 20 with those numbers, but if it’s another historic final where he dominates, it will be hard to keep him outside of the Top 15.

Here’s to an exciting NBA Playoffs. Hopefully, we get a Game 7 in one of these series.

If you agree or disagree with my assessment, leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet me, @danny_giro.

The New York Giants Finally Did The Right Thing On Draft Night

Kayvon Thibodeaux posing for a picture

Draft night for New York Giants has been a “house of horrors” during the Dave Gettleman regime. After watching Gettleman six feet under, good things have not happened on draft night for the New York Giants. When Gettleman referred to the data analysts as “computer folks,” it was time for him to leave the draft room and head to the golf course.

With the fifth and seventh picks, the Giants were in a prime position to significantly improve at two important positions. In my opinion, the five most important positions are quarterback, offensive tackle, edge rusher, defensive back, and wide receiver. Going into tonight, tackle, edge rusher, and defensive back were a high priority.

I’m in foreign territory. I’m about to compliment the Giants. With their first two selections, the Giants selected DE Kayvon Thibodeaux and OL Evan Neal. Two words: home run.

Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll absolutely crushed the first round. Thibs is a monster on the edge and will be a nice running mate with Azeez Ojulari. Neal will start Day 1 at the right tackle position with Andrew Thomas at left tackle. That’s four promising players at two key positions. This is a smart regime, something that cannot be said about the last few years in New York. I’m so happy right now. I don’t know how to feel because I haven’t felt this positive about the Giants since 2016.

There’s still a lot of work left to do, but fans should enjoy this victory for the night. Now, let’s start the “Malik Willis to the G-Men in Round 2” discussion.

Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments or tweet me, @danny_giro.

Ja Morant Continues To Defy Gravity

Ja Morant NBA

The Memphis Grizzlies are currently playing in an NBA basketball game, which means Ja Morant has another chance to prove he’s not human. Once again, the superstar does not disappoint.

It’s an overused phrase, but we’re running out of words to describe Morant. Every time he steps foot on the floor, Morant is poised to do something that will make your jaw drop. If Dominque Wilkins is “The Human Highlight Film,” then Morant is “The Man Who Defies Gravity.”

6’3″ point guards typically don’t posterize centers on a nightly basis. But, those point guards aren’t Morant, the leader of a Memphis team that sits third place in the Western Conference at 43-20. After last year’s first-round exit as an eight seed, making it to a 6-seed this season would have been a vast improvement. Thanks to Morant’s play, the Grizzlies have a legitimate shot at a top-3 seed in the West.

Morant is more than just the flashy highlights. The third-year star is averaging 27.6 ppg, 6.6 apg, and 5.9 rpb with shooting splits of 49/34/75. The assists are down a bit from last year, but Morant’s points have increased by eight. His statistical improvements and team’s success are the reason why Morant is the huge frontrunner to win Most Improved, according to VegasInsider.

Like most NBA awards, it comes down to subjectivity and a narrative. Typically, most improved is awarded to players that make the jump from average to good. Previous winners like Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, Pascal Siakam, and Victor Oladipo fit the bill. However, it’s rarely given to a player that makes the leap from good to superstar, which is arguably more difficult. Tracy McGrady is probably the closest example as he jumped from 15 ppg to 26 ppg during his MIP season. Morant should join McGrady in that category.

Morant’s rise to superstardom is unbelievable considering that nearly every basketball mind would have taken Zion Williamson over Ja in the 2019 NBA Draft. Now, Morant is the consensus number one.

Dear Basketball Gods,

Please protect Ja Morant.

From, NBA Fans

If you have any thoughts about Ja Morant, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The New York Knicks Make Me Sick

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.

NBA Trade Deadline: Winners and Losers

Ben Simmons / NBA

Two words: this league! No league is more dramatic than the NBA. If you need drama, look no further than today’s trade deadline. The drama is continuing on TNT as we speak!

You couldn’t script funnier moments. Back to the trade deadline, here are my winners and losers.

Winner: Brian Windhorst

The MVP of the trade deadline is Brian “Windy” Windhorst. Make no mistake about it, Windhorst pulled his sword out and defeated the dragon that is Adrian “Woj” Wojnarowski. Yesterday, Windhorst firmly planted his flag on “James Harden Island,” saying the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers were “absolutely engaged in trade discussions.” He said it with conviction, and never waivered.

Naturally, most people waited for Woj to report on the issue, and Mr. Bomb essentially refuted Windy’s report on NBA Countdown.

In the Battle of the Network Reporters, Windhorst pulled the upset after Woj adjusted his story this morning. Good for Windhorst. It’s nice to see a reporter other than Woj and Shams break a big scoop.

Shams also defeated Woj in the number of trades broken. I expect Woj to head back into the lab and go on a revenge tour come free agency.

Loser: Los Angeles Lakers

In my best Randy Newman voice, “I (don’t) love LA.” The Los Angeles Lakers have LeBron James, who is averaging 29 ppg, 7 rpb, and 6 apg, and Anthony Davis, a top 15 player in the NBA, and yet, the team sits in 9th place in the Western Conference at 26-30. The Russell Westbrook experience has been a disaster. Signing Talen Horton-Tucker and Trevor Ariza over Alex Caruso is the definition of basketball malpractice. The Lakers have a horrible cap situation, but with some creativity, trades could happen.

Spoiler alert: The Lakers made zero trades at the deadline. I’m sure they can secure a buyout player, but I would be shocked if L.A. makes it out of the first round especially if their opponent is Phoenix or Golden State.

Winner: Quitting

Winners never quit, and quitters never win. Today, the saying reads “winners never quit, and quitters can also win.” Ben Simmons refused to play for the Sixers this season after Doc Rivers and Joel Embiid called him out for his poor play against Hawks in last year’s playoffs. James Harden didn’t like Brooklyn so he mailed it in this past week and wanted out.

Kids, if you play in the NBA, refusing to play and mailing it in on the court will get you your way because that’s exactly what happened today. Simmons heads to a good situation in Brooklyn while Harden teams up with Embiid. Both of these players should thrive in their new situations. However, what’s to stop them from asking out if things don’t go haywire a few years down the line?

Loser: New York Knicks

I could spend forever on how the Knicks screwed this up so I’ll keep it brief. Today was a colossal failure for Leon Rose and the entire front office. The Knicks made z-e-r-o trades on a day where they had to make m-u-l-t-i-p-l-e moves. The De’Aaron Fox dream died when the Kings traded Tyrese Haliburton*. Ben Simmons was a long shot. Russell Westbrook was a possibility, but it never materialized.

At that point, all I wanted for the Knicks to do was to trade veterans like Burks, Noel, and Kemba for waivable players and 2nd round picks to clear up rotation spots for the young players. Did that happen? No. My guess is the front office believed the team had tradeable contracts on the roster. As it turns out, the league wouldn’t budge, and that’s an indictment on Leon’s poor off-season where he spent money on the three aforementioned players above as well as Evan Fournier. This is absolutely the worst-case scenario, and I’m very upset.

*If the Knicks did not contact the Kings about Haliburton, I’ll scream.

Quick Hits

  • Whenever I think the Knicks are hopeless, I always say to myself, “It could be worse. We could be the Kings.”
  • The Dallas Mavericks trading Kristaps Porzingis to Washington Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans is puzzling. I understand why the Wizards make that move, but for Dallas, I’m struggling to come up with answers. Dinwiddie and Bertans are not on team-friendly contracts. Perhaps Dallas believes Brunson will leave in the offseason so therefore, Dinwiddie is guard insurance.
  • The San Antonio Spurs made multiple trades This ain’t your Duncan Spurs anymore, Pop.
  • Goran Dragic will be the best buyout option for contenders. Dallas is the frontrunner to sign the Dragon, but after the Dinwiddie trade, that might have changed. The Milwaukee Bucks should make an aggressive play for the Dragon.

Tell us your winners and losers of the NBA trade deadline in the comments below or tweet us at,@unafraidshow.

Buy, Sell, Or Hold: What Each NBA Team Should Do At The Trade Deadline

Erik Spoelstra and Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat

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.

Buy

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.

East

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.

West

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.

Sell

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.

East

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.

West

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.

Hold

Depending on how the next few weeks will determine how these teams will operate.

East

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.

West

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.

New York Knicks: Is The Season Over?

Julius Randle of the New York Knicks

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.”

Will they?

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.

It’s becoming a reoccurring theme to post the +/- of the Knicks roster after a game and laugh at how the bench typically outplays the starters, which happened against the Pelicans.

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.

New York Giants Fire Joe Judge

Joe Judge of the New York Giants

Joe Judge is no longer the coach of the New York Giants. Judge was relieved of his duties as head coach late Tuesday afternoon.

As someone who has criticized Judge on this website ad nauseam, I can honestly say I’m shocked with this decision because for the first time in a while, the Giants did the right thing. The Giants did not take a half measure. Somewhere, the ghost of Mike Ehrmantraut is smiling.

Judge compiled a 10-23 record over two seasons as head coach. After making strides with the team last season and building something that resembled a culture, Judge took seven steps back in year two. The Giants ranked 31st in the NFL in both points and yards per game. For those who are not good at math, there are only 32 teams in the league. On the defensive side of the ball, which was the team’s strength in 2020, the Giants dropped from 9th in team defense all the way to 23rd according to Pro Football Reference.

It’s not what you want to see out of your second-year coach.

I drank the kool-aid last season. I wanted to run through a brick wall after Judge’s press conference. He said all the right things, which won me over instantly. Perhaps the disciplinarian was exactly who the Giants needed to run the ship.

I learned this year, Week 2 against the WFT to be exact, that the “hardo schtick” only works when you win games. The loss to the WFT on the final play of the game was my heel turn. For a recent reference, it was my red pill moment.

Much to my dismay, Adam Schefter reported the Giants were bringing back Judge and Daniel Jones in 2022 in late December.

After defeating the Eagles on Nov. 28, the Giants had six games remaining on their schedule. It’s unfair to grade this team strictly on wins and losses because of the injuries and talent disparity. However, that’s no excuse to get embarrassed.

Make no mistake, the Giants were embarrassed in six straight games to end the season.

This is solely my opinion, but if Judge just took his lumps and made no excuses, the team would have brought him back for the third year. The press conference after the Chicago loss sealed his fate.

Excuse after excuse after excuse. Who wants to play for the Giants that’s not here? Seriously. Even if that is true, and I don’t believe it to be, it’s so outlandish that it should be kept to oneself.

If the press conference didn’t do him in, then this play was the icing on the cake.

This wasn’t all Judge’s fault. It starts at the top with John Mara, who hired Dave Gettleman to build a winning team. Under Gettleman’s regime, the team went 19–46 which was good enough for the worst record in the NFL. Gettleman also put the team in cap hell for 2022.

Thank you, Dave.

But, the Giants did the right thing. They forced Gettleman to retire, fired Judge, and requested to interview some really smart guys outside of the organization. This is the right way to build a team. Get the GM and coach on the same page. Then, get your QB and build the rest of the team.

Brian Flores, Jim Harbaugh, and Doug Pederson would be my top 3 candidates. If the Giants land one of those coaches, I’ll be a happy fan for the first time in years.

The Giants have a long way to go, but today was finally a step in the right direction.

Do you agree with firing Joe Judge? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

Giants Fans, We Have Hit Rock Bottom

New York Giants / NFL

When determining the state of the New York Giants franchise, I keep returning to a quote from Netflix’s hit teen show, Outer Banks. The show’s protagonist, John B, recalled an old saying that his father told him as a kid.

John B said, “My old man used to tell me it’s best to never say you’ve hit rock bottom. Trust me, he said, ‘you can always go lower.'”

After Sunday’s 34-10 loss to the Eagles, the Giants have hit rock bottom. The loss perfectly outlined the Giants’ problems since 2017. Inconsistency at quarterback, below-average offensive line play, unoriginal offensive gameplans, a nonexistent pass rush, and an uninspiring coaching staff top the list of deficiencies for Big Blue. These are some of the many reasons why the Giants are tied with the Jets (go figure) for the worst record since 2017 (22-57).

Before diving into Daniel Jones’s tenure, let’s talk about Jake Fromm and Mike Glennon. Fromm gave one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen in the NFL, finishing the day 6/17 for 25 yards with 1 INT and a QBR of 19.5. Mike Glennon, who was benched last week, took over for Fromm in the second half and went 17/27 for 93 yards with 1 TD, 1 INT, and a QBR of 65.8.

Full disclosure, I wanted Fromm to start over Glennon to see if the former Georgia QB could be a future backup for this team. The answer is no.

It’s not that the Giants just lost to the Eagles. They were embarrassed. The offense scored 3 points for three and a half quarters and accumulated just 192 total yards. The stunning part is the Giants won the time of possession battle and ran more offensive plays. But when your offense is more basic than vanilla ice cream, it’s not hard for opposing defenses to prepare.

On the defensive side, the front-7 couldn’t sack the quarterback even if the offense used tackling dummies to block. The saving grace all year has been Patrick Graham and the secondary. At least Graham’s playcalling and the back four give the team a chance to compete on a weekly basis.

The once-proud organization that won two Super Bowls in four years now fosters a system of losing and dysfunction. The blame starts at the top with John Mara. The Giants’ owner is reportedly tired of losing and wants to get a team on the right path again, but he’s failed to recognize the mistake that put the team in this very situation.

The day Mara hired Dave Gettleman to be the general manager will go down as one of the top five worst decisions in franchise history.

For every good decision from Gettleman, and it’s only a few, five bad ones follow. It all started when the team drafted Saquon Barkley with the number two pick. I know not to draft a running back in the top 5. You know not to draft a running back in the top 5. Even my mother would never make this mistake and yet, the Giants took Barkley instead of choosing Eli’s successor. Now, Barkley looks like a shell of himself and remains the furthest thing from a team leader.

After signing and then trading Odell Beckham Jr., Gettleman drafted Daniel Jones to take Manning’s place at quarterback.

There’s a popular video where a middle-aged man walks up to the camera and says, “You’re not that guy, pal. Trust me. You’re not that guy.” That’s the best way to describe Jones. At times, Jones will flash his athletic prowess and scramble for a 50-yard run. He’ll typically then follow it up with an overthrow on a check down. That’s the DJ experience. He’s average at best with a low ceiling and severe limitations on what he can do in terms of throwing the ball. Jones also smears his hands with popcorn butter before every possession as he leads the NFL in fumbles since 2019 with 36 (!).

Do you know who else isn’t “the guy?” Joe Judge. After every Giants game, I ask myself one question. What is Joe Judge good at? Judge was a former special teams coach, and yet that unit only ranks 14th in the NFL. The Giants are ATROCIOUS (deserved an all-caps) in the last two minutes before the half, having been outscored 68-0. I joke that Judge is the biggest “undisciplined disciplinarian” because the team continues to falter in big spots especially in close games. I spoke more about my problems with Judge, who owns a 10-21 record, after a Week 2 loss against the WFT.

I can go on and on about Gettleman’s acquisitions. For every Blake Martinez and James Bradberry, there’s a Golden Tate, Nate Solder, and Will Hernandez. Despite all of these mistakes, Mara still deserves the most blame because he empowered Gettleman.

Losing organizations build teams the wrong way. Yesterday’s report that Judge and Jones will be returning for 2022 appears in the first couple chapters in the book on how to build a losing team.

I’m upset, but I’m not furious that the Giants decided to run it back with Judge and Jones. I don’t agree, but there are arguments to be made to keep both. However, all signs point towards Gettleman being fired at the end of the season. The right move would be to bring in a new GM first to discuss the future of the coach and QB with ownership, two of the most important aspects of a winning team. If you take away that decision from the GM, what is the point of hiring an outside voice? No GM wants these decisions made for them, which leads me to believe the Giants may promote an executive within the organization to GM. Why get a new voice to build a team the right way when you can promote someone who has been a part of the losing culture? In other words, it’s the worst-case scenario.

John B was right. Giants fans, we might go lower than rock bottom.

Do you agree that this is rock bottom for the Giants? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

NBA Christmas Wish Lists For All 30 Teams

Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns

Christmas Day is the unofficial start to the NBA season. It’s great exposure for the league as each game features a popular team or superstar player. That’s been the case in years past, but 2021 is different.

Many star players are in health and safety protocols due to COVID, jeopardizing their availability for Christmas games. These stars include Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Luka Doncic, and Trae Young. As appetizing as a Cam Thomas versus Isaiah Thomas matchup might be, I, along with the rest of the world, wanted to see LeBron James square off against Kevin Durant.

Regardless, the season will (hopefully) go on, and every team needs something for Christmas – good health, more shooting, stars to play, etc. Luckily for these organizations, I’m here to write their wish lists.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics: 1) The “Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can’t play together” narrative to end. 2) A point guard that can shoot.

Brooklyn Nets: 1) Kevin Durant stays healthy. 2) Kyrie Irving plays basketball.

New York Knicks: 1) Trade for another ballhandler with Derrick Rose out for 6-8 weeks. 2) Trade for a true playmaker that can create his own shot. 3) Evan Fournier to play defense. 4) Pray that a star wants to come to the Knicks via trade or free agency at some point. 5) Play defense like the team did last year. I have a lot more wishes, but I’ll spare you the time.

Philadelphia 76ers: 1) Figure out the Ben Simmons saga. Either trade him or play him.

Toronto Raptors: 1) Realize that Scottie Barnes, not Pascal Siakam, is the player to build around. 2) Trade or buy out Goran Dragic.

Central Division

Chicago Bulls: 1) Continue their hot start. 2) Trade for another big. Maybe Jerami Grant?

Cleveland Cavaliers: 1) Make the playoffs. 2) Protect Evan Mobley at all costs.

Detroit Pistons: 1) Compete on a nightly basis, but lose (a lot of) games. 2) Win the Draft Lottery.

Indiana Pacers: 1) Trade Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis. (Or trade both?)

Milwaukee Bucks: 1) Protect Giannis at all costs.

Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks: 1) To remember that they made the Eastern Conference Finals last year. 2) Start playing like they made the Eastern Conference Finals last year. 3) They have too many rotation guys so trade someone like Cam Reddish.

Charlotte Hornets: 1) Try to pry Myles turner away from the Pacers. 2) Let LaMelo cook.

Miami Heat: 1) Load manage Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler. 2) Get a healthy Bam Adebayo. 3) Explore the trade or buyout market for another big man.

Orlando Magic: 1) Keep playing the young guys. 2) See if a contender is interested in Robin Lopez.

Washington Wizards: 1) Face the reality that Bradley Beal needs to be traded.

Western Conference

Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets: 1) Get the Joker some help. 2) Talk themselves off the ledge after signing Michael Porter Jr. to a max extension.

Minnesota Timberwolves: 1) Give Anthony Edwards the keys to the offense. 2) Leak to Woj or Shams that Karl-Anthony Towns or D’Angelo Russell could want out of Minnesota just to see what their market could be.

Oklahoma City Thunder: 1) Reassure Shai Gilgeous-Alexander that the team will explore trading for an all-star in the offseason. (Ex. The Paul George trade in 2017.) 2) Try your very hardest to move Derrick Favors.

Portland Trail Blazers: 1) Do whatever Damian Lillard wants. 2) Hit up the NBA Trade Machine every day to see potential returns in a trade for Lillard.

Utah Jazz: 1) Identify postseason problems (ex. how to defend a small-ball lineup without Rudy Gobert) now and try to implement solutions during the regular season.

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors: 1) Get Klay Thompson back. 2) Evaluate James Wiseman. 3) Consider packaging Wiseman and some other players or picks for an all-star caliber player. Looking at you, Sabonis.

Los Angeles Clippers: 1) Talk to Kawhi Leonard. That’s it. I’m not convinced that the Clippers talk to Kawhi daily (look no further than last year’s playoffs after Kawhi’s injury), and that’s very concerning.

Los Angeles Lakers: 1) Figure out what kind of team you are now before it’s too late. Is this a big team? Do they need to be a team of LeBron and shooters? 2) Somehow, bring in a wing that can defend. (Groundbreaking stuff.) 3) Remind Anthony Davis that he’s an All-NBA First Team member and needs to start playing like it when he returns from injury. 4) Stay around .500 until AD comes back. Then, accept the reality that the Play-In game could be their fate once again.

Phoenix Suns: 1) Keep Chris Paul healthy. 2) Explore the trade/buy-out market for another “3 and D” wing.

Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks: 1) Work with Luka Doncic on getting into better shape. 2) Get another ballhandler like Goran Dragic or Kemba Walker.

Houston Rockets: 1) Keep losing. 2) See if a team wants Christian Wood.

Memphis Grizzlies: 1) Go out and get more shooting. (15th in 3-point %)

New Orleans Pelicans: 1) Have a long and hard talk with Zion Williamson about the importance of staying healthy.

San Antonio Spurs: 1) Continue to run everything through Dejounte Murray.

Every Single Team: 1) Avoid COVID.

Have a great holiday!

Do you agree or disagree with my wish lists? Leave your answers in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.