Breaking Down What The New York Knicks Should Do In The NBA Draft

RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks.

With the 11th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks select…

That’s what we’re going to find out during tonight’s draft. After last summer’s free-agent debacle and a disappointing 37-win season, the Knicks must shake things up. The time to be bold is now. With plenty of future first-round picks and young players, the Knicks have the pieces to make a major move.

Will they? One can only hope.

Here are my best options ahead of tonight’s draft.

Option 1: Trade Up For Jaden Ivey

This is the home run scenario for the Knicks. It’s also their best option in terms of the direction of the team. The Knicks desperately need an elite guard who can create his shot and get others involved in the offense. Look at how the Celtics could not get into their sets at the end of the games in the NBA Finals. It’s one of the reasons why the Warriors won the title. Take Boston’s offensive inefficiencies at the end of games and multiply it by 10. That will give you the Knick’s late-game offense, which ranked 28th in fourth-quarter points per game.

Ivey solves a lot of the team’s problems. He’s a 6’4″ guard with a 6’9″ wingspan who has an explosive first step and can finish at the rim. The Knicks have never had that. Ivey averaged 17.2 ppg with percentage splits of 46/36/74. I’m calling him “Big Baby Ja Morant.” The Knicks are dying for a point guard after the Kemba Walker disaster. Do whatever it takes to trade up and take Ivey.

So what would it take? If I had to guess, the starting point is No. 11, another first-round pick, a future first-round pick swap, one of Obi/Quickley/Grimes, and one of Noel/Burks/Kemba. I would call that trade into the league office right now. I love Obi, Quickley, and Grimes, but they do not have the dynamic playmaking ability that Ivey possesses. If the Kings don’t select Ivey, then Leon should call the Pistons at No. 5, the Pacers at No. 6, and so on and so forth until he’s drafted. Make the move.

Option 2: Draft AJ Griffin, Mark Williams, Or Johnny Davis

The NBA is dominated by wings. It’s the most highly-coveted position in the league. AJ Griffin is the prototypical 3-and-D wing out of Duke. I watched almost every Duke game this year, and Griffin’s continuously hit big shots from behind the arc in the game’s biggest moments. Griffin shot an impressive 44% from three. Despite the injury history, Griffin is a more than capable defender at 6’6″ with over a 7-foot wingspan. Griffin would fit right in with Thibs.

With Mitchell Robinson hitting free agency, it’s unknown whether the team will resign him or not despite the team leaning towards a reunion according to Marc Stein. I like Mitch, but do I want to give him $15 million per year? Not really. If the team wants to find his replacement or a second center to pair with Mitch, Mark Williams is the right option. In the last game of the 2020-2021 season, Williams put up 23 points and 19 rebounds, which were well above his season averages. That game was the springboard Williams needed as the 7’0″ shined this past season at Duke. Williams is a true rim protector in every sense of the word. He runs the floor well, can hold his own on switches, and shot a respectable 72% from the free-throw line.

Johnny Davis is more of a playmaking wing than he is a 3-and-D (30% from 3). This would be my least favorite selection out of the three, but he still fills a need. The Big Ten Player of the Year can hit tough shots, especially from the midrange area. He was Wisconsin’s only threat on offense so that’s why some of the percentages might be down. However, Davis could step right in and contribute for the Knicks off the bench.

If Bennedict Mathurin somehow falls to 11, then he’s the home run pick.

Option 3: Trade Back

This is the option I don’t want to happen. The Knicks need to clear cap space in order to make a run at a player like Jalen Brunson. I could see where there’s a scenario they trade back in the draft but attach a player like Burks/Noel/Kemba/Fournier to shed salary. I’m all for shedding salary, but the team needs to make this pick at No. 11 if they can’t trade up.

Hopefully, Woj or Shams doesn’t spoil the pick for you! Do the right thing tonight, Knicks. Please.

What are your thoughts on tonight’s draft? Tweet me, at @danny_giro.

March Madness: Welcome To The Best Day Of The Year

Jabari smith

Welcome to the best day of the year. With all due respect to my Irish brothers and sisters, today belongs to March Madness. I’m more excited than a kid on Christmas. I want to sit at the top of my steps and wait until 12 PM to come down and see what Santa left for us basketball fans in the opening slate of games. As the great Jon Rothstein likes to say, “This is March.”

Last year, the tournament returned to our lives after COVID robbed us in 2020. Without huge crowds, however, the tournament felt different. Plus, it started on a Friday, which was the worst move in sports since the ghost runner on second base in the MLB. Thankfully, the tournament is back to its normal start day on Thursday* and the crowds will be rocking.

*I still don’t count the First Four as part of the tournament. I might get their one day, but it won’t be today.

Take a step back and appreciate what we’re about to experience over the next 96 hours. It all starts with wall-to-wall coverage from 12 PM – 12 AM. Arguments about which 12-seed will beat a 5-seed will dominate your group chats. Buzzer beaters will go viral and light up social media. TUMS will be out of stock at your local CVS due to indigestion caused by wings and beer.

Is this heaven? No, it’s ̶I̶o̶w̶a̶ March Madness.

Now I know what you’re all thinking. Where are my picks? Everyone might fill out a bracket, but have they ever won a competition where they got to spend time on a national radio show?

In my best Norman Osborn voice, “You know, I’m something of a scientist myself.”

There is some science to the bracket. Some numbers to keep in mind:

  • All four 1-seeds haven’t made the Elite Eight since 2016.
  • Look at offensive and defensive field goal percentages – champions typically fall inside the top 30 for both offensive and defensive field goal percentage.
  • A 13-seed has beaten a 4-seed in 8 of the last 11 tournaments.
  • Multiple 12-seeds have beaten 5-seeds in five of the last nine tournmanets. In 2019, three 12-seeds defeated 5-seeds.

Numbers are important, but it truly all comes down to luck. The phrase “better lucky than good” could not be more true during this tournament. I rely on a few “feelings” when completing my bracket. Here are some things I look for in a championship team.

  • Veteran guard play
  • At least one future lottery pick
  • If they lost in their conference tournament, was it a fluke, or a sign of what’s to come?
  • When in doubt, chalk.
  • Worry about the Sweet 16, not the first round upsets. If you have 11-12 of 16 teams left after the weekend with one being your champion, you’re in great shape.
  • Fill out two brackets. Screw the “integrity” crowd. Those people probably have multiple fantasy football teams. I always make two brackets so plan accordingly.

My First Final Four

  • Gonzaga over Kentucky
  • Auburn over Arizona
  • Championship: Gonzaga over Auburn

My Second Final Four

  • Duke over Baylor
  • Kansas over Tennessee
  • Championship: Duke over Kansas

Enjoy the tournament!

Tweet us your predictions at @unafraidshow, or let us know in the comments!

Thanksgiving: Things I’m Thankful For In Sports

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

Things I’m Thankful For In Sports

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

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

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

– The Knicks are relevant again.

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

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

– The Chargers powder blue jerseys.

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

– Jon Rothstein’s Twitter Account.

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

NBA Christmas Day Unders.

– Football. That’s self-explanatory.

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

– Playoff games at Yankee Stadium.

– NFL Redzone.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

The Joe Judge Experiment Has Gone Haywire

Joe Judge New York Giants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We all know how this story goes.

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

Nope.

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

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

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

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

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

Game over.

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

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

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

Update: COVID outbreak!

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

Fury-Wilder III: Unpredictability Shakes Up Heavyweight Division

Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder

The best and worst thing about boxing’s heavyweight division is its unpredictability.

Who doesn’t love when an underdog like Andy Ruiz Jr. upsets Anthony Joshua to become a heavyweight champion? Actions have consequences, and Ruiz’s victory threw a wrench in the heavyweight division. Instead of Joshua moving on to fight Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury, the British boxer exercised his rematch clause and won the second bout with ease.

After Joshua won his fight, the logical next opponent would be the winner of Fury-Wilder II. In the second fight, Fury overpowered and dominated Wilder on his way to seventh-round TKO in February 2020. Shortly after the fight, Wilder exercised his rematch clause and Fury-Wilder III would happen sometime in the fall.

Then a little thing called a “pandemic” happened and shook up the entire world.

No one could have predicted a pandemic, but tumultuous contract negotiations should have been expected for Fury-Wilder III. Fury wanted to move on from Wilder in the Fall of 2020 and response, the Bronze Bomber accused Fury of cheating during their fight, which has never been proven. Sour grapes, anyone?

Fast forward March 2021 when Fury and Joshua agreed to a two-fight deal to unify the heavyweight titles, the first time an undisputed champion would be crowned since the days of Lennox Lewis. The heavyweight division was finally going in the right direction.

Not so fast my friend.

In May 2021, an independent arbitrator ruled that Fury must honor a contractual cause to fight Wilder for the third time. There were talks of paying Wilder “step away” money and wait to fight the winner of Fury-Joshua, but it never materialized. Fury actually wouldn’t let it happen.

Despite the ruling, the roadmap to a Fury-Joshua was not dead just yet. If Joshua took care of Oleksandr Usyk and Fury beat Wilder once again, Fury-Joshua would automatically be the next fight.

However, unpredictability struck again when Usyk dethroned Joshua by unanimous decision. Why can’t we have nice things?

Usyk winning could be good for the division in the long run as it presents another challenger for the big three. However, I can’t help but feel disappointed that a Fury-Joshua fight may never happen. If Fury loses on Saturday night, does Wilder then jump ahead of the Gypsy King and fight the winner of Joshua-Usyk II?

If you want Fury-Joshua as soon as possible, root for Fury to defeat Wilder. Want chaos? Cheer for Wilder.

If the heavyweight division has taught us anything over the last three years, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Who do you think will win Fury-Wilder III? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @unafraidshow.

Giants Continue To Lose In Heartbreaking Fashion

Daniel Jones / New York Giants

Where do I even begin? Let’s start here. No team loses games like the New York Giants. No other team takes you on an emotional rollercoaster that ends in heartbreak quite like the Giants.

Add last night’s loss to the pantheon of bad Giants’ losses. After Graham Gano kicked a field goal to put New York ahead 29-27 with two minutes left in the fourth quarter, I tweeted this out. I, like a lot of other Giant fans, know how this works. We’ve seen how this script ends.

Lo and behold, the Washington Football Team drove right down the field and set kicker Dustin Hopkins up for a 48-yard game-winning field goal. The kick was no good!

I jumped off my couch, screamed at the top of my lungs, and pounded my chest in celebration.

That happiness ended within 5 seconds after I saw the flag. Dexter Lawrence, who lined up a nose tackle, jumped offsides, giving the WFT another chance to win.

Spoiler alert: WFT won.

The Giants build you up just to rip your heart out at the end. It’s a disease. The Giants do not know how to win close football games. Sure, they can beat the Cowboys and Bengals with a backup quarterback, but they couldn’t beat Taylor Heinicke, who threw for 336 yards and 2 TDs in an excellent performance.

There are people to blame, but one man deserves none of it. That player is Daniel Jones, who played one of the best games of his career. Danny Dimes finished with 249 yards passing and 1 TD to go along with 95 yards rushing and 1 TD. Jones did everything the Giants asked him to do and more. Jones is the best runner on the team right now and if it weren’t for a BS holding penalty, he would’ve rushed for close to 150 yards and 2 TDs.

I will be the first to say that Jones is not “the guy.” Jones hasn’t shown he’s a franchise quarterback. However, last night was not his fault. I understand the bar is not particularly high for Jones. That’s not a groundbreaking revelation. Jones is the butt of a lot of jokes, and a lot of the criticism is warranted. But last night isn’t on Dimes. Some will point to Darius Slayton’s drop and blame Dimes for throwing it too far. Could he have made a slightly better throw? Of course. But Dimes put that ball on Slayton’s hands. Slayton HAS to make that catch.

Slayton can catch deep passes. He proved it earlier in the game!

Dimes, you’re absolved (for now). Defense, take a seat. What happened to the Giants’ defense? This was supposed to be the strength of the team. Teddy Bridgewater and Heinicke, two quarterbacks that were backups heading into training camp, torched the Giants. The Broncos and WFT combined for over 800 (!) yards of total offense. That is unacceptable.

The pass rush is nonexistent. Who is the best pass rusher for the Giants right now? Anyone? My vote would be for Azeez Ojulari. When a rookie is leading the team in the sacks, there’s a problem.

Pound for pound, the Giants’ secondary was the best unit on the team coming into the season. Yet, they’ve been a massive disappointment. Terry Mclaurin became Jerry Rice last night. Patrick Graham has a “keep everything in front of you” mentality, which is fine in the first half. But when the game mattered, Heinicke carved the Giants’ secondary, scoring on two of the final three possessions to win the game. That can’t happen.

To the secondary’s credit, they did force a turnover in one of the biggest spots of the game.

This leads me to my final point. The biggest percentage of the blame falls on Joe Judge and the entire coaching staff. Judge coached an awful game last night. For a coach that prides himself on execution and doing the little things right, the Giants were an undisciplined mess.

In the first half, the Giants took a delay of game/false start out of a timeout. That led to a sack, and that resulted in a punt. Points disappeared before our very eyes.

After the big turnover late in the fourth quarter, the Giants needed one first down to put the game away and make it so they have the ball last. Jason Garrett, who wasn’t awful last night, and the offense only wasted 16 seconds before kicking a field goal. That’s unacceptable. (I want to rant about Garrett’s play-calling, but I have to wrap this article up.)

Then, Lawrence jumped offsides on the most important play of the game. Judge is supposed to be a special teams guru, and yet this team made the biggest mistake of the game on special teams. You don’t see good teams jumping offsides on field goal attempts. The Giants were undisciplined, and that falls entirely on Judge.

Last night hurt a lot. Many are saying the season is over. Are they wrong? I’m not sure yet. If the Giants lose to the Falcons in Week 3 on Eli Manning Day, then I’m out on this season.

At least Giant fans get to relax on Sunday.

P.S. Saquon… yikes. If he’s hurt, sit him.

What are your initial thoughts in regards to the Giants’ loss to the WFT? Tweet us, @unafraidshow.

2021 NFL Season: Playoff And Awards Predictions

Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady / NFL

The 2021-2022 NFL season gets underway Thursday night as the Dallas Cowboys take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Grab a beer, order some wings, and glue yourself to the couch because it’s football season once again. Every fan comes in with the hope that it’s their year, and all of that hope will disappear after your team’s offense goes three and out on the first possession. There’s no better feeling than yelling at the television on a Sunday.

After much deliberation, I’m ready to make my playoff and awards predictions. Buckle up those chinstraps, and let’s go.

NFC

Once again, Tom Brady took his team to the Super Bowl and walked away with another ring. Every fan should have seen this coming especially if your team plays in the AFC. Why would it be any different? Brady runs the league, and the Bucs are going to be contenders once again with all 22 starters from the Super Bowl team. The rich, do in fact, get richer.

So who will stop Brady’s reign of terror? The best bet plays in Green Bay, and his name is Robert Paulson. Actually, his name is Aaron Rodgers, and he’s the reigning MVP. Despite falling to the Bucs in the Conference Championship Game, the Packers still have #12 under center for at least one more season, which automatically makes Green Bay a contender.

The NFC West is the group of death as the Rams, 49ers, and Seahawks are all talented enough to not only make the playoffs but win a Super Bowl. In the East, someone has to win the division right? In the South, maybe this is the year I stop believing in the Falcons. I can’t make any promises.

NFC Seeds

  1. Bucs
  2. Packers
  3. 49ers
  4. Cowboys
  5. Rams
  6. Seahawks
  7. Saints

NFC Title Game – Bucs over 49ers

Special Note: As a Giants fan, I’m contractually obligated to give a prediction for the NFL season. With a horrible offensive line and mediocre quarterback, I’m not expecting to light up the scoreboard. However, I believe in Joe Judge and the defense. The Giants should be on the “In The Hunt” graphic all season. Final record: 8-9.

AFC

Ask yourself one question: Can *insert team here* beat Patrick Mahomes in the playoffs?

That’s the only question that matters. So far, no team without Brady has beaten Mahomes in the playoffs. To go one step further, the Kansas City Chiefs have never played a road playoff game since Mahomes become the permanent starter. Why should that change this year? Frankly, I don’t think it will. Mahomes is going to be a man possessed after the Chiefs were embarrassed in the Super Bowl. A pissed-off Mahomes is a quarterback that I wouldn’t want to see if I’m on the other sideline.

The teams with the best chances of stopping Mahomes are the same two teams that faced the Chiefs in the playoffs a season ago. Those teams are the Browns and the Bills. Top to bottom, the Browns roster is more talented than the Chiefs. Cleveland has the best 1-2 rushing attack in football with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Plus, Myles Garrett is one of the favorites to win MVP. I hate to channel my inner sports talk show host, but Cleveland’s success will come down to Baker Mayfield. If he moves the chains, the Browns will go far.

In Buffalo, the Bills are coming off their most successful season of the 21st century. Last year was not a fluke for Josh Allen (more on him late), and the young quarterback should be even better than he was a season ago. The biggest non-move of the offseason was the return of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. If their defensive line improves, expect a rematch with Kansas City for the AFC Championship.

In other news, Lamar Jackson might rush for three thousand yards after every running back in Baltimore suffered catastrophic injuries. Don’t count out Mike Tomlin, who’s never had a losing season. Also, the “Year Two” jump for quarterbacks is real. CC: Justin Herbert.

AFC Seeds

  1. Chiefs
  2. Bills
  3. Browns
  4. Titans
  5. Ravens
  6. Steelers
  7. Chargers

AFC Title Game – Chiefs over Browns

Super Bowl

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Bucs and Chiefs are still the two best teams in the NFL. I expect a closer Super Bowl this time around, but I’m still picking the GOAT to win by a field goal.

Super Bowl – Bucs over Chiefs

Awards

MVP – Josh Allen

If the Bills make the playoffs again, then Allen will have to be spectacular once again. He still needs to take care of the ball, but there’s a chance his stat line could look like this: five thousand yards, 42 passing TDS, and 10 rushing TDs. That’s good enough to win NFL MVP.

Offensive Player of the Year – Josh Allen

See the above.

Defensive Player of the Year – T.J. Watt

If it’s not Aaron Donald again, I’ll take T.J. Watt, who finished 3rd and 2nd in voting the previous two seasons.

Comeback Player of the Year – Dak Prescott

This is the easiest award to predict. Dak was on pace for record-setting numbers before his injury in 2020. Expect the QB to light it up once again.

Offensive Rookie of the Year – Trevor Lawrence

The bet to place is that a QB will win this award. Why not go with the number one overall pick? Lawrence will struggle at first but expect a huge second half once he gets in sync with Urban Meyer.

Defensive Rookie of the Year – Patrick Surtain II

Surtain II is a s-t-u-d. Add his name to the list of elite Denver cornerbacks.

Coach of the Year – Kyle Shanahan

The 49ers should jump from 6 wins a season ago to at least 11, probably 12, no matter who lines up at quarterback. If that happens, Shanahan should take home this award for the first time.

Enjoy the season.

What are your predictions for the upcoming NFL season? 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.

Field Of Dreams Game: Determining Other Fantasy Locations

If you build it, Kevin Costner will come to the Field of Dreams game.

I’m covered in goosebumps watching right now. The Field of Dreams game between the Yankees and White Sox was tremendous. Between the entrance, the old uniforms, and the atmosphere, the game blew my expectations out of the water. Walking to the field from the outfield didn’t feel corny. (I couldn’t help myself.) The walk was special and made this regular season game feel like a championship.

Did I mention how cool it was to watch a home run land IN A CORNFIELD?

Every single camera view of the stadium and skyline was picturesque. How could you not want to watch a baseball game here every single day for the rest of your life?

Then, the game ended in complete madness.

Was this the best game ever? Might have been! Now, with a hockey game at Lake Tahoe and a (perfect) baseball game at the Field of Dreams site, where to next? Let’s take a look at some dream venues.*

*Assume logistics won’t be an issue. Pretend this is a perfect world, and a professional sporting event could take place at the venue.

Rucker Park

This is the clear number one answer. I’m not kidding when I say this game would shut down the city. To some, basketball at Rucker Park is more important than basketball at Madison Square Garden. Rucker Park is where legends are made. Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rafer “Skip To My Lou” Alston, Nate Archibald, and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe all became playground legends before playing in the NBA. NBA stars like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant have dropped by the streetball Mecca to put on a show. If the Knicks were to beat the Nets at Rucker Park, the city would party like the Knicks won the title (sigh).

Lake Placid

Name five more important words in sports than “Do you believe in miracles?” The U.S. didn’t just defeat the Soviets in a hockey game that day. Democracy defeated communism. It doesn’t get much bigger than that. Now, the Olympics probably won’t return to Lake Placid. However, an NHL hockey game would be a great alternative. For this game, Al Michaels has to be the play-by-play announcer. I don’t know Al personally, but I’m sure he would oblige especially if the network let him discuss his gambling plays of the day.

Venice Beach

Come on, Billy! As a New York guy, I can’t speak to the mystique of the Venice Beach courts. However, I have watched a few games there on my rare trips to California and it’s super competitive. Most of my knowledge of Venice Beach basketball comes from White Men Can’t Jump. If the Lakers and Clippers played at Venice Beach, then they must wear the uniforms that resemble the clothes worn by Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes.

White Men Can’t Jump

I would love to come up with a venue for football. The first thing that comes to mind is in the middle of a NASCAR track like the Battle at Bristol.

UFC event on the White House North Lawn? You never know!

What is your dream venue for a sporting event? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

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.