Categories
Sports

The 8 Best NBA Fantasy Sleepers You Can Draft Ahead of Next Season 

With the NBA season just mere weeks away and the preseason kicking off, you might have a fantasy basketball draft coming up and aren’t sure who to snag in the late rounds. Don’t fret, we’re here to help with all your fantasy basketball needs. We’ve talked about underrated players before, but ere is our list of the best NBA fantasy sleepers you might be able to get late in your draft. 

1.) Brandon Clarke
2021-22: 10.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 64% FG
(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

With the absence of Jaren Jackson Jr. due to a foot injury, Brandon Clarke will be tasked with manning the load at the power forward position for the Grizzlies. In just under 20 minutes per game last season Clarke was impressive, averaging 10 points and knocking down over 60% of his shots. Ja Morant will be leaning on Clarke heavily to begin the season and he is a solid selection, especially if you can draft Jaren Jackson Jr. towards the end of the draft. 

2.) Devin Vassell
2021-22: 12.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists
(Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images)

There was not a single player in the 2020 NBA draft that shot the ball better from three as Devin Vassell did in college. In his two years at Florida State, Vassell put in 41.7% of his three point attempts, while taking nearly three a game. We haven’t seen that three-point savviness translate to the NBA, but with the departure of Dejounte Murray, expect Vassell to have an increased role. 

3.) Khris Middleton
2021-22: 20.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists
(Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)

Although Khris Middleton may be coming back from injury, he remains one of the most consistent scorers in the NBA. Middleton completed the rare feat of a 50/40/90 season. You may see Middleton drop in a lot of drafts because of that injury, but he should be back for the majority of the season. He remains one of the most consistent fantasy players and a solid selection for any team. 

4.) Isaiah Jackson
2021-22: 8.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.4 blocks
(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Isaiah Jackson is a second year forward from the University of Kentucky. In his rookie season last year he was able to see the floor in 36 games, starting in 15 of those. Jackson still remains a little raw, but it’s clear the Pacers see him as a possible future rotational player. Expect Jackson to get an increase in minutes this season as he attempts to carve out a role as a starter for the Pacers. 

5.) Kyle Kuzma
2021-22: 17.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists
(Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

Kyle Kuzma has had a heavy spotlight on him since the day he entered the league, being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers. He was able to avoid the reckoning of LeGM and stay on the Lakers for their 2020 bubble championship. Kuzma was exceptional last season, nearly putting in 20 points a game for the Wizards. Expect that production to increase or at the minimum be matched. 

6.) Anfernee Simons
2021-22: 17.3 points, 3.9 assists, 40.5 3pt%
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Last season guard Anfernee Simons carried the load for the Portland Trail Blazers with all-star Damian Lillard injured. Simons took full advantage of the opportunity, finishing out the season dropping 30-point games like it was nothing. Although his production will drop significantly from that last stretch, he still remains an integral part of the Blazers. Look for Simons to have a well-established role this year for the blazers. 

7.) Darius Bazley
2021-22: 10.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

When Darius Bazley was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2019, he was still extremely raw. Although it looked like looming #1 draft pick Chet Holmgren would replace the up-and-coming Bazley, with Holmgren injured the Thunder have a huge gap. They will lean on Bazley to fill that spot early in the season, and the Thunder will be in no rush to get Chet back and onto an NBA floor. 

8.) Tre Jones
2021-22: 6.0 points, 3.4 assists, 2.2 rebounds
(Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

The Spurs have quietly been developing the skills of guard Tre Jones since he joined the team in 2020. Greg Popovich made it very clear the Spurs are not contending for a championship, which means this is the time they find out who is going to be a Spur for the long-run and who is just there for rebuilding. There is a big hole at the Point Guard spot for the Spurs, and they will lean on Jones heavily to start the season. 

Categories
Popular Culture

The 10 Best Basketball Documentaries You Can Watch Right Now

The game of basketball has given so much to us as fans. Throughout the NBA’s 75-year history, a number of athletes and moments have shaped the league into what it is today. The history of the NBA may not go as far back as other professional sports leagues, but the impact that it’s had on the culture is unrivaled. If you’re looking to get educated on some of the most iconic NBA moments and stories, here are the best basketball documentaries. 

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1.) The Last Dance
Director: Jason Hehir

Some may debate who the GOAT of basketball is (The answer is Michael Jordan) but there is no question what the best basketball documentary of all time is: The Last Dance.

This 10-part docu-series takes us behind the scenes of the 1998 Chicago Bulls championship run, dubbed “the last dance” as it was widely known that the team would be blown up the next season. The series gives us an intimate look at Michael Jordan’s rise to prominence, with exclusive interviews from former teammates and rivals. If you ever wonder why many consider Michael Jordan the greatest basketball player of all time, just give The Last Dance a watch and all your questions will be put to rest.

Watch on Netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/80203144
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2.) Magic And Bird: A Courtship Of Rivals
Director: Ezra Edelman

The 2010 documentary highlighting the illustrious rivalry of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird is one of the most important pieces of basketball content that exists. During the 1970s, the NBA was dangerously close to collapsing as league attendance and interest, in general, began to diminish. In 1979, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird would face off in the NCAA National Championship game, which is still the most viewed basketball game ever. Magic would be drafted to the Lakers and Larry to the Celtics just a year later, setting in motion the greatest rivalry in NBA history. I highly recommend this documentary, especially if you’re interested in what the NBA was like pre-Michael Jordan.

Watch on HBOMax
https://www.hbomax.com/feature/urn:hbo:feature:GWNFI8w3GYGCGAQEAAACh
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3.) The Dream Team
Director: Zak Levitt, Andy Thompson

One of the most important moments in basketball history that helped grow the game to new heights was the rule change allowing professional basketball players to participate in the Olympics, starting in 1992. The change came after Team USA placed bronze in 1988 after losing to a much more experienced Soviet Union team. The 1992 Dream Team is highly considered the greatest twelve-man roster ever assembled, with eleven of the players being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Most importantly, the Dream Team introduced the game of basketball at the highest level to an international audience that had never experienced it before.

Watch on Peacock
https://www.peacocktv.com/watch-online/tv/olympics/the-dream-team/9ef58df7-2a1c-3c12-951d-4b8d7af1260f
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4.) Survive And Advance
Director: Jonathan Hock

When talking about the best sporting events in general, March Madness undoubtedly sits near the top of everyone’s list. What’s better than watching 64 teams made up of hungry and unproven college athletes battle their way through six single-elimination games in the hopes of claiming a National Championship?

The greatest Cinderella story in NCAA history belongs to the 1983 NC State Wolfpack, coached by the legendary Jimmy Valvano. NC State had to beat the likes of Michael Jordan at UNC as well as University of Virginia superstar Ralph Sampson just to reach the championship game. They would face off against a Houston team headlined by future NBA Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. The championship game is one of the most memorable ever, with an ending you’ll have to see to believe.

Watch on Disney+
https://www.disneyplus.com/movies/survive-and-advance/2AEMlKqkI0f7
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5.) Hoop Dreams
Director: Steve James

The 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams remains one of the most intimate looks we get into the life of a high school basketball prospect. The film follows two basketball players from the inner city of Chicago who have dreams of making it to the NBA one day. The pair commute over an hour each day to play basketball at a predominantly white school in the suburbs of Chicago. What the film does best is show the real struggle that these kids go through on their basketball journey and how slim the odds are of making the NBA.

Spike Lee delivers an extremely thought-provoking monologue as he tells the hundreds of high school kids in attendance at Nike All-American Camp, candidly warning the kids “The only reason why you’re here… you can make their team win. If their team wins, these schools get a lot of money. This whole thing is revolving around money.” I highly recommend this documentary, as it will give you an entirely new perspective on the high school basketball circuit. 

Watch on YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8ovUQ4zOtU
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6.) More Than A Game
Director: Kristopher Belman

There has been no prospect in the history of sports as highly touted as the great LeBron James. James was a phenom the second he stepped on the court, distancing himself as the #1 prospect in the country by his junior year of high school. By his senior year, James had become a national icon and one of the most highly publicized athletes in the world. This led to St. Vincent-St. Mary adopting a schedule that saw them traveling the country playing nationally ranked teams. This saw a game where LeBron James would face off against Carmelo Anthony of Oak Hill Academy, the highest ranked player in the class above LeBron’s.

The most interesting aspect of this documentary is watching how scrutinized LeBron is over the recruitment process, as he was given a suspension for taking jerseys in exchange for pictures. I don’t think it’s hard to realize why James decided to circumvent college and go straight to the NBA after watching this documentary. This doc was also the reason that Drake, Eminem, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West got together and cooked up the classic “Forever“.

Watch on YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8tFXFnfmSU
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7.) Unguarded
Director: Jonathan Hock

The story of Chris Herren is a cautionary tale of how dark and difficult life can be, even when it looks as though you’re a success. Herren was one of the best high school basketball players in the country in 1994, taking home Gatorade player of the year honors as well as being named to the McDonald’s All-American Team. Herren struggled with substance abuse, however, and it only got worse once he got to college. Herren would be introduced to cocaine, which he would fail multiple drug tests for and eventually be kicked out of Boston College.

After transferring to Fresno State, Herren would finish his collegiate career there and be drafted to the Denver Nuggets. Herren chronicles how his time in Denver was the best, as his teammates helped set him straight. After being traded the next year back to his hometown Boston Celtics, the temptations around him proved too much, and an Oxycontin addiction would spiral into full-blown heroin addiction. Herren has been sober since 2008 and now tours the country giving talks to aspiring athletes, warning them of the dangers of addiction.

Watch on ESPN+
https://www.espn.com/espnplus/catalog/ea812189-d130-416e-81a0-737503b8fd74/unguarded
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8.) The Fab Five
Director: Jason Hehir

We like to talk about the impact certain players had on the future of basketball and more specifically the NBA. The way Steph Curry revolutionized the three-point line, or how Michael Jordan made it possible for NBA players to sell themselves as their own brand. The 1990’s Michigan basketball team, dubbed The Fab Five, helped shift the culture of basketball back into the hands of the people that were playing it. Made up of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson, the team made two NCAA finals but would lose both. Most notably, Chris Webber would call a timeout late in the game when Michigan had none, leading to a technical foul that would ice the game. 

Watch on Disney+
https://www.disneyplus.com/movies/the-fab-five/1o0makxKjY9Y
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9.) Benji
Director: Coodie

The story of Ben Wilson is a tragic tale of how one of the highest touted basketball recruits ever, Ben Wilson, was shot dead outside his school in the inner city of Chicago. Wilson was remembered for being a sweet-natured and innocent kid who simply just loved to play basketball. This documentary gives an intimate look into how gun violence has plagued inner-city communities, which is still extremely relevant today. The film is directed by Coodie, who recently became widely known for his directing of the Kanye West documentary Jeen-yuhs.

Watch on ESPN+
https://www.espn.com/espnplus/catalog/d83e5ef3-d3ce-4353-9a02-da652aa6b7f2/benji
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10.) Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks
Director: Dan Klores

Reggie Miller is one of the most overlooked NBA legends, in large part due to the fact that he was playing at the same time as Michael Jordan. Miller was an absolute dog in every sense of the word, constantly talking shit to opponents and hitting some of the nastiest daggers we’ve ever seen on an NBA court. The documentary chronicles Reggie Miller’s rise to fame, including having to compete with his sister Cheryl Miller, considered one of the greatest female basketball players of all time. The film’s focus however is on the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals, which saw Reggie Miller score eight points in 8.9 seconds amidst talking trash to Spike Lee who was sitting courtside. 

Watch on ESPN+
https://www.espn.com/espnplus/player/_/id/be1b44c9-18c9-4690-b970-283b82aa113a
Categories
Sports

A Breakdown of Every WNBA Champion Throughout the League’s 24-Year History

Throughout its 24-year history, the WNBA has seen extreme swings of highs and lows. From the league’s conception in 1996 to the recent rise in popularity we’ve seen the league enjoy, the history of the WNBA is a storied one. Here is our list of every WNBA champion ever.

1997: Houston Comets
Finals MVP: Cynthia Cooper
(Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: New York Liberty
  • Games: 1-0

In the first-ever WNBA playoffs, the four teams with the best regular season records were seeded one to four. The Comets (18-10) and Liberty (17-11) both entered the playoffs as the top-ranked seeds on their side of the bracket, with the Comets maintaining the home-court advantage. Cynthia Cooper became the first WNBA Finals MVP after putting in 25 points and 4 assists in the sudden-death championship game. 

1998: Houston Comets
Finals MVP: Cynthia Cooper
Todd Warshaw
  • Runner Up: Phoenix Mercury
  • Games: 2-1

The second annual WNBA Finals marked the first time the series was held in a best-of-three format. The Comets were more than dominant this season, posting an exceptional 27-3 record. The Mercury took a tight game 1 by three points, but Cynthia Cooper proved to be too much for the Mercury. After back-to-back 20+ point performances, the Comets took home their second consecutive WNBA title.

1999: Houston Comets
Finals MVP: Cynthia Cooper
(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: New York Liberty
  • Games: 2-1

The Liberty and Comets would reunite in the 1999 WNBA Finals to give us a rematch of the first-ever championship game. The Comets continued their regular season dominance, posting a regular season record of 26-6. Cynthia Cooper led scoring in game three with a 24-point performance, securing herself a third WNBA Finals MVP.

2000: Houston Comets
Finals MVP: Cynthia Cooper
(Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: New York Liberty
  • Games: 2-0

The Houston Comets vs New York Liberty trilogy would come to an end in 2000, as this would mark the last time these two franchises ever went up against each other in the finals. The Comets continued their dominant streak, claiming a fourth straight WNBA championship. Sheryl Swoopes was dominant in the close-out game, putting up an exceptional 31-point performance. 

2001: Los Angeles Sparks
Finals MVP: Lisa Leslie
(Photo by Steve Grayson/WireImage)
  • Runner Up: Charlotte Sting
  • Games: 2-0

After the most dominant four-year stretch in WNBA history, the Houston Comets dynasty fell and the Los Angeles Sparks took their spot on the WNBA mountaintop. Lisa Leslie took home her first career finals MVP after averaging 24 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in a close-out game two. 

2002: Los Angeles Sparks
Finals MVP: Lisa Leslie
(Photo by: Andrew D. Bernstein)/WNBAE/Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: New York Liberty
  • Games: 2-0

Lisa Leslie cemented her place as one of the greatest WNBA players ever after claiming a second WNBA Finals MVP. This marks the last time we’ve seen a back-to-back WNBA champion. The Sparks were able to edge the Liberty in game 2 69-66 to close out another championship. 

2003: Detroit Shock
Finals MVP: Ruth Riley
(Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Los Angeles Sparks 
  • Games: 2-1

The Detroit Shock would win their franchise’s first WNBA championship in 2003 after defeating a Sparks team attempting a three-peat. Ruth Riley was electric in game three, Putting in 27 points en route to a five-point win. This would mark the first championship of three in a dominant early 2000s for the Shock. 

2004: Seattle Storm
Finals MVP: Betty Lennox
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Connecticut Sun 
  • Games: 2-1

The Seattle Storm have been one of the most dominant WNBA teams over the course of the league’s history. They would get their first taste of winning in 2004 after defeating the Connecticut Sun in three games. Betty Lennox was seminal in the Storm winning, as her 20+ point performances in games two and three helped push the Storm past the finish line. 

2005: Sacramento Monarchs
Finals MVP: Yolanda Griffith
(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Connecticut Sun 
  • Games: 3-1

The Sacramento Monarchs won their franchise’s first and only WNBA championship in 2005. This was the first time the WNBA went with a beat of five series for the WNBA Finals, a format the league still uses today. Yolanda Griffith pushed the Monarchs over the Sun in game four after posting a 14-point and 10-rebound double-double. 

2006: Detroit Shock
Finals MVP: Deanna Nolan
(Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Sacramento Monarchs
  • Games: 3-2

The Detroit Shock would secure a second WNBA championship after beating the Monarchs in the first-ever WNBA Finals game five. The Shock edged out the Monarchs 80-75 in the sudden death game. Deanna Nolan’s 24 points in a closeout game secured her the finals MVP. 

2007: Phoenix Mercury
Finals MVP: Cappie Pondexter
(Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Detroit Shock
  • Games: 3-2

2007 would mark the first time we saw legendary guard Diana Taurasi win a WNBA championship. The Shock had the best regular season in the league and were looking dominant. As the finals headed to Detroit for game five, Cappie Pondexter put up 26 points and 10 assists to secure Phoenix the championship. This was the first time a WNBA Finals was won on an opponent’s court. 

2008: Detroit Shock
Finals MVP: Katie Smith
(Photo by Domenic Centofanti/Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: San Antonio Silver Stars
  • Games: 3-0

The Detroit Shock would finally claim their spot upon the WNBA mountaintop in 2008, and it would mark the last time the franchise would ever win a championship. Katie Smith dominated the Stars all series, averaging 20+ points across the three-game sweep. The Shocks would soon dissolve in 2009. 

2009: Phoenix Mercury
Finals MVP: Diana Taurasi
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Indiana Fever
  • Games: 3-2

The Mercury would claim their franchise’s second championship after defeating the Indiana Fever in five games. In a closeout game five, Diana Taurasi put in a game-high 26 points, securing her first WNBA Finals MVP. Game five of the 2009 WNBA Finals is constant action and one of the most memorable games in WNBA history. 

2010: Seattle Storm
Finals MVP: Lauren Jackson
(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Atlanta Dream
  • Games: 3-0

After struggling to get past the first round of the playoffs, the Storm did all that and more in 2010 with a second franchise title. Australian basketball legend Lauren Jackson led the way for the Storm, dropping 25+ points in games one and two. This was the second championship for the duo of Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson. 

2011: Minnesota Lynx
Finals MVP: Seimone Augustus
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Atlanta Dream 
  • Games: 3-0

There have been few teams as dominant in the WNBA as the Minnesota Lynx, and in 2011 they would get their first taste of success. They took down the Atlanta Dream in a three-game sweep that frankly wasn’t close. Seimone Augustus had an all-time performance in game two, putting in 26 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. 

2012: Indiana Fever
Finals MVP: Tamika Catchings
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Minnesota Lynx 
  • Games: 3-1

The 2012 WNBA Finals gave us a fierce battle between the Indiana Fever’s Tamika Catchings and the Minnesota Lynx’s Seimone Augustus. Both players battled it out and gave the opposition buckets throughout the series. Catchings was able to edge out Augustus and drop 28 points in a close-out game four, giving her a first WNBA Finals MVP. 

2013: Minnesota Lynx
Finals MVP: Maya Moore
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Atlanta Dream
  • Games: 3-0

The Minnesota Lynx would reclaim their spot as WNBA champions in 2013 after a rematch of the 2011 WNBA Finals against the Atlanta Dream. The results were the same as in 2011, with a fairly easy three-game sweep. The Lynx won games one and two by 25 points. Maya Moore led the Lynx in scoring during games 1 and 3, securing her WNBA Finals MVP. 

2014: Phoenix Mercury
Finals MVP: Diana Taurasi
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Chicago Sky
  • Games: 3-0

Diana Taurasi would win her second WNBA Finals MVP in 2014 after a three-game sweep against the Chicago Sky. This series was never really close with two huge blowout wins coming for the Mercury in games 1 and 2. The Sky were able to keep game 3 close, but the Mercury were able to edge it out by five points to claim another title. 

2015: Minnesota Lynx
Finals MVP: Sylvia Fowles
(Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Indiana Fever
  • Games: 3-2

It was Minnesota’s turn to claim their spot as the WNBA’s best once again in 2015. The series went back and forth, ultimately forcing a sudden death game five. Sylvia Fowles led the way in scoring, putting in 20 points. This was Fowles first WNBA Finals MVP in her historic WNBA career. 

2016: Los Angeles Sparks
Finals MVP: Candace Parker
(Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Minnesota Lynx 
  • Games: 3-2

2016 would mark the second consecutive year we saw a future Hall of Famer win the WNBA Finals MVP. Candace Parker helped lead the Sparks to the franchise’s third WNBA championship. In game four she was spectacular, putting in 24 points en route to a 17-point win. 

2017: Minnesota Lynx
Finals MVP: Sylvia Fowles
(Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Los Angeles Sparks
  • Games: 3-2

The Lynx and Sparks would meet again in 2017 for a rematch of the previous year’s WNBA Finals. Sylvia Fowles proved to be too much for the Sparks to handle, as she grabbed 20 rebounds and put in 17 points, claiming a second WNBA Finals MVP. 

2018: Seattle Storm
Finals MVP: Breanna Stewart
(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Washington Mystics
  • Games: 3-0

2018 was undoubtedly the year of Breanna Stewart in the WNBA. The third-year forward out of Connecticut was otherworldly throughout the regular season, claiming her first MVP. The Storm easily took down the Mystics in three games, winning each game by 10+ points. Breanna Stewart put in 30 points in a closeout game three, securing her the WNBA Finals MVP. 

2019: Washington Mystics
Finals MVP: Emma Meesseman
(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Connecticut Sun
  • Games: 3-2

The Mystics claimed their franchise’s first WNBA title in 2019 after defeating the Connecticut Sun. The series would be pushed to five games after an epic double-double from Suns forward Jonquel Jones. Emma Meesseman’s game-high 22 points would close out the series in game five, however. 

2020: Seattle Storm
Finals MVP: Breanna Stewart
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Las Vegas Aces
  • Games: 3-0

Sue Bird would win the last WNBA title of her storied career after a three-game sweep of the Las Vegas Aces. This series was held in the ‘WNBA bubble’ due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Breanna Stewart was otherworldly in game one, putting in 37 points. She would follow that up with 20+ point performances in games two and three to secure a second career WNBA Finals MVP. 

2021: Chicago Sky
Finals MVP: Kahleah Copper
(Photo by Kena Krutsinger/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • Runner Up: Phoenix Mercury
  • Games: 3-1

Candace Parker solidified her status as a Chicago legend, helping lead her hometown to its first WNBA title. Kahleah Copper was seminal for the Sky throughout the series, always available when a bucket or rebound was needed. The Sky would take game five by six points after an all-out performance from the Skys’ big three of Quigley, Parker, and Vandersloot. 

Categories
Sports

5 Storylines to Follow During the 2022 WNBA Finals

After one of the greatest fourth-quarter comebacks in WNBA history, the Connecticut Sun advanced to the WNBA finals to face off against the Las Vegas Aces. The Sun fought back from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter of game five against the Chicago Sky, going on an 18-0 run to close the game. Meanwhile, the Aces enjoyed their night off, defeating the Seattle Storm in four games to move on to the finals. Here are five storylines you should follow in this year’s WNBA Finals.  

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/BDwHNev6BjQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed1.) A First Time Champion Will Be Named</code>
1.) A First Time Champion Will Be Named

While both of these franchises have previously played in the WNBA Finals, neither has a title. This marks the fourth time a first-time WNBA champion will be crowned in the last three years. With the Aces coming up just short in 2020 and the Sun falling to the Washington Mystics in the 2019 Finals, both teams will have a heavy chip on their shoulder as they attempt to avenge their previous losses.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/uWSAWV1bRFE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed2.) Becky Hammon’s First Year Coaching</code>
2.) Becky Hammon’s First Year Coaching

The breadth of Greg Popovich’s coaching tree is genuinely mind-boggling. In the NBA, there are nine active NBA coaches, with six combined championships, who at one point were an assistant under Popovich; this year, Becky Hammon became the first Popovich disciple to cross over to the WNBA. In her debut season as a head coach at any level, Hammon led the Aces to a league-best 26-10 record. There is no question that Becky Hammon is one of the best coaches in the world.

Beyond her trailblazing work as the first woman coach in NBA history, Hammon’s immediate success in Vegas undoubtedly proves that she’s one of the best coaches in the world.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bNIDLnoiLeI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed3.) A’ja Wilson Can Cap Off a Historic MVP and DPOY Season With a Championship</code>
3.) A’ja Wilson Can Cap Off a Historic MVP and DPOY Season With a Championship

This regular season. Las Vegas Aces superstar forward A’ja Wilson made history by becoming the first WNBA player to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same year. Wilson is now the seventh player in WNBA history to win multiple regular season MVP awards, having also taken home the award in 2020. A championship to end the year would cap off the most dominant WNBA season ever and add more hardware to the ever-growing trophy room that A’ja Wilson is building.  

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/S5-mAgcI8ig" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed4.) Jonquel Jones Can Cement Her Legacy With a Championship</code>
4.) Jonquel Jones Can Cement Her Legacy With a Championship

Lest you think this series is purely a coronation for A’ja Wilson, Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun is an elite player in her own right. The 2018 Sixth Woman of the Year and the 2021 MVP, the 6′ 6 Jones is a versatile scorer who has garnered comparisons to Kevin Durant throughout her career. If she can avenge that finals loss from 2019, she will surely cement herself as one of the greatest WNBA players ever.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6JuxLvw_p84" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed5.) Can the Sun Pull Off an Upset?</code>
5.) Can the Sun Pull Off an Upset?

The Las Vegas Aces enter Game 1 as a -250 favorite to win with a -6 point spread. They’re equally heavy favorites in the series, currently sitting with -260 odds to win the Finals. Those odds should be no surprise because the Aces have one of the most stacked rosters the league has ever seen—A’ja Wilson is joined by this year’s All-Star game MVP Kelsey Plum, as well as walking bucket Chelsea Gray.

Still, the Sun are no slouches either—Jonquel Jones and DeWanna Bonner are as dominant as any frontcourt in the league and match up well with A’ja Wilson. The Sun made it this far for a reason, and if they can continue to ride this hot wave, they can bring home Connecticut’s first WNBA championship.

Categories
Sports

Everything You Need to Know About Eurobasket 2022

We’re in the fallow part of the NBA offseason—there have been 73 days since the last real NBA game and there’ll be another 48 days until the next one. With the thrum of free agency rumors and slop having ceased, there are but mere morsels of basketball content left to consume. Nothing is going on besides the vague promise that something will eventually be going on. In the absence of actual stuff, it’s now national news three guys in Brooklyn decide to aggrievedly endure each other’s company or when two guys in Seattle get all red-faced or when one guy in White Plains calls another guy in Utah. Next week, Eurobasket 2022 will mercifully end the drought, promising a level of intensity and quality that won’t be seen again until the NBA playoffs next spring. Here’s everything you need to know about the best sporting event that you aren’t watching.

What is Eurobasket?

As FIBA’s answer to FIFA’s Euros, Eurobasket is a biennial tournament to determine the best international squad in Europe. Outside of the Olympics and the FIBA World Cup, Eurobasket is the most prestigious event on the international basketball calendar, contested by the 24 best teams across the continent. Oddly, this is the first Eurobasket since 2017—it was canceled in 2019 to accommodate the FIBA World Cup and then again in 2021 for the rescheduled 2020 Olympics.

When is Eurobasket 2022?

Eurobasket 2022 begins on September 1st. The finals will take place on September 18th. 

Where is Eurobasket 2022?

The group stages will be scattered between Germany, Italy, Georgia and the Czech Republic. The knockout rounds and finals will be held in Berlin, Germany.

How do I watch it?

ESPN+ will stream every Eurobasket 2022 game. 

What is the format?

For the opening round, the 24 teams are put in four groups of six teams. From each group, the top four teams enter the single-elimination knockout stage, which is seeded based on performance in group play.

What are the groups?

Group A

Belgium

Bulgaria

Georgia (host)

Montenegro

Spain

Turkey

Group B

Bosnia and Herzegovina

France

Germany (host)

Hungary

Lithuania

Slovenia

Group C

Croatia

Estonia

Great Britain

Greece

Italy (host)

Ukraine

Group D

Czech Republic (host)

Finland

Israel

Netherlands

Poland

Serbia

Is there a group of death?

Yes, Group B is a bloodbath.

Who are the best teams?

Serbia (+300 to win Eurobasket 2022)

Nikola Jokic is the best player in the world, so it’s only fair that Serbia is the best team in Europe. While Serbia won’t bring their full complement of NBA players to Eurobasket (Bogdan Bogdanovic and Boban Marjanovic are hurt, Aleksej Pokusevski and Nikola Jovic couldn’t get approval from their teams), Jokic is such a singularly dominant and additive player that it doesn’t matter; surround him with any four ambulant players and he’ll make the offense hum. Defensively, Jokic benefits from FIBA’s slightly different set of rules—namely, that there’s no defensive three-seconds violation. Similarly, the relative paucity of dangerous scoring European guards ensures that Jokic can safely dock himself in the paint without having to huff and puff around the perimeter. 

Beyond Jokic, Serbia teems with elite Euroleaguers—as the 2021 Euroleague MVP and the reigning two-time Finals MVP, point guard Vasileje Micic is the best player in the world who’s not in the NBA; Vladimir Lucic is a sharpshooting wing who made the All-Euroleague team each of the last two seasons. 

Greece (+430)

As the best Greek basketball player of all time, Giannis Antetokoumnpo is ready to move past his puzzling lack of international success. The last time he donned a Greek jersey in real competition, Antetokounmpo seemed oddly cowed, averaging just 14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 9.2 field goal attempts as Greece staggered to an 11th place finish at the 2019 World Cup. Since then, though, he’s polished away whatever flaws remained in his game and became an NBA champion and Finals MVP in the process. Accordingly, Antetokounmpo once again has looked appropriately Greek Freaky in his two tune-up games before Eurobasket, averaging 33 points and 7.5 rebounds against Serbia and Belgium. 

Although Antetokounmpo is the team’s undeniable star, he’s hardly their only important contributor. On the perimeter, naturalized guards Tyler Dorsey and Nick Calathes provide a necessary counterweight to Antetokoumpo’s interior dominance—the California-born Dorsey is a dynamic shooter and the Florida-born Calathes is one of Europe’s best-ever assist-men. 

Slovenia (+470)

Slovenia and Dallas aren’t really that different, basketball-wise at least. With Luka Doncic at the helm, both Slovenia and the Mavs pair their superstar with a crafty lefty guard as his main sidekick and stretchy forwards dotting the perimeter. The formula works. For evidence, just rewatch the Mavs upset the Phoenix Suns to make the Western Conference Finals for the first time in a decade last season or how Slovenia won Eurobasket in 2017, in large part because of a breakout performance from an 18 year-old Doncic. More recently, Doncic carried Slovenia to the cusp of the gold medal game of the 2021 Olympics, just barely falling short against France 90-89. If NBA players are largely hopeless against Doncic, Euroleaguers are even hopeless-er; against overmatched competition, Doncic led the Olympics in both points and assists last year. Look for him to repeat that feat at Eurobasket 2022. 

France (+550)

At full strength, France is by far the best team in Europe—and maybe even the world. It’s easy to imagine a frontcourt of Victory Wembanyama, Rudy Gobert and the newly naturalized Joel Embiid rampaging through the 2024 Olympics to secure the gold medal. But, in 2022, France is fairly depleted—Embiid, Wembanyama, Nic Batum, Frank Ntilikina and Nando De Colo are all injured. Still, the spine of the 2021 Olympic silver medalists who nearly swept the United States remains—Evan Fournier and Rudy Gobert are among the most dangerous one-two punches in the field and France has depth up and down their roster, whereas most countries are either big-heavy or guard-heavy. 

Lithuania (+1200)

Speaking of big-heavy rosters, Lithuania is ready to mash. Led by Jonas Valanciunas and Domantas Sabonis, Lithuania has a frontcourt that most NBA teams can’t even equal. Despite the fact that both Valanciunas and Sabonis are deficient NBA defenders, luckily, this isn’t the NBA.  To wit, both big men can fluently negotiate the tight spaces and facilitate within the slow tempo of the European game, giving Lithuania a rare level of potency and security that few teams can boast. Granted, Lithuania doesn’t quite have the high-end star power of Serbia, Greece or Slovenia, but they compensate with a deep, well-constructed roster that’ll contend in Europe for years to come. In this sense, the next generation is already here: Michigan standout Ignas Brazdeikas is a smooth bucket-getter who should start on the wing; future Knick Rokas Jokubaitas is a steely lefty guard who will run point. 

Games to watch (all times Eastern Standard Time):

September 1: Lithuania vs. Slovenia, 11:05am

Sabonis versus Doncic! Valanciunas versus, uh, Mike Tobey?

September 2: Greece vs. Croatia, 10:50am

Giannis kicks off his Eurobasket 2022 campaign against a dangerous Croatian team headlined by Dario Saric, Bojan Bogdanovic and Ivica Zubac. 

September 3: France vs. Lithuania, 11:35am

Gobert tussles with Sabonis and Valanciunas—think: Eurobasket’s answer to Godzilla vs. Kong.

September 5: Serbia vs. Finland, 2:50pm

Serbia is in a laughably easy group, but the showdown between Jokic and Lauri Markkanen could offer some intrigue.

September 7: France vs Slovenia, 11:05am

Could this be a preview of the finals? 

Categories
NFT

How Swoops NFTs Are Changing the Sports Fan Experience

For decades and decades, the sports fan experience has remained relatively the same. Millions of people tune into games, pay to watch in person, and follow along the 24/7 news channels to keep up with their favorite sports. The Swoops NFT project is hoping to change that and give the everyday sports fan a chance at ownership and the ability to make decisions with real consequences. 

Swoops is an NFT basketball game that allows fans to own, trade, and collect digital assets that correspond to fictional basketball players. The eventual goal is for Swoops to become a legitimate sports league with media coverage of players, drafts, and events that rivals traditional sports. 

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By offering the everyday sports fan a chance to be an owner, general manager, or coach, roles reserved for a select few in traditional sports, Swoops is democratizing the basketball landscape.

ONE37pm sat down with Manish Sinha, the CEO and co-founder of Swoops, to learn more about the exciting project and the team behind it. 

ONE37pm: What’s your background as a sports fan and when did you decide that you wanted to work in sports instead of exclusively being a fan? 

Manish: So I grew up during the Shaq and Kobe era with the Los Angeles Lakers and that was really when I became a sports fan through and through. I caught the tail end of Michael Jordan’s [Chicago] Bulls career and played basketball casually as a kid and into adulthood. I’ve always been a big gamer too, playing NBA2K and other sports games like that. 

What brought me into Swoops was the promise of ownership. With traditional video games, you turn it on, you move the player around and then you turn it off and that’s the extent of your relationship and interaction with the video game and I’ve always wondered, alongside my cofounder David, if there was a way to reimagine that so that’s what brought me to Swoops. 

ONE37pm: If you had to give a quick 30-second pitch to your average NBA or NBA2k to try Swoops, what would be your main hitting points? 

Manish: If you want to be a team owner or GM, usually you have to be a millionaire or billionaire. With Swoops we’re changing that, we’re democratizing that ownership so that anybody, including you, me, or anyone, could be such a person. 

We’re doing that behind the technologies and the promise behind the blockchain and NFTs and making this new sport and new league of virtual basketball. 

ONE37pm: To build on that a bit, sports are one of the biggest industries around the world, a multi-hundred billion dollar industry, but in traditional sports fans see little to none of that value end up back in their pocket. 

How does Swoops use Web3 technology to change this and do you see this as the future of sports where fans get a bigger piece of the pie? 

Manish: The hard truth here is that as a fan your ability to change the game is really limited. Usually, you can pick up a video game, you can watch it on TV, can gamble on it, or you can play fantasy sports. In each one of those cases, as you said Noah, your ability to capture the value generated from the game is very low and as a fan you’re never able to change the events that happen on the court, in the arena, and the promise behind Swoops, in fact, our mission, is to change that by making it possible for anybody to be a GM and an owner, and also to be a coach and have the ability to change what happens in the game.

Swoops

To your question of how, one of the biggest innovations that has come out of crypto and the blockchain itself are NFTs. What that specifically means is the ability for a person to have unique ownership over a digital asset. What we’re doing is we are using and leveraging that technology to create fictional basketball players, fictional Swoops players, that are each NFTs and then minting them and releasing them to the wider world so that fans around the world can collect these NFTs and trade them and swap them and then enter them into cash prize contests which is what the Swoops app will be about. 

ONE37pm: With Swoops, there are all these fictional players and that might be a challenge for traditional basketball fans coming over in getting to know these players but I know that there are big plans to build out a whole ecosystem around the different players like you would expect in traditional sports with media coverage and more. 

Can you speak a bit about the next steps in building out the ecosystem as well as the grand plan? 

Manish: We call this the “Swoopsverse” and it’s our take on what a virtual basketball league looks like. It starts with podcasters sharing strategies on how to win in the simulator. It starts with YouTube streamers releasing strategy guides on how to play on Swoops, which players are doing well, and which are suffering. It involves people commentating just like news commentators in the real world talking about our draft which will happen four times a year as each Swoops season is three calendar months. 

If we can recapture all these moments that happen in the real world with the real NBA around strategy, new players coming in, who’s up and who’s down, and all that media coverage that happens already with the real league. If we can find ways to replicate that, I think we’re on the path to creating our own sport and our own league. 

ONE37pm: How would you say that building in public has presented opportunities or challenges for Swoops thus far? 

Manish: Building in public is our strategy to talk about what we’re doing and get the community involved in it. If you know anything about Web3, you know that everything is open source, in fact, all the code is on the blockchain through smart contracts. We really believe in that ethos and we try to follow it as much as we can. 

Obviously, one explicit challenge is that we’re building a simulator that runs a 5 vs 5, 48-minute basketball game. Now that simulator necessarily must remain a closed-source black box because it’s what we’re challenging our users to figure out so there are some hard limitations as to how much we can share with the public. 

What we’re doing a lot around and continually improving on is finding our cadence with our user base, releasing updates, and talking about changes that we’re working on or that will happen in the future. At the end of the day, these are material assets that in some cases will be worth thousands of dollars so it’s really important for us to be transparent with what we’re building, how we’re building it, and striking a balance with creating a game that’s got a black box, mystery component embedded inside of it. 

ONE37pm: Can you expand on the daily SwoopsGM challenges that are offered right now and the similarities and differences that product has to the full Swoops product? 

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/PlaySwoops/status/1552367239243890688?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

Manish: Totally, SwoopsGM is our warm-up to the real thing. SwoopsGM stands for Swoops general manager and if you’re into crypto it can also be Swoops good morning. It’s a small, fun game where we release a daily lineup of real NBA players and we challenge our fans and users to submit five players that they think can beat our set of five players. 

There’s a strategy element here. The player pool is selected by us so you have to be creative in who you pick from that pool. There’s also a salary cap so each player has a price attached to them and your job as a user, and to play the game, is to find five under the salary cap that can beat the five that we put together. 

If we do our job with SwoopsGM it becomes this wonderful top-of-funnel lead generator for Swoops itself. You have to remember that crypto and NFT games still occupy a niche within crypto-native and crypto-casual users. If we think of our user base as a concentric circle, that beginning one is that crowd, the crypto-natives, around that though are casual DFS players, people who play fantasy sports. If we do our job right with SwoopsGM, we’re going to reach some of those casuals and bring them into our world. 

ONE37pm: Swoops is an exciting opportunity that shows the possibility of Web3 technology in the sports world. Why do you think sports and Web3 are such a good matchup together and what do you see are the opportunities for Web3 technology past Swoops in the sports world? 

Manish: A big piece of Web3 is democratization so that everyone can become an owner and that lines up perfectly with our vision of democratizing sports ownership. It was perfect that the blockchain and NFTs, in particular, are exactly what we are leveraging to take our message forward. Beyond that, sports have always had a set of people who want to engage deeper with it. You see that with the success of DraftKings and FanDuel, people really want to engage with the game in a deeper way. 

A big piece of crypto is also financial and the ability and hope to make money in a contest. We’re happy about that and we hope we can bring in people who want to engage with the game in a deeper way and make some money while doing it. 

Swoops GM will be available to play on mobile and desktop at gm.playswoops.com

Categories
Sports

When Does The NBA Season Start?

There’s no truer sign that the dark ages of the offseason are coming to an end than the annual release of a league’s schedule. In the era of social media, schedule announcements have become a day that all die-hard sports fans look forward to. Teams will produce well-thought-out graphics and videos taunting their opponents and highlighting the best matchups their team will face. With the schedule slated to release this month, here are the matchups we’re most looking forward to this NBA season.

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Dec. 10: Golden State Warriors vs Boston Celtics

Few games imitate the intensity of a playoff game than the rematch of the two teams in the NBA finals. The matchup consists of the two best teams in the league, Both teams are extremely familiar with each other, and there’s history. 

All that and more will be center stage when the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors face-off against the Boston Celtics. The Celtics added depth this offseason at the guard position by signing Malcolm Brogdon. The Warriors haven’t made any big moves this offseason, but the added confidence of another championship will be invaluable to them. These two teams play with passion and pride on their chest, so expect a whistle-to-whistle dogfight when they face off.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B13lm8f2CwU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hedOct. 19: Phoenix Suns vs Dallas Mavericks</code>
Oct. 19: Phoenix Suns vs Dallas Mavericks

One of the most heated playoff series last season was the second round matchup between the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks. The Suns had the better roster, and made it known they felt they were the better team. Luka ‘the Don’ took it personal and served a blow out victory in game 7.

The Suns window for a championship is closing, and fast. Chris Paul is only getting older and the West increasingly becomes more competitive. Similarly, the Mavericks lost their second-in-command Jalen Brunson during the off-season. Both these teams have a lot to prove and will take any opportunity to showcase that.

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Dec. 26: Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics

A matchup we can’t wait to see is a rematch of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo was able to cary the Bucks to a game 7, despite the injury bug that ran through their locker room. The Celtics would win handedly in game seven.

The truly great aspect about this matchup is the one-on-one matchups we get to watch. Giannis and Jayson Tatum have had meteoric rises to superstardom in the NBA and take pride in their ability to win. Jaylen Brown and Khris Middleton both excel and relish their role as sidekicks. Through-and-through, this is a matchup you won’t wanna miss.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/u6do9zgKyZg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hedOct. 20: Los Angeles Clippers vs Los Angeles Lakers</code>
Oct. 20: Los Angeles Clippers vs Los Angeles Lakers

When it was announced Kawhi Leonard and Paul George would be teaming up with the Clippers, the idea of the battle for L.A. was born. In theory, it was great. Two of the best duos in the league, playing in the same city, with the same goals. To win a championship.

We never got that epic battle of L.A. matchup, in large part due to the fact Kawhi Leonard hasn’t been able to stay healthy. With a full season of rest and rehabilitation, there is nothing standing in the Clippers way of success this year.

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Philadelphia 76ers vs Brooklyn Nets

The NBA is a league known for being unnecessarily drama filled. We saw that in it’s full form when Ben Simmons and James Harden both requested trades mid-season last year. The Nets and 76er’s would swap stars, and really no one was better because of it.

There is a looming possibility that the Net’s will look very different before the start of next season. Regardless, Ben Simmons first game back in Philadelphia will not just be a great basketball game, it will be must-see T.V.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/p478C35sgzA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hedOct. 18: Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Lakers</code>
Oct. 18: Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers roster is another one that could look very different before the start of next season. Russell Westbrook has been adamant about not wanting to come off the bench. If the Lakers find a trade suitor, they will surely make the move.

The bigger picture of this game is in an individual matchup. The NBA in the 2010’s were dominated by LeBron James and Steph Curry. The history these two athletes have will always be tied together. I look forward to this matchup that pits these two future hall-of-fame talents against each other every year. As both players are entering the twilight of their careers, cherish this matchup.

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Atlanta Hawks vs Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic struck gold in the lottery, securing the #1 pick and drafting Paolo Banchero. The forward is another young talent that fits perfect in the Magic’s timeline. On the other side, the Hawks made a massive move to acquire Dejounte Murray from the Spurs. They are hoping he is the piece to take them to a championship contending team.

Both Murray and Banchero being from Seattle, they both played in pro-am leagues over the summer around the area. It just so happened in one of those games the two players would deal with a heated exchange, and the beef bubbled over to social media. All eyes will be on both these guys when they matchup for the first time in the NBA.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gdtRZVMhVWA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hedNew Orleans Pelicans vs Memphis Grizzlies</code>
New Orleans Pelicans vs Memphis Grizzlies

A matchup that in large part we’ve been denied is been between the two top picks in the 2019 draft. Zion Williamson was the highest touted prospect since LeBron James, and Ja Morant has put the league on notice as it’s next great point god.

The Grizzlies are on a fast-track to be a championship contending team for a long time. They made great progress last season, winning their first playoff series under the guide of Morant. Similarly, the Pelicans were able to nab the 8th seed after winning two play-in games. Adding Zion Williamson back to that rotation will only do good for the Pelicans hopes at winning.

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Houston Rockets vs Detroit Pistons

Another matchup with a duo of top picks we can’t wait to see the Houston Rockets against the Detroit Pistons. Cade Cunningham was electric for the Pistons last season, showing glimpses of superstardom. Jalen Green equally had some incredible moments, but still has ways to go in being consistent.

When these two first matched up last season, there was plenty of chirping. You can tell both these athletes play with a chip on their shoulder and take competition personally. Both young talents are attempting to prove their worth, so this should be a matchup that continues to delivery.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/28fVGQT6zFk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hedMinnesota Timberwolves vs Miami Heat</code>
Minnesota Timberwolves vs Miami Heat

A matchup that continues to delivery is Jimmy Butler vs the Minnesota Timberwolves. When the T-Wolves traded for Butler in 2017, it looked as though Minnesota had found the last key piece to a championship contending team. Instead, Jimmy Butler embarrassed the starters during practice for not working hard enough and then went on national television to talk about it.

The Wolves shocked the basketball world by trading their entire future of picks in exchange for Rudy Gobert. Gobert adds elite rim protection and defense to a team that desperately needed it. This is the first time Minnesota has had a roster that could genuinely compete with almost any team, so I expect a playoff environment when these two teams play.

Categories
Gaming

“Jordan Challenges” Returning to ‘NBA 2K23’

The popular sports gaming franchise NBA 2K is going back to its roots by bringing back the popular “Jordan Challenges” from NBA 2K11. It was announced in early July that Michael Jordan would don the cover of the NBA 2K23 legend edition. This is the fourth time the heroic Chicago Bulls shooting guard will grace the cover of a 2K game, with the last being his appearance on NBA2k16. Here is what to expect from the new and improved Jordan Challenge mode in NBA 2K23

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‘NBA 2K11’ Jordan Challenges

The original Jordan challenges in NBA 2K11 were relatively surface level. It would drop you into an iconic game that Jordan played in, and you would be tasked with replicating the stat line he finished with in real life. If Jordan dropped 63 points on the Celtics shooting 50 percent from the field, you’d have to do just that in the challenge. There were only 10 Jordan challenges in this first conception of the game mode, and successfully completing all 10 would unlock a MYCAREER game mode where you can start an NBA career as Michael Jordan. 

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A new aspect being added to this rendition of the Jordan challenges is pre-game interviews with players or coaches who help set the scene for what challenge you’re attempting to beat. The interviews range from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar all the way to Phil Jackson. The game’s developers went as far as to get the actual recording from Bulls PA announcer Ray Clay to make the introductions to games feel as real as life. 

There is a clear emphasis that 2K wants to make this game mode feel as if you were transported back to the 90s. As 2K describes on their website: “Enhancing our on-court experience to support the Jordan Challenge was a major priority for the team this year. The Jordan Challenge is not just the same modern-day gameplay with classic teams and uniforms. We scouted, studied, and made key gameplay changes to fit the feel of each era to make each game feel like time traveling through NBA history.”

The new and improved Jordan challenges in 2K23 will provide five new challenges added on from the 10 in the previous game. Each challenge offers three goals for you to accomplish, with a star earned for each goal achieved. There are 40 total stars and the rewards include jerseys for your MYPLAYER and other MYTEAM bonuses. The five new moments added to the Jordan Challenge will include:

1982 National Championship: University of North Carolina vs. Georgetown

1984 Team USA Basketball Scrimmage

1988 NBA All-Star Game

1989 Eastern Conference First Round vs Cavaliers, Game 5

1997 Chicago Bulls vs. Los Angeles Lakers (Kobe vs MJ)

*NBA 2K23 is set to release on September 8th, 2022

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Sports

Documentary On Golden State Warriors’ ‘Run TMC’  Squad On The Way

Sports media companies RTG Features and MSM, known for basketball documentaries such as The Last Dance, have recruited David Charles Rodrigues to direct a new feature documentary on the revolutionary 90’s Warriors. Known as “TMC” for their deadly trio of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullins, the Warriors led the NBA in scoring in the 1989-90 season and paved the way for the modern NBA offense. Here is what to expect from the upcoming documentary on this epic trio. 

Nellie Ball
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

TMCs success in their short three-year span together wouldn’t have been possible without head coach Don Nelson. Currently second all-time on the head coaching wins list, Nelson is a major part of why the NBA is played how it is today. When Don Nelson began coaching in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, there was an emphasis in the NBA to run the ball through a big-man. 


In a stroke of genius, Nelson decided to implore a lineup of smaller players to attack mismatches on the fast break. It may seem trivial now, however, to entertain the idea of small-ball in the 1970’s was borderline insanity. Nelson went on to win three Coach of the Year awards, although he would never win a championship as a coach.

Run TMC
(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The leader and longest tenure to the Golden State Warriors during the Run TMC days was hall-of-fame forward Chris Mullins. Mullins is one of the most underrated players in NBA history, winning a gold medal with the 92’ Dream Team en route to an illustrious 16-year-career. Mullins was drafted in 1985, while Mitch Richmond was selected in ’88 and Tim Hardaway was added to the team in 1989. In Hardaway’s rookie year, the Warriors led the NBA in scoring, but missed the playoffs by a couple of games.

Although the Warriors didn’t find playoff success in 1989-90, they did win over their fanbase. In 1990-91, the Warriors would sell out every home game. The trio of TMC would score 20+ points each in 48 games, and lead the Warriors back to the playoffs. They would lose in the second round to the Lakers after upsetting David Robinson and the Spurs in the first round. The Warriors felt they were still a piece short and would trade Richmond early into the next season.

Categories
Sports

Heads Up! The 2022 BIG3 Playoff Preview

After eight weeks of traveling the United States and battling it out in 3v3 basketball games, the playoff picture for Ice Cube’s BIG3 league has been finalized. The BIG3 will begin its playoffs on August 14th, with two semi-final games. The next weekend on August 21st, the championship game will be held and the 2022 BIG3 league champion will emerge. Here is our preview of the semi-final matchups. 

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(1) Team Trilogy vs (4) Team Aliens

The first matchup of this year’s BIG3 playoffs will showcase the first seeded Trilogy against the fourth seeded Aliens. Team Trilogy was expected to be the second seed, but after a big win in the last week and a loss from the three-headed monsters, they claimed the first spot. Trilogy is looking to capture their third BIG3 championship since the league began in 2017, and will be led by captain and former NBA veteran James White. 

There is no guarantee that Trilogy will advance past this first round, as a valiant opponent in The Aliens sits opposite of them. The Aliens are lead by the #1 ranked 3v3 basketball player on the planet, Dusan Bulut. Coming off a loss last week against Power, The Aliens will need a generational performance to advance to the next round.

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(2) Team Three-Headed Monsters vs (3) Team Power

Team Power’s playoff hopes looked dim heading into the last week of the season. They had to win their last matchup of the year which they did, but their fate would be in Team Killer 3’s hands. After Team Killer 3’s lost, Team Power secured their spot in the playoffs. Power won the second ever league championship, but haven’t reached a finals since. 

There is no team in the BIG3 that knows the devastation of losing in the finals more than the Three–Headed Monsters. They lost in the championship game in 2017 and in 2021. If they can secure a first round win and Trilogy also advances, we will get a rematch of the 2021 BIG3 finals. I truly believe that this is the Three-Headed Monsters year. Coming off a finals loss, the motivation for Three-Headed Monsters to close it out is at dangerously high levels.