Skip Bayless likes New York Giants as NFC East winners after first win

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants fell behind during the start of the season but avoided a longer losing streak by getting their first win on Sunday against Washington. And somehow, despite their 1-5 record, the team is still technically in the running for the NFC East. In fact, their situation isn’t even bad enough that this run at the conference title is something that’s only possible in fantasy. The Giants have a legitimate chance – but mainly it’s because the rest of the division is bad.

The Giants are no longer in last place and now share the same amount of wins as both other teams sitting behind Dallas. The Eagles only have marginally better results this season with three losses and one tie to go along with their win. Washington, on the other hand, has the same record as the Giants but fell behind them in the standings after losing to them.

Giants in the hunt according to Skip Bayless

This situation in the standings has caused Fox Sports’ Skip Bayless to go out on a limb and pick the Giants to win the division.

Picking the Giants to win the NFC East was, of course, a more popular choice before the season started. But after the Giants began winless and could hardly produce offense, as well as losing some of their top players to injuries, most assumed they would fall to the bottom of the standings.

The current situation is more hopeful than that even if beating Washington isn’t exactly the mark of a quality team. Even if the recent opposition is bad, however, the fact that the Giants won the game at all shows there’s some fight left in this team. Even after the bad start and the numerous injuries.

But can the Giants win the NFC East? That probably depends on the rest of the division staying bad and the Giants improving. There’s still some problems with this team, after all. Andrew Thomas notably didn’t receive the start against Washington after being drafted in the top five and Daniel Jones threw a key interception that may have overshadowed his sole touchdown.

However, for now, the Giants are at least in the running. And as long as the other teams don’t run away with the division in the coming weeks, they’ll have a chance to try fixing their problems from week to week and contending.

Four plays that decided the Buffalo Bills’ Monday fate vs. Kansas City

An ugly second half against the defending champions doomed the Buffalo Bills on a rainy night in Orchard Park.

The Buffalo Bills managed to keep Patrick Mahomes mostly in check on a rainy Monday night, but it still wasn’t enough to take down the defending Super Bowl champions.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire put up an infantile career-best 161 rushing yards, pacing the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense on a cold overcast night at Bills Stadium en route to a 26-17 victory in Monday night’s showdown between AFC divisional leaders. Mahomes did contribute to the Kansas City (5-1) cause with two touchdown passes, each to Travis Kelce.

Buffalo (4-2) has now lost consecutive regular season games while at full strength for the first time since 2018 (not counting the season-ending losses at the end of last season, when the Bills played mostly backups in their unsuccessful Week 17 game against the New York Jets).

ESM looks back on the four plays, one from each quarter, that determined Buffalo’s fate on Monday night…

1st Quarter: Matt Milanooooo

If this is the way the Bills’ defense looks without Matt Milano, it might be time to give the veteran linebacker some MVP consideration in absentia.

The Bills knew it would be a tall task dealing with Kelce with or without Milano, but his prescience might’ve at least made things more difficult in the red zone. His physicality and coverage prowess were particularly missed on the Bills’ second defensive drive when Kelce outworked Tremaine Edmunds (whose still working off the effects of a shoulder injury) to score the Chiefs’ first touchdown of the game. It echoed the success Tennessee was able to earn from the tight end spot on Tuesday, as Kelce was able to match Jonnu Smith’s two touchdowns scored in Nashville.

2nd Quarter: Walk the Klein

Kelce had three receptions in the first half, each of them playing a major role in the game’s timeline. He scored another touchdown in the second quarter (one that wound up giving Kansas City the lead permanently) and seemed poised for a chance to get another when the Chiefs got the ball back with just a minute to go and all their timeouts on the board. Stationed at the Kansas City 32, Kelce took a Mahomes pass to just about midfield, where he was stripped of the ball by A.J. Klein. Josh Norman was able to pounce on it, giving Buffalo a chance to try a potential tying field before the halftime gun.

While Tyler Bass missed the 52-yard attempt, the play was part of a strong stretch for the Buffalo defense. Not only did the turnover keep things at three points going into the locker room, but they also forced another Kansas City punt on their next drive. What could’ve been a 23-10 deficit remained stagnant at 13-10. For a team facing the mighty defending champions’ high-octane offense on short rest, that’s one of several moral victories gained against a brutal opponent.

3rd Quarter: Run All Night

With 11:22 to go in the second quarter, the Bills took a 10-7 lead through a 13-play, 75-yard masterpiece that was capped off by a Stefon Diggs touchdown grab. It was a drive that took 6:43 off the game clock…nearly seven minutes without Mahomes, Kelce, Edwards-Helaire, etc. on the field.

But over their next three possessions, Buffalo ran just 14 plays, tallying only 53 yards, and 5:18 on the time of possession clock. Kansas City noticed, taking advantage by showcasing their run game. In addition to Edwards-Helaire’s breakout effort, Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson united for 43 yards in relief. Williams dealt a crushing blow to a tired Buffalo defense, busting loose for a 13-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-one.

Each of Kansas City’s eight regular-season losses in the Mahomes era has come in games where they lost the time of possession battle. Buffalo failed to fulfill that requirement on Monday, as the offense was on the field for only 22:15.

4th Quarter: One-Hit Blunder

Penalties have been a bit of an issue (6.6 per game) for the Bills despite their success in the early going. They did manage to play a mostly clean game with only four flags on Monday, including none in the first half.

However, one of them was an unforced error of drastic proportions, a show of frustration that was almost…Jets-ian in nature.

With the Bills down 20-10, Poyer was able to briefly neutralize Edwards-Helaire by stopping him on a screen pass for a loss of two. Had Poyer let go once Edwards-Helaire was forced out of bounds, the Chiefs would’ve faced a third down with seven to go at circa midfield. Alas, Poyer forced Edwards-Helaire out of bounds and slammed him to the ground, drawing a 15-yard penalty and a first down. Kansas City would go on to earn a Harrison Butker field goal, more or less settling things at a two-possession game.

Penalties are going to be an issue if the Bills have any hopes of recovering and moving forward. Their currently per game tally is eighth-worst in football.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Golden Tate’s role in the offense diminishing by week

New York Giants, Golden Tate

The New York Giants‘ offense has struggled throughout the 2020 NFL season. Even in the team’s first victory of the year on Sunday, the offense was not the driving force towards victory. New York is now also dealing with numerous injuries in their skill positions.

Sterling Shepard has missed the last four games with turf toe. Darius Slayton has been banged up, but playing through injuries at a high level. CJ Board suffered a scary head/neck injury on Sunday. The Giants are running out of options in their receiving corpse.

In addition to having less wide receivers available to play, New York has also made the decision to put Golden Tate on the field less. His role in the offense has diminished week by week since Week Three. Tate’s absence on the field is peculiar when considering his durability and high salary. But Joe Judge has stayed true to his word: no matter where you are drafted or how much you are paid, you have to earn your spot. Golden Tate has not earned his spot thus far in 2020.

Golden Tate’s Diminishing Role

In Week Three, Golden Tate was featured prominently in the Giants offense, playing 92% of the team’s offensive snaps. His snap percentage decreased to 75% the following week. His role diminished even further the following week, as he played only 59% of the Giants’ offensive snaps in Week Five.

In the Giants’ Week Six win, Tate played 62% of the team’s offensive snaps. But in the first half, Tate was barely seen on the field. It was not until CJ Board went down with an injury that Tate started seeing significant time on the field.

Golden Tate has seen his role in the Giants’ offense decrease significantly. He has only been targeted 24 times in six games. He also had only one target and one reception in Week Six against the Washington Football Team.

Tate’s Lackluster Performance and Clouded Future

Golden Tate is one of the highest-paid players on the Giants’ offense. New York handed Tate a four-year $37.5 million contract to supplement the loss of Odell Beckham Jr. in the 2019 offseason. Tate’s cap hit is over $10 million this year, but the veteran wide receiver is not living up to that price tag.

The New York Giants are unlikely to keep Tate around long-term. He is on pace to total only 57 receptions and 468 yards this season. It does not make sense to pay a wide receiver over $10 million for an average of 31.2 yards per game. Luckily for New York, there is a potential out in Tate’s contract this upcoming offseason. The Giants can cut Golden Tate in the 2021 offseason to free up over $6 million in cap space. Considering the way he has played this year, it seems likely that the Giants will go this route. That is if Golden Tate is not traded at this year’s deadline

NASCAR approves Kyle Larson’s reinstatement, effective January 1

Banned for his use of a racial slur during a streamed virtual event, Kyle Larson will be eligible to return to NASCAR on January 1.

NASCAR has approved Kyle Larson’s application for reinstatement. The former Cup Series star will be eligible to partake in NASCAR-sanctioned events beginning January 1, 2021. Larson was previously banned indefinitely for using a racial slur during a live-streamed virtual event on the iRacing platform.

“NASCAR continues to prioritize diversity and inclusion across our sport,” a statement from NASCAR read. “Kyle Larson has fulfilled the requirements set by NASCAR and has taken several voluntary measures, to better educate himself so that he can use his platform to help bridge the divide in our country. Larson’s indefinite suspension has been lifted. Under the terms of his reinstatement, he will be cleared to return to all NASCAR racing activities effective January 1, 2021.”

Larson has begun to speak openly about the April incident that led to his banishment from NASCAR, penning an open letter on his website and speaking with Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press and James Brown of CBS. In that event, Larson tried to get his spotter’s attention by saying “hey, n*****” over his radio. Since the incident, Larson vowed to educate himself on what African-American have dealt with in terms of racism.

“Since April, I’ve done a lot of reflecting. I realized how little I really knew about the African-American experience in this country and racism in general,” Larson wrote in his letter. Educating myself is something I should’ve done a long time ago, because it would’ve made me a better person – the kind of person who doesn’t casually throw around an awful, racist word. The kind who makes an effort to understand the hate and oppression it symbolizes and the depth of pain it has caused Black people throughout history and still to this day. It was past time for me to shut up, listen, and learn.”

Larson will continue with his work at the Urban Youth Racing School a STEM education program based in Philadelphia. Prior to his release, he drove the No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing, earning six wins over six full-time seasons. Recent rumors have connected Larson to Hendrick Motorsports, which has an opening in their No. 88 Chevrolet. Current driver Alex Bowman is moving to the No. 48, whose seat will be left vacated by the retiring Jimmie Johnson.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

UFC books Angela Hill – Tecia Torres rematch (Reports)

UFC 256 is getting a really solid strawweight contest added to it’s card. According to multiple reports, Angela Hill (12-9) is going to be taking on Tecia Torres (11-5) in a rematch. The two strawweights first fought back at UFC 188.

2020 was shaping up to be a big time year for Angela Hill, however, it’s taken a turn. After defeating Ariane Carnelossi back in September of 2019, Hill opened 2020 with back-to-back UFC wins in the first two months of the year. She rode that momentum into a shot at former title challenger Claudia Gadelha.

It was a very close fight that many believed Hill should have won. However, two of the three judges gave the fight to Gadelha at UFC on ESPN 8. Hill then turned around and got a last minute main event slot against the Karate Hottie, Michelle Waterson.

In a fight that would turn out to be a classic, Hill was once again defeated by split decision. I had the fight scored for Waterson, but many believed that Hill should have won. Had Hill been given those two decisions, she could have been in UFC title contention.

Tecia Torres was able to snap her four fight losing streak back in June. Torres took on and defeated Brianna Van Buren by unanimous decision. A fifth straight loss could have spelled the end of Torres’ current run in the UFC.

UFC Redemption

These two ladies rank 11th and 12th in the UFC‘s strawweight rankings. A loss for either would really hurt their chances moving forward while a victory would get them moving back in the right direction. A lot is on the line at UFC 256.

For Angela Hill, this is a golden opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. She can right the wrong of the last couple of decisions, and she can get back her first loss to Torres. Torres won their first fight by unanimous decision.

This is a very solid strawweight contest that has been added to a very good card at UFC 256. The card is being headlined by the greatest female fighter of all time in Amanda Nunes, however, these two ladies should put on a show in their fight.

New York Knicks: Tyrese Haliburton and his unorthodox shot at NBA glory

The New York Knicks have been looking for a lead guard for so long. They might find him in this year’s point guard-heavy NBA Draft.

He may not have the size and the athleticism of Magic Johnson and LeBron James but Tyrese Haliburton has their combination of vision, high basketball IQ, charisma, and leadership qualities.

Haliburton has closely watched both guys growing up with Johnson belonging to his father’s generation and James from his generation.

“I watched a lot of old, throwback basketball like the 80s and 90s stuff growing up because my dad is an old head. For me, Magic Johnson has always been my guy,” Haliburton said during his Draft Combine interview.

“His passion and spirit on the court but his vision and his impact on winning, I don’t think people really understand how much of a winner Magic Johnson really is. That probably is my inspiration.”

Magic Johnson has won five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 80s. James, on the other hand, is fresh from winning his fourth title also with the Lakers, his third team.

There was a time when the 6’9” Johnson played center in the NBA. And James too as a 6’8” point forward. Haliburton grew up like them in Wisconsin alongside recent NBA Bubble breakout star Tyler Herro of the Miami Heat.

Haliburton was the tallest kid during his fifth grade that he was pigeonholed as a center.

“I hated being a big man,” Haliburton recalled.

A young Haliburton reached his breaking point during one of their team practices. He grabbed a rebound and began to run the ball up the court, directing play.

“I told coach, ‘I can play the point, let me play the point’,” Haliburton said.

And he made his point with conviction, playing as the tallest point guard. He’s played that position ever since except for his freshman year in college.

Haliburton and Herro went separate ways in high school and carved their own basketball path.

Haliburton went to Oshkosh North High School and developed into the best point guard in Wisconsin. Herro blossomed into a big-time scorer at Whitnall High School.

Haliburton said he’s gotten a lot of insights from Herro since he declared for the NBA Draft.

As a high school senior, Haliburton led Oshkosh North High School to a 26-1 record averaging 22.9 points, 6.2 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 3.5 steals, and 1.7 blocks. He capped off his phenomenal senior year with a 31-point effort, including 24 in the second half and a perfect 18-of-18 trip at the line, to win the Division I state championship. He was named Wisconsin Player of the Year.

Despite his high school accolades, he was only rated as a four-star recruit. But Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm saw something else in Haliburton.

“He’s been a rock star here since Day One. I think that attracted us and that made him a priority in our recruiting process,” Iowa head coach Steve Prohm told Empire Sports Media.

Prohm’s program at Iowa has produced the likes of Georges Niang, Monte Morris, and Talen Horton-Tucker in the NBA. He has zeroed in on high-character guys and great personalities.

“When we talked to him on the phone, sat with him in their living room, and watched him play, he checked all those boxes,” Prohm recalling his recruitment of Haliburton.

Two years later, Haliburton has emerged as the potential first lottery pick from ISU’s basketball program under Prohm’s watch.

In just a short time with the Cyclones, Haliburton has been to the NCAA tournament, won a Big 12 tournament, and a gold medal with Team USA U19 with a performance that catapulted him into one of the best prospects in this year’s NBA Draft.

Behind his competitive spirit on the hardcourt, Haliburton has that infectious smile and the charisma of a Magic Johnson.

He’s just got an unbelievable spirit and phenomenal personality. And I always joked with him that when he’s done playing, he’ll be the governor of Wisconsin,” Prohm said. “He can walk into any room and can have an amazing presence.”

Like Johnson, Haliburton has only played two years in college before declaring for the NBA. But unlike the former Laker legend, Haliburton isn’t the consensus top overall pick. He’s not even the most highly-touted point guard in the Draft. That label belongs to LaMelo Ball.

And Haliburton’s case as the second-best point guard in the Draft has met a strong resistance from Frenchman Killian Hayes.

But Haliburton has the supreme belief that he’s the best facilitator out of the group, something that he molded himself after the playing styles of Johnson and later on James.

“LaMelo is scoring the ball at three levels. I think I’m the best facilitator out of the group and I think Killian defends at a high level,” Haliburton said of their different strengths.

It’s not hard to see why Prohm can see a vision of Haliburton being a Wisconsin governor someday. Just by listening to Haliburton eloquently answering each media question, showing grace under pressure, is just half of the equation.

He says all the right things. But he’s also done things the right way.

The other half of Haliburton’s brilliance can be seen in the body of work he’s done on the court.

Bleacher Report’s Draft analyst Jonathan Wasserman has indicated in a recent appearance on KnicksFan TV that Haliburton had A+ interviews with teams. Haliburton has gone on record that he has talked to three teams so far — New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, and Detroit Pistons.

And if the Knicks would have Hayes and Haliburton available for the eighth pick, Wasserman believes they would choose the Iowa standout.

But it seems that the Knicks’ interest in Haliburton is not as strong as the other prospects such as two-way wingman Isaac Okoro whom the they have “inquisitively scouted and liked from the jump” according to Ian Begley of SNY.

Prohm said he’s never met with the Knicks yet and admitted that his communication with them was just confined to text messages.

“I have not talked to the Knicks personally. Just a little bit of texts with one of the guys that’s new over there. But that doesn’t mean that my staff has not talked to them. I don’t ask them all the teams they talk to,” Prohm told Empire Sports Media.

Regardless of how the Knicks view him, Haliburton sees his potential fit in New York.

“I like the Knicks roster and I think they are an up-and-coming team,” he said. “Obviously, they have a lot of guys that can play the point guard spot in Elfrid [Payton] and Dennis [Smith Jr.] and Frank [Ntilikina] but I’m prepared to do whatever I have to do, so if it was the Knicks I’m prepared to do whatever is asked of me. If that’s play the one, or slide to the two or come off the bench or start, it doesn’t really matter. I’m ready.”

Haliburton’s Draft projections have been all over the place. The uncertainty of this Draft presents a strong case for Haliburton to be one of the sure things.

Aside from his phenomenal vision and high-efficiency play on the court, Haliburton brings flexibility at the backcourt.

When he arrived in Iowa, Haliburton was pegged to become the backup point guard behind senior guard Nick Weiler-Babb. But an injury to their starting shooting guard Lindell Wigginton had prompted Prohm to slot him in the starting unit right away next to Weiler-Babb.

But even playing outside his natural position didn’t stop Haliburton from making an impact on the team.

“As a freshman, the goal was to put them in a position to have immediate success and gain confidence. We had a senior guard (Weiler-Babb) who was phenomenal at the position. With the way we play, and what we always emphasize — spacing and ball movement, Tyrese was still able to be the second in assist to turnover ratio as a freshman and he almost led our team in assists as a freshman,” Prohm said.

Haliburton started in 34 out of 35 games as a freshman and averaged 6.8 points, 3.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and almost a block per game while shooting over 51 percent from the field and 43 percent from the three-point region. He ranked third in the nation in offensive rating (136.8) and his 4.5-1 assist-to-turnover ratio was the second-best in the nation and led the Big 12 Conference.

He also broke the 44-year school record with most assists in a single game when he dished out 17 against a lone turnover in a blowout win against Southern.

“He’s such a willing passer and a giver that he’s so good in the pick and roll and his vision is phenomenal. He’s a high-assist, low-turnover guy and off the floor, he’s all about the right things. You talk about character and what’s the right thing for the team,” Prohm said.

On the defensive end, Haliburton joined last year’s top overall pick Zion Williamson (Duke) as the only true freshmen nationally with 50 steals and 30 blocks.

“That’s why Tyrese is good at understanding scouting reports. He has great anticipation and a great feel. He’s really good away from the ball. He really understands how to trap, double the post, understand rotation,” Prohm said of Haliburton, who has been watching and breaking down game films since his middle school.

His stint with Team USA in the summer before his sophomore year has shot up his confidence even more. He returned to Iowa in high spirits ready to embrace a bigger role in Prohm’s system.

 

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slept on myself for a minute, I’m up now. #lostfiles

A post shared by Tyrese Haliburton (@tyresehaliburton) on Oct 14, 2020 at 4:25pm PDT

In a clean seven-game sweep, Haliburton averaged 7.9 points, 6.9 assists, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.3 steals in 25 minutes per game in the 2019 U19 FIBA World Cup. He also shot 56 percent of his three-pointers on his way to being named to the tournament’s All-Star Five.

Haliburton showed elite playmaking next to elite talents in a team that boasts of tournament MVP Reggie Perry, next year’s potential top picks Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, and fellow Draft prospect Kira Lewis, Jr.

His phenomenal play in the world championships turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg.

“Obviously, we lost a lot of those guys from his freshman year that he moved into the primary point guard responsibility and he flourished with that. But the other thing he did a great job is he’s really shown people that he can score as well,” Prohm said.

Haliburton had a breakout season in his sophomore year that led to his decision to declare for the NBA Draft.

When the college season was cut short by pandemic, Haliburton was sixth in the Big 12 in scoring (15.2), second in FG percentage (50.4), first in assists (6.5), first in steals (2.5), second in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3), third in 3FG percentage (41.9) and 13th in rebounding (5.9).

He has destroyed all Big 12 point guards this season including Lewis, Jr. of Alabama. In their matchup in the Bahamas late last year, Haliburton has outplayed his Alabama counterpart leading the Cyclones to a 104-89 rout.

Haliburton almost had a triple-double finishing with a game-high 23 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. He also shot 4-of-7 three-pointers.

In contrast, Lewis, Jr. struggled with 3-13 field goal shooting and was limited to just eight points, four boards, and five dimes. He also went 0-of-4 from three.

Haliburton though hasn’t seen action since February due to a wrist injury but if there’s something positive that came out of it is that he showed what he’s really made of.

After injuring his wrist late in the first half, Haliburton had his Mamba moment. He still started the second half and played through the pain. Playing essentially with one hand, he helped the Cyclones build a 49-35 lead before sitting out the last 16 minutes of the game. His teammates held on to the victory, 73-63.

He was later on diagnosed with a left wrist fracture that prematurely ended his final year with the Cyclones.

“When he got injured, one thing he showed us is he’s all about the right things. His parents still traveled to the games. They still came to the home games. He still followed the scouting reports. He still communicated from the bench. He’s waving the towel. He’s talked to his teammates. And he was all-in to the very end,” Prohm said.

“He was crushed because he doesn’t want to leave this place but he needed to go pro. It was his time and he’s more than ready.”

Analytics guys would fall in love with Haliburton’s high-efficiency play. But his lean frame and unorthodox shot have made him a polarizing Draft prospect.

Aware of those knocks on his game, Haliburton has locked up in Wisconsin in preparation for the Draft training with his former AAU coach Bryan Johnikin. He said he worked three times per day doing lifts in the morning and spending the rest of the day on the basketball court working on his shot, primarily off-the-bounce and his on-ball defense.

From 168-lb, Haliburton has checked in at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas recently with 18 lbs additional muscle — a product of his six days a week lifting in the weight rooms for two months.

And what about his shot?

Haliburton and the people around him have the “why fix it if it ain’t broke” mentality.

“I think it’s so overblown the stuff about my (shooting) mechanics because I don’t think film or numbers lie,” Haliburton said.

“I think I shot the ball really well both years. If people watched, they know the range is not a problem for me. If that’s what people want to talk about, go ahead. But we can revisit that question in a couple of years and see what people will say,” he added.

Prohm didn’t even try to tweak it. And why would he do that if Haliburton’s shooting is off the charts?
“I didn’t [tweak it]. He shot over 40 percent from threes for two years in a row. It’s gone in ever since I’ve seen him play. He’s got great range and size. I didn’t really want to change his shot. In the next level, they may, they may not,” Prohm said. “If you’re shooting over 40 as the top guy in the scouting report, that’s pretty good.”
NBA Draft analyst Matt Babcock of Babcock Hoops and his Director of Scouting Derek Murray have watched tons and tons of film on Haliburton throughout the year.
Murray also saw Haliburton multiple times during the Big12 play.
“While his shot is funky, it goes in, and goes in often. Everywhere he goes — he is the one of the best shooters in the gym, so I don’t see a need to change the shot at this point. It works’,” Murray told Empire Sports Media.
In Murray’s book, Haliburton is “easily a top-5 point guard.”
“I like him in the back of the top-10, certainly a lottery guy,” Murray added.
Haliburton’s shot at NBA stardom won’t necessarily hinge on his shot. To him, it’s only aesthetics that doesn’t need a quick fix. What he’s been working on is how to be more effective shooting off the bounce.
Haliburton has gotten better and more comfortable shooting off the dribble in Las Vegas as noted by ESPN’s Mike Schmitz.
Haliburton already has the offensive gifts and uncanny vision to run a team or even slide to become a combo guard. But Prohm believes that if Haliburton can unlock his potential on the defensive end, then the sky’s the limit.
“One thing that he needs to get better at, he knows this, and teams I’m sure know this is just guarding one on one. He’s gonna have to continue to grow and get better at that but I think he’ll do that with his length and size, his ability to be coached, and as he matures,” Prohm said.
He may not be as fanciful as Ball, or as strong as Hayes, but Haliburton impacts winning in the most efficient way whether at the point or as a two-guard.

“I’m a basketball player. Whatever you need from me I’ll do. If you want me to play the PG, I’ll do that. I think I facilitate better than anybody in this draft. I think I can run a team right away, but if you want me to play the two and knock down shots and defend, I think can do that as well. So whatever’s really asked of me, I’ll do,” Haliburton said.

Haliburton has all the makings of not just a great point guard, but also as a great ambassador of the league. Prohm sounded like a broken record with all the right buzz words but Haliburton has shown he can walk the talk.

“He’s got great temperament, maturity, and humility to fit in any role. He understands what’s needed from him. He’s gonna buy-in and do what’s best for that team,” Prohm said.

“He’s never too high and never too low and he understands the work ethic that it takes to be successful.”

Haliburton, in some ways, is being viewed by skeptics just like how he believes people view Magic Johnson and his underrated impact on winning.

Some people also really don’t understand how much of a winner Haliburton is.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Infielder Luis Guillorme

The New York Mets came into the 2020 season with a minimal role for utility infielder Luis Guillorme. He took advantage of some Mets injuries in August and parlayed that into starting opportunities. Guillorme’s glove remained reliable, but this was the first time we saw him find success with the bat as well.

Guillorme only played in three of the Mets’ first 13 games of the season. He started the season 1-for-7 at the plate with two strikeouts and grounding into two double plays. Guillorme finally got a chance to play every day from August 11 through September 1 and took full advantage of it.

In 12 games (11 starts), he slashed .469/.550/.563 with three doubles, seven walks, and eight strikeouts. His outstanding .600 BABIP made him an impossible out at the plate despite lacking the power at the plate. 34.1% of his batted balls were line drives, and 43.5% were hit to the opposite field. Guillorme was not doing anything special at the plate. He was trying to hit line drives the other way, and it paid off very well for him.

Brodie Takes Away Playing Time

At the trade deadline, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen opted to bring in Todd Frazier, which drastically cut Guillorme’s playing time. As the Mets got healthy, there was nowhere to play Guillorme. It even resulted in him being sent to the alternate site at one point despite his average hovering around .400.

Guillorme’s bat went cold since he was relegated to bench player duty. He finished the season going 3-for-18 with seven strikeouts and put a damper on a very promising season. It was disappointing to see the Mets take one of their better hitters and push him to the side. Guillorme also added stellar defense to his production, and the Mets should have continued to ride the hot hand.

Overall, it was a terrific year for a player the Mets expected nothing from. He batted .333 with a .426 on-base percentage and six doubles in just 57 at-bats. Almost one-third of those at came with runners in scoring position, where he hit .389 in those situations. Guillorme might not be an everyday player, but he proves to be a quality bench player as he heads into his age-26 season.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 80 (50), It was an amazing year for Guillorme, but it is hard to see him hitting .333 over a full season.

Power: 20 (20), Still only one homer and a .341 career slugging.

Run: 45 (45), Did have two stolen bases this season but the slowest sprint speed of his career.

Arm: 60 (60), Strong and very accurate arm from his three infield spots.

Field: 70 (70), Made the team for his glove in the first place, made numbers amazing plays throughout the season.

Overall: 65 (45), It was an amazing year in a small sample size, but he should regress to a solid bench player in 2021.

 

New York Yankees: Possible landing spots for Masahiro Tanaka during his free agency

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

New York Yankees’ right-hander Masahiro Tanaka just completed his seven-year contract with the club and is now an unrestricted free agent. Throughout those seven years, Tanaka has been solid for the Yankees, especially in the postseason. However, it’ll be interesting to see what his next contract will look like.

It was reported that the Rakuten Golden Eagles from Nippon Professional Baseball’s Pacific League in Japan are considering to offer Tanaka a considerable amount of money to come back to Japan to play ball. The club reportedly is offering anywhere from $20-25 million a year. The length of this contract is currently unknown. Tanaka has already spent some time for the Golden Eagles, playing seven years with them before coming to the New York Yankees.

As for the Yankees, their highest priority is making sure batting title winner DJ LeMahieu resigns with the team. Due to LeMahieu’s extremely successful two seasons in pinstripes, the Yankees definitely know he is looking to get paid this offseason. This could get in the way of Tanaka’s contract though. A contract between $30-40 million for three to five years is realistic, and that saves the Yanks some money and gets a few more years out of a starter who still has more left in the tank.

Other teams that need starting pitching that could possibly go after Tanaka are the Red Sox, Orioles, Giants, and Blue Jays.

The Yankees will probably extend an offer to Tanaka because of his success over the last several years. Although, they know that because of his age he’s looking for some length. There’s also the concern with injury since Tanaka has had UCL trouble over the past few years.

It’ll be interesting to see where Tanaka ends up this offseason and what contracts he is offered. The Yankees and the rest of the MLB know that he still has some gas left and can be a quality starting pitcher somewhere.

New York Yankees: Clint Frazier earned a regular spot in the lineup for 2021 and beyond

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

In a year in which Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton spent most of the regular season on the shelf; and Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman underperformed, Clint Frazier was a bright spot for the New York Yankees. He started the season behind all of them for playing time, and with patience, hard work, defensive improvements and a much better batting eye (and mechanical adjustments,) the red-haired thumper claimed his fair share of at-bats.

For the season, Frazier slashed .267/.394/.511, ëven though he struggled down the stretch and lost playing time to Gardner in the postseason. However, Gardy’s future with the Yankees is uncertain and Stanton is set to handle designated hitter duties in most of his starts. That means Frazier should have earned a regular spot for 2021 and beyond.

In just 39 games, Frazier ranked fourth among New York Yankees’ position players when it comes to fWAR, with 1.3. Only DJ LeMahieu, Luke Voit and Giovanny Urshela had better marks, and all of them played in more contests.

The Yankees are better off with Frazier as the starting left fielder

When asked about whether Frazier had earned a spot in next year’s lineup, MLB.com’s beat writer for the Yankees Bryan Hoch said he believes the “Red Thunder” should be the primary left fielder going forward.

“I believe Frazier has earned that opportunity. Take out his 1-for-20 skid at the end of the regular season and Frazier was clearly one of the team’s best offensive performers, batting .306/.422/.595 with eight homers and 26 RBIs in his first 33 games. We knew his bat would play, but Frazier’s defense improved markedly, which he believes is partially attributable to being further removed from his 2018 concussion,” he wrote.

Hoch also praised Frazier’s patience. “When the Yankees came into this year, there did not appear to be a clear avenue for Frazier to score at-bats over Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Tauchman. Credit to Frazier: he waited, then made the most of a chance. Gardner’s status is uncertain, Tauchman hardly played down the stretch and the Yankees view Stanton as a full-time designated hitter. The Yanks are still too right-handed, but Frazier’s time appears to be now.”

With a quick bat, an improved approach (highlighted by a 15.6 BB%) and a decent glove, Frazier has potential to deliver a four-WAR season in 2021, which would be hug for the Yankees.

New York Jets: 2 players who could be traded before the deadline

new york jets, jamison crowder

The New York Jets are now 0-6 with yesterday’s loss to the Dolphins. Surprisingly, the amount of points they scored yesterday is the same amount of wins they still currently have. Okay, maybe it’s not that surprising.

On another note, it seems as though they are in full “sell” mode.

Jamal Adams, Le’Veon Bell, and most recently Steve McClendon, have all been removed from this team one way or another this season. It seems as though no one is safe right now, as linebacker Avery Williamson has already pointed out.

The Jets and general manager Joe Douglas appear to be leaning towards a rebuild now, potentially without Sam Darnold, but that’s a worn-out conversation already. So, let’s look at two other players that could be off the team come the deadline.

Jamison Crowder

Crowder is unarguably the team’s best receiver and potentially their best player overall. Through four games played, as he’s missed two, he’s totaled 29 receptions for 383 yards and 2 touchdowns. Before finishing with 48 yards yesterday, he was leading the NFL with 111.7 receiving yards per game.

His services could potentially come down to a bidding war among teams pushing for the playoffs this season, especially if they need a proven offensive piece. Crowder, who mostly lines up in the slot, wouldn’t force a team to make him the top target outside of the numbers. When he’s lined up in the slot, he’s been very productive and reliable.

Potential contenders, such as the Packers, would benefit instantly from acquiring him. However, injury-riddled teams, such as the Eagles, could be in play as well.

Being the team’s best asset at the moment, he would probably allow for the most return in any trade. Almost immediately after the Le’Veon Bell release, Crowder was named as one of two players on the trade block.

Brian Poole

With Crowder as one of two players named on the trade block, Poole joined him as the other. Poole is the Jets’ best cornerback, and it isn’t close. He was the ninth highest-graded cornerback in the entire league last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Also, before yesterday’s game, he was ranked fifth in the league with a coverage grade of 81.6.

Poole was re-signed in the offseason to a one-year, $5-million deal. If he’s dealt before the deadline, it’s most likely because of his contract. Corner-needy teams won’t have to spend any sort of drastic money for him, making him even more desirable.

Teams such as the Chiefs, Packers, Seahawks, Cardinals and Raiders could all upgrade their slot-corner position with Brian Poole, to name a few. That doesn’t mean that any of these teams go for him, but they are some potential teams to watch.

Right now, all the talk and rumors surrounding Jamison Crowder and Brian Poole is speculation, but with the direction things seem to be heading, they could realistically be gone before the end of the reason. If they are, it’ll be interesting to see what Joe Douglas can get in return.