New York Giants: Andrew Thomas named as second year breakout candidate

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants are likely expecting a quick increase in quality from Andrew Thomas this season, after drafting the second year left tackle number four overall in 2020. The Giants bet on Thomas as the safest option out of a number of offensive line prospects, and were paid back with up and down results throughout the season as Thomas was initially considered a bust by many before starting to raise his play.

But to keep up with some of the other members of the same draft class, and justify the Giants taking him in the top five, Thomas will have to take a further step forward in 2021. What are the odds of that happening? Well, ESPN is confident enough in Thomas improving to list him with 15 second year breakout prospects.

Thomas came in at number 11, and as the second tackle to appear on the list.

11. Andrew Thomas, OT, New York Giants

Pick in 2020 draft: No. 4

It was a tale of two seasons for Thomas, whose head was spinning after the first few weeks of his rookie campaign. Only one tackle recorded a worse pass-blocking grade through Week 7 than Thomas, who sat at an abysmal 45.3 mark. He allowed pressure at 14% clip in those seven games — 3.5 percentage points worse than anyone else at the position.

Criticism abounded, but Thomas stuck with it and put together a solid second half of the season. His 63.5 pass-block grade from Week 8 on was a huge upgrade and showed that he could succeed at the NFL level. He cut his pressure rate by more than half, dropping all the way to 6.1%. There’s reason to believe he can continue down that path and make another solid jump in 2021.

Rating Thomas’ chance of improvement this season

There looks to be a good chance that Thomas improves this year. While it wasn’t mentioned in the ESPN article, one major problem last season was an ankle injury. This only became news during the offseason as we found out in January that Thomas underwent ankle surgery.

Given that, and how Thomas was quickly thrust into the fire against high level pass rushers, and how the offensive line coach position was quite unstable for the Giants last season, it’s not hard to see why Thomas struggled.

Much of the Giants fanbase will still have bad memories fresh in their minds from the franchise drafting Ereck Flowers highly before moving on from the player as a bust. But with Thomas, it’s easier to point to clear reasons why the start of his rookie season wasn’t successful.

As those reasons don’t seem to be particularly long term or attitude related, there’s reason for optimism. As the Giants head into Thomas’ second season with him largely undisputed as a starting tackle, that’s likely what the coaching staff is also betting on.

The Chicago Bears simple message to WR Anthony Miller

The Chicago Bears made a quick transaction on Saturday night, sending wide receiver Anthony Miller to the Houston Texans, swapping late-round draft picks in exchange. Miller, who enters his fourth season in the NFL struggled to find any sort of consistency through his first three seasons.

A fresh start for Miller with the Houston Texans means the former second-round pick will have Tyrod Taylor and 2021 third-round pick Davis Mills throwing him the football unless Houston’s franchise quarterback DeShaun Watson is cleared of allegations surrounding him ahead of the 2021 regular season.

The Bears message to Miller was simple: We’re not going to waste time waiting for you to figure things out so goodbye.

In 2020, Miller averaged just 9.9 yards per reception, a career-low. The former first-round pick started just six games, en route to 49 receptions for 485 receiving yards and two touchdowns while playing just 55 percent of snaps on offense in 2020.

By trading Miller, the Bears will also create $1.2M in cap space, per Over The Cap, none of which was guaranteed. By adding a late-round pick in the process, Chicago is now expected to have a projected six draft picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, a number that includes no first or fourth-round picks.

Many expected Miller to enter training camp as WR3 and be the starting slot receiver. When the Bears officially report to Halas Hall on Tuesday for training camp, the ensuing competition at slot wide receiver will be one to monitor as the Bears have a variety of options. Chicago did create some additional competition at the position by adding Marquise Goodwin, Damiere Byrd, and rookie Dazz Newsome. With Miller now out of the picture, the hope is that either of the three players mentioned above can step up and bring consistency to the table.

Besides inconsistent quarterback play, maturity issues also held Miller back from realizing the true potential that many expected him to have coming out of Memphis four years ago. Miller now gets a fresh start and a chance to turn his career around, something that could be best for him in the long-term.

 

UFC Vegas 32 Results: TJ Dillashaw edges Cory Sandhagen in an instant classic

In the main event of UFC Vegas 32, we saw one of the most highly anticipated main events of the year. Former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw (16-4) returned after a two-year suspension and took on top contender Cory Sandhagen (14-2).

Just a few years ago, TJ Dillashaw was on top of the world. He was the undisputed UFC bantamweight champion with aspirations of becoming a two-division champion. He decided to drop to flyweight to try and realize that dream.

However, to assist with dropping weight and not losing energy, Dillashaw took EPO. EPO is a strong performance enhancer and the UFC informed him of the positive test after he lost to Cejudo in January of 2019. Dillashaw was then suspended for two years.

Upon his return, Dillashaw wanted to take on the best that the division had to offer and it didn’t get better than Cory Sandhagen. Since making his debut with the UFC, Sandhagen has gone an impressive 7-1.

The lone loss came against the current champion Aljamain Sterling. However, since that loss he’s bounced back with back-to-back knockouts over Marlon Moraes and Frankie Edgar.

UFC Vegas 32 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Vegas 32 main event kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Dillashaw immediately pushed forward with pressure as Sandhagen circled on the outside. Leg kick for Sandhagen starts the striking.

Body kick lands for Dillashaw. Dillashaw pushes forward with a combination. Nice right straight lands for Sandhagen. Sandhagen throws a flying knee that lands and Sandhagen gets Dillashaw in an inverted triangle choke.

It’s deep, but Dillashaw survives. The former UFC champion lands a few good shots and Sandhagen works his way up to his feet along the fence. Dillashaw holds the clinch while kneeing the thighs of Sandhagen.

Both men exchange big shots as they separate. Low kick for Sandhagen lands. Beautiful left hook lands for Dillashaw. Another good low kick from Sandhagen. Dillashaw lands two straight hands and he gets a body lock.

Sandhagen tries to roll, but Dillashaw ends up on top. Dillashaw is looking to land shots as Sandhagen attacks submissions. Big right lands for Dillashaw. Sandhagen attacks a leg and Dillashaw lands big shots as the round closes. Great round, and I lean 1-0 to the former UFC champion.

Round 2

The first round at UFC Vegas 32 was insanely close and incredibly competitive. They touch gloves to start the second round. Sandhagen starts the striking with a couple of nice jabs. Dillashaw pushes forward and shoots for a takedown.

The two clinch along the fence and Dillashaw is heavy on the pressure. Sandhagen separates and Dillashaw lands a big body kick on the break. Dillashaw’s leg might be compromised from the leg attacks in the first round.

Huge 1-2 lands for Sandhagen and Dillashaw shakes it off. Nice left hook lands for Dillashaw. Both exchange jabs and Dillashaw keeps pushing forward. Sandhagen drops Dillashaw with a big left hook.

Dillashaw shoots for a takedown. The two separate and Sandhagen seems to have found his range here in the second round. Dillashaw is busted open and Sandhagen is really taking control here.

Big flying knee for Sandhagen and he lands another combination after. Dillashaw tries to land a combination, but he’s out of range. Sandhagen continues to land, but Dillashaw gets to the clinch and gets a brief takedown. The round ends and it was a big round at UFC Vegas 32 for Sandhagen.

Round 3

Entering the third round here at UFC Vegas 32 and I think it’s even after two. They touch gloves and Dillashaw pushes forward with a left hand. Big combination lands for Dillashaw.

Nice straight shot lands for Sandhagen. However, Dillashaw looks much better here in the third. Both men exchange body kicks. Dillashaw pushes forward and gets the clinch along the fence.

Sandhagen defending well as Dillashaw tries to drag him to the ground. Good knees to the thighs from Dillashaw. Nice elbow from Sandhagen and they break. Huge right hand lands for Cory Sandhagen.

However, Dillashaw keeps pushing forward and he lands a nice combination. Another big right lands for Sandhagen. Heavy calf kick from Dillashaw buckles Sandhagen briefly.

Sandhagen tries a spinning kick, but Dillashaw catches him and takes him down. Dillashaw briefly gets the back, but Sandhagen gets back up. Both men exchange big shots, but Dillashaw lands the better of the combination.

The UFC Vegas 32 main event is advertised so far. Sandhagen tries for his own takedown, but Dillashaw defends perfectly. The round closes with Dillashaw controlling the clinch. I have it 2-1 Dillashaw here at UFC Vegas 32.

Round 4

Entering the fourth round at UFC Vegas 32  and this is really anybody’s fight. Dillashaw pushes forward and lands the first shots of the round. Big leg kicks from Dillashaw. Dillashaw seems to have really found his second wind here.

Huge kicks from Dillashaw and Sandhagen seems to be slowing a bit here. Dillashaw times an entry perfectly and gets a clinch on Sandhagen. Heavy pressure from the former champion here.

Sandhagen is able to break and Dillashaw lands another leg kick off the break. Sandhagen starts pressing forward and trying to work off his jab. Big left hook lands for Cory Sandhagen. Here comes The Sandman here in the fourth round.

Nice left hook for Dillashaw finds it’s home. Huge body shot for Sandhagen and Dillashaw forces another clinch. Dillashaw gets a brief takedown and immediately Sandhagen pops to his feet.

Sandhagen spins and the two men break. A couple of nice jabs land for Cory Sandhagen and Dillashaw gets another clinch while looking for a takedown. Sandhagen breaks again and they strike to end the round. Good round for both men, but I lean Sandhagen here at UFC Vegas 32.

Round 5

Entering the final round here at UFC Vegas 32 and I think it’s all even. Both touch gloves and here we go. Dillashaw goes right to work on the legs. Lots of pressure here from TJ Dillashaw to start the final frame.

Sandhagen lands a good shot, but Dillashaw counters with a big combination of his own. These two are trading here in the fifth. Beautiful 1-2 lands for the former champion. Sandhagen lands a good shot of his own.

Dillashaw times Sandhagen beautifully and he briefly lands a takedown. However, Sandhagen gets right back up. Dillashaw again gets deep on a takedown attempt, but can’t get him down.

Nice jabs from Sandhagen and Dillashaw counters with his own shots. Right hands land for Dillashaw and Sandhagen circles on the outside. Both exchange big shots. Huge hook to the body from Sandhagen.

Another takedown attempt from Dillashaw and he presses Sandhagen against the fence. Sandhagen breaks, but Dillashaw lands nicely on the break. Beautiful straight lands for Sandhagen.

Big left hand for Dillashaw and he chains that into a takedown attempt. Again, he can’t get him down. Big leg kick from Dillashaw and a big body shot from Sandhagen. These two are going back and forth here at UFC Vegas 32.

Dillashaw pushes forward with big shots. These two swing to the finish and what a fight! I lean TJ Dillashaw in the final round, but this fight could literally go to either man.

TJ Dillashaw def. Cory Sandhagen by Split Decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47)

WATCH: Knicks’ Obi Toppin bleeds optimism, ‘we’re going to make it far in the playoffs’

New York Knicks, Obi Toppin

When the New York Knicks drafted Obi Toppin 8th overall in the 2020 NBA draft, the front office not only saw a player with upside but a leader and positive energy human. Changing the course of the organization started in the locker room, ridding themselves of negativity and a losing mentality. Drafting Toppin seemed to be a backup plan in case Julius Randle struggled last year, but his emergence as one of the best players in the league forced Toppin into a background role — an expected reality for a rookie.

However, Toppin has an unstoppable work ethic, and he will find a way to make drastic improvements in his game. This past year, he averaged a measly 4.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, and shot 50% from the field over 3.4 times per game. From range, he connected on 30% of his shots, taking just 1.4 per contest. His 11 minutes on average will likely expand next year as the team expects him to be a more prominent piece on offense. His inconsistencies on the defensive side of the ball and ability to post up in isolation made him borderline futile at times, but his high energy proved to be valiant during the postseason when Randle was struggling against the Hawks.

Toppin gushed optimism over the weekend, indicating that his teammates will be working hard this offseason and he would be doing the same:

“The work that, not only myself, but the other guys is putting in… We’re going to make it far in the playoffs next year.”

The Knicks are gearing up for a big month:

The Knicks have a ton of big decisions to make this off-season in free agency and the draft, which will ultimately point them in a specific direction. They have the ability to package their selections together and target a high-profile prospect in the lottery picks or sit still and spend all three first-rounders.

With $50+ million available and five players hitting free agency, August is shaping up to be an exciting month for the team, full of action and intensity. Toppin will undoubtedly hear his name mentioned in trade rumors and scenarios, but all he can do is work to improve his game and prepare for the 2021-22 season.

New York Yankees Recap: Yankees come alive in the eighth to win one from the Red Sox

New York Yankees, Deivi Garcia, Estevan Florial

After losing the first two games of the four-game set against their rival Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees entered this afternoon’s matchup with a certain urgency to win the game to at least split the series with the Red Sox. The Yankees were 2-11 on the season against the Sox and 9 games back in the AL East. Jameson Taillon took the mound for the Yankees facing the ex-Yankees Nathan Eovaldi. It was a perfect weather day for a ball game at Fenway Park in Boston.

To start the game, DJ LeMahieu faced Eovaldi and ground out in the infield. Brett Gardner got a base hit to short, but Gardner runs so face he got the hit. Giancarlo Stanton struck out. Rougie Odor struck out for the final out of the half. Enrique Hernandez led off for the Red Sox and scored, hitting a long ball off the monster, the throw went into the dugout, and he advanced to home for the one-run lead. Jerran Duran popped out. Xander Bogaerts went down on strikes. Rafael Devers flew out, but the Red Sox took the lead in the game. Red Sox 1 Yankees 0.

Gleyber Torres led off the second by striking out. Greg Allen, who has had success off Eovaldi, struck out on three pitches. Chris Gittens flew out to right for a 1-2-3 inning for Eovaldi. At the bottom, JT Martinez lined down the left-field line to get a double leading off the inning. Alex Verdugo flew out. Kevin Plawecki hit one off the green monster for another double driving in Martinez. French Cordero walked. Michael Chavis struck out. With two on and two outs, Hernandez flew out to Florial in center to end the inning. Red Sox 2 Yankees 0.

The top of the third was led off by Estevan Florial, who ground to first, but a head-in slide got a hit for Florial. Rob Brantly singled, moving Florial to second. LeMahieu hit into a double play, but Florial advanced to third. Brett Gardner struck out, and the Yankees left their second running on base in the game. At the bottom, Duran led off and doubled as Odor booted the ball. Bogaerts ground out to Odor, but Duran went to third. Devers got a sac fly to center driving in Duran for Dever’s baseball leading 80 RBI’s. Martinez flew out to end the inning. Boston Red Sox 3 Yankees 0.

The fourth inning was led off by Giancarlo Staton, who struck out for the second time today. Odor popped back to the catcher for the second out. Torres struck out for Eovaldi’s seventh strikeout of the game. Alex Verdugo led off the bottom of the fourth by grounding out. Plawecki singled to left. With one on and one out, Cordero hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. Red Sox 3 Yankees 0.

Greg Allen led off the fifth by flying out to deep center. Gittens popped out to second. Florial flew out to center for a very quick inning for Eovaldi. At the bottom, Chavis stuck out. Hernandez lined out to LeMahieu at third. Duran flew out to Allen, who made a great running catch. It was a quick inning for both pitchers. Red Sox 3 Yankees 0.

Rob Brantly led off the sixth inning by grounding out to second. LeMahieu doubled off the green monster. Gardner struck out on Eovaldi’s curveball. Stanton flew out to right as the Yankees left another runner on base. At the bottom, Bogaerts popped out to second. Devers popped out to left-field foul territory. Martinez singled, Verdugo popped out for the final out. Red Sox 3 Yankees 0.

Rougie Odor led off the seventh by grounding out. Torres flew out to right. Allen singled over the first baseman’s head. Gittens ground out to leave another Yankee on base. Plawecki led off the bottom and went down on strikes. Cordero walked. Cordero tried to steal second, but Brantly gunned him down. Chavis flew out to Gardner for another strong inning from Taillon. Red Sox 3 Yankees 0.

Estevan Florial led off the eighth inning and got a lead-off double. Brantly popped out to third. LeMahieu flew out to Duran in center. Gardner got an RBI single to easily drive in Florial the get the Yankees on the board. That hit knocked Eovaldi out of the game.  The Yankees are now 10-71, with runners in scoring position this season against the Red Sox. Stanton faced another ex-Yankee in reliever Adam Ottavino, and he got a ground-rule double as the ball bounced into the right-field fans, moving Gardner to third base. Tyler Wade came in to pin run for Stanton. Odor doubled off the green monster scoring two to tie up the game at 3. Torres singled, driving in Odor to give the Yankees the lead in the game for the first time. Torres stole second. Allen got plunked and went to first. As the lineup turned over, Gittens tapped in front of the plate for the final out, but the Yankees picked up four runs in the half. New York Yankees 4 Boston Red Sox 3.

Gittens who fell running to first had to be helped off the field. Tyler Wade replaced him at third as LeMahieu moved to first. The Yankees lost their DH, meaning a pitcher would have to hit.

At the bottom of the inning, with the Red Sox behind a run, Hernandez faced the new Yankee pitcher Jonathan Loaisgia returning from the Covid list and ground out. Duran hit back to Loaisiga for the second out. Bogaerts, after a tough at-bat, singled. Devers singled moving Bogaerts to third. With two outs and men on the corners, Martinez flew out to Allen in right, leaving the runners stranded. New York Yankees 4 Red Sox 3.

The top of the ninth saw Estevan Florial at the plate; he walked on four pitches. Rob Brantly hit into a force out fielder’s choice. DJ LeMahieu flew out to the right-center. Brantly took off and was caught for the double play for another Yankee running mistake. With last licks on the line for the Red Sox, Alex Verdugo took to the plate with Aroldis Chapman on the mound and ground out to second. Plawecki struck out. Hunter Renfroe pinch-hitting for Cordero walked. Christian Vazquez also pinch-hitting hit a ground-rule double to move Renfroe to third base.  With the tying run at third and the winning run at second, Hernandez struck out as the Yankees hung on for the win.

Jameson Taillon, the winning pitcher, the loser Adam Ottavino and the save went to Aroldis Chapman for his 18 save of the season.

 

Report: Bradley Beal preparing to force trade, Knicks could be perfect suitor

knicks, wizards, bradley beal

A recent report indicated that the New York Knicks could save the majority of their salary space for the 2022 off-season when players like Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal will become available. However, there is no guarantee those players will hit the market, as contract extensions and potential trades are always on the table.

On Saturday, it was reported that Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal could force his way out via trade, opening up the door for the New York Knicks as a potential suitor.

According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, Washington’s Bradley Beal could force a trade, opening up a potential landing spot in New York :

“He knows he has to make a decision before the draft,” one source with direct knowledge of Beal’s thinking told Bleacher Report. For the past year, people familiar with Beal’s dedicated relationship to the Wizards have consistently rebuffed the notion he had interest in playing elsewhere. Yet a second source close to Beal, when contacted by B/R, confirmed the situation is now fluid.

Beal signed a two-year, $71.7 million extension and will earn $34.5 million next season with a player option during the 2022-23 season. His contract includes a 15% trade kicker.

What would Beal bring to the Knicks?

Last season in Washington, Beal averaged 31.3 points per game, a career-high. He also tallied 4.4 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and shot 48% from the field. He also connected on 35% of his shots from range, averaging 6.2 attempts per game. As a high-profile shooter and elite shooting guard, having earned three All-Star appearances over the past four seasons, he would be a perfect fit in New York to elevate the guard position and offer them a reliable option moving forward. Pairing him with Julius Randle would give the team a perfect one-two punch, taking some of the pressure off the star power forward.

Not only is Beal an elite offensive player, but he’s also an adequate defensive option, averaging 1.2 steals per game. Additionally, he has been extremely healthy over the course of his career, playing a low of 55 games during the 2015-16 season, indicating a clean bill of health.

There’s no question the Knicks would have to unload a healthy number of assets to acquire Beal, but he might demand less than Damian Lillard based on his contract alone.

Mets add veteran lefty Rich Hill to pitching puzzle

The pitching-starved New York Mets completed their first major move before the July 30 trade deadline, bringing 41-year-old starter Rich Hill from the Tampa Bay Rays. To complete the transaction, they sent injured reliever Tommy Hunter and minor leaguer Matt Dyer.

Rich offers the Mets a reliable starter with playoff experience and the required versatility to change roles: he could be a traditional starter, a ‘bulk’ reliever, or a piggyback pitcher after another one.

The left-hander has been having a tremendous year with Tampa, with a 6-4 record, a 3.87 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 95.1 innings and 19 starts. He also has 91 strikeouts.

It’s a very good deal for the Mets. “A lot of people in the game know the name,” manager Luis Rojas said to MLB.com. “It’s a great fit, a great acquisition. Our front office is being diligent. We’ve talked about our starting pitching need. This is a guy that fits right in.”

A very savvy addition by the Mets

There is still no firm date for Hill to take the mound and make his Mets debut, but Sunday or Monday are the best possibilities.

“I’m just really, really excited to get to know Rich,” Rojas said. “I can’t wait for him to get here and then see when he’s going to be available wearing a Mets uniform, pitching out there. It’s great that we’re in a homestand, and it will be awesome that he pitches here, in front of the fans. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

The addition of Hill reportedly will not stop the Mets from looking at other avenues to improve the rotation. Right now, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, David Peterson, and Noah Syndergaard are out with injury.

Marcus Stroman, Taijuan Walker, and Trevor Megill have done a fantastic job in offering some stability.

“He’s going to walk off the mound with literally nothing left every single time,” said Mets reliever Trevor May, who was Hill’s teammate in Minnesota last season. “That’s something that, as a team, I think that’s a pretty good representation of the Mets this year. His whole thing is very much our whole thing.”

Moses Moody‘s winding path to NBA | Arkansas star had a good meeting with Knicks

Is Moses Moody the New York Knicks’ trade-up target?

Everything Moses Moody did in the last few years was to get closer to his NBA dream.

Now that he’s on the NBA doorstep, he feels confident with the preparation he did to meet the challenge.

“I’ve been playing basketball for as long as I remember. NBA has always been a goal my whole life. That’s been the why to a lot of things I did — the workouts, waking up early, even just doing the right thing,” Moody said during his NBA Draft media availability Friday.

In 2019, he joined what many viewed as the most talented high school team at Montverde.

He played alongside Cade Cunningham, the projected top overall pick of this class, Scottie Barnes, and Day’Ron Sharpe.

“That team was great. It was a lot of fun. Those are my guys. We got good relationships. This was always a dream, a goal for all of us,” Moody said.

“With the network I have and the group of friends, we’re just pushing each other to be great.”

After learning to play off the ball in a star-studded Montverde team, he joined Arkansas and became the Razorbacks’ go-to guy in a memorable Elite Eight run in the NCAA tournament.

Moody led Arkansas in scoring and finished third in the SEC with 16.8 points per game on a 43/36/81 shooting split. More importantly, he led the Razorbacks in plus-minus at +309. Clearly, Moody impacted winning as one of the only three NCAA freshmen who averaged over 15.0 points and 5.0 rebounds.

Moody was the clear-cut best player on a college team stacked with veterans that essentially played an NBA system.

Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman has NBA pedigree. Musselman learned the ropes from his father Bill then he grew into his own man coaching the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings.

Musselman’s staff have held various NBA jobs. Keith Smart, a former NBA player, was an assistant coach with the Knicks under David Fizdale before he joined Musselman at Arkansas. Clay Moser was an advanced scout in the NBA and a former D-League head coach.

“I do feel like that gave me a little bit of headstart playing in that system with a lot of pro coaches. Everybody has really been advanced when it comes to that aspect,” Moody said.

At Arkansas, Moody learned NBA terminologies. He conducted himself like a pro immersing in analytics coaching, advanced stats and film breakdowns much like he would encounter in the next level.

Last year was an introduction to the NBA. Now, he is ready to take the actual test. But on which team? That’s still being debated and will be known on Thursday.

“If they draft Moses Moody, I feel like they’re getting a versatile player that can play on both sides of the ball and help, in many ways as possible, to win games,” Moody said. “There are no point blanks, there are no periods to what I can do. I feel like I can do whatever my coach wanted me to do. I’m fluid and I can adapt to any situation.”

When he was young, Moody was always the lanky tall kid who dreamed of being Kevin Durant. Now with a size (6’4.5 without shoes) shorter than Durant, he has learned to adapt.

He said he picks up different things from different players like his midrange game from Bradley Beal, CJ McCollum.

But what will separate him from Beal and McCollum is if he realizes his potential to become a better two-way player than them in the next level.

Moody’s wingspan of 7’0.75, tops among guards in this draft, gives him a headstart in that category.

“I just like to learn and acquire knowledge,” Moody said.

If Moody got a headstart to NBA introduction, one NBA team also enjoyed a headstart when it comes to intel on the Razorbacks’ star wingman.

Musselman’s early years in NBA coaching under his father coincided with Tom Thibodeau’s. Musselman and Thibodeau forged a friendship that could come to the fore as the Knicks are looking for wings and shooting in this draft.

Moody, Musselman’s best player at Arkansas last year, perfectly fits that role. But it’s unsure if Moody will still be there when the Knicks select at 19th and 21st in the first round.

Maybe, Moody is a target as the Knicks are reportedly looking to trade up or it could be a smokescreen.

Moody said he hasn’t been invited to a workout yet in New York though he met Thibodeau and the Knicks’ front office at the Draft Combine in Chicago.

“We had a really good meeting. I got to know a lot of guys in the front office as well as coach [Thibodeau]. It was a really great interaction, and I got a good feel for their system and their plan for the team,” Moses said.

The Knicks’ surprising playoff run last season was anchored by Julius Randle’s growth to an All-NBA player and RJ Barrett’s leap as a sophomore.

Moody could see himself playing in between them as their two-guard with Barrett sliding to small forward.

“They really had a good team as you guys saw this year,” Moody said. “Shooting is one thing — a translatable skill that I can bring anywhere I go. And other than that, I can play off the ball, with the ball in my hand, create for others and I will just add offensive help to the team as well on the defensive end.”

Everything Moody did up to this point is to realize his NBA dream.

From winning a state championship in Little Arkansas to going on a 25-0 run at Montverde with future NBA elite talents and finally, getting NBA coaching from Arkansas, Moody went through a lot of different environments to grow himself into one of the most complete prospects heading into Thursday’s NBA Draft.

“You’ve got to be different to make it to the NBA. If you want different results, you have to do something different along the way,” Moody said.

On Thursday, Moody will certainly get the result he wanted. His winding path to the NBA reaches its end. It’s time to begin another path towards a Hall of Fame career. And he plans to do it exactly how he reached this far.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Yankees Notes: Gary Sanchez injury, blockbuster trade for pitcher possible

Could the New York Yankees pursue Max Scherzer in a trade?

The New York Yankees have now fallen to the Boston Red Sox in two consecutive games, a disappointing reality that further plummets the team in the AL East standings. Losing 6-2 on Friday night, another source of bad news comes in the form of catcher Gary Sanchez, who was pulled from the game with mid-back spasms.

Sanchez has been playing far better as of late, hitting .219 with 17 homers and 37 RBIs the season, including three hits and three runs in his last three games. Hopefully, the injury is nothing serious, and he can make a return quickly, as the Yankees starting team is being swindled with injuries and Covid situations.

“We’ll just see how he responds overnight,” manager Aaron Boone said. “His back started locking up. Felt like it was cramping on him in the early innings. Then by the fifth when he came out, it just really kind of locked up on him.”

“Hopefully he’s back in there and it’s just something that kind of locked up on him, hopefully a short-term thing.”

The Bombers don’t have much depth, with Kyle Higashioka also working his way back, so the team utilized depth piece Rob Brantley in his place, who was recently pulled up from the minors.

The Yankees could target Nationals’ Max Scherzer to bolster the starting pitching:

With the trade deadline nearing, the Yankees have been connected to various players, but one big name has bubbled to the surface, starting pitcher Max Scherzer. The Washington Nationals star hosts a 2.83 ERA the season with a 12.17 strikeout rate and 2.14 walks per nine. He has been stellar this year at 36 years old, and with Scherzer in the final year of a seven-year, $210 million deal, the Yankees would have to absorb a sizable amount of money, but he could elevate the starting unit to another level.

Adding Scherzer behind Gerrit Cole would be fantastic, and hopefully, fuel a late run for the Yankees to make the postseason. However, they have to make a decision quickly if they want to bolster the team and inject some momentum.

With Corey Kluber and Luis Severino expected to return within the next few weeks, the team should have plenty of starting pitching options to work with, but none they can truly rely on. There’s no doubt that Scherzer would command a few prospects in return, but it’s a move the Yankees might have to make if they want to remain in the hunt.

Yankees’ injured starter takes huge step in his rehab

New York Yankees, Corey Kluber

The New York Yankees could clearly use some upgrades in the upgrade and perhaps another starting pitcher and reliever. The trade deadline is less than a week away, and these games are crucial for the Bombers as they decide which approach they will take come July 30.

One of the reasons why they need to entertain the possibility of bringing at least one top starting pitcher is Corey Kluber’s injury. The right-hander was having an amazing season when he suffered a right subscapular strain on his shoulder back in May 25, an injury that has kept him out of action ever since.

However, the Yankees are hopeful he can contribute in September. For the first time in nearly two months, Kluber showed significant progress as he took a mound on Friday at Fenway Park, throwing 25 fastballs and letting the club personnel know that his right shoulder responded as expected.

“It’s not what I would normally do on a side in-between starts, but that wasn’t the intent,” Kluber said to MLB.com. “The most important thing is how I bounce back and how I recover from adding new steps along the way.”

The Yankees would love to have him back in September

The Yankees’ right-hander, signed to a one-year deal in the offseason, threw a no-hitter on May 19 against the Texas Rangers, but got hurt in his next outing versus the Toronto Blue Jays.

The 35-year-old veteran knows that Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman has said he would love a September return, but the pitcher does not want to circle a specific date.

“If I do that, I start getting ahead of myself,” Kluber said. “I’ve just found that it’s easier for me to take it day by day and not worry too far in advance. That’s probably the best way to be honest with yourself.”

Because of the uncertainty surrounding Kluber and his return, the Yankees would be better off pursuing a starter around the deadline. But if the Klubot returns in the last month of the season, he could provide a huge boost.