Max Holloway defeats Yair Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 42

In the main event of UFC Vegas 42, we saw a showdown between two of the best featherweights in the world. Former featherweight champion Max Holloway (22-6) was making his second appearance of the year when he took on Yair Rodriguez (13-2, 1 NC).

Rodriguez was making the walk for the first time in over two years. Despite the lengthy layoff, Rodriguez still entered UFC Vegas 42 as the third ranked featherweight in the division. His last fight was a victory of Jeremy Stephens back in October of 2019.

During this stretch Rodriguez has dealt with injuries as well as a suspension. He was hoping to pull off a huge victory today which would put him right in line to challenge Alexander Volkanovski for the UFC featherweight title.

However, that was going to be a very tall order considering his opponent. Max Holloway was a massive betting favorite entering today’s contest. He put on one of the greatest performances in UFC history in his last fight against Calvin Kattar.

The only man to have bested Holloway at featherweight over the last few years is Alexander Volkanovski. Outside of the champion, Holloway has looked unstoppable and he was looking to make another statement at UFC Vegas 42.

UFC Vegas 42 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Vegas 42 featherweight contest kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Holloway takes the center and started with the pressure. Rodriguez lands the first strike with an inside leg kick. Holloway lands a nice right hand to start his striking.

Check left hook lands for Rodriguez. Step in right hand lands for Holloway. Inside leg kick for Rodriguez. Holloway steps in and gets caught with a combination from Rodriguez. Holloway lands a nice right hand that snaps the head back of Rodriguez.

Body shot for Holloway and he follows with a nice jab. These two are just trading in the pocket right now. Big combination lands for Rodriguez who is showing no fear. Right hook from Holloway but he gets his head snapped back from Rodriguez.

Both men exchange big body kicks. Calf kick from Rodriguez. Holloway’s front leg is getting eaten up by calf kicks from Rodriguez. Another one slams home. Then a sharp 1-2 from Rodriguez rocks Holloway. However, Holloway rocks Rodriguez with a 1-2 of his own.

Right hook from Rodriguez and Holloway counters with a sharp shot of his own. Holloway looks to spin but Rodriguez grabs a body lock. This is where the round ends and a very good one for Rodriguez who takes the first at UFC Vegas 42.

Round 2

These two couldn’t wait to get the second started at UFC Vegas 42. They touch gloves and they’re back at it. Another big calf kick lands for Rodriguez and he doubles it up. Pressure here from Yair Rodriguez. Another good kick from Rodriguez.

Straight left hand lands for Rodriguez. Holloway steps in but he’s eating shots from Rodriguez. Check right hook lands on the chin from Rodriguez. 1-2 lands for the former champion. Lead left hook lands for Rodriguez. Body shot from Holloway but Rodriguez lands a big body kick counter.

Big straight right hand lands for Max Holloway. However, he eats three straight calf kicks from Rodriguez. Holloway stepping up the pressure here. Combinations from Holloway who appears to be pressing on the gas. Rodriguez lands a 1-2 to get some space.

Another calf kick from Rodriguez. Holloway presses Rodriguez against the fence but it’s Rodriguez who is landing the better shots along the fence. Jab to the body from Holloway. Another calf kick from Rodriguez.

Nice combination lands from Holloway. Holloway lands a big flying knee to the body and that might’ve hurt Rodriguez. Holloway trying to pour it on in the final seconds here. The second comes to a close and I still think it goes to Yair Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 42.

Round 3

Entering the third at UFC Vegas 42 and the momentum might be shifting here. Holloway goes right back on the pressure to start the third round. Both men trade jabs to start the striking. Holloway pushes Rodriguez against the fence and lands another flying knee.

Another knee to the body from Rodriguez. Calf kick lands from Rodriguez on the break. Holloway lands a straight shot but eats a combination from Rodriguez. Double jab from Holloway. Rodriguez goes for a kick but eats a shot that takes him off his feet.

Holloway jumps right on him and ends up in the mount. Rodriguez bucks but gives Holloway his back. Holloway staying patient in this dominant position. Big shots land from Holloway. Holloway is picking his shots here trying to maintain the position.

More big shots from Holloway but Rodriguez slips out. Back to their feet and immediately Rodriguez starts landing bombs on Holloway. Rodriguez lands a takedown but Holloway pops right back up. Huge 1-2 lands for Max Holloway.

Body kick from Holloway. More pressure from Holloway. The two trade jabs and Holloway shoots for another takedown and gets it. The round ends with Holloway on top and the former champion takes his first round at UFC Vegas 42.

Round 4

Entering the main event rounds at UFC Vegas 42 and while Holloway won the last round, Rodriguez still looks game. They touch gloves and here we go in the fourth. Holloway goes right back on the pressure and lands a lead left.

Right hand from Rodriguez. They both step forward and trade massive shots in the pocket. Another big exchange by both men and they end up in a clinch. Rodriguez pushes Holloway off but Holloway goes right back on the pressure.

Holloway gets Rodriguez against the fence and he lands some good shots. Standing guillotine attempt from Holloway and it’s deep. Rodriguez goes to his back to defend but now Holloway is on top. Rodriguez slips out of the choke.

Huge elbow lands for Holloway. A little separation and Rodriguez tries to attack a leg lock. However, Holloway slips right out and goes right back into the top position. Holloway slips right into the mount and he starts going to work.

However, Rodriguez gives up his back but is able to scramble to get back up. Knee to the body from Holloway and they’re back to striking. Holloway goes for a flying knee but it misses and he eats a counter. 1-2 from Holloway and then Rodriguez throws a flying knee.

Head kick from Rodriguez who is throwing heat in the final minute of the round. Good combination from Rodriguez. Spinning back kick from Holloway. More big shots from Rodriguez to end the round. I have this one 2-2 entering the final round at UFC Vegas 42.

Round 5

Entering the final round at UFC Vegas 42 and I think it’s anyone’s fight. They hug before the final round and here we go. Nice 1-2 from Rodriguez who knows he has to go in the final round. Body kick from Rodriguez.

Another good body kick from Rodriguez who is throwing major heat here in the final round. Pressure from Holloway now as he lands a 1-2. Nice knee from Holloway and he lands a nice shot. Lead elbow from Rodriguez and he follows it with a spinning back fist.

Holloway pushes Rodriguez against the fence and starts going to work. Rodriguez looks weathered but he circles along the outside to get things at range. Nice 1-2 lands for Holloway. Rodriguez is looking tired and tries to land a wild kick.

He landed a nice shot but ended up on the ground with Holloway on top. Worst case scenario for Yair Rodriguez. However, Rodriguez reverses and he ends up on top. Holloway tries for an armbar to scramble and it works as Holloway gets to his feet.

Spinning elbow from Rodriguez but flush knee counter from Holloway lands. Body kick from Rodriguez. Another good combination from Rodriguez. Rodriguez pushing forward in the final minute but eats a good shot.

Calf kick from Rodriguez and then he follows with a head kick. Holloway gets a body lock but Rodriguez uses an elbow to separate. More good shots from Rodriguez. Spinning back to the body lands for Rodriguez.

Final ten seconds at UFC Vegas 42 and they end in a clinch. Incredible fight. I would give the final round to Rodriguez and give the fight to him, however, I was really torn on that second round. Could’ve easily gone to Holloway and I think that’s how the judges would vote.

Max Holloway def. Yair Rodriguez by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)

After sizzling start, ball stops moving in another dispirited Knicks loss

Evan Fournier was right.

After the Friday morning shootaround, Fournier opined that the lack of ball movement is the culprit behind the New York Knicks‘ recent slump, particularly among the starters.

It seemed the Knicks have that straightened out responding to Tom Thibodeau’s “a bunch of bulls–t” rant with a sizzling start in Charlotte. They built a 16-point lead, 34-18, around Kemba Walker’s familiarity with the Spectrum Center and Julius Randle’s brilliant playmaking.

The first basket of the game was a Fournier corner three off a Randle assist. Then came the second shot — a Walker pull-up three off a Mitchell Robinson screen. As Walker was feeling it, Randle fed him with a fancy between-the-legs pass. Then screened his defender for another Walker three-pointer.

With Walker smoking hot with 17 points to start the game in the building where his NBA legend began, Randle was content distributing the ball. Six of the Knicks’ 13 field goals in the opening quarter came off an assist, four from Randle. Some unassisted field goals came off screens like Robinson did, which did not reflect as assists on the box scores.

“They were making shots. [Kemba] was hot. He was aggressive early. You have to give them credit,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “We couldn’t find that same rhythm on our side. I don’t think we were getting bad shots. I think we were a little antsy to start the game and they were making shots and we’re not. It kind of snowball there for a minute.”

When there was constant movement and action, the Knicks were hard to stop. And most importantly, they were engaged on defense, flying around to chase shots.

But it turned out it was just a mirage.

After the starters had six assists in the opening quarter, they could only add two the rest of the way. Randle was emblematic of their stalled offense as he only made one assist after the opening quarter.

When the starters checked back in by one by one in the second quarter, the 16-point lead started to evaporate. By halftime, it was down to just nine as momentum shifted to the Hornets.

When Walker began to cool down, Randle started to hunt for his shots. But the Knicks All-Star forward was struggling too with his jump shot missing another couple of attempts. He didn’t score his first field goal until the 2:51 mark of the second quarter — a putback after getting blocked. Then Walker fed him for a three-pointer that had Randle embarking on a personal mini-run with seven straight points. Randle gave the Knicks their last double-digit lead, 54-40.

When Randle dominated the ball, the Knicks’ offense stopped humming. The ball stopped moving. It sucked their energy on defense. What followed next was a couple of missed tough Randle jumpers. The Hornets started to buzz and cut the lead into a single digit.

The Knicks shot only 8 of 24 from the field in the second quarter. Four of those successful shots were assisted, with two coming from Walker, the only starter who recorded an assist in that quarter.

“What I say about this team though is they don’t hang their heads. We stayed resilient. We stayed together. It’s a long game. It’s a 48-minute game. We just stayed with it and it’s gonna turn. That’s what our guys did,” Borrego said of his Hornets.

Gordon Hayward repeatedly beat RJ Barrett off his constant cuts to the basket. By the time Thibodeau yanked his starters, the Hornets had transformed the nine-point deficit into a double-digit lead.

During that stretch, the Knicks starters combined to shoot 4 of 16 from the floor. Randle was 1 for 6, Barrett missed two, Fournier flubbed all of his three attempts. Robinson made one. Walker was 2 of 4. And only Randle made an assist, the lone recorded by the starters in nearly 10 minutes of play.

“We’re not just getting stops. They started making their shots. They started getting all the momentum, and it started going down from there for us,” Walker said.

After the Hornets only made 2 of 17 three-pointers in the first half, they went on to hit 8 of their next 19 attempts the rest of the way. The Knicks defense didn’t know where the attacks were coming from as the Hornets also dominated the paint, 20-8, in the pivotal third quarter.

“I wish I could tell you. That’s been our problem this season,” Walker said of their lackadaisical start in the third quarter. “We gotta find a way. We gotta find a way to be better.”

The bench came to bail them out and even grabbed the lead on an Obi Toppin fastbreak windmill dunk with 5:17 remaining.

It turned out to be their last hurrah.

Thibodeau tried to flip the script and brought his starters back, hoping they could bring it home, which they failed to do in their previous comeback attempt against the Milwaukee Bucks. But it didn’t work either. The Hornets pulled away with a 13-3 closing run.

“In this league, you got to play for 48 minutes. No lead is safe,” Thibodeau lamented. “If you don’t play with the right intensity, in the second half, we didn’t play well. So, we got to fix that.”

“The bench came in and played well but we need everyone playing well. It’s a team. You need your starters to play well. [You need] the bench to play well. You need them to play well together.”

But how can the Knicks, mainly the starters, fix that?

“It’s going to take energy. [It’s going] to take pride. It’s going to take five guys to do it, us five, we gotta figure it out. We just have to,” Walker paused to make a mocking grin behind his mask. “Or else it won’t be good for us. It needs to get better.”

“There’s just so much that goes into energy, man — just communication, body movement. There are things that contribute to that. As I said, it needs five guys at once, not just two or three.”

On Friday night, it was only Walker who had it going. He finished with a season-high 26 points but only had nine after his scorching start. LaMelo Ball, the new Hornets franchise player who replaced Walker, did not shoot well, but he was all over the floor. Ball continued the Knicks’ disturbing trend to give up career highs in their every loss. The 6-foot-7 Hornets point guard grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds, 12 points, nine assists, five steals, and one block.

Walker didn’t muster enough support from the rest of the starting lineup with the worst net rating (-14.4) among the most used five-man lineups (minimum of 150 minutes) in the NBA.

Randle tied his season-low with 10 points on 4 of 15 shooting. He had the second-worst plus-minus (-18) behind Walker’s -23.

Miles Bridges, whom the Knicks passed in the 2018 NBA Draft, badly outplayed Randle. Kevin Knox, who the Knicks drafted three picks earlier in the lottery, turned out to be just an end-of-the-bench player. Bridges’ three-point play off Randle’s foul with 1:31 left added salt to the Knicks’ wounds.

Barrett tied his career-low with only two points, missing eight of his nine attempts. Hayward dominated their matchup with 22 points and seven assists.

Robinson shot 4 of 5 from the field. He had 11 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes, but his limited offensive skill set and the rest of the starters dragged his net rating (-9). His counterpart on the Hornets’ side, Miles Plumlee, offset Robinson’s contribution with six points and 11 rebounds.

After starting the game with a three-pointer, Fournier could only add two more points. The French wing, who demanded more ball movement, only had six attempts and missed four. Terry Rozier roasted the Knicks with 18 points on 7 of 13 shooting.

“Every night, it’s gonna be a different guy until we have enough guys who can really score the basketball,” Walker said. “We need to get some more movement together. I just think it’s still pretty new for us, especially me and Ev (Evan). You know, with two new guys coming in, trying to find our way, trying to find our spots, to find our shots, we just have to figure out how to be consistent.”

Until then, the only thing consistent right now is their stagnant offense and lousy defense.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Mets’ legend baffled by continual rejection of team’s front office positions

Simeon Woods-Richardson

The New York Mets kicked off their offseason by announcing general manager Zack Scott wouldn’t be back with the team regardless of the outcome of his DUI case. As a result, they have been actively looking for a president of baseball operations and a general manager, too.

They have talked with at least ten people, including David Stearns, Billy Beane, Theo Epstein, Billy Eppler, Matt Arnold, Raquel Ferreira, Michael Girsch, Jean Afterman, Scott Harris, Brandon Gomes, and Mark Shapiro, about one of their top executive positions. They swung and missed with everyone, bafflingly.

Mets’ legend John Franco finds it hard to believe. “I’m scratching my head every day, when I read about people turning it down,” he said, per SNY, while explaining the position would be an ideal one because the team has an owner willing to spend.

Franco admitted, however, that some or most of the candidates may have passed on the chance because they like their current positions with their respective teams or because of family reasons.

Nobody wants to take on the Mets’ challenge

Franco, who leads the Mets in saves (276) and appearances (695), said at the fundraising gala for Joe Torre’s Safe At Home Foundation in midtown Manhattan that “there’s no place like New York. I was born and raised here, played here 15 years, was team captain. I’ve worked with the organization a little bit. There’s a new owner looking to spend.

“I speak to a lot of former players and teammates and we’re speechless on what’s going on and why it’s taking so long to get a president of baseball operations or a GM or even a manager. It shouldn’t be like that for a big-market team.”

The Mets have several holes to fill in the roster, particularly third base, center fielder, and the always-necessary pitching. “But you still have to have a face, a GM, and a manager. If you had a manager, maybe he could help out and recruit some players. That’s the difficult part right now,” Franco admitted.

Knicks: 2 players who need more playing time moving forward

obi toppin, knicks

The Knicks are coming off another disappointing defeat to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday evening, thanks to poor play from the starting unit. However, the team’s defense once again failed them, despite better perimeter defense. The Knicks currently rank 25th in the NBA in defensive rating, landing at 109.7.

The Knicks are currently giving up 13.4 points on opponents’ fast breaks, which ranks 22nd in the league. They are allowing an impressive 41.1 points in the paint, which ranks 2nd best in the league. Unfortunately, their defensive efficiency from three-point range is abysmal. They fail to close out players appropriately and contest shots.

The second team has played far better than the starters lately, which could hint at two reserves getting more playing time in the near future.

Two players the Knicks need to play more moving forward:

1.) Obi Toppin

Second-year power forward Obi Toppin is deserving of more minutes, averaging 7.6 points, 0.8 blocks, 3.2 rebounds, and shooting 56% from the field over 14.8 minutes per game. While his three-point shot has fallen to a measly 12%, he represents a solid player that can dominate in transition and produce electrifying plays to shift momentum.

Toppin could pair with Julius Randle in a unique double power forward combo, but Tom Thibodeau prefers to have a big man on the court who can defend the rim properly. Over the last few outings, Toppin has played extremely well and deserves more opportunities to showcase his skill-set. The Knicks are one of the worst transition scoring teams in basketball, but Toppin changes that narrative the second he steps on the court.

2.) Quentin Grimes

Rookie guard Quentin Grimes has earned very few opportunities this season, averaging just 2.3 points over 4.5 minutes on average per game. He’s only made four appearances this year, hitting 50% of his three-point attempts and 50% from the field. However, his biggest quality is his defensive aggression and intensity.

Grimes is known for his pesky defensive traits out of Houston, and with the Knicks struggling in that category (especially at the perimeter), they might be able to use him in that way, opening up the floor for the team’s scorers and kicking Grimes out to the corner where he could knock down three-point shots effectively.

Against quality point guards and shooting guards, having Grimes’s press defense would be fantastic, especially with Evan Fournier providing absolutely nothing on that side of the ball. While it is unlikely Thibodeau provides him with an opportunity to showcase his talents, it is possible he gets overly frustrated with his team’s production on defense and begins to consider Grimes as a potential solution at some point in the game.

Mets join race for star free agent center fielder

New York Mets interested in trading for Starling Marte.

This week, it was reported that the New York Yankees could be interested in free agent center fielder Starling Marte. However, as one of the top players at his position, it’s only logical that he generates buzz all around the league, and in the last couple of days, the New York Mets and Miami Marlins are said to be in on the dynamic outfielder.

In the past few hours, Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media had reported that Marte is, at the very least, on the Yankees’ radar. He also said that the players was under consideration in this year’s trade deadline.

However, the Mets are apparently now pushing for the speedy outfielder. Marte, 33, hit .310/.383/.458 in 2021, with a .841 OPS, 12 home runs, and 47 stolen bases between two teams.

The Mets want Marte, but have competition

One of those two clubs was the Oakland A’s, the team that acquired him as a rental at the deadline. The other organization is the Marlins, which oddly enough is interested in bringing him back as a free agent this offseason.

The Marlins and Marte talked about an extension, but when talks went nowhere, they decided to deal him, and got promising lefty Jesus Luzardo in return. But it appears that a long-term marriage is back on the table, and Marte has repeatedly said he loves Miami.

The Mets, however, are lurking. They, and “many others” according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, are also showing interest.

Center field is an area in which the Mets could use an improvement, especially defensively. Brandon Nimmo is the team center fielder and leadoff hitter, and he does a good job, but he is better suited at one of the corners with the glove. Signing Marte would mean that they slide Nimmo, probably to right field to cover for free agent Michael Conforto if he is not re-signed.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman hints at position group he may use as trade-bait

New York Yankees, Jonathan Loaisiga

The New York Yankees are gearing up for an eventful off-season thanks to flexible funding. General manager Brian Cashman is expected to push past the luxury tax threshold, especially if they’re looking to add a big-name shortstop like Carlos Correa or Corey Seager.

However, the Bombers have also been considering trades with the Athletics for Matt Olson, Pirates’ Bryan Reynolds, and Reds’ Luis Castillo. The Yankees do have a few trade-pieces, per Cashman:

“We’re going to continue to reinforce, and we’ve got a lot of teams asking about our bullpen at the same time,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “It might be importing some. It eventually could be exporting others. Just a constant shifting of the sand so early in the winter.”

If Cashman wants to dip into the bullpen in a prospective deal, it will be painful, especially if the teams are calling on Jonathan Loaisiga.

Loaisiga had his best season in 2021, posting a 2.17 ERA over 70.2 innings. He recorded a career-high 60.9% ground-ball rate, which is exactly what the Yankees needed in Yankee Stadium. Cashman would hate to include him in a deal, but if it was for a big name that could bring ample value for the long-term, it could be worth it.

Alternatively, trying to part ways with Chad Green or Aroldis Chapman, who’s in the final year of his contract, might be more beneficial.

Green has had a tough past few seasons, despite earning a 3.12 ERA in 2021 over 80.3 innings. He recorded a career-low 27.3% ground ball rate and 1.51 home runs per nine. While his fastball is hovering around 96 mph, Green has completely stopped using his slider, change-up, and cutter. He primarily focuses on his fastball and curveball.

Chapman might be a good player to consider trading away at this point in his career, as he has one year left at $18 million. Another team is looking for a high-end closer, the Bombers can move on from his contract and move Loaisiga into the starters role. The team will also pay Zack Britton $14 million to rehab from injury, so they can already count him out of the bullpen.

New York Yankees: Pay by how you perform, how radical is that?

For the New York Yankees and the other 29 MLB teams, even though it’s early in the offseason non the less they are scurrying about checking on who is available to fill the spots on their teams that need to be filled. They also have to figure out how many will be done by cash and how many by trades they can come up with. But Just a few weeks from now a major hurdle in the offseason must be leaped over, that’s the GMA that caused the players to go on strike in 1994.

General Manager Brian Cashman has made it public that after a failed experiment with Gleyber Torres at shortstop, his main priority this off-season is to get a quality tried and true shortstop for the club. However, every baseball fan must know that when Cashman and company sit down together to decide what to do about shortstop and second base, there will be a giant grey elephant sitting in the room. His name is MLB CBA.

That is short for Collective bargaining agreement; basically, the owners and players come together to decide who will make the most money over the next term. No one wants to lose that battle, but one side of the issues must lose, and for the last several years, it has been the players. To steal a phrase, I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Most industry sources are saying the mood is this year’s talks that have a December 4 deadline.

Now a bit more than three weeks away, the deadline approaches. There has been very little leaked out of the talks, mostly due to keeping it in the boardroom is to the benefit of all. But this week, MLB has put forth an idea that has been brought up more than once. It’s a change from arbitration, being replaced by a so-called pay by performance. An amount of money would be spread out among the eligible players, and then instead of raises by arbitration, they would be given out by WAR or performance. It sounds a bit like a salary cap for those players, something the Players Union has rejected time and time again.

Considering recent relations between Commissioner Rob Manfred, MLBPA director Tony Clark and the owners, expect a difficult time ahead. Although finding that shortstop, centerfielder, and starting pitcher for the New York Yankees may be a problem getting past the GBA may be the most challenging. Another lock-out or player strike would be devastating to baseball.

Knicks face strange problem with starting team after 2nd consecutive loss

knicks, derrick rose

The New York Knicks dropped their second-consectuive game on Friday evening to the Charlotte Hornets, and it was primarily due to the inefficiency of the starting team. Aside from Kemba Walker, who contributed a healthy 26 points, the remainder of the starters were unable to crack 11 points.

Julius Randle finished with 10, Mitchell Robinson 11, Evan Fournier 5 and RJ Barrett 2. Another poor outing for the first-team is in the books, but why are they struggling and how is the second-team putting together more efficient performances?

Prior to the Knicks’ loss to Charlotte, SG Evan Fournier stated the primary difference between the starters and second-team lately:

“The main difference between the first and second units is really ball movement, body movement. It feels likes at times, we’re very stagnant. We have to find that rhythm that we had early on in those first five games of the season,” Fournier said.

Fournier seems to hit it right on the head, but it still didn’t contribute to a better outing for the starters in the 104-96 defeat to Charlotte. The top team squandered opportunities, recording 11 turnovers, lacked ball-movement, and made lazidasical passes. If not for Walker hitting nine field goals, the Knicks would’ve been blown out and Tom Thibodeau might’ve benched his starters for the second consecutive game.

However, we’ve seen what they’re capable of doing when firing on all cylinders. In the Knicks’ first five games, the first team moves the ball nicely, found open shots, and played off one another. Their default is to force-feed Randle in isolation and condense the court.

One of the primary reasons the 2nd team has been domianting is mainly due to more intense defense, better point guard play from Derrick Rose, and spreading the floor, allowing bigger driving lanes and open shooters from the corners. Alec Burks has feasted on corner shots with Rose driving to the hoop and forcing opposing defenses to collapse. Walker simply hasn’t achieved that same production and result, mostly forcing up ill-advised 3-PT shots and failing to drive defenders to make decisions.

Preferrebly, Thibodeau would consider injecting Rose into the starting unit for a few minutes at the beginning of games, acting as an opener. From there, Walker can take over and give Rose the necessary rest to come back out with the second-team. With Walker’s streaky shooting, the Knicks have found themselves in early deficits lately, which has put too much pressure on Rose and the second team to fight back.

Once the starters can find their rhythm and begin playing as a cohesive unit, the Knicks will be extremely difficult to beat, but it’s a team effort. Also, it’s fair to mention to inconsistent play of RJ Barrett, who has contributed just 11 points over the past two games. When RJ isn’t knocking down shots and playing confident ball, the entire team is effected — he needs to forget poor outings and move forward without the dark cloud that seems to pain him after missing a few shots.

Giants will have great shot to land Iowa stud interior offensive lineman in 2022 NFL Draft

new york giants, iowa, tyler linderbaum

The New York Giants currently rank dead last in pass blocking, per PFF. With several injuries impacting the efficiency of their OL, making a few improvements, this upcoming off-season would be beneficial. Relying on the return of Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, and veteran tackle Nate Solder might be a bit too optimistic.

Lucky for Big Blue, there are several high-end prospects they can consider. With three selections in the first two rounds, the Giants have the capital to land a premium prospect, and one interior lineman stands out as a great fit.

There’s no guarantee that Gates will ever return to his former self after breaking his leg against the Washington Football Team earlier this season. Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum, a former three-star recruit and incredible athlete, could fit the bill nicely as the team’s new center. Linderbaum projects as a starting setter at the NFL level with elite attributes, but his scheme fit is worth considering.

According to The Draft Network, Linderbaum would be best used in an outside-zone scheme, which may fit the Giants well if they continue to lean on SAquon Barkley at running back:

Linderbaum possesses the natural movement skills and functional athleticism to be a high-end starting center in an outside/wide zone Shanahan-style offense. The quickness in which Linderbaum gets out of the blocks is super impressive and you can see his wrestling background shine with his ability to win leverage points and successfully claiming gaps even if he’s leveraged at the snap.

I have been hammering this specific point for quite some time; the Giants don’t use Saquon Barkley to his potential. Utilizing him as an inside zone, power runner doesn’t fit his mold as a glorified scatback. Giving him more time in the backfield to pick his lanes is advisable, which is why they might consider transitioning to a Shanahan-style outside zone scheme in 2021. That would require the team to move on from Jason Garrett as their coordinator, which is also a beneficial move.

If they are planning to stick with Barkley for the 2022 season, which seems likely, their best bet is adapting to his style of play instead of forcing him into a scheme that doesn’t necessarily fit his skill set.

If they are willing to make that advancement, Linderbaum would be a fantastic selection. However, the Giants might even be able to trade back once again in the first round, collecting more draft capital while landing their preferred choice. The team did a fantastic job executing in the past draft class, landing OLB Azeez Ojulari with the 50th overall pick and Kadarius Toney at 20th overall.

There is no question a Giants need to allocate resources toward bolstering the OL, and adding more draft capital while landing a player like Linderbaum would be a win–win. Of course, they also have the Chicago Bears’ first-round pick, which could end up being an even higher selection than the Giants’ based on their strength of schedule.

Most mock drafts at this point have Tyler being selected in the middle of the first round, as centers often don’t in the top-10. That gives the Giants plenty of flexibility to potentially trade back and grab the best interior lineman in the draft class.