Brooklyn Nets: Evaluating this Team through 3 games

Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets

The date is March 10th, 2020. Spencer Dinwiddie hits the go-ahead jumper against the Lakers to put the Nets up 2. Anthony Davis misses a wide-open three to win the game, and the Brooklyn Nets hold on to upset the Lakers 104-102, which ends up being their last game together before the season is suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Nets were playing their best basketball of the season at that point under interim coach Jacque Vaughn.

Let’s fast forward a few months (with no basketball) to present day. The Brooklyn Nets have now played three games since the NBA season resumed and are a shell of what the team looked like in March, due to a large portion of the roster either choosing to opt-out or being forced to opt-out due to health/injury reasons. The team still has Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Chris Chiozza, Garrett Temple, and Joe Harris,  players who have all been essential pieces for Brooklyn all year. New faces, including Lance Thomas, Justin Anderson, Tyler Johnson, Jamal Crawford, and Donta Hall, have been thrust into the rotation as they work on developing chemistry and finding their role on this team.

Let’s break down the Nets performances game by game, starting with their first match-up with Orlando.

Orlando: 128  vs. Brooklyn: 118 – Full box score

Remember how Nets fans were excited to play this Orlando Magic team twice in the bubble? Well, it turns out that excitement was extremely misguided because the Magic destroyed the Nets in every aspect of this basketball game. This was a rough game for the two leaders on this team, Caris LeVert, and Jarrett Allen. LeVert finished with 17 off of 7-17 from the field and 0-4 from three but, most importantly, was a -26 while on the floor. Jarrett Allen scored 14 points and grabbed 5 boards. The Nets started the game off well, scoring 39 in the first quarter and grabbing a 3 point lead, but fell apart in the 2nd and the 3rd quarter, being outscored by Orlando by 32 points. 

The only bright spot for the Nets was Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who got out of the #NETSTwitter doghouse after his awful play in the scrimmages. TLC finished with 24 points off 8-12 from the field and 5-8 from three. It was great to see TLC get in a rhythm and get some shots to fall. Outside of LeVert/Allen playing poorly, Chris Chiozza (2 points on 1-6) and Garrett Temple (3 points on 1-5) were extremely underwhelming in this game. The Nets, as a team, failed to stop Orlando on the break and had no answer for Evan Fournier (24 points), Nikola Vucevic (22 points), Johnathon Issac (16 points), and Aaron Gordon (10 points & 11 rebounds).

Brooklyn: 118 vs. Washington: 110 – Full Box Score

Things went much differently for Brooklyn in Game #2. While they were unable to stop Thomas Bryant of the Wizards the entire game, who went for 30 points and 13 rebounds, everyone on the floor played significantly better for Brooklyn and were able to win a close contest in the 4th, outscoring the Wizards 35 to 25 in the final quarter.

Caris LeVert (34 points), Joe Harris (27 points & 6 made threes), and Jarrett Allen (22 points & 15 rebounds) rebounded well from their subpar performances in the Orlando game, and all played up to their potential. Chris Chiozza finally decided to show up, dropping 14 points and dishing out 6 dimes off the bench. No other player was in double figures for Brooklyn, but they were able to pull out a much-needed win against Washington, who might win the title for “worst team left in the NBA restart.”

Brooklyn: 119 vs. Milwaukee: 116 – Full Box Score

Even though the Brooklyn Nets won a much-needed contest against the Wizards, many doubted their chances against Milwaukee on Tuesday afternoon. Jacque Vaughn even decided this game would be a great time to rest his most important three starters; Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris. The spread was as high as -18 before the game began. But never forget that old adage, that’s why you play the game.

The Nets stunned Giannis and the Bucks in the first half, hitting 14 shots from three-point land, a season-high for Brooklyn. TLC finished the game with 26 points on 8-12 from the field and 5-7 from the three-point line. Garrett Temple chipped in with 19 points and had his best game of the season as well.

The Nets led the Bucks 73 – 65 after the 1st half, and that was a half in which Giannis and Middleton each played a significant amount of minutes. Those two players were on the bench for the remainder of the game after halftime, a strategy most would assume was the Bucks plan prior to tip-off. While the Bucks clawed their way back into the game by outscoring the Nets in the final two quarters, Brooklyn was able to show toughness and resolve we hadn’t seen from them since March in the final few minutes of the game. Whether it was a clutch TLC three or a gritty Tyler Johnson rebound and put back, the Nets made all the plays they needed to make down the stretch to win the game.

Some other guys who gave the Nets great minutes: Donta Hall, who only scored 4 points and grabbed 9 boards, had an epic dust-up with Giannis after the two were wrestling for a rebound and Giannis ended up on the ground. Hall also had a highlight-reel block on Sterling Brown later in the game as well. Justin Anderson gave the Nets 11 off the bench, hitting 3 three-pointers in the process. Chiozza had a nice 10 point 10 assist game and has proven to be an excellent decision-maker in these last few games.

The Bad News: Jamal Crawford made his highly anticipated Nets debut, only to leave the game after a few minutes with some type of hamstring injury. His return to the court this season is now questionable.

Biggest Takeaway from first 3 Games & What’s Next?

Three games in, if anything about this team, it’s that they are extremely tough, and it will take a lot to break this team’s will. Many fans assumed the team would try and tank after their embarrassing loss to Orlando. The Nets followed that game up with two close wire to wire wins against Washington and Milwaukee. In that Milwaukee game, 8 of the 11 active players on the roster were G-League players at some point this season. The Nets will not shoot this well from three every game, and TLC/Garrett Temple most likely will not combine for 45 points on a nightly basis, but you have to like what you’re seeing from this Nets team through three games. Jacque Vaughn has done an outstanding coaching job with the Net’s gameplan these last two games, especially for Milwaukee, in which the team primarily ran a 2-3 zone on defense, and really seems to be coming into his own as Head Coach of this team.

Next Up: The Brooklyn Nets will go for their 3rd straight win when they face the Boston Celtics on Wednesday (8/5/20) night at 9:00 pm EST.

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New York Jets: Brian Winters could be an integral piece to a successful offense

New York Jets, Brian Winters

Brian Winters has been a veteran piece for the New York Jets for the longest time. This offseason has fogged up the future of Winters. With new additions across the board, the offensive line has undergone an extensive overhaul. As the offseason programs and now the preseason get hindered by COVID-19, continuity has become all the more imperative to success. With that said, all of a sudden, Brian Winters has just received a significant bump in his stock.

The Long Tenured Jet Is Efficient

Winters hasn’t been the most successful guard, but he’s been efficient at times. Despite battling injuries last season, he finished with a PFF rating of 62.4. That’s pretty underwhelming on the surface, but if you take a look back at his production from 2018, he was near the top half of offensive lineman in a few categories.

He allowed five sacks, which wasn’t great but could’ve been much worse over a 16 game span. He only had six penalties, which isn’t very bad. The very important stat, 1,001 snaps played, which was 17th best in all of football for linemen. Winters wasn’t spectacular. Nor has he ever been, but he’s efficient.

Why His Role Could Expand

With the lack of a preseason, Winters could make the roster and earn meaningful reps after all. Initially, it seemed as though Winters could be a cut candidate in the preseason. Now, with the lack of preseason, that eliminates the opportunity for the new pieces to gel in-game on the offensive line. With the lack of time to build chemistry, this could give Winters a leg up over his competitions, Greg Van Roten and Cameron Clark. Ultimately, Winters can provide a veteran leadership role for the rookies and new additions. As well as bring continuity on the overhauled line with the changing circumstances of the season. 

Did the New York Jets win the Jamal Adams trade?

New York Jets, Jamal Adams

Earlier today, I wrote a piece highlighting why New York Jets GM Joe Douglas held all the cards in the Jamal Adams negotiations. Then today, he did something I heavily doubted. He pulled the trigger. Jamal Adams is now a Seattle Seahawk. The Jets have acquired A 2021 1st Rounder, 3rd Rounder, a 2022 1st Rounder, and a temporary fill in with Bradley McDougald.

On the surface, Joe Douglas continued his masterful performance this offseason with the return. However, this deal is contingent on three things, and none of them concern Jamal Adams.

Why The Picks Will Decide The Deal

The Jets needed to get rid of Jamal Adams at some point. It’s something I didn’t want to admit and tried to deny. Despite that, the Jets were able to get a MASSIVE haul for a disgruntled safety.

The Jets will have four 1sts in the next two years and now an extra 3rd. They also picked up a safety with 52 tackles, .5 sacks, and 5 INTs over the last 3 years. He’s a 29-year-old Safety in the final year of his contract. The Jets needed to right the ship in terms of the floundering culture. By adding new picks, they will have the opportunity to add four blue-chip pieces to the organization in the next few years.

This will give the team the opportunity to establish a new identity. Part of that identity may include a new head coach in the future as well, but that remains to be seen.

At this point in time, the picks sound GREAT. Unless the Jets hit on them though, this trade will be useless. If they hit on all of those picks, that’d be the biggest way the Jets could stick it in Jamal Adams’ face. Jamal will undoubtedly have success elsewhere and likely get handed a rich deal for his contributions.

That’s all great for him, but for the Jets, this now represents a true new era. It’s time for the Jets to rebuild this team in the identity that Joe Douglas wants, and Jamal Adams was holding that back. So, farewell Jamal, you’ll be greatly missed, but now it’s a fresh start. 

Opinion: Jamal Adams will remain a New York Jet

New York Jets, Jamal Adams

Today, the New York Daily News dropped a rare exclusive with a player on the outs with the New York Jets’ organization. The entire premise of landing an interview with a player who holds any level of animosity towards his respective team is few and far between.

Despite that, Manish Mehta detailed his sit down with Jamal Adams in his latest article. Manish did an eloquent job on the piece, yet, the answers given by Adams did not live up to that same precedent. For that very reason, Jamal Adams will be a New York Jet at the start of the 2020 season.

Why Adams Will Stay In New York

Judging by the answers, it’s evident (as if it wasn’t already) Jamal wants out. Most players resort to public outcry after outcry in order to tarnish the organization and become a distraction in order to get off the team. Jamal is in desperation mode. Unlike when the Jaguars ownership broke down and resorted to public rebuttal of Yannick Ngakoue, or when the Steelers organization and their players began to turn against Lev Bell, the Jets have not budged.

Jamal and his camp are nervous, so this exclusive is an evident last-ditch effort to force a reaction or a trade out of the Jets. Yet, they are still yet to budge. Jamal’s dismay did nothing to get them to talk. So now, Jamal is taking shots at the basic organizational integrity. Within the piece, he takes shots at Adam Gase. He calls him the wrong leader for the organization, takes aim at his reluctance to face the team or make adjustments (which is apparent).  He also fires off against Joe Douglas for giving off mixed signals.

So, with all that said, why is Jamal going to remain a Jet? The Jets control his rights. As much as Jamal wants out and is trying everything and anything to get off the team, ultimately, it’s the Jets decision. Joe Douglas doesn’t want him gone. He made it clear to the team that the initial goal was to put pieces around Jamal and resign him next year. Then, the plans got altered by financial shifts and the COVID-19 pandemic. From Jamal’s perspective, plans should not have changed, and since his demands have not been met yet, in terms of more “dawgs” or a new deal.

The disconnect is, no doubt, massive. Despite that, Jamal is making a concession. He WILL attend training camp. Why this is important is because it’s evident that he is doing this because he is nearing his end of moves. Jamal wants out, and he will do whatever it takes to get out, even temporarily, please the organization. Ultimately, Jamal is tied to the Jets for the long haul with his rookie deal, then potential franchise tags. No matter what Jamal wants people to believe, he can’t get out of his deal. Jamal can kick and scream, but Joe Douglas will be the one who either seals his fate and buys him a ticket out of New York or makes him a “Jet for Life.” I don’t see either happening, and the only middle road is the “Prez” continuing his term during an election year.

NASCAR: Alex Bowman’s Underrated Season

Alex Bowman, NASCAR

Alex Bowman took over for one of the most famous drivers in Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2017. Alex Bowman had the opportunity to earn the job when Earnhardt has struggled with head issues. In that time, Bowman was able to prove himself well enough to earn a full-time ride in succession of Earnhardt Jr.

Bowman struggled early in his career, but towards the back half of last season, he truly broke through. At Chicagoland, after being the bridesmaid quite a few times, he was finally the bride when he won the Camping World 400. Bowman has since established himself as a much stronger force in the Cup Series.

Bowman’s Success This Season

Prior to the return of NASCAR, Bowman stood as one of the only winners from the season. After taking home the checkered flag at Auto Club Speedway, he returned in impactful fashion as well. In one of the first races back Bowman was runner up at Darlington and nearly pulled off a win. Since then, at Martinsville, Pocono 2, and Talladega, Bowman had three top 10 finishes. Bowman has been able to put up very successful runs this year that have been cut short. He also sits in the top half of the points standings currently as well. He’s flown under the radar for the most part despite all of this.

The fact is, Bowman is still just 27. Although most of NASCAR pinpoints Chase Elliot as the lead driver of the future for Hendrick Motorsports, at the least, Bowman is growing into a formidable number two. Alex Bowman has continued to grow as a racer and I expect him to make some noise come the playoffs.

New York Jets Who Could Be Two Sport Stars: Le’Veon Bell

New York Jets, LeVeon Bell

LeVeon Bell joined the New York Jets prior to last season on a four-year, $52.5 million deal. Rumors have swirled about what his future may look like in the Green and White, however, heading into next season he is a Jet.

The former All-Pro back will have a much-improved line blocking for him next season and looks to recreate some of his old magic from Pittsburgh. With that said, what if there was no magic in Pittsburgh, or what if Bell wasn’t a football player. What if Bell was a high jumper instead.

Le’Veon Bell: High Jumper

Bell was an All Ohio Capital Conference First Team running back his senior year. Despite having over 1,300 yards and 21 TDs, he was still a two-star recruit out of high school. Despite that, Bell eventually found a home at Michigan State, where he tore it up for the Spartans.

Bell still played other sports in high school and did very well. At 6-foot-1 and 225 lbs, Bell was a very good basketball player. Bell’s stats were unavailable, but he was a second-team All Ohio Capital Conference member for his senior season.

So you may think, why didn’t I say Bell should play basketball? Well, because his size and stature would be a poor fit in basketball, and his stats were unavailable for the sake of this piece. With that said, high jumping was where Bell really impressed.

He was recognized as one of the best high jumpers in all of Ohio. His best was 2.03 meters, which is incredibly impressive. The athleticism and hops he had and further developed in basketball, paired with the lateral quickness he has developed throughout his football career, would make for the makeup of a scary good jumper.

Matched with the level of skill you have to have to succeed in one of the best athlete breeding states in Ohio, that shows how much potential was truly there with his high jumping abilities. Although Bell is an incredible back with a distinguished resume, what if he held out entirely and went out for the Olympics in 2018, or better yet, what if Bell was a high jumper out of high school rather than chasing his dreams of football? Would we be talking about Lev Bell, the olympian instead?

Bubba Wallace Is Becoming The Tiger Woods of NASCAR

Racial integration is something that has been a fixture in our nation’s history for the longest time. In terms of sports, it was not easy. Barriers had to be broken down for African Americans to earn the opportunity to compete at the highest level in their respective sports.

Now, as the national climate changes, a traditionally caucasian dominated sport has found it’s newest star in trailblazer, Bubba Wallace.

Tiger Woods was a star golfer from a young age. From putting against Bob Hope on the Mike Douglas Show, his stardom has only blossomed. Yes, there have been many bumps in the road with injuries and controversy, but Tiger has done something that Bubba has begun to emulate.

Breaking into a white-dominated sport and having success. Tiger was able to do it and do it in a big way by becoming one of the best to ever do it.

Bubba has yet to win a race yet, but whilst driving the number 43 machine for the king, Richard Petty, he has had success. With a handful of top tens in the cup series, Bubba has continued to develop as a racer.

Although he hasn’t had substantial on-track success, off the track he has brought in a new fan base to the sport. African Americans are seeing Bubba as an inspiration and hopefully will flock to racing.

Right now, Bubba is not on the Tiger Woods level of success in terms of accomplishments. However, he could be soon. The notoriety Bubba has gained has made him a household name in mainstream media. He’s dominating the All-Star fan vote and becoming a serious merchandise seller. This revenue could lead some more successful teams with top tier machines to give Bubba a shot.

A team like Hendrick Motorsports could tap Bubba to replace Jimmie Johnson, in what would be a huge move. Or, even another top team like Stewart Haas or Chip Ganassi Racing could give him a shot. Despite significant on track success, Bubba is making a huge impact. Bubba is helping NASCAR make great strides in their continued mission to preach diversity and inclusion in racing as they truly modernize and adapt to society.

Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie Tests Positive for COVID-19 a 2nd time, Will Not Travel to Orlando with team

Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets

You ever have one of those days where nothing seems to go your way, and you find yourself asking, how can today possibly get any worse? And then low and behold, something else terrible happens and it immediately gets worse? That has been the last several months for our Brooklyn Nets.

Spencer Dinwiddie, who was hopeful to travel with the Nets to Orlando despite being infected with COVID-19 and showing symptoms, tested positive for a 2nd time on Monday, thus ending any hopes of returning to the hardwood once the season resumes. Dinwiddie updated fans and commended the Nets organization in several tweets earlier on Tuesday afternoon:

Dinwiddie is the 6th player on the Nets roster to have tested positive for COVID-19 since March and the 2nd Net in the last two weeks, as DeAndre Jordan also tested positive for the virus. Unlike Jordan, who immediately stated he would not be playing in Orlando, Dinwiddie’s goal was to rehab as much as he can and see where things stood before the team left to Orlando. Unfortunately, Dinwiddie fell short of his goal and will be watching what’s left of the Nets compete from the comfort of his home. The Brooklyn point guard did leave fans on a positive note by tweeting out the following:

With Dinwiddie officially out, the team has some tough roster decisions to make. Who will start at point guard? Which players will step up and attempt to match the production that was given to the Nets on a nightly basis from Dinwiddie, DeAndre, and Wilson Chandler? As NetsDaily pointed out, here is what the remaining roster looks like for Brooklyn:

It seems as though newcomer Tyler Johnson will get big minutes now, paired with the likes of Chiozza and Temple backing up Caris LeVert and Joe Harris. TLC will also be in that mix. Reserves such as Jeremiah Martin and Dzanan Musa could see an increase in playing time if there is any injury to the guards mentioned previously.

It will be interesting to watch how interim HC Jacque Vaughn handles this new roster and what lineups he decides to use in Orlando. There are several fans out there (myself included) that believe Vaughn is coaching for the Nets HC job next year, which could be a motivating factor for this team to perform well and exceed expectations. The Nets may not be the team they were when the season ended in March, but this team still has some fight left in them.

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NASCAR is reinvigorated as new eyes shift to its incredible change

NASCAR was one of the first professional sports leagues to return following COVID-19. The desperate longing for sports and gambling has driven diehard sports fans to all forms of sports. Soccer has become a little more recognized by some that had ignored it in favor of NBA or MLB during the early summer.

The AFL and KBO have gained more mainstream notoriety in recent weeks as their fan bases expand to the United States. The sport that’s had the most successful return, NASCAR. NASCAR has experienced a reinvigoration in terms of both public image and ratings.

New Eyes On NASCAR

In the last few weeks since their return, over the span of 11 races, including some primetime week races, some races on FS1, and the usual summer dip, NASCAR has had an average of 3.08 million viewers per race.

In terms of comparison against pass races this time last year, the numbers are higher even if they’re on FS1. Publicly NASCAR being back also turned eyes to the sport with the uproar of the Black Lives Matter Movement and allowed them to take a vocal stance in support of the movement. More eyes are tuning into the sport, and more money is being spent on merchandise than before.

With that said, is it sustainable? As the NBA and MLB attempt to navigate their returns, those same fans that gravitated to NASCAR in the absence of sports may return to watching the more familiar sports. Not only that but as coronavirus spikes in the south, that’s not good for NASCAR, which has most team shops primarily based in North Carolina. Now, Jimmie Johnson has been diagnosed with COVID, and that could also spark some worries as the first case they’ve had since their return.

Still, with sports like MLB struggling to return and missing out on an opportune time to gain mainstream attention and the NBA trying to navigate the new normal, eyes will still be on the sport for now. At least for now, a sport that was deemed by some to be on the ropes just a short time ago has experienced a rejuvenation.

 

New York Jets Who Could Be Two-Sport Stars: Breshard Perriman

As my series highlighting two sport Jets continues, I continued with a speedy new Jet. Breshard Perriman may be a new Jet, but he’s primed to be an impact player early. He’s being brought in to fill the role of former number one wideout Robby Anderson. His freak athletic ability made him a first rounder just a few years ago. That athletic ability is what the Jets are counting on can make up for the loss of Robby. One aspect of that athletic ability that makes Perriman stand out is his straight line speed. His ability to be a dangerous deep threat will make him a big weapon, but it also could’ve made him a big track star.

Breshard Perriman: Track and Field

Perriman was always insanely fast and he turned heads at a young age. Although, he  focused primarily on football throughout high school, he made noise in track. He used most of his time and athleticism on the gridiron, where his father, former NFL receiver Brett Perriman tutored him to bring him up to the highest level. In his free time though, Breshard lit up the AAU Track and Field. Perriman parlayed his speed into a U.S. Junior Olympic bid. Perriman was able to turn heads and gain even more notoriety with his speed. Perriman ran a 4.4 40 yard dash coming out of high school, had a 36 inch vertical and at 6’2 his stride length was impressive. With such freakish speed and athleticism, Perriman could’ve made a lot of noice in track at the highest level.

Perriman chose the right sport. Although he had his struggles early, last season was a breakout season for Perriman. When Perriman was struggling though, one has to think his mind wandered to what could’ve been with track. Who knows, although he’s a quality pro receiver, Breshard Perriman could’ve been a potential Olympian or even better, an Olympic medalist.