UFC 205 prediction: Yoel Romero vs Chris Weidman

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Can Weidman bounce back from a loss?

At UFC 205 middleweights Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero and Chris “The All-American” Weidman will face off, in a fight that can determine the next challenger for the UFC Middleweight Championship.  Both fighter are on the verge for a shot at the Middleweight Championship, if either fighter win it will be hard to dispute being the next challenger. At thirty nine years old  Romero wants to finally get his chance at the belt, as time is his worst enemy. The former champion Weidman wants to get back the  championship, he feels still belongs to him. What also makes UFC 205 special for Weidman is that it will be in his hometown of New York.

Yoel Romero is a special kind of athlete. Even at thirty nine years of age, he has one of the best physique in the UFC. He is a Silver Medal winner of the 2000 Olympics in wrestling. With his wrestling ability, he can take opponents down and avoid being taken down as well.  He also has dangerous knockout power, that can put anyone to sleep. He is on a seven fight win streak and has the longest win streak in the Middleweight Division today.  If he beats Weidman in his hometown, he will send a message as the next in line for the championship.

Chris Weidman is of the best Middleweights on the planet. He can do it all in the octagon, whether it’s striking on the feet or fighting on the ground. He also has a decorated wrestling background, being a two time Division 1 All-American. He has also has evolved into a good striker and can submit his opponents on the ground. Having shocked the world beating one of the greatest champions in UFC history Anderson Silva, he would be a dominate champion until his loss to Luke Rockhold. By beating Romero, he can get back to dominating the Middleweight Division once again.  Weidman is responsible for helping MMA become legalized in New York and its only right that he is apart of the debut of the UFC i n Madison Square Garden.

Prediction: This is going to be a great fight and something that will have an effect on the Middleweight Division. Both fighters are so close to a title shot, but I believe  Weidman will be victorious.  I believe he will take the fight to Romero early and try to dominate Weidman. Weidman has great cardio, which has been Romero biggest weakness and can make Romero tire himself out. Weidman will try to get in the clinch against the cage and make Romero use his energy. Although if Romero lands a clean punch, he can knock Weidman out. On this night and in  his hometown, I don’t see Weidman losing this fight.

Chris Weidman by Unanimous Decision

 

Money Talks

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Conor McGregor has become one of the most interesting man in all of sports.

Conor McGregor has become a box office draw for the UFC and has set records in attendance and Pay Per View buys as well.  It’s not just because of how amazing he is as a fighter, but also his ability in trash talking. Each fight he has, he talks trash about the opponent he is facing or how he is the major attraction of any fight card he is on. He makes fans want to listen to what he has to says and see how he backs it up when he fights. McGregor has become a self promoter, which helped grow his brand and transcend the sport of MMA. People that aren’t even familiar with MMA, know of McGregor just because of how good of a trash talker he is. Its what Muhammad Ali did in his career and Mcgregor has also become an icon because of it as well.

The question is what about everyone else?

Other fighters feel Conor McGregor trash talking is unnecessary and feel their only responsibility is to fight. It’s just not that simple. For fans to become invested in a fighter and watching them fight, it has to be more than just skill. Fans need to care about the fighter and what they are fighting for.  For the average man or woman, they don’t want to spend sixty dollars or seventy dollars(Hi Definition) on watching people fight that they don’t care about. That also goes for paying over one hundred dollars to go see a fight live they don’t care about. With so many entertaining attractions like sports, television or technology, we need to feel like the fight is must see.

Their are amazing fighters in the UFC, with many having incredible stories and personalities that we don’t get to see or hear. There are also many talented and intelligent fighters that could be superstars in their own right. This week on the legendary Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharp show on Fox Sports 1 called Undisputed, they had former Women’s Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate and Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic. Skip Bayless would ask them about Conor McGregor trash talking and why they don’t do it. They both respectively gave credit to McGregor as being the best and said they couldn’t do what he can. McGregor is a very talented trash talker, but other fighter don’t have to be just like him to help promote themselves and their fight.

Yesterday on the  Undisputed, they had current Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes as a guest. She was promoting her upcoming fight with Ronda Rousey and was asked a question about McGregor trash talking. She talked about how it was disrespectful and unnecessary, what many fighters have said in the past. Then when she was asked about her fight with Ronda Rousey, she did the unexpected and talked some trash. Bayless asked how she feels the fight would go and if it would go the same way as her last fight, which Nunes said I believe I will beat her and knock her out.

This made the crowd, Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharp excited and Nunes feeling hyped herself because of the reaction said she will do it in the first round. That is self promoting and creates excitement to want to see what she will say and do next. It makes you want to see how Ronda will respond and if Nunes can deliver on what she said.  Fighters don’t have to be McGregor, but talking about your fight and making fans feel like we need to spend money  is important. It creates more interest then just seeing two people fight, brings more attendance and pay per view buys and makes a fighter more intriguing to pay attention to.

Speaking is important. When UFC fighters after they win get that post fight interview, that is an example of a moment to promote yourself. Nobody wants to hear the generic I will fight anyone speech, what we want to hear is who do you want to fight next. By simply saying I want to fight blank, because I know I can beat this person fans would want to see that fight happen. These are opportunities to make a fighter stand out, make fans want to see what you will say or do next and help the fighter create opportunities by themselves, instead of waiting for someone to promote them.

UFC fighters don’t need to talk like McGregor, but they should look at what he is accomplishing. He makes people interested in whatever he is doing , in the process growing his brand and creating bigger opportunities by himself. Amanda Nunes just by being honest with how she feels and expressing her abilities in the octagon, made people even more excited for a fight that won’t happen until late December. It’s entertaining and creates interest, which fans love. Fans want to see someone they care about succeed, in the octagon and outside of it. Gaining endorsements, appearing on television or making more money, can be just from talking about your next fight.

Who is to say Nunes just from hyping her fight, has created more fans that didn’t follow the sport or made people want to know more about Amanda Nunes. What they would find is that Nunes is a leader and a hero to the LGBT community, because of the obstacles she has overcame and the fact she is the first openly gay champion the UFC ever had. This is an organization that has been dominated by men for years and up until the last year gave woman little opportunity to shine. Nunes now can be a hero to not only the LGBT community, but to woman who would want to see her be successful. Maybe the question shouldn’t be why can’t you talk like Conor McGregor, but why can’t you express how you feel and why we should be invested in you, like Conor McGregor does.

UFC 205 Prediction: Woodley vs Thompson

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Can Woodley keep the Championship?

The Co-main event of UFC 205 is also an interesting fight between Stephen”Wonderboy” Thompson and the Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley. This fight is just as unpredictable as McGregor vs Alvarez, as it hard to predict who can win. Both have different styles that can factor into this fight, which makes this fight exciting.

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Stephen Thompson has arguably the one of best striking ability in the UFC. At thirty three years old, he is at the prime of his career and has been spectacular in his recent fights. Training with his father Ray Thompson, he was introduced to karate, kickboxing and jujutsu at a very young age.  He has amazing kickboxing skills as he has Knockout victories over people like Jake Ellenberger(the video above).  What also makes him dangerous is his reach advantage over the other welterweights in the division. With his movement and his reach it makes it hard for his opponents to hit him, while he is able to hurt them. Thompson has been on a seven fight win streak, dominating top tier welterweights like Johny Hendricks and Rory McDonald.  Thompson is a favorite against Tyron Woodley and many feel Woodley will be another victim to a highlight reel knockout.

 

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Tyron Woodley is an incredible athlete, who can do it all in the octagon.  He has a decorated background in wrestling being a Big-12 Champion,  a two time D-1 College All American and has over 100 victories in college. He also has devastating knockout power and if he takes his opponent down, he can submit  or knockout his opponent on the ground. With the threat of his wrestling and his one punch knockout power, he is a nightmare for any opponent trying to prepare what Woodley will do.   He proved that when he knocked out then champion Robbie Lawler to win the Welterweight Champion. He teased the takedown, then landed a big right hand to knockout Lawler (who many felt couldn’t be beaten).

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Woodley has overcome adversity both in his professional MMA career and in his life to become the Welterweight Champion. He has spoke about how he came from struggling trying to make ends meet to how he is the co-main event of the UFC debut in Madison Square Garden.  He is the Welterweight Champion, but he is an underdog against the challenger Stephen Thompson. He feels disrespected being labelled an underdog and not getting the recognition for all he has accomplished. This Saturday he is looking to finish Thompson and cement his legacy as the best.

Prediction:  This fight is just as unpredictable as the main event. Both men have the ability to knock each other out and can be dangerous on the ground. Although Woodley has the wrestling ability, Thompson has been able to defend being taken down by his opponents. If Woodley can’t take Thompson down, Thompson will have the advantage in striking. It’s a hard fight to predict, but I think Woodley will be victorious this Saturday. He has to pressure Thompson in the very first round and not let Thompson get any space.

If Thompson can keep Woodley at a distance by movement and his reach, it will give Thompson an immediate advantage. Woodley can’t afford to give Thompson space, he has to take the fight to Thompson and put him against the cage. If he can pressure Thompson against the cage, he can use his explosive striking and try to knock Thompson out. He also can use his wrestling with Thompson against the cage and take the fight to the ground. Woodley has more options then Thompson in winning this fight, but all Thompson needs is a little space to take Woodley out. I believe Woodley can get it done by knockout and will cement his legacy in the worlds most famous arena.

 

 

UFC 205 Prediction: McGregor vs Alvarez

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The historic night in MMA and UFC is almost here!

The UFC is making its debut in Madison Square Garden, after years of trying to get MMA sanctioned in New York. Dana White had said in the past that their first fight card in New York was going to be big, but this card may be the best the UFC has ever put together. From the prelims to the main event, there are amazing fights to take place this Saturday.  One fight in particular that has fans excited is the main event of “The Notorious” Conor McGregor vs “The Underground King” Eddie Alvarez for the Lightweight Championship.

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Eddie Alvarez is a beast. Being a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania he has took the UFC Lightweight Division by storm.  He takes the fight to whoever he fights and can keep up the same pace for five rounds. He has earned the moniker “The Underground King”, having working in other organizations like Bellator fighting his way up the ranks. When he came to the UFC, many speculated if he could live up to the hype. He would lose his debut fight in the UFC to Donald Cerrone, with people doubting if he is the real deal.

He would go on a two fight win streak, beating top contenders Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez. He would then win the UFC Lightweight Championship in decisive fashion beating Rafael Dos Anjos, in a fight many felt he would lose. Alvarez has worked his way to the top of the division and this Saturday he faces the biggest challenge of his career in Conor McGregor. Alvarez has been outspoken about his dislike and has said McGregor hasn’t really dealt with adversity or put himself in harm’s way. He wants to finish McGregor and take away the mystique the fans have for  McGregor. If indeed Alvarez wins, this would go down as the biggest win of his career and he would simply be the king of the Lightweight Division.

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Conor McGregor is a special kind of fighter. Born in Dublin, Ireland he has become an icon in the UFC. There are only a few fighters in our lifetime, that has the same mystique has him like Floyd Mayweather or even the late great Muhammad Ali. He has a unique ability to promote himself as the best trash talker in the business and has backed it up as well. During his time in the UFC, he has broke the attendance gate, the Pay Per View buyrate and has become a superstar in pop culture as well. He is the biggest star in the UFC, which makes sense for him to headline the UFC’s first fight in Madison Square Garden.

Conor McGregor has a unique standup ability and has dangerous power in his left hand. Most of his wins have come from knockout or technical knockout, with him winning the Featherweight Championship by knocking Jose Aldo in fourteen seconds. Jose Aldo was at one point the pound for pound best fighter in the UFC and for McGregor to finish him in seconds spoke the greatness of McGregor. He also shown his heart, after losing for the first time in the UFC to Nate Diaz at Welterweight. This was  McGregor first fight at Welterweight and was a fight on short notice as he was supposed to fight then champion Rafael Dos Anjos for the Lightweight Championship.

Being a competitor and risk taker, he decided he wanted to fight Diaz again at Welterweight five months later. He would knock Diaz down three times in the first two rounds, but would get gassed by round three. He would show his heart and come back in the fourth and fifth round to get the win by Majority Decision. McGregor wants to cement his legacy as the best ever and become a two division champion this Saturday.  Alvarez is not an easy opponent and maybe his toughest opponent he has ever faced. McGregor is not fazed and has even predicted he would win in the first round by knockout.

Prediction: This fight is hard to call and that’s what makes this the most interesting fight of the card. Alvarez will try to impose his will like he does in all his fights and can keep up the pressure for five rounds. On the other hand, McGregor has found a way to overcome the odds and win in the biggest moments. Alvarez does have a good wrestling background, which people fear will be McGregor biggest threat. People bring up how Chad Mendes was able to takedown McGregor, but that fight was also on short notice. McGregor has had time to work on defending the takedown between the Mendes fight and now, especially if that’s the gameplan  Alvarez plans to apply. Alvarez also has to be cautious not to underestimate the striking ability of McGregor who has a reach advantage and is good at using the reach advantage well. This fight is unpredictable and it’s hard to say which fighter will win. That is what makes this fight so interesting. With the championship on the line and history that can be made on an already historic night, this is what makes the UFC so exciting. I have McGregor winning by TKO and making history as a two division champion.

 

Rafael Dos Anjos vs Tony Ferguson Preview

This Saturday  the UFC has a fight that can impact who gets the next shot at the UFC Lightweight Championship. Rafael Dos Anjos (Ranked #2 in the Lightweight Division) vs Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson (Ranked #3 in the Lightweight Division) will headline the UFC Fight Night Card on Fox Sports 1. Both fighters have  explosive standup ability and can submit opponents on the ground respectively. They are also hungry for an opportunity for the Lightweight Championship, that will be defend the following week in Madison Square Garden at UFC 205.

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Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson has been on a roll  in the Lightweight division, going on an eight fight win streak. Always outspoken, he feels he is the best in the division and deserves a shot at the Lightweight Championship. He has great standup ability and can be creative with his striking as well.  He even has a excellent ground game, as he can take opponents out with a rear naked choke or his favorite a D’Arce  Choke(which he does in the video above). His last win back in July against  Lando Vannata, has also shows the heart and competitor he has. In the fight he got hurt early, but railed back to submit  Vannata by D’Arce Choke as well. If Ferguson beats Rafael Dos Anjos  this Saturday, he may finally get the opportunity he feels he deserves.

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Rafael Dos Anjos is the former Lightweight Champion. He has been at the top of the Lightweight Division and was considered the scariest fighter in the division.  He was on a roll himself, putting on excellent performances like the fight he had with Donald Cerrone. With his great standup ability, the power to K.O his opponents and his underrated ground ability, people wondered if anyone can beat him.  That came to a halt when he got stopped by the new Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez, by TKO in the first round. Dos Anjos wants to get the Championship back and wants to be at the top of the division again.

The Winner: Both fighters are close to a shot at the Lightweight Championship and has the ability to finish the other. It’s just hard to not go with the former Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos. If he pressures Tony Ferguson early and tires out Ferguson against the cage, I believe he can win by decision. I do not believe he can K.O Ferguson, because of the heart Ferguson has to not get beaten. Dos Anjos needs to go five rounds like he did when, he beat Anthony Pettis to become the Lightweight Champion.  Dos Anjos has excellent ground work to avoid being submitted by Ferguson and has gone a full five round fight, which Ferguson has not.

Rafael Dos Anjos wins by Unanimous Decision

Preview 2016-2017 NBA Season:Atlanta Hawks

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Can Dwight Howard elevate the Hawks?

The Atlanta Hawks have lost some key players from their roster. Former Center for the Hawks Al Horford would leave in the offseason, to go play for the Celtics. Also they would trade Jeff Teague to the Pacers in a three team trade for draft picks. In response to the loss of Horford and Teague, the Hawks would sign a underrated big talent in the offseason former Rockets Center Dwight Howard.

The signing of Dwight Howard in the offseason is a big deal. Howard who was considered at one point to be one of the best centers in the NBA, has not had the run in Houston which was expected. He would face injury and have to compete with his own teammate James Harden for scoring opportunities. During his time last season with the Rockets he played 71 games and stayed healthy for majority of the season. He would average 13.7 PPG and 11.8 RPG, but some feel he could have had a greater impact on the team. Under the Rockets offense last season, Harden was the primary target and everything had revolved around him. Howard would be open at times under the basket, while Harden would still try to score by himself.  Howard diminished role, had an impact on him leaving for Atlanta.

In Atlanta, expect Dwight Howard to have a bigger role and elevate his game. The Hawks still have impressive talent in the emerging Point Guard Dennis Schroder who took the position of Jeff Teague, as Teague game began to decline. Schroder averaged 11 PPG and 4.4 APG.  The Hawks also have  Power Forward Paul Millsap, who may benefit more having Howard on the team then Al Horford.  Millsap averaged 17.1 PPG and 9 RPG. The Hawks still have sharpshooter Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore and Tim Hardaway Jr. Howard will have more opportunity in Atlanta and will be more motivated to shut up his  critics from the past as well.

Prediction: Expect The Hawks to be in the Playoffs. They are not title contenders, but it is a step forward. Losing Al Horford and Jeff Teague doesn’t hurt the team and they were able to get Dwight Howard who will give Atlanta a spark both on the court and getting fans attention. He is back in his hometown and a motivated Howard is dangerous. He has a chance to remind us how dominate he can be and is going to be coached by Mike Budenholzer, who is a great coach and is very underated. Schroder is expected to improve now that he is the clear Point Guard of this team and Paul Millsap will play even better, if Howard can be dominate to give him more opportunities to score. The Hawks are a work in progress and I do expect more changes to the roster, through trades in the season. They are still missing key pieces to get them to a championship level, but they have the coaching and the talent to get into the Playoffs this season.

Atlanta Hawks: `Sixth Seed in the Eastern Conference

NBA Season Preview 2016-2017:Chicago Bulls

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Can the Bulls compete for a championship?

The Chicago Bulls have rebuilt the team in one off season.  The Bulls would let their two franchise players in Point Guard Derrick Rose and Center Joakim Noah go, to revamp the entire roster. In return the acquired former Heat Shooting Guard Dwayne Wade and former Kings Point Guard Rajon Rondo in the offseason. The Bulls still have an All Star Shooting Guard Jimmy Butler , who many can expect to improve as well.

Dwayne Wade coming back to his hometown of Chicago and playing for the Bulls, is a big deal. Wade brings championship experience to a relatively young and talented team. Dwayne Wade played 73 games last year and averaged 19 PPG, with 4.6 APG. What has always been a question with Wade is his health, but last year for the most part he was physically healthy and was a key player for the Heat in the Playoffs last season. At thirty four years old, Dwayne can still give a championship performance in big games and shouldn’t have to carry the team.

Rajon Rondo is a interesting acquisition for the Bulls. In 2014 he had signed with the Mavericks, after years with the Celtics. His tenure with the Mavericks was problematic, as he would have problems with the Coach Rick Carlisle. After the season ended he would go to the Kings and had some success, but wasn’t enough to get the Kings to the Playoffs. Now with the Bulls, people question if Rondo can get along with Dwayne Wade and elevate Bulls to title contenders. Rondo is also a NBA Champion and can be a great Point Guard, but he has to fit in with the team.

Jimmy Butler has emerged as a star player in the NBA and is making an argument for being one of the best Shooting Guards in the league. When Derrick Rose was struggling with injuries, he stepped up and took over Rose spot as being the leader of the team. Last season he would average 20.9 PPG and 5.3 RPG, but the story of the team was if their was problems between Rose and Butler. People questioned if Rose coming back was going to hurt the chemistry of the team. This season Butler will be the franchise player for the team, but will also have a more talented roster then last season. Expect Butler to be better then last season, with talented scorers like Dwayne Wade and Nikola Mirotic on the Bulls team to give him more open shots.

prediction: The Bulls are definitely a team that could challenge the Cavaliers in the Playoffs. The problem that they will have is, if they can have strong team chemistry and if coaching will be a problem. Losing Tom Thibodeau last season, had completely changed the style of play and the attitude of the team. They took their minds of defense and became more of an offensive team, which took away the aggression the team had. Losing that edge, had took away the mystique of playing against the Bulls and took away their identity. Head Coach Fred Hoiberg will have a challenge in making this team better, then last year and watching after Dwayne Wade to make sure he stays healthy. This team is going to take time getting their chemistry and figuring out what their identity of the team will now be. The upside to it is they have talent to do something special in Chicago and by the Playoffs can be considered a threat to the Cavaliers.

 

The Chicago Bulls: Fourth Seed in the Eastern Conference

Preview NBA Season 2016-2017: Indiana Pacers

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Can Indiana get back in the playoffs?

The Indiana Pacers are an interesting team in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers have went through some changes in the off season, most notably the coach Frank Vogel. Vogel has been the head coach for the Pacers since 2011 and has helped the team to two Eastern Conference Finals. Even though the Pacers were in the playoffs, President of the Pacers Larry Bird decided to let Vogel go and move in a different direction. The Head Coach of the Pacers will be Nate McMillan, who has coached teams like the Trailblazers and was the Assistant Coach for the Pacers under Frank Vogel.  In retrospect this can be a breath of fresh air for this team.

The Pacers have changed their roster as well, as they acquired a veteran Al Jefferson from the Hornets and Jeff Teague.  Teague was traded to the Pacers in the offseason in a three team trade, that sent former Pacers Point Guard George Hill to the Jazz. Teague now playing the Point Guard position in Indiana, is a great opportunity for him to show what Atlanta will be missing. Atlanta decided to go a different direction with Dennis Schroeder as their starting Point guard. Teague averaged 15.7 PPG and 5.9 APG last season, which would be an improvement compared to what  Hill had done last year for the Pacers.

Al Jefferson is a interesting acquisition for the Pacers, as they get a productive veteran center they have needed for a long time.  Jefferson has been in the league for twelve years and is a tough center. Being with the Hornets for three years, he also has the ability to carry the team on several occasions as well. Jefferson at thirty one years old, may have the best talent around him in his career. With Paul George, Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis, it relieves the pressure of  Jefferson(who averaged 12 PPG) to score then with the Hornets. Playing for the Pacers gives Jefferson a fresh start, with a team that can make a run in the playoffs.

Paul George is also hungry to be a champion and gain respect as one of the best players in the game. After a horrific injury in 2014,  George is fully healthy going into the season and has got back into the flow of his game. Last season felt more like George getting back to the player he was prior to his injury, which he would average 23.1 PPG which is his career high. This upcoming season  George has a new array of talent with Jeff Teague and Al Jefferson, while still having likes of Monta Ellis and CJ Miles as well. Expect George to improve and try to take this team to a new level.

Prediction: The Pacers are a wild card in the Eastern Conference. They finally have a legit threat at the Center position in Al Jefferson.  They have also improved the Point Guard position by getting Jeff Teague, who is going to have a chip on his shoulder. Paul George is coming into the season hungry and wanting to prove to the world that he should be in the conversation as the best in the NBA. He is also coming off his best scoring season, which was his comeback season as well. This Pacers team has new life and has potential to be a threat in the Eastern Conference.

Indiana Pacers: third Seed in the Eastern Conference

Preview NBA Season 2016-2017 Preview: New York Knicks

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The New York Knicks are contenders again.

The last two years for the Knicks and the Knicks fanbase, has been rough and worth forgetting.  In 2014-2015 season, the Knicks had their worst record in franchise history with a 17-65 record. Although in 2015-2016 season the Knicks improved to 32-50, it still it not what many NBA fans are accustom to. Last season saw a team surrounded by controversy with questions of how committed President Phil Jackson was to the team to questioning if Carmelo Anthony is still hungry for a championship. The Knicks also had coaching issues with Derek Fisher and Kurt Rambis and the lack of direction of how they were going to play.

Even though the Knicks season wasn’t worth remembering, what fans will remember is acquiring a prospect with a lot of potential in drafting Kristaps Porzingis. The 7ft 3in player from Latvia, has given the Knicks a lot to look forward to in the upcoming season. Porzingis can defend, can score inside and outside the paint and has shown toughness as well. Some of compared Porzingis to the great Dirk Nowitzki, which in retrospect can very well be a possibility. At twenty one years old, Porzingis still has room to grow and become the franchise of this Knicks team.

The Knicks this year have potential to do great things this season. In the off season they acquired former Bulls franchise point guard Derrick Rose and their center Joakim Noah. Derrick Rose career has not been easy, as the once MVP has been plagued with injury. Many have doubted if he will get back to that MVP style of play, that put him as the elite point guard in the NBA at one point. Last year he played in 66 games and averaged 16.4 PPG, which he will have to improve to help the Knicks capture a championship.

Joakim Noah has also dealt with injury and people wonder if he can give the Knicks the player that was once considered the best defensive player in the NBA. Noah wasn’t given a fair shot last year with the Bulls, as he became more of a bench player. He would average 4.3 PPG and 8.8 RPG last season, with the more concerning stat being his scoring. Even with the offensive weapons on the Knicks team, he will have to contribute a little more.

Carmelo Anthony is entering his 13th year in the NBA, with questions on if he will ever capture an NBA title. He has watched his friends Dwayne Wade and LeBron James win multiple championships, with Chris Paul always being contenders with the Los Angeles Clippers. Anthony has yet to get past the first round in the playoffs and people question his ambition on if he cares. Most recently was the remarks he made during the Rio Olympics about being okay, with not winning an NBA Championship after winning the gold medal. This year Anthony has arguably his best chance at winning an NBA championship,  than he has had in his career with the Knicks.

Prediction: The Knicks have the roster to be contenders in the Eastern Conference, but it depends on if they can stay healthy, have chemistry and figure out the direction of how they are going to play. This team is the most talented it has been in the last couple of years and it’s easy to see them as one of the teams in the playoffs this season. They have a new coach in Jeff Hornacek and has also acquired Courtney Lee, Brandon jennings and Justin Holiday in offseason. They have more options of how they want to structure their bench as well, then the previous seasons. I would also look out for Guillermo Hernangomez and Mindaugas Kuzminskas, who have both proven to have potential to impact the team. The Knicks are back and it’s up to them to see how far they can go.

 

The New York Knicks: fifth seed in the Eastern Conference

Preview 2016-2017 NBA Season: Toronto Raptors

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With the upcoming NBA season, we look at the Toronto Raptors.

In the last three NBA seasons the Toronto Raptors have made it to the playoffs, with last year being the better of the three appearances. The Raptors are another team that had went through a long rebuilding period, until the 2013-2014 season. Kyle lowry and DeMar DeRozan has been the backcourt duo, that has rejuvenated this franchise. Being in the playoffs and being defeated in the first round the last two years had actually proved to help make the Raptors better. Last season saw the Raptors more experienced and hungry to make a splash in the playoffs, which led them to the Conference Finals against the reigning champions The Cleveland Cavaliers.

Kyle Lowry at thirty years old has turned into a great Point Guard in the league and is almost in consideration for being one of the elite in the NBA. Last year he averaged 21.2 PPG which is his career high and 6.4 APG. Lowry has become a better player then what he was in the 2013-2014 season, having been criticized and taken out in the first round in back to back appearances. Last season he took his game to another level and arguably made a case for becoming the face of the franchise as well.

DeMar DeRozan had a great season last year and what was his best season of his career. He would average 23.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG, with both him and Lowry in consideration as one of the best backcourts in the NBA. He also showed his leadership as well, reminding everyone he has been a mainstay for the Raptors since 2009. Although injury has gotten in the way, DeRozan had a break out season and he is only twenty seven.  If healthy, DeRozan will score and might make a debate as one of the best shooting guards in the NBA.

Dwane Casey also deserves credit for coaching the Raptors. Although he has been criticized by the media and can be ill- tempered at times, he has brought toughness to this Toronto team and has made them hungry. Casey gives the Raptors team an edge even in media, when he talks about nobody respecting them as championship contenders. Casey has done a remarkable job as coach for the Raptors and has always been in conversation as coach of the year.

Prediction: I don’t expect the Raptors to be in the second seed again, because how much the Eastern Conference has change. Not much has changed about the Raptors roster except the addition of  Center Jared Sullinger, who they signed in the offseason. Although Lowry and DeRozan after their best season in their career respectfully, it’s going to be a hard road getting into the playoffs.

Toronto Raptors: Seventh Seed in the Eastern Conference