Hello Fangirls, it’s Tracy Sandler and welcome to the first edition of The Score.
We are now in the thick of the NBA season so let’s dig in…
NBA Second Half
OK Fangirls, here are some of the biggest storylines heading into the 2nd half of the NBA season.
Cleveland made some serious moves at the trade deadline totally remaking their team. With this new team in place, can they win the east?
- The East has gotten tougher, and the Cavaliers are not the same team they were with Kyrie Irving. While LeBron James is having a great year, it remains to be seen if all their newly acquired players can change the locker room attitude and subpar basketball that has plagued Cleveland this year.
- The Raptors, Celtics, and Wizards are all going to challenge the Cavs this postseason, and the Cavs aren’t going to have home-court advantage.
- Will he stay or will he go? Cavs made a ton of moves to make LeBron happy but what will he leave his hometown team again?
Can anyone beat the Warriors?
The Warriors have an abundance of riches on their roster with star power and depth so can anyone challenge them in the West?
- The Rockets have closed the gap between the Warriors and the rest of the Western Conference. They’ve been nearly unbeatable when Chris Paul and James Harden are suited up and have the No. 2 offense in the league.
- OKC has beaten the Warriors in both games they have played this season with Russel Westbrook looking unstoppable and highly motivated. Everyone is hoping for that matchup in the playoffs.
There have been a rash of injuries plaguing the NBA this season, starting early with Gordon Hayward and continuing throughout the season, which will have a major impact on the playoff push.
- DeMarcus Cousins – He ruptured his Achilles and is out for the year. He was averaging 25.2 points and 12.9 rebounds per game and would be tough to replace for any team, but the Pelicans — currently clinging onto a playoff spot in the cutthroat West — have almost no depth. Will Anthony Davis and Co be able to hold on to a playoff spot?
- John Wall is out 6-8 weeks with a knee injury. Can the Wizards survive without their all-star and hold onto their top 4 playoff seeding?
- Kevin Love will be out 6-8 weeks with a broken hand. The team made a ton of moves to shake up a stagnant lineup. How will he fit in and contribute when he returns.
- Kawhi Leonard – This should be a bigger story but the Spurs just keep chugging along. They will need Kawhi to make any kind of a playoff push.
- Kristaps Porzingis – He was having an all-star season but is now out 8-12 months with a torn ACL. Devastating to the Knicks but will they go all in on tanking now?
The rest of the NBA season should be an interesting one, but, as we Fangirls know, the NFL has something to talk about all year round so let’s look at some of the things we should be on the lookout for during this offseason.
Let’s start with the NFL Scouting Combine to be held, as always, in Indianapolis. The Combine starts February 27th and runs through March 5th and will include over 300 of the very best players in college football. All the top execs, coaches, and medical staffs from all 32 teams will be there for this intense 4-day job interview for college players looking to make their NFL dreams come true.
- As always, the biggest discussions will revolve around quarterbacks and we have a few pretty good ones coming out this year. The top QB prospects, not in any particular order, are: Sam Darnold –USC; Josh Rosen – UCLA; 2017 Heisman Award-winner Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma; and Josh Allen – Wyoming
- All four, prized rookie quarterbacks-to-be are likely to be chosen in the 1st round, and there is a good chance they will be gone within the first 10 picks. Coaches will be looking at arm strength, accuracy and all the physical tools a successful NFL QB needs to be successful.
Other top prospects to look for at this year’s NFL Combine:
- Minkah Fitzpatrick is widely regarded as the number one corner/safety prospect out of Alabama. Teams will be looking closely to see if he grades out as a Safety or Cornerback.
- Running back Sony Michel from Georgia is another to keep an eye on. While most people are talking about Saquon Barkley, Michel is one of the most elusive backs in the draft and reminds many of 2017 rookie of the year Alvin Kamara.
- Two big guys that scouts will be closely watching are guards Will Hernandez from UTEP and Quinten Nelson from Notre Dame. These big bodies are expected to go in the 1st round if they grade well at the combine.
Free Agency (trades)
The free agency period starts on March 12th and teams can officially sign players on the 14th. As always, there are a ton of great players on the market but let’s start with one of the biggest questions entering free agency; where will Kirk Cousins land?
- Now that Washington traded for Alex Smith and SF signed Jimmy G, what happens to Cousins and where will his big payday come from? Will Washington Franchise him again and try to trade him? The Cardinals and Broncos, who already have a lot of pieces in place, would be intriguing options. The Jets and Browns might offer more cash … and more rebuilding.
- Le’Veon Bell – Bell already rejected a five-year offer from the Steelers that would have paid him over $12 million per season in the summer, instead seeking a deal that would give him $15mm per season. Will he get his money and from who?
- Others Top FA’s to keep an eye on:
- Sheldon Richardson DE (Seattle)
- Malcolm Butler, CB (Pats) – Will be interesting after Super Bowl benching.
- DeMarcus Lawrence, DE, (Cowboys)
- Jarvis Landry WR (Miami)
- Trumaine Johnson WR (Rams)
- Devante Adams S (GB)
- Nate Solder OT(Pats)
Thanks for joining us for our first edition of The Score! See ya next time!