Anthony Davis joins the Lakers

Just two days after the Toronto Raptors defeated the dynastic Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Finals, the first–and biggest–trade of the young NBA offseason has happened. The New Orleans Pelicans sent star Anthony Davis to the Lakers for quite a haul.

The trade is fascinating both teams. LeBron James will turn 35 during the 2019-20 NBA season and AD will be the best player LeBron has ever played with. The price the Lakers paid seems insane at face value, but it really seems like both teams made out in this deal. The Lakers now have two legit superstars; the Pelicans now have the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in Thursday night’s draft, several young players, plus draft picks to help in add to the team in the coming years.

If you’re wondering if Lonzo’s dad is mad, the answer is yes.

The Lakers are in win-now mode

It’s impossible to look at this without considering LeBron’s age. If the Lakers don’t get another star player, was getting LeBron even worth it? Clearly LeBron playing with younger, undeveloped talents didn’t work out so well for the Lakers last season. LeBron probably only has a few good years left, so the Lakers can’t afford to draft and develop players over several years. Davis makes the team instantly better and automatically a contender in the Western Conference.

Davis will re-sign with the Lakers in 2020

It’s already being reported that Davis will sign with the Lakers when he becomes a free agent next summer. The Brow is only 26, and could be the next superstar big man for the Lakers, as well as a guy they can build around whenever LeBron decides to hang it up. It’s hard to imagine the Lakers giving away so much for a one-year rental and it’s no secret that Davis has wanted to go to L.A. for some time now. Unless he and LeBron have a monumental falling out over the next year, he’ll be a Laker for years to come.

Now’s the time to strike in the Western Conference

The dynamics of the Western Conference have shifted dramatically in the last five days, beginning with Kevin Durant tearing his Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the Finals and Klay Thompson tearing his ACL in Game 6. Durant was expected to be the biggest name in free agency. There’s been endless speculation about where he would sign. Now it’s possible he’ll miss all of the 2019-20 NBA season and Achilles’ injuries are notoriously difficult to recover from.

There’s now uncertainty as to whether Durant will become a free agent at all–he has a $31.5 million player option with the Warriors for 2019-20. Durant could choose to forego free agency now and spend the next year rehabbing on the Warriors’ dime.

Thompson is also a free agent this offseason, though there was little doubt that he’d re-sign with Golden State. His father confirmed that Klay will be back.

The injuries have made the Warriors’ future murky and bring up a ton of questions regarding the salary cap and luxury tax.

The Warriors dynasty may not be totally over, but it’s hard to see them going very far next season based on their current situation. Thompson will miss time recovering from his ACL tear. KD might get paid to not play for the Warriors next year. DeMarcus Cousins is a free agent. Steph Curry may be the greatest shooter in NBA history, but he can’t win the Western Conference singlehandedly.

Future first-round picks may not be as valuable

If the Lakers can do anything in the next few years, the future first-round picks will automatically be less valuable. It’ll be interesting to see where the team is in a year’s time and where its first-round pick will be; if they can manage a playoff run, that pick will be in somewhere in the 20s. Some people are acting as though those first-round picks are too valuable to part with, but they aren’t for a team like the Lakers. It’s rare for draft picks to be a sure thing while Anthony Davis is already a proven talent.

The Lakers aren’t done

Simply put, the Lakers aren’t done making a splash this offseason. Free agency is just two weeks away and L.A. is now a premier landing spot for impending free agents. It’s anyone’s guess who they’ll sign; there’s been speculation involving the Lakers and everyone from Kemba Walker to Jimmy Butler to Kyrie Irving.

From LeBron’s Instagram from early 2018, but it’s easy to imagine him grinning from ear-to-ear right now.

The Pelicans just got so much more interesting

The Pelicans already had the No. 1 pick in the draft, and they’re certain to take Zion Williamson, the 6’7″, 285 lb. freak athlete/forward from Duke. Williamson is the most hyped prospect since LeBron in 2003. New Orleans now also has a the No. 4 overall pick, which could be used as a trade chip or to land another highly regarded prospect. It’s easy to wonder if they could dangle the No. 4 pick and a player to the Knicks to move up a spot to take Williamson’s Duke teammate R.J. Barrett with the No. 3 pick.

The Pelicans also now have a pair of recent No. 2 overall picks in Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, who were integral to the deal. New Orleans also still has Jrue Holiday, who posted a career-best 21.2 points per game in the 2018-19 season. The Pelicans could be a contender much more quickly than anticipated and it’s hard to see David Griffin as anything but a damn genius; his team won the draft lottery/Zion sweepstakes and he used the Pelicans’ biggest asset to net a fantastic return. Davis didn’t want to be in New Orleans any longer and was going to walk next year anyway. Now Griffin can use that return to build around a generational talent.

The NBA offseason has only just begun…

…and it’s already freaking insane. The draft is a mere five days away. Free agency begins at 6 p.m. on June 30th. The KD and Klay situations have already been discussed, but there are plenty of other big name players who will hit free agency in two weeks. Reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins, and Khris Middleton will all be free agents, among others. This is looking to be one of the most fascinating offseasons in recent NBA history and it could reshape the league for years to come.


Zion Williamson Isn’t Fair

Last night, Duke played Virginia Tech in the Sweet Sixteen. For the second time in five days, Duke looked beatable and won by virtue of the basketball skirting the rim at the buzzer.

While Tre Jones had himself a night–22 points and 5-of-7 from 3–Zion Williamson was still the story of the game.

Despite being the leading scorer of the game with 23, Zion’s most memorable play came on defense and resulted in a four-point swing. With under six minutes remaining, Duke had a 3-point lead. The Hokies got the ball after an abysmal possession by the Blue Devils. Hokie guard Justin Robinson stormed to the basket, thought he had Zion beat, but Zion recovered quickly, jumped up and still made the block. This allowed Jones to grab the ball and make a pull-up 2, bringing the score to 66-61.

Earlier in the game, Zion also did this:

And this:

You can watch all Zion related highlights here:

While it brings no pleasure to most of the country to watch Duke win games in March, it’s hard not to enjoy watching Zion play. Pitt head coach Jeff Capel, who helped recruit Zion while still an assistant at Duke, said earlier this year off Williamson’s play, “I don’t know if I’ve seen anything like it in my time of coaching.” It’s hard to recall anyone dominating the college game in quite the way Zion has done this season.

March Madness Recap: Opening Weekend

Via @boisestatelive

If you are a functioning human being and have even the slightest knowledge of sports you are probably aware the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament kicked off this past weekend across the United States.

Known simply as March Madness, the month long tournament pits 68 college basketball teams against each other and the last one standing is crowned the national champion of the sport.

If the first weekend of action is any precursor of what is to come then we are in for one heck of a ride over the next few weeks. Through two rounds of play, the tournament has lived up to its name and brought the madness we all crave when tuning in.

Let’s break it down and recap what happened in a crazy weekend of hoops.

An Upset for the Ages

Coming into the 2018 NCAA Tournament, No. 1 seeds had an all time record of 132-0 over No. 16 seeds. When top overall seed University of Virginia tipped off against University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in their 1 vs. 16 matchup, that record had expanded to 135-0. When the final horn sounded in Charlotte that record stood at 135 AND 1.

For the first time ever, a No. 16 seed defeated a No. 1 in the NCAA tournament. This was an upset so massive most brackets were set ablaze the moment the game went final. Nobody picks 16 seeds unless they are family, alumni, or simply messing around.

Just to show how big this is, Seth Davis of CBS was so confident in a Virginia victory he tweeted this a minute into the game.

Even more to the credit of UMBC this was not simply just a massive upset, it was a full throttle beat down of the TOP OVERALL SEED in the tournament. A 74-54 dismantling of one of the best teams in college basketball.

People loved the upset so much, they just started randomly tweeting pictures of their own dogs at the official UMBC Athletic Twitter account.

Sadly, UMBC’s run ended in the next round at the hands of No. 9 seed Kansas St. but they will forever live on in the hearts of millions who watched them do the impossible.

(It probably didn’t hurt that their mascot is a very lovable doggo.)

It’s hard to say when (if?) we will ever see this happen again but one thing is for sure, no No. 1 seed will ever take a No. 16 lightly again. They are all on watch now for the rest of history. It’s happened once and it can happen again.

Really There Were Upsets Galore

UMBC was the biggest upset of opening weekend but it was in no way the only upset that went down. Top seeds were dropping left and right all weekend and as a result, the average seed moving onto the Sweet 16 is 5.13.

Here are the upsets that took place in the first two rounds:

  • No. 13 Buffalo over No. 4 Arizona
  • No. 11 Loyola-Chicago over No. 6 Miami
  • No. 16 UMBC over No. 1 Virginia
  • No. 13 Marshall over No. 4 Wichita State
  • No. 10 Butler over No. 7 Arkansas
  • No. 11 Syracuse over No. 6 TCU
  • No. 11 Loyola-Chicago over No. 3 Tennessee
  • No. 9 Florida State over No. 1 Xavier
  • No. 11 Syracuse over No. 3 Michigan State
  • No. 7 Nevada over No. 2 Cincinnati (Nevada trailed by 22 in the second half)
  • No. 7 Texas A&M over No. 2 North Carolina
  • No. 5 Clemson over No. 4 Auburn (Yes, it is only a one seed difference but Clemson won by 31)

(Note: No. 9 over No. 8 does not count as an upset)

Loyola-Chicago and Syracuse are the only teams to appear here twice meaning as 11 seeds they pulled off two upsets and will be playing in the Sweet 16 next weekend.

There Was Still Some Chalk

With all the talk about upsets we would be remiss if we did not discuss the title favorites who navigated the carnage and took care of business during the opening weekend to book a spot in the Sweet 16:

  • While Virginia and Xavier fell, fellow No. 1 seeds Villanova and Kansas fared much better. Villanova won by an average of 26 points over Radford and Alabama in the East region. Kansas cruised in their first game but had to survive a scare in the Round of 32, defeating No. 8 seed Seton Hall 83-79.
  • Same scenario for the No. 2 seeds took place. North Carolina and Cincinnati were both bounced in the Round of 32 but Duke and Purdue both advanced to the Sweet 16. Duke rolled in both of their games while Purdue had to overcome the loss of big man Isaac Haas to squeak past Butler.
  • Matching up against the Boilermakers in the Sweet 16 will be No. 3 seed Texas Tech who knocked off Stephen F. Austin and a strong Florida team to make it through.
  • Big Ten champion Michigan knocked off Montana in the first round then survived an upset bid by Houston in the Round of 32 thanks to a buzzer beating three pointer from freshman Jordan Poole.
  • 2017 national runner-up Gonzaga survived two close calls over the weekend with wins against UNC Greensboro and Ohio State.
  • Nobody had any idea what to make of a streaky West Virginia team coming into the tournament but comfortable victories over Murray State and in-state rival Marshall give the Mountaineers a date with No. 1 Villanova in the Sweet 16.

Looking Ahead: Sweet 16 and Elite 8

Now that the Sweet 16 is set, let’s look ahead to the Regional Finals set to get underway on Thursday night.

(Winners of Sweet 16 matchups play in Elite 8 to determine regional champions and Final Four participants)

East Region (Boston)

  • No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 5 West Virginia
  • No. 2 Purdue vs. No. 3 Texas Tech

This is by far the chalkiest region remaining after the opening weekend. Villanova and West Virginia both rolled in their opening games and should make up for a tasty matchup. Purdue will not rule out Isaac Haas but it’s hard to see him playing going forward with a fractured elbow.

Outlook: Villanova is the slight favorite to win the East region but you can make a case for any of the four teams to book a spot in San Antonio.

Midwest Region (Omaha)

  • No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 5 Clemson
  • No. 2 Duke vs. No. 11 Syracuse

A lot of marquee names in the Midwest region with Kansas, Duke, and Syracuse all in play. The Orange used stifling defense to upset Michigan State but it’s hard to imagine they can score enough to keep up with Duke. Kansas will be a favorite over Clemson but the Tigers are coming off a mauling of a very good Auburn team.

Outlook:Β The smart money is on either Kansas or Duke to advance to the Final Four but considering how this tournament has played out so far there may not be a safe pick here.

South Region (Atlanta)

  • No. 5 Kentucky vs. No. 9 Kansas State
  • No. 7 Nevada vs. No. 11 Loyola-Chicago

UMBC’s victory over Virginia turned this region on its head. Further upsets by Loyola and Nevada sent it into complete chaos. For the first time in tournament history a region will not send one of its top four seeds to the regional finals. It’s historic powerhouse Kentucky and three cinderellas.

Outlook:Β Kentucky’s path to the Final Four went from Arizona, Virgina, Cincinnati/Tennessee to Buffalo, Kansas State, Nevada/Loyola. Pretty good luck for Calipari’s squad but this is a mediocre Wildcats teams that could easily be toppled.

West Region (Los Angeles)

  • No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 7 Texas A&M
  • No. 4 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Florida State

This is a very underrated Sweet 16 scenario. Michigan came into the tournament on a roll and it has continued. Texas A&M laid waste to the defending national champs in the Round of 32. Gonzaga is quietly playing good basketball. Florida State is a true wild card after upsetting No. 1 Xavier.

Outlook:Β Michigan and Gonzaga are the two favorites to represent the region in the Final Four but Texas A&M is healthy and playing to their potential. Florida State could crash the party and play cinderella.

Final Thoughts

The opening weekend of the tournament was complete chaos that saw brackets busting left and right due to countless upsets. That leaves us with the matchups above and as a basketball fan you should be excited. you have your annual favorites like Duke and Villanova mixed in with cinderella stories like Loyola and Nevada.

This upcoming weekend of basketball should be a great show as the field narrows down to its Final Four by Sunday night.

LeBron James Snatched a Soul Last Night

Via @MeredithFrost

Last night, the Cleveland Cavaliers were in Portland to take on the Trailblazers in a matchup between playoff hopefuls. Portland won the game 113-105, pouring further misery on this Cavs’ season and likely pushing LeBron James closer to leaving the team in free agency this offseason.

We are not here to focus on the outcome of the game, however. What I gathered you all here for was what LeBron did to Jusuf Nurkic in the first quarter.

If you have a weak stomach you may want to shield your eyes:

That was the greatest basketball player of his generation (arguably ever) stealing the soul of poor Mr. Nurkic. You can see the moment Nurkic regrets his feeble attempt at stopping James and in the process surrendering his soul to the GOAT.

Nurkic must now return to Bosnia and Herzegovina where he will live in a small cabin the woods where this highlight will replay in his head until the end of time. Sorry, them’s the rules.

Here is another angle of the destruction:

The sound created by the ball hitting the net with such force likely caused a great many Blazers’ fans to visit their localΒ Otolaryngologist to get examined for hearing aids.

While the dunk was amazing in itself, the reactions it generated should be framed and hung in the Louvre for all to enjoy.

Few sporting feats are as great as a true soul snatching dunk and LeBron has produced quite a few during his 15 seasons in the NBA. This may be the best he’s ever done. At 33 years old, LeBron continues to play at a level most can dream of ever reaching for a single game of their careers. Enjoy it while it lasts because there may never be another one like him.

This may be a lost season for the Cavs and there is a very real possibility LeBron will leave for greener pastures in the offseason. Wherever he ends up playing, you can guarantee highlights like this one will keep coming for all of us to enjoy.

Loyola-Chicago Gave Us Our First March Madness Buzzer Beater

Via @LoyolaChicago

On the ropes in their first round game of the 2018 NCAA tournament, the 11th seeded Loyola-Chicago Ramblers gave us the perfect example of what makes this time of year so great.

Trailing the 6th seeded Miami Hurricanes 62-61 with 9.3 seconds to go, the Ramblers grabbed a rebound off a missed free throw and rushed back up the court. All the Ramblers needed to advance was a two point bucket but Donte Ingram had a different idea.

With seconds bleeding off the clock, Ingram received a pass and pulled up from Mars to take a shot for the win.

Here’s what happened:

Nothing. But. Net.

Ingram took the pass in stride and hit the shot from the dang logo to give his side the dramatic come from behind victory and a spot in the second round.

With the Ramblers’ victory, it marked the 14th straight year that an 11 seed knocked off a 6 seed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

This is just a small sample of what makes this tournament so great. While it may be fun to watch the really good teams rewarded for their excellence, there is just something so satisfying about seeing an underdog pull off an upset. It doesn’t hurt when they do it in dramatic fashion such as this either.

Loyola-Chicago will look to pull another upset on Saturday when they take on the No. 3 seed Tennessee Volunteers in the Round of 32.

We almost had another 6/11 upset later in the evening when the Houston Cougars were taken down to the wire by the San Diego State Aztecs.

The Aztecs rallied from a 10 point halftime deficit to knot the game at 65-65 but Rob Gray was not going to be denied for Houston. Holding on for the final shot, Gray let the clock tick down before driving hard into the lane and finishing off an athletic lay in with just a second remaining to give the Cougars the win.

The win was the first NCAA Tournament victory for Houston since 1984 and they move on to face Michigan in the Round of 32 on Saturday