Place Your Bets Now: NBA 2017-2018 Season

Place Your Bets Now: NBA 2017-2018 Season

It seems like the best time to let the world know who is going to win the major regular season awards.
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First, happy New Years to all! In what is bound to be an exciting year in the world of sports, the NBA remains prominent as just about half of the regular season has been played. With that, it seems like the best time to let the world know who is going to win the major regular season awards. Without further ado, let's get into it.

Coach of the Year: Gregg Popovich

Runner-up: Brad Stevens

Gregg Popovich could be the pick just about any year he's coached in the league, but this year holds as one of his best. Despite not having Kawhi Leonard for the first 26 games of the year, the Spurs held afloat. They give up the fewest points in the league, and that is without arguably the best defender in the entire association. They've held an offensive rating of 107.4 which is good for 15th in the league. Along with that, their pace, which currently ranks 29th, has greatly benefited their defensive rating as they are ranked third in that category. With all of these stats shining through, the attention has to go to Popovich. He has consistently lead the Spurs to levels of consistency that are unheard of, but this year has been different. With a roster that is assuredly lesser of others he's had, albeit this is without Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs are still the same old Spurs. Pop deserves some hardware for that.

Sixth Man of the Year: Dwyane Wade

Runner-up: Eric Gordon

Dwyane Wade did not fit in the starting lineup for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nobody's debating that. But man, has he been great off the bench. While his stats won't jump off the page compared to Gordon or Iguodala, but he passes the eye test. Wade's playmaking, over 4 assists in less than 24 minutes per game, is huge for the Cavs when Lebron isn't there to make everything better. Cleveland has needed a playmaker like Wade for a couple years now to ensure Lebron doesn't have to play 46 minutes a game, and they got him. While this is a more surprising pick, voter fatigue and name recognition along with a solid year by Wade will get him this award in a close one.

Defensive Player of the Year: Draymond Green

Runner-up: Kawhi Leonard

Repeat! In the only back-to-back winner in these awards, Draymond Green is the undisputed best defensive player in basketball. His stats, while not exactly eye-popping, are solid enough to ensure that he takes home his second defensive player of the year award. His ability to get on the court and defend the best player on the other team every night cannot go unnoticed. He gets 1.6 steals a game and 1.4 blocks. While Kawhi's numbers are sure to be more exciting, his injury to start the season would seem to eliminate him from contention, thus leaving Draymond Green as the DPOY.

Most Improved Player: Devin Booker

Runner-up: Giannis Antetokounmpo

In what will be a stunner, Devin Booker is going to win Most Improved Player this year. He's the best player on a bad team, and those kinds of players don't get much attention unless you're scoring 70 points in Boston or 46 in Philadelphia. Before Booker's injury, he was tied for the most 30 point games in the league and was constantly dominating good defenders. Despite that, he's been labeled as a high volume scorer who can only do what he does because he puts up 25 shots a game. That's simply not true. He's posting career highs in points, assists, free throw percentage, 3-point percentage, field goal percentage and effective field goal percentage. He's doing this on a little over 18 shots a game. The narrative around Booker is wrong right now, but the voters know that. He will win the Most Improved Player award.

Rookie of the Year: Ben Simmons

Runner-up: Jayson Tatum

This one's easy. Ben Simmons is averaging 17 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists per game while shooting 51 percent from the field. He's playing better than some superstars in this league and he has shown no signs of stopping. Simply put; Ben Simmons is a monster. He's a 6'10" point guard that can handle, pass and score. There's not even a serious argument for any of the other rookies, but Tatum's insane three-point percentage is probably the closest thing you can find. Nonetheless, Ben Simmons is going to win Rookie of the Year.

Most Valuable Player: James Harden

Runner-up: Lebron James

James Harden is absolutely ridiculous. Never have I seen a player that makes it look so easy. He's the only guy in the league averaging over 30 points a game. He's got a field goal percentage of 45 percent, almost 40 percent from deep and an effective field goal percentage of 55. Along with that, he's top 5 in the league with 9 assists a game. Again, he's ridiculous. With the Rockets having the best record in the league, this decision seems to be a simple one. Even though Lebron is having arguably his best season ever, Harden's has been better. Harden scores more, shoots better and is on the better team. Easy.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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Arizona: Graveyard For The Legion Of Boom​

What is it about Glendale?

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There was a time when playing in Arizona was a welcome thing. It was a place for the Seahawks to flex their muscles and exert their dominance over the Cardinals, the little brother of the division. A place where an almost home field-like atmosphere could be created due to relative proximity to Seattle. How appealing it is to fly only two-or-so hours from Seattle down south to the nice weather of Arizona. I would know because my family and I did that in 2014 for a 35-6 victory over the Cardinals.

Now playing in Arizona has become a graveyard for Seattle, where slowly but surely the greatest era in Seahawks history has eroded piece by piece in the Valley of the Sun. I am convinced the field is littered with landmines at this point.

The beginning of the end happened when the Seahawks infamously lost Super Bowl XLIX on the goal line when Patriots cornerback intercepted Russell Wilson. Seattle was denied a second championship, and from there the walls started to crumble away.

In 2016 the Seahawks embarrassingly tied the Cardinals in an ugly 6-6 game of field goals. Not only was this the first tie in franchise history, but it also had lasting impacts for the rest of the season. As a result of the tie, Seattle finished 10-5-1, instead of 11-5. Had they managed to secure that 11th victory, they would have edged out the Atlanta Falcons for the second seed and a first-round bye. Instead, they dropped to the 3rd seed and had to travel to Atlanta in the playoffs... where they were shellacked 36-20.

Had the Seahawks earned the first round bye, Atlanta would have traveled to Seattle where they had lost earlier that season. The 2016 Seahawks were a good team, and that season was likely their last legitimate shot at a Super Bowl appearance for the time being.

The following year, the Seahawks lost two critical members of the Legion of Boom. Richard Sherman ruptured his Achilles tendon, and Kam Chancellor injured his neck. It was the last game the two Seattle icons set foot on a field as Seahawks, as Sherman was later released in the offseason and Chancellor was forced into retirement.

And now, the misfortune continues even in 2018. The Seahawks may have defeated the win-less Cardinals 20-17, but it came at a great cost. Earl Thomas became the latest casualty when he broke his leg defending a routine pass. Given the contract disputes, it will likely be the last time Thomas suits up as a Seahawk as well.

Arizona is both a graveyard and a monument to "what could have been" for the Seahawks. When asked about what it is about this venue that produces such unfortunate outcomes for Seattle, wide receiver Doug Baldwin said it best:

"I don't know, man. It's sad as f***"

Couldn't agree more, Doug.

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