This season marked the first year when there was an actual show and ceremony to announce the NBA Awards. It was an amazing night, between Russell Westbrook’s MVP speech, a real tearjerker for anyone watching, Bill Russell offering an ass-kicking to five Hall of Famers, Drake’s hosting, and the multiple great performances. Today, we’re going to focus on the actual awards. There was a variety of awards given out, but the focus here is on seven of them: Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Executive of the Year, Best Sixth Man, Most Improved Player, Defensive Player of the Year and obviously MVP.
This year’s MVP was the prolific Russell Westbrook. It had to be. How often do you see such a historic season? 42 triple-doubles is no easy feat. In any other year, James Harden or Kawhi Leonard would have taken home the honors, but Russ leaves them in the dust in 2017. Harden put up stats close to Westbrook’s and had a respectable playoff run in the difficult Western Conference, and Leonard is the best two-way player in the league, highlighted by the fact that he was a contender for both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. Harden and Leonard at least had strong teams around them. Kevin Durant’s departure was a huge blow for the Thunder, as Westbrook’s supporting cast shot 32.7% from the field. Westbrook singlehandedly lifted an otherwise abysmal roster to playoff contention: the very definition of being an MVP.
In my eyes, Defensive Player of the Year was a tight race between dominating center Rudy Gobert and two of the best on-ball defenders in the league: Draymond Green and Leonard. Green’s stellar defense was integral to Golden State’s championship run and his DPOY campaign. He can rack up statistics in every major category (points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks) on any given night. He’s one of the most versatile defenders, able to guard every position. My personal pick for the award was Rudy Gobert, a commanding post-presence who grabbed 12.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks a night. Leonard turned in an equally impressive season because, as mentioned before, he remains the Spurs’ primary offensive and defensive option. Still, Draymond, one of the most important cogs to the machine that was the 2016/17 Warriors, is very deserving of the award.
Most Improved Player was also a pretty tight race between Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert and Nikola Jokic. Antetokounmpo and Jokic were actually given the same odds (3/2) to win the award. Jokic’s improvement came from moving to the center position in November. The entertainment that comes from watching a big man pass like a point guard is enough to win him MIP, but what Giannis has done for his team this season after the performance he turned in last season gives it to him any day. The Greek Freak became the first player in history to finish top-20 in all five major categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. Giannis’s step-up from solid pro to All-Star allows him to take this award over his worthy competitors.
Malcolm Brogdon set a record as the lowest-drafted player to win Rookie of the Year. His 10 PPG and 4 APG coupled with his stellar defense were key to Milwaukee’s playoff berth, but some of that is due to the weak Eastern Conference, where a 42-40 record warrants the sixth spot. Still, Brogdon defied his pre-draft expectations to win ROTY. My personal pick to win the award was Dario Saric, who took off in the second half of the season in the absence of candidate number three, Joel Embiid. In that time, he posted 16.5 PPG and 6.8 RPG in only 29 MPG on a youthful, but thin 76ers roster.
What’s amazing about Sixth Man of the Year winner Eric Gordon is that he’s a sixth man who played starter minutes this year. Andre Iguodala is a great candidate to take this, due to his ability as a two-way small forward, but Eric Gordon had to win it. He scored 16.2 PPG and knocked down 37.2% of his three-pointers. He was key to the Rockets’ three-point attack that made them a serious contender.
Coach of the Year Mike D’Antoni was the only coach in the league to manage an improved record from the 2015/16 season. He oversaw Harden’s switch from shooting guard to point guard and his jump into MVP contention in a deadly three-pointer-oriented offense that turned them into one of the best in the West. Gregg Popovich is a perennial candidate for this award and was able to lead the Spurs to the two-seed in the post-Tim Duncan era and Erik Spoelstra was able to rally a Heat squad that was marred by injuries. They started the season 11-30 and had a 30-11 record in the second half of the season, finishing as a playoff contender and just barely missed the playoffs. Still, the way D’Antoni maximized the offensive skill-sets of his players in Houston to become one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league earns him this award.
Warriors General Manager Bob Myers had to win Executive of the Year. He signed Finals MVP, Kevin Durant. Enough Said
Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks NBA Sportsmanship Award: Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets Season-long NBA Cares Community Assist Award: Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics Performance of the Year: Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson drops 60 in thirty minutes against Indiana Pacers Game Winner of the Year: Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook vs. Denver Nuggets Dunk of the Year: Oklahoma City Thunder’s Victor Oladipo against Dwight Howard Assist of the Year: Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry to Kevin Durant vs. Indiana Pacers Block of the Year: San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard vs. Houston Rockets Best Playoff Moment: Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant late-game three pointer vs. Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of the Finals Best Style: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder Lifetime Achievement Award: Bill Russell, Boston Celtics legend Sager Strong Award: Monty Williams, San Antonio Spurs Hustle Stats Award: Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets
The NFL Draft serves as a starting point for most of the football’s future stars on an annual basis. It has higher viewership than any other draft in American professional sports and has had higher viewership ratings than the MLB and NBA playoffs. It’s an important opportunity for downward-spiraling teams who need to rebuild, as well as for teams which are only a few key pieces away from a championship. This year’s draft was no disappointment. It was chock full of big names, surprising picks, and ridiculous trades (looking at you, Chicago).
Here are grades for every team’s draft. It’s worth noting that no true grade can be given until the end of the regular season. These are only early thoughts on how teams utilized the draft to address their needs and how likely their picks and moves are going to help them.
New England Patriots: A
Although the Patriots only had four selections this year, they capitalized where they could. They lost their first rounder in a trade for speedy Saints receiver Brandon Cooks who will be a great addition to their powerful offense and who is undoubtedly worth more than any 32nd overall pick could be worth. They also dropped a few slots for former Panthers DE Kony Ealy who will replace pass rusher Jabaal Sheard. New England finally used their fifth rounder in a trade for Bills running back Mike Gillislee. The players they did draft, pass rusher Derek Rivers and tackle Antonio Garcia were premium picks in round 3.
Miami Dolphins: C+
Miami didn’t have a particularly noteworthy draft. They added some youth to their defense with first round pass rusher Charles Harris, second round linebacker Raekwon McMillan and third round cornerback Cordrea Tankersley. They also added some depth to their weak offensive line with fifth round guard Isaac Asiata, who’ll be blocking on the inside while last year’s first round pick Laremy Tunsil will be moved to the outside.
Buffalo Bills: A-
The Bills decided not to take a quarterback early this year, content with sticking to Tyrod Taylor for now. They traded the tenth pick in the draft to Kansas City, picking up a second first-round pick in next year’s draft. They used their new first rounder for cornerback Tre’Davious White, taking over for former Buffalo corner Stephon Gilmore. They also took some key pieces to build around Tyrod Taylor, including wide receiver Zay Jones and offensive lineman Dion Dawkins. They took quarterback Nathan Peterman in the fifth round who has the potential to develop into a viable starter if Tyrod Taylor doesn’t work into their long term plans.
New York Jets: B
Gang Green did a solid job addressing their poor pass-defense, drafting two safeties and two cornerbacks. LSU Tiger Jamal Adams, who some considered the best player in the draft, dropped to them eatly in the first round. They then took Florida Gator Marcus Maye in the second, and Michigan cornerback Jeremy Clark & Mississippi cornerback Derrick Jones in the sixth. They also added a few key offensive pieces in running back Elijah McGuire and wide receivers ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen.
Pittsburgh Steelers: B
First round pick T.J Watt needs some grooming but will rejuvenate this defense and has the potential to be a top defender in the league. There’s no question that he brings some amazing genetics to the table. Second-round WR Juju Smith-Schuster is a great player but seems like an unnecessary pick with Martavis Bryant coming back from suspension. Third round pick RB James Conner is both a feel good story, a cancer survivor and hometown hero at Pitt, and a bruiser quite contrary to Le’Veon Bell’s agile slashing style of running. Fourth round pick Josh Dobbs from Tennessee has an amazing football IQ and can take over for Big Ben, who has been mulling retirement for some time, in a few years.
Baltimore Ravens: B
The Ravens utilized the draft to rejuvenate an aging defense. First-round cornerback Marlon Humphrey will be able to deliver as a deep-ball defender, and second-round pick OLB Tyus Bowser will team up with third-round pick OLB Tim Williams and defensive lineman Chris Wormley to add to the run defense. Fifth-round pick Jermaine Eluemenor will attempt to strengthen an o-line that lost a lot this offseason.
Cincinnati Bengals: B+
The Bengals used the ninth overall pick in the draft to select wide receiver John Ross, holder of the record for fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. The speedy receiver will be a quick downfield threat to pair up with 6x Pro Bowler A.J. Green. They continued to bolster their offense by selecting controversial Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon. He slid down most teams’ radars and fell off of some draft boards completely this year due to the infamous video of him punching and knocking out a female student. He’s a top 15 talent, video notwithstanding. Head coach Marvin Lewis and Cincy’s front office have had a history of welcoming talented players with major off-field issues (eg: Vontaze Burfict, Adam “Pac-Man” Jones). They also addressed their defensive holes by getting outside linebackers Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson. Lastly, Cincy drafted kicker Jake Elliott to address their poor field goal and extra point conversion performances last year.
Cleveland Browns: A
The Browns’ ideal draft scenario was to take Garrett first overall and Mitch Trubisky at 12. They did half of that but I think that they were better for it. Texas A&M defensive end and first overall pick Myles Garrett is going to be a generational talent and a major threat to opposing offenses for years to come. With Trubisky gone in a baffling move by the Bears, the Browns decided to deal out their twelfth pick to Houston. They used their new pick for versatile defensive back Jabrill Peppers. Their final first round pick was used on David Njoku, who has the most upside of any tight end in this draft. They ended up taking DeShone Kizer late in the second round to try to fill their gap at QB. The Browns played their cards very well in this draft and landed five picks in the first two rounds in next year’s draft. This ammo can be used to slowly finish their near decade-long rebuild. Expect a brighter future in Believeland.
Kansas City Chiefs: B
The Chiefs gave up a lot to take Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II. It’s likely that he’ll sit a year or two under current starter Alex Smith to develop into a strong NFL quarterback. They addressed the loss of Dontari Poe by drafting defensive lineman Tanoh Kpassagnon from Villanova. They also took running back Kareem Hunt out of Toledo to pair with the two-headed attack consisting of Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West.
Oakland Raiders: C
The Raiders used the first two picks to improve their weak pass defense. CB Gareon Conley slid down to 24 due to his rape accusations, despite projecting as a top-ten pick prior to his off-field drama. Assuming he didn’t commit the crime and his claims are correct, he’s a great shutdown corner and a great addition to a weak Raiders defense. Their second round pick, DB Obi Melifonwu, has to work on his football instincts, but he has great physical talent. If third rounder DT Eddie Vanderdoes can properly avoid getting derailed by injuries, he can be a great addition for the Raiders’ trench game.
Denver Broncos: B-
Of the Broncos rookie class, first round pick Garett Bolles appears like the only one who’ll get significant starting time in 2017. The left tackle is inexperienced but has the physical skills and will be major upgrade for their weak offensive line. Second and third round picks pass rusher DeMarcus Walker and WR Carlos Henderson will likely get a few snaps, while third and fourth round picks CB Brendan Langley and TE Jake Butt won’t contribute much immediately. Butt has the potential to be a pain in the side of opposing defenses (pun intended) once he recovers from his Orange Bowl injury.
Los Angeles Chargers: B+
Philip Rivers must be celebrating right now. Los Angeles used their first rounder on Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams. This gives Rivers a sizeable target alongside Tyrell Williams and, barring another injury, Keenan Allen. He also got some quality protection in guards Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney. This will also open up the run game a little more and allow current running back Melvin Gordon to build off of a strong sophomore season.
Houston Texans: B+
Truthfully, the Texans’ draft grade depends on how Deshaun Watson performs under center. If Watson can break the streak of Houston’s terrible signal callers (David Carr, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, Brock Osweiler), it won’t matter what they traded for him. LB Zach Cunningham, T Julien Davenport, and Doak Walker Award winning D’Onta Foreman all have starting potential but will likely contribute minimally in their rookie seasons.
Tennessee Titans: A-
Marcus Mariota finally has some receivers in first round pick Corey Davis, a great route runner and holder of most receiving yards in FBS history, and third round pick Taywan Taylor, a threat in the slot who’ll be able to make up for the loss of Kendall Wright. They also added to their lacking secondary with Adoree Jackson, who also has strong potential as a return man.
Indianapolis Colts: B-
The Colts have turned their focus this offseason towards revamping the wet paper bag that they call a defense. They must have been thrilled to see Ohio State safety Malik Hooker slide down to the 15th pick. If he can overcome his injury issues, he can live up to his expectations as the next Ed Reed. Second-round CB Quincy Nelson and third-round edge rusher Tarrel Basham can also be of use to this lackluster defense. The running game will also improve with the addition of OT Zach Banner and RB Marlon Mack.
Jacksonville Jaguars: A-
Look for the pressure to build on quarterback Blake Bortles. After a strong 2015 season, the quarterback took a huge step back in 2016. To sum it up, he currently has more pick-sixes than victories. First round running back Leonard Fournette will likely become the center of this offense with second rounder OL Cam Robinson blocking for him. Bortles will have to prove that with all of these offensive additions, he can be a strong starting quarterback, or at least game manager.
Dallas Cowboys: B
America’s Team baffled many by not addressing their defense at all during the offseason, considering that they lost starters Barry Church, Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. They did add to their defense in the draft with defensive end Taco Charlton, second round CB Chidobe Awuzie, and third round cornerback Jourdan Lewis (assuming his legal problems are resolved). They also picked up WR Ryan Switzer as another slot threat along with Cole Beasley.
New York Giants: C-
Longtime GM Jerry Reese has always approached the draft with a “Best Player Available” strategy over a need-based one. That’s a nice way to explain their first round head scratcher, TE Evan Engram. Engram isn’t much of a blocking TE but he’s a very talented pass catcher, which the Giants already had a lot of. Second round DT Dalvin Tomlinson will likely take over for Jonathan Hankins, who they lost in free agency, but won’t be much of a game changer. Third round QB Davis Webbs was a smart pick who head coach Ben McAdoo will likely groom to take over for the aging Eli Manning in a few years.
Washington Redskins: B+
The Redskins have needs at defense and first-round lineman Jonathan Allen, second-round linebacker Ryan Anderson, and third-round cornerback Fabian Moreau should help fill some holes. Anderson will likely take over for suspended OLB Trent Murphy. Fourth round running back Samaje Perine will strengthen a running back depth chart with Robert Kelley at the helm.
Philadelphia Eagles: C
The Eagles did a lot of work on their defense in this draft. Their first pick, DE Derek Barnett is a tenacious defender who’ll be a major threat for opposing offenses in some time. The Eagles also did a lot of work on their pass defense. Assuming CB Sidney Jones’ recovers well from his Achilles injury, he’ll prove to be a steal in the second round. Fourth round pick RB Donnel Pumphrey will take some of the burden off of Carson Wentz who didn’t have a consistent run game to rely on last year.
Green Bay Packers: B+
A weak secondary was a major part of the Pack’s loss to Atlanta in the NFC Championship game, and they used this DB-heavy draft to fix it. They used both of their second round picks on their secondary, selecting cornerback Kevin King and safety Josh Jones. They didn’t do very much to address their fluctuating running back depth chart, drafting three different running backs late in the draft with hopes that one of them sticks. An interesting strategy to take.
Detroit Lions: C+
The Lions’ first two picks, LB Jarrad Davis and CB Teez Tabor (both teammates at Florida), can start right away as big playmakers for this defense. They also took Miami QB Brad Kaaya who is a likely career backup, but good value for the sixth round.
Minnesota Vikings: B+
The Vikings only had two picks in the first three rounds this year but made sure to address their weak rushing game – ranked last in the league last year – by taking advantage of FSU RB Dalvin Cook’s slide in the second round and OL Pat Elflein. Cook has some injury concerns and off-the-field issues but he has the potential to be an amazing running back. Expect Minnesota’s running game to be much stronger with Cook and newly-signed free agent Latavius Murray.
Chicago Bears: D
I can feel the heat from Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace’s hot seat back at my home in New Jersey. They gave up a haul to move up a spot in front of the 49ers (who didn’t touch a quarterback until the third round) and to take Mitchell Trubisky, who has only started 13 college games. They didn’t touch their cornerback needs and waited until the fifth round to address their weak offensive line, taking guard Jordan Morgan from DII school Kutztown.
Seattle Seahawks: B-
The Hawks decided to trade down out of the third round, getting six picks from Day 2. All but one was used for an aging defense. DT Malik McDowell has the potential to become a disrupting force against the run if Pete Carroll uses him properly. DBs Shaquill Griffin and Delano Hill will have a lot of work to do to become part of the Legion of Boom.
Arizona Cardinals: B+
The Cardinals picked LB Haason Reddick and DB Budda Baker in the first and second round respectively to add to a defense that lost five starters this offseason. They also took offensive guard Dorian Johnson to protect the oft-injured Carson Palmer. The Cards decided not to pull the trigger on finding a quarterback to replace the 38-year old Palmer.
Los Angeles Rams: C-
The Rams’ 2017 first round pick was part of the trade for Jared Goff, who’s coming off of a fruitless 2016 season with many question marks as to whether he can be a legitimate NFL starter. The Rams tried to build around Goff with TE Gerald Everett and WR Cooper Kupp. Even then, Everett played in the Sun Belt and Kupp played in the Big Sky Conference and it is unclear if either of them will be able to translate their talents to the professional level.
San Francisco 49ers: A
49ers general manager John Lynch should get arrested for robbing the Bears of their draft picks. They moved down from no. 2 to no. 3 overall and drafted highly coveted defensive end Solomon Thomas from Stanford. They also utilized a trade with the Falcons to continue addressing their weak run defense and picked Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. Foster slid due to injury and drug test concerns but is a great value for the Niners at no. 31. Contrary to the Bears’ predictions, the 49ers took their time to pick a quarterback, taking Iowa’s C.J Beathard in the third round. Personally, I found Beathard to be a reach in the third round, considering Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs and California’s Davis Webb were both available at the time, but this pick rounded out a great draft for San Francisco.
Atlanta Falcons: B-
The Falcons weren’t missing too much entering the draft, but found a few capable starters. They used their first round pick for DE Takkarist McKinley who will play alongside sack leader Vic Beasley to bolster a pass rush that choked in the Super Bowl and blew a 25-point lead. Fourth round guard Sean Harlow has the potential to start in the wake of Chris Chester’s retirement.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B+
Tampa Bay’s offense is stacked. First round TE O.J. Howard will be a strong target for Jameis Winston along with deep threats Desean Jackson and Mike Evans. Safety Justin Evans and LB Kendall Beckwith will be strong additions to a defense that took some hits from injury. Fifth round pick RB Jeremy McNichols will be of great value for a team trying to move forward past Doug Martin’s suspension.
New Orleans Saints: B-
The Saints made use of this DB-heavy draft to fix the NFL’s worst pass defense by nabbing shutdown corner Marshon Lattimore with the 11th pick and Marcus Williams in round two who could start at free safety. The Saints also got tackle Ryan Ramczyk to protect an aging Drew Brees. Third round pick RB Alvin Kamara has great potential but is unlikely to get a lot of touches in year one sitting behind Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson.
Carolina Panthers: A-
The Panthers used this draft to make things easier for Cam Newton. Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel are both very versatile players who can elevate offenses with their varied skill sets in the slot and backfield. They also got some protection for Cam with offensive lineman Taylor Morton. Expect Carolina’s offense and special teams to take a major step forward in 2017.
About three years ago on March 18, 2014, Phil Jackson signed a five-year, $60 million contract to become president of the New York Knicks. The move looked great at the time. The man had won two championships playing power forward for the Knicks in 1970 and 1973. After that Jackson solidified his career on the other side of the court, coaching the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls to six championships and the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers to five. The guy obviously knows basketball. One would assume that the Knicks could be a respectable team with the Zen Master at the helm. Instead, they have been a laughingstock at best and a disaster in general. Here’s why the Knicks should fire Phil Jackson.
When Jackson was introduced as Knicks president, many speculated that he would also help coach the team, implying the intended use of his famed triangle offense that won 11 championships. All of these speculations have become a reality, but it hasn’t been for the best. Over the years that Phil Jackson has been in New York, he has tried time and time again to promote the triangle offense, with little success. Recently, Jackson came out to say that he himself will start coaching the players on how to work in the triangle. The Knicks rank 25th in defensive efficiency in the league, making it hard to believe why Jackson wonders why his team is 27-42 and nearly out of playoff contention in the Eastern conference. The offense isn’t exactly spectacular either, but the answer to this team’s woes isn’t the triangle. Statistically, the Knicks’ three best players are Sophomore big man Kristaps Porzingis, veteran All-Star Carmelo Anthony and former MVP Derrick Rose. Only Porzingis has endorsed the offense, and even the Unicorn has had major struggles with getting accustomed to it. When asked about the triangle offense, Porzingis said, “First of all, we don’t know the triangle that well. We’re really basic (with) what we do. A lot of times it’s — especially one on one — whoever it is, myself, Carmelo (Anthony), Derrick (Rose), Courtney (Lee), we try to make something happen and that’s not how it’s supposed to be. It’s very random.” Porzingis also described the midseason switch to the triangle an instigator of “a lot of confusion”. Considering that Porzingis is the Knicks’ new franchise player, Jackson should work to implement a consistent offense for Porzingis to develop in. Instead, he’s trying to force him into a system that his team can’t run properly due to the personnel on the roster, or lack thereof.
When asked about running the triangle, Derrick Rose said very unenthusiastically, “shit, do I have a choice?” When one would consider how much the Knicks gave up to acquire Rose and how much they would want him to succeed, forcing him into a system unfitting of his skill-set isn’t the smartest move. Rose’s inability to operate the triangle offense successfully prompted the Knicks to attempt to work out a point guard-swap with the Minnesota Timberwolves, which would have sent Ricky Rubio to the Knickerbockers. This deal fell through because the Knicks felt that they were not receiving enough in just Rubio and were looking for a second piece.
When Carmelo Anthony was asked about the triangle, all he said was, “at this point, I’m getting tired of hearing about the triangle. Just getting tired of hearing about it.” Speaking of an unhappy Carmelo Anthony…
Jackson’s notable public campaign for Carmelo Anthony to waive his no-trade clause has created a culture of distrust within the Knicks organization. Jackson has denied that many of his comments have been aimed towards Anthony on several occasions. In some scenarios, his criticism was much more direct, and therefore irrefutable. He told CBS Sports network that, “Anthony stalls the offense”. In response, Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding released an article called “Phil Jackson, Knicks Doomed by Wanting Carmelo to be Something He is Not”. It’s a scathing piece about Carmelo Anthony’s issues with coaches and his lack of a will to win. Instead of backing up his own player, Jackson sent out the following tweet:
Phil Jackson could not be more clear that he is giving up on Carmelo Anthony. This isn’t the way to treat a star player who one would want to remain on the team. Michael Graham is a player that Jackson coached on the Albany Patroons in his “CBA (Continental Basketball Association) daze”. In his tweet, Jackson compared Carmelo Anthony, a 10x NBA All-Star and 3x Olympic Gold Medal Winner to Michael Graham, a player whose biggest accomplishment came in college rather than in the NBA. After initially giving Melo a no-trade clause, Phil Jackson has since both expressed a distaste for Anthony, through both clear and cryptic means. Trying to get him to waive the clause was just a method of scapegoating Anthony for a disastrous team that is mostly Jackson’s fault in the first place. Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of issues with Carmelo Anthony as a player and a teammate. He plays a minimal defense, struggles to get along with coaches, could never elevate a team to championship contention, has had difficulty sharing the spotlight and isn’t that great of a team leader. The list goes on. Even with all of these factors in mind, it remains unknown as to whether Anthony has done more to help the Knicks than Phil Jackson has. Melo actually led the Knicks to the playoffs twice before Jackson came by. Jackson, on the other hand, hasn’t achieved any notable success with this team since his appointment as president.
Poor offseason moves provide another example of Jackson’s inability to control the front office of the Knicks. One of the most notable transactions made by the Knicks under Jackson has been trading Jerian Grant, Jose Calderon and Robin Lopez for Derrick Rose. He also signed big names in Joakim Noah and Brandon Jennings to a four-year, $72 million contract and a one-year, $5 million contract respectively. Phil Jackson used the trade deadline to try and trade Rose, to no avail. Now, talk of Jackson releasing Rose to free agency at the end of the regular season has been heard around the league. Frankly, Rose is doing all right. He isn’t playing at the spectacular level that once won him an MVP, but he’s been a more-than-reliable piece to this offense. Rose averages 17.8 points per game, 4.4 assists per game and a 46.7 field goal percentage. Rose has been known to thrive in a fast-paced offense, and unfortunately, Jackson has insisted on a slower-paced offense than today’s NBA norm. This is quite the head-scratcher considering that Jackson hired head coach Jeff Hornacek, considering his specialization in coaching faster-paced offenses. Hopefully, Jackson stays committed to the move and creates a system for Rose to thrive in instead of simply getting rid of the point guard and overspending for a replacement.
Joakim Noah was possibly one of the worst signings during that offseason. He has played 22 minutes per game with season averages of 5 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 0.3 BPG. The former Defensive Player of the Year was supposed to rejuvenate the defensive side of the ball for the Knicks. Instead, the Knicks have surrendered 4 more points per 100 possessions with him in the game than when he sits the bench. Noah’s tenure with the Knicks is well characterized by when he air balled a free throw. The worst part for the Knicks is that there are still three more years left on his contract.
Brandon Jennings, the last notable acquisition averaged 8.6 PPG, 4.9 APG, and 2.6 RPG before his release. The Knicks were hoping to be the team to revitalize Jennings as a serious threat at the point guard position, but he has been unable to return to the same form he was in with the Bucks, the team that drafted him. The main issue with Jackson’s offseason work was that the Knicks were coming off of a not-so-spectacular 32-50 season, and Jackson took a “win-now” approach. The smarter route would have been to slowly build the roster. The roster had potential, but wasn’t playoff-primed just yet. They showed improvement in 2015-2016 with a promising rookie in Kristaps Porzingis and prolific scorer in Carmelo Anthony. They could have been a legitimate playoff threat if Jackson had spent few years acquiring young talent through free agency and the draft. Instead, he gambled on risky veterans to try to turn a 32-50 roster into a playoff team. This approach has backfired in his face with the team now sitting at 27-45. The rash decisions and the win-now mentality could partially be attributed to the fact that the Knicks are a massive franchise with immediate results being an expectation every season. However, due to the Knicks’ lack of success in their history as an NBA team, Jackson should have simply internalized the same criticism that he took when the Knicks drafted Porzingis, and worked towards crafting a winning roster over time.
One of the biggest qualms with Phil Jackson’s run in New York has been his questionable decisions regarding hiring coaches. In the middle of the 2016 season, Phil Jackson fired head coach Derek Fisher and hired Kurt Rambis as interim head coach for the rest of the season. Going into 2017, many notable candidates were available for the job but the favorite was former Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau’s Bulls never missed the playoffs and consistently ranked among the top defenses in the league. Thibodeau mutually showed interest in coaching the Knicks and working with Carmelo Anthony. Derrick Rose earned Rookie of the Year honors, three all star selections and a league MVP under Thibodeau, with Joakim Noah earning two all star selections and DPOY honors. Having Thibs coach the Knicks could have allowed the two to continue thriving at their positions. Instead, Thibodeau opted to sign with Minnesota, and Jackson hired Jeff Hornacek.
Hornacek was initially allowed to bring his fast-paced offense that he ran in Phoenix with concepts from the triangle mixed in. Now, Jackson is forcing him to run the full triangle offense, essentially defeating the purpose of hiring Hornacek in the first place. Now, Jackson wants to build the Knicks around his archaic system rather than deciding on the system based on the personnel on the team.
It’s obvious that Jackson needs to go. Despite his past credentials, the man who won two rings playing for the Knicks and 11 rings coaching the Bulls and the Lakers has done nothing to help the franchise. He continues to destroy the Knicks by signing risky veterans instead of youth talent, insisting that the team use his old-fashioned coaching methods. He continues to meddle in coaching decisions and harass his team’s talent. Owner James Dolan needs to step in and end this nonsense if he ever wants the Knicks to be a contender or even watchable. In the meantime, Knicks fans can sit back and watch the organization unravel with an arrogant failure of an executive at the helm.
New York has been home to some of the biggest quarterback names in football. The New York Jets have been home to some relatively big quarterback names, like Brett Favre, Boomer Esiason, Chad Pennington, Ken O’Brien and the notoriously mediocre Mark Sanchez. These are some of the best quarterbacks to ever play for the Jets, which really says a lot about the team. Ever since Broadway Joe Namath guaranteed that he would win Super Bowl III, the Jets haven’t had any particularly great quarterbacks. That was very apparent this year as the Jets finished the season 5-11. Their quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, was one of the main factors behind this subpar performance with a 56.6% completion percentage, 2,710 yards passing, a measly 12 touchdowns, a jarring 17 interceptions and a 69.6 QBR. As the Jets look to rebuild their roster with hopes of becoming playoff contenders, their first offseason priority is to obtain a quarterback. They could turn to the draft, free agency, or possibly trade for a quarterback.
The 2017 NFL Draft doesn’t have as strong of a QB class as one might hope. The Jets have the 6th pick in the draft which should hopefully make a major impact on the team. The top prospects in 2017 at the quarterback position are North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky and Deshaun Watson of NCAA Football Champion Clemson. Trubisky has intrigued scouts with his high football IQ, understanding of defensive schemes, decision making, and accuracy. He has the stats to back it up, boasting a 68.2% completion rate and throwing for 30 touchdowns and 3748 passing yards (averaging 8.4 yards per play), with only 6 interceptions. His minimal experience concerns scouts heading into the draft. Although his stats make a strong case for a high draft position, it is worth noting that he only started one season at UNC. The general consensus on Trubisky is that with the right coach and system, he has the potential to develop into an amazing quarterback. However, location is key. While this option isn’t completely out of reach for the Jets, it would be surprising for Trubisky to slide down to the 6th pick as most scouts expect him to be drafted by the 49ers, Browns, or Bears before the Jets even get a shot. Another choice the Jets have is Deshaun Watson. He’s one of the most polarizing draft prospects this year. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he was drafted number one overall or in the middle of the second round. Scouts like his dual threat ability and his intangibles. His work ethic has been widely lauded and his play under pressure was well displayed when his Clemson Tigers came back against the Alabama Crimson Tide to become college football champs. Even when Clemson was down two touchdowns, he didn’t skip a beat to upset the Tide. NFL teams have seen this kind of player before, and while a Cam Newton may come along and achieve success, there are plenty of Geno Smiths and EJ Manuels in the past that have told teams otherwise. If the Jets have the chance and decide to take a chance, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them draft a quarterback and develop around him.
The Jets have also been amid trade rumors for Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo. During Tom Brady’s four-game deflategate suspension, Garoppolo was designated to hold down the fort for the Patriots. He turned many heads until getting injured by Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso in the middle of his second game. During the time he played, he had a 68.3 completion percentage, 502 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions, great numbers for someone who has only thrown for 6 yards in relief snaps in the previous season. Many teams around the league see high potential in Jimmy G and hope to trade for him. There has been recent speculation that the Patriots are looking to keep Garoppolo in preparation for the retirement of Tom Brady, but he could very well find a home elsewhere. While the Jets could trade to get him, it would be an ill-advised move on the Jets’ part. Although Garoppolo has a very high potential, the Patriots and Jets play in the same division. In the slight chance that Pats coach Bill Belichick was willing to trade such a valuable player to his division rivals, who he would see twice a season, the Jets would have to give up way too much on their end to make it happen.
A lesser-known option comes in the form of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon. Glennon was the Bucs starter until they drafted FSU’s Jameis Winston first overall in 2015. In 2013, he threw for 2,608 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions in the span of 13 games. Scouts like him for his size and low risk. Most see him as a high-end bridge quarterback with upside. What has turned teams off to bringing him aboard is his low speed, failure to deliver under pressure, and the fact that he lost the Buccaneers’ quarterback battle to Josh McCown (not exactly a star himself) in 2014. Many expect him to sign close to a $15 million annual contract in the case that any teams do want him. If the Jets do sign him, he would likely be used as a bridge quarterback to Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, who are slowly developing their abilities into those of a starting-caliber quarterback.
There are going to be many big name quarterbacks discussed this offseason and many more question marks on where they’ll end up. One of the biggest names has been the Cowboys’ veteran star Tony Romo. He was primed to have a career year in 2016 with Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott, and that amazing offensive line helmed by Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin, but his hopes were dashed by a preseason injury. After rookie Dak Prescott replaced him and led America’s Team to a divisional title, the city of Dallas hasn’t looked back, and it looks like Romo might have to go to a new team to chase that ring he wants so badly. This option isn’t the best for the Jets considering that the Cowboys still hold him under contract and the Jets would have to let go of a lot from an already weak roster to acquire a 36-year-old injury prone quarterback. Romo is the right fit for a team that’s primed for a playoff run and only needs a quarterback. The Jets have an unstable offensive line, weak pass defense, and an overall lack of solidarity in the locker room. The Jets would either have to give up a lot of cap space or assets to acquire Romo. They just don’t have a good enough roster to really make proper use of Romo. Other names that have been thrown around have been Washington’s Kirk Cousins, San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick and Chicago Bears’ Jay Cutler. Cousins, who received a franchise tag from the Redskins in 2016, is likely to either resign with the Skins or join the 49ers, per recent reports. Cousins has put up amazing stats thanks to the help of Head Coach Jay Gruden. It wouldn’t be smart for the Jets to sign Jay Cutler this year. Throughout his career on the Bears, he has shown inconsistencies and injury risk almost every season. Under the right coaching, he has been able to utilize his cannon arm and limit his interceptions, but Cutler has long been known to be turnover prone and aloof. The Jets as a team also need strong leadership, and Cutler has never been a real leader for his teams. Colin Kaepernick has been known to thrive under proper coaching. Under Jim Harbaugh, he was the hottest player in the NFL and under offensive-minded Chip Kelly, he was able to make the 49ers offense vaguely productive. Whether the Jets sign Kap might actually be turn out to be a political situation. Kaepernick has notoriously knelt during the national anthem in protest for Black Lives Matter, which got on the bad side of President Donald Trump. Jets owner Woody Johnson, an important proponent and fundraiser for the Trump campaign, may not approve of the signing of Kaepernick due to this clash in beliefs.
If the Jets don’t want to place someone new under center in 2017, they could just start 2015 4th round pick Bryce Petty or 2016 second round pick Christian Hackenberg. This option is unlikely considering that Head Coach Todd Bowles has wanted to keep them on the bench and let them develop slowly, rather than abruptly starting them. Immediately throwing a player into the mix can often hinder their development, as shown when Geno Smith started at quarterback for the Jets. Smith is set to hit free agency this summer in case the Jets were to avoid resigning him. While resigning Smith is one of the more wild options out there, the Jets could resign him if there was no better option. Although he has been turnover prone since he first joined the league, he has shown occasional flashes of brilliance when surrounded by the right coaches and players. Even then, this is the least likely option for the Jets.
Jets fans should keep one thing in mind during the offseason: whether New York signs a quarterback, drafts one, trades for one, or starts one they already have, it probably won’t be Ryan Fitzpatrick. That’s probably the most hope a Jets fan could ever have.