The sports world is ablaze. The Olympics are now in the rearview mirror, the NBA season is beginning to hit the homestretch, and professional baseball is just around the corner. Here are ten thoughts that I have from around the athletic sphere.
1. I think LaVar Ball is going to mess around and get Lonzo Ball traded. Last week, the pompous elder proclaimed that Lonzo would not sign with any team that wouldn’t also take on his two younger brothers. Up until then, LaVar had been very outspoken, yet much of what he had said had just been fodder. With the statement about Lonzo, however, LaVar took it to the next level. If Lonzo was a no-doubt star in the making, perhaps Magic Johnson and the Lakers would continue to put up with the LaVar’s arrogance, but Lonzo has just been average. Exceptions aren’t made for the average.
2. I think Johnny Manziel’s time has passed. I commend him for attempting to turn his life around, but at 25 years of age, Johnny Football has dug himself into too deep of a hole. If he wanted to be an NFL quarterback so much, he shouldn’t have taken his opportunity in Cleveland for granted.
3. I think the NBA’s Rookie of the Year race is going to be a race to the finish. Ben Simmons has been steady all season and could have made the case to have been an All-Star this season. Donovan Mitchell, on the other hand, has been on a surge as of late. Both players are their teams’ primary ball-handlers and both the Jazz and the 76ers appear destined to make the postseason. I think right now that Simmons, with 16.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.4 assists, has the slight edge over Mitchell, with 19.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, but the gap is closing. This might be the most heavily contested award in quite some time.
4. I think the 2018 Yankees will hit the most home runs in the history of baseball. Right now, the record is 264 by the 1997 Seattle Mariners. I really believe that the Yankees will best that mark. Between Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton, I think 150 dingers is a reasonable number. The rest of the team would then just need to hit 114 homers; Didi Gregorius, Brett Gardner, Greg Bird, Gleyber Torres, and company could do just that, making history in the process.
5. I think Anthony Davis for Draymond Green and Klay Thompson is a fascinating trade, in theory. The Warriors will be facing an outrageous tax bill if they keep their current roster together moving forward. By trading Green and Thompson, Golden State would be saving an enormous sum of money while also getting a superstar barely into his prime in the process. I also think this trade makes sense for the Pelicans. They have stagnated with Anthony Davis. By inserting Green and Thompson into their lineup and then surrounding them with a competent cast, I could see New Orleans in the middle of the Western Conference playoff picture.
6. I think I was right about proclaiming Bradley Beal the Wizard’s best player. Since John Wall underwent arthroscopic knee surgery at the end of January, the Wiz are 9-3 and Beal has really taken the reigns, averaging nearly 23 points and seven assists per game over that span. With Wall in the picture, Beal doesn’t have the opportunity to play-make as frequently, which is clearly a strength of his. The Wizards should seriously consider trading Wall. To get off his contract (four years/$170 million) with his history of leg injuries would be positive, but to also feature Beal in a more prominent role might raise the ceiling for the entire franchise.
7. I think the Winter Olympics were boring. I had been trying to pinpoint exactly why it was that I wasn’t interested in the winter games and I think I came up with two reasons. The first, I have written about before: the exclusion of NHL players. There is no reason that the NHL cannot halt their season for two weeks so their players can compete in the Olympics. The second reason is that there is a barrier to entry for all of the participants in these games. Skiing, snowboarding, and all of the other events are not cheap to partake in. To participate, your family must be financially well off. Conversely, in the summer games, the barriers to entry are low. No matter one’s socioeconomic background, running and jumping and throwing are events that even those without proper financial means and resources can compete in and excel at. Watching the Winter Olympics feels like we are watching all of the rich kids compete at the country club and it just isn’t all that enjoyable, at least for me.
8. I think the Cavaliers have reclaimed their throne atop the Eastern Conference. It was in jeopardy for a while there, but with the recent acquisitions of George Hill, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, and Rodney Hood, I favor Cleveland over the field in the East. LeBron James is uber motivated and that is a frightening proposition for the rest of the NBA.
9. I think there are only four teams that I can see winning this year’s World Series: the Astros, Yankees, Dodgers, or Cubs. For the longest time, baseball was the sport where any team could have a magical run to the pennant. It was the Rays, then it was the Giants, then the Royals, but now that inkling of hope has been erased for all but four teams in baseball. This offseason the strong got stronger and the weak got weaker. If you don’t remember, the four teams I have listed above were the final four in October. This offseason, the Astros traded for Gerrit Cole, the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton, the Dodgers largely remained the same, and the Cubs signed Yu Darvish. I guarantee the World Series victor will be among these four teams.
10. I think, as crazy as this sounds, Russell Westbrook is being overlooked. After averaging a triple-double last season in his MVP campaign, this year the Thunder point-guard is averaging 25.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 10.4 assists. He is basically averaging another triple-double, but for some reason Russ is garnering nowhere near the same notoriety that he received last season. Maybe it’s because he now has a sidekick in Paul George, so he’s no longer a solo act, but that’s no reason to invalidate another historic season.
Kelly Hogan can be reached at email@example.com.