TRAE Young, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Maria Sharapova and Blake Bortles. Names I’m sure you’re familiar with and for better or worse they have stood out in the spotlight for the last few weeks. In another edition of Stock Up/Stock Down, it’s time to dissect if they, and a bunch of others, are heading in the right or wrong direction.
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UFC 220 in Boston played host to one of the most anticipated heavyweight clashes ever. The defending champ Stipe Miocic was taking on up and coming phenom Francis Ngannou and entered the fight as an underdog despite successfully defending his belt twice. From start to finish Miocic’s experience shone through as he controlled the fight and retained his belt, becoming the first heavyweight fighter to successfully defend his title three times in a row.
COACH K landing the top three players in the 2018 recruiting class shouldn’t come as a surprise. Zion Williamson’s commitment on Saturday confirmed that the Blue Devils are now the premier recruiter in the college basketball world, overtaking their blue blood brothers Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina. Hate them or love them, the on-court product that will grace Cameron Indoor Stadium next season is equal amounts scary and exciting.
MAKE THIS MAN AN ALL-STAR!! No offense to the likes of Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Paul George and Nikola Jokic, Williams deserves to be in the All-Star showcase in Tinseltown after resurrecting the Clippers season off the back of his hot hand. He is averaging over 29 points a game in January and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
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I’LL admit it, I wasn’t a fan of the Heat. They have proved me wrong in the past few weeks and are forcing me to consider changing my opinion. Grinding out close wins and climbing all the way to the 4th seed, Miami even hung tough against Houston last night until Harden and Paul took over down the stretch. Leading into All-Star break is another winnable batch of games so it’s time for the Heat to take the next step and make me a true believer.
FOR three quarters, Blake Bortles did very un-Blake-Bortles-like things as the Jags were poised to dethrone Goliath. Of course, it wasn’t meant to be, but Sir Blake should take a bow after the way he played. Completing deep passes and going off for 225 yards and completing 18/23 attempts in the first three frames has us believe that Bortles can actually be a decent quart…Ok, let’s not get too carried away.
THIS dude. Young poured in a career-high 48 points in an overtime game against Oklahoma State on Saturday. Forty-eight points! Yes, he took 39 shots (20 3-point attempts), yes he had seven turnovers and it came in a loss. But his performance won’t be forgotten anytime soon. This dude.
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Triple Double Russ
WITH season averages of 24.8 points, 9.7 assists and 10.1 assists, Russell Westbrook’s triple-double antics might be far from done. As the Thunder continue to click as a team, we could see more big box scores coming from Russ as he defers the scoring load to Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. He needs to average 10.4 rebounds and 9.8 assists from here on out to become the first player to average a triple-double in back-to-back seasons. Watch this space.
Philadelphia Eagles Fans…
WITH the game sewn up late in the fourth quarter, Eagles fans decided to have some fun at Minnesota’s expense. Mocking the Vikings ‘Skol’ chant they changed the word to ‘Foles’ in honour of backup quarterback Nick Foles, who had a pretty impressive game. Well played Philly.
…With the Exception of This Guy
Everything Cleveland Cavaliers
POOR defense, finger pointing, roster moves and Ty Lue on the hot seat. It’s just another January in Ohio! The Cavaliers have looked abysmal since Christmas Day and as the trade deadline nears the clock is ticking for a move to be made. Or not. The team seems lost and there is a lot of displeasure coming out of the locker room with no-one appearing to be happy. Yikes.
COULD this be it for the shrieking Sharapova? She had been talking up the opportunity to play in a big match and the opportunity came when she clashed with former Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber in the third round of the Australian Open. Unfortunately for Sharapova, only one of them looked like a former champ, and it wasn’t her, losing in straight sets 6-1, 6-3. At the age of 30, time is running for her to recapture her championship winning form.
The Team Of Destiny
AFTER Stefon Diggs’ miracle last week it was hard to argue that Minnesota was destined to go all the way this year. They entered the game against Philly as the favourites even though the Eagles were the home team and the No. 1 seed. As well all know they got smacked. After scoring the first touchdown of the game the Vikings couldn’t string plays together for the rest of the game as they were flat out embarrassed by the Eagles. I called out Minnesota for celebrating like they won the SuperBowl the week prior and it raised red flags for me. It’s going to be a long off-season in Minneapolis.
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WHILE everything seems rosy for their rivals Duke, the same can’t be said for the Wildcats. For the first time since March of 2014, Kentucky finds themselves out of the top-25 rankings, snapping a 68 week streak in the polls. John Calipari’s team are 0-2 against ranked opponents this season and had their 30 game home winning streak against conference foes snapped by the Gators on Saturday night. To say it’s been a bad week is an understatement.
Ben Simmons’ Rookie Of The Year Odds
IF I told you at the start of the year Simmons would average 16/7/7 and not be the ROY you would have laughed in my face. That might be the scenario we have in front of us right now. After struggling through the month of January and with Donovan Mitchell continuing to ball out, Simmons is fast falling back to the rest of the group and his status as the favourite is in real jeopardy.
AS Kawhi sits out for the second indefinite amount of time this season, rumours of a fractured relationship with the front office are starting to circulate. Leonard has appeared in just nine games all season and who knows when he will return to action. I’m sure that things aren’t as bad as they sound in San Antonio and there is no way a divorce between the two is on the horizon. Missing another chunk of time does take Leonard’s 2017-18 season from bad to worse.
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