The American Soccer Evolution

What comes to your mind when you think of sports in the United States? In order of popularity, there’s football; The most famous sport in our country. Baseball; Considered to be America’s pastime. Basketball; Home to the greatest athletes in the world. Lastly, there is soccer; One of the fastest-growing sports in our country. How much longer can we expect this list to be accurate, and is it possible that soccer can become the new leader? Surprisingly, the answer is yes, and it might happen sooner than you think.

The popularity of American football has been decreasing for years. There have been numerous studies showing the extent of brain trauma that playing football can cause, and this information has many parents feeling reluctant in supporting their children when it comes to youth football. In fact, since 2008, youth football has seen a 7% decline in participation, while youth soccer experienced a 19% increase. Accompany the health risk factors of American football with the fact that NFL players are only paid the fourth highest of any professional league in this country, and you may leave a lot of young potential football athletes wondering if the long-term risk is worth the short-term success.

Over the past decade, baseball and basketball have both been relatively idle when it comes to increase/decrease in youth participation. To me, this comes as no surprise. Both of these sports offer very easy access to young children. Minimal equipment is required to play, and it’s not that difficult to find a basketball hoop to shoot around or a small area to throw a baseball with friends or family. Soccer may not be as easy to start with as those two sports, but advocates for youth soccer have made an asserted effort to organize more leagues and create easier access to soccer complexes for children and young adults.

In 226 countries around the world, soccer is the number one sport. The amount of global soccer fans is estimated to be around 3.5 billion people, which exceeds the second place sport of cricket by over 1 billion. Soccer is a worldwide game that unites citizens of countries like no other sport can. Don’t believe me? Watch a World Cup game with a group of people from a competing country. The passion and love of the game are unrivaled.

The United States has always been a melting pot for various cultures and nationalities. An estimated 1 million people immigrate to the USA each year. There is no way to measure how many of them are soccer fans, but considering the global prevalence, it’s safe to assume that this will only boost the popularity in the country. Soccer fans immigrating into our country, who then start a family, can create many new future fans of the game.

The American professional soccer league, known as Major League Soccer, has also experienced extreme growth since its inaugural season in 1996. The MLS experienced a very rocky start, and it wasn’t until almost eight years in when the league really gathered it’s footing. MLS started with just ten franchises, but by the 2004 season, the league more than doubled to 24 teams. They have already announced plans to expand to 28 clubs by 2022, and eventually to 30 at a later date. Having professional soccer in more markets will undoubtedly help increase the interest and overall growth of the sport.

The last bit of ammunition for an American soccer boom is the current state of the U.S. soccer national teams. The men’s national team originated back in the 1930s. Unfortunately, when compared to the top teams in the world, USA men’s soccer has been a struggle. The highest FIFA ranking (world rankings of every national team) the club has attained was 4th in 2006. On the contrary, the lowest was 36th in 2014. The World Cup, which is soccer’s biggest tournament in the world, has never been won by the United States men’s team. Our best finish was 3rd in 1930. In recent years, the club has achieved some success in smaller tournaments like the Gold Cup and Copa America. After a disappointing 2018 World Cup where the men’s national team failed to qualify, they are looking to have a strong comeback and hopefully make a statement in 2022 in Qatar.

The USA women’s national team may not have as long of a history as their male counterparts, but what they’ve managed to accomplish since their formation in 1985 has been nothing short of sensational. The national team managed to medal in every World Cup and Olympic tournament from 1991 to 2015. Although there had been numerous instances of women playing in the World Cup since 1970, it wasn’t until 1991 that FIFA created an official World Cup tournament. Since that time, there have been eight World Cups on the women’s side, and the United States has astonishingly taken home the trophy in four of them. Currently, the women are by far the most talented and decorated team in the world and are coming off back-to-back World Cup titles. Couple their talent with their unique and outgoing personalities, and this current version of the women’s U.S. national team is a fun one to watch, on and off the pitch.

There is no doubt that soccer has a long road ahead to become this country’s most popular sport. There’s a good chance that it may not ever happen. But, taking all the data and trends mentioned in this article, there is also a very good chance that we could see that day. The hype of soccer in this country is the highest that I have seen in my lifetime. There was a time when I was a young boy who played organized soccer for my school. Unfortunately, when my parents and I moved, the future schools I attended did not offer a soccer program. It’s unreasonable to think that every school in our country could offer it, but I sincerely hope that this sport can build on the recent success of our national teams and what appears to be an overall higher interest in the world’s greatest sport.

2019 NBA Offseason Report Card

Southwest Division Edition

The 2019 NBA offseason has been one for the record books. From unexpected signings to shocking trades, it’s safe to say that the NBA has managed to captivate the sports world without even playing a single meaningful game in over a month. We have seen seven all-stars from this past season change teams. Now that things have (seemingly) calmed down, it’s time to take a look at how each team has faired this offseason.

Houston Rockets: B
Key Additions – Russell Westbrook, Ben McLemore, Tyson Chandler, Deyonta Davis, Anthony Bennett.
Key Losses – Chris Paul.
Draft – No Picks.

Daryl Morey, GM for the Rockets, has never been one to sit around and hope for the best. He’s never backed down from taking a risk, and after multiple seasons of coming up short, it’s not a surprise to see what they did this offseason. They will be a very formidable team in the West but just how much better they will be with Russell Westbrook instead of Chris Paul remains to be seen. The hope here is that Houston puts themselves in a similar position as they have the last couple of seasons, and having a healthy Westbrook in the playoffs over the injury-prone Chris Paul will be enough to get them over the hump.

San Antonio Spurs: B-
Key Additions – DeMarre Carroll, Trey Lyles.
Key Losses – Davis Bertans.
Drafted – Luka Samanic, Keldon Johnson, Quinndary Weatherspoon.

The San Antonio Spurs seem to always be a team that the spotlight rarely shines on. It does appear that the Gregg Popovich era is winding down to a close, but this is a team that always seems to find ways to re-tool. They did not make any eye-catching moves this offseason, and it’s hard to see how they can improve on last year. In typical San Antonio fashion, they will be counted out of the playoffs, only to find themselves right in the middle of it come this spring.

Memphis Grizzlies: B
Key Additions – Dwight Howard, Andre Igoudala, Josh Jackson, Grayson Allen, Jae Crowder, Tyus Jones, Solomon Hill.
Key Losses – Mike Conley, Delon Wright, Avery Bradley, CJ Miles, Chandler Parsons.
Drafted – Ja Morant, Brandon Clarke.

Between the Marc Gasol trade during last season, and the recent trading away of Mike Conley, the Memphis Grizzlies are fully committed to taking this team in a new direction. Ja Morant will enter his rookie season with a lot of expectations. Thankfully he has a ton of veteran talent around him with the additions of Dwight Howard, Jae Crowder, and Andre Igoudala. Brandon Clarke, the rookie out of San Jose State, also appears to be poised for an impressive rookie season. He is coming off winning the MVP of the Summer League, and many say he very well could have been the most athletic player in the entire draft this past June. Do not expect this team to make too big of a splash this year, but the future for the Grizzlies is a very bright and promising one.

New Orleans Pelicans: A+
Key Additions – Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, JJ Redick, Derrick Favors, Josh Hart.
Key Losses – Anthony Davis, Solomon Hill, Eldrid Payton, Julius Randle, Stanley Johnson.
Drafted – Zion Williamson, Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Marcos Louzada Silva.

There is finally an end to Anthony Davis drama, and I’m sure this franchise is happy to get back to focusing on playing basketball. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram both had injury-ridden seasons last year, but they claim they will be ready by the start of this upcoming season. The big story with the Pelicans is the first overall draft pick, Zion Williamson. It isn’t known exactly how well his game will translate to the NBA, but there is no denying that his size, coupled with his athleticism, will be a matchup nightmare. Even with giving up their All-NBA big man, I believe this team managed to get better. JJ Redick and Derrick Favors are both big-time vets that will undoubtedly help this team in crunch time. Not to be overlooked is the fact that GM David Griffin also managed to get a decent stockpile of future draft picks. New Orleans is poised to be a force in the Western Conference for years to come.

Dallas Mavericks: B+
Key Additions – Seth Curry, Delon Wright, Boban, Marjanovic.
Key Losses – Dirk Nowitzki, Trey Burke.
Drafted – Isaiah Roby.

For the first time since 1998, Dallas fans will not see Dirk Nowitzki on the court. Instead, they have two other very talented, and young, European players to watch for years to come. Kristaps Porzingis will join the reigning rookie of the year Luka Doncic on the court this year, and together they look to bring a very exciting brand of basketball. They also added some great shooting to their backcourt with the signings of Seth Curry and Delon Wright. I look for the Mavericks to be a much-improved team from last year, but I still think they are looking at a 7 or 8 seed at best.

2019 NBA Offseason Report Card

Pacific Division Edition

The 2019 NBA offseason has been one for the record books. From unexpected signings to shocking trades, it’s safe to say that the NBA has managed to captivate the sports world without even playing a single meaningful game in over a month. We have seen seven all-stars from this past season change teams. Now that things have (seemingly) calmed down, it’s time to take a look at how each team has faired this offseason.

Golden State Warriors: C
Key Additions – D’Angelo Russel, Willie Cauley-Stein, Glenn Robinson III, Omari Spellman, Alec Burks.
Key Losses – Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Demarcus Cousins, Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell, Damian Jones, Quinn Cook,
Draft – Jordan Poole, Alen Smailagic, Erin Paschall.

For the first time in five years, the Warriors are not the odds-on favorites to win the NBA championship. The departure of Kevin Durant and unfortunate injury of Klay Thompson has set quite a few changes in motion for this team. They have lost a majority of their role players who have won multiple championships with this franchise. If D’Angelo Russel meshes well with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, then I still feel this is a very formidable team in the west. The key will be attempting to hang onto a playoff spot until they are healthy, hopefully in time for the playoffs. It’s very reasonable to see this team with a 5th-8th seed and then potentially make another deep playoff run. In addition to this, I believe Steph Curry is a strong early favorite to win another MVP award.

Los Angeles Clippers: A
Key Additions – Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Maurice Harkless.
Key Losses – Danilo Gallanari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Garrett Temple, Wilson Chandler.
Drafted – Mfiondu Kabengele, Terance Mann.

Has the phrase championship or bust ever been more accurate? The Los Angeles Clippers traded away most of their future assets and in return received two of the league’s current best players. If this does indeed bring a championship to this franchise, then it was all worth it. Unfortunately, there is a huge downside here. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard both have a significant injury history, and there are some doubts as to if either of them can stay healthy for a full season. Combine that with the fact they both have player options after the 2020-21 season, and there is potential for a disaster here. The Western Conference is stacked with multiple teams who believe they can win it all. If the Clippers fail to get a ring in the next couple of years, and Leonard and George decide to leave in the 2021 offseason, then rebuilding this franchise will be a very difficult task. Still, you have to applaud the fact they landed two of the league’s top players and have shown their fans they are willing to do whatever it takes to win a championship.

Sacramento Kings: B-
Key Additions – Trevor Ariza, Dewayne Dedmon, Cory Joseph, Richaun Holmes, Tyler Lydon.
Key Losses – Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks, Frank Mason
Drafted – Justin James, Kyle Guy, Vanja Marinkovic.

Sacramento is a very young team that was a bit ahead of schedule with their success last season. They have a potential future All-NBA player in De-Aaron Fox who could very easily make the jump to elite point-guard this year. They inked Harrison Barnes to a long term deal and added some perimeter length with the Trevor Ariza signing. The Kings should no doubt be a better team this year but might be left on the outside looking in come playoff time.

Los Angeles Lakers: A-
Key Additions – Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Quinn Cook, Troy Daniels, Jared Dudley.
Key Losses – Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Tyson Chandler, Moritz Wagner, Mike Muscala, Reggie Bullock.
Drafted – Talen Horton-Tucker.

The battle of Los Angeles is very much something that will happen between the Lakers and Clippers this year. Both teams feel like they are a championship contender and each has their star duo. Neither of these teams wants to share the L.A. spotlight, but they do share the Staples Center, and the four games they play against each other this year will have an incredible atmosphere. The Lakers finally got their guy in Anthony Davis. When Lebron James is on your roster, the mentality will always be to win now. Most of their young assets were given up in the Davis trade, but what remains is a very solid core. They failed last year when it came to filling out the rest of their roster after Lebron James, and it remains to be seen if they have managed to do a better job of that this time around. One thing that cannot be denied though is that with the addition of The Brow this team is already miles better than they were last season. If the supporting cast can mesh together and their star duo stays healthy, then I see this team challenging for a first-round playoff series in the Staples Center.

Phoenix Suns: D+
Key Additions – Ricky Rubio, Dario Saric, Aron Baynes, Frank Kaminsky.
Key Losses – Troy Daniels, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, Kyle Korver, Richaun Holmes.
Drafted – Cameron Johnson, Ty Jerome.

Phoenix Suns fans are most likely in for another frustrating season. They made some questionable draft moves this offseason and also lost some valuable shooters from their lineup. The front office seems to be split on which way to move forward with this team. Ricky Rubio and Dario Saric do add some talent to accompany Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, but it’s presumably not going to be enough to get them out of the cellar of the Western Conference. I expect to see some growth from the second-year center, Ayton, and a lot of impressive scoring numbers from Booker, but I do not anticipate that translating to very many significant wins.

2019 NBA Offseason Report Card

Northwest Division Edition

The 2019 NBA offseason has been one for the record books. From unexpected signings to shocking trades, it’s safe to say that the NBA has managed to captivate the sports world without even playing a single meaningful game in over a month. We have seen seven all-stars from this past season change teams. Now that things have (seemingly) calmed down, it’s time to take a look at how each team has faired this offseason.

Denver Nuggets: B
Key Additions – Jerami Grant
Key Losses – Isaiah Thomas, Trey Lyles, Tyler Lydon
Draft – Bol Bol

The Denver Nuggets spent much of last season sitting atop the Western Conference. Ultimately they went into the playoffs as the 2nd seed and lost in round two to the Trail Blazers. Jerami Grant is a great addition that will offer some much-needed versatility. If Jamal Murray can rise to an all-star level, then I expect this team to be hosting a first-round playoff series, in a stacked Western Conference, once again.

Portland Trail Blazers: C
Key Additions – Hassan Whiteside, Kent Bazemore, Marion Hezonja, Anthony Tolliver, Pau Gasol.
Key Losses – Al-Farouq Aminu, Enes Kanter, Seth Curry, Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard.
Drafted – Nassir Little

Before last season the Trail Blazers had been knocking on the door of making a deep playoff run for quite some time. They finally broke through to the Western Conference Finals before coming up short against the Warriors in last year’s playoffs. If Hassan Whiteside feels refreshed and motivated, then there is a chance he could have a career year. Even with that I still find it difficult to imagine a world where this team improves on their results from last year. I would say a second-round exit is more likely for this team come playoff time.

Utah Jazz: A
Key Additions – Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Ed Davis, Jeff Green, Emmanuel Mudiay.
Key Losses – Derrick Favors, Kyle Korver, Ricky Rubio.
Drafted – Jarrell Brantley, Justin Wright-Foreman, Miye Oni.

Utah is a team that always seems to be consistently good, but never viewed as a championship contender. They have finished with an above .500 record and have been the 5th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs for the past three seasons. Losing Derrick Favors this year will be a blow, but the combo of Ed Davis and Jeff Green just might be enough to get by. They have a good mix of young talent to go along with the aging Conley. I would say the window for this team, as currently constructed, will not stay open long though. They will be very much improved from a year ago and I would expect them to be aggressive around the trade deadline if they feel there is anything on the market that could help them out in a late-season playoff push.

Oklahoma City Thunder: A
Key Additions – Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, Mike Muscala.
Key Losses – Paul George, Russel Westbrook, Jerami Grant, Markieff Morris.
Drafted – Darius Bazley

Oklahoma City fans have a lot of changes to get used to this season. Just a few short weeks ago, most people assumed seeing Russel Westbrook and Paul George back in a Thunder uniform was a guarantee. Everything changed though when Kawhi Leonard shocked the sports world and convinced the Los Angeles Clippers to give up a majority of their future building pieces to acquire Paul George. That move seemed to set in motion the decision to then trade Russel Westbrook to the Houston Rockets. Having Chris Paul on a team that is now clearly in rebuild mode does not make a ton of sense to me. I would look for CP3 to be moved at some point before the season starts or near the trade deadline. Miami and Minnesota seem to be the two most talked about landing spots for the point guard. All in all, the Thunder obtained an unprecedented 11 first-round draft picks (pick swaps included) plus a very young and talented Shae Gilgeous-Alexander. The score for this team could legitimately range from an F, for losing their two all-stars, to an A+ for the outstanding job they did at acquiring future assets.

Minnesota Timberwolves: C-
Key Additions – Treveon Graham, Jake Layman, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh, Jordan Bell.
Key Losses – Taj Gibson, Tyus Jones, Cameron Reynolds, Derrick Rose, Dario Saric, Anthony Tolliver.
Drafted – Jarrett Culver, Jaylen Nolan.

Unless Andrew Wiggins finally develops into an all-star caliber player or Karl Anthony-Towns has an MVP type season, Minnesota will likely be the weak team in this division. The Timberwolves were apparently on the verge of getting D’Angelo Russel before Golden State came out of nowhere to acquire the all-star guard. In a Western Conference that seems to be completely wide open this year, I do not believe that Minnesota will be making very much noise. There has been some speculation that this team could be a landing spot for Chris Paul if he does indeed get traded from OKC. Even with that possibility I fully expect this team to finish as one of the bottom four teams in the conference.

2019 NBA Offseason report Card

Southeast Division Edition

The 2019 NBA offseason has been one for the record books. From unexpected signings to shocking trades, it’s safe to say that the NBA has managed to captivate the sports world without even playing a single meaningful game in over a month. We have seen seven all-stars from this past season change teams. Now that things have (seemingly) calmed down, it’s time to take a look at how each team has faired this offseason.

Orlando Magic: C-
Key Additions – Al-Farouq Aminu
Key Losses – Timofey Mozgov
Draft – Chuma Okeke

Coming off a pretty mediocre season last year, the Orlando Magic seem to be content with putting out a similar lineup again. Right now this team is made up of athletic guys who cannot shoot very well. The addition of Markelle Fultz during last season seems to be a low risk/high reward move. At this point, it is unknown what Fultz will develop into, but the chance to take on a former number one overall pick was something the Magic couldn’t pass up. There’s a very good chance this team will be in the playoffs once again, but I do not expect them to make very much noise once there.

Charlotte Hornets: F
Key Additions – Terry Rozier
Key Losses – Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Frank Kaminsky, Tony Parker.
Drafted – PJ Washington, Cody Martin, Jalen McDaniels.

If swapping Kemba Walker for Terry Rozier is exciting to you, then you may enjoy watching the Hornets next year. For the 99% of you that do not find that exciting, then watching this team will be quite a struggle. They appear to be in full tank/rebuild mode but go and completely overpay on Terry Rozier. It would not surprise me one bit to find this team at the bottom of the Eastern Conference for much of next season.

Miami Heat: B+
Key Additions – Jimmy Butler, Meyers Leonard.
Key Losses – Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson, Ryan Anderson.
Drafted – Tyler Herro, KZ Okpala.

The Miami Heat were a very busy team this offseason, and they may not be done yet. They flipped Josh Richardson for Jimmy Butler, which is an improvement. The Hassan Whiteside trade was something that was going to happen eventually, so they are better off doing it now and starting fresh with former backup Bam Adebayo. Chris Paul to Miami is also a move I could see happening at some point this year. They finished 10th in the Eastern Conference last year with a 39-43 record, a mark they should have no issues on easily surpassing this year.

Washington Wizards: D-
Key Additions – Isaiah Thomas, Ish Smith, C.J. Miles, Davis Bertans, Moritz Wagner.
Key Losses – Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker, Tomas Satoransky, Jeff Green, Jonathon Simmons.
Drafted – Rui Hachimura, Admiral Schofield.

There isn’t much positive to say about the current state of the Washington Wizards. John Wall is most likely going to miss the entire year. Accompany that with the fact that he is signed to the worst contract currently in the NBA, and you have a team going nowhere fast. For some reason, they appear to be set on not trading Bradley Beal just yet. There is some hope that this could be a possible comeback year for point guard Isaiah Thomas. The Wizards lack of depth and talent might leave the team with no option but to give Thomas a lot of court time. Expect this to be a very long and difficult season for Washington.

Atlanta Hawks: B+
Key Additions – Allen Crabbe, Evan Turner, Chandler Parsons, Damian Jones, Jabari Parker.
Key Losses – Taurean Prince, Kent Bazemore, Dewayne Dedmon, Omari Spellman.
Drafted – DeAndre Hunter, Cam Reddish, Bruno Fernando.

The Hawks had a very disappointing 2018-19 campaign when it comes to their record. Trae Young looks to be a future all-star and seeing how his game has developed from his rookie season will be something worth following. They moved up in the draft to take DeAndre Hunter with the 4th overall pick. They were also able to get sharpshooter Cam Reddish with the number ten pick. Atlanta may struggle through another season of inconsistency but I do look for them to improve on their win total from last year. The main goal for this team will be to focus on developing their young guys and hoping they can be the foundation of this franchise for years to come.

2019 NBA Offseason Report Card

Central Division Edition

The 2019 NBA offseason has been one for the record books. From unexpected signings to shocking trades, it’s safe to say that the NBA has managed to captivate the sports world without even playing a single meaningful game in over a month. We have seen seven all-stars from this past season change teams. Now that things have (seemingly) calmed down, it’s time to take a look at how each team has faired this offseason.

Milwaukee Bucks: B
Key Additions – Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews, Kyle Korver
Key Losses – Malcolm Brogdon, Nikola Mirotic, Pau Gasol, Tony Snell.
Draft – No Picks

Malcolm Brogdon will be a difficult player to replace when it comes to the depth of this team. They did a great job of adding multiple pieces to try and help fill that void, and seeing how the Lopez brothers play alongside each other should be interesting. Giannis Antetokounmpo won the MVP award last season but still has the potential to have an even better year in 2019-20. He’s an improved jump shot away from really being an unstoppable force. This team has all the tools needed to finish at the top of the eastern conference and be a real championship contender.

Indiana Pacers: B+
Key Additions – Malcolm Brogdon, TJ Warren, Jeremy Lamb, TJ McConnell.
Key Losses – Darren Collison, Tyreke Evans, Bojan Bogdanovic, Wesley Matthews, Cory Joseph.
Drafted – Goga Bitadze

Indiana was able to put together a very solid season last year. They have made a lot of moves during free agency, but perhaps the most important factor heading into next year will be the health of all-star guard Victor Oladipo. This team is packed with gritty experienced role players. If they manage to find consistency on the offensive end, then I could very easily see them ending their current streak of four straight first-round playoff series losses.

Detroit Pistons: C
Key Additions – Derrick Rose, Markieff Morris, Tony Snell.
Key Losses – Ish Smith, Wayne Ellington, Glen Robinson III.
Drafted – Sekou Doumbouya, Deividas Sirvydis.

The Pistons finished last year with an even .500 record at 41-41. They did manage to get a playoff spot but were ultimately swept in the first round by the Milwaukee Bucks. Unfortunately, I do not believe they made any moves this offseason to improve on last year. Derrick Rose was an amazing story in 2018-19 with the Timberwolves and should be very fun to watch in Detroit, but do not expect to see much consistency from the former MVP. The Pistons have Blake Griffin locked up through the 2020-21 season and will need to get help fast if they ever plan to make a run with the aging superstar. Unless some midseason moves are made, you can expect to find this team right on the border of playoff contention once again.

Chicago Bulls: C
Key Additions – Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky, Luke Kornet.
Key Losses – Robin Lopez
Drafted – Coby White, Daniel Gafford

A pretty average offseason is about the only way I can think to describe the Bulls. They already have some young talent with Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr, and adding Coby White to that list will give this team a nice starting base. Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky are nice pickups but this year will most likely be about player development. They own three picks in the 2020 draft and have the potential to get three more picks depending on draft positions. For a team that is clearly in rebuild mode, I would keep expectations to a minimum and hope to see a major improvement with their young guys.

Cleveland Cavaliers: C-
Key Additions – No Additions
Key Losses – Cameron Payne, JR Smith.
Drafted – Darius Garland, Dylan Windler, Kevin Porter Jr.

The Cavs are a team still reeling from the departure of Lebron James just last year. Much like the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland is also in rebuild mode. I fully expect them to move Kevin Love at some point this year and seek draft picks or young players with high upside in return. No evidence points to this team finishing much higher than the bottom of the eastern conference. Waiving JR Smith was a great move and there appears to be a lot of optimism surrounding the first-round pick Darius Garland.

2019 NBA Offseason Report Card

Atlantic Division Edition

The 2019 NBA offseason has been one for the record books. From unexpected signings to shocking trades, it’s safe to say that the NBA has managed to captivate the sports world without even playing a single meaningful game in over a month. We have seen seven all-stars from this past season change teams. Now that things have (seemingly) calmed down, it’s time to take a look at how each team has faired this offseason.

Toronto Raptors: C-
Key Additions – Cameron Payne and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Key Losses – Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
Draft – Dewan Hernandez

The Raptors knew the risk when they decided to trade all-star Demar Derozan for a potential one year rental in Kawhi Leonard last year. Although Leonard did leave after one year, it’s impossible to say the move didn’t pay off. He delivered the franchise their first-ever NBA championship and will always be a sports hero for the city of Toronto. They still have returning vets in Kyle Lowery, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka. With the added depth I believe this is still a team that could find themselves in playoff contention come April of next year.

Philadelphia 76ers: A
Key Additions – Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Trey Burke.
Key Losses – Jimmy Butler, JJ Redick, Boban Marjanovic.
Drafted – Matisse Thybulle, Marial Shayok, Jordan Bone.

After a heartbreaking loss to the Toronto Raptors in game 7 of the second round of the 2019 playoffs, it’s no surprise this team decided to make some changes. Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick are both big-time losses from last year’s starting lineup. Butler was their crunch time man, while Redick helped space the floor. The additions of Al Horford and Josh Richardson will bring some much-needed size and improve a team that at times struggled on the defensive end last year. They still look to be rolling out a lineup that features four potential all-stars and has great depth to go along with that. Anything short of a Finals appearance for this team will most likely be a major let down.

Boston Celtics: B-
Key Additions – Kemba Walker, Enes Canter.
Key Losses – Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes.
Drafted – Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, Carsen Edwards, Tremont Waters.

It became clear towards the end of last year that Kyrie Irving was most likely going to be leaving. The fact that they were able to replace him with all-star guard Kemba Walker is a huge deal. Enes Canter is a nice pickup for a team that just lost Al Horford, but his struggles on the defensive side of the ball could prove to be a challenge. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both have the potential to be future all-stars. If either of them makes that leap this year, and Gordon Hayward continues to look like his old self, then this team could find themselves potentially hosting a first-round playoff series.

Brooklyn Nets: A
Key Additions – Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler, Garret Temple.
Key Losses – D’Angelo Russel, DeMarre Carroll, Ed Davis, Jared Dudley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Shabazz Napier.
Drafted – Nicolas Claxton, Jaylen Hands.

The Nets stole the New York City spotlight when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both decided to sign with the team. This first year will be quite an experiment and a chance to develop some young talent while Durant rehabs his torn Achilles tendon. They overpaid DeAndre Jordan from a salary standpoint, but it appears that was a move requested by Kyrie and Kevin. There are risks involved with these signings though. Irving is coming off a season where he lacked effort and motivation and seemed to be a locker room problem. Also, Durant’s health going forward is very much a concern, and that is a question that may not be answered until mid-2020. Look for this team to absolutely be in playoff contention, but probably will not be poised to make a deep playoff run until next year.

New York Knicks: C
Key Additions – Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Marcus Morris, Wayne Ellington, Taj Gibson, Reggie Bullock, Elfrid Payton.
Key Losses – Emmanual Mudiay, Mario Hezonja, DeAndre Jordan.
Drafted – RJ Barret, Ignas Brazdeikis.

“A very busy offseason for all the wrong reasons” is one way to describe the Knicks over the past month. If you look at the moves they made after they realized they weren’t getting a top free agent, you could say they did fairly well. The problem is, they had aligned themselves to make a run at multiple top free agents as well as getting Zion Williamson with the number one overall pick. None of that worked out, and they were left trying to piece together a team with a group of role players. If the 3rd overall pick RJ Barret can handle the bright lights of New York City, then they may at least have a franchise player to start building around. I expect this season to be about developing their young talent and will be looking at yet another high first-round draft pick come 2020.

Serena Williams: History’s Greatest American Athlete.

Serena Williams is one of the most well-known household names there is. An athlete whose list of accolades seemingly never end. Nobody can argue with her greatness, but what if I ask the question, “Is she the greatest American athlete ever?” Before that question can be answered, let’s take a quick look at her career and some of the other names on the list of greats.

Ask anyone who they consider to be the greatest ever, and you will most likely hear the same few names; Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, Tiger Woods, and Michael Phelps. All can very easily make a case for themselves on why they should sit atop this list. The accomplishments in their respective sports are unmatched, but that is not the only thing to take into consideration.

Some of the records that Serena currently holds in tennis are:

  • The most Grand Slam titles (23)
  • The most Grand Slam match wins (343)
  • 3rd highest Grand Slam match winning percentage (87.72)

So how does someone go from being the best in only their sport to being the best American athlete of any sport? Achievements in their field, worldwide success, and their involvement in social issues are a few common ways to achieve that. One other way that cannot be measured by any form of a statistic is the fear that an opponent can instill in their competitors. I believe that in their primes, Tiger Woods and Serena Williams were the absolute best examples of this. If you were competing against either of these athletes, you already felt defeated before the competition even began.

Serena has won four Olympic gold medals throughout her career. The first coming in 2000 when she was only 19 years old. She followed that up with another gold in 2008 and two golds in 2012. Currently, she is tied with her sister Venus with the most Olympic gold medals in American tennis history. Nobody will ever have the Olympic career that Michael Phelps had, but she truly is the Michael Phelps of tennis.

The last area I will discuss is the impact that she’s had on civil and human rights. Muhammad Ali will always be remembered for the stance he took regarding these issues. Serena has attempted to do the same thing on current issues that she finds important. She has openly talked about racist comments she has received, and the role that she feels sexism plays in women’s tennis today.

At a young age, she showed numerous children that they could achieve their dreams. It didn’t matter where they were born. It didn’t matter their gender or the color of their skin. Many children now realized their own goals could be achieved, simply by seeing Serena persevere through all the struggles that life presented. When you put all of this together, I believe that Serena Williams is indeed the greatest American athlete of all time. Not just the greatest women’s athlete and not just the greatest African American athlete. Simply…the greatest of them all.

A Little About Me

I started this blog in 2019 as a way for me to get out my experiences and opinions on various topics. The main areas I will cover are several sports, travel, and music events. If you are like me and enjoy reading the thoughts of other individuals on these topics, then you should feel right at home here. The plan is to keep things very laid back and encourage comments from the readers.

I will keep this part very brief, but I feel it is necessary to introduce myself. My name is Cyle Murdoch. I have grown up and still reside in rural southern Illinois. In 2013 I married my lovely wife, Erin. Just four years later, we welcomed our first child, Laken. He is the absolute light of our lives, and we find so much joy in raising him.

I appreciate every single person who takes time out of their lives to read my blog. I highly encourage you to please leave a comment about what you may or may not have liked and to please subscribe if you would like to read more in the future. I have also linked my social media accounts, so feel free to connect with me on any of my pages.