Mateo’s Hoop Diary: Sarver, The Ungrateful (Phoenix) Sun

The ungrateful always forget what misery feels like as soon as they have the upper hand.  These foul characters complicate the job of others and make them uncomfortable because they can’t get out of their own way. Cheap fools are usually destined to repeat their blunders and in short order, are back at the bottom where they belong. 


I wish I could say it’s inconceivable that Deandre Ayton hasn’t received his max extension, but the Suns are owned by this slipperiest eel of the negotiating table, Robert Sarver. He once infamously played hardball with Joe Johnson in 2005, electing to finish the year before financially compensating an up-and-coming All-Star.  Iso Joe left that summer in a sign-and-trade to the Atlanta Hawks and had his best seasons away from Phoenix.    


He even ruffled the feathers of one of the classiest players in the league, Goran Dragic, by signing Isaiah Thomas and then extending his inferior backcourt mate, Eric Bledsoe, months after the Slovenian guard’s All-NBA season. The Dragon was clever and likely knew that in his contract year, with his role and production gashed, playing under those circumstances would cost him serious money in free agency.  Dragic then went rogue and spilled his frustrations to the media, expediting his exit in 2015.


The Suns missed the playoffs every season from 2011 until 2020 and started multiple rebuilds.  In their first attempt at miserably constructing a winner, they were fortunate 12 teams passed on Devin Booker.  In fairness, Booker wasn’t expected to be first or probably top five because he wasn’t a starter at Kentucky.  Yet, it’s more of an indictment on the “scouting” of all the other clubs if the best marksman of the draft (2015) slipped that low.  Again, in hindsight, the Suns were fortunate he was available. 


A couple of years later, Sarver hired James Jones as Vice President of Basketball Ops while extending Ryan McDonough, then general manager.  In 2018, Phoenix won the draft lottery, subsequently picking Ayton, the most coveted player in college basketball.






Ayton performed well in his rookie campaign, averaging a double-double on one of the worst teams in the NBA.  That year he was overshadowed by the mesmerizing season Luka Doncic had for the Dallas Mavericks, as he ran away with the Rookie of the Year award.  Despite the arrival of Dallas’ generational talent, Ayton impressively displayed high proficiency in his craft.  It usually takes longer for big men to develop, but he’s been a player long before he laced them up professionally.  


Ayton’s size cannot be taught.  Meanwhile, Sarver and the Suns are treating one of their franchise cornerstones like 7-footers grow on trees.  Every other team in need of an upgrade at center would melt at the possibility of acquiring a matchup nightmare like #22.


The Phoenix Suns are playing a dangerous game letting their unhappy big-man arrive at restricted free agency in summer 2022.  The organization can hide all it wants under the premise that it was a business decision, but they risk Ayton interpreting his lack of a deal as a personal matter.  The Suns extended Chris Paul, Mikal Bridges and Landry Shamet, who was just traded to Phoenix this offseason, before paying Ayton.  Ayton’s role is arguably the most pivotal behind Booker’s.


In 2021, Phoenix won the West and came two wins shy of an NBA title.  To ensure the Suns stay in the mix for years to come, they will need to pay Ayton every dollar he is looking for past this season.


But this is Sarver, a man who in so many ways, cannot be trusted.  He is the type of guy who, as local hero Greta Rogers said at the Phoenix City Council in 2018, “He’s so tight, he squeaks when he walks.”


Roger’s called out Sarver because he had the nerve to request $150 million worth of tax-payer renovations for the Footprint Center while the team had an abysmal record the year before.


Some people’s ignorance cannot be helped.  No matter how many times they stumble at the same obstacle, fools are destined to repeat the past.

Heat in Five: Your Miami Heat Season Preview Palooza!



And I have one question for you: Can you feel the Heat?

We should all just spend the whole day going around asking people, “Can you feel the Heat? ” And then when they’re like, “Huh? Wha?” We say it louder. “CAN YOU FEEL THE HEAT???” And whenever anyone says, “ah, no, I, what,” or hesitates to say anything other than “Hell yea, I can!” we drop-kick them in the throat and run away shouting “FOR THE CULTURE.”

So what’s the 2021-22 Miami Heat gonna look like? Let’s preview it, suckas!

But, before we get going: Follow and then hit PLAY on this playlist and CRANK IT THE FUCK UP and then RUN THROUGH A FUCKING WALL HEAD FIRST.

And ok, now read on.

Ok, how excited should we be about this 2021-22 Miami Heat?

Real excited. Did you not listen to the playlist? Are you dead inside?? Are you a lifeless husk of flesh with no feelings or emotions or GUTS?

Yes, but how exactly are they going to make us feel excited? You know, basketball-wise.

Oh you want to get technical on the how. Ok. This Heat team is going to rip everyone’s throat out of their assholes and properly fuck everyone’s shit up on defense, that’s how.

So the Heat are just going to be one of those grind out defensive teams that score 70 points a night?

Not necessarily. Because, yes, they’re going to be making stops, and grabbing defensive rebounds. But then they’re gonna turn on the afterburners and ride into the Danger Zone with their skull-smashing transition ass-wrecking offense led by Jimmy, Kyle, Bam, and The Fireball Whites. The Heat are going to win games when they play defense and then turn their opponent’s missed shots into fast break points. And, with the additions of gamma ray-infused badass motherfuckers not to be trifled with, PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris, that is going to happen a lot.

What about Jimmy? Is Jimmy gonna be Jimmy Buckets This Year?

Are you high? Fuck and yes is the answer to that question.

Ok, but he looked gassed at times last season.

And you look like a bucket of shit!


Look, there was this weird narrative last year that Jimmy had fallen off a bit. That’s a bunch of bullshit.

Maybe it was because he was tired from his hard play in the bubble?

Or maybe it was because he was tired from getting off your mom.

Please stop.

Look, whatever the reason for Jimmy hitting the wall last season, this whole Jimmy is fading thing is all horse cockery.

Horse what?

HORSE COCKERY. Because here’s the good news for your Miami Heat: Jimmy remains Jimmy. And thus, this remains very bad news for the rest of the NBA.

With a dong harder than volcanic rock and a willingness to attack the rim with the ferociousness of a charging frothing pitbull, Jimmy Butler remains one of the most effective players getting to the rim and drawing fouls from shit-for-brain mongoloids dumb enough to get in his way. And when he’s not drawing those fouls, he’s drawing defenders in and then kicking out to Fireball White #1 or Fireball White #2, who proceed to then go all Human Torch from the three-point line.

Moreover, Jimmy led the league last year in steals per game, and stat geeks will tell you he ranked sixth in the league in Value Over Replacement Player, fourth in Box Plus/Minus and third in Win Shares per 48 Minutes, which is basically nerd-talk for: When He Needs To, Jimmy Butler Reaches Deep Into His Big Bag of ASS WRECKAGE and Comes Through When We Need Him Most.

But didn’t Jimmy falter in the playoffs?

Sure. But that’s only because the NBA decided to royally fuck the Heat by making them play roughly 8,453 games between the previous year’s playoff run and last year’s regular season, which they crammed together with little rest time because Adam Silver is an asexual being from outer space who doesn’t understand that humans get tired and need rest to regarge. And so Jimmy was naturally, as the medical books call it, tired as fuck.

The truth is, according to NBA statsguy John Schuhmann, the Heat were 11.1 points per 100 possessions better with Jimmy Buckets on the floor (+5.2) than they were with him off the floor (-5.9). And that was with a gassed Jimmy.

No matter how you slice it, we WANT Jimmy on that wall, we NEED Jimmy on that wall.

So, don’t fret. Because Jimmy is now fully rested up, refreshed, and has a clean ass.

And that can only mean that he’s now ready to resume being the hardcore crotch-kicking-half man-half-machine we all know and love.

Why else should we be excited for this 2021-22 Miami Heat?

Because the Heat finally landed THICC BASKETBALL JESUS!!!

After playing grab ass with rumors and speculation and flirting with the possibility of coming on down to Miami, Kyle Lowry and the Miami Heat were finally able to take shit from swiping right, to fucking in the shower (proverbilly speaking) and have now joined forces to form an ass-wrecking Voltron that’s ready to crush our enemies into a fine powder and to see them driven before us and to hear the lamentations of their women.

Also, Kyle Lowry loves the ever loving shit out of playing defense. And now he’s hitting the floor with dudes who love the ever loving shit out of playing defense just as much as he does. It was just meant to be. He’s the missing piece!

How will he make us better?

It’s no secret the Heat’s offense was asstacular at times last season. But, as it always goes with star veterans who are desperate to get the fuck out of Dodge from their shitcavern teams, Kyle Lowry sent out the PATSIGNAL…. and Pat answered. And now we have a guy that’s going to alter the fortunes of a once limp-dick offense.

Kyle changes everything. He’s efficient, aggressive and smart. Instead of being one of those point guards that heaves the basketball up toward the rim like it was dipped in COVID, Kyle has a knack for knowing when to attack the basket, and when to take the smart shots. He also has a delicious, delicious ass. He knows how to keep his and his teammates’ heads in the game, and he is totally ready to kick those who wrote him off last year so hard in the face that their brains are going to explode out the backs of their heads.

Is this Tyler Herro next-step thing real? Is all that talk about trading him away last year going to mess with his game?

Ha ha ha idiots. Tyler Herro is here to impregnate all of you on this ticky-tock with his goofy hair and his awesome basketball prowess. He’s going to be all the way back, AND YOU’RE ALL GONNA FUCKING EAT IT AND YOU’RE GOING TO LIKE IT.

But so many Heat fans wanted him gone. That’s gotta screw with someone’s confidence, no?

Here’s the thing about Tyler Herro and those who wanted him gone last year: He’s apparently been leaving his fucks as tips for housekeeping at the team hotel, so don’t bother asking him for any fucks because he’s ALL OUT.

What we’ve seen in this preseason is a Tyler Herro that’s been told not to worry about the chatter and just ball the fuck out. And so, he’s come out swinging, and is fully prepared to kick the narrative that he’s nothing but a so-called Bubble Guppy into the stratosphere. And he’s going to write his name on the ashes with his piss after the narrative comes crashing down in a flaming ball somewhere in a New Mexico desert.

What about Bam? Is he finally ready to get more aggressive on offense?

Bam can and will be a monster from the word GO. He’s said as much already. He’s already a guy who mercilessly smashes the Heat’s opponents in their collective faces with a piano over and over again until their players have piano keys for teeth. Now all he has to do is bring that intensity into his offensive game. And once he does, it’s gonna be DEFCON 1 for the rest of the NBA.

We forget that Bam has only played as a starter for only two seasons, and is still a young pup at 24. He’s shown us time and again that he knows how to initiate the offense out of the high post and is developing into quite the midrange shooter off the dribble. In other words, shit is about to get ACTUAL in this motherlove.

Will Erik Spoelstra finally get the respect he deserves league wide?

Who gives a flying squirrel dick? We know that Spo is amazing and we don’t need others to validate that.

Yes, but… isn’t it time he gets serious consideration for Coach of the Year?

Well, ok, yes. And here’s our prediction: Spo will win Coach of the Year this season.

Ever since the Celtics hired Brad Stevens back in 2013 and all throughout the time since, we’ve had to deal with the ceaseless yammering of a million whining gravy-stains-on-their short sleeve shirts analytic nerds about how Brad Stevens is supposedly the best and brightest coach in the NBA because he likes math and defense or some such bull dick nonsense. And that Spo, for all his winning, was only successful because he had the luxury of having LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh suit up for him. Because Brad Stevens only coached sock puppets and not an actual NBA team filled with All Stars and big-play guys, apparently.

And yet, after Spo settled the argument of who is the better coach during the 2020 playoffs by reaching into Brad’s high-waisted mom jeans and tearing out his proverbial heart through his proverbial asshole with his beautiful basketball mind, in six games, Brad was sent packing upstairs, and the argument is officially over and John Hollinger can shove his face into a woodchipper.

So enough already with crowning a guy as the best when he never won jack dick in the NBA and let’s start recognizing Erik Spoelstra as the best coach in the league already, you numbnuts.

Shove all that unearned love of Brad Stevens into an Elon Musk billion dollar fart rocket and shoot it directly into the sun.

So, what then, can we surmise from all this?

It’s simple, really. When this Miami Heat team is fully engaged and all in BLOW UP PEOPLE’S ASSHOLES mode at the same time, people’s assholes will get blowed up. Period.

And when things get precarious and the games feel like they could swing either way, this veteran-laden team with their collective bulldog groupthink will show the NBA watching world that it’s ready to FORNICATE with its We’re-Not-Giving-A-Single-Solitary-Fuck-If-The-Other-Team-Has-Big-Time-Scorers-We’re-Not-Folding-Tonight mentality.


Record: 50-32; 1st in the Southeast Division, 2nd in the Eastern Conference; NBA CHAMPIONS

You can see other 5 Reasons contributors’ predictions here. Spoiler alert, only Greg, Royal and Tony have the guts to agree with our prediction of the Miami Heat ending the season atop the mountain. The rest of you cowards are DEAD to me.

Let’s go Heat.


Chris Joseph is a sometimes contributor to 5 Reasons Sports, an occasional podcaster, an exquisite copywriter, a stand up comedian, a novelist, a soccer enthusiast, a movie buff, and all an all around cool guy so if you ever run into him on the street, please don’t hesitate to not say hello. You can follow him on Twitter here. He loves you all very much.

Tua Deserves Better Than the Miami Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa has given everything he can to the Miami Dolphins with nothing in return.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, the Miami Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa were destined to unite.

Miami tore it all down to rebuild around their quarterback of the future.

Just to tear him and the franchise apart instead.

Against all odds, Tua has somehow managed to remain stoic in the face of unprecedented circumstances.

Yes, he was given the keys to the franchise as QB1 heading into this season.

The problem is, those keys belong to an organization that is stuck in reverse.

Rewind to the 2020 NFL draft when Miami sat flush with draft capital and was positioning themselves as an eventual contender.

They took Tagovailoa at pick 5 after a hip injury to end his college career caused his draft stock to slip.

One spot ahead of Justin Herbert, which is not the problem.


That first round for Miami wasn’t over, with the 18th and 30th picks still in their war chest.

Then they did this.

At pick 18 they selected a true project in tackle Austin Jackson.

The tape doesn’t lie, Jackson has been a near disaster this season.

That being said, the rationale for taking Jackson was sound at the time.

All of the premier tackles were off the board, and Jackson’s physical tools were an intriguing foundation to build on.

However, the Dolphins decided to double-down on project players and selected CB Noah Igbinoghene with the 30th pick.

While the following players were still on the board:

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Tee Higgins

Michael Pittman Jr.

But wait, there’s more!

Miami also had pick 39 which they used to select G Robert Hunt.

Two picks before Jonathan Taylor went off the board, and 12 picks before CB Trevon Diggs who is a superstar in the making.

The Dolphins passed on multiple upper echelon running backs in favor of Miles Gaskin, who is good but will never be great.

And reached for the physically gifted yet inconsistent Igbinoghene, instead of taking Diggs later.

These actions show a lack of identity and cohesiveness within the power structure that has set Tua and the Dolphins on a course to failure.

So what do the Dolphins do to fix it?

Instead of giving their supposed franchise quarterback a serviceable offensive line and running game, they try to plug holes with duct tape and prayers.

Yes they added his college teammate Jaylen Waddle this year – and then proceed to misuse him on a weekly basis.

While putting Tua’s health at risk week after week behind an offensive line that is simply not starting caliber NFL talent.

Then the Dolphins appear to be continuing with the obsession over a quarterback with disturbing off-the-field allegations hanging over him.


Why add the distraction when your locker room is already fracturing and the team itself is a dysfunctional mess?

Why not give your young quarterback – who has not played poorly by the way, some time to grow into the face of the franchise?

Why not add some weapons to the running back room and find some receivers that can actually stay on the field week-to-week?

The real question instead should be this.

Why should we continue to care about this team that does not care about itself?


Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at or call 954-791-8882


Thrive Fantasy takes away the hours of research required to make the most out of your fantasy sports experience. Thrive’s featured $100K guaranteed contest is only $20 to enter, and the first-place winner takes $20K.

Go to and use the promo code “5Fins” to match up to $100 on your first deposit when you sign up, and take advantage of your Dolphins knowledge to win big.

Five Reasons

The Five Reasons Sports NBA Preview: 14 Contributors Give Their Predictions

After the shortest offseason in NBA history followed by what seemed like the longest offseason in NBA history, NBA basketball is back this week!  Heat fans have enjoyed an exciting preseason, but now things are for real.  In the last weekend without basketball for eight months, Five Reasons Sports gathered thirteen “experts” (stop laughing) to make their season predictions.  If you want to join in yourself, we also started a fan poll so that you can make your predictions and we’ll save the receipts.  


Our 14 experts:  @RoyalAShepherd, @MateoMayorga23, @BryanIsTheKing, @ToineSpeaks, @Michael5RSN, @Kendale_11, @MarcoRomo_, @RickyJMarc, @TonySchwartzNBA, @BradyHawk305, @AdamNBorai, @GregSylvander, @GadielCartagena, and @SRochesterNBA.  


Eastern Conference Predictions:

Our experts were nearly unanimous on the Bucks taking the East’s top spot, with Marco going “lone wolf” on the Nets.  The panel was pretty clear on the Nets and Heat taking the 2nd and 3rd seeds, but the middle seeds were extremely mixed.  The Hawks took the 4th seed, and the Celtics just edged out the Sixers for the 5th seed.  After the top six, the panel seems to have a significant drop to a lower tier of teams with six different possibilities fighting for the play-in spots at 7th-10th.


Average Expert Rankings:

  1. Milwaukee Bucks (1.08)
  2. Brooklyn Nets (2.41)
  3. Miami Heat (3.50)
  4. Atlanta Hawks (5.00)
  5. Boston Celtics (5.58)
  6. Philadelphia 76ers (5.67)
  7. Chicago Bulls (7.3)
  8. New York Knicks (8.91)

Play-In Candidates (ranked in order of votes):  Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Hornets, and Washington Wizards


Eastern Conference Finals:

Royal: Bucks vs. Heat

Mateo: Bucks vs. Heat

Bryan:  Bucks vs. Nets

Toine:  Bucks vs. Heat

Michael:  Bucks vs. Heat

Kendale:  Bucks vs. Nets

Ricky:  Bucks vs. Nets

Tony:  Bucks vs. Heat

Sean:  Bucks vs. Nets

Brady:  Bucks vs. Heat

Adam:  Bucks vs. Nets

Gad:  Nets vs. Heat

Greg:  Bucks vs. Heat


Western Conference Predictions:

Unlike the Eastern Conference, our experts were torn on the best team in the west with each of our top four teams receiving 1st place votes.  The consensus seems to believe there is a clearly defined tier of four teams, followed by the Warriors, and then another tier of eight teams competing for the 6th-10th seeds.  


Average Expert Rankings:

  1. Los Angeles Lakers (2.25)
  2. Utah Jazz (2.58)
  3. Denver Nuggets (3.58)
  4. Phoenix Suns (3.91)
  5. Golden State Warriors (5.16)
  6. Dallas Mavericks (7.50)
  7. Portland Trailblazers (8.16)
  8. Los Angeles Clippers (8.25)

Play-In Candidates (ranked in order of votes):  Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Minnesota Timberwolves


Western Conference Finals:

Royal:  Lakers vs. Warriors

Mateo:  Lakers vs. Nuggets

Bryan:  Lakers vs. Warriors

Toine:  Lakers vs. Nuggets

Michael:  Lakers vs. Warriors

Kendale:  Lakers vs. Warriors

Marco:  Suns vs. Nuggets

Ricky:  Lakers vs. Nuggets

Tony:  Nuggets vs. Jazz

Sean:  Lakers vs. Suns

Brady:  Lakers vs. Suns

Adam:  Lakers vs. Nuggets

Gad:  Lakers vs. Suns

Greg: Lakers vs. Jazz


NBA Finals Predictions:

Royal:  Lakers vs. Heat

Mateo:  Lakers vs. Bucks

Bryan:  Lakers vs. Nets

Toine:  Lakers vs. Bucks

Michael:  Warriors vs. Heat

Kendale:  Lakers vs. Bucks

Marco:  Nuggets vs. Nets

Ricky:  Lakers vs. Bucks

Tony:  Nuggets vs. Heat

Sean:  Lakers vs. Nets

Brady:  Suns vs. Heat

Adam:  Lakers vs. Nets

Gad:  Lakers vs. Nets

Greg:  Lakers vs. Heat


NBA Champion:

Royal:  Heat

Mateo:  Lakers

Bryan:  Nets

Toine:  Lakers

Michael:  Warriors

Kendale:  Lakers

Marco:  Nets

Ricky:  Lakers

Tony:  Heat

Sean:  Nets

Brady:  Suns

Adam:  Lakers

Gad:  Nets

Greg:  Heat







Who Will Win 2021-2022 NBA MVP?

Royal:  Durant

Mateo:  Giannis

Bryan:  Giannis

Toine:  Harden

Kendale:  Jokic

Marco:  Jokic

Ricky:  Embiid

Tony:  Jokic

Sean:  Durant

Brady:  Giannis

Adam:  Luka

Gad:  Giannis

Greg:  Steph


Who Will Win 2021-2022 NBA Rookie of the Year?

Royal:  Jalen Green

Mateo:  Green

Bryan:  Green

Toine:  Green

Michael:  Jalen Suggs

Kendale:  Green

Marco:  Cade Cunningham

Ricky:  Cunningham

Tony:  Scottie Barnes

Sean:  Green

Brady:  Barnes

Adam:  Green

Gad:  Green

Greg:  Davion Mitchell


Who Will Win 2021-2022 NBA Most Improved Player?

Royal:  Michael Porter Jr.

Mateo:  Gary Trent Jr.

Bryan:  OG Anunoby

Toine:  OG

Michael:  Victor Oladipo

Kendale:  Porter Jr.

Marco:  OG

Ricky:  OG

Tony: OG

Sean:  Jordan Poole

Brady:  Christian Wood

Adam:  Dejounte Murray

Gad:  OG

Greg:  Poole


Who Will Win 2021-2022 NBA Sixth Man of the Year?
Royal:  Jordan Clarkson

Mateo:  Marcus Smart

Bryan:  Tyler Herro

Toine:  Herro

Michael:  Clarkson

Kendale:  Michael Porter Jr.

Marco:  Herro

Ricky:  Herro

Tony:  Herro

Sean:  Herro

Brady:  Herro

Adam:  Derrick Rose

Gad:  Herro

Greg:  Herro


Who Will Win 2021-2022 NBA Defensive Player of the Year?

Royal:  Bam Adebayo

Mateo:  Bam

Bryan:  Bam

Toine:  Anthony Davis

Michael:  Bam

Kendale:  Bam

Marco:  Bam

Ricky:  Bam

Tony:  Giannis

Sean:  Bam

Brady:  Rudy Gobert

Adam:  Bam

Gad:  Davis

Greg:  Bam


Who Will Win 2021-2022 NBA Coach of the Year?
Royal:  Erik Spoelstra

Mateo:  Frank Vogel

Bryan:  Vogel

Toine:  Steve Nash

Michael:  Spoelstra

Kendale:  Ime Udoka

Marco:  Michael Malone

Ricky:  Spoelstra

Tony:  Spoelstra

Sean:  Spoelstra

Brady:  Monty Williams

Adam:  Michael Malone

Gad:  Malone

Greg:  Spoelstra







Who Will Be the Best Player Traded This Season?

Royal:  CJ McCollum

Mateo:  Ben Simmons

Bryan:  Simmons

Toine:  Domantas Sabonis

Michael:  McCollum

Kendale:  Brandon Ingram

Marco:  Kristaps Porzingis

Ricky:  Kyrie Irving

Tony:  Simmons

Sean:  Myles Turner

Brady:  Simmons

Adam:  Simmons

Gad:  Simmons

Greg:  Bradley Beal


Who Will Be The 1st NBA Head Coach Fired?

Royal:  Vogel

Mateo:  Chris Finch

Bryan:  Luke Walton

Toine:  Walton

Michael:  Scott Brooks

Kendale:  Walton

Marco:  Walton

Ricky:  Popovich (retire)

Tony:  Dwayne Casey

Sean:  Walton

Brady:  Walton

Adam:  Walton

Gad:  Walton

Greg:  Wes Unseld Jr.


Will Kyrie Irving Play For The Nets This Season?

Royal:  No

Mateo:  Yes

Bryan:  Yes

Toine:  Yes

Michael:  Yes

Kendale:  Yes

Marco:  Yes

Ricky:  No

Tony:  Yes

Sean:  Yes

Brady:  No

Adam:  Yes

Gad:  Yes

Greg:  Yes


Will Ben Simmons Play For The Sixers This Season?

Royal:  Yes

Mateo:  Yes

Bryan:  Yes

Toine:  Yes

Michael:  Yes

Kendale:  Yes

Marco:  No

Ricky:  Yes

Tony:  Yes

Sean:  No

Brady:  Yes

Adam:  Yes

Gad:  Yes

Greg:  No

Road to the Orange Bowl: Cincinnati needs to make it to the CFP

Oooooh the rich, creamy, delicious irony that the Central Florida Golden Knights — known for bucking the establishment by naming themselves national champions after beating the team who beat the team that won the national championship game — lost to the team with the best chance of finally representing the Group of 5 in the college football playoff.

Cincinnati rose to No. 2 after dominating UCF 56-21 this past week. Running back Jerome Ford looked like a Heisman candidate after rushing for 189 yards and four touchdowns, one of which went for 79 yards. The Bearcats scored 35 unanswered points in the first half and by the time the game was finally over, Cincy would have amassed 336 rushing yards. 

Both UCF and Cincinnati will join the ranks of the Power Five next season once they ditch the American Athletic Conference for the Big 12 but for now, a chance at history is there for the taking. 

Half of the conferences have been oppressed by the system and disqualified from competing for a national title well before the first kickoff of the season. Any team from the WAC, C-USA, MAC, Sun Belt, Mountain West and AAC with a perfect record were roundly dismissed by the gatekeepers of the crystal ball and golden scepter. The strength of schedule were instant argument enders no mater how high the margin of victory was. 

Even Cincinnati, at a time when it was considered members of a power conference, were left out in 2009 despite a perfect record. Had Texas lost to Nebraska in the Big 12 title game that year, or there were four playoff spots like there is now, would the Bearcats been given a fair shake? Hopefully we will find out this year. 

Cincinnati’s path to the playoff was two years in the making. The Bearcats had to establish their credibility last season by going 9-0 and coming close against Georgia in the Peach Bowl. Beating Notre Dame in a landslide this year backs up their best attempt to dominate their conference and remain in the top 4. 

Boise State crawled for a decade so that UCF could power walk so that Cincinnati could sprint towards being the first Group of 5 program with a legitimate chance at the national championship.

The path for the Bearcats seems clear with No. 21 SMU being the only team left on the schedule with a winning record. 

Realignment over the years

It’s amazing to look back and see how far college football has come in the last 18 years. In 2003, Boise State was trying to break through the glass ceiling in the WAC, which had SMU and Tulsa at the time. The ACC had 9 teams and five future members were in the Big East with Rutgers, West Virginia and Temple. The Miami Hurricanes could dominate the Big East but not the ACC Coastal? Cincinnati was in the C-USA with a lot of members of the AAC including Louisville and TCU. Meanwhile UCF, for some unknown reason, was in the MAC. New Mexico State and Idaho were in the Sun Belt before and after being in the WAC. Those were funny times. 

Miami and Virginia Tech joined the ACC in 2004. Boston College followed in 2005, opening the door for Cincinnati, Louisville, UConn and South Florida to join the Big East. FIU and FAU began as FBS programs, joining the Sun Belt. TCU joined the Mountain West in 2006 as the WAC and C-USA took familiar form.

2011-2013 saw a major shift in the landscape. You look up and the Pac-10 has 12 teams now, the Big 12 no longer has 12 teams, the Mountain West all but completely absorb the WAC the same way the ACC absorbed the Big East. The C-USA of the previous decade spawned the AAC that’s here today. What’s left of the C-USA took a handful of Sun Belt teams while that conference replenished itself with eventual newcomers. 

The same thing will happen in the near future. The SEC will be an even bigger monster with the edition of Texas and Oklahoma. The Big 12 will finally have 12 teams again with the addition of Cincinnati, UCF, BYU and Houston. Ironically, the two west coast conferences, the Pac-12 and Mountain West, have remained the most consistent. 

By the time this new shift of college football realignment is done, the playoff will have no choice but to expand.

Five Preseason Notes to Take Into Miami Heat’s Regular Season

We’ve reached the end of the Miami Heat preseason and South Florida sports fans couldn’t be happier. Miami has now played an entire regular season, postseason, and almost a whole preseason before the one-year anniversary of their Finals defeat. While preseason records are not indicative of what’s to come; there are some things you can take from these games. General playing style, rotations, and placement of roles are a few that tend to bleed into the regular season. I’ll be taking a look at a few of these examples and others that especially caught my eye throughout most of the games. Some of these will definitely excite Heat fans, but there are a couple of worrisome spots as well.


1: Tyler Herro’s Added Strength Helping His Jumper


One of the big stories coming into Miami Heat Media Day was the newly chiseled Tyler Herro. The former Kentucky Guard is out to prove a point this season. While you see many stories of guys gaining muscle during the offseason, nothing much comes from it once the games get started. “Muscle Watch” only goes as far as the player implements it into their actual play. For Herro, he’s already shown how beneficial the new weight has been for his play. One thing that caught my attention was how his lower body strength has improved an already pretty jump shot. You can see how much easier it is for Tyler to shoot coming off of screens now.

Last season (black jersey, mirrored above) he needed to dip lower in order to get more power. Now (white jersey) you can see how much easier it is for him to immediately go into the pull-up; no longer needing to exert as much strength.

The newly added lower body and core strength also help Herro get a higher apex on his jump shot. One of the shortcomings many had for Tyler out of college was his wingspan. It has been said that he can negate that with the height he possesses.

Now with the added height, he’s added it will be even easier for him to shoot over defenders. He’s making the game easier for himself and has led to great results so far. Hopefully, it continues into the regular season.


2: Selective Pace


During the opening of Media Day, Coach Spoelstra talked about the pace that Kyle Lowry would bring to Miami. Heat fans and media employees scoffed at the idea due to how slow the Heat have played since 2014. However, pace doesn’t always mean playing like the 2007 Golden State Warriors. Pace can also mean getting into sets quicker, attacking in semi-transition, or constant movement at a consistent rate.

Kyle Lowry has already shown how much he’s going to help in all of these phases. The various ways he can attack in transition and semi-transition are akin to what I remember Dwyane Wade and LeBron James did. Lowry is not the athlete that those two were, but the way he manipulates space and reads defenders is very similar. He has shown his mastery at reading the exact moment defenses start to relax in transition and exploiting it for easy baskets.

Lowry knows some of the players, including himself, on the team won’t be able to run throughout a regular season. That’s why he’s been selective in the opportunities so far. Veterans play to the team’s strengths and fans shouldn’t worry about running out of gas late in the season. It’s a nice change of pace to have a team getting into sets faster instead of waiting until 15 seconds on the shot clock.







3: Backup Point Guard – Tyler Herro or Gabe Vincent?


Once again going back to Media Day, Gabe Vincent talked about the expectation of having more ball-handling duties. After the preseason it still feels like those backup point guard duties might be leaning the way of  Tyler Herro. While Gabe Vincent has shown he can be semi-capable in this role, Herro has shown so much improvement with his on-ball reps that it’s hard to argue with him not having the ball in his hands more.

Miami may have had a plan to give Gabe more responsibility, it looks like Herro’s newfound ways of attacking pick-and-rolls might have won him the defacto backup PG role. I imagine Lowry or Butler will be on the floor 98 percent of the time and the need for a definitive backup won’t be much of an issue. Hopefully, Vincent can focus on getting his jumper going to help the assist numbers of Herro early on.


4: The Markieff Morris Question


Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat have had a great track record of helping journeymen stretch 4s find their footing in the league. Players like Luke Babbitt, Okaro White, James Johnson, and Jae Crowder have had great success within the Heat system. However, Markieff Morris seems to be struggling to find what type of role he’ll be in early on. It is early but the returns are not strong so far.

Morris appears to be a player who’s best suited as a small-ball 5 on a team that already has a solid backup 5 in Dewayne Dedmon. It doesn’t hurt to have lineup versatility, but Morris isn’t good enough as a small 5 to warrant much hoopla. Markieff’s role will hopefully be figured out, or it seems much more likely Miami will be looking to add a different 4. Someone in the vein of Thaddeus Young to help during the buyout market or trade deadline most likely.


5: Bam Adebayo’s Score-First Mentality


We all heard the comments that Bam Adebayo made that he’ll look to be a shooter this season. The early returns after a full preseason lineup with those remarks. Adebayo averaged 18.7 FGA 7.4 FTA per 36 minutes in the dress rehearsals. Compare that to his 20-21 averages of 12.5 FGA and 5.5 FTA, it’s quite an uptick. Not only are his eyes focused on the rim at all times, but his teammates are constantly looking for him. Kyle Lowry has especially been a big part of Adebayo’s uptick in shots. It’s astonishing watching Lowry look for his big man on quick seals and transition opportunities. He’s using the athletic weapon on the Heat roster to his fullest powers.

Lowry is finally unleashing the big advantages that have been there for years for Miami. I expect Lowry to help Adebayo in the same way Chris Paul did DeAndre Ayton this past season. There will be some warts to deal with as well. Bam has had trouble finishing off self-created opportunities in the preseason. He has also health with his share of turnovers when his initial move is cut off. These sorts of issues should get ironed out with more reps and it will be fun when they do. It will be his first season truly being utilized in this role, so you can’t blame him for needing constant reps. He’s in for a big year and the Heat will go as far as he takes them.


Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at EverythingTradeShows or call 954-791-8882


Fresh Perspective: Dolphins downfall is lack of veteran leadership

The Miami Dolphins are officially lower than they’ve ever been during the Brian Flores era. In 2019, it was excusable because the entire point of that season was to strip the roster down and start over from scratch. Miami went 5-11, and somehow should have been worse than that. However, the young players on the team overachieved behind Flores’s coaching, and there was hope for the future.

In 2020, the Dolphins signed a lot of expensive free agents, including veteran linebacker Kyle Van Noy, guard Ereck Flowers, and cornerback Byron Jones. Miami’s defense was a force to be reckoned with that season, and they went 10-6 with nowhere to go but up.

Or so everyone thought.

Now here they are in 2021. The expectations were through the roof. The Dolphins were supposed to compete for the playoffs this season. Right now, they are essentially the worst team in the NFL, losing to the formerly winless Jacksonville Jaguars in London.

True, the Detroit Lions are still winless as of the time of this story, but based on the overall performance and decision making, there’s no question. Miami is the worst, and no one inside the organization has any answers for why.

“It starts with me.” Coach Flores said after the game. “I’m not doing a good enough job getting these guys ready to play. Not playing consistently enough, we’re not coaching well enough. We’re not playing well enough, we’re just not playing consistently enough. I mean, it’s in spurts. We had a couple – some positive plays, consistent ball in the first half, even a little bit in the second half. But we’re just not putting it together, and that starts with me.”

That’s the sentiment Flores has given for the past few weeks. It starts with him. Execution is bad. They’ll watch the tape and evaluate. And yet, every week, they promise to do better and they don’t. One has to wonder why that is. Why are the Miami Dolphins incapable of putting it all together when it counts? What has changed from last season to this one?

One easy answer? Veteran leadership.





Experience Matters

Examining the Dolphins roster reveals a very telling reality. Miami only has three players in their 30s. Those players are 34-year old DB Jason McCourty – a free agent signing from New England, 32-year old DT John Jenkins – who is in his second stint with the Dolphins, and 30-year old OL Jesse Davis.

If you count DE Jabaal Sheard on the practice squad, then you can make the count to four.

Veteran leadership, that’s what Miami is missing. Aside from McCourty, it’s hard to pinpoint players on this team that can be considered true mentor types. Which means that the Dolphins are relying entirely on the coaching staff to get these young and inexperienced players ready week in and week out. That is not a wise move. In fact, one could argue it speaks to a certain arrogance and hubris that the coaches believe they don’t need veteran players to be successful. They traded mental acuity and experience for raw talent and athleticism.

That strategy only works if the coaching staff is elite at developing players. So far, there’s no indication of that being the case. The amount of turnover among the assistant coaches also doesn’t help matters. That’s where having a veteran presence on the active roster helps drastically. Having players who have been around the block more than once and know what to expect on Sunday is a factor that is regularly overlooked.

These past two seasons, the de facto veteran of the team was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. No one dared question his intelligence, and the team often followed his lead. He wasn’t a superstar by any stretch, but everyone wanted him to tutor Tua Tagovailoa, share his knowledge and experience with the Alabama standout. But why? If Fitzpatrick isn’t an elite player, why would anyone care if he taught Tagovailoa or not?

Because experience does matter. Fitzpatrick is good, not great. But the fact he’s lasted this long and is still in the conversation to be a starting quarterback is proof positive that experience is valuable. Either as a player, or a coach.

Miami’s philosophy demands execution above all else. All 11 players need to perform for plays to turn out the way they should. If not, then things tend to fall apart. But that level of execution comes with NFL experience. With the likes of Van Noy, Flowers and others gone, the Dolphins are relying on talented – but young – players to pick up the slack. Unfortunately, they just aren’t there yet. They’re making mental mistakes, like Brandon Jones rushing in to down the wide receiver, letting Jacksonville call timeout with one second left to kick the game-winning field goal. Veteran players would know to leave him alone until the clock ticks down to force overtime.

Jones, and many others, are very talented players. But Miami can’t afford to wait for them to stop making those small, mental errors.

Around the League

Looking at other teams around the league, many of the top teams feature vast amounts of experience either in the coaching staff, the roster, or both. The most obvious example is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are currently 5-1. Head coach Bruce Arians is now the oldest coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl at age 68. His resume is impressive, and his ability as a coach is unquestioned.

As for the roster itself? The Buccaneers have 20 players (including practice squad and injured reserve) over the age of 30. QB Tom Brady (44 years old) is the headliner, but other notable veterans include DT Ndamukong Suh (34), CB Richard Sherman (33), WR Antonio Brown (33), OLB Jason Pierre-Paul (32), ILB Lavonte David (31), OL Ryan Jensen (30), and more. Essentially, a bunch of old guys got together and decided to show the young players of the NFL how it’s done. And they did.

The 5-1 Baltimore Ravens have had John Harbaugh coaching them since 2008, and he always seems to hire experienced assistants to handle both the offense and the defense. Also, Baltimore features 16 players over 30 on their active roster. Notable ones include DE Calais Campbell (35), OT Alejandro Villanueva (33), and RB Latavius Murray (31).

The Dallas Cowboys are on a roll this season under Mike McCarthy, who is in his 15th year as a head coach in the NFL. He brought in Dan Quinn, who is well known for his intelligence as a defensive coach and has some head coaching experience of his own, to be the defensive coordinator. The roster features eight players over 30, including offensive linemen Tyron Smith (30) and Zack Martin (30).

The currently undefeated Arizona Cardinals have 18 players over the age of 30. LB Chandler Jones is 31 years old, OT Kelvin Beachum is 32, DE J.J. Watt is 32, WR A.J. Green is 33, and so on.

The Buffalo Bills have nine players over 30. How about the Los Angeles Chargers who have 10? The Green Bay Packers have eight.

While many of these players aren’t as good as they used to be in their prime (Watt and Green stand out), they do have valuable experience they can impart to the young up and comers. Experience like that can’t come from a coach. It’s different coming from a teammate. Most good NFL franchises know how important having that veteran presence is for young players. There’s a reason Bill Belichick keeps bringing back his old players even when they don’t play well in their new homes. That experience in the system is invaluable, which Kyle Van Noy proves.

Brian Flores and the Miami Dolphins have chosen to disregard this.

The Dolphins Solution

The question now is simply this: If Miami had more older players, would they be better off? Maybe yes, and maybe no. Again, having older players doesn’t guarantee success. However, having experienced, proven players does. Ask the LA Rams how they view first round draft picks. They’re just ammunition to trade for players like CB Jalen Ramsey.

If the Dolphins had prioritized keeping veteran players along the offensive line instead of trusting in the young, inexperienced talent, the Dolphins may not have lost Tua Tagovailoa for three weeks. Miami basically paid OL Ereck Flowers to leave, and now he’s a solid guard for the Washington Football Team. Almost immediately after the Dolphins released Kyle Van Noy, he was re-signed back in New England and is back doing what he did to get paid in the first place. LB Benardrick McKinney was acquired and released in the same offseason, in spite of how well he played as a run-stopping linebacker. Miami now has one of the worst run defenses in the NFL.

Strangely enough, there’s still hope for the Dolphins. The Detroit Lions have Taylor Decker, a solid left tackle. And the Lions need wide receiver help. Miami could send DeVante Parker and a pick to Detroit and instantly shore up that side of the line if Decker stays healthy. Veteran right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is still available and is a stabilizing presence on the other side of the offensive line. He too is an injury risk, but is very good when healthy.

Having those veterans helps the likes of Liam Eichenberg and Austin Jackson immensely. Let them learn the game, instead of forcing them to start before they’re ready. Next season, there are some veteran offensive linemen who will be free agents. The Dolphins should prioritize signing a few to protect Tagovailoa, regardless of who the coach is. Find assistant coaches who know what they’re doing, and veteran players who are proven producers. It isn’t as hard as it looks.


Maybe Brian Flores, if he stays, can convince Dante Scarnecchia to come out of retirement again. That would be a huge boon for the offensive line. Maybe he can bring back Jim Caldwell to be the offensive coordinator if he’s healthy again, or someone like Mike Mularkey or Mike Shula. All of these coaches have experience and a proven track record. That’s what Flores needs more than anything.

If Flores gets fired, then whoever the next choice is, they will hopefully understand the importance of veteran leadership. Youth is fine, but only when tempered by experience.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for seven years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at or call 954-791-8882


Thrive Fantasy takes away the hours of research required to make the most out of your fantasy sports experience. Thrive’s featured $100K guaranteed contest is only $20 to enter, and the first-place winner takes $20K.

Go to and use the promo code “5Fins” to match up to $100 on your first deposit when you sign up, and take advantage of your Dolphins knowledge to win big.

Mateo’s Hoop Diary: Zion Williamson, Thicker Than Most

A basketball looks more aerodynamic than Zion Williamson.  Since his days at Duke, he’s punished the scales whenever stepping on them as his 6’7 frame carries 284 pounds of “reported” diesel.   


One of the dilemmas with New Orleans’ star forward pushing maximum density is he is not a 7-footer, despite being an athletic marvel.  Even if he was a pivot, weighing so much is not necessary.  It doesn’t take a medical professional to point out the extra armor he is carrying on to the court is probably slowing him down and causing unnecessary stress on his lower body. 


With respect to Williamson, he may have developed the extra mass while rehabilitating from injuries, which has resulted in him playing 85 games in two seasons.  Yet, there were questions about his durability when he entered the league.  His participation in Summer League didn’t last 10 minutes before bruising his left knee.  He also tore his right meniscus in his rookie preseason, which caused a postponement for his real debut until January of 2020.


On draft night 2019, Williamson was listed at 285 pounds.  It was an alarming number then, but he managed to get away with it as his arms still looked massive and defined.  At media day on *Sept. 27,* #1 posed for a photo, spinning a ball on his fingertips, but the image captured is knight-and-day when it’s observed next to the same picture taken two years ago. 


Williamson’s face looks puffier, and his arms aren’t as chiseled, but somehow he is still listed at the same weight of his rookie season. He’s rehabbing again, but this time for a surgery he had on his right foot during the summer, which will cause him to miss the start of the team’s campaign.  There is no timetable for a return, per ESPN.  


I don’t claim to be a doctor, but with an ailment to his extremities limiting him, maybe Williamson should work on abdominal exercises to slim down his waist.  One would think less weight up top means fewer issues downstairs. 


In 2021, Williamson earned All-Star honors.  Of the 27 players who received the title, Williamson was the heaviest, and he is the height of a guard and small forward.   







For Williamson and the Pelicans, the upcoming campaign has enormous expectations.  In his first two seasons, New Orleans had a realistic chance of making the playoffs, despite the extensive time their star forward missed or with the addition of the league mulligan known as the play-in-tournament. 


 In both tries, Nola failed to reach the postseason, and the coaches’ heads rolled after each of those years.  The Pelicans needed a fresh start after Alvin Gentry.  David Griffin miscalculated when he hired Stan Van Gundy as his replacement.  First-year head coach Willie Green now holds command, and the anvil placed on his shoulders this year is massive.  


With Williamson eligible for a contract extension at season’s end, it’s imperative for the Pelicans to grab a playoff spot without competing in the play-in-tournament.  New Orleans’ worst-case scenario would be if Williamson refuses a new deal and shows a willingness to enter restricted free agency in summer 2023. A hot start and continued success might be the only way the Pelicans can avoid such a fate, but the odds are stacked against them as long as Williamson isn’t available.   

Breaking down potential power play lines for the Florida Panthers

During the 2020-2021 NHL season, the Florida Panther’s power play was average at best. By the end of the season the Cats finished right in the middle of the league as the 15th best power play with a 20.53% conversion rate. Come playoff time the power play percentage jumped up, seeing the team go 27.27% from the man advantage, getting six goals in 22 attempts during the first round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. As the 2021-2022 season approaches, the power play is going to look a little different from the end of the previous season. I’m going to talk about a few different options the Panther’s can run on the power play this season.

After Aaron Ekblad was sidelined for the season from injury, the Panther’s special teams looked lost on the 5-on-4. Keith Yandle had to reassume the role of power play quarterback and it didn’t go too well. Florida’s zone entries were extremely predictable; Yandle would carry the puck from behind the net, make a telegraphed drop pass from the far blueline and hope that the other team wouldn’t know what was happening for the hundredth time that season. When the Panthers were able to enter the zone, they often tried to force cross ice passes that often got intercepted. There were a handful of games that saw the Panthers concede short handed goals from their lackluster “man advantage”.

Five Top Picks

This season, the Panthers once again have Ekblad as their power play QB and Yandle has taken his services to Philadelphia. With that, the top power play unit will look different. No team in the NHL can field what Florida can on the PP; put five top-four draft picks on the ice at once. After acquiring Sam Reinhart in the off-season, Florida could put Aaron Ekblad (1st overall, 2014), Aleksander Barkov (2nd overall, 2013) Sam Reinhart (2nd overall, 2014), Jonathan Huberdeau (3rd overall, 2011) and Sam Bennett (4th overall, 2014) all on the power play at the same time. Florida had run this five man PP unit in practice during training camp, and according to George Richards of Florida Hockey Now, “it looks scary good”.

While running this rotation, Barkov would be your center, Huberdeau would be on  one of the wings and Ekblad would be the lone man on the blue line. One of Reinhart or Bennett would start the power play on the point and slide to the end boards once the Panthers retain control of the puck. This would have one guy at the point, two along the end boards on the wing, one guy in front of the net, who should be Bennett because of his size and one guy below the goal line who creeps towards the front of the net. I’d want to see Huberdeau down here because of his craftiness with the puck in tight spaces. 

Obviously on the man advantage there’s more space, which will have the players moving consistently, but this basic type of “umbrella” power play allows for shots to be fired from all angles of the ice and have one to two players crashing for rebounds in front of the crease.

The addition of Reinhart is going to be deadly for the Cats while running this set. After scoring 20 plus goals for five seasons in Buffalo, the 25-year-old will feast when he has Huberdeau, Ekblad and Barkov feeding him pucks in the slot. If you watched Reinhart throughout his 

career, you could see how good of a shot he has. On the other side you’ll have the captain Barkov, who is always dangerous with the puck. Since Barkov can shoot and pass without hesitation, he’s going to draw the attention of the other team’s penalty killers, which could leave a Panther open. At the top they’ll have Ekblad walking the blue line trying to find open players and shooting lanes. Before his injury last season, he had 11 power play points in 35 games. 





Second Unit

Despite having so much fire power on the first unit, they can’t stay on the ice for the full duration of the powerplay. Luckily Florida is so deep at the forward position they’ll be able to put out a second power play unit that wouldn’t miss a beat. Carter Verhaeghe is going to be a mainstay on the powerplay this year for Florida after scoring 36 points in 43 games last season. Alongside him I would put Owen Tippett and Frank Vatrano on the ice. Tippett has become more confident in his game since making the jump into Florida’s top-six last season, playing on a line with Huberdeau and Bennett. Like Reinhart from unit one, Tippett can snipe the puck, which is why he will be on the wing for this PP. Vatrano’s speed and ability to score in clutch situations will pair nicely with Verhaeghe, so he will be on the opposite wing from Tippett.

Up front there’s two options I would consider looking at right now. The first one is Patric Hornqvist. When Hornqvist joined the team last season, he brought something that the powerplay didn’t previously have. A feisty net front presence. Nothing gets under a goalie’s skin more than someone who is sitting at the top of their crease and screening them while they try to track the puck. Hornqvist does exactly that and it fires up the rest of the team to keep pushing for opportunities in front of goal. Another option here would be Anthony Duclair. With his foot speed and skill with the puck, zone entries on the rush would be extremely efficient with Duclair on the power play. While he doesn’t bring that net front presence like Hornqvist, he will have more skill with the puck in the lower areas of the zone, which could help open up the other players.

For the defenseman on this unit, there are quite a few options. Florida has given Brandon Montour a few looks on the power play last season and in practice this year. He is good at jumping in the rush and controlling the puck in the offensive zone. MacKenzie Weegar could also be in consideration at some point during the season on the power play. Weegar has continued to elevate his game on both sides of the puck, and is becoming more of an offensive threat at this point in his career after scoring 36 points last season. Put him at the top of this power play unit and I see him filling out a similar role to Ekblad on PP1, quarterback of the powerplay. He looks more and more like a top defenseman and his confidence is through the roof, this could be a good move for Florida. Another player I wouldn’t count out here is Gustav Forsling. If Florida is running one defenseman on this power play unit I don’t think Forsling would get the nod over Weegar or Montour, but if they wanted to run two defenseman, his speed kills and it would make offensive zone entries and defensive transitions a lot easier for the Panthers. 

The quality of players Florida has on their roster truly makes their special teams combinations endless. I had mentioned 13 players as potential guys to look for on the power play this year and I kept the likes of Anton Lundell and Joe Thornton off the list, both of whom could potentially find some PP time during the season. Florida is going to have two very skilled power play units to cycle through this year.

Mateo’s Hoop Diary: Living on Irving Island

It won’t be a surprise if Kyrie Irving‘s attitude costs the Nets their best chance at a championship. To date, Nash has defended Irving in front of the press, but the former two-time MVP’s patience is tested every day while he supports the star guard’s decision to avoid the COVID-19 vaccine.


Whenever Brooklyn’s coach addresses media inquiries about Irving’s status, his body language screams he would rather be anywhere else than answering questions about a man who does not respect his instructor. 


Teammates have not thrown him under the bus either despite Irving’s unacceptable actions.  But GM Sean Marks drew a line in the sand with his statement Tuesday that Irving will not practice or play until he can be a full-time participant, per the Athletic. 


Management’s ultimatum puts the ball in Irving’s hands to do the right thing.  Still, his reluctance to do what everyone else on the team has done is a distraction and an indication that Irving is a walking contradiction.  


Brooklyn’s lead guard is known for acts of generosity.  He has given six-figure donations to food banks and personal protective gear to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe during the pandemic, where he is an honorary member, and for his support of women’s professional basketball.  These initiatives paint the picture of a man who is not afraid to show empathy, but his anti-vaccination stance and the ramifications that come with it counter his good deeds.  


The pandemic has claimed the lives of 4.5 million people worldwide, but Irving thinks taking the shot or even revealing he has is a personal matter.  He even whined that his privacy should be respected.  It would be nice if Irving could explain to everyone why all those dead people are a partisan issue beneath him.  Unfortunately, it will probably never happen because when Irving is tested on anything, he goes off on a pseudo-intellectual rant that’s almost incomprehensible. 






He’s the same guy who thought it was hilarious because the fans and media were curious why he said the earth was flat four years ago.  He did not understand that as a public figure, unfortunately, people will listen to what he has to say just because he dribbles a basketball.  Worse yet, some will think that a man who went to school on an athletic scholarship for a semester before going pro is a revolutionary thinker.   


Thus far, the mercurial guard has missed the first three preseason games.  The first in Los Angeles was a coaching decision. The second exhibition was in Brooklyn against Milwaukee, where he couldn’t play because of New York City ordinance. The third was in Philadelphia and he was not with the team.  These games are relatively meaningless and count only for making sure the players aren’t fat and that teammates develop timing and chemistry.  


The regular season is approaching on Oct. 19, and there is no sign that he will vaccinate.  If that’s the game #11 wants to play, the Nets should fine him for every game he misses.  Executive Director of the Players Association Michele Roberts told the New York Daily News the Players Union did not agree to dock pay for missed games for an athlete who is not vaccinated, but that it is the position of the league that it can.  


The Nets should fine him anyway.  If the Players Union has an issue with that, then both parties should settle it in court.  If it gets there, Brooklyn’s conscience should be clear.  Irving made it ugly.