Tag Archives: Sports Opinion

Predicting the NBA Eastern Conference standings

The 2022 offseason saw many teams in the NBA Eastern Conference improve significantly. Most of the teams were actively looking to upgrade different spots on their teams. Many high-level free agents resigned with their current teams on big contracts. Zach LaVine was one of the most notable players to stay in his city, signing a new 5-year contract to commit his future to the Chicago Bulls. Another player loyal to his city was Darius Garland, who signed a multi-year contract extension in Cleveland to stay with the Cavaliers. Meanwhile, the months after the free agency frenzy involved a lot of trades; the most notable one occurred on September 1, 2022, when the Jazz sent All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland. Incredible talent and many good teams make this conference challenging to predict. 

1: Boston Celtics (Prediction: 54-28) 

Coming in as the No. 1 seed, we have the Boston Celtics, who come into this season as the defending Eastern Conference Champions. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart headline the talent returning to a team who lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games in the NBA Finals. They also traded for 2016-17 Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon to add some crucial depth they missed last season. A big blow is Danilo Gallinari, another notable acquisition that is unfortunately out for the season with a torn ACL. Although it’s a challenge, Boston has high-level talent at every position. Second-year coach Ime Udoka can lead this team to great things, as proved by his ability to take Boston to the finals last season. He’s the right coach for the city of Boston and for this Celtics team. It won’t surprise me if the Celtics get off to a really good start. They’ll be the No. 1 seed, but I don’t think they’ll get out of a loaded Eastern Conference. 

2: Cleveland Cavaliers (52-30)

Next, we visit Cleveland, where the Cavaliers currently have one of the best young cores in the NBA. Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, and Jarrett Allen are returning to a team who lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the Play-In tournament last season. When you add a player of Donovan Mitchell’s caliber into the fold, you’re in an even better spot than before, and the expectations are only getting higher. Mobley and Allen showed massive potential in the front court last season and could be one of the best front-court duos in the NBA in the next five seasons. Both of those guys need to increase their production this season, especially Allen, who is in the second season of a 5 year $100m contract extension. Mitchell joins Garland in a suddenly loaded backcourt, and the Cavs could potentially have four starters in the All-Star game in Utah in February 2023. This Cavs team is loaded but isn’t experienced enough to win the East. 

3: Milwaukee Bucks (51-31)

It wouldn’t shock me if the Bucks and the Cavs swapped places in the standings at the end of the season. The Bucks are coming off a disappointing exit in the second round at the hands of the Celtics. This is a big season for head coach Mike Budenholzer. While he won a championship in 2021, he needs to go far into the playoffs, or he could lose his job. Milwaukee’s veteran core, which isn’t getting younger, is in a prime position to contend. Jrue Holiday, who was a difference maker in the Finals against the Suns and has played a considerable role since coming to Milwaukee, turned 32 years old in June. Khris Middleton, who missed the entire second-round series against the Celtics with an MCL sprain in his knee, is 31 and is coming off surgery on his left wrist in July. Time is running out, and if Giannis Antetokounmpo, who turns 28 in early December, wants to win a ring, this is the year. The Bucks need to go far, and they will go far because their experience will be crucial in the later rounds. 

4: Philadelphia 76ers (51-31)

In Philadelphia, the vibes are good. PJ Tucker was the most notable free agency signing as he signed a 3-year $32m contract on the first day of free agency. They also signed Danuel House, who was notably kicked out of the 2020 NBA Bubble for multiple hours having a guest in his hotel room. Daryl Morey executed an excellent draft night trade as he traded the 23rd pick in the draft and Danny Green to the Memphis Grizzlies for De’Anthony Melton, who had a significant impact off the bench for the Grizzlies last season. Joel Embiid has to stay healthy if the Sixers want to go far. Embiid, a dominating force in the previous season, came up big in some playoff games, although he struggled with injuries. If this sixers team doesn’t make it out of the second round, I think it’ll spell the end for Doc Rivers. As a Sixers fan myself, I have been very critical of his decisions in recent years, and most recently, he left Embiid in a lopsided elimination game for too long. Embiid suffered a mild concussion and a right orbital fracture against the Raptors in the series-clinching Game 6 and wasn’t 100% in the next series against the Heat. I sense that in the offseason, the Sixers will be looking for a new head coach. 

5: Miami Heat (51-31)

The Heat are among the favorites to win the Eastern Conference. I could see them challenging the Cavs for second place this season and maybe even challenging Boston for the regular season title. Tyler Herro will be eager to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke. Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Omer Yurtseven will all hope to prove they can build on last season. In terms of developing talent, Miami is among the best teams in the NBA. It’s easy to see why Erik Spoelstra has won multiple Coach of the Year awards. I think Miami will take a step back because of the talent in the East, but they’ll be fighting for first place until the end of the season. 

6: Atlanta Hawks (49-33)

This Hawks team has turned a corner under Nate McMillan. When he was hired as the interim coach, I was unconvinced he could bring the best out of a young core that included Trae Young and John Collins. However, the Hawks roared back, going 27-11 in their last 38 games and making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. They took a step back last season as they went 43-39 and were bounced in the first round by Miami. Dejounte Murray takes an already good backcourt to another level. The expectations will be high in the ATL, but with the talented teams in the East, it’s going to be hard to get the top seed in the conference. 

7: Brooklyn Nets (47-35)

This Nets team is an utter mess. While Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are scary for other groups to go against because of their scoring abilities, they don’t play well together and don’t play a lick of defense. The Nets traded for Ben Simmons but didn’t play a game and were a spectator as the Nets embarrassed themselves last season by being the only team in the NBA to get swept out of the playoffs after losing to Boston in the first round. The Kevin Durant trade request shocked the basketball world, but he decided to stay in Brooklyn after months of trade rumors which refused to die down until he decided to stay. I still don’t know why Steve Nash is employed by the Nets. The man refuses to coach and doesn’t hold players accountable, and his team was swept out of the playoffs embarrassingly. It’s going to be a long season in Brooklyn. 

8: Charlotte Hornets (43-39)

It’s been an offseason of turbulence in Charlotte. First, James Borrego was fired after another disappointing season ended with another loss in the opening round of the Play-In Tournament. Then, they thought they had hired Kenny Atkinson off of Steve Kerr’s staff in Golden State to try and turn them around, only for Atkinson to back out of the agreement and remain in the Bay Area. And in the most stunning development outside of free agency, starting forward Miles Bridges, who was eligible for a contract extension, was arrested in Los Angeles this summer on charges of domestic violence. They rehired Steve Clifford to be their head coach, which I still don’t understand. He’ll keep them in these play-in spots but not any higher. 

9: Washington Wizards (42-40)

After a disappointing end to the season, this Wizards team needs to find out who they really are. We praised him at the start of the season when the Wiz were flying high, but Wes Unseld Jr. has a lot to learn. He made several bad substitutions last season and didn’t call timeouts promptly. Bradley Beal returns to headline a young team that has potential. Daniel Gafford needs to prove that he can produce consistently in a conference loaded with talented bigs. The wizards could sneak into the last Play-In Spot. 

10: Chicago Bulls (41-41)

The Bulls have a significant problem. They can’t beat good teams and lost in five games to the Bucks. Granted, Billy Donovan is a good coach, but Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan can only do so much, and I still don’t know if Lonzo Ball will be at 100% after a knee injury ended his season. The Bulls went from first in the East to sixth in the span of a couple months, and they could struggle after missing out on big pieces like Rudy Gobert. Most of last year’s team is back, but they’ll run into a lot of obstacles along the way, and if LaVine or DeRozan gets hurt, they’re in trouble. 

Regarding who will be eliminated in the Play-In tournament, I think the Wizards and Bulls could miss the playoffs after the PlayIn Games. The Net’s scoring ability and the Hornets getting more experienced will be major factors. 

The Pacers, Pistons, Magic, and Knicks will all struggle. The Pistons and Magic have drafted well the last couple of years, so they could be positioned to make a lot of noise in the future. The Knicks are mediocre after a surprising fourth-place finish in 2020/21. The Eastern Conference has the chance to be really, really tough and competitive. We’ll see what happens on October 18.

HARRY KENNEDY IS A SENIOR MEMBER OF THE MULTIMEDIA JOURNALISM CLASS

A new era in the NCAA: college football playoff expansion

During the first week of the college football season, LSU and Florida State competed in one of the most exciting games in modern history. With less than a minute remaining, LSU drove 99 yards down the field, scoring a touchdown, cutting the lead to one point. As their fans celebrated with overtime looming, Florida State blocked the extra-point and squeaked out a one-point victory. 

The excitement and unpredictability of college football recently skyrocketed to high levels with the expansion of the College Football Playoff. After growing to four teams in 2015, the format has faced scrutiny for not allowing enough deserving teams to play for a championship. 

As the 2021 season wound down, only six or seven teams had a real shot at making the playoff. At the end of the season, four teams cemented themselves as playoff contenders, which provided zero controversies or arguments. A twelve-team format allows for more critical and exciting games toward the end of the season. 

The increase in meaningful games across the season increases student interest. However, one of the most considerable drawbacks in postseason college football is the neutral site games, which make it hard for students to attend. The new playoff format allows for on-campus games for the first round, which will enable huge profits for the schools with students and alums traveling on-campus to attend the big games. Tailgating, pre-game gatherings, and post-game celebrations will increase revenue among schools across the country.

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Conference stability has also become a recent issue among smaller market schools that have trouble competing with the college football kings. Allowing more teams to fight for a championship means greater exposure for the recently weakened conferences, like the PAC-12 and Big 12. With UCLA and USC leaving for the Big Ten, and Oklahoma and Texas leaving for the SEC, new competitors may replace those teams in their respective conferences. Previously, we often saw the SEC and Big Ten dominating the College Football Playoff, but this expanded version will allow for more conference representation.

On the other hand, the players may have trouble keeping their endurance throughout an extended season. Usually, NFL teams play between 18-21 games, while college football teams play around 13 or 14. A college football championship team may now play upwards of 17 games, depending on their schedule. That resembles a full NFL schedule and could negatively affect the health of future professional stars.

The weather could also factor into the first round of the playoff. If Wisconsin has to play its first-round game on-campus, weather conditions could affect the game’s outcome. Wisconsin in December is not ideal for sports, with the snow and brutally cold temperatures battering the state. Since most successful college football teams come from down south, it poses the question of how the weather will affect their performance.

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Usually, the weather does not impact the postseason, as southern locations host the bowl games. Smaller bowl games, played earlier in December, do not receive much viewership because some casual fans view them as meaningless. Since the College Football Playoff will host more meaningful games, the NCAA could eliminate some bowl games to increase viewership for the playoffs. As a result, this could affect the success of the smaller market colleges that play their entire seasons to win bowls. 

The thrill of regular season college football games goes unmatched in sports. A rise in the significant regular season and playoff games will continue to attract new viewers around the country. The LSU-Florida State game only scratches the surface of the exhilaration of college football and its drama. Once the playoff begins in 2026, nothing will match the brilliance of playoff football in the United States.

Alex Kwas is a sophomore member of the Multimedia Journalism Class.

How are the Orioles’ prospects handling the pressure of a pennant race?

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Orioles top prospects Gunnar Henderson, DL Hall, and Adley Rutschman have definitely proven their worth in the minors, but some are struggling with the transfer to the big leagues. As many know, the Orioles are in a tight playoff race for the AL wildcard spot. With this being said, they need their young guys to step up. So, is the Orioles’ extent of young talent enough to keep them in the playoff race?

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Shortstop Gunnar Henderson is seeing the ball well at the plate, but is struggling with the fielding transition. His primary position is shortstop; however, to fit in the lineup, he has to adapt to other infield positions. Recently he has been playing second due to other SS Jorge Mateo having an insane fielding year. On Monday, Sep 5, 2022, The Orioles faced a doubleheader against the Blue Jays. This was a huge series for the Orioles which means every play counts. For the youngest player in the MLB, this amount of pressure can get to your head. He started the game at second and cost us a couple of runs. The Orioles had two first and third situations and got perfect double play balls to get out of it without giving up any runs. Gunnar was in his own head and bobbled the ball on both plays.

Original starting pitcher DL Hall, one of our top pitching prospects, played well in the minors with an ERA never exceeding 4. However, in the big leagues, he has an ERA of 8.68 in his MLB career. Hall is definitely struggling in the transition and is having trouble with locating his pitches. With the playoffs coming up and the Orioles needing pitching, DL Hall needs to be better, or he won’t start.

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On the other hand, Adley Rutchsman already looks like a veteran. Adley is batting .257 with 10 home runs in only 89 games. Most of his stats have come from his left side, batting .285 vs. Right handed pitching. However, Adley has been struggling from the right side batting .167. All of his home runs have been from the left side. On the other side of the ball, he looks like a veteran catcher. Very few errors and has been a brick wall behind the plate.

Tyler Martin is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

With just a few weeks left in the season, the O’s control their destiny

Can the Baltimore Orioles pull off one of the greatest team turnarounds in Major League Baseball? After a poor start, as usually expected by the franchise in past years, a smooth winning streak hit the Birds pushing them to a possible Wild Card spot. Before the midway point of May, the Orioles were up to another season of what has been seen as normal for the club in recent years. The Orioles started their season with losing streaks and dropped multi-game series throughout the first month of the season. Baltimore fans expected another losing season for the Birds. Now the O’s are climbing their way up amongst the challenging American League East.

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The AL East is often seen as one of the toughest divisions in Major League Baseball as it holds powerhouse clubs such as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays. Within this division, the Orioles have been seen as lower caliber. In the previous years games against the Yankees and Red Sox were almost a definite loss, but in the 2022 season, the birds have turned it around. Since May 18, the Orioles have been on a tear with a record over .500. Every game has been a sight to see as the Birds fight their way to the top of the division. Many wonder how this incredible streak started for the Orioles that turned a team that was out of contention into a possible Wild Card. 

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This shift can primarily be credited to the payoff of a very long rebuild by the Orioles since the times of the previous manager Buck Showalter. One of these great payoffs being the extremely talented prospect Adley Rutschman that burst onto the scene in the early parts of the season and quickly became the best catcher in baseball. On May 21, 2022, Adley was called up to the Major Leagues to be the O’s starting catcher. The switch-hitting bat and gifted defensive presence created a young powerhouse in Adley. The Orioles also remade their bullpen, shifting right-handed pitcher Felix Bautista into the closer spot. Bautista has been lights out for the Birds and is seen as one of the best in the league. Finally, the Orioles called up their top infield prospect Gunnar Henderson in August. Henderson started his big league career off strong showing that he’s a stud amongst the top in baseball. His glovework and bat are big pieces of the O’s lineup that are leading them to more and more success.

The talent showcased by the Orioles is unprecedented. This puts the O’s in great contention for a Wild Card spot and possibly an October appearance after many years of missing the playoff. This could bring the big stage to Baltimore and many more cheers to Camden Yards. These are the hopes of any fan of the O’s! All we can ask now is, will the Orioles pull off this comeback? They have it all in front of them; now they just have to execute.

Braylon Sims is a Senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Are we witnessing the end of LeBron James?

October marks another year of NBA basketball. All of the controversy over trades, who’s getting drafted first, and which superstars we could see retire. A controversial topic is LeBron James. 

LeBron, age 37, is entering his 20th year in the league and is back with the Los Angeles Lakers for his fifth season. LeBron just signed a two-year $97 million deal ending after the 2025 season, and LeBron could opt out after the first year and test the free agent market again. We have seen LeBron make big-time moves in the past. Surprising the world by going to the Heat and then a few years later returning and bringing Cleveland a championship. 

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At the end of the 2024 season, there is a very real possibility LeBron opts out of the deal with the Lakers to play for whatever team his son Bronny gets drafted by. LeBron has always said he wants to finish his playing career with his sons. With Bronny coming to the league in 2024 and Bryce not too far behind him in 2026, we could see LeBron’s historic career come to an end. By the time Bryce joins the family in the NBA, LeBron will already be 42. 

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Whoever gets LeBron in the twilight of his career is likely to get great production from the 18x all-star, who averaged 30.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 6.2 APG at the age of 37. Through all of the talk about LeBron, his retirement, and all of the things he has planned for the future, we won’t know what he is going to do until it happens. Either way, we know that LeBron has always had a flair for the dramatic!

Jack Bieda is a junior member of the MultiMedia Journalism Class.

How the 2022 NFL off-season has raised the bar for years to come

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The 2022 NFL off-season has been one of the greatest known to date, with a large majority caused by contract drama. There is no doubt that money was always a factor for NFL players, but has it ever been this bad? Report after report has shown that when one of the best players in his position gets paid, other players feel the need to compete for a spot as the highest player in the league as well. 

Tyreek Hill, after leaving one of the best teams in the league, was traded away to the Miami Dolphins, allowing him to be the top-paid receiver in the NFL. Hill makes a whopping $30 million a year! After receiving this news, players like Davante Adams and Stefon Diggs also felt the need to get paid big bucks. Davante Adams left the Green Bay Packers and his beloved quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, after requesting a trade due to Rodgers receiving a contract that pays him $50 million a year. Adams wanted the money, and that’s precisely what he got. He was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders, making $28.25 million a year, while joining former college teammate Derek Carr.

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And if those numbers aren’t crazy enough, Deshaun Watson, after not playing in the NFL for an entire season because of 27 sexual assault allegations, was traded to the Cleveland Browns, where he is set to make $250 million in his contract. This sets the bar high for NFL contracts because many players and fans don’t think he deserves the money. Following this contract drama, Kyler Murray added more fuel to the fire and demanded a contract extension. He removed all of his Cardinals-related Instagram posts, which caused a stir in the media. Kyler Murray ended up receiving a three-year, $105 million contract. It even said in his contract that he had to watch 4 hours of film a day to comply with his contract’s rules.

In the NFL, the quarterback is the highest-paid position, with all top 10 highest-paid players being a QB. Expectations are high for superstar quarterbacks, but the question is, how much money is enough? Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, considered an average quarterback by most metrics, makes $35 million a year, while Ravens QB Lamar Jackson is still on his 5th-year option, waiting for a major contract. The MVP-winning QB has addressed contract rumors and has made it public that he wants the money. Jackson allegedly turned down a 6-year, $250 million contract, because only $133 million was guaranteed. Ravens fans, try not to worry though; Lamar Jackson is locked in this season, and has his sights on winning a Super Bowl. Raven’s GM Eric DeCosta said the Ravens will try again next year and hopefully get their star QB a top deal.

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The growth in the NFL over the years has been one to remember. The explosion in money being thrown at offensive playmakers in the league has outpaced other sports. Even backup QBs in the NFL have made well over $15 million in total income. As a football fan, it is exciting to watch the game unfold, but the off-season wheeling and dealing is a game itself. The saying “don’t hate the game, hate the player” is in full effect in the NFL this year.

David Cohn is a Senior Member of The multimedia journalism class.