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Thursday, June 22, 2017

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Eyes On NBA: The 2017 NBA Draft

By @TrueGodImmortal

The NBA Draft is here. This draft has become surrounded by so much hoopla and interest that we've lost sight of what we have here. The future of the NBA. Since 2011, the draft has brought us too many amazing stars yet, but in time, these guys could very well develop. If there's any draft that has some potential for future stars, it's this one. For the longest time, I figured that the Celtics were set on drafting Markelle Fultz at the no. 1 slot, and while he will still go at the no. 1 spot likely, it won't be the Celtics making the pick. The Celtics trade their no. 1 pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, who in turn have begun to build their team up with a ton of top draft picks. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons seem to be the two stars set on carrying the weight for the tram if they can stay healthy, with Dario Saric as a viable option for the future as well.

The 76ers find themselves in a great position to draft Fultz and continue their path and trusting the process. I think Fultz will amaze many people in the league and have a solid first season and he's my 2nd pick for Rookie Of The Year. Yes, he will be the no. 1 pick, but I think he has some possible competition in this draft class and one guy in particular could be coming for that ROTY award. Who might be that one guy be? Well, to give you a clear hint, he's the only Big Baller in the draft.

Lonzo Ball is expected to be selected to the Lakers with the 2nd pick, and I see a bright future for this kid. Regardless of what his father Lavar says in interviews to hype his son up, Lonzo is a special talent and he could be the point guard of the future for a Lakers franchise desperately in need of one. D'Angelo Russell probably wasn't going to be THAT guy, so, it's only right the Lakers invest in another point guard of the future. The Lakers lack of a solid PG since the Kobe title days has been their biggest issue alongside lacking a solid big man. Speaking of PG, I predict the Lakers will make a trade before the draft deadline and acquire Paul George as their new superstar player.  The logic of drafting a pass first guard like Lonzo is that he will have someone to pass it to that he can trust to score. The tandem of Lonzo and Paul George could be the jumpstart that the Lakers franchise needs to get back into the picture and the playoffs.

The biggest possible shock going forward in the draft? It all revolves around the no. 3 pick. The Celtics traded down for the no. 3 pick, which shows they had no interest in Fultz or even Lonzo. They were confident that their pick at no. 1 would still be available at no. 3 so they took a risk and made the trade with the 76ers. The strangest thing about this? I have a small feeling that the Celtics won't even end up keeping the pick by the time the draft starts. With the Knicks showing a willingness to trade Kristaps Porzingis, this is the perfect time for the Celtics to utilize the no. 3 pick and a future pick, along with a Jae Crowder to entice the Knicks and pull off a trade. The Knicks seem like they're interested in Josh Jackson and he's the projected no. 3 pick, and I honestly don't believe the Celtics want to pick him anyways. Who do I think the Celtics wanted to pick, if they keep the pick? Surprise, surprise, I think they select Jayson Tatum from Duke. It might seem like a shock, and it's possible they do take Jackson anyways, but don't be surprised if they take Tatum if they keep the pick.

The Suns have the 4th pick and they plan on shopping it for sure. My belief? If the Celtics or whoever drafts 3rd decides to take Josh Jackson, you'll see Tatum end up going to the Suns. If the Celtics take Tatum, then you'll see the Suns pick Josh Jackson to fill their need at the SF position. If the plan is to get rid of Eric Bledsoe, which is possible, you might see the Suns take De'Aaron Fox, which is a solid PG pickup for the team if they go with it. Truthfully, the 4th to 7th pick could go a ton of ways, as Fox, Tatum, Jonathan Isaac, Frank Ntilikina, Malik Monk, and Dennis Smith Jr. all are possibilities to go at one of these picks. My prediction is Tatum at 3, Jackson at 4, Fox at 5, Isaac at 6, Frank at 7, and then Monk at 8, though I'd prefer to see Monk go at 7 or even surprise everyone and go at 5. Likely though, Monk could end up at the 8th pick and that could be interesting.

Imagine a world where the Knicks end up keeping the 8th pick and get the 3rd pick as well as Jae Crowder for Porzingis. This is where I think we get a slight shocker and see the Knicks end up grabbing both Josh Jackson and Malik Monk, providing them with the possible future at SF and PG. The Knicks lineup could look very different and with mostly young players who need to grow if all goes like expected. I would prefer a world where Melo was traded to the Celtics for the third pick and Porzingis stayed in NY, but Phil Jackson is an idiot. Imagine a Knicks core with Josh Jackson, Malik Monk, and Porzingis leading the charge. That would be something special. Unfortunately, if Monk is gone before the 8th pick, the Knicks will end up selecting Frank, or possibly taking Dennis Smith Jr. earlier than projections.

In my last big prediction, I think the Charlotte Hornets end up drafting either Luke Kennard or Justin Jackson, but knowing Jordan, it would be Kennard. Either player fits well for the Hornets, but if I can be honest, I'd prefer to see Jackson go to the Bulls to provide some solid shooting. The fact remains, the draft has some huge talent this year, and we could be witnessing the arrival of the next batch of legends to the NBA. This could end up being a lot of fun.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

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Eyes On WWE: Why Reigns Vs Brock Needs To Happen At Summerslam

By @TrueGodImmortal

Let me start off first by saying one thing: I'm not a fan of this rematch nor am I a big fan of either wrestler. However, I still consider myself a wrestling fan and there's no bigger event during the summer than Summerslam so it's all relative. The question that seems to be on everyone's mind is should Roman Reigns be the man to challenge Brock at Summerslam after the WWE seemed hellbent on forcing this match yet again at Wrestlemania?

Yes. Yes he should. The reason why? There's a much bigger match in John Cena vs Roman Reigns that could rock the New Orleans area for Wrestlemania 34 and engage more viewers. We've already seen Brock vs Reigns at Mania just two and a half years ago, and Brock has gotten lazier since that time, and Reigns hasn't got much more popularity. Now, this isn't like a huge clash of titans where their popularity rivals each other and the feud is fresh and new to us. We've seen this movie before. Paul Heyman comes out, puts over Reigns as a worthy opponent, Brock and Reigns have a face off and promo back and forth, then we head to Brooklyn for their title match. I get that the WWE will market this as the battle between two men who both defeated The Undertaker at Wrestlemania, but those accomplishments seem so miniscule now when we look at them. The match with Reigns and Taker, as well as the match with Brock and Taker are both forgettable, making their amazing feats just seem standard.

Reigns and Brock could have ended up on a different path, but if I'm WWE, I have my mind set on two goals going into Wrestlemania 34: saving Braun vs Brock for Mania, and pushing Reigns vs Cena. I think if the plan is to allow Brock to hold the belt until Mania, there's no need to give Reigns another Mania title match and main event. It's been overdone the last three years and each time, the audience seems to be out of it. It was sad watching the crowd seem disinterested for a 3rd straight Mania main event, even against a legend like The Undertaker. For me, the smartest choice here is to have Roman fight Brock at Summerslam, and allow Braun or another nemesis to cost him the title, setting up a future title shot for said nemesis, and setting up a feud between Reigns and the culprit going forward. Personally, if I'm the WWE, I'm turning Finn Balor heel at the end of the Summer, putting him with Gallows and Anderson, and allowing him to dethrone Brock for the title heading into Mania season. Why Finn? I think the rematch we need to see is Seth vs Finn while both are 100% healthy and for the Universal Title, as Seth's long journey is capped off by a title win at Mania, three years after his huge MITB cash in. Brock holding the title for a year does nothing good for the company, and a heel Finn with Gallows and Anderson spells a huge fall Shield reunion that ends up with the final chapter being Seth vs Finn for the title at WM34.

After the short-lived Shield reunion, I'd expect to see Reigns go after the free agent Cena, who is the only active legend that Reigns hasn't beat yet. While I'd never want to see Reigns win another Mania match, the vibe for the crowd during a Cena vs Reigns match is much more epic than a Brock vs Reigns match for a title we rather neither man hold. The thing is, the Shield Reunion, a heel Finn Balor, an epic Seth vs Finn title match, as well as a possible Brock vs Braun battle and Reigns vs Cena can't happen at Wrestlemania unless we get Brock vs Reigns now, at Summerslam. For the WWE, take the smart bet here and pull the trigger on Reigns vs Brock now, and watch how the domino effect can work in your favor.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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EOTR Tag Team Tuesdays: Team Hell No

By @TrueGodImmortal 

One thing about makeshift tag teams is that sometimes they strike gold. Sometimes it doesn't work, and that's more likely, but when it does finally connect and work, there are some teams that exceed all expectations. The teaming of Daniel Bryan and Kane, otherwise known as Team Hell No is one of those teams with no question. With Bryan and Kane both being involved in the title picture and the upper mid card scene around the same time, no one would have guessed that they would end up together in a team.

After getting his catchphrase "No" over with the audience following them becoming enamored with his "Yeah catchphrase, Bryan was white hot going into the summer of 2012. He had been World Heavyweight Champion, and he was as popular as he had ever been in WWE. After a triple threat match featuring CM Punk took place, and a one on one match at Summerslam between the two,  we would then see Bryan and Kane go into anger management classes together and from there, the partnership was born. Bryan would be amazing in the anger management segments, making his comedic side known and Kane would be a perfect complement as well. After they would end up "hugging it out", Kane and Bryan then were set to team up and take on The Prime Time Players to see who would become the no. 1 contenders to the tag team titles.

After their win over the PTP, Kane and Bryan would face Kofi Kingston and R-Truth for the tag team titles at Night of Champions. After a successful victory over Kofi and Truth, Bryan and Kane would become tag champions and begin their surprise tag title run after being christened Team Hell No by a Twitter fan poll. They would feud with Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow and prove to become a formidable team during this feud,  but they were still the usual makeshift odd couple tag team who would bicker and yell "I'm the tag team champions" at each other to prove that one was more important or stronger than the other. It was fun watching Bryan and Kane bicker and it would continue after the feud with Cody and Damien, and carry over into their battles with The Shield, but things were starting to change.

Kane and Bryan were beginning to gel even more as a team, and they would need all of the chemistry possible as The Shield presented a grave challenge. To make matters worse, after a 6 man tag match against the Shield where Team Hell No had Ryback by their side, Cody and Damien returned to feud some more. Kane and Bryan would end up winning both of the matches they had against Cody and Damien, but you could feel this run was slowly starting to come to an end. They continued their battles with Cody and Damien, as well as The Shield, but soon you'd see dissension amongst them both as solo title opportunities would come along. Still, they continued to defend their titles and at Wrestlemania 29, they would defeat the team of Dolph Ziggler and Big E to retain their titles. Bryan and Kane had held the titles since September 2012, and as April 2013 was coming to a close, they would have to overcome one final huge challenge.

The Shield were treated like they were untouchable, and they couldn't lose a match. With a tag title match against Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins set for Extreme Rules in May 2013, Team Hell No would see their reign come to an end at 245 days, as The Shield regained supreme on this night. After losing the titles, there was a story with Bryan and Kane where Bryan was trying to convince the world he wasn't the weak link of the team and as a result, he became more aggressive. This would work against the team, as they lost their rematch to The Shield and then decided it was time to amicably go their separate ways. After the team disbanded, we saw Bryan ascend to the highest heights in the WWE while Kane soon transitioned into becoming Corporate Kane, completely ending off any chance of a Team Hell No reunion. While Team Hell No was short lived, it was fun and one of those teams that made you tune in to WWE programming regularly. This team showed Kane was still able to be entertaining and showed that Daniel Bryan was more than just a great wrestler, he was a top tier entertainer as well.


Monday, June 19, 2017

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Eyes On NBA: The 8 Greatest Kobe Bryant Playoff Performances

By @TrueGodImmortal

Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players ever. If you watch the game of basketball and pay attention to what he's done in his career, then you know very well that Kobe is easily a top 10 all time player, possibly top 5 depending on your criteria (social media would say otherwise, but we've established they know nothing). However, what about his performances in the NBA playoffs? For all of his greatness, does Kobe have great performances in the playoffs? Of course he does. Today, we look at the 8 greatest Kobe performances. Let's get into it.

*2002 NBA Finals 
(Game 3 vs New Jersey Nets)

-There are some great Kobe performances in the playoffs alongside Shaq and this is probably one of my favorites. Kobe stepped up in the Finals when his number was called upon, shooting an efficient 14 for 23 from the field, finishing with 36 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. The Lakers would end up sweeping the Nets and of course Kobe was a huge part of that. Don't ever believe that Shaq carried Kobe. Ever.

*2001 NBA Western Conference Finals 
(Game 3 vs San Antonio Spurs)

-With the Lakers up 2-0, they came in on a mission to take out the Spurs and put the finishing touches on their domination of the Western Conference. It should come as no surprise that the Lakers had a great performance from Shaq, who put up 35 points and 17 rebounds, but Kobe stepped up with a near triple double, shooting 14 for 27 from the field and finishing with 36 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists. Kobe was growing into his own and the 2001 playoffs were the beginning of his excellence in the playoffs.

*2006 NBA First Round 
(Game 6 vs Phoenix Suns)

-The Lakers would end up blowing a 3-1 series lead against the much better Suns team, but there's nothing bad about Kobe's performance in this game. With an efficient 20 for 35 from the field, 5 for 8 from three point range, and a 50 point finish alongside 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals, one could only wonder what Kobe could have done if he had more help than just Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown, and Smush Parker. There was nothing more that Kobe could do, and this performance was definitely one of his best, even in a loss.

*2001 NBA Western Conference Finals 
(Game 1 vs San Antonio Spurs)

-Kobe was really coming into his own as a player and this was the game that really showed me he was the next one up. With an efficient 19 for 35 shooting on the night, Kobe finished with 45 points on the night alongside 10 rebounds for one of his best performances in the playoffs for sure. The Spurs would end up being swept in this series and Kobe was a huge reason for that.

*2008 NBA Finals 
(Game 3 vs Boston Celtics)

-While the 2008 Finals didn't go the way Kobe and the Lakers might have wanted it to, Kobe still put in one of his best playoff performances, and his best game during this Finals. With a very efficient 12 for 20 from the field, he finished with 36 points alongside 7 rebounds. Though the Lakers wouldn't end up winning the title this year, Kobe has nothing to be ashamed of in this performance. He was vital for the Lakers.

*2001 NBA Western Conference Semifinals 
(Game 4 vs Sacramento Kings)

-The Kings were really on the cusp of greatness, but could never get beyond the Lakers in the playoffs. In 2001, the Lakers were up 3-0 and looked to close the Kings out in the 2nd round. When the Lakers came in, they were set to do work, and while Shaq was solid with a 25 points and 10 rebounds night, but Kobe was amazing with 48 points and 16 rebounds, which helped the Lakers close out the Kings for the sweep in a clutch 119-113 victory.

*2008 NBA Western Conference First Round
(Game 2 vs Denver Nuggets)

-For me, in the Western Conference, I was waiting for the Kobe vs Melo battle to turn into a great rivalry. It never really did, but I was still interested whenever their two respective teams went at it. In this case, we witnessed Kobe show that his era was still in full effect, and that he could be extremely efficient when need be. He finished the game with 49 points, knocking down 5 three pointers on the way to a very solid 18 for 27 shooting night and pulling down 10 rebounds. Kobe showed up and did what he does best.

*2009 NBA Finals 
(Game 1 vs Orlando Magic)

-This might be the greatest performance of his in the playoffs. It might be. Dominating the Orlando Magic through the game, the Lakers set the tone for their gentlemen's sweep that took place, as Kobe set the stage for his first Finals MVP victory. Kobe would finish game 1 with a near triple double, as he put up 40 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks in one of the most electric performances of his playoff career. This is my personal favorite Kobe playoff performance because you could see he was on a mission to win and push his team to the promised land for the title.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

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Eyes On MITB: Money In The Bank 2017 Preview

By @TrueGodImmortal

Money In The Bank has been my favorite non big 4 PPV for years now. It has the best matches, whether MITB or the one on one contests, and this year, we could see something special again. The Smackdown only PPV is sure to be a fun watch, and with two special MITB matches, along with a solid lineup overall, this event could be fun. It's only 5 matches on the card, which is relatively short for a PPV card, but there could be more matches made going forward. For now, let's check a look at this event and what could be in store.

*Smackdown Women's Title 
Naomi vs Lana

-This match is odd. Lana is unproven and hasn't shown that she can compete much, yet here she is in the title match at MITB. This match is not one I'm looking forward to, but I hope I ended up shocked and surprised. Can Lana show out and steal the spotlight from Naomi? Logic would say that if WWE has plans for Lana, that she doesn't lose this match decisively because if she does, any momentum she could have goes completely out the window.  Will Naomi retain? I'd say so, but there's no telling with the WWE. I'd say Naomi wins by DQ.

*Smackdown Tag Team Title Match
The Usos vs The New Day

-I'm not sold on the Usos and this new style. Their promos are loud and boisterous, but make little sense. Their catchphrase is nonsensical honestly, as the logic of "it's not paranoia, it's the Usos" is awful. However, they are great in ring competitors and can put on solid matches. If I'm WWE, I'm adding Breezango, who have gotten super over on Smackdown, and American Alpha, who virtually won the title and got extremely misused. New Day is back in the title picture and for some odd reason, I see them winning this match and injecting some life again into the tag title picture. Will The Usos retain? Or will their 4 month reign come to an end? I'd go with New Day winning and then Smackdown injects the other teams I mentioned earlier in a future match, probably at SummerSlam.

*Smackdown Women's MITB Match 
Charlotte vs Becky Lynch vs Tamina Snuka vs Natalya vs Carmella 

-I recently discussed this on the site and I'm not entirely sold on this match, but I'm hoping it is a great contest. The ladies make history and have an opportunity to steal the show on the night. I think Charlotte ends up with the victory, as her momentum could use a big win, but there's something to be said about Carmella and her chances. I don't expect a lot of high flying, but I do think we will see a few notable bumps, and possibly a big move from a ladder through a table as well. Give this match about 15-20 minutes and let the women shine, and I think this can exceed the hype. Still, I'm picking Charlotte to win.

*WWE Championship Match 
Jinder Mahal vs Randy Orton 

-Truth be told, there's nothing about this feud or match that I care about. Jinder sucks, Orton is boring when chasing the title, and this feud has nothing redeeming about it. I'd rather not see any man win, and have someone just cash in on them if this match closes the night. Don't get me wrong, I'd prefer to see a Styles vs Orton vs Cena title match at SummerSlam with Styles winning the belt, but I could see Mahal retaining with a feud with Cena for the belt as his next step. What's working against Orton here? The fact that MITB is in his hometown of St. Louis, and most faces never win the title in their hometown, let alone win matches period there. I'll go with Mahal retaining unfortunately and I can't wait until this experiment is over.

*Smackdown MITB Match
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kevin Owens vs Baron Corbin vs AJ Styles vs Sami Zayn vs Dolph Ziggler 

-This is the biggest match of the card and the one with MOTY potential. Nakamura is the man. Owens is the man. Styles is the man. Those three alone make this a match worthwhile, but add in Ziggler and Zayn, along with the on the rise Corbin and you've got the recipe for a classic. I'd like to see Nakamura win, but I don't see him walking out with the briefcase and the same has to be said for AJ Styles as well. I think we might see Nakamura vs Owens for the US Title soon, and that leads me to believe that Owens could very well end up winning the briefcase. However, the smart money is Baron Corbin, as he can continue to develop more and more with the briefcase by his side. I'd love to see Sami Zayn win as a dark horse, but logic would point to either Corbin or Owens winning this match. If I had to make a choice, I'll say Corbin ends up winning in a way that no one enjoys, and he begins the monster push he's been rumored to get for a while.

Money In The Bank could be a great event, and I just hope... sincerely that we don't see Mojo Rawley. I'll probably not get my wish, but with a short yet sweet lineup like this, MITB could very well be a great event. Only time will tell.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

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Eyes On NBA: The 5 Best Players In The 2017 NBA Finals

By @TrueGodImmortal

The 2017 NBA Finals are over. The Golden State Warriors won in 5 games, with Kevin Durant winning Finals MVP. With some great performances all around, we wanted to rank the 5 best players in the series. Let's take a look.

5. Klay Thompson 
(16.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.2 APG, 43% FG, 42% 3PT)

-Klay wasn't as ball dominant as he normally is, but Klay was defensively the biggest difference maker in the entire series. His shot was falling in games 2 and 3, but he kept defensive pressure on Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving in games 1 and 2, and there's a possession in game 5 where he tightly guards LeBron and forces a horrible shot. Klay makes the list because of his contributions offensively in games 2 and 3, and his defense throughout the entire series. Klay continues to grow and improve overall. He's dangerous.

4. Kyrie Irving 
(29.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.4 APG, 47% FG, 42% 3PT)

-If you believe Kyrie outplayed Steph, you're sadly mistaken. Sure, he shot slightly better from the field, but he wasn't the playmaker that Steph was and he didn't attack for boards or find the open man like Steph did. Kyrie however did what he does best and that's score. His amazing performances in games 3 and 4 are still ridiculous now, and there's not much more that you could ask Kyrie for. He showed up on the biggest stage, despite lackluster games in game 1 and 2, and he went missing in the 2nd half of game 5, but when he needed to step up, he did so in crucial home games.

3. Stephen Curry 
(26.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 9.4 APG, 2.2 SPG, 44% FG, 39% 3PT)

-His shooting numbers don't look like his MVP days, but in the NBA Finals you can't be expected to shot as well as you did in the regular season. The truth remains, Steph has shown up to play in 2 of the 3 Finals series and why his 2016 performance was below the standard his MVP season set, he was excellent in this series. With a career high average in rebounds and a high in assists, as well as his highest scoring average in 3 Finals appearances. He was actually solid on the defensive end as well, averaging over 2 steals and hitting clutch shots in games 1,  2 and 3, while maintaining a presence all through game 5 with an amazing 34 point performance. While Steph didn't average a triple double (he was close), he did have a double double in every game in the Finals, even in his worst game in game 4 (14 points and 10 rebounds). Steph was excellent through the series and showed up. Put some respect on his name.

2. LeBron James 
(33.6 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 10.0 APG, 56% FG, 38% 3PT)

-You might wonder how a guy who averaged a triple double is not the best player in a series, but the truth remains that Bron didn't show up in crunch time when it was vital through the series. He had a massive series, with solid outings in games 1 through 5, but his turnovers in game 1 was a bit deal, his 4th quarter disappearance in games 1 through 3 was a detriment, but for the most part, Bron was excellent. Anyone who averages a triple double in the Finals, something that's never been done before, deserves all the credit in the world for his solo performance. Still, there was one player who was better and led his team to the ultimate goal... victory.

1. Kevin Durant 
(35.2 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.6 BPG, 56% FG, 47% 3PT)

-There's no denying that the best player on both ends, was Kevin Durant. KD owned the series with big performances in every single game, including his big performance in vital games 3 and 5, with the shot seen around the world over LeBron James to clinch the game 3 win. He was also the momentum killer for Cleveland in game 5, as he managed to destroy their hopes of forcing a game 6 with an amazing and efficient 39 point performance, his highest scoring game of the series. When KD was needed, he answered the call and showcased why he's one of the best, if not the best in the game. That Finals MVP was well deserved. He was the BEST player in this Finals series without question.