It’s been 2 weeks since NBA 2K20 released worldwide, and while the game has been subject to a lot of criticism due to its many bugs, the game’s MyTeam mode looks pretty great.
Tokens were first introduced in NBA 2K19 as a new currency that is usable in the Token Market. There are 7 tiers to the Token Market, ranging from Emerald (costing 3 tokens per card) to Galaxy Opal (costing 750 tokens per card).
To move on to the Sapphire tier, a player must purchase 10 Emerald token rewards cards. This list will help with making your picks easier by going in-depth into the best Emerald players available per position that can definitely help your team improve. With that being said, let’s get started.
PG: Bob Sura
Height and Weight: 6’5″, 200 lbs
- 85 Driving Dunk
- 85 Ball Handle
- 80 Speed & Acceleration
- 79 Shot Mid
- 78 Shot 3pt
- Gold Quick First Step
- Gold Downhill
- Gold Catch & Shoot
- Gold Space Creator
- Gold Volume Shooter
Among the six available options, 2 of them are undersized guards and 2 of them are tall guards. It really depends on which card you feel comfortable with, and what play style you prefer your primary ball handler to possess. If you want a sharpshooter, Steve Kerr is your best bet. Ignoring the offense, Rondo is an above average defender and playmaker, despite being undersized. Ron Harper is 6’6″ and is great at defense, but his scoring leaves much to be desired. In my opinion, Bob Sura is the best all-around Emerald token reward point guard you could pick.
This card is amazing. The point guard position in the Emerald token market is pretty weak, with the exception of Sura. Sura is a tall point guard who can both drive to the rim and shoot the three. There are only a handful of taller point guards that are available right now, but only a few have the all-around game of Sura.
With his height and the Quick First Step badge, Sura is able to blow by smaller defenders with ease. His jumper is also pretty easy to time, and his three point ratings help with that as well. He’s an above average defender who can certainly defend against smaller guards, which makes him a perfect, all-around player to add to your squad!
SG: Isaiah Rider
Height and Weight: 6’5″, 215 lbs
- 93 Driving Dunk
- 83 Shot 3pt
- 82 Speed
- 80 Shot Mid
- 76 Ball Handle
- Gold Space Creator
- Gold Difficult Shots
- Gold Lob City Finisher
- Silver Catch & Shoot
- Bronze Ankle Breaker
To be fair, all of the shooting guards in the Emerald token market are pretty good. Athletic slashers like Jason Richardson and Victor Oladipo can drive to the rim and throw it down. Sharpshooters like Tim Legler (95 Shot 3pt!) and David Wesley can both hit some threes. Jamal Crawford can easily break down defenders with his dribble moves and hit the mid-range, or drive to the rim for an acrobatic layup.
Despite all of this, I believe that the best card out of the bunch is Isaiah Rider’s. His build is pretty decent for his position, but he makes use of his athleticism to attack the paint. Rider’s strongest attribute comes from the fact that can easily drive to the rim and dunk the ball. With an above average three point rating, Rider can hit the occasional pull-up three, and should have a pretty easy jumper to time (though it may be too fast due to his Quick Draw badge). He’s not the best ball handler and defender, but his athleticism and badges make him a threat on the fast break.
If you need an all-around shooting guard that can score at will, Rider is your guy. Aside from the token market, picking up the free Spotlight Series Dwyane Wade card may be a more appealing option, especially considering he can evolve into an Amethyst. Nonetheless, Rider is still a great backup option.
SF: Luol Deng
Height and Weight: 6’9″, 237 lbs
- 83 Perimeter Defense
- 79 Shot 3pt
- 74 Shot Mid
- 66 Speed
- Gold Catch & Shoot
- Gold Corner Specialist
- Gold Clamps
- Gold Pickpocket
- Gold Tireless Defender
The small forwards available in the Emerald token reward market are pretty decent, with Darius Miles being the best available among the ones not chosen in my opinion. Miles is the worst shooter among the bunch, but makes up for hit with his insane athleticism and dunking ability. His defense is pretty decent as well, and he can also handle the ball to an extent.
This one may have been a biased pick, but that doesn’t mean this card isn’t that good. I believe that Luol Deng is the best choice among the small forwards, simply due to his defense. You don’t need him to score the ball and drop 30, but you need a guy who can clamp up the opposing team’s forward and knock down the open three. This card has the stats to do so, in addition to a pretty easy release.
If you’re looking for a better, non-token reward substitute, look no further than the Evolution Sapphire Gerald Green rewards card that you receive after 15 wins in Triple Threat Offline. He has a similar Shot 3pt rating to Deng and an insane 90 driving dunk, though his defense isn’t as good. Green can also evolve into a ruby, which should be a better long-term option.
PF: Brian Scalabrine
Height and Weight: 6’9″, 241 lbs
- 86 Free Throw
- 85 Shot 3pt
- 81 Shot Mid
- 65 Steal
- Gold Catch & Shoot
- Gold Corner Specialist
- Gold Pick & Popper
- Gold Steady Shooter
- Gold Tireless Shooter
It’s time to welcome the G.O.A.T. into your lineup.
The emerald token rewards available don’t have a ton of great options. Ryan Anderson is a great stretch 4, while Clark Kellogg is one of the best emerald post scorers available, but that’s pretty much it.
Which is why the decision to pickup Scal was so much easier. He has a great Shot 3pt rating and a consistent release, making him a dominant pick-and-pop target. His defensive stats aren’t too good, but he should be able to decently stay on his opponents. His inside scoring, playmaking and athleticism are all below average, but a stretch 4 doesn’t need that. He’s great at getting open for threes (and knocking them down), and he’s BRIAN SCALABRINE. Cop him now.
Ryan Anderson is pretty much a taller version of this card, but Scal has better playmaking and defensive stats. He also comes with 1 more gold badge than Ryan. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter who you prefer, but it really should be the White Mamba.
C: Boban Marjanovic
Height and Weight: 7’3″, 290 lbs
- 95 Standing Dunk
- 88 Rebounding
- 86 Strength
- 84 Block
- 78 Shot Mid
- Gold Brick Wall
- Silver Intimidator
There are a plethora of great centers to choose from in the Emerald token market. From traditional centers like DeMarcus Cousins and Darryl Dawkins, to giants like Shawn Bradley and Zhou Qi, any one of these 4 centers could be as good of a choice. However, I believe that Boban Marjanovic is the best choice.
Boban is 7’3″, placing himself right between Bradley and Qi in terms of height. He’s much stronger compared to the other two, giving him an advantage in both offense and defense in the paint. He also has the same Shot Mid rating as Zhou Qi, giving him the unique ability to pick-and-pop and hit the occasional midrange every now and then.
If you’re looking for more of a tall, defensive rim protector who can easily score inside, you may opt to pick Bradley for his 7’6″ height. If you’re looking for a better stretch big, Qi would work as well, as he can even hit threes at a decent rate (72 Shot 3pt). I’d like to think of Marjanovic as the in-between of the two centers.
Thanks for reading! Have you picked anyone else up? Have any suggestions for the best sapphire token rewards? Tweet them at us @UniqueSportplus on Twitter, and follow for more content!
Are you ready? NBA 2K20, the latest installment of 2K Sports’s hit video game series comes out in just a few hours! Over the past few weeks, 2K has released a bunch of sneak peeks, ranging from the likes of developer blogs, gameplay footage and trailers in order to hype up the crowd. With that being said, it’s time to look at 25 of the best new features so far!
Just like last year’s article, I will be breaking this list down into 4 parts, corresponding to the 4 main aspects of NBA 2K games.
- MyCareer/MyPARK – Create your own player and journey to become the very best!
- MyTeam – Form your fantasy team by collecting virtual cards of different players, past or present!
- MyLeague/MyGM – Take control of a franchise and win some championships!
- Gameplay and Other Features – PlayNow, new gameplay features, and more!
With an all-new player creator system and a new, star-studded storyline, expect a lot of fun to be had in this year’s MyCareer and MyPARK game mode!
New Player Creator System
The archetype system has been removed, and has now been replaced by this brand new system. Choose between pie charts that will give a gist of your custom player’s skill set.
Choose his height, weight, physical profile and athletic attributes, assign skill caps for your player, select a takeover (based on your stats), assign your own badges that you wish to unlock throughout your playthrough, and test out your build. Select an overall and play in a scrimmage using your own created player after receiving a player comparison for your build!
Last year, NBA 2K players controlled “AI”. His journey began in China, moved on to the G-League, and then the NBA, where dreams happen. This year, you play as “Che”, a 4-year college player who controversially sits out the NCAA finals in response to injustices by the coach. Play through the NBA Draft Combine and team workouts to get scouts to notice you and get drafted! Produced by LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s Springhill Entertainment, this star-studded storyline features performances from celebrities such as Idris Elba, Rosario Dawson and Thomas Middleditch, among others. Do you have what it takes to be next?
Improved Neighborhood + New Minigames
The Neighborhood has been upgraded for NBA 2K20! While it still generally looks the same (at least based on the screenshots so far), NBA 2K has teased a wider variety of minigames and challenges available to play. The Under Armour cages are expected to return, however, the stores’ placement and content may be subject to change.
Mini-games like dodgeball are back, while new mini-games like frisbee have been added into the game.
Seasons have also been added into the game, which means that you can expect the look of the Neighborhood to change every few months or so, depending on the season!
MyRep progression is back! Rank up through the tiers in order to unlock certain benefits! Become a pro, all-star, superstar and legend by winning games in MyCareer or MyPARK!
Words cannot explain how hyped I am for MyTeam this year, take a look at these 10 improvements to the MyTeam mode!
What Stayed the Same
From both the trailer and the developer blog, it appears as if the card tiers are staying the same from last year, with Galaxy Opals returning for the 99 overall cards. Additionally, tokens and the token market will be returning to MyTeam, giving players another opportunity claim new rewards cards through a different method.
In addition, MyTeam Unlimited will be back, which means that players will still be trying to go 12-0 in order to try to acquire Player of the Month cards.
Locker codes will also be back, but the ball drop will look significantly different from NBA 2K19.
Evolution cards are a brand new addition to the MyTeam game mode, with select cards having the ability to be upgraded after certain requirements are achieved. As seen in the photo above, a 2-star Tracy McGrady card and a 5-star Dwyane Wade card (which will be discussed later) are available for upgrade. One major example of this are the starter packs that are given immediately after the mode is opened.
Derrick Rose, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and Hakeem Olajuwon are the 5 choices for the starter pack player, which are evolution cards. In previous years, starter packs usually gave a free agent card that would be used up after 5 games. This year, these 5 players can further be upgraded to help your team.
Upon achieving the necessary requirements, the card can “evolve”, moving up one tier. Each evolution card has a certain amount of tiers that they can move up into, as determined by the number of stars present on their card.
The starter cards mentioned above have 2 stars, which most likely means that the highest tier they can reach would be the ruby tier, from the emerald base tier, as used by YouTuber Kristopher London in the latest 2K20 MyTeam trailer.
The Isaiah Thomas card shown above has 3 stars, showing the upgrade potential to reach the Galaxy Opal form from an amethyst base. This will be interesting, especially for sellable cards. The developer blog mentions the dynamic of buying base cards, upgrading them, then selling them back for a more expensive price.
The NBA 2K20 MyTeam trailer reveals that the Throwback/Historic collections will be replaced by the all-new Spotlight cards.
The Spotlight Collection is a series of releases (replaces Throwbacks, which have been retired) where we pick a different ‘Spotlight’ player to focus on in each release. Our very first Spotlight release will be on launch day, September 6th, and will feature cover athlete Dwyane Wade.
That’s right. The very first release of the collection, entitled “Spotlight Series I: Dwyane Wade”. The 5-star Dwyane Wade card we saw earlier in the evolution menu most likely comes from this set.
This will always come with its own set of challenges that allow you to relive epic moments from The Flash’s basketball career. These include his insane 2006 Finals run and his 2010 All-Star Game MVP performance.
Completing all 17 challenges earns the reward of a Diamond Alonzo Mourning card, which was described as “overpowered”. Furthermore, collecting all rewards from the Series 1 Mega Set (such as the Alonzo Mourning card) will give the player an elite collection reward.
Legacy Showcase Cards
This is essentially another version of the Showcase cards, but it will focus on underrated legends from NBA history. Players like Earl Monroe, Nate Archibald and Jerry Sloan will all be explored, and collecting a set of these players will unlock another insane reward.
Similar to the 20th Anniversary collections last year, this new set will have 3 subsets, with each series set containing 5 cards each. Each series can be locked in, in order to unlock a collection reward. PRIME Series I’s collection reward has already been revealed to be a GALAXY OPAL Ray Allen! This set will feature the greatest players from NBA history and some NBA 2K fan favorites such as J.R. Smith.
Redesigned Heat Check Cards
Heat Check cards get a new mechanic for NBA 2K20, where the boost received by a card will now only depend on the player’s previous game. This means that it does not matter if a player was cold for 2 weeks, but if he suddenly drops 60, he’s getting an activated Heat Check card. As you can also see in the picture above, there are now 3 different versions of an activated Heat Check card, instead of the 1 from last year.
Redesigned Domination and Triple Threat
Domination now gives you the option to choose your difficulty, with easy mode giving you 1 star per victory, and hard mode giving you the full 3 stars. Just like NBA 2K18, Domination will consist of three versions with Current Teams, Historic Teams, and All-Time Teams serving as the main competitors. Defeating All-Time Domination will earn the player a Pink Diamond Shawn Kemp that will surely be a great addition to one’s squad.
The developer diary mentions another thing about evolution cards, where a player will be earning lower-tier evolution cards throughout domination that won’t necessarily stay on a person’s team. However, a special collection reward will be able upon obtaining the maximum evolution of the given cards, along with completing all of domination. Obtain a Pink Diamond Jason Richardson that can evolve into a Galaxy Opal!
For Triple Threat Offline, the teams you face will now be 3 randomly selected cards from the cards that have been released up to that point, instead of pre-determined lineups. Winning games are now the primary way to unlock new cards, with the grand prize being a Galaxy Opal Dominique Wilkins (unlockable at 1000 wins). You also have a chance to spin the wheel and potentially get prizes like tokens, MT points, packs and even cards!
Daily Login Bonuses
NBA 2K20 finally gives us daily login bonuses. While the prizes may seem small, logging into the mode for 7 straight days will give you the chance to win a special card! For the first week, players will be given a chance to acquire a 90 overall Steve Nash card, if they log in for all 7 days in a week.
Today in MyTeam and the Community Hub
Today in MyTeam events are essentially allotted time slots that have special bonuses for specific game modes in MyTeam. One such example is the one shown above, “Token Mania”, in which players can receive 1 bonus token for every domination win that took place during the shown times.
The community hub was also shown in the main menu of MyTeam, serving as an avenue for players to interact with MyTeam developers. Here you will find Tips and Tricks Videos, Leaderboards, Community Polls, Ask a Developer platforms, and other featured information (Team of the Week, New Moments, New Dynamic Duos, etc.).
We were also given a sneak peek at the all-new Dynamic Goals. In the trailer, this dynamic goal, in which the player has to use this Kyle Lowry card to record a 15-point, 10-assist stat line to earn 350 MT, popped unto the screen after the Lowry card was pulled. It should be interesting to see if the challenges, and rewards, increase as the year goes on.
After a year of running oversized power forwards at point guard cheese, NBA 2K has finally decided to implement position locks. Players can now only be played in their primary and secondary positions. One example of which is this spotlight elite Alonzo Mourning card that can be played at both the power forward and center positions. Say goodbye to Andrei Kirilenko at PG, or Giannis Antetokounmpo at C, because this new addition is set to make MyTeam Unlimited less rage inducing for sure.
MyLeague/MyGM has always been fun in NBA 2K, giving players the opportunity to rebuild and take control of all of the teams in the NBA (and now, the WNBA as well!)
For MyGM, you will now be given a certain amount of action points per day that will allow you to improve team morale, chemistry, and relations, or make roster and staff changes.
Score and Leaderboards
Players will now have a score for how well their MyGM is going, and leaderboards will be updated to see how well you fare compared to everyone else!
Skill Tree and New Leveling System
The Skill Tree allows GMs to level up attributes that would allow them to potentially negotiate better contracts, organize better trades, sign better free agents and so on. Additionally, each MyGM save file begins at Level 1, with each level having more and more benefits to make your MyGM experience all the more easier.
More Decisions, New Storyline
A new storyline has been put in for MyGM, with new characters and plot points. Furthermore, the relationship system between you and other members of your franchise has been upgraded, so keep a look out for a much more seamless and realistic conversation next time you talk to your team owner or coach.
Improved Player DNA
Player DNA has improved, with more slots, options and settings, basically allowing for an easier time with roster creation and player importing/exporting.
Improved Autogenerated Draft Classes
Fictional, auto generated draft classes have now improved to be much more realistic. Make sure to draft well by properly utilizing the scouting section of MyLeague/MyGM in order to draft your next big star!
Gameplay and Other Features
Here you can find the miscellaneous changes the game has brought!
WNBA IS HERE!
NBA Live did it last year, but it looks like NBA 2K has done it better. The WNBA is now accessible for both PlayNow and MyLeague/MyGM. Play as your favorite WNBA stars as you take on your opponents, or rebuild teams in order to win a championship!
Some badges have been removed, some badges have been added, and some badges have been renamed or combined. There are even more badges in this year’s NBA 2K game, with fan favorites such as Posterizer and Limitless Range no longer existing. This year, the OP badges seem to include Range Extender (Limitless Range), Contact Finisher (Posterizer for layups and dunks), Quick First Step (easier to blow-by), and Quick Draw (faster release), among others.
Improved Player Movement and AI
2K has mentioned about how they improved their motion engine, which should lead to more realistic gameplay. Hopefully we don’t have to see players helping off Kevin Durant and leaving him open in the corner anymore!
Improved Handles and “Read-and-react” Defense
Dribble moves and ball handling mechanics have been improved, according to NBA 2K developers. It seems to be much more realistic, and takes away more stamina. Don’t expect to see players constantly spamming dribble moves anymore!
Defensive mechanics have also been improved, with read-and-react defense being a known added mechanic. This allows the user to read the opponent’s offensive strategy, see how contested a shot is, and so on. This should incentivize on-ball defense in user vs user matchups.
6 NEW Classic Teams + All-Decade Teams
Lastly, 6 new classic teams have been added into NBA 2K20, including
- 2002-03 Phoenix Suns (Stephon Marbury, Shawn Marion, Amar’e Stoudemire)
- 2006-07 Washington Wizards (Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler)
- 2009-10 Portland Trailblazers (Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden)
- 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili)
- 2013-14 Los Angeles Clippers (Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan)
- 2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers (LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love)
Additionally, NBA 2K has also added All-Decade teams. You can now take on Jordan, Magic, Bird and the 1980’s team with LeBron, Durant, Curry and the 2010’s team to see who would emerge victorious!
That’s it for NBA 2K20’s 25 Newest Features! Are you excited for the game’s release? Follow us @UniqueSportplus on Twitter for more content like this!
The Golden State Warriors lost last year’s NBA Finals in 6 games to the Toronto Raptors after being heavily favored for most of the year. During the offseason, they lost superstar Kevin Durant and center DeMarcus Cousins to other contenders, and traded away 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala in a move to clear up their salary cap. While the Warriors’ core big 3 stays in tact, it’s safe to say their season next year will look a little different.
This article will be projecting the Warriors’ starting lineup next season when opening night rolls around. This means that injuries will be accounted for. Keep in mind that these reflect only my views and opinions, and mine alone. With that being said, let’s get started.
PG: Stephen Curry
2018-19 Stats: 27.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.2 apg, 1.3 spg, 2.8 topg
2018-19 Percentages: 47.2% FG, 43.7% 3PT, 91.2% FT
2018-19 Accolades: NBA All-Star, All-NBA First Team
The 2x MVP winner proved he was still one of the best in the league last season. He did all he could during the playoffs without all-stars Durant and Thompson, who were sitting out with injuries. During the Western Conference Finals, Curry averaged 36.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game in a 4-game sweep against Damian Lillard and the Trailblazers. Despite the disappointing loss to the Raptors, Curry averaged 30.5 points per game, including a 47-point performance in a Game 3 loss.
Now as the undisputed number 1 scoring option once again, Curry may look to emulate his MVP campaigns. His scoring and usage rate should expect boosts as the Curry and the Warriors look to make things competitive in the West.
2019-20 Stats Prediction: 29.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 6.3 apg, 1.7 spg, 3.0 topg
SG: D’Angelo Russell
2018-19 Stats: 21.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 7.0 apg, 1.2 spg, 3.1 topg
2018-19 Percentages: 43.4% FG, 36.9% 3PT, 78.0% FT
2018-19 Accolades: NBA All-Star
Russell, the 2nd overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft always had the potential to be great, and after 3 seasons of decent play, he’s beginning to step it up. The former Nets guard emerged as one of the league’s top guards last season en route to making his first ever All-Star team. He made the playoffs for the first time and averaged 19.4 points per game on 36% from the field in a 6-game series loss against the Sixers, but that’s to be expected from a player who has only been to the playoffs that one time.
D’Lo had some great performances last season, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot as the Nets’ primary closer. In a 123-121 win over the Kings, Russell scored 27 of his 41 total points in the fourth quarter to lead his team to a comeback victory. Now playing alongside the greatest shooter in NBA History, Russell should develop his game even further and benefit, despite the lowered usage rate.
2019-20 Stats Prediction: 22.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.4 spg, 2.7 topg
SF: Alfonzo McKinnie
2018-19 Stats: 4.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.4 topg
2018-19 Percentages: 48.7% FG, 35.6% 3PT, 56.3% FT
2018-19 Accolades: N/A
Alfonzo McKinnie is by no means the Warriors’ long-term solution to their small forward position, unless he steps it up. The relatively unknown G-Leaguer worked his way to a role in the Warriors’ rotation, playing 72 games during the regular season. His most notable performance came during the start of the season, recording a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double in a win against the Bulls. He can knock down shots and is pretty decent at defending, which makes his skill set useful for a team with already so many offensive options.
He faces competition in Glenn Robinson III who had a down year last season while playing for the Pistons. In my opinion, the Warriors may opt to start McKinnie due to his greater familiarity with the team. His hard work and dedication has made him a favorite in the locker room, so it would not be a surprise to see him get some minutes this season. Of course, all-star Klay Thompson would likely take this starting spot from him after he heals from a Torn ACL injury he suffered in the NBA Finals.
2019-20 Stats Prediction: 6.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.5 spg, 1.2 topg
PF: Draymond Green
2018-19 Stats: 7.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 6.9 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.0 bpg, 2.6 topg
2018-19 Percentages: 44.5% FG, 28.5% 3PT, 69.2% FT
2018-19 Accolades: NBA All-Defensive Second Team
His stats may not show it, but don’t let it fool you. Draymond Green is a good basketball player. The 2017 Defensive Player of the Year Winner is one of the most versatile players in the league. He serves as the Warriors’ facilitator and best defender, despite playing the power forward position. Green was even better in the playoffs, averaging 13.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.
Green has always been the team’s vocal leader, which is why he will be very instrumental to the Warriors’ success next season. There is a possibility that Green could once again join the All-Star team if he continues to impress in his role next season.
2019-20 Stats Prediction: 11.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 6.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 2.4 topg
C: Willie Cauley-Stein
2018-19 Stats: 11.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 1.0 topg
2018-19 Percentages: 55.6% FG, 50.0% 3PT, 55.1% FT
2018-19 Accolades: N/A
Cauley-Stein was unhappy in Sacramento, which is why this change of scenery can be so interesting. He didn’t get too much attention last season, despite having a pretty decent year. He fills his role perfectly, and while he isn’t an elite rim protector, he’s certainly more than capable of doing that job. He can set screens and roll to the basket, which is something that Golden State could benefit from. His best performance last season arguably came against the Pelicans, where he recorded a 22-point, 17-rebound double-double in a Kings win.
Now with the Warriors, Cauley-Stein should have a bigger opportunity to shine. He’s the Warriors’ best big man by far, and should get a lot of minutes alongside Curry and Russell, who can also benefit from his versatility and athleticism. He makes the Warriors an even more exciting team to watch next season, and his ridiculously underpaid contract of 2 years/$4.4 million could make him one of the biggest free agency steals this offseason..
2019-20 Stats Prediction: 13.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.4 topg
Thanks for reading! How well do you think the Warriors will do next season? Tweet us and follow us @UniqueSportplus for more great content like this! #DubNation
Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has just revealed the MCU’s plans for Phase 4, during his panel in Hall H of San Diego Comic-Con 2019.
After the recent success of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Phase 3 of the MCU, and the Infinity Saga as a whole, has finally come to a close. 23 movies later, the next phase of Marvel movies will tell the stories of new heroes, and continue the stories of old heroes. This article will detail the Marvel movies that Feige has confirmed to be in the MCU’s future.
Shoutout to reddit user u/DarkCurseBreaker for the HD Phase 4 timeline graphic!
Black Widow (May 1, 2020)
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, O.T. Fagbenle
With Natasha Romanoff’s sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame, many expected this long awaited solo film to be a prequel. However, while this film will presumably cover some of Black Widow’s story, giving her the origin story that fans have wanted for a long time, it will also reportedly cover her time in Budapest, and will take place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. She will reportedly be facing off against the villain “Taskmaster”, one of the most lethal assassins in the comics.
Joining Johansson in this movie are Stranger Things’ David Harbour playing “Alexei”, Midsommer’s Florence Pugh playing “Yelena”, The Mummy’s Rachel Weisz as “Melina“, and O.T. Fagbenle from Handmaid’s Tale portraying “Mason”.
Black Widow (directed by Cate Shortland) will be released on May 1, 2020, making it the first Phase 4 movie to be released.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Fall 2020)
Starring: Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Emily VanCamp, Daniel Brühl
The conclusion of Avengers: Endgame saw the mantle of Captain America passed on to Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon. The first Disney+ show to be released will Sam teaming up with Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier (aka White Wolf?) as they find themselves matched up against a familiar foe, Baron Zemo, making a return from Captain America: Civil War.
Starring as the titular characters, the “Falcon” and the “Winter Soldier”, are Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, respectively. Joining the two is Emily VanCamp, reprising her role as Sharon Carter. Lastly, Daniel Brühl is returning as the evil villain Baron Zemo, who played a big part in the Avengers’ disbanding.
The series is expected to be released in the Fall of 2020, becoming the first of 5 Disney+ shows to be premiered on the upcoming streaming service.
Eternals (November 6, 2020)
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjani, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Don Lee, Brian Tyree Henry, Lia McHugh, Lauren Ridloff
The Eternals movie is set to take place millions of years before Tony Stark even announced he was Iron Man. But who exactly are the Eternals? Look no further as Richard Madden himself, describes the characters the movie will revolve around.
The Eternals are a race of immortal aliens sent to Earth by the Celestials to protect humankind from the Deviants.
Madden, who you may know from Game of Thrones and Rocketman, will be starring as “Icarus”, one of the Eternals. Joining him are Angelina Jolie (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Maleficent), who will be portraying “Thena”, Kumail Nanjani (The Big Sick, Stuber) as “Kingo”, Salma Hayek (Frida, Grown Ups) as “Ajak”, Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) as “Phastos”, American Woman’s Lia McHugh as “Sprite”, The Walking Dead’s Lauren Ridloff as “Makkari” and Train to Busan’s Don Lee (Ma Dong Seok) as “Gilgamesh”.
The star-studded movie is expected to be released in theaters on November 6, 2020, and will be directed by Chloe Zhao.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (February 12, 2021)
Iron Man 3 introduced us to the fake Mandarin, much to the fans’ dismay played by the great Sir Ben Kingsley. For those who were hoping to see the real, infamous Iron Man villain on the big screen, you’ll definitely want to watch this film. Shang-Chi’s solo film will see the first ever Asian superhero in the MCU square off against the Mandarin.
“Shang-Chi” will be played by Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience), and will be joined by Awkwafina, whose role has not been disclosed, and Tony Leung, who will be portraying the Mandarin.
Shang-Chi is set to open in theaters on February 6, 2020, and will be directed by Destin Daniel Cretton.
WandaVision (Spring 2021)
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Teyonah Parris
It is currently unknown how Vision will make a return to the MCU, due to his supposed “death” in Avengers: Infinity War at the hands of Thanos. WandaVision is set to take place after Avengers: Endgame, so it remains to be seen if Shuri was able to successfully download Vision during the Battle of Wakanda.
WandaVision stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, reprising their roles as “Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch” and the “Vision” from the MCU films. Joining the duo is Teyonah Parris (Mad Men, Chi-Raq), playing the role for an adult “Monica Rambeau”. This character was last seen as the daughter of Lashana Lynch’s “Maria Rambeau” in the Captain Marvel film, and she will now be joining the MCU as an adult (since the film took place in the 90s).
The series will premiere on Disney+ in the Spring of 2021, and will reportedly lead into the next MCU Film, Doctor Strange: In The Multiverse of Madness.
Doctor Strange: In The Multiverse of Madness (May 7, 2021)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong
Doctor Strange is known as one of the strongest magic users and heroes in the entire MCU, so why not team him up with another one? This sequel will team him up with Wanda Maximoff, who will be joining forces with Strange in what is reportedly the MCU’s first “horror”-like movie. As previously mentioned, the events of WandaVision will directly tie-in to this film, which should make for a pretty interesting storyline and character arc for both heroes.
“Dr. Stephen Strange” will once again be portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, with Elizabeth Olsen coming back as “Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch”. Benedict Wong has not yet been confirmed to reprise his role as “Wong”, but there should be no reason why he would not return for the sequel.
The film will come out on May 7, 2021, and will once again be directed by Scott Derrickson. This will be the second of three MCU movies to be released in 2021.
Loki (Spring 2021)
Starring: Tom Hiddleston
Whatever happened to Loki? Avengers: Endgame saw the 2012 version of Loki escape with the Tesseract when the Avengers failed to retrieve it in their time heist. This series will reportedly explore that version of the god of mischief, seeing as the heroic version was brutally murdered by Thanos in Infinity War.
As of now, the only confirmed character is “Loki”, being played once again by Tom Hiddleston, who has already portrayed the iconic hero/villain in 6 different films,
Loki will most likely premiere through the Disney+ streaming service after the release of Doctor Strange: In The Multiverse of Madness, sometime in the Spring of 2021.
What If? is the first ever animated MCU TV series, and will feature episodes regarding scenarios that weren’t explored by the writers and directors. The first episode will reportedly revolve around Peggy Carter receiving the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers, with Rogers suiting up in an Iron Man prototype suit developed by Howard Stark.
A total of 25 actors and actresses will be returning to voice their MCU characters, including Michael B. Jordan, Sebastian Stan, Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hensworth, Hayley Atwell, Chadwick Boseman, Karen Gillian, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Neal McDonough, Dominic Cooper, Sean Gunn, Natalie Portman, David Dastmalchian, Stanley Tucci, Taika Waititi, Toby Jones, Djimon Hounsou, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Rooker and Chris Sullivan, all reprising their MCU roles. Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale, Boardwalk Empire, Westworld) has been cast as The Watcher, who will narrate the animated series.
Hawkeye (Fall 2021)
Starring: Jeremy Renner
Despite being an OG Avenger, Hawkeye never got the respect he deserves. The archer is often considered to be the weakest (physically) of the original six, but his heart and passion definitely proves vital to the team. Avengers: Endgame saw Clint Barton’s transformation after the “snap” turned his wife and kids into dust. This series will likely focus on Clint’s redemption arc, the lives of the Barton family, and the eventual passing of the torch (or should I say, bow) to Kate Bishop. In the comics, Bishop is one of many to take on the Hawkeye mantle, and is a part of the Young Avengers.
As of now, the only confirmed actor for this series is Jeremy Renner, reprising his role as “Clint Barton”/”Hawkeye”. Renner previously portrayed Hawkeye in 3 films, before switching to Barton’s darker and more violent alter-ego in “Ronin” during the events of Avengers: Endgame.
The final Disney+ show to be announced is scheduled for release sometime in the Fall of 2021.
Thor: Love and Thunder
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Natalie Portman
Thor: Ragnarok revitalized the Thor franchise, with the third installment of the trilogy shifting the character to a much more light-hearted version of the god of Thunder. Thor’s character definitely underwent some changes during his last three appearances (Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame), with Thor dealing with the death of his father Odin, his brother Loki, his close friends Heimdall and the Warriors Three, and of course, the infamous “You should’ve aimed for the head” scene from Avengers: Infinity War. The movie is reportedly drawing inspiration from “The Mighty Thor” storyline, which gave fans the first ever female Thor, in Jane Foster,
Thor: Love and Thunder marks the 8th appearance of Chris Hemsworth as “Thor Odinson”, with Tessa Thompson’s “Valkyrie” making a return as well. Surprisingly to fans, Natalie Portman will be back in this film, reprising her role as “Jane Foster” from the first two Thor movies.
This movie is rumored to be the last film in Marvel’s Phase Four, to be released on November 5, 2021, with Taika Waititi once again directing the movie.
Starring: Mahershala Ali
The Phase 4 timeline may have been complete, but that didn’t stop Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige from announcing the production of the Blade reboot. The half-vampire, half-human superhero was previously portrayed by actor Wesley Snipes in a Blade trilogy, which concluded with the 2004 film, “Blade: Trinity”.
Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, Green Book, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse) has been announced to play “Eric Brook”/”Blade”, the only confirmed character so far.
There is no director attached to the project yet, nor is there a scheduled released date announced by Marvel Studios. The film may release in 2022, during the beginning of the MCU’s Phase 5.
Thanks for reading! Are you excited for Phase 4? Do you think MORE movies and TV shows will be announced in the upcoming D23 Expo? Follow us @Uniquesportplus on Twitter for more content like this!
Take a look at the photo down below for the actual MCU Phase 4 timeline they showed at SDCC 2019!
The Summer of 2019 has been an interesting one — to say the very least. In just the first twelve days of the 2019 NBA off-season, the entire landscape of the association has changed. From Anthony Davis being traded to the LeBron James lead Los Angeles Lakers, to Kawhi Leanord and Paul George joining forces on the Los Angeles Clippers, to Russell Westbrook joining his previous teammate and long time friend James Harden in Houston, the NBA has been through an abundant amount of league changing events. However, the move that set this all in place was the departure of Kevin Durant from the Golden State Warriors. Durant, who signed with the Brooklyn Nets this off season has changed the landscape of the NBA, (again). With his decision of leaving the Warriors, thus presumably ending the Warriors dynasty, Durant invited in a new era to the NBA, one in which parity has finally returned to the league. With the demise of the Golden State Warriors dynasty, the NBA is no longer controlled by a single power house team, but is instead run by a band of newly formed power duos. A new age has dawned upon us NBA fans, in which the NBA is now run by the likes of some of the most elite duos constructed in recent NBA history. Let’s take a look at the top five duos in the upcoming 2018-2019 NBA season (when healthy):
1) Lebron James & Anthony Davis
Starting off this list is one of the greatest players of all time, LeBron James accompanied by one of the greatest players of this decade, Anthony Davis. While there is no way of being certain, since they have yet to hit the hardwood together, this duo has all the implications of being completely dominant. LeBron’s excellent play making ability mixed with Anthony Davis’ ability to finish around the basket will electrify the Lakers fan base and the NBA world. With a combination of the two superstars scoring ability, offensive versatility, defensive tools, athleticism, and size, it’s hard to see any other duo dominating at the same level as these two.
2) Kawhi Leanord & Paul George
Kawhi Leanord, the reigning NBA Finals MVP just tore down the all time great Golden State Dynasty without a single other superstar by his side. Now, imagine what he will do with another superstar, Paul George by his side. Kawhi, who is a two time Defensive Player of the Year is proven to be one of the greatest defenders in the NBA, however Paul George, his new teammate is in the conversation for best defender in the NBA as well. Both stars are lock down defenders on one end, and will score on the defense in a number of different ways on the opposite end. George and Kawhi can both score the basketball, spread the floor, finish around the basket, and still lock up the best player on the opposing team. Now, that is a dangerous tandem to stop.
3) Kevin Durant & Kyrie Irving
Next up is the duo that NBA fans have speculated about for the last year — two great friends and even greater basketball players, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Kevin Durant is arguably the best basketball player in the world, and has always yearned to be the guy on a championship team. Yes, he was phenomenal in Golden State, however that was always Steph Curry’s team. Finally, Durant has a chance to be the batman and a point guard that can be the perfect robin — Kyrie Irving. Imagine throwing a double team at Kyrie only to have Kevin Durant patiently waiting on the wing for his chance to destroy the opposing defense. Combining Durant’s overall scoring dominance (possibly greatest scorer of all time), with Irving’s immense skill level and ability to finish through driving lanes, the Brooklyn Nets have two of the most skilled players in the NBA.
4) James Harden & Russell Westbrook
This duo, while unorthodox, has the potential to completely dominate the NBA. Both player have been amongst the top ten leaders in NBA usage rate for the last three years, and both have been top three in turnovers for the last few years as well. That being said, both are triple double machines, and are arguably two of the top three most versatile players in the NBA alongside LeBron James. For what James Harden lacks in aggression, Russell (more than) makes up, and for what Russell lacks in shooting ability, James Harden makes up. Both superstars have won an MVP in the last three years, can score thirty plus in any given game while still being extraordinary play makers. Westbrook and Harden collectively have the NBA in scoring for four of the last five NBA seasons, and have still managed to stay on the top of the list for assists per game year in and year out. This duo, in the hands of the right offensive system, can wreak havoc on any opposing team in the league.
5) Stephen Curry & Klay Thompson
Unlike the other four previously mentioned duos, this tandem is the only one to have been seen before. Curry and Thompson are two of the top five greatest shooters that the NBA has ever seen, Steph’ being undeniably number one. The two stars undoubtedly have the best chemistry out of any other two man tandem in the NBA, and that is not likely to change. Together, Curry and Klay lead the Warriors to an NBA championship in 2015, and the very next year lead their team to an NBA record 73 wins in the regular season. While the pair of sharp shooters are an all time great duo, they lack the athleticism of the other superstar duos in the league, and Klay Thompson, while an exceptional basketball player, is not on the same level as any other player listed above.
The NBA is finally free of dynasties taking over the league, parity has finally been restored and now the real show begins — the battle of the duos.
🚨 Ultimate Packs are now LIVE. Collect all the cards in the set to earn 750 tokens. Cards include:— NBA 2K19 MyTEAM (@NBA2K_MyTEAM) July 5, 2019
And more.. pic.twitter.com/ixhTOZcAAZ
This collection features 5 pullable Galaxy Opals, 5 pullable Pink Diamonds, and a collection reward of 750 tokens! These include Galaxy Opal cards of Klay Thomspon, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and Paul Pierce, Pink Diamond cards of Bernard King, Kevin Love, Rudy Gobert, Jermaine O’Neal and Michael Finley. There are 3 days left for you to pull these unbelievable cards!
How much does it cost?
Each single pack costs 11,250 VC and 10,500 MT, while the deluxe single packs (guaranteed promo player) costs 15,000 VC and 17,250 MT. A 10-pack box of deluxe packs costs 135,000 VC and cannot be bought with MT.
Galaxy Opal Klay Thompson
- 99 Midrange (Open, Contested, Off dribble)
- 99 3pt (Open, Contested, Off dribble)
- 99 On-ball Defense IQ
- 92 Speed and Acceleration
- 89 Ball Control
- 85 Dunk (Driving, Contact)
- HOF Posterizer
- HOF Limitless Range
- HOF Defensive Stopper
Klay cards are always cheesy in 2K, and this card is no exception. He has maxed out shooting stats, improved dribbling and slashing stats, and comes equipped with one of the best releases in the game!
Galaxy Opal Kevin Durant
- 99 Midrange (Open, Contested, Off dribble)
- 99 Open 3pt, 98 Contested and Off dribble 3pt
- 98 Dunk (Driving, Contact)
- 97 On-ball Defense IQ
- 97 Speed and Acceleration
- 97 Ball Control
- HOF Posterizer
- HOF Limitless Range
- HOF Defensive Stopper
- HOF Ankle Breaker
- Gold Dimer
Just like the Klay cards, all KD cards in NBA 2K are cheat codes. This particular Galaxy Opal is statistically the best one in the set, with its all-around stats being nearly maxed out, along with some insane badges as well.
Galaxy Opal Stephen Curry
- 99 Midrange (Open, Contested, Off dribble)
- 99 3pt (Open, Contested, Off dribble)
- 99 Ball Control
- 98 Speed and Acceleration
- 95 On-ball Defense IQ
- 75 Dunk (Driving, Contact)
- HOF Limitless Range
- HOF Defensive Stopper
- HOF Ankle Breaker
- HOF Dimer
What Stephen Curry cards lack in dunking, they make up in shooting. This card could easily pull up from the logo and hit some threes, and could potentially turn the game around if you find yourself losing. His dunking stats are pretty decent, but they should be good enough for you to get in a few Curry jams everyone once in a while.
Galaxy Opal Russell Westbrook
- 99 Ball Control
- 99 Speed and Acceleration
- 99 Dunk (Driving, Contact)
- 98 On-ball Defense IQ
- 98 Midrange (Open, Contested, Off dribble)
- 96 3pt (Open, Contested, Off dribble)
- HOF Posterizer
- HOF Limitless Range
- HOF Defensive Stopper
- HOF Ankle Breaker
- HOF Dimer
Honestly, this is everything you want in a MyTeam point guard. This Westbrook card boasts all around stats, allowing him to shoot, drive, pass, rebound and defend with ease. He should have some insane dunk packages that would make him extremely fun to use in your squad.
Galaxy Opal Paul Pierce
- 98 Midrange (Open, Contested, Off dribble)
- 98 3pt (Open, Contested, Off dribble)
- 97 On-ball Defense IQ
- 95 Dunk (Driving, Contact)
- 93 Speed and Acceleration
- 90 Ball Control
- HOF Posterizer
- HOF Limitless Range
- HOF Defensive Stopper
- Gold Ankle Breaker
- Gold Dimer
Pierce’s jumper is hard to time for some, but his shooting stats can make up for that. The Truth’s card may not be as flashy, nor does it have stats as good as Durant’s or Thompson’s, but it is still respectable in its own right. He can shoot, dunk and defend, and even has a decent ball control rating to help him with his shot creation.
Here I will rank the 5 remaining Pink Diamond cards in terms of which I find the best, along with a few key stats and badges.
- Kevin Love (98 Open 3pt, HOF Limitless Range)
- Michael Finley (95 Open 3pt, 95 Driving Dunk, HOF Limitless Range and Posterizer)
- Bernard King (95 Driving Dunk, 88 Open 3pt, HOF Posterizer)
- Jermaine O’Neal (95 Dunk, 92 Open 3pt, HOF Posterizer)
- Rudy Gobert (95 Driving Dunk, HOF Defensive Stopper, Gold Posterizer)
That was the list! How many players from this collection have you added to your squads? Make sure to follow us @UniqueSportplus on Twitter and make sure to share the article!
Who is Russell Westbrook?
The good, the bad, and the ugly – all of which you can expect to get from Russell Westbrook. The six-foot-three guard out of UCLA can be described in so many different ways, that he is almost indescribable. If one was to even attempt describing this whirl-wind of an athlete they would likely begin with terms such as phenomenal, record-breaking, explosive, driven, frantic, arrogant, relentless, unmanageable, and most of all unpredictable. Like I said, the good, the bad, and the ugly all at once.
Russell Westbrook — Face of the Franchise
It has been three years since the previous face of the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise, the all-time great co-star and teammate of Russell Westbrook left the Thunder. In a move that shook the foundation of the National Basketball Association, Kevin Durant decided to pack his bags and leave the Thunder for the team that had just beaten him and Russell Westbrook only Thirty-four days prior to his decision. He did what almost no one anticipated and joined the Golden State Warriors, a team who had just beaten him and his teammate of nine years, leaving Russell Westbrook alone to be the leader of the pack in Oklahoma City. Critics ridiculed Kevin’s move as it showed a great lack of competitive fire, however, the critiques on Russell Westbrook had also spiked, following Durant’s decision. Many fans and analysts across the NBA world questioned heavily if Kevin Durant left because of Russell Westbrook and his unmanageable play style, and even more questioned if Westbrook was capable of winning on his own. With all the negative remarks and attacks on Westbrook’s game, coupled with the fact that his great friend, and career-long teammate had just joined forces with the “enemy”, Russell Westbrook accepted his role as the new leader of the franchise and was more driven than ever before.
In the season immediately following Durant’s departure, Russell Westbrook performed what any sane group of NBA fans would deem as something that would never happen again. He averaged a season-long triple-double, an accomplishment that had not been done since the great Oscar Robertson had done it in the 1961-62 NBA season. Not only did Westbrook achieve something that seemed so out of the realm of possibility for this generation of NBA fans, but he has since done it two more times, all of which consecutively accomplished in the three straight seasons since Kevin Durant left. The erratic Westbrook has proved to all the doubters that he is ferocious beyond limits, as he has won a scoring title, and an MVP since becoming the face of the OKC franchise in 2016. Three straight seasons of averaging a triple double, three straight season of sheer excellence, and three straight seasons of being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately, the last segment is the most focused on, and rightfully so. It is truly incredible how Russell Westbrook has silenced almost every critique pointed at his game in the last three years, however there is one doubt-filled question that cannot be erased. Will Russell Westbrook ever win a championship?
Three Years — Three First Round Exits
We would like to think that for a player that produces unprecedented numbers, and plays with unforeseen passion and a relentless level of energy, the answer to this question would be yes. However, since Kevin Durant left, Russell Westbrook accompanied by his new superstar partner, Paul George, had only won an average of forty-eight games per season, a tally that is noticeably down from the fifty three win pace that a Kevin-Durant lead Thunder franchise enjoyed for the last seven years of his tenure there. With Kevin being the undeniably best player on the Thunder roster, the team had made it once to the Western conference second round, three times to the Western Conference Finals, and even one historic run to the NBA finals. Fast forward to 2016, where Russell Westbrook has now become the leader, and face of the OKC Thunder, and the thunder have had very different results, as they have yet to even make it past the first round of the NBA playoffs, since Durant’s departure. After each exit from the playoffs, the question of Russell Westbrook being able to win while being the leader of a team seems to gloom heavier and heavier, and the answer is simple – he can’t.
Historic Numbers — Disappointing Results
Russell Westbrook, an NBA MVP, a generational record-setting machine, a relentless force that can take over a game with the likes of only NBA legends, is a once in a lifetime player, without a doubt. The only player to lead the NBA in scoring, win an MVP and average a triple double, all in one season is none other than the extraordinary Russell Westbrook. He is the only player in history capable of sustaining a triple double average for three consecutive seasons, as well as the only player in NBA history to record ten consecutive triple doubles in ten straight games. He is a talent capable of taking over the game in more ways than possibly any other player in the history of basketball. He is tied for most points all time in an NBA finals fourth quarter, where taking over a game not only matters the most, but also becomes the most difficult yet impressive. He holds a spot on the list of top ten all time for total assists in any basketball game ever, at 24 assists. He has the highest rebounds per game average amongst any guard in the last decade. Simply put, Russell Westbrook can dominate a game in more ways than any other player we have ever seen, and the numbers are all there to prove this notion. However, as great of an anomaly Russell Westbrook may be, and throughout all of the criticism that he has put to rest, there is one critique that he has not and cannot silence, and that is the notion that he is incapable of leading a team to win an NBA championship.
The Leader Who Can’t Be Lead
It is both a blessing, and a curse to have Russell Westbrook as your starting point guard. He will be amongst the top three NBA leaders in assists per game, year in and year out, making the job of each of his teammates much easier. However, it is no secret that the hot-headed, temper flaring, loud-mouthed Russell Westbrook is simultaneously difficult to play with, and even more difficult to win with. He is a loose cannon, one that is simply unmanageable. He does whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and however he wants, and that is exactly the problem — no-one can tell him what to do, not even the coaching staff. The reasons Russell Westbrook will never win an NBA championship as the best player on the team are abundant, but can be narrowed down to three main factors; his decision making, his inefficiency, and his unwillingness to adapt his game to modern NBA needs.
Historical Inefficiency of Russell Westbrook
Approximately half way through the 2018-19 NBA season, reports surfaced proving that Russell Westbrook was in the midst of an all-time inefficient season in terms of scoring the basketball. In eleven seasons of playing, Westbrook has only managed to shoot above, or at the league average for field goal percentage twice, which is astonishingly rare for a player of his magnitude. Despite his poor efficiency from the field, Russ’ had maintained a competitively high PER (player efficiency rating) for the last eight NBA seasons. Inflated by a high quantity in both free throw attempts, and free throw makes, it is understandable that Westbrook’s PER would drop if either of these variables were affected. In Russ’ case, they were both altered. In the 2018-19 campaign, Russell shot a career worst percentage from the free throw line, and attempted less free throws this season than he has since 2009-10, his second season in the NBA. In addition to all this, Russell shot twenty-nine percent from three point territory, marking once again his worst percentage from that range since the 2009-10 season. The 2018-19 season proved to be Russel’s worst in terms of efficiency since that previously noted sophomore season, and in result, Westbrook held his lowest PER since the 2009-10 season. Unfortunately, while these poor percentages are amongst his worst, the extremely poor efficiency has been a theme of Russel’s career. Throughout his career, Westbrook has shot poorly from all areas considered to be a “jumpshot”, as the chart below details.
Distance of Attempt (ft.)
FG % by Attempt
Combine this career-long trend of astonishingly poor shooting, with his inability to make free-throws at an average rate amongst guards, along with his dropping three point percentages, and you create a player who can score, but only with volume, and gives you many more misses than he will be makes. Looking at these expected yet still surprisingly low efficiency metrics, it can be argued that Westbrook is a liability on offense, an attribute that doesn’t belong with a player that can be the leader of a championship team.
The Game is Half IQ & Russell is Missing That Half
Apart from Westbrook’s low scoring efficiency, Russell holds a very low Basketball IQ, measured by his poor decision making which shines brighter as the stage becomes bigger. There is no denying that Westbrook has hit many clutch shots in his career, especially since the departure of Kevin Durant. However, he has also cost the OKC Thunder countless games down the stretch due to his decision making. Whether it is an ill-advised deeply contested three, or a late game turnover while trying to force the ball into a packed lane, Russell cannot seem to make the right decision very often when it is most crucial. Take one random game, Thunder vs. Timber-wolves in January of 2019 as a classic example. In a match where Russell had an absolutely marvelous sixteen assists, and an overall greatly managed game, Westbrook ruined it all in just eleven seconds, the final eleven seconds. Westbrook was finding and helping teammates score all night, but all of a sudden with 11.5 seconds remaining on the clock Russell shot an unnecessary three right over the outstretched arms of a nearly seven foot tall center, Karl Anthony Towns, and then proceeded to get the ball back with about three seconds left just to shoot yet another heavily contested three, this time an airball. The worst part is: the team was only down two and did not need to shoot a three. Of course, this is only one particular occurrence, but this one occurrence exemplifies what critics mean when they claim Russell is a poor decision maker. In just these final eleven seconds of one game, Russ’ proved his lack of trust in teammates, his lack of awareness in that he had a wide open teammate, not once, but twice, and his lack of judgment shown by the fact that this was a two point game, and a three point attempt was not necessary. Unfortunately, Westbrook’s late game and overall decision making has cost them many more games, of much higher magnitude than just this one game in January, and resonates with why Russell Westbrook is not a winning player.
The Modern NBA
We are living in the modern era of the NBA, noted by factors such as a change in pace, a stricter officiating standard, and more movement amongst free agents, is most noticeably classified by a large increase in the quantity of three pointers both made and attempted. Most players have bought into this new barrage of perimeter shooting — most. Russell Westbrook is not amongst the majority in many things, especially not this movement of obsessing over the three ball. Since the 2002-03 NBA season, the average three points attempted per team has increased every single season, and has spiked dramatically since 2011. These signs amongst many other factors prove that this league has become revolved around the perimeter. With the league wide trend of shooting more three point FGA became ever-so prominent, Russell Westbrook also began to launch more threes — he’s just not very successful at doing so. In an association where the average three point percentage is marked at 35.5%, Russell shoots a measly 30.8% from three point range. Guards in the NBA in particular have adapted to the new world of shooting, and Russell, a point guard should have done so many ages ago. Due to his poor shooting from three point territory, along with his high volume of (usually erratic) attempts, the OKC Thunder have endured being in the bottom five of the NBA in three point efficiency for back to back years now. Again, in a league that is revolved around perimeter shooting, it is impossible to win a championship with a bottom level shooting team, and Westbrook is a major contributor to that.
On the fourth of July, 2016, Kevin Durant left the Thunder franchise, imposing the critics to question if Westbrook can be the best player, or leader on a championship team. Russell has been given three chances to prove that he indeed can, and has miserably failed each time, being bounced out of the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. Fast forward to the fifth of July, 2019, almost exactly three years since the departure of Durant, and Westbrook is hit with the loss of yet another superstar teammate — Paul George. George, who demanded a trade is now on the Los Angeles Clippers, alongside reigning NBA finals MVP Kawhi Leanord, and Westbrook is once again stuck, alone in Oklahoma. The unfortunate reality is that as forcefully dominant Russell is, and as historically great his career has been, he is not a winner, and great players who want to win recognize this. Westbrook has played with the likes of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Paul George in his career, and has yet to win a championship. He may be an MVP, a scoring champion, one of the best athletes the NBA has ever seen, but Russell Westbrook is not a winner, and he never will be.
That was crazy.
After months and months of rumors, the first day of free agency finally concluded. The league has changed, with superstars like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant having already shifted teams. This article will cover who, in my opinion, won and lost Day 1 of NBA Free Agency.
Losers: Minnesota Timberwolves
Newly Acquired Players: Jordan Bell (RFA), Shabazz Napier, Treveon Graham
Ah yes, my favorite team. The Timberwolves have been linked to D’Angelo Russell for weeks, and were heavily favored to land the all-star guard. It looked more and more certain as the Nets were announced to sign superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, while also picking up DeAndre Jordan. If the Timberwolves managed to pair the 1st and 2nd overall picks from the 2015 Draft together (Towns and Russell, respectively), it surely would’ve formed one of the most dynamic duos in the league.
Unfortunately for the Timberwolves, the Golden State Warriors came out of nowhere and “stole” Russell away. After trading 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala away to the Grizzlies (to clear salary), it seems that they will be initiating a sign-and-trade deal with the Nets, revolving around Russell and Durant.
The Timberwolves will be acquiring Napier and Graham from the Nets as the third team of the sign-and-trade deal. The Warriors’ Jordan Bell has also agreed to a 1 year/$1.6 million contract, which the Warriors can match. They definitely picked up some good pieces, but losing Russell was heartbreaking.
Winners: Golden State Warriors
Newly Acquired Players: D’Angelo Russell (Sign-and-Trade)
Coming into free agency, most predicted that Kevin Durant, a 2x Finals MVP, would be leaving the franchise. With Klay Thompson out with a torn ACL injury, it seemed as if the Warriors would no longer be at the top of the league, especially after claiming 3 of the last 5 NBA Championships.
Until they brought in D’Angelo Russell. The Nets all-star is reportedly participating in a sign-and-trade deal that would bring him to the Bay Area in exchange for Durant. Now the Warriors’ lineup does not have any depth whatsoever, after trading away Andre Iguodala to the Grizzlies, and having virtually no cap space left. However, the acquisition of Russell does give add another all-star caliber player to a team that should have no problem finding veterans to sign for the minimum, that should keep them competitive next season.
Losers: New York Knicks
Recently Acquired Players: Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington
The Knicks have been the laughing stock of the league for the past few years, and this free agency showed that it isn’t going to change anytime soon. They’ve been rumored as a potential destination for a Durant-Irving team up, seeing as they had 2 max contract slots available. However, following Durant’s Achilles injury, the Knicks were unwilling to offer him a max contract, as he ended up signing with the Nets.
Instead, the Knicks were able to pick up Julius Randle, who had a stellar 2018-19 campaign for the Pelicans. They also signed 2 other power forwards in Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson, and another veteran in Wayne Ellington, which admittedly isn’t as big of a free agency splash as some Knicks fans would’ve liked.
Winners: Brooklyn Nets
Picture via Clutch Points
Recently Acquired Players: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan
If the Knicks lost free agency so far, the Nets have surely won it. The Nets managed to add NBA superstars in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who have each taken pay cuts for the Nets to sign former all-star center and close friend, DeAndre Jordan. The Nets and Warriors should be participating in a sign-and-trade deal (along with the Timberwolves), revolving around Durant and Russell.
Despite Durant’s injury, and despite the big acquisitions they made, the Nets still managed to keep core pieces like Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, who all had career years last season. Now with a loaded roster, the Nets should be expected to make a finals push within the next few years.
Losers: Los Angeles Lakers
Recently Acquired Players: N/A
With Russell’s move to the Warriors, the Lakers just lost their backup plan. D’Lo was reported to be the Lakers’ contingency plan, in case they couldn’t land Kawhi Leonard. Speaking of Leonard, he has yet to have made a decision on which team he will be suiting up for next season. According to numerous reports, he has limited his options to the Lakers, the Clippers, and his current team, the Raptors, who he won a championship with.
It’s hard to tell why Kawhi would leave the Raptors based on a basketball standpoint. He just won the NBA Finals with a team that seems to have great chemistry when they play with one another. If the Lakers miss out on Leonard, then they would’ve cleared a max contract slot for nothing. Their best bet is to sign role players to fill out the rest of their team, but a lot of free agents have already agreed to sign with teams.
If the Lakers get Kawhi, it’s a win. If they don’t, it’s a loss.
Winners: Philadelphia 76ers
Recently Acquired Players: Josh Richardson, Al Horford, Tobias Harris (resigned), Mike Scott (resigned)
The 76ers have replaced 2 members of their starting lineup, and their team once again looks like an Eastern Conference contender. No one in the starting 5 is under 6’6″, with a lineup that looks like a defensive nightmare. They managed to replace Butler with a younger and similar player in Richardson, and have brought in Al Horford who was a key piece in the Celtics teams that eliminated the 76ers for the past two years. They’ve also brought back Scott (aka the Threegional Manager), who was a great stretch big for them off the bench.
After trading away Robert Covington and Dario Saric for Jimmy Butler, they’ve traded away Butler as well. Butler was great in the playoffs, and a great closer for the young team as well. He was their go-to scorer in the clutch, as they depended on him to take the shots when it mattered most. Now, it is up to the rest of the team to fill in the void that Butler has left.
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If you haven’t seen my latest article on Spider-Man: Far From Home (no spoilers!), click the link to check out everything you need to know before watching the movie!
Below I have listed the Top Free Agents Of The Next 4 NBA Draft Classes.
2020 Free Agent Class
2021 Free Agent Class
2022 Free Agent Class
2023 Free Agent Class
D’Angleo Russell and his camp have apparently been attempting to schedule a meeting with the Lakers front office but it seems there hasn’t been an exact date set.
What I take from this is Kawhi is the Lakers #1 option and DLO and his representatives know this. However the reason(s) why D’Angelo still wants to be a Laker after they have traded him and are currently making him a second option is pretty simple. Money.
While the Lakers can’t offer the most money in terms of Cap Space or Annual dollars they can offer something no other franchise can. Which is being a Los Angeles Laker, going to the Lakers this summer when his Sneaker Free Agency Just happens to be this summer as well will give him added leverage when negotiating a new sneaker deal.
Signing with the Lakers will give him a boost in terms of sponsorships and overall money earned in his career off Court. Not to mention the fact that if he wins a championship or multiple with the Lakers he will grow his brand even more and will sell more shoes than in any other market. The BEST Spot for DLO’s Career is Los Angeles and he KNOWS this, that’s why he will be more than willing to not only wait to see if the Lakers strike out on Kawhi, but he will also be willing to help the Lakers Get other pieces to build around them by allowing them to add incentives into his contract, Such as a $3M Playoff Bonus.
Dewayne Dedmon- Hawks
Al Horford- Pelicans
Kyrie Irving- Nets
Marcus Morris- Pacers
Allen Crabbe- Nets
Demarre Carrol- Pacers
Kemba Walker- Celtics
Jermey Lamb- Hornets
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist- Hornets
Robin Lopez- Warriors
Nik Stauskas- Knicks
Marquese Chriss- Bulls
J J Barea- Mavericks
Isiah Thomas- Hornets
Klay Thompson- Warriors
Kevin Durant- Nets
Demarcus Cousins- Knicks
Austin Rivers- Rockets
Kenneth Faried- Rockets
Iman Shumpert- 76ers
Gerald Green- Rockets
Thaddeus Young- Pacers
D’Angelo Russell- Lakers
Wesley Matthews- 76ers
Patrick Beverley- Lakers
Rajon Rondo- Lakers
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Lakers
Lance Stephenson- Thunder
Javale McGee- Lakers
Reggie Bullock- Lakers
Goran Dragic- Heat
Eric Bledsoe- Bucks
Brook Lopez- Bucks
Kris Middleton- Bucks
Derrick Rose- Timberwolves
Elfrid Payton- Suns
Julius Randle- Suns
Nikola Vucevic- Magic
JJ Reddick- 76ers
Jimmy Butler- Heat
Tobias Harris- 76ers
Amir Johnson- 76ers
Boban Marjanovic- 76ers
Jamal Crawford- Knicks
Seth Curry- Lakers
Rodney Hood- Trailblazers
Al-Farouq Aminu- Trailblazers
Enes Kanter- Heat
Kawhi- Raptors With Lakers A Close 2nd
Danny Green- Raptors
Ricky Rubio- Pacers
Thabo Sefolosha- Lakers
Trevor Ariza- Lakers
Jeff Green- Trailblazers
Deandre Jordan- Nets
Spider-Man: Far From Home is just around the corner, so let’s recap everything you need to know about the MCU’s version of the famous web-slinger!
The MCU didn’t give us a Spider-Man origin story, probably since it’s already been done on the big screen twice before. The earliest we see Peter Parker is in Iron Man 2, after a fan theory was confirmed by Tom Holland himself. Young Peter Parker is seen wears a toy Iron Man mask standing up to a drone before Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) takes it out. Parker lives with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) as they reside in Queens, New York.
Captain America: Civil War – Joining Team Iron Man
We first see Tom Holland’s portrayal of Spider-Man halfway through Captain America: Civil War after Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) confronts him about his secret identity. Stark gives him an upgraded suit which he first uses during the Airport Battle scene, as he steals Cap’s shield from him after Tony famously yells, “Underoos!” He takes on the rest of Team Cap as he manages to take down the Falcon (Anthony Mackie), the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)
We see more of his entrance into the superhero world during the beginning of his solo film, Spider-Man: Homecoming as Parker excitedly vlogs his trip to the airport and back with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau).
Spider-Man: Homecoming – Defeating the Vulture
Every superhero has his/her supervillain, and for Peter Parker, his happened to be the father of his high school crush, Adrian Toomes/Vulture (Michael Keaton). Parker spends the beginning of the movie anxious for a phone call from Happy regarding his next mission (that does not actually arrive). After school, Peter immediately dons his upgraded Spider-Man suit that was given to him in Civil War. This causes Peter to skip school because he felt like he could be needed by the Avengers at any moment.
This leads Peter to his battle with the Vulture, despite Tony telling him to wait and stay put. Peter doesn’t listen and decides to take on the Vulture and his entire weapons business, where he unfortunately risks civilian lives and botches a FBI operation to capture the supervillain,
Peter shows his true determination and heroism as Tony takes back the upgraded suit, with the iconic line:
If you’re nothing without this suit, then you shouldn’t have it.
After finding out the identity of the Vulture, and despite only having his homemade suit, Peter still attempts to save the day.
He eventually finds the Vulture’s lair which collapses on him as he villain escapes. Through sheer force and willpower, Peter manages to lift all of the rubble on top of him and catches up to Toomes before he steals from Tony Stark’s unmanned plane. He ends up taking down the Vulture, saving the day, and is given the opportunity to upgrade his suit to the Iron Spider suit. Parker declines, saying all he wants is to be the “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man”.
Avengers: Infinity War – Going to Space
A few years later, Thanos’ forces attack New York City, and Peter comes to the rescue of Iron Man (who was dealing with Cull Obsidian). Peter attaches on to a Q-Ship heading into space, before Tony attempts to send him back to Earth with the Iron Spider suit. Peter surprisingly hangs on and they later on enter the Q-Ship in a mission to rescue Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and the Time Stone, before ending up on Titan (Thanos’ home planet).
Spider-Man arrives on Titan with Iron Man and Dr. Strange as they believe they can take down Thanos (Josh Brolin) when he least expects it. After a not-so-friendly confrontation with the Guardians of the Galaxy (who are also looking to take down Thanos and find Gamora), the two parties decide to team up. Strange looks into the future and sees 14,000,605 possible outcomes, and only 1 in which they emerge victorious. This is when they begin their planning to defeat the Mad Titan.
Despite their best efforts, Thanos proved to be too powerful, already wielding 4 of the 6 Infinity Stones. Dr. Strange gives up the Time Stone, Thanos heads to Earth and collects the Mind Stone, and eventually snaps, dusting away half of all life in the universe in what is known as the “Decimation”. Spider-Man fades away in Tony’s arms, along with the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy (except for Nebula) and Dr. Strange.
Avengers: Endgame – Finally Beating Thanos
SPOILER WARNING FOR AVENGERS: ENDGAME
After the Avengers’ quest to collect all 6 infinity stones from different moments in time, Hulk manages to bring back everyone that perished on the fateful day of the Decimation, including Peter Parker. Spider-Man eventually joins the final battle of the movie, along with the rest of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Spider-Man manages to grab the Infinity Gauntlet in the wild “gauntlet football” scene before passing it over to Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), and even activated Instant Kill mode to take down some of Thanos’ army.
The most heartbreaking scene of the movie came with the sacrifice of Tony Stark, who was in a way, Peter’s father figure and role model. Peter was right there beside him when Stark died, similar to how it was the other way around in Avengers: Infinity War. Peter also attended Stark’s funeral (with Aunt May) at the end of the film, and eventually rejoined Ned (Jacob Batalon) and his other classmates back in his old school.
What We Know So Far About Spider-Man: Far From Home
Spider-Man: Far From Home will revolve around Peter’s trip to Europe with his classmates, bringing the webslinger to a different continent. While in Europe, he is recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to fight elemental monsters bringing all sorts of chaos. He teams up with Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), aka Mysterio. In the comics, Mysterio is a notorious Spider-Man villain who uses special effects to make him look like a hero, when in reality, he is the one creating the villains.
Most fans are speculating that Quentin Beck will end up being the main villain of the movie, despite the trailer making him seem like a hero. Tom Holland has described Beck as Peter’s older brother, and one who helps him comes to terms with his superhero life. We’ll have to wait to watch the movie and find out if Mysterio is a villain like his comics counterpart, or if the MCU will give him a complete makeover.
Furthermore, the movie will also focus on Peter getting over Tony Stark’s death and sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man taking up more responsibility as a superhero, as Nick Fury tells him that “the world needs the next Iron Man.”
The movie also touches on Peter’s relationship with M.J. (Zendaya), who will most likely end up being his romantic interest based on the trailer. She is revealed to known about Peter being Spider-Man, much to Peter’s surprise.
With about a week left until this movie comes out, what are your thoughts about it? Tweet and follow us @UniqueSportplus on Twitter and make sure to share the article!