Enes Kanter proves his value without even being on the court

Enes Kanter has sat the last three games for the New York Knicks due to back spasms. During that three game span the Knicks have not win a game, and that includes an ugly loss to the 4-16 Atlanta Hawks. Kristaps Porzingis has missed a game as well during this three-game losing streak, but what has been the one constant? No Enes Kanter.

Kanter is known for his offense and rebounding, while not being a very good defender. However, I think he plays a bigger role on the defensive end than he is given credit for and what the statistics say. Including the last three games, the Knicks are allowing 104.7 points per game. During the three-game losing streak without Kanter, the Knicks are allowing a whopping 112 points per game. That includes 116 points to the Hawks, who are averaging only 102.2 points per game. The reason may not be because of the absence of Kanter, but I would say it has at least a bit to do with it. When looking at the offensive side of things it is obvious that the Knicks are dearly missing Kanter. The Knicks are averaging 104 points per game through 20 games this year. However, during this three-game losing streak, they are only averaging 99 points per game, which is tied for 4th worst in the league over the last three games.

Let’s take a look at Kanter’s rankings among NBA Centers who have played at least 300 minutes through November 27th.

  • 90.6 FT% (1st)
  • 24.26 PER (4th)
  • 63.5 FG% (5th)
  • 3.7 Offensive Rebounds Per Game (5th)
  • 3.0 Estimated Wins Added (7th)
  • 90.7 Value Added (8th)
  • 10.2 Rebounds Per Game (11th)
  • 13.6 PPG (13th)
  • 105.3 Offensive Rating (15th)

Kanter has been playing very well for the Knicks this year, but he has really proven how valuable he is to this team in his absence. He adds not only production, but leadership and a spark whenever he is on the court. In the first 20 games this season, it is looking like Enes Kanter will be a cornerstone for this franchise moving forward. Kanter has resumed basketball activities today and he hopes to play Wednesday against the Heat. Knick fans are praying that he does as it is becoming clear that the Knicks need Kanter to win.

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The Julian Edelman Injury Will Further Prove Tom Brady’s Greatness

Don’t think Edelman’s injury will change the season outlook in New England

Forget Brady vs Belichick. Forget Deflate-gate. Forget all accusations ever leveled against the Patriots. Let’s just sit back and watch, because Tom Brady has proven time and again that he is the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Maybe not morally, but statistically. And for those who doubt him, or consider him a cheater, Brady will re-assert his greatness this season as the Patriots will flourish yet again, but this time without starting wide receiver Julian Edelman.

Edelman suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in Friday’s preseason game against the Lions, and his 2017 season is confirmed to be over. Edelman is the team’s number one wide receiver, and had 98 receptions last season on 159 targets. New England added Brandin Cooks this offseason, along with Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee, so there’s no shortage of talent in New England, who already have a top passing offense in the NFL. Bringing back Gronkowski and other wide receivers will give the Patriots options when throwing this season. Losing Edelman is a big blow, but with Brady, the Patriots can flourish no matter who goes down.

Tom Brady has one undeniable great characteristic: he makes everyone around him much better. Gronkowski is arguably the only natural talent that Tom Brady can work with at this point in time, as he was a second round pick out of college and is a naturally gifted athlete when measuring his size, strength, and speed. Looking through the contributors in the passing attack, there were little expectations for the players who have grown into household names. Edelman was a seventh round pick. Hogan was undrafted (and was actually a lacrosse player in college). Amendola was undrafted. And Malcom Mitchell was a fourth round pick. In the backfield, Dion Lewis was a fifth round pick and James White was a fourth round pick. Of the new additions (Cooks, Burkhead, Gillislee), only Brandin Cooks was drafted before round five. Yet, the Patriots still are at the top of the NFL year after year offensively.

Brady has a great track record of turning low level draft picks into consistent offensive contributors. He even fits that description himself, being a six round pick who gained playing time only due to injury. So now that we’ve settled the situation of who Brady has to work with, we can analyze his greatness. At age 40, Tom has shown no signs of slowing down. He’s rarely dealt with receivers who have been considered some of the best in the league, and he’s rarely had a single featured running back. Brady’s always ran offenses that feature many players. Both big names and unknowns have thrived with Brady, and his production levels have never dipped. And yes, he has five Superbowl rings to prove it.

Who will replace Julian Edelman? 

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There’s no real answer to this question. No receiver has the same chemistry with Tom Brady. No receiver has the exact same skill set as Edelman. But New England will find players to cover for his absence.

Reports coming out of New England say Chris Hogan won’t be in line to exactly “replace” Edelman, but he’s likely the next man up. Hogan serves as a more effective deep threat than the other Patriots receivers, so it’s unlikely he’ll take Edelman’s slot position, but it’s very likely he’ll be on the field more often. The most likely player to step into Edelman’s role is Danny Amendola. After seasons plagued by injuries, Amendola has settled down in New England and filled a slot role in the offense.

Hogan will likely stay New England’s number one deep threat at wide receiver, and many of his targets come 21+ yards down the field. Don’t be surprised if Hogan and Brady connect on deep balls as well as more passes underneath. Amendola, on the other hand, has never seen more than 90 targets in New England. If healthy, Amendola could see upwards of 100 targets and reach a level he played at with he Rams a few years back. Both will receive more targets in the offense this year, but only Amendola will lineup where Edelman was so effective. But, the truth is, everyone is a beneficiary of the Edelman injury because of how well Brady spreads the ball around.

What’s the Patriots ceiling without Julian Edelman?

I shouldn’t really have to answer this question. As long as Brady is under center, the Patriots are a Superbowl contender. He won last year without Gronk, so there’s no reason he can’t win without Edelman. I’m not trying to downgrade Edelman’s value in New England. He’s a great wideout, and the best one the Patriots have. But if you think his injury will derail the Patriots season, you are underestimating Brady’s ability to win with whoever is out on the field.

Photo Credits: SB Nation

Langford Battles Competition and Injury

By: Alex Patt

Bears RB Jeremy Langford has a tough camp ahead of him in regards to his future with the team. Right now he is not practicing due to spraining his ankle last Thursday and as of right now, no timetable to return. This is only part of the battle he faces as one of the Bears running backs playing behind Jordan Howard.

Langford will enter his third year in the NFL and his status quo has changed every since. In 2015 as a rookie he backed up long-time Bears RB Matt Forte and rushed for 537 yards and scored seven (six rushing and one receiving) touchdowns on 148 rushing attempts in 16 games. He looked like a solid player who could very well be the next guy to step up after Forte left. There was clearly work to do with catching and blocking but the skill set looked promising.

In 2016 the Bears drafted Jordan Howard who eventually took over the number one running back spot who rushed for 1313 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games. Langford was then seen as a solid backup, despite injury problems and inconsistencies in his sophomore year. Now that the Bears drafted “The Human Joystick” Tarik Cohen, he is seen as a guy that could potentially play behind Howard. In addition to that the Bears still have 3rd down back Ka’Deem Carey and added veteran Benny Cunningham to the mix, he has a lot to compete against in camp this season.

Cunningham has an advantage with his special teams abilities and Cohen being drafted this past draft can give him some leverage if GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox were high enough to take him. Langford certainly has pressure on him to make the team now, and having a sprained ankle does not help. Time will tell what happens, but he has to get healthy first to compete for a spot.

 

Photo Credit: NFL Spin Zone

Brandon Knight Tears ACL: Done for Season

According to ESPN, Brandon Knight has torn his left ACL and could possibly lose the 2017-2018 NBA season. The injury to the 25 year old point guard leaves a hole in the Sun’s rotation that most likely will be filled from the inside.

Last year, Knight played in 54 games averaging 21 minutes and 11 points per game before being shut down after the NBA All-Star game.  The Suns successfully helped the tanking process by holding out a healthy Knight towards the end of the season. Knight did not play in the final 25 games of this past season, and the team won 6 of those games. Although the Suns only won 17 games with Knight in the lineup, he still added a veteran presence that allowed younger players to be eased into the lineup.

With Brandon Knight being involved in various trade rumors, this injury still hurts the Suns, but does not change the future outlook of the team. This will open up minutes for the likes of Tyler Ulis and Josh Jackson to immediately take advantage of. Ulis saw a major increase in minutes during the latter part of last season, and for the most part he was very successful. He averaged 20.7 points and 6.8 assists per game through the last 6 games of the season. Ulis got into a flow while he was starting, and showed he could play major minutes.

Another man who I could see filling in many of Knight’s minutes is the fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft, Josh Jackson. Most of the time I do not think a rookie should be rushed into a major role, but I think that Jackson is NBA ready and able to handle it. We could get an early look at one of the best players in the draft that surprisingly fell to us. We should give him a chance to prove himself. This could be his opportunity.