USA-South Korea Lives Up to the hype in Overwatch World Cup Classic

It had the look of a historic upset until South Korea predictably took control narrowly escaping out of a decisive game three orb a draw. The American Overwatch squad accrued three quarters of the Hanamura’s first point before a brilliant stall that led into a Korean hold and draw. Korea avoiding a 3-2 deficit was the main factor behind the win.

Overwatch World Cup. Photo via twitch.tv/playOverwatch

The game itself was historic because it’s the first time a Korean team has ever dropped a singular game at Blizzcon. The perception (and reality) is that Korea is far and away the best region in Overwatch. Results back this claim up. Heading into this matchup, an American victory seemed like a pipe dream.

The explosive DPS plays from young and talented Hyan “Flow3r” Yeon-Oh, intelligent Tracer play out of Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol and consistency from the supports is unmatched. That’s why up until this point they hadn’t dropped a single game. The US pushed them to their limits, and nearly had them on the brink of elimination. A late game rally on Hamaura was the difference.

The play from the United States team was superb, even in a losing effort. With the help of a raucous Southern California crowd, Jake “JAKE” Lyons, Adam “Adam” Eckel, and Jay “Sinatraaa” Won competed closely with the best players in the world. At no point did the US ever looked outclassed. It was the first blemish on an otherwise perfect record for the South Korean squad.

It could be a sign of things to come or a result of the US having better talent than most realize. Any progress made towards matching the dominance Korea has shown early on in Overwatch is promising. Even with a first round exit, the underdog American team showed they’re no walk over.

American fans will recognize this team as the same familiar names with an influx of new talent. Matt “Coolmatt69” Lorio has bounced around from club to club, but has consistently been the best flex player in the US. Fans of the Houston Outlaws will get a chance to see Coolmatt69, Jake “JAKE” Lyons, and Shane “Rawkus” Laherty on a regular basis.

One of the few players not picked up in the Overwatch League was Adam “Adam” Eckel, who took it personally, and ended up outplaying Yang “tobi” Jin-mo’s Mercy for a majority of the game. The premier Lucio and Mercy main in Korea got surpassingly out-resurrected by quite a bit. Adam elevating his game, along with the rest of the US, made for some of the most exciting and heart throbbing Overwatch matches yet.

It was apparent that they belong in this game. Another year of play and development has partially closed the gap between the World and Korea. Most of these player competed in the contenders series, which improved the overall play of each region. Now the United States, with its vast player pool, gets a chance to try and tap into that.

An Overwatch World Cup Classic

The same sentiment kept being passed around.

The intensity, back-and-Forth action, and adrenaline from an American team pushing the best country in the world to their limits made it feel like a finals match. USA proved there’s areas to exploit on the Korean roster. Korea struggled on the back-line and made questionable character choices throughout the first few games. The US capitalize Korea switching off their base composition.

All in all, it was one of the most entertaining and hard-fought Overwatch matches in history. Completely unexpected which makes it even more compelling. Homegrown talent stacks up well and this performance is something the US can build on. Korea on the other hand will look to take home their second consecutive Overwatch World Cup against France.

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Top People affected by USA missing the World Cup

Christian Pulisic

The young American forward is just 19 years of age and is currently starting with Borrusia Dortmund. This World Cup was the big opportunity for him to showcase himself to the world and the American audience, now he won’t have that chance. Many of the all-time greats had their teenage world cup where they showcased their talent and got the attention of the world. Pele made the World Cup at 17, Messi 18 and Ronaldo 18. These are the names Pulisic wants to be with and missing the World Cup is a huge hit to get that level.

Pulisic will lose his chance to make a name for himself on the world stage  (Image: Getty Images )

Pulisic was the best player on the field in the disaster versus Trinidad and Tobago and had been for the US throughout the qualifying phase. This was part of the problem, At many times during this qualifying phase, he seemed the only player trying to create and dribble to spaces. So while Pulisic is a once in a lifetime talent, he is still 19 and needs the team to help. He is still not at the level where he can carry a team by himself. Messi scored a hat trick to get his team in, Pulisic isn’t there yet.

It’s hard to remember this kid should still be in college if he was playing a more traditional American sport. Borrusia Dortmund is right now in pole position in the Bundesliga and the mix for the champions league and he is starting for them. It’s like a nineteen-year-old being a starter for the Cavs or Warriors. While all that is extremely impressive if he was part of probably any other country he would be a break out star you would see in every type of media on your daily basis.

The summer in Russia was a chance for that, to get his name in every American living room, get the big money sponsorship contract and become the face of American soccer. Put in mind he has already done what Landon Donovan never could. Get established in a top German side. Yet too many people believe Landon Donovan is far better and thatthere shouldn’t be a discussion. But at 19 he did what Donovan couldn’t in his whole career. It was Pulisic’s chance to be up there with the greats but now he will have to wait and continue being the unloved prodigy that he is.

FOX

The second person probably most affected by the USA missing the World Cup is Fox, the network TV channel, that paid $400 million to get the rights to show the World Cup in America. While the World Cup will get its viewers from the devoted soccer fans, it is a loss when a lot of the bandwagon USA fans don’t show up.

Every World Cup thousands and thousands of people become USA soccer fans that have not watch a single qualifying game. They love rooting for their country no matter the sport or occasion. Those people won’t be pumped to watch a Germany vs Argentina. They are asking for the USA and this world cup they won’t get it.

The nation will be in a grim state while the rest of the world takes part in the celebration. This world cup will have earlier kick-off times, than in 2014, and the USA won’t be in it. This presents a real challenge for Fox who will have to get people hyped to wake up early and watch Soccer to a base of people who don’t really like it.

Rooting for America has always brought in the viewers that don’t care about the sport and just want the Raw-Raw aspect of it. It will be a real surprised if Fox gets numbers anywhere near what ESPN got in 2014.

MLS and the USA development system

Third and the one that might be the most condemned by this disaster is the MLS and the development of their players. With the money that has been thrown into the system, which the numbers are in the billions, how have they failed to produce a decent crop of players that can survive the CONCACAF. The USA even without the rich traditions of soccer has the athletes and the money to easily qualify for every World Cup like they have the last thirty years. So the push that all these developmental programs were supposed to make turn out to be a regression. Now a team like Panama which the USA has always dominated is going to the World Cup.

Micheal Bradley quit Roma to go play in the MLS, which is a huge drop in Level (Image: Getty Images)

The other fact is the league many of the stars of recent years have left big teams in Europe to come play in the MLS for high paying contracts. So While those decisions did help Micheal Bradley and Dempsey be happy they have clearly affected the team. The level in the MLS is much lower than top leagues in Europe and even when you bring players that were succeeding overseas their form will drop if they are not playing the best.

It’s impossible to unlock a level they haven’t been practicing or playing at. As of right now, on the roster there are only five players are in Europe and the rest are in the MLS. This, in turn, made the USA team an MLS team which is nowhere good enough when it comes to the world stage.

Expect now most American players to not buy in the American system and do what Pulisic did and leave at a young age to continue your development. USA should be pushing these guys to get on the best teams possible in Europe and not on the focus on growing the MLS.

If the MLS truly had a good and organized development system than it should be producing enough players to support the local league but also have the best leave to the best league. The best example of this is Argentina and Brazil. They have thriving leagues locally and their National teams are full of players playing aboard in Europe. To be the best you have to have your players playing with the best, its that simple, and the USA has gotten away from that.

The sad, frustrating part is the USA has the money and the resources to so much better. This should be a wake-up sign for the whole league that they are not producing players. As of right now close to 50% of the league are foreigners. This to me shows clubs have to go out and get players to play at the level they want, meaning they aren’t producing it.

So while most people will criticize the coaches who have been there or the players simply not providing a fight when things weren’t going their way. I think this failure in qualification shows how far the USA is at development compared with countries with way less to work with. People keep saying America doesn’t have the players to compete, well maybe it is because we are not developing them. Teams like Germany and Spain developed their talent they are

Ultimately the saddest thing of all this is that the USA won’t have a chance to redeem themselves until another four years. So hopefully when that time comes the USA national team has made drastic changes and we see a competitive team again.

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Can America end the winless streak in Street Fighter at Evolution 2017?

In the history of the Evolution series, no American born player has won the most current Street Fighter game since it was called B4 in 2000. It’s been a bloodbath of American Street Fighter players falling to the great Japanese players like Daigo “The Beast” Umehara in Street Fighter IV or Shinya “Nuki” Ohnuki in 3rd Strike. But, 2017 might be the year the impossible happens.

Looking at the current Capcom Cup standings, three American players sit atop the leader boards. Victor “Punk” Woodley is the top dog, Du “NuckleDu” Dang is a close second, and Darryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis is starting to push the other two. These three players are playing a level above the rest of the competition right now and will give America its best shot at an Evo title in years.

History is not on America’s Side

The last real chance came in 2009, when Street Fighter IV was still in its first year. Like the famous ‘Evo Moment: 37’ in 2004, the ballet between Justin Wong and Daigo Umehara in 09’ was one of the most unforgettable sets in fighting game history. Justin pushed Daigo to his limits, but the strength of his unrelenting Ryu carried him to another Evo title. A year later Ricki Ortiz had her shot and in similar fashion, but couldn’t quite get over that hill that was Daigo.

Americans have been close. Real close. But, in the end, the Japanese players have prevailed proving their international fighting game dominance. Justin Wong has four runner ups in Street Fighter. Jason “Afro Cole” Cole did win two consecutive Street Fighter II: Turbo titles, but no other American has sniffed a title.

Meanwhile, even Europe has an Evo title in the past 15 years. In one of the most surprising Saturday and Sunday runs ever, Oliver “Luffy” Hay ran through loser’s bracket to eventually beat the favorite, Masato “Bonchan” Takahashi, and be the first French player to win Evo.

So, if Europe has one, is America just getting an unlucky break each year? Yes and no. It’s tough when players have been close on so many different occasions and not come away with any hardware. But that would be taking away from the Japanese rigorous training and overall talent level to reach their goals. Justin Wong made us believe it’s possible, but now eight years since his loss to Daigo there still hasn’t been much progress made.

The Big Three Americans can Win Evo

Enter 2017, the year that goes against conventional wisdom and has three American pad players dominating the scene. Daigo looks…old. Infiltration is focused on his personal life. Tokido and Momochi have been missing in action. The usual names aren’t putting in the same work. The best Japanese players are getting passed up by this new group of uber-confident, experienced, American born players.

Loud, brash, and cocky is not the archetype the world’s best players fall under in Street Fighter usually. It’s the calm, cool, and collected that win those crucial sets. Punk is changing the entire game, playing on the screen, and with your mind. If players aren’t ready, they will crumble under his intense zoning pressure. Hit one button, whiff, and it could be game over…Oh, and here’s a teabag for your trouble.

The next two have been around a little longer than the young Punk. These two have been around the block. Snake Eyez has been bringing the American crowd to their feet since early in Street Fighter IV’s life cycle. NuckleDu is coming off a 2016, where he won the Capcom Cup, which is almost as unlikely as an American winning Evo.

The three best players were born here, bred and raised here and now give the American fans who have been holding out hope, like delirious Cleveland Browns fans, that one day an American will win an Evo. The big three give Americans three chances to do it. At no other point, have the three undeniable best players been Americans one month before Evo. I haven’t even mentioned other monsters like Bryant “Smug” Huggin or Eduardo “PR Balrog” Perez. So for the love of all things holy, keep the Evo trophy here in the states.

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Featured Image courtesy of twitch.tv/evo2k

 

3-on-3 Olympic Basketball

3-on-3 Olympic Basketball

The Olympics are always one of the most captivating sporting events in the world. World-class athletes compete for their name, honor, eternal glory and country. One of the reasons the Olympics are so special is because they take place every four years. There are a large majority people who think many of the events are old and outdated. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has taken a major step in adapting the summer Olympics to grasp the attention of younger fans. The IOC has officially added 3-on-3 Olympic basketball as an event starting in 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. There are many questions as to how this will work and how players will be selected to participate. First, let’s take a look at the rules of this new event.

Rules

3-on-3 Olympic Basketball

(Photo Credit:http://sportsnewsireland.com)

All official rules for the event can be found here but these rules are the most notable.

First, the court will be 15 meters wide and 11 meters long but a traditional basketball court may be used as well.

Each team will consist of four players, three who play on the court and one available substitute.

The first possession of the game will be determined by a coin flip. Scoring will consist of traditional “playground” rules meaning anything inside the arc will count as one point and all “three pointers” will count as two points.

Teams can also score points from the free throw line. A team will enter the penalty after six team fouls and a player can not foul out.

The game will last 10 minutes unless a team reaches 21 points before time runs out. If the court has a shot clock then the team will have 12 seconds to shoot the ball.

Most of these rules are pretty common to anyone who has played pickup basketball games at a park or recreation center.

USA Selection

It is going to be challenging to predict how the USA Basketball Federation will select its players. Some speculate they will select college players but fans want to see the United State’s best basketball players playing in this event. NBA players have created massive buzz by playing pick up games during the NBA offseason and they have dominated them with spectacular plays.

Who wouldn’t want to see players like Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, John Wall, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and others play basketball with so much space?

Selecting the traditional basketball team is already difficult. There are so many great players in the NBA who don’t make the roster. The 3-on-3 roster will be made up of players who are capable of dominating with their iso skills. The team should consist of a dominant ball handler, an exception wing and a rebounding beast although there may be other strategies to assembling this team.

Possible USA Teams in 2020

Here are three possible combinations that could dominate for team USA in 2020.

Team 1:

3-on-3 Olympic Basketball

(Photo Credit: http://ftw.usatoday.com)

Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie will be 28 years old in 2020 and just entering his prime. This 3-on-3 competition is perfect for a player like Kyrie. He is one of the greatest ball handlers of all time and it is near impossible for anybody in the NBA to guard him one on one. In this competition, Kyrie would have so much space to cross up anybody the world can throw at him. Kyrie also can make the most insane layups through traffic so doing it with all this open space should be a piece of cake.

Kevin Durant, SF, Golden State Warriors: Age is important to look at for these events and Durant will be 31 at the time of the 2020 Olympics. He will still be one of the best scorers in the world. Pairing Durant with Kyrie would create nightmares for the rest of the world. Without adding the third player this team is already the best in the world. At 6-foot-10, Durant can shoot over anyone they put in front of him. He is a great ball-handler as well. If Kyrie can’t get to the rim during a game, Durant sure can but either way both of these players would be unstoppable.

Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans Pelicans: Durant will be the old man compared to Anthony Davis. During the 2020 Olympics, Davis will be the ripe young age of 27. The Brow, as Davis is known, is already considered to be the next big superstar of the NBA. In his first five seasons, Davis has career averages of 22.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Davis is capable of doing anything on the court but in this competition, all he will need to do is defend and rebound.

Reserve

Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs: Kawhi would be the clap god of this competition. His defense would shut down almost everyone in the world. In 2020, he will just begin to enter his prime at the age of 28. Kawhi has developed into a world-class player and if he continues to develop further, he may even become the best player in the world. It would be fun to see what other skills Leonard would display in this competition

Team 2:

3-on-3 Olympic Basketball

(Photo Credit: https://www.tumblr.com)

Steph Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors: The baby-faced assassin would be 32 at the time of the 2020 Olympics but shooting is the last thing to go for basketball players. Curry is one of the best dribblers in the world and with all the space in 3-on-3, he could pull jumpers from anywhere. If Kyrie didn’t want to play, Steph would be the next best option.

Jimmy Butler, SG, Chicago Bulls: Jimmy Buckets is one of the best two-way players in the NBA. His ability to defend one-on-one is top notch. Butler is known as a hard worker who does the right things. 3-on-3 would allow  Butler to showcase skills that most people don’t know he has. Jimmy Buckets would be a great option for the 3-on-3 Olympics.

Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves: Towns will be only 24 years old in 2020 for the Tokyo Olympics. There is a chance by that time Towns is a top three player in the world. This is why it will be hard for the committee to narrow it down to just four players. Towns was recently showing off impressive handles in a 3-on-3 tournament in Denmark. He is on his way to becoming a dominant player and would be awesome in this competition.

Reserve

Draymond Green, PF, Golden State Warriors: Draymond Green is passionate and emotional. His trash talk alone may destroy some of the competition. Draymond does it all on the court, he can pass, shoot, rebound and defend. Other basketball players seem to love playing with Draymond and this competition would be no different.

Team 3:

3-on-3 Olympic Basketball

(Photo Credit: http://fadeawayworld.com)

Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA: A 6-foot-6 point guard who is on his way to superstardom. It is almost impossible to go a day without hearing about Lonzo Ball, his father or the rest of the Ball family. Ball is going to be a top three pick and a franchise centerpiece. His passing ability is phenomenal and he was a game changer for UCLA. In 2020, Ball is going to be just 22 years old and possibly one of the best point guards in the world. He would be a possible option when it is time to make this selection.

Gordon Hayward, SF, Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward is one of the most underrated players in the NBA and was named to his first All-Star Game this season. Hayward averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists this season. He is a very skilled forward and would shine in this event.

DeMarcus Cousins, C, New Orleans Pelicans: Cousins is considered the best center in the NBA. He is able to handle the ball and shoot from anywhere on the court. Not many players in the world can defend him and defense becomes harder with more space. Cousins will be in contention for selection, but his bad reputation may be his Achilles heel.

Reserve

John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards: Everybody do the John Wall. Wall was so big at Kentucky he got his own song and is finally entering his prime in the NBA. He is one of the fastest point guards on the planet. Wall plays both sides of the ball extremely well and many NBA fans would love to see what he could do in this competition.

World’s Best Teams

Spain:

3-on-3 Olympic Basketball

(Photo Credit: http://www.nbapicshow.com)

Ricky Rubio, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio is a talented passer who would be the pick for the Spanish national team. Rubio has experience in the NBA against the world’s best players and in this 3-on-3 tournament, he could hold his own.

Nikola Mirotic, PF, Chicago Bulls: In the 2014-2015 season, Nikola Mirotic finished second for rookie of the year behind Andrew Wiggins. Mirotic has a career average of 10.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Just like Rubio, Mirotic has much needed NBA experience to compete at a high level and in 2020 will be in his prime.

Serge Ibaka, PF, Toronto Raptors: Serge Ibaka would be the rebounder and rim defender for the Spanish 3-on-3 national team. He has played Olympic basketball and plenty of other important NBA games in his career. The stage would not be too bright for him and he could help anchor Spain as one of the best teams in the world.

Greece:

Tyler Dorsey, PG, Oregon: Not many people know that Tyler Dorsey has played for the Greek national team. This past season he helped lead Oregon to the Final Four while averaging 14.6 points per game and shot 42.3 percent from the three-point line. Dorsey is going to be the best guard option for Greece.

Alex Antetokounmpo, F, Dominican High School: Alex Antentokounmpo is the youngest of all the Antentokounmpo brothers. He is just 15 years old but Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antentokounmpo says he is the best of all the Greek Freaks. Alex will be 18 years old in 2020 and if Giannis is right then he has to be one of the players chosen for the 3-on-3 team.

Giannis Antentokounmpo, SF, Milwaukee Bucks: The original Greek Freak is going to win a league MVP one day. His historic season put him on a list by himself of players who finished in the top 20 in the NBA with points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. Greece will have one of the best 3-on-3 teams solely because of Giannis. Greece will be exciting to watch in the 2020 Olympics.

Australia:

3-on-3 Olympic Basketball

(Photo Credit: https://clutchpoints.com)

Patty Mills, PG, San Antonio Spurs: Patty Mills is a backup point guard in the NBA but the best option for the Australian national team. Mills would provide tons of experience and leadership to the team along with solid outside shooting.

Dante Exum, PG, Utah Jazz: Dante Exum hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations he had when he was drafted fifth overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. That is mostly due to injury but as he gets older and healthier Exum should become a much better player. At 6-foot-6 Exum has excellent size as a guard and would be a superb option for the Austrailian national team.

Joe Ingles, SF, Utah Jazz: Ingles is a solid rotation player for the Jazz. He averaged 7.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game last season. Ingles shot 44.1 percent from the arc this year as well. Australia wouldn’t have much size but lots of NBA experience to be competitive.

France:

Frank Ntilikina, PG, SIG Strasbourg: Frank Ntilikina is going to be a lottery pick in this year’s draft due to his amazing potential. At just 18 years old, he has been named the French League Best Young Player twice. Ntilikina is a pass first point guard with a high I.Q. He is going to be an exciting player and huge French star.

Nicolas Batum, SF, Charlotte Hornets: Batum is one of the best players from France. He is a good defender and like many international players has a lot of NBA experience. If France had to pick it’s best 3-on-3 Olympic team then Batum would be an easy pick.

Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert had somewhat of a breakout season. He is one of the best rim defenders in the world and a great rebounder as well. Gobert is the best French basketball player and for the 3-on-3 tournament, he would be a lock.

Canada:

3-on-3 Olympic Basketball

(Photo Credit: Sam Forencich/Getty Images)

Jamal Murray, PG, Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray is a young, exciting Canadian player in the NBA. The Nuggets rookie was selected seventh overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. Murray started 10 games and averaged 9.9 points and 2.1 assists this season.

Andrew Wiggins, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves: Andrew Wiggins is expected to become the best Canadian basketball player ever. He would have to become better than Steve Nash to do so but the potential is there. Wiggins is super athletic and in a 3-on-3 tournament he could put on an exciting show. Andrew Wiggins would only be 25 years old in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and still on the cusp of entering his prime.

Tristian Thompson, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers: Tristian Thompson is an NBA champion and one of the best offensive rebounders in the world. Canada would pick Thompson to be the big man on their 3-on-3 roster. He already has a role in which he isn’t expected to score so this would be a familiar and comfortable role on this team.

Conclusion

The 3-on-3 Olympic Basketball event could become one of the most popular Olympic events. Traditional basketball is already one of the most popular but the 3-on-3 format opens up the court and allows players to truly display some exceptional skills. The United States will have dozens of possibilities when forming the roster and no matter who they decide to select will be the favorites to win the gold. Countries like Canada, Spain, France and others will be extremely talented as well and could challenge the United States for 3-on-3 supremacy.

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Where Does Melo Go From Here?

Nothing seems to be going right in the life of Carmelo Anthony at the moment. Phil Jackson recently gave a press conference in which he said, “I think the direction with our team is that he is a player that would be better off somewhere else and using his talent somewhere where he can win or chase that championship.”

He is unwanted and, according to Jackson, unneeded in New York.

If that wasn’t bad enough, there are reports coming out that he and his wife of seven years will be getting a divorce after rumors that he got a stripper pregnant.

Carmelo’s life and career are at a crossroads. The question that begs to be answered is, where does Melo go from here?

Career Accomplishments

Carmelo Anthony

(Photo Credit: AP Richard Drew)

Carmelo is a legend at Syracuse University. In the 2002-03 season, Carmelo led the Orange to their first national championship. He averaged 22.2 points and 10 rebounds per game. He was also named the tournament’s most outstanding player that season. His future was bright and he was picked third overall in the 2003 NBA draft.

Carmelo has also been a successful international basketball player. One could argue he is the most successful basketball olympian in United States history. Melo has a record of playing on four Olympic rosters, and a record three gold medals. Melo also holds the record for most points scored in a USA Men’s Olympic game with 37 against Nigeria in 2012.

He is first all-time in each of the following: games played (31), career points (336), rebounds (125), field goals made (113), field goals attempted (262), 3-pointers attempted (139), free throws made (53) and free throws attempted (71). He is also second all-time in 3-pointers made (57).

Carmelo’s NBA career hasn’t led to as much hardware, but he has still had a great career. Melo is a 10-time all star, has been named to an All-NBA team six times and was the scoring champion in the 2012-13 season.

One of his best accomplishments in the NBA was when he led the Denver Nuggets to the Western Conference Championship in 2009, but fell to Kobe and the Lakers 4-2.

Carmelo has scored 24,156 career points in 15 NBA seasons. He has over 3,000 assists and over 6,000 rebounds, but a championship is what eludes him. The Knicks have openly said he will be better off chasing that ring somewhere else, but where?

The Path to A Ring

Carmelo Anthony

(Photo Credit: http://clutchpoints.com)

Melo has few options if all he is looking for is a ring. Those options include the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics.

It would be foolish for the Knicks to release Carmelo Anthony, but it may be their only option. Melo is under contract until July of 2019 and has a no-trade clause. He will veto any trade that is not to a championship contender, or a trade that leaves the new team without the pieces needed to win that elusive title. If the Knicks really want to part ways with Melo, they may have to just cut him.

Boston

The Celtics would be a great fit for both Melo and the team. Boston managed to get the No. 1 seed in the east despite only having one major option on offense in Isaiah Thomas.

Adding Anthony would bring in an easy 20 points per game and veteran leadership to a team that tied for the third youngest team (25.6) in the NBA. Both Melo and the Celtics would help one another in trying to win a ring.

Los Angeles

One team that is often mentioned in Anthony rumors is the Los Angeles Clippers. The team is loaded with talent, but fails to make an impact in the history books.

Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony are close friends who both need to validate their careers with an NBA championship. Neither wants to go down in history like Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, John Stockton or Karl Malone.

If Anthony is cut, this would be his ideal spot. A team with Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan could only get better by adding Anthony. The Western Conference is loaded, but this makes the Clippers a legitimate threat rather than just a bump in the road out west.

Cleveland

The last team that Melo could sign with, if cut, is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Melo is just as close with LeBron as he is with Chris Paul. Cleveland may win a title this year, but if they don’t, it’s because they ran into a Warriors team that loaded up with Kevin Durant. The answer to that would be to get Anthony and his scoring. He would take pressure off Kyrie and LeBron.

The Cavs are in less need of Melo than Melo is of the Cavs. Signing with Cleveland would prove that all Melo wants is that trophy. He wouldn’t be in the spotlight or the face of a franchise, which is something Melo has never experienced. Signing in Cleveland would all but guarantee him that ring he so desperately wants.

Conclusion

Carmelo Anthony

(Photo Credit: http://clutchpoints.com)

As Carmelo enters the twilight of his playing days, he is focused on one thing: winning. Knowing that  the Knicks no longer want or need him will make him seek a team that does want him.

He will also need a distraction from his personal problems, and finding another team can help with that. It is hard to see where Carmelo goes from here, but one thing is for certain: his playing days in New York are over.

 

 

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World Baseball Classic Preview: Pool C

After examining eight of the 16 teams in the World Baseball Classic, we move on to the most talented pool in the tournament: Pool C. The teams included in this pool are full of major league talent, and are some of the deepest in the WBC. If you missed Pool A or Pool B, you can find them below.

World Baseball Classic Preview: Pool A

World Baseball Classic Preview: Pool B

World Baseball Classic

Ryan Dempster will provide leadership as well as pitching for team Canada (Elise Amendola/AP).

Canada

For the boys north of the border, they will rely on some big name players who have made their hay in the USA. Longtime team Canada manager Erin Whitt has a bevy of major league talent to draw upon.

On the mound team Canada will be lead by 16 year major league veteran Ryan Dempster. While Dempster hasn’t played in the majors since 2013, the 39 year old should still be a top contributor for skipper Erin Whitt. He will also be joined on the mound by current major leaguers John Axford and Jim Henderson. Axford and Henderson are quality relievers, and will be great weapons for team Canada.

While there is plenty of pitching to rely on, the true stars are found off the mound. At first base NL All-Star Freddie Freeman will provide the thump for team Canada. The 27 year old Brave hit 34 bombs in 2016, and put up an impressive 157 OPS+. Former AL MVP and current free agent Justin Morneau will also suit up, giving Whitt plenty of options at first base. Many will also recognize current Blue Jay Dalton Pompey, who will patrol the outfield.

In any other pool, Canada would be one of the top teams, if not the favorite. But playing in Pool C does not bode well for them, as it will be a struggle to get to the second round of tournament play.

Colombia

World Baseball Classic

Jose Quintana will bring a strong presence to team Colombia (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America).

Making their World Baseball Classic debut, Colombia has a good level of talent to rely on. Colombia advanced from the Qualifier 3 round in 2016 to become eligible for the WBC. Pitching will be their strong suit, as they have multiple major league players to toe the rubber.

Chicago White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana became the staff ace after the trade of Chris Sale, but to many he was already a top pitcher in the game. His career 3.41 ERA has been supported by his 7.4 SO/9 innings. The lefty will be the ace for Colombia, and will be joined by NL All-Star Julio Teheran. Teheran has bee the ace of the Atlanta Braves for years, and will be a nice compliment to Quintana.

Catching for team Colombia will be Phillies prospect Jorge Alfaro. After being traded from Texas to Philly, Alfaro made his major league debut in 2016. While his numbers weren’t impressive in limited at-bats, he is seen as the catcher of the future in Philadelphia. He will be joined in the infield by former top prospect Dilson Herrera. In parts of two major league seasons in Flushing, Herrera was less than impressive. But he still has plenty of tools to be a difference maker for Colombia.

Colombia has a good mix of pitching and position player talent. They will need to utilize it to the fullest if they hope to cause an upset and make it out of Pool C.

World Baseball Classic

Robinson Cano led the Dominican Republic to the championship in 2013 (Al Bello/Getty Images).

Dominican Republic

After going undefeated on their way to winning the 2013 WBC, the Dominican Republic is one of the favorites to take home the championship again in 2017. And its easy to see why. The Dominican Republic has one of the most stacked rosters in this years tournament.

With a roster that would rival even the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs in talent, manager Moises Alou will have plenty of players to rely on. On the mound, established veteran starters like Johnny Cueto, Bartolo Colon and Edinson Volquez will be joined by young studs Carlos Martinez and Luis Severino. The bullpen will be anchored by all-stars Dellin Betances, Jeurys Familia and Fernando Rodney.

With all of that talent on the mound, you might over look the position players for the Dominican Republic. Just kidding. With players like Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Jose Bautista, Manny Machado, Starlin Marte and many others, that is almost impossible. With an ample supply of power, speed and defense, skipper Moises Alou has a manager’s dream on his hands: too much talent.

The Dominican Republic boasts one of the most stacked squads in WBC history. With stars all over the field, the Dominican Republic is set to make another deep run in the WBC.

United States

World Baseball Classic

Andrew Miller is set to continue his post season dominance in the WBC (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images).

One of the few teams in all of the WBC that can rival the DR in talent is team USA. But in the WBC’s history, the US has yet to win the championship. Will that change in 2017? Manager Jim Leyland sure hopes so.

Leyland will have a treasure trove of talent to utilize, both on the mound and in the field. He will be handing the ball to starting pitchers like Chris Archer, Sonny Gray and Michael Fulmer. The bullpen will be bolstered by some of the game’s best. Cleveland Indians’ playoff hero Andrew Miller will be joined by Sam Dyson and Luke Gregerson to form a shut-down pen. But the cup runneth over in terms of talent, from the mound to the field.

The outfield will be manned by sluggers Giancarlo Stanton, Adam Jones and Andrew McCutchen. The will also be joined by Stanton’s teammate Christian Yelich to form a star studded outfield. The infield will be led by Jonathan Lucroy and Buster Posey behind the dish, as well as all-around talent Paul Goldschmidt. Spectacular veterans Ian Kinsler, Brandon Crawford and Daniel Murphy will be joined by the young stud Alex Bregman.

Even with not every team USA player listed, this roster is one of the best in the WBC. With depth at every position, manager Jim Leyland will be able to put multiple solid lineups out on the field.

Verdict

One of the deepest pools in all of the WBC, each team has multiple major league players on their respective rosters. In any other pool, Colombia and Canada would be competitive if not the favorites to advance. But in Pool C, there is really only two teams with a chance to move on to the second round.

The Dominican Republic and the USA are some of the most stacked rosters in the WBC’s history. Both are composed of all-star level talent, making choosing a favorite difficult. But after reviewing both team’s entire rosters, team USA has a slight advantage. With a deeper roster than the Dominican Republic, team USA should be able to get out of Pool C victorious.

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