All Eyes On Westbrook

image

Ever since the day he was drafted Russell Westbrook has always challenged Kevin Durant’s status in hierarchy. Whether it’s taking Durant’s rebound, taking Durant’s shot or calling Durant out for his play Westbrook has always challenged him. No one can guard Durant like Westbrook can. And no one can stop Westbrook like Durant can. To most people, Westbrook seems to be somewhat of a hindrance to Kevin Durant. In my eyes I view it as the opposite.

Kevin Durant is one of a kind. He’s a seven footer with a sweet jumper and a mean crossover. He’s savvy, quick, long and hard-working. He can score from 30 feet out, in the post, off the dribble and off of screens. Defensively he can affect people because of his length and he can rebound at a fairly decent level. In crunch time there aren’t too many if any, guys you’d rather want taking the shot. He’s an incredible gifted young player who’s ceiling is high. I get it. But the Thunder don’t go as he goes. He may be the captain, but he’s damn sure not the driver.

For as long as I can remember Durant’s impact has always been third.

Back when Harden was on the roster his impact on the game greater than that of KD’s. He would come in off of the bench and provide a lift. Harden would hit momentous shots, lockup well make things tough on opposing guards who could score, (see Kobe in 2012) as well as distribute the ball. He was arguably the best playmaker on the team dare I say the most important, because when he didn’t show up (Finals against the Heat) they struggled. And when he did ( Spurs series) they dominated.

Today Ibaka has a more prominent effect on the game than Durant does. Without Ibaka OKC struggles when it comes to defending the paint and rebounding. With Ibaka everyone is better and he shuts down who ever is presumed to be a threat on the block. This past year in the Playoffs OKC struggled when Ibaka was out. His absence left a void offensively and defensively. They struggled to find the appropriate space offensively and defensively they couldn’t stop anyone.

But enough of Ibaka and Harden this is about Westbrook.

With Harden on the squad Westbrook’s impact was still greater than Durant’s. He brought the edge and physicality the team needed. As well as the drive and hunger.

Westbrook would and still will provide a spark, a boost if you will that has a greater impact than Durant. For example when Durant scores 30 it’s more of a suprise because it goes unnoticed or should I say wasn’t necessarily felt. Whenever Westbrook scores alot you tend to think it was more because he does it in a more demoralizing way. Owning who ever tries to guard him.

image

Durant’s numbers may appear large on the stat sheet but within the game they aren’t as impactful as many would believe. I view him as a great quiet scorer. Westbrook’s scoring prowess/wrath in retrospect is more devastating than that of Durant’s. Westbrook’s presence is felt. Durant’s can go unnoticed.

Unless Durant is scorching hot and lighting it up I don’t view him as the best player on the team. I find myself looking and watching for Westbrook more than anyone else. He never takes a play off while you’ll often see Durant flail his arms and make faces whenever things don’t go his way. He’ll also stop trying all together when he can’t get open.

On the defensive side of the ball Westbrook makes it hard on other guards. He’s a big physical guard that has alot of athleticism with arms that are pretty lengthy to go along with the strength he has. He can lockup guys when need be and he excels in playing the passing lanes.

Westbrook is easily OKC’s best two way player.

But now he has clearly become their most important player.

With Kevin Durant sidelined with a foot injury until December (I say longer because those injuries always come with setbacks…Yao..Brook Lopez..etc) he now has a chance to show that he can lead a team on his own. He won’t have to be in Durant’s shadow early. And if he performs like I expect him to he won’t have to ever again.
image

We’ve seen Westbrook take over games with his defense. We’ve seen him hit game clinching buckets. We’ve seen his play making ability. We’ve seen his edge, heart, desire, drive and hunger. We know he’s a stud. But now it’s time for him to elevate his game even higher.

I see a Kobe Bryant like ceiling for Westbrook. If he was the main guy he would shine and people would appreciate his greatness alot more.

He’s a Top 5 guy in this league while playing alongside Durant. And after this season I suspect him to be top two or three.

Kevin Durant’s injury hurts no doubt, but it’ll prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Westbrook’s chance to lead has finally come and he must now seize the moment. It’s his time now and all eyes are on him.

Westbrook for MVP is highly likely.
image

NFL: Contender Or Pretender (AFC)

AFC

AFC:

After about a third of the way through the season it’s time we look and evaluate if some of the teams to start off hot are Contenders or Pretenders.

So here we go with the AFC Conference

(NFC Conference Coming Soon)

Den

Denver Broncos

Deshawn Hornback (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/deshawnh/): The team with Peyton is and always should be deemed a contender, but whether they make noise in the Playoffs or not is still questionable.

Omolade Saka (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/omoladesaka/): The Denver Broncos are obvious contenders. Even though they started off slower than last year this team has a lot of offensive weapons and of course Peyton Manning, who could arguably be a top 5 QB of all time. You just can’t count them out with all of the talent they have offensively. Plus, their defense has improved from last year.

R’Mon Allen (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/mononsports/): There is no question about the Denver Broncos being contenders in the AFC. They are currently the reigning AFC champions, both their offense and defense improved. Also they are extremely motivated after what happened to them in the Super Bowl. Even though they lost their run game in Knowshown Moreno, you have to believe that their all time great QB Peyton Manning, will figure it out.

Ryan Fort (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/ryanfort/): Contenders. Any team that has Peyton Manning at QB has to deemed as a Contender right? Yeah they started off slow but they’re starting to pick it up which could mean trouble for a lot of the teams in the AFC. Gulp, league.

SD

San Diego Chargers

Hornback: The leading MVP Phillip Rivers has his team performing at a contending level and will continue that throughout this season. Don’t be surprised if they steal the division this year.

Saka: The San Diego Chargers are definitely contenders. This team is led by QB Phillip Rivers, who in my opinion is playing like the best QB in the NFL as of right now. Defensively this team is having a very good season. Ranking third in the NFL in Total Offensive yards allowed and fourth in total passing yards allowed. Don’t be surprised if you see them playing for the Lombardi trophy this year.

Allen: The San Diego Chargers are a very legit contender in the AFC. Phillip Rivers is obviously the league MVP and proving all the doubters that buried him years ago wrong. They are vastly improved on the defensive end and their offense is loaded with weapons. Like Denver their running game is suspect due to injury, but a great QB can always cancel that out.

Fort: They are Contenders no doubt. Rivers is having a great year and the team is doing well despite a number of injuries here early on. If any team can dethrone Denver it’s them.

Cincy

Cincinnati Bengals

Hornback: The most talented team in the AFC is what I call them despite them always finding a way to come up short. They will win the division by default but I will not call them contenders.

Saka: This team is a pretender. Yes, this team will definitely make the playoffs and more than likely win their division but they have yet to win a playoff game under Marvin Lewis and he has been their head coach since 2003. Plus their No. 1 WR is out till who knows when.

Allen: Despite being the most talented team in the league the Bengals are merely a pretender. They never seem to show up when the big moments arrive. You can have all the talent you want to but it takes heart be a contender in this league.

Fort:  Pretenders. In the Playoffs they can never get going. And with Green injured I’m expecting a huge drop with this team.

Pats

New England Patriots

Hornback: I always believe in Brady because somehow someway his team will find a way to be successful. But I do believe that they need to capitalize on these receivers being dangled around on the trade block. Contender.

Saka: Tom Brady is just a flat out winner and you can never count him out because he will always find a way to win. I also believe in Bill Belicheck, which I believe is one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. Don’t count this team out just yet. Contender.

Allen: We are finally starting to see decline of The New England Patriots. With Logan Mankins not there to protect their all time great QB Tom Brady and having limited weapons on both the passing and running game the Patriots are going to have a tough time competing with the best in the Conference. Borderline Pretender at best.

Fort: The jury is still out on this squad. They’re starting to put it together but I honestly don’t know…. It all depends on if Gronk can healthy… I’m going with…. Pretender. Brady is in decline.

Ravs

Baltimore Ravens

Hornback: Flacco has been solid and the defense is underrated this year but this team is quietly making noise. I don’t quite see them as a contender without more star power. Pretender

Saka: Pretender. This team can’t compete with elite teams in the AFC and probably won’t even win their division because they have the Bengals in it.

Allen: Contender, you have to love the way the Ravens have improved their passing game by acquiring Steve Smith and their Defense has always been top notch. They will be a force to be reckoned with.

Fort: If they can make it through the regular season above .500 sure they’ll be Contenders. Flacco is currently under the radar which is good. Unlike Peyton, Flacco is the QB you want in the postseason. He’ll be getting called ELITE again by season’s end.

luck

Indianapolis Colts

Hornback: Not impressed with anything about this team so far. Horrible run game and Luck is turning over the ball too much. Pretender.

Saka: Contenders. The Colts have the #1 total offense and the #1 passing offense. This team is gonna be hard for any defense to compete with. They can make a run for the championship. It’s all depending on Andrew Luck.

Allen: Not sold on the Colts just yet. They play in the worst division in football (AFC South) and their offense is mistake prone despite of the numbers Luck is putting up. Pretenders for now.

Fort: The Colts are not Contenders, yet. Luck turns the ball over too much for my liking. If he were to play Brady, Manning or Rivers it would get ugly because of his turnovers. We all remember what happened when Luck faced Brady last year. But then again he did dismantle Cincy and beat the Ravens so far…. So hmmm.

hou

Houston Texans

Hornback: With Fitzpatrick at QB I’m calling this team a pretender. Despite JJ Watt’s greatness I don’t see this team making any noise this year.

Saka: Pretenders. This team might be very good defensively and they do have the best defensive player in the NFL in JJ Watt but they just can’t win with Fitzpatrick at QB. The guy is just terrible in my opinion.

Allen: Clearly the Texans are pretenders, despite having the best defensive player in the league. Their QB is Ryan Fitzpatrick. Nothing else to say.

Fort: Pretenders. J.J Watt is the best defensive player in Football but let’s be honest here…. Fitzpatrick is a 6th tier QB. You can’t contend with him.

AFC Team That Could Rise:

Hornback: browns

The Browns could be very interesting if they can stay over.500 by the time they get Josh Gordon back, because if they do they WILL make the playoffs.

Saka:

This is a weak conference and I don’t see anyone else coming up and becoming contenders. The Playoff teams are very clear in this conference.

Allen:

At this point in time the race for the AFC seems clear cut and I don’t see much coming from anywhere else in the AFC.

Fort: KC

Kansas City is slowly coming up. If they continue to improve their play and Bowe along with Charles remain healthy they could regain last year’s form. Just watch.

Follow Us On Twitter:

@Fortonsportsinc

@RyanDFort

@Rmon9

@DeShawnHornback

@OmoladeTheGreat

NFL: Contender or Pretender (NFC)

NFC

NFC:

After about a third of the way through the season it’s time we look and evaluate if some of the teams to start off hot are Contenders or Pretenders.

Here we go with the NFC

(AFC http://wp.me/p33YLP-kl)

GB

Green Bay Packers

Deshawn Hornback (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/deshawnh/): Is this even a question? Green Bay is always a contender with Rodgers at the helm. Outside of the Seattle game he’s been the best QB this year. Eddie Lacy has to get going though for them to beat the elite teams.

Omolade Saka (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/omoladesaka/): With Aaron Rodgers at QB you can for sure count this team as contenders. Rodgers is having a very good year. It’s gonna be tough for defenses to find a way to stop him and I’m pretty sure they will get their running game going. Once they do this team is gonna be very difficult to stop.

R’Mon Allen (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/mononsports/): Contenders. Aaron Rodgers has played at the highest level and has elevated his entire team as a result. They will win the division and it will be very hard to knock them off in the postseason.

Ryan Fort(https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/ryanfort/): Contenders. Rodgers is having a stellar year and isn’t turning over the ball much. The defense is okay and the run game is improved. After the first game he’s thrown 18Tds to 0 interceptions. Time for people to wake up. They’re for real.

EAG

Philadelphia Eagles

Hornback: This team is a contending team because of one thing; they are 5-1 with their best player playing like the worst player. Once LeSean “Shady” McCoy gets going watch out because they’re coming.

Saka: I’m not quite sold on the Eagles and I feel like their 5-1 record is quite deceiving of how good they really are. I still have them winning their division but I don’t see them going deep in the Playoffs especially with the way LeSean McCoy is playing. They will have to prove me otherwise.

Allen: The Eagles are contenders in the NFC. Despite how Dallas is playing I still think they will win the division and once their stout offensive line comes back to health they will become an even more difficult team to deal with.

Fort: Ehh no. They are Pretenders. The way they win games against subpar teams is going to eventually catch up to them. Foles isn’t looking too good an we don’t know if McCoy is going to be consistent. They’re still a pretty fun to watch though.

Panths

Carolina Panthers

Hornback: I don’t even know to be honest with you. The NFC South has been the worst division this year. The Panthers could come out on top with the way everyone is playing, but do I see them beating San Fran, Seattle, Arizona or the Cowboys? No.

Saka: They’re pretenders. Cam Newton has no type of weapons to throw to. They will not make the Playoffs this year despite the NFC South being terrible this year. Even though they are currently at the top of it I still see the Saints finding some way to win the division.

Allen: Pretenders. Even though they are a little better than expected they are still far from competing with the best of the NFC. They have a weak offensive line protecting Cam Newton and due to suspensions and departures their defense has faded as well.

Fort: Pretenders. Cam has no weapons and they aren’t much better than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In all honesty, NFC South teams have lost me completely. The Saints and Falcons should be dominating but both are hampered by a piss poor defense. Hell Rodgers made the Panthers D look awful. Smh.

SEA

Seattle Seahawks

Hornback: The Seahawks are a bunch of pretenders and I do not believe they have a chance at the Playoffs this year. They have become an eye sore to watch and I have lost all confidence in them at this point. PRETENDER.

Saka: Pretenders. This team just traded away Percy Harvin for basically nothing. Their offense will continue to struggle and Russell Wilson will be forced to do more than he usually has to and that will not be good for them. Plus, this defense is very questionable and vulnerable right now.

Allen: Contenders. Despite their slow start you have to believe that the Seahawks will figure it out somehow. With their most electrifying player Percy Harvin going to the Jets it does raise some eyebrows about the offense, but nobody can think that the Legion of Boom will be held down for long.

Fort: With them being the defending Champs I want to give them the benefit of the doubt but I just can’t. The Cowboys abused them at home. The Chargers beat them. Denver figured them out late. The Redskins gave them a challenge. The Rams brought it to them. And A-Rod made game one hard on himself. This team has lost it’s mojo and I don’t see them recovering. Time for a new acronym S.E.A… Season Ended Already. Cause aren’t competing this year. (Side note: Superbowl winning teams struggle in year two.)

DAL

Dallas Cowboys

Hornback: I want to say pretenders but I think I would be lying to myself. The Cowboys are stunning the league and Demarco is on a record pacing season, but can they hold this up? We’ll have to watch and see

Saka: Pretenders. Despite their 6-1 start I don’t see this team continuing their early success later in the season and perhaps the Playoffs. They also can’t beat elite teams in the NFC and I honestly don’t see them winning their division.

Allen: Pretenders. I’m not sold on the Cowboys just yet despite their strong start. I do believe they will make the Playoffs (as a wildcard) but I don’t believe Tony Romo can lead this team far in the playoffs. One and done!

Fort: Contenders. They have the best O-Line in Football. The best RB (Murray) in the league. Arguably the best WR in Dez (this season) and the best 2nd half QB in football. Now that Romo has the pieces things are looking vastly different here in Dallas. If they can shore up the TOs, Pass Rush ( The D-Line will be bigger and more explosive here soon D-Law, Okoye, Brent) and special teams they’ll be lethal. #DemBoysComing

San Fran

San Francisco 49ers

Hornback: They are contenders no doubt at all in my mind. Even though I’m not their biggest fan I have them going all the way to the Super Bowl and I still believe that will happen.

Saka: Definitely contenders. I have this team going all the way to the Super Bowl. Very physical team that knows how to win. They are about to have key players coming back from injuries, and once they do this team is gonna be hard to beat.

Allen: They are only contenders when they have their main defensive weapons at their disposal. If they don’t get Bowman, Smith, and Willis back healthy there is no way they can contend unless Kaepernick plays lights out.

Fort: Pretenders. They aren’t that consistent offensively and the defense isn’t healthy. They have way too many distractions in regards to Harbough and Frank Gore is on the decline. If Kap has to win games with his arm they are in big trouble.

Cards

Arizona Cardinals

Hornback: The defense has tons of injuries this year and Fitzgerald is having the worst season of his career. Despite that they have only lost one game. I’m calling them contenders because I believe in Bruce Arians.

Saka: Pretenders. I just flat out don’t believe in this team and what they can do despite their 5-1 record. Defense missing too many key players. Their No.1 receiver is having his worst year and Carson Palmer has yet to impress me. Wouldn’t be suprised if they didn’t make the Olayoffs.

Allen: Pretenders. I do see the Cardinals making the Playoffs because of their strong defense but I don’t think they can contend without a QB. If Palmer comes back 100% and he is effective then all bets are off.

Fort: They are CONTENDERS. They’re the best team in Football contrary to many beliefs. Without Carson Palmer they still managed to win games. Without Larry Fitzgerald performing they’ve still been able to out gun teams. Even with key injuries to the defense they have still been able to lockup opposing offenses. Had Carson Palmer played against Denver they would undefeated. This team is the real deal.

NFC Team That Could Rise:

Hornback:lions
I have the Detroit Lions winning the division this year and I’m sticking by that because so far they have the best defense in the NFL according to the stats. Just wait until Megatron comes back and watch this team soar.

Saka:lions
The Detroit Lions. This team has so much talent from top to bottom. When Calvin Johnson comes back this team will be so much better offensively. Just wait on it.

Allen:lions
Simple answer The Detroit Lions but that has been the case for the past couple of seasons. With the best receiver in the game in Megatron and a very good defense, the Lions can make a lot of noise in the NFC consistency is their problem.

Fort:lions
The Detroit Lions. Before Calvin got hurt their offense was solid. And despite a few injuries I still think that the defense can be dominant. If Rodgers goes down this is the team to beat in the NFC North. Matter of fact they’re still one of the teams to beat. (Keep in mind they manhandled the Green Bay Packers.)

Follow Us On Twitter:

@Fortonsportsinc

@RyanDFort

@DeshawnHornback

@Rmon9

@OmoladeTheGreat