Category: NBA

Atlanta Hawks Playoff Run

By Avner Belsky

ATLANTA — Everyone loves a good underdog story. They love seeing the unexpected suddenly happen right before their eyes. You are witnessing not only Atlanta history, but NBA history. The Atlanta Hawks, who just a year ago couldn’t even imagine making the playoffs, have made a strong postseason push that has landed them a coveted spot in the Eastern Conference finals.   

The Atlanta Hawks finished the regular season 41-31, which was good enough to guarantee them a spot in the playoffs as the 5th seed. Going into their first playoff series since 2015 they were already the underdogs and faced the fourth-seeded New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Hawks had no problem moving past New York, pulling off a 4-1 “Gentleman’s sweep.”  

In the next round, the Hawks faced Joel Emiid’s 76ers. Going into that series it was looking like the Hawks playoff “luck” had just about run out.

Hawks star Trae Young had something else to say about that.

Throughout that series, he averaged 29 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 10.9 assists.

More importantly, Young’s play led the Hawks to a series victory over Philadelphia and on to the Eastern Conference finals. 

“Trae’s scoring ability has put him in the national spotlight considering the platform of his achievements beating the New York Knicks in a hostile environment and the improbable upset of Philadelphia,” said Ronald Agers who covers the Hawks for ESPN’s TrueHoop Network along with being a SLAM magazine contributing writer.  

Agers added, “The leadership and overall play of Ice Trae leads directly to interim head coach Nate McMillan. Ever since he took over for the (fired) Lloyd Pierce, he attached accountability to Young that might not have been there his first couple of years. Trae looked like the second hand version of Stephen Curry shooting numerous 30 foot shots a game.”

Even with Young’s individual success, the Hawks have shown to be more than just a one-man show.   

Without Young in the lineup, the Hawks have still proven to be a formidable opponent. Young suffered a right ankle injury in Game 3 which kept him out of the lineup for Game 4. Atlanta responded with a series-tying victory despite not having their best player available. 

“The Hawks have been underdogs in both series so far and now are big underdogs (against) Milwaukee,” said Hawks co-owner Jesse Itzler. “That hasn’t bothered anyone so far and in fact, I think fires this team up. We have a lot to prove. I hope this team serves as an inspiration to underdogs all over the world.”

The city of Atlanta was demanding a change and better results.

That is exactly what happened, after the firing of Pierce. They promoted Hawks assistant Nate McMillan, a veteran NBA head coach, to interim head coach. Since becoming the Hawks’ interim head coach, Atlanta has a 27-11 record which ranks among the league’s best during that span.  

“(McMillan) has done a great job of letting players play and letting his leaders lead,” said Curtis Washington who played at Georgia State and now plays overseas. “He gives them the game plan and then lets them play their game without over coaching.”  

There is a lot to be said about that coaching style. The NBA has tons of coaches across the league trying to over coach and make up complicated game plans and plays. McMillan has found that perfect balance between structure and letting his players do what they do best and what they are paid to do – Win.

And they do this as a team which has become one of their strengths and a key to their unexpected success. 

“One thing you see in the Atlanta Hawks is the power of teamwork,” Itzler said. “This is a team that is unselfish and supportive of each other. When everyone is playing together rather than individually … amazing things can happen. Trae is a great example of that. It’s amazing what a team playing together can accomplish. You can never underestimate soul and heart. We play with both.”

(Also published in Boston University’s paper “The Terrier”)

Inspired by Stockx: What are the most in demand sneakers and why?

Hello, and welcome back to another article on Fantasyprospects! Today we are going to be covering a whole new aspect of sports. Shoes! The article below was inspired by a recent interview with Josh Luber, Co-Founder, and former CEO of Stockx, that I conducted on my podcast called Avner’s Sports Throw Down! The link to the interview is here:

For many years now NBA, NFL, and MLB players have loved to wear the most trendy and fashionable accessories whether it comes to shoes, suits, watches, cars, and more. Today we are going to be covering the top three most expensive shoes associated with each major NBA star. (We will be covering modern-day versions of the shoes)

While I could have used several different sources to collect the data I am using Stockx!

We are first going to start with an obvious one and a shoe brand that is worldwide known. The Jordan shoe brand.


1) Jordan 1 Retro High Shinedown Attention $40,000 – 50,000

2) Jordan 4 Retro Eminem Encore $34,000 – 42,000

3) Jordan 4 Retro Travis Scott (Friends and Family Edition) $30,000 – 37,000

My, second shoe brand that I am going to introduce is the Kobe shoe brand!


1) Jordan Kobe PE Pack 3/8 $50,000 – $80,000

2) Nike Kobe 1 Protro Undefeated Purple (F&F) $20,000 – $28,000

3) Nike Kobe 4 Protro Undefeated Olive $18,000 – $24,500

My, third choice is the elite Lebron shoe brand!


1) Nike LeBron 4 Fruity Pebbles $ 6,000 – 10,000

2) Nike LeBron X What the MVP $3,000 – $6,000

3) Nike LeBron 15 Lifestyle KITH King’s Crown $2,000 – $4,500

Now, that you have seen all of these shoes and their prices you are probably wondering what makes shoes so expensive, popular, and sought after?

Since you asked I will tell you. Shoes are so sought after because the most famous fashion designers and companies produce it and they pay millions of dollars every year to advertise them. They are so expensive because companies and fashion designers only make a limited amount of them, so therefore the price goes up because there are less in circulation. They are very popular because very huge and popular public figures wear them and when they wear something and promote it themselves it instantly becomes very popular. The whole cycle will repeat itself until the next trend comes around.

Thank you so much for reading this article! I hope you enjoyed it! If you did, you certainly will like the podcast interview I just did with Josh Luber who is the former CEO and Co-Founder of Stockx! Go onto Spotify and type in Avner’s Sports Throw Down and it will be the interview right on top. I will attach the link to my podcast and my podcast website. You can also go and follow my Instagram account at thesportsthrowdown! I hope you enjoyed it. Until next time!

Spotify Podcast Link:

Podcast Website:


NBA’s Top Two Prospects Zion Williams and R.J. Barrett are bringing up concerns

Zion Williams was the number one draft pick of the 2019 NBA draft.  Duke and everybody else said that he is going to tear up the league and be the number one player.  People said that Zion Williams is going to be the next Anthony Davis.  Zion Williams has not fully proven that he is ready for the NBA level.  He does not have great sportsmanship, in the 2019 NBA summer league he did no damage and was really no help to the Pelicans, and frankly, I don’t know if Zion can do well under pressure.  Another thing Zion has recurring injuries that happen frequently.  He got hurt a lot when he was at Duke.  For example when he was in college Zion rolled his ankle and was out for four weeks, another time when Zion was in college his shoe exploded and hurt himself and was out for almost a month, and in the 2019 NBA summer league the second half of his first game he collided knees with one of the Knicks players, the Knicks player got up and played the rest of the game and Zion had all of the team doctors on the court see if he was okay and now he is not playing the rest of the summer league.  If Zion got stung by a bee he would be out the whole season.  Zion Williams might be the next Anthony Davis or he could be another one of those overrated players that get left in the dust.  If it’s your turn in your next fantasy basketball draft and Zion comes around I would be very cautious, because he is going to get hurt a lot next season.  Keep all of this information on your radar.

R.J. Barrett was the third pick of the 2019 NBA draft.  A lot of articles and videos have come out saying should we be worried about R.J. Barrett?  I think just like Zion, this kid has just as much of a chance as being the next superstar as he does.  But R.J. Barrett this 2019 NBA summer league has been a wreck for him.  R.J. is 3-15 from the field and 1-8 from three-point range.  He also has four fouls and eight turnovers in two games.  As you can see I think R.J. is under a lot of pressure and stress.  Technically R.J. Barrett is the hope the new face of the Knicks and that is a lot of pressure to put on a kid straight out of college and still finding his way around the NBA.  Until the Knicks find a sustainable reliable veteran to keep the team going until R.J. Barrett is ready the Knicks are going to be a mess and R.J. Barrett is going to be a mess.  One of the Knicks scouts reported to the Knicks that they see R.J. as overconfident.  That can be a good thing and a bad thing.  It is a good thing because it gives you that extra push and mindset that you can do anything.  But in this case, it is a bad thing when you’re drafted by the worst team in the NBA and your the only player on that team that knows how to play basketball.  Later in this season when the Knicks record is so bad and R.J. feels lost all of that confidence goes away.  When the Knicks lose R.J. the Knicks will 100% lose the league.  So if R.J. comes up in your draft I would be a bit hesitant.

Now, this is an even bigger concern, if our top two prospects are completely failing that means the scouts are doing something wrong.  A lot of the scouts today go by we should draft the tallest and strongest guy, no you should never do that you want to draft the most talented guy.  Talent is not defined if your tall and strong, it can play a role.  It is defined by your vision for the court, fast decision making, and making big plays when your team needs them.  That is what scouts need to go by.

What are the Knicks planning

The Knicks have missed out on some of the best players of the NBA this free agency.  They cleared cap space for two max contracts and have not yet bought a single superstars.  They let Anthony Davis, Kemba Walker, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant go to other teams and now there is no one left for the Knicks to grab for their franchise.  The Knicks general manager is claiming that he has a plan for the franchise.  The Knicks general managers plan is to wait two years to sign Giannis Antetokounmpo.  But Knicks fans are not happy about them missing out on all of these superstars.  The fans are demanding answers now.  There are some rumors abut Russell Westbrook might be traded to the Knicks but there is no guarantee yet.  To be honest who could the Knicks possibly give the Thunder that would be a fair trade for a superstar like Russell Westbrook.  I sort of feel bad for R.J. Barrett, because he is a rookie straight out of college and has the pressure of having to be the leader and face of this terrible franchise until the Knicks get a “veteran” that they can count on.  If there are three teams that superstars want to stay away from, here they are the Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic, and the New York Knicks.  Do you want to know why superstars want to stay away from these teams, it’s because these teams will ruin superstars reputations and will ruin their careers and who wants that.  The Knicks have to do something really soon if they want to turn around this franchise.

It’s Time To Pick A Winner!

This first game of the NBA finals really shocked me.  I really thought the Warriors would pull this off because they are so used to this level of pressure, but now I am thinking it is time for the Warriors to pass their finals torch to the Raptors.  Now I think after seeing the Raptors play the way they did in game one, I really think they have a good chance at winning it all.  The Raptors star player Kawhi Leonard in the game had a 23 point game, with eight rebounds, five assists, and one steal.  That is a crazy good game, and he is up against one of the worlds greatest teams.  His teammates also had a good game, it’s not like the Cavaliers when they had Lebron and he carried the whole team to the finals this Raptors team has fill-in players that can play ball.  The Raptors are a way more scrappy team that wants to win it more than anyone else.  They want the ball more, they make plays when they need to be made, and they are not afraid of anyone.  Nothing is going to stand in their way.

If the Warriors can’t get Kevin Durant back for this game tonight the Warriors franchise will be over.  Kevin Durant is that once in a while special player that is tall, can dunk, can do an MJ floater, and a playmaker.  So if the Warriors don’t get him back tonight and they lose the Raptors will have the confidence and advantage to wrap up the finals.  When a team as good, scrappy, and as smart as the Raptors has the advantage of a series as important as this, the Warriors will get the message that they are screwed.



Game 1: Raptors win

Game 2: Raptors win

Game 3: Warriors win

Game 4: Warriors win

Game 5: Raptors win

Game 6: Raptors win

Game 7: N/A


NBA Finals!

This 2019 final is going to be a good one. It is the Toronto Raptors Vs. Golden State Warriors. After this finals appearance, the Warriors will have been to the Finals five straight years in a row. Their starting lineup is crazy. They have Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, Demarcus Cousins, and Klay Thompson. This strong, powerful, and feared team has come back to be named world champions once again. Now I am going to talk about the Toronto Raptors. They are a very strong team that has fought their way to here and deserve it. Toronto has not had any really recent finals appearance, but that does not mean that they can’t pull this one-off. Here are the Raptors starters. Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, and Marc Gasol. This Toronto team is very scrappy and will not stop at anything to be world champs. I can relate this team to the 1989 Detroit Pistons world champs team. They played scrappy, dirty, and they wanted to win more than anyone else. This is how I think Toronto is going to play. Now let’s get down to the differences between these two teams. You probably know every single starter on the Warriors, and you probably only know two to three players on Toronto depending who you are. I think the Warriors are going to win for a couple of reasons. They have an NBA final streak and they probably have more confidence built up, they have knockdown shooters that can hit threes, twos, and that can dunk. You name it they have that player. The Warriors have way more experience and have more of a final winning team. The Warriors have a more difficult division that brings more challenge and prepares them for this moment, and Toronto has a hard division it’s just not as difficult as the Warriors division. I think the final score of the first game is going to be 112-118 Warriors win game one.


Game 1 of the NBA Finals: Thu, 5/30/19   9:00pm