Can The Bucks Advance In The NBA Playoffs?

Over the weekend, the Milwaukee Bucks completed an impressive sweep of the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. Featuring several premier players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, the Bucks were able to stifle Miami’s offense and blow the Heat out in the last three games to emphatically state their case as Eastern Conference contenders.

https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1398732886128353290

Led by Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee appears to have a renewed confidence and sense of focus after demolishing the Heat and will be a force to be reckoned with in the next couple of months.

A Disappointing Past

Despite having arguably the premier player in the NBA in Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have not advanced as far in the NBA playoffs as most fans would expect in the last two seasons. Milwaukee finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference in each of the prior two years, but could not parlay that regular-season success into a trip to the NBA Finals.

Despite making the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2018-2019 season with home-court advantage, the Bucks could not contain a red hot Kawhi Leonard in that series. Milwaukee ended up losing in six games to the eventual NBA champions. The following season, the Bucks were a little unlucky to have missed out on home-court advantage in the NBA bubble. As a result the Heat, led by premier players Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, seized control of their second-round series. Milwaukee was surprisingly eliminated from the playoffs in five games, and an offseason full of questions began.

“We had a heck of a year, through March 11, a lot of good things, a lot of positives, and when we had our moments here in Orlando. Ultimately, we weren’t able to get it done. Everybody’s dealing with the same circumstances,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer expressed. Via USA Today (https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2020/09/08/heat-bucks-game-5-miami-advances-milwaukee-giannis-antetokounmpo/5754124002/)

A Promising Future

After not quite meeting expectations, Milwaukee took significant steps to improve their roster before the 2021 NBA season. They made a blockbuster trade with the New Orleans Pelicans to acquire premier guard Jrue Holiday. The team also made a savvy free-agent signing, landing big man Bobby Portis. Holiday’s ability to defend on the perimeter and Portis’ ability to provide some scoring punch off the bench has made a big difference for the Bucks this season, and against Miami in the first round. Milwaukee also aggressively locked up Antetokounmpo for the near future, ensuring that one of the premier players in the league will keep them in the title mix. He signed a five-year, $228 million extension in December 2020.

“Peaking at the right moment—we really feel we’re doing that,” said Bucks center Brook Lopez. “And we still feel like we’re getting better each and every single night.” Via ESPN.com (https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/31534025/giannis-antetokounmpo-milwaukee-bucks-sweep-miami-heat-reach-eastern-conference-semifinals)

Potential 2nd Round Opponents

As the third-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks will await the completion of the series between the second-seeded Brooklyn Nets and seventh-seeded Boston Celtics. The Nets currently lead the series two games to one but are favored by many to be the favorites to come out of the East. If Milwaukee faced Brooklyn, they would have to come up with a strong game plan against premier players Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. In the regular season, the Bucks beat the Nets two out of three times they played. It would be a difficult matchup, and the Bucks would need to play strong defense to limit Brooklyn’s explosive offense.

Milwaukee would also need to have answers for Boston’s premier players if they squared off in the next round. Jayson Tatum scored 50 points in game three against Brooklyn. The Celtics beat the Bucks in two out of three games in the regular season, but Milwaukee would be favored to advance in this matchup.

Article by Andrew Pistone

Ball Brothers Keeping It All In The Family

It’s a pretty big deal to have a star athlete in the Family, it’s fantastic to have two, but now many families can boast three stars under the same roof. That’s certainly not your typical American Family, but there’s nothing ordinary about the Balls. Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo Ball are children of LaVar and Tina Ball, and they’ve been garnering national attention for almost a decade. These premier players are living the dream, and the only way is up for this baller family. Here we’ll be taking an in-depth look into what makes the boys tick, their journey to superstardom, and whether they can all play in the NBA, fulfilling their exuberant father’s prediction. So without further ado, let’s Ball!

Who are the Ball Brothers?

The ball brothers are three premier players born in Anaheim, California, part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Lonzo Ball is the starting point guard of the New Orleans Pelicans in the National Basketball Association (NBA). In comparison, the second Ball brother is LiAngelo, a free agent waiting for a shot in the NBA. The third Ball brother is LaMelo, the superstar rookie point guard on the Charlotte Hornets team in the NBA. These brothers have a mere four years between them, and they’ve played on numerous teams together, coached mainly by their dad LaVar, and achieving remarkable success.

The Ball Brothers are amongst the most famous basketball players on Instagram, as they have over ten million followers when you merge their accounts. At the same time, they regularly rack up millions of likes for pictures and views for videos. The brothers are fierce competitors and are known to out winning above any other thing, as they have the laurels to back it up. The Ball Brothers prefer to let their talking be done on the court, and they’ve brought significant success to most teams they’ve played for before the NBA dream. So what’s the grand dream?

The Dream

The Ball Brothers grew up idolizing stars like Lebron James (Lonzo’s former teammate), Michael Jordan (LaMelo’s current team owner), and Jason Kidd (for point guard reasons). As such, the boys have always had the NBA in their sights, and it’s pretty awesome to see that two of them are currently living the dream. Lonzo is presently playing point guard on a team with Brandon Ingram, the most improved player in the NBA, and has a confident Zion Williamson who needs no introduction. LaMelo, on the other hand, is a runaway favorite to win the rookie of the year honor, thanks to his sparkling debut season as a member of the Charlotte Hornets (who you probably know is owned by the GOAT).

However, LiAngelo, the middle child, hasn’t found it so lucky yet. First off was the China incident, which looking back, seemed to set the talented shooting guard on the wrong foot. Then the coronavirus pandemic ruined his rookie G league season, where he ought to have shown his worth. Also, recently he had a spell at the Detroit Pistons that did not pan out so well. However, this premier player isn’t giving up, as he’s super eager to join his brothers on the flashy courts of the best basketball league in the world.

Parting Thoughts

LaVar Ball repeatedly said that his boys will end up as three of the greatest NBA players ever to do it. That might have sounded as just him being LaVar, but it’s looking like these premier players are well on their way. Lonzo Ball has improved his jump shot, he’s playing more confidently than ever, and he’s on an improving team. LiAngelo is getting his act back together, and a couple of groups are showing interest. LaMelo Ball is simply a walking highlight reel and one of the league’s top draws. These premier players are keeping it in the Family, and they’re sure doing their city proud. The sky’s merely the beginning for the ball brothers, as they look to make the NBA Dream an astonishing reality.

Premier Players Article by Olaoluwa Ajayi

The Rise of Veganism In Pro Sports

Did you know the #11 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft is a vegan?  Justin Fields, the former Ohio St. Buckeye standout, will now take snaps under center for the Chicago Bears as one of the league’s first vegan quarterbacks.

Cam Newton, the signal-caller for the New England Patriots has also dabbled in veganism.  Newton is now an ovo-vegan, meaning he abstains from eating meat and dairy products but for eggs.

Tom Brady, of the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also turned to veganism in prior years.  However, Fields will be the NFL’s first 100% vegan quarterback.  It might not be long until the majority of premier players in pro sports become either vegan or vegetarian.

Why Fields Went Vegan

Fields’ transition to veganism stems from his father’s renewed focus on health and fitness.  Fields’ father went vegan a couple of years ago to lose weight.  The transition began with a 28-day challenge in which Fields strictly consumed fruits, veggies, meat alternatives, and other non-dairy items. The star in the making reported the clean eating improved his speed, strength, and overarching health.

Fields’ conversion to veganism spread like wildfire throughout his family, leading to his sister and his stepmother adopting the on-trend diet.  Though Fields’ Ohio State strength and conditioning coach questioned the prudence of shifting away from protein-rich meats to vegan fare, Fields stuck with the new diet, insisting it improved his quality of play.  In fact, Fields has even stated his personal nutritionist questioned whether shifting to veganism was a wise decision.

The proof turned out to be in the pudding, pun intended.  Fields, the definition of a premier player, led his Buckeyes to the National Championship game this past year.  If three other top-notch quarterbacks were not available in the recent NFL draft, Fields likely would have been drafted first overall.  In fact, plenty of draft scouts insist Fields was worthy of a top-three selection.

Veganism is the new Wave

Fields is not the only athlete to shift to veganism.  Though few know it, dozens of other premier players who compete at the highest level have also made the transition.  Examples of other pro athletes who have shifted to veganism include MMA fighter James Wilks, Formula One champ Lewis Hamilton, pro cyclist Dotsie Bausch, figure skater Meagan Duhamel, ironman Rich Roll, and NBA superstar Kyrie Irving.

Venus Williams, arguably the best female tennis player of all time, ditched the meat and animal byproducts for veganism to reduce her joint pain and fatigue tied to an autoimmune disease known as Sjogren’s syndrome.  Other premier players have taken the vegan plunge in an effort to reduce blood pressure, bounce back from injuries much quicker, feel more energized, and help our ever-fragile environment.

Veganism Will be Socially Normative in the Future

Though only 2% of those living in the United States are vegetarian and only one-half of one percent of the country’s population is vegan, those numbers are likely to change.  The majority of those going vegetarian and vegan are millennials and members of the Generation Z age cohort.  If the current trend continues, a considerable percentage of future premier players will be vegan.

Article by Patrick Ryan

MAC JONES: Can He Be The Next Tom Brady?

Many have debated a lot about the New England Patriots dynasty, and it essentially comes down to two premier players: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. That’s because, for almost two decades, this duo led the Patriots to six super bowls, amassing numerous records in the process.

However, all good things must come to an end, and at the beginning of the 2020-21 season, Tom Brady departed New England for Tampa Bay, winning another super bowl in the process. To say that the Patriots struggled would be an understatement, as they missed the playoffs for the first time in what seemed like a lifetime. The team never missed out on the playoffs when “The GOAT” was healthy.

Missing the playoffs made the franchise hit the refresh button, and for the first time since the mid-90s, they drafted a quarterback as a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

THE NEW QB ON THE BLOCK
Enter Mac Jones, a premier player that doesn’t need any introductions among college football fans, thanks to his heroics as the starting quarterback at the University of Alabama. Initially, a mere backup to the equally illustrious young QB Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones made a name for himself in his first and only season as Alabama’s undisputed starter.

Jones led the team to a national championship and bagged a slew of awards such as the Davey O’Brien, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm, and Manning Awards, all for his sterling contributions to a top-notch offense. The premier player also shattered numerous school, state, and national records in the process, beating marks set by his former competition in Tua.

LOFTY COMPARISONS
It’s almost a disservice to any young quarterback in the world to compare him to the greatest of all time, Tom Brady. That’s because no one could have predicted that a sixth-round pick would have turned out to be a seven-time NFL champion, bagging multiple league MVPs in the process. However, there are a few similarities between Tom and Mac that seemingly show a trend and a reason why Coach Belichick seemed so eager to break with tradition.

First off, both of them have similar builds, they both shine as conductors of star-laden teams, and they both have a startling desire to win. Furthermore, both aren’t exceptional athletes at any stretch of the imagination, but they make up with consistency what they don’t have in athletic ability. Last but not least is the circumstances of their rookie years, as it seems that Mac Jones has his work cut out to dislodge and premier player in Cam Newton, the same way Tom had to bide his time dislodging starter Drew Bledsoe and backups John Friesz and Michael Bishop.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Tom Brady’s success as a world-class quarterback didn’t come easy, and many have attributed it to his work ethic, competitive spirit, pocket awareness, and intelligence. Mac Jones has exhibited some of the above traits, and he’s proved himself as a leader of top-notch prospects. However, the premier player is facing a herculean task replacing the greatest ever to do it, and in the process, he has to dislodge a former MVP.

It’s not the first time that the lad from Jacksonville, FL, has faced stiff competition, and it’s been said he relishes a challenge. Let’s see how it goes, but one thing is for sure, Patriots fans, football critics, and casuals are sure going to have a lot to talk about during the NFL season!

Article by Premier Players