With the emergence of the Saudi Pro League this summer and the huge spending spree their clubs went on in order to bring in high profile and incredibly well known European footballing talent, many in the wider world of the sport are expecting another big splash when the transfer window opens again in the New Year, and given all the rumour mill speculation that surrounded the future of Liverpool and Egyptian wizard Mohamed Salah, his name will undoubtedly continue to do the rounds over the next few months.
As it happened, the SPL transfer deadline closed a week after the European one did, but no move for Salah was finalised even though it has been claimed that the Anfield outfit rejected a late offer of around £150 million from Al-Ittihad for the 31 year old, sticking to their line that he was not for sale this summer. There was no fun88 in a deal being done.
SPL chief and director of football, Michael Emenalo, was recently discussing the league’s business with Sky Sports given they spent over £700 million to bring in the players that they did, and he would not rule out further attempts to lure the attacker to them in the future.
“First and foremost, Mohamed Salah is one of the best players on the planet. I’ve said before, privately and publicly that we welcome anybody that wants to come and that includes Salah. But we have to do things in a very professional and respectful manner. That’s what we’re there for, it’s what the SPL has been refined to do – bring professionalism, respect of efficiencies, and to do things in a competent way.”
“If it didn’t happen, it’s not because we no longer fancy the player, or because we have a problem with Liverpool. It’s because certain things that need to align for all the parties involved in the process didn’t align. Nobody is angry, we move on, but we absolutely close no doors and if the opportunity is there to do things and do it well – and it brings Mohamed Salah to the Saudi Pro League we will all be very grateful.”
With Salah scoring against Aston Villa ahead of the international break, it takes his Liverpool tally to 188 goals in 309 games, and it is patently obvious why the SPL would like to see him make the move there and play his own part in helping to boost their profile, in the way their captures of the likes of Neymar, Roberto Firmino, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo have in more recent weeks.
They are far from alone in having made the move as well as plenty of former Premier League stars have made the switch this summer, and as you at least listen to Emenalo, he keeps referencing a long term project for the league so few will think this was a one off splurge and that speculation will not be rife again come the next window.
Whether or not that does mean further interest in Salah is open for debate, but Liverpool fans will be hoping that his contract length keeps him safe for the next season or two at least.
Through the first quarter-and-a-half of action in the Boston Celtics’ Monday night win over the New York Knicks, the shots weren’t falling. Sam Hauser jumped out to a 3-of-4 start from distance, but outside of him, the Celtics shot 2-for-12 to open the game.
Boston’s offense process looked good. They were moving the ball, hitting their spots, and generating open looks. However, a bad result can lead to hanging heads, especially when the approach is sound.
But in head coach Joe Mazzulla’s mind, the threes weren’t the issue.
“Can I ask you a question?” Mazzulla said when asked about the cold shooting start. “Do you know how any missed layups we had in the first half? How come no one notices those? We had four missed layups for shots at the other end. I thought we played with great balance, and I think a missed layup can hurt you more than a missed three because it’s usually a five-on-four situation.”
Derrick White missed two, Kristaps Porzingis missed one, and Jaylen Brown did as well. For the Celtics, those missed opportunities led to clean looks for the Knicks on the other end of the court.
“I mean, if I could come up with another shot besides a three or a layup, I’ll do it,” Mazzulla said with a laugh. “You can’t kick it in. I mean, we couldn’t throw it in the ocean.”
Missing layups may be more costly on the court, but NBA players are confident in their ability to make shots at the rim. Missing a bunch of threes, on the other hand, could lead to hesitation.
Jayson Tatum started the game 0-for-6 from distance, but that didn’t slow him down.
“You put the work in,” Tatum said of his confidence level to keep shooting. “I’ve played enough games, had enough tough shooting nights. I mean, Game 6 last year was the prime example against Philly. I couldn’t hit a shot.
“But all good really, really good scorers know it just takes one to change your momentum, change how you feel about yourself shooting the ball. And once you see one go in you just feel a lot better about yourself.”
His cold start quickly turned into a red-hot scoring night, as he shot 5-of-6 from deep following his 0-of-6 opening. Tatum finished the night with 35 points on 13-of-23 shooting, and the interlude between his three-point slump and three-point barrage was full of new-look offense.
Tatum started the game 3-of-3 from the field, and then he took the ball beyond the arc.
Nothing. Three misses in a row from distance.
After three straight missed triples, he took the ball back inside. Tatum posted up, got in deep, and sunk a tough and-one just inside the paint.
Then he went back out behind the arc.
Nothing once again.
He followed that up with a dunk in transition and another post-up against Hart from which he nailed a turnaround jumper.
Then, after a few more misses, Tatum finally nailed a three at the 4:19 mark of the third quarter. From there, the floodgates were open. He shot 4-of-5 from deep the rest of the game and made his last four attempts.
Despite a rough stretch from deep, Tatum was able to find a rhythm by getting inside and working the post, something he’s been collaborating with assistant coach Sam Cassell on. And he’s not the only player getting to those spots.
“I think this year, what we have that we didn’t last year is we go to our post-up,” Mazzulla explained. “That kind of settles us down a little bit. It gets to a different spacing. It allows guys to give them a comfort level, and it helps us get to the free throw line a little bit. They beat us at the free-throw line.
“So I think when you’re going through those [cold spells], it’s something that we didn’t go to as much last year. This year, it’s like, ‘Okay when you want to settle it down, can we get JB JT Jrue into a post situation to create something? But you got to make the shot at some point.”
The Celtics shot 7-of-19 from three in the first half. A respectable 36.8%. But they were getting clean looks. And with a little work inside, they transferred their interior dominance to the outside.
In the second half, they went 12-of-24 from distance. A healthy process is the key to a successful offense, but having multiple spots to attack helps smooth out the kinks when shots aren’t falling. For the Celtics, the post-up is their newest weapon.
“It’s the Year of the Big Man in men’s college basketball!”
That was the phrase being uttered ahead of last year’s college hoops season, and for good reason. Heading into last year, with reigning national player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe returning to lead a cast that included Drew Timme, Zach Edey, Adama Sanogo, Trayce Jackson-Davis, Armando Bacot, Hunter Dickinson, Ryan Kalkbrenner and Azuolas Tubelis, the momentum surrounding the center position was clearly the headline across the country.
As a result, five of the 10 players named to the first and second AP All-America teams last year played the center position (Edey, Jackson-Davis, Timme, Tshiebwe and Tubelis).
But big men headlining college basketball is not a one-hit wonder, instead, it will be a theme in the sport this season and for many to come. While calling last year “The Year of the Big Man” was understandable, this trend is going to continue because as it stands right now for traditional post players, or most centers for that matter, it is more beneficial to stay in college than attempt a jump to the NBA.
Name, image and likeness.
The ability of a traditional big man to profit off his success and brand outweighs the benefits of going pro and either spending time between the G League and maybe the NBA, or playing overseas. Big men who are dominant at the college level can certainly get paid in both avenues, but the latter options are always going to be there. College eligibility is precious for players like Bacot, who told FOX Sports that he will “easily” make seven figures in NIL dollars in his fifth and final season at North Carolina.
It’s not a coincidence that Edey is the second straight reigning national player of the year who chose to return for another season. Before Tshiebwe did it last year, that had not occurred since Tyler Hansbrough did so in 2008, leading North Carolina to a national championship and cementing his legacy as one of the greatest players in college basketball history. That’s now the task for Edey, who looks to lead Purdue from an all-time low in the NCAA Tournament to redemption and that elusive Final Four run in the Matt Painter era.
So, not only are the big men across college basketball talented, but they are also featured in some of the very best storylines that the sport has to offer again this season.
[10 burning questions for the 2023-24 college basketball season]
With that in mind, we at FOX Sports present …
THE BIG MAN LADDER.
This series will be rolled out monthly throughout the season to update you on the sport’s best big men, featuring interesting numbers, exclusive interviews and more.
The criteria for our featured big men are as follows: We are zoning in on players who stand 6-foot-10 or taller and are making significant contributions for ranked teams across the country. This list can be adjusted as the year goes on. As Edey showed last season, you could go from being a notable big man entering the season to the best player in the sport. If someone’s impact calls for attention, we’ll add another rung to the ladder!
Edey’s numbers last season were simply incredible. When you combine those figures with the fact that he’s entering only his seventh year of playing the sport after not picking up a basketball until his sophomore year of high school, that makes his whole story even more unbelievable.
The Boilermakers’ star big man enters his senior year of college already in a class of his own, as he is the only player in the history of the sport to record 750 points, 400 rebounds, 70 blocks and 50 assists in a single season. Last year, Edey joined Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant as the only high-major players in the last 20 years to rank in the top 10 nationally in both scoring and rebounding in the same season.
Edey was a dominant force every time he stepped onto the court last season. He doesn’t have a perimeter game — that’s up to Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer — but the fact that he could somehow be better this year, something Matt Painter said at Big Ten media day, is wild to think about. How he handles ball screens defensively is a big key to Purdue’s season because teams will try to exploit Edey on that end of the floor with spacing. But overall, we should appreciate the fact that we get to watch the reigning national player of the year for another season in West Lafayette.
Bacot passed Hansbrough last year as UNC’s all-time leading rebounder with 1,335 and counting. Add that to the fact that he also owns the program record for double-doubles with 68, and it becomes quite clear that his career numbers are up there with the best to ever wear Carolina blue. But for Bacot, this upcoming season isn’t about what he does individually. All of those records are great, but as he told me in an exclusive conversation, it’s about charging North Carolina to a second Final Four in the last three years and shedding away the bad taste the Tar Heels had in their mouths last season.
When North Carolina reached the national championship game in 2022, Bacot became the first player in college basketball history to notch six double-doubles in one NCAA Tournament. He is made for the March stage. This upcoming season, his fifth in Chapel Hill, is about getting there again.
Hubert Davis has star guard RJ Davis back to charge the backcourt, while he and his staff crushed it in the transfer portal with Cormac Ryan and Harrison Ingram coming in from Notre Dame and Stanford, respectively. If five-star freshman Elliot Cadeau comes in and makes an immediate impact as a ball handler, watch out. This UNC team could get to Arizona in April.
In my opinion, Hunter Dickinson is the biggest name to enter the transfer portal in its history. The fact that a former All-American and three-time All-Big Ten selection, who has averaged over 18 points and nine rebounds per game in the last two seasons, left Michigan to go to another program instead of the pro ranks, is really something.
The fact that Dickinson is now pairing up with Hall of Fame head coach Bill Self, who is an offensive mastermind, is scary for the rest of the Big 12 and college basketball. Dickinson joins a Jayhawks program that is setting aim on a second national championship in the last three years. He joins a group that has Dajuan Harris Jr. back at point guard and fellow returnees Kevin McCullar Jr. and KJ Adams in the fold as well.
This feels like a match made in heaven between Dickinson and Self, who called the big man the best offensive post player he’s ever worked with.
[40 players, coaches who will shape the 2023-24 men’s college basketball season]
Filipowski was the third-highest-ranked recruit in Jon Scheyer’s 2022 class, but he quickly established himself as the alpha of that group, going off for 17 points and 14 rebounds in his third college game against Kansas. Filipowski’s versatility and length make him a tough cover for opposing defenses, which led to him recording 16 double-doubles last season. He could have been a top-20 NBA Draft pick had he left after his stellar freshman campaign. Instead, the Duke sensation is back with classmates Tyrese Proctor and Mark Mitchell on a Blue Devils team that ranks No. 2 in the FOX Sports Preseason Top 25.
Filipowski could go from a middle first-round pick in the draft to a top-10 selection if his jumper can evolve. As a freshman, he shot 28% from 3-point range. But more than anything, he’s back at Duke to lead the Blue Devils in their quest to win their first national championship since 2015.
Last season, Kalkbrenner joined Allen Iverson, Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo and seven others as one of only 11 players in the history of the Big East to be named the conference’s defensive player of the year twice. The 7-1 senior is an invaluable rim protector that has totaled 161 rejections over the last two seasons. Being a part of six NCAA Tournament wins at Creighton, more than any player in program history, he averaged 20 points and six rebounds per game during the Jays’ first Elite Eight run in modern tournament history this past year. Not only is he a force on defense, but what stands out about Kalkbrenner is his efficiency. He is adding a 3-pointer, but the way he can play above the rim and execute in screen-and-roll situations is tremendous.
Kalkbrenner led the Big East in field goal percentage in each of the last two seasons, and his 67% clip would be sixth all time in NCAA history for a career. He will be at the forefront of a Creighton team that is ranked No. 6 in the FOX Sports Preseason Top 25. When you combine the guard play of Baylor Scheierman, Trey Alexander and Steven Ashworth with Kalkbrenner, that’s a lethal formula. His presence means everything to what Greg McDermott wants to do.
Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd, who has gone 61-11 in his first two seasons on the job, unlocked something out of his frontcourt duo of Tubelis and Ballo last year. They combined for 34 points and 17.7 rebounds per game, with Tubelis being named a second-team All-American and becoming one of the best players in the country. This year, Ballo goes from Robin to Batman in Tucson, and the Mali native will look to form a new dynamic pair with San Diego State transfer Keshad Johnson, who was a starter on the national runner-up Aztecs team last season.
[FOX 2023-24 college basketball schedule: 10 dates to circle, how to watch]
Ballo’s evolution has already been really impressive, having more than doubled his numbers from the 2021-22 season when he averaged 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, which led to him being named Pac-12 Most Improved Player of the Year. Possessing a 7-6 wingspan, Ballo is also an NBA Academy Latin America alum who led Mali to its best finish in the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup. His athletic ability and strength has always been present, but it’s the different ways he can impact the game offensively that is a direct reflection of what Lloyd and his staff are able to do with talent. The Wildcats will have a backcourt filled with options featuring North Carolina transfer Caleb Love, rising star Kylan Boswell, Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley, and returnee Pelle Larsson. Ballo won’t have to fight with Tubelis for touches this year. It’s his show on the interior, and that’s why he is a FOX Sports preseason third-team All-American.
Those numbers don’t look gaudy, but Clingan did that while playing 13.1 minutes per game, serving in a critical role to back up Sanogo on the national championship Huskies team last season. By every account in Storrs and beyond, the sophomore from nearby Bristol, Connecticut is poised for an All-American type season for the Huskies.
Clingan returned to practice this past week after missing the previous four weeks with a right foot strain. His strength, finishing ability around the rim and an emerging 3-point shot make him a really scary player for opposing teams this year. Is he going to be the next great UConn big man? All signs point to that happening, provided the foot doesn’t cause any injury flare-ups.
John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.
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Travel is part of life for footballers, and commercial opportunities have taken plenty of teams to the land down under in recent years, even if they are playing in exhibition competitions rather than the Australian league.
It is always interesting to have a peek at the kind of things the players do off the pitch, and the culture (plus the weather) in Australia is certainly different from that in Europe, where most pros still play. Encounters with kangaroos, jungle antics, and casino gambling are all part of the hobbies and activities that players have explored when they are in Australia.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Casino Gambling
Cristiano Ronaldo is not just one of the best footballers ever, he’s a global superstar and a household name. A lot of casino brands as well as other businesses have taken advantage of his mass following, signing Cristiano up as an ambassador. Multiple casino brands have done exactly this as the Portuguese star has a reputation for gambling at the tables.
This includes when the former-Madrid star is in Australia, as Ronaldo plays poker plus other casino games, and has been seen playing at the Crown Casino in Melbourne during his downtime during a tour, back when he was a Real Madrid player. He was in Australia for the International Champions Cup which was a pre-season tournament hosted by Australia and China. There were some big teams involved and Madrid played AC Milan, Roma, and Manchester City.
As well as being spotted at in-person casinos in Australia, many football superstars play online at a live casino in Australia to enjoy the anonymity of playing online but also be able to play their favorite games. They’re not going to get bombarded with paparazzi by logging into an online poker game or connecting to a live dealer on a casino site.
Australia allows casino gambling and there aren’t the same sort of strict restrictions we sometimes see in other countries, so some of the players who have been to Australia on pre-season tours take advantage of the fact that online gambling and pokies are widely available.
Harry Kane and James Maddison – Golf
Australia is the home of Spurs head coach Ange Postecoglu, and he took his Tottenham team back to Australia on a pre-season tour before leading them into his first Premier League season.
Star players Harry Kane (before his move to Munich) and James Maddison decided to take part in a round of golf, and when their friendly competition took a turn for the weird, they decided to share it on Instagram.
The bizarre occurrence they won’t have been expecting? A kangaroo boxing match right in the middle of their game, which the soccer stars definitely found comical judging by their reactions.
We know that golf is popular among footballers anyway and Australia has some superb (if roasting hot) golf courses that people can enjoy when they get some downtime, there have been many footballers heading to the links when not playing matches.
Heading to the Jungle
“I’m a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here!”
This is a massive hit show and plenty of footballers (plus people related to the football industry) have been in the jungle to undertake the crazy bushtucker trials and the tribulations of weeks in the jungle eating rice and beans.
Among the players who have been in I’m a Celebrity’s reality show are Ian Wright, David Ginola, and Kieron Dyer, and they’ve definitely had some mixed experiences, with some of the players not really enjoying the experience. Ian Wright said about his time in the jungle:
“They let me down by not showing the whole picture of who I am. I’m never far away from feeling like I could cry. I have very deep feelings that I’ve had to learn to deal with, but I still have my moments.”
David Ginola was one of the fan favourites, and in a recent series, it was Lionesses footballer Jill Scott who gained the nation’s love, as she was named Queen of the Jungle in spite of being less famous than many of her competitors. Scott had only recently retired after winning the Euros with England Women, and since going on the show she has carved a career in punditry both for the men’s and women’s games, this was an incredibly smart career move for her as she showed her charisma and gained the love of the nation.
Footballers will be footballers, and you might not see many of them in Aussie cultural hotspots, snorkelling, or visiting the Opera House, but there are certain hobbies footballers seem to be drawn to including casino gaming and golf. Footballing A-listers like Ronaldo and Harry Kane draw a lot of attention wherever they go and Australia is no different, so there are always stories about the casinos they’ve visited or the games they’re playing off the pitch.
After avoiding DFB-Pokal humiliation in the week, Bayern Munich’s attention now switches to a huge Bundesliga game as they travel to RB Leipzig on Saturday evening.
A rotated Bayern outfit didn’t have to break a sweat at Preussen Munster on Tuesday night in their 4-0 victory which saw them progress into the second round of the Pokal. Their comfortable triumph ensured they remained unbeaten in all competitions to start the 2023/24 season.
However, a big test is on the horizon in the form of Marco Rose’s Leipzig, who thumped Bayern in the Supercup just before the season got underway. Leipzig have also enjoyed a stellar start to the season and sit a point adrift of Bayern at the top of the Bundesliga table.
Here’s how Thomas Tuchel could set his Bayern side up for their trip to the Red Bull Arena.
Bayern were in a rampant mood at the weekend / Marcel Engelbrecht – firo sportphoto/GettyImages
GK: Sven Ulreich – After Daniel Peretz was handed his first Bayern start in the week, Ulreich will return to the Bundesliga XI on Saturday while Manuel Neuer remains sidelined.
RB: Konrad Laimer – Tuchel has so far deployed the dependable Austrian at right-back and in the midfield pivot. Laimer’s stability at full-back has been impressive at the start of 2023/24.
CB: Dayot Upamecano – The Frenchman is an injury doubt for Saturday’s clash, but Tuchel is hopeful the Frenchman will be available.
CB: Kim Min-jae – Like Upamecano, Kim could miss the trip to Leipzig, but the South Korean simply has to play even if he isn’t 100% fit. Bayern’s alternatives cease to exist with Matthijs de Ligt picking up a knee injury.
LB: Alphonso Davies – Frans Kratzig might be one to watch moving forward, but Davies remains the undisputed first-choice left-back.
CM: Joshua Kimmich – Kimmich earned a rest in the week and there’s no doubt he’ll come back into the team on Saturday. He’ll have to have his wits about him against an explosive Leipzig side.
CM: Leon Goretzka – Player of the Match in Munster, Goretzka has enjoyed a fine start to the campaign and is re-emerging as a pivotal figure for Bayern.
RM: Leroy Sane – Sane has arguably been Bayern’s best performer at the start of the new season. If Bayern are to secure a big win on the road, the German international will play a huge role.
AM: Jamal Musiala – Thomas Muller’s groin injury should see Musiala start in the number 10 role. Tuchel admitted he has to carefully manage Musiala’s minutes given his recent fitness issues, but the German boss will deploy the superb playmaker from the outset in Saxony.
LM: Kingsley Coman – Tuchel does have a few options down the left flank despite Serge Gnabry’s absence. However, he’ll likely fight fire with fire and utilise the dynamic Coman opposite Sane.
ST: Harry Kane – The Englishman looks to have found his Son Heung-min in Bavaria in the form of Sane, with Kane bagging his maiden Bayern hat-trick against Bochum last weekend. The striker’s a shoo-in after earning a rest in midweek.
Shooting — and especially three-point shooting — has become a must in today’s pace-and-space game, which is why having one of the best NBA shooters in 2023-24 puts their respective teams in a privileged position. And while every team still needs to play some defense to go the distance, this is an offense-oriented league.
Top 10 NBA shooters in 2023-24
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the top-10 best shooters in the league ahead of the upcoming season, considering either volume, efficiency, or even form.
10. Kevin Durant
Our list of the best NBA shooters in 2023-24 starts with a proven veteran whose game keeps aging like a fine wine. Even if he’s struggled with injuries lately, Kevin Durant is still one of the most efficient scorers in the game, and his shot is just smooth and beautiful to watch.
Durant is one of the few guys who could legitimately shoot 50/40/90 from the floor year in and year out. He’s so good at getting to his spots, and his shot is usually money from all three levels. A guy his size shouldn’t be able to move and shoot the rock like he does.
9. Tyrese Maxey
Tyrese Maxey hasn’t fully embraced his potential as a sniper yet, but he’s been extremely efficient when he’s actually dared to pull up from beyond the arc. He’s coming off shooting 43.4% from three-point land, which was the fifth-best in the league.
Maxey has the potential to be one of the most complete and explosive scorers in the league. Perhaps he’ll finally take that leap forward this season.
8. Joe Harris
It’s been a while since Joe Harris was a factor on the court because of all the injuries. Nonetheless, the shot is usually the last part of the game to fade, and Harris has been one of the top-notch three-point shooters in the game for years now.
Even in limited action, Harris was quite solid for the Brooklyn Nets last season, shooting the rock at the eighth most efficient clip in the league at a whopping 42.6% from three. If you’re only good at one thing, you better be very good at it.
7. Luke Kennard
The fact that Luke Kennard got paid to such a big contract has one justification and one justification alone: He’s a very good three-point shooter. Even so, he doesn’t-bring that much more to the table, which is why he hasn’t been on the floor as often as one would think for a guy making that much money.
Being a solid three-point shooter can get you a lot of money in today’s game, and chances are his contract will be a huge liability under this new CBA. Even so, he was elite from beyond the arc last season, knocking down 49.4% of his attempts.
6. Buddy Hield
Even though Buddy Hield didn’t break out as the dominant scorer some thought he’d be when he was wreaking havoc in Texas, he’s made a name for himself in the league for the way he can get hot and knock down shots from beyond the arc.
Constantly tangled up in trade talks, it’s hard to think of a team that wouldn’t benefit from Hield’s sharpshooting skills. He was second in three-pointers made last season (288) all while shooting 42.5% from beyond the arc, the ninth-highest percentage.
5. Seth Curry
Seth Curry is no longer just Dell Curry‘s son and Stephen Curry‘s brother. It’s been a while since he established himself as one of the best shooters in the NBA, making a name for himself and getting himself a lot of money in the process.
Curry’s sweet jumper, wrist flick, quick release, and high arc might be in his genes. He’s obviously not as impactful as Steph, but that three-point shooting of his will grant him a roster spot for years to come.
4. Desmond Bane
Desmond Bane was one of the most improved players in the league last season. He put his head down, didn’t do a lot of talking — unlike every single one of his teammates on the Memphis Grizzlies — and just let his game speak for itself.
Bane is now considered one of the best shooters in the league, and that ability granted him one of the biggest contract extensions in his draft class. His wingspan continues to lead to multiple jokes, but his shooting is definitely on point.
3. Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard stole most of the headlines when it became public that he wants to leave the Portland Trail Blazers once and for all. But besides being in the news cycle 24-7, he also happens to be one of the top shooters in the NBA currently.
Truth be told, Lillard is actually the most efficient shooter when it comes to knocking down shots from 30+ feet, even ahead of Stephen Curry. Also, his ability to come up huge in the clutch makes him the kind of player who could elevate every single contender.
2. Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson seems to be the only guy who could go out there and break most of Steph Curry records on any given night, all while taking just a couple of dribbles. Simply put, he’s 1B to Stephen Curry’s 1A when it comes to the greatest shooters of all time.
Thompson has perhaps the most beautiful and mesmerizing shooting form this game has ever seen. He may not be the same player he used to be before those injuries, but his shot continues to be money, and he could play for another decade just out of shooting.
1. Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry isn’t only the greatest three-point shooter in the history of the game, he’s also one of the greatest point guards of all-time. Even if he’s not your average pass-first guy, he changed the way the game was played, even for defenders.
Curry has to be guarded across the whole court. He can pull up from — literally — anywhere, and he’ll shoot over 40% from three despite taking over ten triples a game. He’s the most efficient and dominant volume shooter we’ll ever see.
It’s important to keep your friends close—And enemies closer. We take a positive look at Man City’s performance to better understand what United can do to play better this time around.
Manchester City has been in exceptionally good form in recent months. Their matches against the strongest contenders have all proved to be hints toward what’s to come. We have strong reasons to believe that the team will be making quite a splash in the Champions League 2023-24. Why? Well, let’s find out.
Manchester City is definitely one of the best football teams right now. For example, if you check the chances for the upcoming UEFA Champions League, Man City is likely going to be the winner beating all others.
To test that hypothesis, we looked up some reliable oddsmakers that have pretty solid odds for English football games in general. And right on cue, they are placing Manchester City at +225 while all others trail behind.
Going deeper into this sports betting Canada platform, we found the odds for other teams as well. Bayern Munich is at +550, Real Madrid at +700, Arsenal at +1100, Barcelona at +1400, PSG at +1400 too, and us, Man United, are placed at +1600.
That’s as expected, from whichever angle you look at it like current performance or H2H stats. Though we’re not 100% happy with United’s current standing, nothing is set in stone, really.
Standing, Ranking, and Stats
The team is not only coming off a great performance but is also statistically sound. In recent years, the team has had a tendency to reach the more advanced stages. In the pot, we have teams like Napoli, Munich, PSG, Benfica, and Barcelona with City.
Man City won the last edition (Champions League 2022-23) and will be defending their glory with renewed vigour. That season saw City’s Erling Haaland scoring the tournament’s most goals (12) and Kevin De Bruyne having the tournament’s most assists (6).
Defeating Inter was a great feat—And we believe that the team will continue to perform along similar lines.
We should also note that there have only been two instances where the defending champions managed to defend the trophy. It was Real Madrid both times. The tournament, in general, is quite unpredictable.
If there is another team that can defend the trophy as well as Real Madrid even against stark competition, then it’s probably not Manchester City.
It’s an uphill task. The staff and players can be in good spirits but that wouldn’t matter much. The single elimination in the knockout stages means that it doesn’t directly matter how good the teams are—There is always the possibility of losing and that makes it quite challenging to win back-to-back tournaments.
Man City’s performance is nothing short of a powerhouse. It has exceptional squad depth with talented footballers who have etched their names in history in several European competitions. The bench strength is also nearly as strong as the starting lineup, making the team a formidable opponent to break through.
There’s also the tactical flexibility that we’re only seeing improving lately. The past few weeks have shown us that City’s talented players can overwhelm opponents pretty easily. The ability to adapt the playing style to exploit weaknesses has been instrumental in the success of the team recently—And it’s a skill that will come in very handy in the 2023-24 Champions League.
Quite expectedly, we also saw the team improve their relentless performance. The high-pressing style of the team can actively dismantle and disrupt any kind of build-up play even from the toughest competitors and in the knockout stages.
Forcing turnovers high up the pitch is central to City’s success rate—And if those goal opportunities are correctly capitalized on (which we have all the reason in the world to believe that they will be), we’re looking at fierce gameplay next year from the City squad.
Not surprisingly, the team’s midfield control has also improved over the last year or so. It’s a place of creativity and comprehensive control that, when coupled with the strong defensive unit, can propel the team to ever higher records when they play in the Champions League.
These are all the things that United is facing. The 2022-23 squad is shaping up to be remarkable and we think they have what it takes to beat City in their own game this time around. However, just beating City won’t be enough.
There are bigger and more imminent threats to United’s performance that only a balanced squad can’t solve.
We have analyzed City’s current performance so that you know what United is up against.
This is the last UEFA competition with 32 teams in the group stage with the format slated to change from 2024-25 onward. Let’s see if City can defend the trophy against bigger threats and where does United land with a powerful squad!
The month of August was not nearly as busy as June or July but there were still some significant and memorable commitments. Here is a look at five schools that won the month in recruiting as we look toward the season:
The Crimson Tide did a great job of adding a legacy and flipping three other big-time prospects in the month of August to propel their class to No. 12 nationally, which is still low for their lofty standards.
Tight end Jay Lindsey out of Butler (Ala.) Patrician Academy flipped to Alabama from Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide got high three-star Rydarrius Morgan from Phenix City (Ala.) Central to flip from Florida State. Three-star DB Dre Kirkpatrick Jr., from Gadsden (Ala.) Gadsden City is the legacy that made his pledge.
The biggest get of the month was when five-star safety Peyton Woodyard from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco flipped to Alabama from Georgia. USC was also involved but playing in the SEC – and playing for coach Nick Saban – were big draws to the five-star.
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It was a battle until the end for five-star safety Zaquan Patterson from Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade Madonna and literally could have come down to the final minutes as many felt the Seminoles would still win out in the end. That was not the case, though, as coach Mario Cristobal and his staff won a massive in-state recruiting battle because Patterson is excellent in the back end and keeping kids home is crucial.
Patterson was big but not everything. The Hurricanes also flipped four-star defensive end Elias Rudolph, who flipped from Michigan and transferred to Cincinnati (Ohio) Taft for his senior season from South Florida. The Hurricanes also added an offensive lineman with a ton of potential in three-star Kavion Broussard from Zachary, La.
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Oklahoma might have had the best month of any school in the country – even if some of it was completely expected the Sooners will still take it.
Five-star defensive lineman David Stone came home to Oklahoma despite Miami’s best efforts to land him. The Sooners also got a commitment from four-star DB Eli Bowen, whose five-star brother, Peyton, signed with Oklahoma in 2022. Former Northwestern three-star quarterback commit Brendan Zurbrugg flipped to the Sooners.
Oklahoma City (Okla.) Heritage Hall three-star Andy Bass is an interesting pickup and has the athleticism to make things happen and then the Sooners also added three-star OL Josh Aisosa.
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If anything had a better month, it was coach Lane Kiffin’s club. It was a huge win for Ole Miss to land five-star defensive lineman Kamarion Franklin as it seemed to be trending in Auburn’s direction in the closing days before his commitment date.
But Ole Miss got a whole lot more as well. Four-star quarterback Trever Jackson, who was highly impressive at the Elite 11, picked the Rebels along with former four-star athlete and former Arkansas pledge Noreel White.
Three-star tight end Dillon Hipp picked Ole Miss over Baylor and he brings major size to the passing game and Ole Miss also added three-star receiver Sanfrisco Magee and JUCO DB Cedrick Beavers.
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It has really been a phenomenal summer for UCF’s recruiting efforts and August continued that trend with four big pledges, especially with two important four-star commitments.
After an early commitment to Georgia, four-star safety Jaylen Heyward backed off that pledge and decided to stay closer to home. Gus Malzahn and his team also landed four-star receiver Bredell Richardson.
That wasn’t all, though, as the Knights also added three-star receiver Jordyn Bridgewater and also high three-star running back Frankie Arthur from Texas.
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