We’re in the middle of the NFL season and heading into one of the best football weeks of the entire year (Thanksgiving week) but it’s our local NBA team that stole the biggest headlines over the weekend with several free agent moves. Will it be enough to finally vault the Phoenix Suns into contention? Let’s discuss in our five biggest takeaways from the weekend in sports.
The Phoenix Suns continue to revamp and reload the roster for the upcoming 2020-21 season with the reported additions of forward Jae Crowder, center Damian Jones and guard E’twaun Moore. The Suns are also reportedly resigning forward Dario Saric and guard Jevon Carter.
Big Takeaway: The Suns are no longer in jeopardy of being younger in average age than some college programs. With newly-acquired superstar point guard Chris Paul, Crowder and others, there are finally some veteran players to surround All-Star guard Devin Booker and third-year center Deandre Ayton. The new-look Suns appear to be a team that we can take seriously, after 10 years of swirling around in the toilet.
The Pac-12 season quickly came off the rails with the cancellation of two games in Week 1, two games in Week 2 and two games in Week 3. Arizona State has only played one game so far and is possibly set up to miss another this weekend, which is why the Pac-12 moved the game to Sunday. The move allows one more day for the Sun Devils to prepare their players who reportedly haven’t practiced in two weeks and are prevented from practicing until at least Thursday of this week because of COVID positive tests and contact tracing protocol.
Big Takeaway: Sunday’s kickoff time and TV assignment have yet to be announced as of Monday morning, but I don’t see a good possible outcome for Valley sports fans. The Cardinals kickoff at 11 a.m. against the Patriots and ASU basketball tips off its first home game at 2 p.m. against Houston Baptist. Most of the big networks will have NFL football or college basketball on Sunday. ASU football could go unnoticed yet again.
The lackluster effort Thursday night at Seattle not only led to a loss, but also dropped the Arizona Cardinals from first into third place in the NFC West. They are now at the bottom of the Wild Card playoff graphic you’ll see on every NFL game and highlight show until the end of the season. All of those “in the hunt” teams now have direct aim on the Cardinals, leaving them with little or no breathing room the rest of the way.
Big Takeaway: The silver lining for the Cardinals playoff pursuit is that all the “in the hunt” teams are not very good. The Lions and Vikings both lost on Sunday and the Bears have lost four straight. The Cardinals should be able to make the playoffs by default, thanks to the NFL expanding the playoffs this season.
Reports are breaking here on Monday morning that ASU’s first opponent of the season, Baylor, is opting out of Wednesday night’s game due to COVID concerns. Baylor head coach Scott Drew tested positive last week and now the Sun Devils are reportedly seeking another opponent to play for the first game of this much anticipated season. Sun Devils head coach Bobby Hurley has sculpted his squad into a legit Pac-12 contender this season with preseason All-American point guard Remy Martin returning for his senior season and incoming highly-recruited freshmen Josh Christopher and Marcus Bagley ready to make their mark in Tempe.
Big Takeaway: The 18th ranked Devils begin the year as the highest ranked Pac-12 team in the AP preseason poll, which shows us the program is starting to get respect and attention very rarely afforded it. Can the team live up to the hype? We likely won’t know for a long time because ASU in recent years has started very fast in non-conference play and falls apart in the Pac-12 part of the schedule then fizzles out in postseason play. Perhaps it’s the overall weirdness of 2020, but this year feels different.
The Arizona Coyotes unveiled a new purple and orange look when it released its Reverse Retro jersey on social media.
Big Takeaway: New jersey announcements in the offseason always win. Fans eat this up and its good timing for sales right before Christmas. It also helps to detract from the negative headlines that’ve plagued the team recently: Oliver Ekman-Larsson trade rumors, losing center Taylor Hall to free agency and renouncing the draft rights to top amateur pick Mitchell Miller after reports of bullying in high school emerged. Small steps are needed to win back some fan support after a rough offseason for the Desert Dogs.