What to Watch for in 2021: New York Sports

2020 was a bad year for New York sports. Yankees and Islanders had some success, but beyond that, there isn’t much to brag about. But 2021 should be a lot better for all of the teams as there is a lot to look forward to and be excited about.

(NOTE – I am not a hockey guy, so forgive me for omitting the

Mets – What to do with all the new money

The days of cheap ownership are over for the Mets. As the team enters the new year, they have a lot to be excited for.

Out – cheap Wilpon family. In – Steve Cohen, a New York-born, lifelong Mets fans with a net-worth of $14 billion. That’s billion, with a b.

Last year, the Mets signed guys like Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello because they were cheap. This year, the Mets will be in contention for Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer, and a few other All Star calibers players, because they can out-pay everyone else.

However, as the next team on this list knows first hand – paying the top players, doesn’t always equal championships.

Yankees – Back to the World Series?

Fun fact about NY sports – the METS are the last NY/NJ team to play for a championship (2015). Yankees last won the World Series in 2009, which is also their last appearance. They have won a playoff series in 4 straight seasons, but have not advanced past the ALCS.

The roster is loaded with talent at every position. Astros and Indians will suffer some losses this winter. Rays’ roster will likely remain stagnant, as well as the Twins (if not lose a couple of pieces). The American League is prime for the Yankees to takeover, IF they can put it all together come October.


Knicks – What day is the 2021 Draft Lottery? 

Entering the 2020-21 season, I believe the Knicks are in much better shape than they have recently. There is front office and coaching stability and a strong nucleus of young players (RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Obi Toppin) plus a healthy mix of veterans who should not disrupt player development, which was a problem at times last season.

Here’s the thing though – while the direction is clear and fans are excited for the future, this Knicks team still won’t be good in 2021. Fans hate hearing this, but the Knicks are one year away. This time it might be for real, though. How about one more high lottery pick with the aforementioned nucleus and roughly $50 million in cap space next summer.

Nets – Durant and Kyrie return to the playoffs

  • 6/11/2018 – the last time Dirant played an NBA game, where he tore his Achillies as a member of the Warriors, during the NBA Finals against Raptors.
  • 5/8/2019 – Kyrie Irving’s last playoff game, as a member of the Celtics.

The Nets made the playoffs in 2020, but both Durant and Kyrie missed the bubble playoffs as they recovered from respective injuries. Irving played just 20 games in his debut season for the Nets.

Both men are expected to be healthy in 2021, which makes the Nets a legit championship contender. A lineup Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie was good enough to propel the Nets into the playoffs last year. Now, take that lineup, plus an impressive amount of depth, and add 2 of the best players in the NBA, and the expectation goes from being competitive to raising a trophy. 


Jets – Trevor Lawrence’s debut

Before the season, I don’t think many people pegged the Jets as being in the Lawrence sweepstakes. Maybe the Jets would be bad enough for a high draft pick, but your expectations 7-8 months ago would be that the pick would be used on offensive line or a playmaker on offense.

Now, as the Jets approach a historic 0-16 season, it’s obvious Sam Darnold isn’t the answer at quarterback. Maybe his career is still salvageable somewhere else, but he won’t be a Jet in 2021. Right?? I mean, even the Jets can’t mess this one up. Jets cannot pass on the best QB prospect in 10 years. 

Lawrence immediately raises expectations for the Jets and his presence will benefit the team’s pending coaching search this winter as he makes the job more attractive. It also makes Jets more attractive to potential running backs and wide recievers, something the Jets currently lack, but will need in order for Lawrence to be successful.

Jets have a surplus of draft picks and cap space in 2021, so there is a path to building a quick winner.

Giants –  PLAYOFFS?!

*Cue Jim Mora Sr press conference clip*

At 5-7, the New York Giants are in first place in the NFC East and are on pace to host a playoff game in January 2021. Quite the remarkable turnaround, for a team who was once 1-7 and considered a contender for a top 3 draft pick.

Making the playoffs would be incredible for a young, but talented Giants team. No doubt, the franchise would benefit more from the young guys getting playoff game experience, as opposed to adding another high draft pick.


Rangers – Debut of Alexis Lafrenière

Among the many weird things to happen in 2020, Rangers pulled off a great one – qualified for the playoffs and were eligible for the NHL Draft Lottery, which they won. Due to the circumstances around the NHL pause in March, when they resume play over the summer they went straight into an expanded playoffs. Because they added teams, the teams that lost in the first round (like the Rangers) were also eligible for the lottery.

Alexis Lafrenière is considered the best prospect in a long time (maybe Sidney Crosby) so if there was ever a draft lottery to win, it was this one.

With the Rangers moving on from longtime legendary goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, there is a void in the “face of the franchise” department for Lafreniere to fill as he faces expectations the size of the city.

Islanders – Opening of USB Arena

After a few years of bouncing around between Long Island and Brooklyn, the Islanders will FINALLY have a permanent home. In time for the 2021-2022 NHL season, Islanders will begin play at USB in Elmont, New York, located next to the Belmont Racetrack.

Playing at Barclays Center in Brooklyn has been a disaster. The arena was built specifically for basketball, so the site lines are off and there are sections of no seats or bad seats. This new $1 billion arena is built specifically for hockey and specifically to showcase the history and future of the Islanders.

Devils – Emergence of #1 picks

The Devils last won a playoff series in 2012 when they reached the Stanley Cup (lost to Kings). It’s been a rough rebuild, but the future is bright with 2017 #1 pick Nico Hischier and 2019 #1 Jack Hughes


Liberty – Return of Sabrina Ionescu plus #1 pick

Liberty recently won the 2021 WNBA Draft Lottery for the second straight year.

In 2020, Liberty drafted National Player of the Year, Sabrina Ionescu. The former Oregon legend only played 3 games due to an injured ankle. But in 2021, a healthy Ionescu, along with the 2021 #1 pick, Kia Nurse, Asia Durr and others give the Liberty a very bright future to look forward to in 2021 and beyond.

Mike is an alum of the University of Cincinnati and the ultimate sports nerd.

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