It’s the most wonderful time of the year! LA Sports Hub wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas! In typical Christmas fashion, here are the seven biggest surprise gifts of 2018.
It comes by so fast every year, doesn’t it? It feels like Christmas 2016 was just upon us. In a blink of an eye it is already 2017 and the crazy holiday season is almost over. We still have one more day of glee, though. One more day to open our presents, spend time with our families and relax away from work. Everyone here at LA Sports Hub wishes all of our readers a very Merry Christmas.
The pinnacle of Christmas itself is gift giving. When you are young, the gifts that Santa brings encapsulates an entire year of anticipation. When you are older, giving the gifts becomes the most enjoyable, especially when you pick out that great surprise gift.
Luckily for LA Sports fans, 2017 has been filled will many surprise gifts across a multitude of sports. Each of these surprises has played a key role in the LA Sports landscape. During Christmas 2016, nobody would have expected these surprise gifts to shine like a Christmas star.
Jolly Ol’ Nick brought us some great gifts this year. Here are the six biggest surprise gifts of 2017.
Chris Taylor — Dodgers
Chris Taylor has Andrew Friedman written all over him. The Dodgers’ Head of Baseball Opertations is famous for finding diamonds in the rough. Taylor may be his best find yet. In June 2016 the Dodgers swapped former coveted prospect Zach Lee for Taylor. Lee has thrown eight innings for the San Diego Padres since the deal.
Taylor, on the other hand, became a key component in the Dodgers run to the World Series. After starting the year in the minor leagues, Taylor rode a great start and a hot summer to reel in the starting center field job — he is a natural infielder.
Overall, Taylor hit .288 with 21 home runs and 72 RBIs in 140 games played for the Los Angeles Dodgers. His knack for a big clutch hit guided the Dodgers all season and earned him Co-NLCS MVP honors alongside Justin Turner.
Kyle Kuzma — Lakers
Kyle Kuzma is the best sleeper pick of 2017. Period. While the case can be made for Donovan Mitchell, Kuzma fell out of the lottery and nearly fell out of the first round. Los Angeles scooped Kuzma with the 27th overall pick for depth behind Julius Randle. A great Summer League led to a solid preseason which has led to Kuzma becoming arguably the best player on the Lakers.
Kuzma is averaging 17.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game in 31.6 minutes played. He has more than earned a starting gig on the Lakers and could easily flirt with 20 points per game by the end of the season.
While Lonzo Ball is not terrible, his massive hype has put a target on his back. Kuzma has been able to make up for the lofty expectations that were placed on Ball.
Sean McVay — Rams
The Los Angeles Rams just clinched their first NFC West title since 2003 when McVay was just 17 years old. Although the team may some the key free agent addition of Andrew Whitworth, McVay was able to bring in key pieces in the draft around an already young squad.
The results were evident and the same quarterback whisperer that made Kirk Cousins great performed magic on Jared Goff. Goff was unfairly deemed a bust last season and running back Todd Gurley was in the midst of a sophomore slump. Both guys could have an MVP argument come season’s end.
While the talent on the field definitely deserves credit, this could not have been done without McVay and his coaching staff. Nobody expected this out of the youngest head coach in NFL history.
Shohei Ohtani — Angels
This one is a bit edgy. The Angels just recently acquired Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani has not even stepped foot in practice for the Angels yet but he may have been the biggest gift the organization could have ever received.
This, of course, is to keep Mike Trout around. The Angels have not been able to surround Trout with a solid enough team to win any playoff games. Adding Ohtani changes the entire dynamic of the organization and led to other big moves that put the Angels right in the playoff discussion.
Whether or not Ohtani succeeds or not is yet to be seen. However, this was a pretty big surprise gift for a team that has not won a playoff game since 2009.
Romain Alessandrini — Galaxy
Romain Alessandrini was already a great, established
, erm, soccer player before joining the LA Galaxy. Alessandrini played five seasons in the Ligue 1 (France’s top league) before joining the Galaxy in the winter 2017 transfer window.
Alessandrini has not disappointed as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy. The skillful midfielder led the Galaxy in goals (13) and assists (12). Alessandrini was 14th in the MLS in goals and ninth in total assists. He was one of only four players in the MLS that had ten or more assists and goals on the season.
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While Alessandrini was not a surprising talent unlike the other guys on this list, his immediate impact was a pleasant surprise for the Galaxy. Not bad for a player with just a €3 million transfer fee.
LaVar Ball — Everyone
C’mon now, you know you love LaVar Ball. Ball is the biggest personality of the LA Sports world and it is not even close. LaVar Ball was searched more times on Google in the United States the last twelve months than Kobe Bryant. His son, Lonzo, was searched far more than them both.
Sure, his antics can be crazy and they do annoy traditional sports fans. However, Ball has been a marketing machine not only for his sons but for the sport of basketball as a whole. If he follows through on his Junior Basketball League idea only good things can come out of it for athletes.
You may love him, you may hate him, but you definitely care about him. Whether the gift of Ball was for the naughty or the nice is up to debate.
It is still absolutely crazy to think that someone who was just a high school dad two years ago is now one of the biggest faces not only in Los Angeles but in all of sports.