Ten sports predictions for 2019

What are your hot takes for this year in sports?

Could 2019 see Colin Kaepernick return to the NFL? (Photo courtesy of Fox News)

Toronto Raptors retain Kawhi Leonard in free agency

When the Raptors traded for Kawhi Leonard in July, the initial widespread reaction was that the Raptors had given up a lot for what many believed would be a one-year rental. So far, however, the risk has paid off, as the Raptors have a league-best 28 wins through 39 games and could have an even better record if they weren’t hit so hard by the injury bug.

Leonard knows that he is on one of the best teams in the association, and with a rising star in Siakam beside him and tons of cap space in 2020, I think he sees Toronto as his best chance to win another championship. That should be enough to keep him.

At least one of the “big four” leave the Golden State Warriors in free agency

To start this off, no, Demarcus Cousins does not count as one of the “big four” in Golden State. The only scenario I could see him resigning with the Warriors is if one of their other big stars leave, and even then it’s far from guaranteed.

Sure, the Warriors are the greatest basketball team ever assembled, but I think somebody decides they want a bit more of the ball or a bit more money, and decides to leave. There have been reported issues between teammates Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, and I’ve always wondered how Klay Thompson would fare in an expanded role. At least one of Thompson, Durant or Green will suit up for a different NBA team in 2019.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. lives up to the hype

After a couple of exciting seasons in 2015 and 2016, the Toronto Blue Jays have entered into a major rebuild of the team. During this rebuild, they have unearthed one of the brightest prospects in all of baseball in third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., son of Hall-of-Famer Vladimir Guerrero.

Despite the excitement around this prospect, however, he has yet to play in a major league game, even though he absolutely destroyed the minor leagues in 2018. He will surely play in the big leagues in 2019, and he’s expected by baseball analysts to be an impact player from the moment he steps onto the field. I expect the 19-year-old to be the best hitter on the Blue Jays this upcoming season, and look every bit the potential superstar that many have touted him to be.

Bryce Harper will pick Philadelphia

It feels like everyday I read something about where Bryce Harper will go in free agency. The Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies are both rumoured to be offering Harper a 10-year deal, which is crazy considering he would be 36 by the end of that contract. At the end of the day, though, money talks, and given that the White Sox lost 62 games last year, I can see Harper picking the city of brotherly love.  

Barcelona win the treble

Out of all my predictions, this is probably the least likely given all the factors at play. Anything can happen in the Copa Del Rey or the Champions League, and the team are only three points up in the La Liga table as it currently stands.

However, even though all is not perfect in Barcelona, I could see them winning all three competitions in 2019. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele are playing fantastic up front, the drama surrounding Dembele has seemed to die down, and honestly, even though I’m not a Barcelona fan, I just want to see it happen. Hopefully,  they match up against Juventus at some point so we can be treated to another Messi versus Ronaldo matchup.

Lionel Messi wins Ballon d’Or

Let me start this off by saying that it was outrageous that Messi finished as low as fifth in last year’s Ballon d’Or rankings. Even with that voting mishap, however, I’m still pretty confident that the soccer world sees Messi as either the best or second-best player in the world. Messi has no major national team tournament to choke in this year, as good a chance as anybody to win the Champions League, and plenty of anger from both him and others over last year’s results — I can see Messi reminding the soccer world of just how great he is.

Neymar will switch sides once again

When Neymar left Barcelona in the summer of 2017, there were few people in the soccer world that weren’t shocked. This year, I could see him shocking the soccer world once again.

After losing Cristiano Ronaldo last summer, Real Madrid will be looking to get another Galáctico on their side as soon as possible. Surprisingly, Barcelona has been rumoured to be trying to get Neymar back on their side next summer as well. Lastly, PSG may be forced to move one of Neymar or Kylain Mbappe this summer due to financial fair play rules. Get ready for one of the biggest transfer sagas we’ve ever seen.

Vancouver Canucks get it right in 2019

Surprisingly, the Canucks are playing competitive hockey into the new year. For most fans, this is a good thing, as the team has an actual shot at playing playoff hockey in 2019. More than likely, however, this is not quite a playoff team. The worst place to be in professional sports is in the middle, as your team is unable to compete for a championship and not given the top picks it needs to rebuild.

While the Canucks are on course to be in this situation, I can see them capitalizing on a veteran or two before the trade deadline by trading them for draft picks, losing some games to get a higher draft pick, and making the necessary moves to get this franchise back to winning in 2020 and beyond.

New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl

Picking a Super Bowl winner in 2019 is as hard as any year that I can remember, but that’s not going stop me from giving it a shot. The Saints are led by Drew Brees, but don’t get it mistaken: they have difference-makers all over the field. NFL analysts have been predicting them as a Super Bowl champion since before the season even began, and they have done nothing to make me think that they shouldn’t still be considered the favourites.

Colin Kaepernick returns to the NFL

Colin Kaepernick deserves to be on a NFL team. Sure, he might not be a major difference-maker at this point, but there are many teams that could use him as a backup, and some that might even allow him to get some starts. The thing that has kept him out of the league these last few years is the drama that has surrounded him. Even after his appearance as the face of a Nike advertisement, however, this drama has seemed to die down. All it takes is one team that is willing to give him a shot, and 2019 could be the year that it happens.