The Ten Podcast: NBA MVP Candidates

There’s nothing like a good crossover; in basketball or podcasting and that’s what we have on the latest episode of The Ten!

Baseline Times’ owner and host of the Shoot or Pass Podcast Chevy jumps in with Cody on The Ten to discuss the 2020-21 NBA MVP candidates!

Chevy and Cody also discuss the long-winded NBA season, playoff format options, and Chevy gives out his awards for the regular season. To close, Chevy names his ten NBA MVP candidates including his pick to win the award this season.

Listen here or anywhere you get your favorite podcast and be sure to follow on Twitter @BaselineTen.

Check out The Baseline Bet$ for daily expert picks!



2020-21 NBA Awards Predictions

It’s that time of year again! And while this season brought about some unprecedented challenges, the players (and coaches below) are defying the odds and shining bright. Here are my 2020-21 NBA Awards Predictions for the COY, ROY, DPOY, MIP, 6th Man, and of course, MVP.

Check out Chevy’s MVP Rankings

COACH OF THE YEAR

Top candidates – Quin Snyder, Monty Williams, Tom Thibodeau

Surprisingly, this is what I believe to be the closest call in all of my 2020-21 NBA Awards Predictions. No one is running away with this one like they may be in the other categories. We have a coach who propelled an incredible 8-0 bubble run to a 2-seed in the Western Conference. Monty Williams seamlessly fit new veteran acquisitions Chris Paul and Jae Crowder into a young starting line up. He successfully developed a bench unit capable of outperforming the starters on any given night. The Phoenix Suns took the BIGGEST leap this season, and while everyone in that locker room will hinge their success on playoff performances, this team exceeded expectations thanks in large part to their head coach.

Speaking of big leaps, it is not possible to have this conversation without Quin Snyder. While one can argue that the Suns made the bigger leap, Snyder turned a 5-seed, early playoff exit Utah Jazz into the top team in the league. Not to mention, he achieved this feat without any significant changes to the team’s roster. I find that to be equally impressive, particularly in a conference where coming into the season all teams were considered a tier below the NBA champs.

Let’s not forget about the Eastern Conference, where teams are also making impressive strides. This is where Tom Thibodeau comes into the mix, but it would not be fair to mention him without Doc Rivers. Thibs took a Knicks team with no prospects and turned them into a playoff team. Doc turned a Sixers team who continually failed to meet expectations into one that could represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. However, both coaches do not have the greatest track records in the playoffs. While this award really only counts for the regular season, I need to see more from these two coaches and their teams.

WINNER – Monty Williams


MOST IMPROVED PLAYER

Top candidates – Julius Randle, Christian Wood, Jerami Grant

On to easier 2020-21 NBA Awards Predictions to make.

Christian Wood was blowing my mind to start the season. Unfortunately, he got hurt and missed games (and happens to play for the worst team in the league). Tough break for him.

On paper, Jerami Grant is the most improved player in the league. He is averaging 10 more PPG as a starter in every game for the Detroit Pistons this season. He is proof that betting on yourself pays dividends, even if it comes with sacrificing wins, something he is not doing much of with his new team. You just know the Denver Nuggets would love to have his production right now going into the playoffs in a very tough Western Conference.

Fear not, Denver. I am throwing another name into the ring for this award from your roster – Michael Porter Jr.

The sophomore standout has really burst onto the scene after the All-Star break and his timing could not be better with Jamal Murray out for the season. I don’t know that he beats out Julius Randle this season, but Porter Jr. still has levels to unlock in his game. As he develops his facilitating and defensive abilities, he will be a viable candidate for this and other awards for years to come.

WINNER – Julius Randle

6TH MAN OF THE YEAR

Top candidates – Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles, Jalen Brunson

Recency bias will have you leaning toward Joe Ingles for this award, and with good reason. Jingles is more efficient, a better playmaker, and a smarter defender than his Jazz teammate. But here’s the deal, for better or for worse, this award is all about POINTS PER GAME (off the bench). With that said, this has to be Jordan Clarkson’s award to lose, right? A huge part of Utah’s success this season comes at the hands of Clarkson’s volume scoring in the second unit. Just the other night (albeit in a losing effort), he came out and scored 24 POINTS IN THE FOURTH QUARTER. This will be instrumental for Utah to finish out the regular season and in the playoffs with Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley coming back from injury.

Another guy who deserves some recognition in this category? Dallas’ Jalen Brunson, who is proving to be a worthy piece to the rotation on a team that has been decimated by injuries this season. He is earning more minutes, particularly in the clutch and will have an opportunity to really prove himself in the playoffs.

WINNER – JORDAN CLARKSON

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Top candidates – Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton

First off, shout out to all of the rookies this season. Most wrote off this rookie class, but they are defying the odds, with some even becoming household names.

One of the rooks who has stepped up to the plate? Sacramento’s Tyrese Haliburton. The 12th pick in the NBA draft is proving his doubters wrong with a level of consistency and composure that makes you forget he just got out of the college game. He is effective off the bench and as a starter, playing a key role in a nice little 7-1 winning streak the Kings went on in March. There is some hope to hang your hats on, Kings fans!

I feel like those who are leaning heavily one way or another between Anthony Edwards or LaMelo are doing so because of personal preference. That’s okay. However, let’s bring a new scenario into the picture – Co-Rookies of the Year.

What? Why? HEAR ME OUT.

Anthony Edwards is surpassing LaMelo Ball now (averaging 19/2.8/4.7 on 41% shooting from the field and 33% from three), but Melo is still the more efficient player (44% from the field and 35% from three). It is not fair to just hand the award to Edwards when Melo missed time due to injury. On the other hand, it is equally unfair to give it to Melo for having the better start and playing for the better team. CROWN THEM BOTH!

WINNERS – Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Top Candidates – Rudy Gobert, Ben Simmons, Bam Adebayo

Here are three candidates who have been openly campaigning for this award all season.

See – Bam Adebayo stating his case just last night:

And Ben Simmons not-so subtly declaring himself DPOY back in April over Rudy Gobert:

You’re probably thinking I am going all homer on this one. I LOVE BAM and think he belongs in the conversation, but Ben and Rudy have been absolutely DOMINATING.

You just cannot compare these two players to one another because their roles are different defensively. Here is what it comes down to for me – 107.7 points allowed per 100 possessions with him on the court, 119.6 points allowed per 100 possessions without him on the court. Leader of most defensive stats, including blocks and defensive rebounds per game. The heart and soul of the league’s #1 defense. King of RIM PROTECTION. The embodiment of defense. It’s got to go to Rudy Gobert. Sorry Philly.

WINNER – Rudy Gobert

Feb 15, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) hangs on the rim after a dunk against Philadelphia 76ers guard Seth Curry (31) in the fourth quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Top Candidates – Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo

This race was close. Had this article been drafted up midseason, I would be writing a dissertation for the grandest award of them all. Joel Embiid was DOMINATING with DPOY candidate Ben Simmons, and succeeding on both ends of the floor, a huge part of the Sixers turn-around this season. But, the injury bug has spared NO ONE and thanks to it, this section will be short and sweet.

There is really no argument to be made at this point, anyone trying to say otherwise is just bored. Doesn’t even matter who is third, fourth, fifth, etc. on the ballot.

Props to the Joker. Plain and simple.

WINNER – Nikola Jokic

For more 2020-21 NBA Awards Predictions, catch the Shoot or Pass podcast’s latest episode out 5/14!



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(2) Toronto Raptors vs (7) Brooklyn Nets: Series Preview

We the North are defending champs

While the NBA is playing during an unusual time of year, it seems that most people have forgotten that the Toronto Raptors are the defending champions.

Of course, this is due to the fact that their star player last season, Kawhi Leonard is now a Los Angele Clipper. Toronto finished second place in the East with a 53-19 record.

Their bubble play ended with a four-game win streak. Some of their bubble wins happened against the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks( without Giannis Antetokounmpo).

Despite losing Leonard, the Raptors were able to finish 2nd in defensive rating overall in the league. This clearly shows that no drop off of defense for the defending champs has kept them among the top-seeded teams in the Eastern Conference.

Brooklyn will have to go hard

On the other hand, the Brooklyn Nets are coming into the NBA Bubble as one of the most depleted teams. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan are three of Brooklyn’s top players who are not in Orlando.

Furthermore, the expectation for Brooklyn was to just hold on enough to the 7th seed and they did just that. Posting a 5-3 record in the bubble is more than impressive for a group of young hopeful players.

Caris LeVert played in six games for the Nets in their seeding games. He averaged 25 points per game, 6.7 assists per game, and shot 48 percent from the field.

Some of the Nets other young players that will show some fight are Jarrett Allen, Garrett Temple, and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot. Brooklyn tried to add veteran leadership coming into the bubble by adding Jamal Crawford. However, Crawford suffered a hamstring injury in the Nets’ first seeding game. No update on his immediate availability has been given.

Back to the north for Brooklyn

While Brooklyn’s young and motivated team has shown signs not to give up easily, there is no answer for Pascal Siakam. I’m a fan of experience in these early first-round match ups and the defending champions have appeared as good as they were in the regular season.

Kyle Lowry is playing arguable some of the best basketball this year averaging 19.4 points per game, rebounds per game, and 7.5 assists per game. All career-highs this year alone.

The Nets could make this series a little more hard-fought-for Toronto but the deal gets closed in four games still. my series prediction? Bring out the brooms and bet on the Toronto Raptors in 4 games.


(2) Raptors vs (7) Nets East First Round Schedule

Game 1BKN @ TORESPN8/17/20 | 4:00 PM EST
Game 2BKN @ TORNBA TV8/19/20 |1:30 PM EST
Game 3TOR @ BKNNBA TV8/21/20 | 1:30 PM EST
Game 4TOR @ BKNTNT8/23/20 | 6:30 PM EST
Game 5*TBD If Needed
Game 6*TBD If Needed
Game 7*TBD If Needed


Click here to see other 2020 NBA Playoffs Series Previews

(2) Los Angeles Clippers vs (7) Dallas Mavericks: Series Preview

Clippers have early challenge against a rising star

The Los Angeles Clippers enter the postseason as one the deepest teams in the NBA and possible favorites to emerge from the West. Montrezel Harrell and Lou Williams will need to get back up to speed on the fly. Both players have missed multiple games in the bubble.

Doc Rivers’s primary goal will be implementing a variety of defensive schemes to slow down the Dallas Mavericks’ upcoming star, Luka Doncic. Clippers’ big man Ivica Zubac’s development inside is key as the Mavericks are ranked 28th in rebounding. Second-chance points and setting up on the defensive end will be key for controlling the pace.

Former Euro-league MVP Luka Doncic looks to make his first playoff appearance. It will be interesting to see if the Clippers use perimeter traps to get the ball out of his hands or play man.

His consistency to find the open man or make the winning basketball play will make it tough for any defense to contain.

Undoubtedly, Kristaps Porzingis would shoulder more offensive responsibility in the event Doncic has a bad game. He’s been rejuvenated since joining the Mavericks. Porzingis is quietly averaging close to 30 and 10 shooting 45% from the field in the bubble

Prediction

The Mavericks will look to test its league-leading offense against the Clippers fifth-ranked defense. The problem with that scenario is that the Clippers are ranked a slot behind them offensively.

I wouldn’t expect a ton of defense in this match-up seeing how the Clippers have been a bit out of sync in the bubble.

On the other hand, the Mavericks have seemed to found their stride with Luka playing out of his mind. Kawhi Leonard is on a mission to win another franchise its first championship in back to back seasons.

Every game should be a thriller but it would be foolish to expect anything other than a Clippers series win.

My Prediction? Clippers in 6

(2) Clippers vs (7) Mavericks West First Round Schedule

Game 1DAL @ LACESPN8/17/20 | 9:00 PM EST
Game 2DAL @ LAC TNT8/19/20 | 9:00 PM EST
Game 3LAC @ DALTNT8/21/20 | 9:00 PM EST
Game 4LAC @ DALABC8/23/20 | 3:30 PM EST
Game 5DAL @ LAC*TBD If Needed
Game 6LAC @ DAL*TBD If Needed
Game 7DAL @ LAC *TBD If Needed

Click here to see all 2020 NBA Playoffs Series preview!

(4) Houston Rockets vs (5) Oklahoma City Thunder: Series Preview

Familiar faces and new foes in as Rockets and Thunder swapped point guards last summer

This is the series we never knew we’d want. Chris Paul looks to add revenge on the team who came within a game of beating the Warriors in 2018. After a short stint with the Houston Rockets, CP3 was then shipped to Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Russell Westbrook and now the very following year they will face each other in a first-round playoff series.

Paul has been surprisingly very good with his new team in which many thought would be a rebuilding season. His guidance has lead to the development of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander whose increased his scoring by 9.1 points and 2.9 rebounds from a season ago.

The Rockets are going to have their hands full trying to contain him. They will have to move forward with Westbrook sidelined as you could imagine Harden playing the entire game. Eric Gordon is expected back but will not be full strength. Luc Mbah a Moute was brought back to shore up the defense but will have to clear quarantine protocols before rejoining the club.

James Harden will have to carry the Rockets

Indeed, James Harden has carried the Rockets before and he’ll have no complaints about doing so in the first round. Russell Westbrook will be sidelined with a strained quadriceps muscle. The expectation is that Westbrook will be out for the first couple of games.

If you’re new to watching the Rockets then, let’s fill you in. This is a team that primarily will be shooting the ball and play with a very small line-up. Oklahoma City doesn’t offer an immediate offensive threat in the paint but will face an above-average rebounder in Steven Adams.

Pending that Westbrook returns the line-up this could be one of the most interesting first-round match-ups across the league. The Rockets hold the biggest advantage by having Harden who is the best player in the series.

As mentioned, the Rockets like the three-point shot or scoring in the paint. The Thunder had defended the three-point shot well this season very well as they’re ranked 2nd in opponent three-point field goal percentage. This is something to watch as the series goes on if Harden struggles offensively.

Competitive first-round series but Rockets advance

The Rockets traded Capela so Westbrook could operate in the paint unimpeded. With that option off the table, you would expect them to try and play even faster.

Chris Paul knows this and would look to utilize Adams down low to punish the undersized Rockets.

The Thunder won the season series 2-1 so expect a very competitive first round. Westbrook’s early absence will make this series longer than it has to be but expect the Rockets to move on.

My Prediction? ROCKETS in 7


(4) Rockets vs (5) Thunder West First Round Schedule

Game 1OKC @ HOUTNT8/18/20 | 6:30 PM EST
Game 2OKC @ HOUESPN8/20/20 | 3:30 PM EST
Game 3HOU @ OKCESPN8/22/20 | 6:00 PM EST
Game 4HOU @ OKCTNT8/24/20 |4:00 PM EST
Game 5OKC @ HOU*TBD If Needed
Game 6HOU @ OKC*TBD If Needed
Game 7OKC @ HOU*TBD If Needed

Click here to see the 2020 NBA Playoffs Bracket

(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs (8) Orlando Magic: Series Preview

Milwaukee Bucks opportunity to sharpen their play

The Milwaukee Bucks finish the NBA’s 2019-2020 season with the best record overall. In a normal world, this also means locking up home-court for the entire length of their playoff run.

However, in the NBA Bubble, they’ll have more opportunities to display their fans and theatrics on virtual boards. Well, that is if more than four games are needed to oust the Orlando Magic.

Recently, Giannis Antetokounmpo voiced his frustrations with the Bucks seeding games. The MVP and Defensive Player of the Year candidate also shows frustration and took it out on Washington’s Mo Wagner. Giannis was suspended for one game in which he missed the Bucks final seeding game.

If you’re a Bucks fan this series is a golden opportunity for sharpening the iron further. Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton both arrived at the bubble late due to COVID-19 positive test results.

Furthermore, the Bucks are facing a depleted Orlando team. Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba are out of the bubble for the season. The Bucks are proficient in defending the paint and the Magic ranked 25th in three-point shooting.

Can Orlando conjure some magic and the upset?

As mentioned the Magic have lost arguably their two longest defenders in Mo Bamba and Jonathan Isaac. The Magic usually take good care of the ball ranking 4th in turnovers per game versus the rest of the league. While that sounds nice the “home team” also has trouble scoring.

The Bucks shouldn’t have much of an offensive scare to worry about as Orlando ranks 24th in scoring overall only pouring in 107.3 points per game. If you’re on team Mickey, this is a concern going up against the league’s best defensive rated team.

Orlando’s bright spot will have to be Aaron Gordon and Markelle Fultz. Fultz joined Orlando late in the bubble but has played in all eight seeding games. He’s averaging 12.3 points per game, 4.4 assists per game, and shooting 40 percent from the field in the bubble only.

Besides Fultz, Gordon will have to come alive on both ends of the floor. Without Bamba and Isaac, the main primary front-court offense and defense will have to be Gordon. While nobody can stop The Greek Freak, Gordon’s responsibility will be to slow him down. Another injury concern for Orlando as Gordon is still day-to-day with a hamstring injury.

Bucks shouldn’t be concerned of an upset

The final verdict is that Milwaukee will have the talent and a fully-loaded roster to send home the “hosting” city’s beloved Orlando Magic. The lack of Orlando’s three-point shooting combined with the Bucks ability to defend the paint is a recipe for Milwaukee to sweep.

On the other hand, if Giannis’ frustrations are right. The Magic could play the first time with a little bit of heart and string out a close win in Game 1. However, this would be the last win for Orlando and a Bucks gentleman’s sweep.

All signs points more to a Milwaukee Bucks sweep. Bring out the brooms!


(1) Bucks vs (8) Magic East First Round Schedule

Game 1ORL @ MILTNT8/18/20 | 1:30 PM EST
Game 2ORL @ MILESPN8/20/20 | 6:00 PM EST
Game 3MIL @ ORLTNT8/22/20 | 1:00 PM EST
Game 4MIL @ ORLNBA TV8/24/20 | 1:30 PM EST
Game 5ORL @ MIL*TBD If Needed
Game 6MIL @ ORL*TBD If Needed
Game 7ORL @ MIL*TBD If Needed

Check out our 2020 NBA Playoff Bracket here!

Breaking down the race for the NBA play-in tournament out west

The NBA is set for a play-in tournament out west

The first play-in tournament game will be played Saturday, August 15 at 2:30pm ET. If the 9th seed gets the victory, a second play-in game will take place on Sunday, August 16 at 4:30pm ET.

What does a path to the playoffs look like for the four teams in the race for the 8th or 9th spots? Let’s take a look.

Stay up-to-date with our latest NBA Bubble Standings

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

Blazers Overcome Fouls, Heavy Hearts To Defeat Grizzlies In Overtime | Portland  Trail Blazers

To secure the 8th seed:

WIN vs. Brooklyn Nets

OR

Lose vs. Brooklyn Nets + Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs all lose their final game

To secure the 9th seed:

Lose vs. Brooklyn Nets + two of the following teams lose a game (Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs)

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

NBA Betting Odds, Picks and Predictions: Rockets vs. Spurs (Tuesday, August  11) | The Action Network

To secure the 8th seed:

WIN vs. Utah Jazz + Portland Trail Blazers/Memphis Grizzlies/Phoenix Suns all lose their final game

To secure the 9th seed:

WIN vs. Utah Jazz + 2 of the following teams lose their final game (Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns)

PHOENIX SUNS

Booker breaks Twitter - Bright Side Of The Sun

To secure the 8th seed:

WIN vs. Dallas Mavericks + Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies lose their final game

To secure the 9th seed:

WIN vs. Dallas Mavericks + one of the following teams loses their final game (Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies)

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

Memphis Grizzlies: Brutal remaining schedule looming large

To secure the 8th seed:

WIN vs. Milwaukee Bucks + Portland Trail Blazers lose their final game

To secure the 9th seed:

WIN vs. Milwaukee Bucks + Portland Trail Blazers win their final game

OR

Lose vs. Milwaukee Bucks + the following teams lose their final game (Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs)

Latest from Baseline Times


NBA teams as Disney rides and attractions

The NBA is going to Disney Wooooorld!

So, I decided to describe NBA teams as Disney World rides/attractions, here’s what I’ve got so far:

New York Knicks – Tower of Terror

Yeah, I know the Knicks are not playing in Orlando. I also know that being a Knicks fan is basically like living in the Twilight Zone – frozen in time, abandoned, and constantly seeing the darkest corners of your imagination come to life.

Oklahoma Thunder – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Who said trading away Russell Westbrook would leave the Thunder stuck in a rebuild? This team is still a gold mine and can become a real big obstacle on the rickety track to NBA Finals. The Clutch Conductor (CP3) and the Locomotive driver (SGA) have led OKC to 16 games over .500 with a chance to get to the 4th seed in the WC.

Milwaukee Bucks – Soarin’

The Bucks are soarin’ high, sitting comfortably at 6.5 games ahead of the Raptors at the top of the Eastern Conference thanks to world wonder and potential back-to-back MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo

LA Lakers – Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster

This was one was easy. Hollywood. Iconic, Legendary players in LeBron & AD. LA traffic. A chance to see J.R. Smith topless stumblin’ around chugging Hennessy at a championship parade.

Toronto Raptors – DINOSAUR

Well, what else did you expect here? Will Toronto be able to travel back in time, kidnap Kawhi Leonard and bring him back to the present as a Raptor for their repeat bid? No. Their top 7 players may have been in/out of the rotation with injuries, but they are healthy now and ready to defend their title against anything – 21 NBA teams, fiery meteors, COVID-19.

Got any suggestions for NBA teams as Disney rides and attractions?

Leave us a comment or email media@18.232.170.104 for a chance to be featured on the Shoot or Pass podcast!

Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 23: 2019 NBA Playoffs First-Round Preview

Chevy and Gabe are back to breathe life into the 2019 NBA Playoffs First-Round preview. These two gents discuss each of the match-ups and predictions! Tune in now to listen to their picks.

2018 NBA Finals Staff Predictions