The NBA’s long path to parity and championship success in 2021

For the longest time, the NBA has suffered a parity issue. How rare is it for a young player under 25 years old to win the Championship himself in the NBA? Super rare in fact that no one under 25 years old in the modern NBA won a championship unless they were playing next to an All-Star older than 25 years old. The NFL is a completely different game thus more parity. In the NFL players like Patrick Mahomes can win a championship as the Pro Bowl leader Quarterback. With the NBA I will take a deep dive into the path to parity and championship success in 2021. (and we sort of alluded to younger players not having much success in the NBA as a standard in this Shoot or Pass episode)

Let’s first set the standard here and define “growing pains” in simple terms but what that could mean in the NBA. By definition from Dictionary.com, it explains in a form of definition: difficulties attending any new project or any rapid development of an existing project.

Growing pains in the NBA?

What is an example of difficulties in the rapid development of an existing project in the NBA? A young Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals? Both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were 23 years old at the time. Oh and this guy named James Harden was 22 years old playing off the bench for the Thunder. The Heat featured LeBron James at 27 years old at the time on his third NBA Finals trip and still ringless. Remember folks, this 2012 NBA Finals started strongly in the Thunder’s favor as they went up 1-0 with homecourt advantage in the series.

After their first NBA Finals win the Thunder found themselves quickly going home without a championship. I’ll let you decide on going down the rabbit hole of the 2012 NBA Finals but in short, the Heat completed the gentleman’s sweep. LeBron James hoisted his first-ever Larry O’Brien Trophy as a member of the Miami Heat. Certainly, this NBA Finals alone is a prime example that age and experience win.

Perhaps are we really blindly missing that the NBA’s most successful players generally don’t succeed far until post-25 years old? I will save you numerous examples of young vs old and who won those matchups but lets dive into the historical success of current players and the past NBA greats.

Below are the ONLY 2021 NBA-All Stars with at least one Championship and their age. The average age of the chart below? You guessed it – 25!

2021 NBA All-Stars First NBA Championship

PlayerAgeFirst NBA Championship
LeBron James272011-2012 – Miami Heat
Stephen Curry262014-2015 – Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant282016-2017 – Golden State Warriors
Kawhi Leonard222013-2014 – San Antonio Spurs
Kyrie Irving232015-2016 – Cleveland Cavaliers
Anthony Davis262019-2020 – Los Angeles Lakers

Now, this isn’t an attempt to draw negativity on a really young team in the NBA. Don’t fret, I think there could be an earlier curve of when players start peaking, or in other words, maybe we can see younger first-time champions in the NBA. Now that you see the current NBA trending on more tenured players having a ring but what about past greats?

Retired NBA Greats since 1980 First NBA Championship

PlayerAgeFirst NBA Championship
Dirk Nowitzki322010-2011 Dallas Mavericks
Dwyane Wade242005-2006 – Miami Heat
Shaquille O’Neal271999-2000 – Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant211999-2000 – Los Angeles Lakers
David Robinson331998-1999 – San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan221998-1999 – San Antonio Spurs
Hakeem Olajuwon311993-1994 – Houston Rockets
Michael Jordan271990-1991 – Chicago Bulls
Isiah Thomas271988-1989 Detroit Pistons
Larry Bird241980-1981 – Boston Celtics
Magic Johnson201979-1980 – Los Angeles Lakers

These are listed in order from most recent history to the oldest time period and we’ll put a stopping point at 1980 as the furthest we’ll look back. Now the argument can be made that each Legend or All-Star 24 years and younger won their first NBA Championship next to an OLDER player in their prime already listed as well. Shaq helped give Kobe and D-Wade their first ring. Duncan wasn’t winning unless David Robinson was there right? As for the current era, Kyrie Irving won his first next to LeBron’s third ring and Kawhi’s came with San Antonio’s legendary trio.

This also brings a little bit of clarity to this question. Are we really expecting a team like the New Orleans Pelicans in 2021 to be competing for any of the top 8 seeds in the Western Conference? Ironically, if we look at the standings of the top 6 in the present Western Conference, each team has an All-Star player aged at least 25 or older. It isn’t just a coincidence that Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic are both over 25 years old and each having an MVP-like season?

More parity for younger players needed

If you’re still following along with the point let’s break this down by the conferences in the 2020-2021 NBA season. The 2021 Western Conference All-Stars that have a ring currently amount to Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry. The Eastern Conference gets by with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. As we gear up for the 2021 Playoffs it’s a safe bet to bet on the experience at this rate.

The lack of championships on the 2021 Eastern Conference All-Star team means there is less championship experience come playoffs time from the respective All-Stars in the East. The Brooklyn Nets will be the ONLY team in the Eastern Conference this season that makes the playoffs and has AT LEAST an All-Star with a championship.

Zach LaVine is the one outlier here at age 26 on a solo mission to elevate the Chicago Bulls. Even with the trade deadline deal to bring another All-Star Nikola Vucevic (age 30), the Bulls still find themselves scratching to stay afloat in the 2021 Play-in Tournament rankings. Perhaps the learning curve with new teammates and an All-Star could work its kinks out by May? To be determined but a prime example that not always paring your young buck with an elder All-Star could work.

2021 Eastern Conference is a hopeful direction of parity

What this could mean for teams like the Boston Celtics with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown? Both are 24 and under and playing against more equal talent to them. I’d say better odds for success in the playoffs for the Boston Celtics. There is less experienced competition in their conference until they have to face the Nets. If the peak is high enough for a young Boston team in May their shot to win the Eastern Conference would be a great time this year.

However, the same could be said for the Philadelphia 76ers at the top of the conference and one of the NBA’s best defensive teams. Joel Embiid is having an MVP year and the Sixers are arguably the best defensive team in the NBA with Ben Simmons as a frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year. Ages? Simmons is 24 years old and as mentioned Embiid is 27 years old. Again, no surprise with a few roster changes and elevated play for these All-Stars the success is there as Simmons looks better nearer to 25 years old.

What’s stunting the success of younger players?

Again, technically Michael and LeBron repeated after they won their first championship. Shaq and Kobe had a three-peat and Kobe won again in 2009 and 2010. So, the point here is when you’ve reached your prime and won once, the odds are the superstar players can repeat. Unless you’re the San Antonio Spurs winning in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014. This doesn’t bode well for younger players under 24 since the NBA has always trended towards its star players primarily becoming a Champion at a later age in their career more than once. The facts also show that players 24 years old and under and usually need to be paired next to these elder All-Star players in order to win a championship at a young age.

Throw out high expectations for younger players

LeBron James started out the “rapid development” in 2007 as he led an underdog Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2007 NBA Finals and swept by the San Antonio Spurs. His better attempt at an NBA Finals in 2011 came with another loss.

Regardless of how you feel about LeBron James, the same argument can be made for Michael Jordan who did not win a championship until his 27th year of life either. It is still a fact that James reached his first NBA Finals much younger and faster than Michael Jordan did whether James lost or won the 2007 NBA Finals. Thus, a more rapid development.

Again, we enter the fifth decade from the 1980s and still have not seen any sort of All-Star player lead a team to a championship younger than 25 years of age. I’m not here to fight that it’s impossible but the “realist” take on this is that younger teams and players just aren’t the safe bet. However, the expectations for the league’s 25 and under shouldn’t have to amount to championship or bust in the early ages of their career.

So what’s the point here?

Most likely the NBA may see brief moments of parity through the “growing pains” of young teams. We’re watching during an interesting time where the current All-Star players in terms of having a championship are few and numbered. This means the majority of teams in the playoffs are being led by guys who hardly know what it’s like to get to an NBA Finals.

Take ESPN’s list of best 25 under 25 by future potential rankings. Some of the top players on this list have made the All-Star roster at a young age without any Finals experience or a championship.

Chris Paul, Paul George, and Damian Lillard are ALL 30 and older without an NBA Finals appearance. These are the eldest All-Stars of 2021 without championship success.

A sign that it’s time for the under 30 club to make a push at winning? The Jazz and 76ers sit atop of their respective conferences all year, the Suns feature Devin Booker (24 years old) as the prime star next to Chris Paul, and we’ve mentioned how Embiid and Jokic have helped elevated their younger teams into the conversation for championship contention.

Parity or no parity?

To answer the question directly, I believe the NBA will never see a large amount of parity unless we truly see an older generation phase out into a completely new generation. Embiid and Simmons in Philadelphia and Tatum and Brown in Boston help the cause.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Nikola Jokic are all post-25 years but under 30 in the top seeds of their respective conferences. Donovan Mitchell is 24 at this time BUT if we follow the guidelines here he’s playing next to All-Star Rudy Gobert who is 28 years old and a 2-time Defensive Player of the Year. This specific group’s success shouldn’t surprise us, it’s kind of what history tells us they’d become right?

That leaves the current under 25-generation of the NBA still figuring out life as an NBA All-Star. Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Luka Donic, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Trae Young all under 25 and nowhere near favored to win a championship in the 2020-2021 NBA season.

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WNBA 25th Anniversary Nike Explorer and Rebel Edition Jerseys

The WNBA’s 25th Anniversary means a redesigned logo to honor the achievement and NEW jerseys from Nike. The jersey release was announced on April 8th, 2021 between Nike and the WNBA.

Now, while I am a fan of what Nike did with the NBA Jerseys I am beyond impressed with the designing of the WNBA Jerseys! Beyond the tangible products, the message is even a bigger reason to fall in love with these designs. The Nike “Rebel Edition” uniforms are intended to portray a strong message about underrepresented voices.

The WNBA Nike Rebel Edition uniforms applaud the unapologetic, irreverent, and underrepresented voices who define each team’s home cities and states. In a celebration of each community’s deeper stories, fans are invited to embrace their authentic identities and they’re given a platform to shine.

Nike.com

Nike Rebel Edition – WNBA 25th Anniversary Jerseys

GONE are the hideous advertisements front and center on the jerseys. The ladies will get their numbers back on the front of the jersey. The equality and respect of allowing their name and number to shine in the redesigned concepts here make this Nike debut even better. This is more in line with the NBA’s version of having a patch of the team’s sponsor on the shoulder area of the jersey instead.

Trust me DON’T Google it to see this change. Before these beauties, it was up to three sponsors and the team logo donned on the front of the jersey. It was UGLY and quite frankly disrespectful to the WNBA players.

Nike Explorer Edition – WNBA 25th Anniversary Jerseys

  • Athlete numbers are returning to the front of the game jersey.
  • Each WNBA game jersey is numbered 1/144, honoring the 144 elite athletes who earned their place in the world’s premier women’s basketball league.
  • The game shorts have more room in the thighs and the glutes, and the game jerseys add more room across the chest plus overall proportion adjustments. The game jerseys also feature an assortment of three necklines: a round-neck, a V-neck and the new Victory neckline exclusive to the WNBA.

Source: Nike.com press release

It appears that some of the teams will feature a sponsor at the very bottom of the jersey under the number still. The redesign helps it look more organized but the sponsor patch on the shoulder area is much better than pasting another advertisement on the front awkwardly.

While the 2021 Season schedule has not been announced you can still gear up ahead of time. Nike announced you can now purchase the new threads at Nike.com.


Listen to the Shoot or Pass Podcast – Baseline Times NBA dedicated podcast for all of your latest NBA news, predictions, and coverage!

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More NBA coverage from Baseline Times

Shoot or Pass Podcast: The Close Up Magic

HEAT Nation is away on VACATION so Chevy steps in to fill the show need this week. What better way than to take over the podcast with a magic touch? Stephen Cameron from The Close Up Magic joins Chevy to discuss a little about the Orlando Magic, his trade deadline reactions (10:30), and describe his NBA Mood (26:30). They discuss if Russell Westbrook deserves an apology (30:42), which now-former Magic player will have the most success with their new team (34:16), and are the NBA.com DPOY rankings fucked up? (38:23). The Magic-duo takes a trip down memory in a session of Dunk, Dribble, or Flop (44:03). They share their top choices for All-Time Magic Player and Coach, and top Magic roster. Finally, in a grueling decision, Stephen picks his All-Time Magic Starting 5 (52:40).


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2021 NBA Draft – Final Four Prospects

The Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament Final Four is set! In case you’ve been taking a break from March Madness because your bracket was busted, or now intrigued here are the 2021 NBA Draft Final Four prospects to watch this weekend!

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 11 UCLA

An 11th seed out of the First Four makes the Final Four. UCLA marks the first time a First Four team makes the Final Four since Virginia Commonwealth University did in the 2011 Tournament. On the flip side, Gonzaga has won 30 straight games and their undefeated season continues.

Gonzaga

Jalen Suggs – Gonzaga (Guard)
Suggs is a Freshman who already is in the mix of top 5 pick considerations in the 2021 NBA Draft. The future star guard is said to have star potential further in the NBA. Suggs is shooting 50-percent from the field this season. His speedy ability and composure to finish well at the rim make him an offensive threat that is difficult to guard. He will be considered as one of the top guards in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Corey Kispert – Gonzaga (Forward)
Kispert is a 6’7 Senior that keeps the frontcourt for Gonzaga well balanced. If you look at this season you may not see Kispert’s name in the mix of season leaders in points or rebounds (that actually goes to Drew Timme). Kispert’s three-point shooting is the best on Gonzaga this season. He is shooting the three-ball at 43-percent which is the best out of Zaga’s starting five. The Forward is a long-range shooter but the expectation of him being an overall player especially on the defensive end is unlikely. He is projected to go as a late lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

UCLA

Johnny Juzang – UCLA (Forward)
A potential Idol of March according to our very own John Glowatz. Here is a guy that came back home and also was looking for an opportunity to elevate his game. Juzang spent his Freshman season at Kentucky primarily as a role player. He serviced the Wildcats as a spot-up shooter more than getting an opportunity to be the main attraction on offense. Juzang isn’t going to wow you with athleticism but he is more so a prolific scorer that makes it look easy. His Elite 8 game against Michigan surely helped his draft stock rise. He scored 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting (58-percent). Johnny is a 6’6 Forward that is projected in the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft at this time. This Final Four can make or break his draft stock.

Honorable mentions: Drew Timme – Gonzaga (Forward), Joel Ayayi – Gonzaga (Guard), and quite frankly mostly Gonzaga players are the best 2021 NBA Draft prospects in this Final Four

No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 2 Houston

The Midwest region featured No. 1 Illinois who was most likely projected as the winner of the region. However, Loyola-Chicago had other plans in the second-round and ended the Fighting Illini’s hopes of a Final Four run early. Houston returns to the Final Four for the first time since 1984 when a team dubbed “Phil Slama Jama” made the tournament’s Final Four. Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon sound familiar? Both now retired from their respective NBA careers sure puts the time frame into perspective. Baylor enters the Final Four after last being there in 1950.

Baylor

Davion Mitchell – Baylor (Guard)
He wears 45 and his name is Mitchell across the back of his jersey. Could he be confused with a potential NBA look-alike? Probably not physically but I would say it’s fair to compare his game similar to a Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz. A late bloomer for Baylor but nonetheless a difficult player to guard. His speed and ability to change pace quickly and finish the rim make it difficult for any team to defend. I sort of compare him to Kemba Walker as he’s a bit shorter listed at 6’2. His speed is getting attention and causing his draft stock to rise into a potential lottery pick. Mitchell as a top 10 lottery pick may be the highest ceiling for him but unlikely to be a franchise turnaround player.

Jared Butler – Baylor (Guard)
Here is the other guard in this game that the 2021 NBA Draft could possibly be kind to. He is not a “pass first” point guard but could make his way into the NBA first as a scoring guard. He’s a bit undersized at 6’3 for the two-guard spot but can knock down the three-ball. Butler’s 16.5 points per game led Baylor in scoring all season long.

Houston

Quentin Grimes – Houston (Forward)
Likewise Juzang, Quentin Grimes played his Freshman season elsewhere which happened to be in Kansas. Now in his Junior season, he’s making a slow climb into the 2021 NBA Draft boards. He averages 18 points on 40-percent shooting for the Cougars on the season. Grimes may not show up on any first-round draft boards but the Final Four could help him boost himself as a second-round pick at best.


Beyond the 2021 NBA Draft – Final Four Prospects see Glo’s Idols of March for this 2021 March Madness Tournament

NBA Trade Deadline – Winners & Losers

Break out the fire extinguishers, the NBA’s fire sale is officially over (at least with the trades, let’s see if the buyout market starts booming). I don’t know that I can say it was overwhelming, but it wasn’t underwhelming either, so let’s just say it was “whelming”. Moves were made though, the landscape of the league is changing just in time for the playoffs. Here are my winners and losers of the NBA trade deadline.

WINNERS OF THE NBA TRADE DEADLINE

CHICAGO BULLS

Be honest – did you think the Chicago Bulls of all teams would become the biggest buyers today? ME NEITHER. If I could describe their moves today in one word, it’s FIREPOWER. Because that is EXACTLY what they brought to their roster today.

The Bulls front office had an understanding that they would need to surround their star, Zach LaVine, with FIREPOWER to ensure he stays beyond 2022. So, they went to the biggest sellers in the market down in Disney World and put Nikola Vucevic on a magic carpet (with Al-Farouq Aminu), dumping Otto Porter Jr. and his $28.5 million contract in the process. That was enough to give them the crown. They took it a step further though, nabbing Daniel Theis, Troy Brown Jr., Jeff Green, and CASH MONEY (to the tune of approximately $1.5 million) later on.

This team is now SIGNIFICANTLY better than they were 24 hours ago. Are we talking playoffs or what, Chicago?!

DENVER NUGGETS

I’m going to keep this one simple mainly because HEALTH will play a huge factor in how the Denver Nuggets fare from their moves today. Aaron Gordon is a good get and I have to say, I am very much looking forward to seeing some Jokic-Gordon alley oops and some Murray-Gordon pick-and-rolls. However, Aaron Gordon has a history of injuries and the injury bug has not spared ANYONE in the league this season. Nonetheless, the acquisitions of Gordon and JaVale McGee (a serviceable backup who will help shoulder the load while Jokic rests) can help them compete with the likes of both L.A. teams and the Utah Jazz.

Essentially, the name of the game for the Denver Nuggets today is simple – turn potential into PRODUCTION. And get some DEFENSIVE HELP (because holy fuck do they need it). Worst comes to worst, Mike Malone hits the bench and starts praying. That should do it, right?

HONORABLE MENTION – MIAMI HEAT

I know what you’re thinking. “Wow, a HEAT fan thinking Pat Riley didn’t hit a home run today?”

Look, at 2:59pm ET, a meltdown was looming. At that point, all I knew was that Pat had brought the talents of another tall white guy in Nemanja Blejica to South Beach in exchange for Moe Harkless and Chris Silva. Kyle Lowry was in fact not going to come down the FL Turnpike to the American Airlines Arena. I was frustrated, confused, ENRAGED, and pretending to pay attention to a Zoom meeting for my day job.

I should have known that The Godfather runs on Miami time.

Indeed, a move was made. Victor Oladipo comes to the Miami HEAT in exchange for Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley, and a pick swap. My home team gets a two-way player who can take some of the load off of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo WITHOUT having to give up Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson in the process. That’s quite the robbery on the Houston Rockets (more on that below).

The reason why I am not running around my apartment complex banging pots and pats right now is because I do not feel like this is enough. The HEAT need another BIG piece. Out of San Antonio, preferably. Another key to this becoming a home run? Making a long term deal beyond this season work with Mr. Oladipo, who wants to get PAID. If those factors work out in their favor, then BRAVO. Regardless, I think Pat deserves a pat on the back.



LOSERS OF THE NBA TRADE DEADLINE

HOUSTON ROCKETS

Y-I-K-E-S.

The Houston Rockets couldn’t even bargain for a pack of airline peanuts today (or any day this season for that matter).

After turning down a contract extension a few weeks ago, it was obvious Victor Oladipo was out the door. In fact, Victor Oladipo was out the door before he even got to Houston as he had been negotiating his way to Miami for what seems like years now.

It’s crazy because the Rockets had all of the bargaining power just a couple of months ago when James Harden was demanding a trade. Ben Simmons was on the table. Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen? Also on the table. What do the Rockets have to show for it today? Nothing more than an assortment of draft picks and random players. You can’t even mention John Wall because he is getting bought out as I type this, probably.

I feel for Stephen Silas and Christian Wood. What a fucking mess.

BOSTON CELTICS

At least they are not the Houston Rockets. That’s a good way to kick this one off, right?

Not the worst day for the Celtics, but knowing their fans I would not be surprised if we get a Tea Party Part II in Boston. I am going to give credit where credit is due, Danny Ainge was getting demands to do SOMETHING today, and technically that is what he did. Evan Fournier? Not terrible. Finding out that Danny lost out on Aaron Gordon and was aiming at Terrence Ross soon after? Terrible. Daniel Theis was out the door if he stayed through the remainder of the season because another team was going to pay him money the Celtics could not match, so not much you can do there.

I am hopeful that the Time Lord can step it up, just not sure on how soon he can become what the Celtics need to really contend in the East. Honestly, I think today proves that perhaps Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics do not see themselves making a deep playoff run and are looking ahead to the offseason *sips tea*.

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Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 56: 2021 NBA Trade Deadline Review, Winners, and Losers

The NBA trade deadline has come and gone and (for lack of a better pun)…it was LIT! Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby break it all down, naming their STUDS and DUDS of the big day. Are the Chicago Bulls suddenly a contender in the East (15:20)? Is Victor Oladipo enough to turn the Miami HEAT back into title contenders (23:23)? Did the Denver Nuggets do enough to compete with the likes of the LA teams and the Utah Jazz (19:02)? Did Danny Ainge just let us know the Boston Celtics are punting on this season (32:50)? Just how fucked are the Houston Rockets (27:10)? The crew also analyzes all of the problems with the New Orleans Pelicans (49:29), what’s next for the Toronto Raptors (55:15), why the Dallas Mavericks should have openly shopped KP around (63:15), and Gabe reveals a conspiracy theory regarding LeBron James and his ankle sprain that will leave you SHOOK (06:09). YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS THIS ONE!


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Top trades for the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline

It is my scout’s honor not to be super ridiculous on the NBA Trade Machine but I’ll try my best to not be so cliche. Here are five trades that the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline needs. The 2021 NBA Trade Deadline falls on March 25th, 2021 at 3 PM EST.

Victor Oladipo – Houston Rockets

Oladipo has recently been traded from Indiana earlier this season to Houston in a three-team deal that sent James Harden to Brooklyn. He declined a 2-year contract extension $45.2 million deal from the Rockets, per sources. The Rockets are in the middle of a historic season. Well losing 20 games in a row with a team that once featured John Wall, James Harden, and DeMarcus Cousins. They now sit with Christian Wood, John Wall, and Oladipo as their best effort. Something needs to be done in Houston to change the direction and suffering for first-year head coach Stephen Silas.

Best case scenario – Oladipo gets his wishes to play for a franchise that is positioned to win and have him play a significant role doing so. Word on the street is the Miami Heat are interested and can they bring in Oladipo and part ways with Tyler Herro. The Heat signed Avery Bradley and Maurice Harkless this past offseason and yet have cracked the rotation enough. Recently, the Heat traded for Trevor Ariza who also joins Andre Iguodala as another savvy veteran. Leads me to believe Miami may move past their offseason signings for an upgrade they desperately need.

John Collins – Atlanta Hawks

Now, this comes at a time that the Hawks fired their Head Coach and handed over the job to Nate McMillian. The Hawks are 8-1 under McMillian. The issue here is Collins denied a contract extension this past offseason. The rumor was the Hawks offered him a $90 dollar deal but Collins felt like he was worth more. More rumors had it that he was upset the team focused too much around Trae Young. The Hawks turned their season around in time to possibly lock in a playoff spot without the play-in tournament. With Collins seeking more money at this point, he’ll become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Atlanta could make the move to trade now and get some pieces together for the playoff push.

Best case scenario – Finding his way to Golden State. This might be a bit farfetched but here is the deal. First, Collins’ contract is currently around $4M dollars. This means the Warriors can straight-up trade Kevin Looney for Collins. This would the BEST scenario for Collins who would be next to James Wiseman, Draymond Green, Stephen Curry, and eventually Klay Thompson. Doesn’t sound exciting for anyone else besides Warriors fans right? The Warriors would be looking to pick twice in the first round in the 2021 draft. Perhaps a pick to Atlanta would entice them? If the Timberwolves can’t land a top-three pick in the 2021 draft that pick goes to Golden State. Sure, this doesn’t benefit Atlanta one bit this season but a top 10 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft looks nice this year. (2021 March Madness Hub has you covered in case you’re lost)



Aaron Gordon – Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic find themselves with a new problem coming into Monday before the NBA’s trade deadline. Fresh off the press is that Gordon has requested a trade from the team that drafted him at number four. He has proven to be a more versatile player that can shoot and defend as his career has gone on. He’s shooting 40-percent from the three-point line this season. The only issue is that Gordon has played in 23 of the 42 games Orlando has played this season. Including a streak of 15 games in a row missed due to injury.

Best case scenario – Denver Nuggets gaining a third-option. In all fairness, Hoops Hype had this one right and I have to agree (took off the Orlando Magic fan goggles too). The idea? Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier for Gary Harris, Paul Millsap, RJ Hampton, Bol Bol, Denver’s 2021 first-round pick (top 10 protected), and Denver’s 2026 first-round pick swap. This would give Orlando some much-needed love for a full rebuild and Denver an opportunity to add a skilled player in Gordon. The comparison of a Jerami Grant is fair and Gordon seems to fit that role perfectly in Denver. Anyone wanna see some mile-high alley-oops from Jokic to Aaron Gordon? I’m down.

Andre Drummond – Cleveland Cavaliers

The biggest question we will find out later this week is Kyle Lowry going to be in another uniform? The most attractive part of Lowry’s contract is that it expires at the end of the season. A couple of teams can use Lowry’s veteran point guard leadership especially deep into the playoffs. Here is to the assumption that the Toronto Raptors are moving in a different direction after this season. So technically, if Masai Ujuri is in a mood to ship Lowry away here we go!

Best case scenario – Honestly, this is a bit on the reverse side of things. The best-case scenario is if the Raptors can unload Norman Powell to the Cavaliers in return for Andre Drummond. This keeps Lowry to the end of the season and a reinforced frontcourt with Drummond. But IF Masai gets fancy and turns the other way to trade Lowry The Athletic is reporting “sources” that Miami and Philadelphia are courting the veteran guard.

Boston Celtics – Danny Ainge do something!

Celtics fans if you’re here this far along thank you. I know you’ve been through season after season of disappointing Eastern Conference playoffs losses. Isn’t it time to make the leap? LeBron James left for the Western Conference and the luck of the draw is facing a weirdly good Miami Heat team in the NBA bubble last season in the end. Currently a sub-500 team in the season where your General Manager signs Tristian Thompson, Jeff Teague, and banks on Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown. Now there is nothing wrong with the fabulous duo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

Best case scenarioI’m going to contradict myself here but this is how bad I want Danny Ainge to help a brother out. Make a play for Aaron Gordon or John Collins and just give up your first-round next year? The difficult part is will teams demand Jaylen Brown or will Kemba Walker be Ainge’s sacrifice? It seems to be a seller’s market as most teams are selling high while trying to buy low. I’m not the only one saying something similar as Andrew Hughes from Hardwood Houdini. Obviously, the BEST Ainge looks to be able to offer is going to be Smart’s $13M dollar deal and a team willing to take on Tristian Thompson’s $9M a year. This would allow a more flexible cap space to work without giving up any of the trio Brown, Tatum, or Walker.

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Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 55: 2021 NBA Trade Deadline Preview and Jimmy Butler MVP?

The NBA is hosting a fire sale and we are all invited! Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby react to the trades that brought Trevor Ariza to the HEAT (54:15), PJ Tucker to the Bucks (57:10) and play a round of Dribble, Dunk, or Flop – naming the remaining trade targets/buyout candidates they are high and low on for the 3/25 trade deadline (32:10). The crew also gets into a contentious debate about Draymond Green’s case for DPOY (09:20), including Jimmy Butler in the MVP conversation (16:55), and the better first option out of standout rookies LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards (27:45)!


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2020-2021 NBA Season betting guide

Fair warning, I will completely pull up a disclaimer and give you my Kanye West moment. No, I don’t have the answers. I began to comprehend the game of NBA basketball as early as the age of 13 and spent thousands of hours since 2015 podcasting about the league. Transparency first but as always in a time post-2020 I’d love to help you make money! Welcome to the 2020-2021 NBA season betting guide.

Now I’m providing you a direction and how you can analyze these games among a circus of “safety protocol”. Of course, with the return of the NBA after the bubble to end last season here we are still battling COVID-19. If you’ve been betting all season hopefully you weren’t betting on the Nets money line during their February 5, 2021 matchup against the Toronto Raptors. Kevin Durant was pulled twice from the game due to “safety protocol”. The final decision was to keep Durant out of the game and then, the Nets lost the game.

There are certain scenarios where you absolutely have no control over nor would any major betting sites be able to control predict either. Thankfully, Durant’s double exit wasn’t a repetitive scenario. The most we have witnessed are multiple postponements of games and perhaps a game day where a player has no previous ailments needing to sit out due to contact tracing. Let’s take a look at some uncommon scenarios in this 2020-2021 NBA Season betting guide.

How NBA teams are impacted this year

  • Thin lineups with 8 players dressed at least to play
  • Players forced to play out of position for a single game or until their teammates’ clear safety protocol
  • The postponement of games causing teams to play catch-up on the schedule (and play more frequently)
  • Sudden line-up changes causing unpredictable game plans from opponents
  • Coaching staffs unavailable for a few games (ahem the Toronto Raptors)

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A little more studying required this season

I take it if you’re spending your own money you want to know what it is going towards. A full healthy Brooklyn Nets roster with Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden against the inferior Detroit Pistons, or is Harden the lone hero tonight? My advice is to stay up-to-date on the latest in “health and safety” protocol first as these are typically announced days ahead of games. If a player is traced to a positive COVID-19 infected person then, they are likely to be kept out of games for a few days at a minimum of seven days. Obviously, if a player is instrumental to the team’s success and now he’s out a week straight, you know the drill.

Cheat sheet time

Ok, I’m tired of looking for all this protocol nonsense give me the quick facts on the game tonight who is out? One of my favorite Twitter feeds for this is over at @FantasyLabsNBA to keeping me updated 24/7. Below you will find a wonderful tweet example. The simplicity and giving us an update of status we may want to keep in mind for tomorrow. Of course, they will follow-up with a more updated status as it’s announced. Boom! Single-handedly a feed of nothing but injury updates.

We also do features these tweets in our Baseline Bet$ Discord – Join now!

That is too much work make this simple as possible

One of my favorite stops is to surf Sidelines.io for the quickest and efficient rundown. When you first tap into their Odds page there is a simplified list of all the games that day. You will see that each game has a drop-down option with a blue arrow on the right of the game box.

A beautiful box opens up to show the best spread and best money line analysis over “an analysis of the odds provided by all the legal market operators”. You can select to find more analysis of picks that says “more on this game”.

This is where my favorite part comes in. After scrolling down further I am amazed to find a quick and easy visual guide of the past few games between the matchup I am looking at. Behold, I can see which team covered the spread, did the over/under-hit, and who won the game. Maybe I’m curious as to who played that game or sat out. It’s there, no need to go to NBA.com for a box score! Sidelines.io will also give help give you a more direct betting dictionary further down their NBA Odds page with some quick FAQs.

Again, a quick and easy way to get the point without endless tabs on your browser stat dumping.

The biggest secret weapon?

The talented @NBABetBot from Bet Bot Sports. These guys believe in “value betting” and on simple terms that means you’re betting on what will make you money (especially in the long run). So what you’ve had a big day and hit big. What your ROI on the season? The last week? The last two days?

If you’re ever so wondering what Bet Bet Sports bring to the table here is a high-level review straight from the source. Also, featured on Episode 54 of our Shoot or Pass Podcast where I interviewed the creators Garrett and Nick. They give you a direct insight into their method and some of our “please dumb this down for us regular folks” explanations.

Overall, The NBA Bet Bot is and the Bet Bot Sports product is mighty confident that you will make money betting on the madness that they analyze. Their Instagram page comes with a daily transparent post-game recap. They depict the hits and misses from their prior day picks and then by mid-morning tweeting away with the NBA picks for the present-day games (if any being played). Think of making money in the long-run as some days are disappointing than others. The overall goal is to be in the green significantly over the season. Again, my goal is to lead you to the green and no 2020-2021 NBA Season betting guide is complete without Bet Bot Sports.

See I don’t have all the answers

As always there are a few methods to the madness in order to make a betting pick for that big game tonight if you’re like me and sometimes overanalyze. Anyone get a vibe that a $10 parlay is almost like investing in a home or new car? Now that you have some sort of direction you can always visit The Baseline Bet$ daily for our expert picks on all major sports leagues! Our Discord gives you around the clock updates on picks and updates on player injuries.

As always please gamble responsibility

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NBA 2020-2021 Midseason Awards

The official break of the NBA has arrived. Well the 2021 NBA All-Star is set for one night on March 7th, and just about five days of rest for non-All-Star players not required to be in Atlanta that Sunday night. I bring forth the NBA 2020-2021 Midseason Awards!

Just in case you want to compare my preseason predictions to the midseason, you do so here.

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Coach of the Year

Quin Snyder
Coach Snyder is the man right now. He’s coached his team up to strengths that not only have earned them the BEST record all season long but his team is also top-rated in defensive rating hanging around the top four this season. The Jazz enters the All-Star break with the NBA’s best record. It’s a no-brainer that Synder should be Coach of the Year so far besides Doc Rivers who is doing something similar with the 76ers leading the Eastern Conference in a similar fashion.

Rookie of the Year

LaMelo Ball
It doesn’t surprise me that we’re talking about the youngest Ball brother as Rookie of the Year. He’s accomplished a lot as a young man early in his career. Already the youngest player to achieve a triple-double he’s also the youngest player to have a 30-point game in Charlotte’s franchise history. If that isn’t enough how about his month of February? Ball finished the month averaging 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in 13 games. This earned him the stripes of the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for February. Are there any other Rookies we can consider? Tyrese Haliburton is the second closest to contest Ball for this award but the success of the Hornets recently is because of LaMelo. The nod to Ball for ROY is an easy one at this point.

Sixth Man of the Year

Jordon Clarkson
Another Jazz representative here for this award. Finally! Someone who is not on a Los Angeles team or name is Lou Williams. Clarkson is coming off the Jazz bench and playing some important minutes at 26 minutes a game. His 18 points per game is a career-high. Clarkson has not even started one game in the 2020-2021 and played all 36 games for the Jazz coming off the bench. That alone itself locks him in as the undisputed first-half of season 6th Man of the uh, half-season so far.

Most Improved Player

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
I’m a fan of some dramatic improvement on players winning teams but then again, we saw Brandon Ingram win this award and because perhaps Luka Doncic was “too good” they passed up on awarding this to him. SGA is currently averaging career-highs on an Oklahoma City team that at least competes nightly. 23 points a game, 6.2 assists per game, and shooting 51-percent from the field. Shai has played in 25 of the 30 games the Thunder have played leading up to the All-Star break. Christian Wood is injured, Jaylen Brown is a great candidate but his play was expected in my opinion, and Jerami Grant is just getting an increase of opportunity but the Pistons are one of the worse teams in the league.

Defensive Player of the Year

Ben Simmons
Likewise Utah, it seems Philadelphia is on the upward swing with their coaching change. Part of the change is turning Philly around to be a more consistent defensive team. Doc Rivers joins the party and currently, at the All-Star break, the 76ers are rated 5th in defensive rating. A large part of this is the team’s collective unit making defensive plays but per Fansided here is how Simmons pans out this season with the data: He’s swiping 1.6 steals and is tied for the league lead in both deflections per game (3.9) and loose balls recovered (1.4). Simmons to me leads with the edge that he can be versatile in his defending and defend multiple positions.

Most Valuable Player

Joel Embiid
Maybe now it’s all about “The Process” and it includes Embiid scoring 40 or more points five times this season including a 50-piece against the Chicago Bulls in January. His career-high in scoring is at 30.2 points per game t his season so far. Embiid is also shooting 52-percent from the field and 42-percent from the three-point line. Both are career highs at this point. The 76ers may not have the best record in the league but without Embiid’s presence this season they’re likely to not sit atop the Eastern Conference all season long. Now, one can make the case for Nikola Jokic or LeBron James. I will say, the race is close but let’s focus on the midseason break only!



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