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What’s popping on Air-Ball:
- FOX, CONLEY AND WOOD NEED TO BE ALL-STARS IN 2021
- NBA ROOKIE REPORT: HALIBURTON, WILLIAMS AND TATE ARE MAKING ME A FAN OUT OF ME
- WHY JOEL EMBIID AND THE SIXERS MAY BE CLOSER TO COMPLETING THE PROCESS THAN WE ALL THOUGHT
- BAM ADEBAYO CONTINUES TO DEFY THE ODDS ON A PATH TO NBA SUPERSTARDOM
- THE LEAP OF JAYLEN BROWN
Short Term: Charlotte Hornets
Next String of Games: vs MIN, vs SAS, vs CHI, vs DEN, vs GSW, at UTA, at PHX, at GSW, at SAC
The Charlotte Hornets are one of the five most fun teams in basketball. LaMelo Ball has been the type of franchise rejuvenator they desperately needed. Sure, Gordon Hayward has returned to All-Star form and Terry Rozier is shooting the hell out of it but this team’s success starts and stops with the youngest Ball brother. Much like in Australia at SPIRE and everywhere else he’s played frankly, Ball’s ball-moving, free-flowing, playmaking style is contagious for his teammates. Now, the Hornets are far from NBA title contenders, in-fact by the numbers they’re excruciatingly average. The thing is though, there’s some value in buying this team before the first half ends for two reasons. One, you’ll actually enjoy watching your investment and two, their schedule unlike most of the other Eastern mediocre teams like the Hawks, Bulls, Knicks and others are actually pretty workable. There’s a ton of reason to expect they’ll be right around .500 if not slightly above by early March, making you some money and, you get to watch Melo and the resurgence of Malik Monk and the Hornets entire franchise.
Long Term: Phoenix Suns
After Devin Booker missed some games with a hamstring injury, the Suns are actually pretty healthy compared to many of their Western Conference playoff competition. Chris Paul has continued his All-Star renaissance that started in Oklahoma City and will likely be one of the final members of the conference’s team when it’s named in a couple of weeks. They also have the sixth-best defence in basketball, a number that on the surface really surprised me. However, then I thought about how long Mikal Bridges arms are, how hard Jae Crowder plays, the fact they have CP3, Deandre Ayton is above average and then all of a sudden it made sense. If their 13th ranked offence can push into the top ten which with their health there’s real reason to believe it can, this team becomes a real high-level playoff team. Ironically, what’s held them back is the CP3 and Booker together minutes so hopefully, with some more time, they can continue to grow together and figure it out. Even if they don’t this is a legit playoff team who should wrack up some wins for you in the next few months and make you some cash.
Short Term: Oklahoma City Thunder
Next String of Games: at DEN, vs MIL, vs POR, at MEM, at MIL, at CLE, vs MIA, vs SAS, vs ATL, vs DEN
After somehow finding themselves hovering around playoff contention for the better part of the start of the season, the Thunder have finally started to drop off. Some would say this is the time to buy when people are wavering. I’m here to tell you don’t. All season their offence has been flat out abysmal and is currently 29th and is so bad that despite having a top 12 defence when combined their net rating is 26th. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has taken a step and he’s awesome, Hamidou Diallo looks solid, Darius Bazley has really improved and of course my other Canadian, Lu Dort, has continued to grow. With that said, a team whose relying on 13 shots from Al Horford every night, no matter how well he’s shooting it in 2021, is not going to be good. Trust me, I know they looked good early on but their numbers were deceiving. All year their expected wins were way lower than what they had and they were the only true outlier in the stat. They’ve come back to earth and the 14th in the West they sit today is much more representative of what they are than the playoff team they were not long ago.
Long Term: Orlando Magic
I know subconsciously we’re all expecting the Magic to figure it out and end up in the playoffs and win a game one over someone way better but this Magic team is different. It turns out losing all of Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon and now Evan Fournier for an extended time is a problem. Half the lineups this team is running around Nikola Vucevic right now are barely NBA groups. This absolutely sucks as if you haven’t been paying attention (and I do not blame you if you haven’t) Vucevic is having a career season. Unfortunately, his team is just an absolute nightmare so I highly doubt he gets selected. It appears to be a year from hell for the Magic which to be quite honest with you is probably a good thing. The top of this draft is stacked and they’ve needed a reason to reset for a long time. They should trade who they can before the deadline, suck and refresh for next season when all their young pieces are back and healthy. Though this could be a blessing disguise for Magic fans, it won’t be for your bank account if you buy in any time soon. Stay away from the Magic and let them suck in peace!