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What’s popping on Air-Ball


Short Term: Chicago Bulls

Next String of Games: vs PHX, at TOR, vs DEN, at NOP, vs PHI, vs MIA

For the first time since Derrick Rose got hurt, it isn’t terrible to be a Bulls fan. Now, I’m not saying it’s good just yet but they have an All-Star again, aren’t completely crippled by injuries and have a real shot at the playoffs. Most of the positivity stems from how good Zach LaVine has been this season. He’s having the best Bulls scoring season since the dude with the statue out front was a Bull and for the first time in his career is a reputable passer. The only bad news of the Bulls competence is it makes them far less likely to sell at the deadline. Gone is the chance to poach Lauri Markkanen or Wendell Carter Jr for the cheap. Even veterans like Thaddeus Young (sorry Celtics fans), Garrett Temple and Otto Porter Jr are less likely to be moved with the team competing for a playoff birth. Billy Donovan has done an outstanding job in year one and with a core that doesn’t seem completely lost in Chicago for the first time in a decade, it’s safe to say being a Bulls fan might just come around. 

Long Term: Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns are Chris Paul’s basketball team. Make no mistake about it. Devin Booker may have more points, Monty Williams may be having a great year as head coach but everything runs through the point god. The team is 29th in pace, bottom five in turnover percentage and eighth in offence. Throw in they’ve been awesome in the clutch and it should’ve been no surprise Paul was initially named as the Suns lone All-Star. That nomination made Paul just the third player in history to make an All-Star team with four franchises, a beautiful summation of his career. Paul is why I’m buying the Suns long term. The way they play is as Paul always does, built for the pace of the playoffs. Add in the fact they have an elite half court scorer in Booker, floor spacers in Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson who in Bridges case is also an elite defender and a solid traditional big in Deandre Ayton and I’m buying what the Suns are selling. I’m not sure how far they’ll go in the playoffs because I think it’ll be matchup driven but with the Lakers falling a bit, watch Phoenix slide nicely into a top three position. Then face the Clippers in round two and who knows? Either way, Phoenix is flat out good and will be for the rest of this season. 


Short Term: Los Angeles Lakers

Next String of Games: vs POR, vs GSW, vs PHX, at SAC, vs IND, at GSW

Before Lakers fans freak out, I’m not selling their championship odds. In fact, they should still be the massive favourites in my books. As long as they have LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the court together, no one in the league has shown they can matchup. That fact though is why I’m selling them short term. Without Davis, this team goes from demigod to mere mortals. Since AD got hurt in Denver, their offensive rating is an abysmal 104.3 and they have just two wins since January 21st against teams over .500. Add in they have the fifth hardest schedule remaining and Davis is out indefinitely and this team is dropping in the standings. It won’t matter much in the playoffs if Davis is heatlhy but the L’s they’ve been wracking up and are going to continue to wrack up make me say sell. Honestly too, it covers you if Davis just can’t find a way to get healthy this season because no way they win the title with him injured so right now could be a sell high proposition if you don’t believe in him getting healthy in 2021. Regardless, this team is bad right now without him. Dennis Schroeder coming back from the health and safety protocols will help but that’s far from the solution. Right now they’re too LeBron-centric and need their All-NBA forward back. Until he’s wearing a jersey instead of switching shirt’s on the sideline, sell the Lakers (and LeBron’s MVP chances). 

Long Term: Sacramento Kings 

When the Kings won seven of eight to begin this month, it seemed like they were the rare feel good NBA story that turns it around after a tough start. However, the team finds itself now sandwiching that hot streak with a treacherous start and a winless run that has me looking squarely at Luke Walton’s job status. Let’s be honest, when you’re more likely to expect a Woj bomb of a team’s coach being fired then them ripping off a winstreak, they’re in trouble. De’Aaron Fox has still been good but he hasn’t been the special he was over the win streak and as a result this team is flat out bad. They have the worst defence in NBA history and appear to be one of the few teams poised to be sellers at the deadline. I would expect a litany of Richaun Holmes, Harrison Barnes and Marvin Bagley trade rumours to fill your timeline. The rest of this season should be about developing Fox further, giving Tyrese Haliburton as many minutes as possible and building Buddy Hield’s value back to easily movable. If they do those three things then even if they continue to lose, 2021 won’t be a complete waste for this franchise. It’s safe to say we know what this team is now for sure and that is an obvious, obvious sell. 

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