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Youngest NBA Head Coaches This Season

The NBA is changing. Well, it’s evolving. The NBA has been trending in a faster and younger direction since the early 2000’s. The average age of an NBA player continues to fall as athletes become pro-ready at younger and younger ages. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we’ve also seen a spur of young coach hirings. Just recently, the Utah Jazz made Will Hardy the youngest head coach in the league at 34 years old. So who did Hardy dethrone as the youngest head coach? Here are the five youngest head coaches in the NBA heading into the 2022-2023 season.

5.) J.B. Bickerstaff: 43 Years Old
Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

When LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers it looked as though the franchise would be in shambles for an extended period of time. In just his second season as head coach of the Cavaliers however, Bickerstaff was on the cusp of leading the Cav’s to the playoffs. They would ultimately lose to the Atlanta Hawks in the play-in tournament. Bickerstaff has been coaching for six years now, and began his career in Houston at the age of 37. He has been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2004 and was son of former coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who still works in the Cavaliers front-office.

4.) Willie Green: 40 Years Old
New Orleans Pelicans Head Coach
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Willie Green had an extremely solid NBA career, playing for 12 years and five separate franchises. Green would find the most success in his post-playing days. After his retirement in 2015, Green joined the Warriors as an assistant coach right before the 2016-17 season. He would win two championships with the Warriors as an assistant before becoming an assistant in Phoenix and helping revive their franchise. Finally, Green was named a head coach for the New Orleans Pelicans before the 2021-22 season. He helped turn the Pelicans into a playoff team and even took a couple games from the Sun’s in the first round.

3.) Taylor Jenkins: 37 Years Old
Memphis Grizzlies Head Coach
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Taylor Jenkins began his coaching career in the NBA during the 2008 season as an assistant for the Spurs G-League affiliate Austin Toros. His first year as head coach of the Toros he led them to a 27-23 record. Jenkins would then become an assistant coach for the Hawks and Bucks before taking the head coaching position in Memphis. In his third year as a head coach in the NBA, Jenkins led the Grizzlies to a 56-26 record, and was runner up for Coach of the Year. Jenkins without a doubt has the most job security on this list with the amount of success he’s seen in such a short span of time.

2.) Mark Daigneault: 36 Years Old
Oklahoma City Thunder Head Coach
(Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

The former youngest coach in the NBA is Oklahoma City Thunders Mark Daigneault. Daigneault is a coaches-coach through and through. He began his coaching journey as a student manager at UCONN under the great Jim Calhoun. After serving his time as an assistant coach in the NCAA and G-League, Daigneault was named head coach of the Thunder in 2020. There isn’t much to say about Daigneault’s resume currently as the Thunder have been rebuilding during his tenure. It will be interesting to see how he can develop and mold the current young budding stars on the Thunder.

1.) Will Hardy: 34 Years Old
Utah Jazz Head Coach
(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

The new title of youngest head coach in the NBA goes to Will Hardy. The experience that Hardy has had coaching in the NBA is not expansive, but it’s the mentors he met along the way that make his career special. First, Hardy was an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs from 2015 to 2021. We’ve seen a flurry of incredible coaches come from the Greg Popovich tree, and Hardy is hoping to be the next. Hardy also was an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics last season, giving him coaching experience in the NBA finals. If the Jazz lose Donovan Mitchell or Rudy Gobert however, Hardy may not get much of a chance to win in Utah.

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The Five Best Teams Who Can Trade For Kevin Durant

Nearly 24 hours later, the NBA world is still in shock over Kevin Durant’s trade request from the Brooklyn Nets. The two-time NBA Finals MVP is likely to generate the kind of interest rarely seen by any player that’s suddenly available, but the questions are who will be pursuing him and at what price?

And while there’s no doubt about Durant’s ability to play at a high level— he was placed on the All-NBA second team after averaging 29/7/6 this season– it does exist regarding his soon-to-be former team. Even during this era of player empowerment and movement, the Brooklyn Nets can’t get forced to trade Durant to his chosen place.

With four years remaining on his contract and a desire to either compete for a title or land a massive haul for him, the Nets and Durant could stay together beyond this summer. But what are those odds?

Below are the five best teams who can trade for the accomplished superstar.

Phoenix Suns

After the initial shock of Durant’s trade request, another one came in the form of his most- preferred trade destination: the 64-win and No. 1 seeded Phoenix Suns.

Upon looking at their roster and assets, there’s an immediate offer that makes sense– Mikal Bridge, Cam Johnson, Deandre Ayton, and an assortment of first-round picks. The only thing to be discussed is if the Nets trade Ben Simmons elsewhere. Under the Designated Rookie rule, a team can’t have more than two players who signed four or five-year extensions after their rookie deals, and only one can be acquired through a trade.

This rule is huge because Simmons signed a massive five-year extension in Philadelphia before being traded, and Ayton is in line for a massive contract this summer.

Miami Heat

Like Phoenix, Miami is another title contender that ranks high on Durant’s list of trade destinations, yet; they have a critical asset that can’t get traded to Brooklyn because of the Designated Rookie rule (Bam Adebayo). But is that enough to stop a deal?

If anything, the Heat could offer a package of Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, and a third player attached with first-round picks unless the Nets decide to trade Simmons elsewhere, as mentioned in our Suns discussion.

Memphis Grizzlies

Could you imagine if KD returned to the Western Conference as a Grizzlie? It’s certainly possible given the team’s salary cap situation, their immensely talented, young superstar in Ja Morant, and a trade package headlined by dynamic-two-way big man, Jaren Jackson Jr.

Golden State Warriors

Talk about what would be a full-circle moment? But when looking beyond the jokes and chaos Durant’s return would create, the Warriors could offer a fair exchange for their former superstar— the newly-motivated Andrew Wiggins, a certified bucket in Jordan Poole, and 2020 No. 2 overall pick, James Wiseman.

Toronto Raptors

Hey, you better not sleep on the Raptors in these trade discussions. Besides the brotherhood Durant has with superstar musician and Raptors ambassador Drake and Masai Ujiri being an incredible dealer, the Eastern Conference competitor has several attractive trade assets.

Anyone between All-NBA forward Pascal Siakam, reigning Rookie of the Year, Scottie Barnes, and OG Anunoby could start a return for the Nets– especially with various picks involved.

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ONE37pm’s Sports Vertical Previews The 2022 NBA Free Agency

*This article was written prior to the news of Kevin Durant requesting a trade from the Brooklyn Nets early Wednesday afternoon.

As much action is filled on the court every NBA season, the same is said for off of it. Through the growing nature of free agency and trade talks, it’s become common for NBA fans and media to speculate about the future of players and teams. And that development will play out again as the 2022 NBA Free Agency begins at 6 PM EST tonight.

While this year’s free agency isn’t defined by its star power, it includes impactful contributors (Jalen Brunson, Zach LaVine, and Deandre Ayton) who have enticed teams that are determined to improve. Before the start of free agency, ONE37pm’s Sports Vertical came together and shared their expectations for this time of year.

Will there be any surprises? Is there a certain signing each team should make? Continue reading to find out more!

What is your biggest expectation for free agency this summer?

Justin Cohen: I think there will be a lot of player movement. I don’t expect a lot of blockbuster trades, but I expect teams to buff out their rosters and add depth with impactful role players. The CBA is set to expire at the end of this season, so I’m intrigued about how that may affect teams signing players to longer-term contracts. 

Martino Puccio: My biggest expectation is a team like the Lakers to make some sort of move that doesn’t waste time on the partnership of LeBron and AD. Whether it’s getting rid of Westbrook or adding great role players. They have the most pressure to figure it out

Which teams do you expect to be the most and least active?

Jack Tien-Dana: Considering the Knicks have already made three trades and loosened up $30 million in cap room, it’s hard to imagine a team being more active than them. To a degree, this activity is necessary—the Knicks have 22 draft picks over the next seven years and can’t possibly add that many guys to a roster that already has a critical mass of developing young players.

Continuing their decades-long trend, the Knicks will be confusing at best and smooth-brained at worst. Whereas the Knicks chronically do too much, Oklahoma City is devoted to never doing anything. With mega-prospect Victory Wembanyama looming as the prize of next year’s lottery, the Thunder are in no rush to try to be an actual team for the foreseeable future.

Justin Cohen: A team like the Miami Heat will be extremely active this free agency. Miami Heat president Pat Riley is never satisfied, and a loss in the Eastern Conference Finals surely left a fire burning in his seat.

I expect them to try and target another superstar to pair with Butler and Adebayo. I don’t think the Warriors will be active in acquiring new players but instead will focus on resigning players. 

Jael Rucker: I expect Brooklyn to be very active {laughs}.

If there’s a signing that makes TOO much sense, what would it be?

Bo Templin: You know what signing makes a lot of sense? The MASSIVE 5-year deal for the St. Louis product, Bradley Beal. Go get that bag.

The other fit that seems nice is PJ Tucker going to the Sixers. He’s played with Harden and would be an outstanding voice for that team.

Jack Tien-Dana: Mo Bamba to the Lakers. Despite having two of the very best players alive, the Lakers are a sclerotic team without many avenues to improve. Accordingly, Mo Bamba (of “Mo Bamba”  fame) is the sole realistic option who could make a meaningful difference.

An expert shot-blocker and budding marksman, Bamba was one of only four players to average more than 1.5 threes and 1.5 blocks per game. And he’s somehow rumored to be available for just the $6.5 million mid-level exception. Still only 23, Bamba offers an enticing package of immediate production and future promise.

Justin Cohen: Blake Griffin to the Clippers. Yes, this wouldn’t be the most impactful or even the best fit, but to see Blake Griffin in a Clippers jersey one more time would be beautiful.

It would also be quite poetic to see Griffin win a championship with the franchise he brought back from the dead. 

Martino Puccio: A signing that would make too much sense to me is Brunson to NYK. For the Knicks to move all these mountains and for him to get insane money for just four years is something that should be a no-brainer, IMO.

Speaking of Jalen Brunson, do you believe he’s worth a max contract?

Bo Templin: While I think Jalen Brunson is a very solid player, I’m not sold on him being a max contract player on a championship-contending team. He would help the Knicks, sure. But what would really change? A first-round exit maybe?

Jael Rucker: Yes! Give Jalen Brunson what he deserves!

Justin Cohen: When dissecting who ‘deserves’ a max contract, the context of player availability is crucial. I don’t think there are many great point guards slated to be free agents this summer and Brunson has proved he can put up wins in the postseason.

I’ve personally gotten the opportunity to watch Jalen grow since his freshman year of high school and the progression he continues to show is worth a max in my mind. 

Given the likelihood of James Harden and Bradley Beal resigning with their teams, do player options carry as much weight as they use to?

Bo Templin: This is a really interesting question. I think the player options only hold weight if the dominoes fall in your favor. Every off-season, it feels like there is a 1-2 domino falling process that really kickstarts everything else.

People with options have the luxury of waiting. So I think they still hold weight with the timing of the offseason.

Jack Tien-Dana: Player options are the most basic, effective way that players can control when and what they’re paid. Since Bradley Beal is opting out of his deal, the Wizards have no choice but to lavish him with a quarter-billion dollars to stick around—by turning down his $36.4 million option for next year, he’s now positioned to make $50 million for the next five.

Conversely, John Wall, Russell Westbrook, and Kyrie Irving all exercised their options because it guarantees them a payday they wouldn’t receive otherwise. What teams are lining up to throw a max deal at two guys who are probably bad now and another guy who’s a terminally flighty weirdo? More than Brechtian trade demands or sub-tweet melodrama or podcasting, player options are how players are empowered.

Jael Rucker: Yes and no. I think it depends on the player, the team, and the situation. I will say that I think owners are kind of starting to take control back of situations.

Justin Cohen: They do because it’s just another way to give the players more freedom. I really like James Harden taking a page out of Tom Brady’s book and taking a pay cut to allow the 76ers flexibility with their cap space.

With the collective bargaining agreement set to expire at the end of next season, we could see a change in how player and team options work. 

Martino Puccio: I think these player options don’t hold as much weight depending on the situation, but the money for these superstars after the tv deals are so great that they have so much flexibility.

Seeing what an Evan Fournier can grab via FA these guys know the leverage they have so they probably don’t stress the options.

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 Way Too Early 2023 NBA Title Odds

The path to an NBA championship is not easy. Teams have to endure the six month marathon that is the regular season and then battle through three months of post-season play. What happens after that championship is won? Well, you go out and do it again. Former Chicago Bulls offensive coordinator Tex Winter, who invented the ‘Triangle’ offense and won nine championships as a coach, famously said: “You’re only a success for the moment that you complete a successful act.” Simply put, you have to do it again. That’s exactly what the Warriors will attempt to do this season after winning the 2022 NBA Championship. So who stands in their way of repeating? Here are the five teams with the best 2023 NBA title odds as of June 2022. 
(All odds are taken from DraftKings Sportsbook)

5.) Brooklyn Nets: +800
2021-22 Record: 44-38
(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

It should be no surprise that a team with two 27+ per game scorers is heavily favored to win the title next year. Despite a turbulent 2022 campaign, odds makers still like the Nets. I would be weary to sprinkle some units on this because of the uncertain future with the Nets roster. Kyrie Irving and the organization have come to a standstill. Irving has a player-option left in his contract but has demanded a long-term deal. It’s increasingly looking like he may force a sign-and-trade to get out of Brooklyn. If the domino of Kyrie leaving falls, Kevin Durant will most likely be next. Without the one-two punch of Irving and KD the Net’s have a better chance of winning the draft lottery than an NBA championship.

4.) Milwaukee Bucks: +650
2021-22 Record: 51-31
(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Milwaukee Bucks won their second NBA championship ever last season and subsequently entered this year as the second best odds to repeat. A slew of injuries hit the Bucks locker room over the course of the season. Superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo dealt with a nagging knee injury and a number of role players would be sidelined. Just as it looked the Bucks were hitting a stride entering the playoffs, Khris Middleton sprained his left MCL. The Bucks would lose in seven to the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics. Now with extended rest and looking to comeback fully healthy, the Bucks are primed for another title run.

3.) Los Angeles Clippers: +600
2021-22 Record: 42-40
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Since former Microsoft CEO and eccentric billionaire Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers in 2014, he has spent every waking moment and dollar to manufacture them into a competent franchise. The Clippers have been a franchise in the NBA since 1970 and are one of only six teams to never reach an NBA Finals. This season they are hoping to get back a healthy Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Leonard has played just 52 games in the last two seasons. It’s easy to forget what Leonard is capable of doing on a basketball court with him sidelined so frequently but, when healthy, he turns the Clippers into legitimate contenders.

2.) Boston Celtics: +600
2021-22 Record: 51-31
(Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Boston Celtics were without a doubt the best team in 2022. From January to the end of the season the Celtics were a league best 34-12. The Celtics powered their way through the East and made it to their first finals since 2010. They would lose to the Warriors in six games though. The Celtics have no real free agent losses this offseason however and are looking to run-it-back with the same squad. With the added knowledge and fire of a NBA Finals loss, the Celtics are in excellent shape to make another run. They sit with the best odds currently to win the eastern conference at +265.

1.) Golden State Warriors: +550
2021-22 Record: 53-29
(Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

The NBA’s greatest modern dynasty solidified that designation this past season winning their fourth title in eight years. Stephen Curry finally claimed his coveted Finals MVP trophy after defeating the Celtics in six. The Warriors know more than anyone on this list what it’s like to enter a season coming off a championship, and they will surely use that experience to try and claim championship number five. The Warriors will have to fill in some free agent holes this offseason. They will have to resign or replace Looney, Payton II, Porter Jr, Bjelica, and Iguodala. The Warriors did have the highest payroll in all of basketball last season, so don’t be surprised if they run it back with the same squad.

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Terance Mann Explains His Interest In NFTs And Why The NBA Will Embrace It

Even in an environment where nearly everybody was a celebrity, those in attendance at the Krause House 3V3 basketball tournament couldn’t help but be excited when Terance Mann arrived. Not only is the fourth-year player/critical contributor of the Los Angeles Clippers talented on the court, but he’s exhibiting the same dedication to the NFT space— a slowly but surely trend amongst his NBA peers.

“It’s been a great week seeing everyone with their NFTs, networking, and learning more about the space,” Mann told me. Throughout this week, the Brooklyn, NY native was busy— ranging between speaking about sports leagues and their intellectual property on a panel during Tuesday’s session at NFT.NYC and further building with Chibi Dinos, the very popular basketball NFT project he joined in April.

And while other NBA players and athletes are getting into NFTs (Spencer Dinwiddle is a co-founder of Calaxy, and Ben Simmons is a Perion ambassador), it’s still uncharted territory for those who are either novices or don’t understand it. But upon speaking with Mann and others this week, I learned that one of the following steps with NFTs is making it more accessible and easier to understand– a sentiment the LA Clippers guard believes too.

“For so long, not many people understood how accessible it is,” Mann said. “But when you’re in a setting like this [NFT.NYC], especially for a week, it helps out a lot.” As sports fans learn more about NFTs and their impact on the games they love– between how tickets get bought and the rewards they’ll earn– Mann lastly expressed how it won’t be a surprise when it significantly changes leagues of the NBA’s caliber.

“When you look at the trends of what’s happening digitally, it’s only going up. So you shouldn’t be surprised when the NBA, MLB, and others will further embrace it.”

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Who Is Johnny Davis?

The state of Wisconsin has produced some elite-level NBA talent in recent years. Tyrese Haliburton, Tyler Herro, Jordan Poole, and Kevon Looney all call Wisconsin their first home. Now, Johnny Davis is looking to become the next Wisconsin born athlete to take the NBA by storm. After starting in 31 games for the University of Wisconsin this past season, Davis has declared for this year’s NBA draft. So how good is Johnny Davis?

High School

Johnny Davis grew up in La Crosse, Wisconsin and played for La Crosse Central High School. La Crosse Central hadn’t won a state championship since 1925, that was until Johnny Davis stepped on the court. In his freshman year Davis helped his squad win the Wisconsin D2 state championship. In his senior season Davis would take a massive leap. He was unstoppable averaging 27 points and 9 rebounds and earning Wisconsin Mr.Basketball honors. He ended his career at La Crosse Central as the all-time leading scorer with 2,158 points. Davis ultimately would stay close to home and commit to the University of Wisconsin.

University of Wisconsin
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Johnny Davis would enter his freshman year at Wisconsin as a sixth man. He would see the floor in 31 contests but start in none. Even as a 6th man Davis was a major contributor, averaging 7 points and 4 rebounds. We would get to see the full potential of Johnny Davis in his sophomore season. Davis would start all 31 games for Wisconsin as a sophomore and was electric. He put up averages of 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists, en route to a 25-8 record and a three seed in March Madness. Wisconsin would meet their demise in the second round to Iowa State.

Pro’s
(Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

There is a lot on the court that Johnny Davis does great. He stands at 6’5” and 190 pounds. Although he doesn’t possess a maddening amount of strength, Davis more than makes up for it with his speed. He is elite in transition and is always primed to score a fast-break layup. Although he saw a dip in his three-point percentage last season, Davis finds the most success shooting in the mid-range. The most touted aspect of his game however comes on the defense end. Davis has excellent defensive IQ and is regularly beating guys to spots. Not only can he guard on-ball like a hound, Davis is active in passing lanes and causes havoc for the opposing team. If Davis can build out his frame and continue to work on his shooting he could be a legitimate contributor to winning in the NBA.

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Why Paolo Banchero is the Best Player in the 2022 NBA Draft

In the world of NBA Draft sickos, Paolo Banchero has been famous for too long—he’s been a stalwart on recruiting rankings since he was eligible to be included in recruiting rankings, never falling below sixth in his high school class since his freshman year of high school in 2018. But now, after years of hype as the prospective number one pick in the draft, he has seemingly lost ground to Jabari Smith and Chet Holmgren, who present a novel, alien goodness rather than Banchero’s quotidien greatness. Familiarity has bred contempt—the nits are being picked. Still, Paolo Banchero is the best player in this year’s NBA Draft, no matter what the Orlando Magic think.

The most basic explanation for Banchero’s appeal is that he’s more skilled than just about anybody who’s bigger than him and bigger than just about anybody who’s more skilled than him. Even as the NBA charges into its age of monsters, he’s built different; 6’10, 250-pound teenagers shouldn’t be able to pass, dribble, and shoot with his level of fluency. During his one season at Duke, Paolo Banchero was the unquestioned best player on a Final Four team—his 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game over the course of the full season were very good; his NCAA Tournament run, punctuated by 20+ point outbursts against Texas Tech and UNC, was even better. 

Although Banchero isn’t an overly elastic ball-handler or bursty speed merchant, the basic fact that he’s a 6’10, 250-pound person who can score off the dribble offers a basic physics problem for opposing defenses. Smaller, faster defenders will be battered by his 6’10, 250 pound frame; bigger, slower defenders will be dusted. It hardly takes the scientific method to deduce that that boy nice; his 17.2 points per game were the most of any power conference freshman. Even within Duke’s recent lineage of  highly-drafted wing scorers, he stands alone—his 131 unassisted two-point field goals represent a level of self-sufficiency that fellow Dookies Brandon Ingram (111 unassisted twos), Jayson Tatum (98) and Jabari Parker (97) couldn’t reach. 

For Duke, Banchero was the nominal power forward who served as the de facto point guard by virtue of being the team’s most capable ball-handler. While he initially processed the game with the torpor and uncertainty of a guy who hadn’t played high-stakes basketball since the start of the pandemic, he regained his sharpness as the season progressed. In the Sweet 16, he hung 22 points and 4 assists (and just a single turnover) on Texas Tech’s top-ranked defense, the sole Duke player who didn’t seem dragooned by the Red Raiders’ suffocating no-middle defense. 

If Tech throttled offenses by turning their opponents into quivering worrywarts, Banchero calmly exploited their aggression. Since no-middle defense is a fairly dogmatic scheme built upon pre-programmed rotations, he forced Tech to tip their hand, provoking help defense before firing the ball to the open space where the help came from. Aware of his own gravity as a scorer, he punished overzealous rim protectors by feathering lobs and drop-offs to Mark Williams and caught perimeter players in traction by finding AJ Griffin for open threes. To paraphrase the honorary poet laureates of Daytona Beach, Banchero is scary and he knows it. 

Certainly, Banchero isn’t a perfect prospect. There’s a nagging feeling that he’s distracted by the vastness and variegation of his own talents—at times, it looks like he’s preoccupied with side-missions, hunting down perfect pelts rather than advancing the plot of the possession. Accordingly, he sometimes showed a frustrating tendency to settle for pull-up jumpers rather than dunk through the cranium of some terrified Clemson galoot; there’s no reason that somebody as physically dominant as Banchero should take more mid-range jumpers than shots at the rim. As a result, Banchero’s 55% True Shooting at Duke was probably lower than it should’ve been.

Ultimately, Banchero is at once the safest and riskiest player in the Draft. Regardless of where he’s drafted, he’ll be the runaway favorite to win Rookie of the Year; he’s clearly better-equipped for immediate success than Holmgren or Smith or Jaden Ivey. Nobody doubts that Banchero is an exceptional scorer and rebounder; the question is whether he can be exceptional enough

Whereas Holmgren’s defense and Smith’s shooting provide both of them with a high floor, Banchero doesn’t have those same auxiliary skills to be a role-player if he can’t reach his ceiling. As a spot-up shooter, he’s fine; his defense is whatever. Instead, his appeal lies in his potential to be the guy for his team, which is a tremendously high bar to clear. Every player in the NBA is so good that true eliteness is exists within tiny, fungible margins. The difference between Julius Randle making 2nd team All-NBA as the leader of a playoff team and Julius Randle getting booed as the scapegoat for a bad one is about three extra missed three-pointers every two weeks. If Banchero can maintain the efficiency to command primary initiator status, he’ll be the kind of omnipotent jumbo creator that racks up fistfuls of All-NBA berths. If he can’t, his value becomes considerably murkier.

But this is a risk worth taking. More than shooting, more than defense, more than having that dawg in you, advantage creation—the ability to force defenses to react to what you do— is what greases NBA offenses. This is why the Luka Doncic-led Mavs proved to have a more resilient offense in the playoffs than Chris Paul’s Suns or why the Warriors offense remains so deadly even with Steph Curry as the only functional dribbler in their starting lineup. Before you create an open corner three, you need to force a rotation; to force a rotation, you need to make defenses afraid of you; to spook defenses, you need to be very good in very specific ways. In this sense, Paolo Banchero looks like a future star because he’s good at the primary, star-making skill.

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The Story of Andrew Wiggins

It’s far too common today to label an athlete a ‘bust’ before they’ve gotten a fair chance to shine. Top picks are tasked with not only transitioning their game to the NBA level, but are also expected to contribute to winning. That is way easier said than done when a majority of these picks are walking into not-so ideal situations. Newly minted NBA champion Andrew Wiggins had that exact experience. So how did Wiggins get labeled as a ‘bust’ and how did he beat that misnomer?

High School
(Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Andrew Wiggins was born in Toronto, Canada and played high school basketball there for two years. To say he dominated the Canadian basketball scene would be an understatement. Wiggins led his team to a 44-1 record on the road to an Ontario Provincial championship. There was no more to conquer up north for Wiggins so he took his talents to the prep school circuit. He was the consensus #1 prospect in the country after putting up averages of 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks. After winning just about every national player of the year award Wiggins was ready to take on the collegiate level. In May of 2013 he would officially commit to the University of Kansas.

University of Kansas
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Although Wiggins would only play one year at Kansas, it was a year to remember. Kansas would finish the 2013-14 season with a 25-10 record and a two seed in the NCAA tournament. Wiggins put up averages of 17 points and 6 rebounds, earning him Big-12 All-Freshman team honors. Kansas would make a mid-tier run in the tournament, losing to Stanford in the third round. Wiggins was still the consensus #1 prospect in the country and the next logical step was declaring for the draft.

Timberwolves Days
(Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Backed by maddening hype and dubbed ‘Maple Jordan’, Wiggins would go first overall in the 2014 draft to the Cleveland Cavaliers. As the Cav’s were eagerly awaiting LeBron James to announce his return to the team, they sent Wiggins to Minnesota in return for a win-now player in Kevin Love. Wiggins would find individual success right off the start for the Timberwolves. He would average 17 points and 5 rebounds en route to winning the Rookie of the Year award. Wiggins would spend five seasons with the Timberwolves and only make the postseason once. Despite averaging 19 points over that time, the Timberwolves felt that Wiggins couldn’t help contribute to winning and would trade him at the 2020 deadline.

Winning Warriors
(Photo by Josh Leung/NBAE via Getty Images)

Wiggins next landing spot would be with a Warriors team that was plagued with injuries. The team had just lost Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson was sidelined with a season-long injury. During his third year with the Warriors they were finally healthy and primed for a title run. Wiggins was spectacular all season averaging 17 points and five rebounds while propelling the Warriors to a top seed in the West. He earned his first all-star honors and was even named a starter. Wiggins would elevate his game during the postseason. He played superb defense all NBA Finals and was even the second leading scorer for the champion Golden State Warriors. There is no question in anyone’s mind if Andrew Wiggins can contribute to a championship squad. It’s truly incredible the resiliency that Wiggins has shown over these past couple of years. His story just shows that a fresh start and the right situation can be the difference.

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Who Has the Most NBA Championships?

The history of the NBA is a storied but albeit relatively short one. Every big four sports league in the United States has eclipsed 100 seasons except for the NBA, who is playing out their 75th season currently. Even more puzzling is how dominant just a handful of franchises have been. Of the 75 NBA Finals nearly 70% of them have been won by the same five teams, with the Lakers and Celtics making up 34 of those championships. So who are the other teams to dominate the NBA over its history? Here are the teams with the most NBA championships.

5.) San Antonio Spurs – 5 Championships
1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014
(Photo by John W. McDonough /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

In 1976 the Nuggets, Nets, Pacers and Spurs joined the NBA in a merger with the ABA. The Pacers and Nets have never won a championship, and the Nuggets have never even been to the NBA Finals. The Spurs on the other hand have turned themselves into one of the most iconic franchises in the NBA. After a number of years contending in the 90’s with big-man David Robinson, it looked as though the Spurs were on the cusp of rebuilding. That was until they selected Tim Duncan with the first pick in 1997. He would help win the Spurs their first title in 1999, but the winning was just getting started. After drafting Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili the Spurs had built the big three that would dominate the 2000’s. The most profound personnel on the Spurs has to be head coach Greg Popovich. He has etched his name into the all-time coaching wins record and cemented himself as one of the most important figures in NBA history. Over the course of their fourteen years together Popovich, Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili won 575 games, an NBA record for a trio of teammates.

4.) Chicago Bulls – 6 Championships
1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998
(Chuck Berman/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

There is no team in NBA history that has done more to grow the popularity of basketball than the 90’s Chicago Bulls. Growing up in the Chicagoland area it was impossible not to watch a Bulls game and hear someone say “it’ll never be like the 90’s again”. And they may be right, because no one team has won as consistently in the modern NBA than these Bull’s teams did. In 1984 the Bulls drafted a high-flying intense guard out of North Carolina by the name of Michael Jordan. After torching the league and winning a number of scoring titles, MVPs, and even a DPOY, Jordan still didn’t have a title. After losing to the Pistons in multiple years, Jordan and the Bulls finally defeated them in 1991 to advance to their first NBA Finals. After taking out the Lakers in the finals, it seemed Jordan had cracked the code on how to win. The Bulls would go on to appear in five more NBA Finals and win each one. Since Jordan’s retirement the Bulls have never been able to get back to their winning ways, only appearing in one Eastern Conference finals.

3.) Golden State Warriors – 6 Championships
1947, 1956, 1975, 2015, 2017, 2018
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The Golden State Warriors are one of the most storied franchises the NBA has. They won the first ever NBA championship during the inaugural 1946-1947 season. They would find mild success in the early days of the NBA winning two more NBA championships. The Warriors were consistently a playoff team but never real contenders. That was until they drafted two time MVP and all-time leader in three pointers made, Stephen Curry. Building around Curry with splash brother Klay Thompson and enforcer Draymond Green, the newest NBA dynasty was built. Giving Steve Kerr the helm before the 2015 season was a huge gamble for the Warriors that more than paid off. His ability to keep his team motivated while giving them immense freedom puts him in a league of his own as a player-coach. On the Cusp of their seventh championship this year, the Warriors can break the tie with Chicago for third all time in championships if they can close out against the Celtics.

2.) Boston Celtics- 17 Championships
1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1984, 1986, 2008
(Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

There may never be a team as dominant as Bill Russell’s Celtics. Over a thirteen year span Russell led the Celtics to eleven NBA championships. Running plays on the bench was hall-of-fame coach Red Auerbach. Auerbach would be so confident in his Celtics that he would routinely light celebratory cigars before the final game was even over. The Celtics remained dominant over the 70’s winning two championships, but their biggest challenge would come during the 80’s. The NBA was on a major decline and the league was struggling to stay afloat. Enter Larry Bird plus Magic Johnson and your league is saved. The two superstars spurred one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports. They would face off in three separate NBA Finals with the Lakers winning two of those matchups. The Celtics would find their most recent success in 08’ after pairing Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Overall the Celtics have 22 NBA Finals appearances.

1.) Los Angeles Lakers – 17 Championships
1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2020
(Photo by Keith Torrie/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

The NBA’s first real dynasty wore purple and gold, but they didn’t play in Los Angeles. Before the days of playing in front of Hollywood elites, the Lakers called Minneapolis their home. The Lakers won five championships while playing in Minneapolis backed by big-man George Mikan. Despite their winning ways the Lakers couldn’t draw a crowd and subsequently jumped ship to Los Angeles. After a decade of losing to the Celtics in the finals, the Lakers were sold to Jerry Buss. Buss would change sports entertainment forever, turning the Lakers ‘Forum’ into Showtime. They would win five championships in an eight year span with hall-of-famers Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Lakers would get back to winning ways when acquiring Kobe Bryant on a draft night trade in 1996. They would pair Bryant with superstar center Shaquille O’Neal and the rest was history. Most recently LeBron James brought his talent to the purple and gold and won the 2020 NBA Finals amidst the Covid-19 pandemic in the ‘bubble’. That championship in 2022 would tie the Celtics for most NBA championships. Since the Lakers have been to 32 finals and the Celtics have only been to 22, they rank first on this list… for now.

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Sports

The Golden State Warriors Prove Their Toughness, Win Game 5

In Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors played badly—they went 9-40 from behind the arc and got doubled up on the offensive glass; Stephen Curry ended the game without making a single three-pointer, snapping a streak of 132 consecutive playoff games (and 233 consecutive combined playoff and regular season games) with at least one triple. For the most part, the Celtics’ defense has befuddled the Warriors, taking away the automatic advantages that jumpstart Golden State’s whirligig attack. And yet, the Warriors are now one win away from their fourth title in eight years, stealing a 104-94 win from the Boston Celtics to take a 3-2 series lead. 

More than anything, this toughness has been the foundation of the Warriors’ dynasty, even if it’s been obscured by their flashy offense and near-untouchable runs with Kevin Durant. In 2015, Golden State steeled themselves against Memphis Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers teams that tried to arm-bar them into submission; in 2018 and 2019, they beat the Houston Rockets, who designed their team with the express purpose of gunking up the Warriors’ offense. And now, against the Celtics, the Warriors are once again refusing to be punked by a bigger, more physical team. Just as Robert Pattinson is a pretty-boy actor with surprising artistic depth, the Warriors are a finesse team with a hidden store of grit. 

With their offense largely throttled by Boston’s defense, Golden State ratcheted up their defense, simply deciding to no longer let Boston score. Although Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been able to sustain the Celtics’ attack with their shot-making chutzpah, the Warriors preyed on the duo’s sloppy ball-handling. Golden State tried to confuse Boston in the first four games of the series by sending late help to try to disguise their rotations, but made a conscious effort to clog gaps on the perimeter in Game 5. Every Boston drive thwarted before it could really begin, repelled by waves of prying hands. Visibly frazzled by the Warriors’ new-found aggression, Tatum and Brown combined for nine turnovers and just eight assists. Collectively, the Celtics coughed up the ball 18 times, dropping to 0-7 in the postseason when they turned the ball over more than 16 times. 

Beyond forcing Boston into crushing, momentum-swinging gaffes, Golden State turned nearly every Boston possession into a series of minor indignities. After granting Boston switches without too much protest to start the series, Golden State labored to protect Steph Curry and Jordan Poole more from Tatum and Brown in Game 5. Save for Boston’s scintillating third quarter, the Celtics struggled to target Curry and Poole, wasting precious time in the process; the Celtics only took 12 shots with more than 15 seconds left on the shot clock—for reference,  Golden State generated 28 early looks. 

If being able to consistently create an advantage is the most elemental aspect of being a good offense, the Warriors clamped the Celtics by stemming any potential problem before it could arise. A comprehensive list of things Boston couldn’t do: score in the paint, score in the midrange, score in isolation, score in transition, create shots for each other. A comprehensive list of the things they could do: bomb semi-contested threes and suffer. 

As such, Golden State’s defensive effort was as necessary as it was impressive. While the Warriors offense wasn’t quite as toothless as Boston’s, Curry’s uncharacteristic stinker still required them to recalibrate on the fly. Gone were the heliocentric, Steph Curry spread pick-and-rolls that proved to be such fertile offensive ground in Game 4; in its place, was a more egalitarian approach featuring contributions from the slightly lesser lights like Klay Thompson (21 points, five three-pointers), Draymond Green (11 points, seven rebounds, six assists), Gary Payton II (15 points on 6-8 shooting) and Andrew Wiggins (26 points and 13 rebounds???). 

Accordingly, Game 5 marked the latest chapter in the ongoing Wiggins renaissance. Tasked with slowing Tatum and Brown, he provided pressurized on-ball at the point of attack—on the 47.8 possessions that Wiggins matched-up with Tatum, Boston managed just 29 points as a team. Offensively, he overwhelmed Boston with his athleticism, nailing 12 of his 17 two-point field goal attempts and racking up a team-high 26 points. Wiggins’s Maple Jordan nickname has always been a misnomer—he’s Maple Pippen, an athletic stopper who offers as much offense as he needs to. Despite sharing the court with Brown, Tatum, Curry, Green and Thompson, the former 2014 #1 pick was clearly the best player on the court. Here was a game as surreal and odd as a Sopranos dream sequence—a fish talks, a horse is in the living room, Andrew Wiggins can’t be stopped. 

If the Warriors can close out Boston, they won’t be a particularly convincing champion, but that’s irrelevant. What they lack in raw talent, the Warriors make up for with their resolve. Stick-to-it-ness, spunk, feist, guts, whatever you want to call it: they have it. The Golden State Warriors are one win from a championship because they’re totally unphased by being one win from a championship.

Whereas Boston melted into a puddle of nerves and neuroses in the fourth quarter of Game 5, the Warriors were unmoved. Draymond Green rebounded from his Game 4 benching and returned to his destructive ways; Andrew Wiggins shed the sluggishness that harpooned his Minnesota tenure and dominated the biggest game of his career. Steph Curry had the worst postseason game of his career and the Warriors still withstood a second-half comeback from a more athletic and more talented team because, of course, they did; this is just what they do. For the Warriors, success is a (Golden) state of mind.