Luka OUT, Spida/Book/Trae UP
Pour your coffee, take a seat, and pull your phone out. It's time to check your portfolio.
Welcome to another edition of PredictionStrike's Weekly Update, where we'll break down some of the most interesting storylines, talk about the biggest & best performances, and try to tie it all back to athletes' stock prices and how we should be viewing the markets.
It's way too easy to hate on the Clippers, and way too hard to praise them. I wish I could push past the jokes, be mature, and view the game fairly, but... I'm just a man. That said, it's not ingenuine to say that even though the Mavericks lost, Luka (+6%, $6.36/share) is the talk of the town after he put up 46, 7, and 14 in Game 7. Kawhi (+6%, $4.78/share) looks worthy of best player in the world talk again, but everywhere you go this week you'll find an article or see a talking-head asking how Dallas can turn the ship around before they waste too many years of Luka's MVP-level play. Kristaps (-1%, $0.90/share) was barely better than Boban (+8%, $0.37/share), and the throw-away in the KP trade, THJ (-12%, $0.67/share), looked like the 2nd best player on the roster. The Mavs can't trade any picks in the next few years unless they unprotect the 2023 picks they owe to the Knicks, and Mark Cuban is starting to sweat. It'll be an interesting off-season for Dallas, and next year will almost certainly be make or break for Luka's future in the Dirk-land. I can barely find a reason not to buy Luka's stock, but if you add someone to that team that'll prevent Kawhi & PG (0%, $4.61/share) from honing in on him like a couple of heat-seeking missiles, I'm gonna have to back up the brinks truck.
On a similar note, you've probably seen just as many articles & think-pieces about what the Lakers off-season will look like as you have about the Suns chance to go all the way. We'll spend some time on the Suns in a bit, but you can still yell at me for doing the same thing, cause... how could you not be interested?! LeBron (+1%, $7.90/share) will be in Year 19, and Lakers nation will be expecting AD (-30%, $6.75/share) to give them an MVP level season. More importantly, Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss hopefully realized that they need a third guy, and that Schroder (+1%, $0.47/share) might not be that. I'm not going crazy in the trade machine, but all I'll say is... don't be surprised if the Lakers net a Tier 2/3 star in a trade that feels absolutely unfair to the rest of the league. I just feel it in my bones. Kuzma (-19%, $1.65/share) & KCP (0%, $0.08/share) for Lavine (0%, $9.77/share), anyone?
Lastly, since there's not enough NFL news to warrant its own section in the Weekly Update (don't worry, it's coming), indulge me for a second... JULIO JONES! We knew it was coming, we just didn't know when, where, or how. The Tennessee Titans pulled the trigger and landed one of the best receivers of his time. Is it the tail end of his prime? Yeah, maybe, but he gives Tannehill another elite pass-catcher to pair with AJ Brown and open up what's becoming a potentially elite offense. Does this make them a lock to take the AFC South? Does it make them a real competitor to the Chiefs, Bills, and InsertThirdTeamHere? I'm not sure, but the Titans already had one of the PredictionStrike darlings in Derrick Henry, so I'm just excited to see if this trade produces another.
And now, some stocks we've been watching recently...
Joel Embiid (+8%, $6.92/share): Playing on a torn meniscus, and the guy still puts up 39, 9, and 4. As mentioned in the intro, Embiid looked healthy in Game 1. He was a little slow on defense, but if you're the Sixers, you'll live with that. He's no doubt injured, so I expect his projections to remain timid as a result. I also expect him to come out and have a signature "I'M STILL HERE" game... & soon. He knows Capela (-12%, $2.89/share) can't guard him, and he's already got a tiktok dance ready for when he babies him.
Nikola Jokic (0%, $13.14/share): He won't be the only player I'm buying in this series (keep reading), but he is the one I'm most confident about. His primary defender will be Deandre Ayton (-13%, $0.07/share), and although I LOVE what Ayton did against a [hobbled] AD (-30%, $6.75/share), a healthy MVP in Joker is a different story. Nurkic (-11%, $3.41/share) could barely stay under 6 fouls, and he's a seasoned vet. I don't expect anyone on the Suns to really put up a fight against Joker, doubles be damned.
Budding stars under 25... leading their teams in the playoffs!
The playoffs thus far have been defined by young players stepping up and claiming their place, kicked off by JA (+3%, $5.54/share) eliminating Steph (-4%, $9.58/share) & Co. The regular season is one thing, but pushing your team to the next level in the playoffs is a whole different ball game. That’s why we’re spending the next X amount of paragraphs discussing the stars under 25 who are driving their teams into the second round… and maybe beyond.
Donovan Mitchell, SG $9.14, and 24 years old
We know the story here – the Jazz lost Game 1 against the Grizzlies in an embarrassing fashion without Spida in there. It’s not that they rely on him too heavily, or that he dominates too large a share of their offense… Utah has an extremely high number of creators on their rosters that take pressure off of his need to do that. After all, the team had a 13-6 record without Mitchell in the regular season. But like we said, the playoffs are a different animal. Except for maybe Jordan Clarkson (+9%, $0.30/share), who for other reasons you probably don’t want as a #1 option… Mitchell has that unique, one-on-one ability to make tough shots over better defenders when the opposing team seems like they’ve got it all figured out. His attacker, bail-you-out when you need it style he’s got in his back pocket makes offense a million times easier on his teammates, and its crucial for those grit & grind possessions that become so familiar in the playoffs.
Devin Booker, SG $2.72, and 24 years old
“GoOd sTAtS bAd TEaM gUy” is officially put to rest. If he’s not 1a on his team, he’s 1b, so I feel good including him in this exercise. For as good as CP3 (-3%, $6.43/share) is, this team is entirely different without the imminent scoring threat that Book provides as soon as he steps inbound. If the Suns’ run in the bubble wasn’t enough, if Book’s development next to CP3 wasn’t enough… then his 47PTs on 68% shooting in a game 6 closeout game MUST have been. The most exciting part about the performance to me was his 80% shooting from 3… including a handful of dribble-jump 3s. You could argue that creation from deep was the one thing really missing from his bag. He’s shooting 42.9% from 3 in the post-season this year, which is phenomenal when you consider he’s never shot above 38% from 3 for a full season, which he only did once (2017-2018). Add in then that he’s doing all this in a high-stakes, closeout situation, and over here at PredictionStrike we’re ready to anoint Devin Booker.
Trae Young, PG $2.26/share, and 22 years old
What more needs to be said? The Curry comps might be a bit premature, but Trae is undoubtedly becoming a superstar before our very eyes. Besides, are you really a star in today’s NBA if you don’t flout a little showmanship?
If you thought his performance against the Knicks was a fluke, the whooping his team gave to the Sixers in Game 1 of Round 2 proved you wrong. If you didn’t watch… Joel Embiid (+8%, $6.92/share) at least LOOKED healthy. It wasn’t Joel’s injury that propelled the Hawks to the W, it was the Trae-led offense clicking on every aspect clickable. Coming into the series, the talk was all focused on how Philly had point of attack defenders that would be able to slow Trae down, unlike what the Knicks had to offer. Simmons (+2$, $1.52/share), Thybulle (0%, $0.19/share), Green (-5%, $0.22/share) – it didn’t matter. It’s not just his speed, it’s not just his touch, it’s not just his size… it’s the way he moves around the court. It seems like whenever he wants to get a shot, he’s able to get to his spot and make it work. But what’s most interesting to me after that game, and really through this whole post-season, is that the “10” in the “35 & 10” he put up in Game 1 came in the flow of the game. Assists weren’t an after thought, and they weren’t just off Capela PnRs – they got guys like Bogdan (0%, $0.53/share), Huerter (+8%, $2.02/share), and Collins (-9%, $0.11/share) rolling… and then they just kept rolling.
Lastly on Trae – if I’m REALLY looking for another reason to be bullish on his stock – he’s not afraid AT ALL. It feels a bit cliché, a bit Mark Jackson-esque, to focus on such an intangible aspect of the game, but Trae is playing with the confidence of a guy that’s gonna go out and get his no matter what. He’s not forcing a thing, and no one can seem to guard him. When he’s slowed down, he still gets wherever he wants, and he’s fueling his offense as if it’s a Ferrari. As a Knicks fan, it pains me… but money doesn’t play favorites. I think we HAVE to be buying Trae’s stock.
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