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.

The Big Deals: What's driving the discourse this week?

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 ChiefsBills, 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...

Stock Up, Stock Down:

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.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (-1%, $3.54/share): Frankly, -1% is an incredibly disappointing performance from Game 1 for Giannis. I blame Bud, but that's a whole different newsletter. Despite Bud's traditional REFUSAL to adjust, if he doesn't do so in this series, he's fired. The truth of the matter is that no one on the Nets can touch Giannis on defense. That has to show in his play... right? He can't flame out three years in a row... right? He's the reigning two-time MVP playing vs Nic Claxton (0%, $0.25/share)... right?

Now that we've got you thinking in terms of graphs, charts, percentages, and earnings... let's take a closer look at some bigger trends and how they might affect players' stocks.

The Deep Dive

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.
Before we do that, BIG respect to Luka (+6%, $6.36/share) & JA. Since they didn’t make it past round 1, we’re not gonna spend time on them. It feels CRIMINAL to not discuss the 22yr old phenom in Luka after what he did against the Clippers (46pts on 56% shooting in a game 7… NBD), and it feels IRRESPONSIBLE to not milk the “What can the Mavericks do to build around Luka & keep him happy” storyline, BUT! We’re in the business of buying stocks, and these guys stocks probably won’t be doing much moving until free agency opens up. So, let’s discuss:

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.
We saw in the bubble playoffs that Mitchell has another level he can hit when the season is on the line. In the 7-game series with Denver, although it resulted in a loss… Mitchell hit 52% of his threes, per Zach Kram at the Ringer. In that series, he delivered a lil extra when his team needed it. With Mike Conley (-21%, $0.45/share) potentially missing time, he’ll need to do it again, and he’ll need to do it over Kawhi Leonard (+6%, $4.78/share) and Paul George (0%, $4.61/share). If he does, add gas to the Dwayne Wade comps, cause the 3rd year player leading his team to the promised land storyline is gonna get HOT.

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. 
If you’re still not convinced, maybe this next series will do it for you. I’m not yet saying PHX will beat Denver, but I am willing to say that Devin Booker is about to FEAST. He’ll be playing against some combination of Facundo Campazzo (+5%, $1.01/share), Austin Rivers (-22%, $0.79/share), and Monte Morris (+20%, $2.05/share). This lackluster guard rotation got cooked by Dame (0%, $14.85/share) and Denver still advanced, but a hobbled C.J. McCollum (-6%, $5.37/share) doesn’t compare to CP3 when it comes to running mates. Even if the Nuggets switch Aaron Gordon onto Booker/Paul, the other will almost certainly have a green light to pants the defender across from them and rush to the basket. Seriously, if he’s not a household name yet, Booker will be the talk of the town (mine, yours, his, and hers) by the end of the series. You can book it. 

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. 

Thanks for joining us and for reading all the way to the bottom. Hope you made some money this week and had fun doing it. And as usual... DOWNLOAD THE APP at the link below! And then, send this link to a friend to receive $10 after their first deposit of $20 or more:

Happy trading,
Brad & Deven


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