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The Real NBA All-Star Team: The East

Nate Duncan constructs the most effective real team for the All-Star game. Today, he builds the East.

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With the All-Star reserves to be announced on Thursday, the annual controversy over the rosters is about to be in full swing. But the game itself is an exhibition with little intensity until the final few minutes. All-Star selections serve their purpose of commemorating the best players of a given (half) season and allowing fans to see their favorite players. But what if there were something really at stake? What would the best possible real team assembled from each conference look like?

While it may seem overly simplistic, the philosophy of team-building can be summarized in a similar but more detailed version of the team ratings on a video game. A team should be constructed not merely to get as many of the best players on one squad, but so that the overall roster (and best lineups) get as close to the maximum on all the possible elements of team quality as possible.

Those key elements, in as much brevity as possible:

Offense:
Shooting, both off the catch and the dribble
Passing
Dribbling/slashing
Finishing at the rim, both off the dribble and passes from others
Foul-drawing
Postups
Offensive rebounding
Turnover avoidance
Cuts
Transition offense
Screening

Defense:
Individual containment
Rim-protection
Pick-and-roll defense (bigs)
Help defense
Steals
Perimeter shot contesting
Post defense
Defensive rebounding
Transition defense
Overall energy

Some of these are obviously more important than others. For example, a total lack of shooting can kill an offense no matter what other strengths you have. Some, like post defense, are more niche but can still kill a team, as the Toronto Raptors found to their chagrin in the playoffs a year ago. Nevertheless, the goal will be to construct teams and lineups that max out the meters on all of these attributes as much as possible.

Not only is it essential to acquire players with incredible strength, but to avoid players with weaknesses the other team can attack. The most easily exploited weaknesses are lack of shooting (by the standards of his position), post defense or pick-and-roll defense. In this incredibly high-level game, even the slightest weakness in key areas could kill a team.

Last week, we looked at the West’s “real All-Star team.” At first blush, it is immediately clear how much weaker the East is, especially at the big positions.  The good news is, the East features the best smallball power forward in history.

Starters

Point Guard: Kyle Lowry.  Point guard is perhaps the East’s deepest position, with Lowry, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose all worthy of consideration.  But as with the West, a point guard who can shoot is paramount to punish teams for going under the pick and roll.  That leaves Lowry* and Irving as the two main candidates to start.  Lowry is a far better distributor and defender than Irving, especially when he doesn’t have to carry such a load offensively.  Plus his bulldog strength and competitiveness make him tough to post up on switches.

*Lowry is shooting only 33 percent on threes this season, but has had to take a lot of bad ones this year as the primary impetus of Toronto’s offense with DeMar DeRozan out.  He’s been over 36 percent the previous four years.

Shooting Guard: Jimmy Butler.  Butler has cooled after a hot start from the field, but he still gets to the line a ton and merits at least a closeout from beyond the three-point line.  He is used to playing without the ball and can provide some points off cuts and the offensive glass.

More importantly, the Bulls’ shooting guard is really the only premium wing defender in the East who is also elite offensively.  Butler is not a perfect option due to the fact that he is not a great shooter, but we need someone who can guard on the wing.

Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony.  Here is where the pickings for the East start to get a bit slim versus their counterparts in the West.  The Anthony of the past two years would be a far worthier pick as a starter, but with recent knee problems and the onset of his 30s that player may be gone forever.  And he has never really defended at even an average NBA level at either small or power forward. Nevertheless, who else are you starting on the wing?*  Dwyane Wade can’t shoot threes and is no great shakes as a defender either.  DeRozan is too inefficient and also doesn’t shoot threes.  Kyle Korver might be the best competition.  He is a better team defender, although he cannot bang with power forwards to the extent Anthony can.  And Korver is not going to be an asset defending one-on-one either.  This spot is Anthony’s by default, although it is quite possible the team would end up playing a little better with Korver on the floor. The East definitely misses Paul George, who would be the obvious pick here with his two-way play.

*I am including both shooting guards and small forwards here, since Butler can play either wing spot.

Power Forward:  LeBron James.  James has played little at the four in Cleveland with Kevin Love anchoring that spot and unable to move up to center.  But memories of what he and the HEAT were in Miami persist.  Despite his much publicized weight loss over the summer, James still has the heft and activity to battle post players when needed.  And he and Carmelo on the floor together means the opposition must either downsize or risk a mismatch with their power forward against either of them.

After a rough stretch to begin the season, James is looking like the game’s best player again since resting for two weeks.  Playing him at power forward with adequate shooting around him is the best way to negate the West’s massive advantage up front.

Center:  Chris Bosh. With all this offensive firepower, the East center would ideally be someone who can finish pick and rolls at an elite level while protecting the rim and defending pick and rolls and postups.  Unfortunately, the East does not really possess such an established player.  Al Horford and Chris Bosh come the closest. Both have been a part of good defenses, but neither has the size or length to be truly elite on that end.  They also can stretch defenses with their shooting, but they aren’t elite at dunking lobs and sucking the defense in on pick and rolls either.

Nevertheless, it probably comes down to these two.  Andre Drummond may be the ideal sort of player eventually, but he isn’t good enough on defense yet.  Bosh is probably the pick to start because of his superior length and legitimate three-point range, but Horford will also get plenty of time.

Backup Bigs:

Al Horford: Horford might be the best two-way big man in the East.  Although he is still a bit undersized as a center, he has the strength to defend postups against all but he largest behemoths. He knows where to be and how to execute the system, as evidenced by Atlanta’s excellent defense this year.  And Horford’s elite midrange jump-shooting can help spread the floor for others.  If Bosh cannot hold up on the boards with this small starting lineup, Horford could end up seeing the lion’s share of the playing time.

Paul Millsap:  Millsap has grown into a better defender than many think after developing a bad reputation in Utah playing next to Al Jefferson.  He also can drill three-pointers and get to the basket off the dribble.  Millsap is not a perfect player due to his lack of length and explosion, but the East bigs are not exactly overflowing with explosive athletes.

Hassan Whiteside:  Yes, really.  Many will say this is an overreaction to a few good weeks, but it must be remembered this is an end-of-the-bench spot on this team.  It seems unlikely Whiteside is the star-type player he has looked like of late, but if he is he provides exactly what this team needs defending the basket while finishing pick and rolls and offensive rebounds at the hoop.  Why not spend the last roster spot on the flier that Whiteside can provide something the team lacks?

Andre Drummond: The logic on Drummond is similar to that of Whiteside: another flier trying to find this squad’s Tyson Chandler.  Drummond has not yet shown the ability to impact the game defensively the way even Whiteside has in his short career, but he has the physical tools.  What’s more, we know he can be a great weapon in pick and rolls offensively, and is a monster on the offensive glass.  I am quite comfortable spending the last two roster slots on wild cards to see if we can find someone to play the role this team really needs.  Without such a player, the team is likely going to devolve into trying to outscore the West.

Why not?

Pau Gasol:  Gasol simply isn’t athletic enough to play effectively in a game like this.  While he has been a revelation at around $7 million per year with the points and rebounds he is putting up, he lacks the athleticism to defend other than in the immediate basket area (where he has been solid).  He also is not a good enough defensive rebounder.  While post scoring might be welcome on this team, Gasol is only effective in that role against subpar defenders.  Zach Lowe did a nice job further outlining some of Gasol’s weaknesses in his All-Star piece today.

Joakim Noah:  Noah would probably be the starter for if we were picking the squad this time last year. At his peak, his ability to protect the rim and switch pick and rolls would be precisely what the squad needed on defense.  That Noah has been largely absent this year though as he works back from a knee injury. More importantly, Noah is now a total liability offensively, shooting 44 percent and a mere 51 percent in the basket area.*  Teams don’t even guard him, and that’s not going to fly on this team.

*The NBA average is around 60 percent.

Al Jefferson: Big Al just isn’t mobile enough defensively, and this team is not going to need his relatively inefficient shot-creation in the post with the firepower on the rest of the roster.

Kevin Love:  Love doesn’t make this team for the same reason he isn’t a great fit with James in Cleveland. The East will likely function best with James at the four, and Love will get destroyed defensively at the five.  While his shooting and passing would be a nice weapon, Millsap provides many of the same things with a more well-rounded skillset on defense.

Nikola Vucevic:  He is nowhere near a good enough defender to merit inclusion on this team.

Backup Wings:

Kyle Korver: The potential author of the league’s first 50/50/90 season gets a spot due to his shooting gravity.  He is a near perfect complement to the weapons on this squad offensively, although he lacks the abilities to punish teams that switch onto him off the dribble and will never be much of a one-on-one defender due to his athletic deficiencies.

DeMarre Carroll:  This squad is going to need someone who can play wing stopper when Butler goes out or gets in foul trouble as he does on occasion.  Carroll is one of the few East wings who meets that definition and can still drain threes at a solid rate. He is one of the most underrated players in basketball, although his inclusion on this team speaks as much for the East’s lack of two-way wings as it does for his own prowess.

Why not?

Dwyane Wade:  What Wade is doing at his age should not be discounted; he has carried the HEAT offensively.  But his old man game does not work as well against the best defenders, he can’t shoot threes and isn’t much of a defender any longer.  Without the ball in his hands, Wade does not add enough to this team even with his “ghost cuts.”

Bradley Beal:  The hype on Beal has always gotten a bit ahead of what he is actually doing on the court.  While he is shooting a blistering 44 percent from three-point range, he is no Korver in terms of gravity.  While he is probably a little quicker than Korver, it is not like he is asked to be a stopper for Washington right now.  Korver and Carroll are just a little better at what this team needs.  In a couple of years time, Beal would have a much better shot.

DeMar DeRozan:  His main skills are handling in pick and roll and creating long twos. That has value for his NBA team, but he is too inefficient and not a good enough defender to get a serious look as a role-playing backup wing because of how little value he provides without the ball in his hands.

Backup Point Guard:

John Wall:  Wall is one of the best players in the East, and might be the best defender among point guards at this point.  He will be the best passer on the team with the possible exception of James. Wall is also tall enough to slide to the two defensively but play point on offense, which he must do since he isn’t a good enough shooter to play off the ball.  A two point guard lineup with he and Lowry could be effective if the East wants to push the pace. It is a concern that teams will play off him and dare him to shoot, but he’s so much better as a distributor than the other point guard candidates that he needs to be on the team.

Kyrie Irving: The Cavs point guard gets the last spot due to his shooting ability.  If Lowry needs a break and the opponent successfully dares Wall to shoot (or James is handling the ball), Irving can make the defense pay from downtown or get to the basket, where he’s markedly improved his finishing this year. While his defense is lacking, he has at least improved his effort on that end.

Why not?

Jeff Teague:  Teague is having a wonderfully efficient season.  But he just is not quite as dynamic with the ball in his hands as Irving and Wall, lacking the former’s shooting ability and the latter’s vision.  His lack of a particular elite skill sinks him here.

Derrick Rose: Rose is showing flashes of his old self more and more.  He is getting to the basket with greater ease (though still struggling to finish) and starting to hit enough threes to keep the defense honest.  Unfortunately, he still is not efficient enough that you want him taking away opportunities from the great players on this team–he will need to start getting to the line a lot more to approach that level.  What’s more, Rose’s defense has slipped from his pre-injury level, although he has shown flashes.  Rose may get back to All-Star level by the end of the year, but for now he shouldn’t be on this team.

Who wins?

The West would be a big favorite. They have better point guards, better shooting, more two-way players on the perimeter and, most importantly, far more defense at the basket.  The East’s only hope is to force the West into going small with James at power forward, but even then the West’s superior defensive versatility and their ability to deploy Howard, Davis or Cousins (who the East will have to double team) as the lone big man would be a massive advantage.

 

Nate Duncan is an NBA analyst and attorney. He writes regular features for Basketball Insiders and chats weekly at 11 Eastern on Tuesdays.

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2021 Olympics Basketball Betting Picks

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On Wednesday, the Olympics’ schedule for men’s basketball begins with the United States taking on Iran at 12:40 a.m. (EST). This is one of the listed games for Group A. For the preview, prediction, and betting picks for the USA vs. Iran matchup, this other article is available for bettors. Then, for Group B, Italy will play against Australia at 4:20 a.m. (EST). For the second Group A matchup on Wednesday, the Czech Republic will face France at 8:00 a.m. (EST). These games can be watched live via Peacock, NBC’s exclusive streaming service. Viewers can also watch the televised games with NBA League Pass.

Bovada and MyBookie are two excellent betting sites for gambling on men’s basketball during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The best NBA betting apps are from MyBookie, BetUS, Bovada, Intertops, and BetOnline. When bettors use MyBookie, the app offers a $500 deposit bonus for new users. For the Italy vs. Australia and France vs. Czech Republic games, if an individual wants to bet on the best moneyline, DraftKings is the superior choice. For a side note, these games are being played at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

Italy vs. Australia – Group B

Spread: Italy +7 (+112), Australia -7 (-108)

Total: 171.5

Over/Under: -108, -112

Best Moneyline: Italy +240, Australia -330

Accessibility: NBC Sports App

Italy Starting Lineup: 

PG: Nico Mannion 

SG: Stefano Tonut

SF: Simone Fontecchio

PF: Michele Vitali

C: Nicolo Melli 

Australia Starting Lineup:

PG: Patty Mills

SG: Matthew Dellavedova 

SF: Joe Ingles

PF: Aron Baynes

C: Jock Landale 

Italy defeated Germany 92-82 on Sunday, July 25. Forward Simone Fontecchio led the team in statistics, finishing his performance with 20 points, four rebounds, three steals, and one block. Stefano Tonut had 18 points, three rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Italy’s bench players combined for 28 points in their 10-point win over Germany. Hawks’ forward Danilo Gallinari scored 18 points from the bench, too. One big advantage the Italians had over the Germans was their three-point shooting accuracy. They shot 15-for-31 (48.4 percent) from beyond the arc. Plus, Italy had a total of 11 steals overall, and this was on top of an 11-0 run to help seal their first victory.

Moreover, Australia defeated Nigeria 84-67 on Sunday, July 25. The top story after this win was Australia’s bench players outscoring their starters. The Aussies’ starters scored 26 points versus Nigeria, while the reserve players had 58 points! A win is a win, but some players needed to elevate their intensity, such as Jazz’s Joe Ingles. In 33 minutes, he scored only 11 points  In 35 minutes played, guard Patty Mills ended his performance with 25 points, four rebounds, six assists, and four steals. Forward Nick Kay had 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and one block. While the Aussies did out-rebound the Nigerians 44 to 38, they also had a much higher free throw shooting percentage, shooting 17-for-19 (89.5 percent) from the free throw line.

Prediction – Australia wins by four points

Australia is the favored team over Italy. They held Nigeria to 67 points. Aside from Gallinari’s decent performance from the bench against Germany, some bettors are not expecting the Italians to be able to keep up with the Aussies this time around. According to Bovada, Australia has -350 odds of defeating Italy, whereas the Italians have +275 odds of pulling off the upset. In all fairness, picking Australia is the best bet. Not to mention, it is the safest bet concerning the uncertainties each of the players are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

France vs. Czech Republic – Group A

Spread: France -9.5 (-105), Czech Republic +9.5 (-115)

Total: 165

Over/Under: -110

Best Moneyline: France -450, Czech Republic +355

Accessibility: NBC Sports App

France Starting Lineup:

PG: Nando De Colo

SG: Evan Fournier

SF: Nicolas Batum

PF: Guerschon Yabusele

C: Rudy Gobert

Czech Republic Starting Lineup:

PG: Tomas Satoransky

SG: Blake Schilb

SF: Jaromir Bohacik

PF: Ondrej Balvin

C: Jan Vesely

France defeated Team USA 83-76 this past Sunday. In 34 minutes played, shooting guard Evan Fournier ended his performance with 28 points, four rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert finished his game with 14 points, nine rebounds, and one assist. The bench players combined for 17 points against USA. Moustapha Fall scored seven points and acquired four rebounds. On top of Brooklyn Nets’ small forward Kevin Durant fouling out, Team USA missing too many baskets led to a satisfying victory for France. The French shot 29-for-62 (46.8 percent) from the field, whereas the Americans shot 25-for-69 (36.2 percent) from the field. France also out-rebounded USA 42 to 36. Furthermore, Fournier and Gobert are once again starting for France versus Czech Republic.

In the Czech Republic’s 84-78 victory over Iran, bench player Patrik Auda led the team in scoring, with a total of 16 points in 23 minutes played. He also had six rebounds against Iran. Blake Schilb had 14 points, four rebounds, five assists, and one block in 24 minutes played. Schilb is projected to be in the starting lineup against France. While the Iranians shot 31-62 (50 percent) from the field, the Czechs had a field goal shooting percentage of 44.6 percent. This was based on shooting 33-for-74. If the Czech players prefer quantity over quality, they will most likely struggle versus France’s starting lineup. Additionally, it helped for the team to out-rebound Iran 43 to 33. We’ll see if the Czech Republic can maintain their rebounding abilities against fresh NBA-tested competitors.

Prediction – France wins by six points

Sports bettors might be tempted to pick an upset on Wednesday, but then again, we have little data to base our predictions on this early during the Tokyo Olympics. France was good enough to defeat Team USA, so picking them to win over the Czech Republic makes perfect sense. And, when we look at the number of different French players who have NBA experience, the best possible pick becomes as clear as daylight. Expect the Czechs to hang with the French throughout the majority of the four quarters. However, France will pull away in the closing minutes to earn their second victory in the Tokyo Games.

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Team USA vs. Iran – Preview, Prediction, & Betting Picks

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Team USA is coming off their first Olympics’ loss in men’s basketball since 2004. In the post-game press conference after USA lost 83-76 against France, head coach Greg Popovich said, “When you lose a game, you’re not surprised. You’re disappointed. I don’t understand the word ‘surprised.’ That sort of disses the French team, as if we’re supposed to beat them by 30. That’s a hell of a team.” Leading up to this matchup, another contributing factor for the team’s loss was Wizards‘ guard Bradley Beal bowing out of the Olympics after being placed in the COVID-19 health and safety protocols during training camp. In the 2020-21 NBA season, Beal averaged 31.3 points per game. Regarding the injury report, as of July 27th, there are no reported injuries for these two teams.

Moreover, the USA’s second men’s basketball game of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is schedule for Wednesday, July 28th at 12:40 a.m. (EST). Unfortunately, the next two USA men’s basketball games are not guaranteed to air live on television in the United States. However, the games can be watched on NBC channels (delayed) and NBC’s exclusive streaming service known as Peacock. Plus, the NBC Sports mobile app will stream the games live. Free trials are also available for Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, fuboTV, Sling TV, or AT&T TV Now. The game can also be watched via NBA League Pass. For betting on medal and group winners for men’s basketball, Bovada offers the best service.

Game Details

Date & Time: Wednesday, July 28th at 12:40 a.m. (EST)

Location: Saitama Super Arena; Saitama, Japan

Availability: Peacock (live) & NBC (delayed)

Spread: USA -41.5 (-110) (per DraftKings Sportsbook)

Over/Under: 166.5

Best Moneyline: USA -8000, Iran +2500 (per DraftKings Sportsbook)

Team USA Starting Lineup:

PG: Damian Lillard 

SG: Zach LaVine 

SF: Kevin Durant

PF: Draymond Green

C: Bam Adebayo 

Team Iran Starting Lineup:

PG: Mohammad Jamshidi

SG: Behnam Yakhchali

SF: Arsalan Kazemi

PF: Samad Nikkhah Bahrami

C: Hamed Haddadi

Bovada and MyBookie are two available betting sites for gambling on men’s basketball during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The best NBA betting apps are from MyBookie, BetUS, Bovada, Intertops, and BetOnline. With MyBookie, the app offers a $500 deposit bonus for new users. For the USA vs. Iran matchup, if an individual wants to bet on the best moneyline, DraftKings is another option as well.

USA vs. Iran Preview

Referencing Bovada’s Olympics odds, Team USA is the favorite to win gold in men’s basketball, with odds showing -250. Slovenia and Australia are tied for second, possessing +800 odds. With odds showing +75000, Iran ranks 12th for odds to win the gold medal. They could still win their fourth consecutive gold medal in basketball, but this team appears to be different from previous USA men’s basketball teams. Their performance against the French was pitiful. Anyways, according to the DraftKings Sportsbook, this past Sunday, USA opened as 12.5-point favorites versus Iran. However, yesterday the oddsmakers changed their projection to 29.5-point favorites. As of Tuesday, July 27, DraftKings Sportsbook has USA listed as 41.5-point favorites over Iran.

Team USA’s starting lineup in the Olympics consisted of Zach LaVine, Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Bam Adebayo. In the team’s 83-76 loss against France, with a total of 18 points, Milwaukee Bucks‘ guard Jrue Holiday led the team in scoring. However, Holiday’s performance was not sufficient enough to carry the team. His teammates around him failed to contribute at a higher level. In 25 minutes played, Bam Adebayo closed out his performance with 12 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block. Damian Lillard also scored 11 points, three rebounds, and three assists. For the winning team, the leading scorer for France was Evan Fournier, finishing his game with 28 points and four rebounds. The French ended their first win on a 16-2 run late in the fourth quarter.

While the turnovers and field goal percentages were identical between these two teams, the difference-makers were personal fouls. For free throw shooting percentage, France shot 17-for-24 (70.8 percent) from the free throw line, whereas USA shot 16-for-21 (76.2 percent). Additionally, France committed 21 fouls in the match, which was all right considering USA had a total of 25 personal fouls called against them. Despite small forward Kevin Durant scoring 10 points, he also fouled out of the game. This was another poor game plan by Coach Popovich. This was especially evident in the team’s consecutive losses against Australia and Nigeria during those exhibition games. Practice games or not, USA looked less than mediocre, never mind lethargic and disinterested.

Then again, Iran is also trying to recover from an 84-78 loss versus Czech Republic. Guard Behnam Yakhchali led the team on the stat sheet, ending his performance with 23 points, three rebounds, and four assists in 36 minutes played. In 29 minutes on the court, Mohammad Jamshidi had 16 points, one rebound, and seven assists. For the Czech Republic, with 16 points, Patrik Auda led his team in points. While the Czechs out-rebounded the Iranians 43 to 33, they also had fewer turnovers. The winning team had 15 turnovers, while Iran had 21 overall.

The team came close to erasing a 21-point deficit. Iran’s past starting lineup was Benam Yakhchali, Mohammad Jamshidi, Samad Bahrami, Arsalan Kazemi, and Hamed Haddadi. Though, this is subject to change. The projected starting lineup is listed in the game details section shown above. Yakhchali will once again be returning as a guard, and of course, he led the team in scoring against the Czech Republic. 

Prediction: USA wins by 15+ points

Team USA is nearly a 42-point favorite against Iran. Based on their previous 89-79 defeat versus France, it is certainly hard to believe this team will beat a team by 40 points. Many bettors were not expecting for Durant to foul out, either. After their seven-point loss, Bovada adjusted the odds of USA winning their group. Now, France has the favored -550 odds of winning Group A, whereas USA has +400 odds. Though, between USA and Iran right now, the Americans are obviously the best of the worst. All things considered, USA will likely have their first bounce-back victory, but the question right now is, how many points will they win by?

Some bettors are speculating a 12-point margin of victory, however, others are suggesting 23 points. A prediction of at least 15 points sounds reasonable. Why? It’s because Iran’s men’s basketball team has lost multiple games already. In the FIBA World Cup Qualifying Round (2019) for Group F, Japan defeated Iran 70-56. Then, Spain defeated Iran 73-65 later in the year. Iran losing 84-78 versus the Czech Republic just adds to this notable trend. Nevertheless, while some could say that Iran is due for their first win, so is the USA. The Americans have not lost multiple games since 2004. In the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, the USA lost 92-73 versus Puerto Rico, 94-90 against Lithuania, and 89-81 versus Argentina. Time will tell if the Americans can turn over a new leaf.

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NBA Trade Rumors: Bradley Beal never requested a trade, remains committed to Wizards

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This NBA offseason has been a frustrating one for some die-hard fans, especially Washington Wizards‘ fans. On June 18, 2021, news broke concerning shooting guard Bradley Beal announcing his commitment to play for the USA Basketball Men’s National Team. A few weeks ago, it was reported by USA Basketball that Beal would not play in the Tokyo Olympics. And, this was because the 28-year-old three-time NBA All-Star had to enter the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Missouri native.

In an interview published by CBS Sports on July 15, 2021, regarding the chance to play for USA Basketball, Beal told CBS’ Michael Kaskey-Blomain, “It’s an honor. It’s something that you take for granted. Not a lot of guys in the league get this opportunity. We all know that. We didn’t live up to what we wanted to a few years ago (in the 2019 FIBA World Cup), and so now we have an opportunity to get back what’s rightfully ours.”

In 2010, Beal won the FIBA-Under 17 World Cup MVP. Though, everyone can see his passion for basketball. Needless to say, it is an awful experience for any athlete to have to bow out of the Olympics. In addition to this unfortunate news, there is all kinds of speculation across the Internet concerning Beal’s future with the Wizards. From Boston.com, it was reported two days ago that Beal would welcome a trade if he was moved to the Boston Celtics. The report also included three other teams: Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, and Philadelphia 76ers. This latest news information was originally reported by Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer. Last Saturday, Fischer stated, “Boston’s path to securing Beal would appear far more costly, as the Celtics’ offer almost certainly has to include Jaylen Brown and all of their future draft picks they are able to part with.”

Although the report could still be accurate, many fans are asking for more evidence to help support this claim. This is Beal’s team; he was drafted by Washington third overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. Would the Wizards be wiling to trade their star player for Jaylen Brown and potential future draft picks? This remains to be seen. Plus, everyone should keep in mind that although Beal was open to a trade, at least he never demanded an immediate trade. The latest news is likely just trade rumors and meaningless gossip.

Moreover, the 2020-21 Wizards finished 34-38 (.472), ranking third in the Southeast Division and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference. The team lost four games to one in the first round of the postseason against the 76ers. The Wizards have not appeared in the NBA Finals since the 1978-79 season, and they have not won the championship since the 1977-78 season, when they defeated the Seattle Supersonics in Game 7 105-99. Not to mention, the Wizards were called the Bullets back then.

After the season ended, the organization agreed to part ways with head coach Scott Brooks. Perhaps Coach Brooks leaving the team is leading Beal to ask more questions about his own future. According to one report by NBC’s Pro Basketball Talk, Beal was irked over the organization hiring Wes Unseld Jr. over Sam Cassell for the vacant head coach position. How much does this play into trade talks?

Well, we all know that Beal is a competitive player, so three consecutive losing seasons by Washington might not be cutting it for him. Then again, a great player should be willing to give a new coach a chance. Last season, in 60 games played, the six-foot-three guard averaged 31.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game. The 9-year NBA veteran also shot 48.5 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from beyond the arc. In the 2021 All-Star Game, in 31 minutes played, Beal scored 26 points.

On October 17, 2019, Beal signed a two-year, $72 million extension with Washington. He earned $28.7 million this past season, and he will earn $34.5 million in the upcoming 2021-22 season. Beal’s player option for the 2022-23 season is also $37.2 million. So, folks should keep in mind that Beal is still showing his loyalty to the Wizards. He is only considering a trade request before the draft. The key word here is “considering.” Having said this, not even LeBron James is safe from a trade in this league. Ok, maybe only James is safe.

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