Hoops Rumors Polls

Poll: Eastern Conference Play-In Games

The NBA’s 2021 play-in tournament will tip off on Tuesday night, when the No. 9 Pacers face the No. 10 Hornets in Indiana, followed by the No. 7 Celtics hosting the No. 8 Wizards in Boston.

By the end of the night, one team – either Boston or Washington – will have secured the No. 7 seed, earning a first-round date with the Nets. And one team – either Indiana or Charlotte – will be eliminated from postseason contention altogether.

The Pacers/Hornets matchup would be a little more intriguing if both teams were at full strength. Unfortunately, the Pacers will be without one of their top scorers (T.J. Warren) and are expected to be missing their defensive anchor (Myles Turner) as well. The Hornets, meanwhile, have gotten a little healthier as of late, but still don’t have their $120MM man (Gordon Hayward) available.

That doesn’t mean Indiana and Charlotte can’t play an entertaining game though. LaMelo Ball will be looking to put the finishing touches on a Rookie of the Year caliber season, while Nate Bjorkgren may be coaching for his job. Neither team will want its season to come to an end on Tuesday.

As for the headlining contest of the night, the fact that the Wizards are even involved in this game is pretty incredible. Washington started off the season with a 6-17 record and was 17-32 in early April. Since then, the team has reeled off 17 wins in 23 games, securing the No. 8 spot for the play-in tournament and looking a whole lot more dangerous as of late than the reeling Celtics.

The Celtics made the Eastern Conference Finals last season and entered the year with the aspirations of making another deep playoff run. It has been an up-and-down season in Boston though, and it has been trending down as of late. The C’s finished the season by losing nine of their last 13 games, and their only four wins in that stretch came against sub-.500 teams. With Jaylen Brown out for the season, the club will be shorthanded as it looks to secure a playoff spot.

Still, while the Wizards aren’t missing any top players, Bradley Beal continues to deal with a hamstring injury and isn’t at 100% entering the play-in tournament, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes. If the Eastern Conference’s leading scorer doesn’t look like his usual self, it may be an uphill battle for the Wizards to pick up a win in Boston.

We want to know what you think. Which teams will win the two Eastern Conference play-in games on Tuesday? Make your picks in the polls below, then head to the comment section to weigh in on which club will win Thursday’s play-in game to claim the No. 8 seed.

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote on Pacers/Hornets.

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote on Celtics/Wizards.

Poll: No. 7 Seed In Eastern Conference

Earlier in the week, we noted that a fascinating race is shaping up in the 5-7 range of the Western Conference and asked whether you expect the Mavericks, Lakers, or Trail Blazers to finish in the seventh spot, making them subject to at least one play-in game.

While it may not have a narrative as compelling as the defending champions being forced to participate in a play-in tournament, the Eastern Conference is also producing a fascinating race in the 4-7 range.

Currently, the Knicks (37-29) control the No. 4 seed, followed by the Hawks (37-31) at No. 5. The Celtics and Heat are in a dead heat for sixth place, though their 35-31 records mean they’re actually tied with Atlanta in the loss column.

New York and Atlanta were among the Eastern Conference’s bottom-feeders a year ago, whereas Boston and Miami met in the 2020 Eastern Finals and entered the season expecting to be among the top five teams in the conference again. Now it seems very possible that either the Celtics or Heat will finish at No. 7 and host the first play-in game.

Here are the four teams’ remaining schedules:

  • Knicks: at PHX, at LAC, at LAL, vs. SAS, vs. CHA, vs. BOS (one back-to-back)
  • Hawks: vs. WSH, vs. WSH, vs. ORL, vs. HOU (one back-to-back)
  • Celtics: at CHI, vs. MIA, vs. MIA, at CLE, at MIN, at NYK (two back-to-backs)
  • Heat: vs. MIN, at BOS, at BOS, vs. PHI, at MIL, at DET (one back-to-back)

Although the Knicks have the most room for error, they also have the most challenging schedule of these four Eastern teams, especially if LeBron James and Anthony Davis are available for the Lakers in the final game of that West Coast road trip. The Knicks will finish their season with three games at home, but all three of their opponents in those games will be competing all-out for playoff positioning.

As hot as Washington has been, the Hawks easily have the most favorable remaining schedule of these four teams, with only four games left, including a pair against bottom-five teams in the NBA, Orlando and Houston. They’re in good position to clinch a top-six seed, especially if they win at least once vs. the Wizards.

The two upcoming games between the Celtics and Heat loom large in the race to avoid the play-in. Boston is 1-0 against Miami so far this season and will host both of those games, giving the Celtics the upper hand to clinch the tiebreaker and stay ahead of Pat Riley‘s club in the standings.

The fact that the Heat will follow up those two games vs. the Celtics by playing Philadelphia and Milwaukee while the C’s take on Cleveland and Minnesota further tilts the scales in Boston’s favor, though Jimmy Butler doesn’t sound worried about the Heat’s schedule.

One factor working in the Heat’s favor is that they hold a tiebreaker edge over the Knicks (but not Atlanta). The Celtics, meanwhile, are the only one of the four teams with two back-to-back sets, which may hurt them a little.

What do you think? Will the defending Eastern Conference champs end up in the No. 7 seed, taking part in the play-in tournament, or will they be able to pass one of the teams above them to clinch a top-six spot?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Poll: Lakers, Mavs, Or Blazers In Play-In Tournament?

The Lakers, Mavericks, and Trail Blazers all consider themselves solid playoff teams and potential contenders, but at least one of them will end up in the Western Conference’s play-in tournament in two weeks. With the Jazz, Suns, Clippers, and Nuggets in total control of the West’s top four seeds, the Lakers, Mavs, and Blazers find themselves vying for the fifth and sixth spots — the No. 7 finisher will host the first play-in game against the No. 8 seed.

After a bad loss at home vs. Toronto on Sunday, the Lakers (37-28) bounced back on Monday, pulling out a tight win over Denver and reclaiming the No. 5 seed for the time being. The Blazers (36-29), on the other hand, dropped into seventh place in the West with a loss in Atlanta, while the Mavs (36-28) had the night off.

With the three teams still separated by a single game, every night the rest of the way will have major postseason implications. Here are their remaining schedules:

  • Lakers: at LAC, at POR, vs. PHX, vs. NYK, vs. HOU, at IND, at NOP (three back-to-backs)
  • Mavs: at MIA, vs. BKN, vs. CLE, at CLE, at MEM, vs. NOP, vs. TOR, at MIN (two back-to-backs)
  • Blazers: at CLE, vs. LAL, vs. SAS, vs. HOU, at UTA, at PHX, vs. DEN (two back-to-backs)

On paper, the Mavericks may have the cleanest path to a top-six seed. After their games against the Heat and Nets this week, they won’t face another team in the top eight of either conference. They also have the advantage of holding the tiebreaker if the three teams finished tied in the standings, since they’ll be the Southwest division winner. If they finish tied with just the Lakers, they’d hold that tiebreaker as well, having gone 2-1 vs. L.A. this season.

The Lakers, currently in control of the No. 5 seed, have a huge week coming up, with games on tap against the Clippers, Blazers, Suns, and Knicks. That contest in Portland, on the second night of a back-to-back, will be particularly important — if the Lakers lose that one, they won’t own the tiebreaker against either the Mavs or the Blazers. Still, if they can at least split their next four games, the Lakers should be in reasonably good shape, as they finish their season against three sub-.500 opponents.

The Blazers, meanwhile, have the opportunity to make a run over the next week, especially if they can beat the Lakers at home. They’ll likely need to win at least three of their next four games to have a decent chance to avoid the play-in, since their season ends with a brutal three-game stretch — in Utah, in Phoenix, and at home vs. Denver. Maybe Portland lucks out and faces a couple of those teams when they’re resting players in advance of the playoffs, but given how close the standings are in the upper half of the West, there’s definitely no guarantee that’ll happen.

What do you think? Which team do you expect to end up with the seventh seed, taking part in the play-in? And do you think that team will be in any danger of losing two consecutive games against the likes of the Warriors, Grizzlies, and Spurs, or should they take care of business relatively quickly?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your predictions!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Poll: NBA Coach Of The Year Frontrunner

In his latest piece for The Athletic, Joe Vardon makes the case that the NBA’s Coach of the Year race for the 2020/21 season should focus on New York City. In Vardon’s view, the choice for the winner ought to come down to Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau and Nets coach Steve Nash.

As Vardon writes, Thibodeau has exceeded expectations in his first year at the helm with the Knicks, taking a roster that doesn’t look drastically different from last year’s 21-45 squad and turning it into a legit playoff team (35-28 so far). Prior to the season, oddsmakers put the Knicks’ over/under at 22.5 wins — and Hoops Rumors voters took the under.

Thibodeau has Julius Randle playing the best basketball of his career and has succeeded this season despite missing Mitchell Robinson for a significant chunk of the year and not getting much from several of the Knicks’ recent lottery picks, including Obi Toppin, Frank Ntilikina, and Kevin Knox.

Nash, meanwhile, has way more talent on his roster than Thibodeau does, but superstars Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving have rarely all been healthy at the same time, appearing in just seven games together. Nash has often had to cobble together a rotation that’s missing several players – including one or two of those stars and veteran guard Spencer Dinwiddie – but Brooklyn still holds the top seed in the Eastern Conference at 43-20.

Although Thibodeau and Nash are legit candidates for Coach of the Year recognition, neither one cracked the top two of Zach Harper’s most recent ballot at The Athletic. Harper’s current pick for the award is Suns head coach Monty Williams.

Williams’ Suns were 26-39 entering bubble play last summer, but went 8-0 at Walt Disney World and parlayed that late-season success into an impressive 2020/21 showing — the club currently has the NBA’s second-best record at 44-18. While Devin Booker and Chris Paul have had great seasons, Phoenix lacks a traditional, Finals-tested superstar like LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard, making the team’s performance in a tough Western Conference all the more impressive.

Second on Harper’s ballot is Quin Snyder, the one head coach whose team has a better record than Williams’ Suns. The Jazz hold the No. 1 seed in the West with a 45-17 mark and have already exceeded their 2019/20 win total in 10 fewer games.

No team has had a stronger season from start to finish than Utah, which hasn’t relinquished that top seed in the conference for a single day since February 2, despite the fact that many of this year’s MVP ballots likely won’t include a single Jazz player.

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers also deserves consideration for Coach of the Year honors. He may not be a frontrunner for the award, but Rivers will certainly receive some votes for leading Philadelphia to a 41-21 record and the No. 2 seed in the East so far, even with team MVP Joel Embiid unavailable for about a third of the club’s games.

Hawks coach Nate McMillan has earned a honorable mention as well, having led Atlanta to a 20-9 record since Lloyd Pierce‘s dismissal. He’ll only end up coaching 38 games though — as is the case with MVP and other awards, I wouldn’t expect voters to give serious consideration to a candidate who was only “active” for about half the season.

What do you think? With just over two weeks left in the 2020/21 regular season, who do you think should be the frontrunner for the Coach of the Year award?

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Poll: Which Team Will Represent West In 2021 NBA Finals?

On Monday, we asked which team you expect to win the Eastern Conference in 2021. As of this writing, the Nets have received about 40% of the vote, easily besting the runner-up Bucks (23%). Those results aren’t surprising — the oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag have made Brooklyn the clear favorite to win the conference and represent the East in this year’s NBA Finals.

In the West, however, there’s not really a clear frontrunner. The defending-champion Lakers (36-25) still have the best odds, per BetOnline, but L.A. has only won eight of its last 20 games, having had to play for several weeks without injured stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James.

While Davis is back now and James should be soon, the Lakers have slipped to fifth in the Western standings, four games back of the fourth-seeded Nuggets. That means their path to the Finals could involve road series against Denver, Utah, and either the Suns or Clippers. That won’t be an easy road, even if AD and LeBron stay healthy and look like their usual selves.

The Clippers (43-20) and Jazz (44-17) are considered the next-best bets to win the West. After a disappointing showing in the 2020 postseason, the Clips should be a tougher out in 2021. Kawhi Leonard is a two-time Finals MVP, Paul George has played some of his best basketball in recent weeks (30.2 PPG on .503/.427/.920 shooting in his last nine games), and Rajon Rondo has been a perfect fit in the team’s rotation so far.

Utah, meanwhile, owns the NBA’s best record, led by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert, leading scorer Donovan Mitchell, and a pair of Sixth Man of the Year contenders (Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles). The Jazz lack a superstar wing like LeBron or Kawhi, but this is a deep, talented club that is capable of winning multiple playoff series.

The Suns (43-18) are currently the No. 2 seed in the West, and while they haven’t made the postseason since 2010, they’ve proven this season that they can hang with the NBA’s top teams. Their duo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker has been the conference’s best backcourt this season, complemented by key role players like Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, and Jae Crowder.

The Nuggets, unfortunately, look like far less of a threat to make the Finals without Jamal Murray (torn ACL) available. But they’ve only lost once in seven games since Murray went down, as MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic has kept rolling and Michael Porter Jr. (25.7 PPG on .591/.544/.826 shooting in his last seven games) has stepped up to fill the scoring void that Murray’s injury created.

Some teams outside of the West’s top five, including the Mavericks, Trail Blazers, and Warriors, could make some noise in the playoffs if their respective stars get hot at the right time, but none is better than a 25-to-1 shot to come out of the West this season, according to BetOnline.

What do you think? Will the Lakers repeat as Western champs, or will a team with home court advantage get the best of them? Which team do you expect will represent the West in the 2021 NBA Finals?

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Poll: Which Team Will Represent East In 2021 NBA Finals?

The top tier of the Eastern Conference has been clearly defined for months, as the Nets, Sixers, and Bucks separated themselves from the rest of the pack in the first half and have maintained that cushion for most of the 2020/21 season. With the postseason fast approaching, those three clubs look like the best bets to come out of the conference and represent the East in the 2021 NBA Finals.

Brooklyn is the odds-on favorite to win the East at this point. The Nets have had all three of their stars – Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving – healthy and available just seven times this season, but they still sit atop the conference standings with a 41-20 record. If they can play this well with just one or two of their stars on the court, it’s a reasonable assumption that the Nets will be an even tougher out in the playoffs once they have all three back.

Still, while Durant, Harden, and Irving are all expected to be ready to go for the postseason, that’s certainly not a lock. Durant has been limited to just 25 games as he has dealt with various injuries this season, Harden recently experienced a setback in his recovery from a hamstring strain, and Irving has a long history of health issues. Even if all three stars are available, their lack of minutes together to date could result in some growing pains when the stakes are highest. And Brooklyn’s 24th-ranked defense could be a concern in the postseason too.

The Sixers, at 39-21, currently hold the No. 2 seed in the East, and will also be counting on good health luck once the playoffs get underway. When he has been on the court, Joel Embiid has played like an MVP this season, but his injury history is a concern. While Ben Simmons is a legit Defensive Player of the Year candidate and Tobias Harris is having perhaps his best season as a pro, the Sixers’ ceiling hinges on Embiid’s availability.

The Bucks, meanwhile, have flown somewhat under the radar this season after leading the NBA in wins for two consecutive years. At 37-23, they appear to be focused less on piling up regular season victories and more about preparing for the postseason. With Jrue Holiday now in the mix, the Bucks – who are the only one of the East’s top three teams with both an offensive and defensive rating in the NBA’s top 10 – have a more versatile and more dangerous closing lineup than they’ve had in recent years.

According to the oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag, no other Eastern team is better than a 16-to-1 shot to come out of the conference. Still, it’s worth keeping an eye on some of the dark horses, since we saw the fifth-seeded Heat knock off three higher seeds in last year’s playoffs to make the Finals.

This year’s Heat have a pretty similar roster, but they’re currently ranked just seventh in the East at 32-29, putting them in position for a play-in spot. They have the same record as the No. 6 Celtics, the team Miami beat in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. The C’s have underachieved a little this season, but if Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kemba Walker are all clicking at the same time, they can hold their own against just about any team.

While Miami and Boston are more battle-tested in the postseason, they’re currently trailing the upstart Knicks and Hawks, who rank fourth and fifth in the Eastern standings. The two 34-27 squads are among the hottest teams in the league — New York has won nine straight games while Atlanta has won 20 of its last 27. Neither club has a ton of playoff experience, but if they can hang onto their current spots in the standings, at least one of them will make the second round.

What do you think? Which team do you expect to represent the Eastern Conference in this year’s NBA Finals?

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Poll: Biggest 2021 NBA All-Star Snub?

There were no undeserving selections among the 14 players named on Tuesday as the 2021 NBA All-Star reserves, but that didn’t mean that certain players who were left off the team don’t have legitimate grievances about missing out.

In both the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference, there were far more than 12 players who made strong cases for an All-Star spot and could’ve easily made the team in another year in which the competition wasn’t quite so strong.

The abridged nature of this season’s first half made selecting the team even trickier — a top-five seed in a conference may only be a game or two removed from the lottery, making it difficult to know how heavily to weigh a team’s record when considering a player’s case. Additionally, any multi-game absence related to an injury or COVID-19 had to be considered, since some teams have yet to even play 30 games this season.

With that in mind, there were a few players who stood out as the most notable omissions…

Western Conference:

Devin Booker didn’t make the cut despite averaging 24.7 PPG on 50.1% shooting for the 20-10 Suns, prompting LeBron James to call the star guard “the most disrespected player in our league.”

Kings guard De’Aaron Fox (22.5 PPG, 7.1 APG), Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (22.8 PPG, 6.5 APG), and Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan (19.8 PPG, 6.9 APG) have led their respective teams in both scoring and assists, with DeRozan doing it for a top-five seed in the West.

Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (23.9 PPG, .469/.394/.882) is virtually replicating his numbers from last season, when he was named an All-Star.

And Mike Conley (16.4 PPG, 5.6 APG, .412 3PT%), who has never been named an All-Star, has been one of the most valuable players for the NBA’s best team, the 25-6 Jazz. While Conley’s counting stats are more modest than those of his competitors, most advanced metrics rate him among the NBA’s top players so far this season. Utah has an incredible +17.1 net rating when he plays, compared to +1.7 when he sits, a far more impressive on/off-court split than that of teammate Donovan Mitchell (who was named a reserve).

Eastern Conference:

Bucks forward Khris Middleton and Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis were All-Stars a year ago, but didn’t make the cut this time around, despite posting similar numbers. Despite a recent slump, Middleton is still nearly a member of the 50/40/90 club, having averaged 20.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 5.7 APG on .498/.434/.895 shooting. Meanwhile, Sabonis (21.5 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 5.7 APG) became the first player in history to be left off the team despite being part of the 20/10/5 club (Twitter link via StatMuse).

The Heat have gotten off to a slow start this season, but it’s still surprising that neither Bam Adebayo nor Jimmy Butler was named to the All-Star team after both making the team in 2020.

Adebayo has anchored the defense while improving his offensive output (19.6 PPG, 5.5 APG). As for Butler, he has made his usual two-way impact, leading the team to an 11-8 record in the games he has played, compared to 3-9 when he’s out. Only playing 19 games essentially killed his case, but as John Hollinger of The Athletic observes, Butler has missed fewer games than Kevin Durant, who was rightly considered a slam-dunk starter.

Hawks guard Trae Young is yet another player who had a strong All-Star case this season after making it in 2020. He’s averaging 27.0 PPG and 9.6 APG so far this season, making him the first player in 30 years to average 25+ points and 9+ assists and not be named an All-Star, according to StatMuse (Twitter link).

Hornets forward Gordon Hayward (21.9 PPG on .489/.424/.867 shooting), Sixers forward Tobias Harris (20.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, .517/.415/.889 shooting), and Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (19.8 PPG, 6.7 APG) were also worthy candidates, with VanVleet rated especially highly by advanced metrics.

It may not be worth spending a ton of time bemoaning certain All-Star omissions, since certain players listed above could become injury replacements in the next week or two — Anthony Davis, for one, likely won’t be able to participate in the game, so the West will have to send at least one more player.

Still, now that the 24 initial All-Stars have been named, we want to know what you think: Who is this season’s biggest All-Star snub? And if you had to remove one of the current All-Stars to make room for that snubbed player, who are you taking off the team?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Poll: Bradley Beal’s Future

In recent months, most of the star players who were expected to be traded during the NBA’s 2020/21 league year – either during the offseason or in-season – were indeed on the move. Chris Paul and Jrue Holiday were dealt early, followed a couple weeks later by Russell Westbrook and John Wall. Last week, James Harden and Victor Oladipo landed with new NBA teams.

After catching their breath following a flurry of blockbuster trades, fans and pundits figure to eventually ask the inevitable question: Who’s next?

After all, while we get the occasional lull between mega-deals, it’s always just a matter of time before another big-name player on an underachieving team hits the trade block, either because he wants to be moved or because his team recognizes it’s better off cashing in one of its top trade chips sooner rather than later.

While this year’s trade deadline is still over two months away, it’s worth considering which player might be the next one to fit that bill. There are a few contenders around the NBA, but at this point, no star player appear to be a likelier trade candidate than Bradley Beal.

The most important factor working against a Beal trade is the fact that the Wizards have repeatedly indicated – both privately and publicly – that they have no interest in moving the star guard. When they sent Wall and a first-round pick to Houston for Westbrook, the Wizards made the deal in the hopes of returning to the postseason and convincing Beal that the franchise was working its way back toward contention. Washington wants to build around Beal, not trade him.

But there are a number of factors working against the Wizards. For one, the club got off to a poor start this season, opening with a 3-8 record before having six consecutive games postponed due to the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols.

When the Wizards resume play – likely on Sunday – they’ll be looking to climb out of that early hole with a shorthanded roster, knowing they’ll have to cram a ton of makeup games into their schedule later in their season if they want to get close to playing a full 72-game slate.

A playoff spot is certainly possible, especially with the play-in format opening things up to the Nos. 9 and 10 seeds, but it will be an uphill battle. And it seems unlikely that Washington would make any real noise in the postseason against a higher-seeded opponent.

Beal’s contract situation isn’t ideal for the Wizards either. Although he did sign an extension with the team in 2019, that deal essentially only tacked on one guaranteed year to his previous contract, meaning he’ll still be able to reach the open market in 2022. That doesn’t give the Wizards a ton of time to turn things around.

It’s a safe bet that teams around the NBA will blowing up GM Tommy Sheppard‘s phone between now and the March 25 deadline to see whether Beal is available. With Harden off the market, Beal is the most appealing star who could realistically be on the block. The Heat, whose strong interest in Beal has been stated repeatedly over the last year, would be at the front of the line, but they’d have plenty of competition for a player who would be a strong fit in virtually any and every system.

Beal has spent his entire career in D.C., has talked about his loyalty to the city and to the franchise, and has backed up his words with actions, as his 2019 extension showed. But he has also made it clear that he wants to win a championship. If the Wizards, whose win total has declined each year since 2016/17, don’t start trending in the right direction, it’s hard to imagine him recommitting to the franchise when his current contract expires (right around the time he turns 29).

With all that in mind, we want to know what you think. Will the Beal trade rumors heat up in the next couple months? Will the Wizards have to start seriously considering moving him? Or do you expect the All-Star guard to remain in Washington for the foreseeable future?

Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to weigh in with your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Poll: Which Team Will Remain Undefeated Longest?

We’re one week into the NBA’s 2020/21 season, and just four of the league’s 30 teams have yet to lose a game. A handful of Eastern Conference teams – the Pacers, Magic, Hawks, and Cavaliers – make up that unlikely foursome.

While all four of those clubs are 3-0, they may not be undefeated much longer. This NBA season has been an unpredictable one so far, with unexpected blowouts and upsets taking place on a nightly basis. And as good as these teams have looked so far, I don’t expect any of them to be a powerhouse this season — it seems unlikely that we’ll see a 10-0 run to start the season.

Here are the upcoming schedules for each of the NBA’s four undefeated teams:

  • Indiana Pacers: vs. BOS (12/29), vs. CLE (12/31), vs. NYK (1/2), at NOP (1/4), vs. HOU (1/6)
  • Orlando Magic: at OKC (12/29), vs. PHI (12/31), vs. OKC (1/2), vs. CLE (1/4), vs. CLE (1/6)
  • Atlanta Hawks: at BKN (12/30), at BKN (1/1), vs. CLE (1/2), vs. NYK (1/4), vs. CHA (1/6)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: vs. NYK (12/29), at IND (12/31), at ATL (1/2), at ORL (1/4), at ORL (1/6)

We want to know what you think: Which of these four undefeated teams will be the last to lose a game?

While it may be tempting to write off the Magic and Cavaliers, given their modest preseason expectations, the Pacers and Hawks have tough games on tap — Indiana will have to beat a Boston team that it squeaked past by a single point on Sunday, while Atlanta will be facing a rested Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn tomorrow.

Of the four undefeated teams, the Cavaliers have the most favorable fourth game (at home vs. the Knicks), but they’re missing power forward Kevin Love. And even if they get past New York, they improbably have games on tap against the other three undefeated clubs.

A year ago, the Sixers were the only team in the NBA to win more than three consecutive games to start the season. Will multiple squads do it this year? And which will remain undefeated the longest?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to weigh in with your predictions!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Poll: Best Value Among Non-Max Rookie Scale Extensions

After four players signed maximum-salary rookie scale extensions relatively early in the NBA’s condensed offseason, six more players eligible for rookie extensions completed deals in the final 24 hours or so before Monday’s deadline.

[RELATED: 2020/21 NBA Contract Extension Tracker]

All six of those 11th-hour deals were worth well below the max, ranging from $40MM to as much as $80MM. Contracts in that range are generally trickier to negotiate than maximum-salary extensions — it’s fair to assume the Magic spent more time weighing how much to offer Jonathan Isaac, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, than the Celtics did thinking about what to offer Jayson Tatum.

With that in mind, we want to get your thoughts on the six non-max rookie scale extensions signed in 2020, all of which will take effect in 2021/22. They are as follows:

  • OG Anunoby (Raptors): Four years, $72MM. Includes fourth-year player option.
  • Derrick White (Spurs): Four years, $70MM. Includes $5MM in incentives.
  • Jonathan Isaac (Magic): Four years, $69.6MM. Includes $10.4MM in incentives and Exhibit 3 injury protection.
  • Luke Kennard (Clippers): Four years, $56MM. Includes $8MM in incentives and a fourth-year team option.
  • Markelle Fultz (Magic): Three years, $50MM. Includes $3MM in incentives and partial guarantee in third year.
  • Kyle Kuzma (Lakers): Three years, $40MM. Includes third-year player option.

While White’s and Isaac’s contracts were initially reported as being worth $75MM and $80MM, respectively, it’s actually Anunoby who received the highest overall guarantee. His fourth-year player option also probably makes his contract the most player-friendly overall, though you could make the case that he deserves it — unlike a number of other players on this list, he hasn’t dealt with ongoing injury issues since entering the NBA, and has a clear-cut role as a three-and-D weapon who still has room for improvement.

White will be able to match Anunoby’s $72MM total across four seasons if he’s able to play at least 70 games in each year of his deal. His other incentives will be harder to reach, but $18MM per year is still a a strong investment in a player who came off the bench for much of the 2019/20 campaign.

Isaac and Fultz both have injury histories, but the Magic protected themselves in each case. They included games-played incentives and injury language related to Isaac’s knee in the forward’s contract, and are only on the hook for a small partial guarantee ($2MM) in the third year of Fultz’s deal.

The Clippers took a similar approach with Kennard, who missed much of the 2019/20 season with knee issues — in addition to having to earn a series of annual incentives, he only has three guaranteed years on his extension, which features a fourth-year team option.

As for Kuzma, he joined Anunoby as the only other player in this group to get a player option on the final year of his extension, which works in his favor — he’ll be able to hit the open market in advance of his age-28 season if he outplays this contract. Of course, he also got the lowest per-year commitment of any of these six players, so even if he doesn’t live up to the deal, it shouldn’t be a major albatross.

What do you think? Which of these contract extensions do you think represents the best value from a team perspective?

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