The 2020-21 NBA regular season is coming to a close. The player awards might be set in stone, but the championship race is still wide open.
Kings Fall Short (Again)
The Sacramento Kings are now tied for the longest playoff drought in NBA history after missing the post-season for the 15th consecutive season. Once again, despite many tipping them to be in with a sniff of making the playoffs, they failed to even make the play-in tournament with their 31-40 record leaving them 12th in the Western Conference ahead of the final game of the season.
Luke Walton’s position as coach is under threat. Remarkably, his 61-81 record (.434) throughout his two seasons is the best of any Kings coach since 2006. Given he is also their tenth coach in 15 years, it might be better for the Kings to persist with Walton rather than blowing it all up again.
We talked earlier in the NBA season about the New York Knicks starting well but prepared for the inevitable downturn.
We also talked about Julius Randle putting up All-NBA numbers that he surely couldn’t keep up all season.
Now, the Knicks have clinched a spot in the playoffs and Randle is still filling up the box score.
The Knicks have clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2013.
The last time the Knicks were in the playoffs Julius Randle wasn’t in the NBA yet, RJ Barrett was 13 years old and Derrick Rose was rehabbing his ACL. pic.twitter.com/v1lixKkdba
— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 13, 2021
The former Laker has been incredible throughout his 70 games this season. He’s averaging a career-high 24.2 points per game shooting 45.8% from the field and an impressive 41.1% from beyond the arc on 5.5 attempts per game. Randle is then dragging in 10.2 rebounds and handing out a career-high 6.0 assists per game. The 26-year-old has all but wrapped up the Most Improved Player award at $1.01.
Can Randle and the Knicks keep this up through the playoffs? We can’t rule it out. Although, they are out at $34 to win the Eastern Conference for a reason.
Bradley Beal Beefing
This league, man…
You don’t get this much drama in another sporting league in the world, but the NBA keeps delivering.
Kent Bazemore, marveling at teammate Stephen Curry:
“49 points in 29 minutes, that’s unreal. We got guys hurting hamstrings to keep up.”
Curry leads NBA in scoring, at 31.9 ppg
Bradley Beal is second, at 31.4, but will miss at least 2 games with, yes, a strained hammy.
— Monte Poole (@MontePooleNBCS) May 10, 2021
@24Bazemore you don’t know me or shit about me bruh!!! You don’t know why I go out there and play and it damn sure ain’t for another man’s approval!!! You a straight LAME!!! But it don’t surprise me coming from you, thats what’s yo type do!!
— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) May 11, 2021
It’s all happened too late in the season for these two to meet on the court again. Still, it’s going to be circled on the schedule for next season.
Russell Westbrook has gone and done it.
He now has the most triple-doubles in NBA history.
No matter your opinion on his playing style and fit on a championship contender, the numbers are impressive. Stat-padding or not, to go out there and pull in 182 triple-doubles – and counting – is a remarkable achievement. While the Washington Wizards are unlikely to go anywhere in the playoffs should they get through the play-in tournament, having Westbrook on the court gives them a chance every night.
Average pace in 1961-74: 107.8
Average pace in 2009-21: 95.1
Oscar Robertson’s teams had 12.7 more possessions per game. That means more shots taken and missed leading to more assists and rebounds.
Russ also breaks Oscar’s record with 100 fewer games played. pic.twitter.com/lxFp4VPEjT
— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 11, 2021
There isn’t a lot of debate around many of the player awards as the NBA regular season wraps up.
We’ve already covered Julius Randle and his Most Improved Player award ($1.01).
LaMelo Ball is in a similar position in the Rookie of the Year market at $1.07 after averaging 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game.
While there is plenty of debate around what the Most Valuable Player award should look like, most will concede that Nikola Jokic is deserving of his $1.01 favouritism. Joel Embiid deserves consideration at $23. However, the market made up its mind early. Jamal Murray’s injury threw a spanner into the works but the Denver Nuggets have remained inside the top three in the West and that should provide Jokic with his first MVP.
The Defensive Player of the Year award is equally talked about, but Rudy Gobert’s $1.03 price to win it suggests it is equally set in stone. The Utah Jazz big man rarely gets the credit he deserves throughout the season. Thankfully, DPOY voters take notice when it counts. Meanwhile, Gobert’s teammate’s Jordan Clarkson ($1.22) and Joe Ingles ($3.60) are battling it out for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
It’s the final day of the NBA regular season so let’s check in on the championship odds once more before playoff basketball tips off.
End of Regular Season
|Eastern Conference||Western Conference|
|Nets – $3.10||Lakers – $6|
|Bucks – $8.50||Clippers – $6.50|
|76ers – $8.50||Jazz – $6.50|
|Heat – $26||Suns – $21|
|Knicks – $71||Nuggets – $34|
|Hawks – $91||Mavericks – $36|
|Celtics – $151||Trail Blazers – $51|
|Wizards – $251||Warriors – $91|