For Maccabi Tel Aviv & superstar Wade Baldwin, every game matters as Euroleague regular season heads towards dramatic finish

Mar 20, 2024 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv just keeps on rolling as they chalked up yet another win, this time against ASVEL Villeurbanne to move their record to 17-13 with four games to go in Euroleague regular season action. The yellow-and-blue had to mount yet another comeback to pick up the victory but mount one they did to move closer and closer to a playoff berth.

Whether that postseason slot will be a place directly in the quarterfinals or the Play In is yet to be determined, there’s no question that the squad is gunning for an automatic spot in the playoffs and if Wade Baldwin continues to play Superman, the sky’s the limit.

With 30 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds against Villeurbanne, Baldwin, who will turn just 28 years old on March 29th has taken his level of play to the top of the top in Euroleague action.

Wade Baldwin – Photo credit: Djordje Kostic

Just how good is Wade Baldwin? Really, really good.

In 23 games this season, the guard has scored double digits in 21 of them. He is averaging an incredible 17.7 points and 5.2 assists per game while sporting a 20 PIR launching him into the upper echelons of the Euroleague along side some of the best of the best.

If we take the last 11 games alone in continental play, Baldwin’s numbers skyrocket to points unknown to mankind, 21.5 points, 5.7 assists and a PIR rating of… 26.5.

Mike James – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Mike James and Shane Larkin, move over. There’s a new sheriff in town.

In fact, James mentioned Baldwin as one of the players that may one day surpass his all-time scoring record that was just set earlier in the month.

Wade Baldwin IV is the real deal.

Wade Baldwin – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

The real question though is, how will Maccabi Tel Aviv keep Baldwin locked up in a yellow-and-blue jersey for years to come?

As long as head coach Oded Katash is in charge, the tactician will no doubt want to have Baldwin in tow, “Wade is one of our leaders. Last week Josh Nebo played well in the second half, Lorenzo Brown missed a lot of shots and he was frustrated and every day we find a player who will take us. In this game it was Wade, he felt good and I am really happy we have him and he shows character. He is one of the dominant players in the Euroleague and he took responsibility not just in basketball but in his spirit.”

The Belle Mead, New Jersey native stayed local for high school and then went on to Vanderbilt where he spent two years before entering the 2016 NBA Draft where he was selected 17th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies. After splitting time in the NBA and the G-League with the Grizzlies and Portland Trailblazers, Baldwin headed to Olympiacos after being signed by David Blatt for the 2019 season.

Wade Baldwin – Photo Credit: Bayern Munich

After one year in Piraeus it was off to Bayern Munich and Baskonia for a campaign a piece before moving to Israel and signing with Maccabi Tel Aviv where he has played for the past two seasons. In April of 2023, Baldwin extended his contract with the club through the end of the 2025 season, hopefully keeping the star with Maccabi through the end of next season.
Katash has given Baldwin the keys to help lead the club and he has grabbed them with both hands especially with Brown struggling. There are of course times where Baldwin wants to make you rip the hair out of your head, when he picks up technical or gets involved in a bit of on court nonsense here or there, but all in all, when is the last time Maccabi had such a talent in their ranks?

Perhaps it was Tyrese Rice in the 2013-14 season that ended in the yellow-and-blue taking home the Euroleague title, or maybe even Anthony Parker who won back-to-back championships to go along with the 2001 FIBA SuproLeague.

Baldwin is that good.

Wade Baldwin – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

When he is locked in to the task at hand there is no one else you’d want to have on your team.

“We continue to find a way to win games and close games,” Baldwin said after the Villeurbanne contest. “We get rebounds, we get stops, we have guys committed to do the right things and to play hard when we need to. We are competing to be a top 6 team to stay out of the Play In and that was a good push to get there.”

Maccabi who has plenty of other weapons at their disposal including an emerging star center in Josh Nebo along with Bonzie Colson who continues to do everything right in his career to continue raising his level of play.

Wade Baldwin – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

But there is only one Wade Baldwin and Maccabi is going to go as far as he will take them as he keeps maturing as seen in his following statement concerning the war that has seen other Israeli teams eliminated from European play in not only basketball but in soccer as well.

“The team mentality is tough as can be,” Baldwin said. “The circumstances that we have been in this year as everyone knows around the league, we have used it as an excuse for far too long and it’s not an excuse anymore so we have to find a way to win games, we have four games left and then we can see where the dust settles.”

Can Maccabi run the table and win all four games? Certainly. But contests at Bayern Munich and Barcelona are never easy and Valencia is still trying to slip into the Play In as they are right now on the outside looking in. The last regular season game will be against a Milan team that has disappointed many over the past couple of years.

Wade Baldwin – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

But even if they do take all four there is no guarantee that they will avoid the Play In although they will probably finish off in 7th place and would have home court advantage. However, these four games that are left in reality are a lifetime that could see plenty of movement in the standings as they are just one game out of 6th place where Olympiacos currently sits.

As the Euroleague motto goes, “Every Game Matters” and for Baldwin and Co. there is nothing more truer than that.

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