The street that creates sinners… From a “problem” to a future EuroLeague MVP?

As the title says, I would begin this text with the words from Srećko Sušić’s song, “The street creates sinners, I am one of them.” But this time, we won’t be talking about Srećko or folk music.

Verzija na srpskom.

foto: Euroleague

It’s time to shift from song lyrics to the realm that truly interests us: basketball. During these hot summer days, the temperature is further raised by the happenings in the European market, particularly the transfer sagas that intensify daily and create tension at the highest level.

One of the most sought-after players in the market is definitely Maccabi’s basketball player, Wade Baldwin. Following his recent national championship victory, Baldwin stated that he had played his last game for the Tel Aviv team and would be wearing the colors of another team next season. As I’ve already mentioned, everyone would love to have him on their team, but was it always this way?


Wade Manson Baldwin IV, as his full name goes, was born in 1996 in New Jersey, where he started his basketball career at St. Joseph High School. He then spent two years (2014-16) at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. As a top prospect and one of the best players of his generation, Baldwin was drafted 17th overall in the first round by Memphis.

Everything seemed perfectly aligned for a new “star” in the world’s strongest league, but luck was not on the American’s side. In his first season, something unusual happened: Memphis decided to release their high draft pick after he failed to find his place on the roster or secure a trade to another team. Instead, the Grizzlies signed Mario Chalmers.

Wade wasn’t without a contract for long; Portland gave him a chance, and after a two-way contract, offered him a standard contract for the 2018-19 season. Just when it seemed a new opportunity had knocked on his door, Portland also proved not to be the right place for him. Unlike the last two or three seasons, Portland was dominating the NBA in 2018-19 and reached the conference finals, where they faced the phenomenal Warriors. In this context, Baldwin played only 16 games throughout the season, averaging just over five minutes per game.


After finishing his stint in Portland, many fans were surprised by such radical moves, as he occasionally showed high potential, albeit without a reliable shot. However, the reasons for his premature departures were of a different nature.

As was rumored around the NBA, Wade had extremely poor behavior and a bad attitude toward everyone, coupled with a lack of work ethic. Almost the entire team rejected him, and even the coach who drafted him, David Fizdale, commented after his release that Wade needed to be a better teammate and control his self-confidence. During his time in Memphis, the only person who “communicated” with him was Glynn Cyprien, the coach of the development team.

After gaining a very bad reputation and without a real opportunity, along with numerous trades (Portland – Cavs – Houston – Indiana), a new chance opened up for Baldwin, but this time in Europe.

foto: Olympiacos BC


Allegedly having learned from his NBA mistakes, Wade Baldwin began his journey in Europe with none other than Olympiacos. In the summer of 2019, then 23-year-old Wade signed a two-year contract and embarked on his EuroLeague career. He made his debut in an away game against ASVEL and did not make a significant impact. In 15 minutes on the court, he scored two points, grabbed one rebound, and dished out three assists, with his team suffering a heavy defeat (82:63).

As the season progressed, Baldwin showed “nothing” noteworthy, except for occasional flashes that weren’t particularly impressive. During his tenure, he played under three different coaches. Like any player coming to Europe for the first time, he required a period of adaptation, but some things had to change. Despite not wanting to leave the team because he enjoyed working with Coach Bartzokas, he was informed that he should look for a new club after the first season.

Once again, the problem was Wade. His former teammate, Brandon Paul, openly shared all the “dirty laundry” after some time:

“Wade, to be precise, caused a lot of problems in the locker room. On the first day when Blatt was fired and his assistant took over, Wade was removed from the team. He didn’t travel, practice, or train with us. Honestly, you could see a shift in energy. When he came back, it seemed like new problems arose,” Paul stated and added:

“I did my best to lead him and Ethan Happ, both experiencing their first European stint, while I already had NBA, European, and other experiences. Wade didn’t seem too interested in any advice I tried to share. His approach to every conversation was unwavering. He is the most confrontational person; I’ve never been in anything similar in my career. I attributed it to him being misunderstood. He lost the team’s trust, and no one spoke to him until the end of the season.” , Paul also revealed that a serious conflict arose between them, where they had to be separated because Baldwin spat on him.

In the meantime, there were numerous comments, and all this created a significant “fuss.” That Paul was not satisfied with Wade and his approach was also evident on the popular platform “X,” formerly known as “Twitter,” where, in a conversation with their former teammate Will Cherry, Paul indirectly criticized Wade.

In his first season, Wade averaged 5.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists, with dreadful shooting percentages: 42.7% from the field (26.7% from three-point range, 63.3% from the free-throw line) in nearly 17 minutes per game. Another season ended ingloriously for the talented American guard.

foto: Bayern Munich


Cast aside by his team, labeled, and in freefall, Wade Baldwin found refuge with Bayern Munich, alongside newly appointed coach Andrea Trinchieri. With no room for error, Baldwin confidently spoke ahead of the new season:

“I am incredibly excited to come to Munich because Bayern is a strong organization, and this will be my first real season in European basketball,” , Baldwin stated upon signing his contract.

It turned out that what Baldwin needed was the right person – and that was Trinchieri. Equally ambitious and obsessed with basketball, Trinchieri quickly found a way to connect with this highly talented player. He knew how to approach him and translate his talent onto the court. Baldwin became the true leader of the team, a clutch player in whom both the coach and the team had full confidence when the ball was in his hands. Baldwin himself expressed his satisfaction:

“The ball is in my hands. I have been given great trust by the coaching staff and my teammates. This summer has been my wake-up call. I didn’t have a great year at Olympiacos due to many different circumstances, mostly on me. 99% is on me, 1% I blame on someone else. But I had a lot of time to work on my game. We finished in March and had no games until August. Some guys back home in America couldn’t get into the gym; I could. And I was there every day, figuring out what I needed to do to be effective in the EuroLeague. After these ten EuroLeague games, plus games in the German league, I have shown that.”

With increasingly better performances, Baldwin finally started gaining recognition in a positive light! He achieved historical success with his team, playing in the EuroLeague quarterfinals against Milan, which ended in a narrow defeat in the fifth game (92:89).

In the 2020/21 EuroLeague season, Baldwin played 39 games, averaging an impressive 15.3 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. His average efficiency index was 12.6 (compared to 4.8 in his first season).

Despite Bayern’s enhanced offer, Baldwin decided to take the next step in his career and signed with Baskonia.

foto: Markusxfischer


Before moving on to the next step in his career, we must address the most crucial aspects of Wade Baldwin’s journey: his mentality and behavior. When it was said that Trinchieri was the right man for him, it was true. The Italian coach had nothing but praise for Baldwin during one of the press conferences held while Wade was with Maccabi.

“Hot head? I disagree. Wade, first of all, is one of the best players in the EuroLeague. The skillset in his body is the closest thing to the NBA in the EuroLeague. I believe it’s way too easy to say he’s a hothead. Maybe he was, but I see a very mature person with a lot of personality. He’s not light, but I don’t know people with such talent to be light. I had one amazing year, I was dead tired after that year with him, but whatever it cost from emotional side, it was worth it. You can put a label, hothead, ok. I have many labels on my picture, too. I’m not occupied with that. When you look at the player, you can always see flaws, and you will find flaws. Or the other side – all the good things, all the talent. Wade is a player that gave me a lot. I said not easy, but a great, great, great experience., said Trinchieri and added:

Every person needs to find balance. Balance between talent, expectation, personal needs, personal goals, motivation. And all of this is more complicated when you put this in a team. I said many things that are individual, but before being on a team, you’re an individual. It’s human to think about yourself. When you become more mature, you understand that sometimes you have to give up a little bit on yourself, check your ego to help the team, to help yourself on the team. I see a lot of good things he’s doing. He’s for sure an All-EuroLeague Team [member].”


Arriving in Baskonia marked yet another new chapter in Wade Baldwin’s life. At “just” 26 years old, what a journey it has been…

As my colleague Marko del Rio would say, we saw two players in one season. Wade clearly struggled to adapt to the specificities of working with Duško Ivanović and his methods, which he even publicly commented on after signing with Red Star.

Wade Baldwin’s performance on the court made it clear that he struggled under Duško Ivanović’s demanding regimen. Fortunately for Baldwin, the entire team didn’t click, and Ivanović left the team in November, with Neven Spahija taking his place.

With Spahija’s arrival, Baldwin returned to his Bayern-level performance, showcasing phenomenal plays in the latter half of the season. Clearly, he managed to get himself back on track and focus solely on the game.

In 30 games, he averaged 14.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and a player efficiency rating of 13.9, playing an average of 28.1 minutes per game.

Despite Baskonia’s management expressing a strong desire to retain Baldwin, and even moments where Baldwin himself indicated he wanted to stay, he left the team after just one season, heading to Tel Aviv.

foto: Euroleague


We’ve come to the end of our journey, to where Wade Baldwin stands today.

After a successful period with Bayern and Baskonia, in the summer of 2022, Wade Baldwin signed with Maccabi, where he remains (at least for now). His move to the Israeli team was immediately impactful, felt not only by his teammates but also by opponents. In his first season, Baldwin averaged 17.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 5 assists, forming a potentially top backcourt duo on the continent alongside Lorenzo Brown.

This season was almost identical to the previous one, equally successful both individually and in terms of results. In both seasons, Maccabi had the opportunity to reach the Final Four but was eliminated in two decisive games.

“Life is densely sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.”

Today, there are only words of praise for him, from fans to coaches and teammates alike. He has become a true player, a leader, a winner. The thorny path is behind him – extremely tough, stressful, and exhausting, but sometimes all it takes is for things to “click,” for one piece of the puzzle to fall into place, and then everything becomes easier…

foto: Euroleague


Just as we began with lyrics, so we shall end this journey through the turbulent career of the American guard. This time it’s not Sušić, but Šaulić.

The main question is: Where will Baldwin go?

It’s time for arguably the best guard in EuroLeague to change teams. Talks are circulating about a deal with Fenerbahçe, various teams are mentioned. It will certainly be a pleasure to watch Baldwin in the upcoming seasons. His best years are ahead of him; he has realized his potential, straightened himself out, and the sky’s the limit.

“Ego is the enemy- giving us wicked feedback, disconnected from reality. It’s defensive, precisely when we cannot afford to be defensive. It blocks us from improving by telling us that we don’t need to improve. Then we wonder why we don’t get the results we want, why others are better and why their success is more lasting. – Ryan Holiday”

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