By: Tyrone Montgomery Jr.
Photo Credit: Darrell Owens-LMS Network
The NBA is Back! After a long hiatus that has been in effect since March 11th, we finally have basketball again. This Coronavirus has hit the entire world hard, and that includes the NBA. Within the NBA, it all started with one team, the Utah Jazz. Two players in particular encountered the infectious virus, Rudy Gobert and Donavan Mitchell. The star pairing were the first to be tested positive for COVID-19 in the NBA. While the relationship between the two may be in jeopardy, the time has come to put up or shut up and leave the past in the past and just wait until the offseason to settle things. The Jazz season is still alive but the question is how will they fare during the remainder of the year?
The Jazz currently sit in 4th place in the West. This isn’t a comfortable 4th seeding. While they’re a game and a half behind the Clippers for 3rd, they’re only a game in front of the 5th seeded Thunder. The Jazz will be without starting F Bojan Bogdanovic. This serves as a huge loss to the team as he was the 2nd leading scorer and is the team’s best 3 point shooter. One of the most underrated deals in the entire league was the acquisition of G Jordan Clarkson. He’s quietly having a good season and his numbers have gotten even better since joining the Utah Jazz. Will the Jazz find their rhythm again? They were hot before this whole pandemic happened. Or will they hit rock bottom and allow the so called beef between Rudy Gobert and Donavan Mitchell to interrupt their title dreams?
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder too have already clinched a playoff berth in the Western Conference. I think the time has come that we give Chris Paul some MVP considerations because they have been playing amazing behind the 35 Year old PG. He surprisingly had a really good supporting cast. Of coarse, the anchor down low in Steven Adams has been solid. Look for him to get traded soon too btw. But the two key factors in their success has been 1. The emergence of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 2. Keeping Danilo Gallinari healthy. Trading for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander may have been the best thing for the Thunder. With Russ out of the picture and CP3’s age, this young man will serve promising as the PG of the future. He probably will win Most Improved Player of The Year. His ability to play multiple positions is a great source for this team. There’s no secret about the health of Danillo Gallinari. He has been banged up over the last few seasons and it seems safe to say he is back! In fact, he was so good this season, multiple teams contacted the Thunder in desires to acquire the veteran. While the Thunder have been a pleasant surprise, they won’t be a threat in the NBA Restart. The future sure does look bright for them. Especially when we think about all those draft picks they have.
The Wizards have had an up and down season. John Wall has been MIA. Quite frankly, after all his injuries, many aren’t even sure if he will be the same John Wall we all had fell in love with. The Bradley Beal rumors continue to loom around the city of DC. While it is unclear if he will request a trade soon, he did get his money. It’s only a matter of time before his frustrations grow to him demanding a trade soon if things don’t get any better. What may be the start of it is the fact that he mentioned he is unclear if he will play in the NBA Restart. Is it worth it? Can you blame him if he didn’t? Well the news around DC is that he will not play in the NBA Restart in Orlando, Florida. Bradley Beal is the NBA’s Second Leading Scorer. He’s only trailing the best scorer in the entire league, James Harden. That speaks volume in itself. This tells us that the man is a superstar and he may have felt that he’s gotten the short end of the stick. As good as Brad is, he can’t do it alone. He needs John Wall, or at least someone of a leader to help take the pressure off of him. One of the hardest things to do is to face reality. The reality of this situation is that the Wizards have failed to surround the right talent around Bradley Beal. My guess is he will be dealt sometime before the Allstar Game next season. It’s time for a renovation. Let’s face facts here. The Wizards aren’t making the playoffs this year. They’re 5.5 games behind the Nets for the 8th seed and now that Bradley Beal isn’t coming back, that’s a ton of grounds to make up for. To make matters worst, the Wizards will also be without sharpshooter Davis Bertans. Bertans’ name was highly rumored on the trading block this season. The highly coveted big man is set to become a free agent this year. He too may have played his last game as a Wizard. The Wizards will find themselves in the lottery once again and we just may never see Bradley Beal in a Wizards uniform ever again.
The 76ers currently sit tied for 5th place in the Eastern Conference with the Pacers. Now they have the 6th Seed but if I were a betting man, I’ll say they will lock down the 5th seed in the East due to the absence of Pacers G Victor Oladipo. It has been a rocky road for this group of Sixers. Al Horford and Tobias Harris will both admit to that as they both has went on the record of saying there have been some chemistry issues. There’s kind of a Team Al and a Team Joel because in today’s era of basketball, spacing is kind of a big deal. 2 Big Men in a lineup just doesn’t work nowadays. There’s also been the Ben and Joel trade rumors. Truth be told, the Sixers do play differently when they’re both not in the lineup together and it may be better too. The hard part of the matter is that Ben and Joel are some of the most premiere talents in the league. Ben Simmons is a walking triple double and the only issue with him is his reluctance to shoot. And the thing with Joel has been the same thing with Joel and that’s his injury history. The hard thing about it is there’s nothing really you can do about that. Joel isn’t always in the best shape. Despite it all, he is still arguably the best center in the game today! Of coarse, the Sixers had their issues on the road. However, when they’re at home in front of their fans, they’re basically undefeatable. That’s why this year’s playoffs at Disney makes this Sixers team a wild card. They have the talent to win it all. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are superstars in this game. However, their chemistry issues along with not being able to win away from their fans may play a part in their title dreams. The Sixers will remain a wild card team and we will just have to have a wait and see approach as to which Sixers team will we get upon the NBA Restart.
The Dallas Mavericks
If you thought the Luka Magic was a surreal thing, you got another thing coming. In fact, this may be only the beginning of the Luka Show. Luka Doncic has been on a tear all season, and I believe he’s just getting started. The Mavs have already locked up a playoff spot in the West. His running mate Kristops Porzingis is a perfect compliment to the team. The star pairing can light it up from beyond the ark. Porzingis provides in inside outside game and can give you a few blocks each and every game too. The key for him is to remain healthy and he’s been doing fairly well in that department too. What’s important for this team is the supporting cast. The main thing is to have guys hit shots. They have a good core of scorers and shot makers. I mean they have a Curry for crying out loud. While he isn’t Steph, Seth Curry has the tendency to remind us of his brother and father from time to time. Tim Hardaway Jr, Jalen Brunson, and Trey Burke are all reliable scorers as well. As good as this team is now, they’re going to grow and get even better. While Luka and The Unicorn are a good pairing, they need a 3rd star. There is way too much pressure riding on the 2nd year pro. Luka literally has the ball in his hand the entire game. They need another ball handler specifically at the F position that can facilitate the offense and get buckets too at any given time. This team will remind us of the 2006-07 We Believe Warriors because they will get very close and shock the world in this year’s playoffs. Luka is the real deal and already a superstar in year 2 of his NBA Career. While they may fall short, this team has championship written all over them in the next years to come.