By: Tyrone Montgomery Jr.
Headline Photo Credit: Darrell Owens- LMS Network
The Milwaukee Bucks
Upon the NBA Restart, the Bucks are the clear cut favorites in the East and maybe in the entire league. The Bucks were the first team to clinch a playoff berth soon after the NBA Allstar Break. This pandemic may have hurt the Bucks the worst because they’re chemistry was flawless and things couldn’t have gone any better for this team. The reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo just may win the award for the second straight year. What’s great about this season is Khris Middleton’s role on the team. He is the X-Factor for this year’s title run. We all know The Greek Freak will bring it every night and will be a force to wrecken with. But when Middleton is hitting, this team is virtually unbeatable. Look for the Bucks to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals this season.
The Toronto Raptors
The Defending Champions may have lost their MVP Kawhi Leonard but they darn sure haven’t lost their swagger and heart to win. Pascal Siakim has stepped up in more ways then we all expected. While he is the star of the team, this team is the true definition of teamwork make the dream work. This team is deep, and they are led by good coaching in Nick Nurse. Guys like Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry, and Serge Ibaka are literally on their last leg as far as mileage goes. However, they have been extremely productive all season long. But the key factor in their success has been the emergence of Fred Van Fleet. He has been a great source of offense all season long. They will be forced to pay him top dollar this summer but the investment will prove to be worth it in the end. This Raptor team has a lot of pride. After losing a player as good as Kawhi, they’re still in 2nd Place in the East and are the Sleeper Team of the East. The stage isn’t too big. They’ve been here before. And they’re playing with a chip on their shoulder. The Raptors will be a threat to the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Portland Trailblazers
As it stands now, the Blazers find themselves on the outside looking in. This won’t be the same Blazers team however. They will now have Jusef Nurkic. Before the injuries, he was on his way to stardom. A crafty scorer, he became known as a good source of offense for this Blazers team. His defense was impressive too. The fact that they also have Hasaan Whiteside gives this team a good balance of offense to defense at that center position. Adding Carmelo Anthony was an underrated move as well. Melo can still play. It blows my mind away that it took him so long to find a home again in the NBA. He’s a good veteran who isn’t asked to do much since Dame and CJ can literally carry your offense. The Blazers have a talented roster on paper and they have the star power to win too. The coaching is solid as well but let’s just face it, this hasn’t been their year. With the play in games possibly being an opportunity here for this Blazers team, you have to wonder can they really get in? Momentum is a real thing and they don’t have much here even with the addition of Nurkic. The Blazers best bet may be to put their hopes into next year.
The Minnesota Timberwolves
While there won’t be much of a restart for the Timberwolves, the Timberwolves can now put this year behind them! The road has been a bit rocky for this young team. The elephant in the room has to be is Ryan Saunders the right guy for the job? Adding a scorer in DeAngelo Russell will prove to be the best thing to ever happen to them. Having him there SHOULD keep Karl Anthony Towns around since the two are really good friends. But who will be their 3rd star? They need a leader. Maybe it will be someone in the draft? Anthony Edwards is a real baller and has STAR written all over him. But in the meantime, we have to look at what they have. When they acquired DeAngelo Russell, they also acquired Malik Beasley. Beasley is a guy that shoots lights out from beyond the ark. He will be a key piece in their hopes of rebuilding in the right direction. As good as the combo of D-Lo and KAT may possibly be, they still have a long ways to go. Sure, Offense wins game but defense wins championships. Perhaps we need to tell Mike D’Antoni that memo. The fact of the matter is the Wolves 2 best players MUST commit to the defensive side of the ball and set the tone for the rest of the team. That’s why Ryan Saunders may not be the best fit for Head Coach in Minnesota. We will see how the offseason goes. The Wolves are heading in the right direction but they still have a ways to go and a few gaps to fill.