By: Darrell Owens
Headline Graphic: Darrell Owens-LMS Network
Today’s the day!!! The NBA has returned and now here is our last preview on the NBA restart!!!
The Boston Celtics were supposed to be a team rebuilding back in 2014-15, but the brilliance of Danny Ainge the last 5 years have kept the Celtics relevant and championship contenders. Ainge made key trades to pick up draft picks and majority of the drafts have turned out to be amazing. The Celtics come into the NBA restart as the 3rd seed in the East (43-21 record) and a real threat to make a run at the championship. The addition of Kemba Walker last offseason has proven to be huge. Walker has fit right in with Boston, averaging 21.2 ppg with 4.9 apg, but the most important quality, Kemba has brought to the Celtics has been leadership and stability. Celtics have a solid core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylon Brown, Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart & Gordon Hayward that can make a serious run at the NBA title.
Thoughts: Jayson Tatum will be the key to a title. If the young star takes the next step in his game, the Celtics can make it to the finals. We saw flashes of Tatum’s potential back in his rookie season versus LeBron James and the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals. We learned then that Tatum is not afraid of the big moment.
The Miami Heat in many experts’ eyes are the team to watch out for in the NBA restart and could be the biggest sleeper of all. Erik Spoelstra has been the man in charge of Miami for the last 12 seasons and has been exactly what the Heat franchise has needed since day one consistently & stability. During his coaching tenure, Coach Spo has captured 2 NBA Championships with 4 NBA finals appearances. His best coaching season may have been the 2016-17 season where Miami started off with an 11-30 record and were looking at a potential top 5 draft pick, but then Spoelstra helped lead the Heat to a 30-11 record to fall a game short of making the playoffs.
Now here in 2020, Spoelstra’s best coaching trait (development) could prove to be a big factor heading into the NBA restart. Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro & Derrick Jones Jr are some of the names that Spoelstra has developed into solid NBA Players and we can’t forget the All-Star and potential Most Improved Player of the, Bam Adebayo. Even with the great coaching from Spoelstra, the centerpiece of this Miami Heat team is none other than Jimmy Butler, the 5x All-Star and 4x All-Defensive Team Member brings a presence that represents what Spoelstra and the Heat have come to be under his tenure. This team screams underdog but are a serious threat for a NBA title run.
Thoughts: Bam Adebayo is the key for the Heat. Butler will be the focal point but, Bam having a great playoff run will determine how far the Miami Heat. I believe Miami will need Adebayo to put up at least 25 ppg 10rpg in the NBA restart.
The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to try and find their way back from the LeBron James Era. Five NBA Finals appearances and a NBA Championship in that time frame. Unfortunately for the Cavs there hasn’t been much more to smile about. The 2020 Cavs finished their season with 19-46 record. There’s a lot of young talent on this team, but you have to talk about that young backcourt first. In the last two NBA drafts, Cleveland went with guards with their first picks. In 2018, Cavs drafted Collin Sexton from Alabama and this season, he lead the team in scoring with 20.8 ppg. In 2019, Darius Garland was the 1st round pick and he lead the team in a couple of categories (Assist Per Game & Free Throw %). Cleveland hopes the young duo can grow and eventually be great together.
Thoughts: This Cavs team will have to make a decision soon on what they want to do with their veterans. Kevin Love has been the talk of trade talks since LeBron came back to Cleveland for his second stint. Do they finally pull the trigger and make the trade? My opinion make the move while there is still some value. Then there’s Andre Drummond does he really want to be there? I think this is a stepping stone for Drummond to eventually improve his stock with teams when he is a free agent in 2021.
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors had a down year for two reasons…no Steph Curry or Klay Thompson. Being without the “Splash Brothers” showed how much they meant to this team going from first to worst. The Warriors collected a record of 15-50 this season pretty much solidifying a top 5 NBA Draft pick. Draymond Green was never a factor for this team mostly because of injuries. Golden State also lost Kevin Durant to free agency putting another dent in a team that had went to 5 straight NBA Finals.
Despite losing that much firepower, there were some bright spots. D’Angelo Russell had a great season before getting traded at the deadline to Minnesota. Andrew Wiggins show potential of what he can bring to the team after the trade from the Wolves. But the player that many raved about was Eric Paschall the rookie from Villanova. Paschall avg 14 points per game and 4.6 rebounds per game.
Thoughts: This Warriors team reminds me of the the 1996-97 San Antonio Spurs that would go on to draft Tim Duncan. They lost their superstar David Robinson to injury finishing with 2nd worst record in the NBA. Spurs would go on to be a dominate franchise for the next 20 years. My heart tells me that happens this year with Warriors.