If you are a sports fan and you didn’t take the Coronavirus seriously your world got turned upside down Wednesday March 11th. Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, which resulted in the NBA season being suspended indefinitely. What followed was almost every other professional sport league being suspended with no timetable for a return. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said he will not make a decision on the outcome of this season until at least May. While we wait for either great news or for our hearts to inevitably shatter AGAIN this year lets talk about what it means for certain teams and individuals if the season were to be canceled…
Houston Rockets Small Ball Experiment
The Houston Rockets are this generations Sacramento Kings from the early 2000’s. A very good team year in and year out, but never quit good enough to get over the hump. James Harden and Russell Westbrook teaming up this season felt like a desperate last chance to make an NBA Finals run while the Rockets championship window is still open. Both players have each made it to two Western Conference Finals since losing to the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals when they were back in Oklahoma City with Kevin Durant. Neither of them have made it back to the grand stage since and with Harden and Westbrook turning 31 and 32 by the beginning of next season one may assume the window is getting smaller year after year. The Rockets were not performing to their expectations mid way through this season and on February 5th decided to trade their center Clint Capela and commit to a full time “small ball” line-up. Up until that point the Rockets were a sub par 22-17 when Capela played compared to 10-1 without him. The Rockets were the first team since 1963 to play a player that was not taller than 6’6. If I round up I am 6’6 and I can’t even imagine an NBA game where if I was out there I’d be the tallest player. The Rockets went all in on their small ball theory and if they were to come up short of anything, but at least a conference finals appearance, in my opinion, there’s a good chance their head coach Mike D’Antoni will be fired and who knows what the front office will do. If the season ends we may never find out if an all small ball team is good enough to make a run at the NBA championship.
Would Zion have been able to Rally the Pelicans to the Playoffs
Whether the NBA comes back or not COVID-19 already stole this one from us, but it’s very interesting and a hot topic so lets discuss it anyway. When Zion Williamson required surgery in the preseason and was expected to miss the first couple of months of the regular season part of the excitement of this season was put on hold. Zion is the biggest hyped superstar to enter the NBA since Lebron James back in 2003 (more on him later). When he finally made his return on January 22nd the Pelicans were only 17-27 and on the outside looking in to making the playoffs. When Zion finally made his debut he continued to be must watch TV just like he was at Duke. Since coming back Zion has looked better and more comfortable in each game and the Pelicans were 10-9 in games Zion played. Their record was 28-36 when the NBA season was suspended and were just 3.5 games back of the Memphis Grizzlies for the 8th spot in the west. With only 18 games left for the Pelicans it wouldn’t have been easy to get in that spot, but definitely something I would have liked to see. The NBA would have loved for the Pelicans to make the playoffs too. People would tune into every single game just to watch him, which means more money for the league. And I didn’t even mention that if the Pelicans make the playoffs they’d play the Lakers in the first round. That is a dream for the NBA, for sports talk shows, and basically anything related to the NBA. That is 1-2 weeks of games that would have generated an absurd amount of money. Even if they play 5-10 games to finish the regular season it’s very unlikely that they will be able to get in. I guess we’ll all have to wait until next year to see Zion in the playoffs. What’s really sad is this may have been the best chance to see Zion vs. Lebron the playoffs…
Lebrons Best Chance to Win his 4th Ring
Lebron James has been in the NBA for 17 years and has been undeniably the best player for the last decade plus. Lebron is now 35 and if history tells us anything it’s that “Father Time” is undefeated. Eventually Lebron will decline and when you start to get into your mid 30’s the clock really starts ticking. Part of what slows down athletes is when their body just can’t take it anymore and injuries start to pile up. Lebron has been the ultimate iron-man in the NBA seemingly never having a major injury. Last year however, on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors Lebron injured his groin and would miss 17 consecutive games, the most of his career. That started questions on whether or not Lebron was starting a path similar to the late great Kobe Bryant. Kobe’s last few years in the NBA were riddled with various injuries that prevented him from competing for championships. This year however, Lebron has proved that he’s not quite done yet. The Lakers traded for Anthony Davis this past summer and up to the season being suspended were 49-14 owning the #1 seed in the West and were likely to hold onto it by the time the playoffs had started. They didn’t just have the best record, but were clearly looking like the best team in the NBA. They had just beaten both the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers in the same weekend. It started to look like the Lakers would be the team make a run and win the NBA Finals. Lebron has lost 4 of the last 5 NBA Finals he was in and last year ended his streak of 8 consecutive Finals appearances by not making it to the playoffs. One might assume he only has a couple of opportunities left to be able to win the Finals. If the season doesn’t continue it would throw away a golden opportunity to win his 4th ring and build even further on his legacy. Anthony Davis has a player option on his contract for 2020-21 and if he chose to explore other options, could potentially leave this summer if not next summer. The competition next year only gets tougher as well as more of the NBA duos will be back fully healthy and ready to prove themselves once again. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will be back at full strength and with a potential dangerous new weapon as they are likely to have the #1 overall pick in this summers draft. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will both be back and healthy in Brooklyn and both have chips on their shoulders looking to prove once again how great they are. Lebron will be 36 by next years NBA playoffs and the only person to be that old and win Finals MVP was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (37) back in 1985. If this season doesn’t finish it will take away Lebron’s best chance to win another ring.