The 2019/20 version of the NBA season has been nothing short of the tirelessly competitive, excruciatingly entertaining slugfest that we expected. But it’s also been a tear-filled abscess of shocking pain and loss, waves of which pulsed around the league with the deaths of David Stern and Kobe Bryant, and now with play being halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If we’ve learned anything this season it’s that no matter how much we may dislike our rivals on the court, we’re all a community with a shared system, feeling pain and joy simultaneously, treasuring the game and what it produces, albeit sometimes too little or too late.
Due to these terrible misfortunes that have disrupted one of the best seasons of basketball we’ve seen in many years, we’ve been talking too little about the actual basketball that was played. With ESPN’s “The Last Dance” in full swing, we have a good distraction from the perturbations that have plagued this season for the weeks to come, but we also need to recognize what was happening before everything stopped. This season was producing some incredible basketball, so in reference to my piece at the beginning of the year, I’m answering all of our own questions with the knowledge of what happened this season.
1 – Can Trae Young shoot above the league average from 3?
Absolutely he can! The NBA league average was about 35.7% from 3-point range and Trae shot 36.1%. No, it didn’t mean much since the Hawks have been dueling others for the right to be worst in the NBA all season, but the fact that he was able to get up from nearly three points below the average last season to just above this season shows marked improvement, especially when you know he’s shooting the fifth most three pointers in the NBA while second in assists per game behind LeBron James.
2 – Are Young, De’Andre Hunter, and Cam Reddish worth Luka Dončić?
So far? No way. By just about any metric, the picks that Atlanta got for Dončić have not produced anywhere near what the Slovenian has done in Dallas. Hunter and Reddish have not been good in their rookie season and Young just hasn’t been as complete of a player. Dončić has scored a player efficiency rating of 27.7 this season while Young is at 23.9; the others are well below the average of 15. Also, Dončić has a career win share rating of 13 so far while the Atlanta players have combined for an 8.9 in that category with Reddish actually scoring negatively.
3 – How often will we see five players under 23 on the court (Young, Huerter, Reddish, Hunter, Collins)? Will they be effective?
This lineup saw the floor in 23 different games and actually was the most used of any lineup the Hawks employed (and would have by even a larger margin had Collins not been suspended). This lineup also played pretty well with a net rating of just over six. They played with the most pace of any lineup the team fielded for significant minutes and shot very well with a 58.3 eFG%. Unfortunately most other combinations get swamped.
Bonus – Is John Collins a star, or a superstar?
The current numbers are leaning towards just a star. With a slash of 21.6/10.1/1.5, he still has a ways to go before he can be considered a superstar like Young is. If he can increase his offensive metrics, maybe getting his scoring to 26 and assists to 3.5 he could be on the way. Pair that with some better defense and you can begin to have that argument, but it’s possible he’s already at his peak production.
4 – Can Kemba lead a good team?
It seems as though the answer is definitively yes. Granted, it helps a lot when you have a pair of young wings like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to run the court and a coach like Brad Stevens, but Kemba is absolutely leading a good team. He’s second in scoring and first in assists and the Celtics have the 5th best record in the NBA. He’s capable.
5 – Will Jaylen Brown get an extension?
He did get an extension but the key was that it was for just under 27 million per year. While that’s a big number, there’s enough space to give Tatum a max deal (maybe even a supermax depending on the cap) by the time his contract expires while still keeping Walker. That’s a massive victory for the Celtics.
6 – Is Brad Stevens on the hot seat if this team is really bad?
We’ll never know! The Celtics are rolling and Stevens is a big part of it.
Bonus – Is Enes Kanter still an all-time terrible defender or can Stevens fix him?
He’s actually improved a lot this season as his net rating is positive and the team’s defensive rating with him on the floor is the lowest it’s been since his sophomore season in 2012/13. However, that isn’t to say he’s not a liability. On isolation plays with Kanter as the defender, Kanter is below the 8th percentile, giving up 1.28 points per possession. All-time terrible? Probably not. Terrible? Yes.
Bonus – We all hope Tacko Fall is good, right?
7 – Can Kyrie thrive in a Kenny Atkinson “share the ball” system? What if he can’t and becomes disgruntled again?
Despite his best scoring average in his career, Irving apparently didn’t like what was going on. Kenny Atkinson was fired by the Nets organization due to an unhappy Kyrie even though Irving was injured for a majority of the season and Kevin Durant (who said he signed because he liked Atkinson’s style) didn’t play at all. Keeping talent happy is the most important thing in the modern NBA, but this seemed a bit extreme.
8 – Can this team stay healthy?
Again the answer seems to be a resounding no. Only six players on the entire roster have played over 40 of the team’s 64 games of the season. Caris LeVert might not count since he was injured coming into the year, but that would still only make seven consistent players on the season. I understand that this year isn’t the year the Nets make a run, but this training staff needs to do a better job in keeping these players healthy and on the court.
9 – Is Joe Harris getting an extension? What does he have to do to get there?
Joe Harris actually isn’t eligible for an extension thanks to his two-year contract which makes him an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. This poses a problem since every championship caliber team needs that microwave shooter (who isn’t the star player) who can win you a game with a hot streak. It was Ray Allen for Miami, Klay for the Warriors, J.R. Smith for Cleveland, and Danny Green for the Raptors. Joe Harris would be that guy for the Nets. Retaining him when he hits the market will be a herculean task, but the Nets need him if they plan on really contending.
Bonus – Is there a problem if Jarrett Allen is on the bench behind DeAndre Jordan?
Again, we’ll never know. Getting Jordan on the team with a $10 million per year deal was worth it to get Durant and Irving, but the organization did the right thing by making sure Jarrett Allen, their young star, is getting plenty of minutes and starting games. Both players are being productive with their minutes and no complaints have come from that part of the locker room this season.
10 – Will the Hornets set a record low in attendance?
Not this year they won’t and they have the outburst of youngsters like P.J. Washington and Devonte’ Graham to thank for that. The Hornets are near the bottom of the barrel in average home attendance, but they’ve been outdone by the T-Wolves this season.
11 – Do you care?
12 – Is Miles Bridges going to make the “jump”?
Bridges made a jump but definitely not the jump the Hornets needed him to make. Marginal improvements to his statline from 7.5/4.0/1.2 to 13/5.6/1.8 aren’t good enough for a year two lottery pick, especially when the shooting percentages go down. His 3P% did go up by about a half percent, but 2P% and eFG% both dropped drastically. He’s also been a below average defender which is a huge concern given his athleticism and length. This league thrives on lengthy, productive wings and shooting and right now Bridges doesn’t check either box.
13 – Can any major player on this team player 70 games?
The Bulls finished the season at 65 games so granted a bit of assumption, five players would have hit that mark: Tomáš Satoranský (who hadn’t missed a game), Coby White, Thaddeus Young, Zach LaVine, and Ryan Arcidiacono. LaVine and White are the two from that list that constitute as “major,” so Markkanen, Carter Jr., Porter Jr., Dunn, and Hutchinson all missed the cut. This is becoming increasingly problematic as neither Markkanen or Carter have proven they can handle an NBA workload while being the foundational pieces of the franchise.
14 – Is Tomáš Satoranský the most impactful free agent in the Eastern Conference?
Absolutely not. What a silly question? If we include every player who was a free agent including sign and trades as well as players returning to their own teams he wasn’t even top 10. Jimmy Butler, Kemba, and Malcolm Brogdon are probably the top three, but Satoranský isn’t even worth mentioning in the conversation.
15 – Is Kris Dunn going to be on the roster on February 8th?
Despite the Bulls best efforts to offload him, the defensive point guard is still part of the team. With Satoranský starting and White as a backup there really wasn’t a space for Dunn unless the Bulls played a small ball lineup that focused on defense. He played decent minutes but that’s only thanks to the team not being healthy. Dunn could be a useful contributor if employed correctly, but that might be too much to ask for Jim Boylen.
Bonus – Is this the Lauri Markkanan breakout season?
No. In fact, it’s been a regressive season for Markkanen, falling backwards in scoring, rebounding, and shooting metrics. With a decision to be made in the offseason about Markkanen’s future, it’s not likely that he’ll be long for Chicago.
Bonus – Is anyone getting a long term deal?
No one got extended and it’s likely no one will be considering the gradual shift in management that’s coming. The GarPax era is finally coming to an end and there’s probably going to be some clearing house going on in the front office, coaching staff, and roster. If anyone got a long term deal before next season it would be a huge surprise.
16 – How long is Kevin Love on the roster?
Well Love is still around in Cleveland but there’s no reason for him to still be there. He’s clearly frustrated with the team and doesn’t want to continue his career there, but Cleveland seemed pretty apathetic about moving him. He has a big contract so there aren’t many decent deals they can get, but getting something for him seems better than just have him around to be angry and make the locker room that much more complicated. I feel bad for both parties.
17 – Is Collin Sexton any good? Is Darius Garland?
Let’s start with the sophomore. Sexton has been a good player for the Cavs this year and has made a marginal progression, adding four points and half a steal per game to his stats. Cleveland has to be happy that he didn’t have a sophomore regression and ought to be looking at next year for the jump to being a real star.
Now to Garland. Garland and Sexton play the same position which isn’t great, but the Thunder have shown us that it’s possible to play two or even three point guards at a time with good results. That being said, Garland is decent. He certainly isn’t a bad player, 12/2/4 aren’t miserable numbers for a rookie on a terrible team, but those still need to improve drastically for him to be worth that number five price tag. He’ll need a bigger jump than Sexton had in his next season for us to actually believe he can be a very good player.
18 – Are there any other young guys worth keeping on the roster?
In my opinion there’s actually a few younger guys that are worth keeping who could develop well. If we look at Cleveland from the perspective of a team that wants to contend, Sexton could develop into a nice third option or even a second option if he can really take a Tatum-like step forward. Garland has a ways to go but he has the making of a good bench point guard to initiate offense, though that’s a certain disappointment given his draft position. Cedi Osman would be a nice scoring wing to have on the bench, especially if he can improve on defense. Finally, Kevin Porter could be very scary if he can put everything together. He’s a bit undersized but with his wild athleticism he could turn into a problem if his shot develops.
19 – Will Luka have to cede ground to Kristaps?
Absolutely not and we’re all benefiting from it. Luka has gotten better in almost every worthwhile stat column including eFG%, improving from 49.7% all the way to 53.1%. In fact, Kristaps being on the floor makes Luka a much better player considering the extra spacing and options that Porziņģis provides.
20 – Will Kristaps ever be Kristaps again?
He may not be the player he was on the Knicks ever again, but that isn’t a particularly bad thing. He’s sacrificed a few points of scoring to become a much better rebounder and since he isn’t the only scoring option anymore he’s able to give a bit more effort on defense. He hasn’t fully got his shot back but he was never a terribly efficient shooter to begin with, instead transitioning into a rim-running dunker who can’t be left alone on the outside. For everyone around him, that’s a much more valuable version of Kristaps than the one who played for the Knicks.
21 – Who’s the 3rd scoring option?
I was hopeful before the season that Tim Hardaway Jr. would be an impact player for this team and boy has he delivered. He isn’t the player he was with the Knicks but he isn’t being used in the same fashion. He starts most of the time but happily takes over whenever Luka needs a break and thrives in that role. He’s shooting well and can wreck a game if you don’t have a quality defender on him. Seth Curry is also thriving in a spot up role where he’s putting in 12 points per game on five 3-point shots attempted per game. Behind those two are a slew of forwards scoring 9 per game each, benefitting from Luka’s beautiful passes and lobs.
Bonus – J.J. Barea is still playing?
He isn’t playing much but he’s doing better than a lot of other 35 year olds. Hey, everyone needs a LeBron stopper, right?
22 – Who’s taking the shots in crunch time?
Well Jokić has been hilariously casual with his play in crunch time as he’s taken the most shots late in the game. Jamal Murray is unsurprisingly close and Barton follows him, but the surprise for me is the topic of our next question. Michael Porter Jr. took the 4th most attempts in crunch time per game and was surprisingly effective. Paul Millsap rounded out the top 5 in this category.
23 – Is Michael Porter Jr. going to break into this rotation in a big way? Will Bol Bol?
So Bol Bol didn’t play this season but Michael Porter Jr. did. And while 14 minutes per game isn’t exactly “a big way,” it’s certainly something. Mike Malone trusts Porter to play well and he did. If he keeps his per minute splits and was able to play, say, 32 minutes per game, he would be putting up very strong numbers. As the roster shifts around and Porter keeps developing, he should be able to be a very impactful player for Denver down the line.
24 – Is Nikola Jokić a top 5 passer in the NBA? If he is, is he the MVP?
We won’t be able to answer this question because Jokić isn’t a top passer this season, but he’s close. Stay with me as we do some theorizing, but he was 8th in total assists and was only 8 behind Lillard in the 6th spot and Denver has played one less game than Portland. Jokić falls all the way down to 15th in assists per game at 6.9, but one more assist per game (I know going from 7 to 8 is considerably more difficult than going from 3 to 4) and he would again jump to 6th over, again, Damian Lillard. So while he likely wouldn’t be MVP even if he were a top 5 passer, he isn’t far off that mark and he’s certainly the only center who’s coming remotely close.
Bonus – Will Denver play for home court in the playoffs or try to keep their guys fresh?
With the Lakers in a commanding lead over the West there’s no way Denver could catch them and even catching the second place Clippers who are only 1.5 games ahead would be a bit of a stretch. However, there’s no resting your players in the West, especially this West, due to how deep the conference is. With 5 teams having a reasonable shot at the 8 seed and an absolute bloodbath occuring between the 2-7 seeds, there’s no way Denver could afford to rest anyone. Gripping onto that 3 seed is the best Denver can do right now and they’d probably be very happy if the season went straight into the playoffs.
25 – Kyle Lowry?
26 – Can Andre Drummond get better around the rim?
He improved marginally; about 2% within 5 feet of the rim and 1% from 5-9 feet, but he wasn’t able to reach his best season totals from 2016/17. It doesn’t matter much now considering he’s a Cav now, but the improvements weren’t necessarily special.
27 – Does Blake Griffin deserve an Oscar for acting like he’s happy here?
We can only assume he does because there haven’t been any major rifts so far. He has been injured for a large portion of the season and was out indefinitely when the season was suspended, but with Detroit committing to a rebuild he has to be tired of the situation. Detroit is probably open to offers and ought to be getting ready to offload him in the near future.
Bonus – Has Derrick Rose returned to NBA starter material?
I would probably say yes despite him not starting for most of the season. He probably would have started for a lot of teams in the NBA given his value off the bench. An 18/2/6 line with decent shooting and defense off the bench would fit anywhere in the NBA and probably would have netted him an All-Star selection if he was a starter.
Golden State Warriors
28 – Can Steph win the scoring title? What about MVP?
29 – Can Steph and Draymond drag this team to the playoffs?
30 – How well can D’Angelo Russell play off the ball? Will Kerr stagger him and Curry?
Well both parts of these questions weren’t necessary considering Curry was hurt for most of the season. In fact, Steph didn’t even play enough minutes with any one player to qualify for the NBA player lineups statistics.
Bonus – Will anybody be healthy at the end of the season?
It’s tough to say but the answer was looking like everyone but Klay would be ready to go. Steph was ramping back up when the season was called and the rest of the crew was pretty steady for most of the season.
Bonus – Was dealing Andre Iguodala a mistake?
For the way he’s been playing in Miami, this is another no. Iguodala has been a bit of a liability in Miami all things considered and he would not have been a good match with this team. Winning generally fixes problems so any sort of rifts between Iguo and the team might have been exposed this season. Good job getting a return for him.
Bonus – Is this the worst bench unit of all time?
Well it’s tough to say considering 22 players have donned a Golden State jersey this season and only 4 remaining have started more than 30 games. It certainly wasn’t looking great with the likes of Omari Spellman and Ky Bowman leading the ranks, but it certainly could have gone worse. We’ll give them a sympathetic no.
Bonus – Quick, name 3 player not named Curry or Green.
31 – How long until Harden and Westbrook are fighting?
The regular season began on October 22nd and Harden and Westbrook had their first argument on October 25th. Call it what you want, I call it efficiency.
32 – Who gets the blame when they do?
The media got some of the blame but for the most part they just tried to tell us that we didn’t see what we saw. They have a great relationship and I’m sure they’re friends off the court, but we all know they just aren’t a match on the court.
33 – Can Russ revive his jumper? Can he play off the ball?
Russ has never been a good shooter from three so we’ll choose to exclude those numbers. After we do that we see a significant rise in both his 2P% and his eFG%, both coming out to the highest marks in his career. Also, it’s safe to say that once he fully adjusted to playing a more off-ball role behind Harden, those numbers jumped even more and his 3P% is higher as well. Westbrook has played great basketball for the Rockets and has only been improving as the season went on. We know that Russ can’t be the best player on a championship team, but this version of him in a backup role might be able to work (somewhere else).
Bonus – Is this team long-term or a win now experiment?
It’s neither because not only does this team lack the roster to compete long-term, but they don’t have the firepower to beat either LA team or Denver in a seven game series. They might be able to beat Utah and anyone else behind them, but this makeup cannot win a championship.
Bonus – Are you REALLY interested in anything other than this?
Well I hope you were because this devolved pretty quickly. From trading away Clint Capela to playing permanent small ball, there was a lot to grimace at in Houston. The fans have to be feeling sick about the contracts left on the roster and the results they’re currently pulling in. I know I would.
34 – Is this the year for Myles Turner?
No, but that isn’t his fault. Turner is shooting much better than he ever has and while his general numbers are down, his efficiency is up. Sabonis broke out in a big way and that contributed to Turner’s inability to break out, but he’s still a valuable piece, especially as a shot blocker.
35 – Is T.J. Warren really going to be better than Bojan Bogdanović was?
Better? No. But Bogdanović’s last season in Indiana produced an 18/4/2/1 slash on 49.7% shooting from the floor and 42.5% shooting from range. Warren has given Indiana an 18/4/1.5/1 slash on 48.6% shooting from the floor and 42.8% shooting from 3. They’ve essentially been the same player and that’s all Indiana could have hoped for considering how good the rest of the team has played.
36 – Are one of the big men getting traded?
Luckily the answer is no. Sabonis and Turner have played 1069 minutes together this season and turned a net rating of 2.1. Granted, they have one of the slowest paces in basketball with that lineup, but it’s still a positive result. It’s always fun to watch big guys play well together and Indiana has found the formula to make that work harmoniously.
Bonus – Will Oladipo be the same player when he returns?
The first game back from injury Oladipo hit a buzzer beater to send the Bulls into overtime and dominated the extra period to win the game. He hasn’t been shooting too well and didn’t put up his regular numbers, but it’s very difficult to come back from a serious injury perfectly adjusted to the speed of the NBA. He wasn’t the same player when he got back but he’ll certainly be okay going forward.
Los Angeles Clippers
37 – Is Paul George the same player with a mechanical shoulder? Will he even stay healthy?
The shoulder hasn’t been a serious issue for George this season and since returning he hasn’t needed a real break at all. Despite his numbers dropping across the board thanks to the influx of talent around him, George’s shooting numbers have gone up in every category. So we’re delighted to tell you that the shoulder hasn’t been a problem!
38 – Will Zubac suffice at center?
I’m glad I wrote this question as “suffice” instead of “thrive” because Zubac has been perfectly fine at the starting position. He pulls down a bunch of boards and hits most of the shots he takes, but there’s no need for him to be a bully in the paint. With Harrell coming off the bench they have found a perfect split to maximize their time on the court.
39 – Where is the shooting if Shamet goes down?
There’s a bunch of players that are above the league average from 3-point land for the Clippers but there aren’t many blowing the doors off of anyone. PG is hitting 39.9% from range and Shamet is close behind at 39.2%. Behind Patrick Patterson is in the 38% range while Beverley and Harkless fall into the 37% range. Kawhi, LouWill and JaMychal Green are all in the 36% area, but to put themselves over the top they should go after a lights-out shooter like Bertāns.
Bonus – How many DPOY candidates are on this team?
This year there aren’t very many considering the team defense is so good. Leonard and George obviously have the potential and on most nights Beverly and Harrell can give that type of production, but no one is wowing the league this season besides the occasional dominant night.
Bonus – How many 6th Man candidates are on this team?
There’s two this season and one of the two is very likely to win the award. Lou Williams is the obvious candidate as he puts up 18.7/3.1/5.7 with good shooting. Montrezl Harrell is the one giving Lou a run for his money as he’s putting out 18.6/7.1/1.6 with a block per game. Were I voting I would probably give Harrell the nod thanks to his defense, but either player has a chance to win it.
Bonus – Will they play for home court or load management?
A mix of both is apparently the formula for whoever is calling the shots in the organization. Leonard has taken his share of days off as have other players, but for the most part they’re doing just fine in 2nd place in the West. If George had been healthy the whole season they might be gunning for that top spot but the Lakers are too far ahead to get the first seed, plus it wouldn’t make a difference in an LA-only WCF. So good on the Clippers for hitting both notes at the same time.
Los Angeles Lakers
40 – What if the LeBron downturn is actually here? What if he can’t stay healthy?
It’s not! LeBron is putting out another MVP caliber performance that’s only been outdone by Giannis this season. He’s scoring, running the offense, and leading the NBA in assists, an incredible feat for a forward.
41 – Can Anthony Davis stay healthy?
So far so good for Davis who only had to sit out an extended period of time from a hard fall. There’s been nothing of concern, no non-contact injuries or ligament problems rearing their heads, everything has been clean.
42 – Is Danny Green the most important player on the team?
Thankfully for the Lakers he isn’t. They wouldn’t be as good of a team without him, but Green has not been a staple. Of Lakers taking more than two 3-pointers per game, Green ranks second behind Caldwell-Pope in percentage and in overall scoring. While he does bring big game poise, leadership, and consistency, he hasn’t been the guiding force this season and that’s good news for the Lakers.
Bonus – Does Frank Vogel have any control of this team? What type of leash does he have?
Vogel has been a very good coach for this team and I believe he’s riding the line between hands on and hands off perfectly. LeBron is the leader of this team and he generally has been for every team he’s played for, but Vogel is making sure everything hums. He’s been great with rotations and finding matchups that are exploitable. He knows strengths and weaknesses well enough to make unique lineups that might not be extremely efficient, but rarely ever hemorrhage a lead. Vogel has been just as instrumental as the players on the court to getting the Lakers to where they are now.
Bonus – The bench mob looks fun, but will it work?
They’re working to an extent. We initially thought LeBron was gathering all of the players he hated in one place to kill them all efficiently, but this team is really performing. The biggest criticism, however, is that this team becomes very stale and predictable when LeBron is on the bench as Rondo isn’t the creator and initiator he used to be. Derrick Rose and other backup point guards were rumored to the Lakers around the deadline not to add reinforcements, but to get some scoring and playmaking so LeBron could rest. The Lakers can survive with LeBron on the bench, but cannot thrive.
43 – Is Jaren Jackson Jr. going to have a usage rate of over 40%?
This would have been ridiculous had it happened but it didn’t need to happen since Ja Morant has been on a ridiculous tear. Jackson’s usage rate has been consistent around 23 percent while Morant’s has been hovering around 25. Jackson has been more efficient at stretching the floor and he is scoring a bit more, but he does need to become more efficient around the rim to be the scorer he has the potential to be.
44 – What the hell is going to happen on offense?
See above! Ja Morant has been fantastic as a scorer and facilitator and the roster has six players who average over 10 points per game. Dillon Brooks and Jonas Valenčiūnas have been solid as third and fourth options and Brandon Clarke has been a surprise spark off the bench. With so many decent options around the floor there’s always someone to go to for an okay shot.
45 – What does Memphis define as success for Morant’s rookie season?
It has to be this, right? He isn’t even close to his peak and he’s leading his team in scoring and passing as well as leading them to a playoff spot when everyone thought this team had a top five pick written all over it again. This is a franchise block player that they can really build around. The key to winning championships is good value from cheap contracts and Morant is the definition of that.
Bonus – Where is Andre Igodala going?
Miami, but Memphis ought to be happy with their haul. Getting Justise Winslow and dumping some contracts at the same time should be very valuable as Winslow won’t be the go-to playmaker and he can thrive in a more secondary role.
Bonus – Have you ever looked at a roster and thought “Oh yeah, he’s in Memphis!” more than you have with this one?
They aren’t all still on the team but: Brooks, Valenčiūnas, Iguodala, Jae Crowder, Solomon Hill, Grayson Allen, Tyus Jones, Gorgui Dieng, Kyle Anderson, Anthony Tolliver, Jordan Bell, Marko Guduric. My goodness.
46 – How long until CP3 is on the team?
Isn’t it interesting how the season played out for both the Heat and the Thunder? The Heat didn’t really need Chris Paul at any point of the season and the Thunder ended up not wanting to deal him. We should have been looking at Danilo Gallinari and Andre Iguodala, but you can’t blame us for not seeing that coming.
47 – Is Dion Waiters going to steal all the clutch shots from Jimmy Butler?
He didn’t steal any clutch shots but he did steal the spotlight. Between injuries, gummies, and disapproval between him and the organization, Waiters built up enough disagreement to finally be dealt in the Iguodala trade. Some players just can’t fit into the Heat culture.
48 – Will Dragić or Winslow get dealt?
We saw it happen with Winslow. Dragić became too integral to the offense to be moved but Winslow had too many injuries and just didn’t have a good role to fill. He probably reached his peak playing in Miami so dealing him with a few years left on his contract was probably the best move.
Bonus – Can Jimmy Butler lead a team past the first round? What happens if he can’t?
Well I can’t say for certain but I’m going to assume yes. The Heat seemed very happy with Butler and the players had a good relationship. The coaching and front office is always solid in Miami and the team was absolutely humming along. It’s possible that they got an undesirable first round matchup with the Pacers or Sixers, but those are two teams the Heat can beat in a seven game series. They won games in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Toronto, Indiana, and Dallas and secured some other impressive wins along the way so I’m comfortable saying Miami could advance.
Bonus – Is Tyler Herro the best shooter in this class?
He’s pretty damn close. Of rookies who took at least 100 shots from behind the arc this season, Herro is just behind Cameron Jonson in 3P%, 39.7% to 39.1%. Herro has potential to be a Klay Thompson type player if he continues to improve and could operate as the spot up microwave that teams need to win a championship.
Bonus – Is this the year for Bam Adebayo?
Hell yes it is. Adebayo isn’t a superstar just yet but I don’t think many people would argue if you said he was a top 10 two-way player in the NBA. With increased minutes and a starting role Adebayo has suddenly gone from a 8.9/7.3/2.2/0.9/0.8 slash to a 16.2/10.5/5.1/1.2/1.3 line, improving most of his stats by close to 50%. His field goal percentage has gone down a bit thanks to the increase in shots but not enough to be anywhere near concerning. Adebayo is the glue for this team to win.
49 – Will Giannis develop a jumper?
Bear with me through some numbers here, or if you don’t want to, jump to the bolded section below. From last season to this season, Giannis improved 3.5 points on all jump shots, from 34.5% to 38%. From 8-16 feet his shooting improved from 35.1% to 38.6%, another 3.5 point increase. From 16-24 feet he improved a marginal 1.4 points up to 41.4% and from 24+ feet he jumped 4.6% to 30.6% on the season while taking 71 more shots from that distance. Taking all but 10 of his 3s from above the break this season, he improved from 26.2% to 29.9% from those shots. If you don’t want to read those numbers, Giannis took more jump shots than layups for the first time in his career this season. On the trend that he’s following, his jump shot should only be getting better and better and considering he’s just 25 years old, that jumper is likely going to become a problem. If he becomes a league average 3-point shooter he’s going to end up in the running for being the best player of all time by the time his career is over.
50 – Who’s making shots other than Brook Lopez?
Apparently a lot of players felt the need to get better from the outside and that’s what they did. For players shooting over two 3s per game, George Hill, Khris Middleton, and Kyle Korver are all hitting over 40%. With İlyasova and Wes Matthews hitting above league average as well, Milwuakee’s shooting is far from a concern.
51 – How much will Malcolm Brogdon be missed?
Brogdon is playing very good basketball in Indiana and Milwaukee would love to have him on the team, but Eric Bledsoe and George Hill have been just fine. Hill is hitting 44% of his 3s and the two point guards combine for 8.3 assists per game. Neither players are liabilities on defense and both bring something to the game, so Brogdon is a bit of an afterthought for the NBA pacesetters.
Bonus – Is Milwaukee in “win now” mode?
53-12 and without their last five would be 52-8. Absolutely.
Bonus – Is Giannis getting an extension?
He isn’t getting one this season but that’s by his own choice. The consensus around the league is that these next two seasons, this one in particular, will decide whether he signs on for another contract or leaves for greener pastures. A championship or near miss might get him to stick around. Anything else and most experts think he’s gone. Hence the winning now.
52 – How can Karl-Anthony Towns become the best center in the league?
He needs the other top centers in the league to lay off a bit. There’s an argument to be made that if he was on the teams that Jokić, Davis, and Embiid were that he would be that player, but he isn’t right now. He’s so close to becoming that player and it isn’t his fault that he isn’t that player, those other guys just have better teams and play slightly better defense because of it. With a full season of DLo it wouldn’t be surprising to see Towns claim that title of top center.
53 – Will Andrew Wiggins ever live up to the #1 pick?
Not for Minnesota he won’t.
54 – Will Andrew Wiggins ever stop taking bad shots?
Not for Minnesota he won’t.
Bonus – Will Josh Okogie win Most Improved?
There was some improvement in some areas and there was a bit of regression in others. This could be a sophomore slump but Minnesota has to pray that it isn’t Okogie hitting a wall. The award will go to a player like Brandon Ingram or Bam Adebayo but the T-Wolves can’t give up on Okogie just yet.
Bonus – What the hell is Minnesota doing?
I’m still not sure exactly what Minnesota’s plan is but their team is very young. Only James Johnson and Evan Turner have over 4 years of experience and Turner won’t be around next season. Getting these players to grow into valuable NBA pieces is a must for Minnesota or else this rebuild will have to reset again.
New Orleans Pelicans
55 – What happens when teams realize Zion can’t shoot and just go under screens?
Apparently they get hosed by the second heaviest player in the NBA coming downhill with a head of steam. Zion doesn’t need to shoot to be an effective player close to the basket, he can just use his size and athletic ability to bully whoever gets his assignment.
56 – Can Zion bully players like he did in college?
Like I just said, his size and athletic ability are translating very well and a lot of the players defending him just have to hope he misses and try to box him out. He jumps too high to block and he’s too strong to push off his spot. Even with the injuries he’s a nightmare from 10 feet in.
57 – Do the Pelicans have a starter who can shoot 30% from 3?
They actually have a few. Brandon Ingram has shown out as one of the elite pure scorers in the NBA and he’s hitting well from range. Jrue Holiday is also shooting well from distance, but the player that I didn’t expect to see toward the top of this list is Lonzo Ball. Ball has completely turned his shot around and is now a pretty reliable shooter, hitting about 38% of his attempts. Combine that with consistency from Redick, Moore, and Melli and you have a pretty nice group to bomb the basket.
Bonus – Is this it for Brandon Ingram?
This season would probably have been his last real shot at being a franchise player and he took it well. He’s scoring 24 PPG and he’s shooting from the line and from 3 at a ridiculously higher clip than he was any other time in his career. He must have really needed a chance of scenery because all of his numbers are up and he’s turning into a star on the wing.
Bonus – Where is the All-Star on this team?
BI and Zion. We’ve already gone over them, but Ingram and Zion are going to be perennial All-Stars and ought to be gunning for those All-NBA teams sooner rather than later.
New York Knicks
58 – Is Fizdale going to get fired when this team is bad again?
David Fizdale was fired and the Knicks are still a joke. They claim their stadium is the Mecca of basketball. Mecca is a beautiful landmark, the symbol of a culture, religion, and lifestyle. The Knicks are a radiant, pulsating abomination, vomiting on their own shoes and calling it progress. David Fizdale has shown to be a very good coach that can win a playoff series. To supply him with this product, a mix of rejects and aging, arthritic chumps who wouldn’t be able to put together a winning season in a thousand years and heap the blame of a lamentable season on him is an embarrassment. For a team that hasn’t done anything relevant for two decades, even this is bad. James Dolan is a scumbag loser and deserves none of what he’s taken from this team. The Knicks may have once been a beacon of basketball, but those days are no more.
59 – What the hell are these rotations going to look like?
Horrible. Disgusting. Everything you could have imagined at the beginning of the season. This roster didn’t have a chance at putting together decent lineups.
60 – Should RJ Barrett start?
Barrett has started every game but one that he’s played in and I’m glad that’s the case. He’s getting 30 minutes per game against NBA opponents and that’s only going to make him better as a player. The more time he can get on the court the better.
Bonus – How many power forwards can you play at the same time?
Just about every lineup the Knicks threw out had at least three at a time.
Bonus – How many people will Jim Dolan ban from his arena?
We’re not sure but it has to be thousands.
Oklahoma City Thunder
61 – Wait, this team is still good?
Yep. Tied for fifth and owning the tiebreaker with *chef’s kiss* the Houston Rockets are OKC, point guarding their way to a very good playoff spot. They’re solid on both ends of the court and like to slow it down, examining all of their options and probing for good shots. A blend of youth, experience, and undoubtedly some motivation from everyone counting them out has vaulted them into a very desirable spot in the playoffs.
62 – Is Chris Paul going to have to demand a trade or will it just happen?
Neither! Paul is a great fit with Gilgeous-Alexander and Gallinari and probably wouldn’t mind a second season in Oklahoma City if the team can figure out how to get another star.
63 – Will Steven Adams have one of the biggest jumps in defensive rebounding ever?
Adams is grabbing about two more defensive rebounds per game, but it isn’t a monumental gain. It’s actually a bit ironic that his new point guard, Chris Paul, is affecting the other point guards into playing like himself and grabbing too many boards for Adams to profit off of. Maybe if OKC played with a bit more pace and urgency, but they’re happy with slowing things down and don’t really care about stats, just piecing together wins.
Bonus – Will OKC go nuclear? Who’s going to be left?
Not at all! It would have been fun to see how good other teams might have become had the Thunder decided to offload everyone, but this team is good and they might try to run it back next season.
64 – Is this it for Markelle Fultz?
The Magic probably would have let Fultz finish out his contract if he didn’t play well, but he’s turning things around anyway. With a 12/3/5/1 slash, he isn’t a top point guard in the league but he’s certainly backup material. If he can ever unlock his old self he’s going to get a starting job somewhere.
65 – Can Mo Bamba break into the rotation?
Bamba got some playing time but his stats and minutes actually went down compared to last season. He’s clearly not a player that the team is invested in going forward and he’s not going to be able to jump Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon, or Nikola Vučević in the rotation. He’ll probably be held onto for another year then get his option declined unless something drastic happens.
66 – Terrence Ross for 6th Man?
Ross certainly isn’t having a bad season, a 14/3/1/1 slash is valuable for a backup shooting guard, but he isn’t going to be outgunning any of the Clippers players. Ross is absolutely the most valuable bench player for this team and his scoring while Fournier is out keeps them on as a fringe playoff team. He’s just not going to be able to compete with Williams or Harrell.
Bonus – Is Aaron Gordon a great dunker or a great player?
He’s just a great dunker. It’s very frustrating watching Gordon try again and again to up his game and just fail. For the second year in a row his stats have regressed. The Magic have to be thankful that his contract is frontloaded. Gordon’s next deal should not be close to what his current deal is.
67 – Is Ben Simmons an all-time great if he gets a jump shot?
Back to theorizing! If we average out some of the best players in the NBA’s 3-pointers per game we come out somewhere around 2.3 made per game. Let’s make the assumption that Simmons can tack on those seven extra points per game to bring his total numbers to 23.7/7.8/8.2/2.1. That’s competing with LeBron for the best stats in the NBA. Simmons is already a top-3 defender in the NBA so adding a reliable jumpshot with his size and passing ability probably means he’s on the all-time great trajectory.
68 – Is Joel Embiid the go-to in crunch time?
When he’s healthy he’s the guy. In the clutch Embiid is taking an average of two shots and scoring at a clip of 52.4%. He hits 46% of his 3s and bumps his FT% up to 92. The only player on the Sixers to take more shots per game in the clutch is… Alec Burks… and the only player with a better +/- is Ben Simmons who takes considerably less shots. Embiid is the go-to for the Sixers and that’s that.
69 – Will Josh Richardson be better than J.J. Redick?
Well that depends on how you look at it. Redick played for a bad team and came off the bench for a portion of the season with a slash of 14.9/2.6/2/0.4 at 45.2% from 3. Richardson has started every game he’s played in for a good team and produced a 13.8/3.4/3.1/0.9/0.7 with a dismal 32.7% average from 3.
Bonus – How will Brett Brown play Embiid and Horford?
Horford played in a total of 60 games for the Sixers and started them all while Embiid played in just 44, also starting them all. Of all the 2 player lineups with the other starters, Embiid and Horford played together the least and it made a lot of sense to operate that way. With the lack of shooting on the team, especially from Ben Simmons, it makes no sense to stuff the lane with at least three defenders when players are trying to post or drive. At the minimum getting some spacing was important. The tandem was also able to operate in a way that never gave a break to good opposing centers. Finding enough spacing to keep them on the floor full time would be nice but the Sixers seem to be treading water at the moment.
Bonus – Can Tobias Harris score 20 a game again?
He’s very close at 19.4 PPG so it’s safe to say it isn’t his lack of production that’s keeping the Sixers from unleashing their full potential. Simmons and Embiid have struggled to stay on the floor and the rest of the team simply can’t shoot. If anything, Harris’s consistent scoring has kept the Sixers competitive this season.
70 – When will enough finally be enough?
Apparently not this season. Phoenix has so many players getting meaningful minutes that just produce terrible numbers per minute. Aron Baynes and Frank Kaminsky are key contributors and Deandre Ayton is taking PEDs. Devin Booker has less support than most seasons and if it weren’t for Kelly Oubre absolutely exploding this season he would have no help at all.
71 – Is Deandre Ayton All-NBA material?
Well, maybe this season isn’t the right one to evaluate Ayton since we’ve been cut short and he was suspended for most of the front end. But from what we saw the answer is no. With Jokić, Towns, Embiid, Gobert, and Davis playing so well, we can’t give the nod to Ayton yet. Putting up 19/12/2/1/2 is a nice line, but the scoring isn’t high enough to edge the players ahead of him.
72 – Can Mikal Bridges become Jayson Tatum?
If he has the potential, we’re not seeing it this season. Comparing Bridges to Tatum this season would be unfair, but Mikal hasn’t even reached Tatum’s rookie numbers. He’s stuck on 8 PPG and his passing and defense have actually gone down. Phoenix would be ecstatic if Bridges could even get to Tatum’s rookie totals, but it won’t be happening this season.
Portland Trail Blazers
73 – Is this team better or worse than they were last year?
If you’ve watched any basketball this season you’d immediately recognize that Portland is nowhere near as good as they were last season. Lillard is scoring a bit more but the supporting cast is much weaker. The situation might be a bit better when Nurkić gets healthy again, but this is a fringe playoff team as it stands.
74 – They’re going to dump Whiteside and Bazemore for another star, right?
Well if Trevor Ariza is your definition of a star then I suppose Bazemore was, but Portland decided to stand firm at the deadline for the most part. The Carmelo Anthony deal working out helped make that decision a bit easier, but flipping Whiteside and some other pieces for a better player like Kevin Love would have been nice to see.
75 – How much will they miss Seth Curry?
Portland would love to have Seth Curry on the roster but he wouldn’t be the difference maker for this season. Curry is averaging 12.6 PPG in Dallas this season which would put him as Portland’s 7th highest scorer for players with over 50 games played. Portland doesn’t really need more shooting, they need defense.
Bonus – Is Anfernee Simons the next great point guard in the NBA?
It’s not looking good for this to come true. Simons is insanely athletic and is a quality basketball player, but he isn’t going to be a superstar, at least not on this team. With Lillard and McCollum ahead of him he just won’t be able to solidify the minutes he needs to become the player who so many thought he could be. It’s possible he comes along eventually, but he just doesn’t have what it takes to fend off the Morants, Balls, and Whites of the world.
Bonus – Is the depth good enough to make it back to the Conference Finals?
As we already discussed, absolutely not.
76 – Who’s the primary scorer here?
Fox and Hield are pretty tight with their scoring totals as Fox is tipping just above 20 points per game while Hield is just under at 19.8. Hield is taking a ton of threes and making them at a decent clip while Fox likes to play closer to the rim. I would have liked to see Marvin Bagley up around these same totals but it seems as though he may be stuck.
77 – Are Hield or Bogdanović getting extensions?
Hield got himself a new contract fairly early into the season at four years for $94 million. Compared to some other players around his production range, that’s not a terrible price. I suppose Sacramento feels as though Bogdanović is replaceable but I wouldn’t be so willing to let him go were I in charge. He’s a dependable scorer and does a bit of everything including pass and play defense which is a bit of a rarity for shooting guards in today’s game.
78 – What will De’Aaron Fox be like on offense?
Fox tried to dedicate a bit of his talent to shooting from the perimeter last season and he was fine at it, but this season he seems more interested in attacking the paint. With his explosiveness it’s probably a good decision, but it has come at the slight expense of some passing, defense, and shooting. The passing and defense are a bit negligible when you tack on the additional 3 PPG to get Fox to 20, but you would still like to see him knock down the outside jumper with a bit more consistency.
Bonus – Will this team care about defense?
Last season the Kings just tried to outscore everyone and put out a defensive rating of 115.3. This season that’s turned around a bit with Luke Walton in charge and they’ve clipped that number down to 110.9, from 26th in the NBA to 17th. That’s all well and good, but when it also results in your offense dropping from 9th in the NBA to 23rd, that’s a big issue. We all understand that the West is stacked and there have been injuries in Sacramento, but you have to find a balance that doesn’t totally destroy whatever offensive chemistry you had last season. There’s a lot of young pieces in this core and finding a sweet spot for them is more important than implementing a premeditated philosophy.
San Antonio Spurs
79 – Who’s the All-Star on this roster?
For the first time this century the Spurs didn’t send a player to the All-Star game.
80 – Can careful shot selection and turn-around 13 footers make the playoffs anymore?
Not when the league is so balanced. For the first time since 2010 the NBA is wide open and anyone can win. That’s bad news for a team that just doesn’t shoot the three well. “Defense wins Championships” is the mantra of a bygone era. Now you need shooting and athleticism to pair with defense and the Spurs just don’t have the stars to supply that. LMA and DeMar are both solid players but neither can be the first option on a team that wants to survive in this league.
81 – Will the Spurs try to make a move or just roll with what they have?
The Spurs probably felt pretty good about their chances of surviving down the stretch thanks to their consistency, but the herculean efforts of Damian Lillard, Ja Morant, and Zion Williamson have San Antonio gasping for air. They might not have had the pieces for an impact player but at least trying to make a move would have been nice.
Bonus – Can San Antonio still bank on the culture, or is it maybe time for a change?
I’m not calling for a coaching change, but there needs to be a roster turnover. The tiki taki basketball that Popovich coaches can win a championship, they just can’t win one without the shooting. DeRozan and Aldridge need to be replaced by more modern players.
Bonus – How much fun will it be to have Tim Duncan around again?
There hasn’t been too much excitement apart from the game he coached in place of Pop and actually pulled out a win.
82 – Do you care about Toronto? Does Canada care anymore?
Holy smokes does this look like a stupid question in retrospect.
83 – Is Ujiri going to blow it up or will he try to make it work with Siakim and Lowry?
There’s no trying about it. Siakim and Lowry and doing it.
84 – Is OG Anunoby untouchable?
An above average shooter who can lock up wings and handle the ball off the bench? He may not be as impactful as his profile calls for him to be, but the Raptors shouldn’t think of offloading him unless the deal is too good to pass up.
Bonus – Wait, can these guys win a playoff series?
With the overall improvements across the roster, this team could put up a fight against any team in the Eastern Conference. They beat a lot of good teams away and should be able to win at least a series if we ever get to the playoffs.
85 – How much is Donovan Mitchell going to shoot?
Mitchell’s usage rate is resting around 30% and that’s a really nice amount for him because it’s high enough that he’s not going to be discontent but low enough that he won’t be taking poor shots. The addition of Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanović made me skeptical that his offense might dip but his stats on that end of the floor have actually improved. He’s getting better shots with consistency and making more of them as an effect.
86 – Is Mike Conley still a great player?
No. It’s as we feared, Conley is over the hill and his best days are behind him. Not only are his injuries flaring up again, but he’s a much less efficient shooter and his defense is dropping off. Quin Snyder isn’t exactly sure how to implement him the right way and Utah just doesn’t click right when he’s playing over Ingles.
87 – Will Dante Exum and Conley stay healthy?
As we just mentioned, Conley is having more injury issues though he’s only missed around 20 games which is more desirable than his 2017/18 season in which he missed 70. Exum didn’t play much but he was also traded for Jordan Clarkson who has been very helpful down the stretch for Utah.
Bonus – Will Utah make a “win now” move?
The Jordan Clarkson move was the one that was made just before Christmas and it’s looking like a great move. Clarkson is putting up 15.6 PPG with strong interior scoring above average numbers behind the arc. He isn’t a liability on defense and he can create his own shot so Utah has to be happy with his play.
Bonus – Wait, does Utah have the best team in the NBA?
Well they don’t in terms of record, but were they to clean up the losing streaks a bit they would be close. They score very well with good shooting from Mitchell, Bogdanović, Ingles, and O’Neale, the defense is still anchored by Gobert, they have experienced veterans who know what it takes to win, and they have a young star on a small contract. That’s what the best teams look like and even though they don’t have the superstar duo that some other teams have, it would be foolish to count Utah out of any series.
88 – Does anyone else feel bad for Bradley Beal?
After being snubbed for the All-Star game Beal scored 50 points on back to back nights and lost both games. We have to get him out of there as soon as that deal allows.
89 – Is Ian Mahinmi still grossly overpaid?
This season Mahinmi is making 15.45 million dollars for a 7.4/5.7/1.3 slash with 1.2 blocks per game in just 38 games played. Yes. The answer is yes.
90 – Is Rui Hachimura the 2nd best player on the Wizards? Can he be the Rookie of the Year?
He can’t be Rookie of the Year with Ja out there and he probably isn’t the second best player on the squad with Bertāns shooting the way he is, but he’s third best at worst. Hachimura is third in scoring and second in rebounding while playing extremely efficiently from inside the arc. He’s a very bad 3-point shooter but that can develop later. Getting his staple moves down and adjusting to the NBA is what they needed him to do this season and he’s shown that he has the potential to be a starter going forward.
Bonus – Will John Wall still be John Wall? Should he even play this season?
John Wall will not be playing in the NBA this season so we just have to hope for his full recuperation next season.
91 – Who would benefit most from Andre Iguodala?
The Heat aren’t getting very much from him in terms of production. He’s 36 years old so a natural decline makes sense, but the Heat couldn’t afford that to happen. One of the Los Angeles teams, Utah, or Milwaukee would probably have been the best landing spots. Those teams are all scoring well and play very good defense so his stats would be less meaningful. The mindset, experience, and demeanor he brings are the most important assets so those teams would have benefitted the most.
92 – Coach/Executive of the Year awards are up for grabs, who ya got?
The shortlist for Coach of the Year is probably one of Billy Donovan, Nick Nurse, and Eric Spoelstra and I would have to go with Nurse. Getting Toronto back to 2nd in the East after losing two of your four best players is incredible. For Executive of the Year I have to give it to Sam Presti in OKC. This team getting to the playoffs is special, but getting it to the playoffs after getting Chris Paul for Westbrook and a king’s ransom for Paul George is especially impressive. The Thunder are playoff bound and have a loaded draft even if they don’t make any more deals.
93 – First and last year of the coach’s challenge?
I don’t think so just because coaches are still learning how to use it. Too often it was wasted on a meaningless non-scoring foul early in a game instead of saved for something more important late in the game. Once coaches start to understand how to strategize with it I believe it’ll catch on quickly. (Side note: coaches shouldn’t lose the challenge if they win it. They deserve to keep it!)
94 – Will the NBA finally put free agency ahead of the draft?
This can’t really be answered right now. The NBA might completely change their schedule to take advantage of the pandemic so we really have no idea what will happen in those terms.
95 – Will we ever get restructured playoff seedings?
As usual there were murmurs, but nothing substantial came of it. The closest we’ll probably come in the next few years is a reseeding of the final four teams, but getting the owners to hold themselves accountable doesn’t seem likely to happen.
96 – Who’s getting snubbed as an All-Star in the West?
Because Damian Lillard was injured Devin Booker wasn’t snubbed, but Karl-Anthony Towns was. Despite a 26/11/4/1/1 slash, he didn’t make it. However, the argument always comes up that you would need to replace someone and I don’t think we could really do that with such a loaded team this season.
97 – Who’s getting the pity spots for the East?
Were the playoffs to begin right now that would be Brooklyn and Orlando. Both have losing records with 30 wins and neither have a chance at winning a series. Orlando might win a game but Brooklyn would be swept by whoever they play whether Kyrie was on the court or not.
98 – Will this whole thing with China really affect the league?
Not particularly. It was a weird scenario, but especially now with the pandemic no one really remembers what happened and that’s probably for the best.
99 – Can Giannis repeat as MVP?
Not only can he, but he will. LeBron has a very compelling statistical argument but the Lakers would still be a decent team without him. Without Giannis the Bucks would struggle to make the playoffs.
100 – What teams are getting snubbed from the playoffs in the West?
Right now that looks like the Pelicans, Blazers, and Spurs. The Spurs had a chance if everyone stayed where they were, but the Grizzlies absolutely took off. The duel between the top two picks of last year’s draft is very compelling but if the season ended right now the Pelican’s comeback bid would just be a hair too short. As for the Blazers, they’ve been consistently sub-par all season and they wouldn’t be able to put up a fight if they made the postseason. Grizzlies/Lakers will at least be fun to watch.