With the NBA scheduled to return, there are plenty of headlines surrounding the upcoming field of play. Here, we dive into the top stories and which team will ultimately prevail:
Who is the best team in Los Angeles?
The ongoing rivalry between the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers could result in a playoff series between the two sides. During the regular season, the Clippers won two of the three total matchups over the Lakers; holding a +6 point differential in the three games.
However, the Lakers sit as the top seed in the Western Conference by 5.5 games, and have the most road wins in the NBA to date. With the time off, both rosters are surely healthy enough to compete to their full efforts.
For the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard is averaging more points (26.9) than both Anthony Davis (26.7) and LeBron James (25.7). Meanwhile, James is averaging a league-high 10.6 assists per game, while Davis is ranked second in blocks per game (2.4).
Will Nets, Wizards regret stars not returning to lineup?
With an NBA Championship on the line, will select teams regret their biggest stars holding out until the end of next season? Surely a player’s health is the top priority, but both the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards have not been tempted to secure the largest advantage’s for their respective rosters.
Kevin Durant is coming off a torn Achilles from the NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors. Despite rumors, he is not expected to join the 7th-seeded Nets. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as Brooklyn inked a four-year, $164 million deal during free agency in July of 2019.
As for the Wizards, John Wall is still rehabbing from a ruptured Achilles tendon from December of 2018. There have been rumors that Wall is at full health, but both sides have agreed that it is better for him to sit out until the start of next season. The Wizards currently rank 9th in the East, but still have a chance to play their way into the playoffs.
Which “outside” team is most likely to succeed in playoffs?
With the unorthodox twist involving teams playing their way into the playoffs, three teams have a legitimate chance to reach the playoffs.
In the West, both the Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans are on the outside looking in. Damian Lillard in fifth in scoring for Portland (28.9 points per game), while Hassan Whiteside is second in rebounding (14.2 rebounds per game).
As for New Orleans, they are relying on their younger assets in Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram to create momentum. Either way, both of the teams in the West would be a threat for top-seeded teams.
In the East, only the Washington Wizards are eligible to play their way into the playoffs. Despite the All-Star snub, Bradley Beal is second in the NBA in scoring (30.5 points per game). Considering Wall has not been apart of the team, the Wizards are defined as a true underdog story.
Does experience matter?
With the layoff, the more experienced NBA players might have an easier time adjusting back to competitive play. This year, most experienced teams are the Los Angeles Lakers (8.1 years of experience per player), Houston Rockets (8.0), and Milwaukee Bucks (7.7).
On the other side of the spectrum, the Boston Celtics are the third-least experienced team (2.7) in the NBA, yet hold the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.
Who wins it all?
Despite the unfortunate start to 2020, there is still an NBA Championship on the line. Many will try and play an asterisk next to the upcoming winner, but it shouldn’t take away from the competition at hand. Here are the latest odds for the team most likely to win it all this summer:
|Los Angeles Lakers||+250|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+333|