NBA After Coronavirus Outbreak
Hopefully the 2019-20 NBA season might get suspended and not canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak worldwide. Let’s look at how the current hiatus affects championship contenders.
It feels like it’s been 10 years but it’s actually been less than three weeks since the NBA officially suspended the season. We miss basketball a lot, especially because this NBA season was extremely competitive with no dominating dynasty on top.
The NBA Championship was attainable to many teams, this season was wide open, many stars were on the rise and all of us fans were ready to witness an epic stretch run of regular season games and an unforgettable NBA Playoffs.
The league will be on hold until June or July… if we are lucky. It can make a return with a shortened schedule, go straight to the playoffs based on the seeding the teams had at the moment it was suspended or in the worst-case scenario it can get cancelled altogether. It all depends on how the country recovers from COVID-19.
We are in a time when we need all the optimism we can get so let’s assume that the association will return, play some regular season games and have the playoffs to crown the NBA champion as usual.
All this being said, how will this extender layover affect the teams looking to make long playoff runs? Aside from the obvious rust and missing basketball, let’s see where some of these teams left things off and what we can expect from them when the NBA is finally back!
Jayson Tatum made a significant leap in the middle of the season and while the Celtics were just 2-4 in their last six games, the layover from basketball activities can hurt Tatum. He was having an All-Star caliber season before he was named an Eastern Conference reserve but he was playing at an exceptional level in February, averaging 29.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his last 16 games.
Tatum even matched his career-high 41 points in a game against the Lakers and his shot selection had improved significantly. His teammate Marcus Smart tested positive for the coronavirus, soit’s good for the Celtics to have plenty of time to self-isolate. The problem is that from a fantasy standpoint all of this can slow down Tatum’s rise.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers were finally fully healthy and while they lost 112-103 against the Lakers on March 8, they are 2-1 against them this season and 10-1 with a plus-11.6 point-differential in 11 games with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell in the lineup.
They were also 7-1 in their last eight games and their new players Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson were starting to jell with the rest of the team and the regular season stretch run was supposed to help them build momentum ahead of the playoffs.
As for a fantasy outlook, this team is so talented and deep that just a bit of practice together before the season resumes can be enough to make them pick up where they left off.
Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James is 35 years old, in his 17th season in the league but he is playing some of the best basketball of his life and he was even leading the league with 10.6 assists per game (a career-best for him).
The Lakers had the best record in the Western Conference pretty much secured; however, as much as James will prepare and be ready once the league returns, every month that he doesn’t play gets us closer to the end of his career. That said, he will be able to recharge and for fantasy purposes be even better once the playoffs start. A rested James is a scary thought but it can’t be denied that the momentum that the Lakers had was interrupted.
Even after losing 113-103 against the Lakers on March 6, the Bucks still have the best record in the league and they’re the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. They lead the Lakers for the best record in the NBA by 3 games, they had a league-best plus-11.2-point differential and their defense was formidable. The only concern fantasy-wise is rust but once the association returns this team will be fully healthy and ready to go after the NBA Championship.