Warriors, LeBron James headline winners from NBA's restart plan
The paused season mercilessly came to an end when the NBA announced only 22 teams would be making the voyage to Walt Disney World. That's OK by the Warriors. They've been in offseason mode began, as they prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft.
The NBA restarting on July 31 and going through the start of October gives Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green more time to rest and recuperate as they prepare to start the second part of their dynastic run. By the time the NBA restarts with training camp in early November, Thompson will have had 17 months to recover from his torn ACL.
Exhaustion, injuries and a roster reset caused the Warriors to recalibrate their dynasty. Having the once and (future?) kings of the NBA get months of rest while the other top dogs duke it out deep into fall should give the Dubs the upper hand next season.
Losers: Utah Jazz
The Jazz lost Bojan Bogdanovic for the season and the NBA's restart plan, which includes eight "seeding games," now puts the Jazz in a position they didn't want to be in.
Had the NBA elected to go right to the playoffs, the Jazz would have had a favorable matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder in Round 1. Now, with eight games being played before the playoffs, that gives the Houston Rockets enough wiggle room to sneak up into the 4-5 matchup to face the Jazz. Of course, things could get even worse. If the Jazz start to plummet without Bogdanovic, they could find themselves with the No. 7 seed, facing the loaded Los Angeles Clippers in the first round.
All the Kings could ask for is a shot, and the NBA gave them that by electing to go with a 22-team format that gives the Kings the chance to make a playoff push.
The Kings were playing good basketball when the season was paused and sit only three-and-a-half games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed. Sacramento will face a tough road to get to the playoffs, though, as the Kings will face Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans twice, as well as games against the Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Indiana Pacers.
Still, the Kings got an invite to the dance. The rest is up to them.
Losers: Team that loses NBA Finals
On a positive note, teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers get to try and finish out their seasons on a high note.
But the shifting of the NBA calendar will give whichever teams comes up short in the NBA Finals little offseason time to rest. Game 7 of the Finals is slated to be held Oct. 12 and training camp set to begin Nov. 10, which would give the team that battled deep into fall and missed out a ring about a month to rest before getting back at it.
That could specifically hurt teams with older rosters like the Lakers and Rockets.
Winner: LeBron James
LeBron James isn't getting any younger, and this likely is one of his best remaining chances to win a title while at the peak of his powers.
A canceled season would have robbed James of a chance to win his fourth ring and bring a title back to LA alongside new running mate Anthony Davis. James and the Lakers getting a chance to win the title is a positive in itself, but couple that with the fact that James will have had almost five months to recharge his body by the time the games tip back off and you have a hungry, rested LeBron ready for a title run.
If the Lakers win the title, there should be no asterisk.
Losers: Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards
Congrats to the 21st and 22nd teams invited to Disney World.
You get to bring your players and staff to Orlando, assimilate to the bubble environment, go through training camp, play eight games and then probably go home.
Four teams and six games are between the Phoenix Suns and the No. 8 seeded Mepmphis Grizzlies, making Devin Booker's playoff debut unlikely. The Washington Wizards had one of the easiest schedules remaining, but the seeding games changed that. With five-and-a-half games between them and the Orlando Magic, the chances of the Wiz overtaking them are slim. Washington could get within four games and force a play-in tournament, but it will be a hard ask with a tough schedule.
Enjoy Florida, though.
Winner: James Harden
For the last five years, James Harden and his inability to come through in the playoffs has been directly tied to the dynastic greatness of Steph Curry and the Warriors.
The Warriors have eliminated the Rockets in four of the last five playoffs with Harden going missing in a number of important moments.
Now, Harden will get his chance to make a playoff run without the Warriors standing in his way. s
Losers: Memphis Grizzlies
Ja Morant and the Grizzles had to be praying for the NBA to just start the playoffs.
The Grizzles will enter Orlando as the No. 8 seed, but their seeding games won't be easy. Memphis slated to have one of the most difficult closing stretches in the NBA, and the Grizzlies likely will have to face Zion Williamson and the Pelicans twice in their eight seeding games.
The Pelicans, Kings and Portland Trail Blazers already are within the four games needed for a play-in tournament, and the Pelicans and Blazers are well-positioned schedule-wise to push the Grizzlies.