As the NBA returns in a bubble format, NBC Sports Washington's Nick Ashooh and Wes Hall discuss some of the biggest storylines.
Wes: Nick, the NBA restart has so many opportunities for cool things happening both on the court and off it. Beyond any coronavirus-related topics, what are some of the things you're most excited to see or better yet hope to see?
Nick: Big thing from a non-basketball standpoint has to be how players handle this weird routine. It's just such a unique situation. You know how often I harp on the "mental side" of sports. I really think bubble fatigue can be a real factor. The teams that have the most success are the ones that come together and stay focused on what they're there for. It's why this is the hardest championship an NBA team has ever tried to win.
Wes: You're absolutely right about the mental side of this entire situation. Never before have athletes been asked to perform under conditions such as these. I'll go a step further and say this might be the hardest championship to win in sports period. I can't recall anything similar. Can you?
Nick: No way. We know the whole world is different right now and clearly this bubble will be no different. Although I'm sure if LeBron wins another title you'll say it's watered down.
Wes: I can't help it if my knees won't allow me to kneel at the throne of King James. Lol, besides, it's not guaranteed the Lakers are winning it. They have to overcome the Clippers, Bucks, and JR Smith's late-game decision-making.
Nick: Haha the J.R. Smith thing is so true. He's already been told to chill on all the IG Live stuff because he's showing too much. Our reality show idea just keeps adding more reasons to exist. I love the Clips though man. They're so deep, you almost forget how many guys they added to that roster. Remember how they were picking guys up to keep them from going to the Lakers? It was like an episode of Hoarders.
Wes: And the strategy works bc now the Lakers are down [Avery] Bradley and [Rajon] Rondo. I think I have a solution for the NBA's concern over JR and others.
Nick: What's that?
Wes: Send me to the Bubble. Sit me in a room with a 20-monitor wall with closed-circuit security access. I'll watch all screens wearing a referee-striped hoodie and whistle. Give me a PA microphone and I will chastise any player violating (or at least by my perception of violating) quarantine protocols. They can call me "Wes the Bubble Snitch" and it'll be awesome!!! ...for a small fee lol.
Nick: So you just want to spy on everyone? This feels like a terrible decision. But maybe some time around LeBron will help you understand his greatness.
Wes: The most entertaining ideas tend to be the worst ones. Lol I need you on board with this. You coming to the Bubble with me?
Nick: As long as we don't have to share a room.
Wes: No room shares...gotta be able to scream at the screen while on 2k or Madden.
Nick: By the way, I really see at least one surprise team pushing through.
Nick: A team where everyone comes together and just doesn't feel any pressure in winning.
Wes: The Rockets could be 'that' team.
Nick: See I was thinking that too only because they have so much talent but they just do things so...weirdly.
Wes: Houston is a sneaky team that can catch you slipping if you're not focused or prepared
Nick: It's crazy because the West is so loaded but I don't see anyone knocking the Bucks out in the East. Maybe Boston but the rest just can't compete with Giannis and Milwaukee.
Wes: I concur. The East belongs to Milwaukee...for now. I will say that I'm genuinely interested to see how Giannis or Joel Embiid could fit into a theme park ride. THAT would be something to see.
Nick: I think there's height limits on BOTH sides of the spectrum. By the way speaking of Embiid and Philly, the Sixers want to try and use Ben Simmons only at PF. They're nuts he's never comfortable off the ball and all he'll do is clog the middle and force Embiid away from the basket. That's clearly on its way to disaster.
Wes: The Philly process is nowhere near the Philly Special. Moving Simmons to PF must be a backhanded way of saying "since you don't shoot threes, come on inside and try something else." It feels weird...kinda like his relationship with...let me stop before I say something lol
Nick: Yes, a name we shall never speak of, but a family curse that ruins all athlete's careers.
Wes: Here, Here!!
Nick: Ok one last thing...Zion or Ja [Morant] getting into the playoffs?
Nick: I see the Pels sneaking in
Wes: Ja has the motor, but Zion has the roster. I'm with you on the Pels
Nick: They'll overcome Portland and Memphis I think. Plus Zion lost some weight so that can be huge for him. The NBA needs him in the playoffs too
Wes: Indeed, this is All-Stars on deck! See what I did there? haha But seriously, we're witnessing history right now, and to the victors go the spoils. Regardless of the conditions, a championship is on the line and someone has to win it. We'll keep an eye on it and hopefully I won't have to eat any crow.
Nick: It's gonna feel different but NBA fans are starving for a chance to watch games again. I can't wait to see how this goes.
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