Wednesday, January 15, 2020

NBA 2020 (Visions)

A) Memphis has the best young core in the NBA. Give me Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke, and duck duck Brooks, over any other youth-filled roster. Their front office is not only drafting talented players, but assembling a roster that works in orchestra together. If given the opportunity, this is the team with the most long-term upside. Hell, they're a playoff contending team  right now, albeit in a weaker than expected battle for the West's final playoff spot. Still, the Grizzlies play a Western Conference schedule.

Memphis has a nice pace to their offense, while also fitting it to their talent. The youngsters also go hard at opposition. Coach Taylor Jenkins is both taking advantage of his own opportunity, and installing a competent brand of philosophies on both sides of the ball. Utilizing young player's gifts and skills is no easy task. They've assembled a roster that fits, while also creating units that showcase versatility on defense. The new Grizz have begun sharpening their claws. (Side note: Outlets backed by Disney or HBO may have beat me to this, but I swear this has been in my draft folder for over a week. I know, bad on me. I am but one man. A man who loves hoops.) 

B) For as good as OKC and Indiana are, both owners of winning records, I don't see either pushing their way into The Finals. Billy Donovan's a good coach who's finally able to showcase his ideas. The Thunder play smart, especially down the stretch of games in large part due to Chris Paul. OKC plays hard, team-first basketball, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is legit.

McMillan's another coach putting in work. Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis have really grown this year as players, both are performing at all star levels. These two teams play the right way. Maybe they do have a shot. Which leads me to this, are we sure we know who will make The Finals?

Most eyes are on LA. Milwaukee's path is still easier. What about Denver? Can Houston pull a rocket out of their ass? What if Utah's the dark horse we thought they were coming into the season? Can't Dallas represent the West with a top five player? Is Boston a David in plain sight? Why can't Toronto once fully healthy return to The Finals? Is Philly really this bad, or can the Sixers flip the switch? Why not Miami? That's what 82 games and three playoff rounds are for.

C) Is Erik Spoelstra the best coach in the NBA and the most underrated? Sure he has Pat Riley in the background pulling strings and dropping rings. But the two of them seem to work in concert with one another. They draft properly (Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro), spot diamonds in the rough (Kendrick Nunn), and target the correct high-end talent (Jimmy Butler). All players who mesh well within the culture of working hard and doing it the Heat way. Miami holds multi-million dollar athletes accountable. They also sometimes fleece teams. Getting rid of Whiteside and bringing in Meyers Leonard, another hard working, team-first player, helped to facilitate the acquisition of Butler. From the front office down to the bench, this team knows who they are.

The Heat do many things well; they play team ball, they buy-in on offense and defense, and more importantly, they play hard while playing to their strengths. Miami has guys who will go to war on the basketball court, guys with fire in their bellies—with the exception of Dion Waiters, who's a total imbecile. I'm intrigued to see how far this group can go in the playoffs.

D) Will there be any major trades made? Does a contender make a splash or wait for the buyout market? Does a team like Portland, who had extremely high expectations go all in, or just play out the season? What about the three-way battle between the Blazers, Spurs, and Grizzlies for the eighth spot? Memphis still has Iguodala to use as bait. Which really bad team, if any, will sell its parts? I'm looking at you Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, NY, Minnesota, Phoenix, Sacramento, and possibly Orlando. Whether or not trades will be made, they certainly spice things up. Only in the NBA!


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