NO BS Sports Writing Zone: NBA Restart Preview (Grizzlies/Magic/Nuggets/Lakers)



By: Robb Johnson

Headline Photo Credit: Darrell Owens-LMS Network

The NBA restart is right around the corner and the its time for an article from the NO BS Sports Writing Zone. The goal of this article is to talk about my four teams, the Memphis Grizzlies, Orlando Magic, Denver Nuggets, and the Los Angeles Lakers. 

Memphis Grizzlies

Photo courtesy of Sporting News

Let us start with the Grizzlies, their record before the shutdown was 32-33, they are currently three games in a half games up on the Portland Trailblazers and the New Orleans Pelicans for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference . The Grizzlies are a young and upcoming team that has benefitted from a weaker conference than it has been in a long time. However, the team only won 33 games in 2018-2019, the biggest reason for this change in the team’s fortune is Ja Morant. The rookie is averaging 17.6 points per game, along with 6.9 assist per game. Jaren Jackson is the next best scorer with 16.9 points per game. The Grizzlies have a great chance of making the playoffs, but their issue is they will either run in the Lakers or the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. The team has the feel of the old school Thunder with Westbrook and Durant. Their time to make any big moves is not now. Their youth and experience will give them some advantages, but the biggest disadvantage is not having the crowd from the FEDEX Forum to cheer and keep the young team motivated. Imagine all the rookies in NBA history to even one-year players if they did not have that crowd noise, how much worse could some of those series had been?

The bottom line is the Grizzlies have a bright future, but this NBA restart will bring the playoffs, but their life span will be truly short.

Orlando Magic

Photo courtesy: Bleachers Report

The Orlando Magic like the Grizzlies are in a tough position, where their chances of making the playoffs are extremely high. They also have a great chance to pass the Nets who look depleted at this point, for the seventh seed in the Eastern conference.  They are five in a half games up on the Washington Wizards, who will not have the services of MVP candidate Bradley Beal. 

The Magic are unlikely to catch six seeded Philadelphia who are nine games up on the Magic at the moment, the teams leading scorers include Nikola Vucevic who averaged 19.5 points per game and behind him is Evan Fournier who averaged 18.8 points per game. The Magic are another young team who are deep and have a lot of talent. In their last six games they started off 0-3, then ended with a three-game win streak before the season was suspended.

The Magic like the Grizzlies have a bright future, but they are looking at either the Raptors or the Bucks at this point. If they play the Bucks, they will get a game, if they play the Raptors, I believe they can get at least two games. But things will end without any Disney World fairy tales, going out in the first round of the playoffs. 

Denver Nuggets

Photo courtesy of USA Today

The next team on the list is the Denver Nuggets, the Nuggets are loaded coming into the restart. Nikola Jokic had the coronavirus, but he is expected to rejoin the team for the restart of the season. Jokic averaged 20.2 points per game, 10.2 rebounds with an impression 6.9 assist per game. Jamal Murray is second on the team, for 18.8 points per game. The Nuggets will need to continue to be strong if they want to contend against the Lakers who they are 1-2 against, including a fourteen-point win. They are 1-1 against Clippers, their lost however was a 29-point beating so they will need to fix that. The Western Conference in the middle is tight right now, the Nuggets are 1.5 games up on the Utah for the third seed in the conference. 

The fifth and sixth seeded teams are one game behind Utah, those teams include the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets. The Dallas Mavericks are currently one in a half games back of those teams, as they sit in the seventh seed. 

As constituted the Nuggets would play the sixth seed, so let us look at their record against teams from the four to seven seed. 

The records are alarming when it comes to the Nuggets, lets start with the Jazz. The Nuggets are 2-0 against the Jazz. The Nuggets won two of three against the Thunder, their loss was by 12 points. The Nuggets played four games against the Rockets and they could not have gone anymore different, the Rockets dropped two games, but then defeated them by twenty-six and sixteen points. Finally, the Dallas Mavericks, they only lost one game to the Nuggets in three games. They defeated the Nuggets by three points, and sixteen points. The Nuggets will need to fix some of their woes, so they can reach their goal of going to the NBA Finals.

The question is can they make it to the finals, my feeling is they will run into a really good team in the first round that will go seven games, and that will weaken them going into the second round where I think they will go down ultimately.

Los Angeles Lakers 

Photo courtesy: NBA.com

The last team in my article is the Lakers, even though they do not have the best record in the league, that belongs to the Milwaukee Bucks, it can be argued that they have the best duo in the NBA. 

Some may think that Lebron James is leading the Lakers in scoring, and that is not the case. It is awfully close, but the title of leading scorer belongs to Davis. Davis leads the team with 26.7 points per game, while James is averaging 25.7 points per game. The Lakers like in the Kobe and Shaq days have two superstars and then a bunch of decent players who know their role. I have predicted that Davis is going to take his status from superstar to mega star living legend status with this upcoming restart. I really believe that he about to unleash a hell on this league that has not been seen in an exceptionally long time. The Lakers are motivated, I feel that they are prepared. Having to face this Lakers team where its all basketball and all business will result in literal beat downs until they get to the Western Conference Finals. 

When they get to the Western Conference Finals, the Clippers will be waiting, they will be the Lakers toughest test taking them to seven games. However, I feel that when its time to shine, James will outplay Kawhi Leonard sending the Lakes show to the NBA Finals. 

When they get there, I believe they will be facing the same team the made the NBA Finals last year in the Toronto Raptors. The series will look lopsided, by some experts who feel that the Lakers will dominate. 

However, I believe the Raptors will have them sweating. I believe the Raptors will go up 3-2 and all the pressure will go to King James. In this instance, I believe James will muster up the same energy he did in game six against Boston where he ripped their hearts out and had them running for the borders. 

The series will be great, the game seven will be awesome, eventually the duo of Davis and James along with a great game seven contribution from Dwight Howard will propel the Lakers to another championship. This series will grow the legend of James, simply because he has a Lakers uniform on. 

This restart and playoffs could possibly go down as the best Lakers run that we’ve seen since their epic Portland series back in the day when they came back from fifteen down to get to the NBA Finals, it will be that type of excitement starting with the Western Conference Finals.

No matter how you slice it, all four of these teams are almost guaranteed to make the playoffs, where honestly in 2020 anything can happen. The last time we had a shortened season, the eight seeded Knicks made the Finals. So, sit back and enjoy the NBA coming to you from Disney, where somebody will be the eventual 2020 NBA champions.