After Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for Covid-19 on March 11th, the NBA suspended its season without further notice. However, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojansiwoski, the NBA will allow teams to re-open their practice facilities on May 1st, meaning the NBA season may resume soon. Nevertheless, with players quarantine for almost two months, it’s certainly had a positive and negative effect on them.
Before the NBA’s hiatus, there were several players who suffered season-ending injuries. However, since the season has been postponed, there’s a possibility they can make a return for the rest of the 2019-2020 NBA season. Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant was ruled out for the 2019-2020 NBA season after suffering an Achilles injury in the 2019 NBA Finals.
The Nets are currently the seven seed in the Eastern Conference, and if Durant does return this season, he could certainly boost the Nets to the top of the conference.
Nets guard Kyrie Irving underwent season-ending surgery on his shoulder. Still, with an extra three months of recovery, he could potentially return around playoff time, giving the Nets a chance to feature their deadly duo for the first time all season. The Nets have been struggling to win games consistently this season with Irving leading the way; however, the return of Irving and Durant surely make the Nets one of the favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
The Portland Trail Blazers are currently the ninth seed in the Western Conference. Despite being decimated with injuries all season, they’re only three games behind the eighth seed. The Blazers have been without their big man all season in Jusuf Nurkic and backup power forward Zach Collins.
The Blazers are the worst bench scoring team in the league, which has been the downfall of this team. Especially after the loss of Rodney Hood, the Blazers need consistent scoring off the bench. The return of Nurkic will give the bench a substantial paint presence and paint scorer, which will boost their bench in scoring. Zach Collins would also bring a positive impact to the bench with his added scoring and ability to stretch the floor.
Players Without Hoops
Even though the NBA will have a mandatory 25-day training camp when the NBA season does return, some players haven’t shot a basketball in two months.
Players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Gordon Hayward, and Jayson Tatum all have been denied access to a hoop. Missing out on two months of shots will affect a player’s rhythm, and it will take time for them to get back into their regular shooting form. Antetokounmpo could’ve used this time to develop his three-point shot and become almost unguardable, but missed out on valuable time due to him not owning a hoop.
Jayston Tatum, who is the go-to scorer for the Boston Celtics, doesn’t own a hoop, and this will certainly hinder his shoot. Tatum was on fire before the season was suspended, and this will affect his rhythm when he returns.
Even though these players do not have a hoop, there’s no doubt in my mind they will still be ready when the NBA season is resumed. Still, they have lost the chance to develop and improve on any weaknesses they had and will certainly be behind other players in shooting when the NBA returns.
The term load management has been a constant debate between NBA fans. Load management is the art of sitting out games to keep your body in peak condition for the playoffs. As much as people hate it, it works, and players have had two months of it.
Players like Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Lebron James now have had ample rest time and have their bodies are most certainly ready for a dominant playoff run. We should see very little load management to end the season, as the seeds in both conferences are relatively close, and teams cannot afford to slip down one or two spots in their respective conference.