Sports

Teams to watch for when the NBA resumes playing

Giannis Antetokounmpo will look to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA title since 1971, when they were led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Antetokounmpo has a solid supporting cast featuring Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe.

The National Basketball Association announced its intention to resume the 19-20 season at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, with the goal of resuming the season July 31. Here is what you need to know to get caught up. 

The Milwaukee Bucks, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers were the most dominant teams before the coronavirus, and they will be the teams dominating the conversation when the league finally picks back up. 

The Bucks sit at 53-12 and have a simple, yet effective, formula for winning games. They give the ball to Giannis Antetokounmpo, let teams collapse the defense on him in an attempt to stop him and hit the wide-open threes with all the real estate he creates. The team has more than enough capable shooters in the Lopez brothers, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and veteran Kyle Korver. 

With all that being said, last year’s play-off proved that the “wall” defense strategy, where the team loads up on Antetokounmpo near the top of the key in transition can effectively slow him down enough to give the defense enough time to set up. 

The key player to the Bucks’ success is going to be former all-star Khris Middleton. If Middleton can play at the level he did last season, he will take off a lot of the offensive load from Antetokounmpo, allowing the team more than one way to attack the basket. 

The Lakers have LeBron James, Anthony Davis and a 49-14 record. LeBron has proved over and over that he only gets better in the playoffs. Combine this cast of supporting characters who know how to plan alongside the best player in the league, and you have a tough team to beat.  

What really gives this team the advantage is its discipline and consistency. The team has a wealth of depth that flows naturally on both sides of the floor. With role players such as Danny Green, Alex Caruso and JaVale McGee, the team doesn’t have any true weaknesses. I expect them to hit the ground running when the season starts back up. 

With that being said, this postseason will be the first meaningful playoffs that Davis will be playing in. We don’t know if he will be able to maintain his superstar play when the lights are the brightest. 

The Clippers coasted through the regular season but still ended with a 44-20 record. The duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George provides the foundation to their bedrock defense. 

Players like Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams and Pat Beverly back up its scrappy defensive identity. They are not a team you want to be matched up with and there is reason to believe they will be even better in the playoffs. 

Despite not getting a lot of attention, the Denver Nuggets are a sleeper team with three big secret weapons you should not ignore. Nikola Jokic is a point guard in a 7’0” frame. The man can hit any pass on the court and makes the team’s offense move like butter. 

Jamal Murray, despite being inconsistent at times, is becoming one of the most dangerous point guards in the league with the ability to make a shot from anywhere on the court. 

And last, but certainly not least, Michael Porter Jr. is a slasher in every sense of the word. He also has all the space in the world to operate with bullseye passes from Jokic and Jamal Murray. 

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