2020 has been a year of surprises all across the board. In the sports world, one of the biggest? Ben Simmons shooting, and actually making, 3-Pointers. As well as starting…at power forward? When you look at this 76ers offense over the last few years there has been one man leading the offense from the PG position. And that’s 6’10” Ben Simmons.
It’s not unusual nowadays to see bigger players in the NBA run the offense. With stars like LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic as the primary ball handlers in their respective offenses. It’s what the 76ers have done to mix it up (and it’s what they should’ve been doing) that has drastically improved their title odds.
The Sixers have had a very underwhelming season. They were considered early favorites in the East after Kawhi Leonard bolted for the Clippers, and Kyrie Irving left his Boston squad for Brooklyn. The 76ers even signed PF/C Al Horford to a 4 Year/ $109 Million contract, which boosted their frontcourt alongside superstar C Joel Embiid. It turned out to be disastrous as Horford is arguably having the worst year of his career and there’s NO spacing in the lineup at all. They sit at 39-26 which is good for 6th place in the East right now.
Life Inside The Bubble
Insert Operation: Ben Simmons…..Big man? Shake Milton…Starting PG? “The Bubble” in Orlando has been all about experimenting with different lineups and trying out new things, and the Sixers may have found what they’ve been looking for all along. Rolling out a lineup of Milton-Josh Richardson-Tobias Harris-Simmons-Embiid, the Sixers have THRIVED and are dominating opponents in the few scrimmages they’ve had. Since starting at PF, Simmons has scored 23 points, dished out 18 Assists, and has also collected 18 rebounds and 4 steals. He’s done all of this while only having 6 turnovers and being a +30 while on the floor.
This new lineup gives the Sixers exactly what they’ve been looking for all season: SPACE. So this means Joel Embiid won’t have to come out and shoot 28 footers more than he needs to, and he can live in the paint where he’s most dominant. We also won’t be seeing Al Horford doing the same. This is where Shake Milton comes in. Milton, a 3rd-year guard out of SMU is known for his amazing performance back in February against the Clippers, where he dropped 39 points on 14-20 shooting (7-9 from 3) and tied an NBA record for most consecutive 3’s made over a span of games with 13.
With Milton at PG, and having shooters in Josh Richardson and Tobias Harris at the 2 & 3, the 76ers have all the spacing they need. Oh and if that’s not enough, Ben Simmons is shooting 3’s and hitting them. It doesn’t get any scarier than that. He’s averaging 17-8-8 this year without the 3-ball. Now imagine him with it. Teams are going to have to start playing up on him, and now that he’s at the 4? Good luck with your team’s starting PF staying in front of him. The sky is the limit for this new idea from coach Brett Brown, and I’m excited to see how much noise Philly can make in the East.
So You’re Saying There’s a Chance?!
The last 6 seed to make the NBA Finals was the Houston Rockets in ’94-’95. I’m not saying the Sixers will get there, but please don’t sleep on this team. With the crafty playmaking abilities of Ben Simmons (and yes for the 3rd time this article, he’s hitting 3’s now). The sharpshooting of Josh Richardson, and Shake Milton. Tobias Harris’ ability to create his own shot and knock down the 3. Oh, and let’s not forget about the most dominant C in the NBA, Joel Embiid. This 76ers team is locked and loaded and poised to make a deep playoff run.
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The small forward position is the most diverse position in basketball. The position requires the ball handling and playmaking of a guard but also the interior force of a big man. Because of these diverse skills, the small forward position has dominated the NBA over the past decade, with the past 8 finals MVPs playing the position (at least at the time). But in 2020 the position has weakened quite a bit. Kevin Durant has been injured all year, LeBron and Jayson Tatum moved positions to fill team wholes, and Giannis Antetokounmpo moved down to the four a couple of years ago to accommodate the NBA’s growing movement towards smaller lineups. However the position is still full of talent. Only active players in the 2019-2020 NBA season count, so a player like Kevin Durant will be excluded form this list. Without further a do, the Top Ten Small Forwards in the NBA. And yes, LeBron could be counted as a SF, but he you can say that for almost every position. He is not on this list.
10. Gordon Hayward
17.3 PPG|4.1 APG|6.5 RPG|.563 eFG%|.138 DEF WS|43-21 Record
Former all-star Gordon Hayward has a rough couple over years, but seems to have gotten back on track this year. After having a terrible injury in the first quarter of opening day in 2018, he missed all of that season and had a weak year last year. But this year Hayward has added back some strength and athleticism and his scoring has comeback to almost pre-injury levels. Hayward scores using a combination shooting and interior scoring. He is relatively athletic so he can finish at the rim, and he gets space to blow by because of his shooting and strong teammates who pull defenders away. Hayward also adds quite a bit of value as a defender because of his great build and effort. Overall, Haywards scoring numbers are kind of inflated by the fact that he gets lots of isolations and easy scores because of the gravity of teammates, but Gordon Hayward still adds lots of value as a scoring option and as a defender to a championship level team.
9. Bojan Bogdanovic
20.2 PPG|2.1 APG|4.1 RPG|.548 eFG%|.105 DEF WS|41-23 Record
Former Indiana Pacer Bojan Bogdanovic has made a nice career fro himself over the past couple years. Three years ago he played great defense on LeBron James and helped bring the eventual eastern conference champions to seven games. Last year he was the leading scorer on a Pacers team which got swept by the Celtics. Because of his play in that series, he got a bag from his current team, the Utah Jazz, in the offseason, and he has more than played up to his contract. Because of Mike Conley having a very disappointing season, the Jazz were in massive need for a secondary scorer, and Bojan stepped up. He has been scoring his career high points per game, using mostly perimeter scoring to make up that sum. He doesn’t provide much other value on offense besides scoring, but his elite shooting provides a lot of spacing for a Gobert-Mitchell pick and roll. Bojan isn’t an amazing defender but definitely adds positive value on that end. Overall, Bojan Bogdanovic is a great NBA player who adds a lot of value to a contending team.
8. Tobias Harris
19.4 PPG|3.2 APG|6.8 RPG|.528 eFG%|.122 DEF WS|39-26 Record
Tobias Harris has jumped around quite a bit in his career, but it seems like he has found his long term home in Philadelphia, and it can’t be understated how important he is to the 76ers. The 76ers have a desperate need for shooting, because they have Ben Simmons, and Tobias is a great shooter, being his main skill. Toby is also a great midrange shooter, reigning in shots using his six foot eight height which is tall for the position. Harris is a neutral defender I’d say, but it doesn’t really matter because he plays with so many great defenders on his team. Tobias isn’t any sort of playmaker, but again it doesn’t matter because he plays with Ben Simmons. Tobias Harris isn’t the kind of player who can be the top player on a good team in 2020, but him playing well couldn’t be more crucial to a Philadelphia 76ers finals run.
7. Jaylen Brown
20.4 PPG|2.2 APG|6.4 RPG|.559 eFG%|.119 DEF WS|43-21 Record
Former third overall pick Jaylen Brown, has been having the best season of his career so far. JB has grown tremendously this year as a ball handler, which makes scoring much easier than it had been for him earlier in his career. Jaylen is also an incredible athlete, which helps him score at the rim. Jaylen is also a good but not great shooter, which I think if he improved on he could become a transcendent offensive player. Jaylen is also a great defender. He is very athletic and has great instincts, as well as massive size, which helps JB be a great defender. Brown also employs a strong off-ball game which will be very useful in the future considering he plays next to such great scorers and playmakers. Jaylen’s biggest weakness as a player is his subpar playmaking, which is a problem considering that Jaylen’s natural position is shooting guard. Jaylen Brown is a great player but he needs some improvement if he is gonna be a second option on a future Celtics championship team.
6. DeMar DeRozan
22.2 PPG|5.6 APG|5.6 RPG|.530 eFG%|.049 DEF WS|27-36 Record
After being traded away from the Raptors, DeMar DeRozan has seen a decline in his production since arriving in San Antonio. However, DeMar is still great player. DeRozan’s greatest strength as a player is his incredible midrange game. DeRozan is one of the best midrange shooters of all time, scoring at a high volume there. DeRozan is also a very athletic player which helps him score at the rim at a high rate. DeRozan’s biggest weakness as a player is his lack of a three point jumpshot. Throughout his career he has been asked to shoot from that range, but once he got to San Antonio Coach Popovich cut it off. DeRozan is a strong playmaker, which comes from the fact that he played shooting guard in Toronto. DeRozan isn’t a good defender, but is definitely better than the numbers make him look. Overall, DeMar DeRozan is still a great player but is definitely showing decline.
5. Brandon Ingram
24.3 PPG|4.3 APG|6.3 RPG|.534 eFG%|.078 DEF WS|28-36 Record
After having a slow start to his career, Brandon Ingram has made a massive leap this year making his first ever all-star game. Ingram’s biggest leap that he made this year was in his three point shooting. In prior years with the lakers, BI had struggled from beyond the arc shooting only 33% from deep last year on only 1.8 attempts a game, but this year he increased both his percentage and volume to 38.7% from deep on 6.3 attempts which is vastly improved from prior years. Ingram also improved in the areas he was already strong in, like midrange shooting, finishing, and playmaking. However, Ingram still has room to improve. I think he would benefit a lot from adding an off ball game, which will be very useful in the future considering he plays with superstar power forward Zion Williamson. Ingram also has lots of room to improve as a defender. He isn’t very aware or tenacious, but that will come with experience, and one day I think BI will be a good defender because of his length and athleticism. I think he’ll make the kind of jump Kevin Durant made on the defensive end later in his career because of Brandon’s similar frame. To me, the thing that is most promising about Ingram is only 22 which means he still has lots of time to develop his wholes in his game. Overall, I think Brandon Ingram will be the NBA’s most improved player and has long and great career ahead of him.
4. Khris Middleton
21.1 PPG|4.1 APG|6.2 RPG|.577 eFG%|.172 DEF WS|53-12 Record
The two time all-star Khris Middleton has quietly become an amazing player over the past couple years. Khris Middleton has grown into a great scorer, which works great next to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Middleton is a great shooter, which creates lots of room for the Greek Freak to operate. But Khris wouldn’t be an all-star if he was just a shooter. Middleton isn’t a great ball handler but he can still get open enough to shoot midrange shots, which he is shooting 51.55% from, the best in the league this season. Middleton also has a strong post game, which is another way that he scores. Putting this all together, Middleton is one of the most efficient scorers of all time, almost shooting at a 50;40;90 spread. Khris is also a good defender, but definitely not as good as the numbers make him look. Middleton probably isn’t a good enough player to be the best player on a competitive team, but because he is on the Bucks he isn’t being asked to be. Khris Middleton is a great player, probably not the tenth best player in the NBA like Bleacher Report says, but he is still a top tier small forward in the NBA.
3. Jimmy Butler
20.2 PPG|6.1 APG|6.6 RPG|.474 eFG%|.103 DEF WS|41-24 Record
After two awkward seasons in Minnesota and Philadelphia, Jimmy Butler decided to sign with the Miami Heat this offseason. The Heat were not expected to do much, but because of the emergence of Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson, and the great rookie years of Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro, as well as the excellent play of Jimmy Butler, the Miami Heat have been playing amazing and are sitting in the fourth seed going into the bubble. The main reason that all of these young players had breakout seasons is the example Jimmy Butler set. Jimmy would show up at team practices at the three in the morning, setting a great example for how hard all of these young players have to work to succeed in the NBA. Jimmy’s best asset as a player is the incredible leadership that he has brought to this Heat team. But Jimmy isn’t just a locker room guy. He is also a great player. Jimmy Buckets brings lots of value on the offensive end, being able to score at all three levels. Jimmy is also the most talented passer on this list. Butler probably isn’t good enough to be the best offensive player on a championship team, but Jimmy still provides lots value on the offensive end. However Jimmy can be the best defensive player on a championship team. Jimmy is big at six foot eight, is fast enough to keep up with anyone, and has great instincts and is very tenacious. Overall, Jimmy Butler is one of the best small forwards in the NBA.
2. Paul George
21.0 PPG|3.9 APG|5.7 RPG|.530 eFG%|.112 DEF WS|44-20 Record
Coming off the best season of his career where he averaged 28 points per game, four assists, and finished third in defensive player of the year voting, Paul George had to make a big adjustment when he was traded to the already stacked Clippers. PG13 had a hard time adjusting early because he missed the first month of the NBA, but since then he has adjusted better to the Clippers system. Paul George is a very athletic player, and a great shooter so he has the ability to play well off Kawhi Leonard, but the move to Los Angeles has hurt Paul George in one major way. Paul’s strengths offensively are very similar to the Leonard’s, but they are just a little bit worse. The pair also plays the same position which makes PG13 have to move up or down a position quite often which can be awkward sometimes. Paul George is also an amazing defender just like Kawhi, so George will often be guarding the opposing teams second best perimeter player, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Paul, also like Leonard, isn’t a good playmaker which is a problem especially on a team which has a massive need for playmaking. Overall, Paul George is kinda like a Kawhi Leonard lite, but Young Trece is still a top tier small forward in 2020.
1. Kawhi Leonard
26.9 PPG|5.0 APG|7.3 RPG|.521 eFG%|.135 DEF WS|44-20 Record
The reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard has completely reinvented himself since his exodus from San Antonio. After spending a season in Toronto in which he load managed his way through the regular season, he then had an all time great playoff run in which he lead the Raptors to their first ever championship. Then, he packed his bags in the offseason and headed to his hometown in sunny Los Angeles. But he didn’t sign with the historic and already great Lakers. Instead, he signed with the Clippers which rocked the NBA to its core. Along with fellow elite small forward Paul George, he completely turned the franchise into a contender overnight. He was able to turn the franchise around because he is such a great player. His all time great man defense is his main skill. His defense is so good because of his amazing physical skills and tenacity. Kawhi is very fast and has extremely long arms and massive hands which allow him to keep up with anyone. He also is very tenacious and aggressive which will be important against some of the great players he will have to guard in a potential Clippers finals run. Kawhi very occasionally has mental lapses but overall is an amazing defender. Kawhi is also an excellent isolation scorer. He isn’t the greatest ball handler but he is very athletic but his midrange shot is Michael Jordan level. His scoring is very Michael Jordan like in general. But the way he differs from Mike, is his three point shooting. Kawhi’s shot isn’t Steph Curry level but his scoring from deep is still great. The Board Man’s biggest weakness as a player is his subpar playmaking, but because of the Clippers need for a volume playmaker Kawhi has made a mini jump this year. Overall Kawhi Leonard is by far the best small forward in 2020. Kawhi is number 1 on Top Ten Small Forwards in the NBA
Head coach Brett Brown has decided to give point guard duties to Shake Milton. Shake had been filling in for an injured Ben Simmons before the league shut down. During that time frame the second round 2018 draft pick showed some much needed scoring ability. In his last 9 games Milton averaged 17 points and 4 assists. On the season Shake is shooting 45 percent from three.
So what does Shake bring to the starting lineup? Shooting first and foremost. Shake can stroke it as a spot up shooter as well as off the dribble.
Another asset will be the length of Shake Milton on defense. Shake isn’t the quickest player, but he makes up for it with his 6’7 height and 7’0 wingspan. He can use that length to bother ball handlers and deflect passes.
It never hurts to have another facilitator on the court, as well. Another player with the ability to get others involved will allow Ben Simmons to be more aggressive. Also, defenses won’t be able to build a wall around Simmons and stagnate the offense.
Overall I don’t see a huge downside to this move. The Sixers are the epitome of position-less basketball with this lineup. Four different players can bring the ball up and initiate the offense. On defense they still have the same length that made it tough for the opposition to score. Most importantly it’s a 3-point shooting league and Shake Milton is a 3-point shooter. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid stand to benefit from the space created by Milton’s shooting prowess. It remains to be seen how far the Sixers can go, but it’s guaranteed to be interesting going forward.
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There have been many incredible shooting guards throughout NBA history. The late Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Ray Allen, George Gervin, Clyde Drexler, Reggie Miller, and of course, the great Michael Jordan. But as the careers of those great shooting guards of the past winded down, room for new players to step in has been made. In 2020, the shooting position is perhaps the weakest it has ever been, but there are still many talented players. Only active players in the 2019-2020 NBA season count, so a player like Klay Thompson and Victor Oladipo will be excluded from the list. Without further a do, the Top Ten Shooting Guards in the NBA.
10. Buddy Hield
19.8 PPG|3.1 APG|4.8 RPG|.544 eFG|.073 DEF WS|28-36 record
The 2020 three point shooting contest champion Buddy Hield is an electrifying player. Coming out of Oklahoma, Hield was expected to do great things in New Orleans with Anthony Davis, but it didn’t work out. However, when Buddy was traded to Sacramento for Boogie Cousins he had a breakout season. Hield finally started to show his incredible three point shooting, scoring 21 point per game on 42% from deep. Hield also has a strong on ball scoring game, and a strong off ball game, which useful when you play next to De’Aaron Fox. Buddy has basically no passing game which isn’t great, but not a killer considering he is a majority off ball player. Hield isn’t very athletic which is a big problem on defense, but he isn’t a defensive liability like Trae Young. Like his teammate De’Aaron Fox on the point guard list, he doesn’t belong with the rest of the players because of his major problems in his game, but Buddy Hield is definitely a good shooting guard in 2020.
9. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
19.3 PPG|3.3 APG|6.1 RPG|.514 eFG|.098 DEF WS|40-24 record
Second year star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been traded twice in his short career, but not because of weak play. He was drafted by the Hornets and traded on draft night to the LA Clippers. He had a good rookie season, especially showing out in the playoffs against Golden State. In the 2019 offseason, was traded to OKC for Paul George, and was expected to have a good season. However, he’s surprised everyone by having a breakout season. Shai has an incredible handle, which he uses to create open shots with ease. Shai also has a good jumpshot which he uses to keep defenses honest. He has a killer midrange game which is his main way of scoring. Shai also employs a strong passing game, but lacks the control and discipline of a veteran guard. This is very common in young guards however, and Shai has a long time to figure it out, and one day I believe he will be a great playmaker. Gilgeous-Alexander’s biggest problem as a player is his weak defense, which is definitely a problem. His awareness and effort are sub par but I believe one day he will become a good, if not great defender because of his long wingspan and his great height. The reason Shai isn’t higher on this list is because he still has a lot to learn, but being under the tutelage of the great Chris Paul should help solve these problems, and one day he might move up into the top five.
8. Lou Williams
18.7 PPG|5.7 APG|3.1 RPG|.476 eFG|.108 DEF WS|44-20 record
Reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams has become a great player over the past couple of years, which is odd considering that he was a role player of pretty much his whole career. Sweet Lou’s newfound success has come because he has developed a great scoring game. He is an awesome midrange and three point shooter, and because of his great handle he can get to the rim super easily, and he is a good rim finisher too. Lou is also a sneaky good passer, but not a great one, and not good enough to solve the Clippers big need for a volume playmaker. Lou’s biggest problem as a player is his bad man defense but the deep roster and amazing defense of the Clippers covers up his problem. Lou Williams isn’t higher on this list because he isn’t a very high impact player but Lou is still a great shooting guard in 2020.
7. Zach Levine
25.5 PPG|4.2 APG|4.8 RPG|.526 eFG|.077 DEF WS|22-43 record
The 2015 NBA dunk contest champion Zach Levine has grown a lot as a player since then. Levine is now a dominate scorer, at all three levels. He has developed a great three point shot this season, shooting almost 40%. He also is still a great dunker of course. Levine isn’t a talented playmaker but he has a decent control over his passing and rarely makes bad passes. He suffers a lot from his numbers being boosted by weak teammates, but he is still a very talented scorer. Levine’s biggest problem as a player his very weak defense, which has improved but his defensive awareness and his man defense are both still very weak. It is yet to be seen if Levine is a winning player, but he is definitely one of the best shooting guards in the NBA.
6. Jrue Holiday
19.6 PPG|6.9 APG|4.9 RPG|.514 eFG|0.91 DEF WS|28-36 record
Coming off a great season, Jrue Holiday has rose greatly in my rankings. Holiday is a great isolation scorer, and scored 21 points per game as a second option to Anthony Davis. He’s plays great as a second option on any team, which is what I like most out of a non-ball dominate shooting guard. Jrue also adds lots of value as a playmaker. His offensive numbers or a little down from last year, which is the reason he’s not ranked higher on this list, but he is still a good offensive player. Jrue’s biggest value however, as a player is on the defensive end. He is an elite isolation defender with high defensive IQ. All of this makes it sound like Jrue should be higher on this list, but he isn’t a big impact player, and doesn’t create that much gravity on offensive end. I think a trade to a team like the Nuggets or Hawks would be great for Jrue, because I don’t think he fits in with the rebuild in New Orleans. I think Jrue Holiday is a great player, but doesn’t make a large enough impact to be higher on this list.
5. CJ McCollum
22.5 PPG|4.3 APG|4.1 RPG|.525 eFG|.069 DEF WS|29-37 record
Coming off a Western Conference Finals appearance, expectations were high for CJ McCollum and the Portland Trailblazers. However, their season hasn’t gone as expected so far. The Blazers lost lots of depth this offseason, which has hurt their record, but has help CJ’s numbers. McCollum isn’t the first option on his team, that role goes Dame Lillard, but he is the second option and plays his role perfectly. McCollum’s main skill is isolation scoring, so that is all that is asked of him to do. When CJ plays the offense, and scores when he asked to. His offensive game is mostly midrange shots and three pointers. He also has an off-ball game and carries lots of gravity making playmaking and scoring for Dame easier. McCollum is an alright defender but doesn’t really add any extra value on that end. CJ excels at what is asked of him, which is to be a second option, and that is why he is a top 5 shooting guard in 2020.
4. Devin Booker
26.1 PPG|6.6 APG|4.2 RPG|.543 eFG|.067 DEF WS|26-39 record
In five NBA seasons Devin Booker has accomplished quite a bit. He had a good rookie season, but turned heads when he put up 22 PPG in his sophomore season. However, Booker has never really improved since then. Booker is one of the most explosive scorers in the league, having put up 70 points in a game once, but he isn’t really good at anything else. His game revolves around shooting midrange and three point pull up jumpers, which have varying effectiveness. Booker excels with the ball in his hands, and has a great off ball game, which I think will do him well if he ever gets to play with other stars. He isn’t a very gifted passer and is prone to errors, most of his assists come for being a ball dominant player. His scoring number are high but are definitely boosted by being the only natural isolation scorer on his team. Book like many of the other players on the list struggles on the defensive end. He is prone to drifting off and allowing scores off backdoor cuts he doesn’t notice. Booker also isn’t a terrible isolation defender but he’s not a good one. Devin Booker has lots of flaws as a player but because of his isolation scoring prowess he is a top tier shooting guard in 2020.
3. Bradley Beal
30.5 PPG|6.1 APG|4.2 RPG|.520 eFG|.012 DEF WS|24-40 record
Looking at Bradley Beal’s stats and saying that he shouldn’t be an all-star sounds insane, but that is what happened. Beal has been having an amazing statistical season, scoring the second most in the league. The reason he has been scoring so much is because of his weak teammates, who’s lack of scoring ability leaves a massive scoring load to Beal. Beal has also had to take up a larger playmaking load than he should, giving him a career high in assists. The main reason the executives and coaches of the league didn’t vote Beal as an all-star is because his stats are boosted by large loads and his record is weak (which are both stupid reasons, especially in the east), but the other reason is his weak defense. His defense is definitely not as bad as the numbers make it look, but it could definitely improve. I think Beal is a player who would be best suited to be a secondary playmaker, on a team like the Nuggets or the Magic, where his scoring could thrive. In the end, I think Bradley Beal is a great scorer and secondary playmaker, and should be an all-star.
2. Donovan Mitchell
24.2 PPG|4.2 APG|4.4 RPG|.517 eFG|.100 DEF WS|41-23 record
The first time all-star Donovan Mitchell has been playing great this year. He didn’t really make a jump between his first and second season, which had many people worried, but now he is firmly on the right track. Mitchell majorly improved his rim finishing this year, which was his biggest problem in the past. He can now use his excellent handle to knife into defenses and get good looks at the rim. Spida’s new found rim finishing has also improved his pull up game by proxy, because defender have to respect that he might drive and score of a hesitation move. His playmaking is also improved. He makes better, more under control passes now. Mitchell’s other major improvement this year was in his defense. He has become great at staying attached to guards when the come off screens, which is really important to the jazz’s system. Now that he is better at guarding players on the perimeter he can forces offenses towards Gobert, where scoring is extremely hard. Overall, Donovan Mitchell’s ability to lead to lead Utah to a top ten offense and play competent defense makes him the second best shooting guard in the league.
1. James Harden
34.4 PPG|7.4 APG|6.4 RPG|.533 eFG|.113 DEF WS|40-24 record
The 2018 League MVP James Harden has been dominating the league over the past half decade. The Beard’s greatest skill is scoring. He might just be single hardest player to guard one on one in the NBA, so Houston uses that to their advantage. They spread the floor allowing Harden to score at will either by stepping back behind the three point line and launching a three or by blowing his defender to get to the rim. If the defense brings help defense Harden will hit the open man. Harden is such a talented offensive player that sometimes all defenses can do is helplessly foul, but even that doesn’t work because Harden is a 86% free throw shooter. On offense, Harden is almost unstoppable. His style of play hasn’t worked particularly well in the playoffs, but he is still an elite player in the second season. Harden’s only real flaw is his defense, but even that isn’t as bad as it used to be, and his ridiculous strength makes Harden one of the best post defenders in the NBA. Because of all of this, James Harden is the number 1 on for Top Ten Shooting Guards in the NBA in 2020.
The NBA Restart of the 2019-20 season is getting closer, scheduled to begin later this month at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. Professional sports leagues resuming play during a global pandemic generate pros and cons. For example, it provides a temporary escape from the horror Covid-19 virus. But contingents of people deem pro sports not essential so why should everybody involved be at-risk of contracting Covid-19? Below are pros and cons of the NBA resuming play.
Scrimmage schedule – Every team recalled to play will participate in three “scrimmages” aka exhibition games starting July 22. Not only it will provide teams to get their players into game shape but will also give the NBA an opportunity to see how players feel after a game, test them to see if they contracted Covid-19. Also, these games provide television networks an opportunity to test out artificial crowd noise and generate feedback among viewers if they feel it enhances the viewing experience going into regular season resumption and playoffs.
An NBA Champion will be crowned – For one team, the daily grind, blood, sweat and tears of an NBA season will reach ultimate satisfaction. That team hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy, overcoming additional adversity being surrounded with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Staying healthy is always required to win a championship. The NBA Restart will finish the 2019-20 NBA season, fine health will be the most vital requirement. Yes, talent, solid coaching, and luck are also needed to be the last team standing. But injuries can happen at any moment and so can a player contract Covid-19. Championship contenders can be rolling into the playoffs feeling good about their championship aspirations. However, if a superstar player on one of those teams tested positive for Covid-19, that would dramatically alter that team’s chances of reaching the brass ring. If a few title contenders were to be dealt with that unfortunate scenario, it would open the door for dark horses to compete for the chip.
Most importantly, if there is a Covid-19 outbreak among NBA players (regardless if their superstars or not) and or coaches, referees and league staff, it would result in drastic cons.
2019-20 NBA season cancellation – No NBA Champion would be crowned resulting in significant financial ramifications as hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake. A huge “what if” of which team would have been victorious would be over the league’s heads for very long time. Also, on a light note, the media and NBA fans would debate who would have won ad nauseam which would be a winless debate.
On a serious note, everyone who contracted or contracts this deadly virus hopefully has made or will make a full recovery. Globally that has not taken place. Within the NBA realm if someone, god forbid, end up in poor health or passes away due to Covid-19, the grief for the victim’s family and friends, the frustration, outrage towards the league would be everlasting. The NBA would lose all respect and their current reputation of being a “player’s league” would change forever. Furthermore, the desire to have a 2019-20 NBA Champion would become meaningless. And it does not help that the NBA restart will be in Florida where the state is a Covid-19 hotspot with record cases daily.
Is the NBA’s risk of completing the 2019-20 season worth the reward? Only time will tell.
The NBA season resumes July 30th, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, near Orlando Florida. A total of 22 teams will compete for 2 weeks to make the NBA Playoffs, 13 Western Conference and 9 from the Eastern Conference. The Portland Trail Blazers have a weird schedule and interior team issues. No team besides the Washington Wizards have a tougher road to NBA Finals, then the Portland Trail Blazers.
Starting the 31st of July, the Blazers start their journey vs Memphis and ROY candidate and human rocket Ja Morant. Then a brutal 5 game stretch over 9 days vs Boston, Houston, Denver, LA Clippers, and the Philadelphia 76ers. Portland then faces Dallas and Brooklyn to finish on August 13th.
Damian Lillard is happy to have big men Zach Collins and Jusef Nurkic back from injuries. The all-star guard and NBA2k21 cover athlete will definitely miss veteran Forwards Trevor Ariza and Rodney Hood out from the season restart. A starting lineup of Dame, CJ McCollum, Carmelo and the healthy Collins and Nurkic, will be formidable, however the bench has questions with 7 of the 9 players being 24 years old or younger.
Hassan Whiteside will most likely be first off the bench to relieve Nurk, who is coming off that terrible broken leg last season and long recovery. Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little and Gary Trent Jr all need to play great for the Blazers to make up the ground they need to make the field of 16 Playoff teams starting August 17th.
Portland needs to make up about 4 games on the Memphis Grizzlies to sneak into the 8th seed and hope for losing records from the Pelicans, Kings, Spurs, and Suns. That means in theory the Blazers would need to go at least 4-4 if not 5-3 in their 8 remaining games and hope for a Memphis flop.
The anticipation grows as fans from Portland to Toronto to Orlando patiently wait for July 30th to come. Social Media is buzzing over favorites and the excitement to come in a brand new format as sports fans and the world alike adjust to the pandemic. The Blazers along with the 21 other teams are ready to compete, no matter how tough a schedule.