AS OF this writing, the teams that are leaving the NBA bubble early on account of being eliminated in the first round are the Portland Trailblazers, Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and the Utah Jazz.
Let’s focus on the two teams that have the most potential for next season, the Mavericks and the Jazz.
MAVS. This team goes as far as Luka Doncic goes. This kid is a basketball prodigy and at age 21 has already entered the MVP conversation.
But because you need more than one star in the NBA for your team to advance further in the playoffs, a lot will also depend on how Kristaps Porzingis develops.
He missed the last two games in the series against the Los Angeles Clippers on account of a meniscus tear on his right knee. During the regular season he led the team in blocks and defensive win shares. Against the Clippers he logged in 23.7 points and 8.7 rebounds.
Porzingis has been dubbed as a unicorn and his versatility is so relevant in today’s NBA game. He has developed a reliable and deadly three point shot and his ability to defend the paint and switch on pick and rolls will be indispensable for this team to remain a strong contender in the West.
They have able wing players like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dorian Finney Smith and so the future looks really bright for this team.
JAZZ. It went down the wire and the Jazz had the chance to win via a last second shot in game 7, but Mike Conley’s 3-pointer spun out at the buzzer.
Truly a heart-breaking loss as the Jazz led the series 3-1.
However, the nucleus of this team should be back next year and the hard loss to the Denver Nuggets should prove to be a valuable experience for this team.
Donovan Mitchell who has blossomed into the team’s resident superstar has been spectacular in the playoffs. Rudy Gobert who was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019 will remain a cornerstone for the team in the years to come.
The relationship between Gobert and Mitchell hasn’t exactly been smooth though, and several news items have indicated the source of that friction as the positive Covid-19 test Mitchell blames on Gobert.
They apparently patched things up in time for the NBA bubble, but it remains to be seen whether or not this superstar duo can co-exist long enough for the team to make a serious run into the playoffs just like the greatest Utah Jazz duo of all time, John Stockton and Karl Malone.
Gobert has not exactly been secretive about his disdain for the lack of ball movement and often points out plays where easy lobs to him in the middle could have been made.
In Game 6 of the Nuggets series, Gobert vented his wrath on a chair after a botched defensive play with Conley.
VERBATIM. “This is me scratching the surface. This ain’t the end; this is just the beginning.”—Donovan Mitchell
LAST ROUND. It’s on Susan Polvorosa de Jesus, who recently celebrated her birthday. Cheers!