2019-20 NBA Season

MPJ has looked really, really good. That Nuggets gamble (if I can even call it that given the best player left on the board at that point was... Isaac Bonga) paying off.
 
I'm glad Mike Malone is finally unleashing MPJ. I've been high on MPJ for a while. I actually had him as a dark horse ROY pick (since he missed all of last year ie the Ben Simmons rule). That's definitely not happening mainly because he's only been given a small sample size compared to Ja Morant being pretty good all year long but still. Now if only the Nuggets can get rid of Gary Harris and get Malik Beasley back from Minnesota...
 

Havi

blue skies
is a Battle Simulator Moderator
MVP: Giannis
self explanatory

MIP: Bam
showing huge improvements on defense/offense while being a centerpiece of the 4th seed heat’s system. one of the better versatile defenders in the league, and a first time All Star. pretty much deserves it

ROY: Ja
zion didn’t even play half of the season- basically another embiid/brogdon situation unless NBA decided to be petty enough

DPOY: AD/Giannis
would be fine with either way

6MOY: Harrell
can’t think of arguments for this one but he plays the least mins with good efficiency

COTY: Nurse
Raptors’s record w/o Kawhi should speak for itself
 
Raptors fans and apologists last summer: it wasn't all Kawhi! It was a TEAM effort! Look at our record when Kawhi was out for load management!
Raptors fans and apologists now: We lost KAWHI LEONARD and barely missed a step! NICK NURSE FOR COACH OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!

Nick Nurse should absolutely get recognition for what he's done with this Raptors team, but how is Billy Donovan not the runaway winner here? Dude lost both his All Stars for a 34 year old Chris Paul, Danilo Glassinari, SGA, and a ton of picks (who are unplayable obv), but will finish with a better record than last season. These guys were nowhere near playoff contention on most people's predictions and will somehow finish 5th in a first round showdown with the Houston Rockets.

Speaking of which, 7 first-round matchups are set:
Clippers vs Mavericks
Nuggets vs Jazz
Rockets vs Thunder

Bucks vs Magic
Raptors vs Nets
Celtics vs Sixers
Heat vs Pacers
 
awards ballot w some explanation:
mvp: giannis. duh. dominant offense and defense, spearheading the best team in the league, arguably a better version of the player who won mvp last year. also the fact that he isn't playing superfriends league like harden and lebron should count in his favor.
roty: ja. also a duh pick, zion has looked better in flashes but the late start and minutes restriction count against him, even if the grizzlies drop out of the playoffs they've been phenomenal and ja has been their lodestar
mip: bam. opposed to a second-year player winning mip on principle (if young players aren't improving in the nba they've got a problem) even though luka has a strong case, meanwhile ingram was plenty good before and his improvement is more a result of having more responsibility + better health + putting the pieces together. bam's ascendance though has been phenomenal to watch and his unique skillset and position make him a no-brain pick
dpoy: giannis. again kind of a duh pick, gobert's showed slippage over the last year despite his stats looking really strong, ad has been great but not quite the same as giannis (who beats him on consistent effort and a few other things).
6moty: gonna be contrarian here and say schroder, who's been quietly huge for okc. their 3-guard lineup has been killing it throughout the year. I like lou's scoring and trez's effort but schroder's ability to slot in feels more valuable for me
coty: nurse. again, duh

Raptors fans and apologists last summer: it wasn't all Kawhi! It was a TEAM effort! Look at our record when Kawhi was out for load management!
Raptors fans and apologists now: We lost KAWHI LEONARD and barely missed a step! NICK NURSE FOR COACH OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!
yeah it's not like teams who lose a superstar in fa don't tend to regress to either the lottery or first round fodder (okc never won 50 games after losing durant, miami missed the playoffs the year after lebron dipped, cleveland...fucking cleveland) outside of like the 94 bulls (who still had scottie and a first-time allstar in horace grant). that the raptors have stayed on a 55-60 win track in spite of that + being injured to hell is remarkable and should be praised.

Nick Nurse should absolutely get recognition for what he's done with this Raptors team, but how is Billy Donovan not the runaway winner here? Dude lost both his All Stars for a 34 year old Chris Paul, Danilo Glassinari, SGA, and a ton of picks (who are unplayable obv), but will finish with a better record than last season.
so he lost two all-stars for *checks notes* an allstar in cp3, a future allstar in sga, and a 18-20 ppg scorer in gallinari (who've all remained healthy surprisingly). seems relatively equivalent in terms of talent, esp when you consider that he got a rock-solid playmaker and closer in cp3 while no longer having to deal with westbrook's bonehead plays. the only things that this proves are that a) westbrook is clearly uncoachable and the only reason he looks good now is bc the rockets' system is built on getting out of his way and letting him drive to the rim, which the thunder were never built to do, b) we were all too quick to assume that cp3 was washed after he spent a year being paid $40 million to play defense, hit spot-ups, and sit in the corner to watch harden isolate for a trillion consecutive possessions, and c) front offices shouldn't mindlessly bow to superstar pressure, because the clippers and rockets clearly overpaid as fuck for pg13 and westbrook respectively and if they don't win a chip in the next few years they might end up becoming the new age brooklyn nets after giving up all their picks.

These guys were nowhere near playoff contention on most people's predictions and will somehow finish 5th in a first round showdown with the Houston Rockets.
yea and the raptors were projected to win at most 48 games with a 65% chance of holding a fire-sale at the deadline for lowry ibaka and gasol. god I hate people moving the goalposts when describing this team, when they win another championship everyone will be like 'oh they're the defending champs, why are they acting like they deserve praise when we all expected them to win even without kawhi' lol and then they'll go back to calling them lucky / overrated as a way to gas the lakers. that said though if the thunder do knock off the rockets I will laugh my head off as the rockets' organisation is mass purged and thrown into the gulf of mexico. it'll be a riot lmao.
 
so he lost two all-stars for *checks notes* an allstar in cp3
tfw he hadn't been an All Star since... the 2015-16 season. Being traded to OKC actually helped him regain that honor because Billy Donovan- y'know what nevermind.

a future allstar in sga
So not an All Star now. So not comparable to Paul George (All Star from 2015 to 2019) and Russell Westbrook (All Star from 2014 to 2020).

and a 18-20 ppg scorer in gallinari (who've all remained healthy surprisingly).
tfw his percentages have dipped across the board. FG% 46.3 -> 44.0, 3P% 43.3 -> 40.6, FT% 90.4 -> 89.2

seems relatively equivalent in terms of talent, esp when you consider that he got a rock-solid playmaker and closer in cp3 while no longer having to deal with westbrook's bonehead plays.
Still 34 years old. Or maybe Donovan's schemes have brought the best out of him? But nah, because that would be giving credit to Donovan and we can't have that, can we?

yea and the raptors were projected to win at most 48 games with a 65% chance of holding a fire-sale at the deadline for lowry ibaka and gasol. god I hate people moving the goalposts when describing this team, when they win another championship everyone will be like 'oh they're the defending champs, why are they acting like they deserve praise when we all expected them to win even without kawhi' lol and then they'll go back to calling them lucky / overrated as a way to gas the lakers. that said though if the thunder do knock off the rockets I will laugh my head off as the rockets' organisation is mass purged and thrown into the gulf of mexico. it'll be a riot lmao.
mfw you bring up the Lakers for no reason. How convenient of you to just casually leave out that the Raptors retained All Star Kyle Lowry and still had reigning Most Improve Player Pascal Siakam who y'all were gassing to be an All Star last season anyway.

Annotation 2020-08-14 141521.png

Coach of the Year has historically been a "which team surpassed their expectations the most" award. Yes, Raptors O/U was 46.5 (56.7% over an 82-game season) and they can reach 53 wins (73.6% in this 72-game season), but the Thunder O/U was 32 to take the average between PointsBet and DraftKings (39.0% over an 82-game season) and they could finish with 45 (62.5% in this 72-game season). OKC has definitely surpassed their expectations by a wider margin than the Raptors.
 
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So what you're saying is... you like OKC to make noise in the playoffs? Or just defending Presti?
Just making an argument for him for Coach of the Year, a regular season award.

No, I don't defend anyone that's not a part of the Lakers organization. Fuck every other team in the league.
 
tfw he hadn't been an All Star since... the 2015-16 season. Being traded to OKC actually helped him regain that honor because Billy Donovan- y'know what nevermind.
weird because the primary difference I can see is that okc actually lets chris paul hold the ball and make plays instead of just sitting around and watching harden shoot 15 stepbacks a game.

So not an All Star now. So not comparable to Paul George (All Star from 2015 to 2019) and Russell Westbrook (All Star from 2014 to 2020).
I'm just saying that 2 allstars for a fringe allstar, a future allstar, and an 18-20 ppg scorer isn't much of a net loss in terms of talent (it's still a net loss but one that's been made up by, again, not having to deal with westbrook's bonehead plays).

tfw his percentages have dipped across the board. FG% 46.3 -> 44.0, 3P% 43.3 -> 40.6, FT% 90.4 -> 89.2
oh god he's only making 41% on 7.2 threes attempted this year (as opposed to 43% on 5.5 attempts last year), what an awful player he is idk why any sane team would want him.

Still 34 years old. Or maybe Donovan's schemes have brought the best out of him? But nah, because that would be giving credit to Donovan and we can't have that, can we?
or maybe its because donovan's schemes essentially boil down to 'let cp3 hold the ball and do things' as opposed to houston's 'let cp3 stand in the corner to watch harden do his isolation dance over and over'. again, not discrediting what he's doing (turning schroder into an actual nba player for one thing) but I don't see how it compares to what nurse has done in toronto (with slightly better resources but also worse injuries and more expectations)

mfw you bring up the Lakers for no reason.
isn't the entire purpose of this a way of jabbing at the raptors as 'not actually that good' and 'no real threat to the lakers despite two double-digit beatdowns this season'. but yeah no I don't see the need for a reason to laugh at the worst fanbase in basketball nor the rotting corpse of an organisation that's relying entirely on lebron's clout to prop themselves up a la 2018 cleveland (and will probably implode in the exact same fashion).

How convenient of you to just casually leave out that the Raptors retained All Star Kyle Lowry and still had reigning Most Improve Player Pascal Siakam who y'all were gassing to be an All Star last season anyway.
Lowry (as garbage as I think he is)
huh. also if you thought siakam going from top 30 player to top 15 player on its own was gonna make up for kawhi walking then idk what to say.

so that this isn't fully a response; apparently westbrook will miss at least the first two games of the rockets-thunder season, so the odds on a thunder upset just went up. honestly I like this better bc westbrook being out might help to convince the rockets that this year was a fluke and that they should run it back again next year instead of just holding a fire sale while they have the chance.

also on that note the sixers should just delete their franchise at this point; imagine trying to pretend that you're still competitive after stanley johnson hit a game-winner against you. they're basically the maple leafs of the nba (honestly there's a lot of eerie parallels between the two franchises across the last decade and they're probably bound for the same hellish fate too).

one last time for the road, fuck the lakers.
 
isn't the entire purpose of this a way of jabbing at the raptors as 'not actually that good' and 'no real threat to the lakers despite two double-digit beatdowns this season'. but yeah no I don't see the need for a reason to laugh at the worst fanbase in basketball nor the rotting corpse of an organisation that's relying entirely on lebron's clout to prop themselves up a la 2018 cleveland (and will probably implode in the exact same fashion).
mfw you actually read so deep into my comments just because I'm a Lakers fan, but no, I'm not taking another jab at the Raptors. I said Nurse should get recognition for what he's done, credit where it's due. You should probably take some time off of Twatter and Redd*t for your own good. You'd think I had said something about how Vogel should win Coach of the Year ffs.

There's really no need to get hostile just because I think Billy Donovan should win Coach of the Year. It's not that serious, and I just brought it up for discussion because nobody wanted to give any reasoning, and I don't think there are many arguments to be made in the other awards. Tfw you don't even want to credit him for what he's done. Can't even have a discussion about it lmao.

Anyways, the Bulls have finally fired Boylen. It was only a matter of time after hiring Arturas Karnisovas.
 
nurse is the only reason the craptors arent total garbage. its pretty hilarious how much they struggled against a crippled and maimed warriors team last year. its always really entertaining when the peanut gallery voices their two cents during the regular season. every real nba fan knows nothing matters before the play offs, which lakers are a top seed in this year. i deffo see a chip coming back home to LA this year thanks to our big 3 lbj, ad, and kuzma. the first of many actually.
 
I mean, LeBron is likely leaving to join whichever team joins Bronny when he gets drafted... Or at least that's what the speculation is.
 

Stallion

Tree Young
is a Battle Simulator Moderator Alumnusis a Past WCoP Champion
As I do every year, here are my playoff predictions for the first round:

Lakers in 7
Clippers in 5
Thunder in 6
Nuggets in 5
--
Bucks in 4
Raptors in 5
Heat in 7
Celtics in 5
--
What's everyone else got?

Edit: I forgot about Westbrook being out, so that makes me nervous about the Houston prediction - changed it to Thunder in 6.
 
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Eh whatever.
Los Angeles Lakers versus (8) Portland Trailblazers

I’m not just saying this because I hate Los Angeles, but they have the worst offensive rating and three-point shooting since the NBA Restart and I am hard-pressed to consider them having high-odds to win the championship knowing the last few champions. (I am definitely saying this because I hate Los Angeles but this fact still must be acknowledged. Also kanburi, I am ignoring you if you respond to this). Another important note about this team is that when Davis plays center is when their offense appears a bit worse and Davis’ numbers relatively speaking are tamer; not when he plays the power forward position. I theorize this is because defensive fives often can force him to shoot over the top, keep Los Angeles in half-court, and rebound along with him. If the game slows, Los Angeles suffers regardless of what they do basically.

Portland though… has Nurkic, and two years ago, Davis dominated this match-up against Portland. Do things change here? Because Portland can’t compete without Nurkic. Nurkic has to be able to neutralize
Davis for the majority of the time they share the floor especially if Davis plays the five. Will it happen?

Only other way Portland competes is if their defense can hold up against James individually. I know I said Los Angeles struggles offensively, but their superstars overall don’t. Portland lacks a decent defensive swingman, and even a 35-year-old LeBron could likely
just post-up and be a triple-threat on offense. That might be a little bit better than Lillard’s scoring even if Los Angeles is ill-equipped to deal with guards.

I suppose Collins is the guy likely to get the most minutes on LeBron with Ariza out, but that’s not a bad option. LeBron is 35, and just 6-7 years ago, Diaw gave one of the best defensive efforts we’ve seen
LeBron do in playoff history despite being more of a power forward. If Zach Collins can dare him to shoot more and keep him in front, it’ll keep the series competitive for Portland.

Los Angeles should be favored to win, though. They are more likely to have better tools to guard Portland than vice-versa. Lillard and McCollum, as good as they are, play on a team that is simply incapable of getting consistent stops. They also have two positions most
vulnerable to Los Angeles’ best positions. Also, uh, I will never take a team to win a series ever again if they play Carmelo Anthony serious minutes. Los Angeles will attack his ass. I bet this is a short or mid-long competitive series.

Los Angeles in five.

p.s: if lakers win the ship this year with kobe's death, the pandemic, racial protest and the nba restart I QUIT.

Denver Nuggets versus (6) Utah Jazz

These teams are relatively even in talent… if both are fully healthy. Utah will be missing both Conley and Bogdanovich. So, Denver already wins the talent and depth battle. Donovan and Ingles being trusted to
handle the ball on the perimeter is a tough sell against a team witb decent perimeter defenders.

The other key match-up in this is clearly Jokic versus Gobert in a fight of offensive versatility versus defensive edginess. For Utah to be competitive, Gobert must neutralize Jokic or contribute along with
him. Gobert has had slumps in the playoffs to me. I respect his defensive metrics in the regular season but when he’s matched up against bigs who can shoot or non-bigs, his strengths seem to disappear. This is one of his last chances to prove he can be a dominant defensive presence over the course of a series versus the regular season. Historically, Jokic has had the edge on this match-up. If Jokic can get hot from distance and draw Gobert away from the basket, Denver should have no problem scoring.

Denver overall just has a lot of things they can try and throw out. The recent relevance and prominence of Porter Jr. give them another nice scoring option on the perimeter versus a team already short on the perimeter; but a lot of what will decide how long or competitive this series goes is Gobert’s ability to support an already uphill battle for Utah’s perimeter players.

Denver in six.

(2) Los Angeles Clippers versus (7) Dallas Mavericks

Dallas has enjoyed one of the best offensive ratings in modern history. This series isn’t in question, but it will be a great test of amazing heliocentric pace-and-space offense versus helter-skelter top-tier perimeter defense. Just how good is Los Angeles’ defense? Especially considering they haven’t played together healthy and consistently?

Los Angeles doesn’t play too many traditional big guys, so it’s on Porzingis to take advantage of his size close to the basket, but that hasn’t exactly been one of his strengths. If Porzingis allows Los Angeles to guard him with all smaller guys and he can’t dominate or
take advantage at a high level, that only bolsters Los Angeles’ overall defense in this match-up.

Dallas doesn't really have options for Kawhi and George. Dallas has Finney-Smith… and that’s it. That’s literally it. In order to compete with Los Angeles, I feel you need at least two capable swingmen who
can take on Leonard and George in an open-space pick-and-roll situation. Also, Doncic will be forced to guard somebody as well which will take away his offensive efficiency.

This would be a more competitive match-up if Dallas was more of a complete team, Dallas had a reliable third scorer (you trust Curry or Hardaway to win you a series), and Porzingis was more of a paint-dominant player. Unfortunately, I can’t see this being anything other than a quick

(4) Houston Rockets versus (5) Oklahoma City Thunder

This series has a ton of hype and rightfully so. The history of the players on both sides as well as Paul and Westbrook essentially being traded for each other is too big to ignore.

My first question for the series is this: what happens to Adams? Will he be played off the floor or will dominate the glass and keep Oklahoma City competitive? If Adams is indeed played off the floor,
how well does Gallinari and Noel play center in comparison to Covington?

The perimeter is even more intriguing to me. How well do Paul, Gilgeous-Alexander, and Schroder defend in isolation? With Westbrook missing at least the first game, how well can he play coming back?

Houston is probably one of the most unpredictable teams I’ve thought about in recent years. A team embracing a forward as a center and small-ball full-time with Harden and Westbrook essentially rested has a huge variance. We’ve never seen this technically done, and they will either get hot for a good month and go far, or tire-out and be killed on the glass with a whimper. How other teams adjust and play to this
unprecedented size and strategy is... quite frankly, out of my paygrade (I’m not getting paid).

So, with this being the first series, and with questions raised about Westbrook, I gotta consider this close to even in odds. There aren’t many things that lean me strongly in either direction. If I am Oklahoma City, I am going at Covington and welcoming that switch onto
a guard. Covington is long and a great help-defender but is known for slow feet and being unable to keep-up with guards who are talented off-the-dribble. I am also making sure if I lose, it will be to PJ Tucker, Green, Covington, not Harden, Rivers, Gordon or Westbrook.

We know what Houston wants to do. They want to play Adams off the floor and force you to adapt to them first. They will go at your weakest one-on-one defender in space. Gallinari and Noel aren’t exactly bad answers to defending guards on the perimeter, but they gotta contribute on the other end. Will they be able to?

I also wouldn’t underestimate Chris Paul in this. He’s older and less physically intimidating, but Paul is an incredibly cerebral player who essentially counts as much as a coach as he does as a player. Paul
knows Harden and D’Antoni in-and-out at this point, and that gives Oklahoma City a distinctive personnel advantage in how to plan and adapt even if their small-ball scheme hasn’t had a single match-up
with this version of Oklahoma City... In fact, that’s by far one of the better intangibles besides Oklahoma City having the two best players (well, supposedly if Westbrook comes back with no issues). The
other intangible I’d like to point out in favor of Oklahoma City is their amazing crunch-time numbers which are also thanks to Chris Paul which I have to admit, is a very big deal going up against this man in
any seven-game series if he’s on the court in any way.

Ultimately, what intangibles do you trust more? Harden’s ability? Paul’s knowledge? Westbrook’s health? Austin Rivers’ growth? Small-ball’s longevity in a series and Houston’s ability to post defend across the board? I legitimately have no idea and will just
just choose Oklahoma City out of distrust in Houston’s overall schemes over a series and nothing more; but I see this as the most likely upset of the first-round (upset in the sense of, a lower-seed beating
a seed higher than it).

Oklahoma City in seven.

Miami Heat versus (5) Indiana Pacers

Not much to say here. Miami has much more versatility and talent even if a couple of them are rookies. McMillan is a very rigid coach and doesn’t favor long-distance shooting while Miami is among the better teams in protecting the rim since the Restart. This already sets the table for a shorter series for me.

Miami can switch everything until Olynyk gets in and even then, I don’t think Indiana has much hope in beating Miami trying to shoot over the top of switches with guards. Also, Indiana has a depth issue especially with Oladipo looking off and Sabonis missing.

Butler versus Warren has a lot of hype but uh, that’s Jimmy Butler. It’ll take more than a few hot games for me to consider that even a tie.

Can Turner bring enough to the series that Adebayo doesn’t outwork him? Adebayo can check Turner near or far from the basket, rebound better most likely and pass better. If Turner isn’t shooting hot from three, he can’t do much else. Meanwhile, Adebayo can punish switches and find a place to fit I feel in most of Miami’s line-ups. So even if Turner is more talented, Adebayo feels like he will have a much easier time playing his game.

I tried thinking of the advantages of Indiana. I failed.

Miami in five.

Rest of the series in the East: self-explanatory. Won't waste my time this year
 
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I really started talking myself into the Celtics having a really good chance to edge out the Bucks and make it to the finals this year. They seemed like they benefited tremendously from the rest and could catch fire at the right time.

But then I got a rude reminder today that the Celtics are made of glass and glue and getting through any kind of a physical series is going to cripple us.
 

Havi

blue skies
is a Battle Simulator Moderator
Soft refs on that KP call. could’ve changed the whole outcome, huge f

In a more positive light Luka scored the most points for a playoff debut, this young goat keeps going at it
 
was going to write a prediction post but I left it till after the playoffs started and honestly idt that one's worth making. 5 of the 8 series looked pretty open-and-shut higher seed wins, and while blazers v lakers and sixers v celtics have potential for an upset it would basically rely on lillard / embiid respectively going thermonuclear which I don't see happening, not vs those teams. thunder are beating rockets though bc the narratives demand it and I trust cp3 (and billy donovan I guess) to find a way to beat smallball.

anyways as far as what we've seen so far;
- holy shit that nuggets-jazz game
- holy shit donovan mitchell
- holy shit jamal murray
- holy shits aside this series is going 7
- I expected the raptors to thrash brooklyn but I didn't expect them to go through so many choppy stretches in the process. hopefully they spend the next three games threshing out these issues (call more plays for siakam and have him driving in favorable situations wherever possible, set up some of the other guys better, don't check out on defense even with a 20-point lead).
- sad to say it but despite the grit they've shown and the goods pieces they still have brooklyn isn't supposed to be here and it's showing. at least there's always next year
- I can't help but think that this first round series becomes a pyrrhic victory for boston; they win in 6 but are so battered that they have no chance at a finals run (especially considering how the raptors are almost certainly going to drag them to 7 the round after). even after the obligatory 'fuck boston' though it's hard to deny how good this team's looking. rip hayward's leg.
- philly sucks just blow up the team already.
- luka really took the record for highest scoring playoff debut in league history holy shit
- while I agree that the first call against porzingis was bad the second one had merit, so it evens out ig. it was bad yes but it hardly constitutes refball considering how the mavs are probably losing this series anyways, maybe people should stop being insecure about the clips for a change
- magic bucks looked like an upset on paper but in practice it really wasn't; magic just copied toronto's scheme from last year and bucks made it look even better with horrendous decisions (refusal to just shoot off the catch and giving orlando time to contest, acting like they'd never learned how to cover a pick-and-roll, etc etc). vucevic exposing lopez was cool too.
- bucks probably bounce back to win the series in 5...or maybe they emulate the lightning and choke. who knows. either way it'd be hilarious.

you guys want a prediction? winner of the raptors-celtics second round series takes home a ring. why? no reason, those were the only top5 teams who carried their momentum into the bubble and they've looked like the most complete and cohesive teams in general. should be a great series by the way. let's just hope boston loses because fuck boston
 

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