If you didn’t previously hear, the NBA announced that the regular-season awards would be based on the first part of the season, which has already been played. Due to the crazy circumstances surrounding the reboot, the upcoming eight games will play no role in determining the main winners.
Vogel Praises His Guys
It should come as absolutely no surprise that Lakers coach Frank Vogel said that he believes LeBron James should be Most Valuable Player and Anthony Davis Defensive Player of the Year. Both have had tremendous years to date and impacted the game in a monumental way. Without the play of these two guys, there is little-to-no chance that the best record in the West would belong to the Lakers.
James averaged 25 points, eight rebounds and a league-best 11 assists this year, a new career high in the assist column as he adjusts to playing the point guard in a full-time role. Giannis Antetokounmpo is his only true competition for the award, and voters may be very well split on their choice. But if it came down to Vogel, the King would be taking it home.
Davis was putting up monstrous defensive numbers prior to the stoppage of play. He was averaging 1.5 steals and 2.4 blocks per game, similar figures to that we have seen from him in recent years.
He can cover decently on the perimeter while swatting practically every shot inside the paint. The team is +6.5 per 100 possessions with him in, and Davis has posted 4.5 defensive win shares this year.
These two guys dominate on their respective ends, though both face Antetokounmpo in the award races. We’ll see if either Laker can win them.
Brown Figuring Out Horford’s New Role
Al Horford’s teams have never missed the playoffs, and that will remain the case this year. He has never come off the bench in his 100-plus playoff appearances.
Horford has only appeared as a reserve seven times in his career, four times as a rookie and three times this year. It is clear that his best fit is off the bench, so that is the team’s plan moving forward.
76ers coach Brett Brown said he is unsure how Horford is going to play upon the league restart, but it will likely be at the backup 5. His shot attempts will likely be way down, though his opportunities to facilitate will be high given that the 76ers lack backup point guards.
It is worth noting, though, that Horford had three strong performances in a row prior to things slowing down.
Horford averaged 20 points, 9.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists and one block in those final three games in March. The 76ers went 2-1, including a rare road win for them this year.
He made 8 of 17 shots from downtown, good for just under 50%. He can thrive on this team, even with this new role. And hopefully, he gets the opportunity he needs to prove his value, to prove that the 76ers didn’t only sign him to poach him away from Boston.
Bazley Getting Reps at Center
Oklahoma City rookie Darius Bazley is bristling with potential. He’s a standout defender that can also occasionally step out and knock down the three.
He has also been getting reps at center in practice with Nerlens Noel hurt. It is worth noting that 97% of his playing time this year was at the power forward spot, with less than 1% at center.
The playoffs are all about adjustments, and this could be a move that works. They do have Mike Muscala too. Just worth a quick reminder that they didn’t do too well with Jerami Grant as the backup center a few seasons ago when they had no backup for Steven Adams.
So, we’ll see if this can work or not. A super-small lineup for Oklahoma City would be intriguing.