NBA basketball is back. Or, at least it will be in late July when the 2019-20 season resumes in the Orlando, Florida, bubble with 22 teams competing for playoff position, and then, a title.
Which of those 22 franchises might plausibly collect a ring, and which will half-heartedly bow out following eight games of perfunctory play? We’ve gone long enough without the league that a prebubble reassessment of each club’s ceiling feels necessary.
Based on performance up to the March 11 stoppage and any intervening factors—from positive COVID-19 tests to recoveries from injury—we’ll separate teams into tiers based on their top realistic ceilings in Orlando.
Los Angeles Clippers
In Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Marcus Morris Sr., the Los Angeles Clippers have more slower-downers (stoppers don’t exist) for LeBron James than any other team. When you’ve got to go through the Los Angeles Lakers to reach the Finals, that’s no small thing.
Leonard proved last postseason he could carry a team to a ring, and he’s as well-equipped to do that with these Clips as he was with those Toronto Raptors.
The Clippers should have concern about Leonard’s ability to hold up under a somewhat condensed schedule after a long layoff, and they’ll also have to face the possibility of sitting Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell in key closing moments (if Williams decides to play).