Most of us are really missing the NBA, and just sports in general at the moment. No matter where you are in the world, most sporting leagues have grinded to a halt due to the current COVID-19 pandemic situation. We’d love to keep watching basketball, but unfortunately we can’t. But we can always analyse some virtual basketball. With the fate of the 2019-20 NBA season being up in the air as of now, we thought it would be a great idea to simulate the current NBA season from when it’s most recent game was played. We’ll talk about the standings, the playoffs, awards, the draft and big free agent signings.
In the West, we don’t see any game changing movements in the standings. The standings are very similar to the ones in real life, with the only important change was that Portland stole the eighth seed from Memphis. The race for the eighth seed was incredibly tight, with the 13th seeded Suns only needing three wins to make the playoffs.
The East was even more similar to the current standings. Apart from a couple switches in seeding, everything else was the same and no other teams entered the playoff picture.
Round One – To kick off the first round, one of the most astonishing upsets in NBA history occurred. The eighth seeded Blazers (who barley scraped into the playoffs) have defeated Lebron and the L.A Lakers in six games. The star duo of LeBron and AD played fairly average whilst Damian Lillard went off for most of the series. Apart from that massive upset, the rest was what we expected. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroder and a surprise appearance from Demarcus Cousins put up a fight, but a strong James Harden with the help of former OKC player Russell Westbrook, put the Thunder away in five. Denver once again, had a lack of experience and fell to Utah in five, whilst star Luka Doncic couldn’t shrug off the Clippers, also losing in five.
Over in the East, we almost had another shocking upset, as the Magic battled with the Bucks for seven games. Markelle Fultz started his series off brilliantly, but calmed down towards the end of the series. The Bucks played some very average basketball, until game seven when Giannis scored 43 points in a 14 point win over Orlando. Despite what the doubters have been saying, the 76ers disposed the Heat in a sweep, and Toronto brushed the Pacers off. The second seeded Celtics however, lost their series to the Brooklyn Nets. In a move nobody expected, Kevin Durant returned to the court late in the season, and helped Brooklyn beat Boston in six. But in game three, Kyrie went down early and received a season ending injury. This will prove costly in future series
Semi-Finals – The Blazers proved they were no fluke, as they proved too much for Houston. Lillard battled with Harden for most of the series, but Dame ended up on top and is now heading to his second conference finals series in a row. The stars of Utah played a pretty average series, but the Jazz showed off their depth and took the Clippers to seven. In the end the Clippers were too powerful, but if Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert put up better numbers, this could’ve easily gone a different way.
The Bucks were taken to another seven game series by Philly, but this time were unsuccessful as the 76ers gave another surprise to a playoffs full of suspense and shock. Giannis starts to receive questions, if he can win in crunch time has he put up a measly 23 points in game seven as the 76ers redeemed themselves from last year’s heartbreaking loss to Toronto. Kevin Durant and the Nets beat the Raptors in six. Spencer Dinwiddie shined all series long and filled Kyrie Irving’s absence, and despite Toronto playing good, they could not repeat what they had accomplished last year.
Conference Finals – One of the biggest narratives for the 2019-20 season was what player was going to rule L.A? Was it going to be LeBron or Kawhi? Apparently neither, as Damian Lillard has beaten a star studded Clippers team in seven. We might as well make him the King now. But he certainly didn’t do it by himself, as C.J McCollum and Carmelo Anthony didn’t shying away from putting up great numbers. The duo of Kawhi and PG13 were awfully underwhelming the entire series, and Lou Will couldn’t get it done by himself.
Philadelphia has been criticise the entire season, but have silenced them and beat Brooklyn in five. The Nets defiantly didn’t play bad, the 76ers just outplayed them. If one star didn’t play well, another star or two defiantly did. KD had a good series, but the flood gates have opened and a huge amount of memes about how he needed a super team to win a ring, are now spreading on social media.
The Finals – Although it isn’t the series we expected, we are still seeing two talented sides face off for the championship. Game one went to the 76ers, with both Embiid and Simmons scoring 35 points each in a blow-out victory over Portland. Game two is much of the same, as Philly beats Portland by 35 points. Simmons is leading the Finals MVP race, as he scores 30 points, gets five rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocks. The Trail Blazers have some things to think about on the flight back home. When the Blazers return to Portland for game three, they put up a fight and beat Philly by 14 points. Lillard turns into a monster and scores 49 points on 50% shooting. Embiid had 22 points and 15 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough. The Blazers are still doubted after the victory though, due to them losing in most of the statistical categories. Game four ends in another Blazer victory, as Dame continues to show off his offensive abilities. Embiid also played a terrific game, but needs more support from Simmons and co. Portland has now tied the series to two apiece. Game five proves how much home court means to this series, as the 76ers recover and beat Portland by 14. It was neck and neck until the fourth quarter, when Philadelphia went on a 46-14 run. Many are expecting Portland to win game six, and the Finals to go to seven games for the first time since 2016. But many people are wrong, when Philadelphia beat Portland by 24 to win the Finals and win their fourth championship. Portland are congratulated for making the Finals as an eighth seed, but a criticised for none of their players playing that well when it meant the most. Joel Embiid won Finals MVP, and is named the best center in the league by fans. Embiid averaged 29 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, one steal and two blocks throughout the series.
MVP – Giannis Antetokounmpo
No surprise here. Giannis, who was considered this season’s MVP won his second in a row. Giannis averaged 30 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block. James Harden finished second in voting, and a late surge from Bradley Beal put him third in voting
ROTY – Once again, nothing unusual as Ja Morant wins the ROTY. With Zion Williamson being injured for most of the season, Ja got the opportunity to have the spotlight on him for majority of the season. Ja averaged 18 points, three rebounds, seven assists and a steal. Miami Heat rookie, Kendrick Nunn finished second, and R.J. Barrett finished third. In a shocking twist, Zion Williamson did not receive a single vote!
6MOTY – The winner of this award could be debated, as Montrezl Harrell took out the 6MOTY home. He was in the race against players like Lou Williams and Dennis Schroder, but Harrell’s 18 points and eight rebounds off the bench, got him over the line.
DPOY – We have our first upset, with Kawhi Leonard winning his third DPOY. Kawhi defiantly built up a case, but Anthony Davis, Giannis, Rudy Gobert and others defiantly seemed to have a better resume to win the award.
MIP – Bam Adebayo won Most Improved, which is also debatable. Many think that Bam is the clear winner, but others like to think that new star Brandon Ingram should take the award home. Bam averaged eight more points, four more rebounds, two more assists and one more block. Regardless of who you think should have won, you can’t deny that Bam had a brilliant season
COTY – I don’t think many would have seen this coming. Frank Vogel of the Los Angeles Lakers has been gifted the award for coaching his team to a 64-18 record. Even though the Lakers have been without a doubt, one of the best teams this season, not too many people considered Vogel to win. Many people expected two time winner, Mike Budenholzer to win. But the sportswriters and media members disagree and have given it to Vogel
The Draft Lottery (Top five only) – Going into the Lottery, the Knicks and Pistons have the highest odds. New York fans refuse to get excited though, as they vividly remember what happened last year. The fifth pick went to Detroit, which was a big surprise considering they tied for the worst team in the league. Fourth was the Wizards, which wasn’t too big of a jump as they were predicted to get pick six. The Timberwolves got pick three which was perfectly normal. Chicago jumped up three spots from their predictions and got the second pick, which means that after watching Zion play for a different team and playing consistently bad the entire season, the Knicks finally get some good news and receive the first pick.
The Draft (Top five only) – And the Knicks have somehow screwed up again. New York have a young center in Mitchell Robinson, who has shown great potential. In this simulation, he is an 82 overall and has plenty of room to improve…but for some reason they have selected James Wiseman. Knicks fans are as mad as ever, and everyone is laughing online. They needed a PG, and completely ignored LaMelo Ball and Cole Anthony. The Bulls make maybe an even worse decision and selected Tyrese Haliburton. Tyrese was projected to go at around 10th, and the Bulls already had Coby White. This is defiantly a head scratcher. The Timberwolves selected Anthony Edwards at pick three, which is a great selection. Minnesota need a SG, and Edwards will flourish with KAT and DLo. The Wizards select Isaac Okoro, which can defiantly be interpreted in different ways. On one hand, the Wizards have many young SF’s, but on the other, none of them have shown great potential. The Pistons selected Cole Anthony with pick five, which is a perfect selection. Detroit needed a PG, so this is a fine choice. And yes I did say that I would only go through the first five picks, but in a massive surprise, LaMelo Ball has fallen to the 12th pick and is going to play for the Pelicans with his brother Lonzo Ball!
The notable players in Free Agency didn’t go anywhere different. Anthony Davis stayed in L.A, Drummond stayed in Cleveland, Ingram stayed in New Orleans etc. The only big name that moved was Hassan Whiteside. He signed a big four year $117 million contract with Toronto. It is regarded as a terrible contract considering Whiteside’s age, and his recent play over the past couple years.