By Callum Brady
On the 11th of March, the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver decided to suspend the current NBA season indefinitely given the current crisis the world has been dealing over the last few months in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus prior to the Jazz-Thunder game and in the following days and weeks, several other NBA teams came out stating they had a player or players on their roster who had tested for COVID-19 including the likes of the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics to name a few. But the question lies with the NBA regular season suspended just before the start of the playoffs who will benefit the most from the break the most.
To start with the Los Angeles Clippers who are 2nd in the western conference with a 44(W) - 20(L) record and have arguably the best roster in the whole NBA with lots of quality depth, a plethora of defensive talent and two superstars in Paul George (PG) and last season finals MVP Kawhi
Leonard. The clippers had a very strange regular season coming in second in the west so far but had the potential to do so much more, it feels like LA team were more built for the postseason playoffs rather than the regular season but a key part of success in the playoffs is entering the playoffs on a roll and even though this will be an issue for every team in the 2019/20 playoffs the key player's for the clippers in PG and Kawhi never got to play together very much at all before the league's suspension with sportswriter Farbod Esnaashari (Forbes) explaining that, PG has missed 22 games this season through injury (61%) and Kawhi missed many of the regular season games with his reported controversial load management for the postseason. This all smells like trouble if they are thrown right in at the deep end in the playoffs with a lack of team chemistry that is so vital in the big games but you can say that Kawhii has had a nice two months off which is pretty good load management for his knee.
Now for the Los Angeles Lakers who are above the LA Clippers in the Western Conference in 1st place with a record of 49 (W) - 14 (L, the Lakers are not as loaded roster wise as the Clippers but they do have their two all-stars Anthony Davis and all time great LeBron James to rely on to win games. The Lakers were arguably getting on the role needed for the playoffs playing their best basketball of the season so far before the suspension of the league, LeBron was averaging 25.7 PPG and 10.6 APG this season whiles battling Giannis Antetokounmpo for the regular season MVP. You can say the break will damage the roll the lakers were on and that would be true but the lakers playing the way they were there were suggestions they where burning themselves out for the postseason with Lebron being 35 years old this was a real possibility but now Lebron and the Lakers have had two months break the lakers could be a real threat and a fresh Lebron James is something no team in the NBA will want to come across come the playoffs.
There are two teams in the Brooklyn Nets and Golden state warriors who do not have any hopes when it comes to playoff success but can take positives from the league's suspension because with the delayed start to the playoffs and delayed finish to the season it is unlikely that the 2020/21 regular season will start on time and therefore will most likely have to be delayed, also from the view of the fans this current NBA season may not hold the same validity because of all the different factors that are taking effect. Due to both these points, it means firstly for the Brooklyn Nets that they have time to let Kevin Durrant (KD) recover correctly from his achilles injury as well as integrate him with Kyrie Irving and the other players on the roster. In regards to the Goldern state, their season is a wash with a 15 (W) - 50 (L)record but with the layoff in the season this means that come the next season just like the Nets they will have time to let Klay Thomson heal up and give some rest to the rest of the roster, they may also come away from a season with the first pick of the draft which makes them major contenders for the upcoming season with the caliber of players they have on the roster.
With the return of the NBA looking increasing likely with lead NBA insider Shams Charania reporting that the NBA is talking to Orlando Disneyworld as a clear frontrunner as a return-to-play site for resuming 2019-20 season, this NBA season and postseason will be unlike any other but and in regards to who will benefit from the layoff the most there is no way to definitively say who will gain the most due to the various factors and in some peoples eyes there may be an asterisk on the season but I think at the minute what people care about the most is getting sports back safely.
Another final point is that all the teams should have rested rosters going into the playoffs meaning when we get NBA playoff basketball back it should be a historic playoff series for everyone to enjoy without the fatigue factor from the regular season that can sometimes weigh on the players before they make their run to greatness.