After nearly five months, the NBA is set to resume the season that was derailed by COVID-19 in early March.
After intense discussions on how to resume the season, where to play it and how many teams should be involved, the league began holding scrimmages at Walt Disney World on July 22. In total there were 22 teams invited to the Orlando bubble complex, 13 from the Western Conference and nine from the East.
The 22 teams will play eight games for the purpose of solidifying seeding for the NBA playoffs. There’s a weird quirk where if the ninth-place team in either the East or West are within four games of the eighth-place team then those two teams will play each other for the playoff spot. The ninth-place team will have to beat the eighth-place team twice to claim the final playoff spot, but the eighth-place team only needs to win once to keep it.
Is this rigged to get the New Orleans Pelicans and Zion Williamson, who are currently 3.5 games behind the current eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, into the playoffs? You’re goddamn right it is. Do I care? Absolutely not, give my large son Zion whatever he needs to get in the playoffs.
Anyway, if those play-in games happen they’ll be played on August 15th and 16th. The first round of the playoffs will begin August 17th; the second round will start August 31st; the conference finals will start on September 15, and the NBA Finals will begin on the 30th with Game 7 scheduled for October 12th.
There are three former Tigers that will be in the NBA bubble. Ben Simmons is still with the Philadelphia 76ers, Garrett Temple is now playing for the Brooklyn Nets and Tremont Waters is in his rookie season with the Boston Celtics.
Simmons was having a stellar year in Philadelphia prior to the hiatus. He was averaging 16 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds and made his second All-Star team. Now Philly is trying him out at power forward instead of point guard and he’s apparently shooting threes.
Ain't this what they've been waitin' for? pic.twitter.com/Ff16rzfX6K— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) July 24, 2020
Fantastic. Surely he learned the finer points of shooting a basketball while at LSU.
Temple is the most veteran former Tiger, now in year 10. This is his first season with Brooklyn after spending 2018-19 with both the Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers. This season has been the most productive one of Temple’s career, averaging a career-high 10.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists. The Nets are already ravaged by injury and they also saw a good number of healthy players decide against traveling to Orlando, so expect to see Temple play a ton of minutes in these eight seeding games.
While Tremont Waters has certainly had a successful first year away from LSU, he more than likely won’t play for the Celtics though he did travel with the team to Orlando. Waters was named the G-League’s Rookie of the Year after averaging 18 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds for the Maine Red Claws, Boston’s G-League affiliate. A two-way player, Waters has appeared in 10 NBA games.
There are also several other former Tigers playing professionally across the globe. Naz Reid deserves big praise for turning a two-way deal into a four-year contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Reid played in 30 games for Minnesota and started 11. Josh Gray is also on an NBA roster and has played in two games with the Pelicans. Gray, however, is not in Orlando.
Six LSU players are in the G-League. Kavell Bigby-Williams is playing with the Indiana Pacers affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants; Aaron Epps is with the Phoenix Suns affiliate, the North Arizona Suns; Randy Onuwasor is with the Sacramento Kings organization, playing in Stockton, California; Jarrell Martin and Brandon Sampson are playing with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, who are the part of the Houston Rockets organization; and Tim Quarterman is with the Miami Heat affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
Another five former Tigers are playing internationally. Shavon Coleman is in Israel, Keith Hornsby is in Germany, Johnny O’Bryant III is in Russia, and Brandon Bass and Justin Hamilton are both in China.