The long wait is over—the NBA season will return after a long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-two teams have arrived in Orlando’s Disney World Resort to participate in the NBA bubble. But the NBA bubble’s format and schedule are tough; there’s little time between the seeding games and the playoffs. Can elite players continue to stand out? As coaches rotate their players more frequently to prevent injury, will the role players step up? Who will finish strong for this historical NBA bubble format?
Whether you’ve been cooped up at home doing remote work or spending the time with your grandfather as he receives live-in or home care, here’s a treat for you. Refresh your memory for the NBA restart with this list of top players to watch out for in Orlando.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
The reigning NBA MVP was in the midst of an exceptional campaign when the season went on hiatus last March. Leading the Bucks to the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings, Antetokounmpo gears up for a strong finish this season. Expect “The Greek Freak” to continue to develop and dominate in Orlando.
Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)
Only in his second season, Luka Doncic has shown he’s a high-caliber player. He leads the league in triple-doubles and ranks in the top ten in scoring and assists. Dallas Mavericks may be at the seventh spot in the Western Conference, but the athleticism of a young Slovenian will likely lead the team to playoffs.
Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
The NBA hiatus couldn’t have come at a better time for Joel Embiid, who had to skip five games due to a shoulder injury. The time off allowed him to get healthy and in better shape for the NBA restart. If he plays to his full potential, Embiid can dominate the paint with his physical prowess and high basketball IQ.
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
James Harden, along with Russel Westbrook, is on a mission to derail Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers’ plans to win the Western Conference finals. He did some serious work on his body during the quarantine, with pictures of his slimmer physique trending on social media. Expect faster step-backs and crossovers, improved stamina, and stronger presence as Harden enters the Disney court.
Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers)
Kawhi Leonard can easily strip the MVP title from Giannis Antetokounmpo or LeBron James this season. As a high-caliber player on both ends of the floor, Leonard’s talent could pave the way for a Western Conference finals’ showdown with the Lakers. His duo with a healthy Paul George can be the one-two punch that the Clippers need to dominate the seeding games, playoffs, and the NBA 19-20 finals.
LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)
With his work ethic during the shutdown and innate athleticism, LeBron James can lead the Los Angeles Lakers to victory. At 35, James is still on top of his game, leaving younger players scrambling on the floor as he attacks the rim or steps back for a clutch three-point shot. He’s also the league’s leader in assist, creating high-quality shots for his brilliant teammates, such as Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma.
With these elite players, the NBA restart in Orlando will likely be an exciting tournament. They are primed to compete in the bubble and give sports fans at home a fun, exhilarating experience amid a pandemic.