BASKETBALL: NBA 2020/’21
One of the few morsels of positivity brought about by the global scourge that is COVID-19 has been the spectacle of certain sports taking place in slots that would not usually normally be there.
Soccer and rugby going well into the summer months. The G. A. A. Championships and the US Masters in golf at the other end of the year. Something else which had its normal timing blown out of the water was the NBA season in basketball. Now, the fast-paced five-a-side fare is a great source of company, entertainment and writing material in a routine year anyway, witm the ‘regular’ season comprising 80 games and, anyone aspiring to claim outright honours required to complete in and around another 20.
A couple of years back, the start of the NBA season was delayed due to a player lockout which I think had something to do with working conditions. To the immense credit of all concerned though, at the time they got matters more or less tied up on time.
Most recently, of course, blame could scarcely be apportioned to anybody when the season overran by about a month compared to the normal schedule as the LA Lakers claimed the top gong.
Naturally enough, players and all concerned were entitled to and needed an off-season, but, you have to wonder was it necessary to have it extend to December 22nd. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr would surely concur. The once invincible Warriors had to make do for most of last season without Klay Thompson after it emerged the sharpshooter had sustained a serious leg injury in pre-season training.
For those not au fait with basketball, the California-based franchise were once akin to Barcelona under Pep Guardiola or Liverpool last season under Jurgen Klopp – nigh on unbeatable. For Lionel Messi, see Stephen Curry, in place of Mo Salah, put Thompson. Together, they’re the Splash Brothers. Though often as mesmeric as any of the footballers listed above when combining, when the double act is split in two, it loses some of its venom.
Thus, when ruptured ACL took Thompson out for the vast majority of last season, the chances of Steve Kerr’s team being able to exert anywhere near the influence they once had was diminished irreparably for the campaign in question. Hopes would’ve been that with the terrific two re-united, the Warriors would’ve been back in a challenging position.
That, of course, is all up in smoke now. However, from a players perspective, lining out alongside Curry would be a major attraction in itself. To that end, if as is being reported, Kelly Oubre Jr is being drafted in to bolster matters for the Warriors – there’s no such thing as replacing Thompson – at least Kerr and his staff are moving quickly to steady the ship.
The Warriors will convey that pick to the Thunder next season only should they finish 21st to 30th in the final regular-season standings. If the Warriors land in the top 20, they’ll send two second-round picks to Oklahoma City.
“The Warriors became more motivated to make the deal on Thursday after learning that All-Star guard Klay Thompson would be lost for a second consecutive season — this time with a torn right Achilles tendon.”
Doubtless, it will be, as ever, intriguing and entertaining to see how it all plays out. The scary thing is just how close the tip off actually is.