Each week, Nick Ashooh and Wes Hall look at the biggest storylines going on in the NBA bubble in Orlando. Since they can’t do it in person, we bring you their actual unedited chat.
NICK: I gotta be honest with you, this talk about the bubble helping create superteams is overrated. These guys already talk plenty. It’s not like we live in a society where we don’t ave ways to communicate with people. Plus, they’re still keeping tabs on how many people are together. I just don’t see it as a huge problem like so many others
WES: There is no problem as far as I see it. Have the people concerned with super-teams been watching pro sports in the last 20 years? AAU, travel ball and regular high school competition have done more for super-team creation than any bubble could hope for. The players are going to play where they want. Our safety net is the good ol’ commissioner’s veto. Not like we haven’t seen that before.
NICK: Still angry about that Lakers-Chris Paul trade huh?
WES: FOREVER! *shakes fist at David Stern…may he rest in peace
NICK: This doesn’t mean there still won’t be recruiting though. Guys will try to find ways. Everyone wants Giannis in 2021, but the era of superteams was a short-lived one that won’t look the same anymore. People forget the Warriors were able to make that team because of that massive cap spike. The money won’t be as plentiful in the immediate future for now.
WES: You’re right about both points. The players ARE the unofficial recruitment department of their teams, and the ground WILL not be as fertile as it was before. The move to get Giannis is inevitable and expected. The current NBA isn’t built for a team like the Bucks to win it all. Toronto was able to make it happen because Masai Ujiri hit the jackpot on a risky gamble that paid off masterfully. Congrats to the North, but that’s an outlier. Due to so much fraternization, is it fair to say the bitter rivalries from yesteryear are gone forever?
NICK: You know I’ve been adamant that rivalries have gone dormant…but…I don’t think they’re dead. Player movement clearly was the problem but again that was a unique situation based on a huge amount of money getting infused into the league for every team. Now that this past offseason had the MOST movement, a lot of these stars will stay with their current teams more given a lower cap and less flexibility. Once the Clips and Lakers or Celtics play more meaningful games against eachother, you’ll see a new history built. Plus we have some young talented guys on the rise in Zion and Morant that can build something new in the coming years
WES: It really is on the new batch young talent to set the tone for their markets. Cities like New Orleans, Memphis, or Atlanta aren’t known as NBA powerhouse locales, but if their rising stars can stay put for awhile then we can see the landscape broaden. Give me a team you think will surprise us all in the bubble.
NICK: Celtics or Raptors. It’s gonna be all about chemistry. Both have great coaching and showed this year they can play well together. Especially with Boston not dealing with Kyrie anymore. This is such a different setting that the teams focused more on spending time together as opposed to talking to other guys about their future and where they want to play will be a big advantage.
WES: I’m going with Toronto and Utah. Toronto got to Florida before any other team and they’ve been laser-focused on dispelling any thoughts they aren’t capable of winning it all again. Utah is one of those teams that tends to get overlooked; thus making the Jazz dangerous. Utah could play spoiler to the the Rockets, Clippers, and Lakers. I don’t see them winning it all but I do see them making it less fun for the West favorites.
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NICK: I’m really confident that there’s gonna be at least one surprise team in this. It’s just not a normal setting with no home court and weird routines. Another one to think about is Portland. They made the Western Finals last year and now they’re actually healthy. They’ve been such a disappointment this year too though
WES: Ooooh Portland…ton of potential that they just can’t get on the same page at the same time. Tragic. But how about Skinny Melo showing up ready to ball in Orlando? Will Skinny Melo be better than Hoodie Melo?
NICK: Will Skinny Melo play defense? I’d love to see that. Portland is another team that has that chemistry and “us against the world” vibe. They’ve always been the anti super team.
WES: He might get pushed around now that he’s lost weight. Who knows. Yeah Portland has been that way since ’76. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
NICK: If the Blazers miss the playoffs though I’d definitely expect Dame and CJ to get recruited. Maybe one finally wants to go elsewhere out of frustration. There’s a chance someone could plant the seed there. Although they’re so competitive and lazer focused they wouldn’t listen till the offseason anyway
WES: I see CJ moving. Dame would be harder to pull because he loves the chip on his shoulder and really wants to show that he can do it for Portland.
NICK: We’ll see. There’s definitely some opportunity to at least drop seeds and recruit down in Orlando, but I still think the best way would be players in the offseason in a casual setting. Also…you know..texting and stuff.
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Bubble Talk: will the next NBA superteam be formed inside? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington