What We Learned From Media’s First Full Access To The NBA Bubble

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Reporters have been released from their seven-day quarantine after almost two weeks of limited access to the NBA’s bubble. So far, access to practices have been limited and there hasn’t been confirmation on things as basic as who is even in Orlando. On Sunday most of the quarantined reporters were finally able to get fresh air, therefore unlocking more information to digest as we get closer to the NBA’s tipoff. Here are some takeaways from what we know. 

Will The Denver Nuggets Be Ready?

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Prior to today, the Denver Nuggets’ coaching staff has participated in wind sprints alongside a team that was previously short-handed and only had eight players at practices.

A slimmed-down Nikola Jokic finally made an appearance last week, and Gary Harris finally arrived over the weekend alongside Torrey Craig. As of this post, I could not find confirmation of Michael Porter Jr. being in Orlando, but it should be noted that he is listed on the team’s official roster as we head towards scrimmages.

We don’t know why the rest of the roster was delayed in their arrival to Orlando, but what we do know is that the coronavirus can have lasting effects that extend beyond the a healthy diagnosis after overcoming the disease. All teams will face this issue from players that have contracted COVID but to have two-thirds of your roster ready to go for the beginning of preparation can be concerning to the third-seeded Nuggets who will be fighting to overcome their reputation for being a highly regarded team that becomes an afterthought in the postseason.

The interesting wrinkle is that the lack of roster depth has led to increased Bol Bol sightings. The 7’2 big man only played nine games at Oregon before sitting out this season while recovering from foot surgery. He’s been a limited practice player with Denver while spending the rest of his time in the G League with the Windy City Bulls for an eight-game span.

There’s no confirmation on if Bol will actually play or not, but it is something to pay attention to with Denver firmly in playoff position with eight regular-season games to play before the real deal begins.

We will see Victor Oladipo

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After initially arriving to Orlando only with the intent to practice, Victor Oladipo has been playing well enough that he and those around him are strongly considering reversing course.

Some of this might be the $3 million left on his 2020 salary that is in dispute, but no one would blame Oladipo for sitting to ensure that the quad tendon tear he suffered in January 2019.

“I do,” said Nate McMillan when asked whether he thinks Oladipo will play. “He’s going through the practices and he’s looking good,” McMillan said. “Our first scrimmage is Thursday and we’ll see how our guys feel and get them minutes accordingly. Right now, there is no restrictions on anyone.”

The Pacers were a surprisingly resilient team throughout the regular season behind the incredible play of Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis. Adding a healthy Oladipo can put them in a position to surprise a lot of people.

The Kings’ Horrible Luck Continues

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The Portland Trail Blazers will always hold the title for 20/20 hindsight draft pick blunders. Missing out on Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant are choices that will forever mark the franchise at least until they get a title. However, the Kings are now officially in the neighborhood.

They famously took Marvin Bagley III over Luka Doncic and immediately regretted it with Doncic becoming a generational talent and Bagley Struggling to stay on the floor. After four positive coronavirus tests within the franchise and a De’Aaron Fox rolled ankle, Bagley looks like he will miss time again after injuring his right foot on Sunday night.

Bagley, who has only played 13 games this season, will await the results of an MRI and was seen on crutches and a walking boot after the injury. The Kings already had bleak chances of making any noise this season, but have a talented young core that they have not been able to see gel together as much as they had hoped. Bagley did manage 62 games in his rookie campaign, so hopefully he can hit the ground full speed going into next season.

 

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