The NBA will crown an NBA champion for the 2020 season after all. The league is set to return July 31 inside Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. 22 teams qualified for the league’s restart in Orlando. There will be eight regular-season games—plus a potential for a play-in tournament for the postseason—and playoffs to conclude the 2020 season, which was suspended on March 11 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Before the season restarts, let’s rank the top-10 NBA teams headed for Orlando.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
Al Horford joined the Philadelphia 76ers on a hefty four-year pact, but the results have been underwhelming thus far. The five-time All-Star has been shifted to the second unit in favor of Shake Milton. According to The Athletic, Milton is expected to remain in the starting lineup upon resumption of the season. The second-year guard displayed flashes of greatness.
Shake Milton balled out for a career day:
♨️ 39 Pts (career-high)
♨️ 14-20 FG
♨️ 7-9 3-PT FG pic.twitter.com/zb1fsQWFKX
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 1, 2020
Part of the reason Horford signed with Philadelphia was to play power forward, rather than center. However, the 34-year-old is not as quick as he once was and has struggled to guard opposing 4’s. It’s clear now that Horford is noticeably less effective playing next to superstar center Joel Embiid. In fact, the only time Horford sustained a strong stretch of play since joining Philadelphia came when Embiid went down with an injury.
Despite Horford’s woes, the 76ers are dangerous because of their defensive excellence. All-Star guard Ben Simmons is in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year, leading the 76ers to the sixth-best defensive rating in the league.
9. Miami Heat
Bam Adebayo, a first-time All-Star, has been one of the most pleasant surprises across the entire NBA.
Players to average 15+ PPG, 10+ RPG, 5+ APG, 1+ BPG in a season:
Kevin Garnett 3x
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 2x
Giannis Antetokounmpo 2x
💥BAM ADEBAYO💥 pic.twitter.com/gcL5Q3da4L
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) March 23, 2020
The duo of Adebayo and Jimmy Butler is an underrated 1-2 punch. Coupled with the emergence of rookies Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson, the Miami Heat should not be overlooked.
There are, however, two areas of concerns. First off, the Heat went 27-5 at home but just 14-19 on the road this season. Miami could be the squad most adversely impacted by Orlando’s neutral site.
The Heat should also be worried about its lack of success after trades for veterans Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala. They had a mediocre 7-7 record after acquiring Iguodala and Jae Crowder. Four of those seven defeats came to the lottery-bound Hawks, Cavaliers, Timberwolves and Hornerts.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder
Despite trading franchise icon and former MVP Russell Westbrook and All-Star Paul George in separate blockbuster deals, the Oklahoma City Thu