The NBA is back! It seems like years ago that I was sitting here in the very spot that I am in right now and I got the alert that the NBA season was postponed. Since then, nothing has been the same. It truly does feel like such a long time ago, but it was only March. But here we are, the bubble in Orlando seems to be working and we are getting basketball back.
So let’s get a little refresher on the former Louisville Cardinals that will be playing in Orlando and how their seasons were going and where their teams stand. Remember, only 22 teams are playing for the rest of this “season”, nine teams from the East and 13 from the West. Each team will play eight games to determine playoff seeding.
As for our former guys, that will include Donovan Mitchell, Montrezl Harrell, and Gorgui Dieng.
Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz
The Jazz currently sit at 41-23 and are fourth in the West. In terms of per game averages, Donovan leads the team in points (24.2), minutes (34.4), and steals (1.0). He is also averaging 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.
In the last 10 games of the season before the stoppage of play, he averaged 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. Needless to say, he was playing consistent and the Jazz will go as far as Donovan takes them.
Utah opens up against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday at 6:30 on TNT. They will also play the Thunder (ESPN), Lakers (ESPN), Grizzlies, Spurs, Nuggets (TNT), Mavericks (NBATV), and finish up with the Spurs again.
Montrezl Harrell – LA Clippers
The Clippers have a record of 44-20 and are second in the West, 5.5 games behind the Lakers. Although he has only started in two of the 63 games this season, Trez is easily one of the most important players for this Clippers team. He brings so much energy off the bench that it does not matter if he is a starter or a reserve. As far as guys in the main rotation, he still plays the fourth most minutes per game at 27.8.
To go along with the starter-like minutes, he also averages 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game. In a season where “load management” became a big thing for the superstars (Kawhi Leonard has played 51 games and Paul George 42 games), it says a lot that Trez has been out there for 63 of the team’s 64 games.
Now with all of that being said, Trez left the bubble in Orlando to go home for some family issues. It appears that his grandmother is in bad health, but that is all I can kind of piece together from his social media posts and other reports. He has not yet returned to Orlando and when he does, he will be subject to a mandatory quarantine period. So with that, he will not be playing on Thursday against the Lakers and there is no timetable for his return. That game against the Lakers is at 9:00 on TNT. Hopefully we see Trez back in Orlando soon.
The Clippers will also play the Pelicans (ESPN), Suns (NBATV), Mavericks (TNT), Trail Blazers (TNT), Nets (NBATV), Nuggets (ESPN), and Thunder.
Gorgui Dieng – Memphis Grizzlies
Gorgui got 12 games in with his new team before things shut down. The Grizzles are 32-33 and sitting in the eighth spot in the West, making every game huge for them as they battle to make the playoffs.
In his 12 games with Memphis, Gorgui was playing 19.5 minutes per game and averaging 7.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.2 blocks. Not bad numbers at all considering the minutes played. In the last five games, he topped 20 minutes one time. In that game, he responded with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Give the big man a chance, right? He will likely continue to see backup minutes, but hopefully makes the most of them to stay in the rotation and help the Grizzles get into the playoffs.
They open up on Friday against the Trail Blazers at 4:00 (NBATV). They will also play the Spurs, Pelicans (ESPN), Jazz, Thunder (NBATV), Raptors, Celtics (TNT), and Bucks.
The NBA may or may not be your thing. But it is a sport we are getting back, and that is a win in my book. Let’s hope we see all three former Cards in the playoffs down there in Orlando. Disney World truly is the happiest place on Earth!