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Roundtable: Nuggets, NBA, and Disney World

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Stiffs writers join together to discuss the NBA’s potential return in late July.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 22 AdvoCare Invitational - Canisius v Villanova Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What is the biggest storyline you are following as the NBA attempts to return in Orlando next month?

Brandon Ewing (@B_Skip1717): The biggest storyline I’ll be following is whether or not this is really going to happen. There are just so many moving parts and so many things that could happen between now and when training camp, preseason games, and ultimately real games start on July 30th.

Like Gage mentions below, it will be incredibly interesting to see how the NBA handles certain situations. A player will come down with COVID-19, it’s the inevitable thing that’s going to happen. We’ve seen it with the Premier League and the same thing will happen in the NBA. How the league and certain teams handle those situations will be fascinating to watch.

Gage Bridgford (@GbridgfordNFL): I’m focused on what happens if a number of players or people within the bubble catch Covid-19. If it’s isolated to one team, are they just removed from play? Do they freeze everything else? What’s going to happen in that situation? I want nothing more than for sports to return, but I also want it to be under safe conditions. I know everyone wants this to be a basketball storyline, but that’s not what we’ll all be watching.

Ryan Blackburn (@NBABlackburn): The biggest storyline right now has to be the conditions under which players decide that coming back to the bubble environment is the best thing for the NBA as a league of players full of black men hoping to make a lasting change. Whatever you may think of Kyrie Irving, he and Dwight Howard have shared some important thoughts about making the most of the NBA’s return, and maximizing that impact is of the utmost importance. What the owners decide to do for the platforms of police brutality and racial inequality are going to define the return of the NBA season.

Denver Nuggets v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

What is the biggest positive the Nuggets have going for them when the NBA returns to play?

Ewing: The Nuggets have multiple “secret” weapons, one being Nikola Jokic — with his new and improved beach body — and the other being Michael Porter Jr.. Both of those factors are incredibly positive and that is not even factoring in Jamal Murray, who I think could absolutely shock the NBA in Orlando.

If the Nuggets are able to get those three going, Denver is going to be a tough out in the postseason. The Nuggets also have a camaraderie and chemistry that is almost unmatched when comparing them to their competitors. Between the chemistry and the breakout potential across the board, the Nuggets have a ton of things in their favor once the NBA season resumes.

Bridgford: The biggest positive has to be health. Beach body Nikola Jokic will be in full effect, and any soft-tissue injuries should be healed up by now. Denver’s depth has always been viewed as one of their strengths, and this will give them that advantage over other teams that rely more on star power. The amount of minutes players get during the playoffs tend to go up, and they’ll have a full fleet of fresh players to keep throwing at their opponents.

Blackburn: The biggest positive for the Nuggets is the ability for a small reset for head coach Michael Malone. The Nuggets experienced a variety of ups and downs throughout the year, and that roller coaster made it difficult for Malone to grasp onto any combinations that legitimately worked well for the Nuggets outside of the starting unit. With time to reflect and for players to get healthy and rested, it will be up to Malone to pull all of the right strings this time around. Look for him to get creative in finding the right personnel to win games going forward.

DENVER NUGGETS VS HOUSTON ROCKETS, NBA REGULAR SEASON Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

What could potentially hold the Nuggets back from leaving Disney World with a championship?

Ewing: Inability to score from beyond the arc and the two Los Angeles teams could hold the Nuggets back. We’ve seen the Nuggets struggle at times with their 3-point shooting over the past two years and it has often come back to bite them. If the Nuggets go cold from outside in Orlando, they could be in trouble.

If the Nuggets do advance in the postseason they will almost certainly matchup against either the Lakers or Clippers. Denver really doesn’t matchup well against the likes of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, or Paul George, which could end up being a big issue.

Bridgford: Denver’s biggest issue is going to be with defending big wings. The top two teams in the conference boast LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. That doesn’t even include Anthony Davis, who is a menace in his own right, or Giannis Antetokounmpo out of the Eastern Conference. Big guards can give them some problems, but they can manage them. If their defensive guys can’t step up on the perimeter, those truly elite players will bury them.

Blackburn: I’ve come around to the fact that the Nuggets will go to Jerami Grant at the 3 (or at least be put into a position where he defends big wings consistently) and that will help the Nuggets out a bit in the defending big wings department. Where they have ultimately struggled is finding the right combination of shooters to consistently generate elite offense. Can the Nuggets put together playoff lineups that can keep up with Western Conference playoff teams? We will see.

NBA says it is talking with Disney about resuming season in Florida Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

What is your favorite ride or memory of Disney World?

Ewing: Disney World really is the happiest place on earth. Caitlin (my fiance) and I went to Disneyland last year and it was an absolute blast. I probably haven’t been to Disney World in five years or so, but Space Mountain is by far my favorite ride. Everything about the ride is just spectacular and I love how it’s pitch black and you literally have no idea what’s going on. AWESOME!

Bridgford: I haven’t been to Disney World in I don’t know how long. I was much shorter back then, so the rides I could go on were limited. However, I do remember the Rock’n’Roller Coaster, and it was one of the first roller coasters I actually got to ride. The neon lights made it just bright enough that you could see the ride, unlike some at other parks where you’re in the dark entirely. It wasn’t the biggest or baddest ride, but my memory of it has stuck for 15+ years.

Blackburn: It has been over a decade since I went to Disney World, so I had to refresh myself on what rides were there and if the ones I remembered had disappeared. Splash Mountain is a great one, but I’m going with the Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios across the way. Good thrill ride that builds some anticipation, and the Twilight Zone background theme was pretty good as well.