Before we get into which teams will be affected by the lockout, let me preface it by saying this: No team is helped by the present situation. The lockout is holding teams hostage. Without the ability to make any moves, or have any contact with players for that matter, it’s impossible to judge which team is going to have the best season, or which team might be underrated. To put it simply, we need basketball.
HELPED BY THE LOCKOUT
Less games equals less wear and tear on the players. This is music to the ears of some veteran-laden teams. If indeed there is a shortened season, there may be the occasional frightening back-to-back-to-back, but for the most part, the older guys will be glad to hear about a cut in games played.
Fresh off a championship season, the Mavs must be well rested if they have repeat aspirations. The Lakers were able to do it in 2010 despite being one of the league’s oldest teams. However, the Spurs’ success during the 2000s never amounted to a single back-to-back title. Can Tyson Chandler, the biggest difference in their 2009-10 and 2010-11 squads, stay healthy enough to play in over 70 games again? Adding a 26-year-old Rudy Fernandez is a start, but with nine players over the age of 30 and a deep postseason run directly in their rearview mirror, a little extra recess could be just what the doctor ordered.
Los Angeles Lakers
After averaging 35.4 points in 2005-06, Kobe Bryant has seen his scoring average decrease in pretty much every season. Seeing him get only 25.3 last season means a 33-year-old Bryant must be a little more reliant on getting some scoring punch from his teammates. If Kobe is going to get the help he needs, this grizzled veteran team would gladly take the extra rest. This year, he will go to battle with 31-year-old Pau Gasol, and 32-year-olds Lamar Odom and Metta World Peace (seeing that name still make me laugh out loud). Even though Andrew Bynum is only 24, his knees are actually 40, making him one of the greatest beneficiaries of the lockout.
This past season, Boston’s core four of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo missed a combined total of 29 games due to injury. As father time creeps up on Pierce, KG and Allen, their window of championship-caliber seasons is starting to close. They need to bring it night in and night out to avoid a tough first round matchup with one of the East’s young, up-and-coming teams. No longer can the Celtics afford to have an All-Star not playing in 40% of their games. With the potential to be one of the league’s best teams, a lockout would keep the Celtics from contending in a year they can never have back. Even young All-Star Rajon Rondo seems to get dinged up rather easily, so the more rest the merrier in Beantown.
Perhaps no team relies on one single player as much as the Suns with Steve Nash. Although he has only missed 16 games over the past three seasons, his presence is missed when he isn’t there. The Suns have only a 6-10 record sans Nash. They certainly aren’t championship contenders, but the Suns absolutely have the ability to make a run at the No. 8 seed in a very combative Western Conference. As long as Nash is well rested and ready to go, so will be the Suns.