According to Shams Charania, “The NBA will name a Player of the Seeding Games and an All-Seeding Games Team to honor top performers for games during the 2019-20 season restart at Disney in Florida.”
Which players have shined brightest in Florida? The biggest thing to note with the restart is that the All-Seeding Games Team will look significantly different than your traditional All-NBA team. Nevertheless, here is our take on who shined brightest in the happiest place on earth.
G: Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers (Player of the Seeding Game)
NBA Restart Stats: 37.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 9.3 assists, 48.5 field goal percentage, and a 41.4 three-point percentage.
Damian Lillard has taken everything said about him in the NBA bubble personally. Whether it came from fellow NBA players or the media, Lillard has used it as fuel for every game. He came into the NBA bubble without the cushion of having secured a playoff spot. The Blazers were on the outside looking in and it was Lillard’s job to propel them back into playoff contention; and he has done that and more.
He has played all 7 games for Portland and leads all other players in points. Among his bolstering performances, they include 45, 51, and 61 point games. The Western Conference only has room for two more teams in its playoff picture. “Dame Dolla” is the reason why the Blazers are currently a favorite to secure one of those spots. All analysts are calling for a Blazers-Lakers first-round playoff series. Why? Because some actually believe that Portland can pull off an upset.
Lillard went from being an All-NBA guard while injured to being the best player during the league’s restart. All teams in the Western Conference should fear what Lillard can and will do to their team.
For Skip Bayless, Lillard is proving him wrong every single time he steps on the court. And for Clippers F Paul George, “Dame Dolla” might just be the player that PG13 thinks he is. The small sample size that are these seeding games have shown that Damian Lillard will be the NBA’s hottest player going into the playoffs.
G: Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
NBA Restart Stats: 31 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 49.7 field goal percentage, and a 34.9 three-point percentage.
A 0.3% chance to make the playoffs is something that turned many heads away from Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns. As the NBA has been advertising, it is a “whole new game” and no team has been a better example of that than the Suns.
The Suns have been one of the league’s worst teams throughout the season but they have been one of the best performing teams within the bubble. That is largely in part to our second All-Seeding Game team selection at guard, Devin Booker.
Booker’s turnaround buzzer-beater versus the Clippers is the moment that gave the Suns the well-earned attention they have received in the bubble. Since the restart, he ranks 4th in the league in scoring. Due to the late-game heroics and play of Booker, the Suns are currently the only undefeated team left in the bubble (7-0). Leading a team to an undefeated bubble campaign must be rewarded regardless of whether the Suns can clinch a playoff berth or not. Playing for a mediocre franchise can often lead people to overlook one’s abilities due to their lack of winning. But if there is anything that the fans and media have taken note of during the restart, it is that Devin Booker is one special (and right now wasted) talent.
F: T.J. Warren, Indiana Pacers
NBA Restart Stats: 31.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 57.8 field goal percentage, and a 52.4 three-point percentage.
Yes, T.J. Warren earns a selection. The best way to describe Warren’s play in the bubble is simply he caught fire at the right time. For the most part, Warren has been scorching during the NBA Restart with great games against formidable foes. His 53 point game versus Philadelphia set the tone for what has been a career stretch for the Pacers forward. Not to mention, he is shooting nearly 58% from the field while being tied for 4th in scoring during the restart.
As this list covers performances specifically inside the bubble, Warren has certainly been one of the league’s best. People overlook the fact that the Pacers are currently without Domantas Sabonis which puts a huge dent in whatever title hopes existed for this team. But despite the loss, Warren has been able to fill much of the void left by the all-star.
Victor Oladipo’s return from injury hasn’t sparked the best version of himself leaving Warren to steal the show for Indiana. His overall product has been enough to earn his spot on this list. Come playoff time though, he is going to need to find a rhythm of consistency if the Pacers have any chance of making out the first round. Is it safe to say that Warren is also a dark horse NBA Bubble MVP candidate? Maybe so.
F: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
NBA Restart Stats: 32.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 11.3 assists, 47.4 field goal percentage, and a 29.2 three-point percentage.
Luka Doncic is the future of the NBA. Any talk about Zion Williamson will not be accepted until further notice. Doncic has been on tear despite not having much to play for.
He is the only player averaging a triple-double inside the bubble. Doncic’s play seems to be improving more and more every game to the point where it is not far-fetched to think Dallas can make it to the second round. That comes with a potential upset of the Los Angeles Clippers. His 19-assist performance against the Bucks was the game that highlighted how versatile Doncic’s game really is. While other superstars have taken a step back since the restart, Luka seems to have improved.
During the restart, Luka has played six out of the possible eight games. In those games, he has simply made putting the ball into the hoop too easy. If not for the inhumane play of Damian Lillard, Doncic would undoubtedly be the bubble’s MVP. Averaging a triple-double across a six-game stretch is not easy.
C: Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas Mavericks
NBA Restart Stats: 30.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 47.6 field-goal percentage, and a 38.1 three-point percentage.
The last spot in our All-NBA Seeding Games Team predictions goes to Kristaps Porzingis. Alongside Luka Doncic, they have formed the best performing duo in the bubble thus far. There is a firm argument that Dallas is only one star away from becoming serious contenders. However, that can easily be stifled if Porzingis can keep up his current level of play. Of course, if they’ll want to upset a team like the Clippers, he is going to have to turn in up a notch.
For the sake of this list, Porzingis has been the best performing big man in Florida. That is largely in part to playing with Doncic who just makes the game easier for everyone around him. Despite that, Porzingis has improved his offensive output significantly from the regular season. Going into the postseason, he will need to improve his pick and roll defense as well as becoming a stronger paint presence. What he has been doing though is enough to warrant him a spot on this list. With Dallas having two of the top-six scorers in Orlando, once again, teams should be put on upset alert.
Who would you put in your All-NBA Seeding Games Team? Did we snub Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard or Giannis Antetokounmpo? Or did we forget about someone entirely? Let us know.