Portland Trailblazers star Damian Lillard said if the NBA season resumes for just a few games without the Blazers having a legit chance of the playoffs, he doesn’t plan to play.
“If we come back and they’re just like, ‘We’re adding a few games to finish the regular season,’ and they’re throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don’t have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I’m going to be with my team because I’m a part of the team,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday. “But I’m not going to be participating. I’m telling you that right now.”
That newsworthy interview brings up the question of whether Chicago Bulls players should join in on that vow. Teams are expecting the NBA to issue rules and guidelines to resume play on Monday June 1 sources tell ESPN. It may not be fair to compare the Bulls to the Trailblazers because the Bulls do not have a perennial all-star and potential MVP candidate that Portland has. Zach LaVine is the top scorer for the Bulls and does it benefit him and the team to play the remaining 17 games considering the Bulls have won only 22 games before the league shut down.
The only benefit that would come out of playing the rest of the season for LaVine and the rest of the team is to pad their stats. LaVine is known for being real athletic and if there is nothing to gain, the focus should be to get healthy for next season.
If the NBA returns to play the remainder of the 82-game regular season, a player to keep an eye on is Coby White. He is a 20-year old rookie and extra games to build upon his experience could bode well for #0. White has appeared in all 65 Bulls games and has averaged 13 points a game, 3.5 rebounds a game and has added nearly 3 assists a game.
The Blazers are much closer to the playoff picture than the Bulls are and the Bulls players should embrace the idea to play and improve their game even if the playoffs are not realistic. If LaVine, White and others decided to follow Lillard’s lead, there’s a chance that by the time next season starts that it will be close to a full calendar year gap in between games. It’s a difference of philosophy, does an athlete not want to risk the possibility of getting injured for the long-term or does he want to get on the court and play basketball knowing there’s always a risk of injury and he is on a team that is playing out the season?
In general, athletes are a creature of havoc and there is no substitute for live on the court action including preseason games. Many rookies in the same situation are eager to get on the court and play the sport they love, as a rookie what you do can set a standard for how you play as you get more experience. Confidence is so valuable on the hardwood because when athletes are clicking everywhere, there’s motivation to take your game up even more. This is only possible in live game action.