EDITOR’S NOTE - This piece is satirical. Relax.
The NBA’s 2020-21 starting date has dominated the basketball news-cycle, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst reported that the NBA is targeting a December 22nd start date to a 72-game season. This proposal also includes a play-in tournament for final playoff spots and no All-Star game. This quick turnaround from the NBA Finals to the start of the next season is to ensure normalcy for the 2021-22 season, and that players could compete in the Olympics as well.
There will be issues, primarily the ones reigning NBA champions Danny Green and Jared Dudley have echoed this week:
Lakers guard Danny Green on the proposed Dec. 22 start to next season:— Logan Murdock (@loganmmurdock) October 26, 2020
"If we start in December, I think most guys [are like] 'I'm not going to be there... to have that quick of a restart, I wouldn't expect [LeBron] to be there for the 1st month of the season." pic.twitter.com/NYqNxzNEmZ
The show will go on, just don’t cry a river when stars sit out TV games... esp Top teams that played a longer full season ... https://t.co/sCw5NmhBLp— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) October 26, 2020
However, the show will go on, and — barring any impasse in negotiations — the NBA will return before Christmas day. Which would be a marvelous Christmas gift.
If Danny Green is right though, and LeBron James may sit out the first month of the season, easy solution: don’t play them on Christmas Day. Hell, there’s a team more worthy of that spotlight anyway - the Memphis Grizzlies - and there is a matchup that would be even more exciting than the super predictable “Battle of LA” holiday festival: the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans.
With LeBron entering his 18th season, it’s time to start investing in some of the league’s rising stars and up-and-coming teams. There aren’t many teams that embody that more than the Grizzlies and Pelicans. Besides, the I-55 connection and the small-market vibes make this the next great battle.
And the NBA needs to add a Christmas battle to the early chapters of that rivalry.
It’ll Feature the 2 Best Rookies from 2019
The primary reason people would tune in is because of the 2 most brilliant prospects from the 2019 draft class: Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke.
The reigning Rookie of the Year is looking to take flight and follow up with an emphatic encore for year 2, as he’s embarking on his path to becoming a generational point guard. The way he levitates towards the rim, shakes opponents with slick moves, and seamlessly finds his teammates with his smoothest dimes makes him one of the most must-see players in today’s game.
Then, there’s Brandon Clarke, who literally doesn’t miss. He was one of the most productive rookies in NBA history last year, and he showed that he has more in his bag than expected — a 3-point shot, the most effective floater, and monster dunks. And guess what? There were 20 chances for other teams to take him, and they thought they were fine without him. NOT!
When it comes to the future of the league, look no further than this bright, young duo and Jaren Jackson Jr., one of the league’s few unicorns.
And that leads me to reason #2...
A Special Chance to Watch One of the League’s Best Young Big Men
Christmas games are meant to highlight the league’s premier talent. And as the league is looking to promote its young stars, they should look to feature one of the NBA’s best young bigs, Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jackson is everything you could ask for in a modern big man. He shoots the ball as frequently as JJ Redick and as accurately as Buddy Hield. His handle is guard-like, and his dribble combos can lead to step-back 3’s that seem impossible for a man his size. Oh, and he can also switch across all 5 positions, while blocking more shots than Bam Adebayo.
Jackson is on the way to becoming one of the league’s most special big men, and it’s time for the nation to notice now.
The Duke Connection!
I mean, who doesn’t love Duke basketball? And who didn’t enjoy the pure villainy from Grayson Allen and JJ Redick?
Not to mention, this battle includes former national champions Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow, and it also features two of the most prized one-and-done Blue Devils — Brandon Ingram and Frank Jackson.
For pure college basketball purists, you don’t want to miss out.
These are just several of the many reasons the Grizzlies and Pelicans should be featured on Christmas Day this season. It’s time to showcase these two small-market teams as some of the squads that are up next to lead the NBA for the next decade.