Quote & Analysis: Bamba’s Added Strength, Practice Setup at Disney & More
QUOTE: “My mentality the whole entire time we were quarantined was to gain an inch every day. It really took literally every day going through it to get to where I am. It took changing my diet. It took intense workouts.” – Mo Bamba on muscle gain during league shutdown
ANALYSIS: How exactly the added muscle mass will impact Bamba’s play remains to be seen. What we should expect, just based on what we’ve seen with other big men after they’ve put on healthy weight, is for the Magic’s second-year center to be more confident every time he steps on the floor. Being more physical in the paint, either to establish post position or to box out for rebounds, is certainly critical, as is being more resistant on defense when opponents try backing him down on the low block.
QUOTE: “We have to take the same little baby steps that we took four, five, six months ago and kind of build it now to get to where we want to be a little later. I think everybody is in the right mindset. Biggest thing right now is mindset and staying positive and just fighting through adversity.” – Terrence Ross on picking up where team left off before hiatus
ANALYSIS: The Magic won eight of 12 before the league had to shut down due to the pandemic. During that stretch, they had the NBA’s best offense, averaging 120.8 points per game. The goal for Orlando is to leapfrog the Brooklyn Nets, who will be shorthanded when the season resumes, for the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference. That would guarantee a second straight trip to the postseason, likely prevent the Magic from playing the 53-12 Bucks in the first round and help them evade a potential play-in tournament against the Wizards for the final playoff spot.
QUOTE: “I’m not here to do it for myself. I’m here to do it for my team. I’m here to do it for the Orlando Magic. I’m here to do it for my teammates. I’m here to win a championship. I’m here for my family. I’m here for my friends. I’m here for a lot of other people other than myself. I’m here for the players that have come before me. All the guys that have left this league in such a great place.” Aaron Gordon on his motivation to return to basketball
ANALYSIS: These last few months have been incredibly challenging for everyone. From the health crisis to incidents of social injustice, the country has had to deal with a lot of pain and anguish. The NBA and its players, coaches and staff have a great opportunity, however, to impact the country, and the rest of the world for that matter, in a truly positive way.
QUOTE: “I can’t imagine a more well planned out, comprehensive plan that the league has put forth for all of us. The facilities, it’s really remarkable what they’ve been able to do. Both the practice facilities that we’re using along with the weight rooms that we have in each of the seven practice facilities. In terms of safety, the commissioner had said it. It will be one of the safest places in the country, and it is.” Steve Clifford on working environment at Disney
ANALYSIS: Players seem to have everything they need to get in shape and gear up for the restart. Disney, to nobody’s surprise, did an unbelievable job preparing for these next three months. By the time the seeding games tip off on July 30, expect most of the league’s players, if not all, to be well-conditioned.
QUOTE: “It’s anybody’s game really. The people who are locked in and focused and who are in shape during this time off are the ones that are better off. I think there are going to be some upsets. I think people are going to try to jump on others early and try to do some damage.” Michael Carter-Williams on competitive advantages/disadvantages for season restart
ANALYSIS: Will higher-seeded teams win most of the playoff series? Or will upsets become a big storyline? That’s become a hot topic to debate. Some think the absence of true home-court advantages or extensive travel will open the door for lower-seeded playoff teams to knock off league powers, while others think the playoff results won’t differ much from the way things usually turn out. Regardless of what side you are on, in no way shape or form will it be any easier for a team to win a championship. In fact, it will be probably even harder, as teams will really have to dig deep to stay focused and be resilient.