Clippers, Lakers to tip off NBA season amid coronavirus

Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Yahoo Sports's Chris Haynes discuss the new NBA season.

Video Transcript


ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: The NBA's new season starts tonight with the Golden State Warriors visiting Brooklyn to take on the Nets, followed by the Clippers versus the Lakers. Joining me now with his predictions for the season is Chris Haynes, Senior NBA Insider at Yahoo Sports. So, Chris, this is it. Let's go right for the gusto, OK. Your predictions for the NBA Finals match-up-- is Lakers-Nets inevitable?

CHRIS HAYNES: Inevitable? Look, I think it's pretty close to that. I think I would lean towards saying my Finals match-up will be the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks. The Brooklyn Nets are definitely going to be a hot story line to keep focused on throughout the season. The dynamic with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, how are they going to play out? How are their personalities going to mesh over a 72-game season? Can KD stay healthy? Can he regain the form that he was when he was a top-two player in this league?


So those are story lines to keep focus on. And if they do-- if all those things go well for Brooklyn, they very well could be in the Finals. But as of right now, I think I'm going to lean towards saying the Lakers and the Bucks.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, so speaking of the Bucks, which player do you think has the best shot of spoiling Giannis Antetokounmpo's shot at three consecutive MVP wins?

CHRIS HAYNES: That's a very good question. Obviously, LeBron James is always in the conversation when you're talking about MVP candidacies. I will say this, I'm looking very closely at Kevin Durant. I'm going to say that right now. Him being over there in the East, he's had a whole year off to watch Giannis Antetokounmpo go off for the last two years. He's had his time to see LeBron James recapture a ring and do it for the Lakers this time.

So I think Durant is going to be very focused and relentless in his pursuit and trying to be the best he can, and when he is playing at his best, he's arguably the best or top two. Yeah, so I think Giannis will have some problems when you're talking about that award as it pertains to Kevin Durant.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, now, look, we know players were pushing for a mid-January comeback. They're starting a little bit earlier than they had wanted. They're going to get their marquee Christmas games in, which traditionally get very high ratings. But, look, 40% of their receipts come from the people at the games. They're going to be playing to nearly empty arenas. How is the league, you think, going to be able to make up for all that lost revenue?

CHRIS HAYNES: Well, they're not going to be able to make up for that revenue. And I will say this, it wasn't only the players that were hoping for a January start, myself as well. You know, I was hoping for a January, possibly a February start, but, look, this is something that the league is monitoring closely.

They're not going to be able to get fans in the arena as of right now. Going into the season, only six teams are going to allow fans in some-- in some number, some low number to be allowed to go into the games entering the season. And then they're going to wait to see how this thing plays out, see if a vaccine will be accessible for all. Then if that's the case, then that's when we can start to see movement in that order.

But you know, right now, I think the league is trying to come up with innovative ways to keep fans engaged, to keep a product out there as it pertains to, you know, electronic seating, visually, something that we've seen done in the bubble, where fans can buy tickets and be seen on the big screen electronically, digitally.

So there's going to be all type of methods that they're going to put out there to try to make up for that income, but you're not going to make up for having the absence of 20,000 fans. So they're hoping that a vaccine is going to come into play sooner rather than later, that way they can recoup that.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And we know the league has had 30 teams since 2004, but Commissioner Silver yesterday threw out the idea that, you know what, now may be the time to look to expand again. Where might we see those franchises come from, and when might we see something like this happen?

CHRIS HAYNES: You know, it's really-- I was really puzzled to hear Adam Silver say that, you know, just based off of where we're at in the economy, society, and where we're at with this virus. And so-- but I will say this, when you're talking about other markets out there, one market that's been banging on the drum-- they had it-- they had an NBA team for years. They were very successful, then they got it taken away from them. I'm talking about Seattle.

That's a market that has been trying to do everything that they can to try to get an NBA team brought back. And I think Adam Silver has a soft spot for the history there of Seattle, and it's one of the marquee cities that was on the NBA beat when you talk to players and you talk to media members. Like, that was a prime-- they looked forward to going to the Pacific Northwest to spend some time in Seattle.

So I think that's going to be-- if we're talking about expansion, you have to look at Seattle, you know, as being first and foremost on that list, and then from there on out, it's anybody's guess. But Seattle, I would think, has dibs if the league is really serious about expanding.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Yeah, definitely makes sense. Before we let you go, this is a very popular draft class. You've got players like LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Obi Toppin. Who is your pick, Chris, for Rookie of the Year?

CHRIS HAYNES: I'm going with Edwards in Minnesota. I think he has all the tool sets to be an explosive player. He has the body. He has the body to be able to play offensively and defensively, to absorb contact. I like him. I think he's polished.

But when you look at this draft class, there's not a lot of guys that-- that pop out and say they're going to be like put up stud numbers this season. I think a lot of them are going to evolve into being really good players, but I would be surprised if we see a season like last year where we had Ja Morant, where you had Zion Williamson, just two studs that you know that's going to be All-Stars in this league someday.

So this rookie class, I think we're going to have to wait and see and watch them mature, but as of right now, I'm going to go with the number-one pick.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, good stuff. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Thanks a lot. Enjoy-- enjoy the games tonight.

CHRIS HAYNES: Thank you. You take care.