The Walt Disney World bubble was a tremendous success for the NBA. The league was able to crown a champion, the Los Angeles Lakers, and there were no positive COVID-19 tests after the games started in late July.
Not that the 2019-20 season is officially over, ClutchPoints is taking a look at three players whose stock is trending up and three players whose stock is trending down after the NBA bubble games.
Players Trending Up
1. Jimmy Butler
The Miami Heat small forward proved all of his critics wrong in his first season with the South Beach franchise. Jimmy Butler not only guided the Heat to the NBA Finals, but he played like a superstar in the entire 2020 playoffs.
In 21 games at Disney World against the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics and Lakers, Butler averaged 22.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists while shooting 48.8 percent from the field, 34.9 percent from beyond the arc and 85.9 percent from the free throw line.
In the NBA Finals against LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Butler held his own. The five-time All-Star recorded two triple-doubles and finished the series with stellar averages of 26.2 points, 8.3 boards and 9.8 assists.
Butler went toe-to-toe with James and showed no fear of going up against the mighty Lakers despite being without Goran Dragic for Games 2-5.
2. Jayson Tatum
The Boston Celtics lost to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals in six games, but Jayson Tatum was magnificent and is well on his way to signing a lucrative rookie-scale extension this offseason.
In 17 games against the Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors and Heat in the 2020 playoffs, Tatum put up 25.7 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists. He shot 43.4 percent from the floor, 37.3 percent from the 3-point line and 81.3 percent from the charity stripe.
Tatum was the only NBA player in the 2020 playoffs to average at least 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block per game.
Moving forward, the Celtics should continue to be in the mix for the Eastern Conference crown and NBA title with Tatum leading the way.
3. Devin Booker
The Phoenix Suns didn’t make the 2020 playoffs, but Devin Booker did everything in his power during the seeding games to guide the franchise to the postseason.
The Suns went 8-0 in the seeding games against the Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks (Phoenix played Dallas twice), Los Angeles Clippers, Pacers, Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Sixers. Booker averaged 30.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 6.0 assists in the seeding games and shot 50.3 percent from the field, 31.3 percent from beyond the arc and 94.0 percent from the free throw line.
We haven’t been able to say this in a long, long time, but the Suns actually have a bright future with Booker, Deandre Ayton, Kelly Oubre Jr., Mikal Bridges and head coach Monty Williams leading the charge.
Players Trending Down
1. Paul George
The Clippers had a 3-1 series lead over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals and all signs pointed toward L.A. reaching the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.
However, as they have done for their entire NBA existence, the Clippers choked versus the Nuggets and blew a 3-1 series lead. Statistically, Paul George put up good numbers in the 2020 postseason. He averaged 20.2 points, 6.1 boards and 3.8 assists.
Unfortunately, George had three games in the playoffs where he shot below 30.0 percent from the floor.
In Game 7 against the Nuggets, the NBA All-Star scored just 10 points, hit the top of the backboard on one of his shot attempts from the corner and failed to score in the fourth quarter.
After the Clippers’ choke job, multiple reports stated players in the locker room don’t respect George and gave him an eye roll when he made a speech following the Game 7 loss to the Nuggets.
2. Montrezl Harrell
The 2020 NBA Sixth Man of the Year got exposed in the Nuggets series on defense, particularly in the pick-and-roll game. Montrezl Harrell also reportedly got into a shouting match with George during a timeout.
Harrell becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason and many pundits believe he cost himself a lot of money by playing awful against the Nuggets. The energetic big man had a negative plus-minus rating in six straight games in the Nuggets series despite averaging 11.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in the seven-game series.
It’s going to be interesting to see if the Clippers re-sign Harrell, especially since it appears he and George don’t get along.
3. Pascal Siakam
The Toronto Raptors turned heads left and right during the 2019-20 regular season by racking up the second-best record in the Eastern Conference despite losing Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers and Danny Green to the Lakers.
However, once the playoffs started, the Raptors missed Leonard, as Pascal Siakam wasn’t able to flourish as the No. 1 option since teams were able to gameplan against him and the swingman didn’t have Leonard to bail him out.
In 11 playoff games against the Brooklyn Nets and Celtics, Siakam averaged 17.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists, but he shot just 39.6 percent from the field and 18.9 percent from beyond the arc.
This offseason, Siakam has to work on his half-court scoring skills, as his patented spin move isn’t going to work anymore.