Sport Alternate NBA Endings: What if Draymond Green never struck LeBron James in the groin?
India: Hundreds of thousands of tea pickers in Assam on indefinite strike
© Biju BORO / AFP Tea pickers joined farmers in protesting the liberalization of the sale of fruits and vegetables. The strike began this Friday, October 9 to demand wage increases. These workers joined the farmers, who have been protesting for two weeks now against the new selling prices for fruit and vegetables. With our correspondent in Bangalore, Côme Bastin The State of Assam produces nearly 50% of India's tea, and it is found on many tables around the world.
We are months removed from a months-long NBA layoff, facing months more without basketball. Almost a year and a half will pass between free-agency periods. In the coming weeks, we will spend ample time imagining what now lies ahead for the league’s 30 teams. But we’ve earned our fun, so join us as we first reimagine some of this century’s pivotal moments in a series we’re going to call Alternate NBA Endings.
A swift groin strike altered more NBA legacies than any other incident in the 21st century.
In this version of events, Golden State forward Draymond Green’s punch to then-Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James’ undercarriage irrevocably altered the career arc of every MVP candidate since.
Mavericks star Luka Doncic favored to win 2020-21 NBA MVP
As a sophomore this past season, former No. 3 overall pick Luka Doncic averaged 28.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 9.4 assists per game. Those are some prime LeBron James numbers from the 21-year-old guard. It came amid a season that Doncic was finally legally able to consume adult beverages in the United States. Think about that for a second.NBA odds: Giannis Antetokounmpo is a co-favoriteDating back to its inception in 1955-56, only Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird have earned the NBA award in three consecutive seasons. That’s just how good the Greek Freak is at the still-young age of 25.
Green averaged 17 points on 49/41/78 shooting splits in 40 minutes a game in the 2016 NBA Finals. He was suspended for Game 5, forcing Warriors big men Marreese Speights, Festus Ezeli, Anderson Varejao and James McAdoo into greater action. They scored five points (1-9 FG, 0-3 3P, 3-8 FT) in 37 minutes.
This is to say nothing of Green’s table-setting and defensive work. The Warriors logged 18 assists in Game 5. They had not recorded fewer assists in any game of their record-breaking 73-9 regular season. Likewise, James had averaged 24.8 points (48.2 FG%, 31.3 3P%) opposite Green in the four games prior to the suspension. James exploded for 41 points (16-30 FG, 4-8 3P) in the 112-97 Game 5 victory.
, the Warriors were 25.6 points per 100 possessions better with Green on the floor than they were without him in 2015-16, the widest margin in the NBA. It is beyond reasonable to believe Golden State would have ended Cleveland’s season in a five-game set had Green been present.
Pacers hire Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren as head coach
Bjorkgren served under reigning NBA Coach of the Year Nick Nurse in Toronto as assistant coach the past two seasons and helped them win the 2019 NBA Finals. He also worked as player development coordinator and assistant coach of the Phoenix Suns for two seasons from 2015-17 and then signed on with Toronto as an advanced scout during the 2017-18 campaign. Bjorkgren, 45, was an assistant under Nurse when the Iowa Energy won the 2010-11 NBA G League championship.
So, what does the future look like if Green never struck James in the groin or was not suspended for it?
Stephen Curry’s alternate ending
Golden State, with back-to-back championships against the greatest player of his generation and the best regular-season record in NBA history, takes its place among the best teams ever to play the game. Stephen Curry’s Warriors hold all-important trump cards over James and Michael Jordan’s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.
Passed over for 2015 Finals MVP honors, Curry gets the sympathy vote this time around, despite worse production. He averaged a 22-5-5 on 42/42/94 shooting splits in the first five games of the 2016 Finals, good enough to get it done. The back-to-back MVP is reigning the Finals MVP, unassailable on his résumé.
NBA confirms 2020 draft will be conducted virtually
The plan is for NBA commissioner Adam Silver and deputy commissioner Mark Tatum to appear live at ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Conn., where they’ll reveal this year’s draft picks. As usual, Silver will announce the first-round selections, while Tatum will handle the second round.Although there won’t be a traditional “green room” for top prospects, a number of draftees will appear virtually, according to Thursday’s announcementThe NBA also conducted its August draft lottery virtually, while other leagues – including the WNBA and NFL – have completed virtual drafts already this year.
There is no guarantee, though, that the Warriors ever win a third ring ...
Kevin Durant’s alternate ending
Green, who in reality, never picks up the phone. The Warriors, having just submitted a historical season, ride that high into re-signing Harrison Barnes instead. Golden State never trades Andrew Bogut to the Dallas Mavericks, and Zaza Pachulia is never a Warrior.
During is left to choose between returning to the Oklahoma City Thunder or joining the Boston Celtics in free agency. He would almost certainly be followed by free agent Al Horford to either destination. While potential battles between Durant’s Celtics and James’ Cavalierss at the top of the East would have been awfully fun, the 2014 MVP has said returning to OKC was hisbehind Golden State in 2016.
He could have returned to a Thunder team that featured Horford, Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Durant could have won titles with that roster, elevating himself to an OKC deity and Best Player Alive status. No footnotes attached to his rings or snake emojis sent his way.
Danny Green expects LeBron James to miss first month of season
Green pointed out how the Lakers were recently in the NBA Finals and wouldn’t have much time off. He also noted how many veterans they have, such as Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard, in addition to James. Other teams that got eliminated from the playoffs earlier might be ready for a late December start, but Green does not think some Lakers would be ready for the season to start soon.The NBA is hoping to have fans at games next season and is considering playing MLB-style series.Subscribe to Yardbarker's Morning Bark, the most comprehensive newsletter in sports.
LeBron James’ alternate ending
James would have continued to own the East, still hungry to deliver the title he promised to Cleveland. His 2016-17 Cavaliers may have been the best of his tenure and would have been a real problem for a Warriors team without Durant. That is, if Durant’s stacked Thunder team did not meet him in the 2017 Finals instead.
Were James to bring a championship to his home state, he surely would have still left for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018. But what if he had fallen short in each of his four years back in Cleveland? Would he still be on the aging Cavaliers, still searching for a third ring, now against a much stronger Eastern Conference?
The bigger question is whether Kyrie Irving would have been there to see any of it. The relationship between Irving and James may have frayed earlier than it eventually did, no longer held together by their joint success as champions. Had the Cavs lost in five games, the front office may have even become convinced Irving was not a championship fit with James and pulled the trigger on something akin to, which would have returned Paul George and Eric Bledsoe.
That, too, is a roster James could win with, but one that comes with its own series of alternate endings. How would Irving and Devin Booker fare as Mamba Mentality disciples in the Phoenix Suns backcourt? Does that become a destination for Durant or another big-name free agent? Do James and George find a home together in Cleveland? Without Bledsoe on the market, do the Milwaukee Bucks pursue alternative solutions that would have made them a better title contender — like Chris Paul, Kemba Walker or even ...
Raptors' Terence Davis arrested for alleged assault, criminal mischief after argument with girlfriend
Toronto Raptors rookie Terence Davis was arrested in New York on charges of assault and criminal mischief following an argument with his girlfriend.Det. Sophia Mason of the New York Police Department confirmed Davis was arrested on charges of assault and criminal mischief following an argument with a 20-year-old woman who described herself to authorities as Davis' girlfriend.
Russell Westbrook’s alternate ending
Westbrook is not the 2017 MVP if Durant stays in Oklahoma City. And if a Durant-Westbrook partnership fell short of title expectations again, the Thunder may have begun exploring deals involving their star point guard. Would the Bucks have had the assets to acquire him? The Paul-Westbrook swap of 2019 would have made more sense for the Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers in 2017 under this scenario. Either shifts the power dynamic for James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who split the next three MVP awards.
Anthony Davis’ alternate ending
This all could impact the future of Anthony Davis as well. Does he still end up in L.A. without James there to recruit him? In a world where Boston never dealt Isaiah Thomas for Irving, Davis’ dad presumably no longer has, and maybe they become a more desirable trade destination for his son.
Remember that Boston does not sign Horford or trade for Irving in this world we created. The Celtics might have continued to be the free-agent wasteland they always had been. That likely would have meant no Gordon Hayward or Kemba Walker in their future, which may have scared off Davis from Boston anyhow.
Maybe Davis decides a pairing with Zion Williamson in New Orleans is not so bad. Or maybe the godfather offer the Clippers paid for George gets rerouted to the Pelicans instead, and — in the ultimate alternate ending — Davis recruits James to the Clippers, while George and Kawhi Leonard land on the Lakers. But ...
Timberwolves meet with LaMelo Ball ahead of NBA Draft
There’s no reason to believe that Ball will last beyond the first three picks in the draft. His stock simply continues to skyrocket. That could lead to a trip to the Twin Cities and a newly minted Timberwolves jersey here soon.Subscribe to Yardbarker's Morning Bark, the most comprehensive newsletter in sports. Customize your email to get the latest news on your favorite sports, teams and schools. Emailed daily. Always free! Sign up now ▸More must-reads:Timberwolves in active trade discussions regarding No. 1 pickTimberwolves VP on NBA draft: 'We're ready to pick'The 'No.
Kawhi Leonard’s alternate ending
As if it were not enough just to consider a universe where the career arcs of Curry, James, Durant, Davis, Westbrook, George, Harden and Antetokounmpo were eternally altered, imagine this: Without Pachulia there to step underneath his ankle in Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference finals, Leonard’s 61-win San Antonio Spurs would have been a serious championship contender against a Durant-less Warriors team.
What if Leonard won another title with San Antonio? If his relationship with the organization never sours over the treatment of his injury, perhaps he takes his place as the next lifelong Spurs legend. That translates to the Toronto Raptors falling short of a 2019 championship, opening a path for either the Bucks or Philadelphia 76ers. Does Jimmy Butler leave for the Miami Heat if he reaches a Finals with the Sixers?
But wait: Does Durant tear his Achilles if he is not in the 2019 Finals with the Warriors? And who is in the 2020 Finals if the Heat have no Butler and the Lakers never signed James? Are the Thunder a dynasty? Is Antetokounmpo a champion? Green’s strike to James’ groin may not have just determined the 2016 title, but it might have altered every champion since and forever changed the legacies of the NBA’s best players.
There are also worlds where the Cavs win Game 5 and complete the 3-1 comeback anyway or the Warriors win and still sign Durant for a run at four straight rings, but what fun is an alternate ending if not extreme.
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