Outside of the obvious health concerns associated with the NBA's bubble plan, the "asterisk" question seems to be the most prevalent about the restart.
That's probably an easy "yes" on the board. This is uncharted territory—halting a season midway through because of a pandemic and then restarting it more than four months later in a neutral site with no fans. Assuming the season and postseason are completed, it will be like no other season in league history.
The better question is, what does the asterisk for this season actually mean?
I'd argue that this year's champion should be revered because of these circumstances. The physical strain this season will take—trying to recapture a groove after nearly a four-month layoff—is unfathomable. On top of that, add the toll of dealing with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic as well as the attention and energy so many of the league's players are putting toward social justice—plus the mental and physical costs of racial injustice all around.
Of course, there's also a strong argument that an asterisk should hold a negative connotation. Key players for playoff teams—such as Victor Oladipo and Avery Bradley—have opted out of joining the bubble. Other important players, like Nikola Jokic and Malcolm Brogdon, are currently recovering from the virus. If those players (or others) can't take part or are affected during the run, it's hard to view the eventual champion as legitimately as we would under normal circumstances.
That leads to another question: Which players' absences, because of the virus or otherwise, would cause this year's title to lose its meaning?
To answer this, I narrowed the field from 22 teams to 10, using the betting odds from Caesars Sportsbook to select those with the best shot at a post-pandemic title. From there, I picked one star and one key role player from each of those teams.
Let's dig in.
Miami Heat (40-1 odds)
The Star: Bam Adebayo
While Jimmy Butler was the prize of Miami's offseason, Adebayo has proved to be the team's most indispensable piece.
With Hassan Whiteside out of the picture, Adebayo stepped into a full-time starter role. He has flourished, becoming one of four players to average at least 16.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists this season. Add in a steal and a block per game, and the list shrinks to Adebayo and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
There isn't much Adebayo can't do offensively. He's a dynamic roll threat in the pick-and-roll, able to sky high for lobs or make plays in advantage situations. He serves as Miami's high-post hub, either flowing into dribble handoffs with shooters or slipping them for drives to the hoop.