Heat Check: Waiters impresses for Lakers; Bryant, Wizards seek first win

Clockwise: Chris Paul (3) reacts after a play during the third quarter in a NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets at The Arena. (Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports). Ja Morant (12). (Photo: Kevin C. Cox/USA TODAY Sports).Joel Embiid (21) looks for an open teammate underneath the basket. (Photo: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports). Dion Waiters (18) feeds an open teammate. (Photo: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports). Thomas Bryant (13) looks for an open teammate. (Photo: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports).

By JOHN LIKANJE

Heat Check is a weekly recap of the best basketball writing and analysis the internet has to offer.

  • The procedures and protocols that the NBA enforced in the bubble are working. Wednesday marked the third consecutive week that all 343 players in the bubble tested negative for the coronavirus. This is significant news considering the bubble is operating in Orlando, one of the pandemic epicenters. The NBA is doing its part to combat the disease, especially within marginalized communities around the country.
  • In the WNBA bubble at IMG Academy, New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu channeled her inner Stephen Curry in a breakout performance. The Golden State Warriors superstar took notice and had one word in response to her stat line.
  • The Los Angeles Lakers signed Dion Waiters to strengthen their depth in their shorthanded backcourt. The 6-foot-3 guard has been a pleasant surprise through the team’s 2-2 start in the bubble. The primary question is whether he can continue to be a positive for a deep postseason run.
  • Although the Orlando Magic aren’t one of the elite NBA teams, they’ve been competitive in the bubble and won their first two games. This is an excellent opportunity for the younger players to gain experience against the cream of the league’s crop. But the organization will have to do so without one of their franchise pieces, New York City native Jonathan Isaac.
  • Don’t be fooled by the Philadelphia 76ers’ 2-1 bubble record so far. They were a Shake Milton three-pointer and a Joel Embiid dominant fourth quarter away from being 0-3. Ben Simmons injured his left knee in Wednesday’s victory as well. The Sixers are extremely close to bursting at the seams as an organization.

  •  The competitiveness of the Western Conference hasn’t changed in the bubble. Teams have been climbing and falling in the standings every day. FanSided writer Ben Ladner selected four role players who can swing the odds in their squad’s favor.
  • The Detroit Pistons are one of eight teams in full offseason mode. They hired a new general manager and are evaluating their roster ahead of the draft in October. One young player fans hope continues to develop with the organization is Sekou Doumbouya. Here is a breakdown of the 6-foot-8 small forward’s season by FanSided writer Mike Luciano.
  • The Memphis Grizzlies have lost all momentum they had coming into the bubble. The eighth seed in the West have lost their first four seeding games and their remaining opponents are the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors. FanSided writer Alexander Wolz weighed in on whether the Grizzlies can win a game in the bubble.
  • Chris Paul has embraced his role with the Thunder and adjusted his game to fit with them. After Wednesday’s blowout of the Lakers, the 6-foot-1 point guard has the team in position to steal the fourth seed from the Utah Jazz. FanSided writer Gerald Bourguet analyzed how exactly Paul has continued to expand his game.
  • Although Thomas Bryant and the Washington Wizards have been competitive in the bubble, the results have yet to show in the win column. In fact, the Wizards’ 0-3 start has them behind the Charlotte Hornets in the East now. They seek their first win Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans (by Luciano).

You can also find John at fansided.com/nba.

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