NBA Season Simulation

Jack Meyer, News Editor

After Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, the NBA indefinitely suspended their season and several other professional sports leagues followed suit. This has left sports fans wondering how the rest of the season may pan out if the season resumes later in the year. It has also created a hole in the daily routines of sports fans across the world who watch their favorite teams every night. With this in mind, the Panther decided to use the video game NBA 2K20 to conduct a simulation of the rest of the season that picks up on the same day that the NBA suspended its season. Here are some notable results from the simulation, with the full results included at the end of the article: 

The Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards both had unsurprising winners. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks secured his second consecutive MVP, while Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies took home the Rookie of the Year trophy after an impressive rookie campaign. However, the Sixth Man of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year award were not as predictable and had some interesting results. Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder won his first Sixth Man of the Year trophy, while reigning Finals MVP and Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard earned his third Defensive Player of the Year trophy. The Most Improved Player went to a familiar face for Heat fans: third year standout and first time All Star Bam Adebayo won the award following a breakout season. 

As for the standings across the league, there was a bit of a shakeup in both conferences. The Bucks finished at the top of the Eastern Conference with a 63-19 record, but did not finish with the best record in the league as many analysts have predicted. That honor would instead go to the Los Angeles Lakers, who finished with a 65-17 record to clinch the top seed in both the Western Conference and the entire league. 

For the rest of the teams fighting for their spot in the playoffs, some of them finished in different spots than where they currently stand. The Boston Celtics fell from the three seed in the Eastern Conference to the five seed, while the Miami Heat climbed from the four seed to the three seed and the Philadelphia 76ers climbed from the five seed to the four seed. In the Western Conference, the Clippers and Nuggets swapped places, with the Nuggets finishing at the two seed and the Clippers finishing at the three seed. Additionally, the Pelicans clinched the final spot in the playoffs in a tightly contested race with the Trail Blazers, Grizzlies, Kings and Spurs. 

As for the worst in the league, that honor would go to the Golden State Warriors, who finished with a 21-61 record. The New York Knicks were not far behind (or rather, ahead) of them, as they finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference at 23-59. 

Now comes the fun part: the playoffs. The first round of the playoffs did not have many surprising results, but there was one exception: the six seed Dallas Mavericks pulled off what would likely be seen as a massive upset against the three seed Los Angeles Clippers. Despite the Clippers having two past MVP candidates in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the young duo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis was apparently able to pull off a surprise victory in only five games. 

The rest of the first round featured no upsets, with every series going to the team with the higher seed. In the rest of the West, the Lakers defeated the Pelicans in six games, the Thunder swept the Jazz and the Nuggets eliminated the Rockets in six games. In the East, Bucks took care of the Nets in five games, the 76ers swept the Celtics — which was a bit of a surprise considering the perceived evenness of the matchup — and the Heat swept the Pacers and the Raptors took down the Magic in six games.

The second round featured more competitive matchups, with no sweeps and two matchups going to a game seven. The Heat pulled off the upset against the Raptors in seven games; the Sixers, on the other hand, were not able to do the same against the Bucks, with the latter moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals. Meanwhile, the Lakers were able to knock out the Thunder in six games, while the Nuggets made short work of the Mavericks, beating them in five games. 

While the first two rounds both featured one upset, the Conference Finals would end that trend, with both one seeds moving on to the NBA Finals. The Heat put up a good fight, but were eliminated by the Bucks in six games. The Nuggets, on the other hand, were quickly swept by the Lakers. 

While many have projected a Finals matchup between the Lakers and the Bucks, fans and analysts alike have debated who would win the series between the two. It proved to be no easy task for either side, as the series would go to a game seven. Despite the Bucks taking a 3-2 lead in the series, the Lakers would bounce back in the final two games to secure their 17th NBA title. Unsurprisingly, LeBron James went on to win Finals MVP. One can only hope that the NBA Finals plays out like this in real life as well. 



MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.4 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 5.7 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.1 BPG)

ROTY: Ja Morant (18.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 6.6 APG, 0.9 SPG)

6MOTY: Dennis Schroder (19.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.3 APG)

DPOTY: Kawhi Leonard (7.2 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG)

MIP: Bam Adebayo (15.8 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.4 BPG)

COTY: Frank Vogel (Lakers, 65-17)


All-NBA First Team: 

James Harden

Luka Doncic

Giannis Antetokounmpo

LeBron James

Nikola Jokic


All-NBA Second Team: 

Trae Young

Damian Lillard

Anthony Davis

Kawhi Leonard

Bam Adebayo


All-NBA Third Team: 

Russell Westbrook

Bradley Beal

Pascal Siakam

Jimmy Butler

Joel Embiid


All-Defensive First Team: 

Ben Simmons

Jrue Holiday

Kawhi Leonard

Anthony Davis

Rudy Gobert


All-Defensive Second Team: 

Marcus Smart

Eric Bledsoe

Giannis Antetokounmpo

LeBron James

Andre Drummond


All-Rookie First Team: 

Ja Morant

Zion Williamson

RJ Barrett

Kendrick Nunn

Coby White


All-Rookie Second Team: 

Darius Garland

Eric Paschall

Rui Hachimura

Brandon Clarke

Tyler Herro


Eastern Conference Standings: 

  1. Bucks (63-19) Division Winner
  2. Raptors (58-24) Division Winner
  3. Heat (54-28) Division Winner
  4. Sixers (54-28)
  5. Celtics (53-29)
  6. Pacers (47-35)
  7. Magic (38-44)
  8. Nets (38-44)
  9. Hawks (29-53)
  10. Wizards (28-54)
  11. Cavs (27-55)
  12. Bulls (27-55)
  13. Pistons (26-56)
  14. Hornets (24-58)
  15. Knicks (23-59)


Western Conference Standings: 

  1. Lakers (65-17) Division Winner
  2. Nuggets (54-28)
  3. Clippers (54-28) Division Winner
  4. Thunder (51-31)
  5. Jazz (49-33)
  6. Mavs (47-35) Division Winner
  7. Rockets (47-35)
  8. Pelicans (39-43)
  9. Trail Blazers (39-43)
  10. Kings (38-44)
  11. Grizzlies (38-44)
  12. Spurs (37-45)
  13. Suns (34-48)
  14. Timberwolves (28-54)
  15. Warriors (21-61)


PPG/Points Leader: James Harden (33.2/2625)

RPG Leader: Andre Drummond (15.1)

Rebounds Leader: Rudy Gobert (1125)

APG/Assists Leader: LeBron James (10.4/825)

SPG/Steals Leader: Ben Simmons (2.0/147)

BPG/Blocks Leader: Hassan Whiteside (3.0/210)

TOPG/Turnovers Leader: Trae Young (4.4/331)

FG% Leader: Rudy Gobert (65.6%)

3PT% Leader: JJ Reddick (47.6%)


Playoff Results:

(*- upset)


Round 1: 

Bucks defeat Nets, 4-1

76ers defeat Celtics, 4-0

Heat defeat Pacers, 4-0

Raptors defeat Magic, 4-2


Lakers defeat Pelicans, 4-2

Thunder defeat Jazz, 4-0

Mavericks defeat Clippers, 4-1*

Nuggets defeat Rockets, 4-2


Round 2: 

Bucks defeat 76ers, 4-3

Heat defeat Raptors, 4-3*


Lakers defeat OKC, 4-2

Nuggets defeat Mavericks, 4-1


Round 3: 

Bucks defeat Heat, 4-2

Lakers defeat Nuggets, 4-0



Game 1: Bucks, 138-112

Game 2: Lakers, 119-110

Game 3: Lakers, 119-116

Game 4: Bucks, 130-114

Game 5: Bucks, 108-96

Game 6: Lakers, 124-116

Game 7: Lakers, 125-120


Finals MVP: LeBron James (28.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 11.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG)