Basketball may have been on hold for the past few months, but players' health and availability - even beyond the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic - has been anything but stagnant.
The hiatus has given hope of a possible return to some players once believed out for the year, while others have seen their seasons end. For most on this list, less news is good news; but a select few teams have gotten healthier over the hiatus and expect to send a more complete team to Orlando than the one we remember back in March.
Let's start with the reigning MVP on the team with the NBA's best record.
The past few months have been ample time for Giannis Antetokounmpo to fully recover from what was deemed a "minor knee injury" and the team with the best record in the NBA will head to Orlando with a full, healthy roster. The Bucks lost four of five prior to the season's suspension with some concerns about potential lingering effects for the presumptive back-to-back MVP. The hiatus has given the Greek Freak plenty of time to recharge and refuel ahead of a heavily anticipated postseason.
MORE: Remember when the Bucks were making history?
The Raptors have similarly benefited from the hiatus, having now completely dug themselves out of a season of perpetual injuries.
Marc Gasol missed 16 of Toronto's final 17 pre-hiatus games with a nagging hamstring strain but has now fully healed. Fred VanVleet has also recovered from a shoulder injury that forced him to miss six straight games. The Raptors have already become the first team to travel to Florida and will have their full roster available to defend their title.
One thing worth keeping in mind? The defending champs have played just 17 games this season with their top seven players available, going 12-5 in those games but just 1-5 against teams with winning records.
MORE: Are the Raptors actually a threat to win it all when fully healthy?
The Celtics are fully healthy with their entire roster expected to participate in the league restart.
One player to watch? Kemba Walker who missed time on and off following a minor knee injury. In his final three games prior to the season's suspension, Walker averaged just 12.7 points per game while shooting 27.9 percent in almost 30 minutes a game. How will Walker continue to re-adjust to his role on a Celtics team that unequivocally became Jayson Tatum's team once the calendar flipped to 2020?
The Heat are expected to be at full strength in Orlando for the first time since early February. Both Meyers Leonard and Tyler Herro are expected to be back in the lineup. Leonard hasn't played since February 3 since suffering a foot injury while Herro has played in just one game since suffering an ankle injury in that same game.
Following that game on February 3 - the last game the Heat played at full strength - Miami was 34-15 and tied for third in the East.
Malcolm Brogdon has tested positive for COVID-19 but plans to join the Pacers in Orlando once recovered.
Jeremy Lamb will remain out for the season with a torn ACL and Victor Oladipo plans to "ramp up activity" over the next few weeks to evaluate the condition of the quad tendon that kept him out for over a year.
The viability of Indiana's perimeter rotation rests on Oladipo's health. If he can't participate, Doug McDermott becomes the only healthy Pacer wing with more than 14 career playoff minutes to his name.
Across all 22 teams, there might not be a bigger wild card than Oladipo who upon returning earlier this season did not look like the All-NBA performer he was prior to suffering a torn ACL last season. But should Oladipo return to the level that saw him go toe-to-toe with LeBron James in a grueling seven-game series in the 2018 playoffs, the Pacers become a far more compelling potential spoiler.
Ben Simmons has fully recovered from the nerve impingement in his back that kept him out of all but four minutes of Philadelphia's final ten games. Simmons' recovery would have extended further into the season - and possibly into the playoffs - if not for the hiatus, but all indications are that the All-Star will be 100 percent for the restart.
Joel Embiid and Josh Richardson are also healthy as both were nearing full strength when the season was halted.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have both been officially ruled out for the season, squashing any lingering hope of a surprise return for the superstars.
Both DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddle recently tested positive for COVID-19. Jordan has ruled himself out of playing in Orlando while Dinwiddie has yet to make an official decision while he weighs his options. News of Jordan's decision comes on the heels of Wilson Chandler's announcement that he has opted out of playing in Orlando.
Nicolas Claxton will also miss the remainder of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Tyler Johnson was signed during the transaction period for added guard depth.
Jonathan Isaac plans to join the Magic for the league restart but hasn't committed to participating as he recovers from the knee sprain he suffered in January. Isaac had previously been declared out for the season but the hiatus opened the door for a potential return for the third-year pro. Al-Farouq Aminu is unlikely to return from the meniscus tear he suffered back in November.
The unofficial hometown hosts were playing well prior to the season suspension as they went 8-4 over their last 12 games which included a standout stretch by both Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon.
Davis Bertans was the first player to announce he will not participate in the restart as he enters impending unrestricted free agency this summer fall. Bertans was having arguably the best shooting season from a forward in NBA history.
To make matters more difficult for the Wizards as they look to make the playoffs, Bradley Beal is out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. Beal has been the second-leading scorer in the NBA this season with a career-best 30.5 points per game.
OFFICIAL: Bradley Beal will not participate in the NBA restart due to a shoulder injury. https://t.co/fd0eOT0Baf- Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) July 7, 2020
John Wall has stated he's "110 percent healthy" after tearing his Achilles 18 months ago but will not be activated for the restart.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers will be without Avery Bradley in Orlando after he opted-out of participating for family health reasons.
Losing Bradley - the team's top option for guarding opposing point guards - is a big blow for a Lakers team already thin in the backcourt. The Lakers did officially announce the signing of veteran guard JR Smith to help offset the loss of Bradley.
OFFICIAL: Welcome to the squad, @TheRealJRSmith! pic.twitter.com/EW7S7RLktc- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 1, 2020
Smith - who hasn't played an NBA minute since November 2018 - is still theoretically a microwave option off the bench, but Bradley is in another galaxy defensively and grew into a solid secondary creator next to LeBron James.
While not a true like-for-like replacement, Alex Caruso looks to absorb most of Bradley's two-way responsibilities and is about to inherit far more than the 17.8 minutes he averaged in the regular season.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are fully healthy with their entire roster expected to participate in the restart. While both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were playing prior to the hiatus, the time off has granted both the opportunity to fully rehabilitate nagging injuries. The Clippers were starting to find a rhythm prior to the suspension as they went 7-1 with their new starting lineup following the acquisition of Marcus Morris, the only setback coming in a loss to the Lakers.
Nikola Jokic has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 while home in Serbia but the superstar expects to travel back to Denver and participate in the restart once healthy. Bol Bol will remain out and not make his NBA debut this season.
Bojan Bogdanovic underwent surgery during the hiatus to repair a ligament in his wrist which will keep him out of the restart, dealing a significant blow to Utah's hopes of a playoff run.
The Jazz are just a game and a half back of Denver but now need to replace over 20 points per game and their best three-point shooter. Joe Ingles and Royce O'Neale were already fixtures of the rotation but Utah has to hope Georges Niang can step up into a much bigger role as they try to patchwork together enough scoring in Bogdanovic's absence.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder roster is fully healthy and might receive an added boost as GM Sam Presti is "hopeful" Andre Roberson will return from the patellar tendon injury that has sidelined him since early 2018.
It's fair to expect an extremely limited role for Roberson if he can indeed return but, if he's close to the defender we remember, could be an extremely valuable single-possession defensive specialist in the playoffs. Roberson's availability represents a low risk, high reward carrot for a Thunder deal that's struggled with depth on the wings all season long as they've relied on three-guard lineups featuring Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Sixth Man of the Year candidate Dennis Schroeder.
The Rockets have waived Isaiah Hartenstein - leaving Tyson Chandler as the lone true center on the roster - to make way for the signing of David Nwaba during the transaction period. The rest of their roster is healthy and expected to participate in the league restart.
James Harden and Russell Westbrook are two players who could benefit from the time off as well. Both have a history of running out of gas in the playoffs after an 82-game regular season with historically high usage rates. Aside from the two All-Stars, P.J. Tucker has admirably brushed shoulders with other centres as he's punched up a weight class full-time since the Clint Capela trade shifted the Rockets into all small ball mode. Many pundits had questions about how Tucker specifically would hold up over the long haul in a situation that otherwise may have proven unsustainable.
Time to recharge and refuel could work into Houston's advantage.
Courtney Lee's recent calf injury will force him out of the restart, yet another hit to Dallas' guard rotation after Jalen Brunson's season-ending shoulder injury. The Mavs have signed Trey Burke during the transaction window for depth in Lee and Bruson's absence.
Willie Cauley-Stein has elected not to participate in the restart which limits an already hampered frontcourt rotation after Dwight Powell's Achilles tear. Dallas will now rely heavily on Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kelber and Boban Marjanovic as their only true big men.
More Porzingis may not be a bad thing as the Latvian delivered perhaps the best 15-game stretch of his career leading into the season suspension when he averaged over 25 points and 10 rebounds to go along with over two blocks per game.
Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke have both recovered from injuries that were expected to linger through the regular season and are expected healthy for Orlando. Justise Winslow is also healthy for the first time since being traded from Miami in February and will be an extremely valuable secondary ball-handler as Memphis tries to hold off the hoard of teams chasing them.
Grayson Allen will remain out for the season with a hip injury but Memphis has arguably benefited the most from the hiatus from a health perspective.
Portland Trail Blazers
Portland enters the restart with a strong mix of good and bad news.
Starting with the bad, Rodney Hood will remain out with the torn Achilles he suffered in December and Trevor Ariza will not participate in the restart for family reasons. Those absences leave Portland with a depleted wing rotation as they now ask Carmelo Anthony, Kent Bazemore and Mario Hezonja to absorb the majority of those minutes.
The flip side is that Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are both expected back healthy. Nurkic hasn't played since breaking his leg last March and Collins appeared in just 86 minutes this season before dislocating his shoulder. Both big men will provide a massive boost to a Blazer team that was among the worst interior scoring offences in the entire league.
New Orleans Pelicans
JJ Redick has fully recovered from the hamstring injury that kept him out for all of March and the Pelicans expect him to be healthy and available for the restart.
Buddy Hield, Alex Len and Jabari Parker have all reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 and their status for the restart is unclear. Marvin Bagley is still recovering from a lingering foot injury and his availability is also uncertain.
San Antonio Spurs
LaMarcus Aldridge will miss the remainer of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery in late April. The Spurs signed Tyler Zeller during the transaction period to replace Aldridge on the active roster.
San Antonio is just four games back of Memphis but, with three teams between them and the ninth seed, the loss of their leading rebounder, shot-blocker and second-leading scorer all but assures an end to their 22-year playoff streak.
Phoenix will be without Kelly Oubre who will not participate in Orlando while rehabbing a torn meniscus. This opens the door for some of the younger Suns to get meaningful playing time in what looks to be a nearly insurmountable climb to a play-in game.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.