NBA schedule debate: Execs and cons of a pre-Christmas begin to the season

The NBA season ended just below two weeks in the past with uncertainty round when the 2020-21 season would start. On Friday, ESPN reported that the league’s Board of Governors is pursuing a pre-Christmas Day start and a diminished common season schedule. The transfer would imply that the break between the tip of the 2019-20 season and starting of the 2020-21 sport schedule can be simply over 10 weeks, about half the everyday period of time.

Amongst different adjustments being mentioned: an everyday season with fewer than 82 video games, not ready for followers to be permitted in all league arenas, in addition to match and play-in eventualities.

Our NBA consultants weighed in with first impressions of the proposal and what its results may very well be, in addition to what different adjustments they’d prefer to see.

MORE: Top 100 NBA draft rankings


1. What was your first response to the report that the board of governors is contemplating shifting up the season’s goal begin date?

Kevin Pelton: I am stunned the league is considering that aggressively given the timetable for the draft and NBA free agency, which in all probability cannot begin any sooner than Nov. 23. Beginning barely a month in a while Christmas would imply abbreviated coaching camps just like the post-lockout variations in 1999 and 2011.

Bobby Marks: Not stunned. The objective for the NBA has been to keep away from enjoying playoff basketball in September and October. If the league adopts a Christmas Day begin and performs a 72-game season, that objective can be achieved. Even when the usual 82-game schedule is performed, the common season ought to finish in mid-June with the Finals ending in late August.

Kirk Goldsberry: Shock. It appears all the pieces is both being pushed again or canceled today, and most of the people I spoke to across the NBA had been anticipating a begin date between January and March, so to listen to the information that it’d begin as quickly as December was a official shock.

Tim Bontemps: That that is going to be very troublesome for the league to tug off. Free company is anticipated to start round Dec. 1 so there’s little time to show issues round with out large problems. That mentioned, cash talks. Avoiding competing with the NFL throughout the NBA playoffs and benefiting from the large Christmas Day viewers will permit the NBA to make more cash.

Eric Woodyard: Truthfully, at this level in 2020, I wasn’t stunned. Whereas I used to be anticipating the season to begin near Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Christmas is a primary date so it actually is smart. However with the fast turnaround, it will likely be fascinating to see the response from gamers, who must approve any such proposal.


2. Who can be helped most by that call?

Bontemps: Groups which might be conserving the established order. In a world the place there already is a lot uncertainty due to the pandemic, throwing in a truncated coaching camp and free brokers coming in alongside the best way will make attempting to get the brand new season began an enormous problem for a lot of groups. So teams which might be more likely to return with minimal adjustments — such because the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat — will likely be at a giant benefit.

Pelton: Groups with continuity would doubtless profit. When I studied the value of continuity last season, I discovered it did not typically appear to assist groups begin sooner. That was completely different after the 2011 lockout, when groups with excessive continuity performed noticeably higher over the primary 10 video games in comparison with the remainder of the season.

Marks: The groups not invited to Orlando (particularly the Golden State Warriors). Whereas the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets had been battling it out for a visit to the NBA Finals in late September and the LA Clippers had been firing head coach Doc Rivers in early October, the Warriors have been sitting again since mid-March. There will definitely be some bubble playoff fatigue that Western Convention groups will endure in the beginning of the season and Golden State needs to be able to capitalize.

Woodyard: The NBA. It is a sensible enterprise transfer to play video games as quickly as doable. Let’s not overlook that the NBA is a enterprise.

Goldsberry: Individuals who love to observe basketball. We count on to see hoops all winter and the playoffs within the spring. A Christmas Day begin date units us up properly for a possible return to normalcy on the calendar.


3. Who can be harm most by that call?

Goldsberry: Loads of people would groan about this, however as a former front-office man, I can not think about attempting to tug off a draft, a free-agency interval and coaching camp between now and Christmas. Usually, the time between the playoffs and summer time league is the wildest time of yr for a entrance workplace — this yr, it may very well be bonkers. If we race right into a Christmas begin date, entrance workplaces will likely be scrambling.

Pelton: Groups that need to dramatically overhaul their rosters through commerce this offseason may need to suppose twice about doing that with little time for his or her new lineups to observe collectively. An accelerated coaching camp additionally appears to work towards gamers coming back from severe accidents — most notably Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

Marks: The gamers. Brokers are bracing for the potential of as much as 40% of the escrow being withheld from gamers, sources informed ESPN. That cash would offset losses incurred with an absence of income coming in from dwelling video games. And from a well being standpoint, 22 groups simply endured a grueling stretch of basketball, each bodily and mentally. I’d suppose that gamers who completed the playoffs in September or October is not going to be joyful that coaching camp is now weeks as an alternative of months away.

Woodyard: Groups who made a deep playoff run within the Orlando bubble, as a result of it does not permit a lot time for restoration after competing on such a excessive stage. The Lakers and Warmth, specifically, must leap proper again into motion after combating for a title.

Bontemps: Free brokers, as they’d all however actually have a sluggish begin to the 2020-21 season due to their ongoing contractual conditions — significantly for gamers who aren’t signed instantly.

4. What would you modify in regards to the play-in state of affairs?

Bontemps: Having been within the bubble for the seeding video games, I believed the play-in sport was a hit. I would doubtlessly have some curiosity in increasing it to, say, groups 7-10 in every convention, however that might require extra thought, as that might take a number of days to play out.

Marks: The restart video games offered me on the play-in state of affairs, one thing that I used to be extremely skeptical of. For a traditional common season (82 video games or shortened), I wish to see groups which might be two video games behind within the standings eligible for a play-in sport. Leaving the four-game benchmark that we witnessed this summer time would definitely dilute the common season.

Pelton: In comparison with what we noticed final season, I like the concept of getting extra than simply the 8-seed up for grabs. I’d preserve the angle we noticed the place challengers needed to be inside a sure variety of video games to set off the play-in risk.

Goldsberry: Single-elimination video games solely. None of this 9-seed has to beat 8-seed twice stuff. Simply make it easy.

Woodyard: The NBA playoff play-in state of affairs was a terrific concept, however it labored for the bubble setting. If a group takes care of enterprise throughout the common season, it should not need to take part in a play-in for a spot it has already earned.


5. What different codecs or tweaks would you prefer to see the NBA experiment with?

Pelton: In addition to the play-in match, I feel the seeding video games additionally confirmed the worth of locking in draft standings at a sure level so groups do not have to fret about hurting their possibilities with a late run. That labored effectively this season as a result of the underside eight groups did not know beforehand the season would finish on March 11. Randomizing the date on which the standings freeze would make for a greater lottery system.

Marks: A heavy dose of convention video games and solely enjoying East vs. West one time. If the objective is to get out of the bubble setting and again into the house market of groups, the traditional journey of a typical NBA season will have to be scaled again. I’m additionally in favor of enjoying a baseball-type schedule the place a group like Philadelphia would play in Chicago on three out of 4 nights.

Woodyard: I wish to see the NBA experiment with a condensed schedule, presumably shortening the season between 56 and 62 video games. That format would hold gamers contemporary and provides followers a significantly better product as a result of guys will not have to fret a lot about load administration.

Bontemps: I’ve lengthy been a proponent of a midseason match of some type, alongside the strains of what takes place in European soccer and basketball. I do know this might take everybody from followers to groups to gamers time to purchase into, however long run it may very well be a very good factor for the game, as it could give groups one other factor to shoot for. In a time the place funds are a problem, it additionally would give the league one thing else to promote.

Goldsberry: I’d love a significant single-elimination midseason match. Basketball is at its greatest when single video games could make or break a group’s possibilities. That is why March Insanity will be so thrilling. Think about filling out a bracket for a leaguewide single-elimination match — that might be superior. As well as, it is time to get rid of conferences and put one of the best 16 groups within the playoffs, even when it means tweaking the schedule. I am in favor of a 58-game common season the place you play each opponent twice, a midseason winner-take-all tourney and a straight-seeded playoff bracket the place conferences are irrelevant.

MORE: The 25 best free agents in 2020

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