When the NBA decided to play its “bubble season” in Orlando following a COVID-19 hiatus, no one was thinking of the 2020-21 season. Now that there’s just a few short weeks left to the 2020 season, the focus has shifted to training camps, the NBA draft, and the upcoming regular season. When will it start, and how will it be handled?
Luckily, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently answered a few of those questions. Some pundits are starting to think that beginning the season a bit later might be advantageous.
The NBA figures it out
A clearer picture of the upcoming regular season is now in view. CBS Sports reports the NBA informed teams the season won’t start before Christmas. The draft has been set for November 18, which will allow more time to wade through the new salary cap numbers.
It’ll also give teams currently in the playoffs some time off to rest and recuperate before getting back into another season. While some fans are a bit bummed that there won’t be any basketball on Christmas Day, the delayed start may prove to be beneficial for the league.
Reasons why starting the season later is a good idea
Starting the season in late December or January not only gives players a chance to rest up but prepares them for what may be a jam-packed 2021. Adam Silver spoke to CNN about the possibility of the return:
“I continue to believe that we’re going to be better off getting into January. The goal for us next season is to play a standard season, an 82-game season, and playoffs. And further, the goal would be to play games in home arenas in front of fans, but there’s still a lot that we need to learn.”
Changing up the regular season to go from January through August is different, but there are plenty of benefits. For one, the weather won’t be as bad for as long. Teams in the colder climates like Milwaukee and Detroit might find it easier to recruit players if they won’t have to deal with bad weather for months on end.
Travel may be smoother as well. The normal season could see inclement weather from October through March, but in the new model, only January through March is usually when the sloppy weather hits.
With the start of the season probably not happening until January, there will be little competition with other sports, namely football. The Super Bowl is scheduled for the beginning of February. So the two sports will only overlap for a little over a month. This could be very positive for the NBA.
After the Super Bowl is over, new fans may join in between the conclusion of football and the beginning of the baseball season. Since it’ll only be the beginning of the regular basketball season, they can jump in before they miss too much. And hopefully, they get hooked on the action.
Those fans may stick around and improve slumping ratings, which will only benefit the NBA and its players. Another plus is that besides baseball, there’s really limited sports to watch in the summer. Adding in the NBA, especially during the intense playoff action scheduled for August, should generate buzz and pull in additional viewers and new fans.
One thing is for sure, the NBA needs to take it one step at a time during this pandemic. The current season is turning out better than expected, so it’s hopeful that 2021 will work just as well.