cover 19 and the NBA
Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports


The COVID 19 NBA Shutdown Could Give the League a New Look


Well, the 2019-2020 NBA season isn’t going as planned for apparent reasons. 


Photo Credit: Complex

Due to COVID-19, sports fans are still asking the question: will return for the rest of 2020? Many entities are looking at the NBA as the baseline since NBA commissioner Adam Silver is planning on re-starting the league in mid-late June or early July. How they proceed with the rest of their season and what measures they will take to ensure the safety of its players, coaches, trainers, staff, etc., will be a blueprint for the other leagues to follow suit.

But let’s take a look ahead. As this COVID-19 pandemic is unfortunate in many aspects, is there an opportunity for the NBA to make some changes for future seasons? 


It is unknown at the moment how the NBA will return.


Does the NBA try to finish its regular season and then go right in the postseason? Does it end the regular season and move forward with a postseason with team standings as they are? Will there be exhibition games before the leagues re-start? Much is up in the air, but a big subject will be the troubles for the 2020-2021 season. Some ideas that the NBA has mentioned before could now be put into action

Photo Credit- IBTimes

One of the changes is pushing back its start of the season. The NBA starts every season with a couple of games to close out the month of October. As this progresses along, the next significant date and a possible NEW start for the NBA season would be Christmas day. The holiday is one of the league’s major showcases, as they usually go with four or five games for the day.

But what if this was the start of next season instead? Look, we all know football is king, and with the NFL and college football still very much in the driver seat in November, ratings for the first part of the NBA season are not what they could be with a later start date. This would allow the NBA to have the Thursday night slot that is held by the NFL for its games until after Thanksgiving to be wide open for the taking.

College football will be in its Bowl season, so they’ll be coming to an end shortly. The NFL will be wrapping up its regular season, so as the NBA teams are getting some games under their belt, once the Super Bowl is over in February, the NBA is hot and rolling as the only game in town. 


Another factor to consider for the later start date is due to Christmas games being such a main attraction.


For the NBA, this will now allow fans to be even more excited. They not only get to see what Santa Clause left for them under the tree, but the start of the new season, in prime time, and the renewed hope for their team’s season would be at an all-time high.

See, when the season starts in late October early November, those nearly two months of playing allow you to see how the teams slated for the big day games are doing. If let’s say a team isn’t doing so well, is hit with injuries, then the Christmas Day game doesn’t hold as much meaning as excitement. Just this past season, the Golden State Warriors were slated to play. 

However, after injuries to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and no Kevin Durant, and now the WARRIORS aren’t as appealing to watch on prime time(they did beat the Houston Rockets by the way, but that’s not the point).

Photo Credit: Vice


Let us not forget the previous years where the New York Knicks played the Christmas game, and well, it’s the Knicks, so we all know how things went. But if those Christmas games were the first ones of the season, then the excitement all around is through the roof. Each team, win or lose, will still have a chance for the remainder of the season, and you’d want to tune in to every game to get an idea of how it all could turn out. 


Now another question that the NBA has been asking is, “how do we have a more competitive regular season?”


The NBA has seen its struggles dating back to the Michael Jordan days, where their ratings for the season haven’t been much to brag about. Some say the season is too long; load management is killing the fun, too many options on tv for viewers to watch, not enough talented teams, etc. Well, load management isn’t going anywhere folks; decrease in games means a reduction in revenue, and that’s not going to happen. So what can the league do? How about changing the present by changing the future? 

The Last Dance Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls Dynasty
Courtesy: Chicago Tribune

The NBA can go a different route with its draft process. As it stands now and since 1985, the NBA Draft is based on a lottery system. It used to be the last team gets the first pick, but the Houston Rockets of the ’80s purposely tanked back to back seasons so they could land the first pick in both drafts and select Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon respectively.

With the changes then NBA commissioner David Stern was making with the league at the time, the last thing he needed was teams tanking for better draft positions. (Some conspiracy theories suggest this also was done to get Patrick Ewing to the New York Knicks, using a cold envelope with the Knicks logo inside). Since then, the league has adapted and stuck with the same system, which is a draft lottery between the lowest-seeded teams from the previous season for the top 10 picks.


 But is it time for a change for the better good? 


We still see some teams in today’s era “tanking” to land one of the best talents in the upcoming draft and build from there. Look at the Philadelphia 76ers who’s “Trust the Process” landed them Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, who are now the cornerstones of their franchise.

So what to do? 

Well, the NBA could scrap the lottery system and go with instead, rewarding the teams that just miss the postseason. Here’s how it would work; the playoffs consist of sixteen total teams, eight from each conference. The team that finished 17th and just missed out on extending their season will get the number one overall pick. The number two pick will go to the team that finished 18th, so on and so on. 

Now what you have is teams, instead of not putting the best product on the floor so they can get a better place in the draft, now looking to be more competitive. Now a better spot in the standings means a better spot in the draft. No more “Trust the Process,” and no more “let’s just go young and build for the future.” The time will be now, and teams will look to stay in the hunt, which in turn makes the games through the regular season more competitive and entertaining to watch. The outcome is suitable for all parties involved. 


The last change the NBA can make is eliminating the conferences and going straight in the playoffs with the sixteen best teams.


No Western Conference, no Eastern Conference, just get the best teams matched up, and let’s see who ends up the champion. The teams all take private flights now so the travel wouldn’t be as bad. One of the most exciting elements in playoff basketball is the matchups. Imagine being able to see Damian Lilliard vs. John Wall, Jimmy Butler vs. Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Jokic vs. Joel Embiid before The Finals.

Photo Credit: NBA

 New rivalries can be forged; teams can make deeper playoff runs, teams who finished the season with a losing record aren’t getting the chance to be in the playoffs over teams with winning records simply because they are in different conferences.

We never got to see LeBron James vs. Kobe Bryant in the finals (we came close once), but if nothing else, we could’ve seen them do battle in the playoffs under this format.

With these changes, all can be good for the league as they get more primetime games without the NFL burying them at the start of their season. Pro basketball gets more competitive play throughout the season, and teams drafting the best talent are already close to making the playoffs. So now we get to see these young players on better teams to start their careers. We get some enticing and exciting matchups for the postseason, as we could honestly say, the last team standing is the best team for that season.

Most importantly, the fans get themselves some great basketball to enjoy, and when the product is good, the fans are happy, it’s a win all around for everyone.

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-Kalani Lua – Franchise Sports Media

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