The NBA’s Board of Governors has approved the return of the NBA on July 31st, nearly five months after play was suspended on March 11th due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top-22 teams will resume and each will play eight regular season games at Walt Disney World in Orlando. This will determine the seeding in the playoffs. If the eight and nine seeds in each conference are separated by less than four games, there will be a play-in tournament with a double-elimination format. Also, the Draft Lottery will be held on August 25th and the NBA Draft on October 15th.
As much as I am excited to watch the best teams and star players again, I do not agree with resuming play at all this season. According to the approved schedule, it means that a potential Game 7 of the NBA Finals would take place on October 12th. For reference, the NFL is around week six or seven that weekend, college football is at its halfway point and baseball (if it resumes on schedule) is in their playoffs. I should also mention that the season for the NBA starts around this time as well.
It is unclean and messy to me and I do not like it. It is going to mess up development for the NBA youth. Young players usually have summer league after they are drafted, and they won’t be able to develop as much if the draft was at its normal time in June. Also, there are eight teams that will not play any games. These include teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks, who all have young players who could use reps. With the draft pushed back, some teams not playing and a shorter offseason due to the late finish, this will seemingly hinder development for young players. All of that is on top of the canceled NCAA Tournament that denied players big-game experience.
As far as the NBA in general goes, I do not feel satisfied with this decision. There are a lot of star players in the NBA injured such as Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, etc. An extended offseason where play resumes in October for next season would have given them more time to recover and have fresh rosters for next season. While this season was wide-open, I feel like it wasn’t necessary to cram and finish this season. It will mess up the regular flow of games going into the new season. Next season would start Dec. 1 and that is not enough time for an offseason by a long shot. Between a potential Game 7 and opening night, that is only 48 days. If you’re going to resume the NBA season in December, at least do it on Christmas Day like they did in 2012 with the lockout-shortened season.
Lastly, basketball without fans doesn’t feel right. Yes, we have seen soccer, NASCAR and UFC without any fans., but with basketball, the crowd noise, due to the smaller atmospheres, feels more impactful than other sports. Just look at every NBA Finals game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. Without fans, all viewers will hear is squeaking of the shoes instead of balancing that with crowd noise. It will not feel much different than a pickup game. Even with the possibility of fake crowd noise that soccer has done, I don’t feel satisfied and it won’t feel right with every other factor previously mentioned factored into it.
Overall, I wish that the NBA would just cancel play the rest of the season and start over in October. It would feel cleaner and satisfying. There will be a mental asterisk for whoever wins the championship and that’s on top of messed up development, a way too short offseason and a lesser atmosphere. I hope that the NBA proves me wrong and produces a good product late this summer and fall.