It smells like Christmas. And no, not ironically because the tentatively resolved NBA season is positioned to start with its signature Christmas Day slate of games; but because it is ripe with potential. Just brimming with possibilities.
The NBA’s David Aldridge already highlighted the 10 things he is looking forward to; it’s totally a great read. So while he covers the season’s top concerns, I wanted to bring attention to the top 3 concerns presented by an issue not discussed in the article: the condensed season length. So without further ado, here is my new column.
Jared Greenspan’s: The Trinity
At the forefront of this issue is the modification of the season’s length.
1) 66 Games – Yeah, we know its more than the previous lockout in which NBA teams only played 50, but how exactly will the season’s dynamic be effected by such a transition? As far as the schedule’s proposed structure, each team would play approximately 48 conference games, and 18 games against the opposing conference. This means each team only plays three teams in the other conference on each of their respective home courts.
This is a game-changer for young rebuilding franchises like the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers, who could potentially be on the cusp of a playoff-berth. If they only have to play an eastern powerhouse like Miami or the Bulls once on and on their home court, they have a shot at obtaining the seventh or eighth seed in the rugged Western Conference. At least in Golden State’s case, they will be heading towards the lottery if they are the one team in their division slumming a back-to-back-to-back road-trip against the Knicks, Celtics and the Magic respectively.
2) Age – You look at teams like the Spurs who have been poised for their “final” championship run for the last five years and you see the young guns like Memphis who upset them during the playoffs. So does 16 less games help or hinder the “old guard” (think Spurs, Celtics, Lakers)?
As an avid Spurs fan, I note that this is definitely a disadvantage. Remember, just because the season only lost 16 games, does not discount the fact that it lost more than 16 games worth of days. This is not Shane Battier’s ideal 70 game season, which would stretch 70 games over the normal season length. There are going to be more back to backs and less three and four-day rests. It probably won’t aid younger teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder as much as people might think, because we have seen young, vital pieces like a Kendrick Perkins get hurt mid-season.
3) Chemistry – Yes, this would be something to talk about even if there was no impending lockout which cast a black cloud over the NBA season. No, there is not a team shrouded in question marks like Miami was last year. With that being said, one could easily make the argument that a shortened training camp will lead to a hyper integration of all offseason acquisitions.
Rookies are going to have to hit the ground running, but free agents and trade bait are going to have to learn alot about new environments very quickly, and adapt even faster. Statistically speaking, the Knicks did not get any better after acquiring Carmelo Anthony mid-season. This means that an effective sign-and-trade deal for big names such as Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams will probably be executed sooner rather than later, if at all.
With teams vying for free agents, it will be very interesting to see not only which pieces fit where, but whether or not they will integrate properly into a new system. More to come on that free agency as the season draws closer.
Go NBA, Go Spurs, Go SportsFullCircle – its great to be back.