NBA Returns: a Preview of the Coming Year
by The Milton Measure on Friday, December 9th, 2011
The NBA’s “Nuclear Winter” is over, ending with heartening news. There will be an NBA season, one unlike any other. The season will be 66 games instead of the usual 82, and it will start about 2 months later than usual. Since teams’ rosters are not yet complete, and the full schedule has not been released, it is too early to write a season preview for the NBA. However, this season contains many interesting subplots, especially due to its unique, shortened nature.
Subplot #1: This year’s NBA training camp—Usually, players report to training camp in early September; pre-season games start early October, giving teams almost two full months to gain some chemistry before Opening Day in late October. Players who usually spend their time working with coaches at their team’s practice facility (usually 3 or 4 young guys) have literally been locked out, unable to even talk to their coaches or use the team’s gym. This year, training camp starts December 9th, giving coaches less than 3 weeks to get ready for the NBA season. Look for this to cause a disjointed start for the poorly coached/young teams in the NBA.
Subplot #2: Free Agency/Bad Signings—Instead of three full months to sign players before the season, GMs now only have 16 days, with free agency starting December 9th. This date coincides with the start of training camp, meaning many teams won’t have a full roster when they start their camps. Teams such as the Celtics, the Heat, and the Hornets don’t even have enough players signed to scrimmage 5-on-5. Overpaying free agents is the Achilles Heel for many GMs and the condensed Free Agency period will add pressure for organizations to sign players, likely resulting in a lot of questionable signings.
Subplot #3: Trades—Already, rumors are coming out about possible trades, most notably trade demands from Chris Paul (to the Knicks or the Lakers) and Dwight Howard (to the Magic or the Lakers). The new CBA has made trading easier, so look for many before the season. The added time constraint and the new CBA should create some very one-sided deals as well.
Subplot #4: Fat players—Let’s say you are an NBA player that loves to eat. Specifically, you love to eat Burger King and Dominos pizza, while topping your meals off with a vat of Ben and Jerry’s [Ed. Note-- and an all-you-can-eat buffet at the local strip club]. During the season, your bad habits aren’t much of a problem, since you’re burning the calories off playing all the time. Normally, in the off-season, you are hounded by coaches, GMs, and your team’s personal trainer to lay off the Krispy Kreme’s and work out regularly. Their prodding, combined with your motivation to have a good season, causes you only to show up about 20 or so pounds overweight at training camp. Now take all of that motivation away, give yourself two extra months where you do nothing, and leave yourself with 3 weeks to get back into shape before the season starts… How much weight will you have gained now? That scenario has probably happened to a few of the league’s players, a scenario that should create a contentious bid for the “Eddy Curry Award”, given to the player who starts the season in the worst shape. Look for players such as Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and Aaron Gray to be finalists.
Subplot #5: NBA opener on Christmas Day—Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin, Saint Nick. The NBA revolves around its stars; combining Opening Day, Christmas, and all of these players could make for one of the best starts to a season in NBA history.
Subplot #6: The Shortened Season—Many think that the shortened season will help aging, veteran teams such as the Celtics, Spurs, and Lakers, who usually tire out in the regular season after about the 60 game mark. However, the NBA season is being condensed in time more than it is being shortened in total games, meaning that those 66 games will happen one month quicker than usual. That creates more back-to-backs, which generally plague older teams with a smaller rotation. Look for the shortened season to help teams with a deep bench, such as the Mavericks and the Bulls, while it will probably hurt older teams with less depth, like the Spurs, Lakers, Celtics, and Heat.
Subplot #7: Fan base—Can the NBA sustain the momentum they had coming off one of the greatest seasons and most compelling Finals the league has ever seen? Will fans be deterred to watch games because of the messy lockout, or will the shortened season, which is probably a more consumer-friendly length, make fans even more interested in the upcoming season? Only time will tell.
Subplot #8: Shaq and Charles Barkley together on TNT: ‘Nuff said.
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