The NBA schedule has been changed for the 2017-18 season, and the main theme seems to be rest.
The regular season has been expanded by a week and the preseason has been cut short by a week. Ideally the NBA is trying to have stars playing in more games in general and play in more televised games.
By expanding the NBA season, there won’t be as many harsh road trips, or back-to-back games on short rest. With the NBA season shifting slightly, stars will get to play in meaningful regular season games with more rest.
There is also a new rule penalizing teams for sitting healthy star players. What if a star is listed as injured with “shoulder tightness” when in reality, he is just a healthy scratch due to wanting rest? Commissioner Adam Silver is going to have a tough time actually enforcing the rules he is doctoring up this off-season.
The NBA regular season issue
Players across all sports have been doing it for years: being healthy scratches with bogus injury titles as an excuse. Now that there is a penalty for being a healthy scratch, there could be even more illegitimate injuries.
Obviously throughout last season there were many problems with resting stars. The Cleveland Cavaliers finished in the two spot in the East, but beat the one seeded Boston Celtics in five games in the Eastern Conference finals. Most people knew the Cavaliers were significantly better, but chose to rest stars and prepare for the postseason versus playing out every game.
The NBA has tried to solve the problem of teams playing back-to-back games. LeBron missed eight games in the 2016-17 season, five of them were due to back-to-backs.
The problem is the media partnership with the NBA. Money is being put into the NBA because fans want and expect to see superstars play in primetime games. Ultimately, many playoff teams have made it clear that they would rather coast through the regular season and be healthy and rested for the playoffs than have home court advantage for certain series.
With the new rules, teams will be forced to rest players a lot less.
Will it work?
Honestly it might deter resting players for the most part, but everyone needs rest. If a team knows they can coast through the regular season and still win in the playoffs, there’s no reason to not rest players.
The NBA season is long and grueling. If the best competition is coming in the playoffs, all the players should be healthy. The mutual agreement should be that stars are rested gradually and not all at once. For instance, if Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and Gordon Hayward all want to skip a game to rest up, they should sit out different games so that fans can still get to see stars in every game.
That would also mean that there is still a very competitive product on the court for primetime games. The solution to resting is to spread it out and make it less immediate.
Fans will always complain no matter who they get to see, but if they get to see the majority of their favorite players, they will be more happy than seeing none of them.
The idea of limiting rest makes sense for the league, but if Silver doesn’t enforce his rules right, he could lose some credibility league-wide. If the NBA wants to put strict restrictions on resting players, then there’s a chance some of the best players will be hurt come playoff time.
Extending the regular season will help improve the condition of the players, but if Silver puts in place a gradual resting for stars and starters, not only the players will be happy, so will the league and the fans.
Featured Photo Courtesy of Carolinablitz.com.
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