It’s been over a month since the NBA season was suspended due to COVID-19 and although there’s no sign of a return coming anytime soon, the entire league is still holding out hope that we will get a conclusion to the 2019-2020 season.
Just this weekend would’ve been the start to the 2020 playoffs and everyone around the league is waiting for some news of what is to come. Assuming the NBA gets an end to this season, a lot of questions will need to be answered before we see players back on the hardwood.
What Will the Format be?
The majority of teams in the NBA have between 15 and 20 games remaining on their schedule, about a fifth of the scheduled season. Would those games simply be forgotten, sending us straight into the playoffs with whoever is currently in position? What about the playoffs themselves, would series be shortened or more condensed? There probably isn’t a scenario without at least a couple of weeks of games leading into the playoffs so players and teams can get their conditioning back to where it needs to be. However, that would lead to other questions such as, how many games would teams play? And who would they play? This could get complicated with arena scheduling also getting in the way and it will be interesting to see what the NBA decides to do.
Will Fans be Present?
Just before the season was suspended on March 11, the NBA Board of Governors voted to play-out games without fans to prevent the spread of the virus. Now, it may be the only possible way the NBA can make a timely comeback. Not allowing fans into games would certainly be a surreal experience and would almost assuredly have an effect of the environment and feel of a game, especially in the playoffs. Despite the awkward feel of it all, most fans would be willing to trade the change in atmosphere in exchange for bringing the season back. On the optimistic side, it could be interesting to hear raw game sound from players and coaches that gets missed when thousands of screaming fans are present.
Will this Affect Future Seasons?
It seems inevitable at this point that next year’s NBA schedule will need to be altered in order to fit in the end of this season, while still allowing for some kind of offseason. Whether they delay the start of next season, condense it into a tighter schedule or straight up cut out games, the real question will be how it all will work moving forward. This could come as a blessing in disguise to the NBA who can use this as time to experiment with tweaks to their schedule, which could likely end up in a complete change that comes to be the new norm.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has done an outstanding job to this point in handling the suspension and nothing less should be expected of him moving forward. There are tons of moving parts to work with in order to get the season started again, but commissioner Silver will do his best to come to the best possible solution for both the short and long term.