What Could a Pre-Christmas Start Mean for NBA Teams?

Los Angeles Lakers 2020 NBA champions
Photo: NBA/Twitter

ESPN recently reported that the NBA’s board of governors is pursuing a pre-Christmas day start for the 2020-21 season.

This is great news for basketball fans who want to be able to watch a game on Christmas day. And it also means a return to some semblance of normalcy on the calendar, because the season will be finished by the summer and the 2021-2022 season will be able to be played at the normal times.

However, it would mean that this coming season is far from normal for NBA teams, with impacts on both the players and the front office.

Key Players May Not Be There

If the season starts early, it’s quite likely that some of the key players we would expect to see won’t be there. Lakers guard Danny Green posted on Twitter that he wouldn’t expect LeBron to be there for the first month of the season. 

This will have an impact not just on fans, who will be disappointed not to see their favorite players, but on the ability of teams to play at their usual levels. This isn’t just because skilled players are missing from the lineup. Strategies will need to be rethought to take into account the skills of the free agents that are drafted, and the team won’t have a lot of time to practice together with their new line ups. This could see teams struggling to work together as they would with more time to practice.

Teams Able to Achieve Consistency Will Benefit

Consistency is key in any sport. For teams who can maintain their usual line up, they may actually see that they have an advantage over groups who usually perform at a higher level but have been forced to make last-minute roster changes this season.

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Players Won’t Have Their Expected Downtime

The season starting earlier will have an obvious impact on players because they won’t have the downtime that they were expecting. This could mean that we start to see performance being affected, particularly towards the end of the season when exhaustion begins to catch up with them. Players will need to be vigilant to avoid injury.

Smaller Crowds Could Impact Player Morale

If the season starts earlier, with the pandemic still very much on people’s minds, there are likely to be much smaller crowds at sporting events. Crowd noise has been shown to have a powerful effect on the performance of athletes, so as well as not being as much fun for the athletes, we may see player morale and therefore their performance dropping. This could also have a knock-on effect for vendors who rely on big sporting events to make their money, as they won’t get the opportunities that they would if the season were started a little later.