It struck hard and fast, right as we were entering the most exciting time of the year. The final 20-game stretch was put on a pause … for a long time. And when the NBA and NBA Players Association finally came up with a plan to put the players in a bubble, the 82-game regular season was cut down to 72, and we saw some of the playoff-contending teams impacted by players opting out finishing the season to protect their families and themselves.
Would the playoffs had gone how they did if we had a full 82 game season, without just 22 teams coming back for an eight-game play-in?
The seeding may have been a little bit different, but there is little doubt that the LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Toronto Raptors, and Milwaukee Bucks would have been at the top. I have little doubt that the Los Angeles Lakers would have made it through the Western Conference. But would the Miami Heat have pushed through the East? Had they been, say, entering the playoffs at No.7, their playoff bracket could have looked entirely different.
But we’ll never know, and it is what it is.
When Will The 2020-2021 NBA Season Start?
Typically, the middle of October signifies the beginning of NBA basketball. However, because COVID-19 punctured holes in 2020 like an ADD kid with a fork around an animal skin canoe, this year 2020-2021 season will begin in late December.
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That’s pretty much all we know at this point. If you try to find information, you’ll see all the dates with big, fat TBDs on them. We do know that the league is trying their best to make sure we get an 82-game regular season this time around.
The league will try to do a condensed schedule. They are taking a few cues from the MLB. The idea is that even though the NBA season will start a couple of months late, the playoffs will still occur during the month of June. This is actually important because the 2020 Summer Olympics were postponed to 2021, and finishing the season by the typical ending point allows the athletes participating in the Olympic Games to join their practice squad and gear up for the games.
2020-2021 COVID Protocols
There was initially a lot of talk about maintaining bubbled campuses for the players. But at the end of the 2020 season, most of the athletes complained of mental and emotional exhaustion. I don’t think this is much different than anyone else who lived through the year of the China Flu but imagine if you were actually isolated to a ‘quarantine zone’ for months on end and couldn’t leave the premises.
At this point, it looks like players have rejected the idea of returning to ‘bubble play.’ The idea of returning to a bubble while they have watched the NFL and MLB be successful without it is a continuing point of contention. The league is now looking into scheduling back-to-backs to limit travel while also condensing the schedule of play. The idea is the home team would host the same visiting team two nights in a row. This will become especially useful for cross country road trips. For example, instead of traveling cross-country, then one night later flying to a different city to play a different team, you would remain for two days. It should cut down on road fatigue and help to limit exposure to ‘the Rona.’
Top Title Contenders for 2021
The LA Lakers are right back at the top of the NBA Futures boards with +375 odds to win the NBA Title in 2021. Right behind the Lakers are Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers at +400. Third down, the list is the still young Milwaukee Bucks at +600. And surprisingly, at +800 and fourth on the boards are the Golden State Warriors. Former Warrior Kevin Durant is expected to return and help elevate the Brooklyn Nets, so they are 5th with odds of +1000.
The Golden State Warriors need to rebuild a little. So, some think the multiple champs are in win-now mode and need a couple of veteran pieces to come over. But others think they should take Lamelo Ball. It will be interesting to see which direction they turn.
Other highly impactful decisions that have been made are in coaching. Steve Nash will take over for Jacque Vaughn as the head coach for the Brooklyn Nets. Despite going deep, Doc Rivers is out of LA, and Tyronn Lue will take over … hmmm, I wonder who decided that? But Doc is far from out of a job. He’s already been hired to take a young, talented Philly team to new heights, leaving Brett Brown on the outs. Stan Van Gundy will take rover for the Pelicans; Tom Thibodeau will try to give new direction to a long-struggling Knicks team, and Nate Bjorkgren will take Nate McMillan’s spot over in Indiana.