SCHEDULE CHANGES COMING? The league, the NBA Players’ Association and broadcast partners are discussing a bevy of changes to the schedule that could be voted on at April’s Board of Governors meeting.
Among the potential changes: a reseeding of the four conference finalists, a 30-team in-season tournament (similar to the ones so popular in European soccer), postseason play-in games and reducing the regular season schedule to 78 games. People, especially fans, are often hesitant to huge changes, but some of these ideas could turn out great if executed correctly, particularly the play-in games.
🤔 At the same time, one has to wonder how these changes could affect the NBA negatively. Could these shifts water down teams’ pursuits of the NBA title, since they could fall back on winning the less meaningful midseason tournament? Or, even worse, might teams totally neglect this potential new tournament and it turns out to be a worthless series of games?
There’s also the concern regarding statistics. The NBA has followed an 82-game schedule for so long that record changes will be harder to come by with a shorter regular season, an issue that could very well bother some of the league’s top players. Plus, won’t teams still load manage to gain an advantage? The one benefit of a shorter schedule would be less of a need for load managing, but if the change is just from 82 games to 78, that’s really not enough for load management to go away entirely.
Finally, it’s interesting to see that with all these discussed potential schedule changes, one was completely ignored: the elimination of conferences and reseeding of playoff teams 1-16. The East, for so long, has lagged behind the West, with some pretty undeserving squads (including various with losing records) making it to the playoffs in place of far more deserving Western squads. This is one area where the league should be focusing their attention, yet, apparently, it’s not being discussed.
IS BROOKLYN BETTER WITHOUT KYRIE? The Brooklyn Nets’ struggles early this season have been well-discussed. Although without Kevin Durant, not many expected them to open the year so poorly, winning just four of their first 11 contests and ranking 21st in net rating (-2.4), behind the Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards. Well, over their past five games, the numbers are starting to shift far more to the positive, with Brooklyn winning four of their contests in that span and sitting at a decent 13th place in net rating at +1.6.
So what’s the difference between the Nets’ first 11 games and their last five? The presence of Kyrie Irving.
Irving has missed Brooklyn’s five most recent outings due to an injured shoulder (he’ll be out at least through Wednesday, according to reports), and, for some reason, his absence has actually buoyed the Nets’ play. But does that actually mean Brooklyn is better off without their All-Star point guard?
The numbers don’t really bear that out. Without Irving, Brooklyn’s offensive rating has plummeted from 108.5 (10th overall) to 104.0 (25th) while their points per game have dropped from 116.8 per contest (seventh overall) to 104.6 (25th overall). We’ll know more about the legitimacy of the Nets’ recent form over the coming games, particularly when they face Boston on Wednesday, but for now, it’s still way too premature to say they don’t need their elite point guard.
LAST NIGHT IN THE ASSOCIATION: A showdown featuring a past MVP and a young gun who looks ready to win the award himself someday headlined Sunday’s NBA action, while a big man on a top contender enjoyed a career-best performance.
🔥 It’s getting repetitive, but Luka Doncic went off yet again yesterday, dropping 41 points (on 15-of-29 shooting), six rebounds and 10 assists against the Rockets, leading Dallas to an impressive 137-123 road victory. In the process, Doncic became the seventh player in league history to post four consecutive games with 30-plus points and 10-plus assists, joining Michael Jordan, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, among other legends, on the list.
😮 Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell tied a career-high in scoring, dropping 34 points against New Orleans, shooting 13-of-18 from the floor and 8-for-10 from the foul line while chipping in 12 rebounds and two blocks. The outstanding performance comes two days after Harrell got into an intense verbal altercation with Russell Westbrook’s younger brother, one that led to Westbrook’s sibling getting kicked out of the arena.
NO IGGY BUYOUT? Woj says the Grizzlies are telling teams they won’t be buying out Andre Iguodala and the $17.2 million he has left on his contract, so if a contender – like the two L.A. teams, as has been rumored – want him, they’ll have to trade for him.
A DIFFERENT PATH: A fantastic piece on Patrick Beverley’s past, courtesy of ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. The Clippers’ point guard really opens up in the article.
UNLIKELY ROOKIE STAR: Kendrick Nunn went from G League sixth man last season to not just an NBA starter this year, but the second-leading scorer on the 11-4 Miami Heat. Learn about his journey, work ethic, and more, here.
TRADE MASTER: Boston Celtics president of basketball ops Danny Ainge is the league’s best at acquiring All-Stars via trades, and it’s not all that close, according to our research.
SMART DEFENDER: Marcus Smart is an early Defensive Player of the Year candidate. We went in-depth on his point-stopping prowess in the post here.
TEES! You might want to take a look at this fire NBA apparel brought to you by BreakingT.
JERSEY SWAP: Learn more about the recent trend of NBA players swapping jerseys after games, which has really picked up in popularity over the last few seasons.
KNICKS OR RETIREMENT? Richard Jefferson, who calls games for the Nets now, joked that once he realized the Knicks were the only team that wanted to sign him, he knew it was time to retire. Zing!
SALARY QUIZ: WHO’S THIS NBA PLAYER? 🤔
Click here for the answer.
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