State of the NBA

slamminsammya

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Jul 31, 2006
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There is some heated discussion about whether Adam Silver is a bad commissioner and whether the NBA is in trouble.

There is the "scoreboard" argument - if he is so bad how can they be talking about tripling their next TV deal? Then there is the aesthetics argument - the ends of games are too long, too many replays, too many ref errors, too many 3s, too many flops. We also have the soap opera argument - it's no fun anymore now that players decide they don't want to play somewhere anymore and just team up with their buddies.

I get the arguments against it but to me the NBA has never been better, having watched basketball starting in earnest around 2000.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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Sep 12, 2003
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There is some heated discussion about whether Adam Silver is a bad commissioner and whether the NBA is in trouble.

There is the "scoreboard" argument - if he is so bad how can they be talking about tripling their next TV deal? Then there is the aesthetics argument - the ends of games are too long, too many replays, too many ref errors, too many 3s, too many flops. We also have the soap opera argument - it's no fun anymore now that players decide they don't want to play somewhere anymore and just team up with their buddies.

I get the arguments against it but to me the NBA has never been better, having watched basketball starting in earnest around 2000.
I agree that the product is great. There has never been this many talented players, the international growth has been outstanding and the players are allowed to be themselves and express themselves. The G-League is a great idea and the talent pipeline is not drying up. It is neck and neck in popularity with football for young kids.

Players empowering themselves is an offshoot of many players fighting for social justice. I love it. While the high end talent does dictate who the contenders are, there is enough parity in the league and rebuilding a team can often be pretty quick.

Things can be improved, of course. I don't like how games are often decided by who hits more threes and who can draw the most fouls. I miss the traditional big man. The refs are helpless reffing insane athletes. The reviews are too frequent and take too long.

But I will take it.
 

Light-Tower-Power

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Jun 14, 2013
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Couple thoughts:

1. Bucks vs. Suns Finals last season was great for the NBA even if the ratings weren't so good. That series proved that a few superstar buddies teaming up in free agency isn't the only way to build a championship team.

2. I'm hopeful the new rules put an end to the free throw parade for certain players and guys stop doing contortionist acts in an effort to draw cheap fouls.

3. Replay is awful and needs to be simplified. OOB under 2 minutes should be all that's reviewable. The end. Coaches' challenges only serve to slow the game down, and half the time you're left scratching your head about the outcome of the challenge.

4. I like watching defense just as much as I like watching offense so sometimes games turning into three point shooting and foul drawing contests can get boring. Brings me back to thought #2. I agree with PC Drunken Friar that it's a shame there's hardly a role for the traditional back to the basket big man anymore, but I don't see how the emphasis on three point shooting ever goes away.

Overall I think the league is in fine shape and the product is good, but I will admit that I don't really give a shit about anything but the Celtics, so I don't watch a ton of non-Celtics games.
 

TheGazelle

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Dec 17, 2009
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There is some heated discussion about whether Adam Silver is a bad commissioner and whether the NBA is in trouble.

There is the "scoreboard" argument - if he is so bad how can they be talking about tripling their next TV deal? Then there is the aesthetics argument - the ends of games are too long, too many replays, too many ref errors, too many 3s, too many flops. We also have the soap opera argument - it's no fun anymore now that players decide they don't want to play somewhere anymore and just team up with their buddies.

I get the arguments against it but to me the NBA has never been better, having watched basketball starting in earnest around 2000.
This is the part that has caused me to watch less NBA recently. I personally do not enjoy watching an endless parade of 3s, but that's secondary to how much the end of games sucks with endless free-throws/replays/ref fuck-ups/etc. NBA games have a lot going for them -- there is a ton of talent in the league, which leads to more interesting games than in past seasons -- but there is definitely some stuff that Silver and co. need to address.
 

Koufax

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I'd be in favor of extending the 3-point line out so far that there is no longer a corner three. That would bring back the mid-range shot and possibly the strong, back to the basket center. It might be useful to institute a rule in the last 2 minutes by which a team that is fouled can choose to take a single foul shot and retain possession.
 

OurF'ingCity

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Apr 22, 2016
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For on-court stuff - why they haven’t adopted the Elam ending yet is baffling to me. There is simply zero downside to doing so. It would be the biggest and best change to the on-court product since the adoption of the 24-second shot clock.

For the off-court stuff, players having more power is obviously totally fine but I do wish they would get rid of the concept of a “maximum salary,” which distorts the market and is more or less the only reason why teams are able to assemble Nets- and Warriors-style superteams. But I think the NBA actually likes having superteams, and obviously the union would probably never go for this absent other dramatic changes (such as no salary cap), so I doubt this one is going to change much in the foreseeable future.
 

Kliq

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Mar 31, 2013
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In general, the NBA is in a very healthy space. The game is very popular with younger fans, expanding internationally better than arguably any other sport in the world, and the league will remain highly successful for the foreseeable future.

Discussion about TV ratings and increases in rights fees is tricky because you really have to have a certain level of knowledge about the TV industry to understand what is a positive and what is a negative, and too often people see a figure or a trend and assume it's automatically very good or very bad.

TV ratings across the board are almost always in perpetual decline; the exception being the NFL this season, which is up from the previous year. The NBA being in decline year-over-year is not that big of an issue, unless it is declining significantly compared to other cable and network programs. Viewership that would be considered disastrous ten years okay could quantify as good today. The NBA is still a very healthy television product, it has the youngest average audience than any other major American sport (which is key when it comes the key advertising demo, which correlates more with the value of the program to advertisers than raw viewership totals) and also is arguably the most advanced league when it comes to digital platforms.

At the same time, you also can't necessarily look at increasing television rights and assume that indicates a positive trend for overall popularity. It's certainly a positive for the league's bottom line; but the issue is that the TV industry is currently in a massive race to secure content. Everyone wants to land content people will want to watch, either to save their declining cable/network entities, or to force viewers to subscribe and watch their chosen streaming platform. Sports is seen as a greater premium than anything else, especially to cable/network stations, since it is viewed as more DVR-proof than scripted TV as there is a major factor that makes people want to see it live. Sports also offers a level of security, the tradition of watching sports is ingrained in a huge segment of the population and they will continue to watch their chosen sports regardless of true quality. Because of that, a product can be declining in all measurements (TV viewership, live attendance, digital engagement, etc.) and still see a healthy increase in media rights.

With all that being said, I think the NBA's two biggest challenges are:

1. Rapid player movement, which damages the cultural identity of the league as it prevents certain teams from sticking together for long periods of time. Every year it seems there is a new super team sprouting up, and it's conventional to believe the very best players will easily play for 4-5 teams throughout their careers. I think this hurts teams more at the local level than the national level. At the national level, networks likely don't care that much about which teams are good as long as there are some good ones, but at the local level, it's harder for fans to grow an attachment to a particular team if the players continue to shuffle around each season. A star can be here today and gone tomorrow, and even if they don't leave right away, there is usually a length of drama where a star wants out, or requests a trade, or almost leaves but then stays but it's also only a matter of time until they leave for good. It's a bad environment for creating new fans at the local level, and I think that is reflected by younger fans becoming more frequently fans of individual players and less of teams, although I have no data beyond anecdotal experience to prove that.

I think a related issue is a prospective imaging problem the league will have as more and more players become less patient with their current situation. So much of the league is now about player drama, with players being unhappy and wanting to leave to another market. It sucks up media time and attention as everyone breathlessly discusses how a millionaire in their 20s is unhappy because their team didn't win the title that year and wants to leave. There seems almost like a lack of accountability for top players today; if they bomb out of the playoffs they can just look to change their surroundings, typically at a high cost to their original team. That again creates a negative atmosphere for fans at the local level, even if at the national level its intriguing to figure out where a star player is going to go. LeBron really brought this type of attitude and movement to the forefront of the NBA and other players have taken from his approach to the game and franchise building. The distinction there is that LeBron is the extraordinary rare player who can almost single-handily lead a team to title contention with very little assistance. Only 2-3 players in the NBA are really capable of that in a given time; everyone else is looking to just have a role in the production. It's harder to embellish the antics of Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving or Paul George, who are All-Stars but not the kind of impactful superstars that lead teams to championships.

2. Stylistic similarity. From an aesthetic standpoint the game has some issues, and the main one to me is that every team plays relatively the same style of basketball. This is heavily influenced by analytics and pretty much every team understanding the most efficient way to play, which can stunt tactical creativity and encourage sameness. So many games now seem to hinge less on individual talent or team execution, and more on whoever happens to have a good shooting night from three, as every team has optimized three point shooting as the critical component to success. I'm not sure what the league will be able to do to change this; in a world where analytics are all publicly available, teams will continue to copy each other to try and gain an advantage. Baseball is dealing with a similar issue; where aspects of the game like the stolen base have been nullified because analytics tell us that it's actually not a great idea to run so much.
 

jon abbey

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The regular season is at least 12 games too long and the top 16 teams should make the playoffs regardless of conference and be seeded 1-16.
 

cardiacs

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I was really hoping they would start the season later using the bubble season as a trigger. Opening day on Christmas eve and a second sport through the summer would be sweet.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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Is this a discussion about the relative health of the NBA or what parts of the game don't work for individual posters? Because those are two very different discussions - there are already some preference posts which are completely fine but are separate from the state of the league even if they tangentially related.

A person may miss the days of Patrick Ewing playing with his back to the basket and Rick Mahorn conducting open heart surgery on one of the Pacers while going for a putback but that says nothing about the condition of the league.

One other point - I believe @Kliq made this observation in a past discussion but a lot of younger people consume content differently than even millennials. There are obviously a huge number of casual sports fans who don't actually sit and watch the games but instead follow via highlights/clips/social media. It feels like that trend is only accelerating with people consuming content primarily via their phones and having more competition for their attention. It seems like all forms of media are impacted by this phenomena these days so the question I have is whether the NBA is doing relatively better or worse than its peers in garnering eyeballs. I have no data to support this however it feels like the NBA generally does a very good job in social media promotion and engagement. I am curious what younger posters think.
 
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OurF'ingCity

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The regular season is at least 12 games too long and the top 16 teams should make the playoffs regardless of conference and be seeded 1-16.
Yeah, if we’re talking what I would do if I was the dictator of the NBA, I’d eliminate conferences altogether, but keep the divisions (to keep some of the traditional rivalries, like Boston-Sixers, Lakers-Clippers, etc) and have every team play each team in its division three times a year, and every team outside of its division twice a year. That adds up to 66 games (I think) which seems like a good number.
 

TripleOT

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Jul 4, 2007
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I am not a fan of less basketball games. The 82 game season, and the playoff structure previous to this past season was ok with me. I’m warming up to the play in format as a way to make the last few weeks of the regular season more compelling for marginal playoff games.

I would like to see less flopping, and less complaining to the refs. That, and tweaking timeout rules so the last minute of the game isn’t a set up for a dozen tv commercials would work for me.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Mar 26, 2005
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2. Stylistic similarity. From an aesthetic standpoint the game has some issues, and the main one to me is that every team plays relatively the same style of basketball. This is heavily influenced by analytics and pretty much every team understanding the most efficient way to play, which can stunt tactical creativity and encourage sameness. So many games now seem to hinge less on individual talent or team execution, and more on whoever happens to have a good shooting night from three, as every team has optimized three point shooting as the critical component to success. I'm not sure what the league will be able to do to change this; in a world where analytics are all publicly available, teams will continue to copy each other to try and gain an advantage. Baseball is dealing with a similar issue; where aspects of the game like the stolen base have been nullified because analytics tell us that it's actually not a great idea to run so much.
I think the league is healthy but my personal quibble is that I agree with this. Analytics are far more clear in BBall as to what shots should taken b/c the 3P is waaay overvalued. It really should be 4/3/1.5 or even 5/4/2 (or thereabouts) but since that isn't going to happen the NBA should move the 3P line out. A lot of games end up as 3P shooting contests and I agree that hurts the league.
 

ElUno20

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Jul 19, 2005
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I think the league is healthy but my personal quibble is that I agree with this. Analytics are far more clear in BBall as to what shots should taken b/c the 3P is waaay overvalued. It really should be 4/3/1.5 or even 5/4/2 (or thereabouts) but since that isn't going to happen the NBA should move the 3P line out. A lot of games end up as 3P shooting contests and I agree that hurts the league.
I'd love if they backed up the 3pt line but they would never do it.

Or eliminate the damn corner 3
 

reggiecleveland

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For on-court stuff - why they haven’t adopted the Elam ending yet is baffling to me. There is simply zero downside to doing so. It would be the biggest and best change to the on-court product since the adoption of the 24-second shot clock.

For the off-court stuff, players having more power is obviously totally fine but I do wish they would get rid of the concept of a “maximum salary,” which distorts the market and is more or less the only reason why teams are able to assemble Nets- and Warriors-style superteams. But I think the NBA actually likes having superteams, and obviously the union would probably never go for this absent other dramatic changes (such as no salary cap), so I doubt this one is going to change much in the foreseeable future.
I am involved in a pro league (The CEBL) That used the Elam ending. I don't like it and hope the NBA never adopts it. It is a fundamental change to clock management, etc, and it is not the same game. It favors the team ahead too much. It seems the opposite, but it isn't. With 24 second clock, you can't hold the ball anyway. Say I am down six late and get three stops and score 7 that is incredible, I maybe win the game, but in Elam I have score 7 or 8 more points more than the opponent, who just blew a six-point lead to win. It seems like it would favor the trailing team, but it really dioesn't.

Also the on court product is not the best it has ever been, not even close. the players are maybe, maybe better than ever, but the game is too homogenous and boring. Corner three, ballscreen, repeat. They need to ref it like FIBA, make the post matter. I would pay a lot of money to watch KD do what he did in the olympics with handchecking, etc. Nick Nurse was too cute with Canada and the "NBA type" forwards Powell, Lyles got abused by Czechs that were more physical. Shaq has been gone for a decade, let the big boys play.