In today’s sports society, player mobility is a major factor. As soon as a season ends, the offseason immediately begins. Whether it's through trades, free agency or the draft, teams in all sports are always looking to add talent to their rosters.
Over the last few years, the NFL has dominated the headlines whether they are playing games on the gridiron or not. For almost every month of the calendar year, the most popular sport in the U.S. has something interesting happening to keep the league and their teams in the news.
February- Super Bowl
March- Free Agency
May- Schedule Release
June- OTA’s (both voluntary and mandatory)
July- Training camp
September-December- Regular season
In the current edition of the NFL calendar, only the period between the schedule release in mid May and the start of training camp at the end of July is the “dead” period in their calendar, with OTA’s not meaning much in terms of actual news or events outside of injuries, as they are just used for the players to get in extra work before training camp begins. Even for the worst teams in the sport, there’s almost always something for the team and fans to look forward to.
The summer used to be the time for the NBA to shine with their postseason and free agency, but with the NFL slowly creeping into the NBA’s space, the NBA should redo their 365 day calendar to maximize exposure because they have the capability to be just as relevant almost year-round as the NFL does.
Here is how the current NBA schedule is conducted:
January-Mid-April- Regular season
February- All-Star Weekend
Mid-April-Mid June- Playoffs
May- NBA Draft Lottery
Mid-June- NBA Draft
July- Free Agency/Summer League
September- Training camp/Preseason
October-December- Regular season
The current NBA schedule features competitive overbalance with the NFL for most of the regular season, along with competing with the NFL’s Draft and schedule release during their postseason. The NBA’s Draft Lottery and postseason happen simultaneously in May, and the draft itself is right after the NBA Finals conclude. Right after the draft, free agency occurs two weeks later, along with the Summer League, leaving August a true “dead” month in the NBA’s iteriary, with training camp and preseason essentially starting at the same time in late September.
In my opinion, the NBA schedule is too lengthy. I believe 82 games is excessive, and it causes wear and tear on the players’ bodies come playoff time, hence the reason why there have been so many blowouts this postseason. During the 2020-2021 season, the Association only played 72 games and started the season Dec. 1 due to COVID-19 erasing the back half of the 2019-2020 season and forcing the NBA to decide their championship at Disney World in October. The late start to the 2020-2021 campaign forced the NBA to push their playoffs back a month, so the postseason began in mid-May and ended in late-July, just before the NFL began training camp. With the NFL’s Draft and schedule release out of the way, the NBA had the summer (outside of baseball) to itself.
Personally, I believe that is the route the NBA needs to take in order to garner more interest in the sports world year-round. Ideally, the NBA’s Opening Night should be the first Tuesday of December, with the best games of the regular season still occurring on Christmas Day. While the NFL has slowly crept into the Christmas Day market, the NBA can load the day with their best teams, as they typically do. The early December start allows the league to avoid most of the NFL regular season while their players and teams grow together early in the season before the big Christmas Day games. The regular season would conclude in mid-May with a 72-game schedule, with All-Star weekend occurring the first week in March right before March Madness.
This change would move the Draft Lottery back until the start of the NBA Finals in July, and the Draft from June to the beginning of August, right before the NFL kicks off its preseason. Free Agency moves to the middle of August, with the Summer League taking place at the end of August until Labor Day weekend. Instead of the NBA’s regular season and big offseason events taking place between October and July, December-August allows the league to avoid most of the NFL’s regular season and dominate the summer. The “dead” month goes from August and most of September, to most of September and October, which is the start of the NFL season and the end of the MLB season.
Let’s say the NBA implements my ideal schedule beginning with the 2022-2023 season. Here’s how the schedule would look:
Tues, Dec. 6, 2022- Regular season “Opening Night”.
Friday, March 3, 2023 - Sunday March 5, 2022- NBA All-Star Weekend.
Thursday, March 9, 2023- NBA Trade Deadline (3 p.m. EST).
Wednesday, May 17, 2023- Last day of regular season
Saturday, May 20, 2023- Start of NBA Playoffs.
Thursday, July 6, 2023- NBA Draft Lottery (right before Game 1 of NBA Finals)
Friday, July 7, 2023 - Monday July 10, 2023- NBA Draft Combine
Sunday, July 23, 2023- End of NBA Playoffs
Thursday, Aug 3, 2023- NBA Draft
Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023- Free Agency begins
Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 - Monday Sep. 4, 2023- NBA Summer League
Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023- Training camp begins
Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023- Preseason begins
Without specific dates, here’s how my NBA schedule would look throughout the 12 months of the year:
January-mid-May- Regular season
March- All-Star Weekend
Mid-May -Late July- Playoffs
July- NBA Draft Lottery
August- NBA Draft/Free Agency/Summer League
Late-October-November Training camp/Preseason
December- Start of next year’s regular season
By delaying their start of the season by around two months, the NBA can avoid most of the NFL crowding its space, which should equal better television ratings and bring more eyes to the product. It’s a change the league should consider if it wants to be in the news cycle almost 365 days a year like the giant that is the NFL.