"With an expanded calendar as part of its new collective bargaining agreement, the NBA has taken the most aggressive measures to date to build rest into its schedule. In a memo given to teams this week, the league outlined how it hopes to reduce the stresses of travel and give players a chance to recover more than in the past. This is a proactive measure aimed at both player safety and to reduce the number of games in which teams rest healthy players. Some of the new improvements include:
• Eliminating stretches of four games in five days and 18 games in 30 days.
• Reduction of five games in seven nights to just 40 instances across (1.3 per team), down from last year when it was on the schedule 90 times (three per team).
• Reduction in number of back-to-backs to 14.9 per team, down from 16.3 per team. In all, 40 back-to-backs have been eliminated from last season.• Reduction of single-game road trips by 17 percent.
• Reduction in single-game road trips over 2,000 miles by 67 percent; there are only 11 of them on schedule.
• Increase in weekend games from 549 to 568, much of the boost coming on Saturdays.
Previously the NBA avoided Saturdays and Sunday afternoons during football season to dodge conflicts. Teams that have seen versions of their schedules can petition the league for changes. However, the overall themes will stay intact. The schedule is expected to be finalized this week and portions are expected to be announced soon."
I was just thinking yesterday, "shouldn't the NBA schedule be dropping this week?" (last year's schedule was announced on Aug 11th). Even though the season is starting a week or so earlier, I figured it would already be out, but this whole, "teams can petition the league for changes" might be throwing a wrench into that.
Literally every one of the changes on this list helps NBA players and fans a lot this year going forward. Eliminating four games in five nights was a must. Exercising at Planet Fitness 4 days in 5 nights is tough, I can't imagine what NBA players have to go through. Don't get me wrong, some players will bring it every night, the Westbrook's, Harden's and LeBron's aren't slowed down by things like this, but not everyone is a gifted freak athlete. However, seeing these guys rested with fresh legs will help performance. With the amount of fluke injuries that pop up towards the end of the NBA season, hopefully these adjustments will cut back on some of those occurrences. With fan population growing at a rapid pace, the need to have star players in marquee match ups has never been more important.
Also, 20 more Saturday games is a plus for anyone working the traditional Mon-Fri grind. I couldn't tell you how many times last season I wanted to watch certain west coast teams on a Saturday night (where I didn't have to wake up at 5:30 a.m. the next morning) and only had 2 or 3 terrible matchups to choose from on League Pass.
Great news for the players and fans indeed.
Sean is co-host of 48 MINUTES Podcast and can be found re-tweeting vinyl record re-issue announcements and fun NBA gossip at @Sean_Mackey.