As we enter the NBA offseason, the players and coaches will all be going on their summer vacations. Meanwhile, back at the NBA headquarters team owners, NBA officials, league rule makers, and player union representatives will be having several meetings to discuss and ultimately adjust the direction of the game.
This past season, we have seen some pretty remarkable things happen. We saw the Golden State Warriors set a new single season record with 73 wins and we saw Steph Curry set a new NBA record by hitting just over 300 3-point shots. Without question, the new NBA has become a shooter's league. With the hand-check out of basketball, it has become incredibly easier for guards and shooters to dominate the league. With the increase in 3-point snipers, we have seen a new record in playoff games ending in blowouts. Most likely, we can expect the NBA to make some adjustments to keep the games closer.
The 3-point line is not the only thing that will be discussed and possibly changed in the coming years. There are things outside of the white lines that will be discussed and altered, things like the increasing salary cap, dress codes, player salaries, and playoff structure that will all be scrutinized and adjusted in the near future.
The NBA is a corporation as well as a brand. As a brand, the NBA must keep evolving and changing with the times in order to stay relevant. The NBA and its brass are well aware of this, that is why we will see changes made every offseason. The players have recently found ways to have more influence on these changes. Players like Lebron James and Chris Paul are at the front of the line when it comes to the players' voices. It will be interesting to see what kind of product the NBA is offering as the years pass, but here are the 15 things you can expect to see sooner than later.
15 Pre/Post Game Dress Code
If you follow the NBA, you know that many of the guys in the league take pride in their appearance. Players like Russell Westbrook and LeBron James routinely show up to games and press conferences in some wacky outfits. Expect the NBA to implement a dress code, much like they did for players who are inactive on the bench.
Players will soon be required to wear suits and sport jackets to any NBA sanctioned event. You can bet this won't thrill Russell Westbrook. Some will argue that this takes some individuality away from NBA players but that won't stop the NBA from implementing this new policy. They'll want their brand represented well at all times.
14 Less Timeouts
The NBA seems to be on the verge of copying the NCAA and reducing the number of timeouts each teams gets per half. There are talks ongoing that suggest each team would be given two timeouts per half, as opposed to the seven timeouts per half they receive now. Combine the mandatory TV timeouts with the 28 total timeouts given in a game and it is no wonder the last few minutes of a basketball game can take almost an hour of real time.
Part of the appeal of the NCAA to basketball fans or even casual observers is the fact that games are over very quickly. The NBA could keep its 48 minute total but would have a much better flow with fewer timeouts.
13 Mid-Range Shots Make A Comeback
When seeing what Steph Curry was able to do this season with his 5-mile shooting range, you can expect to see many players starting to pull up from way behind the 3-point line. Curry has inspired the league to stay out of the paint and rely on long range shots, but interestingly enough, many players are utilizing the mid-range shot too. In recent years teams have lived or died by points in the paint, or behind the arc, but in these playoffs especially, shooting from the baseline has increased tremendously.
As teams begin to stretch out the floor to defend the long range shot, expect to see a significant uptick in the mid range shots as well.
12 Lakers Will Be Good Again
The Lakers are finally out from under the crippling contract of Kobe Bryant. While Kobe's retirement tour was a welcome distraction for Lakers fans, from a basketball standpoint, it's a positive for the Lakers that Kobe has now retired.
With the freed up cap space and a plethora of good young talent, the Lakers are in prime position to get good fast. L.A. also holds the number two pick in this year's draft, which is likely going to be Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. Either one of these players could help the Lakers immediately. The league is always better off when its major markets are competitive and we can expect the Lakers to be back in the mix as soon as next season. On top of their second overall pick, expect the Lakers to reel in a big fish in free agency.
11 Position-less Basketball
Since the removal of the hand check rule, combined with the strict restrictions on defenses, the NBA has made the game much more spread out. There is no longer a need for a big lug at center. Also, the point guards today are not traditional point guards. Players like Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, and Derrick Rose exemplify that. They are no longer just set up men. They can now finish for themselves.
The greatest players in the game must now play 3 or 4, even sometimes 5 positions. This trend will likely get more necessary and widespread as the game progresses.
10 4-Point Line
Guys like Curry and Thompson have made a joke of the 3-point shot. Curry alone made over 400 this past season. There have been talks of the NBA creating a 4-point line, much deeper than the 3-point shot. The argument says, if there is a 4-point line there will be less 3s attempted. I am not sure I agree with this change, but it is clear something has to be done about the outrageous number of 3-point shots being taken. I am just not sure a 4-point shot is the answer. There will be a rough transition period in which we may see guys chucking shots rather than setting up a pretty play. We shall see.
9 Stricter Concussion Protocol
As our culture becomes more aware of the effects concussions have on people, the more our sports leagues are forced to increase concussion safety. As we have seen over the years in the NFL, player safety, especially safety to the brain, has become the number one issue. We can all but guarantee the NBA will be making some stricter regulations on its concussion protocol this summer. This issue was put under the microscope when Kevin Love was elbowed in the back of the head during the NBA Finals. Love continued to play for several more minutes until he voluntarily removed himself from the game. It was later revealed he suffered a concussion and was forced to miss the next game.
8 Two Year College Rule
Today the NBA requires its incoming players to be at least one full year removed from high school. This rule was put in place in 2006 and has been the topic of much controversy. The NBA's stance is two fold; 1) They are protecting the players by forcing them to get at least a start on their higher education. 2) They are protecting their game from being infiltrated with immature, unpolished players.
The rule has not worked as well as the NBA hoped, so they are seriously considering raising the requirements to two years removed from high school before a player is eligible for the NBA. The only question is if it would really help matters. How much of a difference could one year make?
7 Seattle Gets A Team
The Seattle SuperSonics were moved to Oklahoma City in 2007. Since then, the city of Seattle has been fighting tooth and nail to get a team back in the northwest. Expect the floundering Hornets or Kings to be relocating to the Emerald City very soon. Chris Hanson, a Seattle billionaire, has already purchased the land and expects to begin building an arena for both basketball and hockey teams on the outskirts of downtown Seattle.
Seattle was robbed of its team in the first place, a victim of bad uncommitted ownership. Seattle has constantly proven its stronghold as a sports city and deserves to get their Sonics back.
6 Advertising On Jerseys
It has been officially decided that in 2017, all NBA teams will have some sort of advertisements on their jersey. Many European leagues do this already, both basketball and soccer leagues. Also, NASCAR has been doing it for years. The NBA is always looking to make an extra buck, so they see no shame or harm in throwing some logos on the front of their teams' jerseys. Not only could this happen in the NBA, but this may also open the floodgates for other North American leagues to follow suit.
This move smells of greed to me personally, but I guess the NBA and the team owners don't care much about what I think.
5 Longer 3-Point Line
With all the 3-point shots made and attempted this year the NBA feels like it must do something to contain the phenomenon. The idea of moving the line back a couple feet has been discussed, and many basketball "experts" agree with the change. Things like this have been talked about before. When Shaquille O'Neal was in his prime, for example, many NBA people suggested raising the basket because it was too easy for Shaq to dunk. The longer 3-point shot is something we could see in the very near future if Steph, Klay, and the others continue their assault from long-range.
Even for those who don't agree with this possible change, it's not as drastic of a change as say, the 4-point shot.
This change has been being discussed for a decade plus. Finally, new commissioner Adam Silver is vowing to make a change. Silver has admitted the hack-a-shaq strategy creates a slow, boring game, not pleasing to the fans.
Silver has not yet announced what the exact change could be, but he has said the NBA is working on some sort of rule change to prevent teams from fouling inadequate free-throw shooters, and creating an ugly, boring game of basketball. Kudos Adam Silver. It's going to take some creativity for the rule to make sense but the fact Silver is pursuing it is a positive for fans.
3 Coaches Challenges
The NBA seems to be keeping an eye on what is working in the NFL. The NBA has been talking about doing away with all the official reviews in games, instead giving each coach a challenge flag, and two challenges per game. This rule would be a welcomed change as far as I am concerned. The amount of official reviews has turned some basketball games into replay marathons. This rule change could come into play as soon as next season, but more likely the 2017-18 season is when we will see coaches given the opportunity to challenge calls.
The NHL has even followed the NFL's lead and while they've had growing pains with it, it's ultimately been a positive. There's no reason for the NBA to avoid it.
2 Playoff Seeding
It has long been an idea for the NBA to do away with conference seeding and just seed the playoffs 1-16. For over a decade, the Western Conference has been far superior to the East. This change will do away with one team coasting to the finals while another has to go through juggernaut after juggernaut to get there. This change is something that has been on the commissioner's desk for a few years now, but recently Adam Silver has given some hints that he may be instituting the new seeding structure.
Just imagine if teams like the Warriors, Spurs or Thunder could have had a crack at some of the bottom feeders in the Eastern Conference. The weaker teams would be weeded out early and the Finals matchups would likely be a lot more thrilling.
1 Salary Cap Increase
Over the next two seasons, the NBA salary cap will jump from $70 million to $108 million, thanks in large part to a new TV deal between the NBA and ESPN. What this enormous spike in cap space means is that many players will be extremely overpaid in the coming years. A byproduct of cap increase will be many players signing short deals until the cap plateaus. LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade are all free agents this summer, and are all expected to sign one-year deals in hopes of cashing in largely during the summer of 2017, once the cap reaches its max.
This is going to significantly change things in the NBA, as some of the league's top stars are bound to get bounced around.