I admit that I have been watching very little of the NBA, and a large part of that is due to the fact that the league is just not exciting right now.
Although many players have returned, the league seems to be plagued with injuries and load management more than usual this season. Major stars such as Joel Embiid and Jayson Tatum were hurt or missed time with COVID-19. Reigning champions LeBron James and Anthony Davis are still out. Klay Thompson had a season-ending achilles injury before the 2020–21 season even started. LaMelo Ball, one of the most exciting new players in the league that was on track to win Rookie of the Year, suffered a likely season-ending wrist injury. And then there are players who are out for periods of time despite being healthy (such as Kyrie Irving), which is most likely due to load management by teams. Although it is necessary to rest players to reduce the likelihood of injuries, teams should practice it sparingly and be more transparent about it.
Aside from injuries and load management, COVID-19 has also played a part in a less exciting season. More than 30 games were postponed this season and countless players have missed games due to contracting COVID-19 or contact tracing. Although these issues are understandable, the league could have taken more preventative measures, such as canceling the All-Star Game.
For a while now, the league has had a significant disparity in talent between the Eastern and Western Conferences. A stacked Western Conference has been a source of many complaints from fans and is a reason why the NBA is open to considering the expansion of the league by adding two teams — but that’s a topic for another day.
If it weren’t for the “Weak East,” the blockbuster trade that allowed the Brooklyn Nets to become a powerhouse probably wouldn’t have happened. When reporter Shams Charania broke the news that James Harden was being traded from the Houston Rockets to the Nets, many fans were quick to point out the precedent that the NBA set by vetoing the 2011 Chris Paul trade that would have paired him with Kobe Bryant. Now, it seems like “super teams” are becoming the new norm. In the super team era, the NBA now allows virtually any trade to happen even though the results, like this absurdly overpowered Nets team, are hard to take seriously.
Hopefully things will pick up with more players back and the 2021 NBA playoffs on the horizon, but there are several changes the NBA could make that would help the league become more exciting, including demanding more transparency from teams about load management and bringing more balance to the league by adding two expansion teams.