NBA Fans have plenty of things to be thankful for in 2018. Instead of the usual analysis column, let’s take our Thanksgiving Day to remember some of them.
1. NBA is year-round: NBA fans always used to dread the offseason. There was no basketball, not much news about the NBA, and generally the league was dead. With summer league and free agency growing more prominent every year, the active NBA “season” now extends into late July and even early August. That still leaves a couple down months, but in recent years even these have been enlivened by free agency and trade drama (Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler). There’s always something happening in or around the NBA, and while that can be exhausting at times, it’s also far better than no news. In the not-so-distant future, the NBA will truly become a 12 month league, and the dog days of August will be no more.
2. Better training and advances in sports medicine: Injuries stink. They’re the worst part about sports, and being able to prevent them entirely is what every fan wishes for. While such a dream is impossible, the NBA has come such a long way in terms of athlete health and treatment. Injuries that used to be career-ending (torn Achilles, for example) are still severe, but no longer quite as assuredly devastating. Players recover faster and better than ever before, and we can only hope that things keep improving at a similar rate from here on.
3. Level of talent in NBA: The NBA is at an all-time peak in terms of talent. Almost every team has someone who’s great or has the potential to become so, making almost any team enjoyable to watch on any given night. When the best teams in the league clash, the basketball being played is just incredibly explosive, athletic, and well-coached, leading to a phenomenal product. There’s fun to be had in every game.
4. Great coverage by media/reporters: There’s never been better coverage of the NBA than there is right now. There are so many sites and reporters putting out great content on the league, and they come at it from all angles. There’s analytics-based content, writing from the fan perspective, in-depth video analysis, and more: there’s something for everyone. Through this, fans have more information on players and teams than ever before. One of the best parts of following the NBA is reading the stories that come alongside it. Personally, Darius Miles’ story in the Player Tribune about a month ago was one of the best things I’ve read in a long time.
5. Insight into players’ personalities: While the social media age has its downsides, fans are getting to know players more than ever before. Athletes interact with fans on Twitter and Instagram, and have developed their own personalities and interests in the public eye off the court. While NBA players remain somewhat mystical, they’ve also never been more real, and many of them have demonstrated fun personalities on podcasts, videos, and interviews that would never have been seen 20 or even 10 years ago.
6. Exciting young players to watch develop: The biggest stars in the NBA remain the old guard: LeBron James, Steph Curry, James Harden, etc. There are a ton of young, up-and-comers who are bringing their own styles of play and sense of fun, however, and it should be great to watch them develop over the years as they enter their primes. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell, Luka Doncic, and more still have most of their careers ahead of them, and that promises much incredible basketball for years to come.
7. 24 second shot clock: Duke is a lot of fun to watch, and college basketball is much better with 30 seconds on the clock than 35. Still, the 24 second shot clock creates a quicker, more aggressive style of play that’s more fun to watch (in this humble writer’s opinion).
8. Adam Silver as commissioner: While Silver is not infallible, he’s generally done good things for the NBA. He’s been open to rule changes and adjusting long-standing NBA traditions, and has also had a fairly transparent reign. The NBA continues to grow more diverse under his leadership, and hasn’t had any major controversies outside of perhaps the Process. This is especially true when compared to all t he rumors and conspiracies that swirl around leagues such as the NFL and Roger Goodell.
9. Lack of predictability: The Warriors might still be the massive favorite to win the NBA championship this season, but the regular season has been far from predictable thus far. The Blazers, Clippers, and Grizzlies currently lead the Western Conference, the Celtics and Jazz are struggling, and the Kings look good! Nothing much is certain in the NBA, and that’s a good thing.
10. The NBA is still growing: While ratings are down a bit this year, the NBA continues to expand its fanbase both in the United States and abroad. As the NBA continues to grow, the product should hopefully improve with it: the best is hopefully yet ahead!