For the first time since 2009, the NBA’s champion dismissed its opponent in a relatively swift five-game span, bringing the Finals to an end a week and a half before the league’s draft was held. For many NBA scribes, it meant hitting the draft sites and YouTube channels in a desperate bid to catch up on the players that draftniks had been studying for months prior. For NBA fans, even the ones whose season ended nearly two months prior, even that week and a half felt like an ultra-quick blur between the league’s showcase events.
This is why the NBA is considering moving the draft back deeper into summer. This is also one of many reasons why I think the NBA should follow through on this consideration.
Last Friday, USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt reported on that consideration:
The NBA remains "very interested" in moving the draft after July 1 and packaging it with a season-ending awards show possibly on consecutive nights, a person familiar with the league's thinking told USA TODAY Sports.
The league would like to create more space between the end of the Finals and the draft so it can better promote the draft. The person requested anonymity because negotiations remain before both become official.
Zillgitt went on to point out that the league is uneasy with the potential for “major free agent transactions taking place in August when the league normally begins its down time,” which seems rational on the surface. Still, if you’re the NBA, why do you want “down time?” Everyone likes a tidy summer vacation, but isn’t it in the league’s best interests to have people discussing the NBA for as many months as possible?
The idea of an award show, not unlike the one the NHL holds every year, is a terrible one. It would alternate bouts of too-precious sentimentality with endless attempts at humor and entertainment led by people who have no business attempting to make us laugh. Shaq would be prominently involved.
Worse, you would lose out on the intimate setting that made Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose’s MVP speeches so memorable, on top of the embarrassment of possibly of a player having to accept an MVP award just a few days or even weeks after his team lost in the Finals. And we don’t need some swirling, string-laden and formal setting to award some guy a Sixth Man Award. It would be schlocky and a chore to watch – and this is coming from someone that watches in upwards of three or four Detroit Pistons games a year.
Teams scout and consider potential draftees for years before they’re chosen in the NBA draft, whether they’re one and done players, four-year returnees, or international prospects. Squads aren’t lacking for time prior to the draft; and even the team with the closest and toughest selection in last week’s draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers, still probably made the best choice in grabbing Andrew Wiggins.
Moving the thing back gives teams a little time to breathe, though, and it allows for more and more hype leading up to an event that for years has been far more entertaining than the NFL draft, even if the NFL’s draft numbers dwarf the NBA’s version each year.
We’re all tapping our feet on Monday, waiting out the free agency deadline to pass and the ability to comment on actual moves, and not just rumors and smokescreen. This is a frustrating time to be an NBA fan, as we await something concrete with all this potential movement, but that doesn’t mean the NBA wouldn’t be better served stringing out its free agency period following a later draft. The NBA’s Summer League could be pushed back, and it might give its fans something to talk about in August or September beyond wondering which NBA contender a 34-year old guard on his last legs will glom onto for a minimum contract.
This, combined with an earlier training camp that would then allow for a real All-Star “break,” would keep the league churning apace and creating headlines through most of the calendar year. That’s good for business, it’s good for TV ratings, and the extended break is good for the league’s players and by extension the league’s fans.
The award show? That’s not going to be good for anybody. Except, maybe, Mike Epps or Jay Mohr.
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