Now that sports fans are feeling the effects of the NFL layoff, many are on board with the NBA season. A shortened regular season has produced sloppy basketball, rashes of injuries, a shorter trading period and stories of Dwight Howard moving and Jeremy Lin winning.
Having a truncated season has changed the product on the floor. Many think that going from 82 games to 66 games would keep players fresh. The original schedule would have given teams a chance to rest. Playing multiple back-to-back nights can take its toll. From playing in a different town every night to taking red-eye flights, even the youngest and healthiest players will hit the wall.
As well as resting, the teams that haven’t jelled are going through growing pains.
If teams are playing on a nightly basis with no breaks, they aren’t practicing as much as they would have during a full season. This can cause a lack of fluidity from roster changes, restricting injured players' minutes, and not finding a groove with a lineup in certain situations. For the most part, a coaching staff would like to get everybody on the same page during training camp from a philosophy standpoint. When players are changing teams, the initial product suffers.
You can bet your kid’s college fund that the teams with the best regular-season record will not be the best teams heading into the playoffs.
Only in the NBA can a player’s future franchise be the bigger headline than what he’s doing on his current team. Orlando Magic owner Richard DeVos Sr. desperately wants to keep Dwight Howard. Ironically there was a chance that Howard could have played in the All-Star Game in a different uniform. Rumors have had him going to the Lakers, Clippers, Nets, Mavericks and Bulls. Like all rumors, they create distractions for all parties involved.There has to be a black cloud around the panhandle when it comes to the Magic. Knowing that the team has the best center in NBA since Shaquille O'Neal and will most likely lose him has to be heartbreaking for fans. As luck would have it, both could play in Orlando and win titles in other cities.
Unless the Magic can show Howard they are putting the pieces around him to get a ring, he will be like half of the stars in the league and move to greener pastures.
Jeremy Lin has been a feel-good story. An Asian-American who went to Harvard is doing the impossible for the New York Knicks. He was given up on in Houston but has bloomed in Mike D’Antoni’s system. In just over a week he has gone from living on a couch to having a room in the Trump Tower. Since February 4, he has the best-selling jersey in the NBA.
We will see how the chemistry develops once Amare’ Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony are on the floor together.
The one thing that fans have to remember is like anything that flies, it will have to land sometime. Teams will start focusing on Lin now that he is out from under the radar. What he does have going for him is youth, fresh legs, confidence, and momentum. Those intangibles will draw attention, but keeping up that consistency will be a challenge. If he wants to improve, he will have to work on being able to develop the pick-and-roll with his new running mates.