The 2019-20 NBA season only ended just over a month ago, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused delays and led to part of the regular season and then the playoffs to be held in Florida at one bio-secure venue. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in the finals, but fans have already begun clamouring for news around the next NBA season, which would have started by now in years gone by. There were discussions taking place between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association to come to an agreement on when the 2020-21 season can begin, and there was finally an announcement on that regard a few days ago.
The next season, which will be the 75th season of the NBA, is scheduled to begin on 22nd December. It will also have fewer games than usual, with 72 games being played instead of 82. Players had been pushing for the competition to begin in January, but eventually agreed to start in December, mainly because of the Olympics. This year’s Olympics in Tokyo were postponed by a year, and starting the NBA season in December will mean that it will end in July, giving players the chance to then go on and participate at the Olympics as well. However, the league needed to make some concessions to the players to get them to agree to an earlier start. One of the biggest compromises was that team owners were unable to get players to agree to place 25% of their salaries in escrow as mitigation against COVID-19 related disruptions, and had to settle for the usual 10%. Salary caps did not change, either, with the cap remaining at just over $109 million for now, with the NBA and the players’ association choosing to wait and see if there is an impact on the season due to COVID-19.
Earlier this year, when almost all sporting events globally had been cancelled or postponed, esports got a boost, as sports fans looked for content to replace sports matches and events. Many leagues also jumped on this bandwagon, and the NBA was no exception. In fact, the NBA has had its own esports competition – the NBA 2K League, for years now, and it used that to its advantage. While the tournament was played on the NBA 2K game, the latest instalment in that franchise, NBA 2K21, was released a couple of months ago, and has received very positive reviews. The 2K series of basketball games has been especially popular with school and college students, as it gives them the chance to live out their basketball dreams virtually, with players able to play a career right from high school and college level basketball up to the NBA. Thus, the next season of the NBA 2K League, which should start around the same time that the new NBA season does, will be on NBA 2K21, and early signs are that it will be a huge success, judging by the reaction the game has got so far.
The 2020 NBA Draft also took place in preparation for the new season, where the Big 12 saw four players picked up, including three first round draft picks. Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton was picked up by the Sacramento Kings as the 12th pick overall, making him the third-highest pick in the school’s history. Udoka Azubuike, a center for Kansas, was the 27th selection going to the Utah Jazz, while Desmond Bane was the 30th and final pick in the first round by the Boston Celtics, in a projected trade to the Memphis Grizzlies. He became the first draft pick from TCU in 21 years. The last Big 12 pick was again by the Kings, as they chose Jahmi’us Ramsey in the second round at no. 43.