The 2017-2018 NBA schedule was officially released on August 14th, and several key adjustments could already be seen as ways for improving the overall product being put on the court. For starters, the entire schedule has been moved up an entire week earlier, considering the NBA has been growing more concerned by the day about coaches resting players when they saw fit. To combat this, the NBA has since eliminated all stretches where a team would play four games during a five-night span.
These two changes above will only help with strengthening the product on the floor, keep players happier, and it will reduce the day-to-day stress on coaches worrying about if they will be disciplined by the league office for resting their key starters. To the point that this would eliminate the need for “unnecessary resting,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver has made his stance crystal clear: Rest players at your own peril.
Another key takeaway from the schedule release is the number of back-to-back games scheduled for teams. The 2016-2017 schedule featured an average of 16.3 games back-to-back for teams, while this iteration of the schedule is down to 14.4 per team. That is great news for not only players, but for the fans as well. Imagine being guaranteed to see the stars you came to see at your team’s arena night in and night out, with very little to worry about once your game rolls around.
The “protection” the NBA is investing in their nationally televised games gives the coaches very little excuse, if any, to rest their players when the lights are brightest. The message being directed here is clear: We don’t want you to rest any players unless they are injured.
Another quick glance at the nationally televised games shows a lot of “new blood” involved in the games being showcased. For example, the Washington Wizards, who had six nationally televised games last season, are being handsomely rewarded for their positive performance last year by being showcased in 18 nationally televised games in the 2017-2018 NBA season. The league is betting hard on the resurgence of the Los Angeles Lakers (35 games) and the Philadelphia 76ers (14 games), as they are featured more prominently on the national television schedule.
Time will tell if these NBA schedule changes have a lasting, positive impact on the game. However, what is certain is that Adam Silver is done playing games with coaches wanting to rest their players.