Community Shootaround: 72-Game Schedule

Fans who attended Friday’s game in Cleveland to watch Stephen Curry‘s only visit of the season left the arena disappointed. Not only did the Cavaliers lose to the Warriors, but Curry sat out the game for load management along with Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins.

Golden State was coming off an intense Finals rematch with the Celtics the night before. Curry, who recently returned from a shoulder injury, logged 43 minutes in that overtime game. Thompson, Green and Wiggins each played at least 36 minutes, so it was in the team’s best interest not to push them on back-to-back nights.

“I feel terrible for fans who buy tickets expecting to see someone play and they don’t get to see that person play,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters, including Tom Withers of The Associated Press. “It’s a brutal part of the business. It’s why I’m going to continue to advocate for 72-game seasons.”

Kerr believes a reduced schedule would cut down on injuries and create a better overall quality of play. It would also result in fewer games where fans pay big money for tickets and wind up seeing the league’s top stars in street clothes.

“You take 10 games off the schedule, it always feels like with 10 games left in the year everybody’s sort of had it anyways,” Kerr said. “That creates enough rest where we don’t have to have some of these crazy situations. I think you’d see way fewer games missed from players.”

The pace of modern NBA games is placing a greater strain on players, points out Mike D. Sykes II of USA Today. In the 1990s, there were only 93.7 possessions in an average game, but that number has risen to 99.27 in the 2020s. The increase in three-point shooting also means there’s more of the court that defenses have to cover, so players are constantly in motion.

Fewer games would mean less wear and tear on players, which should result in a higher quality of competition every night and a better chance that teams will be at or near full strength for the playoffs.

Of course, there are revenue concerns that would come with a shorter season, which may prevent league officials from ever considering such a change. A proposed mid-season tournament could help mitigate that, but the league and the players union have yet to agree on the specifics of how that tournament would work.

A shortened season would also result in fewer games being available for television and streaming, which would be a major issue as the NBA negotiates its next broadcast deal. The current contract expires after the 2023/24 season, and the league is hoping to top $75 billion with its next TV package.

We want to get your opinion. Do you agree with Kerr that the league would be better off with a 72-game season? And do you believe it’s realistic? Head to the comments and give us your feedback.

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