What’s Trending in the NBA?
Trends in today’s league we will continue to see
by: Mason Gollata
Change is inevitable, especially in professional sports. You can ask any lifelong NBA fan and they will tell you that the game has transformed at great length over the past 70 years since founding. While some of the league and game might have remained the same or changed minimally, players and strategy is quite different since the last 50, 10, or even 5 years of play. Here are some trends we are seeing in the modern NBA:
Figured we would get this one out of the way first. While this is something that is not new to the league, super teams are at a peak today. This go-to strategy to win a championship is not something fostered by the league or money — but by the players themselves. The headstrong mindset of winning a ring > money is something veterans are growing accustomed to. Someone who shall remain nameless, (cough cough “Durant” cough cough) choosing the Warriors this offseason, sparked a movement towards the bay area. Zaza Pachulia and David West sped to fill the vacant center positions for near or close to league minimum (well below their market worth) for an almost guarentee of a championship. As for the next response from other teams… they will try to do the exact same thing as we have seen in the past. Super teams are here to stay. The question is: who will build the bigger beast?
Trusting the Process
For the larger portion of the league who do not have the large market of LA, Miami, Chicago, etc, they must rebuild a team through another method that requires young talent, wise drafting, a bit of luck, and patience. Lots of patience. Just ask the Philadelphia 76ers who have spent the last few years at the bottom of the standings. Under the hashtag #TrustTheProcess, the team has spent years bottoming out in the league while drafting (and stashing) young talent to hopefully use to build a team in the future. With expected results to be successful under #1 pick Ben Simmons, many teams have been following their own similar rebuild paths with hopes to hit a home run — or should I say: a slam dunk.
Take Kevin Durant’s word for it. Latvian player Kristaps Porzingis is the NBA unicorn with the destiny to become a Point-Center. The ability to shoot from outside and excell in pick-n-roll situations as a 7'3" big man is a coveted player in basketball. Not only is he unique, but he is a foreshadow into a future crop of big men such as centers, who have went through the largest transformation since the early NBA. Anthony Davis and Al Horford are other examples (but less mythological than Kristaps) of the new hybrid 5-position.
Speaking of foreign players, the 2016 NBA Draft has just set a new high for most foreign players taken in the draft. 26/6o players were international with 14 coming in first round and 12 in the second round. The global reach is another aspect we should continue to see as many gems have been found such as Manu Ginobili and Dirk Nowitzki. Besides players, the market and fanbase of the league is growing quickly as more and more people are tuning in around the world as teams are even playing abroad during preseason matches. Look for big global involvement for years to come.
Small Ball vs. Long Ball
Small ball is the new craze of basketball strategy. Being able to play multiple guards or a forward at the center position, is the new fast-paced game. Just ask the 2015 champion Golden State Warriors. So, how do you stop a rapidly moving offense feeding off of floor spacing, shooting, and the fast break — the most efficient play type in the game? Maybe by doing the exact opposite? Long ball is one possibility to combat this new trend. Filling the floor using tall players with long wingspans is one strategy to try to swarm and slow down the lethal shooters and attackers. However, risk comes in if those giants are not able to keep up with the speed on both sides of the ball.
Value of 3&D and Versatility
Along with both of these two game plans, complementary players are what can be the difference between a good and great team. 3&D (Three-point shooters plus Defense) and versatile players on the court are always a value to any team, and are a must-have today. Some role-carvers off the top of my head are: Draymond Green, Marcus Smart, DeMarre Carroll, Justise Winslow, Jared Dudley, and so many more. The current draft class may shine with this caliber of competitors as well.
NBA Dominating Twitterland
Those of you active Twitter users who follow the league, teams, and their exuberant personality players know that NBA Twitter….. is LIT. From team twitter battles, GIF reactions to dunks, emojii-filled captions and player drama filled lives, they always keep fans refreshing the news feed. Also, the recent NBA-Twitter deal to live-steam content should make for even more thrills and highlights happening every night.
D-League Value Rising
Finally, whether you knew or not, there are more than just 30 NBA-affiliated basketball teams. The NBA Development League is on the rise as more teams are taking ownership of their own franchises. This allows young players to grow while playing against other same-level players instead of sitting on the bench during 90% of the time. Fifteen years ago it began with only 8 teams, and now it has grown to 22 teams with 3 more added for this coming season. Eventually, every team will own a piece of the pie and there will be virtually two basketball leagues with more opportunities for players to chase their dream of NBA stardom. ~