Photo Credit: NBA.com
For a few years now there has been a narrative about how lucky the Warriors have been with other teams injuries, this year, however, they are the team that seems to be the ones with players going down left and right. it seems that every year the NBA Playoffs is affected too much by injuries. Chris Paul with Clippers and Rockets, Conley with Grizzlies, Westbrook in 2013 with Thunder, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving with the Cavs in the Finals, Kawhi Leonard with a lead against Golden State, and now Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. The NBA Playoffs seem to be less and less about the best team, and more about the healthy team.
While this issue seems unavoidable, there is a solution that could help some. SHORTEN THE SEASON. Until now, I have always been against a shortened season, as a die-hard NBA fan, I love the grind of the regular season and think that historical numbers are cool and when you shorten a season, it’s tougher to compare vs when there was a longer season. I am as happy as any to see a Warriors dynasty on the brink of extinction, but this isn’t how I wanted it to happen. The Warriors dynasty even started with Love out and Kyrie getting injured with the Cavs winning on the road of game 1.
Shortening the NBA season will put less wear and tear on every player’s bodies, while also allowing the games to be spread out more. With AAU these kids grow up being trained and worked more than ever, and while that has helped the talent in the NBA evolve since to 1990s, it also has created so many more players getting injured. A shortened season will help this; in College Basketball we rarely see a massive injury change the landscape of the tournament.
Another thing the NBA could do is make a 10-day break between the regular season and the playoffs. While that won’t help a lot and would cost the NBA viewership for a while, it could help some of the minor nagging injuries NBA teams leave the regular season with.
I’m guilty of the “If X player was healthy than this team could’ve have won” for me, it’s inserting Kyrie in 2015 or Chris Paul in 2018, but every team has so many of these now. Even if your team is “healthy” it usually isn’t actually. Paul George’s shoulder, Curry’s knee, or even LeBron in last years Finals.
Again injuries are inevitable and overcoming them is part of the game, but if there is a way to make the playoffs a little less about the healthy team I think it needs to be done. This has happened too many times over the past few years.