NBA Rule Changes, Top Title Contenders and how COVID-19 Affects This Season


With the new season starting up, many are already starting to wonder how the coronavirus will change this season and which team will take home the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.

Ryan A., Writer

With the NBA season just around the corner, many people are wondering which teams have a legitimate chance at winning the championship. This will not be a typical NBA season; the association has changed some rules in order for the future season to run smoothly.

COVID-19 caused the NBA to put an abrupt stop to the 2019-20 season in March, as it risked becoming a considerable threat to the safety of players and fans. But that did not stop the league from continuing where they left off in early July. The NBA restarted the season, but it was not in teams’ arenas.  Instead, these games were held inside the NBA Bubble. The Bubble was made so that basketball could resume, but in a way to ensure that the players and staff were safe and healthy. The NBA did this by regularly testing the players, coaches and team personnel.

One of the most important things the NBA had to clear up was what they’d do if a player tested positive for COVID. The NBA has required COVID-positive players to self-isolate. Then they are retested to ensure that the test is not a false positive. If the test comes back positive a second time, the player will have to quarantine for at least 14 days. In addition, that player would also have to pass a cardiac screening. Any person in  direct contact with them is also required to be tested. 

“I think the NBA is generally doing a good job, and the proof for that is there were not many positive tests last year,” said Dr. Akbarian at Kaiser Permanente.

The NBA has also introduced some major rule changes. Instead of a regular 82-game season, the NBA will host a shorter 72-game season. The preseason began on December 11, 2020 and will conclude on May 16, 2021 (including the playoffs.) In addition, the annual NBA All-Star Game that was planned for Indianapolis has been canceled, though the NBA rescheduled Indianapolis to host again in 2024. Additionally, the NBA had to adjust to Canada’s COVID restrictions by moving one team across the border.  According to the league, “the Raptors will begin the 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida. As to whether or not that lasts all season remains to be seen.” 

With the new season approaching very quickly, the NBA will no longer be using The Bubble. Instead, teams will now be back in their own stadiums, just without an audience. 

Though the Larry O’Brian Trophy was awarded to the Lakers last month, fans are already wondering which teams could win the 2021 title. Teams with talent and chemistry like the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets make that list. 

The Lakers had a solid team last year, behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They lost some valuable players, but acquired talent as well. Dwight Howard, Danny Green, Avery Bradley and Javale McGee have moved on while Wesley Matthews, Montrezl Harrel, Marc Gasol and Dennis Schroder have arrived in town. Danny Green made countless Lakers fans angry because of his unreliable shooting in the playoffs. As a result, the Lakers traded him in the offseason to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Dennis Schroder. 

The Clippers also had an exceptional team last year with a great supporting cast, behind Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Despite having such a stacked team, the Clippers choked a 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets to go to the Western Conference Finals. Many were disappointed in George, who under performed in the playoffs. The Clippers also made a few offseason moves, obtaining Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum, and Luke Kennard, but losing Montrezl Harrel in the process. 

The Nets are in a great position, holding up a top-level team behind Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. They were unable to meet expectations after Kevin Durant, one of their star players, ruptured his achilles tendon and was out for the season. But this year, he’ll return to join Kyrie Irving. Though they didn’t make huge alterations, they did sign Landry Shamet.

Although we don’t know how this season will compare to others until it is over, it’s definitely going to be one to remember.