Count ESPN NBA analyst and former head coach Jeff Van Gundy among those who would like to see a shorter NBA preseason.
The NBA is in the midst of its preseason, which began October 1 and will conclude on Friday, October 21.
While three weeks may not seem like a long time, Van Gundy believes the preseason packs in more games than necessary.
Van Gundy was a guest on ESPN’s Zach Lowe’s podcast, “The Lowe Post,” and had an interesting theory for why the preseason is too long.
“These guys are so different than basketball players back, you know, in the ’70s, because the other guys, they didn’t do all the all-year-around work,” Van Gundy said. “This is a — it’s different now. Like, these guys come into shape to training camp. They don’t come to training camp to get in shape. You really only need, like, two weeks.”
Van Gundy said he would like to take the extra week and use it in the regular season to space out games and avoid back-to-backs. He also said, in lieu of preseason games where “no one plays, everyone is hurt or fakes being hurt,” he would like to see the NBA use NFL-style scrimmages between two teams, where they practice for a few days, then play a preseason game against each other.
Van Gundy acknowledged that owners who make money off preseason games would likely not to see fewer games. However, Lowe later added that in the ongoing discussions for a new bargaining agreement, there may be a shortened preseason.
Van Gundy’s sentiments are likely not lost on players. On his own podcast, Clippers guard J.J. Redick admitted he would like to see fewer preseason games.
“I don’t wanna say [preseason] is pointless, because it’s not pointless, but I think in the short amount of time you can sort of get into a rhythm of playing real games … I hate to say this as a professional athlete, but your approach for a preseason game and sort of mental mindset is, it’s just different.”
The NBA has been progressive in trying to ease the burden on players during the regular season. If players don’t need as long of a preseason to get into shape, it may be worth using some of that time to space out games when they really matter.
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