NBA: The Lockout Hurts

[Photo courtesy of espn.com]

By Aime Mukendi, staff writer, @sir_aimezing 

The NBA lockout may have been the scariest moment of time for small-market NBA teams, die-hard fans and LeBron James.  

 The fear of not having a season put companies such as Nike, Adidas and television affiliates such as ESPN and NBA-TV in danger of losing millions of dollars.

But when the lockout ended, the excitement and anticipation for the NBA season had risen to unheard of levels.

Workers who depend on the NBA for an income were extremely happy that the season although shortened, would be played and the players were relieved that they wouldn’t have to resort to pick-up games for an entire season.

But there was one major problem with a shortened season.

A shortened season equals rushed training camps, minimized free agency period, less practice time and a grueling week-to-week schedule. 

Teams with youth would suffer from the lack of practice while older teams would struggle to maintain consistency and health with a higher frequency of games.

NBA personality and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley has been vocal about his feelings on the shortened season.

“I want to apologize to the fans,” he said. “I cannot believe how bad the NBA is right now. I’m embarrassed about the product we’re putting out there right now.”

He is right.

The game has been sloppy and teams are not playing as well as they previously had.

There are seven teams averaging 90 or fewer points per game this season. Last year the lowest by any team was 91.9 points per game.

During the 2010-2011 NBA season teams averaged 99.6 points per game, shot 45.9 percent from the field, 76.3 percent from the free throw line,and 35.8 percent from the three-point line.

All numbers have decreased through the 2011-2012 season.

Teams are averaging 94.6 points per game, shooting 44.4 percent from the field, 74.5 percent from the free throw line and 34.4 percent from the three-point line.

The quality of basketball is down.

Yet there are some pros.

The intensity of defense has increased as each team realizes that in order to win they must play consistent defense and a team who might have struggled for much of the season can make a run at the Larry O’Brien Trophy come mid-June. 

For instance, a team like the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers can take a page out of the New York Giants Super Bowl pamphlet by catching fire late in the season, ending in a title run.

But Barkley says the poor level of play cannot be attributed to just the lockout.

“They have all built in excuses about it’s the lockout,” he said. “Let me tell you something if these teams played once a week they would still suck.”

However, Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale and New York Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni have both expressed that many issues that they have found in games are hard to correct when practice time is rare.

Coaches are now having to muster up better game plans and strategies in shorter times, while players must use travel time to evaluate their play on film.

The lockout has shown the huge difference between the elite superstars in the league and the guys who have to battle to make a roster on a daily basis.

Charles Barkley is correct in stating how bad the NBA has been this season but the real question now is do the players realize how bad they have played thus far?

Or has sloppy ball become the new NBA trend?

mukendas11@bonaventure.edu