The Best And Worst From The First NBA Scrimmages

Jul 22, 2020, 4:42 PM | Updated: 10:41 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah –ย The NBA officially returned to action Wednesday. The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Orlando Magic 99-90, while the Denver Nuggets beat the Washington Wizards 89-82. While the games were unquestionably going to have a different feel than a traditional NBA game, there were plenty of successes, and a few failures, in the league’s initial scrimmages.

Each team will play three scrimmages before resuming the NBA beginning on July 30. The Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans will reopen the season on TNT and AT&T SportsNet at 4:30 pm MT on the 3oth.

Once the regular season returns, each team will play eight seeding games to determine the final playoff standings. The first round of the playoffs begins on August 18.

NBA Scrimmage Successes

First and foremost, having NBA talent back on the floor was the biggest success of the NBA’s return. While that may seem like a given, the number of players who were skeptical of the league’s return early in the process spurred doubts about the quality of the product. Though the games were sometimes sloppy, it’s still the highest level of basketball being played anywhere in the world. Creating a safe enough environment for quality basketball to return is an incredible accomplishment by the NBA.

The second greatest success came from the league’s in-arena presentation. Without fans, the league was tasked with filling the visual space with a view that was stimulating, but not distracting. They hit a home run. The league’s video boards rotated between team logos, social media hashtags, and regular courtside advertisements. The game certainly didn’t look like a traditional broadcast, but it was still a pleasant visual experience. The league could have easily gone overboard with visual background noise, but didn’t.

Finally, the broadcast presentation was NBA quality. Playing in a new arena, with a never before seen floor, the broadcast looked familiar. From the standard camera angles, to the lighting on the floor, to the on-court sounds, the broadcast took little getting used to. That’s a win considering the only access to the games fans will have his through the various broadcasts.

NBA Scrimmage Failures

While the first few games were an overwhelming success, there were some drawbacks. Since it’s early, it’s fair to give these problems a pass, but the league should look at fixing these problems before they grow larger.

First, the Nuggets had arguably the worst regional broadcast in the history of professional sports. Teams are being forced to broadcast the games remotely from their host cities. As a result, three of the four broadcasts (LA, Orlando, Washington) had mostly non-visual broadcast duos. Truthfully, that’s fine. Other than some pre, half, and post-game segments, play by play announcers should be heard and not seen.

The Nuggets decided to flip this on its head and broadcast the game like a conference. Four broadcasters appeared above the game action through the entirety of the broadcast. As a result, the actual game broadcast shrunk to make room for the talking heads. That alone is a reason to never attempt that format again.

But it got worse.

Most broadcasts have a few studio hosts, play by play announcer, a color analyst, and a sideline reporter. That traditionally allows for no more than two people talking at one time. Instead, all four Nuggets broadcasters were attempting to talk at one time with no order of precedent on who has the authority to speak. It made for a sloppy aimless broadcaster

Also, those broadcasters who do appear during a game should know the names of the players on the floor. One Nuggets broadcaster didn’t learn how to pronounce Anลพejsย Paseฤล†iks name before the game. That would be understandable during a summer league broadcast, or a preseason game with a player who won’t make the NBA. But Paseฤล†iks has been on the Wizards roster since October. The Nuggets have known they were going to face the Wizards since July 4. That’s 18 days to look at the roster and circle unfamiliar names.

It was embarrassing for the Nuggets, and hopefully, they learn from the broadcast.

League Pass Blackouts

Lastly, the NBA is still blackout regional games on its League Pass channel. With the NBA having been suspended for the last four months, it would be fair to assume the league would grant a free preview for scrimmages ahead of the league’s return. If the NBA can’t do that, it should limit local blackouts considering fans don’t have the option to purchase tickets to watch the games.

Instead, the league did neither. Not only were the games protected behind the league pass paywall for those without a subscription to their regional sports networks, but the games were also blacked out.

For a league that has done a tremendous job leading the nation in regards to proper COVID-19 preparedness, precaution, and now serving as a guiding light to return, locking fans away from games isn’t a great look. Access to games is going to be paramount during the final stretch of the NBA season, and with so many families out of work and needed to cut costs, limiting access to scrimmages will hurt fans.

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The Best And Worst From The First NBA Scrimmages