Ten years ago, the world was quite different; Barack Obama was inaugurated as the first black president, swine flu was petrifying the nation, everything was different. Even more, no one knew who Justin Bieber was, and LeBron James had just been drafted.
It’s hard to believe that we are now talking about the good ole’ days, and it was just 2009! This is the year the Los Angeles Lakers won their 15th NBA title! It seems just like yesterday; how time flies. The NBA has made plenty of changes since then.
Today we cannot imagine a world without Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrooks, etc. It’s unimaginable, and yet, they were young high school kids a decade ago. Let’s take a look at the other changes the NBA has gone through in the past decade.
What Are the 4 Biggest Changes Made by the NBA?
This is a good question to ask. If you have been watching the NBA for a while, you must have noticed all of the changes that have happened, whether through the officials or simply by introducing new players.
A short while ago, the game was dominated by giants of men such as Shaquille O’Neil and Tim Duncan who were huge and tall. While there are still some big men in the field today, there are also some who aren’t so big. In addition, there are other things about the NBA that have changed.
1. The Style of Play
This has got to be one of the biggest changes the NBA has made in the last decade. The style has changed drastically. From an era when the game was mostly dominated by centers, who were big guys posting down-low and doing most of the job, to now, where there are smaller guys who are very quick and can defend and score without necessarily clogging the system.
This does not mean that centers are now obsolete. They are certainly not obsolete, but they are required to be a little more versatile in order to protect the rim, switch and also guard the smaller guys at all times.
They must also be able to spread out on the floor and offer offense while knocking down shots from the other team. A good example of such a center is Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers. This is a new style of play that led to the popularity of the 3ball, which has proven over time to be very successful when executed in the right way. If you look at how the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets play, you shall understand how effective this style of play really is.
2. Loosening of Restrictions
When talking about the top four biggest changes the NBA has made in the last decade, we cannot forget how the restrictions have changed too. There has been a general loosening of restrictions around the zone defenders and governing of hand checks has been tightened. This advantageously moves the focus from the bigs towards the guards, and as a result, it widens the lane with the introduction of the shot clock and an institution of the three-point line.
This influx of international bigs such as Dirk who plays like a guard serves to accentuate the shift towards their popularity in this ever-changing game. It does, therefore, make sense that the true center is a dying breed and the shift in the NBA creates a more wide-open game. People with the ideal center height are very few and far between, and in fact, most of them choose to play other positions.
3. The Rules of the Game
The rules have also changed. Now, the play is to always protect the guy with the ball, whose job is to ensure that he gets to the basket. If you look at how James Harden and Russel Westbrook are keen on free throws, then you can see the new rules in place.
This also includes the structure of the game, which now somehow starts by acknowledging the players advocate associations such as the formation of the NBPA – National Basketball Players Association. This is an association that allows players to speak up for their rights and gives them equality in decision making.
The NBPA is a great point to include when talking about the top four biggest changes the NBA has made in the last decade because this body not only helps players, but they have also introduced a prestigious annual awards ceremony.
4. Changing the Playoffs
This is an extremely recent change that was just announced. It may not be part of the top four biggest changes the NBA has made in the last decade, but it shall be extremely relevant in the coming season.
After years of toying with the idea, the league’s commissioner Adam Silver has decided to implement some changes in terms of the playoffs, which could take effect in the 2021-22 NBA season. This includes a playoff reseeding format that will include a new play-in round for playoffs and a midseason tournament for bubble teams. With this introduction, the game length would reduce from an 82-game to a 78 or 79 game structure.
It would also involve ranking four finalists from the first position to the fourth position in the regular season, which will set “final four” matchups that would be based on their performance.
This is an important move because, since Michael Jordan’s retirement, the league has suffered some imbalance during the conferences and the West has been found to be stronger than the East. The playoff reseeding proposal will maximize the chances of the best teams to meet during the NBA finals.
Well, that is our list of the top four biggest changes the NBA has made in the last decade. Of course, there are definitely plenty of other changes that have been made in the NBA in the last decade. One thing you may have noticed is the introduction of the extra officiating staff from the ordinary 3PO i.e. three persons to 4PO, i.e. four persons officiating.
It is exciting to watch and see how things are going to change in the coming decade. We have already seen big names such as Dwayne Wade retiring. How will the game hold up without Stephen Curry? Only time will tell.