"He spoke Slovenian," said Doncic of Bryant, who speaks at least three languages fluently. "I thought who speaks my language?" And then I saw Kobe. I was really surprised. "
If Bryant was one of the biggest names in basketball in the 2000s and James was the headliner of sports in the 2010s, Doncic seems ready to carry the baton into the 2020s. The 20-year-old from Dallas is the captain of the NBA and ranks third in goals and assists. He is ready to make his all-star debut in February. His 20-year stats can match that of James, the absolute prodigy of modern basketball, and his rapid rise will contribute to an unprecedented globalization of the sport's superstar corps.
"We are entering the era of the international superstar," predicted a Western Conference manager. “There were international stars [since the 1980s], but not like this. Most of the best players, the title winners, will be international matches at the same time. "
In fact, Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Nikola Jokic and Pascal Siakam are among the 25-year-old non-US franchise players. In contrast, the five most important NBA figures of the 2010s – James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard – are all Americans.
This is welcome news for a league that has been trying to conquer the world for a long time, but it is hardly the only change that will happen in the next decade. A survey of league executives, from front office staff to commissioner Adam Silver, identified a wide range of anticipated developments and developments that could transform the NBA by 2030.
"A generation of curry clones"
The NBA in 2020 bears little resemblance to the NBA in 2010. This season, the teams had an average of 110 points, 34 three-point attempts, 24 assists and 101 possessions per game. Ten years ago it was an average of 100 points, 18 three-point attempts, 21 templates and 93 possessions per game. All in all, the modern game is faster, more powerful and much more dependent on outside shots and ball movements.
Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry, and the Golden State Warriors are widely viewed as triggers for the 2014 NBA "Pace and Space" era, and their influence has not waned.
"There is a generation of curry clones coming," said an Eastern Conference assistant coach.
The scoring is slightly lower this season compared to the last one, but the game speed is higher and the league is heading for another record three-point shooting season. The Warriors outside-in approach quickly became the standard. The four teams that scored the most three-point points per game in the 2019 playoffs – Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, Warriors and Toronto Raptors – were the four finalists at the conference.
"The league has found a better way to play," said the assistant coach. “It took some time, but basically everyone is now in agreement. We have not yet reached the turning point [with too many three-pointers] and I don't think we'll do it [for a few years], "
Less games, more rest for the players
The Raptors took the 2019 title in part because they were the last men to stand after injuries decimated the Warriors, and Toronto's careful handling of Leonard & # 39; s protocols was seen by some rivals as a sign of what was left will come.
The length of the schedule was a hot topic in the 2010s as critics claimed it was unnecessarily long and some coaches, including San Antonio's Gregg Popovich, started strategically resting players to compensate for this. The NBA has shortened its preseason to shorten regular time and reduce the number of back-to-back games. However, many star players have injured themselves in the long term.
In recent months, Silver has made suggestions to reform the 2021-22 season schedule, including reducing the season to 78 games, adding a tournament in season, adding play-in games before the playoffs, and reallocating during the playoffs. Taken together, they represent a radical plan, since the league has used a game plan with 82 games since 1967/68 and a playoff format with 16 teams since 1983/84.
“I think stars will play fewer games and there will be less criticism if they miss games [in 2030]”Said a managing director of the Eastern Conference. “I also think that the 78 game idea is just the first step. If [Silver] If he can replace the lost proceeds, he is free to cut more later. The most important thing is to keep the stars as healthy as possible. "
An impending battle for player empowerment
The 2010s will be remembered as the beginning of the era of player empowerment. James set the tone with "The Decision" in 2010 and the subsequent moves by the independent agency in 2014 and 2018, and Durant shook the league with his move to the Golden State in 2016. The list of stars who skipped the city in free or forced actions is long: Leonard, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Paul George, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard, among many others.
Changes to the NBA's collective agreement and the league's improving financial picture made this movement possible: shorter contracts gave players more influence, a maximum salary boom made it easier for superstars to bypass long-term contracts, and the rise in the salary cap allowed the stars to team up above.
The era of the “super team” withdrew from many sides, including Silver, which has long been committed to the virtues of equalization. TNT commentator Charles Barkley has repeatedly predicted that the owners will investigate hardball's negotiating tactics if the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association can withdraw from the current 2022-23 work agreement, which was reached in 2016, towards the end of the 2022-23 season.
"Our overall goal is to steal the next superstar," Barkley told the Washington Post. "It is really unfortunate. In my opinion [the owners] will lock [the players] out. We cannot have players who trade with each other. It's just not fair for the overall balance. If people think these owners won't do anything, they're crazy. "
This summer, Silver introduced harsher manipulation penalties and an expanded surveillance system. If the NBA owners were looking for structural changes, they could consider a stricter salary ceiling that would make it more difficult to accumulate multiple superstars, a franchise day to tie a player to a particular market, or longer contracts to increase volume to reduce the free agency moves.
Preparation for professionals and possible expansion
It is generally expected that NBA high school players will be able to get started with the NBA draft from 2022 onwards. According to the current "one-and-done" rule that has been in effect since 2005, players must be 19 years old and at least one year from high school to be eligible.
Changing the rule will help top players like James Wiseman, who has encountered NCAA eligibility issues, and LaMelo Ball, who completely bypassed the NCAA, to play abroad. Many basketball observers believe that the preps-to-professionals system is more for gamers and that the NBA's development infrastructure is better suited to dealing with youth than it was in the early 2000s.
The G League, the sub-league of the NBA, has seen major changes in the past decade, with 13 franchises added to 28. The league will expand to Mexico City next season, and each NBA team is expected to have a particular minor league member in the relatively near future. In the meantime, the NBA has expanded contract options for G League players, increased salaries, and added two-way contracts that allow Minor League players to be drafted.
“Most of the teams that we see as our top competitors are aligned [between the NBA team and the G League team]"Said a manager of a multi-year playoff team." Were not [Major League Baseball] But today it is more important than five years ago to expand players with their own systems and coaches. It will be even more important in five years, especially if the high school students are added. "
The Mexico City G League expansion could also be a harbinger of NBA growth.
While there was no franchise relocation or expansion in the 2010s and Silver repeatedly said that there are no upcoming expansion plans, some NBA managers believe the period of stability could end in the 2020s. Seattle, Las Vegas, and Mexico City are all tempting teamless markets, and the average NBA franchise value has increased from $ 369 million in 2010 to $ 1.9 billion in 2019 per Forbes.com.
"Visiting 32 teams is a question of the timing and not the case," said a team leader. "The money is too big."
Sports betting and an improved viewing experience
Silver started a public sports betting campaign in 2014, arguing that legal, regulated gambling is preferable to illegal, unregulated gambling. In the following years, the NBA signed a contract with a Daily Fantasy Company and William Hill Sports Betting. Numerous states have now switched to legalized betting, and major media companies have expanded their reporting and analysis on NBA gambling.
ESPN reported last month that sports betting is legal in more than a dozen states. More are likely to follow. The NBA's long-term goal seems to be to enable mobile in-game betting as an additional level of viewing experience.
NBPA's Executive Director Michele Roberts sees where this is going, but is concerned on behalf of her players. If a player is late due to an injury or suffers from a prolonged burglary, is he accused of manipulating the game environment?
"I want to make sure that we monitor the impact on our game and any allegations of player misconduct very closely," Roberts told the Washington Post. "You just have to be accused. The effects on your own brand and your own career are significant. "
In a recent interview, Silver expressed interest in reworking the broadcasting experience and outlined its vision for the NBA's future media business: less trust in cable television, better accessibility to mobile devices, and extensive offerings with media partners who are able to deliver results deliver content in a variety of ways.
NBA Entertainment has long given priority to the immediacy and content behind the scenes. The league hopes that technological progress will significantly improve its capabilities. Finally, NBA fans should be able to enjoy a completely individual experience: they can choose their preferred camera angles and play-by-play feeds, or the action of virtual reality cameras mounted on the tires, or even from cameras worn by, players watch on the court.
"Like any other business, you innovate or die," said Silver. "Every minute of every game [must be] more imperative these days. [Viewers] You have unlimited options to change channels. With a storytelling component, we can present better stories about our game. "
When it comes to breaks, the league will continue to tinker with official ratings. The NBA dramatically expanded its retry review system in the 2010s and opened an external review center in New Jersey in 2014, where "last two minute" reports were released to confirm missed calls and the challenge of a trainer in to add this season. These changes met with very mixed reviews in the league and among fans.
Some critics hope that the desire to shorten the game time could result in the NBA withdrawing some of its ratings, while others rely on technological advances to mitigate the blow.
"If we have referees in 10 years' time wearing headsets and staring at monitors," said a scout, "then we failed."