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The NBA season starts next Tuesday and no one cares

Some suggestions for Adam Silver. NBA.com

This is the best time of the year in sports. That’s not a debatable point or opinion, it’s a fact. NFL season is under way. MLB playoffs are here. NCAA football teams are making their case. The NBA season opens this year on Oct. 17. But the NBA is almost like the stepchild of the sports world right now. Why is that?

One of the main reasons is football. With the NFL and NCAA football seasons starting about a month and a half before the NBA, they have a head start. Their respective seasons are in full swing when the NBA starts. NFL teams are now making the picture clearer and NCAA teams are jockeying for poll positioning. Football is also the most popular sport in this country. Basketball is so far back in the rearview mirror, it looks like a dot rather than another vehicle.

Another reason there’s little fanfare for the start of the NBA season is the MLB playoffs are getting intense. The American and National League Championship Series will both be under way by the time the NBA opens up. Last year when the Astros were making their run, Houston barely paid attention to the Rockets. This year looks as if it’ll be a repeat of last year as the Astros are already waiting on the Red Sox/Yankees winner in the ALCS. They’re getting ready to defend their World Series title. Not since the ’98-’00 Yankees has a team won back to back titles in MLB, and they won three in a row. I highly doubt anyone pays much attention to anything outside of the Astros if they make it back to the World Series.

The NBA made changes to its season structure to start about one to two weeks earlier than normal last season. They did so in part to lengthen the season to cut down on the amount of back to back games teams were playing. It’s really helped the players, but has been sort of annoying to fans. Your team may play on Tuesday and not have another game until Friday, or even Saturday in some cases. 

One other thing that’s hurting the NBA right now is competitive balance. Most fans, and some “experts,” tend to think along the lines of “until the Warriors break up, they’re the overwhelming favorite to win it all.” Not many people think anyone outside the Warriors has a shot. Sure, there will be some who try the “hot take” or make the ‘sexy/chic pick” and say the Celtics or Rockets or Sixers will win it all, but do they truly believe that? I highly doubt it.

So what can the NBA do to make their season opening matter more? I have a few ideas: 

1-Make the opening day a big deal by having compelling matchups similar to Christmas day games. Imagine opening day back when Shaq and Kobe were beefing? What about a Pistons/Bulls matchup opening day in late ‘80s/early ‘90s?

2-The games should all take place on ABC, the league’s national broadcast partner and should be streamed for free online somewhere. Making these games readily viewable to the masses creates more interest.

3-A better marketing strategy will help. I propose more commercials during NCAA football, MLB and NFL games. This way, they’re taking advantage of sports that more eyes are on at that time of year. 

The NBA has done a ton of things right over the years. It is the world’s second most popular sport. But in this country, it’s losing ground to MLB and continually falling further behind football. The NFL and MLB have done their opening days so well for so long, that they have equity. The NBA still hasn’t gotten this right. Hopefully, they will take some suggestions I’ve given and build upon them.

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Composite image by Jack Brame.

There's an elephant in the room when it comes to the Houston Texans. No, it's not Bill O'Brien. He's the ominous black cloud that hoovers over the whole building. That cloud is like a slow moving weather system that's constantly dumping rain and flooding the city. Eventually, it'll pass, we'll rebuild and recover from it.

It's not even the McNair family. Cal and Janice are the building itself. It exists, but needs people around and operating it in order for it to fully function. Sure, it could use some work. After all, it's almost twenty years old and could probably use a facelift. It happens when buildings age and are only taken care of or held to minimal standards.

The elephant in the room is Deshaun Watson. More specifically, his progress as a franchise/superstar quarterback. I've heard different people talk about this in one way, shape, form or whatever. AJ and Fred covered it on ESPN Houston's The Blitz. My friend @itsDanielBsr tweeted it and brought it up as well. There were others who talked about this topic, but these were the two places I encountered it in which I could pay closer attention.

When it comes to Watson, most people believe he's a great talent. However, there is a growing sentiment that it's time for him to take the next step. Watson turned 25 on September 14. He signed his four-year extension about a week before his birthday. When you're getting paid like a top quarterback and people recognize you as one of the better young quarterbacks, there comes a time when you need to poop or get off the pot.

When calling Watson to the carpet, people will call O'Brien into question. O'Brien is a factor in holding Watson back some. He's been the play-caller his whole time here in Houston up until this year when he allegedly turned it over to Tim Kelly. We've all seen how that has gone. O'Brien is also the general manager that traded away Watson's top target in DeAndre Hopkins. These type of things can hinder a young quarterback's growth and development, but at what point do we stop blaming O'Brien and start looking at Watson?

Some will point to the offensive line as a key factor as to why Watson isn't progressing. We've seen him escape sacks and create plays out of thin air. But when is it time to call him to the carpet for not going through his reads and/or making a check-down? He often escapes sacks and looks downfield, but should he be looking to scramble more often? Should he be reading progressions better? These intimate details are answers we won't ever get, but we hope we can understand that Watson is making his reads and decisions the way he's supposed to.

Whether it's his big extension, his bumbling idiot of a head coach, his lack of protection, or his lack of weapons, fans will eventually stop giving Watson a pass. Del said it best on ESPN Houston's The Bench: When will people stop bringing up Clemson when talking about Watson's greatness? NFL quarterbacks have their college career talked about in their rookie seasons. After that, it's all about what have you done for me lately. I sincerely hope Watson realizes his tremendous potential. He's a star now and a superstar in the making. The one thing that he needs is the success on the field that will catapult him into the upper echelon of the other top talents at his position. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Pat Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and Lamar Jackson all have either a league MVP award and/or a Super Bowl ring. If Watson is to be mentioned in that rarefied air, he needs to start taking the necessary steps. The clock is ticking and people are watching. Your move Deshaun.

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