The NBA's Changes for the 2023-2024 Season
The NBA is adding a in-season tournament and an updated player resting policy
By: Joe Wisniewski
October 24, 2023
Photo Credit: Associated Press
As the National Basketball Association gears up for another season, fans were treated to an offseason of exciting player transactions. As players moved from team to team, the league quietly added some new wrinkles to the upcoming 2023-2024 season. The NBA has implemented a fresh set of load management policies and an in-season tournament worked into the team's schedule.
The NBA implemented the player resting policy (PRP) in the 2017-18 season, but has now updated this to the player participation policy (PPP), effective at the start of the 2023-24 season. The policy aims to achieve the highest percent of participation of “star” players in the league. The PPP defines a star player as anyone who has been named an All-Star or All-NBA in any of the previous three seasons. The following changes, according to ESPN, are implications of the PPP: “Teams must ensure that star players are available for national televised games, Teams must refrain from any long-term shutdown, teams must maintain a balance between the number of one-game absences for a star player in home games and road games, and no more than one star player can be unavailable for the same game.”
According to ESPN, sources within the league feel, “that the PPP might contradict a team's use of sports science to monitor the workload of its players.” This leaves doubt that the new PPP will have a significant impact on the season. The league will increase the fines for violations to millions from the hundred thousands under the prior PRP. Ultimately, franchises may be willing to pay these fines in order for their players to be as well rested for important games. There has been a focus on the science of load management by many franchises, causing it to become a recurring theme.
The PPP also tightens the limits on the process of tanking. Tanking is the process when struggling franchises lose on purpose for better odds in the upcoming NBA draft lottery. This is following a season in which the Dallas Mavericks, with a play-in berth still alive, tanked the final two games of their regular season.
By keeping their “star” players on the court the league sees an opportunity to bump television ratings and improve the overall fan perception of the league. This is following a 22-23 season in which viewership was flat, with regular-season matchups across ABC, ESPN and TNT averaging 1.6 million viewers, according to Sport Business Journal. The league is also trying to create more excitement during its 82-game regular season by implementing an in-season tournament. The NBA Cup tournament will have two stages: Group Play and Knockout Rounds. Group Play games will begin November 3rd and run through the end of the month. Teams that advance to the knockout rounds will compete in a single-elimination tournament. Fourteen of the Group Play games and all seven of the Knockout Round games will be nationally televised. Under the new PPP, “star” players will be required to play in these tournament games barring any injuries.
The NBA is clearly trying to showcase their best product on the floor every night. By keeping the best players in lineups more consistently, the league believes television ratings and in person attendance will increase. Fans should respond positively to these changes because the best players will bring excitement and overall better entertainment. It will be worth monitoring how these “star” players react to these changes as the season progresses.