3 Heavily Criticized Aspects of the 2020-2021 Season

Apr 22, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) argues with referee Ken Mauer (41) during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020-2021 season has certainly been an unusual one, but still an entertaining one. In general, there has been quite a bit of controversy around the season. So, we’ll look at three of the most criticized aspects of the 2020-2021 season and why they face criticism.

A Tight Schedule, Leading to Injuries

Apr 20, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) in street clothes due to injury against New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Due to COVID, many games were postponed in the first half of the season. Additionally, the NBA was quick in its transition from the 2020 season to 2021. Because of this, the NBA is making teams play lots of games in a short amount of time. This is leading to several key players seeing injuries throughout the season.

Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Joel Embiid, Jamal Murray, and Donavan Mitchell are some of the players that have missed extended time due to an injury. Several other crucial players have suffered injuries throughout the 72-game season.

Several NBA players, including Josh Hart, have also taken note of this.

One of the many teams that have been severely affected by these injuries is the Lakers. Anthony Davis has missed a total of 35 games, and LeBron James has missed 21. These injuries have caused Los Angeles to see significant slippage in the standings, currently at sixth.

James said in an interview that he believes that the NBA rushed the season somewhat.

“I mean, it just sounds so weird, Bill. What you just said, it’s only nine games left. It’s just been a hell of a season, obviously. Everything is so, so rushed. It’s a game every other day. Or it’s back-to-backs, or you can have as many as four or five games in a week.”

LeBron James answering Bill Oram’s question about the shortened season

Fans and players alike agree that the NBA did a poor job managing the shortened season. Although the regular season has been somewhat disappointing with all the injuries, it has still been enjoyable to watch. As long as teams can stay healthy, this year’s playoffs look highly eventful and exciting.

The Play-In Tournament

Apr 26, 2021; Sacramento, California, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic (77) dribbles the ball against the Sacramento Kings in the second quarter at the Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The new play-in tournament rule is also a very criticized aspect of this season.

The play-in tournament makes it so that you can still win your way into it even if you initially miss the playoffs. In the play-in tournament, the seventh and eighth seed play against each other, and the ninth and tenth seed go against each other. The winner of the seventh-eighth game is guaranteed the seventh seed. However, the loser will go against the winner of the ninth-tenth game to see who gets the eighth seed.

Many NBA players and executives disapprove of the play-in tournament. The consensus among them is that you should keep your spot once you make the playoffs no matter what.

Luka Doncic is one of many NBA players who have openly criticized the play-in system.

“I don’t understand the idea of a play-in. “You play 72 games to get into the playoffs, then maybe you lose two in a row, and you’re out of the playoffs. So I don’t see the point of that.”

Doncic, in an interview, when asked about the play-in tournament.

The NBA introduced the concept of the play-in tournament last season in the Orlando bubble. The idea was pretty different from this year’s, however. If the eighth seed were within four games of the ninth seed at the end of the season last year, there would be a play-in tournament. The eighth and ninth seed would play up to two games. The ninth seed had to beat the eighth seed twice, while the eighth seed had to win once.

Last season, the play-in tournament game between the Blazers and the Grizzlies was an exciting one. It will be interesting to see how the tournament plays out this year.

The Inconsistent Officiating

Jan 29, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle talks to referee Phenizee Ransom (70) during the first half against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
 Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The referees seem to face criticism nearly every season. However, the problem seems to be even more prominent this year. From seemingly incorrect foul calls to frequent technicals, officiating is one of the most criticized aspects of the season.

Several NBA players, including Donovan Mitchell, have spoken out about the “soft” foul calls this year.

“We won this game in my opinion. It’s getting ****ng ridiculous. I’m sick of it. It eats at me. It’s really getting out of hand.”

Donovan Mitchell on the poor officiating in an overtime loss to the 76ers

In the game Mitchell is referring to, a controversial offensive foul was called on him. This call led to Mitchell getting ejected and the Sixers ultimately winning the game.

Not only do incorrect foul calls seem to be called often, but technicals seem to as well.

Referees seem to be handing out techs and ejections left and right. Referees have handed out a total of 502 technical fouls this season.

Both fans and players agree that the officiating this season needs improvement. The referees have a sizable impact on basketball, and they must get their calls correct.

In conclusion, this NBA season has been unprecedented in a lot of ways. While there are many criticized aspects, it has overall been a solid season. The postseason looks to be a very entertaining one this year, and all NBA fans are looking forward to it.

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