Season Preview

Everything you need to know about the 2020-21 NBA season

Published December 21, 2020, 3:00 PMJon Carlos Rodriguez

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the 2020-21 NBA season.

In anticipation of the new NBA season, here's a Q&A on the tournament schedule, COVID-19 safety protocols, and where to watch the games. We also tried to answer some not-so-common but interesting questions that fans might ask.

When does the 2020-21 NBA Season begin and end?
The 2020-21 NBA Season is scheduled to begin on December 23 (Manila time) and is tentatively scheduled to end on May 17. 

What are the safety protocols for this season?
Daily testing of players and staff started on December 2 and will continue throughout the regular season and playoffs. If there are independent cases, or a small or “expected number” of COVID-19 cases, this will not require a decision to suspend or cancel the season.

What will happen if a player or staff tests positive for COVID-19?
A player or staff who tests positive will have to either a) sit out for 10 days before being allowed to work out; or b) test negative twice at least 24 hours apart via PCR testing.

Will the teams be allowed to travel this season?
Yes, the teams will play in home and road games this season. However, team traveling parties will be limited to 45 people, including 17 players.

Will fans be allowed to watch games at the arenas?
Each team will have its own protocol on fan attendance depending on local and state health guidelines. 

How many games will each team play in the regular season?
Each team will play 72 games—10 games short of the usual 82 games played. 

When is the All-Star break? 
The All-Star break is scheduled for March 6 to 11 (Manila time). The league earlier said that the All-Star Game will not push through this season, but talks of the game happening are ongoing. Fan voting starts January 29 and ends February 16 (Manila time). Fans can vote for their All-Stars via vote.NBA.com, NBA App, and Twitter.

When is the trade deadline? 
The trade deadline is scheduled on March 26.

When does the playoffs begin and end?
The playoffs are scheduled to start on May 23 and may extend until July 23 at the latest. The Play-In Tournament, meanwhile, is scheduled from May 19 to 22.

How does the Play-In Tournament work?
The 7th- to 10th-placed teams in the Eastern and Western conferences will participate in the Play-In Tournament to determine the bottom two playoff spots in each conference. The 7th-placed team and the 8th-placed team in each conference will battle it out to lock in the No. 7 seed. The 9th-placed team and the 10th-placed team in each conference will then battle it out to get a chance to play the loser of the 7th vs 8th game, and the winner of that game will earn the No. 8 seed.

Which teams are led by new coaches this season?
A total of nine teams have a new bench boss: Brooklyn Nets (Steve Nash), Chicago Bulls (Billy Donovan), Houston Rockets (Stephen Silas), Indiana Pacers (Nate Bjorkgren), LA Clippers (Tyronn Lue), New Orleans Pelicans (Stan Van Gundy), New York Knicks (Tom Thibodeau), Oklahoma CIty Thunder (Mark Daigneault), Philadelphia 76ers (Doc Rivers).

Who’s the oldest player to play this season?
The oldest active player in the league is 40-year-old Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat. He signed with the Heat in 2003, when his current teammate Tyler Herro was only three years old.

Who's the youngest player to play this season?
The 7-footer from the Oklahoma City Thunder, Aleksej Pokusevski, is the youngest player this season at 18 years old.

Who are the rookies to watch out for this season?
Remember these names: Tyrese Haliburton, Immanuel Quickley, Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Cole Anthony, Tyrese Maxey, and LaMelo Ball.

How many members of the Ball family are playing in the NBA?
Currently, two Ball brothers are in the League: Lonzo Ball of the New Orleans Pelicans and LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets. A third Ball, LiAngelo, was signed by the Detroit Pistons but was subsequently waived after only two preseason games. No, they’re not related to Denver Nuggets big man Bol Bol.

Entering the 2020-21 NBA Season, how many seasons has LeBron James played?
The count officially stopped when LeBron James won the NBA championship in 2016 after being down 1-3. At that point, he became immortal.

Are the former champions Golden State Warriors back?
Klay Thompson is out for another season, but two-time MVP Stephen Curry is back and healthy, hitting three-pointers from the tunnel. Does that answer the question?

How tall is Jayson Tatum, really?
Jayson Tatum is listed as 6-foot-8, but Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens recently referred to him as 6-foot-10. Whatever his true height is, Tatum hasn’t hit his ceiling yet.

The Toronto Raptors will begin the season in Tampa, Florida. Why? 
Due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions in Canada, the Toronto Raptors will be playing home games in Tampa Bay's Amalie Arena to start the season. It’s unclear if this setup will remain until the end of the season.

Luka Doncic was simply a joy to watch last season. No question here, just stating facts.

Will Damian Lillard shoot from the logo this season?
Yes. Yes, he will. He definitely will.

Is Big Face Coffee still open for business? 
The pop-up coffee shop owned by Jimmy Butler was a hit in the bubble. It’s unclear how Big Face Coffee will operate in the home-and-away format this season. What’s clear is that Butler is not playing any games when it comes to his coffee and basketball.

Speaking of games, where can I watch them live?
Thought you’d never ask. You can watch live games on free TV channels TV5 and One Sports, Cignal’s NBA TV Philippines (channel 262), and NBA League Pass. Games will also be available via livestream for Smart subscribers on NBA.Smart.