We came into the 2021-22 season expecting great things from the NBA. Parity had been restored around the league, there were lots of players on new teams, and every team had something to be excited about. In theory, the beginning of this season should have been great, but due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, many players have been stuck in health and safety protocols. In fact, the amount of players that have gone into health and safety protocols this season is well over 100, amounting to over 540 different players getting minutes in the NBA this season.
No one is safe from COVID, as some players that have been stuck in health and safety protocols this season are Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Draymond Green, John Collins, Jayson Tatum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Miles Bridges, Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, Cade Cunningham, Bol Bol, Bradley Beal, Andrew Wiggins, Rajon Rondo, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Lowry, Patrick Beverley, Anthony Edwards, D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nerlens Noel, Mo Bamba, Andre Drummond, Danny Green, Deandre Ayton, Jae Crowder, Elfrid Payton, Robert Covington, Jusuf Nurkic, Davion Mitchell, Dejounte Murray, Scottie Barnes, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, Chauncey Billups, Monty Williams, Frank Vogel; well, you get the picture.
This year simply hasn’t been the same because we haven’t been able to see teams that are healthy compete against one another. But, that is poised to change in the new year. Within a few days or weeks, these players will all be out of health and safety protocols, and with seasonal travel dying down, COVID cases will probably decrease too. The rules regarding health and safety protocols are also changing, and now, players can spend less time in protocols if they test negative after six days.
In addition, some players that have been sidelined due to injury will be making returns in the new year. Klay Thompson is scheduled to return in January, as well as Thomas Bryant. Jamal Murray could be back in February or March. Rui Hachimura1 and James Wiseman, both promising young players for the Wizards and Warriors, will be making their returns soon. A majority of the players stuck in IR will be cleared to play in 2022, which means we can quickly grasp what’s really going on in the NBA.
The standings for this year have been a little bit wonky so far, with some teams propelling to the top of their conferences, even though no one expected them to be there. This is most evident in the Eastern Conference, with teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, and Washington Wizards taking huge leaps. On the other hand, there are teams like the Lakers, Knicks, Hawks, Trail Blazers, Clippers, and Nuggets that are much worse off then people thought they would be at the beginning of the season (it doesn’t help that Kawhi Leonard is out for the season). Once players come back from health and safety protocols and have time to regroup, we’ll be able to see and accurately reflect on the trajectory of franchises. I’m looking forward to 2022 a lot, and the All-Star Game isn’t too far away either (vote for Kyle Kuzma)!
Mark my words, 2022 will be a lot better then 2021 for the NBA. 2022 would also be a lot better for me if you could follow the NBA Blog and share it with all your friends! As always, have an awesome day!
1: As I was writing this, Rui Hachimura just entered health and safety protocols (*sigh*)