Your Digital Toolkit for the 2020-21 NBA Season
Incredibly, the NBA season is upon us. Preseason basketball is already being played, and even though it feels like the Orlando bubble only just wrapped up, it also feels like a whole new league full of fresh excitement. The new-look Nets will finally be jumping into action with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving leading the way. Numerous stars have changed teams in just the last few weeks. And as Yahoo’s account of the “tunnel shot” shows us, Steph Curry is back and up to new tricks already. Only the NBA could deliver so much change and excitement in the most abbreviated offseason in history. At the same time though, let’s all try to remember we’re entering a season that’s sure to be bizarre. There’s no bubble this time around, which is going to mean some disruption. Players will miss games, some of those games will likely be rescheduled, and we’ll be watching basketball this time in ordinary arenas without fans in them. Throw in a bizarre schedule that’s been organized in an unorthodox manner for safety reasons, and this isn’t going to feel like the NBA is returning to business as usual. Given all of that, it’s more important than ever this year to set yourself up to enjoy the season with the viewing options and news coverage you need to stay on top of things. With that in mind, we’re introducing a recommended toolkit for the season to come. NBA League Pass NBA League Pass is not a perfect product. It costs a fair amount (if you want the premium bundle with NBA TV included), and as Andrew Mentock detailed for Medium, there can be issues with “blacked out” games. But even given these factors, it is by far the best option out there for die-hard fans who want to watch as much NBA action as possible. The feeds are strong, you can choose which team’s broadcaster to listen to, and you can watch on various devices. Plus, to manage those costs, you can also split League Pass with a few fellow NBA junkies. For our money, League Pass has been essential for a long time now. But particularly this year, when schedules will be unpredictable and TV listings could be affected, this is going to be the most reliable means of watching games. A Decent VR Headset Here’s the bad news: It’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to attend an NBA game this year, if that’s something you typically look forward to. Most of the season will be over by the time vaccinations are widespread (though the playoffs may be doable). What you can do, however, is access League Pass options through a VR headset that makes it feel like you’re at the game. A few years ago this idea surfaced and seemed ridiculous. Now, it’s actually an accessible and pretty smooth experience. Furthermore, VR headsets have gotten more varied and more reasonable than you might expect. To date, most advertisement of these machines has been specific to individual, high-end products: PlayStation, Samsung, and Oculus all pitched their own headsets constantly, for instance. But there’s actually more variety now, meaning you may find an option that suits you. The selection of video equipment listed on Adorama (which includes VR), represents how there are options from companies like Pimax, Royole, Ematic, and Merge as well, with prices ranging from under a $100 to over a $1,000. If you do your research you might find a set that works for you, and allows you to virtually “attend” some NBA action this season. Go-to Podcasts For additional NBA coverage, and from updates and opinions from experts on what’s (again) certain to be a strange season, you can’t do much better than putting together a collection of go-to podcasts. Naturally, OTG’s suite of podcasts is where most of our recommendations would come from, but the truth of the matter is there’s a lot of great NBA content out there in the pod-o-sphere. Whether you’re into team-specific updates, general news, debates among basketball pundits, or even X’s-and-O’s breakdowns, there’s something you can (and should!) be listening to on a daily or weekly basis. As with League Pass (and possibly VR moving forward), podcasts are always essential for NBA fans. But they may be all the more useful this year. Social Media Follows Last but not least in our recommended toolkit is a collection of social media follows to rely on. Okay, so these aren’t necessarily “tools,” but following the right accounts — particularly on Twitter — is the best way to stay informed on NBA action these days. That’s true whether we’re talking about in-game stats and trends, trade rumors and player news, or inevitable COVID-related cancelations. As for how to build up your collection of go-to follows, it’s really up to you. HoopsHype’s list of the most followed accounts by actual NBA players makes for a good start, featuring a number of individuals and publications who reliably churn out essential content. You can also follow team and player accounts if you really want to be tapped in. And in time you’ll find that there are writers and analysts you gravitate toward on social media as well. Really, there’s no limit here; the more the merrier! Ultimately of course, it’s not hard to enjoy the NBA. That’s kind of the whole point. But these tools and ideas can make the season even more fun, and can definitely keep you more tapped in during a weird year.