The Evolution of the NBA

The NBA introduced the 24-second shot clock to encourage shooting and discourage stalling. It also made the game safer for players by ensuring that each team has the same amount of time to shoot. The clock is still in use today.

In the 1970s, declining TV ratings, low attendance and drug-related player issues — both real and perceived — threatened to derail the league. But the NBA rebounded with the introduction of new stars and new markets, including the expansion of its franchises to Minneapolis, St. Louis, San Antonio, Denver and the New York metropolitan area.

The league also changed its playoff format, switching from a three-division system to a two-division setup that eliminated the division semifinals. Teams that finished in the top six in each conference qualified directly for the playoffs, while the seventh-through-10th seeds competed in a play-in tournament to determine the final playoff spot.

When the season ends, the teams with the best records in each conference meet in a best-of-seven series to determine the champion of each conference. The top-seeded team in each series gets home-court advantage, and the other two teams play in a neutral site.

In addition, the NBA introduced a play-in tournament to determine the eighth seed for the playoffs. Teams finish in a tie for one of the final playoff spots, the highest-scoring team advances. The top eight seeded teams are determined by regular-season record, followed by a tiebreaker (head-to-head record, division record, conference record, winning percentage against playoff teams, and home court advantage).

As the NBA continues to evolve, the sport has seen a number of changes in the way its players engage with the media, both on social media and on sports-network yelling shows. Some of this reflects the changing times, with NBA players now making hundreds of millions of dollars and having more freedom to express themselves. But it also reflects the league’s desire to market itself as the progressive alternative to the brutality of the NFL and the staid nostalgia of Major League Baseball.

The NBA In-Season tournament is meant to add intrigue to the regular season in a period of time when fan attention can be siphoned away by the NFL and college football. The hope is that the tournament will draw more eyeballs at a point in the season that usually sees the most casual viewers tuning in, and that it will give the NBA more exposure in international markets.

The NBA will also look to boost its global business, which accounts for about 10% of total team and league revenue. This year, the NBA expects continued growth in its global audience as it airs games during primetime in key markets, bolsters programs for kids and expands its footprint in regions such as India.