How Will Replacement Players Affect the NBA?

The NBA's current season is well underway, but it doesn't look the same as before. You'll get to catch your favorite players on the court and watch them compete through the finals if they stay healthy. The pandemic isn't over, so COVID-19 remains a threat to future games.

Check out how the NBA recently revised their rules for signing replacement players to learn what you can expect from the next few months.

What Are the Revised Rules?

NBA officials can't change the rules overnight. The association also has to work with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), a labor union that protects players' rights. Recently, the two groups began conversations surrounding the issue of players contracting COVID-19.

When teams began playing again after their initial pandemic shutdown, vaccines could prevent players from becoming symptomatic in most cases. The leading vaccines originally had an average 94-95% efficacy rate against symptomatic disease, but more robust variants that changed that likelihood emerged. Although they're still effective at preventing hospitalization and death, vaccinated individuals are now more likely to experience symptoms that require isolation.

NBA players practice with their teammates, workout together to gain muscle and travel around the country when they aren't at home with family, which puts them at a greater risk of getting sick. The recently announced rules state that every team can sign one backup player if two people test positive. If three test positive, the team can sign two new players. Two-way players can also play as many games as their team wants, instead of getting capped at 50 appearances like in previous months.

When Do the Rules Change?

The agreed-upon rules went into effect immediately after their announcement on December 19 and will continue through January 19, 2022. It solves the significant problem of teams lacking enough players to remain competitive due to the previous issue of signing limited backup players.

Fans should remember that the NBA may not announce how the rules are affecting each team and what kind of feedback they're getting. If the current regulations aren't working, officials will work behind the scenes to plan for future games and make the process of replacing sick players easier than before.

How Long Will They Last?

There's no telling what the future might hold, especially during a pandemic. The new rules will stand through January 19, but the NBA and NBPA reserved the right to extend that deadline as long as necessary. The short timeline allows the associations to advise the rules as needed, so officials won't struggle to schedule players like the previous season.

Will the Rules Affect Future Games?

There are a few ways that the new rules could affect future games. Depending on the team and how well they're doing, the regulations may present a net positive or negative. Signing players when positive tests occur is a quick solution and keeps games on schedule. The rules also cover up to 13 additional players, so there's no concern about teams falling short.

It's also possible that the rules will adjust to accommodate challenges after January 19. Although a complete rewrite isn't likely, teams and players could have to check more boxes before entering the court. Additional testing or restrictions on replacement players may be necessary to maintain fairness or scheduling.

Viewers should keep up with NBA news in the next few weeks to gauge the success of these new rules. Feedback from fans could also play a role in choosing replacement players or keeping the rules as they are. If the NBA continues to struggle as it has in the previous season, everyone may have to get used to new regulations on January 20.

Prepare For Upcoming Seasons

Fans, players and coaches should familiarize themselves with the revised rules for signing replacement players as the current season continues. They'll know what to expect and better understand how their team can get closer to the finals if participation becomes easier.

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