CALIFORNIA (Axios): In a league where every movement is tracked and every statistic is measured, chemistry remains the rare, unquantifiable variable that dictates NBA wins and losses.
The intrigue: Fostering NBA chemistry has become increasingly difficult now that players change teams so often. But nothing has ever impacted chemistry-building quite like the pandemic. The question is: has it helped or hurt?
On one hand, most social-bonding experiences (i.e. team dinners) are off limits. Teams are also practicing less, which limits on-court chemistry in a sport where knowing your teammates’ tendencies means everything.
On the other hand, there’s a heightened sense of camaraderie due to COVID-19 and the protocols each player must follow, which could improve chemistry in new ways.
Consider this: Due to the short offseason, rookie Anthony Edwards made his NBA debut just 33 days after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Timberwolves.
He barely had time to get to know his teammates before embarking on a season in which he’s encouraged to stay in his hotel room on the road.
There are countless stories of NBA teammates developing off-court friendships that translated to on-court success. It’s harder to do that this season, especially for rookies and players who changed teams this offseason.
The bottom line: So, amid the strangest season of their lives, have NBA teams come together or drifted apart? The truth is, we’ll never know.
“Everyone you talk to around the league has an opinion on chemistry,” sportswriter Michael Pina, who wrote a great piece on this topic, tells me.
“But unlike almost everything else in the NBA these days, there’s no way to verify whether or not they’re right.”