October is a great month to be in the USA due to the overlap of the American major sporting leagues: MLB playoffs are off and running, the NFL & NHL seasons have started, and NBA teams are playing their preseason games just before the regular season starts. With all of the options available to sports fans at the time, is it worth buying a ticket to an NBA preseason game?
Let’s have a look.
How preseason works in the NBA
The NBA preseason occurs over a two-week period in late September or the start of October, finishing a few days before the regular season starts. Each team generally plays around six games in this time. The games are exhibition games – they aren’t part of a preseason championship, there aren’t ‘preseason finals’ and there isn’t a ‘preseason MVP’, or anything like that. Teams can play each other multiple times… probably out of travel convenience more than anything else. They’ll also play games against some international teams – for example, Australian NBL teams are becoming increasingly involved in the NBA preseason competition.
They’re a ‘tune-up’ opportunity for NBA teams, a chance to try out their plans from training camp before they get into the real thing. In summary, the players aren’t really playing for much in these games.
That might sound like we’re underselling it a bit, so consider this…
The tickets are usually much cheaper
Less people know about the NBA preseason, so it’s a really good opportunity to get tickets you might never be able to afford during the regular season. Look at the tickets from this game of preseason basketball in Miami, for example:
Yes, the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks might not be the best teams in the Eastern Conference next season, but they both have young squads who will be looking to make a good impression in the preseason competition.
Plus… this is the highest quality basketball league in the world, and you can get seats 13 rows from the court for around 80 Australian dollars1!
Some players will be rested – either for the whole game or for part of it
NBA players have an 82-game schedule coming – and that’s before you factor in the playoffs. Add to that the fact that many players will undergo some kind of surgery & rehab during the offseason, and you’re likely to have a number of established stars skipping games during preseason.
Another common trend is a team’s stars playing only during the first half, proving their point, and then resting the remainder of the game.
This is definitely something to consider when you’re choosing your game. Which brings us to our final point…
Our tip: This could be one of your best NBA experiences (if you find the right teams)
Our recommendation is this: Yes, you should go to an NBA preseason game, but pick the right teams to watch.
If you pick a team with bigger stars, for example – the 2019/20 Los Angeles Lakers, who are now built around superstars LeBron James (in his 17th season) and Anthony Davis (who has had injury troubles in the past)… they don’t need to prove as much in the preseason. Therefore, their stars are probably less likely to see a lot of preseason court time2.
On the other hand, if you pick a team with a deeper, younger line-up, and less expected of them in the regular season, they need all the experience they can get – and you’re likely to see more court time from their actual starters.
Which is really what our advice comes down to: Pick a young team with potential future stars. You’ll probably get to see a lot more of them on the court during your game, and in years down the track when/if they become stars, you’ll be able to say that you saw them before anyone else.
Some teams we’d like to see in NBA Preseason 2019/20:
■ New Orleans Pelicans (Youth, depth…. and they’re just going to be fun.)
■ Orlando Magic (Multiple high draft picks and a former Dunk Contest winner)
■ Sacramento Kings (Like the Pels, they’ll be good to watch in the regular season, too)
■ Philadelphia 76ers (Australian connection, 4-5 big name players)
■ Boston Celtics (Depth and promising young players)
■ Utah Jazz (Australian connection, depth)
We have NBA Preseason tickets available on Sports Where I Am
Update (July 2019): At the time of writing, less than 10 NBA teams have confirmed their preseason schedules, but tickets for these games are available for purchase on SWIAM. As more teams confirm their preseason schedules, more tickets will be available.
Contact us if we can help you plan your next US sports adventure.