Steven Adams and the Oklahoma City Thunder are no longer relevant to a wider audience.
That was the message conveyed when the NBA announced its 2019-20 schedule this week, with the Thunder to be rarely sighted on nationally televised broadcasts.
In the 2018-19 season, the Oklahoma City side had 27 nationally televised games broadcasted on either ABC, ESPN or TNT. However, Kiwi fans will have to invest in the NBA League Pass streaming service to watch the team this season, with just three nationally televised games.
As is always the case in the NBA, off-season moves can make or break the interest in a team outside of its local fan base. The Thunder lost former league MVP Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets and perennial All-Star Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers.
While they yielded hefty returns for both players which have set the franchise up well for the future, in the present the team is not seen as one that piques interest in a wider audience. That's not to say they won't be competitive. As the roster stands, they'll certainly cause some problems in the highly competitive Western Conference, with Adams, superstar point guard Chris Paul, and sharp shooting Italian big man Danilo Gallinari leading the charge.
George's Clippers, who also added reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard in free agency, are one of the NBA's marquee teams and feature on the national broadcast schedule 26 times; third behind LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers (31) and the reigning Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors (29).
The league has banked on the hype factor surrounding some teams, with the youthful exuberance of the New Orleans Pelicans on the national schedule 20 times. This year the Pelicans will have teenage superstar Zion Williamson on the roster, who is expected to garner plenty of interest as he already has a large worldwide following.
The season tips off on October 23 (NZ time) with the Pelicans taking on the Toronto Raptors, the current NBA champions, while the Lakers and Clippers square off for the first of four times.
Adams and the Thunder get their season underway on October 24 (NZ time) away to the Utah Jazz.
Number of nationally televised games for each NBA team
31 - Los Angeles Lakers
29 - Golden State Warriors
26 - Los Angeles Clippers
24 - Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets
22 – Milwaukee Bucks
20 – Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans,
17 – Denver Nuggets
16 – Utah Jazz
13 – Dallas Mavericks
11 – Brooklyn Nets
10 – Toronto Raptors
6 – Miami Heat
5 – Indiana Pacers
4 – San Antonio Spurs
3 – Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks,
2 – Memphis Grizzlies, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks
1 – Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings