Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/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."
Mark Cuban. Photo: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

I reached out to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to get his take on NBA chemistry and how it has been affected by the pandemic.

How important is chemistry in the modern NBA?

"You can't win a championship without it. Chemistry alone won't make you a winning team, but a winning team without chemistry won't win a championship."

How do you think the pandemic has impacted chemistry this season?

"I can only speak for us, but I think it has helped in many ways. The entire travel party realizes that they are in this battle against COVID together; that they all have the same goals to stay healthy and win games. It's created a unique bond that is unlike anything in the past."

What do the Mavericks do to foster chemistry? Has that been impacted?

"Well, certainly the old team activities playbook is out the window. But we have a psychologist that travels with the team and is available 24/7 to help players and staff deal with the stress that all of this creates. It's not easy on anyone, particularly when guys are quarantined and the stress levels go up even more."

Is basketball chemistry similar to chemistry in any workplace?

"No. Not at all like regular business. Night and day. There is far more transparency in sports, so chemistry is more important. In regular business, culture is critically important; you want everyone to understand what's important to the company. But that's different than team chemistry."

Go deeper

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia groups was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

6 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios