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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Fixing the NBA Playoffs and Lottery

So, did anyone even notice the NBA Finals? After hearing David Stern blow off the idea that his league is unwatchable, I thought I’d lend him a hand with a few suggestions.

First of all, it’s the middle of June and the Finals just ended. Cut the season by at least 10 games. This will be easy because teams need to stop playing every team every year. Steal what the NFL does and tweak it. Each team should play its own divisional opponents the most, its remaining conference opponents once or twice, and one out of conference division once.

Its absurd to have seven game series in the opening round of the playoffs just because TV execs get hot and bothered about “Game 7” drama. It’s still no more dramatic than Game 5 of a five-game series, or even Game 3 of a 3 gamer, in the first round. Cut it to 3 games, along with the number of playoff teams per conference to seven, and give the two top seeds in each conference byes. As long as we’re at it, make the second round 5 games, and stop creating off days just to get every game on TV solo (no one’s watching anyway). And, for the love of whatever, stop starting every Finals game at 9pm eastern!

Don’t put the ax away yet. Remember the idea of expanding to Europe? Ax that, and take about four existing teams out, too. New Orleans barely has a home anyway, the Clippers are the Clippers, and pick any other teams that aren’t producing well and toss ‘em. Does Florida really need two teams? Would anyone really miss Portland, Seattle, Memphis, or, the city that already didn’t support the Hornets, Charlotte?

Finally, let’s fix the Draft Lottery. I’ve already reduced “tanking” by cutting games and teams, but I really think the following is genius. The number of lottery chances are determined by putting teams on a V curve. The worst team is on one top point of the V, the best on the other, with the middle team on the bottom point. The team on the bottom point gets the MOST chances, with chances DECREASING as you go up both sides of the V.

Here’s my theory: There are two incentives to win. Obviously, I certainly hope, the playoffs will keep the teams on the better side of the V trying to win. (If not, we should just blow-up the NBA.) The teams on the poor side of the V must play to win to enhance their draft position. Teams hovering around the bottom point of the V can’t just flat out tank as losing too much can backfire and actually worsen a team’s lottery chances.

I know, none of this has much chance of happening because it would hurt the immediate bottom line of money-grabbing owners. But, I really think I got something on the lottery solution.

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