NBA fixes: a few solutions to commonly discussed issues.

I have read numerous comments talking the NBA schedule needing to be shorter, tanking to be eliminated and the lottery needing to be refined or eliminated in the NBA. Tanking can be very tempting. When the irrepressible Mark Madsen launches up several 3 point shots in a game, you have to believe that management is involved in directing game-day strategy. In case you are wondering, Mark Madsen made 1 of 16 three point attempts in his career w/ 7 of them coming in the final game of the 2005-2006 season. You may not be able to eliminate tanking like that, but you can reduce the overall tanking incentives. I read Bill Simmons, so I will refine one of his ideas in this article and provide my own resolutions to the other concerns. After I propose my fixes to the issues that people often complain about, I will ask you to vote on what you like via poll and, of course, you can feel free to comment on the post and make your own suggestions.

Resolution A) Change regular season to 76 games. It seems that teams with star players hoping to win the championship have become increasingly likely to sit their star players when they are playing on back-to-back nights. In general, this may lead to 4-8 nights where paying fans do not see their favorite players or an opposing team’s best players. Reducing the season by 6 games should eliminate around 6 back-to-back games for each team, increasing the likelihood that NBA stars will play in each game. Here are the other main factors in the 76 game schedule: 1. You play every team in your division 4 times w/ 2 home games vs. each team(16 games) 2. You play every team in the other conference 2 times w/ 1 home game vs. each team(30 games) 3. You play every team in the other divisions in your conference 3 times(30 games). For this, you play 2 homes games vs. every team in one of the other divisions in your conference and 1 home game vs. every team in the other division in the first season. The following season, the home/away games switch divisions. This should make scheduling easier. Key advantages to 76-game schedule. Every team in your division plays the exact same team schedule including home/away vs. each team in the league. This should make deciding the division winner even more fair than it is today. More likely the players that fans pay to see will actually play in every game that they are healthy enough to play. Less sitting due to back-to-back games will improve fan experience. While not necessary, I also like that Philadelphia's team name will take on added significance.

Resolution B) Single elimination play-in tourney for the 8th playoff spot in each conference. My variation from Bill Simmons’ "Entertaining as Hell" tournament is that only 6 teams from each conference make my single elimination tourney. The 2 worst teams in each conference get NO postseason play, which should reduce their desire to tank since playoff games mean excitement for your fans and money for your franchise. The 8th and 9th best team in each conference get byes in the single elimination tourney. Here is how it works. 2 nights after the regular season ends, the 12th team in the conference hosts the 13th team in the conference and the 10th team in the conference hosts the 11th team in the conference. On the very next night, the winner of the 12 vs. 13 team plays against the 8th best record and the winner of the 10 vs. 11 game plays against the 9th best record in the conference. The bye teams get the added advantage of playing teams on the tail end of a back-to-back. Two nights later, the top remaining seed hosts the winners of the other game to determine who gets the last spot in the NBA conference playoffs to face the 1 seed in each conference. 2 nights after the 8th seed is decided, the real playoffs start. This schedule should make travel arrangements easy and allow the NBA playoffs to start within 1 week of the regular season. The best teams will be well rested for the NBA playoffs and the play-in teams will be somewhat playoff tested and ready to give the #1 seeds their best effort. The monetary and fan advantages of making the single game elimination tourney will be incentive to not tank and the changes I have in store for the lottery should further resolve this issue.

Resolution C) Change lottery to make the worst teams less likely to get #1 pick. Now, I absolutely feel that the worst teams deserve the best chance at the #1 pick, but due to the game-changing ability of a single player in the NBA, the chance of getting the #1 pick is too tempting for teams once they feel they are unlikely to make the playoffs. The single-elimination tourney above makes more teams able to make the playoffs, but to further reduce the incentive to tank, here is my solution to lottery odds w/ 256 total chances to get the 1st pick in the draft or one of the top 4 spots.

Team 1 gets 31 chances 12.11%

Team 2 gets 29 chances 11.33%

Team 3 gets 27 chances 10.55%

Team 4 gets 25 chances 9.77%

Team 5 gets 23 chances 8.98%

Team 6 gets 21 chances 8.20%

Team 7 gets 19 chances 7.42%

Team 8 gets 17 chances 6.64%

Team 9 gets 15 chances 5.86%

Team 10 gets 13 chances 5.08%

Team 11 gets 11 chances 4.30%

Team 12 gets 9 chances 3.52%

Team 13 gets 7 chances 2.73%

Team 14 gets 5 chances 1.95%

Team 15 gets 3 chances 1.17%

Team 16 gets 1 chances 0.39%

The worst team gets 31 of 256 lottery chances, the next team , 29 chances, followed by the 3rd worst team getting 27 chances, and so on, down to the 16th worst team getting 1 chance in 256. As you can see, this gives even the worst team only about a 12% change of getting the #1 pick. The worst team is guaranteed to get a top 5 pick since, in my lottery, the first 4 spots are chosen at random. This is only 1 pick different than the current lottery system, but the lottery odds are significantly different. The worst 4 teams have only a combined 43.75% chance of getting the #1 pick. If one of the worst 16 teams actually wins the NBA championship coming out of the modified "entertaining as Hell" tourney, they lose their lottery chances and get the last pick in the 1st round and 2nd round of the draft. All other teams retain their original seeding regardless of how far they go in the playoffs. Only a championship eliminates your lottery chances. If you have an even record with one or two or more teams, you split all of the lottery chances those teams have evenly among those teams. If none of them move up to the top 4 spots, you use the same tie-breakers they have in place today to decide their draft position. For example, if the 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th worst teams all have the same record, they split the 13, 11, 9, and 7 chances they would have had in the lottery and they get 10 chances each(still 40 total) out of the 256 to win the lottery. If they have even records, they deserve even chances at the top pick. With these changes, I feel that the incentives to tank are so far reduced that it becomes much less likely that teams actively pursue the fan-unfriendly tank-a-lot strategies of the past.

So, that about sums up my solutions for these issues. Please participate in the poll or leave comments below if you have any compliments or criticisms you care to share. Thanks for your time!
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