Over the off season I've been thinking a lot about how The NBA could be expanded, how the draft lottery could be changed to stop teams from tanking, and how the NBA play offs could be made even more exciting for fans.
Expanding The NBA.
Yes, there is a vast number of games to be played in the regular season, but in my eyes the NBA still needs more teams. So I'm putting forward the idea of adding 6 extra teams to the league.
These teams will be based in St Louis, Seattle, Louisville, Las Vegas, Kansas, and Pittsgurgh.
After spending a lot of time researching the subject I believe these to be the best cities available for expanding the NBA.
How would the league change?
First of all the 2 conferences would have to be removed for the regular season (they will be back later). It would be impossible to play 100+ regular season games, which is what would be required if we had 2 conferences of 18 teams.
Divisions as we know them would be removed and replaced by 4 divisions (for now I shall just call them divisions 1, 2, 3 and 4).
9 teams will make up each division.
Each team will match up against the other 8 teams in their division 4 times per season. 2 at home and 2 on the road.
Each team would play the 27 teams from the remaining 3 divisions twice each. 1 at home and 1 on the road.
This means each team will play 86 regular season games. Only 4 more than are played now despite the fact that 6 teams have been added to the league.
The new play off format.
Despite expanding the league only 16 teams will advance to the play offs. But at the end of the regular season 24 teams will still have everything to play for.
The top 3 seeds from each division will advance straight into the play offs (12 teams in total).
Now I introduce to you, the all new 'Play off qualifiers'
The 4th, 5th and 6th seeds in each division all have a chance to advance to the play offs. Giving us another 4 teams, which makes 16 teams in total advancing into the play offs.
First of all there will be a one off game in each division between the 5th and 6th seed, with the 5th seed having home court advantage. The winner of this match then plays a one off game against the 4th seed from the same division with the 4th seed having home court advantage. The overall winner of each divisions play off qualifier then advances through to the play offs.
After the play off qualifiers we then see our old western and eastern conferences come back together for the play offs. Teams from division 1 and 2 make up the western conference and teams from divisions 3 and 4 make up the eastern conference.
Now the play offs return to the format we know today. With the 1st seed playing the 8th seed. 2nd playing 7th. 3rd playing 6th and 4th playing 5th (teams are ranked by their regular season records). All match ups will be a best of 7 series with the winners advancing to the conference semis and then the conference finals, before the 2 winners from each conference meet in the NBA finals.
The new draft lottery.
There has been a lot of talk recently about how the draft lottery works. Which has resulted in a few different ways of changing the system being discussed. But with the expansion of the NBA that I've spoken of and the new play off format I have put forward I have a different idea for the draft lottery aswell.
All 20 teams that failed to make the play offs enter the draft lottery. This also includes the 8 teams that were beaten in the play off qualifiers. The 4 teams that won the play off qualifiers do not enter the lottery.
Of the 20 teams entering the lottery the 8 teams with the lowest winning percentages will all have an 8% chance of winning the lottery. The remaining 12 teams will all have a 3% chance of winning the lottery.
As you can see every teams chance of winning the lottery is fairly low, but all the odds are very even. This should help push teams away from the idea of tanking.
The order of the first 10 picks of the draft will now be drawn out in the lottery, instead of the first 3 picks which we see today. This could help soften the blow should a 4th seed team lose the play off qualifier in their division as they could still end up with a top 10 pick in the draft if they get lucky in the lottery.
After the order of the first 10 picks has been decided the rest of the draft will be picked in order of winning percentage (lowest to highest).
Why these changes will work for the NBA.
These changes should make the NBA more exciting for the fans as 24 out of 36 teams will now have a shot at the play offs. Be it through entering the play offs via top 3 seeding in their division or through the new play off qualifiers.
The fact that so many teams can make the play offs will keep supporters glued to the NBA season as it draws to a close as any one teams season could still be alive as they could still have the play off qualifiers to aim for, even though they could be out of the race for automatic entry into the play offs.
These play off qualifiers will help bring in more revenue for the NBA as the total of 6 one off games will be sure to bring in vast amounts of television viewers for the games as play off futures hang in the balance.
Finally, the new draft lottery will hopefully put an end to tanking as there is now only a 5% difference in the chance of the team with the lowest winning percentage getting the number 1 pick as there is of a team who finished 4th in their division and losing the play off qualifiers getting that same pick. This should see more teams attempting to push for the play offs as opposed to tanking a whole season.
Some might argue that these are bad ideas. But I strongly believe that these changes would help make the NBA become more of a level playing field.