Improving the NBA

I was able to get a copy of Lebron' ideas to Adam Silver on improving the NBA...


The Draft

There has been a good deal of talk recently about how to fix the draft.

No one likes that teams openly discuss tanking.

It's almost an accepted fact that to become a Championship contender, you have to go through a massive rebuild, ala the Oklahoma City Thunder (or Unicorns).

At Sloan, Adam Gold presented an innovative solution to fix tanking.

The basis of the proposal was "We should never have to consider that a loss can be more helpful than a win."

The Proposal:

The top draft positions are awarded based on points earned after playoff elimination.

Once a team is officially eliminated from the playoffs, they start amassing points towards its draft position.

Bad teams still get an advantage (because they're eliminated earlier), but the emphasis is now on winning.

You still have the draft lottery, but the numbers of balls awarded are based off points earned after playoff elimination.



The Eastern Conference has long been the whipping boy of the Western Conference.

2012-13 188-252 41.70%
2011-12 114-156 42.20%
2010-11 189-261 42.00%
2009-10 204-246 45.30%
2008-09 231-219 51.30%
2007-08 192-258 42.70%
2006-07 193-257 42.90%
2005-06 198-252 44.00%
2004-05 194-256 43.10%
2003-04 154-266 36.70%
2002-03 170-250 40.50%
2001-02 188-232 44.80%
2000-01 161-259 38.30%
1999-00 193-227 46.00%

The problem has been that there are only 3 teams the past few years that play above 500 against the West:

In 2010-11: Just the Bulls(23-7), Heat(20-10), and Celtics(19-11) had better than 53% records against the West. The rest of the East was 127-233, a 35.3% winning percentage.

In 2011-12: Just the Bulls(12-6), Heat(11-7), and Pacers(13-5) had better than 50% records against the West. The rest of the East was 78-138, a 36.1% winning percentage.

In 2012-13: Just the Heat(25-5), Knicks(17-13), and Pacers(18-12) had better than 50% records against the West. The rest of the East was 128-232, a 35.6% winning percentage.

The Proposal:

No conferences, just 5 divisions.

Pacific Southwest Southeast Great Lakes Northeast
Los Angeles Lakers Denver Nuggets Memphis Grizzlies Milwaukee Bucks Boston Celtics
Los Angeles Clippers Utah Jazz Atlanta Hawks Detroit Pistons Toronto Raptors
Golden State Warriors Houston Rockets New Orleans Pelicans Chicago Bulls New York Knicks
Portland Trail Blazers San Antonio Spurs Orlando Magic Indiana Pacers Brooklyn Nets
Sacramento Kings Dallas Mavericks Miami Heat Minnesota Timberwolves Washington Wizards
Phoenix Suns Oklahoma City Thunder Charlotte Bobcats Cleveland Cavaliers Philadelphia 76ers


Keep 82 game regular season(no loss of revenue), but foster more division rivalries:
* Play each team in division 3 times home/away (6 games * 5 teams = 30 games)
* Play each team out of division once home/away (2 games * 24 teams = 48 games)
* Play the team in your spot, from the previous year, in each other division (4 games, 2 home/2away)(much like the NFL does their regular season scheduling)

Playoff Changes:

* Still be a 16 team playoff, best of 7 game series(again, no change in revenue)
* Each division would automatically send their top 2 teams, and then the next 6 teams based off record.
* Each playoff team would get a 1-16 seeding(based off record), and the match-ups would get re-seeded after each round(again, much like the NFL does).
* No restrictions on who plays who in each round.

A by-product of this proposal is that it alleviates the travelling burden placed on certain teams.


When you think about college football, you think about the rivalries. You think Michigan-Ohio St, Oklahoma-Texas, Stanford-Cal, Alabama-Auburn, Oregon-Oregon St, etc.

When you think about Adam Silver' NBA, you are going to think about rivalries...

The Blazers are in the starting phase of forming rivalries with Kevin Durant and the Thunder, and Kevin Love and the Timberwolves,

Familiarity breeds contempt.

Can you imagine 6 games every season against the Lakers or Warriors? How great would that have been to have Kobe come into the Rose Garden 3 times every year? For the Blazers to go into Staples 3 times a year to beat down Kobe.

How great will it be to have the Splash Brothers come to Moda Center 3 times every year?


All-star Weekend

The Proposal:

Head coaches(plus staffs) are selected the same way.

The fans get to pick 12 players. Any 12 players they want for the Allstar game. No restrictions.

After the fans pick their 12 players, the players get to vote. They vote in the next 12 players. Again, no restrictions.

So, the fans get their 12 favorite players, and the players get to vote in the next 12 deserving players.

If there are injuries, the head coaches get to vote in the replacement. Everyone gets their vote.

Then, like the Rising Stars Challenge, the 2 head coaches draft their teams.

Can you imagine Erik Spoelstra and Gregg Popovich drafting their teams last year (like Shaq and Chuck)?

That is some must see TV right there...


Salary Cap

The NBA has long since been a free market. The owners, in an attempt to save themselves from themselves, have bastardized the NBA market.

It's understandable, as one bad contract can have ripple effects that forever inflate the market.

Not all of the rules around this are bad, or even unnecessary.

Setting a league wide maximum of length of contracts serves a good purpose. Setting a league wide maximum on value of the contracts does not serve a good purpose.

If Lebron James is worth $40 million to the Milwaukee Bucks, and Dwayne Wade is worth $30 million to the Dallas Mavericks, then having a maximum salary creates an imbalance where one team has $70 million in market talent, but is only paying them $28 million because of a league wide maximum rule.

This has been hashed and rehashed for many years, and there isn't a reasonable reason it still exists.The league is artificially creating super-teams with these rules. It creates great values(production/cost) with rookie deals and with maximum players, and creates bad values(production/cost) with the middle of the road players.

* Damian Lillard is a great value (rookie scale).
* LaMarcus Aldridge is a great value (max contract player).
* Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster are not great values (middle of the road players on $5-7M/yr deals).

If a team is willing to pay someone, they should be allowed too. You can create the team protections by limiting the years on the contracts.

The Proposal:

Eliminate the rookie scale and all rules pertaining to the maximum value of contracts.

All players become restricted free agents at the end of their contract. Players can only sign with the team that currently owns their rights (this creates a similar situation to soccer free agency).

Limit free agent contracts to 3 guaranteed years, with mutual player/team option on the 4th year.

No salary matching required on trades (if the two teams think it's a fair deal, let them make it).

Keep (or even make the repeater luxury tax harsher) the revenue sharing with teams below the soft cap (you can sign/have any player you want for any salary, but the amount you're paying into revenue sharing via the tax is going to be astronomical).


Rule Changes

* The flopping penalties of $5k, $10k, $15k, etc are garbage (they need to scale with the players salary).

If we're going to care about flopping, let's actually care: half your game check for the first offense, and your game check and a game suspension for every offense after.

* The ability for the refs to look at instant replay to change certain aspects of a call, but then not be able to make the right call.

The most grievous example I can remember is Nic Batum clearly being fouled by the Lakers, but since the only thing the refs could review was who the ball last touched, they had to award the ball to the Lakers.

* Don't expand the age requirement for entering the league. We already have the 1 and done system, and we continuously hear calls to make it 2 or 3 years. If, Adam Silver, does touch this subject, it should be to roll back the requirement and allow high school players to decide to work in their profession after graduation (without being required to take a 1 year unpaid internship in college).

* Require all referees take the "Lebron James Crab Dribble" seminar to ensure it is never called a travel again.

* Eliminate the 6 foul limit.

If a team believes that Mr. Foulomatic gives them the best opportunity to win, let him play. I want the best players on the court at all times, and don't think the 6 foul limit provides any benefit.

* Refuse to sell the space on NBA jerseys for ad revenue.

It's going to be discussed, and I'm sure that the revenue gained will go right back into the game. I hate that soccer jersey' are just ads for companies and I don't want the NBA to go down that road (like I know they will under Adam Silver).

* Make the D League an actual minor league (double it's size).

Each team would have its own affiliate, and the Blazers would own all the players on the Idaho Stampede. It would be nice to have a true farm team.


Go Blazers!

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