The NBA is reportedly working towards several scheduling changes that would completely change the landscape of the regular season. These changes, which would go into effect in the 2021-22 season, include a reduction in the number of regular season games from the current 82, towards somewhere in the 50s, as well as two tournaments during the season. One would be a mid-season playoff, much like the finals, that would crown a champion. The other would be a playoff of the 7-10 seeds in the regular season, deciding who would represent their respective conferences in the postseason. Below will be a more in-depth look at the proposed changes and what they would mean for the sport.
A Shortened Regular Season
This absolutely needs to happen. Ever since Gregg Popovich began resting his stars a few years ago, teams have adopted the idea of “Load Management”. The resting of star players is most likely only going to become more prominent after this year. The NBA Champion Toronto Raptors sat Kawhi Leonard more than a few times during this year’s regular season. It proved to pay off in the biggest way possible as he had an incredible playoffs, leading his team to a 4-2 series win over the Warriors in the Finals.
In 2011 the NBA had a shortened season thanks to a lockout, and it was by far my favorite season I have watched since I’ve been a kid. The season began on Christmas Day and consisted of 66 games, which all felt like they meant just a little bit more than normal.
A shortened NBA Season is exactly what the sport needs.
A Mid-Season Tournament
This is the one rule change I personally do not like at all. The goal for the NBA here is to get more ratings at the beginning of the season, where the casual fan may feel the games do not really matter. By crowning a mid-season champion, the NBA eliminates the feeling of a long season while allowing the possibility of two fan bases celebrating championships in the same year.
The problem with this rule change is redundancy. If the league ultimately decides to adopt the shorter schedule, the regular season games will already have greater appeal and seem more watch worthy. Also, a mid-season championship will never be viewed as equivalent to the NBA Finals crown.
These types of tournaments work in Soccer because of things like the Champions League and the European Championship are played with teams that do not normally meet each other over the course of their league’s regular season.
I see what the NBA is trying to do here, but unless the CBA in China and some European leagues get as good as the NBA, mid-season tournaments are pointless.
An End Of Season Playoff Between the 7-10 Seeds
This idea actually makes a lot of sense. The NBA rarely sees upsets in the first round of the playoffs. Of course, by upsets I am talking about 1-8 and 2-7 matchups, a 5 seed beating a 4 does not qualify.
This play in round would allow for fans of teams at the bottom of the pack to watch some intriguing playoff basketball.
The format would consist of a 4 team bracket. The team that goes 2-0 would take over as the 7 seed and the 8 seed would be decided by the two 1-1 teams having a win or go home game. I am all in for this rule change.