Over the holidays, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that there is “renewed momentum” for an NBA midseason tournament. That idea has been thrown around quite a bit in recent years, and previously, it was easy to dismiss it as too radical. However, since the league instituted the play-in, a midseason tournament no longer seems so far-fetched.
ESPN reports that an in-season competition would be pool play, followed by eight teams advancing into a single-elimination bracket-style tournament. In order to accommodate the extra games, the regular season total would be reduced from 82 to 78.
Big picture, a tournament doesn’t solve the problem of increasing interest in the regular season, which is the league’s main problem. It does provide something to look forward to before the playoffs. However, the current plan is for the tournament to conclude before Christmas, which means the NBA would be competing with the NFL, and that never ends well.
Having something else to compete for other than an NBA championship is an interesting proposition, considering only about seven teams are contenders in any given year. Playing in games that have stakes can help younger teams, as the Phoenix Suns learned in their 8-0 bubble run. This could also add some meaning to seasons when teams otherwise have no hope of playing for a title. And if the tournament is played on a neutral site, it would add some intrigue as teams angle to host it.
Ideally, if the NBA is willing to reduce the number of regular-season games for this concept, the league should go even further and get the total down in the 60s. That would improve the product by adding more rest days and by increasing the importance of each individual game. The lengthy schedule allows teams to go through lulls without any real consequence, and that’s something the league needs to deal with.
Even if a midseason tournament doesn’t address the NBA’s biggest issue, it does create more excitement during the year — and for action that occurs on the court instead of off. That sounds like it should be a winning proposition.
More news for Wednesday:
- The Clippers signed Xavier Moon to a second 10-day hardship contract. I wrote about what Moon has accomplished so far.
- Mirjam Swanson detailed how the Clippers coaching staff has had to have the next man up mentality too.
- Kawhi Leonard came in at no. 34 in The Athletic’s top 75 ranking.
- Kevin Pelton tallied which teams have been hit hardest by Covid over the past month. Here is a visual representation.