In the NBA, tanking for a first draft pick has been a problem for a long time. Tanking for a specific playoff game or medium hasn’t been such a big deal, but it certainly hit an embarrassing new low on Sunday. The Los Angeles Clippers edged out the modest Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets played YMCA ball against the Portland Trail Blazers, both in one attempt. stay that far of the Los Angeles Lakers as they reasonably could.
These two tweets, from someone who wrote a book on the NBA basketball analyzes, capture a large part of sentiment of national fans on seed-based tanking by NBA teams (the Clippers and Nuggets) to manipulate first-round playoffs and reshape their entire trajectories by taking out an opponent until the conference finals:
I was in favor of Denver dodging the Lakers, but if you’re the Clippers and fighting your chest over not being a little brother anymore and putting up billboards and shit, dodge in a way. blatantly the team you share an arena with is beyond hilarious.
– Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) May 17, 2021
I have no problem with that. This is the current setup, and Denver has earned the right to do whatever it sees in its best interest. Until the rules are changed to limit things like this, I would be mad at my team if they didn’t book matches to get their own maximum advantage.
– Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) May 17, 2021
You can call the cowardly Clippers for wanting to avoid the Lakers. You could also say the Clips should want to play LeBron James earlier than later in the playoffs, as Bron could be rusty and hesitant when he returns from injury. By early June, it could be 100% and the Lakers will once again be their juggernaut.
We can have these debates, but they are separate discussions. For now, let’s just focus on how the Clippers managed to dodge the Lakers in the first two rounds. Cowardly or not, the playoffs represent a high-stakes moment for a large professional organization interested in making a profit. If a team can go two rounds deeper in the playoffs than they otherwise would, that team absolutely should do what they can as long as the rules allow. So what if fans think seed-based tanking stinks? Teams will – and should – do it.
The best discussion to have, in light of what the Clippers and Nuggets tried to do over the weekend, is to explore how the NBA and Adam Silver can prevent this tactic in the future.
Draft-based tanking is a separate issue. The solutions have been discussed for a long time. The draft is still a valuable television property for the league. I have my reservations about the need to keep the project – and national commentators like Bomani Jones are totally against the plans at this point in the evolution of professional sports – but the NBA does not seem interested in going down that road.
The conversation about seed-based tanking for the playoffs is a much more recent conversation. Additionally, since this year’s playoffs do not provide a total field advantage (“full” refers to below-capacity crowds in home arenas due to the pandemic), the importance of Seed-based games have become much bigger for the Clippers and Nuggets than they would have in a normal year. Not playing in front of a full hall on the road just isn’t as important when the capacity is 50% or less. Picking the right game – the home field being much less relevant to playoff success – was clearly a priority for many teams in the West.
Let’s get right to the point, then: How can the NBA prevent this scenario going forward, with the Clippers beating insanely worse than the Thunder, an unanticipated plot twist? The solution is conceptually simple. The league and its team owners simply have to decide whether it is worth pursuing. The policy is complicated, not the idea itself.
There you go, NBA fans: the way Adam Silver can drastically reduce – if not eliminate – the seed-based tank by the Clippers, Nuggets and other teams in the future is to give more home games for higher seeds. Here is the solution.
In the 1-on-8 seed, the No.1 seed wins all seven home games of the series. In the 2v7 game, the No.2 seed gets six home games. In the 3-6 series, the 3-seeded gets five home games. It is only in the 4-5 series that the normal format, with the top seed getting four home games and the bottom seed getting three, still applies.
In the second round, reseed the remaining four teams in each conference instead of having a locked parenthesis (1-8 plays 4-5 and 3-6 plays 2-7). The highest remaining seed plays the lowest remaining seed, then the middle two seeds play.
These two reforms would have kept the Clippers from falling to the No.4 position to avoid the No.7 Lakers for the first two rounds of the playoffs (assuming the Lake Show beat the Warriors in the play-in game; a win Warrior would put the Lakers in the second round of the Clips: 8v4).
When the NBA and the rest of America are likely to emerge from the pandemic at the end of 2021 – and full-capacity basketball games return – the value of the on-court advantage in the 2022 NBA Playoffs will be more. pronounced. Having more dates at home would be a real prize for the owners. The loss of home appointments would represent a financial blow for the teams. You just wouldn’t see so many seed-based tubs. It would be in the interest of the Clippers to get the best seed possible.
Again, no one is saying or suggesting that the policy of this recommended change is not complicated. No one is implying that Adam Silver or the owners of the league teams are ready to implement this change. However, if the NBA is really interested in fixing this issue and nipping it in the bud after the Clippers’ embarrassing display on Sunday, this is how the league should respond.
The solution is there. The NBA just has to want to change that… and do something about it.