I know everyone has their own theory of how to fix the tanking problem in the league, this is my solution. I've been thinking through this for a few years but I'm open to suggestions.
Divide the season into three parts (not counting preseason): qualifying, seeding, and playoffs.
Part I: Qualifying The regular season would be 56 games The top fourteen teams (or seven from each conference) then qualify for the playoffs, the remaining 16 become lottery teams.
Part II: Seeding The remaining 26 games would have each of the playoff teams play each other once at home and once on the road. Playoff seeding will be based on a teams record during this 26 game schedule. Tie-breaks would be based on head-to-head then qualifying season record. The 16 lottery teams would also play each other, the top two teams qualify for the two remaining playoff spots. The draft order is determined by the best remaining record of the 14 lottery bound teams (best remaining team gets the top pick, and so on). Tie-breakers would be based on head-to-head records then regular season record.
Part III: Playoffs Basically the same as we currently have it. Playoff seeding is based on record from previous 26 games. Best record gets top seed. The shorter seeding season would discourage teams from resting players in advance of the playoffs since teams are unlikely to get a large lead in the W column over 26 games.
Why I like this idea:
- It rewards success. Lottery teams have less incentive to tank and playoff bound teams have less incentive to rest players down the stretch. Competition is a good thing.
- The 26 game seeding tournament would produce a ton of good games, which makes for better TV.
- The lottery tournament will be filled with mostly mediocre teams, so even a bad team has an opportunity to move up in the draft order.
- Teams that get hot late in the season can still make the playoffs.
- It forces teams to be competitive throughout the entire season. You’d have fewer of the top teams resting key players down the stretch.
- Helps teams that are "one piece away" possibly make a leap to contender by placing them higher in the draft.
- A fan is never in a position where he hopes his team loses. We should want our teams to win every game.
- 16 teams qualify for the playoffs. The worst two records from the seeding tournament get dropped into the lottery and the best two lottery teams qualify for the playoffs. The lingering question is how to seed the teams that move up in the playoffs and how to position the teams that moved down in the lottery. I would use record from the seeding season. This would incentivize the teams moving up to win instead of tank. I think teams would be more interested in moving up if the reward was being a #3-5 seed as opposed to being a #7-8 seed and losing in the first round. You would have to fix the top 2-3 spots for the best teams in the seeding bracket to reward them for the harder schedule.
- You could still throw in some a lottery-based process in the draft order, but the best teams get the best odds.
- Give the qualifying teams a bigger portion of the TV revenue from the seeding phase. The games should draw higher ratings so there should be more money there.
- 56 games could be divided into two home games and two road games for each team within a conference. Cross-confernce games would only be in seeding or playoffs.