Growing up through the 90’s, there were 2 teams I loved to watch and pull for, the Chicago Bulls and the Seattle Supersonics. As a young kid, I didn’t know much about basketball strategy just respected the talent level and excitement the game brought me. Michael Jordan created the most excitement with the Bulls and Space Jam. However, the Supersonics were a lot of fun and growing up in Atlanta, GA, I didn’t have much interest in the Hawks as a kid. That probably had a lot to do with never playing in the Finals and or Eastern Conference Finals until 2014 in my lifetime.
It’s no secret the NBA regular season is pretty awful. Outside of the key name matchups throughout the year, the Orlando Magic vs the Minnesota Timberwolves isn’t exactly something worth popping your popcorn for.
The main problem the NBA has with people like me staying interested for the entire ride of the season is the glaring fact that over half (53.33%) of the teams make the playoffs. Some years, teams below .500 make the playoffs. That doesn’t really create an intriguing 1st round matchup for me personally.
In recent weeks the NBA has explored shortening the season while also creating a midseason tournament style. These might seem like good ideas but there’s a simple solution the NBA could exercise to create a little more excitement throughout the season.
Add 2 more teams.
If they aren’t going to change the current playoff format/structure, evening the playoff teams out to 50% of the league instead of 53% could add more intrigue to the teams in the playoff hunt. It could potentially end any below .500 teams in the future and make the regular season a little more important than what we’ve witnessed over the years with teams basically throwing games by resting stars to keep them healthy for the playoffs.
Here at TOSS, I’ve done all the thinking for you. Here’s what the NBA should do to expand:
Bring back the Seattle Supersonics
Seattle would love another chance at the Supersonics and with a new arena in the works they would deserve one again. They do not, however, need to move a franchise. Let Sacremento keep their team. Keep the Thunder in OKC. Grizzlies can stay in Memphis. Just let a new franchise begin. New Ownership, New Coaches, New Players.
Now that the NBA has succeeded in evening out the playing field for everyone with the cap space and player contracts more players than ever could fill out rosters throughout the NBA and keep the competitive balance throughout the league. It could also potentially end any future BIG 3 eras as there would be another team or 2 with money and cap space to divide monster MAX contracts.
Wouldn’t it be cool if Seattle got a team and chose IT as the starting point guard and signed other free agents that are piling on to team’s benches?
Look into St. Louis
St. Louis used to be the home to my Atlanta Hawks. When the Hawks were there they went to 4 NBA Finals and won 1 Championship before moving for the 68-69 season. The NFL power-moved the Rams out of town to LA and with the St. Louis Blues winning the Stanley Cup, it shows that the fans want more than just the Cardinals. There could be a potential to bring back an NBA franchise, however they can’t have the Hawks back. They’re Atlanta’s team now.
How Las Vegas would afford all the tickets for an NFL, NHL, and NBA franchise would seem like a daunting task for just over 640,000 residents but Las Vegas is turning into one of the key cogs for potential sports entertainment growth. Also, the NBA is played inside so that helps the case for putting a team there. The Market would compete directly with the Now-Potent LA franchises along with any potential good Suns team market. So unless the Suns moved to Las Vegas, this one would be harder to see happening.
“Wait, but wouldn’t that overload the Western Conference with too many teams?”
Move the New Orleans Pelicans to the Eastern Conference
If St. Louis gets a team then move them to the East over the Pelicans. Otherwise, this make the most sense.
The NBA needs more southern teams in the Eastern Conference with only Atlanta, Charlotte, Orlando, and Miami being the southern representatives. New Orleans already has a rivalry with Atlanta in the NFL and LSU and the SEC keep their fans generally locked into the southeast region of the country. Add into the potential for a Pelicans/Hornets rivalry and it makes too much sense.
Switch to 8 team divisions
Keeping 6 divisions doesn’t really add up with 32 teams. Unless they put 4 more franchises in somewhere like Las Vegas/St. Louis, San Diego, Another Canada team, and Kansas City, four 8-team divisions make sense. The NBA divisions are pretty meaningless in actuality. Unlike MLB and NFL, division winners aren’t the post season line jumping pass. Besides a banner, there really isn’t any emphasis on it from an NBA perspective.
Separate the divisions as follows:
- Northeast Division:
- Boston Celtics
- Brooklyn Nets
- Chicago Bulls
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Detroit Pistons
- Milwaukee Bucks
- New York Knicks
- Toronto Raptors
- Southeast Division:
- Atlanta Hawks
- Charlotte Hornets
- Indiana Pacers
- Miami Heat
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Orlando Magic
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Washington Wizards
- Central Western Division:
- Dallas Mavericks
- Denver Nuggets/St. Louis
- Houston Rockets
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- San Antonio Spurs
- Utah Jazz
- Western Division:
- Denver Nuggets/Las Vegas
- Golden State Warriors
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Phoenix Suns
- Portland Trailblazers
- Sacramento Kings
- Seattle Supersonics
Logistically, I think they could add a 31st team in the Supersonics and make the scheduling work because of all the mix and match-up throughout the week and even on the final day of the season, not everyone plays.
This is just an idea I wanted to get on paper and see what alterations could be made to make this happen.
Just a thought.