How would they do this? This is madness, you have to tank to get better. Eveybody knows that. Well not if we have....APRIL ANARCHY!
It's pretty simple, really. Take the worst 18 records (9 from each conference) and have a single elimination tournament. I will get to some details below, but bottom line is the winner of April Anarchy get's the top pick in the draft and the #7 seed in the NBA playoffs. There is no more tanking in the NBA, everyone goes for the best record and more importantly, the best TEAM all year long. In the steps outlined below, you will find that the April Anarchy bracket would have two regions based upon conference. The April Anarchy Final Four would get the top four picks AND seeds 7&8 of the NBA Playoffs. The worst regular season record would guarantee a top five pick, but you have to play your way into the 1st or 2nd overall pick. Finally, a play in game for the worst, or maybe best April Anarchy teams.
Bill Simmons had a great idea in 2007 Tanks for nothing NBA. His thoughts on tanking haven't gone away, they were summarized by Henry Abbott about two years ago, and on Grantland.com (Bill's website) Zach Lowe just wrote a piece yesterday 'the wheel of misfortune' and refers to Bill's "Entertaining as Hell" tournament.
Zach refer's to unintended consequences and managing motivations. These are all solved by April Anarchy. There is one solution to this problem and here are the detailed steps that are necessary to make it happen Cap'n:
1) Why 18 teams? Because you want to avoid that the 7 seed tanks to get into the 8th seed for a chance at the top pick and the playoffs. 5&6 seeds probably don't want to play the top 2 teams in each conference, and you are making it more difficult to win April Anarchy for the bottom 2 teams in each conference (an extra 'play in' game to get to 16 teams). The 7&8 seeds get a chance, but only a chance to win April Anarchy (single elimination tournaments are much more random than we like to admit, just check your bracket in 3 weeks).
2)What about the worst teams? how do they get better? I would propose that the Final Four of April Anarchy get the top four picks (winner gets #1 and the rest get 2-4 in reverse regular season order). Then picks 5-18 are also in reverse regular season order across conference. So the worst record guarantees a top 5 pick, but if you want a game changer, then you have to win the tournament or at least make the final four, and that is easier to do as the third worst team in your conference. The motivation for tanking is too complex to lead to teams losing regular season games on purpose (ie tanking).
3) Conference purity? by keeping the seeding of the tournament conference based: West region and East region (and the NBA would love to steal all these labels from March Madness, don't kid yourself) the final four will always have two teams from each conference. So based upon point #2, the winner gets top pick, but the worst teams across all conferences get 2nd and 3rd pick. Seems equitable right?
4) Randomness? Even with tanking there is a certain level of nightly upsets in the NBA, why do you think they got rid of 5 game series in the playoffs? So having your team playing well heading into April Anarchy will be more important than tanking for seeding and top seeds should get home court. This is another reason for a 5 or 6 seed to stay in their spot, are you kidding me? if they tank to get into 7 or 8 and then lose in the first round, or second round, they are picking 18. On second thought, maybe the 7&8 seeds from the regular season should be in the play in game, just to make sure they don't tank out of 6 for a chance at a top four pick.
5) Fan involvement!!!! support your team in this rebuilding year by raising the roof in a single elimination tournament for the top pick in the draft! Could you imagine the atmosphere in MSG? How quickly would Mike Woodson be gone? Hell, Phil could coach 4 games right? You could tie in season ticket sales with April Anarchy, there is never a reason for teams to cheer lousy play again! Adam Silver will make everyone say Stern who?
6) Player involvement!!! no more trades to make the team worse, or because of salary (well fewer trades for salary-the James Harden disaster would still happen, but Evan Turner would still be a Sixer, so too would Jrue Holiday). The player bond with the team would strengthen as they play in a college atmosphere to help the team get better. This would hopefully lead to less 'us' vs 'them' holdouts and more team unity. Yeah it's a cold business, but your best players would play hard to get help and make the team better. They all want to win. Basketball requires fluid team relationships. Just ask the Spurs, or the Heat, or for a different view, talk with the Knicks.
7)Games and logistics. There are too many regular season games, I think that ownership would happily trade 5 or maybe even 10 games per team for 19 game nationally televised tournament that would keep every single fan base watching and interested in games all year long. The only problem I see, besides the owners being power hungry, money grubbing, soulless shells of humans, is that the ratings for April Anarchy might make the playoffs look bad. As a remedy, you could start round 1 of the playoffs between NBA Playoff seeds 4/5 and 3/6 during the end of April Anarchy....this would also lead to the final four winners getting a disadvantage by playing the a series right after April Anarchy. Which leads to the last motivation: The top 2 seeds of each conference gets to play teams that are truly just happy to be there. And not a surly, "sure, we made the playoffs, but we know we are getting swept, so I might as well foul the crap out of Lebron to let people know I still care" - bunch. The top 2 seeds of each conference are even more important, now because of April Anarchy. And the sweeps or near sweeps between NBA Playoff 1 & 2 seeds with April Anarchy winners, would lead to favorable scheduling to catch up the closer 4/5 3/6 matchupsThe fans of the April Anarchy final four not only get top four picks, they get to show their appreciation at a home playoff series.
Please tell me who doesn't win in this scenario?
This is why it won't happen unless we scream for it as fans and make Adam Silver throw his wheel out the window.