5. Let the best teams choose their opponents
Rivalries are essentially dead in the NBA. These players grew up going to the same camps and playing in the same All-Star Games. By the time they get to the NBA, they’re all friendly with each other. It’s just a reality of the modern league. Even Chris Paul, one of the NBA’s prickliest stars, is not immune.
As mentioned earlier, here is the famous picture of Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and LeBron James on the banana boat. pic.twitter.com/7wDl8Wv8iv
— Naylor & Landsberg (@NaylorLandsberg) July 14, 2016
In reality, if one team significantly better than another, a playoff series between the two will be short and will feature a few blowouts. There’s no way around that. But how can we add some spice to those series?
One way would be to let the best teams choose their opponents. The best way to do this would be to seed the playoff teams 1-16. You make the playoffs based on what you do in your conference but once there, you can play anyone at any time.
In 2017, the Warriors had the best record and would have had the first pick. Maybe they would have chosen Paul’s Clippers. By record, it wouldn’t have made sense. But it would have been an easy travel schedule for Golden State. Additionally, the Dubs consistently own the the Clippers. Still, if getting hand picked as an opponent wouldn’t spark Paul’s crew, nothing would.
Or, maybe Golden State would have gone into the Eastern Conference and chosen Paul’s banana boat buddy, Dwyane Wade and his Chicago Bulls. The Bulls may not be an especially talented team, but would Wade, Rajon Rondo, and Jimmy Butler take getting called out like that lying down?
This would create a genuine beef between two teams on the court, especially in the early round series. Even the most lopsided matchups would have a real spark to them. The rivalries created might even extend beyond petty, passive aggressive activity on social media, you never know.
It would sure be fun to watch, which is more than we can say for the 2017 NBA Playoffs.