1. CHANGE THE PLAYOFF SEEDING
Today’s NBA fans want to see the two best teams in the Finals; they don’t care so much about conference rivalries. While there have been calls to have the best 16 teams qualify for the playoffs, the league could take an exploratory step in this direction by having eight teams qualify from each conference, but then seeding them by record 1-16 regardless of conference affiliation. There will still be some bad teams that make the playoffs, yet, this will drastically up the odds that they are quickly eliminated and the two best teams end up in the Finals.
2. RETURN TO 2-3-2 PLAYOFF FORMAT
Increased travel has been stated as the biggest stumbling block to seeding teams regardless of conference in the playoffs. This could be mitigated by dumping the 2-2-1-1-1 format adopted in 2014. In a 2-3-2 format, a series would only switch venues twice. Yes, there are drawbacks in that it makes the team with the superior record play three straight on the road. But it’s worth it if it helps get the two best teams to the Finals.
3. DO NOT SHORTEN THE SEASON
There’s a time-honored tradition of using white lies about injuries to give star players a rest down the stretch. And while it’s disappointing to fans who pay good money for tickets only to find out that players they came to watch aren’t playing, is this a big enough problem to completely mess with history? Yes, science tells us players are better off when they get some rest. So figure out how to do that within the context of the 82-game season like teams have been doing for years.
4. DUMP THE ONE-AND-DONE RULE
Would we require a world-class computer-science student to play sports for a year in order to get a good job at Google? That’s essentially what the one-and-done rule has done to elite players -- forcing them to enroll in a college they have no intention of attending for more than a year. With the growth of the G-League as a training ground, the NBA no longer needs to rely on college coaches to develop players. It’s time to let them go into the league directly out of high school.
5. GIVE GREAT SUPPORT TO THE WNBA
The NBA is the most diverse and progressive of the major sports leagues. Yet, its relationship with its sister league, the WNBA, is both opaque and problematic. The NBA has never been more popular or had more money. Would it kill the league to devote some of its resources into helping to market the WNBA, pay its players fairly and push it to the next level?