Why you should care
Because David needs a little help to beat Goliath.
Every day the chasm gets wider. Just when you think there’s no way they can get better, the Golden State Warriors sign another free agent that improves the team with players such as Nick Young and Omri Casspi. Watching the Warriors romp through the 2017 playoffs was as extraordinary as it was expected, and the 2018 NBA Finals already feel decided. Even with teams like the Celtics and the Rockets making big moves, few people outside their respective fan bases feel they have enough firepower to stand toe-to-toe with the juggernaut in the Bay.
For a sport that has built its brand around high-flying action, the NBA is in danger of becoming … kinda boring. The league needs to take drastic action. Adam Silver needs to do the right thing and drop 10 teams out of the league and disperse the displaced talent among the remaining 20.
The Warriors have four All-Stars in its lineup and a bench full of starter-caliber players, making it nearly impossible for the league to catch up. However, under this plan, the league would be filled with teams that have rosters with enough concentrated talent to rival that of the Warriors.
Immediately, the bottom 10 teams in the league are contenders.
To make it simple, the NBA could make cuts based on a team’s number of years in existence. The execution of 10 of our beloved franchises would be difficult, but, on the other hand, who’s really shedding a tear for the Clippers or the Magic anyway? In addition to those two, we could lose the Pelicans, Grizzlies, Raptors, Timberwolves, Hornets, Heat, Mavericks and Jazz.
So how do we disperse this talent? It starts with a draft. Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, Blake Griffin and many other top-tier players are now available. If the NBA held a two-round draft with the bottom 10 of the remaining 20 teams, they would each easily add two All-Star-caliber players to the talent they already have. Immediately, the bottom 10 teams in the league are contenders. The remaining players will all be placed in free agency. The teams that are in the top half of the league can get the critical missing pieces they need to compete with the Warriors using this much deeper talent pool. “I don’t think that would be a terrible thing,” Rich Kraetsch, one-half of the duo responsible for the basketball podcast Over and Back remarked. “It’s a great idea in terms of trying to add some parity.”
This parity could feel reminiscent of the other era in which the NBA featured around 20 teams, the 1970s. Eight different teams won the title in that decade, the most of any 10-year period of the sport. There was a lot of movement of talent (much like there would be in this scenario) because of the recent introduction of free agency, and the balance of teams allowed for a very competitive basketball landscape. “It’s a little bit different because in the ’70s, the league was expanding,” Kraetsch explained, “while in this situation they’re consolidating, but all in all I think you’d get the same effect of balance throughout the league.”
But what about long-term implications? Yes, the NBA would lose a third of its revenue, but it’s better than everyone losing interest and losing all of its revenue. Yes, there would be an outcry from the cities of the disbanded squads, but your team was not going to win, anyway. Yes, this may seem like an extreme reaction to a team that has just one championship in its current incarnation, but, I mean, did you watch the 2017 playoffs? There is also the chance that the league could end up back where it started. “There’s still teams like LA that are going to be cool destinations, but now instead of being the third superstar, they’d just be the fourth or maybe fifth superstar on a team,” Kraetsch points out. “Essentially you might just be moving the problem up a little bit more.”
If we don’t take action soon, the NBA could begin to look like a Harlem Globetrotters game, with the Warriors toying with opponents. The NBA needs competitive basketball again. Next season feels like a foregone conclusion, but we have the ability to fix it.