How do you get NBA teams to stop tanking? That’s one of the most prominent questions facing the league today. As amusing as all the #TrustTheProcess jokes are, the reality is that many teams seem more committed to losing in an effort to land that franchise-changing player in the NBA Draft.
Unfortunately, that makes for a less-entertaining product. No one wants to buy tickets to watch a team that isn’t even pretending to be competitive, and the NBA’s television partners don’t want those teams on national television either. One potential solution that have been thrown around to “fix” tanking is a play-in tournament. The idea is that seeds No. 7 to No. 10 in each conference would engage in a mini-tournament right before the playoffs start, with four teams battling over the final two playoff spots.
LeBron James doesn’t like the idea at all:
"That's corny. That's wack."
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 21, 2018
“That’s wack,” James said. “Why? You gotta earn your spot to be in the postseason. No consolation for finishing last, that’s corny. That’s corny. That’s wack.”
Even after the reporter explained the idea a little bit more, James scoffed.
“Even if my record is better than yours? Nah, that’s wack.”
We have a better idea to fix tanking. All the non-playoff teams can play in their own “post-season,” with the winner getting the No. 1 overall pick, the runner up getting the No. 2 pick, and so on. In this case, finishing ninth in the regular season would actually give you the best shot at landing the No. 1 pick, instead of the worst chance. As for ticket sales and television deals, the NBA should fill the arenas with cheap tickets for kids — even putting the games on during the afternoon and turning them into field trips.
LeBron probably hates that idea too. But whatever.