Do you wish you could watch Blake Griffin in this year's playoffs? Miss seeing Deron Williams, Stephen Curry or Brook Lopez? I have an idea on how to improve the quality of the playoffs and make everyone happy.
In short, the NBA should institutes a supplemental playoff draft.
After the regular season ends, each playoff team can draft one player from a non-playoff team to join their squad for the playoffs. The draft order is determined by final regular-season record, which means the Bulls would choose last and the Pacers would choose first this year.
So say the Pacers take Blake. They have him for every game until they get eliminated. At that point, everyone goes home and Griffin is a Clipper again next fall.
1. Fans of non-playoff teams have a reason to watch. Any Clipper fans who don't normally care about the playoffs are now watching the Pacers play, increasing TV ratings and boosting revenue across the board. The same goes for fans in New Jersey, San Francisco, Houston and many other markets.
2. Players on bad teams get valuable playoff experience. Blake Griffin plays against the Bulls, gets to understand the intensity of the playoff experience, and returns that much more valuable for the Clippers. When the Clips finally manage to reach the playoffs themselves, they have a battle-hardened Griffin ready to lead them... he knows exactly what to expect and doesn't need to spend a couple games figuring things out.
3. In today's NBA, there are no 70-win Bulls teams. There are no Showtime Lakers or Bird/McHale/Parrish Celtics. Teams in the past were way more loaded than they are today (mostly thanks to league expansion), and even the Lakers, Spurs and Bulls have holes they wouldn't mind filling. Even if you're getting the 16th-best player of those not in the playoffs, that's awesome.
Here's a non-scientific list of the best 16 players not in the playoffs (according to the Yahoo! fantasy rankings in my league this season).
1. Stephen Curry
2. Monta Ellis
3. Al Jefferson
4. Dorell Wright
5. Kevin Martin
6. Eric Gordon
7. Channing Frye
8. Steve Nash
9. David Lee
10. Andrei Kirilenko
11. Brook Lopez
12. Carlos Delfino
13. Luke Ridnour
14. Andray Blatche
15. Brandon Jennings
16. Javale McGee
Somehow Blake doesn't rate on this system, which is ridiculous, but you get the idea.
The Bulls add Javale McGee while the Pacers get to choose from Griffin, Curry, Ellis or Jefferson. Meanwhile the Spurs can add Andray Blatche and the Nuggets can grab David Lee. Not a bad setup, in my opinion. No one is stuck with a scrub, and if a team doesn't want to risk ruining their team's chemistry, they can just pass.
1. Owners might not want their best players risking injury to help another team, similar to how Mark Cuban has complained about Dirk playing for Germany in the Olympics and other international tournaments.
To offset this, I would have the drafting team pay one or two million dollars to the non-playoff team in exchange for rights to the player. Maybe even a second-round draft pick on top of cash considerations. And the owner's guy gets the playoff experience needed to benefit his team next season.
2. Players might not want to assist another team's effort to win a championship. In that case they can remove themselves from the draft, though in order to offset this reluctance they'd also be paid handsomely for their time and effort. In addition, they may end up getting historical credit for helping another team win a championship, as in "Kevin Love assisted the Denver Nuggets in winning three championships while part of the Minnesota Timberwolves." And as previously mentioned, they get playoff experience... a vastly important factor if you'd like to win one for your team one day.
They also get the added benefit of other teams watching them in the playoffs. If Curry tears it up against the Lakers and helps the Nuggets get to the conference finals, you don't think his value goes up? His next contract is going to be larger than it would be if he were just part of the perpetually non-contending Warriors.
And to top it all off, you know David Stern loves this idea. It increases TV revenues, gets his young stars more exposure, and creates more even playoff matchups (though that's not much of an issue this year).
I think this idea would work. Your take?