Addressing the Success and Challenges of the NBA Cup: A Look at Potential Improvements for the Future

The NBA Cup has been a success. Unquestionably. Despite the doubts regarding the involvement of the players and fans, no one doubts how well this format has worked, which has given us life or death matches in November and December, it has excited the fans of teams that a priori They are not going to fight for the ring, and it has served emerging stars to kick down the entrance door to the mainstream.

But, as the first year of the experiment, there are also details that have not been round. And taking into account how prone Adam Silver is to making modifications and adjustments, it is not ruled out that we will see tweaks in the competition from 2024, so let’s review some of the aspects that can be touched up or that have generated controversy. In short, let’s try to improve the NBA Cup.

Let’s give it a name (for real)

In-Season Tournament sounds like a temporary name that someone forgot to change. Lorem Ipsum Tournament practically. And on top of that it presents the problem that it is so untranslatable that in the rest of the languages ​​we have had to make a living. It can’t be like that. You have to get with that.

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There are theories that suggest that the NBA wanted to wait to see if the competition took off before committing to an official name, because it would be quite ugly to name a tournament that disappears after two years after an important figure in the history of the league. years. But, given the success, this excuse is already losing force. There is also talk of the possibility of selling the name to a sponsor, which does not solve the problem because these names rarely catch on. Or does someone call the Skills Contest the Taco Bell?

That being said, it’s not an easy decision. Because even if the NBA loves to name any award after a basketball legend, it would be strange if the tournament was named after a player who never played in it. But something must be done.

The fields

On paper, giving a different look to the courts on which it is played so that the fan recognizes at a glance that the game they are watching not only counts for the regular season is a brilliant idea. It gives the tournament its own entity and avoids confusion. But clearly they have not caught on. The majority opinion is, although perhaps not outright rejection, certainly far from acceptance. And although some designs work better than others, there are certain colors in which it even becomes difficult to follow the game at times.

However, since the problem has less to do with the basic idea than with the execution, the solution seems as simple as toning down the histrionics of the designs a couple of tones. We don’t need completely red or blue fields to realize that today is a special day. Or if?

And, although it may hurt us, perhaps this measure is not for us basketball geeks who are aware of every day and thinking that if Chicago beats Charlotte by more than 12 points it retains mathematical options of being the best second. This seems like a move designed for the casual American fan who doesn’t even know the format of the tournament and who finds the game on the rebound when he changes the channel after watching the NFL. And a light bulb goes on for that fan and he is interested in knowing why the parquet is suddenly purple. That man from Alabama is the one the NBA wants to hook, because he already has us. So we still have to accept that these colors are not going to disappear.

Las Vegas

The NBA is crazy about making Las Vegas part of the competition. And while waiting for a possible expansion that would give the city a team, they have turned it into the headquarters of the final four. With a result not as satisfactory as one might expect.

In this sense, the comparison between the quarterfinal matches and the semifinals is painful. The Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana was abuzz in the game against Boston, you really felt a playoff atmosphere, a party, and excitement. But in the semifinals against Milwaukee everything was more subdued. Empty seats, neutral fans who enjoyed the show but which was far from transmitting the passion generated by 15,000 souls supporting their own. And although what was seen on the track was equally impressive, some aura was missing. A yes but…

In 2020, Anthony Davis scored a winning basket at the buzzer against Denver in the Orlando bubble, and LeBron James said that the only thing he regretted was that that action did not come in front of a packed hall because the feeling is completely different. And it’s not as if the audience at the final four has been comparable to an empty pavilion, it’s not that either, but it’s shocking that the league has fought so hard to make this tournament relevant and then take its final phase to a territory where it leaves to live with so much dispassion. Surely they didn’t expect it to be like this. But if the NBA was hoping for a bachelor party in Las Vegas, it has found a baby shower.

The time at which the first semi-final started did not help either, more considerate for the Europeans but strangely early for the locals, since there are precisely a few people who cannot attend or pay attention to a match that is played on a Thursday at 2 pm. This can be remedied with a solution as simple as not playing the two semifinals on the same day, but the important problem, that of fleeing the local fans to go to neutral territory, is still there.

Even if fans wanted to travel to see their team in Las Vegas, the fact that the semifinals are played just two days after the quarterfinals makes this a virtually impossible trip to plan for the average viewer, especially those from the East coast. The Lakers, whose city is about 4 hours away by car, did notice more cheer during their games, but the Las Vegas party certainly has not moved inside the arena.

According to Sam Amick, a journalist from The Athleticthe agreement between the league and the city only confirmed it as the venue for the final phase for this year, with no guarantees for 2024. But realistically, the glamor of Las Vegas possibly weighs a lot when choosing where it will be held next year. comes.

Calendar changes

The latter is a fairly minor issue in that it only affects a couple of teams, but it has generated complaints that we can consider legitimate to some extent and has to do with the way the schedule is adjusted once it is determined which teams beat the group stage. Well, the quarterfinal matches, a priori more competitive and against more complicated rivals, continue to count for the regular season. And those franchises whose position in the standings may depend on one or two wins may feel hurt.

To illustrate, let’s use the example of the Knicks. Finishing as the best second-place finisher in the Eastern Conference, the New Yorkers had to play the quarterfinals in Milwaukee, and after losing to the Bucks they had to travel to Boston to face the team that had fallen in the other tie. And, as expected, they lost both matches.

Meanwhile, their potential rivals for the East playoff spots faced more accessible duels in which they were able to scratch out a victory. What’s more, due to this realignment, the Knicks will face Boston and Milwaukee, first and second in the conference, a total of five times during the regular season, something that no other team will have to do.

This is surely the most extreme case, but something similar happens in the West. Phoenix, the best second, had to face the Lakers in the quarterfinals and later the Kings, two important rivals against whom they suffered two defeats. Minnesota, which did not advance to the quarterfinals basketaverage, played their respective games against two teams at the bottom of the table like San Antonio and Memphis. Whom, of course, he won.

The tiebreaker system?

This is an issue that has generated a lot of controversy in the United States and even some controversy on the track, but with the current three-group format, resorting to the point difference to determine who is the best second seems the most logical option. Furthermore, using the basketaverage It forces the teams to fight until the end in each match and gives a little more excitement to resolved matches. In some ways, this system could be considered to do away with the concept of garbage minutes. But it also presents some problems that may be worth reviewing.

And the idea that this form of tiebreaker makes every basket count is… half true. Because in such a short tournament in which two defeats leave you out (not mathematically but for practical purposes) a team that has already lost the first game and is losing the second by 20 points in the last quarter has no There is really no incentive to try to lose by only 10. While the team that wins by 20 does have incentives to try to win by 35. So the garbage minutes end for only one of the two.

However, this problem is only as big as the players want to make it. If you are not going to make an effort to reduce your disadvantage, do not reproach your opponent for wanting to increase it. But the use of the point difference does bring with it another problematic aspect, which has to do with the calendar of the last day.

As already happened this year, the fact that the matches are played at different times gives an advantage to those who play their matches later, as it allows these teams to know for sure how much they have to win to qualify for the quarterfinals. And although this would have an obvious solution such as having everything be played at the same time, this is not really possible because, by having odd groups, there cannot be a day in which all the teams play. So, even if the schedule of the last day of the group stage were unified, there would be six teams, one from each group, that would have already played their four matches and that, if they aspired to be the best second, they would be in disadvantage.

(Portography: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

2023-12-11 13:00:00
#improve #NBA #Cup


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