NBA Competitive Balance

The NBA is entertaining, exciting, exhilarating, (and any other positive adjective that begins with ‘e’ that one can think of).

Wouldn’t it be great to enter a season with a wide open field, as numerous real championship contenders compete throughout the season?

Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. The NBA is setup where if you can add the most superstars, you are in all likelihood playing in June. Its not necessarily the league’s fault, as only five players are on the court at a time. So an NBA’ superstars’ impact is much more powerful than say, an NFL, or NHL star. (NFL, NHL players, this is why you don’t get paid as much NBA athletes, so just think about it, and stop whining).

The NBA is making more money than ever before, and some could argue its due to the rise, and now, more commonly found, ‘super-teams.’

Some would argue, well why is this bad? It means the talent pool is deeper than ever before, amd the competition is at an all time high. In that regard, its awesome, but its not so awesome in every regard.

The league has shown it produces only only 3-4 real contenders every year, and even the casual fan has the capability of predicting the conference finals participants in November.

For arguments sake, we’ll do it right now, and guaranteed we’ll be 100% accurate, or at least pretty damn close:

Eastern Conference Finals:
Boston Celtics vs Cleveland Cavaliers (Took 2 seconds)

Western Conference Finals:
Golden State Warriors vs Houston Rockets; possibly San Antonio Spurs (ok, so this one took 6 seconds, but the idea is clear)

So what’s the NBA to do?

First, do they care? With the league bringing in as much money as they ever have, do they even care to create a competitive balance? Its an interesting question. Im sure the league would like a little more unpredictability than what they currently have, but if the money keeps flowing in, they likely aren’t going to do anything about it.
Second, where do they start? Well it’s not very complicated. Theres one simple rule that can be enforced that can prvent such phrases as, ‘Im taking my talents to south beach.’

It’s called a franchise tag. The NFL, and NHL both utilize this rule, and it essentially prevents any upcoming free agents to conspire with others on where they want to play.

Imagine if LeBron James was franchise tagged, no Miami, no big 3 with Bosh, and Wade, and LeBron still might be looking for his first championship.

Kevin Durant? Imagine if he was franchise tagged. No Warriors super team, and the Thunder could intriguingly be another title contender with Westbrook, and company.

Small market teams could keep their stars without worries, there would be no breaking stories of this player conversing with this player, and this player speaking with this organization. At least not until free agency, which, in all likelihood, many of them wouldn’t see, as again, they would be franchise tagged.

Players would still get their big paychecks, and rather than team up with other stars, championships would need to be built, and earnes around a solid draft, and key role players; something we haven’t seen since the Detroit Pistons in early 2000s.

So as the season plays out, and the obvious title contenders become clearer than a blue sky, one must wonder if this is ‘just how the NBA is,’ or if its a temporary problem that could certainly be addressed.
With the money the NBA is currently bringing in, NBA executives likely don’t see it as a top priority

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