New year, new NBA All-Star format. In 2018, the NBA will attempt to improve their All-Star game with the elimination of teams from both conferences.
Are the 2018 changes enough? Should the NBA event consider additional revisions to their biggest weekend?
The February 16-18 event in Los Angeles will give us our first taste of a changing All-Star Weekend but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t already be considering additional changes to the NBA’s biggest weekend.
New 2018 Format
Earlier this season, the Association announced that NBA All-Star rosters would be determined by team captains voted on by fans. It’s the first time the Weekend’s grand finale didn’t put All-Stars from the Western Conference versus the Eastern Conference. This could mean teammates going at each other for the public. Both teams would also play for charity so there’s some incentive for either team to win.
Additionally, the captains selecting the teams may also be televised. Some have said this would be entertaining well others like J.R. Smith have said this could be embarrassing for captains who don’t pick their teammates.
Melo doesn’t think the All-Star draft should be televised but seemed excited about the potential rivalries that could stem from it: “Friendships can come into play”
Captains will select teams at the upcoming All-Star Game: pic.twitter.com/MPdDRy74Ad
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) December 28, 2017
At this point, many are applauding the NBA for making any sort of change to a game that was borderline unwatchable. Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan and Houston Rockets All-Star Chris Paul played a role in making the changes for 2018.
The NFL and NHL have both made similar experiments with their all-star games. The NFL just ditched their conference-free format in this past Pro Bowl after a few years. The NHL has introduced charities into their all-star game too.
However, there’s no telling if the NBA’s changes will make the game anymore compatible or entertaining. After all, no one can make the players actually play defense.
Others have also said that the lack of conference alignment makes it even more of a popularity contest. Players like Richard Jefferson said the change needs to come from the competition and not the format. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he wants it to be the 24 best players regardless of conference.
Nonetheless, here are a few other changes the NBA should consider doing to make their big weekend more entertainment.
Tournament by Divisions
How would you like to see a tournament with teams composed from each division? It would be great to see some of the Warriors pair up with Lonzo Ball or Devin Booker in the Pacific Division.
What would it look like to see Giannis Antetokounmpo team up with LeBron and friends from the Central Division? Would Kawhi Leonard, James Harden and Anthony Davis prove that the Southwest is really the toughest division in basketball?
Ultimately, this is a great way to involve stars from every NBA team into one of the league’s biggest stages. It would also help settle some bragging rights between players and friends.
Games could be quick, single-elimination style to avoid fatigue. Deep rosters could also maximize exposure and limit fatigue for the NBA’s stars.
The NBA has made plenty of revisions to the entire All-Star weekend over the years. These include revisions to the dunk contest, skills contest and rookie challenge. However, they have yet to add a one-on-one table.
Historically, one-on-one debates have always haunted forums and discussions between fans. NBA All-Star weekend would be the perfect place to settle some of these debates.
Got twitter beef? Settle it during NBA All-Star weekend. Ernes Kantar versus the world?
Of course, the success of this tournament would depend on the players who participate. Sometimes, the best one-on-one players don’t get the most run in the NBA.
Thus, some of the league’s best players may not want to play for fear of getting exposed by a player who is better with the ball. However, these kind of games happen in practice each day. It would be great to give the fans some exposure to these heated one-on-one games. It would be even better to finally crown the NBA’s king of one-on-one and isolation.
Give Incentives for Stats
Here’s an easy one. We all know how popular fantasy sports are. How about bringing fantasy sports to life during the NBA All-Star game?
The NBA could give bonuses for each statistical category. They could give so much money to the player who has the most rebounds, blocks or steals. They could make it a true fantasy game and just award the person with the most total fantasy points. Of course, they could make these checks to the player or the player’s charity of choice.
That would make each player maximize each minute on the floor. These incentives might make people try on both sides of the floor. They would also award the players who aren’t super flashy or popular. Plus, you won’t have just one player hunting for stats and MVP votes. In the past, Allen Iverson, Russell Westbrook or Kobe Bryant play at a higher gear and chase stats. This change would make everyone play their best.
Not to mention, this is a great sponsorship opportunity for one of the NBA’s fantasy sports partners. It also brings fantasy sports comprehensible to the mainstream sports fan. It might even make prop beats more interesting for the league, should they ever fully embrace sports betting.
Include Outsiders into the All-Star game
The NBA has had a celebrity game in the past. It used to be fun to watch but some terrible play has made it more about entertainment than basketball.
Let’s not all pretend we don’t want to see Kevin Durant dunk on every media member who gave him shade. It might also be great to see celebrity-twitter beefs get handled at the All-Star game.
Celebrities and media who can actually ball deserve the right to get exposed the NBA’s best. If the NBA All-Star game is truly about entertainment then let’s see the entertainers merge with the NBA All-Stars in a Harlem Globe Trotter styled performance. Let’s see what happens when All-Stars collectively work with celebrities and media to give fans a true on-court performance and experience.
Of course, it might be more competitive to see a team of legends, overseas basketball stars or street ball players. However, they probably wouldn’t stand a chance versus the top NBA competition either. Hence, if the NBA did ever institute outsiders into it’s main stage it should be the celebrities and media members we want to see get dunked on by our favorite players.
Make the All-Star Weekend after the season
Finally, this is probably the most logical and easily made change to the NBA All-Star format. The NBA should move their game to the end of the season.
They’ve seen people’s thirst for basketball once the NBA season ends via global games, international competition and the Olympics. It only makes sense for the NBA to capitalize on this by pushing their NBA All-Star game to the end of the season.
Players wouldn’t have to worry about fatigue or injury since their season is over. They could even do this before the NBA playoffs begins to give the players in the postseason some added rest.
The biggest challenge to this logistic change would be players might opting out for international play or vacations. Not to mention, how would NBA players feel about forfeiting their time off in the middle of the season?
What are some other changes you’d like to see the NBA All-Star change undergo in 2018 and beyond?
Voting for the new style game officially opened on Christmas. You can vote here. 2018 NBA All-Star voting ends Jan. 18 for the starters and Jan. 23 for the rest. The weekend comes to Los Angeles February 16-18.