Orlando Magic Daily Mailbag: In-Season Tournament recap?
Does the In-Season Tournament have historical significance?
We already know at this point that the In-Season Tournament will be back for a second year. Adam Silver confirmed it in his press conference in Paris before the Brooklyn Nets took on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
And the league has to consider the whole experiment as a success. TV ratings for the marquee games were up -- the championship game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers was the most-watched non-Christmas regular season game in some time -- and there was actual discussion and interest in the tournament.
Even though many people were still a bit confused by the tournament format -- including players with Moe Wagner even asking how the Orlando Magic could advance once their group play was done -- once the contours of the tournament and its knockout phase were established, the competition became much more intense.
What is the historical significance of this thing though?
Everyone did kind of see it as a gimmick and it undoubtedly is. And the Lakers' and Pacers' struggles after the championship game might serve as a lesson for how much importance teams should put on this thing so early in the season.
But, it is a trophy. And trophies are always good.
While some clowned the Lakers for hanging a banner -- and it will be a single banner with years added on, not an individual banner for each year -- it is a different kind of competition. And while some teams did not treat the games much differently, when you give a team a chance to win something, they will ultimately go for it. All of these players are extreme competitors.
Adam Silver said it best throughout the tournament: Traditions take time to establish. And so right now, the tournament does not feel very big. But over time as it becomes ingrained into the schedule and part of the general lexicon of the league, it should gain some prestige and importance.
It could be either for retiring legends like LeBron James to get one more trophy without having to go through the grueling battles of the regular season and playoffs. Or it could be for up-and-coming teams to announce themselves like the Pacers did.
The NBA is right on this: They have to let it establish its own traditions. And you do not do that after one year.
How would you adjust the In-Season Tournament for next year?
Even Adam Silver admitted there needed to be some tweaks to the In-Season Tournament. That is fine. The first year is supposed to have some hiccups and some things that need to get corrected and fixed.
I think the biggest thing is to remember that simplicity is king here. I think what people disliked about the group play was that the tiebreaker system was overly complicated. Things need to be as simple as possible.
That is easier said than done since the league is trying to squeeze these games into the already-existing NBA schedule.
It felt like there were two problems and so I think maybe they address one of these two in the next iteration of the tournament.
First, the point differential tiebreaker created a perverse incentive to blow teams out. It irked many teams that some were pushing to push the score as high as possible.
I think there are two ways to solve this problem.
The first is probably the easiest and the direction the league probably heads: Limit any point differential to 20 points. You can neither gain nor lose 20 points in any game.
The other would be to switch from a point differential system to a quarter system. You get three points for winning a game and then a point for every quarter you win. This would actually incenitvize teams to keep playing even in blowout games and make each quarter a mini-game. That could be good to creating some different feel.
The other change I would consider making is to ensure there are an even number of teams in each group to ensure that every team plays on the final day of games so that someone is not sitting at home unable to impact whether they advance or not.