George Karl's Extreme Scheme to Fix the NBA Playoffs

Jesse DorseyCorrespondent IMarch 10, 2017

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  Head coach George Karl of the Denver Nuggets observes the action against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Pepsi Center on March 7, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Clippers 107-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

George Karl is one of the best minds the NBA has, creating terrific schemes both offensively and defensively. That's why when he pipes up about changing something in the NBA, people tend to listen.

This time around, Karl is looking at ways to potentially revamp the playoffs.

Karl's plan is to place less emphasis on winning divisions (basically getting rid of them altogether), give the overall best record in the NBA a bit more of an advantage and throw a bit of hockey into the mixing bowl.

Most upsetting to Karl was the fact that a division winner could potentially have a worse record than their first-round opponent (which could happen if the Los Angeles Clippers end up with a worse record than both the Denver Nuggets and the Memphis Grizzlies), yet still get home-court advantage (via The Denver Post).

"I don't know if I like it," he said, "but I understand why you do it, because there should be some reward for winning your division. Even though, there really isn't."

Realistically, that's a change that will only impact the playoffs once every few years or so, if that often. It makes sense, but it's not a drastic change.

Karl's most extreme change would be to throw out conference alignment altogether, at least once the field is set.

I think you should put all top-16 and do it that way, and then reseed for the next round.

I think it would get fans excited, man. It would be crazy. And we travel with private jets now, so I think you can schedule it to where you'd get two days of rest between games. I think it would be really fun and interesting to see the matchups.

Now that is radical.

While it doesn't go as far as to strike down conference lines completely (it's still the top eight teams on either side), it gives better teams more of an advantage, and it gives the fans a chance to see more cross-conference matchups.

Sure, that means we could potentially be left with each of the final four teams coming from the Western Conference, but if it gives us the four best basketball teams then who cares?

Basically that would mean the best team in the NBA, currently the Miami Heat, would take on the 16th-best playoff team, which would be the Milwaukee Bucks.

While that won't change that particular series, we can look at just how different it would be altogether.

Looking at the eight first-round series as of today (March 28th), we would see some very interesting matchups:

  • Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks
  • San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Lakers
  • Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Boston Celtics
  • Los Angeles Clippers vs. Houston Rockets
  • Denver Nuggets vs. Atlanta Hawks
  • Memphis Grizzlies vs. Chicago Bulls
  • New York Knicks vs. Golden State Warriors
  • Indiana Pacers vs. Brooklyn Nets

Right off the bat we've got four cross-conference matchups with four solid in-conference series to hang our hats on.

That would give us a stellar hard-headed Celtics team taking on the young Thunder, the Nuggets galloping all over the Hawks, seven straight 71-69 games between the Grizzlies and Bulls and Stephen Curry returning to Madison Square Garden, possibly four times.

Once the first round finished up, Karl advocates reshuffling the seedings so that the best team remaining would take on the best team remaining.

Hypothetically speaking, that would mean the poor Bucks would have to take on the Spurs after improbably beating the Heat in the first round.

It's exciting, forward-thinking and rewarding to the best teams in the league for making our regular season more exciting. It's 100 percent George Karl.

Of course, Karl didn't stop there. It's not in his nature. He advocates a shortened, 62-game season in which the league holds a mid-season tournament: "You can take a three-week break and have an NCAA-like tournament. Single elimination is a lot different than a seven-game series."

What the stakes of that tournament would be aren't exactly clear, but it sure sounds exciting.


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