Commissioner Adam Silver said he is open to making changes to the NBA’s playoff and draft systems.
Silver, who was interviewed Saturday by Malcolm Gladwell at the annual Sloan Conference on sports analytics, touched on a number of ideas in attempts to improve the NBA.
For one, Silver said he is “fascinated” with the idea of a having a single-elimination tournament to determine the final playoff spots.
“By having a seven-game series, you reduce the randomness of the outcome,” Silver said. “I think what’s so exciting about college basketball — and I’m a huge college basketball fan — is the single-elimination tournament, the NCAA tournament. There, statistically, you’re gonna have a lot more upsets. So, I think for us, well, I have mixed views.
“In case of certain teams where star players were injured for a portion of the season or the team didn’t jell until later in the season, that team can become competitive. Right? I like that idea.”
Regarding the NBA’s current lottery system that determines the draft order for non-playoff teams, Silver admitted the system has issues. He likes the idea pushed by Boston Celtics assistant general manager Michael Zarren of a wheel system that assigns each team the 30 first-round picks during a 30-year cycle.
“I thought, ‘Wow, that solves our problems,’ ” Silver said.
—Testing for human growth hormone is in the works, but Silver said he does not believe performance-enhancing drugs are a significant problem in the NBA.
“I’ve been in the NBA for 22 years. I talk to players all the time. I talk to retired players. And I don’t hear about it,” Silver said. “I don’t want to be naive. I mean, we don’t have HGH testing in our league. It’s something that we agreed we would do with the union, and we’re waiting to agree what the appropriate procedures are.”
—Silver is open to lengthening the All-Star break so players are better rested.
“That seems very sensible to me,” Silver said.
—The commissioner does not believe expanding with a single team in Europe is practical for travel reasons, but said a European division is possible in the future.
—Silver addressed the NBA entry-level age, saying he favors raising it to 20.
“Maybe the 20-year-old is a shorthand,” Silver said. “I would just say a better integration of AAU, youth, high school, college basketball and NBA basketball. This is the sport of the 21st century. We have enormous opportunity.”
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