I was looking at the standings today and one question popped up in my mind: Is the play-in tournament working?
The whole purpose of the tournament was to discourage tanking and ultimately have more good teams in the league. But when you look at how the play-in tournament standings might shake out, the 9 and 10 seeds in both conferences could be below .500.
In fact, the 9 and 10 seeds in the West could be WELL BELOW .500. I mean, seriously...is anyone looking at the Lakers and Pelicans right now and thinking those teams deserve to play postseason basketball?
Furthermore, the play-in games in the East were non-competitive and ultimately pointless last year. So even if you removed "needing to be a good team" from the equation, I'm not even sure you could make a solid argument that the entertainment has been consistently there with the tournament.
At the end of the day, there's always going to be pros and cons with a play-in tournament. But the juice needs to be worth the squeeze. The Celtics, Cavs, Bulls, and Raptors are all having feel-good seasons. Do they deserve to be worrying about playing in the same tournament as the disappointing Hawks? Jokic is having another MVP-caliber season. Does he deserve to be worrying about playing in the same tournament as the laughable Lakers and mediocre Pelicans?
I'm not saying I'm against the play-in tournament. After all, this is only its second season. And LaMelo vs. Trae this year could be awesome.
But maybe some rule changes are necessary? Like...you can't make the play-in tournament if you don't win at least 40 games? And if only 9 teams in a conference win 40+ games, then the tournament is restricted to just the 9 seed vs. the 8 seed. And if neither the 9th or 10th seed finish with at least 40 wins, then there is no play-in tournament for that conference and they just move forward with the traditional 8 team format. Just an idea.