I was with everyone when the idea of a “mid-season tournament” was first introduced. It sounded ridiculous. Why would fans care who wins the “Mid-Season Cup” when it has never been established? Why would star players care about $1M or extra draft picks?
That’s when I came up with an idea that would incentivize players, franchises and fans to care about the tournament:
Teams play 36 games from October-December.
These 36 games are **solely** to determine midseason tournament seeding in each conference. Single-elimination midseason tournament is played around Christmas/New Year’s.
Top 24 teams make the tournament. Top 8 teams get a first round bye .
The 6 teams that miss the tournament start January with a 0-18 record. The 8 teams that lose in round 1 start 3-15. The 8 teams that lose in round 2 start 6-12. The 4 teams that lose in round 3 start 9-9. The 2 teams that lose in final four start 12-6. Finally, the midseason championship loser starts 15-3, midseason champion starts 18-0.
This means after the midseason tournament, the standings will be reset and look like this in each conference:
1. 18-0 or 15-3
36 additional games are played in January-April to determine final 54-game record for each team. The first two-way tiebreaker can also be “whoever advanced further in midseason tournament.”
If the league wants to throw in $1M for each winning player, an extra draft pick, or an obscure “midseason trophy” and midseason tournament MVP, so be it. But this proposal IMO at least incentivizes teams to care in October-December. A contending team is going to fight for a top 4 spot in their conference to ensure they don’t end up one bad game away from 3-15, worse teams will fight to avoid 0-18 with a decent shot at 6-12, and with records being only 54 games, three additional wins will be significant to the final standings.
Also, less overall games played.