A Revision of Bill Simmons’s Entertaining-As-HEdoublehockeysticks Tournament

Today, I am going to suggest my own idea for Bill Simmons Entertaing-As-HEdoublehockeysticks Tournament.  (He doesn’t write HEdoublehockeysticks; that’s a euphemism.  Whenever I have to reference it, I’ll call it the Bill Shedhs Idea.)  His idea is for every team in each conference to play in a double-elimination tournament for the final play-off spot or two, while the other teams have a bye.  Although I like his concept, I do not totally agree with it.  First of all, I think that double-elimination is a little bit too little margin for error; 29% of the time, the weaker team wins (which is why nobody’s gone 0 for 82 yet).  I also believe that no teams should be excluded from this.  Furthermore, there needs to be something to do with the lottery odds, and the quarterfinals need to be done away with.

Hold on a sec, no more quarterfinals?!  What is with that?

Here’s my logic for getting rid of the quarterfinals.  First of all, the really good teams almost always win in the first round.  If you are sincerely better than the other team, you win.  It’s a waste.  In the past five years, only ten lower seeds have won in the first round, including two eight seeds.  That’s only 25% (right up there with the numbers of NCAA tournament upsets).  However, when Memphis upset San Antonio, the Spurs had just lost Manu Ginobli.  In the past ten years, only 15 lower seeds (18.75%) have won.  It’s just added mileage on the good teams.

There are some points where I agree with Mr. Simmons.  One is the fact that all teams should do it.  This gets rid of tanking.  It should have a name sponsor (always look for an excuse to gain revenue!)  The top seeds should get byes (just maybe not as long).  It’s a great idea; I’m just expanding on it.

Unfortunately, it’s extremely hard to explain in prose.  So, I’ll import the link at the bottom of the post, and I’ll talk about some other things in between here and there.

The reason why I have it as a triple-elimination is it simulates the excitement of the NCAA tournament without turning the whole thing into random chance.  I’m not sure double-elim cuts it enough.  However, if I had it more than triple-elim, the whole thing would take way too long and become a pointless exercise.  As is, a team could play anywhere between three and ten games before advancing.  I know it’s a little excessive, but I’m not sure how to condense it without making it double-elim.  Newton said that “I have stood on the shoulders of giants,” and I believe that the best ideas have the ideas of lots of different people making up its foundation.  In other words, PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU HAVE SUGGESTIONS TO MAKE THIS BETTER!!!

I have two ideas for tournament locations.  I believe that each game should be played at the location of the high seed, except for elimination games.  This adds home-court advantage without adding too much travel.  Besides, the tournaments would be separated by conference, so you don’t have coast-to-coast airplane rides.  Elimination games could played at prospective expansions sites like San Diego, Vegas, Seattle, Albuquerque, and Ottawa.  (I mention Albuquerque because of the great atmosphere at The Pit.)  My other proposal is that the groups are siphoned off into groups of three or six that all play at the home stadium of the high seed.  As these teams are eliminated, the groupings would adjust to reflect this.

I believe that any implementation of the Bill Shedhs Idea could help solve the tanking problem.  If play-off seeding and advancement in the play-offs were always at stake, no one in their right mind would deliberately rest their best players unless they are genuinely worried about injuries (like the Spurs, Celtics, and Lakers could feasibly be).  This would not eliminate tanking for teams with an already-comfortable position, but I would prevent the weakest eams from tossing out the bench for the entire month of April.

Naturally, this seems like an extension of the “everybody plays” philosophy because every team would “make” the play-offs.  However, if it had enough support to pass legislation, then I do not believe that this would be much of an issue.  This, ringers, and extra costs are the only negatives I can think of for the Bill Shedhs Idea.  However, NBA players are only paid a per diem for the play-offs, so the play-offs are virtually pure profit.  Attendence for late-season games would certainly increase as fans would remain interested if teams were forced to jockey for position even if they were absolutely terrible all year.  Furthermore, all the byes that would be in place should discourage teams from tanking all year and acting as ringers; the top three teams in each conference would only have to win three games to advance, while the worst teams would be required to win as may as seven!

Finally, I am going to discuss how the lottery system would work.  Every team who does not advance to the play-offs proper would have a chance at winning the lottery.  The percentages would be based on the stage of the tournament when each team was eliminated.  However, the difference in odds would be as slight as possible in each round.  This gives more incentive, besides intense backlash from fans, to not tank in the tournament.  For example, the loser of Game 9 might have a 15% chance, while the loser of Game 15 might have a 12.5% chance.  Those are entirely random odds, but they probably are not far out of line with the true odds may be.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment on this post.  It’s much easier to find them when they are with the intended post, as opposed to being on the Home Page.

Now, the diagram can be viewed at EntertainingasHeckTournament.

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