Now fix the NBA All-Star selection process
We have that and more in Thursday’s NBA newsletter. The New York Times’ Marc Stein reports the NBA and players’ union have agree to televise the All-Star Draft in late January. You may remember that the NBA debuted the All-Star Draft -- where the two top vote-getters picked teams from the pool of All-Stars -- last season to make the game more interesting and mix up the conference pools. It worked! The game was nice. But the league didn’t televise the draft over fears of pettiness and discord in what is supposed to be pure fun. Everyone complained (including yours truly) and the NBA and players flipped this year. So we’ll get to see it. (Credit especially to Rachel Nichols, who beat these drum last year.) Now the NBA just needs to fix the All-Star selection process. Putting all of the All-Stars into a pool to avoid East vs. West battles is necessary for the draft format, obviously. But the NBA really ought to abandon conference alignment when selecting All-Stars in the first place. Instead of voters (fans, players, and the media) picking five East and five West starters, and coaches picking seven East and seven West reserves, it should just be one big pool. Voters should pick 10 starters; coaches should elect 14 reserves. (I’ve given up on expanding All-Star rosters to normal NBA roster size. Playing time in the All-Star is obviously an important consideration, though if you picked 30 total you wouldn’t need commissioner replacements when guys get injured.) The West simply has way more star-level players than the East. It would be arbitrary to continue to segregate the selection pools. Conferences mean increasingly little. Bite the bullet of remove them from this ultimately meaningless bit of the NBA process on the path toward erasing them completely. Scores Thunder 95, Cavaliers 86Pistons 103, Magic 96Knicks 112, Hawks 107Spurs 88, Heat 95Sixers 100, Pacers 94Nuggets 87, Grizzlies 89Bulls 98, Pelicans 107Mavericks 102, Jazz 117Raptors 114, Kings 105Timberwolves 110, Lakers 114 Schedule On National TV:Rockets at Thunder, 8 p.m. ET, TNTBucks at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT On League Pass:Celtics at Suns, 9 p.m. ETClippers at Blazers, 10 p.m. ET Links Another episode of Spencer Hall’s true sports crime podcast It Seemed Smart is out. This one focuses on the incredible rise, abrupt fall, and continuing relevance of daily fantasy sports. Seerat Sohi asks a question we’re all thinking about on one level or another: do we really believe in the Sixers yet? Five dramatic ways the new NBA All-Star Draft could play out on TV. REWINDER ON THE SHOT. YES, THAT SHOT. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. Ethan Strauss x Ron Adams. Uh, Kyle Lowry’s numbers are like MVP-era Steve Nash’s this season. Kawhi Leonard gets all of the attention, but Lowry is out there every night. A coach at Savannah State is trying to break basketball. He should talk to the Cavaliers, who are on the same mission. How hot is Luke Walton’s seat? Matt Ellentuck has two reasons you should tank: Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. Kyle Kuzma is way behind on defense. Danny Leroux uncovers that Victor Oladipo isn’t eligible for a designated veteran contract with the Pacers because of the date he was traded. And finally: Young Pecho Harry Lyles, Jr. on the unwritten rules of shooting a three when you’re already won. Be excellent to each other.