After watching the 2022 National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Game on Sunday, it became quite apparent that the NBA needs to remove the All-Star game from the overall All-Star Weekend experience. There is absolutely no defense played and head coach for Team Lebron, Nuggets coach Mike Malone, ripped on the quality of basketball that was displayed throughout the game.
“It’s an honor to be here, it’s an honor to be a part of a great weekend, great players, but that is the worst basketball game ever played,” Malone said.
There were multiple possessions of players either going one on one including Celtic teammates Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, which made the game feel like an open gym compared to a game that should be the highest level of basketball. Team Giannis defeated Team Lebron 184-175 in a game focused on offense. It seemed like a defense meltdown because no players cared about getting stops while focusing all their focus into plays on offense.
That gets me into the biggest issue with the All-Star Game, it is the fact that players no longer care about defense and are almost getting encouraged to try to score more. In an interview with The Athletic, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, said that the NBA will assess a potential scoring rule change at the end of the season but believes the increase in scoring this year is “interesting”.
Specifically related to the All-Star Game, there is no fixing the defensive intensity of a game between 24 of the best players in the league but there is still a way to spotlight the top talent throughout the league. The solution is replacing the All-Star Game with a one-on-one tournament for all five positions. This way, the fans would receive one of the best events possible during all-star weekend while the players still get a slight rest while getting the honor they deserve.
The way the tournament is structured is similar to the way the current All-Star Game is, fans are given a certain amount of time to vote on their top five players by position in the NBA. Total votes, media consideration, and player opinions would be the determining factors of the top five players selected. A total of 25 players would be selected, compared to 24 players making the current all-star game.
Getting into the specifics of the tournament, similar to captains of the All-Star Game, the top player of every position will be selected and start with the ball. The first player to 21 points, two’s and three’s, wins their position tournament. In a continuous style, players who make a shot get to stay on offense, highlighting that defense must be played in order to win the event. This tournament eliminates the poor defense in All-Star Weekend, gives an exciting event for the fans and players, and Adam Silver gets to see a display of the best offensive talent. The only issue with allowing this to happen is a true incentive. Some players might not play unless there is something on the line.
There are two possible options to get players on board with this. One option is to give a bonus to every player that wins their tournament or places in the top three. First place gets five million dollars, second place gets one million dollars, and third place gets $500,000. This way, every player has something to play for even if they can’t win it all.
The second and more interesting option is that every winner of each position tournament gets an automatic bid at an NBA all-team selection. The all-NBA teams consist of the 15 best players from a particular season, and getting an automatic bid to this list could be an admired incentive.
Whether the NBA changes up the All-Star Game or keeps it the same, there is a clear problem in the game itself and that is the lack of defensive energy. If nothing is done about it, the NBA will lose viewers for its second biggest event of the season which will mean loss in revenue. The NBA needs to change the All-Star Game.