Why Bother

Yesterday the Raptors were playing the Knicks on TV because, well, the Knicks are on TV all the damn time. Don’t worry, this rant will not be about East Coast bias, but the Knicks illuminate this more than anything else in this world. But I will be addressing that soon enough.

Anyway, I happened to bump into the game as I was channel surfing. My first though was ‘Hey, I like me some basketball, I will watch this game of basketball for a little bit’. So I watched said game. For only a bit. Then it occurred to me; who in the hell cares about this game at all?

I don’t mean that in the sense of the NBA is lame and s no one should watch it. I mean it in the sense that both these teams have little to no chance at winning the NBA title, and probably won’t have any chance for the next 10 years at least.

For the Knicks, this may make some sense. I mean they have bad players, a terrible front office, a lousy owner, and a history of being a non-factor (despite being on national TV all the time). But for the Raptors….well, there lies the rub with the entire NBA.

Toronto has the 3rd best record in the Eastern Conference. They have had the second best for the past two seasons. In other words, you would think they are pretty good. So good in fact you would think they have a chance at winning the title.

They don’t.

No chance.

None at all.

To be more precise, Vegas gives them a 40-1 shot. A team with a top 8 record in the league is given 40-1 odds. But in reality, no one really thinks they even have that good of a shot.

You know what is even stupider? Utah has the 6th best record in the entire league, and Vegas gives them a 100-1 shot at winning it all.

So how does this relate to other leagues?

Well, the Seattle Mariners, who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2001 (longest drought in all of the MLB), and who haven never even been to the World Series, has been given a 30-1 shot at winning the entire thing this season. No, they have not made any big moves to think they will be much better than last season. No, no one actually thinks in this town they have a 30-1 shot (which is an average team’s odds given there are 30 teams in the league). And no, they haven’t even played a game yet. But they have a better chance at winning the title over a Toronto team that has been in the top part of the league for 3 years and a way better chance than a Utah team with the 6th best record in the entire NBA.

And that is the problem with the NBA; there are 4-5 teams that have a reasonable shot at winning the whole thing (this year only 1.5 teams) and the rest have literally < 0.0001 chance. And to make matters worse, you can predict with a spooky degree of accuracy who will be those 4-5 teams will be next year, 2 years from now, and maybe even 3 years (uncertainty grows due to trades, free agency, draft, etc). In other words, 20+ teams in the NBA have 0 chance of winning it all for at least years and I can name them: Brooklyn, Orlando, Philly, New York, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Miami, Detroit, Chicago, Indiana, Atlanta, Washington, Phoenix, Lakers, Utah, Dallas, Portland, Sacramento, Denver, and OKC. The rest outside of Cleveland, San Antonio, and Golden State have about a 5% chance or less (20-1 odds about).

There is a lot of dead weight and a lot of meaningless games in this league. How to fix it? I know exactly how. But I will not reveal it until Seattle gets the Sonics back.