Right now we’ve had a week off before the last two weeks of the season. Not ideal considering we were (hopefully are) playing our best basketball of the year at this point. But during the time off I’ve been trying to watch as much hoops as possible and I came across an awesome tool worth checking out to get an inside look at the different playoff matchups in the NBA and also to see the tools that NBA coaches and scouts have at their fingertips to prepare game film and scouting reports.
One of the things that I enjoy most about the European sports system (because it’s not just basketball) is the connectivity between the leagues and the ability for team’s to promote to the next league if they do well but also move down if they are not able to compete. The last few seasons as a player and coach I have experienced the positive side of this experience. Every year as a player and a coach either moving up or competing for a position in the playoffs to promote.
The promotion and "relegations" between leagues gives sport in Europe an added element that makes the regular season meaningful for everyone.
This season in my first as a coach I am on the other side of this process as the team is fighting to “save the category.” The bottom 2 teams move down directly and the following 4 teams have a “play out” to determine who will move down. With two games 2 go we have a 1 game advantage to save ourselves from having to play the play out. So we are not saved yet but we are in a position to control our own destiny. Nevertheless this reward (or non punishment) is an added element that makes the season worthwhile for almost every team in the league. If you consider the top 3 are involved with promotion and the bottom 6 in the relegation, that’s 9 out of 16 teams involved and almost guarunteed you are fighting to get in or to stay out until late in the season.
Not only does it make the league more interesting and meaningful, it also ensures a high level of competition in every league. If a team is no longer able to compete they move down and are replaced by the best teams from the league below. How much more interesting woud the NBA be if the second division teams had the opportunity to promote to the NBA?
If the Timberwolves were playing in one of the European leagues they would be preparing for life in the second division.
I know the National Championship is hours away from tip-off but I saw this interview with Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods and Phil says something in the first minute that I think is as true for a golfer in a tournament as a coach during a season:
There comes a moment where you have to take on the challenge. If you succeed you win, if don’t you lose. But alot of guys are afraid to take on this challenge and so they never know.