David Stern isn't all-powerful, but he's pretty close. The NBA is pretty awesome as it is now, but there are definitely a few things that could be improved. If I were commissioner for a day and could change just one thing, here are three things that I would potentially want to fix. I know it's cheating by picking three things, but I'll just let you vote on them and see which idea wins out. Keep in mind that this is, of course, a fantasy. There are real life reasons why some of these things would never happen, but just work with me here.
Eliminate the age limit.
This is probably the first thing that I would change if I had the opportunity. The age limit, which says you have to wait at least one year after high school to be eligible for the NBA Draft, is -- pardon my language -- bullshit. I understand why it exists and I can see why the NBA really really likes having it. It gives scouts and GMs more time to evaluate prospects. Teams get a free year of development from these players before drafting them. It's a pretty good set up for the NBA -- but it's still bullshit.
There's basically no benefit for the prospects at all. Even though some may be more than ready to contribute in the NBA right out of high school, but instead they have to wait a year. Most prospects spend a year playing in college. For free. While the NCAA makes billions of dollars off of them. I understand that players get a scholarship and a free "education." But given the choice of a guaranteed salary from an NBA team and one year of free education, you're taking the NBA salary every time, right? Why don't they have that choice? They're adults, they have a skill that they can make money off, and their choices are either to play for free or to leave the country and play overseas. It's ridiculous. I could go on about this for days, but I won't. I'll be happy to discuss it further in the comments.
And if you want to think about it selfishly, don't you want to see Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker in the NBA sooner rather than later? Also, this would be a fun way to stick it to the NCAA because the NCAA is the absolute worst.
Shortening the season.
This is one thing that will *really* never happen. Fewer games would mean less money from TV deals, tickets, and all that stuff. But I think fans might benefits from an improvement in the quality of play. Would fewer games mean fewer injuries? One would think so. Fewer games spread out across the same length of time would mean more off days, more days to practice, fewer sloppy back-to-back games, and potentially eliminating the Spurs-on-TNT fiasco.
I love basketball games (obviously). I watch as many as I can. But 82 games is a LOT of games. During the lockout shortened season, 66 games seemed like plenty. It gave us plenty of opportunity to figure out which teams were really good and which teams weren't so good. After 66 games, we usually have a pretty good idea of which teams will be going to the playoffs and which ones will be sitting at home. Fewer games would mean we'd have fresher superstars for the playoffs and fans of terrible teams wouldn't have to sit through 82 grueling games of getting their asses kicked.
Of course this would never happen because, ya'know, money.
Getting rid of Hack-A-Shaq.
I think most basketball fans have mixed feelings about the Hack-A-Shaq strategy. On the one hand, just make your freaking free throws. On the other hand, it's not very fun to watch. If you want to eliminate the Hack-A-Shaq strategy without doing something crazy like getting rid of free throws all together or significantly altering the "bonus" situation, this is what you do: give teams a choice.
Once the other team is in the bonus and every team foul after that leads to free throws, give the opposing team a choice between taking the free throws or just taking the ball out of bounds. If they foul Steve Nash in the bonus, take the free throws. If they foul Dwight Howard in the bonus, just inbound the ball. How simple is that?
The choice wouldn't apply in the final 2 minutes of the game when teams are trying to play catchup. But you the NBA already has the rule against intentionally fouling off-ball in those situations anyway.
So those are my three ideas for what I would change if I had all of the power for a day. Go ahead and vote to tell me which one you like the best and feel free to give me a totally different idea in the comments.