Hello, this is Jon Soch from the Ball Talk podcast. Check it out wherever you get your podcasts. Today, I’m want to present two new proposals for a format of the All-Star Game that would do a better job of representing the best talent in the NBA. 

The first proposal I have is removing the conferences from All-Star selections. For years the Western Conference team was almost always better than the East, so much so that the level of competition became a problem for the league. Therefore in 2018,  the NBA did away with Eastern and Western teams in favor of a school yard draft format for the game. After the traditional voting process, the highest vote receiver in each conference is designated as a captain, usually LeBron James and someone who doesn’t deserve the MVP over LeBron. While the change did not improve the competitiveness of the games,  it did make the All-Star Game more fun. The All-Star draft became another televised event to run commercials and create headlines with. It’s clear that the NBA is willing to change the format of the All-Star Game to make it more entertaining.

The next logical step would be to remove conferences from the selection process altogether. This way, the best 24 players will always be represented regardless of talent discrepancies between the conferences. The 2021 All-Star Game made it incredibly apparent that the talent disparity between the East and West is out of control. We see James Harden and Ben Simmons, both of whom had horrible first halves of the season, make the teams over players like Devin Booker and Shai Gilgeous Alexander, who lost their spots to legitimate MVP candidates in the Western conference reserves. 

For a historical example, in 2015 the Atlanta Hawks sent Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Al Horford to the All-Star Game. That same year, Mike Conley missed the All-Star Game, despite being the star guard on the second seeded Grizzlies who were poised to go on a title run until Conley’s injury in the playoffs. By being in the West, Conley had to compete with Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook for a spot on the team, even though  he would have easily made the game had he been in the East competing against Teague and Korver. Removing the conferences will satisfy a major qualm with the All-Star Game, as the best players will always be in the game even if their conference is overfilled with talented players. This will lead to better All-Star Games, more viewership and therefore more money.

My second proposal is in two parts. First, removing the injury reserve slot on the All-Star Game. The All-Star team is supposed to resemble real teams, and real teams have injuries. The second part is to expand the roster to 15 players from its current 12. The roster size of the All-Star Game has been unchanged ever since the game was first created with 12 teams total in the league. An All-Star spot has never been worth as much in the entire history of the NBA as it is right now. Not only is the league more talented now than it has ever been, but with more teams in the league there is more opportunity for players to showcase their skills. By increasing the team to 15 players, all the deserving players will be able to make the game. However, it is imperative that we remove injury reserves because it covers the main issue people have with increasing the team, which is that undeserving players would make the All-Star Game. Yes, expanding the roster means we will have more players, but by eliminating injury replacements, we should not have undeserving All-Stars.

Implementing these proposals — having 30 All-Stars, no conferences and no injury replacements — would result in   a much higher quality All-Star Game the next season.