The case for an NBA expansion team in Vancouver
By Mo Hussain, Sports Reporter
Continuing from our last piece on the Vancouver Grizzlies, today we ask the question of whether the Grizzlies still have a case for reclaiming an NBA franchise. In this piece, we are going to look at just a few reasons why the NBA should consider expanding to Vancouver in 2020.
Vancouver is a lot more diverse than it was in 1996. According to Vancouver’s “City Social Indicator Profile” in 2019, People from “visible minorities” became the majority in 2019, with 52 percent of Vancouver’s population distribution made up of people from minority ethnic backgrounds. This is up seven percent from 1996, where ethnic minorities only made up 45 percent of Vancouver’s population distribution.
In addition to this, according to the Morning Consult, the NBA is the most diverse league among US adults who have a “very favourable opinion of a team in the NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB.” Ethnic minorities made up over 50 percent in the NBA’s respective poll. It would make a lot of sense for the NBA to expand its league to a city that fits its key demographic. Vancouver by itself is also home to more people than at least a handful of NBA cities including Portland, Oklahoma City, and Milwaukee.
Notable figures in the NBA have also made positive public statements about a potential return to Vancouver. In an interview with Rosemary Barton of CBC’s “The National,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that he “wishes [the NBA] had a team in Vancouver.”
“We were a bit ahead of our time. I think there was a moment in the league when prospects seemed down. Given the development of the sport in Canada, I’m sure overtime we’ll look to see if there’s an opportunity to put a second team in the country,” he said.
In an article from FanSided, Former Toronto Raptors star player DeMar DeRozan also mentioned how he was surprised that Vancouver didn’t have a basketball team. “It definitely is [surprising] because it’s an amazing basketball atmosphere the times we’ve played pre-season games [there]. It felt like the atmosphere was crazy.”
Since 2014, Vancouver has been a marquee destination for the NBA’s Canada Series, a series where the NBA comes to Canada every year to play a couple of games in different cities across the country. Vancouver has hosted a game in five of the last six years, with the game in 2016 being sold out in a matter of minutes.
An expansion team can be pretty good
If the NBA were to decide to expand to the city of Vancouver, one of the biggest concerns that the league would most likely have would be whether the team would play the same way they did when they first got in the league. To make sure that does not happen again, the NBA should go about doing an expansion draft a bit differently than they did over 20 years ago.
In 1995, the NBA allowed teams to protect eight players from being taken. This allowed teams to protect more players than they needed, considering that teams only play 9 to 12 players in a single game. This could have been one of the factors as to why Vancouver did not get off to a good start in the league. The NBA might want to take a look at one of the more recent cities to be awarded an expansion team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights of the NHL.
The team has been competing for three seasons so far and has made the playoffs in every one of them, including making the Stanley Cup finals in their first season—and advancing to the western conference finals this year. What the NHL did when it came time for the expansion draft worked; the NHL only allowed teams to protect enough players so that they would keep their core superstars, but not to the point where Vegas couldn’t draft any exceptional players. If the NBA were to expand the league and only allow teams to protect six, maybe even seven players, that could give a potential Vancouver expansion team a higher chance of being competitive in the NBA, similar to how competitive the Golden Knights are.
Now although there are many other points as to why the NBA should expand to Vancouver, we must also ask ourselves about what’s on the other side of the coin. Why shouldn’t the NBA come to Vancouver? Tune in next week to find out.