Blow up the NBA Playoffs: What if the NBA Went With the Best 16 Teams?


Commissioner Adam Silver needs to use his executive powers to fix the NBA Playoff format.

The NBA is considering revising the Playoffs to include the 16 teams with the best record regardless of conference affiliation. This isn’t a new thought process, but it’s gaining more steam in the past couple of years due to the outcry that teams with losing records are getting into the playoffs in the Eastern conference bracket and a couple teams above .500 being eliminated from the playoffs on the Western conference side.

Commissioner Adam Silver has said he’s open to the idea of revamping the current playoff structure. Last Wednesday night speaking on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area during the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors game, the Commissioner said “we want to see our best teams in the playoffs.” That doesn’t always happen under the current format.

Since 2010 5 teams missed the playoffs even though they won more than .500 games, all in the Western conference. Meanwhile 3 teams made the playoffs in the East with losing records, the worse with only 37 wins out of 82.

I’ll add to the Commissioner’s comments, we the fans, also want to see the best players compete in the playoffs. Under the current format, three high profile All-NBA players in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans would be watching the chase for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Durant and Davis are in many people’s opinions 2a and 2b on the list of best player in the League, while Westbrook is in the discussion for best point guard. Would we really want to see a playoffs missing those three?

The cons to this format change is the construction of the current schedule. Right now, Western and Eastern conference teams play 2 games against the opposite conference and sometimes 4 games within conference. Many have said a balanced schedule where every team plays each other the same amount of times is needed to make the re-seeding format fair.

The current format has been in use since 1984 when the NBA expanded to 16 teams. Maybe now is the time for a change. Change is good and this would be a VERY good change.

So just for fun, if the new formatted playoffs started today here’s the 16 teams that would be in and how they would be seeded with 1 matching up with 16, 2 against 15 and so on.

1. Golden State Warriors (42-9/.824) vs. 16. New Orleans Pelicans (27-26/.509)

2. Atlanta Hawks (43-11/.796) vs. 15. Oklahoma City Thunder (28-25/.528)

3. Memphis Grizzlies (39-14/.736) vs. 14. Phoenix Suns (29-25/.537)

4. Toronto Raptors (36-17/.679) vs. 13. Milwaukee Bucks (30-23/.566)
* The Raptors, Portland Trailblazers and Houston Rockets have identical records, but Toronto gets higher seed for having a better Conference Record.*

5. Portland Trailblazers (36-17/.679) vs. 12. Cleveland Cavaliers (33-22/.600)
*The Trailblazers get the tie breaker and higher seed over the Rockets for being the Northwest division leader. The Rockets are second in the Southwest division.*

6. Houston Rockets (36-17/.679) vs. 11. Washington Wizards (33-21/.611)

7. Dallas Mavericks (36-19/.642) vs. 10. Chicago Bulls (34-20/.630)

8. Los Angeles Clippers (35-19/.648) vs. 9. San Antonio Spurs (34-19/.642)

That would leave the Miami Heat (22-30/.423) and Charlotte Hornets (22-30/.423), the current seventh and eighth seeds in the East out of the playoffs.

By taking the best 16 teams, I believe you’ll create better evenly matched series’ with more unpredictable results. In the 2014 Playoffs there was only one sweep, but four series that ended after only five games.

But most importantly with re-seeding, in a star driven league, the game’s biggest stars will be on the biggest stage. Only 2 of the 2015 NBA All-Stars would miss the playoffs, Camelo Anthony of the New York Knicks and DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings. But, both are on teams that are terrible and in the case of the Knicks, historically bad.

Former commissioner David Stern used his executive power in 2003 to extend the first round series from a best of five to a best of seven in an attempt to make the playoffs more exciting and unpredictable. Silver should exercise his power and adapt the re-seeding format to do the same.

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