The NBA Playoffs are here with sixteen teams advancing to the postseason for a shot at winning an NBA title.
Unfortunately, because of the old and outdated system the league uses — with eight teams coming from both the Western and Eastern Conferences — not always will the TRUE top 16 teams make the playoffs.
The West has shown for a long time now that it’s far superior to the East and it’s not even close. And because of the imbalance problem, it’s time for the NBA to change up the playoff format.
As I outlined in a previous article — LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have it easy playing in the East — the talent gap between both conferences is real.
So instead of having eight teams from each conference represented, why doesn’t the NBA just take the top 16 teams and rank and assign them accordingly best on their regular season record?
There have been countless times where teams have been left out of the playoffs even though their record has been better when matched up against other teams from a different conference.
2017 Top 16 NBA Teams
1. Golden State Warriors (.817)
2. San Antonio Spurs (.744)
3. Houston Rockets (.671)
4. Boston Celtics (.646)
5. Los Angeles Clippers (.622)
6. Cleveland Cavaliers (.622)
7. Toronto Raptors (.622)
8. Utah Jazz (.622)
9. Washington Wizards (.598)
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (.573)
11. Atlanta Hawks (.524)
12. Memphis Grizzlies (.524)
13. Milwaukee Bucks (.512)
14. Indiana Pacers (.512)
15. Portland Trail Blazers (.500)
16. Chicago Bulls (.500)
Houston, which finished third in the West with 55 wins this year, would actually be the top seed in the East. So instead of the Rockets being rewarded for that, they are faced with a first-round matchup with Russell “triple-double” Westbrook and if they move on, will likely face the San Antonio Spurs. You know that team that posted the second-best regular season win total this year.
But instead of changing the playoffs, the NBA updated the All-Star game voting format, to which a large majority of NBA players just made a mockery of it. To make matters worse, the All-Star game has become completely unwatchable as players literally lay down on the court to get dunked on.
So why are we still using the outdated playoff format? Only NBA commissioner Adam Silver knows that answer, but changes might be coming around the corner as support continues among NBA owners to restructure the NBA playoffs in order to take the top 16 teams with the best winning percentage, regardless of conference affiliation.
Below is what this year’s playoff bracket would look like if the league simply took the top 16 teams and seeded them according to their overall records. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it will also reward teams like Houston instead of punishing them for having a good year.
No matter which team he plays on, LeBron James gets to the NBA Finals. He’s a terrific player, but he also plays in a weaker conference. Frankly, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t get to the finals every year. And a true playoff would force James to play a higher level of competition to reach the title game.
If the NBA had the top 16 teams seeded based on overall records, the Cavs would be the No. 6 seed and would have to go through the Rockets and the Spurs in order to get to the NBA Finals. Now, who wouldn’t watch those great matchups? James Harden vs. LeBron and or Kawhi Leonard vs. LeBron.
Say goodbye to those boring second and third round matchups. The top 16 seeded teams would make the NBA Playoffs a must-see event instead of lopsided games as we all wait to see who LeBron is going to face in the Finals from the West.