The NBA is changing. Adam Silver isn’t David Stern, and doesn’t seem to be obsessed with his own ego and image, at least not now. One of the first things for him to address and soon is the difference that’s just been widening between the Western and Eastern teams, which can be solved by changing the playoff format or going with a more drastic realignment.
The Mark Cuban suggestion doesn’t come from a place that’s just about caring for everyone else. He saw the Dallas Mavericks finish with a 49-33 record last season. In the West, it was only good enough for the 8th seed, which meant going through the San Antonio Spurs and losing after seven games. In the East, it would have been good enough for a third overall seed. That’s quite a difference, but the Mavs in 2014 weren’t the first team to suffer for this.
The idea suggests eight teams switching places: Mavericks, Spurs, Rockets and Pelicans going to the East while the Bulls, Pacers, Pistons and Bucks head to the Western conference. In the NHL, both the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings play in the Western conference. It’s a change that at least geographically makes sense, not causing too much of a tectonic shock-wave across the boards if something like this actually happens.
Not all the Texas teams should move. The Oklahoma City Thunder don’t really make sense in the Northwest division. Memphis are an Eastern team going by geography. Milwaukee, as Cuban suggested, probably fit in more with the West, obviously depending on how you make the divisions. For most, it’s less important how the new conferences align. It’s more important how playoff spots are decided.
The popular suggestion scraps the conference alignment comes the playoff. No more eight teams from the West and eight from East, but simply 16 teams from the entire league. It might cause for some geographical conundrums before the NBA finals, like a Miami – Portland first round series with plenty of miles being flown over, but if the goal is having the best playoff series possible while adding a dose of justice by putting in the best teams, that’s the way to go.