Blogtable: Taking the best 16

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: The best 2s | Charlotte vs. New York | A sweet 16


> Lately we’ve had some talk on conference imbalance and what can be done about it. One question: Do you like the idea of seeding the top 16 teams in the playoffs, regardless of conference? Any drawbacks?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comI like this plan. Some East teams still would have an edge anyway, right, because their records get fattened against the lousiest clubs in their conference? Even so, it would help to squelch the six months of bellyaching we get from some in the media on this topic. I mostly consider this a pendulum problem that will swing the other way in time. But some seem hung up on fixing instantly anything they perceive isn’t “faaaair.” If instituted, their next freak-out would be over the travel demands of a Portland-Atlanta series.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Looking forward to that Miami-Portland first round playoff series. Boston-LA? Memphis-Sacramento? You think the media whining is loud now? Team complaints about travel fatigue? Wait til those happen. So Mark Cuban wants to go to the Eastern Conference because its so hard for his team in the West. For a guy who lives in the “Shark Tank,” he should know life sometimes bites. This is a solution in search of a problem.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: The only drawback is that one conference will face a much easier schedule in the regular season and throw off the records that will determine the seedings. Beyond that, rank away. Just make sure to build in enough time. There could be coast-to-coast travel in the first round. If teams are going back and forth in a 2-2-1-1-1 format, and maybe on more than one occasion in that postseason, play will suffer.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: The screaming you hear about conference imbalance is based on recent events, or lack thereof, in the East. As you know, these things are cyclical and who’s to say the East won’t be the better conference in another few years? There’s no need to push the red button and force change. Stick with the status quo and keep the conferences balanced in the postseason.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: I’m not crazy about the idea, but I think it has to be done at this point. This is now 15 of the last 16 years in which the West has been the better conference. Some good teams are missing the playoffs and some bad teams are making them. But if you do it, you have to look at balancing the schedule, which will be tougher to do.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: I feel like such a grumpy old man here, but I do not. I don’t think everyone should get a trophy for participation either. Seriously. Enough of this fairness doctrine being spread around the league. I’m reminded of the cyclical nature of sports and the fact that what appears one way now can change dramatically before you know it, rendering a hasty reaction foolish if we’re not careful. The divisional and conference format of the league has to mean something. There has to be some method to this madness. I understand we’re trying to reward teams in the tougher conference and a top-16 would make it “fair” to some. But I don’t believe that solves the problem when, say in a year or two, the Eastern Conference sees the balance of power shift in its direction.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: It would be good if everyone played to a similar schedule. The hard problem to solve here is the scheduling: To fix it without losing a sense of regional rivalry and without adding to travel for the teams.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I do not like the idea. I understand the arguments in favor of the change, specifically that it should ostensibly make for more competitive matchups in the playoffs, which would make the entire league must-see TV and raise ratings (and revenues). But I’m also something of a new-school traditionalist, and I like the conferences and divisions, gerrymandered though they may be. Conferences will have ups and downs and at some point in the future the East will once again have the power while the West will struggle. Until then, that’s just the way it is. (Word to Bruce Hornsby.)

Marc-Oliver Robbers, NBA.com/Germany: Why not? I’m a fan of this approach. The best 16 teams should battle for the title. The question is, do we still need the divisions and conferences? Traveling in our time is so comfortable that this isn’t an argument anymore. And it would be unfair if you change the system but keep the conferences. The teams in the East would have an advantage, because of the easier schedule. You have to change the schedule system. Every team would have to play three times against every team in the league. That would mean 87 regular season games. Too much? I don’t know. But changing things isn’t as easy as you’d expect.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA.com/Greece: For sure! It’s very similar to the European point of view, where the winning record is the only criteria. We will miss some rivalries, but I think that this way the playoffs will be even better.

Aldo Avinante, NBA.com/Philippines: I am leaning towards the top 16 teams in the playoffs, because a lot of talented and exciting teams from the West will be left off again come post-season. Teams like the Pelicans, Suns and Kings all have great young talent. The Western and Eastern Conference format always builds up rivalries, but a great example is the NCAA tournament, no one bothers from what conference or state the schools belong to, it’s just the top teams in the country, period.

Karan Madhok, NBA.com/India: I do like the seeding of the top 16 teams for the playoffs as the first step towards fixing the playoffs imbalance. Too many good teams and superstar players are standing out the playoff picture in the West every year; and meanwhile out East, teams that start 4-13 are still optimistic of finishing in the top six. The drawback obviously is that it will eliminate some of the historical rivalries a little as teams that face each other regularly in the playoffs will now be playing more inter-conference matchups earlier in the playoffs. To be honest, I don’t necessarily think that this is a bad thing: with new alignments and rules, there will be new traditions. The top 16 seeding shouldn’t be the final solution either, because teams in the East will still continue to have an easier schedule during the regular season as they play teams in their weaker conference more often. In the ideal NBA world, I will be hoping that all teams play each other equal number of times through the season for a truly fair idea of where they should stand before the postseason begins.

Nacho Albarrán, NBA.com/Espana: Yes, and we don’t see any drawbacks, because that system could improve the overall competition.

Davide Chinellato, NBA.com/Italy: I really like the idea of seeding the top 16 teams in the playoffs regardless of conference. Traveling isn’t an issue anymore, so why don’t have a postseason with the 16 best teams out of the regular season? It would be really interesting, and I’m pretty sure most teams would like it. Especially Western Conference teams …

Simon Legg, NBA.com/Australia: I do! Let’s get the best teams in the playoffs! It was a complete injustice that the 48-win Suns missed the playoffs last season. Not only did they win 48 games, they won them in the West! No offense to Atlanta, but how does a team that won 38 games make the playoffs? The Hornets really struggled to start the season, but given they’re in the East there’s a chance that they get themselves together and win enough games to qualify. Obviously, the entire system would have to change so that’s probably a drawback, but if you get the best teams in the playoffs then it’s worth it.

For more debates, go to #AmexNBA or www.nba.com/homecourtadvantage.

21 Comments

  1. Why users still use to read news papers when in this technological world everything is existing on web?

  2. harriethehawk says:

    I like the idea proposed that the NBA should consider changing the division to south and north. Brilliant!

  3. Marco29 says:

    And I though we Europeans were supposed to be the conservatives ones! On this topic, the US writers are much more conservative than there international counterparts….
    The problem is not a contextual one but a structural one. Saying that the balance power could shift the other way, does not solve the issue. The best 16 teams should play in the playoffs because it would be as problematic if say a 48 wins Charlotte did not qualify while a 38 wins Denver did.
    Fairness is not just a noble idea but ensures the interest for investors and fans.
    The schedule and number of games played would need to be adapted as well. Each team should face the 29 olther teams the same number of times.
    I think twice rather than three times would be enough as a reduction to a 58 games of the regular season would improve the quallity of the games and reduce the fatigue and injuries for the players.
    A team would still need to win the same number of playoff series and games as today to be a champion.

    The legacy of players would be impacted in tems of number of games played and total career numbers but not on season and career averages. Yet, longer careers could compensate for shorter seasons.

    Finally, as teams rivalries are concerned, they don’t depend on the number of games but on their intensity as the Lakers-Boston rivalry shows.

    So, in my opinion there are no real drawbacks and the question deserves consideration.

  4. ism says:

    Funny how everyone says the East will have an unfair advantage with their easier schedule when actually the records of the West have been SO much better for a whole while now.

    If the East were even close to capitalizing on their weaker opponents, namely their neighbors, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    • ism says:

      Also funny how the Europeans tend to underestimate the travel fatigue. Hell, Portland-Miami is roundabout like Berlin-Mecca. Where you talking about comfortable plane seats? Sounds like a joke, to me.

  5. vinny says:

    I agree to the proposal that the TOP 16 teams advance…I would suggest that we do away with the same conference teams playing more times….why dont all the teams play each other 3 times….then you get the TOP 16…sounds more reasonable..

  6. Lightning says:

    “But I don’t believe that solves the problem when, say in a year or two, the Eastern Conference sees the balance of power shift in its direction.”

    But isn’t that going the cause the same problem, except the roles are flipped? The only way to solve conference imbalance is for conferences to be eliminated and every team plays the same schedule. However, that would only equate to a 58 game schedule if every team plays twice against each other. If the league expands to 32 teams, it would be 60 games. This problem is very complicated, and it wont be solved until the league can be willing to shorten games, realign the conferences, or even “remove” some teams (which I, or the league, will not sponsor).

  7. Doug says:

    Regarding travel. Only 5 western teams (Cali teams + Portland) are 3 hours behind the East for the full season. Phoenix is also during daylight savings time. Two teams (Utah & Denver) are in the Mountain time zone. The other EIGHT teams are in the same time zone as Chicago, Milwaukee, Indiana,

  8. Edward Diener says:

    I know it will not happen because the NBA is too greedy for money but there should only be 8 teams in the playoffs, not 16. Then there won’t be a discussion about the top teams regardless of conference making the playoffs.

    The playoffs are too long and having half the teams make the playoffs makes most of the regular season entirely superfluous. 4 teams from each conference, with a full 7 games in each round, would be much more dramatic, cut down on the endless season, make the regular season much more dramatic, and would keep the playoffs from being largely a marathon of injury survival. Of course teams and players would make less money, but the regular season would actually mean something as far as each game’s competitiveness. This business of resting and sitting players weeks at a time because they have a hangnail or some muscle feels slightly strained would end and the fans would get their money’s worth each regular season game and each playoff game.

    But it won’t happen, greed rules the day even if in a number of cities nobody cares how their teams do during the regular season; and writers must fill up the season with ridiculous posts. It will only change when fans stay away in droves from regular season games because they are so largely meaningless for a great number of teams.

  9. Common Sense says:

    Then you would have to make it so everyone plays the same teams and gets one game at home and one game away. With 30 teams that becomes 60 games. Then if you went to the best 16 teams it would be fair. And with 60 games there could be time between games to make travel easier.
    But if the playoffs were west heavy, I could see less interest for East fans in the playoffs.
    Since we know this is all about ratings I can’t see this happening.
    But it might be more fair, better for player safety, and more competitive…

  10. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    That’s a bad idea, what is this college football now, the playoffs are fine how they are… How soon we forget how good the playoffs were last year, the first round was the best it’s ever been… Even the East was good last year in the playoffs. Yea the Pelicans and Kings are better and the Denver has about the same record as both and none of them three team’s are in the playoff picture right now the Suns are in the 8th spot because of the Thunder, if the Thunder was healthy in the beginning the Suns would be on the out side looking in… The west is the same as last year other then Gasol is healthy, last year Gasol was out with injury and came back January 14 and they have had the best record in the league since. The East last year ever team other then the Heat in the first round went 6 to 7 games, The East needs better scouting and ownership and draft better players and build better teams. The East has won two of the last three NBA Finals and the Heat didn’t walk through the playoffs they had to fight hard to get to the finals ever year.

    • ism says:

      The Playoffs are always full of intensity and those whole-playoff-record five Game Sevens in the first round alone were unbelievable, but this is about keeping a connection between the season, where good teams in the West can tear their behinds and miss the playoffs, while bad teams in the East can go all the way to those glorious first round Game 7-exits with a .500 record to start with. I don’t say best 16 is the only solution, but fairness should be established.

  11. Bill says:

    I don’t like this idea. Sure, it might make the playoffs a bit more interesting, but it does absolutely nothing towards solving the long term problem, which should be making the eastern conference better overall. So now, in this scenario, not only is the east not playing more games against the west in the regular season (which I think seems the best way to jump start the east, playing more against stronger competition rather than so many games against other low-bar, milquetoast teams), but they’re not even in the playoffs. How does that help the east improve?

  12. Skater says:

    Maybe instead of throwing away the conference system, revisiting the conference layouts would be a solution. Maybe instead of east and west it could be north and south.

    • Skater says:

      North- playoff picture
      MEM, TOR, POR, CHI, CLE, MIL, SAC, DEN

      South Playoff picture
      GS, HOU, SA, DAL, LAC, WAS, ATL, PHX

      Pretty good match ups there. Nobody is “left out.”

    • ism says:

      Without further checking this idea sounds brilliant and worth looking into, to me!

  13. Herbert Businge says:

    I’m all for the best teams fighting for the championship. Balancing the games could be as easy as each team playing the other twice home and away(visiting) and then a conference tie breaker game, where an eastern conference team plays one more game against each team in its particular conference. Same for the west. Game Total=75. Who said anything bout fatigue? Besides 82 games is a looong season anyway

  14. TEE says:

    Everyone who keeps saying the balance of powers is going to just change in a year or two has not done their homework and frankly must have not payed much attention to the NBA over the years. The East has been weak ever since Jordan left the Bulls. Not only has the West won the large majority of the titles since, but the West has had way better records over the East, they have won more All Star games, and they have had a lot of teams with close to 50 wins miss out on the playoffs.

  15. Daniel says:

    For those complaining about the long travel from Miami to Portland in a potential first-round series, the format should be 2-3-2 only for travel-challenge match-ups, while keeping the 2-2-1-1-1 format for the other series.