NBA May Change Playoff Seeding Format

By Vincent Frank

Addressing the media before Game 1 of the NBA Finals in Oakland on Thursday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver opened up about the possibility of overhauling the league’s playoff seeding process (via Pro Basketball Talk).

“We are very focused on the divisional seeding process, and I think we are going to take a very close look at whether we should seed at least 1 through 8 by conference as opposed to giving the division winner that higher seed,” Silver said. “So that is something we are taking a close look at that, and we may change that fairly quickly. As I’ve said earlier, that is a vestige of a division system that may not make sense anymore.”

This would have come into play during the early stages of the 2015 NBA Playoffs. Despite finishing with the sixth-best record in the Western Conference during the regular year, the Portland Trail Blazers earned the fourth seed because they won the Northwest Division with 51 victories. This pushed the San Antonio Spurs (55 wins) down to the sixth seed, forcing them into a matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers. Under this new model, Portland would have taken on the Clippers with the Spurs playing against the Memphis Grizzlies.

It must be noted that Silver doesn’t anticipate the Association eliminating conference playoffs and seeding teams 1-16 based on their overall records:

“I think ultimately where (the owners) came out is this notion of 1 through 16 seeding, while it seems attractive in many ways, because of the additional travel that will result, it just doesn’t seem like a good idea at the moment,” Silver said. “This notion of, for example, this team would have played Boston in the first round under a 1-16 seeding and would have had to crisscross back and forth across the country, which does not seem like a good idea, especially based on the earlier question based on the health of our players, and focusing on actually reducing the amount of travel and back to backs.”

Silver has a good point here. The Golden State Warriors traveled to take on the New Orleans Pelicans for two games during the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Under the model that the owners seem to like, Steve Kerr’s squad would have had to travel to Boston.

At the very least, it appears that Silver is open to change here. That’s something that David Stern struggled with during his tenure as commissioner. Sometimes change is good, and Silver knows this full well.

Photo: USA Today Sports