NBA Weighing Playoff Format That Won’t Guarantee Spot for Division Winners

By Jesse Reed

The NBA’s current playoff format has long been considered archaic, but that may soon change.

Under the current format, division winners are given top seeds, even if other teams have better records. Commissioner Adam Silver and the league are now “leaning” towards a new format that would not only take away an automatic top-four seed from division winners, but would not even guarantee a playoff spot.

“Where we are leaning right now is that we would not guarantee a spot for a division winner in part because it’s so unlikely to happen, and No. 2, if it does happen it would be potentially confusing to fans. No. 3, you would be displacing a team that did have a top-eight record,” Silver said Wednesday, viaESPN.com News Services.

What he’s saying is that the potential new format would be absolutely, completely based on records alone. The likelihood of a division winner not making the playoffs is extremely slim, but not impossible. We’ve seen a scenario like this recently in another sport, when the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks won the NFC West in 2010. The New York Giants (10-6) were on the outside looking in that year when the playoffs began.

Silver touched on the fact that the chances are slim a division winner wouldn’t get in, noting his analytics team gave it a five percent chance of occurring.

The league has reportedly already taken steps to ensure we don’t see another scenario like we did last year when Portland took the No. 4 seed, relegating the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers to lower seeds despite better records.

Should Silver take it a step further, not guaranteeing a playoff spot at all for a division winner, then the entire playoff seeding process would be based solely on regular-season records. The move would certainly make the regular season more interesting, as teams would be more inclined to give every game their full attention.

Silver also said the decision must be made before preseason and that “the greater likelihood is we will not be guaranteeing a spot to a division winner,” per the ESPN report.

This can only be a good thing for the NBA.

Let the best teams get in, and let them be seeded according to their regular-season records.

So say we all.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports