Tyler J. Scott
THE SANTA CLARA
April 23, 2015
I can’t remember being more excited for an NBA postseason in a long time. The Western Conference is stacked, with the No. 2 through No. 7 seed separated by only six games. The Eastern Conference has the vastly improved Cleveland Cavaliers, led by a motivated LeBron James and company.
Every team in the West is a contender, but in the East, maybe two are. This year’s playoffs are one of the best in a long while, but it could be so much better. The best teams aren’t being represented in the playoffs.
The Brooklyn Nets’ record entering the postseason was 38-44, and they earned the No. 8 seed in the East. The Boston Celtics posted a 40-42 record in the regular season and are the No. 7 seed. At the No. 6 seed in the East is the Milwaukee Bucks, who were an even 41-41.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the human triple-double Russell Westbrook were left out of the extremely strong Western Conference playoffs, with a record of 45-37.
Last season, the Phoenix Suns went 48-34 and missed the playoffs because the West was so stacked. The Atlanta Hawks made the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 38-44 record.
Commissioner Adam Silver has been talking about changing the playoffs for two years.
“Ultimately we want to see your best teams in the playoffs. And there (currently) is an imbalance and a certain unfairness,” said Silver in a February article on ESPN. “I think it is an area where we need to make a change.”
I think that a simply “by best-records” 16 teams would not work because it would be heavily lopsided in the West’s favor, but I propose a different way. The top six teams would be the division winners by record. Then, teams seven through 16 would be the remaining best records. The result isn’t as lopsided as you might think.
If they did more of an NCAA Tournament bracket format with these rules, there would be nine Western conference teams and seven Eastern conference teams. This is a minimal inequality price to pay in order to get the best teams in the playoffs.
Seeded at 1-16, the Thunder would have been in the playoffs at No. 14, above Milwaukee and Boston, and Brooklyn wouldn’t have made it.
It’s no secret that the East and West are horribly unbalanced. The Cavaliers, currently at the No. 2 seed in the East, would have been the No. 7 seed in the West. Entering the playoffs, the Cavs are the favorites to win the NBA title. Seven of the eight Western conference teams enter with 50 or more wins, and the Eastern holds only three.
To quote Atlanta rapper Ludacris, “Now that’s ludicrous!”
Tyler J. Scott is a junior marketing major and the editor of the Sports section.