Sunday, 13 April 2014

The NBA Needs to Change (Its Standings System)

It's an argument that has been made for years, but this year appears to be the straw that breaks the camel's back for the NBA's current layout. None of the four major North American sports leagues have the same problem as the NBA with conference inequality. Why is the NBA's western conference so good, or better, why is it so much better than the East?

As it its right now, the Phoenix Suns would miss the playoffs in the Western conference, despite winning 47 games. If they were in the Eastern conference, they would be tied for 3rd with the Chicago Bulls. On the flip side, in the East, the Atlanta Hawks, despite being 6 games under .500 and guaranteed a losing season, with 43 losses and 3 games left to play, will make the playoffs. If they were in the West, they would be in 11th.

Every year, one or even two teams from the Eastern conference makes the playoffs with an sub-par record (in 2013 it was the Bucks, in 2011 it was the Pacers in 2009 it was the Pistons, in 2008 it was the Hawks and 76ers in 2007 it was the Magic, in 2006 it was the Bucks and it 2004 it was the Knicks and Celtics). It's no coincidence, 7 of the past 10 seasons (not including this year) have had an Eastern conference finish below .500 and make the playoffs.

Seriously, this is a legitimate concern if the NBA wishes to be competitive. Sure the East holds the defending champion Miami Heat, but in the entire NBA standings, they sit tied for 4th with the surging Indiana Pacers. Ahead of them are the incredibly talented San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and once lowly Los Angeles Clippers. Only the Pacers and Heat would make the playoffs in the West, and the only other Eastern teams that would even still be eligible for a playoff spot in the west would be the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors. That means 4 out of 15 teams would be able to make the playoffs in a crossover scenario. When 73% of one conference can't compete in the other, action may be necessary.

How can we fix this problem?

Easy, just like the way the CFL works, Western teams should be able to cross over into any playoff spots where the team is under .500. This year, there wouldn't be the issue where Phoenix or Memphis, will miss the playoffs despite winning more than 55% of their games, and even Minnesota, who is only a game over .500, but still 3 games ahead of lowly Atlanta.

Another solution would be entering the top 16 teams. The same results would stand, and there would have to be some fair form of division (IE: Jordan and Byrd conferences?) yet, the 16 best teams in the league would still make the playoffs, and geography would have no roll in whether a winning team makes the playoffs or not.

I'm not the first person to give this idea, and I'm not saying the standings have to be completely fair, but it's ludicrous to suggest a team that can't even win half its games, will have the same right to compete for the NBA championship as teams that win games.

The NBA is under new management. Though the past was good, it's time for change!

Leave your thoughts and possible topics for future posts in the comments, and thanks for visiting

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