With LeBron James moving to the Western Conference, destroying even further the idea of balance between the East and West in the NBA, the cries have gone up again to change the playoff to a 1-16 seeding regardless of conference. Balance out the schedule, then get the best teams in the postseason.
The NBA’s response: That would lead to a 40,000 miles increase in travel for teams during the postseason (from an average currently of about 90,000 up to 130,000). And, if the league is going to do away with conferences during the playoffs it needs to balance out the regular season schedules, which would add about 140,000 travel miles to teams (who did about 1.4 million miles last season).
Mark Cuban’s response to that: So what? The Dallas Mavericks owner took to Twitter.
So ? Our smartest NBA move of the last decade was to extend the calendar days of the schedule to minimize B2Bs and 4 in 5s. Playoff schedules can be similarly adjusted/optimized for distance when necessary https://t.co/9FGTQfwsA7
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) July 4, 2018
It should be noted Cuban’s Mavericks are in the West, which is just going to be a bloodbath nightly this season — even the worst team in the conference last season, Phoenix, got noticeably better this offseason. Making the playoffs in the West is going to take 47-48 wins at least. It would be to Cuban’s benefit to have a 1-16 seeding because his team’s chances of making the playoffs and maybe even advancing a round increase.
A 1-16 seeding would be good for a league that both wants to foster a level playing field of competition, and wants to have the best Finals possible. We’ll never know for sure what would have happened, but this past season Golden State and Houston played a thrilling seven-game series in the Western Conference Finals, then from there the Warriors went on to sweep the East’s best Cavaliers. This playoff format change would be good for the league.
Not that it’s going to happen. This change would require approval from a supermajority of NBA owners — good luck convincing half a dozen or so men who own Eastern Conference teams to reduce their chances at getting playoff revenue from games in their buildings in the name of “competitive balance.” Those owners will vote their pocketbook at keep the odds of them getting extra cash higher.
Still, it would be fun to see someday.