Hidden Playbook

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Open to Changing Playoff Format

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver could possibly be on the verge of changing the sports landscape forever. Silver admitted that he is open to the idea of restructuring the league’s playoff structure by doing away with conference seeding and simply going with the best 16 teams.

It would be a landmark change in structure for professional playoffs. Most, if not all sports base their playoff format on conferences and divisions with conference champions meeting for the championship. If Silver and the NBA dropped their current structure, it could lead to more leagues adopting the same approach. Or at the very least, re-examining their current playoff structure to determine if it’s outdated.

The reason for even considering such an idea is due to the balance of power currently in the NBA with most good teams being in the Western Conference. In fact, if the playoffs were to begin today, both the Charlotte Hornets (22-27) and Miami Heat (21-28) would be playing in the first round in the East. And in the West, New Orleans (26-23) and Oklahoma City (25-24) would not make it.

“Ultimately, we want to see your best teams in the playoffs,” Silver said during Wednesday’s game between the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors. “And there is an imbalance and a certain unfairness.”

adam silver

If the new playoff structure were in place today, New Orleans and Oklahoma City would be the final two seeds while Charlotte and Miami would be eliminated.

Silver indicated that each of the six division winners would get automatic playoff berths while the remaining 10 positions would be based on overall record, ignoring conference affiliations.

“I think that’s the kind of proposal we need to look at. There are travel issues, of course, but in this day and age every team, of course, has their own plane, travels charter,” Silver said. “… It’s something I’m going to look at closely with the competition committee. A lot of owners have strong feelings on it, but I think it is an area where we need to make a change.”

Silver said that he needs to talk with team owners first before pursuing any change of course.

“I don’t think the discussion should end there,” Adam Silver said about any potential changes in the future. “And as I’ve said, my first year I was studying a lot of these issues, and Year 2 is time to take action.”


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