Poll: Should NBA Use 1-16 Seeding For 2020 Playoffs?

While the idea has yet to gain a ton of momentum, there has been talk in recent years about the idea of the NBA re-seeding its playoff teams once the postseason begins, ranking those clubs first through 16th based on overall records, regardless of conference.

For instance, the Clippers have the second-best record in the West this year, but the fourth-best mark in the NBA, so they’d be the No. 4 seed. The Sixers, sixth in the East, would become a No. 12 seed, reflecting their place in the overall NBA standings.

Such a change would help even the playing field if one conference is significantly stronger than the other, as was the case for the Western Conference for much of the 2010s. However, it hasn’t really gained steam due to travel concerns and because it would require approval from the NBA’s Board of Governors — generally, team owners in the weaker conference have a vested interest in keeping the format as is.

However, as the NBA works toward potentially resuming its 2019/20 season, the league could have a unique opportunity to experiment this summer. Two important factors would work in favor of testing the idea of re-seeding playoff teams using a 1-16 system:

  1. If the NBA resumes play in a single bubble location (ie. Orlando), no travel would be required.
  2. Eight of the current top 16 teams in the NBA standings are in the Western Conference, while eight are in the East. In other words, if the playoff seeding is tweaked, no current lottery team would make the postseason and no current playoff team would fall out.

During an appearance today on ESPN’s Get Up (video link), Brian Windhorst said he thinks there’s a real chance the NBA could go straight to the postseason if and when it returns, which could open the door for re-seeding the 16 playoff teams. According to Windhorst, league commissioner Adam Silver has long been interested in that concept.

As Windhorst notes, it remains unlikely that two-thirds of the NBA’s owners would be on board with such a format change for the long term. And even this season, there would likely be a number of teams in the East opposed to tweaking the format, since it would make their playoff draw a whole lot more challenging.

Still, if ever there was a time for owners to get on board with a one-off experiment, this would be the year.

Here’s what the playoffs would look like if the teams were re-seeded, regardless of conference, based on their current records:

First side of bracket:

  • Bucks (1) vs. Magic (16)
  • Heat (8) vs. Thunder (9)
  • Clippers (4) vs. Mavericks (13)
  • Celtics (5) vs. Sixers (12)

Second side of bracket:

  • Lakers (2) vs. Nets (15)
  • Jazz (7) vs. Rockets (10)
  • Raptors (3) vs. Grizzlies (14)
  • Nuggets (6) vs. Pacers (11)

And as a reminder, here’s what the playoffs would look like under the usual format:

Eastern Conference:

  • Bucks (1) vs. Magic (8)
  • Heat (4) vs. Pacers (5)
  • Raptors (2) vs. Nets (7)
  • Celtics (3) vs. Sixers (6)

Western Conference:

  • Lakers (1) vs. Grizzlies (8)
  • Jazz (4) vs. Thunder (5)
  • Clippers (2) vs. Mavericks (7)
  • Nuggets (3) vs. Rockets (6)

While a handful of first-round matchups would be the same regardless of the format the NBA uses, the re-seeding approach would create a handful of interesting inter-conference series, including Heat vs. Thunder, Raptors vs. Grizzlies, Nuggets vs. Pacers, and Lakers vs. Nets.

Things could get very interesting in the second and third rounds of a 1-16 format, with the Clippers potentially having to go through the Celtics and the Bucks before perhaps facing the Lakers in the Finals. The Lakers, on the other hand, might play the winner of a Raptors/Nuggets showdown for the right to advance to the Finals.

What do you think? Is re-seeding the playoff teams a worthwhile experiment, given this year’s unusual circumstances? Or would it be in the NBA’s best interest to stick to its usual postseason format, separating the East and the West until the Finals?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

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23 thoughts on “Poll: Should NBA Use 1-16 Seeding For 2020 Playoffs?

  1. I would say it depends on the bubble sites. If there’s two bubble sites say Orlando and Vegas, then keep it east and west.

    If there’s one bubble site in Orlando, I say one through 16 seeding. Mix it up a little just for fun.

  2. Chucktoad1

    Yes and long term, but only if they tweak scheduling. Everybody plays everybody 3 times. Once at home, once on the road and one in a neutral site. That would make 87 reg season games. Stretch the season out two more weeks to accommodate. 1-16 regardless of conference. Best of 5 1st Rd for time considerations. Best of 7 as normal the rest of the way.

    • HubcapDiamondStarHalo

      I can’t imagine ANY scenario where the player’s association will approve a longer schedule.

    • When one of the big stories in the league is resting players I think expanding the season is probably the wrong conversation to have.

      • wagner13

        I agree, except have everyone play each other twice and shorten the season to 58 games. Just eliminate the neutral site matchups

  3. hiflew

    Why does everyone want to use this break as an opportunity to wedge in major changes to a sport? Baseball with the universal DH, basketball with this. This is not as bad as the DH rule in my mind, which fundamentally alters the game, but it’s not a rule that should be changed in midseason either. All teams started the 2019-20 season with the postseason format in place. If they want to change it, they should wait until the next offseason.

    Besides, to win the championship you have to beat everyone anyway. It doesn’t really matter where you start from.

    • Appalachian_Outlaw

      Agreed. I’d honestly prefer they just scrap sports this year. It’s not worth the risk. Of lesser importance though is that I don’t know if people realize how jarringly different these games will feel without fans, coupled with the radical rule changes being thrown around.

  4. I just don’t feel like the East/West separation is as deeply rooted as AL/NL or AFC/NFC. When you have East and West teams north and south of each other it’s kind of arbitrary.

  5. If they’re all in Orlando this year, I’m for it. Funny how the first round matchups that aren’t the same as they would be with the traditional system are still similar in terms of the teams matched up against each other.

    It’s the later round matchups that get interesting, and what some might have issues with. The Lakers might need to get through the Raptors to make the finals, which maybe they’d prefer to the Clippers anyway. The Clippers would probably be less thrilled to have the Bucks on their side. They also might rather deal with Denver for their second round matchup than Boston. But I bet Toronto and Boston would rather not have to deal with each other. As for me, I think all these matchups would be great.

  6. specialfriedrice

    terrible, way to float a poll for a result you knew the internet would reflect.

  7. Dodgethis

    The season is over stop pretending otherwise. No one will ever respect a winner from this season. It’s almost time for the off-season anyways. Why destroy future seasons?

    • El Don

      Because without THIS season there is no future seasons, as simple as, you just gotta wake up from your hibernation & go back to normal life, my friend!

    • Chucktoad1

      Yeah man, the heat and spurs should totally give back 1 of their championships

  8. imindless

    Glad they recognized how weak East was during lebrons era. If this was the format he would never make it to the finals 9 times.

  9. x%sure

    I don’t see the point when there are so many other important things. I don’t see the point anyway.
    Soccer teams are often all on one table, but most soccer teams are in much smaller nations, so not a good example.
    Things that cut travel burdens are good.

  10. KnickerbockerAl

    Should always be East vs West. It brings in whole nation. It’s not college. This is business. Teams are suppose to build winners. Remember we had a 50 game season. Cause of strike. So get off that argument. Considering this is a unique situation. I’m not against 16 team format. Just for this yr. Considering virus is still very active. It’s best to keep it in one state. You can quarantine all involved. And keep better tabs on it. You do understand 1000 people a wk are still dying RIGHT. Best to go into playoffs. Make the best of a bad situation. Get it over with and into draft. Playoffs will be very competitive. All are rested and healthy. Just want ALL games to be televised. They should do it for nation, for Fans. Televise ALL the games. Makes more people stay at Hm and party responsibly. Less crowds

  11. Appalachian_Outlaw

    No, and emphatically. In a normal year it’d make for a logistical nightmare if you had a hypothetical Portland vs. Miami match up in a short series. So why change things simply because they this season got jacked? Keep it as standardized as possible.

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