While the West got wilder the East took a step back. The 2017 NBA Free Agency period was anything but a disappointment some may say most players wanted to get out of the East because of LeBron James and his dominance with seven straight Finals appearance. But the biggest superstars that transitioned from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference were dealt via trade.
Jimmy Butler was traded on draft night from the Chicago Bulls to the Minnesota Timberwolves in return Chicago received point guard Kris Dunn, and a potential star in Zach LaVine who’s coming off an ACL injury.
Indiana Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard, had different deals in place for star forward Paul George but ultimately ended up sending him out West to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo & Domantas Sabonis. The move was clearly out of spite so George wouldn’t be on a contending team in the East.
With these big names going West this leaves the Eastern Conference “top-heavy as s***”, teams like the Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, & Toronto Raptors will all secure top 4 spots again. Gordon Hayward made the jump from the Utah Jazz to the Boston Celtics but his move was a no brainer the small forward position is going to be loaded in the West with players like Kevin Durant, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, & Jimmy Butler. Hayward knew staying in the stacked West his opportunity was shrinking on him getting closer to a title along with his individual goals as well, such as making All-NBA Team and getting back on the All-Star Team. Going East increases the chances of Hayward getting to the Finals and he’s a lock to be on the All-Star Team.
Time for Change:
Commissioner Adam Silver needs to consider seeding the NBA Playoffs 1-16 instead of having this jaded Eastern Conference vs Western Conference. This would force more teams and players to take the regular season more seriously, games would be more competitive, and you get the best 16 teams in the Playoffs. Yes they do play an 82 game schedule which is exhausting but players get bored and most teams check out mentally from the middle of January until after the All-Star break.
Also this would help with the NBA “resting” problem, the San Antonio Spurs started this controversy but teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and others have taken it to another level. At times the Cavaliers would rest Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, & Kevin Love on road trips the Cavs weren’t concerned about the consequences of resting players they always knew they’d grab either a one or two seed come Playoff time. With a 16 team format teams would be more conscious about resting players, they would want to try to avoid playing a San Antonio or Golden State sooner than they’d have to.
Lastly Playoff match ups, the only Eastern Conference Playoffs series I watched from the beginning to the end was the match up between the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards. Granted the East has young up and coming talent but other than that the Eastern Conference playoffs were boring there’s a reason why the Toronto Raptors & Milwaukee Bucks first round series were mostly showed on NBA TV, not ESPN or TNT. Now you take Paul George & Jimmy Butler out the East we could potentially have a high 30 win NBA team making the Playoffs.
2017 NBA Matchups
Teams Seeded 1-16
Fans of the NBA would be more tuned in and ratings would spike up with a format like this, it’s not anything we’ve seen before this is March Madness on steroids. This takes away from fans complaining that the Playoffs were boring, yes we did watch Cleveland and Golden State go a combined 24-1 before the Finals. There wouldn’t be a cake walk for any team or a dominance displayed it would be drama, good drama that we as sport fans want. Even better we could potentially get Finals match ups before the Finals.
As much as we would all like to see a format of this caliber it’s going to take some time. NBA owners would have to approve of it while some will, there are owners in the East that won’t because that would mean their sub .500 team that made the Playoffs previously before wouldn’t get in which means they’d be losing money and they’re not about that. Will it happen in the next two years probably not, but we will have a 1-16 seeded NBA Playoff format eventually.