You see this guy right above where you are reading? Yeah, Dirk Nowitzki? He is currently giving it all for his team, the Dallas Mavericks, in order for them to make the playoffs. While, the Mavericks are currently sitting in 7th place, they are only doing so because they have the tie breaker over the Memphis Grizzlies (8th), and Phoenix Suns (9th). All three of these teams are 14 games over .500 and they are fighting for the two remaining playoff spots in the Western Conference. In the Eastern Conference you have teams like the Washington Wizards who are two games over .500 in 6th, and then you have the Charlotte Bobcats in 7th two games under .500 and the Atlanta Hawks in 8th while they are nine games under .500. It is due to these issues with teams under .500 getting into the playoffs in the east, while teams greatly over .500 in the west are missing out, that the question has been raised: Should the NBA remove conferences?
Argument against Conferences:
Man, this is a complex question and there truly is no right answer. On the side of getting rid of conferences, it makes sense. Teams like the Mavericks, Grizzlies, and Suns deserve to make the playoffs this year, and teams like the Wizards (arguably), Bobcats, and Hawks do not. By getting rid of the conference system, it has been purposed that we take the top 16 teams and make an NCAA March Madness type of tournament out of it. From that, we would always have the top 16 teams in it and no one would be left out that deserves it, in theory. Sure, you would maybe lose some of the competitive nature between rivalry games, but it should not be that much because now every game is even more important since there is no “less emphasis on non-conference and more emphasis on inner-conference match ups.” From this more competitive playoff system, owners and the league may even see a boost in money being made. While playoffs are always drawing fans, competitive games draw more fans, and more revenue. In terms of the NBA draft, it is also a win. If the top 16 teams were chosen, then the true lottery teams would have a chance in the lottery and at the big picks, instead of seeing good western teams not making the playoffs, but still having a lottery pick. The argument for no more conference’s is a valid, and increasingly louder one, however the other side also has a say.
Argument for Conferences:
On the other side of the coin is the individual’s who argue that the conference system needs to stay the way it is, and they also have a valid point. As touched on previously, the conference system allows for more competitive inner conference games, more rivalries, and that might be lost a little if there was no conferences. In theory, if the NBA were to go to a tournament style system, would it not heavily favor the West? Then there is the issue about upsets, and the Cinderella Story. Sure, there are chances of upsets in a tournament style system, but that happens in the NCAA because all conferences get in and they are not as strong as an SEC team, for example. The idea of a Cinderella has become even more of a possibility to fans, especially those who witnessed the LA Kings a few years back as an 8th seed, last in the West, getting in on the last day, make an incredible run to win the Stanley Cup. Sure, this is hockey and it is more team based than in basketball where it is more individual skill sets, but why can it not happen in basketball? Of course the biggest, and strongest argument against getting rid of conferences is the system itself. Will it work? How long until it works? No other major sport has done this, all are conference based and no one does a pool, why should basketball? The system works for the most part, why not keep it that way? The system does work for the most part, and to be fair no conferences seem a little drastic, why not just do a realignment? The one’s against conference break up also have a strong point, but the issue needs to be addressed sooner, rather than later.
As you can see from the majority of the article, this is not an easy decision. Again, both sides have valid points and at least one thing should be said, and that is conference issues need to be addressed. Does that mean we keep what we have now and not change it? Does that mean we do a conference realignment to make the conferences more equal? Or do we go to something as drastic as no conferences and a pool of the top 16 teams and do a tournament style playoff system? Here at the Post Up we have agreed that something needs to be done, we do not know what, but something has to happen. Conference realignment seems like the most realistic option, and the no conference system seems a bit optimistic at this stage. It is an interesting topic that will only gain traction as more bad teams make the playoffs in the east, and the deserving ones in the west do not. We encourage anyone who reads this to give us their opinion on what they think should happen with the conference situation and if something needs to happen, how should it be solved.
We would also like to thank Edvard from Facebook for posing this question to us, we greatly appreciate your participation and we hope this encourages others to do the same.
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Credit to ESPN’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss for his article, which led to our article on the subject.