As the NBA playoff picture solidifies, we find ourselves needing to shift our NBA gears again. Inevitable always is the talk of open seeding. We cannot avoid it! We need it! We want it! Goran Dragic missing the playoffs just ruffles our feathers. So the question to be answered for today now becomes, Is open seeding what the NBA needs or are we just asking for something we should be totally against?
Lets start off by saying open seeding would eliminate a lot of the woes that drive NBA fans crazy, since the 90s eastern powerhouse like Jordans Bulls, and todays Heat have essentially sleepwalked thru the 1st two rounds. In theory, that is what most NBA fans believe. But lets looks at the last 3 play off runs for the Heat who have made it to the finals the last 3 years.
Lets look at the western counterparts route to finals,
This is a really small sample size and of course is TOTALLY objective. For the 2013 Heat, it is fair to say their run was not any more difficult then the 2013 Spurs. The Lakers were in shambles, Golden State won 2 games, and Memphis was swept clean. The Heat lost one to the Bulls, steamrolled the Bucks, and ran in to the upstart Indiana Pacers. Miamis 2012 run was also pretty tough for the Heat giving up 6 games before reaching the finals. 2014 is shaping up to be a playoffs that completely reaffirms the need for open seeding, but we might be kidding ourselves if we think the Grizzlies can beat a healthy Spurs team who swept them last year. OKC vs Dallas as a possible 2 vs. 7 are likely the same scenario. While Gasol/ Dirk are scary propositions in the first round, the Bobcats with Al Jeffereson and Kemba might be in their ballpark. The Hawks are a cakewalk, but if Knicks slide in to the 8th seed, Melo and his maligned squad could make things just as interesting for the 1 and 2 seeds.
We are making the move to an argument that departs from a matter of opinion. Open seeding would lead to some results. For one we would have to come to grips with weird flight schedules. Lets say the Raptors had to play the Lakers in a 2-2-1-1-1 matchup. Those types of arrangements would be flummoxing to handle. Its fine when its the finals, but imagine a team dealing with 4 rounds of crummy flight patterns. We would not want to live in a world were jet lag of all things could influence a teams playoff run. Regionalism is the most concerning of all. Matchups between NBA cities like Chicago and Boston would be harder to come by. In addition to having to adjust to new rivalries, we would have to get rid of old ones that are time honored. Tradition cannot be denied in this case. Some of us may want to ditch old time matchups in favor of analytics, but seeing the Grizzlies play the Spurs one more time is much sexier then seeing San Antonio take on New York or Atlanta. Getting rid of conferences would be detrimental as well, since a huge part of there design is to ensure teams play other teams that are closer to there region more often then not. How would we ensure that conferences would truly be eliminated? Are all teams to play each an equal amount of times? I am not a math major but that seems brutal in terms of planning. We cannot forget that conferences/ divisions do not simply exist for the sake of existence, but instead to ensure schedules can be made properly. The 98-99 Knicks squad would never have received a shot at their Cinderella run. Fantasies of teams who are mid level in the east might soon find themselves disengaged knowing that there squad may never see the light of playoffs. What about an outcome were 14 seeds come from the West and 2 seeds from the East. How would local TV stations of eastern cities take to those terms?
Open seeding is a Pandoras box that lets out a series of unintended consequences. The NBA is healthy today as it ever was. Perhaps the only knock is that it could be growing at a faster rate but all owners are still making money hand over fist. Only taking the top 16 seeds every year to the playoffs would spark a radical shift resulting in the rattling of long time NBA fans. Shaking up profit margins for teams who would make the playoffs under the regular format. We can guarantee that open seeding would ensure the cream of the crop would make it to the top but it would do so at the expense of rivalries, profits, and scheduling. Competition is what drives sports but in this case we may be asking for a competition that compromises the association entirely too much.
2013-14 Season Highlight Mix
In case you are tired of my bloviating ways, below are the key points I made in this piece. This is a college slackers dream!
MY top 5 arguments against open seeding
1. Time honored rivalries gone New York Vs Boston will fall by the way side and might give way to (DRUMROLL) Memphis vs Brooklyn.
2. Disengaged Fan bases What If the Knicks, Milwaukee, Cleveland truly had NO CHANCE IN HELL at sniffing the playoffs?
3. Scheduling issues Crossing country flights would be brutal, especially for 4 rounds in the playoffs.
4. Profit implications teams used to making playoffs under old format would have to adjust to eliminated gate revenue from playoff games.
5. Cinderella Stories RIP That 8th seed that made it to the 2nd round in the playoffs, FORGET ABOUT IT.