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It’s time to blow up NBA conferences

It’s not as drastic of a change as you would expect.

NBA: NBA Draft Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A fairly common discussion that takes place amongst basketball fans, is how the “Western Conference is so much better top to bottom than the Eastern Conference.” That the West is “unbalanced,” and if the conferences didn’t exist, the current Eastern Conference “wouldn’t get more than a few teams in” if the playoffs were seeded 1-16 by the best overall records in the league.

Over the last several seasons, that simply isn’t true.

If you go back over the last 5 seasons, (actually 6 becuase let’s just throw the 2013 Grizzlies Conference Finals run in for good measure) the changes in regards to who made the playoffs is negligable.

2018 NBA Playoffs

Actual Playoff Seeding

Eastern Conference

  1. Toronto Raptors
  2. Boston Celtics
  3. Philadelphia 76ers
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers
  5. Indiana Pacers
  6. Miami Heat
  7. Milwaukee Bucks
  8. Washington Wizards

Western Conference

  1. Houston Rockets
  2. Golden State Warriors
  3. Portland Trail Blazers
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder
  5. Utah Jazz
  6. New Orleans Pelicans
  7. San Antonio Spurs
  8. Minnesota Timberwolves

Seeded 1 - 16 by Record

  1. Houston Rockets
  2. Toronto Raptors
  3. Golden State Warriors
  4. Boston Celtics
  5. Philadelphia 76ers
  6. Cleveland Cavaliers
  7. Portland Trail Blazers
  8. Oklahoma City Thunder
  9. Utah Jazz
  10. Indiana Pacers
  11. New Orleans Pelicans
  12. San Antonio Spurs
  13. Minnesota Timberwolves
  14. Denver Nuggets
  15. Miami Heat
  16. Milwaukee Bucks

Difference: Nuggets in, Washington Out

2017 NBA Playoffs

Actual Playoff Seeding

Eastern Conference

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
  3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Washington Wizards
  5. Atlanta Hawks
  6. Milwaukee Bucks
  7. Indiana Pacers
  8. Chicago Bulls

Western Conference

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Houston Rockets
  4. LA Clippers
  5. Utah Jazz
  6. Oklahoma City Thunder
  7. Memphis Grizzlies
  8. Portland Trail Blazers

Seeded 1-16 by Record

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Houston Rockets
  4. Boston Celtics
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers
  6. Utah Jazz
  7. Toronto Raptors
  8. LA Clippers
  9. Washington Wizards
  10. Oklahoma City Thunder
  11. Atlanta Hawks
  12. Memphis Grizzlies
  13. Milwaukee Bucks
  14. Indiana Pacers
  15. Portland Trail Blazers
  16. Chicago Bulls

Difference: None

2016 NBA Playoffs

Actual Playoff Seeding

Eastern Conference

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
  2. Toronto Raptors
  3. Miami Heat
  4. Atlanta Hawks
  5. Boston Celtics
  6. Charlotte Hornets
  7. Indiana Pacers
  8. Detroit Pistons

Western Conference

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder
  4. LA Clippers
  5. Portland Trail Blazers
  6. Dallas Mavericks
  7. Memphis Grizzlies
  8. Houston Rockets

Seeded 1-16 by Record

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers
  4. Toronto Raptors
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder
  6. LA Clippers
  7. Miami Heat
  8. Atlanta Hawks
  9. Boston Celtics
  10. Charlotte Hornets
  11. Indiana Pacers
  12. Portland Trail Blazers
  13. Detroit Pistons
  14. Dallas Mavericks
  15. Memphis Grizzlies
  16. Chicago Bulls

Difference: Chicago in, Houston out

2015 NBA Playoffs

Actual Playoff Seeding

Eastern Conference

  1. Atlanta Hawks
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
  3. Chicago Bulls
  4. Toronto Raptors
  5. Washington Wizards
  6. Milwaukee Bucks
  7. Boston Celtics
  8. Brooklyn Nets

Western Conference

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. Houston Rockets
  3. Los Angeles Clippers
  4. Portland Trail Blazers
  5. Memphis Grizzlies
  6. San Antonio Spurs
  7. Dallas Mavericks
  8. New Orleans Pelicans

Seeded 1-16 by Record

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. Atlanta Hawks
  3. Houston Rockets
  4. LA Clippers
  5. Portland Trail Blazers
  6. Memphis Grizzlies
  7. Cleveland Cavaliers
  8. San Antonio Spurs
  9. Chicago Bulls
  10. Dallas Mavericks
  11. Toronto Raptors
  12. Washington Wizards
  13. New Orleans Pelicans
  14. Oklahoma City Thunder
  15. Milwaukee Bucks
  16. Boston Celtics

Difference: OKC in, Brooklyn out

2014 NBA Playoffs

Actual Playoff Seeding

Eastern Conference

  1. Indiana Pacers
  2. Miami Heat
  3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Chicago Bulls
  5. Washington Wizards
  6. Brooklyn Nets
  7. Charlotte Bobcats
  8. Atlanta Hawks

Western Conference

  1. San Antonio Spurs
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder
  3. Los Angeles Clippers
  4. Houston Rockets
  5. Portland Trail Blazers
  6. Golden State Warriors
  7. Memphis Grizzlies
  8. Dallas Mavericks

Seeded 1-16 by Record

  1. San Antonio Spurs
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder
  3. LA Clippers
  4. Indiana Pacers
  5. Miami Heat
  6. Houston Rockets
  7. Portland Trail Blazers
  8. Golden State Warriors
  9. Memphis Grizzlies
  10. Dallas Mavericks
  11. Toronto Raptors
  12. Chicago Bulls
  13. Phoenix Suns
  14. Washington Wizards
  15. Brooklyn Nets
  16. Charlotte Bobcats

Difference: Phoenix in, Atlanta out

2013 NBA Playoffs

Actual Playoff Seeding

Eastern Conference

  1. Miami Heat
  2. New York Knicks
  3. Indiana Pacers
  4. Brooklyn Nets
  5. Chicago Bulls
  6. Atlanta Hawks
  7. Boston Celtics
  8. Milwaukee Bucks

Western Conference

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Denver Nuggets
  4. Los Angeles Clippers
  5. Memphis Grizzlies
  6. Golden State Warriors
  7. Los Angeles Lakers
  8. Houston Rockets

Seeded 1-16 by Record

  1. Miami Heat
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder
  3. San Antonio Spurs
  4. Denver Nuggets
  5. LA Clippers
  6. Memphis Grizzlies
  7. New York Knicks
  8. Indiana Pacers
  9. Brooklyn Nets
  10. Golden State Warriors
  11. Chicago Bulls
  12. Los Angeles Lakers
  13. Houston Rockets
  14. Atlanta Hawks
  15. Utah Jazz
  16. Boston Celtics

Difference: Utah in, Milwaukee out

To me, seeding the league 1-16 shouldn’t just be a proposal, it should be implemented as soon a possible. This system all but guarantees that the best two teams in the league will meet in the NBA Finals. At minimum, it gives you the best chance for that to happen. Now obviously there’s much more realignment that would need to take place in the league, and our very own McCarty Maxwell is covering that in a multi-part series.