This season will mark the 11th consecutive the Minnesota Timberwolves have missed out on the playoffs. By the time they get back, if they ever do, the NBA's postseason format could look a lot different.
On Thursday night, during the Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area Golden State broadcast of the Warriors-Mavericks game, first-year NBA Commissioner Adam Silver went on record saying the playoff format needs to change. The proposal, which you can read and watch (5:05 mark of the video) in full below, would eliminate the top eight seeds in each conference and replace it with the 16 best teams in the league; all of the division winners and the next 10 best teams.
Pro Basketball Talk has the transcript:
“Ultimately we want to see your best teams in the playoffs. And there is an unbalance and a certain unfairness. There is a proposal (from one of the broadcasters)… where the division winners would all automatically go into the playoffs and then you’d seed the next 10 best teams. I think that’s the kind of proposal we need to look at. There are travel issues of course, but in this day in age every team of course has their own plane, travels charter. I don’t think the discussion should end there. And as I’ve said, my first year I was studying a lot of these issues and year two is time to take action. It’s something I’m going to look at closely with the competition committee. I do think it’s an area where we need to make a change.”
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Based on the current NBA standings, the idea would kick out the current seventh and eighth seeds in the Eastern Conference, Charlotte and Miami, and replace them with the current ninth and tenth seeds in the Western Conference, New Orleans and Oklahoma City.
Silver, according to ESPN, is also considering conference realignment to better structure the competitive balance of the league.
Impact on the Wolves?
In reality, the Wolves have been so bad that the idea wouldn't impact their fate. But if the model was used last season, Minnesota, with a record of 40-42, would have played much more meaningful basketball down the stretch.
Kevin Love and company finished with the 17th-best record in the league, three games behind Charlotte – the seventh-seed in the East – and two games ahead of Atlanta, the eighth-seed in the East. Phoenix won 48 games last season and didn't make the playoffs in the West, but under the proposed format they would have played postseason basketball while the Hawks watched at home.
So, as long as the Eastern Conference is inferior to the Western Conference, the proposed playoff change can't really hurt the Wolves.
This is what playoff basketball is like...