No April Fool's jokes from SLC Dunk today. I'm just waiting for the "gotcha!" statement from the Jazz front office. Maybe this whole season has just been one long, drawn-out April Fool's joke? Well, you got me. Good.
Tom Ziller of SBN takes a look at why the league should consider restructuring its playoff format. Every year, we talk about good teams in the West that are left out simply because there are more quality teams in that conference. For example,
In seven of the past eight seasons, the No. 9 team in the West had a better record than the No. 8 team in the East. That means that the NBA didn't take the top 16 teams to the playoffs -- it took the top 12-15, plus a bad team or four while better squads got early start on their beach reading. In the one year where the first team out for the West wasn't better than the last team in for the East, the teams' records were tied.
If you're looking for fairness, I don't think you're ever going to get it. In sports you always have someone that should have got in or should have won; that's just part of the game. This idea though would ensure that if the number of good teams ever tips in favor of the east, they wouldn't get left out either.
In Ziller's scenario, the top 16 teams in the league would get in and be matched up regardless of conference. That certainly gives us a lot of series that we wouldn't otherwise be able to see. I think what you lose though, and what makes the playoffs so good, is the rivalries that develop over the years by playing the same teams. In a 1-16 setup, you may not play the same team for 5-6 years. You may though get the same teams playing each other as you get closer to the finals.
This setup would also do away with conference champions. A lot of teams hang their hats on those banners. One thing more to consider is geography. For the most part, Eastern Conference teams are in the east and Western Conference teams are in the west. I don't know if the league or teams want to have first and second-round series where you're flying coast to coast more than normal. It also would disrupt TV scheduling as you could potentially have 5 of the 8 first-round series in time zones two hours apart. You wouldn't be able to schedule 3-4 games spaced out over the course of a day like that. Maximizing advertising revenue for these games is paramount for the league and this situation would be a nightmare.
So while it might not be fair that teams with better records are left out, the current setup works well.
NBADraft.net has their latest mock up and it has the Jazz taking Perry Jones with the #6 pick and Kemba Walker with the #12 pick (forgoing Jimmer). I think most Jazz fans would take that.
Would there be a bit of a backlash though if they passed up Jimmer?
Jody Genessy takes a look at the Jazz/Real Salt Lake/Lakers love triangle between Earl Watson and Nick Rimando.