Blog Entry

Realigning the NBA

Posted on: September 5, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 1:42 pm
 
Posted by Royce Young



Conference realignment has sort of taken over the world the past few weeks. Texas A&M pretty much put the nail in the coffin for the Big 12 by bolting for the SEC and because of it, a whole new chain of events have tipped over. The landscape of college football could look a whole lot different in a few months. Or in a few weeks. Or even tomorrow.

But you know what else could use a little realigning? The NBA's divisions. They're kind of a mess. It's not going to be as a result of some $300 million network, recruiting ties or competitive advantages. Nope. For the NBA, it's more just about common sense. Geographically, the divisions are kind of a mess. In 2011 that's not as huge a deal as it was in 1981 because travel is much easier. You can go from Portland to Oklahoma City in just a few hours.

However, chartered travel is experience. Fuel is very pricey. And with the NBA and teams supposedly losing so much money, why not exhaust every option to cut costs and realign the divisions so they make a lot more sense? Why not group teams together that are hundreds, not thousands, of miles apart?

Plus, it just makes a lot more sense to have structured regions. Grouping teams together based on geography does more to forge rivalries, gives fans a chance to commute between games if the want to and gives the players less travel and more days of rest. All good, right?

So if you're going to spend all this time restructuring a new collective bargaining agreement, why not fix the divisions too? Here's how they should look:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

SOUTHWEST
Dallas
San Antonio
Houston
Phoenix
Oklahoma City

The NBA's new Southwest division is the American League East, the SEC West, of the league. It's a group of five teams that are all pretty good. Things change though and in 15 years, this could be the weakest division in the league. But for now, it'd be pretty good.

And it just makes sense. Dallas and Oklahoma City are about three hours via car away from each other. San Antonio, Dallas and Houston are in the same state. And OKC and the Texas teams and Phoenix just have one state separating them, which is a whole lot better than five.

MIDWEST
Memphis
Minnesota
Denver
Utah
Milwaukee

Clearly the division that needed the biggest overhaul is the Northwest, mainly because of the Sonics transformation into the Oklahoma City Thunder. When the team was in Seattle, the division made a lot more sense. Now it doesn't. That's why a midwestern division with makes a lot more sense.

That creates somewhat of a problem in the Northwest though. There's not a great fit. So for the sake of the argument, the Northwest has to make the Big 12 and peace out. No more Northwest, but instead the new Midwest.

The new Midwest is still a bit spread out, but all the teams are at least located somewhat centrally in the country. A trip from Utah to Milwaukee won't be quick, but the Jazz, Nuggets and Timerwolves have been oddballs in the Northwest. It's not an ideal division with teams right next door to each other, but it makes a lot more sense than the current setup.

PACIFIC
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers
Sacramento
Golden State
Portland

Moving Phoenix away from the Lakers is a bummer, because those two teams are historical rivals that have always competed in the same division. But if A&M and Texas can separate, I think we can live with the Suns and Lakers moving apart.

The Pacific now features five teams that are actually next to the Pacific Ocean, which seems like it should count for something. Plus having the Blazers and Lakers together makes up for separating the Suns and Lakers.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

CENTRAL
Chicago
Detroit
Indiana
Cleveland
Toronto

Really, the new Central was the inspiration for this. Why aren't the Raptors in this division? Look at how close those teams are to each other. I think you could almost ride your bike between arenas. The old Central was really good too -- maybe better -- but the Bucks have to move. So it's the Raptors who replace them and the solid geographic setup remains.

ATLANTIC
Boston
New York
Philadelphia
Washington
New Jersey

Nothing too radical here. Five cities that you can transport between using a train. Old rivalries are preserved and the Wizards are added, which frankly, makes a lot of sense.

SOUTHEAST
Miami
Orlando
Atlanta
Charlotte
New Orleans

Two teams would swap conferences with the Bucks moving back to the West and the Hornets heading to the East. Not that this would upset the competitive balance of the league or anything, but it just makes a lot more sense for the Hornets to be placed in a division with Orlando, Charlotte, Atlanta and Miami.

And let me add this: If college football has no issue tossing tradition and historical rivalries out the window, why not just eliminate conferences all together? It would be a radical move, but what's the point of the East and West, other than just that's the structure of the playoffs? If it were one unified "super" conference, that would finally solve the issues of a 50-win Western team missing the postseason while a 37-win Eastern team slips into the eight-seed.

You could even just build the league into three 10-team divisions. Combine the Southwest and the Pacific, the Midwest and the Central, and the Atlantic and the Southeast. There are your super-divisions. Now you can keep teams playing more in their division than anything else and cut down on long road trips. It would make a West coast road trip for the Mavericks a whole heck of a lot more interesting.

Basically, we'd be looking at a league with three sub-conferences and once the playoffs started, seeding would just be based from that. Almost like the NCAA tournament, you could set two regions and seed from there. Head-to-head tiebreakers, division records and all that stuff would separate any identical records. Just an idea while we're brainstorming, you know?

(Note: I don't really love that idea, quite honestly. But I was just throwing it out there. One of those things that probably makes sense, but wouldn't ever happen. Much like Bill Simmons' terrific "Entertaining As Hell Tournament." Really, a unified conference makes it easier to implicate the tournament too.)

Let's face it: The West has kind of sort of dominated the past decade. Sports operate in cycles, but if there's a way to prevent that, should we? The West compiled a record of 2,257-1,643 against the East from 1999-2008 and over the last 13 seasons has represented 10 champions. That's pretty dominant. That'll change eventually, but what really is the point of the conferences, other than the standard, "that's just the way it's always been done" answer? 

All that is after the fact though: Divisional realignment is the start. Fixing the structure of the postseason would be the ideal next step. It's kind of like a plus-one for college football. Maybe a pipe dream, but something that's really in the best interest of the game. But if anything's to be done, it's to realign the divisions so they at least make a little more sense. Preserve rivalires, start new ones, save money, cut down on travel and hopefully, help the league grow a little bit more.

Picture via Jockpost
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Since: Feb 4, 2012
Posted on: February 4, 2012 12:41 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

No kidding, these alignment plans are always completely unfair to several teams, and they always say "oh well, can't get it perfect.. Some teams are going to get screwed."

Yeah, that's true... some teams are going to have to travel far, because they're FAR away from the closest teams.  Miami, sorry, you're screwed.  You're too far southeast.  Portland?  You have to go a LONG ways to the closest 5 teams, period.  Not anyone's fault, just how it is.    10 teams got it bad now, so let's fix it for 3 of those teams!  That's fair..ER. 

No.. unacceptable.

But yet they still continually give the same teams the shaft.. As if they're just not as important.  We gotta screw somebody, so it might as well be Denver, Utah, MN, Phoenix, and Memphis, etc. 

And why do they do this?  Because they don't think logically, in terms of geography in actual distance.  They assume just because 5 markets are close together, that they HAVE to be in the same division, even if it totally makes sense to split them down the middle.

They think Portland is somehow close to LA because Oregon borders California.  No.  The fairest way to do it is to get rid of any preconceived ideas of states having to play each other and map it oiut in a fair distance to all teams involved, so one conference like your ridiculous Midwest proposal, doesn't get ran ragged in flight miles, while teams in your East only board an actual airplane about twice a month.

Your East is fine with NY, NJ, Bos, Phi and Was
 - Keeps those rivalries going.  Hoorah.

Your pacific is acceptable with LAC, LAL, SAC, GS, and Portland... 
- because Portland is just going to have to bite the big one due to their location.  They simply can't get closer to two teams without screwing at least two other teams in the process.  Better one team, than two or three. 

The other 4 I have like this..  This is more of a horizontal structure, than most people's circular or vertical groupings.   This might increase the average of miles flied per team, but those miles will be more fairly distributed.

MN, Mil, Det, Cle, Toronto.  All Northernmost teams.

Chi, Ind, Cha, Mem, Atl  - casting a wider net than the others for sure, but there is no super long flight here.  No LA to Portland, no Miami to SA.

Mia, Orl, NO, Hou, SA - Yes, split up the Texas teams.  I'm sorry, but it makes too much sense.  Just because you're close, doesn't mean everyone else has to suffer here to make it easier for you.  These are all southernmost teams now.

Pho, Utah, Den, OKC, Sa -  The widest net of the bunch, but this "sacrifical lamb" is far more palatable than the one suggested.  You have SA and OKC very close together.. and then you have the three mountain teams close together.  Since those 8 westernmost teams in the NBA are screwing everything up, someone has to pay.. but OKC and SA, are far closer than MIN and MIL.

This is not perfect either, and a couple teams could be swapped without changing a ton of distance involved, and I suspect people will hate it because it isn't ideal for THEIR team, or what they want in terms of rivalries.. but this is absolutely more fair for ALL teams.   And that's what the league should be looking at..
And finally, the wid









Since: Mar 19, 2008
Posted on: September 9, 2011 10:09 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

It would be great if you included All of the NBA teams in any realignment plan. Ask Michael Jordan what he thinks of your excluding his boys in your great new configuration of the league. Since you're so knowledgeable regarding the NBA, I'll leave it to you to try and guess which city you left out.



Since: Nov 29, 2009
Posted on: September 9, 2011 9:36 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

Bob's NBA Mapquest Plan is Too Logical to be accepted.

Top 2 teams from each of 5 divisions make playoffs then 6 wild cards?

P.S. On the NBA Map, you forgot the Raptors.  




Since: Oct 29, 2007
Posted on: September 9, 2011 6:40 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

While I like the fact that CBS sports "grades" comments and does a great job of it, In fact, it is why I make comments at all.  Nevertheless, I was somewhat surprised that my comments regarding realignment received a 102 score while the person commenting very favorably on my comments got a 127.  This may explain why grades in school are often meaningless regarding intelligence.



Since: Jul 24, 2011
Posted on: September 9, 2011 6:29 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

North:
Minnesota
Milwaukee
Chicago
Detroit
Indiana
Cleveland
Toronto

South:
Dallas
San Antonio
Houston
Oklahoma City
Memphis
Atlanta

East:
New York
Boston
New Jersey
Philadelphia
Washington
Orlando
Miami

West:
LA
LA
Golden State
Sacramento
Portland
Phoenix
Utah
Denver



Since: Apr 4, 2008
Posted on: September 9, 2011 12:53 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

I like the idea and the conferences you put together.  It makes sense.  Good job.



Since: Jun 21, 2008
Posted on: September 9, 2011 10:24 am
 

Realigning the NBA

I like the aritcle and agree with pretty much everything you said, except... if you are looking to do it geographically and establish new rivalries then you should propose like you did except switch Phoenix & Milwaukee. OR even this:

Utah, Phoenix, Denver, Minnesota, Milwaukee
Dallas, SA, Houston, Memphis, OKC





Since: Dec 18, 2007
Posted on: September 9, 2011 9:29 am
 

Realigning the NBA

The raptors aren't included in the picture at the top and the writer didnt even mention why he neglected to use a bigger map that would include southern ontario (where to Toronto is located). I think he should have at least made mention of this, poor organization on his part.


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