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
Comments

Since: Mar 21, 2007
Posted on: September 8, 2011 8:57 am
 

Realigning the NBA

No picture of their logo in the graphic at the top of the article.



Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: September 8, 2011 3:00 am
 

Realigning the NBA

I wish Royce Young would have spent more time working on this article. While the gist of the article was a good read I kept getting distracted by grammar errors, run on sentences and use of slang like "kind of sort of", " kind of a mess".

I also have issue with the following statement.....

" 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. "

If a 50 win team can't beat out the other teams in its conference then it has no business being in the playoffs. End...of...story.

 
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. 

Actually, the 5 teams listed here are not the AL East or the SEC West. The AL East only has two dominat teams...the Red Sox and the Yankees and then you have the rest of the division. As for the SEC West...when was the last time Arkansas, Missippi or Missippi State was in the top 10?

As for the SW division of the new NBA....Houston has been losing for such a long time. When was the last time they made the playoffs? The Suns always make the playoffs but they lose in the first round. Oklahoma City finally broke through last season after many years of futility and a name change. There is no guarantee they will sustain their newfound success.

While I found many faults with this article I do thank you for allowing me the opportunity to work on my writing skills.

 



Since: Sep 14, 2006
Posted on: September 8, 2011 12:19 am
 

Realigning the NBA

Look in the East, Central division.



Since: Mar 21, 2007
Posted on: September 7, 2011 11:38 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

I don't see the Raptors in the above graphic.



Since: Aug 2, 2011
Posted on: September 7, 2011 9:37 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

How about Milwaulee actually moves the franchise to Vegas? Would that be an idea



Since: Aug 2, 2011
Posted on: September 7, 2011 9:35 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

In theory the realignment helps teams in more ways than one. As the world is in recession, the reduction in travelling costs overall plus the introduction of new rivalries will help offset the revenue the teams gained fromed previous rivalries. I would also  suggest that the teams could set up international link ups to develop talent from abroad as well ashelp develop a following for their teams in other countires. The NBA is popular in Australia, but as the BBA in the UK is in its infancy, maybe its worth trying to build the team up in the UK by holding the opening regular seasons games in the UK. It would add to the initial costs but in the long term could help build alliances in countries where they could market the game, teams and league successfully as has been shown with the NFl international game in the regular season.



Since: Dec 6, 2006
Posted on: September 7, 2011 6:24 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

If you're going to talk overhaul of sports divisions, you should also realign the NFL while you are at it. Dallas in the East? St. Louis in the West? Indy in the South? Now those are some stretches... That said, the NBA alignment proposed is good, other than the midwest, which just sort of seems like a hodge podge of leftovers. I think it would make more sense to move Phoenix to the same division as Utah and Denver, while moving put New Orleans to the Southwest and Memphis in the Southeast. Putting Milwaukee in the west is still a stretch, but I don't know if we could fix that problem until a team moves to Vegas....

*Pacific-Lakers, Clippers, Sacramento, Portland, Golden St.
*Frontier-Utah, Phoenix, Denver, Minnesota, Milwaukee
*Southwest-OKC, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, New Orleans
*Central-Chicago, Indiana, Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto
*Northeast-Boston, New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Washington
*Southeast-Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis

As far as the NFL is concerned:
*Northeast-Patriots, Giants, Bills, Jets
*Mid-Atlantic-Eagles, Ravens, Steelers, Redskins
*Coastal-Tampa Bay, Miami, Jacksonville, Carolina
*Central-Indy, Cincy, Cleveland, Tennessee

*South-Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans, Houston
*North-Minnesota, Green Bay, Chicago, Detroit
*Midwest-Arizona, Denver, St. Louis, Kansas City
*Pacific-Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle
 



Since: Jun 7, 2011
Posted on: September 7, 2011 2:33 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

Im just going to keep it simple. If you are going to dynamite the current setup then do it non partisan. Send the teams where they make sense geographically. From there let the game be the main attraction and let the teams build new rivalriues and when the teams do meet the same love or lack of it will still be there. Think of how it will play out in the playoffs when the Lakers and the Suns have to RENEW their rivalry. It also lets new teams like Oklahoma stake claim to their newfound territory. Last having grown up in the midwest I'm sure you have quite a bit of people that would love to root for a MIDWEST team to win the championship over a central team Or a Southern (SOUTH) team to take the chip. And i have never ever everrrrr heard that texas was in the Southwest. OHH nevermind yes I have but that was the back in the Civil War times. Let's be current.

PACIFIC

Los Angeles 
Los Angeles 
Sacramento 
Golden State
Portland 

SOUTH
Dallas
San Antonio
Houston
New Orleans
Memphis

SOUTHWEST
Phoenix
Minnesota 
Denver
Utah
Oklahoma City

MIDWEST
Chicago
Detroit
Indiana
Cleveland
Milwaukee

ATLANTIC
Boston
New York
Philadelphia
Toronto
New Jersey


SOUTHEAST
Miami
Orlando
Atlanta
Charlotte
Washington



Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: September 7, 2011 1:08 am
 

Realigning the NBA

Wow, Maroons5877. 

Super, just great thinking outside of the box.

Now that is the kind of plan that should have been under the map above.

I don't know how long it took you to get to that but the NBA has not been that clear in 30 years. No, take that back. Ever.

And your plan gets Royce what he wants without hurting any other team. It is simple and just makes sense.

I know this would seem dumb to try to add to your plan but I feel owners would not want to give up four games a year. Even if the fans don't think they would add much to the season. But, if you will, maybe take NFL idea and add 1 game from each of the other 4 divisions with teams that finish at same spot the year before. That would get back to 82 and the same 41 home paydays. But that is just fixing 4 pay dates for owners, who pay the players.

Your idea stands alone without any help and should be what the NBA is looking for. Great job.







Since: Oct 29, 2007
Posted on: September 6, 2011 8:09 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

What we really need is FIVE six-team divisions that make sense geographically.  EAST--Bost, Phil, NJ, NY, Wash, Tor.  MidWest--Chi, Det, Ind, Cleve, Mil, Minn.  SE--Mia, Orl, Atl, Clt, Mem, NO;  SW/Mtn Dal, SA, Hst, OKCity, Den, UT.  West  LA, LAC, Port, Sac, GS, Phx.  This would result in six games within each group for a total of 30 and 2 games against all the other teams for a total of 48.  Regular season reduce from 82 to 78 games.  Playoffs would consist of top two teams in each group = 10 + 6 others with best records.  Season could end by end of May or earlier in June than now.

This would create better rivalries and reduced travel costs while not diminishing anything.


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