There are 30 teams in the NBA, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban floated the idea that 20 of them should make the playoffs.
During the NBA’s yearly ownership meeting, Mark Cuban proposed a new playoff format where 10 teams from each conference would make the playoffs instead of eight.
Cuban revealed the news in a message posted on the social media app Cyber Dust:
“Hey Mavs fans. I had an idea that I proposed to my fellow owners as food for thought. With all the concern about getting a high draft pick taking precedent over winning games, the disparity in talent between conferences and the general challenges of team building, I asked the question…
Why do just 8 teams per conference make the playoffs? Why not 10?
The increased number would reduce the chances of good teams missing the playoffs in the stronger conference. It would make it harder to tank since the chance of making the playoffs increased. It would keep things interesting for fans longer into the season. Teams that suffered difficult injuries would increase their chances of recovering. We could offer a [bye] to the best records per conference and let the bottom 2 teams play an accelerated best of 5 series.
Curious what everyone thinks about the idea?
+letsgomavs and Dust On!”
As ProBasketballTalk’s Dan Feldman pointed out, Cuban’s proposal comes with a few scheduling flaws. If the bottom two teams, No. 9 and No. 10 seeds, played in an initial best-of-five series that would leave nine teams left, which doesn’t fit the typical 4-8-16 team playoff tournament style.
In order to trim the 10-team field to eight, there would need to be two initial best-of-five “play-in games.” A 10-team playoff tournament would look like this for each conference:
- No. 7 vs. No. 10
- No. 8 vs. No. 9
- No. 1 vs No. 8/No. 9
- No. 2 vs No. 7/No. 10
- No. 3 vs No. 6
- No. 4 vs. No. 5
From there on it would proceed like the current NBA playoff system.
There are more problems than just scheduling and seeding, expanding the playoff field also runs the risk of watering down the level of competition. If a 10-team playoff system was in place last season, three of the four teams that would have been added would have had losing records (the Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, and Phoenix Suns).
While there’s no indication this this 20-team playoff is being seriously considered, change is on the way for the NBA playoffs. According to New York Post’s Tim Bontemps, commissioner Adam Silver said the competition committee is open to change and he expects the NBA will soon seed playoff teams in each conference 1-8 based solely on record, no longer automatically giving division winners the top four seeds.
Last season the Portland Trailblazers (51-31) were awarded the No. 4 seed as a result of winning their division, forcing the San Antonio Spurs (55-27) to fall to No. 6 and play the third-seeded Los Angeles Clippers in the first round.
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