There’s been the idea floating around that the NBA could someday switch to a 1-16 style playoff seeding, and ignore conferences. Back in March, NBA commissioner Adam Silver was asked for his thoughts and it looks like he’s at least open to the possibility, while also stating that they aren’t ready to make a change just yet:
“We’re serious about looking at it. We’re far from a place where there’s a solution. Of course it makes sense to seed teams 1-16 in the league but we have two conferences that are geographically apart.”
“You can also end up in the first round with Portland playing Miami. To crisscross the country, it adds enormous fatigue to the players and it would cut down on the quality of the competition and also potentially lead to more injuries.”
The NBA is obviously very cautious when it comes to potential changes like these. If they eventually decide to embrace the change, how would it affect the LeBron James era Lakers?
For what seems like an eternity, the Western Conference has been stacked when compared to the East. This means that the road to the finals is much more difficult in the West. For the Lakers, a 1-16 playoff format would be beneficial. The single most important point would be that there is a possibility to avoid Golden State until the NBA finals.
As it stands now for teams in the West, unless you can beat the Warriors, your playoffs end in the Conference Finals (or earlier). With a 1-16 format, everyone in the West benefits…including the Lakers. In addition to postponing the ultimate showdown, it could also let the Lakers have an easier opponent in the first round of the playoffs.
Instead of a potential first round matchup with the Blazers, Thunder, or Pelicans…a 1-16 seeding could match the Lakers up with the Pacers, Heat, Bucks, or Wizards. Considering that LeBron has been dominating those teams for his whole career, this would be a much more favorable early matchup for the King and his court. Not to mention the fact that the Lakers could get a chance to take on Boston without both teams having to reach the finals. Who doesn’t want a chance to knock out the Celtics?
The only potential drawback for this system would be fans losing out on early round playoff rivalries. But since the Lakers and their classic Western rivals haven’t been championship caliber lately, their rivalries have been somewhat reset. Lakers playoff runs used to mean trips to San Antonio / Portland, and more recently San Antonio / Utah – but those rivalries have basically run their course. This is the dawn of a new era for the Lakers, whether they change the playoff seeding or not.
If they do switch to 1-16, expect the league to have some new and exciting 3rd round matchups in another season or two. That version of a final four would contain nothing but powerhouse teams, and expect the Lakers to be right in the mix. LBJ is rated 98 after all…
A rating fit for a King ? A 98 overall for our 20th Anniversary Edition Cover athlete @KingJames. What do you think? pic.twitter.com/91Rjzs0xD2
— NBA 2K19 (@NBA2K) July 16, 2018
Contact Ryan Ramsey on Twitter @DoubleR818