The NBA Competition Committee decided to implement new changes to playoff seeding on Tuesday. Starting in the 2015-16 season, all teams' seedings will be determined first by regular season record. The previous rules guaranteed a division winner to get a Top-4 seed, though it did not necessarily mean home court advantage.
Part of the reason why this was done was because there have been situations where two very good teams would face each other much earlier in the playoffs due to a weaker division winning team earning a higher seed. In the 2014-15 season, the Portland Trail Blazers won the Northwest Division with a 51-31 record and earned the fourth seed in the Western Conference.
However, this also forced the 55-27 San Antonio Spurs down to the sixth seed in the West which pitted them into a first round series against the 56-26 Los Angeles Clippers. Under the now-current rules, the Blazers would have been the sixth seed, but the Spurs would be fifth. The Memphis Grizzlies, who were the fifth seed in the West with a 55-27 record would be bumped to fourth.
The new rules on playoff seeding also lower the value of a division within each conference because it is now possible that a division winner in a very weak group of five teams may miss the playoffs altogether, though it's unlikely. The value of winning a division now only applies when two playoff-bound teams have identical records AND have a .500 head to head record.
I have no problem with the playoff seeding changes in a vacuum, but I feel like the division winners still should get a playoff seed, even if it's just the eighth one. Otherwise, the NBA might as well get rid of them entirely.
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