Should the NBA get rid of current playoff tree?

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Dillan Teabout, Contributor

For years National Basketball Association (NBA)  fans and analysts have debated whether the conferences in the NBA should be removed. 

Instead of having a Western conference and an Eastern conference playoff bracket where the winners of the respective brackets face off in the NBA Finals, the NBA would place the 16 best teams to face off against each other. People assume it would make for a transcending playoff series. Others are more concerned regarding traveling.

Removing the conference would be a great way to have less snubbed players for all-star games, according to Everyone recognizes that the West is stacked compared to the East. This would benefit other good teams in the West to make the playoffs over teams in the East with worse records and vice versa. 

The NBA All-Star Game already eliminated the East versus West format in favor of a pickup style game, where the leaders in fan voting for their respective captains are elected as captains of the team. 

The two conferences have been looking more even lately, but all of the big stars happen to be inside the west. LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, Luka Dončić and James Harden are all in the West. Some of them have left the east to move to the West. 

Only three players from the East crack the top 10 in jersey sales, according to

The East has several young emerging stars, but the only players that are truly considered on the same playing field as the superstars from the West are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

Realigning the conferences would give the fans better match-ups that would not normally happen presently. Fans could see the Celtics versus the Lakers in the second round for example.With the current alignment, it is possible that the two best teams are not competing for the Larry O’Brien trophy because they may be in the same conference and only one team can represent eac conference in the NBA Finals.


However, traveling is an enormous reason why this would not make sense. Players would go through a long and challenging playoff run if they had to play teams in different timezones. Evan Wasch, the NBA’s head of basketball strategy and analytics stated that only 30% of games would be played in the same time zone, according to

This would make teams who are three time zones apart play against each other. It is not fair to ask of teams after an 82-game season. Even if the players were given an additional day or two when traveling across the country, that would prolong the playoffs. The details show that this would cost more and be less practical for the NBA.

Instead of trying to flip the league and make it more exciting. People should see that they are looking too nearsighted. There is growing talent in the East such as Jayson Tatum, Trae Young, Pascal Siakam and Ben Simmons who can transform their teams current fortunes in the near future.

It is likely that once the stars of the East reach their true potential, they could help orchestrate a turnaround that would see the East on the same level as the West, if not better. The players in the league are the ones that should turn the NBA upside down. Therefore, changing the NBA’s conference alignment would generate more harm in the long run. 

The powers of the conference just have to be given time and things can improve in a matter of years.