NBA Seeding Policy Changed

by Aayush Beri | Posted on Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

After years of criticism, the NBA Board of Governors has finally canned the league’s infamous division-based seeding policy.

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Under the previous legislation, division leaders would be guaranteed a top-four seed regardless of their record. Many experts feared the possibility of a team receiving a higher seed than their win total merited by virtue of their division title, an occurrence that would lead to unfavorable matchups for the other teams in the conference.

This most recently came into play in the 2015 NBA playoffs, when the defending champion San Antonio Spurs fell to the sixth seed despite a record warranting a higher seed than the Northwest Division Champion Portland Trail Blazers. As a result, they were forced into an exciting, but very premature, battle with the Los Angeles Clippers and an anticlimactic first round exit.

After the rule change, teams will be seeded based solely on record. While division titles have not been eliminated all together, they hold far less leverage than they once did.

The policy change also modifies tie-breaking procedures. In previous seasons, a seeding tie between a division leader and a non-division leader was always given to the division leader. Now, the tie will be given first to the team with the better head-to-head record; only if the head-to-head record is also tied will the seed go to the division leader.

The new rules will be implemented immediately for the upcoming 2015-2016 NBA season.

About the Author

I am a student studying Information Science at Cornell University. My hobbies include watching sports, playing the trumpet and coding. I grew up mostly an NBA fan, but I look to broaden my horizons and gain a better understanding of all the major sports leagues.

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