Steve Kerr’s reaction to the NBA’s new playoff-seeding format announced Tuesday was typical of a guy who has spent 30 years studying basketball from every conceivable angle.
“Does winning the division guarantee you a playoff spot?” the Warriors coach wondered Tuesday night.
Well, no, it doesn’t.
Effective immediately, the NBA playoffs will be seeded by record. The value of winning the division comes into effect as a tie-breaking mechanism – the second tie-breaker, after head-to-head results.
The complete 82-game schedule is, as a result, more important than ever. Every game matters. Or could.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Kerr told CSNBayArea.com by phone on Tuesday night. “The records are more important than winning your division. When it comes to playoff seeding, it’s more important to reward the teams with better records.”
The new procedure, which passed by unanimous vote of the Board of Governors, would not have affected the Warriors last season. They won the Pacific Division, won the Western Conference and finished with the best record in the league.
That’ll always guarantee the No. 1 seed throughout the postseason.
Yet Kerr already feels, somewhat, for the division winner unable to register a top-eight record within the conference. It’s tough to do, but theoretically possible.
“Well, my guess is that it’s never happened that a division winner has been the ninth-place team,” Kerr said, correctly, under the current format. “I imagine that’s something the league looked into, historically, because they do want to reward the division winner.
“It would be a disaster if somebody won the division with the ninth-best record in the conference.”
For the record, every division winner in the six-division era (since 2004) has had a top-eight record within its conference.