Adam Silver Says NBA Could Change Its Playoff System to Top 16 Teams

February 5, 2015 Updated: July 18, 2015

New NBA commissioner Adam Silver says that the league could change its playoff system and take the top 16 teams rather than the top 8 from each conference.

Silver took questions that fans posted on Facebook during the Warriors-Mavericks game on Wednesday when he received a question about the current system.

“Ultimately we want to see your best teams in the playoffs. And there is an unbalance and a certain unfairness,” he said.

“There is a proposal … where the division winners would all automatically go into the playoffs and then you’d seed the next 10 best teams. I think that’s the kind of proposal we need to look at. There are travel issues of course, but in this day in age every team of course has their own plane, travels charter.

“I don’t think the discussion should end there. And as I’ve said, my first year I was studying a lot of these issues and year 2 is time to take action. It’s something I’m going to look at closely with the competition committee. I do think it’s an area where we need to make a change.”

The advocates for a change to the system have been especially loud this season, considering the the Thunder and the Pelicans could both miss the playoffs-leaving three of the league’s stars (Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant) out. Meanwhile, the Hornets and Heat, despite having losing records, are currently seventh and eighth in the Eastern Conference.

According to Grantland, several teams have informally pitched fixes to the current system.

Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavericks, sent in a plan to shift Chicago, Detroit, Indiana, and Milwaukee to the West, with the three Texas teams and New Orleans moving to the East. Robert Sarver, owner of the Suns, says he brought up the idea of abolishing conferences altogether at the league’s board of governor’s meeting in October. Representatives from the Thunder have also made similar suggestions. 

Especially if Phoenix narrowly misses the playoffs again, expect Sarver and some other owners to push different concepts. 

Silver has been open to changing how things work, including hinting at adding a third round to the NBA draft.

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