Mark Cuban proposed 20-team playoff field to fellow NBA owners

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Mark Cuban did more than clear the air with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer during the NBA’s ownership meetings.

The Mavericks owner also proposed a new playoff format featuring 10 teams per conference, as opposed to the current eight.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News:

I’m not sure whether Cuban has a different idea he’s not explaining well, just hasn’t thought this through or what. If the bottom two teams in a 10-team-per-conference playoff field – the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds – open the postseason with a best-of-five series, that would leave nine teams per conference. Obviously, nine doesn’t fit into the 2-4-8-16 geometric sequence that fits a tournament. If he means what he says, then what once the field is trimmed to nine?

A 10-team playoff in each conference should look like this:

First round:

  • 7 vs. 10
  • 8 vs. 9

Second round

  • 1 vs. [8 vs. 9 winner]
  • 2 vs. [7 vs. 10 winner]
  • 3 vs. 6
  • 4 vs. 5

From there, matchups proceed as familiar.

That aside, this idea is a mixed bag.

A larger playoff field would include the good teams in the West that have missed the postseason in recent years. But it would also include two teams in the East that are even worse than the conference’s already-poor No. 8 seed.

Fewer teams would tank, because clearing the bar to enter the playoffs would be more achievable. But teams that do tank would have to tank even harder.

More playoff teams would mean more fan bases remain engaged longer. It would also give teams more leeway with injuries. But increasing the playoff field to 12 per conference would multiply those effects.

Why is Cuban limiting his proposal to 10? Why isn’t 12 the right answer? Or 15? The regular-season would still matter for seeding and byes if everyone made it, and that would help Cuban achieve a lot of his objectives.

Why is eight the wrong number? What about six? Or four?

It’s hard to choose an exact number of teams to make the playoffs.

Here’s a much easier question: Why is Cuban proposing this?

His Mavericks, after losing out on DeAndre Jordan, project to be right near the playoff border in the Western Conference. A little extra wiggle room would do Dallas wonders.

This may or may not be a good idea. It’s definitely a self-serving one.