Do divisions really matter?

Ever since 1970, NBA divisions have become a part of the league. Different divisions have been added along ever since as teams came into the NBA. But in recent years, many people have questioned if they really even matter. As we all know, the top 8 teams in each conference make it to the playoffs, and those standings have nothing to do with divisions. 

 In the NBA, there are three divisions in each conference:


Atlantic: Raptors, Celtics, 76ers, Nets, Knicks

Central: Bucks, Pacers, Bulls, Pistons, Cavaliers

Southeast: Heat, Magic, Wizards, Hornets, Hawks


Northwest: Nuggets, Jazz, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Timberwolves

Pacific: Kings, Clippers, Lakers, Suns, Warriors

Southwest: Mavericks, Rockets, Pelicans, Spurs, Grizzlies

As you can see, all divisions are separated by the team’s respective location. Most would think that, like the NFL, you play the division rivals more often than any other team. But, in the NBA, there is nothing special with division opponents. Winning the division does not guarantee a spot in the playoffs, which is another reason why they should get rid of them. 

One option the NBA could think about is playing division teams more and limiting in-conference games to 2-3 games per year. Example: Warriors play Kings 5 times a year, then limit Warriors in conference games to three.

So what should the NBA do?

We have a few ideas that we think the NBA should do to make divisions worth it starting with Option 1. Option 1 was briefly talked about earlier in this article, 

Option 2- Take out Divisions. This option is by far the easiest one. It will decrease confusion around the league and will be one less thing to worry about. The rivalries will still be there regardless of the division getting taken out, and there would be less hassle. 

Option 3- Make the NBA like other sports. Division winners automatically get a playoff spot, get a top 3 spot guaranteed in the playoffs. This idea may be complicated, but it is something different. Although it may be a risk taken for the NBA, it could bring some more exciting matchups in the first round. For example, in the East, Milwaukee, Miami, and Toronto are first in their divisions. Since the Bucks have the best record out of the three, they would get the first seed automatically. Toronto would have the two seed because they have the next best record, and Miami would take possession of the three seed. The 4-8 seeds would just play out like normal, the next best team would take the first spot available regardless of division. 

 I think that other than ideas similar to these, there really is no point in keeping divisions other than to have a banner up in your arena, and for the sake of calling a game a “division rivalry”. Maybe something close to these ideas will work out in the future, but until then, we will still be in question why divisions matter.

top photo: Atlanta Hawks

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