Skip to content

Extra Pass: Western Conference playoff field ought to be really good, but just how good?

Mar 12, 2014, 8:22 AM EDT

James Harden, Perry Jones, Kevin Durant

The Oklahoma City Thunder sent a message to the Houston Rockets. The Golden State Warriors overwhelmed the Dallas Mavericks. The Memphis Grizzlies made up ground on the Portland Trail Blazers. The San Antonio Spurs smacked down the Chicago Bulls. The Minnesota Timberwolves took care of business against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Tuesday night was eventful for Western Conference playoff contenders.

Though the slate wasn’t the most thrilling, it at least offered glimpses of what’s to come – a historically loaded Western Conference playoffs.

Here are the current standings of the 10 Western Conference teams with realistic playoff chances.

1. San Antonio Spurs (47-16)

2. Oklahoma City Thunder (47-17)

3. Los Angeles Clippers (45-20)

4. Houston Rockets (44-20)

5. Portland Trail Blazers (42-22)

6. Golden State Warriors (41-24)

7. Memphis Grizzlies (37-26)

8. Dallas Mavericks (38-27)

9. Phoenix Suns (36-27)

10. Minnesota Timberwolves (32-31)

If those top eight teams keep winning at the same rate, they’d each hold a better wining percentage (red) than their corresponding seed’s all-time average (gold) since the NBA adopted a 16-team playoff in 1984.

image

Heck, the ninth-place Suns are on pace to finish better than a typical No. 6 seed, and the 10th-place Timberwolves are on pace to best a typical eighth seed.

This is a really tough playoff field to crack.

The top eight in the West have combined to win 66.4 percent of their game. If that holds, it will be the second-best mark ever:

image

If you’re curious, here’s that 1997 Eastern Conference field:

1. Chicago Bulls (69-13)

2. Miami Heat (61-21)

3. New York Knicks (57-25)

4. Atlanta Hawks (56-26)

5. Detroit Pistons (54-28)

6. Charlotte Hornets (54-28)

7. Orlando Magic (45-37)

8. Washington Bullets (44-38)

Now, we already know the West playoff field (red) is on pace to be better than average (gold) at each seed. But how does it compare to the best teams to hold each seed under this system (black)?

image

Here are the best teams at each seed:

1. 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10)

2. 2008-09 Boston Celtics (62-20)

3. 1997-98 Los Angeles Lakers (61-21)

4. 2005-06 Dallas Mavericks (60-22)

5. 2012-13 Memphis Grizzlies and 1997-98 San Antonio Spurs (56-26)

6. 2007-08 Phoenix Suns (55-27)

7. 2007-08 Dallas Mavericks (51-31)

8. 2009-10 Oklahoma City Thunder and 2007-08 Denver Nuggets (50-32)

OK, so no 2014 team is on pace to set a record for its seed. Even the ninth-place Suns fall short of the winning percentage of the 2007-08 Warriors, who missed the playoffs with a 48-34 record.

But in aggregate, this year’s group yields an incredible result:

The 2014 Western Conference teams are on pace to come closer to that hypothetical field of the best seeds of all time than an average field!

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Bucks join 76ers, Thunder in opposing lottery reform

    Oct 21, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    O.J. Mayo, Michael Carter-Williams O.J. Mayo, Michael Carter-Williams

    Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and Milwaukee still need five more teams to join their side

  2. Could lottery reform be bad for small market teams? Sam Presti argues yes.

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT

    Grant Gilbert AP

    Watch after the draft lottery next year when a team like the Lakers, Celtics or Knicks jumps way up the board so they can draft a young star and some smaller market owners cry it’s unfair.

  3. LeBron James and his difficult-to-assess super teams

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:07 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

    The only precedent for LeBron, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving? LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh

  4. Knicks guard Iman Shumpert wears clock hat

    Oct 21, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks

    Iman Shumpert is wearing a hat with a clock on it. That is all.

  5. Entire Bulls bench runs to help up Derrick Rose (video)

    Oct 21, 2014, 12:22 PM EDT

    Derrick Rose Derrick Rose

    Chicago point guard still clearly has respect of teammates

  6. 67RIEFNS No. 25: Synergy of the Pelicans’ lineup

    Oct 21, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

    Omer Asik,Anthony Davis Omer Asik,Anthony Davis

    New Orleans adds its missing link in Omer Asik

  7. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 preview: Dallas Mavericks

    Oct 21, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    'Nowitzki. Der Perfekte Wurf' Premiere In Cologne Getty Images

    They’re not as good as Mark Cuban thinks they are, but they are improved.

  8. What did Cavaliers’ rotation against Chicago tell us about their regular season?

    Oct 21, 2014, 9:44 AM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Projecting Cleveland’s win total based on its minute distribution against the Bulls

  9. Report: Wizards close to signing John Lucas III

    Oct 21, 2014, 9:16 AM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors

    Celtics waived Lucas during offseason that saw him traded twice

  10. Rajon Rondo could return from injury by regular-season opener

    Oct 21, 2014, 8:36 AM EDT

    Boston Celtics v New York Knicks Boston Celtics v New York Knicks

    Celtics point guard, coach Brad Stevens leave open possibility of Rondo not missing any games after breaking hand

  11. 67RIEFNS No. 24: Chris Paul, NBA’s most underrated point guard

    Oct 21, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers

    Clippers point guard on his own level in post-Magic Johnson NBA

  12. Rajon Rondo says the Celtics will “surprise a lot of people”

    Oct 20, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT

    Rajon Rondo Rajon Rondo

    Rondo praises head coach Brad Stevens’ success on the college level.

  13. Donald Sterling drops suit against NBA, Shelly Sterling

    Oct 20, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Donald Sterling Donald Sterling

    He still has an antitrust suit pending against the NBA.

  14. Derrick Rose blows past Dion Waiters for the finish, and one (VIDEO)

    Oct 20, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT

    Derrick Rose Derrick Rose

    It’s only preseason, but the 2011 league MVP looks like his old self.

  15. Report: Board of Governors expected to pass draft lottery reform, Sixers and Thunder opposed

    Oct 20, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    2013 NBA Draft Lottery 2013 NBA Draft Lottery

    The proposed changes would give the four worst teams the same odds of winning the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Featured video

What are impacts of NBA's new TV deal?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. B. Beal (4008)
  2. D. Rose (3853)
  3. J. Lin (3728)
  4. N. Noel (3573)
  5. L. James (3570)