Let's do this! Playoff Tournament time as the NBA meets the NCAA and the fans of the game get something different, entertaining, and to be frank flat out better than what is about to happen in a few weeks...
With the way this current NBA season has been playing out the notion that the NCAA having the right post season tournament is gaining some traction. Now, keep in mind the concept of a bunch of suits picking seeds that generally make little to no sense is not what makes the tournament concept better than the current NBA playoff format.
It is the concept of seeding and putting the best teams in a position to "cut down the nets."
As the NCAA Tournament enters the Sweet 16 why not run a special edition of a Power Rankings with a twist. The twist being a Selection Show style seeding 1-16 with a look at the teams that should be in the playoffs based on their play versus the record and geography of the league.
Here are the Power Rankings as of 03/27/2014:
1. San Antonio Spurs (55-16) - The Spurs are leading the league in point differential and are the only team in the league in the Top 7 in both points per game and points against. They are as balanced as it gets and... They are the Spurs. Need I say more? The Sours are like old reliable, like Michigan State Spartans, they are coached well, play well as a team, always seem to be in the mix, but have not won it all in what seems like forever.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (52-19) - The best player in the NBA might be LeBron James, but the MVP of this season has been Kevin Durant. He has taken his game to the next level and has the Thunder humming towards another run at the NBA Finals. The Thunder are Kentucky Wildcats, always filled with elite talent, adding new exciting athletes every summer, and are always too young to win, but expected to win.
3. Miami Heat (48-22) - In the end a team has to beat the Heat in a seven game series and go through the best player in the world to do so. Right now they are struggling as a team, but have a few weeks to iron out the kinks before their season begins. The real season. There is no comparison for what the Heat do. They are the UCLA Bruins of the 1970's if anything.
4. Indiana Pacers (52-20) - One could argue that the Pacers have been the best team in the league for most of the season and they are the best defensive team overall. They will go as far as their defense will take them as the offense can sputter scoring under 95 points 25 times this year, but holding opponents under 95 points 44 times. Great defense, quality athletes at every position, just like the Arizona Wildcats. P.S. George Hill + Free-Throws = Duh
5. Houston Rockets (48-22) - Defense and stars generally win Championships. The Rockets are not a defensive dynamo, but they have one of the best offensive stars in the NBA in James Harden who, on any night, can go out there and win a game himself. Mix in a healthy cast of Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons, and co. this is a dangerous team. Every year there is a one-man-show like the Oklahoma State Cowboys or the 2011 Connecticut Huskies, which one will the Rockets be?
6. Los Angeles Clippers (50-22) - This team is unique in the fact that they won without their best player (Chris Paul), have two stars, and look like a championship contender most nights, but can also look pedestrian on others. Scoring is not an issue as they get up-and-down the court with elite athleticism, but they just seem to be missing something. I give you the Duke Blue Devils.
7. Golden State Warriors (44-27) - There may not be a more fun to team to watch in the league overall, but if ask Warriors fans they are equally as frustrating for those rooting for them. They have a star perimeter and a quality front-court, but with all that youth they are inconsistent. The Warriors are fun, exciting, but not necessarily dependable... Like the UCLA Bruins of today with all the perimeter talent, but missing that toughness factor.
8. Memphis Grizzlies (43-28) - Grit and Grind is the motto and the Grizzlies live up to that nearly every night as one of the toughest teams in the league. Since Marc Gasol came back from injury they are something like 152 and -12 finding a way to erase previous losses when he was on the mend. They play well as a unit and do very little for flash and style, all substance like the Wisconsin Badgers.
9. Portland Trail Blazers (45-27) - After starting out like a house on fire the Blazers have fizzled out to being in the mix for the 6-9 seeds after looking like competition for the best team in the west. They have the talent and the style to win games. They are driven by offense and balance, led by their budding stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard. Not unlike the Syracuse Orange, who are fueled by defense and balance, but fizzled out after a fast start.
10. Phoenix Suns (43-29) - How are they even here? No "stars," projected to tank, and are green from the leadership to the coaching to the players. Still, they have played well as a team becoming the surprise team of the season still getting hot at the right time. Look at the Tennessee Vols who played their way into the tournament and are surprising everyone so far.
11. Chicago Bulls (40-31) - After losing your star you can fold up the tent and go home, individually or collectively, or you can lean on a new star. I present to you Joakim Noah: Leading the Bulls in points, rebounds, blocks, assists. minutes played, and field goal percentage. Noah is also tied for second in the NBA in triple-doubles overall. Much like the Louisville Cardinals who lost a few players to the NBA and are seeing a new star rise in Russ Smith.
12. Dallas Mavericks (43-29) - Just throw together a bunch of talented basketball players on a team with a good coach and they will be at the very least moderately successful. The 2014 Mavericks. Same can be said for the mid-west's version of Transfer U, Iowa State.
13. Brooklyn Nets (37-33) - Imitation is said to be the most sincere form of flattery. The Nets are trying to replicate the magic of the 2008 Celtics, and the current Heat teams by securing a large payroll, star names, and banking on that leading to a championship. It has been up-and-down, with right now being very much up. Look at the Baylor Bears who tried to recruit with Kentucky and even nabbed a few big time prospects, but until now it was not paying off. Now it is.
14. Toronto Raptors (40-31) - Whenever someone calls something "vanilla" it is taken as an insult because most of the time it is. Here it is not. The Raptors are vanilla. They play well overall, good defense, good offense, and are balanced across the court. They also lack any real punch to put them over the hump beyond being very vanilla. That seems to be the sentiment on the No. 1 Seeded Virginia Cavaliers this year. Very Vanilla.
15. Minnesota Timberwolves (35-35) - On any given night Kevin Love can be a Top 5 player and the T-Wolves can drop 120 on an opponent. On any given night the T-Wolves can surrender 120 points and Kevin Love can look like a individual out there trying to get his stats... Either on the field or the court that smells like the Oregon Ducks to me.
16. Washington Wizards (36-35) - On paper it makes sense for the Wizards to be good. Dynamic point guard, cast of good role players, and a few big men worth their own salt in the paint. Then as the season moves along they prove to be a one-man (two-man at best) show that is not good when the rest of the cast does not show up. I give you the Arizona State Sun Devils.
*17. Play-In: Charlotte Bobcats (35-37) - Somebody has to make it in either at or below .500 on the season, right? Let's just go with that.
*18. Play-In: New Orleans Pelicans (31-40) - This season the Pelicans are in a weird spot without the talent to make a serious run in the playoffs and not owning their own pick to fall in the lottery for a high pick. They have a star in the making in Anthony Davis and could be a very dangerous team in the West... in the future. Like the Clemson Tigers this year, they are arriving, but have not yet arrived.
Last Four In: Washington Wizards, Minnesota Timberwolves, Charlotte Bobcats, and New Orleans Pelicans
Last Four Out: Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, and Cleveland Cavaliers
Next Four Out: Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, and Boston Celtics
Not Even Considered: Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, and Milwaukee Bucks
Now that the seeding is complete and the teams are in, out, last four out, next four out, next next four out, and our "Bracketologists" have used up half the caffeine in the western hemisphere to put together this listing it is time for the regions to be released. Who are the one seeds? That is a stupid question. They are the top four teams in the rankings. In order. Like, for example, there is no way the fifth best team in the league would be a four seed, which is the equivalent to being the 13th, 14th, 15th, or 16th best team in the league.
None of that here. Just good honest seeding based on standings and the rankings here. Simple and sweet.
1. San Antonio Spurs
2. Memphis Grizzlies
3. Portland Trail Blazers
4. Play-In Game (Charlotte Bobcats @ Minnesota Timberwolves)
1. Oklahoma City Thunder
2. Golden State Warriors
3. Phoenix Suns
4. Brooklyn Nets
1. Indiana Pacers
2. Houston Rockets
3. Dallas Mavericks
4. Play-In Game (New Orleans Pelicans @ Washington Wizards)
1. Miami Heat
2. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Chicago Bulls
4. Toronto Raptors
Fill out your bracket for the illusion of a prize... Warren Buffet might put $5 on it...