OKC Thunder: Pros and cons of league seeding and group bracket formats

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
3 of 3
OKC Thunder, Power rankings week 12
OKC Thunder, Power rankings week 12: Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat gives a kiss to the crowd after receiving a technical foul for an argument with T.J. Warren #1 of the Indiana Pacers . (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Pros and cons of league seeding for OKC Thunder::

One option the NBA is considering is to seed playoff teams by their league rank versus the conference rank. The placement could potentially change if the return included regular-season games, however, as of present-day the following outlines first-round matchups. Notably, three pairings are the same as conference rank which is indicated by (same).

(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (16) Orlando Magic (same)
(2) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (15) Brooklyn Nets
(3) Toronto Raptors vs. (14) Memphis Grizzlies
(4) LA Clippers vs. (13) Dallas Mavericks (same)
(5) Boston Celtics vs. (12) Philadelphia 76ers (same)
(6) Denver Nuggets vs. (11) Indiana Pacers
(7) Utah Jazz vs (10) Houston Rockets
(8) Miami Heat vs. (9)  OKC Thunder


An obvious pro of this format would be avoiding the LA teams in the second round. While that’s a big plus it would mean having to face the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round.

In terms of specific matchups in the present state, the Thunder would face the Miami Heat in round one and the Bucks in round two. OKC possesses the fifth-best perimeter defense and since both these teams utilize the 3-ball predominantly in their offense it could bode well for the Thunder.

The Clippers are the worst matchup for the Thunder so getting away from them as long as possible is ideal. And while the Bucks have the best regular-season record the Thunder matchup well to them with an ability to limit Giannis Antetokounmpo and the perimeter.

Depending on games being played that count toward the season record there is an opportunity to move up. This is an important factor since the Thunder could move up potentially as high as sixth. And, while this should improve the first-round matchup again, the likelihood would be a second-round series versus the defending champion Raptors.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of whether the club would want an easier first-round matchup and to avoid the LA teams versus the Eastern powerhouses.


As a precursor, again it’s important to note the likelihood of more regular-season games occurring and that factor shifting the seeding.  However, entering the season suspension the OKC Thunder were aligned to play the Utah Jazz. This was about the best scenario they could ask for. Now that Bojan Bogdanovic is out for the season it’s an even more compelling first-round opponent.

The next likely pairing featured the Houston Rockets – yet another ideal pairing since the Thunder have the size to counter the small ball line up, strong perimeter defenders and the defensive ability to slow Houston’s transition. Not to mention the extra inspiration Chris Paul would have in beating the team who deemed him tradeable.

With this shift, the opponent would be the Miami Heat. Although the Heat is young and hasn’t demonstrated road prowess they are the worst pairing of those three teams. And defeating the Heat would mean a date with the best team in the NBA – the Bucks.

Matchups are key:

Ultimately, it all comes down to matchups and the teams who possess deeper squads and potent offenses should be the greatest concern for the Thunder. More specifically, clubs who can adapt offensively are ones to avoid which is why the Bucks aren’t as scary as the Raptors for OKC.

More from Thunderous Intentions

Additionally, clubs with strong two-way ability are also squads the Thunder will want to avoid as long as possible and why the Jazz and Rockets are the preferred first-round opponents.

The Clippers are the team OKC should want to avoid altogether or as long as possible with the Raptors and Lakers closely behind. It might seem odd to suggest the Raptors are more concerning than the Bucks especially since the Bucks lambasted the Thunder in late February.

That loss occurred on the second night of a back-to-back. And, the other key is the Raptors are extremely versatile and dealt with injuries all season. They’ll return with a fully healthy roster along with a bunch of youngsters who gained experience and lived up to expectations in the process.

Moving forward, it seems likely the Commissioner is intent on doing something creative. For OKC Thunder fans let’s hope he is satisfied with a play-in tournament to determine the final seeds and keeps the conference seeding. I’m not confident that will be the case, but let’s remain hopeful it is.

NBA Draft big board 2.0 – Top 30 prospects. dark. Next