The WNBA will make a major change in its playoff seeding structure in a move that could be an experiment for a future NBA switch, according to VICE Sports' Howard Megdal. The new format will not delineate between conferences, will re-seed after each round and includes byes for the league's best teams.
Under the new format, teams will be seeded 1-8 regardless of conference affiliation. The top two seeds will receive double byes to the semifinals, while the No. 3 and 4 seeds get single byes. The No. 5 seed will play the No. 8 seed and the No. 6 seed will play the No. 7 seed in a single-elimination first round. The higher-seeded winner then plays the No. 4 seed in the next round, while the lower-seeded winner then plays the No. 3 seed. They, too, would each play a single game.
Once the first two rounds are complete, the No. 1 seed will face the lower-seeded survivor, while the No. 2 seed will face the highest-seeded winner. Both of those semifinal series will be best-of-five, with the higher seed hosting Games 1, 2 and 5. The WNBA Finals will remain a best-of-five series.
Here's how last year's WNBA Playoffs would have played out under the new format.
These changes were spearheaded by NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, who is serving as interim WNBA president after Laurel Richie resigned in September. That's led some to wonder if this is a precursor to a major playoff format change in the NBA. The current system of seeding each conference 1-8 has been questioned by many (including us) as the West has dominated in recent years.
If the NBA chose to adopt a similar proposal with no conferences and double the teams receiving byes in each round, here's what this season's NBA Playoffs might look like:
The setup makes it easier for the Warriors and Spurs to meet for the title rather than in the Western Conference Finals, but would also mean we'd have to wait a while to see either play. Meanwhile, the battle for a single bye would be more competitive, but those teams would face an even more uphill climb to compete for a championship.