An article on the front page of NBA.com delves into the issue of realigning the divisions to put OKC in the Southwest Division. It’s an article that’s worth a read but an argument that misses the mark.
The issue of OKC remaining in the same division is a story I broke in April, three months before the relocation was announced. It’s also a topic I explored last month, when coach P.J. Carlesimo called OKC “infinitely better” than Seattle in terms of its geographic location.
The only reason people have a problem with OKC being in the Northwest division is because OKC is obviously nowhere near the northwest. But consider the Northwest Division nothing but a title. As you can see here, Oklahoma City is actually better positioned from a travel standpoint in the Northwest Division than the Sonics were last season in Seattle. Seattle is obviously much closer to Portland and nearly 400 miles closer to Salt Lake City. But OKC is much closer to Denver and Minnesota……And much of the rest of the NBA, for that matter.
Too much is made of divisions. Teams play divisional opponents four times each season, twice at home and twice on the road. Teams within the same conference but not the same division play each other at least three times and some opponents four times. The conference teams that meet three times will square off four times the next season. So it’s really much ado about nothing. When it comes to divisions, you’re essentially looking at one more trip somewhere in some instances and no difference in others.
If OKC was in the Southwest, it still would have to travel to Portland and Salt Lake and Sacramento and Oakland twice every other season. You’re really not helping out anyone by realigning.
The league has done a good job of trying to fit regional teams into the same division. But, frankly, all that matters with respect to divisions is the awarding of a top four seed to the division winner. Aside from that, consider divisions as meaningless titles.
As Carlesimo put it in September: “Half the teams in the league I don’t think know who the teams in their division are. It matters if you win your division. But other than that it’s just where you finish in the conference.”
* The Thunder Girls calendar will be unveiled Thursday at Buffalo Wild Wings on Northwest Expressway at 7 p.m. The Thunder Girls will be in attendance, posing for pictures and signing autographs. The calendar will be available for a one-night only price of $15 on Thursday and bumps to $20 after that.
The 14-month calendar features all 20 Thunder Girls and can be purchased while supplies last in the Thunder Shop, at www.thunder.nba.com or at any Thunder game at the Ford Center beginning Nov. 21.