With its 30 teams, the NBA is divided into two conferences and six divisions.
There is the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. These two conferences are then divided into six divisions.
The NBA divisions are namely:
- Atlantic Division
- Central Division
- Southeast Division
- Northwest Division
- Pacific Division
- Southwest Division
In this article, I will be discussing the NBA divisions in detail.
The Eastern Conference
The Eastern Conference is divided into three NBA divisions. The following are the divisions in this conference:
What teams make up these divisions in the Eastern conference? Let’s find out.
The Atlantic Division is made up of the following teams:
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Toronto Raptors
- Boston Celtics
- Brooklyn Nets
- New York Knicks
The Atlantic Division is potentially the strongest in the East due to the sheer firepower of the stars in these clubs.
Players like Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, and Pascal Siakam belong to this division in their respective clubs: the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, and Toronto Raptors.
All four of these organizations and players under them have the potential to win it all and join the elite clubs to have won the Larry O’Brien championship.
Even if none of them win the entire thing, they will soon become huge threats to the league’s organization and should not be overlooked.
The Central Division is composed of the following teams:
- Detroit Pistons
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Indiana Pacers
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Chicago Bulls
While the Central Division may not be the strongest out of the three divisions, they have arguably the best club in the East in the Milwaukee Bucks.
Why are the Bucks arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference? Because they are the defending champions and have the current Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in their roster.
Even the other clubs in this division are worth noting, such as the Bulls and the Cavaliers; both clubs have amazing players and coaching staff among the best in the league.
While the Central Division is not the strongest, they are still very much a threat to any team.
The Southeast Division consists of the following teams:
- Atlanta Hawks
- Orlando Magic
- Miami Heat
- Charlotte Hornets
- Washington Wizards
The Southeast Division is one of the few divisions with relatively young and upcoming basketball players compared to the other teams and organizations.
The Hawks have Trae Young, a young star ready to win it all. The Wizards and Magic have a young squad with great potential. The Hornets have a young star in Lamelo Ball. These are just some of the exciting players in this division.
But the most interesting organization in this division is the Miami Heat because as of the 2021-2022 season, they are the number one ball club in the East.
Despite the Bucks being heavy favorites to win, the Heat should not be overlooked.
The Western Conference
For several years, the Western Conference has often been dubbed the better conference. However, as games continue to evolve, it does not seem that way anymore.
Like the Eastern conference, the Western conference is also divided into three NBA divisions. The Western Conference divisions are the following:
What are the teams that belong under these divisions? Let’s find out and see what these teams are.
The Northwest Division is made up of the following teams:
- Utah Jazz
- Denver Nuggets
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Minnesota Timberwolves
The Northwest Division is made up of future MVPs and Hall of Famers.
The Jazz have dynamic duo Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. The Nuggets have the 2021 MVP in big man Nikola Jokić. The Blazers are a young club ready to grow and improve.
The Thunder have a very young squad that keeps on improving while the Timberwolves have Karl Anthony Towns, one of the best big men in recent times.
This division will likely produce future Hall of Famers and some of the best players in basketball.
The Pacific Division is composed of the following teams:
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Golden State Warriors
- Sacramento Kings
- Phoenix Suns
The Pacific Division is arguably the best in the entire league because of all the well-known NBA teams that comprise this division.
While the Kings and Lakers are not the teams to look out for this year, they are still very competitive teams in many aspects, particularly the Lakers, for having one of the best players in LeBron James.
Despite their injured stars and players, the Clippers have a winning record of over .500 and are hungry to win it all.
Last and not least, the most talked-about team to likely win it all, the Phoenix Suns. With Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and coach Monty Williams, it’s only a matter of time before they finally win their well-deserved Larry O’Brien trophy.
The Southwest Division consists of the following teams:
- Houston Rockets
- San Antonio Spurs
- Dallas Mavericks
- Memphis Grizzlies
- New Orleans Pelicans
The Southwest Division likely has the youngest players to play in the league out of any division.
This is because of the rebuilding process many of these organizations are currently undergoing. Organizations like the Rockets have young players and stars that will surely be amazing shortly.
The Spurs and Pelicans are NBA teams that have well-rounded squads and are ready to take on any team.
The Grizzlies and Mavericks are clubs with a genuine opportunity to progress deep in the playoffs because of their top players, Luka Dončić and Ja Morant.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding NBA divisions and conferences. If you feel lost or still have some concerns, I hope this section will help give you more clarity.
How Many Teams Make The NBA Playoffs In Each Conference?
Eight teams from each conference make it to the NBA playoffs to compete for the NBA championship.
With the implementation of the play-in tournament, there are guaranteed six teams from each conference to clinch the NBA playoffs.
The other four teams that have to compete in the play-in tournament will have to win their games to avoid being eliminated.
Only two teams from each conference will succeed in the play-in tournament to advance through the regular season, completing the eight teams that will compete from both Western and Eastern conferences.
How Do The Divisions Affect The NBA?
The NBA standings heavily rely on the divisions thus affecting the league and the games.
Each team must face their rivals four times, two at their home court and two at their rival’s home court.
When it comes to teams belonging to the same conference, the teams play against conference opponents three times and twice against teams from the other conference.
Simultaneously, if teams have the same record, then the team and winners of the division will have the advantage in tiebreakers.
Regardless, the winner of the tiebreakers will advance to the playoffs and have a chance to win the championship.
Having The Most Wins In Your Division And Conference
The team with the most wins under their division claims the clinched division title and has a chance to be the clinched conference winner in their respective conference.
For example, as of the 2021-2022 season and year, the Phoenix Suns have the most wins in the NBA and are the top in the West and Pacific Division, earning them the place as the clinched division winner and the clinched number one Western Conference team.
However, it does not mean that the number one top team of the regular season wins the conference title.
The team has to win the Conference Finals to claim the Conference Title. In addition to that, becoming an NBA champion means you simultaneously won two titles.
How Would An Expansion In The League Affect The Game?
The NBA has always been in talks with the higher-ups on expanding the league further than it already has, meaning the addition of more teams in both the Western and Eastern Conferences.
If the expansion were fully executed and the association would sign and spend on more clubs, that would mean that the league would have four divisions instead of three per conference.
To keep it short, an expansion in the league will heavily affect the structure and status of the divisions, and it could result in some divisions being removed entirely as well.
Now you know how the NBA divisions function and how organizations are grouped in the NBA.
There is a reason why NBA teams are divided into the Eastern and Western Conferences and why there are subdivisions in each conference.
It boils down to where the clubs are located and which part of the United States they are based. From there, it becomes more self-explanatory on how they are further categorized.
Thanks for reading, and I really hope you have a better understanding of how the NBA functions and operates with its different organizations.
Enjoy and keep watching the upcoming playoff season in the NBA.