THE BLOG
12/12/2013 09:47 am ET Updated Feb 11, 2014

Despite Poor Play, Eastern Conference Teams Still Dominate List of Top Priced NBA Tickets

Since its formation in 1949, the history of the NBA has always been defined by contrasting styles of play on the East coast and the West Coast. In the battle of the run-and-gun versus in-the-paint grinders over the last 25 years, though, the wins are evenly split with the Eastern Conference claiming 13 titles to the Western Conference's 12. This year, however, that appears to be out the window and the Eastern conference is not only having one of the worst years in recent NBA history, it's also having one of the worst years in the history of any modern sports conference. As of last night, only three teams in the East have winning records, compared to nine in the West. According to an article on Deadspin last week, at a winning percentage of .314 percent, the Atlantic Division, which makes up many of the Eastern Conference powerhouses is on pace to be the worst division, ever, in the history of modern divisional sports. While that's a shocking number, what may be even more surprising is that the poor performance hasn't impacted ticket prices as much as one would suspect.

Although the Eastern Conference could be one of the worst conferences in league history, it continues to have higher secondary market prices for NBA tickets than the West. The average price on the secondary market to see a team in the East is $141 per seat versus $125 in the West. The biggest culprit of this ticket-price imbalance is the New York Knicks that lead the league in ticket prices with an average of $269, but are last or close to it in almost all on-the-court statistical categories. By comparison, the Spurs and the Trail Blazers, the two best teams in the West have an average price of $114. At an average price of $126, Trail Blazers tickets have the 2nd lowest average price/win ratio of any team in the West at $7.4. They trail only San Antonio Spurs tickets, which have a ratio of $6.8 ($102 average/15 wins). The best team in the East is the defending Champs Miami Heat, and at an average of $259 they have a hefty ratio of $16.1, but with three championships in the last four years, that seems more than justified.

While they defeated the Pacers last season in the Eastern Conference Finals, they can't compete when it comes to value. With 18 wins and an average price of $87, the Pacers have a price/win ratio of $4.8, which is by far the best deal in the NBA.

The horrendous starts by both New York teams, however, may be catching up to them. While Knicks tickets remain the most expensive in the NBA, prices have dropped 16 percent since the start of the season. The Nets, with their 6-14 start, are down even further, with a price drop of 21 percent since the season began.

Team Avg Price Wins Price Per Win
Knicks $269 5 $53.80
Bulls $227 8 $28.38
Nets $183 7 $26.14
Raptors $155 7 $22.14
Heat $259 16 $16.19
Orlando $91 6 $15.17
76ers $105 7 $15.00
Bobcats $144 10 $14.40
Bucks $65 5 $13.00
Cavaliers $95 8 $11.88
Celtics $118 10 $11.80
Hawks $121 11 $11.00
Pistons $105 10 $10.50
Wizards $78 9 $8.67
Pacers $87 19 $4.58
East Avg $142   $18.15
Team Avg Price Wins Price Per Win
Lakers $256 10 $25.60
Jazz $77 4 $19.25
Kings $84 6 $14.00
Clippers $182 14 $13.00
Pelicans $110 9 $12.22
Thunder $184 16 $11.50
Suns $136 12 $11.33
Rockets $157 15 $10.47
Warriors $117 12 $9.75
Grizzlies $89 10 $8.90
Timberwolves $84 10 $8.40
Mavericks $94 13 $7.23
Trail Blazers $129 18 $7.17
Spurs $102 16 $6.38
Nuggets $78 13 $6.00
West Avg $125   $11.62

The irony of the universally poor play in the East is that a .400 winning percentage is not enough to put a season to bed before Christmas. Even with their abysmal .250 winning percentage, the Knicks are only four games out of the final playoff spot in the East. One run 5-6 wins means that they could quickly find themselves back in playoff position, which may be enough to keep prices up for some of the worst and most expensive basketball you've ever seen.