As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski detailed earlier today, the format for the NBA’s potential return to play this summer is a topic of much debate within the league right now. Teams at the top of the standings will have different motivations than bottom-feeding clubs or those on the fringes of playoff contention, leading to disagreement over which format would make the most sense for the league as a whole.
On Monday, we discussed the possibility of the NBA re-seeding playoff teams, regardless of conference, for its 2020 playoffs. Earlier today, we explored the idea of what a World Cup-style play-in pool would look like in place of the usual first round. Now, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has shared his own proposal with ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
Cuban would like to see all 30 teams return to action and play approximately five to seven regular season games, as MacMahon relays. Once those games were completed, these steps would follow:
- The top 10 teams from each conference would make the playoffs.
- Those teams would be re-seeded from 1 through 20 based on regular season record.
- The Nos. 17 and 20 teams and the Nos. 18 and 19 teams would face one another in a pair of single-elimination or best-of-three matchups.
- The winners of those matchups would advance to face the Nos. 15 and 16 teams for the final two spots in the playoff bracket.
- The postseason would proceed with its usual best-of-seven format from there, using 1-16 seeding rather than an East/West divide.
Cuban pointed out that such a format would give every team except the Warriors and Timberwolves a chance to qualify for at least the play-in tournament. Assuming safety and scheduling concerns didn’t get in the way, bringing every team back and playing several regular season games would also help out the league financially, allowing a number of clubs to fulfill their local TV deals, tweets MacMahon.
Cuban, who referred to his proposal as “fair” and “entertaining,” expressed concern about the play-in pool format that has been discussed by the NBA, according to MacMahon. The Mavericks owner argued that the group-stage concept “throws away the value of the whole season.”
Of course, it’s worth noting that Cuban’s proposal would benefit the Mavs. They currently hold the NBA’s 13th-best record and – given their current cushion – would have no chance of slipping to 15th and being part of his proposed play-in tournament. If the NBA used another form of play-in tournament, putting the seventh and eighth seeds in each conference up for grabs without playing any regular season games first, Dallas would be at risk of losing the No. 7 spot in the West.