Notes On Proposed Formats For NBA’s Return

Although a resumption of the 2019/20 season appears likely, there’s still no clarity on what form the NBA will take upon its return. A potential playoff format has been the subject of much discussion and debate this week, with the league still believed to be considering bringing back anywhere from 16 to 30 teams.

Among other issues, the league must decide whether or not to play any regular season games, whether a play-in pool or play-in tournament makes sense, and whether or not to reseed its playoff teams regardless of conference.

[RELATED: Community Shootaround: Play-In Pool Format]

As the NBA continues to weigh all those questions, a number of notable basketball writers are sharing their input on the potential format of a return to play. Here are some highlights:

  • In a deep dive, ESPN’s Zach Lowe explores various playoff formats for the NBA’s return, suggesting that a seven-team play-in tournament for the final three postseason spots (currently held by the Grizzlies, Nets, and Magic) could be one solution. No Eastern lottery teams would be involved in such a tournament, but the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, and Spurs would be.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic contends that most of the experimental postseason proposals are unnecessarily complicated or have dangerous downsides. In Hollinger’s view, the NBA should just keep it simple, bringing back its 16 current playoff teams and play a “normal” postseason. It’s worth noting that Hollinger’s former team, the eighth-seeded Grizzlies, would undoubtedly favor that solution, which forgoes a play-in tournament.
  • In a podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said that some people around the NBA believe the league’s inclination to have more than 16 teams return this summer is directly related to a desire to have Pelicans star Zion Williamson involved in any return to play (hat tip to RealGM). New Orleans currently ranks 10th in the West and 18th overall in the NBA standings.
  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic makes a case for allowing the NBA’s top teams to pick their playoff opponents, regardless of the format the league chooses.
  • If the NBA decides to bring back all 30 teams, the league ought to freeze the draft lottery order based on the current standings in order to avoid a potential tank-fest, says Marc Berman of The New York Post.
  • Chris Mannix of SI.com questions whether the NBA should even be prioritizing crowning a champion in 2020, and whether that champ will be viewed as legitimate.
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7 thoughts on “Notes On Proposed Formats For NBA’s Return

  1. phenomenalajs

    I like the idea I posted yesterday. Keep everyone currently in playoff seeds 1-7 in each conference home during pool play. Have round robin pool play for the five teams in the Western Conference and the four teams in the Eastern Conference within ten games of the eighth seeds. The East pool winner would play a best of 3 with Orlando. The West pool winner would play a best of 3 with Memphis.

    • phenomenalajs

      Personally, I’m a Nets’ fan, but the one advantage that could be given to Orlando would be allowing the best of 3 series to count toward its regular season record. Nets would be guaranteed a spot, but if the Magic win that series it would get the 7 seed and face the Raptors while the Nets would face the Bucks in the first round.

      • wagner13

        Yeah, but then the Nets would lack an opportunity to improve their own positioning and that wouldn’t be fair

  2. Ramon Garciaparra

    If falling a few games short creates a tv contract issue I don’t understand why the league can’t just work out a compromise solution with the networks. The alternative is playing some bogus regular season games. Just work it out and generate some excitement by opening up with a playoff format.

  3. crosleyred

    With the players running the NBA, I doubt there can be a consensus as to playing the remainder of the regular season and format for the playoffs. Time is starting to run out. You add the proposal to start future regular seasons around Christmas and I just can’t see an agreement in the near future. At this point I think cancelling the regular season along with playoffs is the right play since no fans are permitted to attend anyway.

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