Alex Caruso — along with the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers — are eager to get back to the court, as they look poised to have a real chance at the 2020 NBA championship.
However, at this point, it’s unclear exactly what that will look like, as a number of different formats have been thrown around for both the regular season and playoffs. The most popular scenarios involve a play-in tournament for the No. 8 seed while keeping the structure of the playoffs the same, the NBA has not settled on a proposal.
One of the ideas include removing conferences, seeding teams Nos. 1-16, and doing the playoffs that way. Meanwhile, some changes as drastic as a World Cup-style group stage are under consideration.
No matter what the format winds up being, Caruso knows that the Lakers will obviously involved given their position at the top of the Western Conference standings. Because of that, he doesn’t have any specific preferences on the direction the NBA goes with it, via “Mornings with Keyshawn, LZ, and Travis” on ESPN:
“I’ve heard a bunch of different ones. I’ve heard finish the regular season, which doesn’t seem likely. I’ve heard a shortened regular season into the playoffs, I’ve heard straight into the playoffs with the extra teams from the West, and the pool play system. I’m not sure if I favor one over the other, because my team is going to be involved regardless. It’s really just about getting out there and playing again.”
The Lakers figure to gain some type of competitive advantage in any format the league picks. That’s simply the nature of being a high seed in any type of tournament.
If the playoffs remain in the same format as normal, the Lakers will have the advantage of facing the winner of the play-in tournament, which could be a sub-.500 team. With no conferences, the Lakers would be the league’s No. 2 seed, meaning they would get the No. 15 in the first round, followed by either the No. 7 or 10 seed in the second.
For Caruso and the rest of the Lakers, the important thing seems to be getting back to playing basketball again. If they have to deal with a brand new playoff format, then so be it. The Lakers are possibly the best team in the NBA, but undoubtedly in the top three, meaning they should be able to succeed regardless.