Although the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has yet to subside, professional sports leagues have begun to finalize steps to resume play.
The NBA, after suspending its 2019-20 regular season back in March, is finally on the cusp of a return as the league and the NBPA have been in constant discussions on plans to get going again. The NBA recently announced talks with Walt Disney World to use the resort and theme park as a bubble location for the teams invited to compete.
Also, there have been ongoing discussions on an acclimation period of a couple of weeks to help players with their strength and conditioning. While those two issues have been seemingly addressed, the last major hurdle is the format in which the regular season would resume.
So far, the NBA has reportedly discussed four primary options for a potential restart, with them ranging from a direct start to the playoffs to select teams participating in a play-in tournament to decide seeding.
However, the plan with the most reported momentum appears to be a 22-team format that would allow a few non-playoff teams the chance to compete for the spot in each conference’s playoff bracket. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, that plan would also include eight games for each team:
Sources: If the NBA resumes play with a 22-team regular season format, teams will likely play eight games each. Then, a play-in tournament would take place for the eighth seed in each conference. Plans aren’t finalized yet but as of now it appears conferences would stay in place.
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) May 29, 2020
The eight regular-season games represent close to half the remaining contests on each team’s schedule and provides several tune-up opportunities for them to get used to live action again. While those games primarily affect the borderline playoff teams, it does give a team like the Los Angeles Lakers a chance to build up some momentum prior to the 2020 NBA Playoffs starting.
The most interesting part of the plan is the play-in tournament that would add a level of intrigue and excitement to the postseason. The tournament coupled with the remaining regular season games should help the league recoup some of the revenue that was lost during the hiatus, a win-win for both sides.
However, the plan does have its downsides. The most glaring one is the sheer volume of people involved with 22 teams all at the bubble location as this would heighten the risk of contracting COVID-19.
Although it may ultimately be deemed unnecessary to bring so many people over, this plan appears the best suited to address all the needs and concerns for both the league and the players. Everyone will be waiting to hear what Adam Silver recommends come next week.