With all the growing optimism for a return to the 2019-20 NBA regular season, potential playoff formats have started to make their rounds on conference calls within the league.
One option the NBA and NBPA are reportedly considering is having all teams complete a 72-game season. Although this would allow teams a handful of games for players to find their rhythm before the start of the playoffs, there has been criticism regarding the lack of incentive for some teams.
All-Star Damian Lillard is among the notable players that have threatened to bow out if the Portland Trail Blazers are not given a legitimate opportunity to compete for a spot in the playoffs. Fortunately, there is one hypothetical that features an intriguing alternative to the traditional conference seeding.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the league is pondering a format that would allow four bubble teams in the Western Conference a chance to play themselves in:
There are still a number of ideas under discussion, including this one: bringing back the four Western Conference teams on the playoff bubble for play-in purposes, but none in the Eastern Conference, sources said.
It is no secret that the balance of power has always tipped in the West’s favor in recent history. This would mean that the Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs would have a chance to make a playoff run after falling just short before the unexpected hiatus.
Meanwhile, the substantial gap between the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic and teams like the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets would give the NBA more than enough reasons to eliminate them from the picture completely.
A survey by the league’s general managers featured a a pool play option that would include anywhere between 16 to 30 teams that would be divided into groups. However, there is concern about the possibility ‘death groups’ forming where some pools are much stronger than others.
It is safe to assume that Lillard will do what he can to endorse the play-in option for the Western Conference.