The NBA made waves when they, along with the NBPA, announced a plan to formally resume the 2019-20 regular season. The season came to a halt on March 11, and nearly three months later there is finally a plan in place to bring back basketball games.
Walt Disney World is set to be the bubble location for the remainder of the season and the teams invited to play will be traveling at the end of the month and beginning of July. From there, they will get a few weeks to get acclimated to the venue with games slated to begin on July 31.
The new competitive format calls for a 22-team regular season where each will play eight games to determine playoff standings. The major change is a possible play-in tournament that could happen if the ninth seed is within four games of the eight seed.
While the format is set, how the seeds are determined is another issue as some teams have played more games than others. According to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, seeding will be determined on winning percentage:
As the NBA continues to prepare for its return to the court next month in Orlando, it has determined that the order in the standings will be determined by winning percentage, league sources told ESPN.
Normally, conference seeding is determined by record, but under the current circumstances winning percentage seems to be the best compromise. However, this does create a unique problem for teams with near-identical records as teams who have played more games will mathematically have higher winning percentages than teams with less games under their belt.
The race for the eight seed in the Western Conference becomes more interesting because the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings are currently tied for ninth. The Trail Blazers have a slight edge as they have played more games than the other two teams.
In the event that there is a tie between Portland and either New Orleans or Sacramento, the Blazers would end up higher in the standings due to winning percentage.
The bottom of the conference standings would be of particular interest to the Los Angeles Lakers as they have a firm lead on the one seed and appear set to take on whoever finishes eighth. The Memphis Grizzlies would be their opponent if the postseason started today, but it appears they will not know who their opponent will be until closer to the end of the regular season.