There isn’t a simple solution to the conundrum the league faces as it prepares to take the remainder of its season to Walt Disney World sometime this summer.
The Cup format, as proposed by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Conner, sounds outstanding in theory, but the risk of multiple teams being exposed to one another within a week’s time assumes more risk than other scenarios.
A play-in tournament would be another example of exceptional television, but how can the NBA sell five franchises on a month of training coupled with the risk involved just to play several games?
My proposal for the rest of the NBA season, plus thoughts on related topics -- asterisks, very reasonable fears, pool play, and 1-16 seeding regardless of conference in "normal" seasons: https://t.co/DSjIpiLCQW— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) May 27, 2020
Finally, playing the standard 16-team format, with Memphis Grizzlies as the placeholder for the eighth seed out West, sounds the fairest given the circumstances, but their hold over the position was negligible. However, what if the league would open the doors to a tournament of sorts to dictate the final position without playing a minute of basketball?
Of course, it wouldn’t be as simple as that. The NBA could televise a debate on ESPN in which one representative from each franchise could sell viewers on why their team is most deserving of a shot at the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
The Portland Trail Blazers have arguably the best player of the group and solid playoff pedigree.
The New Orleans Pelicans were playing the best basketball of the bunch, and they have one of the league’s brightest stars in Zion Williamson in addition to fan favorites like Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday.
The Sacramento Kings put together a string of impressive wins right before the season was suspended. With De’Aaron Fox at the apex of his power, the Kings were every bit capable of crashing the party.
The San Antonio Spurs haven’t missed the playoffs in 22 years — enough said.
Finally, the Memphis Grizzlies. Their argument is self-explanatory. They did everything to earn the spot others could not. While 3.5 games with nearly 20 to go appears trivial, usurping them via a vote hardly appears fair. Simply put, they earned it.
After 24 hours of consideration, endless debate and conjecturing, the NBA would then televise an event in which the final playoff participant is selected. The vote could consist of owners, coaches, league executives and/or players. Even the fans could be involved as a portion of the vote.
This plan is safe. It’s exciting and generates excitement in advance of the NBA’s return. If the 2019 NBA Draft lottery garnered 4.4 million viewers, think of how many sports-deprived fans would tune into watching my proposal unfold. It would also propel an endless amount of storylines this offseason and beyond.
The other inevitable solution? Playing the standard 16 teams without the benefit of any fanfare. Or worse, exposing five teams to each other within a week’s time in some play-in tournament, possibly compromising the integrity of the ‘bubble.’
So, what do you think?
Would you been in favor of my proposal over the NBA electing to go with the standard 16-team traditional playoff format?
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