The NBA will have its long-awaited return with the news that the new proposal for the rest of the 2019-20 season in Orlando has passed.
In the return of the NBA, only 22 teams will partake. The teams that were in the top eight seeds from both conferences and six teams that were within six games of the eighth seed at the time of the league shutdown will be invited to Orlando. The league will have each team play eight games to finish off the regular season. If a team is within four games of the eighth seed those teams will play in a mini-series to determine who gets the eighth spot in the conference. The lower team would have to win twice to advance, while it would be single elimination for the ninth or lower-seeded teams.
The Western Conference is extremely close, as five teams are within 5.5 games from the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. These next eight games could be crucial for how the playoffs could end up.
The Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans are tied for ninth place, 3.5 games behind Memphis. Each one of those teams is eligible for a play-in scenario against the eighth seed and is set up well. They only need to keep pace with the Grizzlies in order to advance to the small elimination series, instead of needing to make up games.
For teams such as San Antonio and Phoenix, they will have to try and win more games than Memphis to be eligible for a play-in game. The same can be said for the Washington Wizards who are 5.5 games behind the Orlando Magic. For teams that are far behind, the best hope for them is that they win seven to eight games and watch their current competitors lose more than half their games. There are endless scenarios to which a team can overthrow the eighth seed in each conference.
Washington and Phoenix already have low odds of making the playoffs, and this solution could be seen as a non-starter to players. Some players have come out before this idea was proposed and said they might not be willing to come back to play for just a small chance to make the playoffs.
Star Portland guard Damian Lillard said weeks back that he would not want to risk his body for a foolish attempt at making the playoffs. He mentioned that there would be no good in risking injury for not making the playoffs. Although this was said prior to the NBA making a comeback, the idea could still be in the heads of many other star players on teams that are a few games out of eighth place.
What could happen is that players who have given up on the season, or get mathematically eliminated early could play fewer minutes or even not play at all. If Phoenix ends up losing their first two games of the shortened finale of the regular season, how would they justify playing their young star players in Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton? All they would be doing is risking their players’ bodies for meaningless games.
This motive has been a hot topic as of late, as players are focusing more on their future in the NBA. The idea of risking injury for a low possibility of making the playoffs could have an effect on players’ motivation for resuming the season. Many have already considered this season as a potential asterisk next to it. That alone will hinder players’ motivation to win.