The 2019-20 NBA season appears to be one step closer to returning to action. On Thursday, the league’s board of governor’s are reportedly on course to approve Commissioner Adam Silver’s plan for the NBA return in Orlando.
Now that we have details on the formats in play and some rough dates, let’s take a closer look at what we should expect to see.
NBA News on Return – NBA IS BACK!
“So the NBA’s inviting 22 teams to Orlando: 13 Western Conference, 9 Eastern Conference. Eight-regular season games per team. Play-in for the 8th seeds. July 31-October 12. Vote tomorrow to ratify. The NBA’s back.”
Although the league has been looking at several variations upon return, the latest reporting suggests that the leading format the NBA is going to go with will be a 22-team plan.
The 22 teams involved would be the teams that are currently within six games from a final playoff spot in each conference, which means the following teams would be included above and beyond the 16 teams currently in playoff position:
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Phoenix Suns
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Sacramento Kings
- San Antonio Spurs
- Washington Wizards
If this is the case, there are two different options, according to reporting. In one scenario, we’d see a small play-in tournament with the aforementioned six teams plus the No. 8 seeds in each bracket. The winners would advance to the playoffs.
The other option is that some regular-season games would be played – possibly about eight games per team – that would lead into the play-in tournament and then the playoffs.
NBA News: Orlando, Florida Tabbed As Location for Return
It appears that we’re looking at Orlando as the location as the teams are going to play at Disney World. The league would like to keep them in a bubble due to the coronavirus pandemic. What’s interesting is that when examining the various formats, the league is taking the virus into account. The fewer teams that go, the less of concern the virus is (for spreading, etc.).
At any rate, it appears that – just like the NHL – the NBA is eyeing a return in late July. That will allow them to play out the 2019-20 season an not throw off the start of the next season all that much.
Examining NBA Futures
Given that the format for the NBA season and playoffs isn’t fully fleshed out, not all NJ sports betting sites have NBA futures up. For example, DraftKings Sportsbook has decided to keep the lines off the board for the time being.
Meanwhile, FanDuel Sportsbook has kept the lines up as they’ve had the odds to win the NBA championship up all season long.
Odds To Win NBA Championship
- Milwaukee Bucks +240
- Los Angeles Lakers +270
- Los Angeles Clippers +340
- Houston Rockets +1200
- Boston Celtics +2000
- Toronto Raptors +2400
- Denver Nuggets +2500
- Miami Heat +2700
- Philadelphia 76ers +2700
We have seen a small change of late in the lines as now the Milwaukee Bucks are favored to win the championship ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers. While the Bucks have long had the best record in the NBA, it’s the Lakers who have mostly been favored this season. Part of the change has to do with the uncertainty of how the season will play out.
It’s interesting to note that had the playoffs played out as per usual, it would be the Bucks who would have had home-court advantage throughout – even in a Finals against the Lakers. When that was the case, it was the Lakers who were favored to win it all. Now that we have an unusual, neutral-site playoff, it’s the Bucks who have now inched in front.
When you’re handicapping these lines, you might want to take into account the home and away winning percentages – especially the latter. After all, it’s basically all away games at this point.
The Lakers have the best road winning percentage this season at 81.2% (26-6) while the Bucks are second at 72.7% (24-9) and the Toronto Raptors are third (71.9%). Every other team in the league has a road winning percentage below 65%.
Others options that were discussed in NBA return:
The 20-team format is still an option. What we’d be looking at is a similar plan to include some non-playoff teams but it would only be four instead of six. That means Washington and Phoenix would not make the cut.
In this scenario, what we’re looking at is a World Cup-style group stage format. What that means is the team would be broken up into five groups and within the groups, each team would play each other twice.
The top four teams would then advance to form a 16-team playoff. With this format, there is also a possibility that only the top two teams advance, which means that the postseason would be an eight-team playoff.
If we are looking at a 16-team format, this is arguably the easiest to understand. In this scenario, we’re simply going by the final standings we were at before the league paused (the current standings) and locking the teams into their current seeds. That means we’re going to a playoff immediately.
While this format is easiest to grasp, the downside here is the teams who were in the running in the Western Conference. The Memphis Grizzlies are currently the No. 8 seed at 32-33 but the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings are all 3.5 games back.
They might have had a case for making a late playoff push had the coronavirus not wreaked havoc on the league – especially the Kings, who were 10-5 in their final 15 games. Instead, they completely miss the cut in this format.