The NBA is one of the principal leagues that has found its 2019-20 season put on hold as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the world of sports and society in general.
The league came to a grinding halt in early March after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus after coming down ill just before a game, sending the league into a state of suspension.
Currently, the coronavirus outbreak in North America continues to grow and doesn’t show any signs of letting up. Despite social distancing and “stay at home” policies enacted by many governmental organizations, it seems like quite a bit of time will past until basketball and other sports are able to return.
With that being said, we think that the NBA still has the opportunity to finish the 2019-20 season with a memorable set of playoffs come summertime when athletes should be able to convene again to compete.
How would the NBA do this? By calling off the rest of the regular season and shortening the playoffs.
In a normal season, the NBA Playoffs are a very long and drawn-out process. Under the current system, 16 of the league’s 30 teams make the playoffs and participate in a long-winded system involving four rounds of games that are part of a best-of-seven series.
While the NBA Playoffs begin in late April, they don’t finish until the end of June. Teams typically reconvene for training camp only a couple of months later, at the end of September or the beginning of October.
So, how could the NBA make the process faster and compact the playoffs to only a month or so? The solution could be in reducing the number of teams that compete.
The best solution for being able to hold the Playoffs and crown an NBA Champion for the 2019-20 season starts by halving the number of teams that compete in the competition. In doing this, the system could be compressed into only 4-5 weeks, especially if series were shortened to best-of-five for at least some rounds.
After reading this, you might be thinking, “But what about the fifth through eighth-seeded teams in their conferences? Wouldn’t they be upset about missing out on the playoffs?”
Well, yes, they probably wouldn’t be happy. But, the facts are the facts. The last time a team seeded lower than #4 in the Playoffs made the NBA Finals was in the 1999 season, and the last time a team seeded lower than #4 won the NBA Finals was twenty years ago when the sixth-seeded Rockets won the whole thing.
The reality of the current NBA landscape is that no matter the length of the Playoffs, two of the league’s eight top teams always make the Finals, and reducing the field in this way would provide the most satisfying end to the season.