The NBA is studying formats to carry out the 2020 playoffs, but some of them could be controversial, to say the least. There have been rumors saying the league won’t leave their expected-to-be next superstar, Zion Williamson, out of the picture.
According to ESPN’s analyst Brian Windhorst, the league will try to sneak Zion and his New Orleans Pelicans in the postseason. They have reportedly studied several scenarios to play out the playoffs. One of those is a play-in tournament for the final playoffs spots as well as one where the teams play in a World Cup-style group stage that would serve as the alternative to play the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs.
In the second scenario, the Pelicans would make the cut, as Windhorst revealed on the latest Hoop Collective podcast.
“Let me just say how do you get to 20 though? Because if you just go by the straight records, because to me, this is what I’ve already heard, alright. I’ve already heard people in this league say this is an elaborate game to get Zion Williamson into this bubble,” Windhorst said.
“I’ll tell you one thing: that scenario gets Zion Williamson in. Look, I’ve just heard… I’m not saying the NBA is going this route, I’m just saying I’ve already heard this scenario that no matter what happens, the cutoff line will be the Pelicans. They’ll be in. It will be the first time in the history of the NBA that the league kicked the ball into the fairway for New Orleans.”
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, an informal poll found that most GMs favored a play-in tournament over the group stage format. It will be interesting to see how the NBA would manage to get Zion and his team to the playoffs given that most GMs are favoring the play-in tournament. Time will tell what’s going to happen.
The league still has things to figure out before making a final decision, including the venue of any of these tournaments. We only have to wait and see what will happen with the remainder of the 2019/20 season.