The NBA has been trying to innovate for years and the Covid-19 pandemic might as well be a blessing in disguise, as it gives them the perfect opportunity to try some new things and see how they actually pan out.
Adam Silver is currently looking at all options to resume the season, so there have been plenty of rumors claiming that we could jump straight to the playoffs or just play until every team has reached 70 games and then go from there.
That's why several players have expressed their concerns regarding this situation, with Damian Lillard going as far as to claim that he's not going to play unless his team has a realistic shot at making the playoffs. However, the same Lillard did admit that a different kind of play-in tournament could be a perfect solution for him and the rest of the league:
“If they come back and say it’s something like a tournament, play-in style, between the No. 7 and No. 12 seeds, if we’re playing for playoff spots, then I think that’s perfect," Lillard told Yahoo! Sports.
Luckily for him, it seems like the NBA is actually considering something like that, as the league sent a survey to all General Managers inquiring about the possibility of playing a World Cup-style tournament for the remainder of the season, according to The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor:
"The 16 current playoff teams would qualify for the group stage, plus the four teams with the next-best records (Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, and Spurs). The remaining 10 teams would be done for the season. The survey sent to each general manager noted that “tiers” would first be created using the regular-season standings to ensure a competitive balance between the groups," the report read.
As of today, those tiers would look like this:
- Tier 1: Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, Clippers
- Tier 2: Celtics, Nuggets, Jazz, Heat
- Tier 3: Thunder, Rockets, Pacers, Sixers
- Tier 4: Mavericks, Grizzlies, Nets, Magic
- Tier 5: Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs
Then, they'd put together 4 groups of 5 teams. Every team would have two games vs. the rest of the group (8 total) and those two with the best record would move on to the next round. Obviously, there are still plenty of things to figure out to give this format the green light, but it's quite interesting nonetheless.