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Monday, July 13, 2020

NBA reportedly considering World Cup-style pool play for when season resumes

Adam Silver

The NBA appears to be leaving no stone unturned when discussing possible formats for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. We have already heard that the league is considering jumping right into the postseason, but could the playoff field include more than 16 teams?

The NBA recently sent a survey to team general managers asking for their feedback on a potential format for the resumption of play, and one option was to group teams into pools similar to the early stages of the World Cup. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, teams would be divided into a certain number of groups and face each member of their group the same amount of times. The final standings from pool play would determine which eight teams emerge and compete in a more traditional playoff tournament.

One potential complication is that the pool play proposal would include more than the 16 teams that currently would qualify for the playoffs under normal league rules. If additional teams are included in pool play to battle for eight spots, a scenario could unfold where one of the top teams in the NBA gets knocked out in the pool round. As you might expect, sources told Lowe that some current postseason teams are not happy about that idea.

A final decision has not yet been made, but the NBA is hoping to have a plan in place by Friday. We’re guessing teams would find one of the other potential playoff formats more favorable than a pool system, though anything is possible at this point.

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