NBA officials officially confirmed that the 2019-20 NBA season will resume on July 31 in Orlando, Florida. NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report this news on Thursday.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic however, the league’s comeback will be different from what most people might expect. NBA officials decided after much discussion that the resumption of the league would take place at Disney World.
However, not all 30 teams will be making that journey.
NBA to Send 22 of 30 Teams to Orlando
The NBA announced it will have 22 teams compete in Orlando to decide the eight playoff teams from each conference.
The 22 teams that are going to Orlando include the 16 current playoff teams that would have made the cut when the season was paused in March. Coming along with the 16 current playoff teams include teams that are currently six to eight games out of the eighth seed in each conference. There will be five additional teams coming from the Western Conference and one additional one from the Eastern Conference. Those teams include: the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards are the teams that will compete for that eighth seed in the playoffs.
The teams not punching their ticket to Orlando include: the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Hornets.
NBA Adds Play-In Tournament For Official Seeding
Instead of going straight to the playoffs, teams will play in eight regular season games to set up the playoff bracket. After that, there will be a play-in tournament that will put the No. 9 seed against the No. 8 seed in each conference.
The team who will earn the No. 9 seed will be within four games of the No. 8 spot at the time to be granted the opportunity to play in the tournament. The No. 9 seed has to beat the No. 8 seed twice, while the No. 8 seed has to only win one of the two games to secure the final playoff spot. The playoffs will be played like they usually are year-to-year with best-of-seven series’.
Later Playoffs Push NBA Draft, 2020-21 Season Back
While that is how the rest of the 2019-20 season will be played, all other NBA-related events will also have their dates shifted back with the league playing longer into the summer.
The 2020 NBA draft lottery is set to take place on Aug. 25 with the actual draft to occur on Oct. 15. Free agency can begin on Oct. 18 and training camp can start on Nov. 10. But, as of right now, both dates are subject to change due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. After the 2019-20 season concludes, the NBA is looking to begin the 2020-21 NBA season on Dec. 1.
Where Did the League Stand Pre-Shutdown?
As we look back to the NBA pre-shutdown, there were plenty of storylines worth following.
The Milwaukee Bucks were sweeping through the league and had the best record at 53-12. The Los Angeles Lakers, thanks to small forward LeBron James and power forward Anthony Davis, ranked first in the Western Conference with a 49-14 record.
The Houston Rockets’ shooting guard James Harden led the league in scoring with 34.4 points per game. The Lakers’ success was helped by James leading in assists per game (10.6), while Bucks’ forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was perhaps a runaway for Most Valuable Player, averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.
Fans also saw players like shooting guard Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks and point guard Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks have strong second seasons. Doncic was averaging a near triple-double with 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game. He also had the Mavericks at the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. Young on the other hand was leading the Hawks with 29.6 points and 9.3 assists per game.
Carmelo Anthony, Victor Oladipo Set to Return?
Other story lines to follow included NBA veteran power forward Carmelo Anthony making his return to the NBA after being picked up by the Blazers on Nov. 19. Before his pick-up he had not played a game since Nov. 8, 2018 when he was a member of the Houston Rockets.
Ever since he has returned he has averaged 15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Signs of a vintage Carmelo in the midst of amping up again? Yes. He has had 13 games where he scored at least 20 points. Additionally, he had a game-winning shot against Toronto on Jan. 27 that erupted the league just when the NBA and fans thought he was a little to washed up and would retire.
Furthermore, Indiana Pacers’ guard Victor Oladipo made his return to the lineup on Jan. 29 against the Chicago Bulls after suffering a severe knee injury that saw him miss time in two seasons across 2018-20.
He has averaged 13 points, 3.2 rebounds and three assists since his return to the Pacers. He helped them clinch a playoff berth and they’re currently the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The League Will Say Goodbye to One, Welcome a Vet
Shooting guard Vince Carter announced he’d retire following the 2019-20 season after 22 seasons. Since Atlanta did not make the playoff cut, Carter’s final game was on March 11. On the flip side, forward Dwight Howard was playing his best basketball in his return to the Lakers and will look to keep it up when the league season resumes. Howard last played for LA in 2012-13 and followed that stint up with the Rockets the following season. He also made stops in Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington before putting the purple and gold back on.
Who are the Favorites for NBA Titles?
Will Milwaukee run away with the championship because they have the best regular season record? Will one of the Los Angeles teams raise the Larry O’Brien trophy in October? Who will be named MVP this year, James or Antetokounmpo? Is small forward Zion Williamson or point guard Ja Morant going to win Rookie-of-the-Year? Could fans expect possible upsets in the playoffs because of the break in the season? So many questions that were left unanswered will now be answered in the coming months.