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6-PHASE PLAN: BATSBY’s 20-team, multi-layered proposal for the NBA’s postseason tournament in Orlando

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Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks (53-12) would own the No. 1 playoff seed in BATSBY Sports' 20-team tournament to close the 2019-20 season.

On Wednesday of this week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will reportedly reveal the league’s proposal for a 24-team tournament to cap the 2019-20 season — a super-sized undertaking that will leave only seven teams out of Stanley Cup consideration.

The NHL’s ambitious, yet uplifting brainstorm for the hockey postseason has motivated us to think outside the box, regarding the NBA’s speculative move of conducting the league’s entire Restart Plan in sunny Orlando, along the spacious and luxurious campus of Walt Disney World.

We’re not here to debate the merits of NBA players preferring Orlando or Las Vegas for the ultimate restart.

Both locales offer warm-to-hot weather, which is ideal for minimizing or even eradicating the effects of Coronavirus transmission.

For today’s exercise, we’re all about solving the NBA’s logistical puzzle of pinpointing the optimum number of championship-eligible teams for its own tournament in Florida, slated to begin sometime in mid-July.

For this process, let’s work our way from the bottom … and then up.

CLICK HERE FOR THE CURRENT NBA STANDINGS

SEPARATING THE HAVE-NOTS

The Wizards (24-40) currently occupy ninth place in the East standings, trailing the 30-35 Magic by 5 1/2 games for the final playoff seed in the conference.

Hypothetically speaking, let’s say Orlando went 8-9 for the final 17 games of the 2019-20 regular season, if the Magic were allowed to complete their original schedule.

For Washington to earn the No. 8 seed outright (since the Magic swept the head-to-head meetings, 4-0), the Wizards would have go to 15-3 in their final 18 outings — an implausible notion for a team that has yet to post a winning streak of three or more games this season.

Armed with this mathematical knowledge, the NBA should have little interest in forcing the Wizards, Hornets (23-42), Bulls (22-43), Knicks (21-45), Pistons (20-46), Hawks (20-47) and Cavaliers (19-46) to play out the proverbial string 17 or 18 more times — knowing these clubs would have minimal incentive to abandon their prime slots for the NBA lottery drawing (sometime this summer).

In the Western Conference … the outlook’s a little sunnier for the clubs tending to the 9-12 slots, the Trail Blazers (29-37), Pelicans (28-36), Kings (28-36) and Spurs (27-36).

Each team falls within the acceptable range of four games for the No. 8 slot, lagging slightly behind the the Grizzlies (owners of the final West seed, at 32-33).

DIVIDE … THEN EVENTUALLY CONQUER

Factoring in the above information, there’s a simple, yet layered solution for the NBA, in terms of crowning a league champion this summer and garnering substantial playoff revenue from robust TV ratings.

For starters …

a) Twenty NBA teams would partake in the Orlando restart — the 16 clubs currently owning playoff slots in the East and West, along with the four West also-rans trailing by four or fewer games (Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio).

b) Ten franchises would sit out the Orlando tournament (Golden State, Minnesota, Phoenix, Cleveland, Atlanta, Detroit, New York, Chicago, Charlotte, Washington), then subsequently partake in a weighted lottery system to determine the 1 through 10 slots for the NBA draft.

c) The 20 qualifying clubs at Walt Disney World would be arranged by overall record (read: winning percentage), regardless of conference affiliation.

The three groups include:

GROUP A — SEEDS 1-4
Milwaukee (53-12), L.A. Lakers (49-14), Toronto (46-18), L.A. Clippers (44-20)

GROUP B — SEEDS 5-12
Boston (43-21), Denver (43-22), Utah (41-23), Miami (41-24), Oklahoma City (40-24), Houston (40-24), Indiana (39-26), Philadelphia (39-26)

GROUP C — SEEDS 13-20
Dallas (40-27), Memphis (32-33), Brooklyn (30-34), Orlando (30-35), Portland (29-37), New Orleans (28-36), Sacramento (28-36), San Antonio (27-36)

BATSBY’S RE-START PROPOSAL

PHASE I

**The elite teams in Group A would be excluded from re-seeding measures with the NBA playoffs. As such, these four clubs wouldn’t be obligated to launch the re-start portion of training camp until Phase II.

**The eight clubs from Group B would engage in a double-round-robin tournament (14 games apiece), as a means of determining the postseason seeding order for Phase II, via overall record in the pool.

**The eight franchises in Group C would partake in a double-round-robin tournament (14 games apiece), thus determining the playoff seeding order for Phase II (via pool record).

PHASE II

GROUP A — Ramping up for the Walt Disney World postseason, the Bucks, Lakers, Raptors and Clippers would participate in an open-ended number of low-key preseason games, allowing each club to prepare for the large tournament, without fear of a Phase II exodus.

GROUP B vs. GROUP C — These 16 playoff teams would enter into a sub-system of eight different series (best-of-5 for each), citing the following matchups of reconfigured seeds (from Phase I):

MATCHUP #1: 5-seed vs. 20-seed
MATCHUP #2: 6 vs. 19
MATCHUP #3: 7 vs. 18
MATCHUP #4: 8 vs. 17
MATCHUP #5: 9 vs. 16
MATCHUP #6: 10 vs. 15
MATCHUP #7: 11 vs. 14
MATCHUP #8: 12 vs. 13

PHASE III — ROUND OF 16

The winners from Phase II advance to Phase III, with the NBA ranking the eight survivors by highest-to-lowest remaining seed.

For example, if the higher seeds prevailed in every Phase II series (unlikely, given the lack of any home-court advantages), the Round of 16 matchups would subsequently look like this; and once again, conference affiliation would have no bearing, moving forward:

ROUND OF 16 (BEST OF 7 … HYPOTHETICAL)

MILWAUKEE (1) vs. ORLANDO (16)
L.A. LAKERS (2) vs. BROOKLYN (15)
TORONTO (3) vs. MEMPHIS (14)
L.A. CLIPPERS (4) vs. DALLAS (13)
BOSTON (5) vs. PHILADELPHIA (12)
DENVER (6) vs. INDIANA (11)
UTAH (7) vs. HOUSTON (10)
MIAMI (8) vs. OKLAHOMA CITY (9)

PHASE IV — QUARTERFINALS

The matchups for this round wouldn’t be set in stone, in the event of lower-seeded upsets.

Rather, the NBA would merely re-seed the matchups in this manner:

MATCHUP #1: Highest-remaining seed vs. lowest-remaining seed
MATCHUP #2: Second-highest remaining seed vs. second-lowest seed
MATCHUP #3: Third-highest remaining seed vs. third-lowest seed
MATCHUP #4: Fourth-highest remaining seed vs. fourth-lowest seed

PHASE V — SEMIFINALS

Similar to the previous phase, the semifinal clashes would be re-seeded after the quarterfinals.

MATCHUP #1: Highest-remaining seed vs. lowest-remaining seed
MATCHUP #2: Second-highest remaining seed vs. second-lowest seed

PHASE VI — NBA FINALS

The two survivors engage in one last best-of-7 series, determining the league champion for this most surreal of NBA campaigns.

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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