OKC Thunder: NBA suggests 22 team return to play proposal

Chris Paul #3 and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder react after a big play late in the fourth quarter during their game against the Charlotte Hornets. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Chris Paul #3 and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder react after a big play late in the fourth quarter during their game against the Charlotte Hornets. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

OKC Thunder will participate in Orlando as Adam Silver proposes 22 game format for NBA return to play

Tomorrow the NBA Board of Governors will vote on the plan for resuming play at the end of July. Adam Silver has elected the 22 game format as suspected. Given their fifth seed in the West, the OKC Thunder will be among the participants in Orlando.

Adrian Wojnarowski dropped his typical Woj bomb fans had been glued to social media awaiting and followed up with an article on ESPN.

Specifics of NBA proposed return and effects on OKC Thunder:

  • 22 teams will participate
    • Those teams are the 16 playoff seeds plus five Western teams (Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs, and Suns) as well as the Wizards from the East.
  • Orlando is the confirmed venue
  • Each team will play eight regular-season games
  • The play-in tournament will only include the eighth and ninth place teams
    • Single elimination will be employed for teams who are ninth “if within four games”
    • Double elimination will be required for teams seeded eighth.

The clarification on the play-in tournament was the biggest news since no prior indications were provided. As per above, only two teams from each conference will be involved in the play-in tournament and then only if the ninth seed is within four games of the eighth-seeded team.

That means if the Grizzlies can gain a game edge over the bubble teams from the West they’ll automatically qualify. Likewise, if the Magic (+5.5) or Nets (+6.0) maintain their lead over the Wizards they too would advance without requiring a play-in tournament.

This updated information is important as it means the first through seventh seed teams won’t be sitting around waiting for an extended tournament to occur. It also means the eighth seeds do get credit for finishing eighth via the need for the potential ninth-place team needing to defeat them twice.  Although it’s unlikely the Grizzlies, Magic or Nets are hyped over having to win their way into the playoffs more than once.

What this means for the OKC Thunder is they won’t be involved in the play-in tournament. OKC already holds a 9.5 game edge over the Memphis Grizzlies. That’s relevant simply because it gives the Thunder the option of purposely trying to fall to 11th overall in order to retain their draft pick, although it’s unlikely the direction the team will take.

More importantly, with the extra games, the OKC Thunder can move up the ladder. Having played 64 games to date, the additional eight games means they’ll finish with 72 games played and that should also mean they’ll deliver on the regional television contract. Although this format was considered the frontrunner it’s a positive for the OKC Thunder this won out over group bracket play.

More from Thunderous Intentions

One oddity is that every team plays eight games in the return.  Most teams have played 64 or 65 games to date. Presumably, this means the team’s win percentage will determine the final seeding.

What isn’t known yet is whether the association will utilize the conferences (1-8) or league seeding (1-16) for the playoffs. Since the play-in tournament is the eighth versus ninth seeds the presumption is the league will employ conference seeding.

Nor, have details been provided on how the schedules will be comprised or what dynamics will be used to create them. With the NBA wanting to generate excitement it won’t be surprising if the Lakers, Pelicans, and clubs with superstars get matched up in feature games.

As per Woj’s article, the Board of Governors will vote on the proposal via a conference call occurring at 12:30 p.m. EST tomorrow (Thursday).

The other notable as per Ramona Shelburne’s tweet above is players will still have to practice safe distancing but will have the freedom of outside movement such as playing golf or dining at a restaurant.

Although fans have to wait for that BOG confirmation it’s essentially a formality. The great news for OKC Thunder fans is now we have a timeline for when Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and company will be back on the court.

The NBA is back — hallelujah!

Next. Dissecting 16 playoff seeds and 4 WC team records. dark