OKC Thunder: NBA BOG ratify 22 team format – key details

Chris Paul #3 of the OKC Thunder in action. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Chris Paul #3 of the OKC Thunder in action. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

NBA Board of Governors ratifies 22 team format with OKC Thunder among the 29 teams who voted favorably.

As expected the NBA Board of Governors officially ratified Adam Silver’s suggested return format today. The only team who voted against the 22-team format was the Portland Trail Blazers. The OKC Thunder will join 21 other squads as they descend upon Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida to resume the season at the end of July.

Adrian Wojnarowski was a busy man today appearing on the Dan Patrick show, Sports Center, and The Jump.

Key dates and details for OKC Thunder:

In his various appearances, he confirmed several key details and timelines. Some of the specifics were:

  • Teams will be seeded by conference (1-8), not by league rank (1-16). Woj said the change would be too dramatic.
  • Training camp – June 30th
  • Travel to Orlando between July 9th and 11th
  • Resume games on July 31st
  • Free Agency will begin on October 18th
  • Draft Lottery: August 25th
  • NBA Draft: October 15th
  • Dates for next season include:
    • Training camp on November 10th
    • December 1st opening night.

Notably, while most thought next season would begin around Christmas the earlier proposed start of December 1st is so the players could still participate in the Olympics.

In his segment on Sports Center, Woj said the NBPA conference call scheduled for tomorrow will similarly hold a vote to ratify the plan. OKC Thunder captain Chris Paul who is also the NBPA president and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts has kept the lines of communication open throughout the hiatus with team representatives so this vote, like the BOG, is considered a formality.

In terms of the schedule, the OKC Thunder tweeted out an official league memo that confirms teams will play the next eight seeded teams (the 22 teams in Orlando).

This means the OKC Thunder eight games would be against the Jazz, Wizards, Grizzlies, Nuggets, Heat, Nuggets, Suns, and Clippers.

Play-in tournament: 

More from Thunderous Intentions

The second phase of this format is a play-in tournament to determine the final playoff berth. The ninth seed has to be within four games of the eighth seed to be eligible and would need to beat the eighth seed twice. Alternatively, the eighth seed requires a single victory.

Only three teams will be affected in the East: the Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards. The Wizards trail the Nets by 5.5 games and the Magic by 6.0 games so have their work cut out to narrow the gap to four games. With John Wall posting videos of him back on the court it provided some reason to believe he’d be a factor. However, Wizards beat writer (who used to cover the OKC Thunder) Fred Katz ruled out that possibility.

The West is far more complicated and more likely to produce the play-in phase with six teams capable of capturing the eighth and ninth seeds. Technically the Dallas Mavericks could be in the mix but with a seven-game lead over Memphis, it’s unlikely.

Currently, the Grizzlies hold a 3.5 edge over the Blazers, Pelicans, and Kings, a four-game edge over the Spurs and six-game lead over the Suns. There is a range in the number of games these clubs have banked which likely means the final seeding would be based on win percentage and the typical tiebreaker caveats should apply.


The 22 team format means eight clubs won’t participate and will garner a minor benefit by not participating via the draft. That’s because the lottery will be seeded based on records as of March 11th. Zach Lowe’s tweet provides more clarification stating those eight teams plus the six who fail to make the playoffs will be the 14 lottery teams.

The date is the most notable portion of this news since it means the Wizards can’t arrive in Orlando and lose eight games to improve their draft position.

Of the eight non-participants, the majority of those eight clubs are In the Eastern Conference: Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Atlanta Hawks.  Only two teams in the Western Conference miss the mark: the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors. These clubs will pay a price since they’ll have no game action for nine months until preseason in November.

Moving forward, it’s logical the NBA could wait for the NBPA vote before confirming and releasing the full schedule and timing of games. As soon as they do, we’ll be on top of how that affects the OKC Thunder.

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