Right now, it seems hard to imagine that the NBA will be coming back anytime soon.
However, it is technically possible that the NBA could not only return, but also crown a champion within a very short amount of time.
Thanks to a road map laid out by Heat Nation’s Bradford Ahn, it has become abundantly clear that the NBA could become a pioneer in how sports leagues restart activities amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In fact, if the NBA was trying to have a champion crowned as quickly as possible, they could create a brand new format to make sure that the 2019-20 season comes to a conclusion as quickly as possible.
“Hear me out. At worst, the NBA could enact a round-robin style playoff format across three weeks, with a best-of-three series for the conference finals and NBA Finals,” wrote Ahn. “This would severely cut the number of tests needed, and the league would be able to crown a champion as quickly as possible.
“Let’s say that the NBA returned on June 1. After a 25-day minicamp, the NBA could finish the first round of the postseason in a day on June 26 in the proposed single-elimination format, and then the second round on June 29.
“A bubble host location would still be necessary, but if each team needed around 35 tests for essential personnel including players on site for 16 teams, that would only mandate 1,680 tests.
“If the league is really adamant about crowning a champion, there’s no reason that a scenario like this couldn’t be enacted. The conference finals would get underway on July 2 and end on July 8, then the finals would begin on July 12, and champion could be crowned by Saturday, July 18.”
Surely, this format would be a dramatic shift from the normal playoff bracket, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
At some point, society as whole is going to need to crawl out of quarantine and self-isolation and figure out what is and what is not possible in this new reality.
A shorter postseason would not only reduce the number of tests needed, but also allow the NBA to look toward the 2020-21 season as quickly as possible.
Perhaps, this is the best way for the league to give its players, and its fans, the conclusion to the 2019-20 season that they want and deserve.