The NBA regular season is over.
The league’s statement on its plan to resume the season made that abundantly clear.
The 22 continuing teams will play exhibitions, eight “seeding games” (not regular-season games) and maybe play-in games.
Each returning team would play eight seeding games, as selected from its remaining regular-season matchups. At the conclusion of the seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the best combined records across regular-season games and seeding games would qualify for the playoffs.
The 14 NBA Lottery teams would be the eight teams that do not participate in the restart and the six teams that participate in the restart but do not qualify for the playoffs. These teams would be seeded in the lottery and assigned odds based on their records through games of March 11. The 16 playoff teams would draft in inverse order of their combined records across regular-season games and seeding games.
Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:
Source: There will be some sort of exhibitions at the Disney/ESPN complex – call them preseason games or glorified scrimmages, whatever – for NBA teams before the regular season resumes in late July.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) June 4, 2020
That’s a good setup, which raises a question: Why doesn’t the NBA freeze records for the lottery with a month left in normal seasons? By not doing so, the league creates conditions for an annual tanking wasteland.
Calling these “seeding games” also positions the league to hold award voting soon. The NBA’s major awards – Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man of the Year, All-NBA, All-Defense, All-Rookie, Coach of the Year – are regular-season awards. If the regular season is over, those can be picked now. That could be a good way to fill time and attract attention before play resumes.
This is probably mostly semantics.* The term “seeding games” allows the NBA to differentiate these games for the lottery and awards.
*It could also allow the league to cancel more regular-season games and expand force majeure. But owners would still have to negotiate with players on how to pay them for these new “seeding games.” So, that’s probably a wash.
The term also makes enough sense. The 22 continuing teams are playing for seeding.
But what happens if two teams clinch certain seeds before their scheduled seeding game? Would that game still be played?
I’m confident the answer would be yes, even if “seeding game” would no longer be accurate.
“Tune-up games to generate more revenue” just isn’t as catchy.