It has been announced to everyone’s excitement that the NBA will be returning with a possible return date of July 31st at Disneyworld in the form of a 22-team tournament. The only problem is we still have no clear cut team to fill the NBA playoffs eighth seed out west.
Who Is Worthy of the 2020 NBA Playoffs Eighth Seed?
The Race For Eight
With the announcement that the NBA will resume many fans and analysts have begun speculating who will be the eighth and final team to fill in the western conference bracket? Currently, the team sitting at eight is the Memphis Grizzles. Not far behind them with a chance to take over are the Portland Trailblazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, and Phoenix Suns. This is going to be a race unlike any we have seen before. All teams are within five games or less of each other and there seems to be extra motivation this time around to make it into the playoffs.
A New Style New Stakes
With the NBA coming back, one of the new additions they announced was a play-in tournament. This could make things very interesting and it is something we have never seen before. How it’s going to work is the NBA allows for 22 teams to come back. Of those 22 teams, 16 of them already have playoff positions. The remaining six teams allowed to come back have to be no fewer than six games behind the current team in eighth place. I know it may sound a bit confusing but trust me it will all make sense when it begins.
Each of the teams will then play eight seeding games. This is to determine who plays who and what seed each team will be. Now depending on how close the race for eight is there is the possibility of a play-in tournament. How will that work? Well, at the end of the “regular season” if team A in eighth-place has a record of four or more games above team B in ninth-place, team A automatically qualifies for the final spot. If Team A has a record of four games or fewer than Team B then the play-in tournament would be put in place. In this format, Team A would only have to beat Team B once to advance. Team B has to beat Team A twice then Team B would claim the spot.
The NBA playoffs would then return in a standard best of seven formats.
Who Is Worthy?
Some people would say Memphis deserves it for their play throughout the season. Potential Rookie Of The Year candidate Ja Morant has been playing lights out, averaging 17.6 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game and 7.0 assist per game. Morant along with Dillion Brooks, who is averaging 15.6 points per game and veteran Jonas Valanclunas, who is averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds have helped put Memphis on the map.
Many analyst believe that in fact, Portland is the team to claim the eighth and final spot. Also many believe—along with Damian Lillard—if portland were to grab the final playoff spot they would be the best team to give the number one seeded Los Angeles Lakers team (run by Lebron James and Anthony Davis) a run for their money. Lillard has been on a tear as of late averaging 29 points per game and 8.0 assist on the season while running mate CJ McCollum has added in 22.5 points while shooting over 40% from the field. The addition of Carmelo Anthony has helped as well and it would be good for the NBA to see Anthony back in the playoffs.
The Pelicans and their young core come in at the 10th spot. With Zion Williamson busting on the scene with 22 points and 7.0 rebounds per game along with the young core of Lonzo ball racking up 12 points 6 rebounds and 7.0 assist per game and newly selected All-Star Brandon Ingram tallying 23 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Having them make the playoffs would be fun to watch. On top of that, the storyline would be a great one. Ball and Ingram going up against their former team—the Lakers— in the first round? You can’t script this stuff.
In the 11th, 12th, and 13th spots are the Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, and Phoenix Suns. Unfortunately not many are too high on these teams winning out. Let alone making it in for the final spot, including myself. If there is one thing I have learned from watching the NBA playoffs it’s that anything is possible and expect the unexpected.
Your Final Playoff Team Is…
The Portland Trailblazers are the best fit for the final playoff spot. Not taking away from Memphis and all they have accomplished. Portland is the best equipped to make things interesting for the Lakers. Not saying they would beat them of course. The combined efforts of McCollum, Lillard, and Anthony would be pretty formidable for James and company. At best that is a six-game series with the Lakers advancing. Memphis and New Orleans are too inexperienced to make things interesting. The remaining teams selected to return are too far behind record-wise. All in all one thing is for certain, the NBA is back and this is destined to be one exciting ride.
Embed from Getty Images