The NBA Returns; 22 Team Format Officially in Play

NBA Returns 22 Team Format

  • The NBA has been suspended since March 11th, 2020.
  • Upon the leagues suspension, approximately 75% of matches had been played.
  • The resumed schedule will consist of a new format and timeline for this and next season.

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The rumors were abound, but a report on June 4th by The Athletic’s Shams Charania confirmed the NBA’s return for the remainder of the 2019-2020 season!


While there is a significant amount of protocol that hasn’t yet been outlined by the NBA, the approval by the Board of Governors and the NBPA all but confirms the NBA’s return – barring a major organizational crisis. The remainder of the season is expected to run from July 31 to October 12. Teams are expected to arrive at designated training sites on June 30.

With the return comes a change in schedule. Specifically, the 22 team format that has been rumored for the past month. Within that format, nine Eastern Conference teams and 13 Western Conference teams will be returning to play. The teams are:

Eastern ConferenceWestern Conference
(1) Milwaukee Bucks – x(1) Los Angeles Lakers – x
(2) Toronto Raptors – x(2) LA Clippers
(3) Boston Celtics – x(3) Denver Nuggets
(4) Miami Heat(4) Utah Jazz
(5) Indiana Pacers(5) Oklahoma City Thunder
(6) Philadelphia 76ers(6) Houston Rockets
(7) Brooklyn Nets(7) Dallas Mavericks
(8) Orlando Magic(8) Memphis Grizzlies
(9) Washington Wizards(9) Portland Trail Blazers
(10) New Orleans Pelicans
(11) Sacramento Kings
(12) San Antonio Spurs
x – clinched playoffs(13) Phoenix Suns

The NBA has focused on teams that were clearly in the playoff race. The league has ensured a slot for the top sixteen seeds in the NBA and six more teams within, at most, six games of the eighth seed. Both an effort in competition as much as it is marketing, the league has selected a batch of teams that showcases its best talent and most popular stars.

An Adjusted Schedule and Competition

Along with the new 22 team format, the NBA will be returning with a mixture of a play-in tournament for the eighth and ninth seed, while leading up to the playoffs with an eight-game “regular season.

According to sources, the play-in tournament will consist of the eighth and ninth-ranked teams in each conference – but only if the ninth seeds finish within four games of the eighth seed. Should that occur, the eighth seed enters a double-elimination tournament and the ninth seed enters a single-elimination tournament.

Among the 30 NBA teams who voted in regard to the remaining schedule and format, only the Portland Trail Blazers voted in opposition.

What About the Teams Left Out?

Check out more about who made the cut, here!

While there is excitement for the teams that will be returning to play, there will still be eight teams that will not be returning for the remainder of the season.

The Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, and Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Golden State Warriors will not be joining the other 22 NBA teams in the festivities.

Instead, these teams are expected to have mandatory training camps and a fall exhibition league in order to prepare for the adjusted schedule of the 2020-2021 season. There is, of course, an order of operations that needs to be underwent with the league and the NBPA. Despite that the remaining teams are unlikely to remain sedentary until the 2020-2021 season.

The NBA Bubble

Sources revealed to ESPN some details regarding the leagues’ health and safety protocols, as the resumption of the season would be held in one location.

According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, players and coaches will be able to take advantage of many of Disney resorts facilities, including outdoor restaurants and golf courses.

Should a player test positive for COVID-19, the league would remove the player from competition in order to treat and quarantine them. Other team members and staff would be tested as the season continues to play on.

The case will be the same for Disney resort staff. Player designated areas will be available to only a select few.

While there is still plenty of time for the season restart to change, the plans that the league has put forward are promising for fans and sports bettors. Many sportsbooks are now adjusting odds to account for the 22 teams involved, versus the 30 involved beforehand.

NBA FAQs

Who is the top team from the 2019-2020 NBA regular season?

Before the league’s suspension, the Milwaukee Bucks were the top-ranked team in the NBA. Over 65 regular-season games played, the Bucks accumulated a 53-12 record.

Who is the highest-paid player on the Milwaukee Bucks?

The highest-paid player on the Milwaukee Bucks is guard/forward Khris Middleton. Middleton is owed $137.1 million until 2024. He will earn $30.6 million for the 2019-2020 season – not accounting for suspension related salary cuts.

When was Khris Middleton drafted?

Middleton was drafted 39th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons.

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