Video: What Would Group Play Mean for the Oklahoma City Thunder
With so many scenarios on how the NBA can return, let's take a closer look at what the Thunder might be facing in group play. Group play is just one of the formats Adam Silver is surveying general managers about to restart the league.
The way a group stage works is the league would break groups of teams down in tiers based on their records. Per Kevin O'Connor of the ringer, the 16 playoff teams would qualify plus four teams with the next best record.
The Spurs, Kings, Pelicans, and Trailblazers would take those spots; each team would then be put into a tier with the top-level teams being their one and the bottom being tier five. The groups would then be drawn at random with one team from each tier going into each group.
Teams would play each other twice (guaranteed eight games) with the two teams with the best record advancing to the next round. Assuming the next round is a traditional playoff format, the NBA could use winning percentage from the regular season to seed teams; in case of a tie, you go to head-to-head matchups and other tie-breaking procedures.
There are a couple of problems Silver will have getting this passed. One, four teams from the west would fill out the bracket, which is sure not to make the owners of the Wizards, Hornets, Bulls, and Knicks happy. If the teams are picked at random, the Thunder could get put in a group with the Bucks and Celtics in the first round, and in that case, you'd be better off taking your chances with the Heat and Jazz in seven games.
There is a possibility, the Lakers, Nuggets, Rockets, and Mavericks and Trailblazers could wind up in a group. For the Lakers who earned the Western Conference's best record, I'm sure they would rather have seven cracks at the Grizzlies than having to see Houston or Denver twice.
If Silver wants to sell group play to owners because he would like the see the NBA playoffs become more like the World Cup, there are two ways he can get this passed.
One, Let the four teams in tier one select their opponents. You put them in order from best to worst record and let them pick which teams they will play.
This gives organizations the idea they have the advantage over their opponents, it makes the regular season more meaningful, and it carries the intrigue of players feeling insulted. Another enticing proposition that would make group play more palatable to owners is the televising of the selection process.
Much like the drat lottery or the College Football Playoff selection show, this would be a ratings and revenue bonanza. And once owners get a taste of all that sweet advertising money, there is no going back.
No plan will make all owners or players happy, but Adam Silver has a chance to make real change to his sport, not to take advantage of this situation would be doing the NBA and its fans a disservice.