If the 2019-20 NBA season resumes in July at Walt Disney World, New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson could be a key to the league’s playoff seeding and return-to-play format, per Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports.
The NBA is reportedly considering a non-traditional first-round playoff series, with a group stage format being thrown out as one of the possibilities. There are a number of options being considered right now, with basically nothing off the table just yet.
It would make sense for the NBA to have Williamson be featured in the return-to-play format since ratings would benefit from his presence:
Just about everybody in the league is wondering how many teams will be going to Orlando if/when the NBA season resumes. 16? 20? 24? 30? In my conversations with several team execs, one detail keeps coming up: Zion Williamson is on a No. 10 seed.
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) May 26, 2020
Before the 2019-20 season was suspended due to COVID-19, Zion Williamson was averaging 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game for the Pelicans. His return to the court helped the NBA in its ratings boost prior to games getting suspended.
Williamson missed the beginning of his NBA career due to knee surgery, and it hurt the league since the Pelicans had a bevy of national television games on the schedule early in the season.
New Orleans had a record of 28-36 before Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. The Pelicans were in 10th place in the Western Conference standings and 3.5 games back of the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot out West.
A new playoff format could create more interest for fans who don’t normally watch basketball, although ratings for all sports figure to be extra high at first when games resume since we’ve been without live sports since March.
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