While the plan has not been finalized quite yet, the NBA looks set to resume play at Walt Disney World in Orlando on July 31. There will be 22 teams in attendance, and they will play eight regular season games before advancing to the playoffs. League owners, while the players will hold their vote on Friday.
Now that a schedule is in place for the actual games, the league is able to move forward with figuring out ancillary events. The two biggest, of course, are the Draft Lottery and the 2020 NBA Draft. The lottery will be held on Aug. 25, while the draft is set for Oct. 15, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. As a result of the dates being pushed back, the NCAA announced that, “men’s basketball student-athletes will have until 10 days after the NBA draft combine or Aug. 3, whichever comes first, to withdraw from the postponed 2020 NBA draft and retain their eligibility.”
The last possible date for Game 7 of the Finals under the league’s proposed schedule is Oct. 12, which would put the draft just three days later than the end of the season. Teams that go deep into the playoffs would have to flip the switch to draft preparation immediately, but with the long delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, they should be well prepared.
As for the lottery and draft order, that situation has also been figured out. Per the NBA‘s release:
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.
This means that for the six teams that go to Orlando but don’t make the playoffs, their final record will be whatever it was prior to the league suspending play on March 11. That eliminates a situation where a team like the Wizards plays these extra eight regular season games, does terribly, and drops behind the Hornets or Bulls in the standings, thereby getting better lottery odds.
Essentially, it’s a measure to prevent against teams showing up to Orlando just to tank.
In addition, this clarifies the issue surrounding the play-in tournament. The NBA makes it clear that the lottery teams, as usual, will be the 14 teams that don’t make the playoffs. So if a ninth-place team gets into the playoffs via the play-in tournament, they will not be a lottery team, and likewise, if an eighth-place team gets bounced from the postseason via that tourney, they will head to the lottery.