NBA

Spencer Dinwiddie Proposes March Madness-Style NBA Playoff Format

The NBA season is suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. With no one knowing when the season will resume, some people are brainstorming ways the league can still save it. These aren’t just fans spitballing ideas either. Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie recently took to Twitter and maybe gave the NBA a perfect resolution to this suspended season.

NBA suspends its season after COVID-19 hits close to home

COVID-19 is spreading quickly and it hit the sports world hard this week. The NBA announced it was suspending its season due to the virus on Wednesday. Then on Thursday, the NCAA canceled March Madness and the MLB ultimately canceled the rest of spring training. That is in addition to the MLB pushing back opening day by at least two weeks.

Everything started snowballing when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday. His teammate Donovan Mitchell then eventually tested positive as well.

They were the only two players in the league known to have the coronavirus until Detroit Pistons forward Christian Wood tested positive on Saturday. The Pistons played the Jazz on March 7. Additionally, Wood and Gobert matched up against each other, according to CBS Sports.

Spencer Dinwiddie proposes March Madness-style tournament for NBA

With the NBA not announcing how the season will play out yet, Dinwiddie gave his thoughts on what the league should do. 

Dinwiddie said he thinks the league should do a five-game tuneup and then a March Madness-style playoff format. While the NBA’s current format divides its teams by conference, Dinwiddie proposed that teams just get seeded one through 30. That means every team in the league would make the playoffs.

Dinwiddie also said that there could be two play-in series played at neutral sites between seeds 27 through 30. This would be similar to the NCAA Tournament’s First Four and would be a best of three format. After that, the top four overall seeds would get byes in the round of 28, and the 24 other teams would play. This round would be a best of five format. Once the 12 winners from those series join the four top seeds in the next round, the playoffs would then continue as usual. With 16 teams always making the NBA playoffs anyway, the 16 teams left would play in the typical best of seven format.

Dinwiddie then proposed that if this worked viewership wise, then the NBA could change to this style permanently. He said that the league could then reduce its season to 70 games and eliminate back-to-backs for player safety. Dinwiddie also said that this could help the NBA push its product as a whole rather than just pushing its stars. With fans often losing interest if a star is injured, he thinks this could ultimately help the league’s fan engagement problem. This would be because of the fact that any team could win the tournament, much like March Madness.

Could Dinwiddie’s idea work?

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie reacts during a game against the Chicago Bulls.
Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets. | Steven Ryan/Getty Images

For this season, Dinwiddie’s proposal is a fantastic idea. The play-in games, which he proposed are played at neutral football sites, could earn a lot of money for the league. Additionally, no one would wonder, “What if a current a 10 or 11 seed went on a run and made the playoffs?” Every team gets a shot with this format and the true best teams would come out on top.

The fan engagement would also go through the roof. With no sports happening for at least a month, in addition to the NCAA Tournament being canceled, having an NBA tournament that anyone could win would excite everyone like no other. Can you imagine if a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated a team like the Philadelphia 76ers or Houston Rockets? Fans would go crazy and social media would be on fire.

Going forward with this after this season, though, could be tough. CBA negotiations between the league and the players are always complicated. However, this could be a good experiment for the next negotiations. It could possibly even eliminate the NBA’s tanking problem since every team would have a shot at the end of the season. The league is all about its stars, though. It could be difficult to use this format to take away the star-driven storylines that drive revenue. Using this format to try and excite fans about the playoffs, even if someone like LeBron James is not playing in them, would be tough to do.

Spencer Dinwiddie’s idea for a March Madness-style playoff format is great. It could ultimately salvage a somewhat lost season. It could be hard for the league to go this route after this season, though. The NBA thrives on its stars.