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Projecting Key Dates For The 2020 NBA Timeline

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA has a target return date for July 31— what that season looks like remains a major question. Regardless of the season’s format, the games won’t be played in a vacuum. The key dates for the remainder of the NBA’s timeline will inevitably be impacted during the 2020 offseason and the 2020-21 NBA season. 

Looking at the 2019 postseason, and the summer that followed, we can piece together what the remainder of the 2020 calendar year might look like for the NBA.

July 

The NBA wants games to resume on July 31 and hopes to be finished by October 1That’s 62 days from start to finish. During the month of July, NBA teams will have to complete individual training, getting players back to game shape. Then travel to the Disney World Resorts in Orlando to undergo training camp.

Players will likely face a short quarantine once they land in Florida before they are allowed to compete in group activities. The NBA is undecided on what the completion of the season will look like.

One plan consisted of 16 teams returning and beginning immediately with the playoffs. A second plan would welcome 20 teams back to face a group or stage play to set playoff seeding. Meanwhile, a third option would consist of 22 teams with games being played to determine seeding in a play-in tournament. Furthermore, all 30 teams could return to complete a 72 game regular season.

NBA Playoffs, Timelines, and Key Dates

If the NBA wants to host four full best of seven series, that would take roughly 32 days. That is if every series was completed in a four game sweep, and the NBA scheduled the games every other day. Commissioner Adam Silver reportedly prefers a fully formed playoff bracket

Unless teams were playing postseason games on back to back days, the quickest the league could finish the season was by September 2

If at least one series in each round went seven games, it would take 56 days to complete the postseason. That’s most of the two month period the NBA is rumored to be targeting. 

Last season, every round had at least one six-game series. At best, playing every other night, the postseason could have been completed in 50 days. 

By that timeline, the NBA would have 12 days to complete the 2019-20 regular-season or stage a play-in tournament.  The postseason would begin on August 12. In 12 days, it’s reasonable to expect teams could play between four and six games. 

Four games would prevent teams from playing back to back regular-season games, and allow for at least a day off between the regular season and the playoffs. The NBA may prefer even more days off between the end of the regular-season and the beginning of the postseason.

A six-game regular season would likely mean playing back to back regular-season games, and potentially on consecutive days to end the regular season and begin the postseason. That seems unlikely and would hurt the quality of the NBA’s product. 

The Offseason

If the season ends on October 1, and the 2020-21 season begins on December 25, that leaves the NBA just 85 days for the entire offseason. In comparison, last year the season ended on June 13, and began on October 22. That’s a total of 131 days.

That leaves the NBA 46 fewer days to complete the offseason. 

In 2019, NBA media day was hosted on September 30, 22 days before the regular-season began. The first preseason game was played on October 3. That’s 19 days before the beginning of the regular season. The last preseason game was played on October 18.

Within the projected 85 day 2020 offseason, the NBA must hold a draft, free-agency, a training camp, and preseason. That doesn’t include an off-season league like the league hosts every July in Las Vegas.

Last year, the draft was held on June 20, seven days after the completion of the playoffs. NBA free-agency opened on July 1, 10 days after the draft.

Accordingly, that would place the 2020 draft on October 8. Meanwhile, NBA free-agency would begin on October 18

In 2019, the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas began on July 5, and ran through July 15. If the timeline remained the same, the NBA would need to host its offseason league beginning October 23 and run through November 2

To maintain a full 22 days of training camp and preseason basketball, the NBA would need to have players report by December 3. The first preseason game would be played on December 6, while the last preseason game would be played on December 21.

The true NBA offseason would run from November 2 through December 3. The 2020-21 NBA season would begin on December 25.

Projected NBA Key Dates Timeline

  • July 31: NBA Season Restarts
  • August 12: Postseason Begins
  • October 1: Postseason Ends
  • October 8: NBA Draft
  • October 18: NBA Free-Agency Opens
  • October 23: Las Vegas League Opens
  • November 2: Las Vegas League Ends
  • December 3: NBA Media Day
  • December 6: First Preseason Game
  • December 21: Last Preseason Game
  • December 25: 2020-21 NBA Regular Season Opens

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