NBA Insider Marc Stein Predicts Number of Teams That Will Compete if NBA Returns in Orlando

As the NBA continues to work on a plan to resume the 2019-20 season at Disney World in Orlando, the question of just which teams will be permitted to compete has come to the forefront. The league is reportedly considering a multitude of options, from heading straight to the playoffs, to playing a World Cup-style group stage to decide qualification for some teams.

Those teams on the playoff bubble are the most effected by this decision. The Portland Trail Blazers, for instance, are sitting just 3.5 games out of the eighth seed out West. As the NBA works to find a fair and safe solution for resumption, New York Times NBA insider Marc Stein gave his take on where he thinks the season is headed based on everything we know up to this point -- and not everyone is going to be happy.

Stein's educatd guess is not disimilar to a framework that NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been discussing as a potential addition for future seasons. With multiple teams on the edge of the playoffs and the constraints provided by playing during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s the perfect time to try out something off the beaten path.

In the East, the playoff picture is fairly set. The ninth-place Washington Wizards sat 5.5 games behind the eighth-place Orlando Magic before the season was put on hiatus. The Western Conference is a completely different story, and creative measures must be taken to make sure teams' fates aren't unfairly taken out of their own hands.

The Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacremento Kings, and San Antonio Spurs all sit either 3.5 or four games back from the eighth-place Grizzlies. A possible play-in tournament would give those teams their fair shot to make a run for the playoffs, and likely appease stars like Damian Lillard as well.

Stein's solution seems to walk a careful line between being fair to bubble teams and adhering to the pandemic's need for health and safety assurances. As the NBA moves towards making a decision, we will soon find out if his prediction was right.