Atlanta Hawks: Is NBA’s 22-Team Playoff Format Fair?

 The Atlanta Hawks will not be participating in the NBA’s 22-team playoffs.

More news came out Wednesday morning about the NBA’s return to play, with reports by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania indicating that a 22-team revival will take place in Orlando later this summer. That leaves eight teams, including the Atlanta Hawks, out of play.

Each qualifying team will get eight regular-season games, which will work as both warm-ups for teams locked into the playoffs and do-or-die games for teams on the outside looking in currently. At the conclusion of the new regular season, there would be a play-in for the eight seeds for teams fewer than four games out of the seed.

For the Hawks, it’s disappointing to be left out, especially since they likely won’t be playing again until December or later. Some will defend the NBA and say that if the Hawks simply just won more games, they wouldn’t have been left out, but that’s not exactly fair to say.

The Hawks had one of the hardest schedules in the league until February began, and had bad injury luck all season. If Atlanta was fully healthy and played the same schedule as everyone else, would they have been a playoff team? It’s tough to say, but they would have definitely had a better shot.

Going past that, many first and second-year players will get valuable, playoff-like experience that the Hawks’ young core desperately needs. Rookies like Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Jaxson Hayes, Rui Hachimura, and more will gain an upper hand on Atlanta’s first-year players Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, and Bruno Fernando.

Losing that experience and the chance to play meaningful basketball before the holiday season is very detrimental to the youngest team in the league. Head Coach Lloyd Pierce echoed these statements as well.

It’s great to have the NBA back, but based on the majority of fan reaction this morning, it seems that Adam Silver and company whiffed a bit on the execution. With the Finals being pushed back until October, the rest of the off-season will be pushed back accordingly. I covered the Atlanta Hawks’ new off-season agenda here.

Next: Ranking the Hawks by Trade Value

What do you think of the NBA’s return to play plan?

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