The NBA reportedly confirmed Saturday that the final standings for the 2019-20 regular season will be decided based on winning percentage.
According to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, any teams that are tied in winning percentage will have their playoff seeding determined by the standard NBA playoff tiebreakers. Head-to-head record is the first tiebreaker, followed by division winner, higher division winning percentage if the teams are in the same division and then higher conference winning percentage.
ESPN's Tim Bontemps noted it is significant that the standings will be determined based on winning percentage since some teams have a different amount of games played.
The NBA approved a 22-team return-to-play format this week after nearly three months with no games because of the coronavirus pandemic. All games will take place in Orlando, Florida, beginning July 31, and each of the 22 teams will play eight contests.
The top seven seeds from each conference will make the playoffs, and there will be a play-in series between the eighth- and ninth-place teams in each conference, provided the ninth-place team is within four games of eighth.
The No. 8 seed would need to win one game to qualify for the playoffs, while the ninth seed would need to win twice.
Winning percentage could play a significant role in the Western Conference especially.
As Bontemps noted, the Portland Trail Blazers are ninth in the West with a 29-37 record and .439 winning percentage. Both the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings are behind them at 28-36 (.438).
Portland played two more games than each and went 1-1, thus giving it a higher winning percentage. Because of that, the Pels and Kings must have a better record than the Blazers in Orlando to pass them, since a tie would go to Portland and its better winning percentage.
The Blazers are 3.5 games behind the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies, which would be good enough for a play-in series. The Pelicans and Kings are also 3.5 games behind the Grizz, while the San Antonio Spurs are four games back.
In the East, the only team outside the top eight that got invited to Orlando was the Washington Wizards. The Wizards are 5.5 games behind the eighth-place Orlando Magic, so they have work to do to force a play-in series.
Regarding the battle for the No. 1 seed in each conference, the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers have significant advantages. The Bucks are 6.5 games up on the second-place Toronto Raptors in the East, while the Lakers lead the second-place Los Angeles Clippers by 5.5 games out West.