NBA In-Season Tournament makes it's debut for 2023-24 Season

The NBA announced Saturday the specifics of its inaugural in-season tournament, which will feature a prize pool of around $18 million and will culminate in a championship game — which will not count in the standings — in Las Vegas on Dec. 9. Giving clubs a trophy to play for during the regular season is something NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has desired for years.

NBA In-season tournament Group Draw Results. NBA announced inaugural in-season tournament.
NBA In-season Tournament Group Draw Results (Credit - NBA)

The competition will be divided into two stages: group play including each franchise and a knockout stage when the field is reduced to only eight teams. The group stage games will be played on Tuesdays and Fridays in November, with the NBA dividing teams into six groups of five teams each, divided by conference. The champions of each group, as well as the second-place team with the best record in each conference, will advance to the next round. The quarterfinals will be played on December 4 and 5 in each team's home arena, followed by the semifinals on December 7 and the championship on December 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The concept is similar to major international football competitions, and it is the league's approach of presenting a new title that it believes will have some significance among all of its components.

“We think this is a unique opportunity to create a second championship, create a tradition that serves as a legacy builder for teams and players,” Evan Wasch, the NBA’s EVP of basketball strategy and analytics, said. “Something that teams can chase early in the season. Something for fans to celebrate. When we look back at players’ careers and resumes over time we can build on their performance in the in-season tournament, along with all the other accolades that NBA players achieve.

The league will divide the 15 clubs in each conference into three groups based on a random selection. The teams with the three best conference records during the 2022-23 season will be placed in one pot, the next three best teams in another, and so on, with one team from each pot ending up in each group. Four group games will be played.

The groups have already been revealed: Grizzlies, Suns, Lakers, Jazz, and Blazers in Group A in the West; Nuggets, Clippers, Pelicans, Mavericks, and Rockets in Group B; Kings, Warriors, Timberwolves, Thunder, and Spurs in Group C; 76ers, Cavaliers, Hawks, Pacers, Pistons in Group A in the East; Bucks, Knicks, Heat, Wizards, Hornets in Group B; Celtics, Nets, Raptors, Bulls, Magic in Group C.

The lost quarterfinalists will face each other on the semi-finals night. All of those games will also count towards the regular season. At least 24 clubs are certain to play the standard 41 home games, while two to four teams will only play 40, and zero to two teams might play 42.

The NBA Cup will be awarded to the team that wins the tournament. Each player on the winning team will get $500,000; each player on the second-place team will receive $200,000; each player on the losing semi-finals team will receive $100,000; and each quarterfinalist will receive $50,000. Those amounts will rise in proportion to BRI growth each season.

In April, commissioner Adam Silver mentioned the in-season event, comparing it to Europe's cup tournaments, which run concurrently with each league's season. Those, on the other hand, pit teams from various domestic leagues against one other or, in the case of the Europa League and the coveted Champions League, are made up of clubs from all around Europe.

Cover Credit - NBA

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