We’ve been hearing for some time now that the NBA has been interested in adding an in-season tournament, and now it’s officially going to be introduced for 2023-24.
Basically, the tournament will start on Nov. 3 and finish with the championship game on Dec. 9. The tournament will begin with group play, where teams are split up into five groups to play their initial matchups on Tuesdays and Fridays in November. Teams play the other opponents in their group once. After the group stage, the team with the best record in each group and one wildcard from each conference (the team with the next-best record) advances. From then on, it’s single game knockout, and the semi-final and championship games will be played in Las Vegas.
All tournament games will be standard regular season games, except the results will count towards both regular season standings and progress towards the cup.
This is quite a change for the league and will probably take some getting used to, so I’m just going to share the video explanation to run through how everything works:
NBA IN-SEASON TOURNAMENT EXPLAINED— NBA (@NBA) July 8, 2023
Starting Nov. 3, all 30 teams will compete for the NBA Cup with 8 teams advancing into the knockout rounds! The tournament semis and championship game will be held in Las Vegas, Dec. 7 and 9! pic.twitter.com/NZdURUa3XR
We know the six groups as well.
The Cavs will be a tough challenger for the Sixers, but otherwise their group consisting of the Hawks, Pacers and Pistons isn’t too bad.
Credit to the NBA for being creative and experimenting. The regular season is long and the NBA Cup does add something new to the 82-game schedule we’ve been used to forever.
But how many players will really care about this? It doesn’t carry much weight as something that’s only just been introduced and without other major incentives on the line, I’m not sure we can expect players to be any more amped up for these tournament games. Or that they’ll make sure they’re available in November/December when they might have otherwise had a rest day just to play in a tournament game. Or ultimately that the atmosphere will actually feel that different from a standard regular season game.
Hopefully when this in-season tournament rolls around, there’s some level of excitement around the new concept, and it actually adds a fun (albeit insignificant) wrinkle to the end of the calendar year. But until we see this unfold, I’m not convinced the tournament is going to add much to the regular season.
I guess we’ll find out in a few months time.