Why NBA introduced an in-season tournament? Exploring the reasons for the inaugural competition

The NBA is introducing an in-season tournament, taking a cue from European soccer. Details of the subsequent tournament which will occur next season were revealed by the NBA last Saturday. The league hopes to gain as much attention and distinction for its games as soccer’s Copa del Rey in Spain and FA Cup in England have so far.

All the teams will compete in group play and knockout rounds in the in-season competition, a brand-new addition to the league, until a champion is determined. 

Why NBA is launching an in-season tournament?

In order to “engage fans in a new way, establish another competition to win, and increase interest in the early portion of the regular-season schedule,” the NBA set out to start the new competition. The first phase is to gain support from the players, teams, and supporters; the victor will take home the NBA Cup.

“By creating that win-or-go-home energy, which we see in other sports driving significant levels of competition, we think there’s an element there that’s beneficial,” Evan Wasch, the NBA’s senior vice president of basketball strategy and analytics declared.

He further added, “Ultimately, NBA players are among the most competitive people on the planet when you put them in these single-elimination situations, in these special environments with that look and feel, with this prize money, with these recognitions on the line, we think the rest will do itself.”

“But it also has to be collaborative and collective conversation among teams and players, which it has been that if we want to buy into this and build it into something significant,” he continued.

In-season tournament format, rules, fixtures

The in-season tournament starting with the 2023–24 season, is a brand-new annual competition that will include all 30 teams. The NBA has been debating this issue for years, and it finally seems to have materialized.

The competition consists of 67 games, and each one will have an impact on a team’s regular-season record. Round-robin group play is first, followed by single-elimination quarterfinals, semifinals, and championship games for the remaining eight teams. The groups are divided into two Conferences as such.

Eastern Conference

East Group A: Cleveland Cavaliers; Philadelphia 76ers; Atlanta Hawks; Detroit Pistons; Indiana Pacers.

East Group B: New York Knicks; Milwaukee Bucks; Miami Heat; Washington Wizards; Charlotte Hornets.

East Group C: Brooklyn Nets; Boston Celtics; Toronto Raptors; Chicago Bulls; Orlando Magic.

Western Conference

West Group A: Phoenix Suns; Memphis Grizzlies; LA Lakers; Portland Trail Blazers; Utah Jazz.

West Group B: Dallas Mavericks; Houston Rockets; New Orleans Pelicans; LA Clippers; Denver Nuggets.

West Group C: Oklahoma City Thunder; Golden State Warriors; San Antonio Spurs; Sacramento Kings; Minnesota Timberwolves.

in-season tournament

Each conference then will be further divided into three groupings of five teams. In a random draw from these five pots, the groupings were chosen based on the teams’ regular-season records in 2022–2023

Pot 1:- The Clubs with the three most promising preliminary-season records in a conference.

Pot 2:- The Clubs with the 4th-through-6th-most promising preliminary-season records.

Pot 3:- The Clubs with the seventh-through-ninth-most promising preliminary-season records.

Pot 4:- The Clubs with the tenth-through-twelfth-most promising preliminary-season records.

Pot 5:- The Clubs with the thirteenth-through-fifteenth-most promising preliminary-season records. All contests, excluding the semifinal and championship games, will take place in NBA markets.

Players on teams that advance past the quarterfinals and win the NBA Cup will also receive additional financial rewards of $500K for each player on the champion team, $200K for each player on the runner-up team, $100K for each player on the losing semifinals team, and $50K for each player on a team that falls short in the quarterfinals of the in-season tournament.

What is your take on this new tournament? Share with us in the comments!

Kushal Shinde

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