The details of the tirelessly speculated NBA In-Season Tournament have finally been released.
During a high-profile week of Summer League games, the NBA revealed World Cup-esque groupings of teams from each conference that will serve as pool play for the tournament.
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
Western Conference Groups
Group A: Memphis, Phoenix, LA Lakers, Utah, Portland
Group B: Denver, LA Clippers, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston
Group C: Sacramento, Golden State, Minnesota, Oklahoma City, San Antonio
Eastern Conference Groups
Group A: Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, Indiana, Detroit
Group B: Milwaukee, New York, Miami, Washington, Charlotte
Group C: Boston, Brooklyn, Toronto, Chicago, Orlando
Each team will play their group once through beginning Nov. 3. The winners of each group and two wild card teams will advance to the single-elimination bracket play, culminating in semifinals and finals located in Las Vegas Dec. 7 and 9.
So how do we feel about the Wolves’ draw? Group C in the West turned out to be pretty favorable for Minnesota, all things considered. They landed with Sacramento and Golden State as fellow 2022-23 playoff teams, and Minnesota went 5-3 against them combined last season. Oklahoma City is a rising young team that the Wolves match up well against, and San Antonio will be riding Victor Wembanyama waves in the early weeks of the season (though we can’t count out Pop’s squad if the Wolves decide not to show up seriously).
The tangible motivation to deliberately succeed at this tournament format comes in the form of cash. Players could receive between $50,000 and $500,000 in bonuses depending on how far their team advances in the tournament. We’ll also see awards handed out: a tournament MVP and all-tournament team will be delivered following the event. Can’t wait to see the betting lines there!
The “NBA Cup” — we couldn’t think of a more creative name for the trophy? Maybe name it after the best regular season player ever; there’s a fun debate — should be something we celebrate as an avenue for better day-to-day competition in the throes of the regular season. Ultimately, how we view the new venture is mostly up to us. It’s only as good as the interest fans display in the experiment, and there’s a lot riding on the extra money motivating the players and management to put their best on the floor every night.
A little March Madness meets World Cup should add some spice to the early winter chills of load management. One fun wrinkle I’d like to see in future years? The winner of the tournament receives an extra first-round pick in the following year’s draft. What kind of reward would hypothetically make this game within a game worth pursuing for you?