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NBA Releases In-Season Tournament Groups; Wolves to Play Curry, Wembanyama and More

The debut of the NBA’s In-Season Tournament will take place in 2023-24, and the Minnesota Timberwolves landed in the Western Conference’s solid Group C.

2023 NBA Summer League All-Access Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

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.

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?