The NBA has established the rules, dates and format of its inaugural In-Season Tournament, set to tip off Nov. 3 and finish with the Championship on Dec. 9 this upcoming season.
Following the style of international soccer competitions such as the World Cup, the In-Season Tournament features two stages: Group Play and the Knockout Rounds. For Group Play, all 30 teams have been randomly drawn into six groups of five within their conference based on won-loss records from the 2022-23 regular season.
The Portland Trail Blazers have been drawn to play in arguably the toughest group of the West, and maybe the entire tournament. In West Group A, Portland will face the star-studded Phoenix Suns, 2023 Western Conference Runner-Up Los Angeles Lakers, talented Memphis Grizzlies and pesky Utah Jazz.
Here’s a look at the rest of the groups:
Nov. 3 through Nov. 28, each team will play four designated Group Play games on “Tournament Nights,” which will take place on Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the month. Teams will play each opponent in their respective groups once, with two home games and two road games.
Eight teams will advance to the Knockout Rounds: the team with the best record in each group, along with two “wild cards” — the team from each conference with the best record in Group Play games that finished second in its group. The Knockout Rounds will be single-elimination games, with the qualifying teams competing for a prize pool and the new In-Season Tournament trophy, the NBA Cup. The Quarterfinals will take place on Dec. 4 and Dec. 5, and be played in NBA team markets. The Semifinals on Dec. 7 and the Championship on Dec. 9 will take place in Las Vegas.
All games across both stages of the In-Season Tournament will count toward the regular-season standings, except the Championship, and all games in both stages will be included in the 82-game regular-season schedule.
According to the NBA’s official press release, prizes and awards for the tournament will include an allocated prize pool and All-Tournament Team selections.
For the 2023-24 season, the In-Season Tournament prize pool will be allocated to the players on the teams that participate in the Knockout Rounds, with allocations increasing depending on how far a team progresses in the tournament.
At the conclusion of the In-Season Tournament, the NBA will name the Most Valuable Player of the competition and the All-Tournament Team. Selection will be based on the players’ performance in both Group Play and the Knockout Rounds.
If you still find yourself still confused about the tournament structure, here’s an explanation from former NBA player and current media member Richard Jefferson. Take it away, Rich!
For all the details released so far, you can read the full NBA press release about the tournament here.