Over the summer, NBA commissioner Adam Silver officially announced the inaugural In-Season Tournament, beginning with the 2023-2024 NBA season. Fans speculated at the end of last season that a tournament would be created. But since Silver’s official announcement, it left players and fans wanting clarification about how it works.
Let me break it down for you.
How will the tournament be structured?
The In-Season Tournament consists of two stages: Group Play and the Knockout Rounds.
The Group Play games have finished, taking place throughout November.
We have now advanced to the Knockout Rounds with eight teams — the six group winners and two wild card teams. Wild card teams were chosen by determinating which team had the best record in Group Play games as well as finished second in its group. The rounds will be single-elimination.
The Knockout Round will begin Dec. 4-5 with the Quarterfinals. The winning teams will move on to the semifinals Dec. 7 with the championship being Dec. 9 — both in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The fascinating part about the Knockout Round is that the first and second-round games will count as regular season games for all purposes, but the championship will not. This means it wouldn't go towards a team's regular season record or on a player or team's statistics.
The championship game’s host site is in Las Vegas, with the winning team earning the NBA Cup and its players earning $500,000 each. There will also be a Most Valuable Player award for the in-season tournament and an all-tournament team.
Why did the NBA add the tournament?
Silver has been eager to put this tournament into place for years, aiming to create more revenue and make the league more competitive to draw viewers' attention. Silver has also been captivated by the format within European soccer.
During the NBA regular season, fans feel players slack off, making the games less entertaining. With the middle of the season being a rather unenergetic part of the NBA season, the tournament has already changed the league's relevancy during this time of year as gameplay has become more competitive.
We are now entering the peak of the tournament, and it is giving fans a glimpse of what the playoffs may look like this season. Typically, during this time, we would see star players taking off games for “load management.” But now, since the tournament has picked up, we can watch the all-stars perform.
Since the announcement of the Tournament, many loyal NBA fans have had concerns about whether the tournament is neccesary or not. But now, since the tournament began, the rise of concerns about the specific courts that are played on during the tournament games have been brought up by both players and fans.
The NBA opted against traditional hardwood surfaces, selecting to use a loud painted look that each team uses for its home games. The courts have caused backlash from the players, claiming that the courts are sleeker and slippery.
Hate or love the In-Season Tournament, and it’s most likely here to stay for the future, as it already has 55% more viewership on ESPN, perhaps owed to the tournament’s success at increasing competitiveness and entertainment value.