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The NBA has taken the plunge. Here’s our full In Season Tournament Explainer


NBA in season tournament

The league has finally bit the bullet – we’ve got an NBA in season tournament.

We’ve been hearing about the possibility of it for years now, and in the 2023/24 season it will finally come to fruition, as the NBA has announced the inaugural event.

League commissioner Adam Silver, who is mostly celebrated for his handling of situations within the NBA, has divided the basketball community on this one; introducing an in season tournament similar to ones currently held inside the NCAA’s basketball competition.

This season, all 30 teams will be expected to fight it out for the inaugural NBA Cup from November 3 to December 9; the Final held on that date in Las Vegas.

NBA in season tournament, Adam Silver
Commissioner Adam Silver has helped pull together an NBA in season tournament.

The full schedule has not yet been released for the NBA in season tournament, but the group stage has been formatted — three pools in each of the two conferences.

It’s expected to be a start to the season like no other, with regular season games still the focus through the first two months of the season; designated ‘Tournament Nights’ will be sprinkled throughout. It will also be one of the first opportunities to watch some of the game’s biggest stars in their new teams.

With plenty of questions running through the minds of many basketball fans, here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming NBA in season tournament.

What is the NBA in season tournament?

Let’s start off simple.

The NBA in season tournament is a new initiative from the league to create more excitement through the regular season by adding more meaning to their outcomes.

In the 2023/24 season, all 30 NBA teams will compete for the inaugural NBA Cup, that the league believes will provide players and teams with more meaningful competition and engage fans in a new way.

Usually the interest at the start of the regular season is all off the back of hope from fans that their franchise can turn things around and begin on the right foot. But with the NBA in season tournament, it will drive additional interest in that early portion of the season’s schedule.

When does the NBA in season tournament start?

November 3 to December 9, 2023

It will be a jam-packed start to the 2023/24 season with regular games and NBA in season tournament matches filling the calendar.

The inaugural in season tournament will tip off November 3 (Nov 4 in Australia), with the championship game for the NBA Cup to be held at Las Vegas’s T-Mobile Arena on December 9 (Dec 10 in Australia).

The way the tournament is laid out consists of two stages – group play and knockout rounds. Group play will run from opening night to November 28 with the knockout rounds to resume from early December.

How does the NBA in season tournament work?

In early July, the NBA held a in season tournament launch to promote the upcoming event and explain how it will work and where each team will play in the group stage. All 30 teams are divided in six groups of five teams – three groups of western conference teams and three eastern conference groups.

‘Group Play’ is the initial stage, with so called ‘Tournament Nights’ to take place every Tuesday and Friday from November 3 to November 28 — Wednesday and Saturday for Australian-based viewers.

Within each group, every team will play each other once – two games at home and two away – which will dictate a ladder out of the match outcomes.

These matches will also count towards the regular season standings.

NBA in season tournament
The NBA in season tournament will elevate regular season games featuring the league’s biggest stars.

Following the ‘Group Play’ is the Knockout rounds; the winners of each group progressing through to this stage, along with one wild card from each conference.

The highest ranked teams from each conference will play the wild card in the quarter-finals, whilst the other two group winners will take on each other. From there, it’s all knockout — with the semi-finals and championship game to be held in Las Vegas. The final match is the only game that won’t go towards the regular season standings.

After all of this, one team will be crowned the inaugural champions of the NBA in season tournament and given the NBA Cup.

What’s at stake in the NBA in season tournament?

The entire tournament leads to Las Vegas for the championship game where two teams will battle it out for the inaugural NBA Cup.

There will also be league honours on the line as at the conclusion of the tournament; a most valuable player for the in season tournament will be named along with an All-Tournament team being announced.

For players who are in teams that have earned a trip to the knockout stage, there will be a prize pool given to those participants from the NBA.

Highest paid athletes, NBA in season tournament
More silverware up for grabs in the NBA in season tournament | Champions, Golden State, 2021-22

What are the groups for the NBA in season tournament?

Western Conference

West Group AWest Group BWest Group C
Memphis GrizzliesDenver NuggetsSacramento Kings
Phoenix SunsLA ClippersGolden State Warriors
L.A. LakersNew Orleans PelicansMinnesota Timberwolves
Utah JazzDallas MavericksOklahoma City Thunder
Portland Trail BlazersHouston RocketsSan Antonio Spurs


Eastern Conference

East Group AEast Group BEast Group C
Philadelphia 76ersMilwaukee BucksBoston Celtics
Cleveland CavaliersNew York KnicksBrooklyn Nets
Atlanta HawksMiami HeatToronto Raptors
Indiana PacersWashington WizardsChicago Bulls
Detroit PistonsCharlotte HornetsOrlando Magic


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