This summer, the NBA In-Season Tournament was announced by ESPN reporter Adrian “Woj” Wojnarowski the day before NBA Summer League began. The format, which was revealed two days after the announcement, is similar to the cup system used in European leagues and the WNBA Commissioner’s Cup. Last October, in a roundtable meeting with NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, he was asked how he got the players on board with a tournament in the middle of the first half of the season.
He would go on to say that, “so many of our international players were advocates of it because they played in systems where you played for multiple cups throughout the year. [International players] were helpful in talking to their teammates [of their respective teams] that weren’t necessarily exposed to [the] cup system or the benefits of it.”
That did not stop some players (and some fans) from still being confused by how this tournament works. The tourney started this week and Clippers guard Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland said in a postgame presser that he doesn’t “even know what’s going on” and he “doesn’t know how it works” and “was looking at the schedule and saw a trophy next to one of the games.” The league has tried to answer the frequently asked questions on their website, but in case there is still confusion, here is all you need to know about the NBA’s regular season tournament.
What is the In-Season Tournament and how long does the tournament last?
It is a four week tournament in the month of November. All the games will be played on Tuesdays and Fridays. According to the NBA website, the purpose of the tournament is to “provide players and teams with another competition to win, engage with fans in a new way, and drive additional interest” in the early part of the season.
What is Group Play? How were the groups selected?
The teams were randomly drawn based on their win-loss record from the previous season. The teams are in groups of five and each team will play four Group Play “Tournament Night” games against each team in their group – one game against each team.
Where will the teams compete? Are these games part of the regular season schedule?
All thirty teams are competing in their respective markets, two home games and two away games. The home team will wear their City Edition uniforms which are in conjunction with a special edition “Tournament” court. The Group Play games and the other stages minus the championship game all count towards the eighty-two game regular standing the NBA already has in place.
What happens after Group Play?
The teams with the best record after the four games then move on to the knockout round. Eight teams advance, the teams with the best record out of the six groups and two wildcards. The wildcard teams are two teams, one from each conference, that had the second best record in its group. The knockout games are single elimination and will be played Dec. 4-5 in their respective team markets. The teams that advance to the semifinals on Dec. 7 and the championship game on Dec. 9 will play at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The teams that don’t advance in the tournament will play two games on non tournament days and continue their regular season schedules.
Is there a trophy like if you win the Finals?
Yes, there actually is a trophy. It is called the NBA Cup, similar to the cups you would win in an international league tournament. The participants that make it to the knockout rounds also receive bonuses. The players of the winning team will each receive $500,000 and each player on the second-place teams receives $200,000. The teams that lose the semifinals receive $100,000 and the players who lose in the quarterfinals receive $50,000. The head coach will also receive the same amount of money as the players of their respective teams and the assistant coaches will share an additional pool that will be seventy-five percent of the coach’s earnings.
What is the Mavericks schedule? Have they already played?
Yes, the Dallas Mavericks were defeated by the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets 114-125 in their first In Season Tournament game on Nov. 3. The remaining three games are a home game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the American Airlines Center on Nov. 10, then at Smoothie King Arena in New Orleans to face the Pelicans on Nov. 14, and another home game against the Houston Rockets on Nov. 28. Check your local listings for times.
As a league trying to keep up with the progression of the game on a global scale, the results of the In Season Tournament will definitely be interesting to witness and maybe we will all learn the rules and format for the second In Game Tournament next season.
Follow Rashad Miller on all social media @theuncoolurban for more sports content as well as his Youtube channel under the same name.