What NBA In-Season Tournament means for Warriors, Kings

The inaugural in-season tournament kicked off Nov. 3

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The NBA's addition of an in-season tournament has been teased for a while. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has looked to bring a cup-style competition usually seen in Europe for quite some time.

And now it's officially arrived for the 2023-24 campaign as all 30 teams will participate for the chance to win the first ever NBA Cup, which will be awarded to the tournament's victor, along with cash prizes.

So, here's what to know about the rules, format, groups and more of the 2023 NBA in-season tournament:

What is the NBA in-season tournament?

The in-season tournament is a brand-new addition to the league that will see all 30 teams compete in group-play and knockout-round action until one winner is crowned.

All teams were randomly drawn into groups of five comprising teams within their conference, with three groups per.

Games will be played over the course of a month in late 2023, and a trophy and prize pool is on the line. The prize pool allocations to players will increase the further they progress in the tournament.

What dates will the 2023 NBA in-season tournament be held from?

The tournament began on Friday, Nov. 3 and will run until the championship game on Saturday, Dec. 9, which will be held in Las Vegas. The semifinals, slated for Thursday, Dec. 7, will also be played in Sin City.

What are the groups for the 2023 NBA in-season tournament?

All 30 teams were randomly divided into groups of five within their conference. Here's how the league sorted that.

  • Pot 1: The teams with the three best prior-season records in a conference
  • Pot 2: The teams with the fourth- through sixth-best prior-season records
  • Pot 3: The teams with the seventh- through ninth-best prior-season records
  • Pot 4: The teams with the 10th-through 12th-best prior-season records
  • Pot 5: The teams with the 13th-through 15th-best prior-season records

And here are the six groups in total, with three stemming from each conference.

The Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings wound up in the same group, which features three other teams that did not make the playoffs in 2022-23:

  • West Group A: Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers
  • West Group B: Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets
  • West Group C: Kings, Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs
  • East Group A: Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons
  • East Group B: Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Charlotte Hornets
  • East Group C: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic

What is the format for the 2023 NBA in-season tournament?

With the dates and groups set, here's what to know about the formatting.

Group play will run from Friday, Nov. 3 to Tuesday, Nov. 28, and all group games will only occur on Tuesdays and Fridays (except Election Day). These days will be known as "Tournament Nights." The only NBA games played on these nights are tournament games, and they count towards the 82-game regular-season total.

Each team will play the other four group members once, with two games at home and two on the road. A team's record after the four games will determine if they will advance to the knockout rounds, and these tiebreakers could come into play:

  • Head-to-head record in the group stage
  • Point differential in the group stage
  • Total points scored in the group stage
  • Regular season record from the 2022-23 NBA regular season
  • Random drawing (in the unlikely scenario that two or more teams are still tied following the previous tiebreakers)

Eight teams will advance to the knockout rounds: the six group winners and one "wild card" team from each conference. The wild card team will be determined by who had the best group stage record that did not finish first. The tiebreakers may also come into play here.

From there, all knockout games will be single-game elimination. The quarterfinals (Dec. 4-5) and semifinals (Dec. 7) will count towards the 82-game total in the regular season, though the championship game will not (all 22 teams not playing in the knockout rounds will play two regular-season games on Dec. 6 and 8). That also means championship game stats will not count toward the regular season, either.

The teams with the better group stage records will host the worst, similar to how NBA playoff seeding works when the No. 1 and No. 8 seeds face off and No. 3 vs. No. 6, for example.

Up until the title game, all teams will only play against teams in their conference until an East vs. West showdown transpires in the championship game, just like the NBA Finals.

What does the winner of the 2023 NBA in-season tournament get?

Players will take home an extra $500,000 for winning the NBA Cup, while the losing team will receive $200,000 each. The semifinal losers will collect $100,000 each and the quarterfinal losers $50,000.

The league will also announce a Most Valuable Player for the tournament and an All-Tournament team. Both will be based on group-play and knockout-round performances.

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