The 2023-24 NBA season will be a different campaign than the traditional regular season we have grown accustomed to. In an effort to make the regular season more marketable, the NBA has decided to implement the inaugural In-Season Tournament.
The tournament will start on Friday, Nov. 3, and finish with the championship game on Saturday, Dec. 9. The semifinals and the final will take place in Las Vegas.
The tournament will consist of two stages: group play and the knockout rounds. 30 teams have been randomly separated into 6 groups of 5 teams. Each team will play the other four teams in their group. The winner of each group plus one wildcard team (that has the best record among the second-placed teams) will qualify for the quarterfinals.
Who are in the Wizards’ group?
In the group stage, the Washington Wizards will compete in East Group B with the Charlotte Hornets, the New York Knicks, the Miami Heat, and the Milwaukee Bucks.
This is a tough group for the Wizards as they will go up against two championship contenders in Miami and Milwaukee as well as a solid playoff team in New York. Although it’s unlikely for Washington to win the group, it will be an excellent opportunity for the young Wizards to showcase their talents against high-level competition.
When are the knockout rounds?
The winner of this group will qualify for the knockout rounds that will consist of single-elimination games, beginning on Dec. 4-5. The knockout rounds will consist of single-elimination games for the eight teams that advance from Group Play, beginning with the Quarterfinals on Dec. 4-5. Every game except for the championship game will count as part of the 82-game regular season.
What happens if you don’t make it to the knockout rounds?
The 22 teams that get eliminated in the group stage will continue to play regular-season games during the week of the knockout rounds.
What’s the prize?
The 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.
Here’s a breakdown:
Players on a team that loses in the quarterfinals: $50,000
Players on a team that loses in the semifinals: $100,000
Players on a team that loses in the championship: $200,000
Players on a team that wins the championship: $500,000
Will this matter?
The fact that the in-season tournament doesn’t add more games to the regular season schedule is a big plus. Yet, the tournament’s success completely hinges on how seriously the star players take it. If teams care about it and want to win, then this will be fun and competitive. Winning the inaugural one should matter, especially for a team like the Wizards who will likely not be a playoff-level team.