On Sunday, the NBA announced that there will be an in-season tournament for the 2023-24 season without increasing the number of regular season games.
In this tournament, all 30 NBA teams are placed into six different five-team pools by conference. Four games in the regular season (two home, two away) will also be classified as tournament games from Nov. 3 to Nov. 28 on Tuesdays and Fridays. The tournament's top eight teams will participate in the in-season tournament playoffs. The semifinals will be on Dec. 7 and the final on Dec. 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
If the team makes the knockout round, players will earn a bonus of $50,000 each. The bonuses can be as high as $500,000 if the players are on the team who wins the championship.
Why have an in-season tournament?
The NBA has become concerned about teams, particularly the most and least talented teams, not putting forth a good-faith effort during the regular season, especially early on. The best teams would regularly rest a superstar player or two when they play a team that is clearly going to the lottery. And rebuilding teams may take their rebuilding strategies to an extreme, like the Philadelphia 76ers during the early 2010s.
The tournament is designed to incentivize teams at these extremes to put forth a better effort and make the regular season count more. The NBA in-season tournament is modeled after the WNBA’s Commissioner’s Cup, their in-season tournament and national cups that many European soccer leagues have.
How does this work with the Wizards?
The Wizards are in Eastern Conference Group B with the Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets. The five teams were pooled based on their regular season standings within the conference so they would include a combination of high, mid and low performing teams from last season.
Given how this pool worked out, it includes the NBA’s best regular season team in the Bucks, the Eastern Conference playoff champion Heat, and Eastern Conference semifinalist Knicks, let’s say that this is the “Group of Death.” I don’t expect the Wizards to do much in this in-season tournament, even in today’s era of “load management,”
What is the schedule?
According to the NBA, the Wizards’ games will include:
- Game No. 1: away vs. the Bucks
- Game No. 2: away vs. the Heat
- Game No. 3: home vs. the Knicks
- Game No. 4: home vs. the Hornets
Dates and times of the games are to be determined. The NBA regular season schedule will be released later this summer, typically in August.
This feels like salt being poured on the wound, given that the road games are against the Bucks and Heat. But to put this into more detail, the Wizards were the 4th seed or a “Pot 4” team based on last year’s regular season standings. Their home games will be against the Pot 2 and Pot 5 teams and the road games will be against the Pot 1 and Pot 3 teams.
Let us know your thoughts about the Wizards’ in-season tournament draw in the comments below.