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The Quest for the NBA Cup Is On

Last Updated: November 2, 2023
The first-ever NBA in-season tournament will debut next season, and we finally have the details, from dates to format and prize money.

After years of speculation, a soccer-style in-season tournament is coming to the NBA for the 2023-24 season, the league announced at NBA Con in Las Vegas in July.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was on-hand to make the announcement live on ESPN alongside Victor Wembanyama, Paolo Banchero, Cade Cunningham, Anthony Edwards, and Trae Young. All 30 teams will compete for the NBA Cup in November and December, with the semifinals and finals taking place Dec. 7 and 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

NBA In-Season Tournament Dates

Between Nov. 3 and 28, all 30 teams will play four tournament group stage games on designated tournament nights. Each team will play two games at home and two on the road, counting toward the regular season standings. Those games will take place every Tuesday and Friday in November, with the exception being Election Day on Nov. 7. Only tournament games will be played on those days.

Teams have been divided into six groups of five, which we’ll get to shortly. Those six group winners and two wild cards will advance to the quarterfinals, played in home arenas on Dec. 4 and 5. Quarterfinal winners will then head to Las Vegas, with each match again counting toward the regular season standings, except for the title game. The 22 teams left out of quarterfinal play will have games on Dec. 6 and 8 based on the overall group stage standings.

14 group stage matches, two on each tournament night, will air nationally, as will all seven knockout stage matches. The NBA will release its full schedule in August.

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Group Selection

The 15 teams in each conference were divided into three groups of five, picked out from five pots based on the order of last year’s regular season standings.

Eastern Conference

  • Pot One: Milwaukee, Boston, Philadelphia
  • Pot Two: Cleveland, New York, Brooklyn
  • Pot Three: Atlanta, Miami, Toronto
  • Pot Four: Chicago, Indiana, Washington
  • Pot Five: Orlando, Charlotte, Detroit

Western Conference

  • Pot One: Denver, Memphis, Sacramento
  • Pot Two: Phoenix, L.A. Clippers, Golden State
  • Pot Three: L.A. Lakers, Minnesota, New Orleans
  • Pot Four: Oklahoma City, Dallas, Utah
  • Pot Five: Portland, Houston, San Antonio

Here’s how the draw shook out:

East Group A: Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, Indiana, Detroit

East Group B: Milwaukee, New York, Miami, Washington, Charlotte

East Group C: Boston, Brooklyn, Toronto, Chicago, Orlando

West Group A: Memphis, Phoenix, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah, Portland

West Group B: Denver, Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston

West Group C: Sacramento, Golden State, Minnesota, Oklahoma City, San Antonio

Tiebreakers

If two or more teams are tied in each group after the four group stage games, here are the tiebreakers for both group winners and wild card teams:

  • Head-to-head record
  • Point differential
  • Total points scored
  • 2022-23 regular season record
  • If teams are still tied after that, the tie will be broken by a random drawing.
@boardroom Each player on the winning team of the NBA’s In-Season Tournament will receive $500,000, with players on the runner-up receiving $250,000 each. For teams that make it to the the semifinals and lose, players will receive $100,000 each with all players on the eight teams who make it to the knockout round, being guaranteed at least $50,000 each. #nba ♬ original sound – Boardroom

The Prize Pool

There’s going to be an In-Season Tournament prize pool that players from the eight teams that reach the knockout stage will split. The totals increase based on how far those teams advance. As of Nov. 1, the proposed prize money shakes out as follows:

  • Winner: $500,000 per player
  • Runner-up: $200,000 per player
  • Semifinals loser: $100,000 per player
  • Quarterfinals loser: $50,000 per player

At the end of the tournament, the league will name an MVP and an all-tournament team.

Buckle up, because November NBA hoops will never be the same again as the league’s best battle for the coveted NBA Cup trophy.

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About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.