The NBA is always looking for new ways to keep things fresh and maintain high levels of engagement amongst fans throughout the world.
The inclusion of the play-in tournament — which gives the No. 7 through No. 10 seeds in both conferences a chance to battle for playoff bids — has been a major hit with fans. Now, it looks like a new format will be added to the NBA’s regular season, and it could occur as soon as next season.
According to a report, an in-season tournament is on the way as part of the new collective bargaining agreement.
“The in-season tournament could arrive as soon as the 2023-24 season,” Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN wrote. “The event will include pool-play games baked into the regular-season schedule starting in November — with eight teams advancing to a single-elimination tournament in December. The Final Four will be held at a neutral site, with Las Vegas prominent in the discussion, sources said.”
Most likely, one of the first concerns that players and fans alike will consider regarding the in-season tourney is workload. Already, it seems like a lot of players — especially stars — have to take pretty serious measures to deal with the major physical toll that comes with playing a full NBA season.
Luckily, it looks like the midseason tournament won’t change much in terms of workload. According to the report, the tournament will count toward each team’s regular season record, and the two finalists in the tourney will only end up playing one extra regular season game, giving them 83 games in total.
“Each in-season tournament game would count toward regular-season standings; the two finalists would ultimately play 83 regular-season games,” Wojnarowski added. “Winning players and coaches will earn additional prize money.”
Prize money for the championship team of the NBA's In-Season Tournament beginning in 2023-24 season: $500,000 per player, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 1, 2023
It seems like the NBA is trying to attract the kind of midseason interest that soccer leagues across Europe are able to garner thanks to their numerous midseason tournaments. By creating a new tournament, it looks like the NBA is hoping that there will be more for fans and experts to talk and get excited about well before the playoffs begin.
This has likely become an even greater goal for the league since interest in its annual All-Star Weekend has seemingly waned in recent years. While the league’s All-Star festivities used to get countless fans excited, some folks have stopped paying attention.
The in-season tournament will surely garner a fair bit of interest in its inaugural season. It’ll be interesting to see if that remains true in the years that follow.