Philadelphia 76ers: In-Season Tournament bracket

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The 2023-24 NBA season will feature a new twist in the form of an In-season Tournament where teams will compete for the inaugural NBA Cup. The tournament, with its origins stemming from international soccer, will have six groupings of five teams who will each play the other teams in their group once during November. The round-robin winner of the six groups and the next two teams with the best overall records will advance to the quarterfinals in December.

Can the Sixers hoist the inaugural NBA Cup?

The six first-round groupings were created based on ranges of the team’s regular season records from last season. The 15-team Conferences were divided into three team seedings (1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12, and 13-15), with one team from each of these record pairings aggregating to form the five-team group. In the Sixers group, East Group A, are the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, and Detroit Pistons.

With the Sixers having finished in the top three of the Eastern Conference last season, they are the highest seed in their grouping and theoretically should be the representative to advance to the quarterfinals. The only potential threat is the Cavs and even then the Sixers should still be able to go at least 3-1 against their tournament group.

With the idea of an In-season Tournament now a reality, many fans and players alike wonder how motivated the teams will be to try and win the NBA Cup. Clearly, the NBA Cup is a far cry from the Larry O’Brien trophy, so what incentive will organizations have in aggressively pursuing a new trophy at the beginning of a long NBA season?

Can I interest you in a monetary prize?

That is what the NBA believes will motivate the players to compete at a high level in November and December. The players on the winning team will each receive $500,000. This may not seem like a motivating amount of money for star players receiving $30+ million per year, but that amount would be substantial for many players on NBA rosters. Additionally, players on the second-place team will each receive $200,000; players on the semifinals losing teams will get $100,000; and players on quarterfinalist teams will receive $50,000 each.

An In-season Tournament in its’ first year may not be as exciting as the NBA hopes, but in a few years who knows? The play-in tournament for the playoffs was initially dismissed, yet two Conference semifinalists this past season were from that play-in tournament and now it creates a lot of drama. Only time will tell the success of this new initiative, but money is the best incentive to try and speed up the competitiveness of these games.