When the NBA announced its plans for the new In-Season Tournament, it was met with mixed responses. Every fan was on board with putting more importance on the regular season, which would hopefully make it a better product throughout the entirety of the campaign and cut down on the number of games that superstar players would miss due to rest and load management.
But, there were plenty of dissenters who didn’t believe that the IST was a permanent fix or even a good temporary one.
Some detractors surmised that players still wouldn’t take the tournament games seriously, as they considered the IST just a glorified stretch of regular season games. The NBA’s response to the skepticism was to offer $500,000 to each player on the winning team. Fans still were unconvinced, doubting that a half-million dollars would be enough motivation for superstars that make upwards of $40 million a year.
Questions were raised, memes were made, and jokes were fired off. All-in-all, there was a significant portion of NBA fans that considered the IST dead on arrival, a mockery of competition. But, after the closing of the first round of the knockout games, there doesn’t seem to be much resistance left against the IST.
Instead, it appears that the NBA and its performance in these inaugural tournament games has won over every fan of good basketball.
The IST has been a wild success so far. Even despite the ugly uniforms and distracting matching courts, fans have bought into the tournament and all of the spectacular basketball that has come with it. More importantly, though, it appears that the teams and players have bought into it, which is the primary reason that the fans have bought in in the first place.
Winners of the NBA Cup: $500,000 per player
Team reaches In-season finals: $200,000 per player
Team reaches semifinals: $100,000 per player
Team reaches quarter-finals: $50,000 per player
Now, it’s a matter of how the NBA can make the IST even better. Ideally, all of the group-stage games will be played in a singular stretch of the regular season moving forward. That would make the rankings easier for fans to follow and will better build tension and drama as the league progresses deeper into the group stage.
Another idea would be to expand the tournament. Adding more teams to the single elimination rounds will only make the event more entertaining and on a larger scale.
The league could also add another prize for the winning team to further boost incentives for the participants and the fans. A popular idea that’s been floated around is awarding the winning team the first pick in the second round of the following draft.
Lastly, it would behoove the NBA to move the IST to a later portion of the regular season. It’s always been the stretch following the All-Star break that has been the most grueling for the teams and fans. Inserting the IST there should rejuvenate the league and its fans for the final stretch of the regular season.
Always a battle against the Lakers.
IST Semifinals 🔜 pic.twitter.com/YTQDjpPrLL
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) December 6, 2023
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| Title: How the NBA’s In-Season Tournament could be further improved
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: December 7th, 2023