The NBA in-season tournament is an innovative addition to the basketball season, aiming to bring a fresh dynamic to the traditional schedule of regular season games. This mini tournament is meant to engage fans and players in a new and exciting format. Players can gets to accumulate extra accolades:

  • Prize Money ($500,000 to each player on championship team)
  • NBA In-Season Championship Medals
  • NBA In-Season Tournament MVP
  • NBA All-Tournament Team trophy
  • NBA cup

Structure of the In-Season Tournament

The in-season tournament is structured into several phases, starting with six groups of five teams each. Teams compete in four group stage games, which count towards their regular season record. This setup not only intensifies the competition but also ensures that every game holds significant value for the regular season standings.

Group Stage Dynamics

During the group stage, teams aim to accumulate the best record to advance. The group stage point differential can serve as a tiebreaker, following previous tiebreakers like head-to-head records. This phase is crucial as only the top teams from each group, along with the best runners-up (wild card team) move on to the knockout rounds.

Advancing to the Knockout Rounds

Post group play, the tournament intensifies with the knockout rounds. These include quarterfinal games, which lead up to the semifinals, then championship game.


Tiebreakers play a pivotal role in the group play part of the tournament, especially when two or more teams end the group stage with the same conference record. The NBA has established a clear tiebreaker protocol, prioritizing head-to-head results and, if necessary, group stage point differentials to decide which teams advance.

Prize Money and Incentives

One of the most compelling aspects of the in-season tournament is the prize money awarded to the winning team. This financial incentive is significant, ensuring that every game is fiercely competitive. Additionally, individual accolades like the tournament MVP add a personal level of competition among players.

Impact on Player Performance

Players have the opportunity to shine on a different stage, potentially earning the Most Valuable Player award of the tournament. LeBron James is the first to capture the NBA In-Season Tournament MVP (2023).


What is the main purpose of the NBA Cup?

The NBA Cup aims to enhance the regular NBA season by introducing a tournament format that increases competitive intensity and fan engagement.

How many teams participate in the NBA Cup?

The NBA Cup features all thirty teams divided into six groups of five teams each.

What are the benefits for the winning team of the NBA Cup?

The winning team receives significant prize money ($500,000), enhanced media exposure, and the prestige of winning a major NBA tournament.

Does the NBA Cup affect the regular season standings?

Yes, the results of the NBA Cup games played during the group stages count towards the regular season record of each team, impacting their overall standings.

Who won the first NBA Cup?

The Los Angeles Lakers won the first NBA Cup in its inaugural in-season tournament.


The NBA Cup is a new addition to the basketball calendar, infusing the regular season with extra drama; and providing teams and players with new challenges and rewards. Its format, inspired by global sports tournaments, brings a fresh dynamic to the game, ensuring that both players and fans remain engaged throughout the season. With its blend of competitive tension and high stakes, the NBA Cup is set to become a fixture in the NBA landscape.