Saturday 18 November 2023


This season, the NBA has introduced an "In-Season Tournament" which isn't exactly the most exciting of names for a new competition, but is basically a competition within the current regular season whereby some games effectively count double. Wins or losses count towards the standings in the traditional 82 game regular season and also to the standings in the new tournament.

The 30 teams are split into six groups of five, three East and three West, with each team playing four games against their mini-league opponents, two home and two away. The six group winners plus one wildcard team from each region will then play a traditional single elimination tournament with quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final, with the last two rounds in Las Vegas in early December. 

As with any rule or competition format change, it's often worth paying attention to see if there's an edge to be found, but with just 73 games played so far, it's not possible to draw any firm conclusions. It's not even clear whether teams or players will be taking these doubly important games any differently. There's a nice cash bonus ($500,000) to players on the winning team which sounds like a lot of money but to the elite players on say $30million a year, it might seem insignificant. The average NBA salary is around $9.7million which is the highest for any team sport in the world, but averages are distorted by the superstars (Bill Gates walks into a diner...) and the the median salary is a paltry $4.6million this season. Four teams have already been eliminated. 

Early signs are that these games are going under more than non-in-tournament games, (the average line for in-tournament games is 227.8 versus 225.6 in regular games) and underdogs are performing above market expectations. Something to watch for.

For Sacred Manuscript followers, the Totals System is firing on all cylinders so far, and while the other main system is profitable on non-tournament games, it's negative on the in-tournament games. 

It really would be much simpler to call this new competition the NBA Cup! 

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