In-season tournaments bring a new dimension to the start of the season

The inaugural season competition will add a new dimension to the 2023-24 season.

NBA basketball returns on October 24. We’re counting down the days like seconds on a shot clock — I mean, that’s what we do. Starting Oct. 1, our writers will list 24 storylines for the 2023-24 NBA season.

A new storyline drops every day. Here it is Number 3:


Want to know what the in-season tournament is all about? Start with European football.

In the interests of transparency, I go on record as agnostic when it comes to soccer at European or all other levels (beyond family tourism activities).

But the new in-season tournament is about a league, any league, trying to drum up interest in what would otherwise be a sluggish schedule. The cliché about the NBA season that „it really begins on Christmas Day” made the first two months ripe for this kind of buzz.

Contrary to early suspicion, all regular NBA business like the NHL did not necessarily stop when it sent players to compete in the Winter Olympics. Group play of the in-season competition will unfold against the backdrop of a normal schedule, with these Tuesday and Friday matches carrying some extra weight with the asterisks.

The knockout round should have real juice, at least compared to the traditional December offerings. The final three games in Las Vegas may have heightened interest on and off the court, with money and bragging rights and, of course, Vegas playing.

Essential? Probably not. But the NBA playoffs, which are about a year and a half away from the Finals, are nothing short of exciting.

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I was completely won over by Play-In Games, another recently added traditional-rocker. Two more playoff teams per conference? No thank you. But two extra brass rings to reduce noise about tanking? Yes please. A way to duck teams that might have been idle in the seventh or eighth seed? Oh yes.

And then there’s the structure, inserting six games in a one-and-done or two-done rush before some — let’s face it — often predictable 1-8 and 2-7 best-of-seven series.

If it has half the impact of an in-season tournament, it’s worth a try. Already the league is right: Going to Vegas in December rather than July.

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