On August 15th, the NBA announced their inaugural in-season tournament schedule for the beginning of the 2023-24 season, and with the right moves, the LA Clippers could really take advantage of it.
Initially, the idea of the tournament was floated around a few years ago to make the regular season more interesting. After a few years of tweaking the idea, the NBA decided to debut the tournament in the 2023-24 season.
The league’s 30 teams will be divided into six groups of five. Each team will play one game against the teams in their group, with the teams with the best record in each group advancing to the knockout round of the tournament. There will also be two “wild card” teams that advance to the knockout round, determined by which non-advancing teams have the best record in each conference.
More information on how the groups were selected can be found here, but the short of it is that the Clippers got dealt a fairly good hand with the way the drawing worked out.
Their group, Western Conference B, consists of the reigning champion Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks, and Houston Rockets. Among the three Western Conference groups, theirs is the only one where three of the five teams missed the playoffs completely, and Group B has the second-lowest combined win percentage, at 0.48. That mark is just 0.01 higher than the lowest, Group C, which consists of the San Antonio Spurs, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Sacramento Kings, the Golden State Warriors, and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
While Group C might seem preferable, the middle pack of those teams, excluding the Kings and Spurs, exist within 0.049 win percentage of each other while the middle teams of the Clipper’s group are separated by a difference of 0.074. The Clippers also sit five spots in front of their next closest competitor, the 10th-seed Pelicans, while the Warriors only sit two spots in front of the eighth-seed Wolves.
Taking all of this into consideration, the LA Clippers could be poised for a massive run during the inaugural NBA in-season tournament.