The In-Season Tournament was met with initial skepticism once the idea began to grow legs, but the actualization and execution of the event has been successful. Players want the $500,000 prize pool for winning the NBA Cup and are playing like it. Fans are into it, treating this tournament like the big event it was billed to be. The Pacers have been the fun, upstart young team capturing the hearts of basketball fans around the globe thanks to the scintillating, dazzling and genius play of burgeoning superstar Tyrese Haliburton.
The absence of Jarred Vanderbilt this entire season did not go unnoticed by fans, players or Lakers head coach Darvin Ham. The 6'8 wing has the defensive versatility every team covets for their roster, big enough to take on most forwards and centers but agile enough to guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Steph Curry. The Lakers had to play the first twenty games without Vanderbilt due to a left heel bursitis injury, but he is now back and playing a couple of shifts a night so far. While the rust is clearly there and he is likely not in 100% game shape, Vanderbilt looked much closer to his ideal self in Tuesday's win versus the Suns.
After missing the Lakers' last five games, key reserve forward Rui Hachimura sounds like he's ready to go for the in-season tournament.