The student news site of Hawthorne High School.

The Clarion

The student news site of Hawthorne High School.

The Clarion

The student news site of Hawthorne High School.

The Clarion


A Breakdown: First NBA In-Season Tournament

The Winners and Losers
M. v. Gruenigen, +41794054642

The NBA’s First In-Season Tournament has concluded and it has been stamped in the history books of sports. This tournament has shown the NBA and its fans have seen the rise and inevitable superstardom of Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton and the breakdown of Pelicans’ forward Zion Williamson. Today, I will examine the highs and the lows of the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament.

WINNER: Adam Silver & The NBA Going For It: The idea of a mid-season tournament in the NBA has been floating around for 10 years since the NBA commissioner Adam Silver mentioned it publicly. Finally after 10 years, Adam Silver pulled the trigger on the In-Season Tournament and at the start everyone was skeptical and when I say everyone I mean everyone. From players to fans it was seen as “unnatural” because it was different from the games that fans and players had fallen in love with, but this risk had paid off. The games had become elevated, the competition was felt in the arena and through a TV screen, players played with hustle, and the games were intense: but some of this intensity could be attributed to giving players an incentive of 500 thousand dollars if they were able to win the inaugural cup. Even though the tournament started in November and ended at the start of December, it felt like playoff basketball and this is what fans wanted to see from players. The fans who pay good money to watch these games want to see the emotion, passion, and vigor from players because it shows fans that competition is still alive in the NBA even after the era of load management (Load Management is when a healthy player is rested for certain precautionary reasons).

With the tournament in place it gives the regular season a purpose because for the past decade teams with superstar level players have been benched when they are healthy because they are worried about their health. The truth is that some of these players are selfish, they only care about the money they make, their own statistics, and they won’t contribute to winning basketball because no matter how many fans show up, some won’t play.

I think the Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards said it best, “All of the guys sitting, resting. That’s the only thing I probably don’t like. Just play, man. If you are 80%, you gotta play. I don’t like all of the sitting, missing games stuff. These people might have enough money to come to one game. And that might be the game they make too.” Edwards is completely correct with this statement

LOSER: Zion Williamson’s Reputation: Entering his 5th NBA Season Zion Williamson has played in a total of 134 games out of a potential of 348. He has missed 62 percent of the games that he could have played in and this miss in games is due to injury which can all correlate back to his weight. Williamson’s weight problems began to show during the 2021-2022 NBA Season where it was easy to see that he had put on some weight. It had gotten so bad that once Zion’s rookie contract had finished and extension talks had begun the Pelicans’ offered him an extension of 5 years for $193 million but the Pelicans’ had implemented a clause in his contract. Williamson’s contract features a clause that states he will have weigh-ins throughout his deal to measure his combined weight and body fat percentage to ensure it doesn’t exceed a total of 295.

Throughout this season, Zion Williamson has been averaging a career low of 22 points per game, 5.6 rebounds, and an effective field goal percentage of 58 percent. In his final game of the in-season tournament Williamson only notched 13 points in a 44 point blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. During this game it was clear to see that he wasn’t properly conditioned, he couldn’t sprint, and he was losing his breathing too quickly for someone of his athleticism and age.

“He’s gonna be somewhat successful. But he could be special. But I don’t know if he has a [teammate like] Moses Malone, who told me I was fat and lazy,” Charles Barkley said on Inside the NBA last week. “If he could get in shape, you would not want to play on this team.”

Barkley himself also had struggled with weight and conditioning problems throughout his own career and he was able to solve this issue by committing himself to basketball. With the help of Moses Malone, Barkley was able to take his health seriously and mold a hall of fame career out of it. Williamson’s problem is that he is still too immature and he doesn’t take basketball seriously as a profession.  He doesn’t have discipline and this can be because he hasn’t had a veteran voice in the locker room like what Barkley had with Malone or his team and coaches not taking the authority to discipline him for not being in shape. Williamson’s ability to not maintain his peak physical form is unfair to the organization, his coaches, teammates, and the fans but it’s mainly unfair to Williamson himself by wasting his god given talent.

WINNER: Los Angeles Lakers Chemistry: On Saturday December 9, we saw the Los Angeles Lakers win the first NBA In-Season Tournament. The Lakers beat the Pacers 123-109 with an absolute masterclass from Anthony Davis on both ends of the floor. Davis went ballistic dropping 41 points on an insane efficiency of 66.7 field goal percentage and 69 true shooting percentage. To pair with his 41 points Davis also tallied a double-double with 20 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 blocks. LeBron James continued to fight against father time and Austin Reaves played like a reincarnation of flu game Michael Jordan dropping 28 points in 27 minutes of game time. In this win the Lakers have shown that they are a complete team from end to end of the basketball court with everything being led by Lebron James and Anthony Davis.

LOSER: The Pacer’s Defense and Lack of Size: Currently in the NBA the Indiana Pacers are the number one offense in the entirety of the NBA and the history of the NBA. They are leading the league in offensive rating with an average of 128.4 points scored per game which is 5.1 points ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks who average 123.3 points scored per game. In the 2022-2023 NBA Season the Pacers were ranked as the 19th in offensive rating and with key acquisitions and signings in trading for Bruce Brown and Obi Topping, and re-signing both Tyrese Haliburton and Aaron Nesmith.

Even with all of this offense through this system something has to be flawed. Those flaws are their defense and lack of size. The Pacers are one of the worst defense teams within the NBA , they are ranked 29th out of 30 in defensive rating and teams are averaging 125.5 points scored against them. To show this glaring defensive problem teams are averaging 38.1 percent from three with the league team average being 36.3 percent, teams are also making 46 of their field goals and teams are shooting 50.3 percent from the field.

Against the Lakers, in the In-Season Tournament Finals the Pacers lack of defense and size was exploited by Anthony Davis and Jaxson Hayes crashing boards, Cam Reddish playing lockdown defense on whoever he was guarding, or Anthony Davis playing like an absolute animal in the paint.

Since the Pacers’ are amongst the league’s worst in defense, the chance of them having an impact on the defensive end of the floor with this core group that they currently have is very unlikely. One trade or signing won’t completely change this team’s dynamic on defense because it comes down to the players ability on defense, their motor, and their system implemented from their head coach.

WINNER: Tyrese Haliburton’s Rise to Superstardom: During this whole tournament from the group stages to the finals Tyrese Haliburton had shown that he is now one of the best (if not the best) point guard in the NBA. Haliburton went off in his seven games played with averages of 26.7 points, 13.3 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 52.4 percent from the field, and 42.5 percent from three. Throughout the seven game tournament Tyrese has tallied up a total of 93 assists and 14 turnovers which is a ratio of 6.6 assist for every one turnover. That ratio of assists to turnovers shows off Halliburton’s elite level playmaking, court vision, and high basketball IQ. During the knockout rounds Haliburton had a total of 39 assists and only 3 turnovers and that is a 13:1 ratio of assists to turnovers. 

At the young age of 23 years old, Tyrese is the leader of a young and up-and-coming franchise and he has become the face and the cornerstone of a team that has lacked an identity since their Paul George era in the early 2010’s. By Tyrese showing that he can lead the Pacers, he has given hope to the younger players in the NBA by showing that they can shine on the biggest stage while being shown on national television. 

Tyrese Haliburton’s rise to superstardom in the NBA was inevitable, with his combination of elite level scoring, passing, playmaking, and IQ he showed that he is meant to lead a team to the playoffs and the promised land. 


About the Contributor
Cristian Foschini, Staff Writer
Hi, my name is Cristian Foschini. I am currently a senior attending Hawthorne High School. This is my first year writing for the Clarion and I am very eager and excited to write for the school newspaper this year. I am also striving to be a journalist as my future job. I love to play golf and I am currently on the HHS Varsity Golf Team. Some of my interests and hobbies are sports, writing, driving, and movies.