The NBA is bringing out some big names to help raise awareness for the new In-Season Tournament in its inaugural season and Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan is among those featured in an “Oceans 11”-themed ad.
“New tournament, new creative approach,” said NBA CMO Tammy Henault, per David Gianatasio of Muse on October 25. “We had the challenge of educating fans on what the tournament is and generate excitement for it, too. Creatively, we leaned into Las Vegas, where the semi-final and championship will be held.”
It also features Darius Garland of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors, Kawhi Leonard of the LA Clippers, Anthony Davis of the L.A. Lakers, and Julius Randle of the New York Knicks, and Hall-of-Fame Laker Magic Johnson makes a cameo.
“Part of the concept of the commercial is us chasing the In-Season Tournament trophy,” DeRozan said in the behind-the-scenes video via the NBA. “And I think with all the guys scrambling trying to figure out different ways how we can get it, it’s gonna be real cool for it to translate once we get on the court.”
This isn’t DeRozan’s first spot, though.
He has done ads ranging from promoting mental health awareness to video games among other things in his career.
NBA In-Season Tournament Layout
There have been mixed reactions to the NBA’s attempt to capture some of the allure of the tournaments played in European leagues.
Teams are divided into six groups of five teams (three in each conference) and progress through two stages – the Group Play and Knockout Rounds – before playing in the championship game in Las Vegas.
“Tournament Nights will take place every Tuesday and Friday from Nov. 3-28 (with the exception of Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 7, when no games will be played),” reads the NBA’s official release from July 8. “The only NBA games played on Tournament Nights will be Group Play games. Group Play games will count as Regular Season games for all purposes.”
Teams’ records will determine if they qualify for the Knockout Round with standard tie-breakers.
Tiebreakers go (in order) by their head-to-head record, point differential, and total points in group play first before moving to the regular season record and a random drawing if need be.
“Knockout Rounds will consist of single-elimination games for the eight teams that advance from Group Play, beginning with the Quarterfinals on Dec. 4-5,” the release reads. “Teams that win will progress to the neutral-site Semifinals on Dec. 7, and then the Championship on Dec. 9.”
Players will play for prize money. More than anything, though, the games still count towards their record in the regular season. There should be no issue for motivation on a wide scale, though we could still see some of the more notable players miss those games since there also isn’t any other true incentive.
Bulls Seeking Better Results
DeRozan is not one to miss games anyway. He ranks third on the Bulls in total appearances since arriving in 2021-22, per Stathead. The Bulls boast an 80-70 record with him in the lineup in that same span, per Statmuse. But LaVine and Nikola Vucevic have already let on that this season is somewhat make or break for this group.
“We know we can do better, and we have to do better,” Vučević said, per Yahoo Sports NBA reporter Jake Fischer on August 31. “And we know it’s kind of our last chance as this core of guys to do something.”
DeRozan is playing in the final year of a three-year, $81.9 million contract.
The Bulls can extend him anytime between now and the start of free agency next offseason. They have even taken preliminary steps toward a new deal.
Until that happens, though, every part of this core feels closer to a break-up than at any other point during their tenure together. It’s a group that played more than any other trio in the NBA last season. But it also finished with a below-average net rating, per NBA.com. And it has won only one playoff game in two seasons.