2023 In-Season Tournament

In-Season Tournament: West Group C preview

The Warriors, Timberwolves, Thunder, Kings and Spurs are set to compete in West Group C during the In-Season Tournament.

The Warriors and Kings could be the 2 teams to watch in West Group C play.

We close out our breakdowns of the inaugural In-Season Tournament groups with West Group C.

East Group A | East Group B | East Group C | West Group A | West Group B | West Group C

This group features two teams that met in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs (the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors), two teams that met in the final game of the AT&T Play-In Tournament to secure the No. 8 seed (the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder) and a lottery team that got the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft (the San Antonio Spurs).

West Group C also features more 2022-23 All-NBA selections than any other group with four players: OKC’s Shai Gilgeous Alexander (1st Team), Golden State’s Stephen Curry (2nd Team) and Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis (3rd Team).

In head-to-head competition between teams within West Group C, Golden State posted the best record in the group at 11-4 as the Warriors swept the season series with San Antonio (4-0), beat Oklahoma City (3-1) and Sacramento (3-1) and split with Minnesota (2-2).

Minnesota finished a close second at 10-6 as the Wolves didn’t lose a season series among teams in the group. They beat OKC (3-1) and Sacramento (3-1) and split series with San Antonio (2-2) and Golden State (2-2). Sacramento (8-7) was the only other team to post a positive record against its group opponents last season. See below for a full breakdown of the standings.

West Group C

Team vs. GSW vs. MIN vs. OKC vs. SAC vs. SAS Total Win pct. 
Golden State Warriors x 2-2 3-1 3-1 3-0 11-4 0.733
Minnesota Timberwolves 2-2 x 3-1 3-1 2-2 10-6 0.625
Sacramento Kings 1-3 1-3 3-0 x 3-1 8-7 0.533
Oklahoma City Thunder 1-3 1-3 x 0-3 3-0 5-9 0.357
San Antonio Spurs 0-3 2-2 0-3 1-3 x 3-11 0.214

Golden State Warriors

Will Chris Paul be a starter for the Warriors in 2023-24?

The four-time champions were unable to defend their 2022 title as they finished sixth in the Western Conference during the regular season. They ousted the No. 3-seeded Kings in the first round before being eliminated in the conference semifinals by the No. 7-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. The offseason saw Golden State make a few key changes as they look to keep their championship window open.

The first move was a change to the person in charge of making the roster moves, as Mike Dunleavy Jr. took over as general manager for the departing Bob Myers, who was the architect of the Warriors during this dynastic run. The next big move came on Draft day as the Warriors executed a trade with the Wizards to acquire Chris Paul in exchange for a package headlined by Jordan Poole. The addition of Paul gives the Warriors another guard to join the Stephen Curry-Klay Thompson backcourt, and his proficiency in the pick-and-roll could add another dimension to the Golden State offense.

The other key move was the re-signing of Draymond Green to a reported four-year contract that keeps the Curry-Thompson-Green core together. It will be interesting to see how quickly coach Steve Kerr can integrate Paul into the Warriors’ system, as well as fellow newcomers Cory Joseph, Dario Saric and first-round pick Brandin Podziemski. If the Warriors want to make noise in Group Play, that integration will need to happen quickly.

Offseason Summary (as of Aug. 10)

  • Players re-signed: Draymond Green, Lester Quinones (two-way)
  • Players added (via free agency): Cory Joseph, Dario Saric
  • Players added (via trade): Chris Paul (from Wizards)
  • Players added (via 2023 NBA Draft): Brandin Podziemski (19th overall), Trayce Jackson-Davis (No. 57)
  • Players lost: Jordan Poole (traded to Wizards), Ryan Rollins (traded to Wizards), Patrick Baldwin Jr. (traded to Wizards), Donte DiVincenzo (signed with Knicks), Ty Jerome (signed with Cavaliers, two-way)
  • Remaining free agents: JaMychal Green (UFA), Andre Iguodala (UFA), Anthony Lamb (UFA)

Minnesota Timberwolves

Anthony Edwards talks after signing his contract extension in the offseason.

Last offseason, the Wolves made one of the league’s biggest moves, acquiring three-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to pair with big man Karl-Anthony Towns. The grade for that move is still incomplete as the duo shared the court for just 529 total minutes last season (Towns missed 53 games due to injury). Getting that duo on the court for a larger sample size and assessing its effectiveness will be key for Minnesota this season.

In addition to evaluating the Towns-Gobert pairing, the Wolves also have to mix in Naz Reid ( who signed a multi-year extension this offseason) on their crowded frontline. He provides solid insurance should injuries strike either Gobert or Towns.

Anthony Edwards earned his first All-Star selection in his third season, inked a contract extension in the offseason and is one of league’s most exciting youngsters. He is spending his summer representing Team USA at the FIBA World Cup, and is positioned to have a starring role that has been a springboard for other young stars in the past. Will Edwards to make the jump from All-Star to superstar? We may get that answer during Group Play of the In-Season Tournament.

Offseason Summary (as of Aug. 10)

  • Players re-signed: Naz Reid (extension), Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Luka Garza
  • Players added (via free agency): Troy Brown Jr., Shake Milton
  • Players added (via trade): None
  • Players added (via 2023 NBA Draft): Leonard Miller (33rd overall), Jaylen Clark (No. 53)
  • Players lost: Taurean Prince (waived)
  • Remaining free agents: Nathan Knight (UFA), Jaylen Nowell (UFA), Austin Rivers (UFA), Matt Ryan (RFA, two-way)

Sacramento Kings

Kevin Huerter reflects on Sacramento's standout season in 2022-23.

The Kings made an 18-win improvement last season and their 48 wins were the most since the 2004-05 season. New coach Mike Brown made an immediate impact, as did having a full season of the Domantas Sabonis-De’Aaron Fox combo as the two each earned All-NBA 3rd Team honors. Sabonis led the league in rebounding, Fox won the inaugural Kia Clutch Player of the Year award and Brown was the unanimous pick for Coach of the Year.

Sacramento ended the longest playoff drought in league history, returning to the postseason for the first time in 16 seasons. But, that stay lasted only seven games as they fell to Golden State in the first round.

The offseason saw the Kings focus on continuity rather than making splashy moves to upgrade the roster. Keep in mind that Sacramento’s starting five played the most minutes of any lineup in the past four seasons. They signed Sabonis to a five-year extension and re-signed key free agents Harrison Barnes and Trey Lyles. The Kings also added Nerlens Noel in free agency, traded for Chris Duarte and signed EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov to a multi-year deal. Will running it back be the answer for the “Beam Team?” How they fare in Group Play early in the season will be telling.

Offseason Summary (as of Aug. 10)

  • Players re-signed: Domantas Sabonis (extension), Harrison Barnes (extension), Kessler Edwards (team picks up option), Trey Lyles, Alex Len, Keon Ellis, Neemias Queta
  • Players added (via free agency): Nerlens Noel
  • Players added (via trade): Chris Duarte (from Pacers)
  • Players added (via 2023 NBA Draft): Colby Jones (34th overall), Jalen Slawson (No. 54)
  • Players lost: PJ Dozier (waived), Chimeze Metu (signed with Suns), Richaun Holmes (traded to Mavs)
  • Remaining free agents: Terence Davis (UFA), Matthew Dellavedova (UFA)

Oklahoma City Thunder

Josh Giddey is looking forward to the season and playing with OKC's core of young talent.

The Kings weren’t the only team to make a giant leap in wins last season. Oklahoma City enjoyed a 16-win improvement last season behind the play of All-NBA 1st Team selection Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — the NBA’s fourth-leading scorer (31.4 ppg). The Thunder made that 16-win jump with the youngest roster in the NBA, as OKC entered the 2022-23 season with an average player age of just 23.14 years old. After a 40-42 finish, OKC was bound for the AT&T Play-In Tournament. The Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans in the No. 9 vs. No. 10 game, but were eliminated by the Timberwolves, extending their playoff drought to three seasons.

In the offseason, OKC added Davis Bertans in a Draft-centric deal to move up two spots in the 2023 NBA Draft, where they selected guard Cason Wallace. He isn’t the only lottery pick that will debut for the Thunder this season as Chet Holmgren, the No. 2 overall pick in 2022, is set to return after missing all of last season with a foot injury.

This Thunder squad is already loaded with young talent — Jalen Williams finished as the runner-up for Kia Rookie of the Year last season, and Josh Giddey made great strides in his sophomore season. What will Gilgeous-Alexander do as a follow-up to last season? How much of an impact will Holmgren make in his rookie season? Can Williams make a second-year leap? This team will be fascinating to watch during Group Play as things could click quickly or there could be some growing pains still ahead.

Offseason Summary (as of Aug. 10)

  • Players re-signed: None
  • Players added (via free agency): Vasilije Micic, Jack White
  • Players added (via trade): Davis Bertans (from Mavs), Usman Garuba (from Hawks), Victor Oladipo (from Heat), TyTy Washington Jr. (from Hawks)
  • Players added (via 2023 NBA Draft): Cason Wallace (10th overall), Hunter Tyson (No. 37), Keyontae Johnson (No. 50)
  • Players lost: Rudy Gay (waived), Dario Saric (signed with Warriors)
  • Remaining free agents: Jared Butler (UFA, two-way), Olivier Sarr (UFA, two-way), Lindy Waters III (UFA, two-way)

San Antonio Spurs

Victor Wembanyama discusses his 'enriching' Vegas feat, expectations playing for Gregg Popovich and what lies ahead.

The Spurs finished with 22 wins last season — their lowest total since 1996-97, the season in which Gregg Popovich took over as coach after 18 games. The following season, Popovich and the Spurs started a 22-year run of playoff appearances that saw San Antonio win five NBA titles and cement themselves as the franchise others tried to emulate. It’s also why Popovich was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in the offseason.

Since that 22-year run ended in 2019, the Spurs have endured four straight non-playoff seasons, but their fortunes took a turn for the better on Draft lottery night they secured the No. 1 pick for the third time in franchise history. And for the third time, the Spurs used the top pick on a big man with enormous potential: David Robinson in 1987, Tim Duncan in 1997 and Victor Wembanyama in 2023.

Touted as the greatest draft prospect since LeBron James, the 7-foot-3 forward/center from France should be a game-changer for the Spurs in the seasons to come. How quickly Wembanyama acclimates to the NBA will go a long way toward determining the Spurs’ ceiling this season. The offseason also saw the Spurs acquire veterans Cedi Osman (from the Cleveland Cavaliers), Cameron Payne (from the Phoenix Suns), Reggie Bullock (from the Mavs) via trades to help offset the rest of their young talent. It may not be enough to emerge out of the Group Stage this season, but the Spurs should be fun to watch.

Offseason Summary (as of Aug. 10)

  • Players re-signed: Julian Champagnie, Tre Jones, Sandro Mamukelashvili
  • Players added (via free agency): None
  • Players added (via trade): Cedi Osman (from Cavaliers), Cameron Payne (from Suns), Reggie Bullock (from Dallas)
  • Players added (via 2023 NBA Draft): Victor Wembanyama (1st overall), Sidy Cissoko (No. 44)
  • Players lost: Keita Bates-Diop (signed with Suns), Lamar Stevens (waived)
  • Remaining free agents: Gorgui Dieng (UFA), Romeo Langford (UFA), Dominick Barlow (RFA, two-way)

Key matchups to watch

Below are a handful of intriguing matchups to be played out in West Group B.

Warriors vs. Kings, Nov. 28
(10 ET, TNT)

The Northern California rivals had never met in the NBA Playoffs until last season and their first clash on the playoff stage delivered the best series of the first round. The Kings went up 2-0, but the defending champs won the next three games to set up a close-out game at home in Game 6. The Kings responded with a big road win to send the series back to Sacramento for a winner-take-all Game 7.

Enter Curry, who was fantastic all series, but was unstoppable with the series on the line, scoring a Game 7 record 50 points in the win. Curry’s record lasted only two weeks before Boston’s Jayson Tatum topped it against Philadelphia in the conference semifinals.

Wolves vs. Thunder, Nov. 28
(8 ET, NBA League Pass)

In their Play-In Tournament matchup with the No. 8 seed on the line, the Wolves dominated this matchup — getting double-doubles from Towns, Gobert and Edwards – as they took the lead for good early in the second quarter and never looked back. OKC got 22 points from Gilgeous-Alexander and 17 each from Williams and Luguentz Dort, but no other Thunder player scored in double figures as the 95 points marked OKC’s second-lowest scoring game of the season.

In addition to these two postseason rematches, 11 of the 37 total games played between teams in West Group C were decided by five points or less or went to overtime last season. Most of these close games featured the three playoff teams as Sacramento and Minnesota each played in seven – including three head-to-head – while Golden State appeared in five, followed by Oklahoma City with two and San Antonio with just one.

Warriors vs. Wolves, Nov. 14
(10 ET, NBA League Pass)

After the Warriors cruised to a 23-point win in their first meeting with the Wolves on Nov. 27, the final three meetings between the teams were decided by five, five and three points, respectively, with Minnesota winning two of those three games. Curry led the Warriors at 24.7 points per game in the season series, but was held to his lowest field goal percentage (37.7%) against any opponent last season. Reid (21.3 ppg) and Edwards (19.5 ppg) were the only Minnesota double-digit scorers that appeared in at least three games.

Kings vs. Wolves, Nov. 24
(8 ET, NBA League Pass)

All four games between the Kings and Wolves last season were decided by seven points or less. Minnesota won the series 3-1, with Sacramento’s only win coming in overtime as Fox scored 32 points and Lyles scored eight of his 19 off the bench in the extra five minutes. Edwards led the Wolves with 27.8 ppg in four games against the Kings, while Fox led the Kings at 28.8 ppg in four games against the Wolves.

Thunder vs. Kings, Nov. 10
(10 ET, NBA League Pass)

The Kings may have swept the three-game season series with the Thunder last season, but all three games were close — decided by five, six and nine points, respectively. Gilgeous-Alexander played in only one of the three games and finished with 37 points in the 118-113 loss, while the Kings were led by rookie Keegan Murray’s 29 points and Sabonis’ 18-14-14 triple-double in the win.

Spurs vs. Thunder, Nov. 14
(7:30 ET, TNT)

This matchup is less about what happened last season — OKC swept the season series — but more about the intriguing matchup of two young big men in Holmgren and Wembanyama. Both players have similar frames — Holmgren at 7-foot-1, 195 points and Wemby at 7-foot-4, 210 pounds — and skill sets that defy their size.


Golden State edges out Sacramento and Minnesota

Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry give Golden State an edge in West Group C play.

This is a tough group to predict as each team faces a key question entering Group Play: How quickly can the Warriors integrate Chris Paul? How much of the Gobert-Towns frontline will we see and how will it perform? Can the Kings build on last season’s success and repeat last season’s run of good health? What impact will Holmgren have in his rookie season as OKC continues to mature? How will Wembanyama fare against NBA competition night and night out?

It’s difficult to pick against the Warriors here as they have the championship pedigree and posted the best record in head-to-head matchups against the other teams in this group last season, winning three of the season series and splitting the other. The Kings and Wolves will be in the mix as well, with Sacramento looking to prove that last season was not a fluke, and Minnesota trying to reach its full potential.