Wemby\’s Wow-Game & The 1st NBA Cup

November 3, 2023

By: Carlos Alvarez

Happy Friday 

Did you think Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama would need a few years to acclimate to the NBA? You\’re feeling silly right about now. Looking at you, Shaq.

 Wemby dropped 38 points last night (15/26, 38 pts, 10 rebs) in a win over the Suns. He had 20 at the half, and he shot 50% on 3s for the second time this season. The kid is 19 and out-playing Kevin Durant head-to-head. This was his fifth game… Look out, league.

Letter Rip!


Tipping Off The 1st NBA Cup

Image From NBA.com

Everything to Know About the NBA’s New In-Season Tournament That Tips Off Tonight (7 Games)

These 82-game seasons are a long and arduous road to the playoffs for the NBA players and fans. It\’s always made the early-season games not mean as much. But always-inventive and never-routine commissioner Adam Silver won\’t stop evolving, and that could be good news for viewers like us. This year’s first trial run of the NBA Cup, an in-season tournament aimed at spicing up the first half of the season, is about to begin. The tourney mimics the format of many professional soccer schedules, incorporating games that count towards the tourney standings and format, as well as overall standings for the traditional playoffs in the spring. And it starts tonight. Here\’s what you need to know about the first-ever NBA Cup.

How It Works

  • All 30 teams have been divided into three groups during a drawing that took place in the offseason.
  • Qualifying games will be played on Tuesdays and Fridays between today (Nov. 3) and Nov. 28.
  • Each team will host games on their city edition courts while wearing their new city edition uniforms.
  • The winner of each group (three from each conference) plus one wild card from each conference will advance to the quarterfinals (Round of 8: Knockout Round) beginning in December.
  • The NBA Cup Finals game will not count as one of the 82 games. All others will.
  • The last team standing will be the first NBA Cup champion.

Group Draw

Western Conference

  • Group A: Lakers, Suns, Jazz, Grizzlies, Blazers
  • Group B: Nuggets, Clippers, Pelicans, Rockets, Mavericks
  • Group C: Kings, Warriors, T-Wolves, Spurs, Thunder

Eastern Conference

  • Group A: 76ers, Cavs, Hawks, Pacers, Pistons
  • Group B: Bucks, Knicks, Heat, Wizards, Hornets
  • Group C: Nets, Celtics, Bulls, Raptors, Magic

 Financial Incentive: So it’s not just bragging rights? All teams that reach the knockout stage will earn some cash, with player payments ranging from $50,000 to $200,000. The winning team’s payout is reportedly $500,000 per player. You read that right: half a million. A lot of star players feel the extra incentive to win it as a way to help benefit the end-of-the-bench players who don’t make millions. “I would love that,” said Damian Lillard this week. “To be able to say, ‘We looked out for our guys.’”

The first-ever NBA Cup is about to tip. We might look back in the years to come and wonder how we ever did the regular season grind without it. Time will tell.

NBA Cup Game Schedule (Tonight)

Cavaliers at Pacers (7 pm ET, League Pass)

Knicks at Bucks (7:30 pm ET, ESPN)

Warriors at Thunder (8 pm ET, League Pass)

Nets at Bulls (8 pm ET, League Pass)

Wizards at Heat (8 pm ET, League Pass)

Grizzlies at Blazers (10 pm ET, League Pass)

Mavericks at Nuggets (10 pm ET, ESPN)

Read More

B/R: NBA Unveils City Edition Uniforms Ahead of NBA Cup Games

AP: The NBA’s In-Season Tournament is Finally Set to Begin, Giving Teams Another Trophy Shot



Steeling Primetime

Photo: Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

Kwon Alexander’s Game-Saving INT Seals (& Steals) Steelers Win Over Titans on TNF (20-16)

Last night’s Thursday Night primetime matchup might’ve put viewers to sleep through the first three quarters, but the defensive struggle ended with some late-game drama and another magical Pittsburgh win. The Steelers scored on the opening drive of the game, but they didn’t reach the end zone again until late in the 4th. There were 47 minutes of game time between Pittsburgh’s two touchdowns. Cue the \”Fire Matt Canada\” chants (Pittsburgh\’s offensive coordinator). The Titans grinded out a 16-13 lead by the 4th in a barn-burner (sarcasm) before Steelers QB Kenny Pickett hit WR Diontae Johnson for the go-ahead TD with four minutes left. Believe it or not, that was Johnson’s first career touchdown (on his 119th career catch). On the ensuing drive, the Titans marched into the red zone, but Steelers LB Kwon Alexander picked off QB Will Levis at the goal line with six seconds left.

Steeling Games (Fun Fact): The Steelers are the 34th team in NFL history to be out-gained by their opponent in each of their first eight games. And despite that, they\’re the first of those teams to have a winning record (per ESPN Stats & Info). Translation: the Steelers defense is bailing out the offense.

QB Comparison

K. Pickett (PIT): 19/30, 160 yards, 1 TD

W. Levis (TEN): 22/39, 262 yards, 1 INT

Top Performers

RB D. Henry (TEN): 20 touches, 102 yards, 1 TD

RB N. Harris (PIT): 18 touches, 76 yards, 1 TD

RB J. Warren (PIT): 14 touches, 113 yards

WR D. Johnson (PIT): 7 catches, 90 yards, 1 TD

Records: Steelers (5-3) / Titans (3-5)

Watch: Steelers Top Titans With Game-Ending INT at the Goal Line (20-16)

Read More

NFL: What We Learned From Steelers’ Win Over Titans on Thursday Night

SI: Steelers Go 92 Yards on Final Drive, Get Game-Winning TD to Knock Off Titans 20-16



The Finale in Phoenix

Photo: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Decide Champion Sunday at Phoenix Raceway

After 36 races, it all comes down to this. We don’t always give enough love to the racing fans in our audience, but this Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series stop at Phoenix Raceway is for all the marbles. Ryan Blaney has won two of the last five races to put himself in prime position entering the Championship 4 showdown. Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, and William Byron round out the challengers.

The Championship 4: Sunday’s final race of the year will be unique, to say the least. All 36 drivers will still compete at Phoenix, but only the four drivers who are eligible — based on points, wins, and playoff standings — can be named the NASCAR Cup Series champion. They don’t have to win the race, just cross the finish line ahead of the other three drivers after 312 laps.

Championship 4 Standings

1. Ryan Blaney (Team Penske)

2. Christopher Bell (Joe Gibbs Racing)

3. Kyle Larson (Hendricks Motorsports)

4. William Byron (Hendricks Motorsports)

Driver Comparison

R. Blaney | Wins: 3 | Top-10s: 17 | Laps Led: 560

C. Bell | Wins: 2 | Top-10s: 19 | Laps Led: 599

K. Larson | Wins: 4 | Top-10s: 17 | Laps Led: 1127

W. Byron | Wins: 6 | Top-10s: 20 | Laps Led: 921

It’s a shootout in the desert to be crowned the king of NASCAR!

NASCAR Cup Series Finale

Championship 4: Phoenix Raceway (Sun. 3:00 pm ET, NBC)

Read More

NBC Sports: Breaking Down the Cup Series Championship 4

AutoWeek: NASCAR Championship 4 Format Still a Tough Pill to Swallow for Many




76ers def. Raptors (114-99)

*Joel Embiid Stuffs Stat Sheet (28-13-7)

Pelicans def. Pistons (125-116)

*CJ McCollum Drops 33 Points

Magic def. Jazz (115-113)

*Paolo Banchero Scores 30 & Clutch Late Bucket

Spurs def. Suns (132-121)

*Victor Wembanyama Takes Over (38 points, 10 rebounds)


Panthers def. Red Wings (2-0)

*Sergei Bobrovsky Logs 22-Save Shutout

Bruins def. Maple Leafs (3-2, S/O)

*Charlie Coyle’s Shootout Goal Wins It

Golden Knights def. Jets (5-2)

*Jonathan Marchessault Nets Hat Trick

Canucks def. Sharks (10-1)

*Sharks Start Season on 10-Game Winless Streak (0-9-1)



 The Top 50 MLB Free Agents

The end of the playoffs means that every Major League Baseball team will now shift their attention to the offseason. Free agency will officially begin Monday. Let the bidding for Shohei Ohtani begin. (CBS Sports)

 The NFL Diversity Report

NFL coaching staffs are growing more diverse, but not at every position or on every team. The data shows the overall number of coaches has grown by 4% in 2023. Here’s a detailed snapshot of coaching diversity within the NFL. (USA Today)

 College Basketball POY Odds

We\’re less than a week away from the start of the 2023-24 college basketball season, and what better way to get some preseason prep in than by checking out the current National Player of the Year odds? (Sporting News)





The Weekend Must-Watch List

Seasons are changing! As we tie a bow on the 2023 MLB season and wrap up World Series celebrations, new sports will enter the mix. The NASCAR Cup Series finds a champion on Sunday and concludes the racing calendar, too. By Monday, we’ll turn the page to College Basketball and a winter slate full of football, basketball, and hockey. Enjoy!

 College Football Week 10 (Saturday)

#23 Kansas State at #7 Texas (Noon, FOX)

#15 Notre Dame at Clemson (Noon, ABC)

#12 Missouri at #2 Georgia (3:30 pm, CBS)

#9 Oklahoma at #22 Oklahoma State (3:30 pm, ABC)

#11 Penn State at Maryland (3:30 pm, FOX)

#5 Washington at #20 USC (7:30 pm, ABC)

#14 LSU at #8 Alabama (7:45 pm, CBS)

#16 Oregon State at Colorado (10:00 pm, ESPN)

 NFL Week 9 (Sunday)

Dolphins at Chiefs (9:30 am, NFLN)

Seahawks at Ravens (1:00 pm, CBS)

Cowboys at Eagles (4:25 pm, FOX)

Bills at Bengals (8:20 pm, NBC)

Full NFL Sunday Schedule


Knicks at Bucks (Fri. 7:00 pm)

Mavericks at Nuggets (Fri. 10:00 pm)

Suns at 76ers (Sat. 1:00 pm)

Warriors at Cavaliers (Sun. 6:00 pm)

Full NBA Weekend Schedule


Bruins at Red Wings (Sat. 7:00 pm)

Avalanche at Golden Knights (Sat. 10:00 pm)

Devils at Blackhawks (Sun. 7:00 pm)

Full NHL Weekend Schedule

 MLS Playoffs

NY Red Bulls vs. FC Cincinnati (Sat. 7:00 pm)

FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders (Sat. 9:00 pm)

Sporting KC vs. St. Louis City SC (Sun. 5:00 pm)

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. LAFC (Sun. 7:30 pm)


F1: Brazilian Grand Prix (Sun. Noon)

NAS: Championship 4 — Phoenix Raceway (Sun. 3:00 pm)

*All Times ET

Download The Sportsletter\’s Must-Watch Calendar