The NBA Summer League gets underway on Friday with a total of 60 games being played, as some of the league's best young talent gets a chance to gain experience. These games are the building block to more playing time once fall rolls around.
Most importantly, it's a chance for rookies to get their feet wet against tough competition. There will be a lot of pressure on them next season, especially the prospects who were drafted early. So getting a chance to play in a low-pressure environment first will help.
With that in mind, here's a look at all the key information for the event and some players to watch to see how they fare against fellow rising stars in Las Vegas.
Where: Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nev.
When: Friday, July 13 – Sunday, July 22 (Games start at 4 p.m. ET)
Watch: NBA TV
Complete Schedule: Full game listing
Players to Watch
There are no shortage of opinions about Barnes' future. Some people believe the former North Carolina star will have a successful NBA career, while others believe he will bust out. We will now start to find out what path he's going to take.
The Golden State Warriors drafted him with the seventh pick with hopes he would make an immediate impact, but the position is overloaded right now. The presence of Dorell Wright and Richard Jefferson means Barnes needs a strong showing in the Summer League.
Everybody knows Barnes has elite scoring ability, but the key to success will be illustrating he can do all of the other things as well. The coaching staff will be looking for him to find open teammates off the dribble, play strong man defense and rebound well.
Robinson was projected to go as high as second leading up to the draft, but he ended up sliding to the Sacramento Kings at No. 5. That should actually work in his favor, because he'll get to play alongside DeMarcus Cousins, who should draw the defense's attention.
The Kings are looking for the power forward to continue the development he started during his final season at Kansas. He averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds—both career highs—while leading the Jayhawks to the national title game.
He's one of the most well-rounded players to come out of this year's draft class and has the ability to make an impact on both ends right away. The aspect that needs improvement comes down low, where he'll have to prove he can score against bigger forwards in the post.
The Indiana Pacers received a lot of heat for drafting Plumlee, who was widely regarded as a second-round prospect, with the No. 26 pick. Now the former Duke big man has to begin the process of proving the team's front office right.
He has the raw tools to become a valuable contributor—there's no doubt about that. He has good athletic ability for a center, but he still has a long way to go before the Pacers will feel comfortable giving him meaningful minutes.
That's why the Summer League has become so important. Plumlee will get to log plenty of playing time to figure out exactly what it will take to excel at the next level. Then he can begin the process of upgrading his game to match it.
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