NBA Summer League Tournament: Teams Most Likely to Win Inaugural Championship
The Las Vegas Summer League sure knows how to attract some attention. For the first time ever, organizations will be competing for more than bragging rights. They'll be fighting for a title.
Which team will win the title?
This year, each of the 22 teams participating in the league will play three games before being seeded into a tournament where the inaugural champion will be crowned, per NBA.com. Every game in the bracket is an elimination game and the winning organization will need to be victorious in at least four games.
While there are some teams that have players with NBA experience on their summer league rosters, many of the squads are made up of players who were in the 2013 NBA draft or played overseas last season. Many of the top picks in the draft will be looking to win the title in Last Vegas over the next few weeks before the regular season gets underway.
The championship game isn’t for a while, but it’s never too early to think about the teams that will be playing for the title. There are two teams in particular that really stand out, as they have a great combination of young talent and skill on their respective rosters. They have what it takes to win Las Vegas’ first championship.
When: Friday, July 12 to Monday, July 22
Where: Thomas & Mack Center and COX Pavilion, Las Vegas, Nev.
Live Stream: NBA Summer League Live
Schedule (All times Local PT)
Friday July 12
1 p.m. - New York vs. New Orleans (Game 1)
3 p.m. - Atlanta vs. LA Clippers (Game 2)
5 p.m. - Cleveland vs. LA Lakers (Game 3)
7 p.m. - Charlotte vs. San Antonio (Game 4)
Saturday July 13
1 p.m. - Golden State vs. Washington (Game 5)
3 p.m. - Sacramento vs. Dallas (Game 6)
5 p.m. - Chicago vs. Memphis (Game 8)
7 p.m. - Denver vs. Milwaukee (Game 10)
Thomas & Mack
3:30 p.m. - Minnesota vs. NBA D-League (Game 7)
5:30 p.m. - Phoenix vs. Portland (Game 9)
7:30 p.m. - Miami vs. Toronto (Game 11)
Sunday July 14
1 p.m. - New York vs. Washington (Game 12)
3 p.m. - Charlotte vs. Dallas (Game 14)
5 p.m. - Cleveland vs. Memphis (Game 16)
7 p.m. - Atlanta vs. Miami (Game 18)
Thomas & Mack
1:30 p.m. - LA Clippers vs. NBA D-League (Game 13)
3:30 p.m. - LA Lakers vs. Portland (Game 15)
5:30 p.m. - New Orleans vs. Milwaukee (Game 17)
7:30 p.m. - San Antonio vs. Toronto (Game 19)
Monday July 15
1 p.m. - New York vs. Charlotte (Game 20)
3 p.m. - Cleveland vs. New Orleans (Game 21)
5 p.m. - LA Clippers vs. LA Lakers (Game 23)
7 p.m. - San Antonio vs. Atlanta (Game 25)
Thomas & Mack
3:30 p.m. - Minnesota vs. Phoenix (Game 22)
5:30 p.m. - Sacramento vs. Golden State (Game 24)
7:30 p.m. - Chicago vs. Denver (Game 26)
Tuesday July 16
1 p.m. - Minnesota vs. Miami (Game 27)
3 p.m. - Sacramento vs. Toronto (Game 28)
5 p.m. - Chicago vs. Portland (Game 30)
7 p.m. - Denver vs. Washington (Game 32)
Thomas & Mack
3:30 p.m. - Golden State vs. Milwaukee (Game 29)
5:30 p.m. - Phoenix vs. Memphis (Game 31)
7:30 p.m. - Dallas vs. NBA D-League (Game 33)
Las Vegas Summer League Tournament Bracket (courtesy of NBA.com)
Teams That Will Compete For Title
New York Knicks
The Knicks don’t have a lot of flashy players on their summer league roster, but there are a couple of big names who can help win the tournament. First and foremost, Iman Shumpert is going to dominate a lot of the competition in Las Vegas, as he’s already an up-and-coming star in the NBA.
Shumpert didn’t play particularly well last season, as he was only able to play in a little more than half of the year due to injury. In 22.1 minutes per night in 45 games, the sophomore averaged 6.8 points and shot 39.6 percent from the field. He’ll get a great opportunity to work on his accuracy this summer.
If Shumpert gets hot this summer, he and Tim Hardaway, Jr. are going to be a lethal duo. Hardaway was New York’s top draft pick this year and will be getting his first taste of basketball in the NBA. The guard averaged 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game with Michigan a year ago.
The X-factor in the coming weeks for New York’s summer league team is going to be C.J. Leslie, who recently went undrafted. Leslie was great in his time at NC State, though. In his junior year, he scored 15.1 points and grabbed 7.4 boards per game. If he proves doubters wrong, the Knicks could run away with the crown.
It’s going to be embarrassing if Portland doesn’t cruise to win the inaugural summer league championship. There’s no reason why the Blazers shouldn’t go undefeated, either. Portland’s roster is absolutely stacked, as it features the likes of Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Meyers Leonard and Allen Crabbe, among others.
For those who don’t remember, Lillard just recently took home the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award. He scored 19 points and averaged 6.5 assists per game this past season. He dominated the competition in the NBA and he’s going to beat up on a lot of the inexperienced summer-league talent.
Leonard wasn’t a star for the Blazers last season, but still saw significant time off the bench—around 18 minutes per night. With more time each game, Leonard is capable of emerging into an impact big man in Portland’s rotation. He will definitely have the chance to improve his game over the summer.
McCollum and Crabbe are the two top rookies on Portland’s summer league roster. McCollum was the 10th pick in the draft and has a very bright future, while Crabbe got taken in the second round and will likely come off the bench next season for the Blazers. Both are perfect fits to play alongside of Lillard this summer.
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