While some of the NBA's biggest stars are kicking the tires on potential suitors for next season, the league's stars of tomorrow are sharpening their skills in Orlando.
The Florida-based summer league may play the role of little brother to the more prominent one held in Las Vegas, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth keeping an eye on.
Some of the top rookies will get their first taste of NBA action. Some high-profile second-year players will have the opportunity to showcase some improvements they've made to their games since the last time we saw them on the hardwood.
Here's a look at when you can catch each game from Orlando. The NBA also offers a live stream with its Summer League Live app (pay service).
|Date||Time (ET)||Matchup||TV Info|
|3 p.m.||Memphis Grizzlies vs. Detroit Pistons||NBATV|
|5 p.m.||Philadelphia 76ers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder||NBATV|
|7 p.m.||Miami Heat vs. Brooklyn Nets||NBATV|
|3 p.m.||Indiana Pacers vs. Boston Celtics||NBATV|
|5 p.m.||Houston Rockets vs. Orlando Magic||NBATV|
|7 p.m.||Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Brooklyn Nets||NBATV|
|3 p.m.||Orlando Magic vs. Memphis Grizzlies||NBATV|
|5 p.m.||Miami Heat vs. Detroit Pistons||NBATV|
|7 p.m.||Houston Rockets vs. Philadelphia 76ers||NBATV|
|Indiana Pacers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder||NBATV|
|Philadelphia 76ers vs. Brooklyn Nets||NBATV|
|Boston Celtics vs. Detroit Pistons||NBATV|
|Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat||NBATV|
|Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic||NBATV|
Players to Watch
Shabazz Napier, PG, Miami Heat
In a sense, UConn product Shabazz Napier faces more pressure than any rookie heading into the 2014 season. Pressure tends to mount when LeBron James anoints you the best at your position, then his team trades up in the draft to select you.
The Heat are certainly hoping Napier can step up to the plate and contribute meaningful minutes as soon as possible. After the postseason play of Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers, point guard may be the defending Eastern Conference champs' biggest position of need.
However, things didn't get off to a great start for Napier. Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders noted his performance and Napier's reaction:
Shabazz Napier struggled in summer league debut, shooting 3-15 from field and committing 8 turnovers. He said he'll need to adjust to NBA.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 5, 2014
Heat fans will hope to see a much more efficient Napier next time the Heat take the court in Orlando. His improvement is definitely a storyline to keep an eye on.
Aaron Gordon, F, Orlando Magic (and Elfrid Payton)
The hometown Orlando Magic probably feature the most intriguing roster in the summer league. With two top-10 picks in action, fans are going to be treated to the earliest stages of two cornerstone pieces of the team going forward.
The prized jewel of that draft haul is Aaron Gordon, of course. While the forward still has a long way to go before he's a dependable offensive weapon, his athleticism is going to provide an early boost on the defensive end.
His ability to make blocks like this one from his summer league debut make him must-see TV.
Then there's Elfrid Payton. Again, the point guard will need to develop his offensive game, but he figures to be a menace on defense very early in his career.
Watching him play his first minutes and how he works with fellow guard Victor Oladipo makes for one of the most intriguing subplots in Orlando.
Nerlens Noel, C, Philadelphia 76ers
Sixers fans will have to wait a while to see No. 3 pick Joel Embiid. He'll be out for the foreseeable future with a foot injury.
But that doesn't mean they don't have something to get excited for. After a year of waiting, fans will finally see 2013's No. 6 selection, Nerlens Noel, in action. Much like Embiid, Noel was a speculative option as the No. 1 pick before facing his own injury issues.
Now, he has his first opportunity to show fans he's ready to contribute this year. As Zach Harper of CBS Sports notes, his debut was impressive.
Production, good or bad, in SL is whatever. But the shooting form, decision-making, etc. of Nerlens Noel looks phenomenal so far.— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) July 5, 2014
As Harper mentioned, production isn't everything in summer league. But Noel went ahead and put up an impressive stat line anyway. He had 19 points, four steals, three assists and a block against the Magic.
If he continues to put up those kind of numbers, he will be the breakout star of the Orlando Summer League.