Although none of the games count in the NBA standings, the Orlando Summer League is important in the careers of many young players.
Saturday represented the first day of action in a weeklong event, featuring 10 teams trying to win a title. Of course, the bigger purpose is for young players to get some exposure and develop their games against other top talent.
For fans of the sport, this is a great chance to see some of the top rookies and second-year players in action before they blow up under the main spotlight. With this in mind, check out this full schedule of the remaining games, followed by a few matchups that you do not want to miss.
|Sunday, July 6||Grizzlies vs. Pistons||3 p.m.|
|Sunday, July 6||76ers vs. Thunder||5 p.m.|
|Sunday, July 6||Heat vs. Nets||7 p.m.|
|Monday, July 7||Pacers vs. Celtics||3 p.m.|
|Monday, July 7||Rockets vs. Magic||5 p.m.|
|Monday, July 7||Thunder vs. Nets||7 p.m.|
|Tuesday, July 8||Magic vs. Grizzlies||3 p.m.|
|Tuesday, July 8||Heat vs. Pistons||5 p.m.|
|Tuesday, July 8||Rockets vs. 76ers||7 p.m.|
|Wednesday, July 9||Pacers vs. Thunder||3 p.m.|
|Wednesday, July 9||76ers vs. Nets||5 p.m.|
|Wednesday, July 9||Celtics vs. Pistons||7 p.m.|
|Thursday, July 10||Pacers vs. Heat||3 p.m.|
|Thursday, July 10||Celtics vs. Magic||5 p.m.|
|Thursday, July 10||Grizzlies vs. Rockets||7 p.m.|
|Friday, July 11||TBD Game 1||8 a.m.|
|Friday, July 11||TBD Game 2||10 a.m.|
|Friday, July 11||TBD Game 3||12 p.m.|
|Friday, July 11||TBD Game 4||2 p.m.|
|Friday, July 11||TBD Game 5||4 p.m.|
Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics
This is a battle between two of the best point guards in the rookie class when Marcus Smart of the Celtics takes on Elfrid Payton of the Magic.
While Payton struggled at times, Smart had a solid all-around performance in his debut. Boston summer league coach Jay Larranaga was proud of the effort, via Brian Robb of ESPN Boston:
He plays with a tremendous intensity. He's a great teammate. He showed that from the beginning. He was a big part of why we played so well as a team on both ends of the floor. He had some great help defensive plays you wouldn't expect a 20-year-old to be able to do, but he has a really good idea of team basketball, which is really exciting for us.
Smart will have to battle not just Payton but also Victor Oladipo, who is coming off a strong rookie campaign where he spent time at both guard positions. He has as much NBA experience as almost anyone in the summer league, and he should continue to shine in front of his home fans.
Additionally, fans will be able to see more of rookie Aaron Gordon, who is already showcasing his athletic ability:
Magic rookie Aaron Gordon had the defensive play of the day with this block-and-catch of a K.J. McDaniels shot. http://t.co/LlVvE8yvAQ— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 5, 2014
If he can continue to make plays and improve on the offensive end, Orlando will be extremely happy about drafting him.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Houston Rockets
One of the most pleasant surprises from the first day of action in Orlando was the performance by the No. 22 overall pick Jordan Adams. Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv was one of many impressed in the early going:
Former UCLA G Jordan Adams showing a nice shooting stroke for Memphis, has 13 pts in 12 mins off the bench.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) July 5, 2014
The guard finished with 22 points, shooting 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and adding four steals. He was able to manage a plus-27 mark when on the floor, by far the highest in the game.
Adams was selected a bit higher than many anticipated, but he is already showing the ability to provide the Grizzlies with some much-needed offense.
On the other hand, a guard who went lower than some thought was Nick Johnson. The Arizona star dropped to the 42nd pick of the draft before the Rockets were able to grab him. He was ready to prove all of his doubters wrong right away with 18 points off the bat and one of the biggest dunks you will see all tournament:
This battle between talented rookies might be worth the price of admission on its own.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
After missing all of last season while recovering from an ACL tear, Nerlens Noel was finally able to get onto the court against the Magic, and he did not disappoint.
The center finished the summer league game with 19 points while also contributing four steals, three assists and a block. Brett Dawson of Rivals.com breaks down what he saw from the young player:
Nerlens Noel doing some good things offensively today. Couple of dunks. Post and lefty finish. Tough take and-one. Floater.— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonRivals) July 5, 2014
Philadelphia acquired him hoping that he could be an impact player in the frontcourt, and he is already showing plenty of potential.
However, he will have to keep showing this ability on a consistent basis to really turn heads. His next game against the Thunder will be a good chance, as he will have to face other young frontcourt competitors like Steven Adams and Mitch McGary.
Adams surprisingly played a relatively big role in his first season with the Thunder after coming in as one of the least polished players in the draft. He averaged 14.8 minutes in 81 games while showcasing his defensive ability with 4.1 rebounds per game.
If Noel can have a good game against Oklahoma City, along with second-round picks K.J. McDaniels and Jerami Grant, the 76ers will feel pretty good about the future.
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