While the Orlando Summer League gave fans a taste of basketball action, the Las Vegas Summer League is the big feature of the preseason with 24 teams competing for a title.
This event showcases some of the best young players in the sport, many of which were draft picks in the past few years. The higher selections are looking to develop their talent while the rest of the players are hoping to just earn a spot on an NBA roster.
All of this will take place as the teams take part in a competitive atmosphere that will crown a single champion at the end. Although it sometimes gets confusing, here is a look at the complete format of the tournament with a breakdown of the teams you do not want to miss.
Every team will play three games from July 11 through July 15 at either the COX Pavilion or the Thomas & Mack Center. It will be important to not only come through with victories in this game—every single quarter will be vital.
After the three games, the 24 teams will be seeded according to their win-loss record followed by how many quarters they "won." Any quarter that was tied will give each team a half-point. If there are still ties, it will come down to point differential and then a coin flip.
The teams will then be placed in the bracket according to the seeds, with the top eight squads all getting a first-round bye. This will lead to a single-elimination tournament until a champion is crowned.
You can view the complete schedule and bracket to be updated at NBA.com.
Top Teams to Watch
The big story in the NBA this week was LeBron James deciding to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. While this addition alone will make the team a top contender, the younger players on the roster are what really makes this team interesting.
Andrew Wiggins is the big draw as the No. 1 pick in this year's draft. While he still has a lot of growing to do, his athleticism is off the charts and he is capable of a big play at any moment.
Meanwhile, last year's top pick, Anthony Bennett, did not do much in his rookie season, but he is ready to make a difference this time around, as noted by Zach Harper of CBS Sports:
Anthony Bennett isn’t in good shape yet but he looks much better than he did last season. Clearly working to get there. Not far off.— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) July 12, 2014
He certainly impressed in his first Summer League game with this huge play:
This combination of top picks makes the team exciting to watch, especially when you add in fan-favorite Matthew Dellavedova as a versatile point guard capable of leading this team to victory.
Even though Wiggins was selected before Jabari Parker, the former Duke star is the early favorite to win the NBA's Rookie of the Year award, according to Will Brinson of CBS Sports:
Jabari Parker (5/1) fave for NBA ROY @BovadaLV. Wiggins 11/2, Randle 9/1, Exum/Doug McD 10/1. HAirston 15/1 TJ Warren 25/1— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) June 27, 2014
Parker has an extremely developed offensive game that features the ability to score from inside or outside. In all likelihood, he will be the immediate go-to option with the Bucks as the team looks to improve from last season.
Of course, the rookie will not be by himself on the Bucks' summer league roster. Fans will also want to make sure to tune in to see Giannis Antetokounmpo, who ESPN's D.J. Foster is excited to watch:
The “Greek Freak” was Cirque De Soleil on a basketball court last season, and now he’s reportedly 2 inches taller and presumably even more capable of ridiculous feats. Few players in this setting will illicit this level of reaction -- you’ll drop your jaw, you’ll yell, you’ll jump out of your seat. He’s big fun.
With a number of other young players hoping to earn a spot on an NBA roster, this is a squad you need to watch over the next two weeks.
It is easy to count out players after just one season, but there were a number of high-upside prospects from last year's draft who have a chance to make big leaps this time around.
One of those players is Shabazz Muhammad, who is already proving himself early in the Vegas Summer League. In the first game against the Dallas Mavericks, the second-year player finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds.
Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune notes that the wing is more comfortable this season:
Shabazz, btw, finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds & said he feels so much more comfortable than he did here back in Vegasa a year ago— Jerry Zgoda (@JerryZgoda) July 13, 2014
While Muhammad is taking his next step, fellow UCLA product Zach LaVine will try to develop his relatively raw game in a competitive atmosphere. Few will expect a huge year out of the guard, but he has the talent and athleticism to showcase some ability in these games.
The Timberwolves' roster also includes Alexey Shved and Gorgui Dieng, two players who became quality rotation members last season.
As all of these young players develop together, it could help fans in Minnesota forget that Kevin Love is likely on his way out.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.