Just call the NBA summer league in Las Vegas the Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker show.
There was a time when only the NFL could be heralded as a year-round sport, thanks to its action-packed offseason, but the NBA has upped the ante in recent years to match. In only its second rendition, the NBA's West Coast summer event breathes new life into a dull offseason.
The tournament, complete with a March Madness-inspired bracket, has proved to be thrilling over the course of its first three days, as fans have been given an early glimpse of their new-look franchises.
That includes new head coaches, free agents and highly vaunted rookies like Wiggins and Parker, who fatefully kicked off the 67-game, 10-day affair with a duel between their respective teams.
The two were in action again Sunday as the schedule brought fans eight more games.
Day 3 Results
|Matchup||Final Score||Leading Scorer|
|Cleveland Cavaliers vs. San Antonio Spurs||CLE 82, SAS 70||Will Cherry and Deshaun Thomas, 21|
|Sacramento Kings vs. Charlotte Hornets||SAC 72, CHA 65||P.J. Hairston, 22|
|Chicago Bulls vs. Denver Nuggets||CHI 103, DEN 76||Doug McDermott, 31|
|Milwaukee Bucks vs. Phoenix Suns||PHX 93, MIL 82||Seth Curry, 26|
|L.A. Lakers vs. New Orleans Pelicans||NO 90, LAL 73||Courtney Fells, 25|
|Atlanta Hawks vs. NBA D-League||DLS 94, ATL 92||Dennis Schroder, 30|
|Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets||POR 75, HOU 67||C.J. McCollum, 19|
|Washington Wizards vs. Minnesota Timberwolves||WAS 62, MIN 55||Glen Rice Jr., 20|
Las Vegas Summer League Standings
|Golden State Warriors||2-0|
|Los Angeles Clippers||0-1|
|Los Angeles Lakers||0-2|
|NBA D-League Select||1-1|
|New Orleans Pelicans||2-0|
|New York Knicks||2-0|
|Portland Trail Blazers||1-1|
|San Antonio Spurs||1-1|
Sacramento Kings 72, Charlotte Hornets 65
The Sacramento Kings jumped out to an early lead on Sunday afternoon and never looked back despite facing an onslaught of scoring from a certain Charlotte Hornets rookie.
Ra'shad James led the way for the Kings with 12 points off the bench, although his contributions may have been easy to see coming after the show he put on before the game:
MarShon Brooks and Ben Mclemore each tallied 11 points, while rookie Nik Stauskas shot 2-of-4 from deep and posted 10 points.
But Stauskas was far from the best rookie performer on the day thanks to Charlotte's P.J. Hairston, who poured in 22 points, although it is important to note the total came on 6-of-20 shooting.
Perhaps more impressive was the performance of No. 9 overall pick Noah Vonleh, who grabbed a tournament-high 18 boards to round out the double-double, as he also scored 10 points. His ability to bring energy and recognize double-teams quickly certainly bodes well for the franchise as it moves deeper into the tournament.
New Orleans Pelicans 90, Los Angeles Lakers 73
In a contest in which both participants were models of consistency, the team that got off to the hot start and finished hot wound up the winner.
Shocker. Los Angeles shot better than 43 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from long range, but New Orleans registered better than 55 percent and 53.3 percent in the respective categories.
The biggest news for Los Angeles on the day was the front office finally getting No. 7 overall pick Julius Randle under contract, as NBA on ESPN noted:
RT @mcten: The Lakers announce that Julius Randle has signed his rookie contract and he will play in their summer league game today— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 13, 2014
But even he could not save the Lakers on Sunday, even though his stellar debut featured 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting and two boards.
No, it was Trey Thompkins who torched his way to 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, while Jordan Clarkson was not far behind with 16 points, one game removed from posting 21.
On the flip side, New Orleans' Courtney Fells led all scorers with 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting with a 4-of-6 mark from deep. DeQuan Jones came off the bench and added 14 points, while rookie Russ Smith dished eight dimes.
Perhaps the best highlight of the game, though, came from rookie Patric Young, who showed off his pure power in the early going:
Each squad got a good taste of what new faces can do, and the tangible results are something both staffs can use to better build a quality bench by the time the regular season rolls around.
Cleveland Cavaliers 82, San Antonio Spurs 70
Sunday kicked off with two championship contenders, with the primary focus once again falling on Wiggins' shoulders.
He would not disappoint, either. After 18 points in his first pro contest Friday, the former Kansas star and No. 1 overall pick went out and posted 13 points and three rebounds, getting most of his production via aggression that saw him hit the charity stripe more than anyone in the contest; he went 6-of-8. As an added bonus, he was dominant on defense, too:
As far as other high-profile Cavaliers go, former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett also posted 13 points and grabbed 14 boards, while being no stranger to the highlight reel:
It is perhaps Bennett who is under the microscope more than any other player on the roster in Las Vegas, but he garnered a strong review from head coach David Blatt after the first game of the tournament, per Brett Pollakoff of Pro Basketball Talk:
And he did some good things basketball-wise. I was happy with AB, and I’ve been happy with him since the camp started. He’s really really made the effort, he’s tried to lead the guys through example. He’s a kid that’s trying to do something about his situation, and that’s the right way to go about it.
Will Cherry out of Montana made a case for a roster spot on a team at the NBA level with an emphatic 21 points, seven boards and four assists.
The Spurs were doomed to lose after scoring just 23 points in the first half, but it was not without its positives.
JaMychal Green posted 12 points and six rebounds off the bench, as well as some highlight-worthy plays:
Deshaun Thomas led the way with 21 points for San Antonio, but having just three players reach double figures and shooting 33.8 percent from the field to Cleveland's 50.8 equated to a loss that could have been worse had the Cavaliers not let off the gas late.
Even so, both sides saw plenty of positives from younger players to apply to the rest of the tournament, although it is Wiggins and the Cavaliers who have the look of a team that can run the bracket and reach the final in the coming week.