Five reasons to watch the NBA Summer League

Profile Picture: Andrew Champagne

August 4th, 2021

It’s a little jarring, as the NBA Draft just happened last week, but the NBA Summer League is gearing up for its 2021 campaign. Competition will start on Sunday, Aug. 8, in Las Vegas, and here are five reasons you’ll want to pay attention to what happens in Sin City.

1. It’s fun!

The Summer League provides a glimpse at how prospects fit with some of their teammates, as well as a look at veterans who may be seeking ways to extend their careers. Coaches will be looking to evaluate the talent that’s on their rosters and experiment with different lineups and schemes in an environment conducive to player and team growth. That’s not something you’ll see once the NBA’s season starts, and it gets the brain going.

2. It cleanses the basketball pallet

Are these full-strength NBA teams? Of course not. Superstars are assured of roster spots and don’t need to play these games. However, with the regular season not beginning until Oct. 19, this provides a way to hold folks over until the preseason, which tips off at the beginning of October.

3. A first look at rookies

Not all first-year players will suit up in the Summer League, but enough of them will to allow fans to get sneak peeks of them in uniform. They’ll get their first tastes of NBA competition and what it will take to succeed at the next level.

4. Veterans turning up in new places

A number of Summer League teams will boast names you recognize from years past. Portland, for instance, will have Kenneth Faried on the roster after he spent eight seasons in the NBA and another in China. Brandon Knight, meanwhile, wound up with the Brooklyn Nets after spending the 2010’s with five different franchises.

5. The schedule/matchups

Every team will play five times, with the title game set for Tuesday, Aug. 17. Several matchups provide possibilities for top draft picks to face off against one another. For instance, the Houston Rockets, who selected Jalen Green with the second overall pick, will face third overall pick Evan Mobley and the Cleveland Cavaliers on the first day of competition.