Admit it, you miss basketball. Sure, the business of the offseason has been fun to follow with a walloping 26 free agents switching teams already, but it’s not the same. For many of you, the closest you’ve gotten to real basketball is either playing pickup with your friends, or constantly updating the rosters in NBA 2K13 in order to match all the moves being made around the league.
Well, fret not! NBA basketball is on it’s way back. Everyone’s favorite few weeks of the summer began today at 9:00 a.m., NBA Summer League. Things get underway in Orlando where the Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, and the back-to-back world champion Miami Heat will field teams. After that concludes on July 12, there will be even more action, but this time in Las Vegas where a total of 22 of the 30 teams will participate. Let’s take a look at five reasons why you should be excited that NBA basketball is back and be tuned into NBA TV for the next 15 days.
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Summer league is not a who’s who of talent. Sure there will be players there with a lot of hype or following, but in contrast to the total number of players participating, they are few and far between. So what were left with is numerous players trying to find a way to make a name for themselves and stand out from everyone else wearing a practice jersey; whether it has sleeves or not. One way to do that — besides playing well on the court — is what you’re wearing. As Mars Blackmon once asked, “Is it the shoes?”
Players will be digging deep into their closets to find just the right pair of kicks to rock. Some might even wear something that you never would’ve imagined seeing on a basketball court. Also, for the bigger names, it gives us a sneak leak at shoes that Nike and adidas are rolling out for either the summer or fall. Finally, it’s a first look at which rookies have signed shoe deals with which companies. The days of $90 million shoe deals are long gone, but players still make a good amount from shoe deals and who could say no to free shoes?
Each summer there are usually players that come out of nowhere to have an impact. Last year, that player was Chris Copeland, who turned his outstanding Vegas play into a rotation spot for the New York Knicks and then a well-deserved payday from the Indiana Pacers this offseason. Another player that made a name for himself during the summer is Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin. He more than held his own against No. 1 overall pick John Wall.
This summer will be no different as there will undoubtedly be a player that managed to either slip overseas for a year or get passed over during the draft in June. My early favorite would be Khalif Wyatt, the former Temple guard who finds himself playing for his hometown Philadelphia 76ers. Wyatt showed during the NCAA Tournament that he knows how to put the ball in the hoop and if he does the same while in Orlando, he will definitely find a place on the Sixers roster.
JASON KIDD COACHING DEBUT
Jason Kidd was retired for less than 10 days when the Brooklyn Nets announced he would become the team’s next head coach. While the move to select Kidd as their coach came as a surprise, the 40-year-old won’t even be the youngest coach in the league next year. That honor belongs to newly hired Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics.
For years, Kidd has been described as a coach on the court as he ran offenses during his playing days. Now, we get the chance to see just what he is made of when it comes to Xs and Os. Kidd will be in Orlando serving as the coach of the Nets summer league team. For five days we will get a preview of what’s to come from Kidd and just what ideas he has on how to utilize his mega star lineup of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez. Once the Orlando league ends, we’ll know if Billy King made the right choice handing the reigns over to Kidd.
What’s not to love about rookies? Summer league serves as an opportunity to see the players teams selected for the first time against other NBA caliber competition. Last year, players like Jeremy Lamb, Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard went off in Vegas. Lillard took home MVP honors, averaging a ridiculous 26.5 points throughout his four games in Vegas. This July, we get to watch newcomers MCW, KCP, Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo, Kelly Olynyk, Mason Plumlee, Ben McLemore, Tim Hardaway Jr., Shabazz Muhammad, C.J. McCollum, Shane Larkin and Cody Zeller get their feet wet for the first time.
There are also many undrafted rookies that find themselves on various rosters and use the Vegas and Orlando leagues as their chance to fight their way into at least a training camp invitation. It is always interesting to see which players are able to transition quickly from college to the NBA and while playing great doesn’t always translate into a successful rookie campaign — Austin Rivers knows this well — most of the time, summer league serves as a way to gauge just how far along a player is in their development.
The NBA Finals ended on June 20 and since then there has been nowhere for basketball fans to turn to get their fix from. The MLB season isn’t even halfway done yet, all the big names lost at Wimbledon, and Tiger Woods isn’t dominating any golf courses. In other words there’s a lull in the sports world as a whole. What the summer league brings, even if only for a couple weeks, is live actual basketball. So put down 2K13 and fix yourself in front of a TV, laptop or mobile device and get ready to watch the real thing again. No, it’s not going to be as structured or organized as the basketball that fans are used to seeing from NBA players… but so what? At this point in the summer, basketball is basketball and if you truly are a fan, you will devour the chance to watch people running up and down a court again.
What’s the best part of summer league?
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