2019 NBA Summer League: What to Watch For
2018 brought fans the highly-anticipated debut of Phoenix Suns’ center DeAndre Ayton and Atlanta Hawks’ point guard Trae Young.
2019 is sure to be fun and competitive as many rookies, especially the overshadowed, will showcase their talents as they prepare for their first season. The NBA Las Vegas Summer League will run from July 5th to July 15th. Over that period, here are a few things to watch for.
2019 NBA Las Vegas Summer League: What to Watch For
Zion Williamson vs. R.J. Barrett
The first wave of action on July 5th will include the New Orleans Pelicans versus the New York Knicks. Inside that game, two of the top three 2019 NBA Draft picks will be going head-to-head. Both Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett will make their debuts. This match-up looks to be an exciting one. Both players were teammates at Duke. Even though they play different positions, many fans will look for them to guard each other at various points. Also, they will be the leaders of their respective teams. Both the Pelicans and the Knicks have rosters that are capable of capturing the Summer League championship.
Teams to Watch
The Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland TrailBlazers have dominated the Summer League over the past two years. This year, there are a lot of teams who are loaded with talented players. As mentioned before, the Knicks could take walk away with the crown. Barrett will be joined by Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and Allonzo Trier. Other teams with impressive rosters are the Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, and Sacramento Kings. The Celtics have players such as Romeo Langford and Carsen Edwards, who were a bit overlooked. The combination of Dwayne Bacon and Miles Bridges at the forward spots could do wonders for the Hornets. The Kings’ roster features Summer League veterans such as Marvin Bagley III, Frank Mason, and Caleb Swanigan. Swanigan made waves for the past two years in Summer League play.
Players to Watch
There will be a lot of players who will prove they can become stars. Here are a few players to watch for:
The Minnesota Timberwolves made a good move trading up for Jarrett Culver. He is the dark horse of the 2019 NBA Draft Class. He has all of the tools to become a star at the next level. His knack for clutch buckets and defense could help him dominate the Summer League
Chicago Bulls’ rookie Colby White is one of the quickest players in this year’s draft class. That could prove to be a plus for him as he looks to prove himself. Outside of Memphis Grizzlies’ heralded rookie, Ja Morant, the point guard position in this year’s draft was not deep. White was looked at as the distant second-best at that position.
Nassir Little surprisingly fell to 25 in the NBA Draft. He was selected by the TrailBlazers. His fall in the draft will be motivation for him. Little will prove teams made a mistake passing on him in the lottery area. Little will be expected to perform well as the TrailBlazers are the defending Summer League champions.
Kevin Porter Jr.
Kevin Porter Jr. is another talented player who fell in the draft. He was selected 30th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Many would consider that a steal. Porter Jr. is a very skilled scorer. His full skill set was not on display due to him coming off the bench at USC. Now, he has a chance to shine. He has what it takes to be one of the top scorers this summer.
Team China and Team Croatia
This year’s Summer League will have a new twist. The competing teams will include two international teams from China and Croatia. This adds another element to the league. China and Croatia will have their best talents on display and look to capture the title. Team China played in the Summer League in 2007. However, the spotlight was much smaller. Now that the NBA has grown globally since then, viewership will jump yet again.