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2014 NBA Las Vegas Summer League: Everything you need to know

2014 NBA Las Vegas Summer League: Everything you need to know Photo:

LAS VEGAS -- One of the most unpredictable and deliberate free agency periods in recent memory threatens to overshadow this year's Las Vegas Summer League, which would be a shame. Yes, the impending decisions of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will play a large role in defining the NBA's present, but it's been years since so many promising rookies will come to Nevada to stake their claim to the league's future.

The 2013 event was a bit of a bust, defined by a fairly weak rookie class that was further depleted by a number of lottery picks who were unable to attend due to injuries. That simply isn't the case this time around, as No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins and No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker will co-headline the event, with a number of other notable lottery picks taking the court. 

Here's a quick primer on what to expect over the next two weeks.

What is it?

Las Vegas Summer League is a loosely organized, guard-dominated, defense-optional series of scrimmages between NBA teams with rosters made up mostly of rookies, second-year players, undrafted players and players who are currently plying their trade overseas. It's simultaneously a showcase for high draft picks entering their rookie seasons and an extended tryout for fringe NBA players who are hoping to fill out a roster on a minimum deal.

When is it?

 Las Vegas Summer League begins at 1 p.m. PT on Friday and runs until July 21, when a championship game will be played.

Which teams will be there?

A record 23 NBA teams and a D-League Select team will compete. The NBA teams are the  Bucks, Bulls, Cavaliers, Clippers, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Jazz, Kings, KnicksLakers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pelicans, Raptors, Rockets, 76ers, Spurs, Suns, Trail Blazers,​ Timberwolves, Warriors and Wizards.

The seven teams not present -- the Celtics, GrizzliesMagic, Nets, Pacers, Pistons, Grizlie and Thunder -- all competed in this week's scaled-down Orlando Summer League.

Which lottery picks from the 2014 draft will be there?

Although Sixers rookie center Joel Embiid is sidelined with a foot injury and a number of picks competed in Orlando this week, there are still nine lottery picks scheduled to play. By comparison, only five played in Las Vegas in 2013.

Cavaliers forward Andrew Wiggins (No. 1 pick): LeBron James' flirtation with the Cavaliers has created a non-stop buzz this week, but Wiggins' explosive athleticism should help him make a few headlines of his own. The hype that has followed Wiggins for years could make him a target for opponents eager to make a name for themselves, but he should be up to the task, as scouts believe he's more NBA ready on the defensive end.

Bucks forward Jabari Parker (No. 2 pick): Although Jason Kidd's power play and abrupt move to Milwaukee did step on Parker's arrival a bit, not even the back room politics could quell the Bucks' excitement over their new franchise face. After an unwatchable 2013-14 season, Parker's Vegas run might just be the team's high point of the last 12 months (or longer).

Jazz guard Dante Exum (No. 5 pick): The big question when Utah drafted Exum, a 6-foot-6 Australian guard, is how his game would mesh with 2013 lottery pick Trey Burke. A first look at the answer to that query could come in Las Vegas, as both Exum and Burke are on the Jazz's roster.

Lakers forward Julius Randle (No. 7 pick): After receiving an "all clear" from his doctors over a foot injury, Randle should get the chance to show whether the bullying game that helped him dominate the NCAA competition will translate immediately to the next level. Lord knows Lakers fans could use a ray of hope at this point.

Kings forward Nik Stauskas (No. 8 pick): Las Vegas offers the ultimate green light for shooters, which is great news for Stauskas, who averaged 17.5 points and shot 44.2 percent from deep as a sophomore at Michigan.

Hornets forward Noah Vonleh (No. 9 pick): Young, project bigs often struggle to make a mark in the guard-dominated setting, so Charlotte's brass will likely settle for some flashes of potential out of the 18-year-old forward.

Bulls forward Doug McDermott (No. 11 pick): Chicago traded up to grab McDermott in hopes of adding an NBA-ready scorer to beef up an offensive attack that was putrid last season without Derrick Rose. The 22-year-old McDermott doesn't need to go for 20+ points per game, as he did during his last three seasons at Creighton, but he does need to prove that he can consistently get to his shots and his spots against NBA-level defenders. 

Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine (No. 13 pick): The UCLA product looked a little depressed when his name was called on draft night, so he should treat Las Vegas as a chance to make a better first impression on Timberwolves fans. Everyone agrees that the athletic tools are there, but is he capable of impacting games right now or will he get lost in the shuffle?

Suns forward T.J. Warren (No. 14 pick): Phoenix will be without Summer League stars Marcus and Markieff Morris this time around, giving Warren the chance to show what he brings to the table. Much like the Morris Twins, Warren certainly isn't shy with the ball in his hands, a trait that should play well in this format.

Which 2014 lottery picks won't be there?

Sixers center Joel Embiid (No. 3 pick, foot injury) 

Magic forward Aaron Gordon (No. 4 pick, played in Orlando)

Celtics guard Marcus Smart (No. 6 pick, played in Orlando)

Magic guard Elfrid Payton (No. 10 pick, played in Orlando)

Sixers forward Dario Saric (No. 12 pick, playing overseas)

Which 2013 lottery picks will be there?

It's quite common for second-year players to get run at Vegas, and nine 2013 lottery picks are on rosters this year. Here's the list:

Cavaliers forward Anthony Bennett (No. 1 pick): Bennett did not play last year due to a shoulder injury. After a disappointing rookie season filled with injuries and conditioning questions, he enters Vegas with a lot to prove.

Wizards forward Otto Porter (No. 3 pick): Porter barely played as a rookie, but Washington may need him much more this season depending on where Trevor Ariza lands in free agency. He floated through last year's Summer League registering little impact. He'll need to do better as a sophomore.

Hornets forward Cody Zeller (No. 4 pick): As one of the few lottery picks to play in Las Vegas last summer, Zeller showed moments of polish as he got acclimated to NBA life. It will be interesting to see how the Hornets use him and Vonleh together.

Suns center Alex Len (No. 5 pick): The 7-footer did not compete in Las Vegas last summer due to ankle injuries. Phoenix is surely hoping he is one of this year's breakout stars.

Sixers center Nerlens Noel (No. 6 pick): Noel was an absolute beast throughout this year's Orlando Summer League, showing the defensive acumen and overall ability that had him as the likely No. 1 pick before he suffered a knee injury that cost him his entire rookie season. It's unclear how much he will play in Las Vegas, but expect the "wows" to continue when he does.

Kings guard Ben McLemore (No. 7 pick): The Kansas product famously made it through the entire 2013 Las Vegas Summer League without registering an assist. Sacramento cleared out Marcus Thornton, opening the door for a major role for McLemore this season. Hopefully the jitters that seemed to dog him last summer will be gone the second time around.

Jazz guard Trey Burke (No. 9 pick): This year marks the first time Utah is competing in Las Vegas. As mentioned, the two-man dynamic between Burke and Exum will be the top priority to watch. The Jazz are surely hoping that Burke is able to impose his will against less-tested opponents now that he has a season under his belt. 

Blazers guard CJ McCollum (No. 10 pick): After placing among the scoring leaders in last year's Summer League, McCollum suffered a foot injury that kept him out for the opening few months of the regular season. He saw only limited action upon his return. He enters the summer looking to establish a meaningful role in Portland's backcourt rotation, which includes heavy-minute starters Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews, plus Will Barton and free-agent signee Steve Blake.

Timberwolves forward Shabazz Muhammad (No. 14): Muhammad was not impressive in Las Vegas last summer, looking slow and lost at times. How much progress has he made and is he able to show it in games?

What is the format?

This year will feature a tournament-style round that will end in a championship game for the second time in the league's history. Last year, teams appeared to have differing approaches to winning the tournament. Both the Warriors and Suns, for example, competed hard throughout Summer League and advanced to the title game, where Golden State prevailed. Other teams didn't look quite as motivated. 

How can I watch?

NBA TV will be televising games (daily schedule here or see below) and the league has set up a $14.99 subscription service to stream games online.

Here is the complete schedule for Las Vegas Summer League. (All times listed are Pacific; *indicates broadcast live on NBA TV.)

Friday July 11

COX Pavilion

1 PM – New York vs. Dallas* (Game 1)

3 PM – Toronto vs. LA Lakers* (Game 2)

5 PM – Cleveland vs. Milwaukee* (Game 3)

7 PM – Sacramento vs. San Antonio* (Game 5)

Thomas & Mack

5:30 PM – Golden State vs. Charlotte (Game 4)

7:30 PM – NBA D-League vs. New Orleans (Game 6)

Saturday July 12 

COX Pavilion

1 PM – Portland vs. New York* (Game 7)

3 PM – Toronto vs. Denver* (Game 9)

5 PM – Phoenix vs. Golden State* (Game 11)

7 PM – Houston vs. Miami (Game 13)

Thomas & Mack

1:30 PM – Atlanta vs. Washington (Game 8)

3:30 PM – Dallas vs. Minnesota (Game 10)

5:30 PM – Chicago vs. LA Clippers (Game 12)

7:30 PM – Utah vs. Philadelphia* (Game 14)

Sunday July 13

COX Pavilion

1 PM – Cleveland vs. San Antonio* (Game 15)

3 PM – Sacramento vs. Charlotte* (Game 17)

5 PM – Chicago vs. Denver* (Game 19)

7 PM – Milwaukee vs. Phoenix* (Game 21)

Thomas & Mack

1:30 PM – LA Lakers vs. New Orleans (Game 16)

3:30 PM – Atlanta vs. NBA D-League (Game 18)

5:30 PM – Portland vs. Houston (Game 20)

7:30 PM – Washington vs. Minnesota (Game 22)

Monday July 14

COX Pavilion

1 PM – New York vs. Charlotte* (Game 23)

3 PM – Toronto vs. Dallas* (Game 25)

5 PM – Cleveland vs. Philadelphia* (Game 27)

7 PM – Golden State vs. LA Lakers* (Game 29)

Thomas & Mack

1:30 PM – Sacramento vs. NBA D-League (Game 24)

3:30 PM – San Antonio vs. New Orleans (Game 26)

5:30 PM – Miami vs. LA Clippers (Game 28)

7:30 PM – Utah vs. Milwaukee (Game 30)

Tuesday July 15

COX Pavilion

1 PM – Portland vs. Atlanta* (Game 31)

3 PM – LA Clippers vs. Houston* (Game 33)

5 PM – Philadelphia vs. Phoenix* (Game 35)

Thomas & Mack

1:30 PM – Chicago vs. Minnesota (Game 32)

3:30 PM – Miami vs. Washington (Game 34)

5:30 PM – Utah vs. Denver (Game 36)

Wednesday July 16

COX Pavilion

1 PM – # 9 Seed vs.  #24 Seed* (Game 37)

3 PM – #11 Seed vs. #22 Seed* (Game 39)

5 PM – #13 Seed vs. #20 Seed* (Game 41)

7 PM – #15 Seed vs. #18 Seed* (Game 43)

Thomas & Mack

1:30 PM – #10 Seed vs. #23 Seed (Game 38)

3:30 PM – #12 Seed vs. #21 Seed (Game 40)

5:30 PM – #14 Seed vs. #19 Seed (Game 42)

7:30 PM – #16 Seed vs. #17 Seed (Game 44)

Thursday July 17

COX Pavilion

1 PM – #8 Seed vs. Winner of Game 37* (Game 45)

3 PM – #6 Seed vs. Winner of Game 39* (Game 47)

5 PM – #4 Seed vs. Winner of Game 41* (Game 49)

7 PM – #2 Seed vs. Winner of Game 43* (Game 51)

Thomas & Mack

1:30 PM – #7 Seed vs. Winner of Game 38(Game 46)

3:30 PM – #5 Seed vs. Winner of Game 40 (Game 48)

5:30 PM – #3 Seed vs. Winner of Game 42 (Game 50)

7:30 PM – #1 Seed vs. Winner of Game 44 (Game 52)

Friday July 18

COX Pavilion

1 PM – Game 37 Loser vs. Game 38 Loser* (Game 53)

3 PM – Game 41 Loser vs. Game 42 Loser* (Game 55)

5 PM – Game 45 Loser vs. Game 46 Loser* (Game 57)

7 PM – Game 49 Loser vs. Game 50 Loser* (Game 59)

Thomas & Mack

1:30 PM – Game 39 Loser vs. Game 40 Loser (Game 54)

3:30 PM – Game 43 Loser vs. Game 44 Loser (Game 56)

5:30 PM – Game 47 Loser vs. Game 48 Loser (Game 58)

7:30 PM – Game 51 Loser vs. Game 52 Loser (Game 60)

Saturday July 19

Thomas & Mack

1 PM – Game 46 Winner vs. Game 51 Winner* (Game 61)

3 PM – Game 47 Winner vs. Game 50 Winner* (Game 62)

5 PM – Game 45 Winner vs. Game 52 Winner* (Game 63)

7 PM – Game 48 Winner vs. Game 49 Winner* (Game 64)

Sunday July 20

Thomas & Mack

3 PM – Game 61 Winner vs. Game 62 Winner* (Game 65)

5 PM – Game 63 Winner vs. Game 64 Winner*(Game 66)

Monday July 21

Thomas & Mack

6 PM – Game 65 Winner vs. Game 66 Winner* (Game 67)

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