Today’s Boys Of Summer Hit Vegas. And It Won’t Stop There.

No, the NBA hasn’t quite yet given an expansion franchise to Las Vegas.  But there’s no question that if the league is indeed the sun from which all other sports revolve around, as is increasingly becoming evident by the total amount of global consumption and engagement surrounding it, Las Vegas is its de facto nucleus.  And at least for the next 10 days, beginning tomorrow night, all 30 teams will, for the fifth time in the last six years, converge en masse on the city, conducting a whirlwind tournament that will also provide a plethora of competitive content just as major league baseball gets ready for its All-Star break and just before pro football training camps open.

The NBA Summer League has become such an event of global significance, with ESPN and NBA TV, as well as global affiliates, dedicating dozens of hours to coverage of games, it has in fact extended to a lead-up week of games in Sacramento and Salt Lake City which will conclude tonight in Utah, and where earlier this week teams like the Spurs, Heat, Lakers and Warriors showcased some of their recent draft picks and role player candidates.    Some of those games were downright intriguing, though #1 pick Victor Wembenyama will wait until tomorrow night’s Las Vegas opener to take the court as a San Antonio Spur for the first time.   But other notable names did indeed make their summer debuts, as THE BLEACHER REPORT’s Doric Sam reported:

After recording 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocks in his return to the court on Monday, Oklahoma City Thunder big man Chet Holmgren had a slightly more understated performance in his second showing during a 94-86 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, two steals, one assist and six turnovers. He shot just 3-of-8 from the field and missed all four of his three-point attempts.

Meanwhile, in Sacto:

It’s only summer league, but Charlotte Hornets No. 2 overall pick Brandon Miller likely had higher hopes for the start of his NBA career.

Miller failed to make much of an impact once again as the Hornets suffered a 98-83 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

The former Alabama star was limited to six points while recording eight fouls, six of which came in the first half. Even more concerning, he displayed a lack of aggression, shooting just 2-of-4 from the field. He managed to dish out a game-high seven assists while also adding four rebounds, one steal and four turnovers.

In Monday’s 96-77 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Miller finished with 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting, five rebounds, three assists, six turnovers and seven fouls. He scored most of his points in garbage time after struggling to find his shooting stroke early.

Miller, whose personal issues overshadowed his time with the Tide, which prematurely ended with a first round March Madness loss to a 16 seed, plans to be Wemby’s first opponent in that kickoff event scheduled for 9 PM ET tomorrow night.

And they may again both take the court later this year, as news began to trickle out about the league’s long-planned in-season tournament, details of which will be announced on ESPN on Saturday night, but which DEADLINE’s Bruce Haring nevertheless broke earlier this morningL

In a gimmick borrowed from European soccer leagues, the National Basketball Assn. has reportedly set plans for a new In-Season Final Four Tournament. 

ESPN reports the league’s schedule addition will be set for Dec. 7 and 9 in Las Vegas. Full details on the competition — including groupings — will be unveiled Saturday night in Las Vegas on ESPN’s “NBA Today,” the league said.

The long-rumored tournament will likely be split into six different pools of five teams. The pools will be created from teams in the same conference.

During the first six weeks of the season, on designated days, teams will play group games — every team in their pool once — with two of them at home and two on the road. That will determine the winner of each pool, which then morphs into a single-elimination format with two wild card teams.

Player statistics will count for the regular season totals, except for the championship game. As incentive, players on the winning team will receive $500,000 each.

The two teams that reach the mid-season championship will play 83 games in the season.

Oh, did we mention that while all of that’s going on, across town a professional basketball team that does currently call Las Vegas its full-time home–the defending WNBA champion Aces–are well on their way to repeating, having breezed through the season’s first half with a 16-1 record and what is already an eight-game lead on the Western Conference?

So while Denver may be on top of the current basketball standings, there is no question Las Vegas is on top of the basketball world.  And very soon, not just when outside tempertatures hit triple digits.


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