Posted by Fran Blinebury
It’s the time to get a first look at the biggest, newest headline stars in professional competition and a chance to mine some of still-hidden nuggets from the NBA Draft and beyond.
The Pro Summer League in Orlando begins on Monday and the NBA Las Vegas Summer League starts Friday and the competition east and west continues through July 18.
Last summer’s stint in Florida was a chance for Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook to shine and he used that as a springboard to help the Thunder make their first drive into the playoffs. Out west in Vegas, it was Blake Griffin, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft who gave the Clippers a look at his great potential before a training camp injury sidelined him for the season.
Who steps forward this year? The Celtics, Bobcats, Pacers, Nets, Thunder, Magic, Sixers and Jazz will play this week in Orlando, showcasing the No. 2 and No. 3 picks – Evan Turner and Derrick Favors – in the draft when Philadelphia and New Jersey lineup for their first game with their new teams on Monday night.
John Wall, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 Draft, will make his debut on Sunday in Las Vegas when the Wizards face Golden State in their Summer League opener with a possible deliciously interesting head-to-head matchup against Stephen Curry, last season’s Rookie of the Year runner-up.
There are always plenty of unexpected tales to come out of the summer leagues. A year ago Anthony Randolph of Golden State was a sensation for the Warriors and second-round draft pick Chase Budinger gave a hot-shooting, slam-dunking preview of how he was he was going to carve himself out a spot in Houston’s rotation.
The NBA Development League Select Team will give some of the top talent from the D League a chance to show their stuff in Las Vegas, while veteran Darius Miles will continue his comeback bid to the NBA with the Bobcats in Orlando.