Of the 30 NBA teams, 22 of them sent squads to Las Vegas last season along with an NBA D-League Select team. The Nuggets were coached by George Karl's assistants and featured second year players Jordan Hamilton, Kenneth Faried, and Chu Chu Maduabum and rookies Evan Fournier, Quincy Miller, and Izzet Turkyilmaz. (Julyan Stone missed SL with his hip injury).
Many members of the Nuggets organization made appearances - including Karl, Masai Ujiri, Josh Kroenke, JaVale McGee, and Ty Lawson. In fact, McGee inked his extension with the team in Vegas and rumors swirled that the players were having workouts of their own that week. Heck, the Nuggets wooed Anthony Randolph in Vegas as well. I still recall spotting Randolph sitting with Ujiri, asking Ujiri and Kroenke about him after a game, getting big smiles from them both, and being told that they just-so-happened to be sitting next to him.
You never know who you are going to run into at Summer League. One day I was standing and talking with former Nuggets player and assistant coach Kim Hughes (who went on to get a job with the Blazers last season) when O.J. Mayo sat down in front of me - Marc Spears sidled up next to him and before you knew it, Spears had a Tweet with three teams Mayo was considering signing with. And later, while standing with Hughes, Nick Van Exel (Atlanta Hawks' assistant coach) came over to say hello to his former assistant coach (with the Nuggets) and I got to meet him.
Yes, I sound like a name dropping fool, but anyone can attend Summer League and it's well worth the price of admission to see the 23 teams play games all day at the two arenas at the Thomas and Mack Center (Cox Pavilion is the smaller gym there, like a high school sized gym).
Summer League was a surreal experience and one that I hope to enjoy again this July. We don't yet know who will be playing for the Nuggets, but we do have the dates and what the teams will be playing for. From CBS Sports' Matt Moore:
When the participating teams take the court in Las Vegas this summer for the 2013 NBA Summer League, a championship will be on the line. For the first time since the league's inception in 2004, NBA Summer League will feature a format that includes preliminary games followed by a single-elimination tournament leading to an eventual champion.
The schedule tips off on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas on Friday, July 12, and will conclude with a championship game on Monday, July 22. All participating teams will play a minimum of five games. After the conclusion of games of July 16, all participating teams will be seeded for single-elimination tournament play that will result in a champion being crowned on July 22.
I do hope the Nuggets use their draft pick this season - or some draft pick(s) if they make some kind of deal. For totally selfish reasons - I want to see the rookie(s) play at SL. Check out some of the history behind this blossoming summer event:
Last year's NBA Summer League was record-breaking, with new all-time marks set in multiple areas including: participating teams (24); attendance (51,000-plus over 10 days); games played (60); number of live NBA TV broadcasts (38) and participating top draft picks (13 of the top 14 selections) in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Launched in 2004 as the Las Vegas Summer League, the inaugural event featured six NBA teams (Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards) playing a 13-game slate. Long considered the best opportunity for teams to showcase young talented rosters, teams whose rosters included six of the last seven NBA Rookie of the Year award winners have participated in NBA Summer League including: Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets, 2005-06), Brandon Roy (Portland Trail Blazers, 2006-07), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City, 2007-08), Tyreke Evans (Sacramento, 2009-10), Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers, 2010-11) and Kyrie Irving (2011-12).
Add Damian Lillard to that list too (7 of the last 8 ROYs have played in Vegas). He played in four games last season with the Blazers squad and averaged 26.5 points per game. Just an awesome basketball week.
Will any of you be at Summer League this year? Start planning your trip now!
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