The Las Vegas Summer League may have more teams, games, and even allows fans in the stands, but the Orlando Pro Summer League--which starts today--is every bit as important. Teams looking for a strictly basketball experience for their summer squads seek out the Orlando Magic's no-nonsense league, which they host in their practice facility. This year, the Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Indiana Pacers, New Jersey Nets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, and Utah Jazz will all attend.
I'm Evan Dunlap, known as Ben Q. Rock at Orlando Pinstriped Post, SB Nation's Magic blog, and I'll be there to cover all 20 games this week for SB Nation.com. Here's what's on tap tonight. For a fee, you can watch the action streaming on NBA.com. Check back in this StoryStream for updates after every game.
Game 1: Bobcats at Jazz, 1 PM - Contrasting approaches face off here. The Jazz had the Knicks' first-round pick this year, and used it to select NCAA Tournament darling Gordon Hayward. Today's his first game against NBA-caliber competition. How will he fare? Meanwhile, the Bobcats didn't have a single draft pick, and their summer-league roster notables include Alexis Ajinca, Derrick Brown, and Gerald Henderson. Last year, they didn't even field a team, and simply put Brown on the Jazz's squad. Now, they've decided to invest into putting a team together. Let's see how they do.
Game 2: Pacers at Magic, 3 PM - Indiana's roster includes draft selections Paul George and Magnum Rolle, as well as Richard Hendrix and Russell Robinson, who played quite well for the Magic's side last year. Orlando's looking to see how Daniel Orton and Stanley Robinson, its own draftees, manage. Orton, a center prospect, averaged only 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in his lone season at Kentucky, so there are questions about his ability. We'll see if he can anchor the paint on both sides of the floor this week.
Game 3: Celtics at Thunder, 5 PM - OKC might have the most stacked roster this year, with James Harden, Serge Ibaka, and the surprisingly useful Byron Mullens--don't laugh, the skinny center held his own last year--suiting up. Their biggest problem is that their top draft choice, Cole Aldrich, can't suit up for them just yet because he still belongs to the Hornets, who can't officially trade him to the Thunder as arranged on draft night until July 8th. They'd love to be able to see this guy in action, but it'll have to wait. On their side, the Celtics trot out Luke Harangody, Semih Erden, Tony Gaffney, and Oliver Lafayette. They also have the league's most hilarious practice uniforms, not for their design but rather for their uniform numbers. Numbers 46, 47, 48, 49, 56, and 60 are among those the Celtics have assigned this week.
Game 4: Nets at 76ers, 7 PM - The game of the day, and perhaps of the entire camp, features this year's second and third overall draft choices. Evan Turner takes the floor for Philly and faces questions about his perimeter shooting and a potential skill-set redundancy with Andre Iguodala. He can establish himself as a top dog, of sorts, here. Second-year point guard Jrue Holiday and third-year big man Marreese Speights are among those who will join him this week. The Nets' prized pick, Derrick Favors, will line up across from Speights and may make the defensively challenged big man sweat at that end. New Jersey's intriguing team also includes second-year forward Terrence Williams, a Swiss Army Knife of a player whom David Thorpe compared to Boris Diaw last year, as well as undrafted center Brian Zoubek, the former Duke Blue Devil who could carve out a roster spot behind Brook Lopez with strong play this week.