The first day of single elimination games at the Las Vegas Summer League is in the books and that's given us eight fresh matchups on the slate for Thursday. The top eight seeds following the preliminary round will return to action facing the eight winners of games from Wednesday. It's all single elimination from here on out as we carve down the field to one champion on July 18.
Here's the schedule for Thursday (all times ET):
The Hawks' Summer League team has two 2016 first-round picks, including guard DeAndre Bembry out of St. Joseph's. On Wednesday, Bembry did this:
So the Wizards will have to deal with that, as well as Taurean Prince, the No. 12-overall pick this year. Prince just racked up 21 points on 5-of-11 shooting and nine rebounds in just 25 minutes against the Kings. The Wizards have 2015 first-round pick Kelly Oubre, who has averaged 19 points per game so far in Vegas, as their best counter to that one-two punch.
Timberwolves (1-3) vs. Grizzlies (2-1), 4:30 p.m., Thomas & Mack Center
The big question for this matchup is the status of Minnesota point guard Kris Dunn. The No. 5-overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft suffered a concussion earlier in Summer League and has missed the past two games while undergoing the league's post-concussion protocol. It's unclear whether he'll play again in Las Vegas, and that might rob us of what could be an interesting matchup against Memphis point guard Wade Baldwin IV. Instead, we might get another heavy dose of Tyus Jones vs. Baldwin.
These two teams played in the preliminary round just a couple days ago and Miami came away with an 80-71 victory. This matchup is interesting partially because the pedigree of each team is so wildly different, yet they're ultimately still competitive with each other. Phoenix boasts young phenom Devin Booker, No. 4-overall pick Dragan Bender, No. 8-overall pick Marquese Chriss and former Kentucky star Tyler Ulis. The Heat, meanwhile, are led by a pair of undrafted players in Briante Weber and Rodney McGruder. Miami already rewarded McGruder for his strong summer with a contract, and now that duo will have its hands full yet again taking on a stacked Suns team in Vegas on Thursday night.
Philadelphia finally came alive for its first win in Vegas by blowing out the D-League Select team, 108-71, on Wednesday. The Sixers have been a must-watch team so far because of No. 1-overall pick Ben Simmons, but he wasn't actually in the lineup for the team's victory. Instead, Philly was led by another first-round pick, Timothe Luwawu, along with Brandon Paul, Shawn Long and James Webb III. The team shot 54 percent from the field and hit 13 three-pointers despite being without its best player. The Nets will take on that group with a pair of 2015 first-round picks, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough, along with 2016 second-round pick Isaiah Whitehead and former Cincinnati star Sean Kilpatrick.
The Nuggets boast two players who immediately overmatch most opponents whenever they're on the court in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gary Harris. Those two have only played in one game each, however, which has opened up chances for 2016 first-round picks Jamal Murray and Juan Hernangomez to shine. Those four give Denver loads of young talent, and then you can toss in Jimmer Fredette, who's averaging 16 points per game, for good measure. Utah advanced through its elimination game against Portland on Wednesday night despite being without star forward Trey Lyles. He's been one of the most dominant players in Vegas so far, but the Jazz rode Tibor Pleiss and Joel Bolomboy to victory against the Blazers.
Chicago runs pretty deep with NBA talent in Vegas compared to most other teams. Cristiano Felicio, Denzel Valentine, Jerian Grant, Bobby Portis and Spencer Dinwiddie are all on the roster, and at least four of those guys will be members of the Bulls next season. So it's not too surprising that the team has done well in Summer League, although the Mavericks will try to put an end to that. Dallas is led by Justin Anderson and Jonathan Gibson, who have combined to average nearly 36 points per game. The Mavs are coming off a 17-point win against the Bucks in which they outrebounded their opponents, 62-37. So at the very least, you can expect Felicio and Portis to be challenged on the boards.
It's been an interesting trip to Vegas for the Raptors, who started off their schedule with a 88-47 win, then followed that up with a two-point win. The team has some very good talent, including 2016 first-round pick Jakob Poeltl and 2014 first-round pick Bruno Caboclo, but the real star has been Norman Powell. A former second-round pick out of UCLA, Powell has averaged 21.7 points and six rebounds per game while shooting 10-of-19 from three. They'll be facing a Warriors team that unsurprisingly lacks elite talent given the dearth of high draft picks in recent years, so the odds actually might be better of Golden State winning a real title next June than finishing this tournament victorious.
There might not be a more interesting team to watch at Summer League than the Lakers. They boast the two most recent No. 2-overall picks in D'Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram, and hey, maybe you're into Ivica Zubac or Larry Nance Jr., too. It's not too surprising a team with that much talent at the top went 3-0 to start its trip to Vegas, although the Cavaliers can boast a one-two punch of their own in Kay Felder and Jordan McRae. Obviously there's a wide gap in talent between those two duos, but Felder and McRae have been playing well in Vegas and should at least make this an entertaining matchup.