Las Vegas Summer League is the best chance to form a first impression and the NBA's new rookie class has a lot to prove. After being considered a weak draft by many experts, Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram and the rest of the lottery picks will get the opportunity to change that perception by shining in a competition that not only includes young players but also veterans looking for a way back into the league.
Some have already had an opportunity to show their worth in the Orlando and Utah summer leagues. Ben Simmons showed off his passing with the 76ers squad in Salt Lake City while Jaylen Brown showed off his versatility for the Celtics. Brice Johnson and Henry Ellenson made a positive impact in Orlando.
While those other events are always entertaining, they lack the competitiveness of the Las Vegas Summer League, which features teams from most NBA franchises.
So, let's take a closer look at the tournament that is about to kick off.
While only four teams play in Utah and 10 participate in Orlando, 23 franchise are represented in Las Vegas, plus a D-League select squad. Only the Magic, Hornets, Pistons, Pacers, Knicks, Clippers and Thunder will be absent. That means most of the top rookies and some of the most impressive sophomores will be there.
This is a chance to see how established names like Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown, Buddy Hield and Kris Dunn stack up against lesser known prospects such Dragan Bender, Georgios Papagiannis, Malik Beasley and Malachi Richardson, among others.
The talent level is high and while there are plenty of players there with guaranteed contracts, there are also some looking to catch the eye of a front office. These games are going to be competitive.
How is the format and what are the rules?
Every team is guaranteed at least five games in the Las Vegas Summer League. Each team gets three games in a preliminary round and based on their results, they will be seeded from No. 1 to No. 24. Seeds No. 9 through No. 24 will play a single elimination game while seeds No. 1 through No. 8 get a bye in the first round. From then on, teams will play five rounds until a champion is crowned.
Unlike NBA games, the quarters are only 10 minutes long and the overtime period lasts for two minutes instead of five. In non-tournament play, players don't foul out until their 10th foul. In tournament play, they have six fouls, just like in a normal NBA game. The rules are not exactly the same but they are similar to those of the NBA.
Which are the must-see games of the preliminary round?
On July 8, the first day of the competition, we will have the first chance to see the second overall pick of the 2016 draft, Brandon Ingram, in action against No. 6 overall pick Buddy Hield at 10:30 p.m. ET. Both were big scorers in college so it will be interesting to see how their game translates to the next level. Kris Dunn vs. Jamal Murray is another great matchup featured in the first day at 8:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Ingram will go head-to-head against No. 1 pick Ben Simmons at 8:30 p.m. At one point Ingram was considered a better prospect before Simmons took hold of his place at the top of the draft. It will be interesting to see them battle for the first time as pros. Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss will make their debut on the same day at 4 p.m. and they will face third-year player Noah Vonleh, of the Trail Blazers.
On Sunday at 4:30 p.m., the Bucks and Thon Maker will go against the D-League select team. Maker is considered a project and how he fares against opponents with more experience than him could help gauge how ready he is to play in the league. Phoenix vs. Boston, which starts at 10:30 p.m., could also be a great matchup, as it could feature up to eight first round picks from the past two drafts.
By the last two days there should be a clear picture of which teams are clicking and which aren't but Milwaukee vs. Memphis on Monday at 4 p.m. and Philadelphia vs. Golden State on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. should be good.
How can I watch these games?
NBA TV and ESPN will televise all the games. Here's the full schedule of preliminary games as well as who will televise each game (All times ET):
Friday, July 8
6 p.m. -- Milwaukee vs. Cleveland (NBA TV)
8 p.m. -- Atlanta vs. Houston (NBA TV)
10 p.m. -- Sacramento vs. Toronto (NBA TV)
Thomas & Mack
6:30 p.m. -- NBA D-League vs. Memphis (NBA TV)
8:30 p.m. -- Minnesota vs. Denver (ESPN)
10:30 p.m. -- L.A. Lakers vs. New Orleans (ESPN)
Saturday, July 9
4 p.m. -- Phoenix vs. Portland (NBA TV)
6 p.m. -- Boston vs. Chicago (NBA TV)
8 p.m. -- Denver vs. Memphis (NBA TV)
10 p.m. -- Dallas vs. Miami (NBA TV)
Thomas & Mack
4:30 p.m. -- Cleveland vs. Brooklyn (NBA TV)
6:30 p.m. -- Washington vs. Utah (NBA TV)
8:30 p.m. -- Philadelphia vs. L.A. Lakers (ESPN)
10:30 p.m. -- San Antonio vs. Golden State (ESPN)
Sunday, July 10
4 p.m. -- Atlanta vs. Washington (NBA TV)
6 p.m. -- Minnesota vs. Toronto (NBA TV)
8 p.m. -- Utah vs. New Orleans (NBA TV)
10 p.m. -- San Antonio vs. Portland (NBA TV)
Thomas & Mack
4:30 p.m. -- Milwaukee vs. NBA D-League (NBA TV)
6:30 p.m. -- Houston vs. Sacramento (NBA TV)
8:30 p.m. -- Chicago vs. Philadelphia (ESPN)
10:30 p.m. -- Phoenix vs. Boston (ESPN)
Monday, July 11
4 p.m. -- Milwaukee vs. Memphis (NBA TV)
6 p.m. -- Houston vs. NBA D-League (NBA TV)
8 p.m. -- Miami vs. Denver (ESPN)
10 p.m. -- Sacramento vs. New Orleans (ESPN)
Thomas & Mack
4:30 p.m. -- Brooklyn vs. Atlanta (NBA TV)
6:30 p.m. -- Toronto vs. Dallas (NBA TV)
8:30 p.m. -- Cleveland vs. Minnesota (NBA TV)
10:30 p.m. -- Golden State vs. L.A. Lakers (NBATV)
Tuesday, July 12
4 p.m. -- Washington vs. Brooklyn (NBA TV)
6 p.m. -- Boston vs. Dallas (ESPN)
8 p.m. -- San Antonio vs. Chicago (ESPN)
Thomas & Mack
4:30 p.m. -- Portland vs. Utah (NBA TV)
6:30 p.m. -- Miami vs. Phoenix (NBA TV)
8:30 p.m. -- Philadelphia vs. Golden State (NBA TV)