It’s that time of year again.
Amidst the Category 5 hurricane of anticipation and confusion that is the NBA’s free agency period, the league’s top rookies and young players – plus Delonte West and Josh Howard, of course – will be in action at the Las Vegas Summer League this weekend.
Here’s everything you need to know about one of the most entertaining weeks of the summer:
- The 11-day extravaganza begins Friday evening and runs through Monday, July 21. For the second straight year, tournament play is included, supplementing the traditional pool/preliminary games.
- Prior to last summer, teams played a handful of exhibition games with ultimately nothing on the line, though eager rookies and fringe-roster guys would probably beg to differ.
-The single-elimination tournament bracket can be found HERE.
-For the most part, the Las Vegas Summer League (LVSL from here on out) employs the same rules as its NBA big brother. Players have to dribble (ugh, so frustrating), fouls are called (lame), dunking is allowed (a fun little wrinkle), and so on. I could try to lay out all of the rules for you in detail, but instead I’ll defer to NBA.com’s trusty LVSL rules guide:
For tiebreaking purposes:
So yeah, pretty straightforward. Obviously with eight fewer minutes and a maximum of four timeouts, these will move much more quickly than your standard NBA game. And that’s a good thing, considering six or eight games are played per day during the preliminary round.
So, what about the Bucks?
First off, here’s the full roster:
For the first time in recent memory, the Bucks will be must-see LVSL
television live stream.
With two of the biggest names in Vegas on the roster – Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker – plus a roster stocked with athletes, the Bucks should be one of the league’s most exciting teams. While last year’s squad of relative unknowns (plus John Henson) was bounced in the first round of bracket play, this year’s edition certainly has the talent to make a run at dethroning the Warriors (side note: Golden State is riding a ridiculous 14-game LVSL winning streak)
And these guys will be fun to watch. Trust me. Playing against, for the most part, similarly inexperienced players should produce more than a few highlight plays from Antetokounmpo, while Nate Wolters returns for his second LVSL with more NBA experience than most of last year’s first-rounders.
JaJuan Johnson, Chris Wright and Gilbert Brown are big-time leapers, and the roster features two local products in former Wisconsin guards Ben Brust and Jordan Taylor. The bigs are intriguing, too. Second round pick Johnny O’Bryant leads the way, but former Miami standout Kenny Kadji was one of the better inside-out players in the ACC as a senior for the Canes in 2013.
Let’s take a closer look at what each of the 12 players on the roster bring to the table:
- Finished eighth in 2013-14 Rookie of the Year voting
- Started 23 games as a rookie
- Averaged 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists in 24.6 minutes per game; 41.4% FG/34.7% 3PT
- Has suspiciously large hands
- 19 years old and still growing
- The 26-year-old went undrafted in 2011 following a standout career at Pittsburgh
- Started all 34 games as a senior, averaging 11.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and shooting 41.3 percent from three
- Owns a 38-inch vertical
- Appeared in two preseason games for the Celtics in 2011
- Spent stints in Germany, Puerto Rico, Turkey, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic
- Averaged 12.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and shot 50 percent from the field for the D-League’s Canton Charge last season
- Named D-League All-Defensive Third Team in 2013-14
- Averaged team-high 34.7 minutes for Wisconsin’s 2014 Final Four squad
- Left Madison as the all-time leader in three-pointers made (235); also holds single-season record for made threes (96)
- Avid NASCAR fan. I repeat, AVID NASCAR FAN.
- As a fellow 2014 Wisconsin grad, I can personally testify that many women report Brust is “super cute”
- Undrafted in 2012
- Appeared in school record 137 games over four seasons
- His 130 blocked shots rank fourth in Xavier history
- Got socked in the face by Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates during a game in 2011. Look, there’s even a Wikipedia page about it
- Played in Germany last season, averaging 7.6 points and 4.0 rebounds in 47 games (seven starts)
- Really, almost everything I could dig up on Frease related to the whole face-punching fiasco (if you’re curious, Frease wasn’t suspended, but Gates’ actions earned him a six-game ban)
- Selected with the 27th overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Nets; traded to the Celtics on draft night
- Appeared in 36 games as a rookie
- Traded to the Rockets as part of a three-team deal in July 2012 that ultimately netted the Celtics Courtney Lee; waived by Houston in October 2012
- Played 2012-13 season in the D-League, 2013-14 season in Italy
- Signed with a Turkish team last month
- A consensus first team All-American, Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at Purdue; averaged 20.5 points and 8.6 rebounds in 34 games
- Went undrafted in 2013
- Played for the Cavaliers’ LVSL team in 2013
- Spent two seasons at Florida before transferring to Miami
- Averaged 12.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks as a senior (Second Team All-ACC)
- Played five games in Germany last season before signing with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League, where he averaged 6.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in 19 games
- Played the piano for five years, per his University of Miami bio; unclear whether he still plays the piano
- Bucks’ second-round pick in 2014 (36th overall)
- Recorded a 35.5-inch max vertical and 7’2.25” wingspan at the NBA Draft Combine
- Coaches All-SEC First team (AP Second Team)
- Former McDonald’s All-American averaged 15.4 points and 7.7 rebounds as a junior last season
- One of his hobbies is playing video games
- Second overall pick in 2014 draft
- 2012 Gatorade National High School National Player of the Year
- Played one season at Duke, averaging 19.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and shooting 47.3 percent from the field (28.4 PER)
- Consensus first team All-American, All-ACC First Team, runner-up to T.J. Warren for ACC Player of the Year
- Went undrafted in 2012
- Signed with Virtus Roma of the Italian League in August 2012; parted ways with the organization in February 2014 (hip surgery cut his season short)
- NCAA all-time leader in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.01), shattering previous record of 2.70
- First team All-Big Ten, All-Big Ten Defensive team, consensus Second team All-American as a junior (2010-11)
- Went undrafted in 2012
- Averaged 10.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game as a senior at North Carolina State
- Played 2012-13 season for Etha Engomis in Cyprus
- Spent last season in the D-League with the Los Angeles D-Fenders; posted 14.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists per game while shooting 44.1 percent from three (49 games)
- 38th overall pick in 2013 draft; selected by Wizards, traded to Sixers then Bucks in two separate draft night deals
- Appeared in 58 games, starting 31, as a rookie
- Suffered a broken left hand in March and missed the final 13 games of the season
- Averaged 7.2 points, 3.2 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 22.6 minutes per game (11.5 points, 5.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds per 36)
- Summit League Player of the Year and AP Third team All-American as a senior at South Dakota State
- One of four NCAA Division I players in history to finish with 2,000 points, 600 rebounds and 600 assists
- Undrafted in 2011, but selected third overall in 2011 D-League draft by the Maine Red Claws
- Left Dayton as the school’s all-time leader in dunks and blocks
- Played four games for the Red Claws before signing with the Warriors
- Appeared in 25 games for the Warriors; started the final game of the 2011-12 season, putting up 25 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 46 minutes; also appeared in several games for the Dakota Wizards of the D-League
- Two-time D-League All-Star (2013, 2014)
- Signed two separate 10-day contracts with the Bucks toward the end of the 2013-14 season; appeared in eight games, averaging 6.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in 15.8 minutes
- Signed a multi-year deal with the Bucks on April 15; his contract is not guaranteed for the 2014-15 season
- Above-average dunker of basketballs
The Bucks arrived in Las Vegas on Monday and will hold three days of practice (the 8th, 9th and 10th) before play begins Friday. A heads up if you’re heading out to Vegas: Milwaukee’s practices will not be open to the general public.
The three preliminary round opponents are already set (click team for LVSL roster):
Friday, July 11: Cleveland Cavaliers (7 p.m.)* - all times Central
Sunday, July 13: Phoenix Suns (9 p.m.)*
Monday, July 14: Utah Jazz (9:30 p.m.)
*Game will be broadcast live on NBATV
Even at first glance, this is a pretty intriguing trio of preliminary games. Friday’s clash with the Cavs is the obvious headliner, pitting the top two picks in the 2014 draft against each other. The Bucks will also see rookies Tyler Ennis and T.J. Warren on Sunday, and Dante Exum and Rodney Hood on Monday.
As announced last week, the Bucks will not be coached by Jason Kidd. Kidd will be in Las Vegas with the team, however. Instead, Sean Sweeney - a member of Kidd’s staff in Brooklyn and a former University of Wisconsin-Green Bay student – will run the show. A former video coordinator, Sweeney made his debut as an assistant in Brooklyn last season. He’s touted as one of the NBA’s up-and-coming coaches who Kidd believes “is going to be great.” Sweeney will be assisted by veteran coach Tim Grgurich.