Led by the Los Angeles Lakers’ Lonzo Ball, last year’s NBA Summer League was packed with potential future stars who drew big crowds.
An announced record 127,843 fans showed up for the 11-day event, and a question was how the Summer League would follow such an act.
Just about every first-round draft pick will make an appearance in the event, which is Friday through July 17 at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion. The Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic is an exception after a long EuroLeague, and the Denver Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr. might not play because of a bad back.
Here are the 10 most intriguing players who are expected to compete:
1. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
He was the No. 1 overall draft pick, meaning all eyes will be on Ayton. Given the Suns also traded for Mikal Bridges and selected point guard Elie Okobo at the top of the second round, this also is the team to watch over the 12-day event. At 7 feet, Ayton will be a physical presence inside.
2. Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings
Sacramento had the second choice in the draft, and took Bagley over Doncic. The verdict won’t be in during the Summer League whether that was the correct decision, but it will be the first hint. Bagley’s matchup with Ayton on the event’s second day will be worth arriving early to see.
3. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
He was drafted at No. 5 by the Dallas Mavericks and sent to Atlanta for Doncic. Young was well on his way to college player of the year last season, but went into a terrible slump down the stretch. His job is to revive NBA interest in a city that barely knows it has a team.
4. Robert Williams, Boston Celtics
He has lottery-pick talent, but uncertainty over a possible knee injury and questions about his attitude dropped him to the Celtics at 27th. This could work out quite well for both sides, with Williams joining a team that should contend to make the NBA Finals.
5. Grayson Allen, Utah Jazz
He’s the rare top modern player who stayed four years in college, the face (for good reasons and bad) at Duke over that time. The NBA made him wait for a reason, and now it’s up to Allen to prove that his game translates to the next level. His willingness to play the villain made him a lightning rod, but it’s that determination that may give Allen a shot to succeed.
6. Brandon McCoy, Milwaukee Bucks
After going undrafted, UNLV’s one-and-done big man who was the Mountain West Freshman of the Year looks like he’s headed to the G League. He’s out to prove doubters wrong.
7. Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers
With LeBron James now a free agent, Sexton could become the face of the franchise sooner rather than later. He was selected at No. 8, a pick Cleveland acquired when it traded Kyrie Irving to the Celtics last summer.
8. Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic
The Magic took the talented 7-footer at No. 6, which given their history with big men, means Bamba will be playing for the Lakers in a few years.
9. Troy Brown Jr., Washington Wizards
Brown starred at Centennial High School before heading to Oregon for one season.
His ability to play multiple positions made him attractive to the Wizards at No. 15.
10. Donte DiVincenzo, Milwaukee Bucks
He shot Villanova to the national championship, and it’s that ability to carry a team offensively that excites the Bucks excited. They took him with the 17th pick.
NBA Summer League
■ Who: NBA rookies and underclassmen from all 30 teams
■ When: Friday through July 17
■ Where: Thomas & Mack Center, Cox Pavilion
■ Tickets: $35 for adults per session, $25 for children and seniors; available at NBATickets.com