Wins were hard to come by last season for the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings, who went a combined 82-164. But the three Western Conference teams are expected to excel in the Las Vegas NBA Summer League, which tips off Friday at Cox Pavilion and the Thomas &Mack Center.
The Lakers and Suns are the 6-1 co-favorites to win the championship game on July 17, and the Kings are the 13-2 third choice at the Westgate sports book.
“It looks like the Lakers, Phoenix and Sacramento have a bunch of young guys that are going to be getting rotation minutes on the regular team,” Westgate sports book manager Jeff Sherman said. “They’ll throw those guys out there to get some valuable playing time.”
The Lakers will be led by rookie point guard Lonzo Ball and second-year forward Brandon Ingram, the past two No. 2 overall draft picks. Los Angeles also will feature current players Ivica Zubac and David Nwaba, along with draft-day acquisitions Thomas Bryant, Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma.
The Westgate, which will close action on the title odds at 3 p.m. Friday when the first game tips off, and other Las Vegas sports books will post lines on all 67 games played in the 24-team league. Every game will be televised by ESPN and NBA TV.
“It keeps getting bigger and bigger every year,” Sherman said. “The biggest thing is the TV coverage these games get.”
Sherman said the action on Summer League games is comparable to NBA preseason games. One Westgate bettor wagered a few hundred dollars on the Boston Celtics to win the title at 10-1 odds.
The Celtics feature the past two No. 3 overall picks in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who had 29 points and 13 rebounds Monday in an 89-88 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in the Utah Summer League. Tatum scored 21 points and made the decisive shot, and Brown blocked Markelle Fultz’s game-winning attempt in the final seconds.
Tatum and Fultz, who averaged 20 points in his first two games for Philadelphia, will be compared with each other for the rest of their careers after Boston traded the No. 1 overall pick (Fultz) to the Sixers for the No. 3 pick (Tatum). The Celtics and 76ers will square off at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, and the Celtics and Lakers will meet at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Both games are at the Thomas &Mack Center.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.