The biggest of the four NBA Summer League events kicks off this afternoon and runs through the night in Las Vegas. We’re looking at the six earliest games on the slate for basketball betting fans, per spreads on from 888sport!
The UCLA connection will be running early and often for Indiana as its last two first round picks, T.J. Leaf (2017) and Aaron Holiday (2018) lead the way for the Pacers. They’ve also got a handful of players who have dipped their toes in the NBA waters, namely Alex Poythress and C.J. Wilcox. The Pacers have some of the best talent in Vegas, and the fact that Holiday and Leaf played together for a year at UCLA will give them early chemistry.
2015 March Madness hero R.J. Hunter is getting another run, this time in Houston. He and second round picks De’Anthony Melton and Vince Edwards are the go-to scorers for the Rockets. They’ve also got Tre Duval, who went undrafted after leading the point on a dominant Duke offense.
Still, the Pacers have the talent advantage on paper and this early in the Summer League that’s enough to give them the nod here.
There’s buzz about what Chieck Diallo might do in Vegas, as he’s said he wants to be named the summer’s MVP. He’s also playing with a chip on his shoulder after the Pelicans agreed to sign Julius Randle to a two-year deal. He’ll team up with a slough of talented guards, including 2017 second round pick Frank Jackson, who missed his entire rookie year with a hip injury. Rookies Tony Carr (Penn State) and Trevon Bluiett (Xavier) will also be in the mix.
O.G. Anunoby will be one of the more talented players in Vegas after an impressive rookie season. Toronto is flush on the wings with players like Anunoby, Alfonzo McKinnie and Malachi Richardson, who averaged 3.4 points in 26 NBA games last year.
Guard play may be an issue for the Raptors, and against a Pelicans team with talent there we’ll give the edge to New Orleans.
The two-man game of Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert was solid in the NBA a year ago, so they should be dominant in Vegas. Add international rookies in Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs and the Nets look solid upfront. This also feels like a setting where undrafted North Carolina’s Theo Pinson could succeed in. Don’t be surprised if he puts up some nice lines in Sin City.
Orlando has the newest NBA unicorn in Mo Bamba. He’ll get his “welcome to the NBA” moment early against a talented center like Allen, but it should be a great matchup. A pair of 2017 picks in Jonathan Isaac (6th overall) and Wesley Iwundu (33rd overall) gives the Magic great length on the defensive end.
But this Magic team may struggle to score, which is why we’ll go with Brooklyn in this one.
One of the better young trios in the Summer League plays in Charlotte, with last year’s first round pick Malik Monk teaming up with 2018 first rounder Miles Bridges and second rounder Devonte Graham. Dwayne Bacon should also get run in that backcourt after logging more than 700 minutes in the NBA last year.
Last year’s first-round pick Terrance Ferguson heads the Thunder roster. He’s joined by second round picks Devon Hall and Kevin Hervey, but it’ll be tough for this team to keep up with Charlotte’s blend of NBA experience and athletic rookies. The Hornets are a solid play here.
The Pistons were dealt a blow when Luke Kennard suffered a knee injury that will keep him out of Vegas games. That means a much bigger role for 2016 first round pick Henry Ellenson. Detroit will also lean on second rounder Bruce Brown, who was a first round prospect before a foot injury ended his year at Miami in late January.
Milwaukee will showcase first round pick Donte DiVincenzo, and 2017 first rounder D.J. Wilson will get a bulk of the minutes as well. Milwaukee also has Sterling Brown and Jae’sean Tate on the wings, and that should be enough to get past – or at least keep it close down the stretch – a Pistons team missing its best player.
Death, taxes and the Sixers having a surplus of first round picks. They’ll deploy guards Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet in Vegas, and we’ll also see 2016 first round pick Furkan Korkmaz, who saw limited NBA minutes a year ago. Jonah Bolden was one of Philly’s better Summer League contributors last year and was a late addition to the Sixers roster this year. He could be a difference maker in this setting.
Boston has had a bevy of first round picks the last few years, but most have performed so well they don’t need the Summer League. Still, we’ll get to see extended run from Semi Ojeleye, Kadeem Allen, Jabari Bird and Guerschon Yabusele. Texas A&M’s Robert Williams was considered one of the steals of the draft in Round 2, and he’s not short on talent. If he can keep his head on straight he’s going to flourish in a wide open setting like this.
Both these teams are talented. We’ll give the slight edge to Boston because of the NBA experience on their roster.