It’s been only a few short weeks since the NBA Draft. New players are excited to become professionals. Fans are thrilled to see their favorite players from the collegiate arena back in action. And the NBA teams get to see what all their money is being spent on. Rookies: Welcome to the NBA Summer League!
Or are they welcome? It would appear that not all the teams think so. After looking at the rosters and watching the games play out at the Thomas & Mack Arena (home of UNLV basketball in Las Vegas, Nevada), it would appear that a few teams have different priorities.
NBA Summer League is an off-season competition designed to give teams the chance to see young players (usually under 25 years old) in semi-meaningful action. Can the rookie player adapt to new team dynamics? Will a player used to being the star on their college team be able to play with 4 other stars and still shine? NBA Summer League should be a good place to answer these questions.
It should be. However, for some teams, it seems that winning (even in so small a forum) is the only reason to be there. Take Portland for example. Out of the 30 teams playing, Portland has the lowest percentage of true rookies playing – 30.7% to be exact. Has it benefited Portland? Absolutely – as of July 11 – they were undefeated. Another team with a low rookie percentage – Phoenix, with 57% – is also undefeated. They are playing to win – not to develop players.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is Philadelphia. The 76ers have the highest percentage of rookie players with 82.3%. They haven’t won a game and are ranked 29th out of 30 teams. Right behind them is Washington, with 80% rookies, one win, and a 28 out of 30 ranking. BUT – their rookies are getting court time. They’re learning to work together as a team – and although they are getting beat, they are improving.
All of this begs the question though – what’s the real point of Summer League? A meaningless trophy – or analyzing and developing players? Unless priorities change, the rookies don’t stand a chance.
What’s your opinion on the purpose of NBA Summer League? Let us know in the comments below.