The NBA never stops. The flow from the NBA Finals to the NBA Draft to free agency to summer league almost feels like it bleeds from one event right into the next. The spring and summer is really the best time to be a basketball fan. I absolutely love this time of year, but between a move to another state, starting a new job and many hours of watching the World Cup, I have not written as much as I would like. On our last Friday Musings we covered the draft and my thoughts on it, but today I wanted to talk about NBA Summer League. I am skipping free agency because I am not a news breaker and there are plenty of sites that cover everything that goes into free agency much better than this one, but I did just get back from six days in Las Vegas, where I was fortunate enough to see and talk to a lot of basketball people. What follows is a diary of sorts...
Friday, July 6th
-I flew into Vegas in the middle of the afternoon and immediately made my way to the Thomas and Mack Center for a couple of games. I got to see the Furkan Korkmaz show, as the Sixers’, Turkish wing went off for 40 points, including eight threes.
-Later that night I got my first glimpse of DeAndre Ayton. Ayton had 10 points and eight rebounds in the Suns’ 92-85 win over Dallas on that first night. I ended up seeing Ayton three times over the five days I went to games. My overall thoughts on him are that he is fine. He didn’t wow me, but he played fine. The guy is huge and his guards had a tough time getting him the ball, but in the end I wasn’t “wowed” at all.
-At 9:00 I made my way over to Cesar’s Palace to take in the Bill Simmons Podcast live show. It was a decent crowd and Simmons had on familiar guests like Jason Concepcion, Joe House and Cousin Sal as well as a big time guest in Rockets GM, Daryl Morey. It was a fun evening and it was cool to see in person a podcast that I have been listening to for nearly a decade now.
Saturday, July 7th
-After a stay at a less than stellar “home hotel” I made my way to Bally’s sports book to watch the Russia v. Croatia World Cup quarterfinal. After taking in that dramatic match I made my way over to the arena to watch my first of four games that day.
-The first game I watched was Hawks v. Knicks, because I used to work with Trae Young’s trainer, so I got to watch the game with him. The contest turned into the Kevin Knox dunk show, however.
-The next game was Suns v. Kings, or DeAndre Ayton v. Marvin Bagley. Again, neither stood out.
-My friend, Alex Bazzell, who trains Trae Young, also trains Moritz Wagner so I stayed for the Lakers game that night to watch him. Lakers games have an entirely different energy than any other at summer league. The Lakers fan base is strong in Vegas and it very much feels like a home game for the Lake Show.
-Also, four summer league games in one day is rough, the basketball is not good.
Sunday, July 8th
-Sunday was a little more low-key. I went to the arena to watch a couple of games, but later that night just hung out at the hotel with a couple of friends.
Monday, July 9th
-In the morning I went to an excellent crepe restaurant in New York, New York then walked around The Strip for a bit. The sheer size and scope of some of the hotels really is remarkable.
-I went to the arena in the middle of the afternoon to catch up with a friend of mine that works for the Golden State Warriors. It was a fun chat as he let me in on a couple things from the season and their championship run.
-In the evening I had dinner with friends and laid low due the random rainstorm that hit that night. Let’s just say Vegas isn’t built for heavy rain.
Tuesday, July 10th
-In the morning I made my way to the Cesar’s Palace sports book, where I bet on France to beat Belgium in 90 minutes, a bet that ended up paying off. I sat next to an absolutely delightfully man from L.A. who was born in China. He was very into the game and also bet on France. We bonded over that and after the game he asked to take a very awkward selfie with me. Good times.
-Alex and I met at the arena later that afternoon and we ended up meeting a couple of coaches/trainers who work in Sydney, Australia. They were really good guys and I ended up hanging out with them the rest of the day. That night we went and got burgers and just talked basketball. It is great to connect with people from all over the world through this game.
Wednesday, July 11th
-I woke up Wednesday morning and worked on this site a bit before readying myself for football to come home by watching and rooting on England in their semifinal against Croatia. I am a Tottenham fan so I feel an odd kinship with the English national team and their run has been inspiring. I was genuinely bummed when Croatia grabbed the winner in extra time but they were probably the better team on the night.
-In the late afternoon I made my way to a gym near the airport where a lot of college and pro players have been training throughout summer league. I got to help Alex with his workout and then watch an Orlando Magic player go through a light workout. After the workout I got to talk to that players trainer for a long time, and he is a great guy and we really see eye-to-eye on this whole industry.
-My guys from Sydney were also in the gym that day and I got a chance to hang out with them a bit after the workouts. I asked them about the possibility of me coaching and training over there and they said it is absolutely possible. So who knows, it is definitely something to think about.
Overall the trip was really good. I went somewhat on a whim to try and make connections with basketball people and it really worked out. I am blessed to get to do this for a living and share it with others.
Ok, like I said previously, I haven't had as much time to dedicate to the site as I would like in the last few weeks, but there are a few things to cover. Our greatest players list has been fully updated to include stats and accomplishments from the 2017-18 season. You will notice a few of the rankings have changed, and that is why. We have just under 50 entries left and the hope is to have every player posted by the end of the summer. The new entries since the last time of writing are...
#76, Bill Sharman
#98, Alonzo Mourning
#173, Paul George
#175, Jeff Hornacek
#194, Paul Millsap
#288, Jimmy Butler
I am itching to start another list on this site. I can't quite decide which one but be on the lookout for something new to pop up as we reach the true offseason. But for now, I leave you with this...