NBA Summer League is officially back. After a year off due to COVID-19, the NBA will return to Las Vegas for its annual offseason showcase for rookies and other young players from Aug. 8-17, as first reported by Sam Gordon of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Later on Wednesday, the league officially announced they would be returning to Vegas for this year’s event. It will mark the league’s first Summer League games since July 15, 2019, more than two years off from one of the league’s marquee offseason events.
Summer League typically serves as an introduction to the NBA for the league’s rookie class. Most of the top draft picks from the incoming class participate, even if only for a game or two, but this season, we didn’t get to see any of the best newcomers until the preseason.
Those top draft picks have guaranteed roster spots already, though. Summer League’s true basketball purpose is finding diamonds in the rough. Terence Davis is a recent example of an undrafted player who parlayed a strong Summer League showing into a guaranteed contract, and eventually, a real role in the NBA. Players like that emerge almost every year.
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The offseason was so condensed last season that it didn’t really make sense to hold Summer League. The NBA Draft took place only five weeks before opening day, so there wouldn’t have been time to do so even if it had been safe. But now, as the world begins to move its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the league is starting to return to normal as well. That means capping the offseason with Summer League in Las Vegas.