Tha Sports Junkies 101

Las Vegas Summer League – Day 1


This year I was fortunate enough to be able to head back to the Las Vegas Summer League. I’m going to post as much coverage as I can while I’m here at the event for TSJ Sports. Feel free to interact with me on social media as I will be posting pictures and videos of your favorite rookies to go along with my articles. 

Summer League Day 1:

After a flight delay, a Pau Gasol sighting, and a drained battery or two, I finally landed at McCarren International airport in Las Vegas. By the time I had landed, the events had already been underway. Luckily for me, the two games at the Cox Pavilion and the Thomas & Mack Center weren’t exactly prime time games. The Cleveland Cavaliers played the Milwaukee Bucks and the D league select team played the Memphis Grizzlies. While there isn’t anything wrong with those teams, they pale in comparison to the games that were going to follow.

The showcase games were the Minnesota Timberwolves vs the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers vs the New Orleans Pelicans. Almost each team from the batch would be showing off their shiny new rookies. This is what everyone came to see.


Being my first time in the arena since my trip started, I went celebrity spotting “NBA edition”. During these  games, current players and rookies walk around like it’s a buffet line. If you just look for the really tall guys, chances are you’ll find an NBA Player you don’t know the name of. But with my luck, I ended up walking in circles without seeing anyone. I did end up wasting enough time to start heading towards my seat for the game.

Denver was touting a solid lineup for the game. With Mudiay at the point, he was tasked with getting his two rookies, Juancho and Jamal, going. NBA experience really shines at these games and with Mudiay and Harris in the lineup, it was clear Denver wasn’t playing around . That didn’t stop Kris Dunn from doing his thing though. He came out of the gates firing and showed off his talent. He ended up finishing with a game high 27 points. He showed no mercy on the court and played with zero fear. Dunn sliced up any defender they put in front of him.  He is looking like he can be a real contributer in some time.

On the other side of the court, the Nuggets didn’t really rely on one scorer to carry the load. They had a balanced attack behind their starting lineup. They did just enough to keep up until they were able to pull away late in the game. It was truly a team effort which was a bit surprising to me considering the team they had and the whole summer league environment

Side notes: 

Jimmer is still the man. The crowd was electric every time he even looked at the ball. It was a cool moment to see the crowd behind him again– even if some of it was a joke.

Juancho did a good job of adjusting to the pace of the game. He started off a little shaky but he eventually came around and showed an Impressive set of skills.

Adreian Payne didn’t do a good job of controlling himself at all during the game. He was everywhere and was trying too hard to assert his will on the court.


The Lakers fans started showing up in the middle of the previous game. Soon after, I realized this would be the closest I would ever come to a real Lakers game. At the tip off, almost the entire bowl was filled with people wearing Kobe jerseys.

It wasn’t a particularly close game. The Lakers got behind the crowd early and snowballed their way to victory. In addition, the Pelicans just weren’t that competitive at all. Their best performance came from Cheick Diallo who had 11 points and a -10 plus/minus. Buddy Hield did not impress in his first showcase. He took 20 shots and converted 20 percent of them.

The Lakers could have something special going on. Larry Nance, Brandon Ingram, and D’Angelo Russell naturally play well together. They were really fun to watch out there. Everything was so fluid and the chemistry was noticeable. If the Lakers play their cards right, those kids can be the best thing that has happened to them in a long time.

Side Notes:

Larry Nance seems like an amazing guy to be around. His energy was so positive on the floor as he tried to keep everyone engaged in the game.

Speaking of personalities, Brandon Ingram is said to be an A+ in that department. If that’s true, tides are turning in Los Angeles.

Ivica Zubac is my favorite player in the summer league simply because it looked like he was having the time of his life out there.