2015 Vegas Summer League Preview (Non-Wizards Edition) | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

2015 Vegas Summer League Preview (Non-Wizards Edition)

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Updated: July 10, 2015

[TAI’s Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace) is in Las Vegas covering the NBA summer league for the eighth straight year. Check out his Wizards summer league preview here. Today, he highlights several non-Wizards players and games that are worth watching.]

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[Something tells me Jordan Crawford will be well-rested when his Dallas Mavericks take on Washington on Tuesday, July 14. Photo via blogsohardsports.com]

The Las Vegas Summer league starts today. Washington may not tip off its first game until Saturday, 6 p.m. (EDT), but there is still plenty for Wizards fans to watch in LAs Vegas. Here are five players and five games you will not want to miss during this year’s summer league.

Top 5 Non-Wizards Players in Vegas.

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[All bets are off on what will happen when Jordan Crawford takes the court against Washington on July 14. Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America]

Jordan Crawford, Dallas Mavericks

Don’t call it a comeback. Crawford is attempting to rekindle his NBA career after a one-year stint in China (he also spent time last season playing in the D-League for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants). Even better, Crawford faces his old Wizards team on Tuesday July 14 at 3:30 p.m. Vegas cannot set the over/under high enough on Crawford’s shot attempts. More on this game below.

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[Randy Wittman and Glen Rice, Jr. starred in a short lived revival of The Odd Couple. Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports]

Glen Rice, Jr., Houston Rockets

Rice was unanimously named Most Valuable Player of last year’s summer league as a Washington Wizard but was unceremoniously dumped by the team after appearing in only five games the following season. Talent was never an issue with Rice, but he always seemed to be in a bad mood on the court. It’s no surprise that he clashed with Wittman. It will be interesting to see whether Rice learned from his experience in Washington and improves his on-court demeanor. After getting waived by Washington last January, he played with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League.

Othyus Jeffers, Minnesota Timberwolves

The legend of Othyus Jeffers was born on March 17, 2011, when he signed the first of two 10-day contracts and played the final 16 games of the Wizards’ season. Washington was limping toward the finish line of Wall’s 21-win rookie season when Jeffers cracked the rotation and seemingly willed the team to six wins in their final ten games through sheer grit and determination. Jeffers tore his ACL in the offseason and has only played a combined 12 NBA games in the last four seasons. Minnesota general manager Flip Saunders was Washington’s head coach during Jeffers’ run with the Wizards, and he’s giving Othyus another shot this summer. Jeffers spent part of last season on Minnesota’s roster.

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[Juwan Howard and Chris Webber in happier times in Washington. Credit – Slamonline.com]

Juwan Howard, Jr., Miami Heat

You read that correctly. It’s been 22 years since Chris Webber and Juwan Howard reunited for a memorable, but short-lived, run in Washington. Howard, Jr., coincidentally, is 22 years old. If you remember where you were on November 18, 1994, when you heard the Bullets traded for Chris Webber and signed Juwan Howard all in the same day, then you are getting old.

Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls

Portis was the consensus choice among #WizardsTwitter at pick 19 before Grunfeld traded up to select Kelly Oubre. For better or worse, Oubre and Portis will forever be measured against each other in the minds of many fans. Let’s hope it works out better than Jan Vesely vs. Kawhi Leonard.

Top 5 Must See Games in Vegas.

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Friday, July 10, 8:30 p.m.

It has become a summer league tradition to schedule a Day 1 matchup between the No. 1 and No. 2 draft picks. The atmosphere for last summer’s showdown between Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker was electric. Due to overwhelming fan interest, they actually stopped selling general admission tickets and shut the doors to Cox Pavilion before tip-off, making it the first sell-out in summer league history.

When this year’s schedule was released in June, most people assumed this game would feature Karl-Anthony Towns vs. Jahlil Okafor. However, the Lakers threw a curve and selected D’Angelo Russell with the second overall pick. Even without a classic big man battle, Cox Pavilion will be buzzing for this matchup, as Russell will be eager to put on a show for the always rowdy Lakers crowd. Preliminary word out of Lakers camp is that Russell’s passing is as good as advertised.

The bright lights of the center stage also gives Julius Randle, who the Lakers selected seventh in the 2014 draft but who missed almost the entire season with a broken leg, a chance to remind the NBA world of his immense talent.

And it’s not just about the Lakers’ young guns. NBA Slam Dunk champion, Zach LaVine, returns for the Timberwolves. The most electrifying moments of last summer didn’t happen during a game. It was the pre-game warmups before Minnesota outings. LaVine’s ridiculous impromptu dunks in the layup lines were the biggest draw in Vegas.

All this and I haven’t even mentioned the No. 1 pick in the draft.

New York Knicks vs. San Antonio Spurs

Saturday, July 11, 4:30 p.m.

The debut of Kristaps Porzingis. Nothing will be more fun than watching Phil Jackson watching Porzingis while he is surrounded by vocal Knicks fans. Unlike Madison Square Garden where Phil can observe from the safety of the owner’s box, summer league is an intimate affair. The basketball gods were kind to Phil by scheduling the Knicks’ first three game in the expansive Thomas & Mack Center, as opposed to the much cozier Cox Pavilion; nevertheless—for better or worse—Jackson will be hearing exactly what the fans think.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Saturday, July 11, 8:30 p.m.

Jahlil Okafor gets a chance to show the world (and, more specifically, Mitch Kupchak) why he should have been selected second instead of D’Angelo Russell. Okafor will have an easier time in the paint because the Lakers have already announced that Julius Randle will skip the game to avoid playing in back-to-backs. Okafor played well in the Orlando summer league, which took place this past week, and should be primed to take the court in front of the Lakers brass.

Miami Heat vs. Denver Nuggets

Monday, July 13, 8 p.m.

This game features two top ten picks: Emmanuel Mudiay and Justise Winslow. Denver grabbed Mudiay at No. 7 seven as a possible Ty Lawson replacement, and Miami pounced on Winslow at No. 10 after he unexpectedly slid to the back half of the lottery. Winslow has already played in the Orlando summer league and received positive reviews. Mudiay, on the other hand, is a bit of an unknown. He arrives in Vegas with an air of mystery, much like Aussie Dante Exum the year before. Mudiay skipped college to play one year in China, and there are a lot of question marks surrounding the man who was a top high school recruit in 2014. This game epitomizes the excitement and intrigue of summer league. It’s the first chance to catch a glimpse of players that you have read about for weeks but have only seen play in poorly edited Youtube videos.

Washington Wizards vs. Dallas Mavericks

July 14, 3:30 p.m.

You have to believe Jordan Crawford will have some extra motivation against his old team with Ernie Grunfeld and Randy Wittman sitting in the stands. On the one hand, the fact that Crawford could not make an NBA roster last season (he played in China and the D-League) and is forced to compete as a veteran in summer league seems to justify the front office’s decision to cut ties with him. On the other hand, I wouldn’t put a 40-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist revenge game past him.

[NOTE: I sat next to one of Crawford’s friends on the flight to Vegas. He says my prediction is way off… The points should be raised considerably and assists dropped substantially.]

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[via NBA TV]

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Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.