Summer League Heats Up

Dec 31, 2014; Laramie, WY, USA; UNLV Runnin' Rebels guard Patrick McCaw (2) battles Wyoming Cowboys guard Josh Adams (14) during the first half at Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys defeated the Runnin' Rebels 76-71. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Photo: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Las Vegas may not be the absolute hub of the basketball universe this summer (that honor probably goes to Rio de Janeiro, site of the 2016 Olympics), but there will still be plenty of hoops to keep local fans occupied while they wait for the latest iteration of the Dream Team to storm the court in Brazil.

The big draw is the NBA Summer League, which will run from July 8-18 at the Thomas & Mack Center and the Cox Pavilion. Twenty-three NBA franchises are sending squads to the Vegas league, and just about every top draft pick will be in action.

Between the two venues, there will be as many as eight games played each day, so if you’re planning to attend, it’s best to go in with a strategy. Some key storylines to keep in mind:

Future stars

Two years ago, the first Summer League showdown between Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker was the hottest ticket in town. This year, the top 10 picks from the 2016 draft are all set to play, which will make for some intriguing matchups. The most anticipated duel will take place on Saturday, July 9, when first overall pick Ben Simmons (Philadelphia) takes on No. 2 choice Brandon Ingram (Los Angeles Lakers) at the Mack.

Draft steal

The Golden State Warriors got all the headlines by signing Kevin Durant, but that’s OK—Patrick McCaw is used to flying under the radar. The former UNLV standout will suit up for the Warriors in Vegas after being picked in the second round, and a strong Summer League showing at his de facto home arena could earn him a spot in the rotation as Golden State attempts to destroy the rest of the league in 2016-17.

Old friends

McCaw isn’t the only former Rebel looking to earn a spot in the league. Big men Goodluck Okonoboh and Chris Obekpa went undrafted in June, but have signed Summer League deals with the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat, respectively. And Chris Wood, who went undrafted in 2015, but earned a cup of coffee with the 76ers, is back with the Philly summer squad with the intention of latching on to a permanent roster spot.