NBA Summer League
|Current season, competition or edition:
2017 NBA Summer League
|Inaugural season||Orlando: 2001
Las Vegas: 2004
|No. of teams||Orlando: 10
Las Vegas: 24
Los Angeles Lakers
|TV partner(s)||NBA TV and ESPN|
The NBA Summer League, also known as the Las Vegas Summer League, is the main off-season competition in which National Basketball Association teams come together to try out different summer rosters instead of their regular season line-ups. The Utah Jazz Summer League also features NBA teams, as did the Orlando Pro Summer League, which operated from 2002 through 2017. Those leagues are sometimes referred to as NBA Summer League when also mentioned with its host location.
Summer leagues have existed for decades. Historically, there was not an organized structure, with leagues sometimes overlapping and not officially coordinated. In 2004, the league held the Las Vegas Summer League for the first time; it is by far the largest league, with 24 teams participating as of 2017. The Orlando Pro Summer League has been held since 2001. The Utah Jazz Summer League began play in 2015, replacing the Rocky Mountain Revue, an event held from 1984–2008 before going on a lengthy hiatus due to declining participation.
The leagues generally consist of a handful of games per team. Unlike regulation NBA games, which are 48 minutes long, games only last 40 minutes, plus multiple 5-minute overtime periods (first overtime is played in its entirety; true sudden death thereafter). Before the 2013 leagues, no official champions were named at any league, with the leagues focusing more on individual auditions and development. Champions are currently named for the Orlando and Las Vegas leagues, although team performance is not emphasized.
Unsigned free agents are often signed to summer league deals, providing a chance to possibly be signed to a contract during the regular season. Any team can sign the free agent after the league is over, not just the one he played for in summer league. For example, Jeremy Lin, a Harvard graduate, was invited to play for the Dallas Mavericks summer league team despite being undrafted earlier in the year. In the 2010 summer league, Lin performed well and was later signed by the Golden State Warriors.
Las Vegas Summer League
The Las Vegas Summer League played its inaugural season in 2004 University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)'s arena, the Thomas & Mack Center with six NBA teams – Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, and Washington Wizards – playing a total of 13 games. With Warren LeGarie leading the way, the summer league had three successful summers in which participation increased to 16 teams playing more than 40 games at UNLV. In 2007, the NBA attached its name to the event, making it the “NBA” summer league. In 2008, the summer league expanded to 22 teams and was sponsored by EA Sports. As of the summer 2015 season, Samsung is the sponsor and the official sponsored branding is the "Samsung NBA Summer League". Starting in 2018, every single NBA team will participate in the Las Vegas Summer League in the typical tournament style.
Utah Jazz Summer League
From 1984 until 2008, the Utah Jazz hosted a tournament known as the Rocky Mountain Revue. Launched as a community outreach campaign to encourage interest in the Jazz in the summer of 1984 under the direction of Jazz public relations staffers David Allred and Kim Turner, initially the league operated as a three-week, pro-am league in July with alumni players from Utah, BYU, Weber State and Utah State. In 1990, after sending a team to the California Summer League the previous summer, Scott Layden, then the Jazz's director of basketball operations, invited the Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, and Sacramento Kings to join the league and moved to an all-NBA format. Over the course of the next 20 years, as few as four teams (1990) and as many as 16 teams (1998), participated, including the first International entry, Burghy Roma. The league did not play games during the 1999 strike-shortened season. In 2008, the NBA Development League had a D-League Ambassadors team. The Rocky Mountain Revue also showcased the Iranian national team.
Games were hosted at Westminster College (Salt Lake City), East High School (Salt Lake City), Delta Center and the Revue's final home, Salt Lake Community College. The Revue was known for its popularity, evidenced by sold out crowds each time the Jazz played. The Revue was one of the first NBA summer leagues to feature NBA officials, as the NBA used the league for referee development and training. The only NBA teams that did not send a team to the Revue at least once were the Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards.
Due to declining participation, the event was cancelled for the 2009 season. However, the Jazz confirmed in November 2014 that they would revive the league for 2015, albeit with a smaller number of teams participating. The event would include the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and San Antonio Spurs as well as the Jazz in a six-game, four-day event.
Orlando Pro Summer League
The Orlando Pro Summer League began in 2002. Its games were closed to the public and could only be seen on television. It named a champion for the first time in 2013 with the Oklahoma City Thunder defeating the Houston Rockets 85-77. On July 11, 2014, the Philadelphia 76ers won the 2014 Orlando Summer League championship with a 91-75 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Dallas Mavericks were the champions in 2017. The league ended after 2017 due to the trend of NBA teams participating in the Las Vegas league.
Las Vegas MVP winners
||Damian Lillard (co-MVPs)||
||Portland Trail Blazers|
||Josh Selby (co-MVPs)||
||Glen Rice Jr.||
||San Antonio Spurs|
||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Year||League||Champion||Score||Runner-up||League MVP||Championship MVP|
|2013||Orlando||Oklahoma City Thunder||85–77||Houston Rockets||Jeremy Lamb[note 1]|
|Las Vegas||Golden State Warriors||91–77||Phoenix Suns||Jonas Valančiūnas||Ian Clark|
|2014||Orlando||Philadelphia 76ers||91–75||Memphis Grizzlies||Elfrid Payton[note 1]|
|Las Vegas||Sacramento Kings||77–68||Houston Rockets||Glen Rice Jr.||Ray McCallum, Jr.|
|2015||Orlando||Memphis Grizzlies||75–73 (OT)||Orlando Magic (White)||Aaron Gordon[note 1]|
|Las Vegas||San Antonio Spurs||93–90||Phoenix Suns||Kyle Anderson||Jonathon Simmons|
|2016||Orlando||Orlando Magic (White)||87–84 (OT)||Detroit Pistons||Arinze Onuaku[note 1]|
|Las Vegas||Chicago Bulls||84–82 (OT)||Minnesota Timberwolves||Tyus Jones||Jerian Grant|
|2017||Orlando||Dallas Mavericks||83–81 (OT)||Detroit Pistons||Dwight Buycks[note 1]|
|Las Vegas||Los Angeles Lakers||110–98||Portland Trail Blazers||Lonzo Ball||Kyle Kuzma|
- Summer Pro League, summer basketball league in Long Beach, California
- Orlando Summer League only awards one MVP.
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