WHAT: 2018 NBA Summer League
WHEN: July 2-5th, 2018 in Utah, July 7th-16th (potentially) in Las Vegas
WHERE: Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, multiple locations in Vegas
HOW TO WATCH: NBA TV, ESPN 2 for Vegas Summer League
GRIZZLIES UTAH SUMMER LEAGUE ROSTER:
Dee Bost, rookie G, Mississippi State
Matthew Butler, rookie G, Tennessee-Martin
Markel Crawford, rookie G, Ole Miss
Deyonta Davis, entering 3rd year pro C, Michigan State
Brandon Goodwin, rookie G, Florida Gulf Coast
Myke Henry, entering 2nd year pro G/F, DePaul
Brady Heslip, rookie G, Baylor
Jaren Jackson Jr., rookie F, Michigan State (Grizzlies 4th overall pick 2018 NBA Draft)
Terry Larrier, rookie F, Connecticut
William Lee, rookie F, UAB
Anas Mahmoud, rookie C, Louisville
E.C. Matthews, rookie G, Rhode Island
Ivan Rabb, entering 2nd year pro F, California
Wayne Selden Jr., entering 3rd year pro G/F, Kansas
Kobi Simmons, entering 2nd year pro, Arizona
GRIZZLIES SUMMER LEAGUE SCHEDULE:
Monday, July 2nd vs. Atlanta Hawks 6:00 PM CT on NBA TV
Tuesday, July 3rd vs. Utah Jazz 8:00 PM CT on NBA TV
Thursday, July 5th vs. San Antonio Spurs 6:00 PM CT on NBA TV
Saturday, July 7th vs. Detroit Pistons 8:00 PM CT on NBA TV
Sunday, July 8th vs. Orlando Magic 8:30 PM CT on ESPN 2
Tuesday, July 10th vs. Sacramento Kings 5:30 PM CT on ESPN 2
With all the NBA Free Agency hysteria and LeBron James moving out west to the Los Angeles Lakers, for some folks it may have slipped by them that the NBA Summer League officially is getting under way in Utah. The main event, of course, is the Las Vegas Summer League in which all 30 NBA teams will converge on Sin City for 11 days of G-League-esque basketball with splashes of brand new draft picks playing for their new squads for the first time. But for eight teams - four in Utah, and four in Sacramento - the Summer League fun gets going a few days early.
Your Memphis Grizzlies are one of those teams.
The summer Grizzlies have been hard at work back in Memphis the past few days, participating in a mini-camp in preparation for their games coming up in Utah and then in Vegas. Headlined by Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jevon Carter, the two newest members of the Grizzlies, this Memphis Summer League is vital for coaches in terms of evaluation of not just their potential NBA-level talent, but also possible additions on two-way contracts and to the Grizzlies’ G-League organization, the Memphis Hustle.
Memphis may be a bore in free agency, but there are actually storylines to watch as the baby Grizzlies grind along the next week or so.
Will Jackson and Carter be elite defensively from the jump?
The Grizzlies front office went defense in the 2018 NBA Draft, selecting arguably the two best defensive players in the field in Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jevon Carter. Both players have offensive value as well, but the press conference introducing both Jackson and Carter to the Memphis media and fans had a definite tone - the Grizzlies are getting back to Grit and Grind. Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who will be running practice sessions in Utah and Vegas but will not coach the team, and General Manager Chris Wallace both lauded their newest acquisitions for their ability to contribute to the Grizzlies immediately as defenders.
Summer League isn’t about stats or offensive contributions - see Selby, Josh - but it can be a helpful tool when it comes to seeing where comfort lies in a young player’s game and how quickly they can pick up basic schemes and fundamentals from their new coaches. With Jackson and Carter, Summer League will provide coaches and fans alike to see if their selections and subsequent “hype machine” work was indeed truth. One would imagine the two of them should be able to dominate most Summer League competition on that end of the floor.
Even if their offensive games are lacking, the attention to detail and effort defensively will be promising heading in to the offseason if it shines through these draft picks.
Which experienced Grizzlies will shine...or be on the chopping block?
Multiple players with NBA experience with the Grizzlies are on the Summer League roster. Some were surprises - Wayne Selden Jr. dominated Summer League last year, and I am not sure what else Wayne has to prove at this level of competition. It is possible he is there for leadership purposes, as well as depth and practice work with younger players. His activity is worth keeping an eye on.
It is also worth watching how Kobi Simmons has developed, as he showed flashes of real skill at times for the Grizzlies in their lost season last year. Myke Henry is surely competing for his two-way contract life, and Ivan Rabb will be looking to display growth in his game from a couple months ago.
The main Grizzly with “something to prove” is Deyonta Davis. With the reported agreement with Omri Casspi to a veteran minimum deal this past weekend not impacting the mid-level exception Memphis can use, it is an almost certainty that someone will have to go so Memphis can meet the league requirement of 15 players on their roster. While others may be contenders for being moved on from (Jarell Martin, Andrew Harrison maybe), Davis seems to be the leader in the clubhouse on that front.
He appears lost at times, and he has not shown the development you would hope to see from someone heading in to their third NBA season. It is time for Deyonta to become a full professional and be engaged and dip in to that potential he was hyped with two drafts ago...or he may be on his way out of Memphis. This may not happen in games - practices will also be huge for Davis as he tries to prove to coaches there is worth in keeping him around.
Who could maybe make the Hustle...or more?
Outside of the Grizzlies, there are players who will be actively trying to prove to not just the Memphis front office but the 29 other squads in the NBA that they can be professional basketball players at the highest levels of the game. Memphis has lots of those types on this roster - guys who did not get drafted, but are trying to make their hoop dreams a reality through the grind that is the next two weeks of basketball. There will be no days off for these guys. No special treatment. They need to make an impression.
Who could shine? My pick is E.C. Matthews of Rhode Island, who played extremely well against “better” teams at Rhode Island and had a pretty good college career. Matthews may force Myke Henry out of his two-way contract, or possibly shine brightly enough to get an opportunity from another team. Anas Mahmoud and Brady Heslip are two other possible guys to watch who may show out in Utah specifically.
Remember, stats and scoring are not what matter most in Summer League. Execution, effort, and how the players improve in a short amount of time through practice with the Grizzlies staff, from the Memphis mini-camp to Las Vegas, will be the key for these players. All have different paths to travel, but all roads for these young Grizzlies lead through Utah and Las Vegas as the NBA Summer League begins!