NBA Summer League Overview
There are three NBA summer leagues in the summer of 2018, all in July. The two smaller leagues, in Utah and Sacramento, are run by the teams in those markets, and are more of a warmup to the big thing. The huge main NBA summer league, run by the NBA itself, is in Las Vegas as usual, on the campus of UNLV.
2018 NBA SUMMER LEAGUE DATES
• July 2-5: Utah Summer Basketball League
• July 2-5: California Classic: Sacramento Summer League
• July 6-17: Las Vegas NBA Summer League
• NBA Summer League Rosters
Orlando's league, which was closed to the public and only open to the media, won't take place in the summer of 2018. It's unknown if that league will return.
New in the summer of 2018 is Sacramento's league. Like Utah, it's a small league, only involving a handful of teams playing a very limited number of games.
The Utah and Sacramento leagues really serve as unofficial warmups for the big main NBA summer league in Las Vegas, which in the summer of 2018 will, for the first time, include all 30 teams.
Note that NBA summer league play isn't remotely close to regular NBA play. NBA summer league team rosters mostly consiste of players who aren't actually in the NBA. Many have NBA-level talent. But the majority of them are making their money playing pro basketball overseas. Some play in the G League. Each NBA summer league roster does include all or at least most of the regular season team's rookies. And a few of the regular season team's still-developing young players.
For us at InsideHoops.com, NBA summer league is must-watch just for the rookies alone. Everything else is a bonus.
2017 NBA SUMMER LEAGUES
• July 1-6: Orlando Summer Basketball League
• July 3-6: Utah Summer Basketball League
• July 7-17: Las Vegas Summer League Basketball
In order of importance, the big one is Las Vegas. That's the official NBA Summer League. The vast majority of the league is there. Fans love it, too. If anyone mentions NBA Summer League and doesn't specify a city, this is the league they are probably referring to.
In second place on the list is Orlando. It's run by the Magic. What sets this league apart is, there's no room for fans. The public isn't invited. If you watch this league's games on TV, anybody you see on the sideline either works in basketball or is a member of the media. (Or their buddy works in the building and they snuck in through the back door.)
And third on the importance list, because it has the fewest number of teams and the least games, is Utah's league. But unlike Orlando, fans can attend this one, so anybody near Salt Lake City should go check it out. Note that this year's games are on July 3, 5 and 6, 2017. There are no games on July 4.
ABOUT NBA SUMMER LEAGUES
NBA summer leagues feature rosters that are different from the regular season. A team's summer league roster usually features a mix of (1) rookies that the team just drafted, (2) a few other players signed to that team, and (3) various undrafted players and free agents looking to get signed to that team or any other team. If a player is a free agent, and that player gets invited to play on a certain summer league team, that team obviously has some interest in him, but the player is hoping to get signed to that team or any other team that happens to be impressed by him.
If you are a member of the Boston Celtics, and you play summer league, you'll be on Boston's team. If you are not currently signed to any NBA team, a team might just sign you for their summer league team, and you're trying to get signed to a real, regular season NBA contract from any team in the league, including the team that you're playing summer league for.
NBA summer leagues are great for seeing how various rookies play as well as watching guys compete for NBA jobs.
In NBA summer league play wins-losses don't really matter. These aren't regular season rosters. It's really all about the individual player performances. Some of these players are fighting to prove themselves worthy of more playing time once the regular season rolls around. Others just want more experience. But a lot of NBA summer league players are jobless. These dudes need a contract. And they'll do whatever it takes.
FORMER LEAGUES THAT NO LONGER EXIST
- Orlando Summer Basketball League: Orlando's league isn't happening in the summer of 2018. Will it return in 2019?
- Rocky Mountain Revue (league is back, but under a new name. See above.)
- Summer Pro League (SPL) (They played at the Pyramid in Long Beach, California. This was NOT an "NBA" summer league. It was just an extremely good league with tons of former NBA and very good college ballers.)