Although the NBA Summer League is more often dotted with triviality than merit, some of the annual showings in Orlando and Las Vegas are brilliant. Double overtime, for example, is decided by ‘next basket wins,’ sudden death basketball.
Monday morning, Devin Ebanks and his teammates frantically scampered up and down the court for the final one minute and 59 seconds. The game-winning point-blank layup was the most underwhelming part, but the scenario was incredible.
Regular season lineups are dumped for new mixtures, typically rookies, bench players, and d-league vagabonds looking to land contracts. Some see it as an acute opportunity to fulfill comebacks. Had Jeremy Lin not played exceptionally well in his stint with Dallas’ 2010 summer team, Golden State most likely never would’ve signed him, and the Linsanity epoch that followed may have never been written.
While the goal of the two-week leagues are player development and “who can collect the most free t-shirts” competitions, the media has the opportunity to cast somewhat stimulating narratives, even in July: Parker vs. Wiggins, Exum vs. Noel, Smart vs. Napier. For as much as the event is a circus, there are, at the very least, a handful of entertaining tricks.
Five players have distinguished their play from the pack, and earn our newly minted “Top 5 Player at the Summer League” award.