Ron Howard and Romel Beck are playing in Vegas Summer League today. Oh yeah, and also John...something.
Vegas Summer League marches on, as more and more teams start showing up and playing. Things are going to get nuts soon (seven games a day starting tomorrow, in fact), but for now enjoy the relaxed mornings and evenings full of basketball. The biggest story of the day will be number one pick John Wall's first NBA action, such as it is, but there's a lot of good non-roster talent on the docket as well.
The majority (if not all) of these games will be shown on NBA TV, and those that don't have access to NBA TV can watch all of the Summer League games online for $14.95 either live or on demand. The "what to watch for" notes are after the jump (all times are Eastern).
4 p.m. - New York Knicks vs. Denver Nuggets
Knicks Free Agent to Watch: Chris Hunter
The Knicks have started stockpiling frontcourt talent, so despite being the best (or maybe second-best, depending on how you feel about him vs. Carlos Powell) player they're bringing to Summer League, Hunter probably is auditioning for other teams more than he is for New York. Hunter has some NBA cred affter playing 60 games for the Warriors last season, but now he'll be looking to show it wasn't a fluke and/or that his defense is better than when he was playing hurt.
Nuggets Free Agent to Watch: Laurence Ekperigin
Brian Butch dislocated his kneecap yesterday, leaving Ekperigin and Othello Hunter as the only big men on Denver's roster. Ekperigin has been pretty bad so far, though you could argue that he's gradually gotten better over the two games. He was a Division II All-American last year at Le Moyne, so there's some talent there, and now he has a chance to show it.
6 p.m. - Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets
Trail Blazers Free Agent to Watch: Demetris Nichols
Probably the most talented free agent Portland is bringing in, Nichols has been on the cusp of solidly making the NBA for a few years. The Blazers have a pretty full roster so I'm not sure how much playing time Nichols will get, but he had a so-so Orlando Summer League, and he'll need to make a better impression in Vegas.
Rockets Free Agent to Watch: Ishmael Smith
Ish Smith has been starting at point guard for the Rockets, and while he's been playing well overall, he hasn't done much to dispel questions about his shooting ability. He did much better yesterday than in game one, but he'll have to keep it up. Smith's main asset is his speed, but given his size (5'11") he'll need more than that to stick in the NBA.
8 p.m. - Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors
Wizards Free Agent to Watch: Lester Hudson
All eyes will be on John Wall, of course, but Hudson is talented enough to be a pretty good backup guard in the NBA - he can score in a variety of ways, and he's a decent defender. His main issue seems to be that he's been a point guard for most of his career, when he's a little too turnover-prone and scoring-focused to really properly fill that role. Hudson likely will backup Wall at the point in Vegas, but they also invited Jerome Randle so Hudson may get a chance to play off the ball and show teams what he can do in that role.
Warriors Free Agent to Watch: Kasib Powell
Fair warning: I'm probably going to keep naming Powell until he plays well. He's versatile and can help a team out in several ways, but so far he's struggled. He's shot 3-12 over the course of two games, and hasn't really rebounded much either. Please, Kasib, play as well as you're capable of.
10 p.m. - Miami Heat vs. New Orleans Hornets
Heat Free Agent to Watch: Raymond Sykes
I'm intrigued to see what Sykes can do against Summer League competition. He went to NBA training camp last year before ending up in the D-League, but he's also improved a bit since then. He's a powerful dunker, but while his rebounding is okay it probably could be better given his size. He also doesn't have much of an offensive repertoire besides the aforementioned dunking. Still, he's athletic, and probably will posterize someone before the week is out.
Hornets Free Agent to Watch: Sean Sonderleiter
The Hornets didn't bring a ton of big men into Summer League, and while Sonderleiter isn't the first D-League big I'd choose, he has an outside chance at a career as an energy/rebounding guy. Sonderleiter scored nine points with six rebounds in 14 minutes in the first game, though he also picked up seven fouls. He took a few years to get his conditioning to the point where he could stay on the court in the D-League, and he'll have to pick his game up this week to show he can stay on the court in the NBA.