LAS VEGAS — Summer League isn’t about wins and losses. Sure, the coaches all give lip service to winning but it’s really about player development, about players showcasing their skills to NBA and European teams, it’s about teams seeing what the really got with the players they just drafted. As for the standings, well, it’s pretty much like the old “Whose Line is it Anyway?” theory — everything’s made up and the points don’t matter.
Except this year the winning and losing matter a little more because there is a new tournament to pick an ultimate Summer League winner. Said tournament begins today.
What does that mean exactly? Let met try to explain.
So far all 22 Summer League teams have played three games, and with that they earned points — three points for winning a game and a point for winning a quarter in that game. Seedings for the tournament are based on those points. The Golden State Warriors got the top seed, the Chicago Bulls are No. 2.
Now all the teams are thrown in an NCAA-style single-elimination tournament. The top 10 seeds got a bye in the first round while the bottom teams start to battle it out with six games on Wednesday. Those six winners move into a standard 16-team tournament bracket. If you want to see the full brackets, follow this link (or check out the NBA Summer League iPad app, which actually has better graphics and stats than the Web site).
The first games Wednesday are:
No. 11 New Orleans vs. No. 22 Denver
No. 13 Minnesota vs. No. 20 Sacramento
No. 15 New York vs. No. 18 Miami
No. 12 Washington vs. No. 21 Memphis
No. 14 Atlanta vs. No. 19 Portland
No. 16 Dallas vs. No. 17 LA Clippers
The losers of those Wednesday games will play one more game to make sure they get five, kind of a consolation bracket thing. (Same with any losers in the next round that didn’t get five full games.)
From there the winners advance on and so it goes. It’s a tournament all the way through the championship game next Monday with teams playing pretty much every day.
What’s the motivation? Reportedly money — small bonuses to teams, players and coaches that win it all. It’s not much, but as the vast majority of Summer League players will be making European or D-League money (the top players in the D-League make $25,000 a year) a little bonus can be a real motivation.