LAS VEGAS (AP) — Denzel Valentine put a thrilling finish on the NBA Summer League.
Valentine hit the tying 3-pointer with the final second of regulation, then made a jumper at the buzzer in overtime to give the Chicago Bulls an 84-82 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.
Valentine was scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting through three quarters, but he proved that fortunes change quickly in Las Vegas. His 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds forced the extra period after Tyus Jones had just given Minnesota a 77-74 lead on a 3 with 3.6 seconds to go.
It was tied again on Xavier Silas’ 3 with 11.7 seconds remaining in OT, but Valentine, the college player of the year from Michigan State, worked the clock down before making his spinning jumper in the lane as the Bulls finished 7-0.
That ended the NBA portion of summer basketball after leagues in Orlando, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas over the last two weeks. Rookies got their first looks, some veterans got their last shots, and it ended with a play that had Twitter buzzing like a game that took place in June instead of July.
And just as the NBA stops, USA Basketball starts. Right on the same UNLV campus just hours before the summer league championship game, the U.S. Olympic team held its first training camp practice. The Olympics start on Aug. 5 in Rio de Janeiro and the Americans will hope to be playing for a third straight gold medal on Aug. 21.
Then, finally, the “offseason” will finally start.
A look back at the summer:
OK, it’s actually Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four, so technically Tyus Jones would be MOP, MVP. The Minnesota Timberwolves’ point guard won Summer League MVP honors and finished with 27 points in nearly leading the 24th-seeded Wolves to the championship. He won the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award after leaving Duke past Wisconsin for the 2015 national championship.
That’s what the Summer League championship game was dubbed, with coach Tom Thibodeau’s new team (Minnesota) facing the Bulls team he coached for five seasons before he was fired. Thibodeau, an assistant on Mike Krzyzewski’s U.S. Olympic team staff, took in the championship game from a baseline seat near Timberwolves players Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine.
Ben Simmons showed off the versatility that made him the No. 1 pick in the draft. The freshman from LSU played in four games for the Philadelphia 76ers in Las Vegas, averaging 12.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists. If the 76ers do someday get the forward from Australia along with recent high picks Joel Embiid and Dario Saric on the court with second-year forward Jahlil Okafor, the future could be bright after a dismal recent past.
ALL-SUMMER LEAGUE HONORS
Besides Jones, the rest of the All-Summer League team, as voted by a panel of media members:
First team: Jordan McRae (Cleveland), Bobby Portis (Chicago), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia) and Alan Williams (Phoenix).
Second team: Jaylen Brown (Boston), Thon Maker (Milwaukee), Kelly Oubre Jr. (Washington), Normal Powell (Toronto) and Tyler Ulis (Phoenix).
Chicago figures to have a starting backcourt of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo after signing both players earlier this month, and there’s some good young talent behind them. Valentine showed he’s a clutch performer, while Jerian Grant, acquired from the Knicks in the trade for Derrick Rose, was MVP of the championship game with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
PACKING THEM IN
The summer league broke two attendance records in Las Vegas, including the overall attendance mark with 108,931. The previous mark was 99,437, set last year. Over 11 days, the summer league averaged 9,902 per day.
The event also broke the single-day mark on July 9, when 16,208 visited both the Cox Pavilion and Thomas and Mack Center. The spotlight game that night featured the top two draft picks in last month’s draft, Simmons and the Lakers’ Brandon Ingram. The previous mark was 12,422, set last season, also on the day the top two draft picks met, with Towns and D'Angelo Russell facing off.
Phoenix got a look at a promising young core while going 4-2 in Las Vegas. All-Rookie selection Devin Booker averaged 26 points in his two games, top-10 picks Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss both showed potential and guard Tyler Ulis looked like a second-round keeper. Ulis averaged 14.5 points and had 10.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Bender, the No. 4 pick from Croatia, shot just 27.5 percent from the field but managed 8.6 points and 5.6 rebounds in his five games.
Freelance writer Willie Ramirez contributed to this report.