Las Vegas Summer League Primer

Holly MacKenzie -

Meet me in Las Vegas

The Toronto Raptors will kick off their 2018 Las Vegas Summer League campaign on July 6. The team will face the New Orleans Pelicans on Fri. July 6, the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sun. July 8 and the Oklahoma CityThunder on Mon. July 9 in the preliminary round of action before being seeded in a tournament that will run until Tues. July 17. Depending on how the team fares in the tournament round, the team will play between five and eight games at summer league.

Training ground

In addition to the actual games that will take place in Vegas, the two weeks provide an opportunity for younger players on the team’s roster to train with Toronto’s coaching staff. It also allows the coaching staff and front office an opportunity to get a closer look at players not currently under contract around the league, including those on their own summer league roster for both NBA and NBA G-League potential.

14 and first

The 2018 MGM Resorts NBA Summer League marks the 14th year for the event. It will mark the first time that the entire league will be represented. All 30 teams will be in Vegas, up from the 24 teams that participated last season. With the entire league present, NBA Summer League will expand to 12 days, spanning July 6-17, with all games taking place at Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Manning the sidelines

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse will serve as Toronto’s head coach in Las Vegas. Jama Mahlalela, newly appointed head coach of Raptors 905, will also be on Nurse’s coaching staff. Mahlalela served as the head coach of last season’s summer league team.

The roster

Because Toronto didn’t have a draft pick this year, they won’t have a newly drafted rookie with them in Vegas, but there will be some familiar faces for fans watching at home. Soon-to-be sophomore OG Anunoby will be on the squad for the Raptors, as will Malachi Richardson, acquired from Sacramento in a trade-deadline deal in February. The duo will be joined by Alfonzo McKinnie and Malcolm Miller, each of whom played for both the Raptors and Raptors 905 this season.

Other experienced NBA players on the roster include Marquis Teague, the younger brother of Minnesota’s Jeff Teague is also on the roster. Teague has two years of NBA experience, playing his rookie season in Chicago after being drafted by the Bulls 29th overall in 2012. He has played for the Bulls, Brooklyn Nets and Memphis Grizzlies, as well as spent time in the G-League and overseas as well. Chris Boucher will also be on Toronto’s roster. Boucher went undrafted in the 2017 draft, but spent last season on a two-way contract with the Golden State Warriors before being released in June.

Bet on yourself

Fred VanVleet gave everyone a glimpse of his sophomore season to come — the one that made him a finalist for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award — when he averaged 18.8 points on 55 percent shooting during last summer’s stint in Vegas. VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Delon Wright and Jakob Poeltl have all graduated out of the team’s summer league session, though Siakam and Delon Wright have already joined the team in Las Vegas to work out together.

Last season

The Raptors got off to a strong start in Vegas last summer, winning their first three games to earn a top seed in the tournament round. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as well when the tournament began, with Toronto dropping two straight games and being eliminated. The Raptors rested rotation players during their final game of the tournament with the championship out of reach, but the summer session was still a success for the organization as it allowed young players the opportunity to show off their skills.

Following from home

Raptors fans interested in keeping up with the action should follow the Raptors on Twitter and Instagram for behind-the-scenes photos and videos from each day’s practice session and game action.