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MGM Resorts NBA Summer League returns with top four picks in action

After a yearlong hiatus, the NBA’s Summer League returned to Las Vegas.

“We’re in the gym,” WGL Management President Warren Legarie said. “And I have to tell you, there’s a lot of happy people because of it. Especially on my side because no matter what, a lot of these kids that we do it for every year really look forward to it and more importantly, they’ve become very good at it. And when you don’t get a chance to do what you’re good at, you really suffer, you really do.”

Again, featuring 30 teams in a 10-day AAU-style setting, the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion will play home to some of the brightest talents the league has to offer.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, fans were unable to watch rookies like Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball.

“The access is unparallel here,” Legarie said. “You get to see people up close and personal, people you only read about. Not having that hurts.”

However, Legarie chooses to internalize this differently.

He feels this also provides fans a glimpse into double the amount of talent they would’ve seen in last year’s summer league alone.

“We’ve doubled up the talent because that’s the one thing the teams know -- they also missed out on this experience because it’s invaluable,” Legarie said. “A lot of these kids didn’t get a chance to play a lot of minutes so you come here and you can show that you can separate yourself from the clutter of other players. Show that you’re an NBA player.”

All 30 teams will play five games apiece with the top two teams advancing to the championship game on Tuesday, Aug. 17.

“There’s a wall behind us here that shows all of the players who started here,” Legarie said pointing to a wall with all-stars like John Wall, Steph Curry and Blake Griffin. “We’re going to see from these last two classes this year as well as last year, a lot of those kids are going to be on this wall.”

Top four picks in action on Day 1 of Summer League

Cade Cunningham

Number one overall pick Cade Cunningham made his professional debut for the Detroit Pistons and watched a big lead evaporate and result in a loss on the opening day of the NBA’s Summer League.

Cunningham started the night 2-for-2 from the field, both three-pointers.

However, he went 3-of-15 the rest of the way before ending with 12 points, six rebounds and two assists.

Cunningham started in the backcourt with guard Killian Hayes, whom he split the point guard duties with.

However, Cunningham did finish with five of the team’s 20 turnovers in 22 minutes of action.

Oklahoma City’s first round draft pick Josh Giddey made the game’s first basket but would leave with an injury after playing five minutes.

Jalen Green and Evan Mobley

A matchup between the Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers pitted the No. 2 and No. 3 overall picks against each other.

Guard Jalen Green and his Rockets got the best of center Evan Mobley and his Cavs, winning, 84-76, to open this year’s summer league.

Green stole the show scoring 23 points on 50% percent shooting in 30 minutes of game action.

This included four high-arching threes, sometimes drifting to the side.

He added five rebounds and two assists while being held scoreless in the fourth quarter.

Mobley had a rough night despite throwing down a poster over Houston’s Alperen Sengün.

He finished with 12 points on 6-of-17 from the field to go along with five rebounds in nearly 28 minutes of on-court time.

Guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland were in-attendance and sitting on the bench with the summer league team.

Scottie Barnes

Number four overall pick out of Florida State, Scottie Barnes, looked as if he would have a tough shooting night when he opened his pro debut 2-for-7 from the floor.

However, Barnes would settle in, hitting his next three shots and went onto record a double-double in a day one win for his Toronto Raptors over the New York Knicks, 89-79.

He finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block on 7-of-18 shooting.

There were even times Barnes was asked to pick up guards Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes of the Knicks.

Both Quickley and Grimes combined to shoot 8-for-28 from the field including going 5-of-19 from three-point range.

**Honorable Mentions:

Once thought of as a lottery selection, forward Jalen Johnson slipped to No. 20 in the draft, falling to the Atlanta Hawks.

In his pro debut, Jones collected 20 points and hauled in 10 rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting as his Hawks lost to the Boston Celtics by two points.

Also, guard LiAngelo Ball made his summer league debut for the Charlotte Hornets.

He scored 16 points in his first 16 minutes on the court including four made three-pointers in front of his parents and brother, reigning Rookie of the Year, LaMelo Ball.

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