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Las Vegas NBA Summer League Matchups: Day One

No.1 overall pick Zaccharie Risacher will take on No.2 pick Alex Sarr in Summer League.

The NBA summer league got off to a great start with good matchups in the California Classic and in Salt Lake City. This weekend (July 12th- 14th) begins the NBA’s biggest summer league event in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas summer league will play ‘regular season’ style games through July 19th before playoffs and championship conclude the league on Monday, July 22nd.

This weekend will be the first time many fans get to see their favorite prospects in official NBA action! Rookies, sophomores, and former collegiate stars will all be looking to display their talent to earn coveted NBA roster spots.

Let’s take a look at the best prospect matchups for Vegas’s first NBA summer league games.

Las Vegas NBA Summer League Matchups: Day One

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Orlando Magic: Friday, July 12th at 4 p.m. ET

This may be a game where sophomore prospects steal the show! Orlando will have two top-ten picks from the 2023 class in Anthony Black and Jett Howard. Both showed promise in their rookie campaigns but struggled to find consistent minutes on a playoff-caliber Magic squad. For Cleveland’s sophomores, undrafted standout Craig Porter Jr. and 49th pick Emoni Bates will look at having big-game performances.

The rookies of this matchup will also have their chance as well. Orlando’s Tristan Da Silva (18th overall) will face off against Cleveland’s Jaylon Tyson (20th overall). Both will be looking to prove they have what it takes to contribute immediately as role players for their franchises. Lastly, the Cavaliers also signed D.J. Burns, the breakout star of this year’s March Madness tournament. It will be fun to see if his ‘old-school’ post-centric style can dominate Summer League as it did in college.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: Friday, July 12th at 5 p.m. ET

Rob Dillingham will be the star of this show! The Timberwolves made the first major trade of the draft when they acquired San Antonio’s eighth overall selection. Dillingham is an explosive scorer who seems built for summer league stardom. He won’t be alone either as he will team up with the Timberwolves’ 27th overall pick, Terrence Shannon Jr. They should make for a dynamic scoring backcourt against the Pelicans, although defense will be another question.

For the Pelicans, first-round center Yves Missi will look to prove that he’s more than a developmental prospect. He’s only been playing basketball for three years, but he has all the tools to be a successful NBA center. Missi will also benefit from joining up with sophomore Jordan Hawkins, the 14th overall pick in 2023. Hawkins will need to prove he can be a leading scorer for the Pelicans’ summer league roster and handle increased ball-handling responsibility. He enjoyed a solid rookie season and is already considered an elite shooter within the league.

Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Friday, July 12th at 7:30 p.m. ET

This will be fans first look at Houston’s number three overall pick, Reed Sheppard. Sheppard is ready to be an elite role player from day one. He is far and away the best pure shooter in this draft and does a lot outside of just shooting. He also averaged 2.5 steals and 4.5 assists per game this season as he was one of Kentucky’s primary playmakers. Sheppard will also have the benefit of Houston’s loaded young roster and rich summer league history. He will team up with last year’s summer league MVP Cam Whitmore and 2022 lottery pick AJ Griffin.

For the Lakers, their prevalent prospects are of course, Dalton Knecht and Bronny James. Neither had the showings they would have liked to have seen in the California classic. Knecht has dealt with shooting struggles and inefficiency, but he will look to post big-game performances in Las Vegas. His college film and production certainly point to him getting on track. James will also be looking to produce at a much higher level and have big outings. Fair or unfair, he’s been the center of attention for this draft as the 55th pick, and every game will be scrutinized.

Atlanta Hawks vs. Washington Wizards: Friday, July 12th at 9:30 p.m. ET

This is of course the most anticipated matchup in the NBA summer league as the number one and two overall picks will face off. Everyone will want to see Zaccharie Risacher and Alex Sarr produce big games. This is especially true given the narrative that this draft is considered the weakest in recent memory at the top. Risacher is a six-foot-nine French wing who fits what the NBA is looking for. He will hope to be a successful ‘3-and-D’ wing who grows into something more in terms of playmaking and shot-creation. Sarr on the other hand is a big man who stands at a lanky seven-foot-one with a seven-foot-five wingspan. He’s already NBA-ready on the defensive end, blocking shots and using his length and mobility on the perimeter. His upside comes into play on offense, where he’s flashed intriguing shot-making and ball-handling ability.

For the Hawks, Risacher will mainly be accompanied by sophomore Kobe Bufkin. Bufkin was a lottery pick in 2023 but only played 17 NBA games this season with the Hawks. He’s a great combo-guard prospect and should take a lot of the playmaking burden off of Risacher. The Wizards on the other hand will surround Sarr with a lot of intriguing young talent as a franchise that is in full rebuild. They selected two more first-round picks this year at 14 and 24, Carlton Carrington and Kyshawn George respectively.

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