NBA Summer League Total Hit With Fans
Posted on: July 19, 2017, 01:00h.
Last updated on: July 19, 2017, 05:03h.
Even though the scores don’t count, fans flocked to Las Vegas to check out this year’s top draft picks and, in the process, set an attendance record for the NBA Summer League.
Thomas and Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas, Nevada hosted 127,843 people, shattering last year’s previous record of 108,931. The nearly two-week competition also set a single-day attendance record with a sell out of 17,500.
With the demand so high there has been discussions of expanding the league with more teams and more dates. Las Vegas Summer League founder Warren LeGarie told Fox 5 Vegas that changes are constantly debated.
“One of the things we battle with, ‘do we add additional teams?'” LeGarie said. “What we’re afraid of is, we’re providing a really good product and ‘if we take on too much are we damaging our product?’ So that’s always an arm wrestling match.”
Not only did more people attend, but more watched on television as well. ESPN stated viewership doubled from the previous year, and a July 7 Lakers game against the Los Angeles Clippers drew 879,000 viewers. A day later, 1.1 million tuned in to watch the storied franchise face Boston.
Viewers Have Ball
A lot of the people came to see the Los Angeles Lakers and No. 2 overall pick, Lonzo Ball. The rookie from UCLA is being heralded as a savior for the struggling squad that hasn’t been to the playoffs in four years.
The point guard may change that and his famous outspoken father, Lorenzo guaranteed that. His son had two triple-doubles and averaged 16.3 points, a summer league-leading 9.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.
He was named the MVP, despite sitting out the final game with a calf strain.
His play earned accolades from Magic Johnson, the team’s president of basketball operations and the team’s most famous guard.
“Lonzo is special, no question about it, because he makes everyone better,” Johnson said. “He does something you can’t teach. He gives you a scoring pass. Very few point guards in this league can do that. I am talking about giving you a pass that leads to the score, not just passing it to you.”
Better, Not Best
What Ball’s talent translates for the team won’t be answered for another few months, but Las Vegas odds makers aren’t convinced as of yet. The team remains a huge underdog to win the NBA Championship, though the odds have improved. They started at 100-1, but have improved to 77-1.
The defending champion, Golden State Warriors are the overwhelming favorites. They are a 2-7 pick. The next team is the squad the Warriors defeated in the finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers at 7-2.
While the sportsbooks are not sold on the Lakers as a championship team, they are very bullish on Ball being named most valuable player. He currently sits at plus-250. Dallas Mavericks pick, Dennis Smith Jr. is next at plus-350.