The NBA Summer League begins in Las Vegas on Friday, July 7th following events in Utah and the California Classic.
All eyes will be on Las Vegas this weekend as all thirty NBA teams kick off their Summer League campaign in the NBA 2K24 Summer League competition. Everyone has been talking about Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs, with Friday night’s event selling out which is unheard of for the Summer League.
There are plenty of other stars to get excited about from the 2023 NBA Draft, including Scoot Henderson, Amen Thompson, Cason Wallace, and more. On top of that, we have guys like Chet Holmgren, Jaden Ivey, and Jabari Smith Jr. who were top picks in the 2022 NBA Draft playing in Summer League once again. There are some rosters that are quite stacked while others leave a lot to be desired, and with that comes some interesting betting markets we can have some fun with.
Throughout the next two weeks, I will be tweeting out plenty of Summer League betting plays, updates, and thoughts on the games. Be sure to follow me @AndyHHSports on Twitter, and subscribe to us for FREE so you do not miss out on any of this year’s Summer League action! With that out of the way, let’s get started.
NBA Summer League Championship Odds
Picking the winner of the NBA Championship any given season is fairly difficult, or a rip-off on the value you are getting from the sportsbook. Predicting who will win the NBA Summer League is even more of a free-for-all, but looking at what has happened historically and who teams play in their brief four-game schedules helps you get a better idea of where there might be some value.
Over the last five years, we have seen four NBA Summer League competitions take place with one being canceled due to COVID-19. Those four summers from 2018 to 2022 saw the Blazers (12/1), Grizzlies (30/1), Kings (30/1), and Blazers again (14/1) capturing the Summer League title. The runner-up’s those past seasons were the Lakers (25/1), Wolves (14/1), Celtics (25/1), and Knicks (25/1).
Notice anything about the odds for those eight teams? Only three of the eight had odds less than 25/1 to lift the Summer League trophy, and a champion over the last several years has never been favored by more than 12/1. Sure, the rosters of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Detroit Pistons are very intriguing with all of the top draft picks and NBA experience they are bringing with them to Las Vegas. However, how can you guarantee that these studs they are bringing will start every game?
It will be crucial to watch the news on a nightly basis and be tactical when jumping in on plays early when attempting to grab value. The trend of a champion coming from the middle of the pack odds-wise can be attributed to teams playing their lineups the entirety of the tournament, as well as some of these squads having some experience together whether it is in the NBA, G-League, or a tournament before Las Vegas. I believe there is value to be grabbed in the middle of the pack this year, so let’s take a look:
Memphis Grizzlies 20/1 – 0.5 Units
The Grizzlies came into Salt Lake City missing Santi Aldama, Tremont Waters, Ziaire Williams, Xavier Tillman, and Kennedy Chandler from last year’s Summer League roster. This is a major blow considering those five players led the Grizz in virtually all stat groups last summer. However, guys like Jake LaRavia, Kenneth Lofton Jr., and David Roddy have picked up where the former left off, and have embraced their bigger roles with a year of NBA experience under their belts.
There are plenty of notable newcomers for the Grizzlies, with guys like GG Jackson, Manny Bates, and Joel Ayayi getting their chance to showcase their skills for Memphis. The Grizzlies went 2-1 in Utah after resting their main guys against the Jazz on the second leg of a back-to-back before they head to Las Vegas. They took down the Thunder and Sixers in the first two games which was impressive, and I don’t think they are done yet.
This team has a relatively easy Summer League schedule ahead, with the Bulls on Saturday, Cavaliers on Monday, Clippers on Wednesday, and Lakers on Friday. The Chicago Bulls will be coming off of a back-to-back against the Raptors, which is convenient for the Grizzlies who have three games under their belt and a Thursday night of rest for their “Big 3” listed above. The schedules do not come much easier than this, with all four opponents sitting in the bottom half of the odds to win the Summer League Championship.
I put a decent bit of stock into when guys get to play together prior to heading to Las Vegas, and not only does this Grizzlies roster have that from the three-game run in Salt Lake City, but also a whole NBA season of experience for LaRavia, Lofton, and Roddy. These guys are not at risk of being sat by the Grizzlies as they are truly just rotational players for the first team. With an easy schedule, NBA experience, low risk of rest, and a Salt Lake City trip in the rearview mirror, this Memphis Grizzlies team is my favorite squad to win the NBA 2K24 Summer League in Las Vegas.
Miami Heat 30/1 – 0.5 Units
Nikola Jovic and newly-drafted Jaime Jaquez Jr. headline a Miami Heat team that impressed in the California Classic in Sacramento. The Heat averaged 95 points in two games off of 43.1% three-point shooting and 80.9% from the free-throw line. Miami blew out the Lakers, then kept up a good fight against Keegan Murray and the Kings until Sacramento pulled away late fueled by Murray’s 41-point outing.
The Heat returned their top rebounders from last year’s Summer League in Orlando Robinson and Jamal Cain, and also have some exciting guys in Alondes Williams and Jamaree Bouyea who can contribute too. I was not in love with this Heat team when I started studying up for the first ten teams who played before the Vegas event this Friday, but after seeing them in Sacramento, I think they have the supporting cast to actually pull this off.
Miami’s schedule is also relatively easy, with the only real tests coming against the Celtics on Saturday and the Bucks on Wednesday. Their Monday and Friday games against Phoenix and Denver should be a walk in the park for a group with two key contributors like Jovic and Jaquez, who boast NBA experience from Jovic and four years of March Madness runs from Jaquez. I believe the value on 30/1 is too good to pass up with how strong this group looked this week, paired with a relatively easy schedule.
Toronto Raptors 100/1 – 0.25 Units
Yes, there is a reason that several teams are listed at +10,000 odds to win the NBA Summer League. But if you believe this competition is a crap shoot as many do, why not take the strongest of the bunch when it comes to longest odds in Las Vegas?
Gradey Dick commanded the attention of college hoops fans across the country last season with Kansas, and once again asked us to pay attention to his bright red suit on draft night. Dick’s incredible ability to score the ball paired with his feel for the game will put him a step above a lot of his competition in the Summer League. Pair him with the most electric March Madness player in Markquis Nowell out of Kansas State, and you have a duo that could be a lot of fun to watch these next two weeks.
The Raptors surrounded this pair of Kansas in-state rivals with G-League and Summer League stars alike in David Johnson, Moses Wright, and RJ Nembhard. Add in Moses Brown who I enjoy at the center position despite his habit to bounce around from team to team quite frequently, and you’ve got a decent squad for 100-to-1 betting odds. I love the Raptors in their first matchup on Friday against the Bulls, but I would wait throughout the day on Friday to see if the line moves more in favor of the Bulls or not before jumping in.
Following their opening matchup against Chicago on Friday, the Raptors face Cleveland on Sunday, Detroit on Wednesday, and Brooklyn on Thursday. The back-to-back is not ideal especially starting it against a tough squad like Detroit, but there is a world where the Raptors sneak into the NBA Summer League semi-finals with a 3-1 record. It is a long shot, but the schedule only holds one difficult matchup, and maybe we get lucky and Detroit rests their guys midway through the Summer League? Crazier things have happened.
Best Bets for Friday, July 7th
The Friday Summer League slate is a great one, with Portland and Houston facing off before San Antonio and Charlotte take the stage. The Scoot Henderson vs Amen Thompson matchup should offer much more back-and-forth than the Wembanyama against Miller matchup, but both games will prove to be very entertaining. Here are two games I am jumping in on early, while I continue to monitor the games before these two as the betting markets continue to take shape.
San Antonio Spurs -6.5 (-106) – 1.5 Units
Odds via Fanduel Sportsbook and tweeted out here.
Victor Wembanyama faced an early battle against Britney Spears on Wednesday but faces an even tougher match against Brandon Miller and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday. Or is it really that tough of a test?
Miller and the Hornets had a rough go in Sacramento, going 0-2 and already losing once to the Spurs to kick off the California Classic. Third-year players in James Bouknight and Kai Jones have underwhelmed once again in the Summer League, and Brandon Miller seems to be feeling the pressure of being selected before Portland’s Scoot Henderson. Charlotte was only able to put up an embarrassing 80 points per game, putting them 14.5 points behind the Lakers who are not great either.
This is a bet against the Hornets as much as it is a bet on the Wembanyama hype and how good his Summer League team looked in Sacramento. The Spurs put up 102.5 points per game, leading the competition, paired with FIFTY rebounds per game, 14 more than the next closest team in the Lakers. In comparison, the Hornets only averaged 30 rebounds per game, so adding in Victor into the equation could prove to be quite a nightmare for Charlotte.
Malaki Branham and Julian Champagnie have been lighting it up so far this summer, averaging 32 and 29 points per game respectively. Blake Wesley has once again shown flashes of why the Spurs selected him in the first round of the 2022 Draft, and I think his speed and passing will cause Charlotte some issues. The Hornets looked disorganized, uninspired on the boards, and inexperienced in Sacramento, and I don’t know what improvements they can make in the X’s and O’s from Monday to Friday against the Spurs when you add in a generational talent like Wembanyama.
Sacramento Kings -2.5 (-110) – 1 Unit
Odds via Fanduel Sportsbook and tweeted out here.
The Kings caught the attention of casual and diehard NBA fans alike on Wednesday night after Keegan Murray dropped 41 points on the Miami Heat. What many may have not noticed is how deep this team is without Murray, and how the contributors around him helped get him there. The Kings announced today that Keegan will not be playing in Las Vegas, but I have no doubt that this squad will still do some damage without him, starting on Friday night.
Neemias Queta is one of the guys I am most excited about, as he led the California Classic in rebounding at 9.5 boards a game and began to build his case for why the Kings should add him to their regular season roster. Queta was spectacular in the NBA G-League and is keeping it rolling into the 2023 Summer League so far. Kessler Edwards and Keon Ellis are heading to Vegas, and have proven that the experience they bring to this Summer League roster only enhances the guys around them.
Some of the guys that experience benefits are newcomers Colby Jones out of Xavier and Jalen Slawson out of Furman. The Kings’ two draft selections will do some more heavy lifting with additional opportunities now that Keegan won’t be playing, and I can’t wait to see them go. I believe there is no greater opportunity than the one they will be getting against opening up versus the Atlanta Hawks.
The Hawks Summer League team leaves a lot to be desired. I am interested in seeing how AJ Griffin and Kobe Bufkin fare, but it is a steep fall off from there. Gueye and Lundy are fine draft picks from the second round, and you’ve got Kabengele and Etienne from the G-League who averaged 19 and 17 points a piece. But what else is there on this roster? I don’t think the Hawks will be able to run with this Kings team who offers many more offensive options paired with a solid all-around defensive effort on the other end.
Give me the Kings here, as this roster with Summer League and G-League experience has a lot more depth and offensive firepower compared to a not-as-fascinating Atlanta Hawks side.