Eight games between two cities
The Oklahoma City Thunder will play in two separate summer leagues over the next two weeks, starting with Salt Lake City. From there, the team will head to Las Vegas for the bigger of the two events.
Oklahoma City’s roster is loaded with young talent and is expected to be one of the top teams in both summer league events. It has a wide variety of contributors from last season as well as new faces from the rookie class. Additionally, there are a handful of players who will be looking to earn a spot with Thunder’s G League affiliate, OKC Blue.
It’s still unclear exactly how much each of these prospects will play and what events they’ll see the most on the ground. The rotations and minutes could be drastically different not only between the two events, but also night after night.
Either way, all eyes will be on the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Chet Holmgren. He will be joined by the other two Thunder lottery picks in Jalen Williams and Ousmane Dieng.
From last season’s Thunder squad, Aleksej Pokusevski, Josh Giddey and Tre Mann should be among the best players on the pitch at all times.
The first event will be in Utah, where four teams will compete over three days. The Thunder will be in Salt Lake City with the Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies.
As such, Oklahoma City will face each of these teams once at Vivint Arena. This is a round robin where one team is crowned the winner on the final day.
- Tuesday, July 5: Utah Jazz (8 p.m.)
- Wednesday, July 6: Memphis Grizzlies (6 p.m.)
- Thursday, July 7: Philadelphia 76ers (5 p.m.)
After Oklahoma City’s Thursday game against the Sixers, they will travel to Las Vegas for the big event. This showcase will feature all 30 NBA teams and is one of the most anticipated events of the NBA offseason. The league’s top young prospects will take to the field while the current stars watch from the sidelines.
The NBA Summer League in Las Vegas will actually begin while the Thunder wrap up in Salt Lake City, but they won’t play their first game at that event until Saturday. It will run July 7-17 at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion.
Each team will play five games in total in Las Vegas. They will each play four games to first determine who will earn a spot in the championship game. After each team has played these four games, the two teams with the best records will meet in the championship game on July 17. The other 28 teams that will not participate in the championship will play a fifth match on July 16 or 17. Duration of 11 days, 75 matches in total will be played.
- Saturday, July 9: Houston Rockets
- Monday, July 11: Orlando Magic
- Wednesday, July 13: Sacramento Kings
- Friday, July 15: Golden State Warriors
After being selected second overall in last month’s draft, the Thunder’s first three games in Las Vegas will be against the other top-four teams. This means that Holmgren will be able to face Paolo Banchero (Orlando), Jabari Smith Jr. (Houston) and Keegan Murray (Sacramento).
This will be the first of many matches between these top prospects as they each seek to become the best player in their class.
The Thunder have announced that Kameron Woods will return as the Thunder’s Summer League head coach, after serving in the same role for Oklahoma City’s last three 2021 Summer League games. Oklahoma City Blue head coach Grant Gibbs and Thunder player development coaches Eric Maynor and Zach Peterson will serve as assistant coaches.
Oklahoma City rightfully has the talent on the roster to win both summer leagues. It will depend on how often the Thunder play their top prospects and how hard they push to win. Since it’s summer league, getting reps and building chemistry is much more important than the final score.
“Any chance a team has to play together is really valuable at this stage where the team is,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said recently. “It’s the mileage accumulated together.”
All in all, this week will be the start of something potentially great for this young Thunder team.