The San Antonio Spurs are nearing the end of their Las Vegas Summer League schedule, and there has been no shortage of entertainment as Victor Wembanyama, Malaki Branham, Dominick Barlow, and Julian Champagnie have showcased their talent. A respectable 2-1 record has them positioned to sneak into the final spot in the championship tournament, where they can fight for a small slice of eternal glory.
Although the NBA has only been crowning a Summer League champion since 2013, there is growing prestige around this annual event, with a ring and trophy for the players that help their club capture a title in Las Vegas. The Silver and Black are still in the running to take home some exhibition hardware, so which teams will they join in the history books if they reach the pinnacle of offseason competition this weekend?
Las Vegas Summer League Champions:
2022: Portland Trail Blazers
2021: Sacramento Kings
2020: N/A (COVID-19)
2019: Memphis Grizzlies
2018: Portland Trail Blazers
2017: Los Angeles Lakers
2016: Chicago Bulls
2015: San Antonio Spurs
2014: Sacramento Kings
2013: Golden State Warriors
Diehard fans might remember the Spurs raising a Summer League banner in 2015 as Becky Hammon made her head coaching debut after a successful first season as an assistant under Gregg Popovich. And who could forget how a second-year Kyle Anderson and surprise star Jonathon Simmons picked apart opponents with their polar opposite styles? Simmons raced in transition while Anderson leaned on craft to score.
Summer League success is not an automatic indicator that young players will thrive in the NBA, and it certainly has no weight on whether a team will thrive in the postseason. With that said, these glorified pickup games are a valuable tool front offices can use to evaluate prospects and create a roadmap to maximize their long-term development. At the very least, it gives hoop heads something to whet their appetite until the regular season begins.