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NBA

NBA Summer League 2019: Previewing Day 1 of the Las Vegas Summer League

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RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson [NBA Getty Images]

The Las Vegas NBA Summer League is upon us!

The biggest Summer League event of the year gives us the opportunity to see every NBA team and their star-studded rookies for the first time.

Headlining this year's Vegas Summer League is rookie phenoms Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett - the two former college teammates face off in their debuts.

With 10 games and 18 NBA teams in action on Day 1 of the Vegas Summer League, take a look at five things to keep an eye out for!

In order of occurance...

Sekou Doumbouya's debut

Detroit Pistons vs. Croatia

To kick off the Vegas Summer League, the Pistons will take on the Croatian National Team.

The highlight of this contest - the first opportunity to see the No. 15 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, French versatile forward Sekou Doumbouya.

Sure, everyone looks great on a highlight tape, but Doumbouya appears to be the perfect mould of a modern-day stretch four in the NBA. He's 6'9, 210 lbs. but has the agility to play on the wing as well as in the paint. He's a runner in transition and can handle the ball fairly well for a young big man. He's long and athletic and possesses the raw talent that shows he could succeed in the league.

The 18-year old has plenty of time to continue to grow both in size and skillset, though he has already shown flashes of a soft shooting touch and versatile defensive ability in the LNB (Ligue Nationale de Basket) Pro A - the top-calibre league in France.

Antetokounmpo vs. Nets' NBA guys

Dallas Mavericks vs. Brooklyn Nets

No, the reigning league MVP is not playing in Summer League, but his younger brother is.

The Mavericks took a flier on the younger Antetokounmpo, selecting him with the last pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. The 21-year old spent the majority of his rookie season in the G League playing for the Texas Legends where he averaged 10.6 points and 6.2 rebounds over 40 games.

At 6'10, 200 lbs. the now second-year forward will have another opportunity to prove he belongs on the up-and-coming Mavericks NBA squad. His 2019 Summer League debut is a perfect opportunity for that, as the Mavs will take on a Brooklyn Nets team that has a handful of players who spent significant time on the NBA roster this past season.

Rodions Kurucs appeared in 63 games and showed a ton of promise, earning a nod in the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star weekend, and will make an appearance in Vegas. Jarrett Allen will play in Vegas after starting in all 80 games for a playoff team.

Allen's elite shot blocking ability (1.5 per game this past season) will certainly be on display - keep an eye on the Summer League record of 8 blocks in a game, because Allen is more than capable of reaching double figures in that category should he receive enough playing time to accomplish the feat.

Zion vs. RJ

New York Knicks vs. New Orleans Pelicans

The main event. The moment we've been waiting for since these two were inevitably going to be drafted to different teams. The biggest Summer League matchup in recent memory.

Zion Williamson - the NBA's next big thing. RJ Barrett - the savior of basketball in New York. Two college teammates who shared the spotlight for an entire season will go at it in their NBA Summer League debuts.

The crowd will be electric. The game is being televised on major broadcasts. It will have the atmosphere of a primetime regular season game.

Williamson will woe the crowd with electrifying dunks while Barrett will look to put on a scoring clinic. We'll get to see these two Alpha's battle it out in a competitive setting where Barrett can try and take the spotlight from Zion.

Does this game mean anything more than a regular Summer League showdown? No, probably not. But it's not going to feel that way. The level of intensity will surely make this feel like a bigger deal than it is as each of these sure-to-be superstars try and make their first mark on the NBA stage.

You aren't going to want to miss this.

Missing out on Garland, Porter Jr.

We were supposed to get the highly anticipated debuts of two special talents - Darius Garland and Michael Porter Jr.

Garland is a bit of an unknown in terms of what we've seen - he only played five games in college due to a torn meniscus but his impressive pre-draft workouts turned him into a perennial top-five pick.

He is said to be a player that can score in every way possible. He's a sharpshooter who can create his own shot off the dribble, spot up, work in the pick-and-roll and use his shiftiness and quick handle to beat defenders off the dribble.

Unfortunately for us, the Cavaliers are taking the precautious route, electing to keep the No. 4 overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft sidelined for the Summer League's entirety.

Porter Jr. was the No. 1 ranked player coming out of high school in 2017. He was projected as a sure-fire No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft, but a back injury altered those plans. The top prospect fell to the Denver Nuggets at the No. 14 pick of the 2018 draft.

Porter Jr. played in one game at Missouri before his back injury kept him out for almost the entire season. He came back to compete with his team in the SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament, and played pretty well for someone coming off of back surgery.

He scored 12 points to go with eight boards in 23 minutes of the SEC Tournament game. He went for a double-double of 16 points and 10 boards in the NCAA Tournament game.

The Nuggets elected to play it safe, keeping the 21-year old on the sidelines for his entire rookie season.

He was fully cleared to play in Summer League with no restrictions earlier this week, but an minor knee sprain in a team scrimmage just days before his debut is going to keep us waiting on Porter Jr.'s debut.

Las Vegas Summer League Day 1 schedule

All times Eastern.

3 p.m. - Pistons vs. Croatia

3:30 p.m. - 76ers vs. Bucks

5 p.m. - Timberwolves vs. Cavaliers

5:30 p.m. - Heat vs. China

7 p.m. - Mavericks vs. Nets

7:30 p.m. - Lakers vs. Bulls

9 p.m. - Hornets vs. Warriors

9:30 p.m. - Knicks vs. Pelicans

11 p.m. - Magic vs. Spurs

11:30 p.m. - Suns vs. Nuggets

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