Explanation of the three NBA summer leagues

The NBA Summer League is just around the corner! In just a few days, basketball fans will finally be able to watch games again. While it won't be as spectacular as the 2024 NBA Playoffs, the Summer League will offer a first look at the rookies of the 2024 NBA Draft class. It's also a chance for NBA sophomores to improve their game and for guys on the fringes of the league to make a name for themselves.

But summer league isn't just limited to what fans think of it. In fact, summer league isn't just taking place in Las Vegas, but in several locations across the West Coast. And even better, those games start tomorrow (July 6), so you don't have to wait until July 12 to see basketball again! Here are the three NBA summer leagues:

Explanation of the three NBA summer leagues

3. The summer league before the summer league

When people think of Summer League, they usually think of the so-called “NBA 2k25 Summer League.” This is the main event that takes place in Las Vegas from July 12-22. However, there are also Summer League games before the “official Summer League.” These games are the “California Classic Summer League” and only six teams participate: The Heat, Hornets, Kings, Lakers, Spurs, and Warriors. There is also a team from China playing, an exciting opportunity to see NBA teams compete against foreign competition. These games don't happen too often, so they are always entertaining to watch.

The California Classic is being held in two different locations, and crazy enough, both are in California. The two cities are Sacramento and San Francisco, high-dollar NBA markets. There will be a lot of people there to watch these games, as high-profile Lakers rookies Dalton Knecht and Bronny James will be playing. Games begin tomorrow (July 6) at 4:30 p.m. ET, so be sure to tune in if you get the chance. As exciting as the California Classic is… there is another summer league that takes place before the “official summer league.”

2. The second round

In addition to the California Classic, there is also the Salt Lake City Summer League, which runs from July 8-10. The Utah Jazz will be the host, and participating teams include the Jazz, Grizzlies, Thunder and 76ers. This summer matchup will also feature high-profile rookies, as we will see Naismith Player of the Year Zach Edey take on social media sensation Jared McCain. Other prominent rookies who will be in attendance include Utah's Cody Williams and Kyle Filipowski.

1. The “real” NBA Summer League

As mentioned, the NBA 2K25 Summer League will take place in Las Vegas from July 12th to 22nd. All 30 NBA teams will participate and the games are not just exhibition matches; they are for the Summer League championship and a trophy at the end of the competition. During the 11 days that the Summer League takes place, 76 games will be played and it will be very exciting. Here is how the Summer League format works:

Each team will play a minimum of five games in the Summer League, giving teams a minimum amount of time to evaluate and analyze their rosters. After each team plays four games, the top four teams advance to the playoffs. Unlike the NBA playoffs, where over half of the teams from each conference make the playoffs, only 13.3% of teams make the Summer League playoffs. There will be a semifinal doubleheader on July 21, and the two winners of those games will face off in the Summer League championship. The championship game will be on July 22 at 9 p.m. ET.

Here are some of the more exciting matchups taking place in the first few days of the Summer League:

July 12:

Timberwolves (Rob Dillingham) vs. Pelicans (Yves Missi) 5:00 p.m. ET

Lakers (Knecht and James) vs. Rockets (Reed Sheppard) 7:30 p.m. ET

Hawks (Zaccharie Risacher) vs. Wizards (Alex Sarr, Bub Carrington) 9:00 p.m. ET

July 13:

Spurs (Stephon Castle) vs. Blazers (Donovan Clingan) 9:00 p.m. ET