With the Las Vegas Summer League starting on Saturday for the Dallas Mavericks, there are a few things to remember.
First off, the games really don't mean anything and inconsistency is almost a given. These are glorified rec-league games, after all.
Still, there are reasons to pay attention.
Here are 10 things to watch for:
1. The format. For the first time since the league's inception in 2004, the league will feature a format that includes preliminary games, followed by a single-elimination tournament leading to an eventual champion. After the conclusion of preliminary games on July 16, all participating teams will be seeded for tournament play; a champion will be crowned on July 22.
2. Summer of Shane. Shane Larkin will be looking to prove that he belongs in the NBA by making a good impression in Las Vegas. With the acquisitions of Jose Calderon and Devin Harris, the Mavs have ensured that Larkin will have time to adapt to the pro game.
3. Jae Crowder's shooting and attacking. Crowder impressed many in his rookie year by being a part of the team's rotation. There were times where he fell in love with the 3-point shot, making him very predictable. As the season ended, he adapted and started to drive to the basket. If he can mix it up, that will do wonders for his overall game. He will now be a leader with this roster in Vegas.
4. The Mystery Man. Gal Mekel will become just the second Israeli player in NBA history, joining Omri Casspi. Mekel thrived in his native country due to his size, pick-and-roll proficiency and his ability to lead a team. Coming back to the U.S., he'll have to prove he can belong.
5. Sarge's second stint: As a rookie, Bernard James struggled to consistently rebound the ball. His lack of post moves also set him back. His hustle and motor allowed him to keep loose balls alive, but he needs to be able to secure those rebounds. In addition, he will need to show more of a back-to-the-basket game.
6. Which secondary players are worth watching? Dewayne Dedmon and Terrico White probably will be the two names to watch. Dedmon will challenge James as an energetic big man. Known as a high-flying combo guard, White is looking for another chance in the NBA.
7. Who is Ricky Ledo? The Mavs are hoping they found an athletic, multiskilled project in the 6-foot-6, 200-pound Ledo. The 43rd overall pick in the draft did not play at Providence because of NCAA academic eligibility issues. As a second-round pick, he'll have to earn his spot if he wants to play for the Mavs.
8. Is Nick Calathes playing for a job? By not making the Vegas roster, it appears the relationship between the Mavs and their second-round selection in 2009 could be nearing its end. Calathes is looking for an opportunity in the NBA. With the acquisitions the Mavs have made, he'll likely have to find another team to reignite his NBA career.
9. Do the stats guarantee success? No. Dominique Jones showed flashes of dominance in the summer lLeague and it never translated. Level of effort, adapting to new roles and transitions to the next level are the takeaways that need to be kept in mind.
10. A new coach. Kaleb Canales joined the Mavs as an assistant this summer. He will be a part of Monte Mathis' staff in Vegas. Known as a player's coach, it will be interesting to see what impact Canales can have on the young players.