NBA fans no longer have to figure out a summer hobby after the post season ends! ESPN reporter, Cassidy Hubbarth reveals why Summer League is hotter than ever, and she tells us who her rookie standouts are!
True basketball fans know that the NBA is now a 365-day sport. Between the juicy storylines, free agency and trade bombshells, and the social media interactions, it couldn’t be a better time to be an NBA fan. When the post season ends and one of the 30 franchises (aka the Warriors) take home the Larry O’Brien championship trophy, fans don’t have to wait for good basketball to begin in the fall. The NBA’s Summer League may be in its hottest year yet, where “the talent is real and the match-ups are exciting,” ESPN sideline reporter, Cassidy Hubbarth tells HollywoodLife.com!
Hubbarth, who’s covered Summer League for the past three years, is one of the network’s lead reporters on the court in Las Vegas where the games are being held. This year marks the first time ever that all 30 NBA teams are at Summer League, which means more games! “It’s been incredible… We’ve taken on a lot,” Hubbarth says, adding that her team is producing 82 games in 12 days. “The first weekend was a marathon, we did 10 games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s nonstop action!”
So far, Summer League has seen the likes of some of the NBA’s biggest stars, including new Laker, LeBron James and legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. “We’ve had such great turnouts form some of the biggest stars,” Hubbarth says, before explaining just why Summer League is where everyone needs to be. “What’s great about the event, people want to be around Summer League. It’s really the only event where everyone is just coming together and able to spend time in a relaxed environment… Things are happening here, in the stands, in the shmooze pit, maybe at the poker tables in the casinos. There’s too many people in one space and too many conversations for things not to happen here!”
Sadly, Hubbarth won’t be reporting from the Summer League championship stage for its trophy ceremony, as she’s got to catch a plane to LA, where she’ll be representing ESPN on the red carpet at the ESPYS! The annual awards show will air at 8 PM on ABC, July 18, so be sure to tune in, and check back with HollywoodLife.com for live coverage!
Read the rest of our interview with ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth!
How does last year’s Summer League compare to this year’s?
Last year was pretty crazy, given Lonzo and LaVar Ball, but this year with the crop of talent, it’s so spread out. There’s a lot more games people are excited to see. — People are excited to see Wendell Carter Jr., Kevin Knox, DeAndre Ayton, Mo Bamba. I mean, this class is deep and the talent is real, so that has made the week go by fast. Every day, there’s a handful of matchups you’re excited to see because of this rookie class.
Who are your standout rookie stars at Summer League?
I think the talk of Summer League has been Kevin Knox, and I think the biggest reason is because he got booed on Draft night. I think that’s more of a knock on Knicks fans or just a few Knicks fans who showed on Draft night. But, he has been so impressive. He had a “off night” last night, where he was a little quiet form the field, although he put up 15. I think it’s exciting because Knicks fans are starving. One thing that’s really interesting is that he stays and watches games almost everyday, we’ve seen him stay after his games and sit and watch. Clearly he’s a hoop head, a gym rat and someone who’s probably going to be up for the task in New York, so he’s certainly been a standout.
Wendell Carter Jr. has also been a standout with his energy. He’s probably been the most impressive among the bigs. Of course, there’s DeAndre Ayton who’s NBA ready, but Wendell Carter Jr.’s had some highlights that I think have gotten people excited.
Josh Hart, of course. He’s a second-year player and there’s talks that he shouldn’t even be playing in Summer League. But, here’s the thing, this is an opportunity for guys to get better. He may be “too good” for Summer League, but it’s still playing ball, it’s still working out. He’s certainly, at times, looked like a man amongst boys, but that’s a good sign for the Lakers for sure.
There’s a lot of buzz around Hart because he’s showing out as a second-year player at Summer League. Do you think it humbles these guys to still come out and play against the incoming rookies?
We were talking with Dave Yager on Coaches Appreciation, and he goes ‘look, it’s a mindset, it’s either you decide that you’re committed to getting better and you’re not too good for this. Or, you come out there and you let your ego get the best of you.’ This game, you have to gain confidence. The level of talent is high that if you don’t continue to gain confidence in your game and your growth, you’re never going to continue to ascend to the highest level. I’m sure Lakers fans are wondering when they’re going to take him out, but he might be trying to chase Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball and take both the Finals MVP and League MVP (laughs).