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September 17, 2014

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With NBA draft done, big debuts coming in Vegas

Everyone loves the buzz that comes hand-in-hand with an NBA lottery pick.

Is he a star? Is he a bust?

Well, first impressions are priceless, and, barring any more major trades coming up in the next few days, several of those bonus babies will introduce themselves to the pro ball world in Las Vegas next month.

To be exact, it will be 11 of the 14 lottery selections.

So right to it. Here are the ones you need to buy tickets to go see.

Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers (No. 1 overall pick)

Debut: Monday, July 13, 5:30 p.m., Thomas & Mack Center

Well, duh. The guy was the top pick. Not sure how much more explanation you need.

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Ricky Rubio, of Spain, selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the fifth pick, reacts after his selection was announced during the first round of the NBA draft Thursday in New York City.

Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves (No. 5 overall pick)

Debut: Sunday, July 12, 3 p.m., Cox Pavilion

Lets not call it as bad as the Blazers taking Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan in terms of draft night head-scratchers. At the time, Minnesota taking Rubio, the Spanish teenage sensation who America last saw a year ago lighting up Team USA in the Olympic gold medal game, appeared to be the right move. It still is.

Assuming everything gets worked out in terms of Minnesota buying out his contract with his pro club in Spain, Rubio will take on Houston's summer league squad in his matinee debut.

The mind-boggling portion of it, though, comes with what Minnesota did in the rest of the first round, drafting two more point guards in Syracuse's Jonny Flynn and North Carolina's Ty Lawson. Lawson was later dealt to the Denver Nuggets, but still, one too many point guards for one draft.

Obviously, some trades were in the works. Even with Rubio and Flynn in the fold, this could be one of the most entertaining summer league teams of all-time.

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (No. 7 overall pick)

Debut: Friday, July 10, 1 p.m., Cox Pavilion

If you watched the baby-faced Davidson guard at all over the past three years, you've seen the scoring punch this kid can provide. It's just fun to watch. Pure joy.

The interesting thing here will be whether Marco Belinelli is still a member of the Warriors organization. The team's 2007 first round pick has absolutely lit up the summer league in Vegas the past two years.

It hasn't translated completely into the regular season, though, which means he's probably bound for the summer league again. If he's still there, the two essentially play the same game, and seeing them side by side could be wildly entertaining.

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Brandon Jennings takes questions in the interview room after being selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the NBA draft Thursday in New York City

Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks (No. 10 overall pick)

Debut: Monday, July 13, 7:30 p.m., Thomas & Mack Center

This game will take place right after Griffin's debut, making it a night to remember at the Mack.

Jennings will face Sacramento and No. 4 pick Tyreke Evans out of Memphis. Go figure, the two played in the McDonald's All-American game two years ago in Milwaukee.

Aside from Rubio, Jennings was the draft's most intriguing prospect. He's small, but wildly athletic and can score like a young Allen Iverson. Also, if you've paid attention to some of the things he's said to the media over the past couple of months, he can talk a big game (i.e. calling Rubio essentially nothing but hype).

He played last season professionally in Italy after not qualifying academically to play at Arizona. He was the first U.S. player to do so since the NBA instituted its 19-year-old age limit, and how he fares in the league may determine how many guys do it from here on out.

For information on tickets to the NBA Summer League, visit www.unlvtickets.com.

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