Something you may or may not have considered this week while watching NBA Summer League games: How do rookies spend their time in Las Vegas when they’re not on a basketball court?
It’s not a problem for executives or media members, and it’s certainly not a problem for adult fans who have chosen Vegas as a weekend or week-long vacation destination. But it is a problem for a lot of young NBA players who land spots on Summer League rosters. It’s especially a problem for rookies. Not a single one of this year’s lottery picks had yet turned 21 on draft night, and of those 14, only Luke Kennard headed to Vegas with his 21st birthday behind him. Of the 30 first-round picks, 22 are still underage.
And if you’re not 21, well, Vegas isn’t Vegas; it’s just a deathly hot, imposing metropolis that makes you acutely aware of your youthfulness.
The good news for this year’s rookie class, though, is that Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown encountered the issue last year as a 19-year-old rookie. Because he knew he’d be faced with the same dilemma this year as a 20-year-old headed into his second NBA season, Brown decided to do something about it.
Brown has organized and will host “Jaylen Brown’s Welcome to the NBA Night,” an event designed to bring together the rookie class and connect its members with each other and other figures from around the NBA According to The Undefeated’s Marc Spears, who wrote about Brown’s plan in depth, the Celtics sophomore will be putting down over $5,000 of his own money on the event.
“There are a lot of young guys here, and there is nothing to do in Vegas if you’re under 21,” Brown told The Undefeated. “I just want to do something. Hang out, talk to them. Build relationships. … I’m going to let them bring whoever they want. Food is on me. Everything.”
This is a brilliant idea. It’s kind-hearted, it’s rational, and it should be impactful. It’s the kind of event that has become increasingly important as the pool of NBA draftees has gotten increasingly younger. The 2017 draft class is the league’s second-youngest ever, behind only the 2016 class.
According to Spears, the top six picks in the draft will all be in attendance, as well as other rookies. At least seven players from Brown’s 2016 draft class will also be there. It would be great if somebody could follow in Brown’s footsteps next season and turn this into an annual event.