The NBA offseason is a very important time for teams and players to rest, retool, and prepare for the upcoming season. From a player’s perspective, the time between the end of a season to the beginning of a new one has become a busy time filled with many different opportunities. The last 2 decades have seen a dramatic increase in offseason basketball events, tournaments, and leagues for players to participate in, helping them to refine and improve their game.
#1 NBA Summer League
The NBA Summer League is the most important competition venue for both drafted and undrafted rookies, as well as unsigned free agents who are borderline NBA players. Professional summer leagues have operated in one capacity or another for several decades, functioning as uncoordinated independent organizations/events. Currently, there are 3 summer leagues, the Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and California Classic leagues.
Although a few different summer leagues are held, the most notable is the summer league held every year in Las Vegas.The Las Vegas Summer League has established itself as the top venue. This year, it was officially dubbed the NBA 2K24 Summer League, with all 30 teams participating in one capacity or another from July 7 to July 17.
#2 FIBA World Cup and USA Basketball
Depending on the year, several different international competitions are also held throughout the world that often gain widespread attention. The FIBA World Cup is a tournament contested by the men’s national teams from qualifying countries.
It is considered a top offseason basketball event held by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and will take place this year from August 27 to September 12.
USA Basketball, the non-profit organization that represents the United States in all international tournaments for both men’s and women’s teams, is in charge of putting together the US roster for this event.
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#3 Summer Pro-Am Leagues
In addition to the well-established domestic and international competitions, many new pro-am leagues have formed over the last decade. These offseason basketball leagues allow professional basketball players to participate in a competitive, team-oriented environment. They also provide an outlet for players to stay sharp apart from the rigors of an NBA training camp or regular season.
Drew League – Los Angeles, California
Established in 1973, the Drew League is arguably the most successful pro-am basketball league in the United States. 28 teams currently compete in the league, who play from the beginning of July to the end of August. Some of the most notable players to compete in this offseason basketball league over the years include LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, DeMarcus Cousins, LaMelo Ball, Chris Paul, and Paul Pierce.
The AEBL is a nonprofit organization that seeks to have a positive impact on youth and the community through its many outreach programs. Its offseason basketball pro-am tournament is its biggest fundraiser that runs for 10 weeks during the summer and attracts a wide range of participants, including current NBA stars and celebrities. The AEBL also hosts many other events throughout the summer, including summer camps, high school all-star games, and a Sports, Music, & Entertainment Summit.
Miami Pro League
A more recent addition to the pro-am scene, the Miami Pro League was founded in 2013 by current Commissioner Kyle Davis. Its express purpose is to provide an outlet to bridge the gap between NBA players, international stars, and local players. It is currently the only pro-am offseason basketball league in the city of Miami, a very attractive city to many NBA stars.
Though it doesn’t have the notoriety of some of the other top pro-am offseason basketball leagues, the Nashville Pro-Am is an up-and-coming 6-week tournament that is run by the non-profit company HUSTLEStrong. HUSTLEStrong specifically looks to provide a positive outlet for the youth of Nashville who may be facing financial, environmental, and familial challenges. The pro-am offseason basketball tournament is just one of many events and programs headed by HUSTLEStrong, which continues to expand its positive influence on the community year after year.
Originally founded in 1996 by former NBA player Doug Christie, the Seattle Pro-Am was recently rebranded to CrawsOver by Jamal Crawford. Successfully making the pro-am one of the best in the nation, Crawford was able to attract LeBron James to participate in the event in 2022. The CrawsOver is currently hosted by Seattle Pacific University, and unlike many other pro-am offseason basketball events, has free admission to the public.
#4 Offseason basketball private and open Runs
NBA players offseason may involve more informal outlets to hone their skills, such as private and open runs. These runs allow players to participate in 5-on-5 games, with or without the assistance of coaches. Although referees are not utilized, most open and private runs have a code of conduct that govern competition and promote competitive balance.
Probably the most prestigious private or open runs in the country that attract the most NBA stars are the runs hosted by Rico Hines in Los Angeles. The competitions are typically hosted on UCLA’s campus, and players can only participate if they are specifically invited or are connected with Hines. Another successful offseason basketball open run venue is organized by Jamal Richardson, head of JMR basketball. Most notably, Darius Garland recently participated in this open run event, putting on an absolute showcase.
While the NBA team offseason and NBA free agency often garner the most headlines during the offseason, different tournaments and competitions for players to participate in are rapidly growing in popularity. The FIBA World Cup is a widely popular international tournament that gives NBA players a chance to keep sharp in the offseason while competing for their country. In addition, several different offseason basketball pro-am tournaments and open runs are beginning to make the rounds on social media and become showcased on major broadcasting outlets.