The summer of 2017 is quickly coming to an end, and NBA athletes will soon be reporting to their respective training camps, but their competitiveness and games definitely picked up a lot sooner than we normally see. At least on the Internet with this day and age.
NBA player have played pickup games and barnstorming tours in past summers forever, but this summer it seemed to be on a whole new level as pickup games gained all the national attention. Through this summer, Carmelo Anthony has adopted the identity of, "Hoodie Melo" as we have seen his ridiculous workout videos on Instagram and also videos of him playing in games with guys like Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, C.J. McCollum, and even today, Kevin Durant and LeBron James. The Drew league saw the first time that James Harden and Chris Paul played together since the big trade this offseason, giving Houston Rockets fans their first taste of what things may be.
Jimmy Butler recently did the BS Podcast with Bill Simmons discussing the pickup games in California and how they can create the atmosphere of NBA games with all of the players on the court. While Bill tried to pry out of Jimmy who all plays in the games, Butler worked very hard to keep it to himself, but did make it interesting, speaking about how players are able to stay secluded from the public for these games, and get the gyms to themselves...well, except for the guy who somehow gets all of the Instagram videos that we have seen pop up.
One of the coolest things about all these pickup games has also been seeing the different levels of players participating. Recent Duke Univeristy commit, Marvin Bagley III, had his share of experiences playing against established NBA players in the Drew League, including a tough iso matchup with Toronto Raptors star guard, DeMar DeRozan; and a video that went viral where he kept Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee from getting to the rim in a very impressive defensive showing while playing on the same team as Chris Paul and James Harden.
With the fantasy teams being assembled in these pickup games involving NBA stars, and seeing the intensity and competitiveness as if its the first round of the NBA playoffs—and as long as Instagram is around and players like LeBron are tweeting, looking for places to playwe will continue to see this grow and continue to make basketball look more and more like a year-round league.