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Hornets kick off Las Vegas Summer League against the Thunder

Today is the first chance to see Hornets first round pick Miles Bridges in action.

2018 NBA Draft Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

When: 5:30 p.m. EST

How to watch: ESPNU (I’d also imagine you can stream it on the WatchESPN app)

Folks, the Charlotte Hornets are playing competitive basketball today. And yes, summer league isn’t the same as the regular season, but there’s more energy and excitement to watch this group than I’ve felt in previous summer leagues.

For starters, this isn’t Orlando. As practical as participating in OSL was, Vegas offers the potential for large crowds and the chance to compete for a trophy.

Additionally, five players on next season’s roster will be competing, which is rare as far as summer league rosters go. And if you count draft-and-stash prospect Arnoldas Kulboka and two-way player J.P. Macura, that’s seven players under contract. This is unprecedented, if I’m being honest.

Charlotte’s starting five, though, will be the focal point today and throughout summer league. Malik Monk will make his summer league debut after missing last summer due to injury. Dwayne Bacon, meanwhile, returns after a promising summer league his rookie season. We’ll get our first look at this season’s rookies Miles Bridges and Devonte’ Graham, and Willy Hernangomez will have the opportunity to make a good impression with the new coaching staff.

OKC will be led by second year guard Terrence Ferguson. Taken 21st overall last summer, Ferguson only played 12.5 minutes per game for the Thunder last season, averaging just 3.1 points per game. That said, he was drafted for his offensive potential, and he figures to be one of OKC’s go-to scorers this summer.

Also expect to see all three of the Thunder’s most recent draft selections, including Devon Hall, Kevin Harvey, and Hamidou Diallo (who the Hornets traded away after selecting him 45th overall).

Additionally, Daniel Hamilton and P.J. Dozier, Oklahoma City’s two-way contract players from last season, are ones to watch for as well. Both had solid seasons in the G-League and should get an extended look this summer.

After the disappointment of last season, the next week and could give fans a bit of hope. A good summer league performance from this group doesn’t necessarily mean they will perform well in the regular season, but it will be fun to watch, and that’s something we haven’t been able to say much about the team the past couple of seasons.