AP Basketball Writer
MIAMI (AP) -- The NBA Summer League is about to get a playoff feel.
The league announced Wednesday that for the first time since the summer league's inception in 2004, it will feature a format that includes preliminary games followed by a single-elimination tournament where a champion will be crowned.
This year's summer league starts in Las Vegas on July 12, with the championship matchup set for July 22. All teams will play at least five games, with the tournament set to begin after teams are seeding following the conclusion of games played July 16.
"I think it's going to make it a lot more competitive," said Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers, a former summer league player.
Several of the league's top eventual rookies have played in the league in recent years, including Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, Kevin Durant, Tyreke Evans, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard.
The league said last year's event set a slew of records, including participating teams (24); attendance (more than 51,000 over the 10-day event); games played (60); number of games shown live on NBA TV (38) and participating top draft picks (13 of the top 14 selections from last year's draft).
Adding a playoff could pique some more interest.
"Franchises look at summer league, No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 as development," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who used to lead Miami's summer-league roster when he was an assistant coach. "Everything else is secondary. And that's how we'll view it. We'll get extended playing time, extended practice time. Anything else is a bonus."
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