Monday it was reported by Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com that the Portland Trail Blazers have added two new players to their Las Vegas Summer League roster — both Americans who played professionally in China last season. Bobby Brown and Jonathan Gibson will be joining Rip City in steamy Las Vegas from July 11-21 for at least five games, maybe more depending on how the team fares.
Both additions come as a surprise, as there seem to be many worthy candidates whom either played in the D-League or will presumably go undrafted in the NBA Draft. I will go ahead and assume that there will be further additions to the summer league team as the Blazers do not have a draft pick in the aforementioned draft and will be looking to check out as much talent as possible to fill their two roster vacancies.
Brown has two seasons of NBA experience under his belt, but his last season was 2009-10 when he split time between New Orleans and the Los Angeles Clippers. His career numbers are nothing to really bat an eye at, but he has proven that when given free rein he can score at the NBA level. The question has always been, what else can he provide? There are plenty of guys out there who could score 10-15 points in an NBA game, but can you run an offense effectively, can you play defense, can you provide leadership and professionalism off the bench? These are the ways Brown and players like him make NBA rosters — not by being expected to score 20 points a night.
Having said that, this past season Brown played for the Dongguan Leopards in China and put up points at an alarming rate. Now, given the competition–or lack thereof–you can take these numbers with a grain of salt, but there are impressive nonetheless. Brown averaged 30.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists and had shooting splits of .433/.323/.797. As you can see he got all the shots he wanted and had he been more efficient he possibly could have averaged upwards of 35 points per game. Brown is 29 and this might be his last real chance at making an NBA roster, so I’m excited to see him attempt to prove his worth to Portland.
Gibson is only 26 years old and also spent last season playing professionally in China — for the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions. His team made the Finals there, where they were vanquished by a team led by Stephon Marbury and Randolph Morris (eat your heart out Knicks’ fans!). Gibson has never played for an NBA team during the regular season but did play for the Boston Celtics in their summer league in 2012-13, putting up 6.2 points per game in only 11.1 minutes.
If Brown’s scoring pace was alarming, then Gibson’s can be described as torrid. He averaged 32.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists with shooting splits of .444/.355/.878 — slightly better than Brown in every aspect. Gibson also rattled off six 40-point games, boasted a PER of 31.52 (NBA average is 15.00), and had a true shooting percentage of .601 (NBA league average is .539).
The numbers are again impressive but where both of these players will benefit the Blazers’ organization is by bringing their hard hat, buckling down on defense and learning to run a team without skipping a beat. Both players are point guards and both will be battling for backup point guard minutes if they make the team along with C.J. McCollum and possibly Will Barton. There have been numerous guys who have come in and torched NBA Summer League only to find themselves, yet again, playing overseas come the start of the season.
Scoring is not a rare commodity in the NBA, so I am certainly interested to find out what both Brown and Gibson possibly bring to the table during summer league and it will be interesting to see if either can make the 15-man roster come the start of camp.
**All stats are via www.realgm.com