This is our continued look at 2013-14 season grades for the Portland Trail Blazers. I have chronicled the rookies C.J. McCollum and Allen Crabbe, the crossroads that Meyers Leonard faces, and the power of Thomas Robinson. This week I delve into the life and happenings of the Spaniard, Victor Claver.
Victor Claver is that kid that everyone sees and asks “how come he doesn’t play more?!” We have been hearing for the last two years that Claver and Will Barton are constantly impressing in practice and yet it doesn’t seem to translate into minutes in genuine games for Victor. That fact hasn’t sat well with the young Spaniard either — he definitely wants to play.
In an interview with ACB.com he let that fact be known loud and clear:
“For me it would be very tough to have another season like this. I am inactive or active but I don’t know if I play. I am playing in a very good team but I want to have the chance to play. I don’t know if in Portland because I don’t know what is going to happen this summer, or in another team. But another year like this is going to be very hard for me”.
The full interview can be heard here.
So, we know Claver wants to play and he has shown some flashes (when given the chance) of being able to contribute as a solid role player in the NBA, and more importantly for this team in Portland. Claver’s season numbers finished at 21 games played with averages of 2.2 points and 1.9 rebounds in only 8.8 minutes per contest. It’s really difficult to project what kind of player Claver could be given more minutes but I’ll try by taking a very small sample and showing how well he performed.
Claver only played 20 or more minutes in three games all season long (subsequently the Blazers went 3-0 in those games) and he averaged 10.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in those games, while shooting 57.9 percent from the field, 28.6 percent from 3-point land and 85.7 percent from the charity stripe. Definitely solid numbers for a 20 minute per night kind of player. Could he perform that well over an entire season? I think so.
Claver has shown good foot speed on the perimeter as a small forward and at 6’9″ he can stretch the floor and knock down the 3-ball as well. Victor is only 25 years old and has plenty of professional basketball in his bones — they just might not be with Portland, or the NBA in general. Claver was drafted 22nd overall by the Blazers in 2009 but stayed over in Spain until the 2012-13 season when he made his NBA debut.
Even when playing overseas Claver was never an explosive guy who was going to put up a ton of points, but his cerebral style makes up for a lack in athleticism and explosion. He reminds me of a Spanish Boris Diaw and I think given the chance he could really develop into a solid role player, but I’m just not sure it will be with this team.
Claver is entering his final season of a three-year, $4 million deal with the Trail Blazers in 2014-15. The front office hasn’t said much regarding their Spanish reserve but again Claver has been quite outspoken about wanting the opportunity to play. Olshey has hinted at trying to possibly get into the first and/or second round of the 2014 NBA Draft and maybe that leads to Victor being shipped to another team with his expiring deal.
Given the lack of opportunity I would have to give Victor Claver a solid “incomplete” for his work so far in the NBA. Hopefully next season, even if not with the Blazers, he gets a chance to show the NBA what he’s capable of.