The NBA Summer League is a place where NBA hopefuls come to entertain, NBA general managers come to find a puzzle piece to fit into their system, and NBA fans and bloggers alike overreact like a California wildfire. Portland and general manager Neil Olshey have brought in some interesting people for their Las Vegas Summer League roster and we will take a look at some of those here.
Here is a list of guys who are already under contract with the Blazers but will be playing in Las Vegas this summer: Will Barton, Allen Crabbe, Joel Freeland, Meyers Leonard, C.J. McCollum and Thomas Robinson. Every one of these guys saw some time last season, but still have plenty to prove and will be fighting to show coach Terry Stotts that they deserve a more serious look coming training camp.
Here is a list of additions since that time and their chances of making the team (as I see it anyway).
Lauderdale is a 25-year-old power forward who has always been a bit undersized at 6’8″, but has plenty of weight to throw around at 260 pounds in the post. He played 39 games with the NBADL’s Idaho Stampede last season and you might think that would give him an edge, but the Blazers ended their single affiliation with the Stampede at the end of last season so no help there.
In those games, Lauderdale averaged 7.5 points and 8.7 rebounds and was very efficient, shooting a league-leading 67.5 percent from the field. The area where Lauderdale has really carved out a niche is protecting the basket as he led the NBADL in blocks (119) and blocks per game at 3.1 — for reference Dwight Howard led the NBA at 2.8 blocks per game last season.
Having said all that, I think Lauderdale has a very slim chance at making the Blazers roster due to Robinson, Freeland and Leonard being in the mix for all the backup minutes at power forward and center.
You might remember this name, because Brackins was a first-round selection of the Oklahoma City Thunder back in 2010, but never panned out for them — or any other NBA team for that matter. Now 26, Brackins is looking to nab a coveted NBA roster spot and he’s hoping that a strong Summer League will get that for him.
He’s 6’10″ and 230 pounds and can stretch the floor a little bit with some mid-range magic as well. Brackins played in Poland last year and averaged 7.0 points and 2.7 rebounds.
Brackins is another guy I don’t see making this Blazers’ roster, but that doesn’t mean another team won’t see something in him and sign him to a deal; that’s the beauty of summer league in the NBA — anybody can sign the free agents if they play well.
Dower is another big at 6’9″ and 255 pounds. He went undrafted in last Thursday’s draft after playing four years at Gonzaga University.
He really didn’t do much until his senior season last year, when he averaged 14.4 points and 7.2 rebounds. Dower is an efficient big man as his shooting splits were .571/.316/.825 — yes, he can step out and knock down an occasional 3-pointer and that might be a big selling point for teams as they look for more and more stretch power forwards.
Though still a small chance, I think Dower has the best chance of all the bigs on the summer league roster as he’s the youngest at only 23 and he appears to be the most versatile as well, which fits Portland’s offense.
This is where the roster starts to get interesting because backup point guard is a definitive need for the Blazers. That spot will be battled for by McCollum, Barton, Bobby Brown, Appling and Davion Berry.
Appling is hard-nosed point guard who played under Tom Izzo at Michigan State for four years, and finished out his senior year averaging 11.2 points and 4.5 assists. Though not an outstanding distributor, Appling will have to use that as his niche if he hopes to make the Blazers’ roster.
I think Appling has a decent chance of making the Blazers’ roster depending on how well McCollum shows, or doesn’t show, his ability to run the point off the bench.
The Blazers are clearly trying to strike gold with another Weber State alumni (Damian Lillard went there, too) with this addition. Berry played two years for Weber State and was quite impressive during his time in the Big Sky Conference; even garnering the conference MVP award in 2013-14.
He averaged 19.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists so again he’s not your prototypical point guard, but the guy can fill it up. His shooting splits were impressive at .464/.389/.823 and he led the conference in free throws made and attempted both seasons there; showing his aggressiveness with the ball.
I know it’s college and not the NBA, but Berry had a PER of 25.7, a TS% of .632 and an offensive rating of 122.6 his senior season.
This is perhaps the most likely guy of getting signed after summer league, but I’m just not sure it will be with the Blazers.
Check back here for additions to the summer league squad as I will update anytime someone new is added.
Tags: Allen Crabbe Bobby Brown C.j. Mccollum Craig Brackins Dallas Lauderdale Davion Berry Joel Freeland Jonathan Gibson Keith Appling Meyers Leonard Nba Summer League Portland Trail Blazers Sam Dower Thomas Robinson Will Barton