CJMcCollum

Portland Trail Blazers Summer League Evaluations

From a results standpoint, the Portland Trail Blazers have been a disappointment in the NBA Summer League this season, managing only one victory in five contests.  However, summer league is a chance for young prospects to audition for roster spots and success is most often measured by the improvement of individual players.  The Blazers play their final summer league game tonight, a consolation in which the starters will reportedly not play.  Here’s how the players have fared over the last week and a half.

C.J. McCollum

What was good:

Was responsible for handling the ball almost all game and did so with confidence. Showed an ability to score both on the perimeter and in the lane.  Hit a clutch three pointer in the Bulls game to tie it in the final seconds, and then blocked a shot on the Bulls final possession to force the game into overtime.  Showed good consistent effort on the defensive end despite heavy minutes.

What needs to improve:

Did not shoot at a high percentage and simply shot the ball too much.  Lead the team in attempts by a wide margin (101 shots in 73 minutes) and shot a below average 36% from the field and 31% from beyond the arc.   Poor assist to turnover ratio: 17 dimes to go with 18 giveaways.

What it means:

McCollum showed he is more than capable at running the point and has surely secured the job as the backup point guard for the Blazers this year. He’s a prolific scorer who showed he can intelligently use his body to finish at the rim.  Most importantly, McCollum looked and acted like a leader on the court.  Needs to be more patient getting good shot attempts and committing less turnovers. 

Will Barton

What was good: 

Improved throughout the week and battled through an injury.  His athleticism and varied skill set allowed him to be a competent scorer.  Can act as a slasher, a jump shooter and a pretty decent rebounder for a guard. Impressive ability to finish and run the floor.

What needs to improve:

Abhorrent three point shooting and too many turnovers.  Lacked overall consistency.

What it means:

Barton was inconsistent but probably showed enough to be the favorite for the backup shooting guard spot.  His versatility and athleticism really stood out as did his ability to disrupt the passing lanes on defense.  Must cut down on turnovers if he wants to get consistent playing time.

Thomas Robinson

What was good:

Vastly improved throughout the five-game schedule and became a dominant force on the boards in his last few games.  Showed incredible athleticism both in transition and in his ability to block shots.  Became a better scorer towards the end of the tournament.

What needs to improve:

Especially early on, did not give consistent effort throughout the game.  Could still be a much more efficient scorer on the block and with his athleticism and instincts should be capable of a double-double every night in summer league.  At times looked lost on offense.  Too many turnovers.

What it means:

Robinson showed the most improvement from the first game to the last game of anyone on the Blazers roster.  He showed that he can be a violently effective rebounder which is exactly what the Blazers are looking for.  Has the athletic ability to be a very good player in this league.  Look for him to have a breakout year.

Meyers Leonard

What was good:

Looked very active on the defensive end and showed he can score from multiple spots on the floor.  Has a nice mid-range game and possesses a floater that you don't normally see in big men.

What needs to improve:

Still needs to improve his rebounding even though he had a few strong games on the glass.  Did not shoot very well from 3 point range.

What it means:

Leonard looked pretty darn good on both defense and offense.  Still has a long way to go before he is a consistent starter in the NBA, but his overall improvement this offseason should have him fighting for significant playing time this season.

Victor Claver

What was good:

Looked very impressive passing the ball especially after penetrating.  Good rebounding instincts.  Has an ability to create with the ball.

What needs to improve:

Was not an effective scorer.  Shot a poor percentage from the mid-range as well as behind the arc.

What it means:

Claver will probably be on the bottom end of the Blazers bench when the season starts, but his versatility, athleticism and passing skills are enough for Portland to be excited about his potential.

Joel Freeland

What was good:

Did the dirty work that he promised.  Was very effective on the defensive end protecting the paint and rebounding solidly.

What needs to improve:

Fouled too much.  Needs to be more efficient scoring down low.

What it means:

Freeland's job this year is going to be an enforcer on the defensive end.  There is no reason to think after his performance in summer league that he has not only embraced this role, but is capable of fulfilling it.  Sort of a sleeper pick going into Summer League, Freeland will surely get a chance to prove he deserves quality minutes in the rotation.

Allen Crabbe

What was good:

Honestly, not that much.

What needs to improve:

Did not shoot the ball well and seemed to have a very hard time getting open.  Averaged 4 points in over 23 minutes per game.  Not much of a rebounder or passer. 

What it means: 

Crabbe is essentially a one trick pony.  Unfortunately, his trick wasn't working and he didn't give the Blazers much of anything in his five games.  Must get better looks at the basket and be able to get past the first defender.  Will need to work on becoming more of a complete player before the Blazers can even consider giving him quality minutes.  Crabbe has a very long way to go and may spend some time in the D-League early this season.

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