The Portland Trail Blazers have rightfully been crowned Las Vegas Summer League champs due to, in no small part, having nine players that are currently in the NBA or have formerly played NBA minutes. It’s not really clear what the prize is for winning the trophy in the desert, but maybe it helps Neil Olshey pad his otherwise lackluster front office resume (don’t let this summer league championship distract you from the fact that the Blazers are capped out until 2020-21).
Maybe that’s a little too harsh, but there’s seriously some frustrations with this championship. First of all, why was John Jenkins playing 20 minutes per game? I get that he’s looking for every possible way for getting back into the league, but if he was even remotely impressive while playing overseas for Burgos then the team should decide to bring him into camp straight away. He’s already played in the NBA for about five seasons, what’s more to see?
The whole Georgios Papagiannis saga for the Blazers was an absolute doozy wasn’t it? Signed back in March to the team’s roster for the rest of the year, Papagiannis was determined to show his worth as a former 13th pick in 2016. That went really well, especially when the 21 year old was only given about seven minutes of playing time per game. Not that he particularly played well, but given the likes of Jenkins and KJ McDaniels taking up meaningful minutes, it was hard for Papagiannis to really get a chance. Heck, he was so glad about his summer league situation, he decided to go overseas to Panathinaikos. It was clear that the Blazers weren’t serious about trying to develop him from the very beginning, so why waste the roster spot?
It was good to see Caleb Swanigan play so well in the championship game, and the offense seemed to flow really well when he was on the court. He’d struggled a little making just 39% of his field goals for the entire summer, but was able to make up with some good passing. Swanigan averaged a little over three assists per game and finished with five in the final game.
Wade Baldwin was stellar and I’m hoping that the perimeter glut that’s been recently created with Seth Curry and Nik Stauskas doesn’t somehow get in his way. Jake Layman was near unconscious in this tournament, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can carry this over into the season, where he just hasn’t been able to put an NBA shot together.
Zach Collins was great with accumulating blocks, but other than that, there wasn’t much from the top ten pick that was overly impressive. Collins got in foul trouble in the championship game so he only finished with three points, but the team didn’t need him anyways. Zach’s best game was in the semifinal, but shouldn’t a 13 point and 12 rebound performance be his floor? It’s not asking a lot to be honest, especially when the other Collins just played himself out of the league.
Next up for the Blazers will be training camp where the roster will finally sort itself out. Hopefully Baldwin gets an upgrade, and it’ll be a wonder as to what will happen behind Jusuf Nurkic. With Ed Davis gone, could Zach really carve out a bigger role?