Posts Tagged ‘Will Barton’

Blazers’ would-be depth all in Vegas


VIDEO: The Trail Blazers’ young guns rout the Hawks in Las Vegas Summer League

LAS VEGAS – Two seasons ago the Portland Trail Blazers’ bench was remarkably young and perilously inadequate. Last season, the addition of veteran Mo Williams plus incredibly good health among the starting five limited opportunity for the Blazers’ babies.

As Summer League heats up, that banging sound you hear is opportunity knocking. Which young Blazers finally walk through that door will be an intriguing story line to monitor. The choices are all right here in Vegas. In fact, if the Blazers don’t boast the most players from their big-league team on their Summer League squad then they’re right there near the top.

Six of Portland’s 15 roster players are on its Summer League squad: Guards Will Barton, Allen Crabbe and C.J. McCollum, as well as frontline teammates Joel Freeland, Meyers Leonard and Thomas Robinson. All six players have either one or two years of league service, and all six are seeking to make a first-time impact in the Blazers’ rotation.

McCollum, Robinson and Leonard are all top 11 draft picks.

“It’s an important summer for our young bigs and and our young perimeter guys,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said as he watched Portland’s summer team beat down Atlanta, 91-76. “CJ, Will and Allen, there’s an opportunity. I can’t say how many minutes, but there’s an opportunity. Joel, Meyers and T-rob, after signing Chris [Kaman], there’s some competition.”

Kaman was granted a two-year, $9.8 million contract coming off two subpar seasons with Dallas and then the Los Angeles Lakers. Yet Portland felt compelled to sign him up as backup to starter Robin Lopez because they’ve haven’t been able to count on Leonard or Freeland.

The young guards won’t have to contend with Williams, who remains on the market as an unrestricted free agent, however the Blazers signed steady veteran in Steve Blake.

“In my rookie year everyone talked about the bench,” said Leonard, who took a step back last season, partly due to injury. “Last year was a much better year for us, young guys stepped up. Now we need to have even more of a deep bench, confidence from coach to put us in there and know the score isn’t  going to down, we’re going to keep it there or we’re going to increase the lead. It’s confidence in the starters and coaches that when we come in we’re going to do a good job and they can know we’re going to be all right.”

Self-confidence is a big pat of it, too. The leader in that category could be Thomas Robinson, the fifth overall pick two years ago by Sacramento, who was traded by the Kings and then the Rockets. He played in 70 games for Portland last season, averaging 4.8 ppg and 4.4 rpg in 12.5 mpg. He provided some high energy moments off the bench during the playoffs and now the 23-year-old says he’s discovered what it takes to be a productive NBA player.

“I am where I was supposed to be after my rookie year, making that leap to knowing what type of player you are in this league and knowing what you’re going to do for your team,” Robinson said. “That’s where I am now, where I should have been last year.”

Few expected the Blazers to end up where they did last season, winning 54 games and advancing to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in the last 14 years. They have a dynamic starting five with All-Stars Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, streak-shooter Wes Matthews, stat-stuffer small forward Nicolas Batum and Lopez, their lunchpail center.

Bench parts at every position are on the roster. Now, with another year under the belts, the question is which ones walk through that door.

Blazers in hole, need to dig deeper

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com

VIDEO: The GameTime guys preview Game 3 between the Spurs and Blazers

PORTLAND, Ore. — Dig deeper.

That’s the answer for the Trail Blazers, even though they’re already standing in an 2-0 hole.

LaMarcus Aldridge says they’ve got to play better. Damian Lillard says they have to play harder.

“Everybody has to play better, starting with me,” Aldridge said.

“It’s going to be tough, but we have confidence in what we can do on our home floor,” said Lillard.

But as the Western Conference semifinal series resumes tonight with Game 3, the Blazers will have to go deeper into their suspect bench with reserve guard Mo Williams sidelined by a groin injury.

“We anticipate that he will not play,” said coach Terry Stotts.

Portland is a young team, with no starter older than 28, but even young teams can get worn down. The Blazers compensate for a water-thin collection of reserves by playing their starters more, with three of them averaging at least 41 minutes in the playoffs and another logging 39 per night.

Williams suffered the injury in the Game 6 close-out win over Houston in the first round and labored to shoot just 3-for-11 with four turnovers in Game 1 against the Spurs. In Game 2, Williams played just under nine minutes before the injury flared up again and he was forced to the bench.

For a team that is being overwhelmed by San Antonio’s depth — the Spurs regularly use 10 players — and with Lillard already up to 43.3 minutes per game in the playoffs, the loss of Williams is significant.

“I would assume that Earl [Watson] will get some minutes and Will Barton will get some playing time,” Stotts said. “With Mo averaging his 24 minutes, some of them are at point guard and some of them are alongside Damian. His 24 minutes will kind of be spread out among at least two or three other players.

Barton was on the court for less than 90 seconds total in the entire first-round series win over the Rockets, but has played 20 minutes in two games against the Spurs. In Game 2 on Thursday night, he shot 5-for-5 for 13 points in 12 minutes and during the second quarter was the often the only Blazer who was on the attack offensively.

“Will comes in ready,” Stotts said. “He loves to be on the court and I think that showed when he made his first two shots in maybe a minute of being on the court.”

Las Vegas Summer League: Day 9 Recap

By Drew Packham, NBA.com
 

 
LAS VEGAS — The last full day of seven games featured several returning players putting up big numbers.

Phoenix’s Markieff Morris wrapped up his solid showing, putting up 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Suns to a 96-87 win over the Grizzlies. Morris was 10-for-17 from the floor, hit a pair of 3s and looked like the best player on the floor, impressive considering Josh Selby did his thing again for the Grizzlies, scoring 23 points to maintain his scoring lead (27.5 ppg) over Damian Lillard (26.5 ppg).

Non-rookie of the day: Malcolm Thomas, Bulls. For the fourth straight game, the SDSU big man dominated the boards, pulling down 16 to go with 21 points in Chicago’s 77-74 win over the Clippers. Thomas is opening eyes in Vegas and should find himself on a roster this fall after spending most of last season bouncing around the D-League.

Other notables: Wes Johnson, Wolves. Minnesota’s swingman is looking confident with his shot and scored 28 points Saturday to increase his scoring average to 22.7 (fourth overall). “I just need to relax and play basketball the way I know how,” Johnson said. “I don’t think I’ve lost anything.” Jimmy Butler, Bulls. The second-year guard out of Marquette scored 23 points on 6-for-10 shooting. In four games, Butler has topped 20 points three times and is sixth overall in scoring at 20.8 points to go with 6.5 boards. His role could increase this season, so Chicago fans must love seeing these numbers.

Rookie of the day: Will Barton, Trail Blazers. Portland’s second-round pick (40th overall) has been overshadowed by the team’s two lottery picks (Lillard and Meyers Leonard) but has quietly been doing a little bit of everything. Saturday, though, with the Blazers resting their top players, Barton played all 40 minutes, scoring 27 points on 10-for-17 shooting. “I’m a role player, but when I get the opportunity to be the man, I take it,” Barton said.

Other notables: Jae Crowder, Mavericks. Crowder closed out his impressive showing with 21 points and six rebounds in Dallas’ 82-76 overtime win over San Antonio. Crowder, a second-round pick (34th overall) out of Marquette, finished with five-game averages of 16.6 points and 5.4 rebounds. Crowder could be a steal out of the second round. Kendall Marshall, Suns. The point guard taken 13th overall has looked terrible here, but closed out with his best game yet, scoring 15 points (on 6-for-10 shooting, 3-for-4 on 3s) and handing out 10 assists, giving him the overall lead in assists at 6.5 per game. Also, John Henson had another good game for the Bucks (22 and nine) in an 88-87 win over Boston.

Coming up: Summer League comes to an end Sunday with just three games on the slate. Two games will air live on NBA TV — Celtics-Clippers at 6 ET and Grizzlies-Wolves at 8 ET — while the Bulls-Bucks game will be shown on replay at 4 a.m. ET. The All-Summer League teams will be announced at the end of the day.

Las Vegas Summer League: Day 8 Recap

By Drew Packham, NBA.com
 

 

LAS VEGAS –
With the events of Thursday night in Aurora, Colo., hanging over the crowd, the Denver Nuggets closed out their Summer League with a 95-82 loss to the Trail Blazers.

After a moment of silence to honor those killed in the tragic shooting in Colorado, Nuggets players donned black headbands to pay their respects to those suffering in the Denver suburb.

On the court, the Nuggets’ Jordan Hamilton capped off a stellar Summer League with an 18-point, eight-assist performance. The second-year guard out of Texas finished by averaging 19.2 points, 6.4 rebounds in Denver’s five games as he looks to have more of an impact entering his second season.

Non-rookie of the day: Josh Selby, Grizzlies. Memphis’ second-year guard took back the scoring lead with a 32-point outing in the Grizzlies’ 97-79 win over the Bobcats. Selby, who could see a more involved role this year with the departure of O.J. Mayo, hit seven 3-pointers and finished 9-for-14 overall. Other notables: Malcolm Thomas, Bulls. The second-year big man out of SDSU continues to dominate on the boards, notching his third double-double in as many games. Thomas had 12 points and 16 rebounds to bring his averages to 10.7 points and a Summer League-leading 14.0 rebounds.

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