ChrisHaynes, CSNNW.com NBA & Trail Blazers Insider
!function(d,s,id)varjs,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)0;if(!d.getElementById(id))js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="platform.twitter.comwidgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); AsLuke Babbitt enters his third and most important season of hisyoung NBA career, he keeps on reminding himself that he just needs togo out there and have fun.
That'san approach he inherited a year ago.
ThePortland Trail Blazers forward was taken with the No. 16 pickin the 2010 NBA Draft out of the University of Nevada-Reno with highexpectations. Known as a scorer with deep-range, Babbitt wasn't ableto secure a spot in the rotation under former Trail Blazers headcoach Nate McMillan during his rookie year.
Babbitt,23, admits that when looking back, the burden he placed upon himself,might have affected his performance.
Ithink coming in the league, I put a lot of pressure on myself andit had a negative impact on my play as a rookie, Babbitt said.Last year, I was able to move past that and just have fun.
Andfun is what he had 43 percent from three-point range type of fun.Babbitt's minutes increased during the 2011-12 season when McMillanwas let go mid-season and Babbitt showed the league that he's capableof being a quality player at this level.
Now,the Trail Blazers are soon approaching decision-making time.
Bythe Oct. 31 deadline, the Trail Blazers must decide on if they are toexercise or turn down the 2.9 million team-option on Babbitt'sfourth year. If the team decides to turn it down, Babbitt will becomean unrestricted free agent next summer.
Babbitt'sagent, Bill Duffy, when asked about the Trail Blazers possiblypicking up his client's option, in a text message, he told CSNNW.comThere have not been any discussions.
There'splenty of time for sides to begin talks, but in the meantime, Babbittwants to make sure he doesn't put too much pressure on himself likehe did during his rookie year.
Iknow it's a business, but, I got to play and have fun, Babbittsaid. If they bring me back next year, I'll be happy to be here.If it's somewhere else, I'll have to adjust, but I have to have funplaying regardless.
Inpreparation for having a successful junior campaign, this summerBabbitt said he attended Tim Grgurich's Big Man Camp withrookie teammates Meyers Leonard and Will Barton. TrailBlazers' head coach Terry Stotts and assistant KalebCanales were among some of the coaches to volunteer at the camp.
It'sa good camp with a lot of NBA coaches, NBA assistant coaches, and NBAplayers, Babbitt said. We had two-a-days like a training camp.I think I'm going to play more four this season and I want to be adifficult matchup for a lot of four-men and I think I will be.
Stottshas made it known that he likes the three-ball and that is music toBabbitt's ear. There will be plenty of opportunities for the longball with LaMarcus Aldridge dominating the paint and demandingdouble-teams. Everyone else just has to move and find the open seamsfor the jump-shot.
That'sexactly what Stotts has asked of Babbitt.
Hewants me to go out there and play to my strengths. Shoot, be anoffensive-minded player to help spread the court and focusdefensively. Basically, do what I do well, Babbitt said.
Hewants guys to create space for LaMarcus. You need shooters around himso teams won't pack it in. That's my role: To space the floor and helpout offensively.
Babbitt'srole is clearly defined and it's all just a matter of execution fromhere on out.
That'swhy training camp and the team's six preseason games could be a vitalinformation gathering period under Stotts' system. Babbitt plans onpicking up where he left off last season, hungry to prove he's worthyof more time as a Trail Blazer.
Thecontract situation will play out itself, Babbitt said. I'm justgoing to go out there in camp and control what I can control, andthat's playing basketball and having fun. Hopefully, things will workout.
-- Excerptsfrom the Luke Babbitt interview
Onhis Summer League performance:
Mymindset was to focus on defense and playing the four, working on myrebounding, and improving my weaknesses. I didn't put up numbers Iwas capable of, but you're going to have days like that when you onlyplay four games.
Onbeing compared to his new teammate Adam Morrison:
Weplay different positions. He's playing the three and going againstNicolas Batum. He's a really good shooter. He brings that experienceand I'm glad to have him on our team.
Hehad a really good Summer League. I'm a big fan of his. I like hismental approach to the game. He has that edge and he makes playersaround him better. He has a bright future in this league.