Haynes&Jaynes: Evaluating Blazers performance
LAS VEGAS – I'm hearing the Portland Trail Blazers will rest their starters for tomorrow night's Summer League finale against the Minnesota Timberwolves. So I've decided to hand out my grades now, to the players expected to be on the 2013-14 roster.
CJ McCollum – B
He lived up to the expectations. He was featured as the point guard in Summer League play, something he didn't have to do much of in college, but he handled it well. The 6-3 guard is a scorer who can run some point and once teams recognized that he could score, persistent double-teams followed. The adjustment for him at this level is going to be finishing in the paint around longer and bigger athletes. He reminds me so much of Damian Lillard. If he's truly like him, he's going to have a stellar rookie season.
Meyers Leonard – B
His defensive awareness has improved dramatically from the end of the season. He'll still gives you those bone-headed plays here and there, yet his game appears to be more consistent. He shot the three ball at an alarming rate and his coaches encourage him to take it. His touch around the basket is amazing and he possesses a floater that you don't see from seven-footers. Leonard's rebounding has improved but there certainly more room to grow in that area. He's definitely taking strides in the right direction.
Victor Claver – C+
Claver displayed that he is an all-around player. He's not great at one thing, but he's good in a lot of different areas. At the end of games, you'll notice he fills the stat sheet up. Every now and then he'll remind you why he was considered one of the most athletic prospects over in Europe. Confidence is what I've seen grown from him since the end of the season. I realize it's only Summer League, but you have to start some where.
Will Barton – B -
It didn't look like Barton was going to leave Vegas happy when Summer League began. I felt he was trying to look for his outside shot early on in league play. That's not his game. He figured it out and finished off strong. Attacking the basket, creating for others, getting into the passing lanes and finishing in transition is his game. Barton did those things the last few games. Consistency is what he'll have to work on.
Joel Freeland – A
I was pleasantly surprised with the play of Freeland throughout league play. He has put his ego to the side and is concentrating on the defensive end, resulting in him being a shot-blocker and charge taker. No player that was on last year's team has sacrificed like Freeland. He is transitioning into being a player who does all the dirty work and believe me, that's no easy task.
Thomas Robinson – B+
The kid can play. The kid can rebound. The kid is built like a horse. If he is of the mindset that Freeland is embracing, look out, he's going to have a breakout year next year. When determined, nobody can keep him off the boards. If that motor remains on, nobody can keep up with him. Doing so for long periods of time and for a full 82-game season will be the real test. But you can see why he was taken No. 5 in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Allen Crabbe – D
It's going to take a while for the kid to get acclimated to the speed and athleticism of the game. His jumper is on point when open, however he wasn't able to do much when not open. It'll take some D-League stints to build his confidence up during the year. Putting the ball on the floor is something he'll have to work on as well as passing on target on the drive. He could be a good role player in this league. He just needs more time around NBA caliber players.