Haynes & Jaynes: Excitement-Expectation of SL
LAS VEGAS – The Portland Trail Blazers held their first Summer League shootaround Saturday morning in preparation for their showdown with the Phoenix Suns this afternoon at 5 pm.
Assistant coach David Vanterpool, one of the four head coaches this summer, addressed the media this morning and explained where his team is at.
“I feel like we are prepared to play the right way,” Vanterpool said. “And for me, that's the most important thing. They're going to mess up plays, they're going to miss defensive assignments. That's what Summer League is about. It's about getting better, it's about correcting mistakes, it's about getting the opportunities to get in game situations and trying to perform out of it and learning how to play through it.”
Today's shootaround session primarily went over offensive and defensive sets mixed with some shooting drills.
Although Vanterpool chose not to reveal his starters, rookie guard CJ McCollum is expected to start at point, Will Barton at the two, Victor Claver at the three, Thomas Robinson at the four and Meyers Leonard holding down the five spot.
McCollum, the team's No. 10 pick in last month's draft, will run the show, but Vanterpool says he told the guard that he wants him to be aggressive on the court and “take control”. Adding, McCollum will have to take a back seat during the regular season, not now.
“I'm just going to take what the defense gives me,” McCollum told CSNNW.com. “Make the right decisions. If they go under the screen, I'm knocking it down. If they go over the screen, I'm splitting the 'D' (defense) and making a play.”
How do you feel about going into your first semi-professional game?
“I'm kind of excited,” McCollum said. “I've been waiting a long time to get out there and compete. I've been hurt, so my last game was in January, so it'll be fun to get out there and play.”
Being how knowledgeable and mature McCollum is, Vanterpool said he expects his point guard to figure things out much quicker than most rookies. He said he's looking for him to grow each quarter oppose to each game.
For a player that was asked to do the bulk of the scoring in college, and then have to transition into a point, can't be easy. But he's up for the challenge.
“It's a little different but at the same time, I had the ball in my hands at Lehigh, as well,” McCollum explained. “It's just about making the right decisions at the right time and picking and choosing your spots.”
It is well known that Summer League is a guard's league. Post players are often left out of the offensive equation. Not by design, but when there is so much pressure put on players to make certain roster, the guard who has the ball, will be more inclined to shoot rather than dumping it down in the post.
It is imperative that Robinson, Leonard and Joel Freeland get their touches. They also have something to prove and it's going to take guards finding them. Vanterpool says he will runs some plays for his bigs.
“I'm a firm believer in you got to keep those guys happy,” he said. “You want them to run the floor, you want them to protect the paint and the rim, you want the to rebound. A lot of times they have to do selfless things like set screens for someone else to get open. So you have to try to appease their thirst for also having a chance to play with the basketball from time to time.”
The Trail Blazers have seven players on this Summer League roster that will be on the 2013-14 regular season roster. This summer is extremely important for the growth and development of this team. And it all starts today.