Tibbetts: No one shocked me at Summer League
LAS VEGAS -- I am not entirely sure what the Trail Blazers expected to accomplish in the summer league. But I'm pretty sure they didn't meet all their goals.
They certainly didn't pass the eyeball test, individually or as a team. I must say, even though the Trail Blazers took seven players into this league who expect to be on the team's roster in the fall, the team played nothing like one would expect from a group of good NBA players. And if you think I'm talking about winning games, you're way wrong. That's immaterial. I'm talking about the way the team played -- which was very often disorganized, disjointed and disappointing.
You could find many teams in the league, notably the ones from winning programs like Miami, San Antonio and elsewhere that played with purpose and force here -- even though without anything close to the talent the Portland unit had. Teams that shared the ball, played hard and played together. I can't explain what happened but I'll say that I was very disappointed in how poorly the Blazer group played as a team. How poor the ball movement was and how bad the defense was.
These games meant nothing, of course. And most likely the way the team played means nothing, too. The Blazers better hope so.
But enough of the team as a unit. Here's a breakdown of the less-than-magnificent seven who will be out to claim a roster spot on the real team in the fall:
- CJ McCollum: Of course, he's the guy everyone is talking about. He scored just fine and looked confident in everything he did. A lot of people are raving about him. Well, I watched every game and remain unconvinced that he's any sort of a lock to nail down the No. 3 guard spot with this team. After shooting under 37 percent and rolling up more turnovers than assists in this league full of lesser players, I'm not sure he's at all proved he can play the point right away. And remember, this kid is a four-year college player who you may have expected a little more from down here. And then when you think about him at the off-guard, well, he's undersized. He's going to find some pretty rough defenders and well... we'll see. We'll see.
- Allen Crabbe: Portland's highly touted second-round pick seemed lost most of the time. I'm not saying he's not going to play in the NBA someday but most scouts I talked to figure him as a D-Leaguer this season. He struggled in every game.
- Joel Freeland: Actually, a bright spot. He works so hard and is scrapping to find any way he can to find a role. Eventually it may be as a defender and a rugged energy player. He's still not shooting well but as hard as he works you have to think good things will happen for him.
- Victor Claver: I swear, everything he does LOOKS really good. He has a great basketball IQ, can play multiple positions, guard people and pass. It's just that his shots so seldom find the bottom of the net. They look great... it appears he's got a good stroke and does everything right mechanically. But the ball doesn't go in.
- Meyers Leonard: Well, I've been one of his biggest advocates but I was disappointed in Vegas. His anticipation and instincts just don't seem to be up to speed. He's a step slow getting to the right spots all the time. Yes, he can shoot and in summer league didn't often get the ball where he could score. His defense remains a concern -- and his attempts at stops still seem to end in a lot of futile fouls.
- Will Barton: Runs around and creates all sorts of things -- some good and some bad. Still isn't a consistent shooter and is pretty single-minded with the ball in his hands. Not sure he's going to be much help this season.
- Thomas Robinson: The most interesting player on the roster. He's a rebounder for SURE. I have no doubt he's the kind of guy who could rebound anytime and anywhere. He was born to rebound. The rest, though... not so sure about. He doesn't have much offense -- even his put-backs seem unreliable at times. He's likely to be a backup power forward and that could present a defensive challenge for him in that so many backup power forwards are stretch 4s -- runners who play out on the floor and shoot from long range. I don't think he can guard them. But we'll see and he'll be a real challenge to use in the most efficient way.
There you have it. Another summer league in the books. And I have a hard time believing it was much of a success.