Summer League Game 3 Game Recap: Blazers 78, Timberwolves 88

Some folks will say this was the Blazers’ worst showing so far in Summer League. I guess it depends on your point of view. On the scoreboard, sure. We got outrebounded and we turned the ball over 25 times for 24 opposing points. That’s going to get you beat 9 times out of 9. We didn’t help ourselves by shooting 64.3% from the foul line either. Plus we fell victim to the Summer of Love. But all of that doesn’t amount to much. It’s Summer League. And this game showed us some new dimensions to the guys who are most important to us.

Jerryd Bayless had another great scoring game with 29 points. He got his usual bushel of free throw attempts, hitting 13 of 16. However tonight he showed a couple of facets we had yet to see. First he hit some jumpers and finished some drives strong in traffic and transition both. Second he ran the point for stretches of the game, an assignment he’ll likely see more of over the weekend. He defended the point credibly and, as we said, was able to score at will. The coaching staff would like to see him involve more people as a point guard, but on a night where he was just getting his toes wet he did well.

Petteri Koponen had a solid effort in some ways and struggled in others. He had a couple of aggressive drives and hit some jumpers. His offensive abilities have shown forth clearly this week. He looks at ease with the ball in scoring position. However he looks less comfortable handling the ball. He faced pressure tonight and didn’t handle it well. Those slow, long dribbles are starting to catch up with him. If Petteri makes it in this league it will be as a point guard and the one thing a point guard cannot do, especially if he works for Nate McMillan, is turn over the ball.

Nicolas Batum also found his comfort level tonight. He hit 5 of 7 shots, grabbed 5 rebounds, and scored 12 points. After the statistical trickle he’s been producing that’s a regular tsunami. He had defensive responsibility for Corey Brewer much of the night and Brewer barely got a shot off. Some of that appeared to be disinterest, but give Batum his due also. On the other side of the ledger he, too, turned the ball over 5 times. He missed 3 of 4 free throws after draining dozens in a row in practice. Another observation from the coaching staff was that he put the ball on the floor too much on plays designed for him to shoot. He’s not using his length and athleticism to full potential. But he is 6’8”, he has the potential to finish quicker than a Casey Holdahl blind date, and he’s smooth like a Dave pick-up line when he’s moving with or without the ball. Everybody will be better off if they consider Batum an athletic utility player with potential for the future instead of an instant impact player.

Tomorrow afternoon we’ll have a feature on the Summer League observations of Trail Blazers Director of NBA Scouting Mike Born. He tried to help us see the game in a little more detail, shared metrics to evaluate individual players, and put Summer League in proper perspective. Look for it just after noon Pacific time!

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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