Early report on Lillard, Leonard, and other players

The Trailblazer's summer league game against the Rockets revealed some more details about Damien Lillard, Meyers Leonard, and others. Some thoughts:

Lillard understands how to score the ball. 5 for 10 from downtown anyone? People who hate on his 9-21 performance need to keep in mind that he missed a lot of lay-ins that easily could have rolled on in. Such is the game of basketball.

Already there are comparisons of Lillard to Derek Rose. However, Lillard is not as strong nor as acrobatic in mid air as Rose. Derek elevates a little faster and "hangs" for a little longer. That being said, Lillard is a better shooter from deep than Rose but most NBA players are. Rose has a dismal 3 pt shooting percentage, even comparable to the infamous Raymond Felton. A better comparison might be Russell Westbrook who also has been compared to Derek Rose. Lillard, still isn't as explosive as Westbrook, but he has a similar attitude. Lillard has that same little chip on his shoulder; the way he reacts after a big play with the narrowing eyes and jutting chin. Unfortunately, Lillard doesn't have Westbrook's mid-range game. In fact, its non-existent. He always seems to be making either deep threes or miraculous lay-ins. This was mentioned in several scouting reports and its starting to cut the veil. Unlike Roy or Westbrook, Lillard does not take advantage of the pull up jumper which he is more than capable of doing with his quickness and footwork.

Meyers Leonard had trouble with Houston's big men. Let's add more detail. A European center repeatedly abused Leonard. While everybody was going crazy after Leonard put up a double double against New Orlean's midget D-leaguers, the Rockets threw out a very solid group of big men in Terrence Jones, Royce White, and Donatas Motiejunas. Leonard was manhandled. He went for every pump fake, was frequently boxed out, and never seemed to establish himself in the paint. He always seemed out of position. No one cares if the European is 7'5 and 300 lbs. with the agility of a house cat. He's a European center. Everybody knows how they turn out. Soft and with nasty neck beards and a penchant for uncontrollable weeping when flops don't go their way.Overall, Meyers is raw. Very raw. Blazers desperately need a veteran center. Ironically, Darko Milicic might be a free agent possibility....

Nolan Smith - guy has improved his game. He seems assertive and confident with attacking game. Still he's a scoring guard who will always be undersized in various matchups. It was evident against the much longer, Jeremy Lamb who drained shot after shot. Love the Nolan's heart and attitude but it really does seem like he is a more of Ben Gorden type of player with a inconsistent shot. Not sure about him. Might be just a Summer League superstar. Kinda like that Bayless kid from a few years ago.....

As for Luke Babbitt.... Blazer fans forget it. He is never going to be a Kyle Korver or Mike Miller type player they desire. He just doesn't have the shooting skills. He also seems slower and has an uncanny ability for being completely out of position in defense. In fact, that might be his best comparison with those sharp shooters. His defense, seeing that those two players are considered such defensive stalwarts.

Let's change gears. Now for the opposition:

Regardless of having a distinct size advantage, Rockets do have a crap load of talent and for good reason are dominating in summer league.

Royce White has entertainer written all over him. Magic Johnson type passing and Ginobili type flair. However, there is also a milder version of Ron Artest lurking in him as well. Seems eccentric on the court as he is off the court. Unique tallent and could be special. Or could be a real head ache.

Terrence Jones should be an instant contributor. He seems soft and could be but he's definitely talented and a strong athlete. A capable Jeff Green type player but with a more physical presence when applied. Could be a 10 pt and 7 rebound type guy in 25 minutes of playing time.

Jeremy Lamb - guy is a natural shooter. Reminding some of Kevin Martin but with a better assertiveness as a shooter. Not a great attacker off the dribble but those long arms are real similar to some guy nicknamed Durantula. Could be a Danny Granger type caliber player. Solid player but with a ceiling of fringe all-star.

The European Center, aka, Donatas Motiejunas. Seems awesome but in reality he really plays like a typical European center. Good skill set but when push comes to shove, often wilts like a petunia in the sun. For example, Intelligent to know when he has a mismatch and takes advantage of it. Makes him Look like a real superstar but the instant when faced with physicality, Motiejunas will disappear and start launching mid-range jumpers. Imagine if stellar defensive men and athletes like Dwight Howard or Serge Ibaka were facing him. Trust this stereotype - soft. If lucky you might get Nikola Peković. There were times he was being pushed around by Trailblazer guards.

Scott Machado - Potential is there. Solid passer and a surprisingly accurate shooter. Athletes are little better at this level than what he face while playing for Iona. Its probably night and day.

Overall, the Trailblazers summer league team looked like what one might expect during regular season. Undersized, turnover prone, inconsistent guard play, offensive board struggles, and injury bugged. The blazers still desperately need front court help with only Larmarcus, raw Leonard, and undersized Hickson providing quality minutes.

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