Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts took questions Tuesday following the team's first practice in preparation for 2013 Las Vegas Summer League play. Stotts discussed expectations for the team, what he's trying to accomplish this week, how the practice schedule will break down and a number of other topics. Keep reading to the bottom, where he offers his first impressions of second-round pick Allen Crabbe and discusses how he plans to divvy up minutes down in Vegas.
Update (Wednesday): A few more quotes from his post-practice media availability on Wednesday are now included at the bottom.
Here's a transcript of his comments.
Overall thoughts on first Summer League practice
A lot of teaching. A lot of defensive concepts, some of the offense. It's kind of a crash course in three days, to be ready to play a game. Trying to keep it simple but there's still a lot of things to do. I thought everybody had good energy, they picked up the things pretty quickly on both ends of the floor. It was a good day.
Practice schedule before Las Vegas Summer League
We should have five more. Two tomorrow, two on Thursday, one on Friday.
Progress players are making
I think the work that we did in June with Victor [Claver], Meyers [Leonard], Joel [Freeland] and Will [Barton] was very productive. I think it showed today. They were in good shape, they made good strides over the course of the year. Meyers, where he was last year at this time, he's a better player, has a better understanding. The June workouts were really productive for those guys.
Good to see both CJ McCollum and Allen Crabbe?
It was. Allen, since he didn't come in for workouts, [it was good] to get a feel for him physically. I thought they both played well, picked up things well. Seeing Allen play in person in particular [was good], I've seen CJ in workouts. I spent more time watching video of CJ than Allen [too], so having him here and able to practice was a positive.
Will Damian Lillard play?
DId he do anything today?
Wesley Matthews is here too -- will he play?
Last year, Wes was involved in practice and played the first game. I don't know if he's at that level this year but he's a gym rat. He likes being around the game. It's good for the young guys to see him here as well.
Meyers Leonard -- jump hook?
I don't know if it was a sky hook, but a little jump hook, with a fake. I think he's much more comfortable in his game and the NBA game. I think the work he's done is going to show.
Tournament style in Summer League?
I think it's good. It's always good to play for something. Being an old CBA guy, the fact that they're using a point system is fun. Vegas is different than Orlando in that there's a tournament afterwards with seeding. The only downside is that you really don't know what your schedule is going to be and how long you're going to be there. If you go down there and win the Summer League, there's 20 something teams, that speaks well for the guys. It will be a good competition.
CJ McCollum was running the point when the gym opened to media, did he also play off the ball a lot?
We have a lot of guards in camp, I want him to do to both. Some of the things we're running, it's not necessarily point-oriented. It's interchangeable parts, he's going to do both. He'll play both, he'll play point, he'll play off the ball, he will handle in transition, he'll fill the wing. Summer League is going to be for him to get used to both positions.
Specific goals for Summer League?
No. Not specific goals, statistical goals, wins and losses. It's more intangible goals. I want the young guys to learn how we play. Not get caught up in stats. It's more important to learn the game, learn our style of play, learn our terminology, all of those things. I look at it like much more of a learning experience than anything else. I'd love everybody to shoot 50 percent but I'm not looking at it in those terms.
Goals for individual players in terms of progress?
I want the guys who are here last year to show improvement in their play. How you measure that -- I don't want to measure that in stats. I want them to be productive. Obviously I think if we win and play well, that's a measure. I don't want to put [standards like] you need to get this many rebounds, you need to shoot this percentage. For those young guys it's about how you're playing more than anything else. For the new guys, since I really don't know them that well, it's hard to put goals on something as part of the process. It's a little premature for that.
He was't able to practice because of FIBA clearance.
Do you want to fill 15th roster spot?
That's a question for Neil [Olshey].
I know you haven't seen much of him, but what did Allen Crabbe show you on Day One?
I think he obviously has a very good stroke. He squares up nicely. He plays well off the ball. He understood the concepts of setting back screens and freeing things up. It seemed like he had a good intuitive feel for the game. He has good length. I thought from today he had a good basketball IQ on both ends of the floor. I thought he made a good impression.
You talked about trying to win the tournament -- how do you balance minutes here with the returning guys, the rookies and the rest of the roster guys?
It's too early to do starting lineups, but the four guys on the roster [last year] and then any new guys, Allen and CJ, this Summer League is the priority for them, and they'll be getting the bulk of the minutes. Past that, it's hard to say. Those six guys are the priorities for the Trail Blazers.
The new additions
I'm very excited to have seven roster players on our Summer League team. That gives us a very good opportunity, a head start with players to incorporate them into what we want to do. Getting to know them a little bit better, their style of play. A lot of teams aren't that fortunate to have that many players play in the Summer League. We're still going to have a young roster and this is a valuable time for all of them.
More options on new roster?
That's hard to say. There's a lot of young talent. It's up to us and them to make the most of it. We'll see how that goes. It's a different roster than last year. We'll be deeper but we won't be as experienced, so it's a little bit of a trade-off. I certainly like the roster moves that we've made and plan on making.
Changes going into next season?
I don't anticipate a lot of changes offensively. We'll tinker with the offense here and there. My job as a coach is to put them in a position to be successful on the offensive end. Defensively, you're going to see more adjustments for us, changing some of our pick-and-roll screens. More of a consistent emphasis on protecting the rim with our big guys in particular. Putting more responsibility and accountability on all our players, some of that will come with schemes and some will come with experience. Some will come with personnel changes.
As a coach, you always like to see your guys in the gym. Damian had a good workout in this morning, before we started our practices. He's a consistent worker. That's why he had the season that he had last year. As a coach, when you have the guys in the gym working on their game, that's always a little comforting.
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