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The Summer League Roster Rundown

Here's the rundown of the Summer League Roster as I saw it.  This is a combination of data from having watched all five games and from conversations with various folks about players.

Lamarcus Aldridge   Look out, because those 21 points and 11 rebounds a game were not a Summer League mirage.  I'm not saying he's going to come out and score 20 and 10 against big league NBA players (this year anyway) but Lamarcus is clearly the story of the summer for Portland.  He's bigger and he's more confident.  Only a handful of players in Vegas made moves and shots with the same sureness that he did and they're all tabbed to be stars.  He's going to be a scoring focus on this team and he looked ready to assume that role.  Inside or out he's money.  His defense and speed are as good as ever.  His rebounding is yet to be proven (rebounds are wonky at SL) but if he can get up to 8 or more per game he's everything we'll need.

Greg Oden   Oden got messed around a little this summer before the tonsils took over.  He looked frustrated, tired, and pressured.  But there were a number of positive signs also.  He has out of this universe athleticism.  His dunks--flat-footed, under the basket, and being hung on by two or more opponents--were astounding.  He is a monster, pure and simple.  He's also quick compared to most seven-footers.  Other than the dunking he doesn't yet understand where his positioning or scoring will come from, but few rookies who aren't already high-scoring guards do.  Centers are most often put in the position of reacting to others on the court--posting, rebounding, helping on defense.  That's harder to learn than, "Me get drive to shoot now!  Wheeee!"  :::patting all off-guards on the head now:::  Greg will certainly get there.  Right now he's trying to block every shot he sees and he'll be cured of that also.  There's no reason to think that he won't be right where Lamarcus is come this time next year, except he probably won't be playing in Summer League.  In the meantime he's going to take a ton of bumps and get his will and heart tested by more experienced NBA centers looking to take a chunk out of him.  Here's hoping he holds up.

Martell Webster    Martell ended Summer League with a respectable 15 point and 6 rebound average.  His rebounding was very good.   His last couple of games, especially the last one against Seattle, he came out aggressive and shot often.  Even so, that aggression on offense only showed in certain quarters and in certain games.  There was a ton of weak-side floating again.  This is not terribly different from what we've seen from Martell already: 8-10 possessions of nothing special followed by a three-point attempt or dunk.  When he was in it he was impressive.  When he wasn't you didn't notice him.  And he was mostly in it when there was nobody else on the court to overshadow him.  I want to praise Martell for the things he did right but part of me also thinks it's puzzling why he didn't come out stronger and try to influence the game more.  He was a third-year guy in Vegas.  He knew what it was like and he knew what needed to be done.  Another observation:  I wasn't watching specifically for this in the first game but I can tell you that in all the games after I never saw Martell walk out with the team for their pre-game sit down.  I know he practiced with the team, did warm-ups with the team, bumped hands and high-fived and listened to pre- and post-game chats with the team, but in every optional situation that I saw he looked like a man apart.  Maybe that's just him--a guy in his own world.  But that makes it even harder when things aren't going perfectly.  I honestly can't tell you what to expect from Martell this year, save that it's likely to be more of the same if this ten-day stretch is any indication.

Sergio Rodriguez  Sergio took some time to acclimate to Summer League.  At the beginning he stood out like a sore thumb both to the good and bad.  You'd notice him for the spectacular plays and the bone-headed ones.  Both came frequently.  Plus he'd dribble the ball all over the court for 16 seconds of the 24-second clock, which obviously can't happen if you're going to have any kind of coordinated offense.  By the last game he was running the team like an actual point guard, getting people set in the offense, taking the shots that were open, hustling back in transition, and making sane passes.  You didn't notice him as much, but I tend to think that's a good thing.  He ended the summer with 5.4 assists per game and 3.6 turnovers.  Though the latter number is completely unacceptable for a point guard most of those turnovers came in the early games.  After the first couple of games I had doubts about whether Sergio could even play 15-18 minutes as a backup this year without screwing us up royally.  I still have some doubts but his last couple of performances gave me hope.  His conditioning does seem to be a little better than it was last season.  Improving that during the rest of the summer will be a key.

Joel Freeland  This Summer League returnee showed nice improvement between last year and this.  In the early going he was clearly eager to show his stuff.  He displayed nice dunks and smooth shots.  His jump is quick and high and he's lighter on his feet than most big men.  He still needs a little help on defense and in where to find his spots.  He also faded as the days progressed, likely due to a rumored back injury.  It's doubtful he'll be brought over this year but he'll certainly get another look next season.  If his rate of improvement continues he could be a player by then.

Stefano Mancinelli  This is another guy that benefited once Oden and Aldridge were off the court and the ball actually started going through his hands.  He has a great head for the game, good hustle, fantastic hands, and he can hit an open shot.  He does a lot of little things right...a coach's kind of player.  On the other hand he's 6'8" tall and not particularly strong, fast, or athletic.  When asked what position he'd play one courtside observer said, "Small forward."  When asked, "In the NBA?" the response was, "Probably not."  My estimation of Mancinelli grew as I saw him exhibit his game but I'd agree with that assessment.  He'd just get barbequed by NBA threes.

Zendon Hamilton  Zendon shot 62% for Summer League and averaged a ton of points with our other big men out.  He knows how to use his body and how to get into position, which shows you that for big men volume scoring is as much about technique as athleticism.  Hamilton is quick for a big guy and can dribble a little.  He's not a great rebounder or free throw shooter.  I don't see any way he makes our roster but he could get picked up somewhere.

Taurean Green  Green had four impressive games out of five in Vegas.  His fourth game in particular he lit it up out there, showing some shooting ability.  The Blazers played him mostly at off-guard however so we didn't get a real chance to see how he runs the point.  His defense is easily better than any other point guard we have right now.  He's short (6'0" maybe) but he works his butt off.  Most people who saw him left impressed with him.  His height is a question as is his ability to contribute in what will likely be very short minutes if he makes the squad.  I'd say there's a chance he becomes a very good back-up point guard in this league.  There's also a chance he doesn't make it at all.

Josh McRoberts  McRoberts flourished in an open-style offense where he could be a triple-threat shoot-drive-pass player from about 12-14 feet away.  His passing ability is easily the most impressive part of his game that we saw.  He also plays gritty and can spin and dunk a little when needed.  He needs more strength and I'm not sure how well he'd do with big minutes.  (That isn't likely to be an issue though.)  Unlike Mancinelli he's quick enough on his feet to play his position, so there's hope he might stick around.

Petteri Koponen  After the first couple of games I didn't think Koponen could play a lick.  He looked pretty lost out there, especially for a point guard.  Like Sergio, he grew as he progressed.  He struggles with his ability to make passes but he showed some confidence in his shot and some hustle on defense.  He's not even close to NBA-ready and I'm not sure if he even has true NBA potential.  A long-shot for sure.

Chris Ellis  Ellis' main asset is a huge upper frame combined with considerable athleticism.  As bulky as his upper torso is it surprises you to see him dunk with such ease.  Other than that he didn't stand out much in the few minutes he got.  He doesn't seem that quick and he didn't get to show much of an offensive game.  It wasn't like he was dominating on the boards or defense with all that muscle.  Unless he was dunking you had to watch for him to notice him and that's usually a bad sign.

Rick Apodaca and Terrance Green  These guys didn't see a minute on the court.

Things that Impressed Me Most for the Blazers this Summer League:

--How well Lamarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden played together.  They were both able to pass and were unselfish with the ball.  The high-post cut is likely to become a big part of our half-court offense repertoire.

--How good Martell looks when he's calling for the ball and gets aggressive.

--How unselfishly everybody on this team played. (Well...except Martell, and I didn't WANT him to be unselfish!  I wanted him to shoot more!)  These guys, especially the Europeans, knew how to move the ball and were willing to do it.  This seems to be a hallmark of the new Blazers.  Along with size, quickness, and defense comes the ability to play a Sacramento-like ball-motion offense.  We could do worse.

Things I Don't Want to Hear Again for a Long Time:

--A referee's whistle.  (They called a HUGE number of unnecessary fouls most games.)

--Anything about anybody under someone else's um-ber-ella (hey, hey, hey)...

--In that same vein:  Hey bay-BAY, Hey bay-BAY, Hey bay-BAY...Hey bay-BAY, Hey bay-BAY (wah-wah-wah).

--"Do you want insurance?  No?  OK.  Ooop!  Sorry guys.  Blackjack."

--Dave (