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Summer League Stories

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Update:  Ike Diogu just told 95.5FM that he will not be participating in Summer League.  Probably for the best. 

-- Ben

With a slight nod to free agent signings and such, we’re going to transition more into Summer League mode now, seeing as how the event is nearly upon us. 

First of all, Kerry Eggers has the report on the as-yet-incomplete roster.  The names are not surprising:  Bayless, Batum, Diogu, Koponen, maybe Freeland.  Monty Williams will run the team.

Second, Mike Barrett talks about the preparation for Summer League.

Finally, elaborating on what we talked about on the radio yesterday, here are the prime stories for the 2008 Summer League:

1.  Can Bayless play?  No, I mean PLAY!

Jerryd Bayless wasn’t drafted to be the franchise savior, nor to lead us through a tough transition period, maybe not even to start in the foreseeable future.  He could conceivably do any of those things, but the pressure isn’t there like it has been for recent Vegas alums such as Roy, Aldridge, Oden, and even to some extent Webster.

Oddly enough, the lack of expectations for the long term actually puts a little more focus on this Summer League performance.  We’re not entirely clear yet where this guy will fit in.  We know he likes to score.  We hope he can defend.  We know he needs to show at least some point guard skills if he wants to play.  Depending on how he answers those questions he could start the year as anything from a regular cog in the rotation to a blowout-only bench guy.

The spotlight is intensified by the fact that the Summer League format favors players like Bayless.  This event is designed to showcase guards who control the ball and score.  Who was the last big man you saw dominate in July?  It’s the Jamaal Crawfords of the world who excel here.  Granted Bayless will be instructed to facilitate in addition to racking up shots and points like a pinball machine, but if he doesn’t show well that’s not a great sign.

2.  How functional is Ike Diogu?

He’s reportedly only playing for a couple of games, but I’d love to see if he’s regained his energy and verve after his injury.  How he moves and how aggressive he is will be as indicative as any statistical performance.  This would be one of the two issues in Vegas that could potentially impact our near-future course.

3.  Who the heck is Nicolas Batum anyway?

Many have heard, few have seen.  I don’t have the kind of expectations for him I do for Bayless, but it would be nice to see a flash of…something.  A great drive, a strong finish, a dunk to the moon, or a nice pass…he needs to give us a clue who he’s going to be eventually.

4.  How much has Petteri Koponen improved?

Few are talking about it, but this is the second issue with potential impact on our short-term roster.  Yesterday's report from Jason Quick indicated--in a half-phrase aside--that Koponen would not be on the Blazers’ roster this year.  This conflicts with the last we heard about Petteri’s desires.  The Blazers do have open roster spots at the moment and it’s conceivable that Petteri could play himself into one with an excellent showing.  (Though it’s worth noting that Quick’s comment came after the Blazers have seen Koponen work out in person, so they may have already rendered their judgment.)  In any case a brilliant Koponen could be bad news for Sergio Rodriguez, though I’d judge the chances of Petteri supplanting Sergio this year as slight.  Koponen showed glimpses of promise last year but he’ll need huge strides to break into a roster already jammed with point guards.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)