Well, Summer League 2012 is officially behind us! And honestly, it was more fun than most of the lockout season. The Portland Trail Blazers shut down Lillard, Leonard, and Babbitt tonight, but still easily beat the Miami Heat to finish 4-1 this week.
Instead of recapping today's Junior Varsity equivalent of an NBA game, let's do a recap of our players' performances in Summer League, shall we? For the purposes of these reviews, let's put a moratorium on the "It's just Summer League!" talk. Look, we all know it's Summer League. That's a given. But it's all we have to talk about, so let's do so.
Damian Lillard: Easiest. Review. Ever. After a shaky first half in game 1, he took off and never looked back. He drove to the hoop, racked up assists, hit threes, and captured everyone's imagination. It was clear why the Blazers were so high on him at the sixth pick. || 26.5 points on 44% FG, 5.3 assists, 4 rebounds || Verdict: Exceeded Expectations.
Meyers Leonard: He's a tough one. He had a double double, and showed he could hit free throws and some mid-range, but was out-muscled for rebounds despite being one of the tallest guys on the court. On the other hand, many tossed around low expectations, including the use of the word "stiff". By the end of the week, he definitely looked like a long-term project, but one worth undertaking. || 10.5 points on 56% shooting, 8.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks || Verdict: Met Expectations.
Will Barton: Started out slowly, but finished strong. He doesn't look ready for prime-time yet, but you can see his potential. He tries hard on defense, never gives up on a play, and looks like a quality second round pick. He also had a really fun game as team leader against Miami. Not to heighten expectations, but he reminds me a little bit of a Small Forward we drafted in the second round in 1984. || 15 points on 44.4% shooting, 4.4 rebounds || Verdict: Met Expectations.
Luke Babbitt: Ouch. No player on the Blazer Summer League roster got the negative reaction reserved for Luke Babbitt. I personally think the problem is that everyone wanted to like him. Wanted to! It's a fine line between love and hate. Luke seemed passive and inconsistent all week. For a third-year player, you have an expectation they will take control in Summer League. You want him to look like the best player on the court. You want to playfully use words like "schooling" and "fools". Instead, he was an also-ran. Perhaps that was the coach's intent, to focus on the rookies. But it doesn't change what you see on the court. || 13.3 points on 38% shooting, 7.3 rebounds. || Verdict: Missed Expectations.
Nolan Smith: Oh man, poor Nolan. In the SG role, he had a nice first game. He looked like he was able to hang with anyone in Summer League. That doesn't mean he's necessarily ready for a bigger NBA role, but it's good to see your second-year player gain confidence on the court. Then, wham, Summer League is over for him. And he's stuck in his hotel room and can't have any bright light... in Vegas, no less! Feel better soon and see ya in the Fall, Nolan. || 18.5 points on 58% shooting. || Verdict: Incomplete.
How do you feel about our young players after watching Summer League 2012? Agree or disagree with me?
Well, this is the end of the busy part of the Summer. But don't fret. Blazersedge will stay busy year round, with analysis, news, conversation, and some fun stuff. And hey, there is still basketball this Summer, as you can watch various former and current Blazers play in the upcoming Summer Olympics. Things will never get boring! -- Tim