SBNation Correspondent Kirk Henderson was on site in Las Vegas today for the Blazers' opening game of Summer League. Here are some of his thoughts about the game.
For the casual fan, Summer League can seem like a strange undertaking. An entire roster of players, drafted rookies, journeymen, D-League players, and undrafted hopefuls all looking to make an impact with the hopes of getting a chance to play basketball professionally, in the NBA or otherwise.
On paper, the Blazers are a bit different. With as many as six players on the Summer League roster that could see minutes next season, Portland should mow teams over, at least in theory. But with Noah Vonleh hurt and Meyers Leonard too talented to suit up, the Blazers were left with four recognizable players (Tim Frazier, Allan Crabbe, Luis Montero, and Pat Connaughon), none of whom had any size. Toss in Marcus Smart for the Celtics, and what could've been a competitive game became a slog that Portland could not grind it's way out of.
Still though, Summer League is not about wins and losses, it's about learning what you have in terms of talent. Even in defeat there's still plenty to glean about what Portland has in it's young pieces.
1. Tim Frazier can run an NBA offense.
Pointing out that the NBA D-League MVP and Rookie of the Year is good at basketball doesn't take a rocket scientist. And yet, when he's matched up against a potential NBA All Defense talent like Marcus smart, it bears mentioning. Frazier posted a near triple double (11 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists) against a ridiculously stingy defense.
Frazier's really impressive in the open court after both misses and makes. He has a really strong court sense (as evidenced by him drawing three fouls in the back court, mainly by stopping and letting people run into him). His use of screens and getting into the paint was imperative for the Blazers and those skills translate at the next level. Far too many guards don't have a firm grasp of the angles one needs to take in order to penetrate a defense. Additionally, he seemed willing to take shots at the rim, though not enough fell Saturday evening. His shot still needs a great deal of work, but for a player who should project as a back up, he has the skills needed to make an impact for 10-15 minutes per game.
2. Allen Crabbe has a green light, but needs to be less aggressive defensively.
Past Frazier, the only consistent offensive threat for Portland was Allen Crabbe who was more than willing to pull the trigger on threes and drives. He led the team in scoring, but 15 points on 15 shots is not great, regardless of his aggressiveness.
Crabbe needs to pick his spots a bit better. His three point shot looks fine mechanically, but he seemed in a rush all evening. In the coming days, look for Crabbe to be more patient and let the offense come to him.
Defensively, Crabbe fouled out in 29 minutes. That's really hard to do, considering players get 10 fouls before disqualifying. Perhaps it was frustration with the way the game was going, but he'll need to tone down his defensive aggressiveness.
3. It's unclear why Luis Montero was signed to an non-guaranteed contract.
With only 10 minutes of playing time, it's not clear yet why Montero was signed by the Blazers. He looks reasonably athletic, but of all the players potentially in line for a roster spot this fall, he's the most intriguing. He's 6-7 and apparently 185 pounds but seemed to belong physically. Keep an eye on Montero, particularly Sunday night against the defensively challenged Mavericks.