Blazer's Edge's on-site correspondent, Kirk Henderson, provides his thoughts after Portland's 82-77 Summer League playoff victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. -- Tim
Portland held on in a close contest against Karl Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Blazers held a close lead for all four quarters before finally pulling away in the fourth. After four games, Portland sits at 2-2 and advances to the elimination section of the Summer League tournament.
Victory aside, there were five takeaways from a solid outing by the young Blazers squad.
1. Summer League injuries feel extra awful.
Allen Crabbe has had himself a Summer League, playing hard, and getting tough buckets. He's earned himself consideration for a spot in the Blazers rotation. A bad-looking ankle/leg injury really dampened the mood in Thomas and Mack, taking some of the energy out of an already dead crowd. Summer League has a specific purpose, which isn't winning, so to see a guy go down in what can only be described as a freak play is pretty upsetting. This game doesn't mean anything in the big picture and Crabbe had very little to prove. Teams shouldn't be tentative when asking basketball players to play actual basketball, but this has to frustrate fans.
2. Keith Bogans should be in consideration for a roster spot
From what I've been told, Bogans' agent called Neil Olshey and told the Blazers general manager that Bogans still had something to contribute and wanted to do so for a young team. It's safe to say that the Blazers fit the bill. Bogans would never play, but the 35 year old veteran has seen everything and it's been interesting watching him speak to Tim Frazier and other players in dead ball situations. He simply knows more about NBA basketball than than many Portland players, and there's a real value in having someone who isn't a coach to communicate with young talent. He knows all the tricks and still has something to contribute.
3. Noah Vonleh will be part of NBA Muscle Watch 2015
The jury is still out on what Vonleh actually does at an elite level. Timberwolves Rookie Karl Anthony Towns had his way with Vonleh (and the entire Blazer front line), but it was fun watching the two young players battle physically. Before Las Vegas, it had been months since I'd seen Vonleh play and I swear he's put on a great deal of muscle. Even if he doesn't had a particular skill which sets him apart, being strong enough to bang in the post is pretty important in a rough and tumble Western Conference which only seems to get harder.
4. Pat Connaughton's 44-inch vertical leap doesn't factor into his game
Connaughton finally had a breakaway attempt that led to a dunk. Oddly though, he seemed to struggle to even get the ball over the rim. We all saw his crazy 44 inch vertical leap during the combine, but for whatever reason that particular athletic skill doesn't seem to factor into his basketball game. Perhaps he's simply tired. Either way, I'd like to see Connaughton dunk with a little more oomph.
5. Tim Frazier is a steal
This isn't news if you read my recap from earlier in the week, but it has to be mentioned again. Frazier is making under a million dollars and possesses the ability to control the offense through his probing dribbling, patience, and willingness to take shots at the rim. Frazier draws so muich attention. He's an excellent back up option for Damian Lilliard.
With the victory, the Blazers are still in contention for the Summer League title. Their next game will be against the Boston Celtics, one of the top eight seeds in a tournament style bracket, tomorrow at 7:30 pm.