As referenced in the latest article by The Oregonian's Jason Quick, new Portland Trail Blazers players Moe Harkless and Cliff Alexander are making quite an impression on their teammates:
According to players and people behind the scenes at the Blazers, there are two players who right now are opening eyes with their play: Small forward Maurice Harkless and power forward Cliff Alexander.
Harkless, acquired in a July trade with Orlando, has jumped so high and so quickly in pickup games that players say he is a one-of-a-kind talent.
"I don't think any of us have played with an athlete like him,'' Lillard said.
Harkless more often found himself on the end of the Orlando Magic's bench than the court in recent months, playing behind 19-year-old rookie Aaron Gordon. With a chance at meaningful minutes for a franchise willing to let their developing players stretch their legs, Harkless might develop in to the lottery-level talent he was viewed as just a few years ago.
Undrafted rookie Cliff Alexander was once among the most highly-touted prospects in the country before a disappointing college season and off-court issues lowered his stock. Quick writes that what he's shown in practice might surprise Blazers fans and the league:
Alexander, the undrafted 19-year-old out of Kansas, has been so tenacious and rugged in the team's pickup games, the Blazers' veterans have found themselves looking at each other in amazement that he wasn't drafted.
"He should have been drafted in the first round, if you ask me,'' said center Chris Kaman, who is entering his 13th NBA season. "He is an animal. Getting him as an undrafted player is unbelievable.''
Both players have encountered adversity in their young playing careers. They'll get the opportunity to earn minutes and succeed on this team. Let's see if they live up to the chance.