The Portland Trail Blazers will take on the Los Angeles Lakers at 7:00 p.m. tonight, in the Las Vegas Summer League championship. Despite injuries to key players, the team fought through the Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs, and Memphis Grizzlies to be on this stage.
Within the Trail Blazers’ team successes lie individual accomplishments, which will ultimately mean more, long after players leave the neon glow of Vegas for bigger and brighter things. Un-signed players may earn the attention of other NBA teams with their standout performances, while the play of in-house big man Caleb Swanigan bodes well for Portland’s future.
Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated lists the Trail Blazers among teams to come away from Summer League with something positive to show for their time there. They are joined by the Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, and Raptors in his assessment. Read the full article to find out who he has pegged as losers:
The Blazers make for an unlikely championship-game participant. Their 2017 lottery pick, Zach Collins, looked like an overmatched, unprepared teenager before he was shut down early, and their returning roster players, Jake Layman and Pat Connaughton, aren’t exactly household names.
But Portland fought through the playoff bracket anyway thanks to tenacious efforts from first-round pick Caleb Swanigan (aka “Biggie”) and the well-traveled likes of Jarnell Stokes, RJ Hunter, and Nick Johnson. While the 6’9” Swanigan (14.9 PPG, 10.4 RPG) butters his bread with high-energy play inside, he’s also displayed a little diversity, stepping out to shoot occasionally and facilitating from the perimeter. Swanigan’s role going forward in the short term isn’t entirely clear given that Portland’s roster saw limited turnover this summer. Regardless, his strong showing helps make up for Collins’s slower acclimation and gives Portland one more option if president Neil Olshey is finally able to unload some of his cap-busting bad contracts.
After tonight, we will know if the Trail Blazers are outright Summer League winners in the overall sense of the word, but whether or not they send Lonzo Ball and the Lakers back to L.A. with an ‘L,’ they’ve already won the week.