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Caleb Swanigan Learning from Kendrick Perkins in G-League

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Getting minutes is great, but it’s not the only benefit Swanigan has seen with the Canton Charge.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers-Media Day Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

After playing in only 15 games before falling out of the Portland Trail Blazers’ rotation, rookie big man Caleb Swanigan is dominating the NBA G-League. He was assigned to the Canton Charge in December, upon recognition that he would benefit more from direct competition as Portland practices get fewer and further between. Through seven contests with the Charge so far, Swanigan has averaged 15.6 points and 13.1 rebounds per game.

Typically, the tradeoff for players doing a stint with the G-League is more repetitions but less veteran guidance—less value added behind the scenes, but Swanigan is in a unique situation, Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports. Amid the ‘who’s who’s’ and the ‘who’s that’s’ on the Canton roster is former NBA champion and 13-season NBA veteran Kendrick Perkins, keeping an eye on the fledgling forward.

”It’s actually a really good thing,” Stotts said. “I have a lot of respect for Kendrick and how he goes about being a pro. And I think that’s one of the side benefits for Caleb being with Canton.”

As Swanigan learns the ins and outs of playing professionally, Perkins’ experience and pedigree has been a valuable resource.

”He can watch him and, even more important, listen to him,” Stotts said. “Kendrick has been a good pro, he’s been a part of some excellent basketball teams, he knows what it takes to be a winner in this league, especially as a big man. So I think it’s more the knowledge, not necessarily how to play, but all the other things.”

At 33, Perkins may be passed the prime of his on-court utility in the NBA, but between the Boston Celtics (2004-11), Oklahoma City Thunder (2011-15), and Cleveland Cavaliers (2015), he has been involved with some of the most successful teams of the past decade. While he fights to regain a spot on an NBA roster before his career is up, he is able to impart wisdom to Swanigan, who will likely rejoin the Trail Blazers in short order.

Whether or not Swanigan carves out minutes for himself in the back half of the season, his time in the G-League should legitimately make him a better player moving forward, Perkins playing no small role in that progression. Teammate Damian Lillard has previously stated his appreciation for guys like Mo Williams, Steve Blake, Earl Watson, and even Ronnie Price and Jared Jeffries, who impacted his rookie development; the value of veteran experience is real and long-lasting for learners with the right motor.

If there is one thing we know about Swanigan from his early rookie campaign, it’s that he has the right motor.