In a quarter-final Las Vegas Summer League tournament matchup, the Trail Blazers dispatched the Celtics 95-80. Veteran guard John Jenkins led the way for Portland with 25 points, and Wade Baldwin IV chipped in with a double-double. A bit of history also took place in the game, as Archie Goodwin surpassed Coby Karl to become the all-time leading scorer for summer league competition. Before we gear up for the next round of action, let’s take a moment to look at tonight’s performances.
The Youngsters Stay Poised While Facing Trouble
It wasn’t the prettiest night for Portland’s rookie guards. Anfernee Simons struggled to find his shooting rhythm in the first half, and coughed up a few turnovers along the way. Trey Davis of the Celtics pressured Simons on both ends of the court, which resulted in some panicked sequences from the 19-year-old guard.
Simons brushed off his slow start to finish the game strong. He hit two smooth catch-and-shoot three-pointers, and got to the free throw line after attacking his man off the dribble. Given the leap in competition that Simons is facing, resiliency will be key for his development. Tough night for the rookie, but the overall return was positive.
Despite only hitting three of his nine attempts from the field, Gary Trent Jr looked like a NBA role player. He was comfortable in pure catch-and-shoot situations, but struggled to replicate that success off the dribble. Along with his eight points, Trent recorded 5 rebounds.
Collins Played Big, Swanigan’s Scoring Woes Continued
Let’s start with the positive. Zach Collins finally had a game where his box score matched his on-court intensity. Much like his play from last year’s regular season, Collins did an excellent job of staying vertical when defending at the rim. He recorded three blocks, and committed only two fouls. Offensively, Collins failed to score out of plays designed to utilize his post moves. Set plays aside, Collins was able to supplement his scoring with second chance points.
Caleb Swanigan’s streak of rough performances continued against the Celtics tonight. Rookie center Robert Williams was on the sidelines for Boston, but Swanigan failed to capitalize. Swanigan’s only point came from the free throw line, as he went 0-4 from the field. To make matters worse, the big fella committed two avoidable turnovers in transition.
On the positive side, Swanigan did an excellent job of boxing out. He recorded nine rebounds, and three of the nine were offensive. The Blazers won’t be asking Swanigan to bring the ball up the court or carry the offensive load in the regular season, but they will need him to rebound.
Vanderbilt Guards To The Rescue
The Blazers’ undefeated record in Las Vegas is directly tied their experienced backcourt. Baldwin and Jenkins kept Portland afloat during lulls, and displayed that they are both worthy of a NBA roster spots.
Baldwin is clearly a step above this level of competition. It was evident that the action on the court has slowed down for him. He got his own points at the rim, and was often two steps ahead of the defense when facilitating.
Jenkins is emerging as the feel-good story out of this year’s summer league season. After a year overseas, the former first-round pick looks like he could contribute on a team in need of a shooter. Jenkins navigated to open spots on the court without the ball, and easily converted those opportunities into points.
Does Layman pass the eye test?— Nick Tayer (@NickTayer) July 16, 2018
I was excited to see how Jake Layman would perform against Semi Ojeleye, but Boston had other plans for their experienced perimeter player. Ojeleye’s absence coupled with Layman’s quiet night was probably the most surprising thing for me from this contest.
Layman shot the ball with confidence, and possesses the measurements necessary to be effective at multiple positions. He passes my eye test, but he will have to work on his consistency to earn a meaningful role in the regular season.
Does Swanigan have a role?— Cincodognoche (@cincodognoche) July 16, 2018
It is tempting, but now is not the time to panic about Swanigan. I have faith that coach Terry Stotts will find the right role for Swanigan. His biggest struggles involve lateral quickness and lack of scoring. Portland has mitigated Jusuf Nurkic’s speed restrictions by tailoring his role to fit his strengths. Hopefully they can give Swanigan’s reserve role the same treatment. The Blazers will need a big body to snag rebounds off the bench, and nobody doubts Swanigan’s ability to do that.
—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com