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Trail Blazers 2018 Summer League Report Card

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Brian Freeman and Steve Dewald hand out grades to members of the Trail Blazers’ Las Vegas Summer League Championship team.

NBA: Summer League-Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Trail Blazers run to the 2018 Las Vegas Summer League Championship is in the books. Now that the dust has settled, Blazer’s Edge contributors Brian Freeman and Steve Dewald have handed out their grades for Portland’s group of youngsters. With Wade Baldwin IV’s contract situation settled, today’s focus will be on the six players that will be on the Blazers’ regular season roster for the 2018-19 season.

Grades were determined by the specific expectations surrounding each player. Experience, draft position, and expected role are the three main criteria for judging a players grading scale.

NBA: Summer League-Boston Celtics at Portland Trail Blazers Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Anfernee Simons | G | Rookie

Summer League Stats: PPG: 11.0 | APG: 0.5 | SPG: 1.0 | RPG: 3.2 | FG%: 43.4

Steve: After a year at IMG Academy, Simons was by far the biggest question mark on the roster coming into Las Vegas. On all fronts, the 19-year-old guard was better suited for the jump in competition than I expected. His shot is ready for the NBA, and he held his own on the defensive end by invading passing lanes. Simons still needs to add weight, but the rest of his game looked good. Grade: B+

Brian: Simons looked comfortable and confident, like he belonged...all great things from a rookie that looks as young and undeveloped as Simons is. I was pleasantly surprised to see he can play both guard spots offensively. His shot is great and he already looks like he’ll be able to score in this league. The rest of his game did not show in the summer league. He still has a lot to show as a distributor, rebounder, and becoming something other than a liability defensively, but the potential for more is there and Blazers fans should walk away from summer league happy with their first round pick. Grade: B

NBA: Summer League-Atlanta Hawks at Portland Trail Blazers Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Gary Trent Jr. | SG | Rookie

Summer League Stats: PPG: 11.4 | APG: 1.4 | SPG: 1.3 | RPG: 3.3 | FG%: 35.4

Steve: Trent was comfortable and effective in almost every role the Blazers’ put him in. He was at his best when operating out of catch-and-shoot situations. Things were a little rockier for the rookie when he took the ball inside, which is something he’ll have to work on to avoid becoming a one-dimensional threat on offense. Trent held his own against summer league competition at small forward, which will help him secure minutes when the start of the season rolls around. Grade: A

Brian: My main concern about Trent was his skill set as an NBA player (other than a shooter). There are still some concerns but for now, Trent proved he can do more at the Summer league level. Trent’s 9 free throw attempts in Game 1 was one of my favorite stats. He used his body to create contact and get to spots. I was also impressed with his ability to grab rebounds in traffic. Trent didn’t light the summer league on fire, shooting only 35%, but he was able to get good shots and they looked right coming out of his hands. I expect to see them drop soon. I would have liked to see him score at the rim more often, but overall it was an encouraging showing from the rookie out of Duke. Grade B

2018 NBA Summer League - Las Vegas - Boston Celtics v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Jake Layman | SF | 2 Years Pro

Summer League Stats: PPG: 13.4 | APG: 0.3 | SPG: 1.4 | RPG: 4.4 | FG%: 57.1

Steve: Layman was assertive and dangerous in Las Vegas. It was the former Maryland forward’s third stint in summer league, and he often played above the competition. After logging heavy minutes in Portland’s first set of games, Layman did fade slightly down the stretch. Even in the contests he wasn’t featured in, he still made the most of his opportunities. Most importantly, Layman showed that he can generate points by cutting to the basket. Grade: B+

Brian: Jake Layman looked incredible at times. He was the best athlete on the floor most games and was able to effectively score at all 3 layers. “Summer League Jake” can put on a show. But he also has a tendency to disappear. I will credit some of that to the talent of this Summer League championship roster, but as a third-year vet that just got his option picked up, I expected a bit more dominance instead of solid, efficient play. Also he showed last year in summer league an ability to create off the dribble. He didn’t appeared to progress in that area. Grade: B-

NBA: Summer League-Boston Celtics at Portland Trail Blazers Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Wade Baldwin IV | G | 2 Years Pro

Summer League Stats: PPG: 14.4 | APG: 7.4 | SPG: 1.1 | RPG: 4.0 | FG%: 45

Steve: Baldwin was a frontrunner to claim the Summer League MVP award after the first week of games, but he failed to keep the momentum going through all seven of Portland’s contests. He attacked the basket relentlessly, found open teammates, and played lockdown defense. Baldwin’s less-than-stellar moments were noticeable. He was ejected from the Blazers’ first game after getting into an altercation with Grayson Allen, and he recorded nine turnovers in an ugly outing against the Grizzlies. Even with the low points, the former first-round pick did more than enough to earn Portland’s final open roster spot. Grade: B

Brian: I really enjoyed watching Baldwin play this summer. He had a bit of an edge to him like this was important. I liked his attack mentality. His ability to get in the lane and make plays, both as a scorer and to set up teammates, was encouraging. As Steve mentioned, it was difficult to see him struggle as much as he did against Memphis. Jevon Carter is a great defensive player, but it’s never a good sign to see a player get shut down like Baldwin did in that game. Aside from that, Baldwin was the leader and catalyst of the team from the beginning. I felt like I was watching a legit NBA rotation player. Grade: B+

NBA: Summer League-Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Swanigan | PF | 1 Year Pro

Summer League Stats: PPG: 8.4 | APG: 3.3 | SPG: 0.4 | RPG: 10.7 | FG%: 39.2

Steve: It was a tough summer league for Swanigan. If you take away his superb outing against the Grizzlies in the semifinals, his stint in Las Vegas goes from rough to dreadful. Offensively, Swanigan was bothered by taller defenders and struggled with turnovers. It didn’t get much better on the defensive end, as the former No. 26 pick still looks too slow to help on switches. Swanigan’s passing from the high post and rebounding were positives, but he will have to put in work before attempting to fill the Ed-Davis-sized hole in the Blazers’ rotation. Grade: D

Brian: Caleb Swanigan didnt look as effective this summer league as he did last year. He didnt look any more lean or athletic either. He struggled scoring against taller and longer interior players; 39% from the field for a 21 year old sophomore big is a bad sign. He rebounded well, as he always does, and his decision making as a passer was better this year than it was last, but overall, this was a rough showing from Swanigan. Grade D+

NBA: Summer League-Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Collins | C | 1 Year Pro

Summer League Stats: PPG: 8.0 | APG: 1.2 | BPG: 2.7 | RPG: 6.8 | FG%: 40.3%

Steve: Collins played to his strengths, but did very little to show that he has made improvements to his weaknesses. The former Gonzaga big man moves his feet well on the defensive end, and avoids foul trouble (minus the title game) by staying vertical in the paint. Offensively, Collins showed that he still has a long way to go before he can be counted on to produce points with his post moves. Grade: C

Brian: Collins’ work in the weight room showed during summer league as he was able to get to and keep his spots defensively. Although it was “just” summer league, he looked elite on the defensive side of the ball. His timing and positioning were exquisite. He changed games on that side of the court. Offensively, he showed few encouraging signs. He shot the ball comfortably but not very well. I expected him to be dominant defensively and show improvement offensively. I didn’t quite get all of that. Grade: C-


Do you agree with Brian and Steve’s grades? Let us know how you’d do it in the comments below.

—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com

—Brian / @BrianFreeman24