The Portland Trail Blazers added three players to their training camp roster last week with the signings of Gary Payton II, Chinanu Onuaku, and Cameron Oliver. While it’s nice to see the Payton, with his local ties, get a deal to come in to camp, I’m way more excited about Oliver.
Oliver was a a quality forward for the Nevada Wolf Pack, displaying athleticism and scoring ability in droves. Draft Express wrote the following:
Oliver is quite intriguing from a physical perspective, as he measured 6’ 8.25 with a shredded 239-pound frame, big hands and a solid 7’ 1.25 wingspan at the NBA Draft combine, very solid measurements for a modern NBA power forward. In addition to his physical tools, Oliver is an explosive athlete capable of finishing above the rim both in traffic and in the open court, a physical skill that has also served him well on the glass while at Nevada.
Aside from his athleticism, which is immediately apparent after watching him play, Oliver shot a solid 38 percent from beyond the arc in his sophomore season. Aside from Lauri Markkanen, no collegiate big man shot better from downtown in 2016-17. In the modern NBA, having an inside-game is a necessity; Oliver has the potential to be a gifted scorer with range.
Oliver is also an excellent rebounder when he’s motivated, having snagged 9.1 and 8.7 rebounds per game in his two seasons. Rebounds are considered the most directly translatable skill from college to the pros, and Oliver had solid numbers despite his tendency to drift on the perimeter for long stretches.
It’s a red flag when you hear about players who have motivation or effort issues, and that’s the main reason Oliver went undrafted. He has the skillset, and certainly possesses the physical tools to be an NBA player, but there were too many instances where he mentally drifted out of the game, or made poor decisions with the ball in his hands.
Defensively, Oliver has solid shot-blocking instincts but, again, tends to drift mentally and get caught biting on ball fakes. He’ll need to show better discipline if he wants to stick in the pros. It’s not a matter of ability, it’s a matter of coaching and discipline.
A player like this is the perfect candidate for a two-way contract; incredibly skilled, with issues that are potentially correctable. Not everyone can shoot the three or feature a 40 inch vertical, but most players can learn to keep their head in the game. Should the Blazers decide to extend a two-way contract to Oliver, he’ll have the opportunity to work on the mental side of the game while demonstrating why he was one of the more physically imposing big men in college basketball in 2016-17.
It’s a no-brainer for the Blazers to take a flyer on him and hope that he puts it all together. And if it doesn’t work out? No-harm, no foul