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Blazers Forward Jake Layman & His Heroic Fight For Minutes

Jake Layman’s effort, Rodney Hood’s Blazers debut and Jusuf Nurkic’s defense all earn mentions in this edition of Mom’s Favorite.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, Team Mom highlights her favorites plays, players and other things that made the Trail Blazers fun to watch. Who is Mom’s Favorite this week? Did anyone get put in the dog house? What were your favorite things this week? Let us know in the comments below.

Week 17: Jan 3 - Jan 10. Miami Heat (L), San Antonio Spurs (W)

Mom’s Favorite: Jake’s World

I fell hard for Summer League Jake Layman who averaged 13.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in 23.1 minutes per game in Las Vegas. I’ve been crossing my fingers that Summer League Jake wasn’t a mirage and that his production during the regular season would come to match the output of that storied Las Vegas championship run.

What do you know, over the last 10 games, Layman has averaged 14.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 24.3 minutes per game. Welcome to the regular season, Summer League Jake!

Layman had a good start to the season. Filling in for injured Moe Harkless meant that he got his first chance to play alongside the starters for extended minutes. After logging only 41 total minutes alongside Damian Lillard and 32 alongside CJ McCollum last season, Layman has already played more than 400 minutes with the starting guards. Unsurprisingly, that has contributed to his improved performance this year. Through those first 19 games that he started, he averaged 5.1 points, well above his previous year’s average of 1.0 point per game.

However, his improvement isn’t just a result of playing alongside the Blazers’ most talented players. Layman deserves credit for staying ready and playing hard—making it nearly impossible for Head Coach Terry Stotts to ignore him. The last DNP-CD Layman received was New Years Day. His minutes and his scoring production have both increased dramatically since then. Before Jan. 1, Layman averaged five points in 14 minutes per game. Since then, he has averaged 12.3 points in 23.5 minutes. He has steadily earned fourth quarter minutes as well. Layman has closed out 10 of the last 13 games, and played all 12 minutes of the fourth in five of the last seven games.

Until a week ago, the arguments about who should start were centered around Harkless vs Layman. Then Rodney Hood was added to the roster and now it appears there will be a three-way competition for playing time on the perimeter. How has Layman responded?

In two games this week, Layman averaged 19 points, 5.5 rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 31 minutes. He had a career high 25 points on Tuesday, scoring 14 points in 12 minutes in the second quarter. Against the Spurs he had 13 points, two assists, three rebounds and one steal. He dove to the floor multiple times to chase loose balls and even got to the free throw line.

Stotts will need a really good reason to take those minutes from Layman. Summer League Jake appears to have blossomed into Regular Season Jake.

Gold Star: Rodney Hood’s debut

Hood looked at ease on Thursday night against the Spurs, hitting 6-7 from the field including 2-3 three pointers. While it is unlikely he will sustain a field goal percentage of 85 (although a girl can hope), it would be great if he can match his pre-Cavs scoring average of 16 points. He is certainly off to good start.

In all the research I did on Hood, no one mentioned his spinning jumper. Maybe it is because he’s a lefty, but Hood’s turnaround jumpers seem to have about half as many rotations as Evan Turner’s turnaround jumpers.

Looking forward to more of these:

Honorable Mention

More Alley-oops. I know I sound like a broken record here, but we need to talk about alley-oop dunks. Don’t underestimate the importance of these high-energy plays. Alley-oops don’t just make the finisher look fantastic, they make the passer look good too. It takes teamwork, trust, and timing to complete one of these dazzling plays.

Jake Layman had five alley-oops this week assisted by three different teammates (Damian Lillard, Evan Turner and CJ McCollum). Last year the entire team only had 27 alley-oops the whole season. Layman’s single-week output speaks to how much better the Blazers are at communicating.

Here are Layman’s alley-oops. Enjoy.

Nothing easy for LaMarcus Aldridge. Outside of the first quarter when Aldridge was hot (5-8 for 13 points), life wasn’t easy for the former Blazer on Thursday night. Jusuf Nurkic clamped down hard on Aldridge after that, bodying him up and bothering him with hands in his face and hips in his side. There is just something extra satisfying about watching a player who chose to stay shut down the player who chose to leave.

Shaquille O’Neal offered to pay Nurkic’s fine after the Bosnian Beast was charged with a technical foul for hanging on the rim.

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@shaq’s got you, Nurk!

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Welcome to the team Skal Labissiere. At 13 years old, Labissiere survived the devastating Hatian earthquake of 2010 which killed more than 150,000 people. His family home collapsed on top of him pinning his legs and his back under a wall. It took his father three hours to dig Skal and the rest of his family out from the rubble. Labissiere recovered and his family survived, but they lost their home. He moved to Memphis eight months later to pursue a dream of playing in the NBA. That is a lot to go through for someone who is only 23 years old. Welcome to Rip City, Mr Labissiere, I hope you have a productive career here!

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Welcome to Portland, @skal_lab

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Dog House

Lillard on Team LeBron. Ugh. We’ve already heard that LeBron James wants to play with Damian Lillard. Now we’re just going to let LeBron waltz in and draft Damian onto his All-Star team? Who let this happen? Don’t get used to it, Mr. James!

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LeBron knows what time it is. #LillardTime

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