The Trail Blazers’ offseason is in full swing and the Las Vegas Summer League schedule is quickly approaching. The action in Las Vegas will present Rip City fans with their first glimpse of Nassir Little in a Blazers jersey. Along with Little, Portland’s roster is loaded with prospects looking to earn a spot in the NBA. Mike Daum is one of those NBA hopefuls.
Daum, a sweet-shooting big man out of South Dakota State, will transition from being one of the most prolific scorers that college basketball has ever seen to a player fighting for a coveted roster spot in the NBA. Ahead of his arrival in Portland, Daum spoke with Blazer’s Edge contributor Steve Dewald about the road ahead.
Prior to racking up wins with the Jackrabbits, Daum learned to love the game through his mother’s careful guidance. Before he was at an age to help out with mowing the lawn, his mother, Michele, would set up basketball-related activities for him to enjoy while she worked. “My mom would get me going with ball-handling drills or she would get the hoop set up outside and give me a certain number of shots to hit before she got done with a lap around the yard,” Daum explained to Blazer’s Edge. “We always had this relationship where we created games—she pushed me throughout my life.”
Daum’s mentor was more than just an enthusiastic parent. Michele Daum’s stellar play at the University of Wyoming and overseas earned her a spot in the Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame. Daum illuminated that he has not forgotten his mother’s lessons. “She definitely taught me a lot of what I know now. She got me going on the basics: [the] flick of the wrist when shooting, ball handling, things like that. She was really the one that opened up the doors for me to love basketball.”
Now set to join the Blazers for Summer League, Daum is hopeful that his three-point shooting will help open doors for himself and his teammates. “I’m able to shoot the ball at an elite level for a player at my height.” Daum continued, “With my shooting ability, it’s about spacing the floor and hitting open shots. That is going to open up things for the guards to do what they do.”
When it comes to the fans and coaching staff, Daum wants his first impression to go beyond his accuracy from beyond the arc. “I’m going to do the little things like crashing the boards, going after loose balls and making sure I’m doing whatever it takes to put the team in a position to win.”
Daum also told Blazer’s Edge that he hopes that fans come away with an admiration for his traits as a teammate. “The one thing I want the fans to take away is that I’m a genuine guy. I’m going to go out there and build relationships with my teammates.”
In hopes of making it beyond the NBA’s summer schedule, Daum has focused on addressing specific parts or his game since the college season concluded. “I’ve been working on my foot speed. For me, a lot of it is going to be proving that I can guard guys smaller than me [and] keep the ball out in front.” Outside of his quickness, Daum highlighted his commitment to conditioning. “[It’s] about taking care of my body the right way, eating the right things and getting in the weight room.”
Tied directly to the Blazers, Daum’s belief in his ability to claim a spot on an NBA roster draws inspiration from the humble beginnings of both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. “I have so much respect for those guys, coming from mid majors to doing what they’re doing now. It’s fun for me [to watch], because I would love to follow in those footsteps.”
Regardless of how the next few weeks unfold, this opportunity isn’t lost on Daum. “I want to enjoy this time, enjoy this opportunity and show how grateful I am to be in this situation.” He continued, “A ton of people wish they could be in this position. I want to show how grateful I am for that and play as hard as I can.”
The Trail Blazers begin their Summer League schedule against the Pistons on July 6.