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Three Things to Watch for in the Blazers’ Summer League Finale

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The Trail Blazers conclude their 2019 Las Vegas Summer League schedule with a matchup against the Bucks on Friday.

2019 Las Vegas Summer League - Day 7 - Portland Trailblazers v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The Trail Blazers 2019 NBA Summer League campaign will come to a close against the Bucks on Friday. Unlike last year, Portland’s run in Las Vegas will end in a consolation game. Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little, who comprise the last two first-round selections made by the Blazers, are likely to observe tonight’s action from the sidelines due to minor injuries. Even without that duo in action, there will be plenty to watch for against the Bucks.

Here are the items that Blazer’s Edge contributor Steve Dewald is watching for on Friday.

Point Guard Audition

Demetrius Jackson and Isaiah Whitehead, two point guards with NBA experience, will get one final chance to make a positive impression on the Blazers’ coaching staff. With Simons out against the Thunder, it was Jackson that stepped into the starting lineup. Whitehead finished Thursday’s contest with more minutes, but neither guard produced a memorable performance. Both Jackson and Whitehead have to limit their mistakes in the Blazers’ final showing.

Jackson, who displayed an energetic style on defense, must prove that he has the offensive chops to make an impact on both ends. Whitehead, who has 89 NBA appearances under his belt, must show that he is capable of serving as an emergency ball handler. They combined for five turnovers and four assists against the Thunder. That ratio has to improve in order for them to garner legitimate consideration for a roster spot.

The “Other” Rookie

Jaylen Hoard flashed signs of his versatility throughout Portland’s stint in Las Vegas. The former Wake Forest forward has a penchant for initiating offense after securing defensive rebounds. It might be a stretch to expect a change this late in the competition, but I would like to see Hoard featured as a pick-and-roll operator on Friday. Against the Rockets, he had success finding teammates diving towards the basket. Little’s likely absence removes the Blazers’ best finisher from the equation, but Hoard could partner with Devin Robinson to generate offense inside pick-and-roll sets.

Two-Way Options

Mike Daum, who shot 41 percent from beyond the arc at South Dakota State, has had limited opportunities to space the floor through the Blazers’ first four games. Portland’s lack of spacing and cohesion in half-court sets has led to an abundance of contested midrange shots. It would be a nice change of pace to see the Blazers open up the floor by spreading out their shooters. From the corner or as a pick-and-pop option, Daum possesses the tools to unclog the middle.

Outside of Daum, Robinson has produced at least one highlight-worthy play in each game. With Little out, Robinson should receive extended minutes at each forward position. It is clear that the former Florida standout has the athleticism to earn a roster spot and he will get one more chance to prove it against the Bucks.