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Rookie Jaylen Hoard Grateful for Opportunity with the Blazers

Jaylen Hoard is making a positive impression on his teammates while bouncing between the G League and the Trail Blazers.

Portland Trail Blazers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Jaylen Hoard’s path to the NBA didn’t go exactly as planned. Undrafted out of Wake Forest, Hoard landed with the Trail Blazers on a two-way contract that has gone on to facilitated a season full of stops between the G League and NBA. Now recalled from the Texas Legends to assist the injury-depleted Blazers, Hoard has seen an uptick in playing time.

In Portland’s last two outings, Hoard has recorded 17 minutes of playing time in each game. Along with 34 combined minutes, the former Wake Forest standout has notched 14 points through two contests.

After Saturday’s loss to the Bucks, The Oregonian’s Jamie Goldberg captured Hoard’s thoughts on his recent stint in the NBA. Hoard, despite the nature of the losses, is looking at the bright side of this opportunity through the eyes of an unheralded rookie.

“I felt like I would mostly be playing in the G League with the Texas Legends this season and kind of work my way up,” Hoard said. “Being able to play early like this, it feels great. Even though we didn’t get the win today, just being out there, it was a blessing.”

The Blazers, who were without Hassan Whiteside, thrust Hoard into action at the pivot spot. The 6-foot-8 rookie admitted it was his first time at center, but he explained that he was open to the challenge.

“It’s a little bit difficult, especially the center position today, it was kind of my first time,” Hoard said. “I had never played center before at this level, so it was kind of different. But I feel like, with time, and if the team still needs me to play that position, I’ll be able to contribute.”

Outside of his own assessment, Hoard received a positive review from Damian Lillard.

“I thought he played really well,” said Blazers guard Damian Lillard about Hoard’s performance against the Bucks. “Since he’s been back up, he’s been put out there a lot, getting some minutes, and I think it’s evident that he’s a smart player. He’s able to figure things out on both ends of the floor, good instincts. I think with more experience, the more he’s out there and the more comfortable he gets, I think you’ll see him just get better and better.”

Hoard has appeared in nine games for the Blazers this season. He is currently producing 2.3 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. Signed to a two-way contract, Hoard can spend up to 45 days with the Blazers.